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The Michigan Boy

The Michigan Boy image The Michigan Boy image
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An Earnest Plea for Good Surroundngs During His School Life. Below is given in ful) the very excellent paper read by Miss Julia fiall, of Hamburg, at the farmeis' iustitate held in Chelsea, Jan. 3 0 and 11. It oontains any amonnt of fuod for refleotion by fathers, motbers, school boards, teachers, and all others who are oharged with the care of ""The American Boy," the future oitizens of this great repnblic. The Argns commends it to the carefal perusal of all its readers. The lightning express had halted at the station in a beautifnl city in Michigan ; greetings were exchanged, good byé's were said, and the train moved slowly along on its onward maroh. "Rather uot bein that man's place," aid a solid old farruei, directing bis attention towarda the standpipe, npon wbich a dot of bnmanit.y was olimbing up near the top. "Sorne workman," eaid a commercial man sittiug near him. Then a kind old motber remarked, '"Fraid that man will fall." "It's a boy ejaonlated 20 voices all at onoe. And snre enongb, "jnst for the fon of it," the Miobigan boy had herried to the summit of the high tower, and nothing dannted stood Bwinging his hat at the receding train. It matters little where we are or what are onr needs, the omnipresent boy ie there, ready for business. "Paper, sir?" - is our honrly salutation from 1,000 rnidgets of Miohigan:a future nobility. "Sbine?" - Greets you on every hand from the hotel corridor to the "Third House of Congress" while every stroke that polisbes the shoes brightens tbe wits of tbe young savant. "Cash !" - and a boy oomes forth. It is a boy wbo responda to tbe cali of tbe bell, delivers our goods, runs oor errands, carries our mail ; last but not least tbat most modern of all productions, the irresponsible, wholly irresponsible special messenger boy in faot - is general ronstabout for everybody - tbe servant of all, bot the slave of none. In our theaters leady to minister to tbe oomforts and enjoyment of every attendant, or to do the word and beek of each performer. At our places of public reeort, watching a chanoe to serve any body, - for a nickle. In the circus, anxious to lead the horses, ride the elepbant, or fan tbe giant, anytbing for a tioket. At the ball games, ready to catoh "flies, '; or to rnn down the "fouls" - if only tbe captain will see him. In oor homes from garret to cellar. Are you lovers? The " walls have ears" - bnt the boy carries them ; the "windows have ttyes"' - set in tbe roguish face of a boy; are you out driving? - "Cock-a-doodle-doo" comes from under tbe seat, bat from the throat of the incorrigible boy. Go on with your sweet seorets; aDd when you tbink them known tojnst you two, the sharp eyes, and sharper ears, and still sbaroer wits of the boy divine the whole of the "old, old story. " He hectors that he may test the loyalty of a friend ; he torments, that he may enjoy the strength of a sister's love; he provokes, that he may revel in the anbnanded fidelity of a mother's affection - and yet what are oor homes without the Michigan boy? Give ns bis clear ringing laugh and his whistled "Yankee Doodle" and you are welcome to yonr pugs and poodles. Do yon know that in our state sohool at Coldwater, there are today more than ]00 homeless boys, who onght to be in as many boyless homes? There are jnst home roofs enongh in Michigan to shelter all of her children. There are jast husbandmen enoagb to provide for their needs. There are jnst motber bearts enoagh to take them all in. We balt on onr way at ohurch. The boy rings the bell, pumps the organ, bnilds flres, sweeps, dusts, carries flowers, and ia jast as neoessary to the life of the cburch, as oironlation is to the ufe of the plant. No boy, no churcb. A friendly greeting of the boys will do more for the canse of the ruaster than tbe most classioal theologioal discourse. Minister, deacon, eider, common soldier, nnbend ; be boys again today. No greater work is yours than to save, for the work that is roaking the vorld better, the boys of yonr own congregatiou and neigbboibood. We believe that the ealvation of one bright American boy is worth to the world more than tbat of many heathen . Judgiag of the future from tbe past, the great tbonghts tbat are to move and jenefit the world, lnrk in Caucasian knlls. Possibly those who have stndied art until they tíave learned to love tbe ohiseled, beantifal forms, can appreciate the trne sculptor's feelings as he ooks upon bis beautifnl angel entombed in the rongh mass of rngged rock. The inspired artist may see in bis ideal he most beantiful form, bet its only graoe is in its sweet repose. But the Michigan boy has a voiee tbat is heard, eyes that see, ears that hear, a will that wills. He is not an inert piece of rock, nor a plastic mass of modeling clay, bnt a real live subject. Not a thase of humanity, nor a line of bosiisbb, nor a professional life but he imiates. He preaches, he prays, he teaohes, he pleads law, he farms, runs faoories, operates great mercantile estabishmentB, he is a clown, a commander of armies, au explorer, an engine, a jalloon, a bear, an angel, a necessity, a naisanoe, anything that human mind an conceive. it is as much our business to discover lis possibilities and to