Our recent agitation of this question and subject has brought us a number of communications. We do not propose to iterate and reiterate our statements or suggestions. We have already stated the facts, and pointed out the possible and practicable remedy. It is perfectly simple, and entirely feasible. But we give the gist of a few of the communications we have already received, in order to show the general feeling on the subject, and in the hope that those in whose hands the remedy lies may be induced to apply it. A young man, signing himself " Eugene Dunbar, of Holliston, Mass.," says : " There are many boys, myself included, who would be very glad to learn some good trade. For several years I have been very desirous to learn the trade of a locomotive machinist, but, although not too proud to take an apprentice's position, I have not met with success in my endeavors to obtain a chance to learn the business." Another writing from Georgetown, D. C, referring to our article published on page 169, current volume, under the heading, " Why is Mechanical Labor Objectionable ? " says: " Education is everything. But just so long as we train our young people in literature and the classics, we must necessarily breed a race of men and women lazy in the qualities demanded by mechanical labor. Our school system needs a thorough remodeling. Our farmers' sons, after passing through a course of literary training lose all taste for the noble art of cultivating the soil. We should have a more healthy state of society, if, at school or college, our children were thoroughly instructed in a practical knowledge of mechanics and agriculture. The cultivation of the soil demands for its intelligent management a knowledge of chemistry, botany, geology, of fruits, trees, rearing of cattle, of the properties and uses of manures, etc., all of which afford pleasure, and give healthy mental and physical occupation. He who is once initiated into, this science of sciences, and its application, will not quit the cultivation of the soil for any meaner profession. Literary training, instead of being the principal object of school education, should be considered a recreation, and the practical should take precedence." E. W. Dean, of Norwich Town, Conn., also writes that he has passed through the ordeal, having been a clerk three years, where his hands were kept soft and white, and then became a machinist's apprentice. This was hard on his hands, and insured his receiving the cold shoulder from his acquaintances, who before welcomed him. He, however (very wisely, in our opinion), prefers his position of independence as the master of a useful art than as a mere caterer to the tastes of purchasers of finery. The following from the Philadelphia Morning Post is allied to the general subject, and we therefore copy it: " The late report of the directors of Girard College shows not only the great changes that have in late years taken place in our social and business systems, but a very unpleasant result in regard to the college. There are now forty boys in the institution who are ready to go out, but who are obliged to remain because there is no one willing to receive them under indentures, as provided by the will of Gir ard. The system of indentured apprenticeship having fallen into discredit and disuse, these boys are unable to find masters, and must, therefore, remain in the college, occupying the places of many who are ready to enter, thus interfering very much with the usefulness of the institution. There is, it appears, no legal way of disposing of these pupils, who have gone through' the prescribed course, and have drawn from the college all the benefits to which they are entitled. " According to the will by which the institution was founded and governed, these boys must be bound out to learn a suitable trade. That patiently waiting for persons willing to take them under these conditions will be of any avail we doubt. Every month, every year will find fewer and fewer business men adhering to the old system of apprenticeship. Every year the number of boys who have graduated but cannot leave the college, will increase, until in time the whole establishment will be filled with its alumni, to the total exclusion of new scholars, and this body of graduates must, we suppose, stay there until they are old men, and every time an octogenarian drops off, a boy may be admitted. the legislature is empowered to pass such a law as may enable the Board of Directors to place the boys at suitable trades and callings without the necessary accompaniment of an indenture, it should immediately be done.”
This article was originally published with the title "Why don't Boys Learn Trades?—Mechanical Labor"