Punch,  58 (1870), 145.

The Fourth R" Question Composed

Jeremiah Bumps


Letter, Spoof


Education, Politics, Crime, Mental Illness, Neurology, Physiognomy, Phrenology, Human Development, Reading, Religion, Morality, Music

    Discusses the ways in which the case of William Mobbs, an agricultural labourer hung for murder, bears upon the question of a fourth R to be established after the standard three Rs of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Emphasises that the Illustrated Police News description of Mobbs (with a 'short, narrow forehead and small head, and great thickness about the base of the skull') shows that he was a 'brutal idiotic type'. Insisting that 'whatever may be thought' about the 'reality' of phrenological organs, 'it is undeniable that their names express mental realities' and are handy for 'talking about the mind and its dispositions'. Accordingly describes how Mobbs's faculty of 'Language' had been developed so as to enable him to read, but his education in 'Individuality' and 'Eventuality' had been through reading 'tales of murder', which had in turn developed his 'Destructiveness'. Emphasizes that the three Rs may have given Mobbs the powers of 'Construtiveness', 'Form', 'Size', and 'Number', but these would have made 'no difference' to 'his self-culture of "Self-Destructiveness"'. Argues that Mobbs lacked the fourth R—religion—which cultivates and strengthens those sentiments (including 'Veneration', 'Marvellousness', 'Hope', and 'Benevolence') which differentiate man from the gorilla, the pig, and other beasts. Assesses the claim of John Russell (1st Earl Russell) that hymn-singing in schools will be sufficient for this task and wonders whether rate-payers would be willing to pay for 'the needful organ and organist' to teach religious sentiments. Concludes by suggesting that the fourth R could be taught 'through the faculties of "Time" and "Tune"'.

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