see tbat they are perfeotly bronght oot, as it is the work of th.i artist to personify bis own oonoepions in symmetrical forms of solid rock. Important? The valué of an article is koown liy the demand for it. Eave we ever thonght wbat deniandsonr vioe iustimtiuus are making upou the boy? Wby, let all the boys of this vicinity siga and keep the pledge for 20 yeais and your city wonlrï be saloonless. A total abstiiienoe froni evil foi two deoades apon the part of onr young people, and vice in almost every form would be dead. "Who sball have the MicbigaD boy" - fchat is, what principies shall be have? is the most important qnestion of this great conmiou wealth. "Given," said tbe late President Garfield, "the obaracter of a man, and the oonditions of life aronnd bim, what will be his oareer? Or giveu his oharaoter and career, of what kind were bis Burroundings?" The relation of these three factors to each other is severely logioal. If tbe three factois, character, conditioDS of life, aud oareer, are severely logioal in the case of man, they ara tunob more ao in the oase of yonth. Nothing is truer in tbe history of statistics than that the snrronndings of youth play a prominent part in the formation of tbeir lives. If right oonditions exist in yonth, the wbole af ter oareer of tbe boy or girl is as a rule, one of usef nluess. It behooves na, tben, to help in tbrcwing suoh safegaards aronnd tbeobildren of onr oountry as will nltimately lead tbem to a good and useful oitizensbip. One of the greatest safegnards, is tbe pnblio sobool. Intelligence ohanges the babits of the people and the charaoter of its prevailing crimes. What are called the minor crimes - like petty tbieving and many vices almost disappear. Tbere is less stealing in Modern England tliau tbere was 40 years ago, and this bas been brooght abont. not alone by the more tborongh administration of justice, bnt in part by the laok of the impulse to steal, not alone from moral and reliaious training, for the people in tbose times were more orthodox and more under the control of the olergy than today. The bear-baiting, boar-bunting, roystering squire who ran afleid all day and drank himself under tbe table at night, who could not write his own name, who bad bis menial olerk at one elbow to write and read his official correspondentie, and at bis otber bis clown to minister to hisooaise ribaldry, has wholly disappeared. Englisb nobility today has its vices, bot it is in the main, clean, sober, well-edncated, intelligent, law-abiding. Nothing is more clear to the student of social qnestions than that intelligence controls, modifies and sabdnes the animal passions. Wefind less gluttony and more temperante among the educated and intelligent. Tbere is a pbilosopbioal reason for this. A taste for liteiature and for soience draws the mind away from the grosser passions. Au intelligent man is not as liable to be misled as an ignoran t one. In matters of pnblio polioy he is safer and calis prudeuce into tbe deliberative oounoil. So in the walks of private life; the man who is well stocked with iutelligence is not the fit subject for delusion. Much might be said of the power of the dernagogue over the ignorant man. Demagogisru is corrupting onr entire political life. Tbe man wbo shoots another becanse "he didn't know it was loaded," is a monument of virtue in comparison with the man who takes his ballot from the demagogue at tbe polls and ignorantly votes to bamper tbe workings of good government or enoourages profligaoy and corrnption in the business of the state. Politics and satesmanship are by no means identical. Statesmansbip laye its foundation on eternal principies of justice and right; while demagogism is unscrüpolous and demoralizing, ready to pervert the best forces of oor politioal life into channels of moral deatb. Without queetion, butfor tbe ignorance of the converts to mormonism, polygamy would have had a sbort race. Wat Tyler led ar ignorant rabble. The ioonoclasts of tbe Netberlands were an ignorant people led by a few who had the intelligenoe to play upon their fanatioisro. The rank ttnd file of every riotous assemblage are tbe deluded, led on generally by some "best oitizens" as they aie called. Intelligenoe is cunservative, and in general law abiding. Modern crime is largely the produot of the cities. The vice and ciime and oorruption and squalor of onr cities is appalling. Yoatbful vagabonds, hardened crimináis, gamblers, piokpockets, jimps, burglars and defanlters are on :be increase. Whole streets reek with filth and vioe, ohildren without moral oleanliness, savages in the midst of oivilizatiun. Blessed indeed is the ohild whose flrst years are speiit in the uountry ! He jnows wbere the birds' nests are in ;he trees, the bens' nests in the barn, where the first ripe apples grow, wheie every ravine and slope is, wbere the rabbits run and the wild ïowers grow. Someone has said, "Empty the jails by filling the schools." Surely there is need enougb of this. In the United Otates the enrollment in public schools s only about 68 per cent of the school jopulation, wbile the average daily atendance is only abont 33 per cent of the youth of our land between the ages of sis and 16. Tbe per cent in onr own statu is about the same. It is not easy to aseign cause3 for this arge non-attendance. Many of them are orphans. The records of our re'ormatory institutions show that abont 10 per cent of tbeir ininates have lost their fatbers, and from 15 to 20 per ceDt tbeir mothere. Very many are jept ont to work at home, or in shops or faotories. Another very grievous cause is truancy from home and school. These children who de not attend school or work in the uhops must find something to do to wbile away tbeir time. The question is, what? Many of them are veritable street arabs, (Continued on Sixih Page.) THE MICHIGAN BOY. BY MISS JULIA 1SALL. (Continued from Fourth Page.) without a home or place to go, living by pilfering and begging. Tbe natural drift of these boys and al] others who bave not some employment to restrain tbeir exuberant spirits is iuto inischief . These street gaiains with aotive, growing minds ready to reoeive and retain irupressions for good or evil are daily brougbt in contact with the worst forms of vioe and crime. They grow np ignoiant men and women, and in time popolate our prisons and pauper bouses. According to statistios, ouethird of all crimináis are totally unednoated, and four-3fths praetically, so fonr per oent of tbe popnlation commit 98 per cent of tbe crimes. Abont onesixth of all tbe crime in tbis country is committed by persons wholly illiterate. Tbe proportion of crimináis among the illiterate is about 10 times as great as among those who have had some eduoatien. Illiteraoy and orime very largely clasp hands. Among the paupers, the tdtally ignorant íb abont 6 per cent. From these facts, we see what becomes of oor street gamius. The thongbt naturally arises, what oan we doforthem? At the present time the work of reolaiming tbese ohildren of the street is left to the reform sohool, the orphan asylum, ohildren's aid sooieties, and in a few of our large cities, night sohools. Our reform schools are doing noble work as a glance at statistics will show; bnt they are too few in number, and too limited in their eqnipments to provide for any large number. Besides tbere is no reason in waiting till the insignia of crime is stamped upon the child befoie uudertaking the work of edncating and refoiming. Other agencies than those enumerated should be employed. First, oui public schools are not doing their duty. We are continually inqniring what changes ought we to make in our educational system, that the state may produce better men and women? What we need more than legislation is an educational sentiment, strong, healthy, broad, lofty, among the people. We are finding out that we have too much liberty, and too little restriction; enough law, but a vast amount of lawlessness. Liberty slips easily into license. We visit our schools aud we observe tbe future Amerioan law-maker in bis environment, from which he is soon to make his escape into tlhe fields of citizenship where he is to be a voter, perbaps a reformer, more likely a deformer ; and if he is not, it is because ihere is something in him better than his environment. We venture the assertion and believe it cannot be succ8ssfully denied, that 75 per oent of the outbuildings of the rural schools of Michigan, and many of the city schools are in the same oategory, are as little snited for use by tbe ohildren as the Pólice Uazette would be for a code of moráis. Obscene pictures, ovil writings, nncouth grounds where the oath and the bawdy word are tbe natural correlates. From sucb environments we expect to gradúate our future citizens. Fathers and mothers will undeigo a virtuous spasm of indignation upon beholding a dime novel of a sensational character in the hands of their cihldren, but are oblivious of tbe uncleanly, profane surroundings of tbeir cbildren at school. Patrons of wealth who do not send cbildren to tbe district school will say, why should we be taxed to pruvide fine surroundings for our neighbors' ohildren? Without the sohools, his property wonld e valueless, that without edncation, he conld not give it to the raggedest tatterdemalion who trampad to Washington with Coxey. The solution of this qnestion is not so mnch with legislation, as in better snrroundings, better school boards, better teachers. Just a word here to the patrons of our sohools. An nnclean outbnilding, covered with obsoene pictures and language, is a debaucber of obildreo, a standing menace to our common school system. It is the duty of every intelligent taxpayer to attend the annual school meeting, and help to elect men competent to fill the important office of members of tbe school board. Tben we sbonJd have a law compelling school officers to provide clean school surioundings, and keep ttaem clean, and give said officers power to arrest any pupil or pupils who tbus deface any school property, and inflict just pnniBhment upon the culprits. The objeot of edncation is to secure men and women who shall think for capitalists and domínate theni by the logic of a souud and lofty pliilosophy, and to impresa society with bigh oonceptinns of character and eonduct. Such education is not gained except by personal inspiration throngh personal contact. A school sbould be a model home, a oomplete community, an embryonic democraoy. How? By putting into every school room, au educated, cultured, trained, devoted, ohild-loving teacher; a teacher imbuei with knowledge of the soienoe of eduoation, aud a zealons, enthusistic applioant of its principies. Stop into a school in a neighborhood wbere teacher and patrons are in syrupathy, working together for the attainrnent of the higher ideáis in edncation, and mark the oourtesy and kindness of the pupils, the beautiful schoolroom, cleanly outside surronndings. Then cross the district boundary into a neighboring school, and you flnd little or no sympatby between patrons and teacher, teacher and pupils. What do you find? A rowdy factory wbere boys and girls are taking their first steps in crime. The former school makes zens; che latrer anarohists. If we could have the ideal of the first school plauted in every district in Michigan and have the teachers and patrons rally round it, we oonld settle the temperance, labor and oapital, and the irnmigrstion questions in one generation. Let ns deuiand the artist teacher, the teacher trained and skilied in the scienoe of eduoation - a genuine leader of little feet. If we can awaken anioug the patrons of our common sohools a de sire for the arcist teacher, there shal) not long exist a oanee for a law against the defaoeruents of school buildings We shall have removed the crime by reforming the criminal. "Society," it is said, "prepares the crime; the criminal oommits it. " Let us ruake it a crime for a district to allow its nbildren to attend school in suoh snrronndings. Seoond, I would snggest an iron-clad prohibitory law, riveted throngh and thiough, forbidding the poblioation, sale and circalatiou of tbis abominably vile and trasby literatnre that is oiroulating so freely among our boys and girls to tbeir serions detriment, and in many instances tbeir ruin. It not only filis íheir ruinds with erroneous ideas of life, bnt destroya the last germ of trnth, integrity, and virtne. As it bfloame the duty of the Roman Dictator to "see to it that the ootnmonwealth received noinjury,"' so should it be the duty of every American oitizen to see to it that onriepublic leoeives no injury. A strongcentralized govemment with great standing armies with which to suppress the rerolc of ignorance and disloyalty can control a heterogeneous population; bnt our onlyappeal in snob cases is the ballot, and the patiiotisni of the individual. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that the individual be able to vote and perform the other duties of citizenship intelligently and not ignorantly. A terrible menace to oui governinent, is immigration. But our peril is not from the Chinese, but from the inimigrants from the hotbeds of Earopean socialism. Let ns be vigilant in our efforts to Americanizo, throngh the agenoy ol our common schools, every foreigner who enters, and every obild of foreign parents, born within the borders ol our states. We can thus the more effeutually defend ourselves from the baneful effeots of the pernioious dootrines of the "socialist," the "nihili8t" and the "anarchist." Let ns meec tbe newly arrived immigrant witb the open spelling book, history, science of gorernment and principies of political eoonomy. We must gatber bis ohildren into our sohools, and ponr out opon thern onr American ideáis - "Will he, nill be?" We must insist on intelligence in the head and loyalty in the heart before we place the ballot in his hands. Our watchword and battle-cry every where must be, "Edncate the people all the people, both native and foreign born." If we design to maintain our present form of government, our motto must be, "Intelligenoe must be the pre-requisite to oitizenship. " Our yontn should be taught patriotism. It bas been said, "Let me write the pongs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws. " And what country has mote inspiring songs tban "Amerioaa," "The Star-Spanlged Banner," "The Bed White and Blue," "Tbe Battle-Cry o Freedom," "A Thonsand Years,' "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground,' and other American gems. Let the children learn to sing these patriotio words and stirring airs, and teaoh them to love and honor the old flag. All honor to the pnblio spirit and patriotic sentiment that has placed tbe stars and stripes on so many Michigan eohoolhouses. May the tidal wave roll on nntil every Ainerioan school shall have an American flag, and nntil every teacher shall consider it his sacred dnty and high privilege to do his utmost to prepare his papilsfor a more intelligent aDd more patriotic oitizenship in the futnre; iintil "all politicians shall be statesmen, - men wbo long to make their oonntry great and f ree, - men who care more for public good than private gain - men who long to be usefnl;" nntil the produots of our publio schools are men armed in the panoply of immortal trnth ; then the pillars of onr natiou's strength will stand invincible and nosbaken, the "Ship of State' will sail grandly, proudly on, the bea con light of ages yefc to come. Who then is to have the Michigan boy? It depends npon yon, mother and fathers, npon us as oitizens anc teachers. Let ns fulflll our part nobly that all may pay homage to tbe "Mich igan Boy" of today - a man without price, honest and upright; a rúan thor onghly loyal to every interest of hi own state, but equally ambitious fo tho welfare of oor whole country - a American. In that eider day, to be a Roman wa greater than a king; bnt now to be a American is greater tban a Roman. And what of the Michigan girl Why, she shall be the honored wife o the Michigan boy.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News