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gencies, and not remedy sưdden evils (sudden! a word that ought not to exist for a great legislator-for nothing in the slow development of events is sudden-all incidents are the effects of causes, and the causes should be regulated, not the effects repaired)—ifever we should establish, as our political creed, that a State should never be taken by surprise, nor the minds of its administrators be occupied in hasty shifts, in temporary expedients, in the petty policies and bolsterings up and empirical alternatives of the hour; if eve, we should learn to legislate afar off, and upon a great system-preparing the Public Mind, and not obeying-masters of the vast machine, and not its tools; if ever that day should arrive, I apprehend that one of the first axioms we should establish will be this: Whatever is meant for the benefit of the people shall not be left to chance operation, but shall be administered by the guardians of the nation. Then, sir, we shall have indeed, as Prussia and Holland already enjoy-as France is about to possessma national education. Without incessant watchfulness—without one unsleeping eye for ever over Public Institutions—they become like wastes and commons, open apparently to all, productive of benefit to none.
Never was this truth more clearly displayed than in the state of our popular education. Behold our numberless charities, sown throughout the land.-Where is their fruit?-What better meant, or what more abused? In no country has the education of the poor been more largely endowed by individuals—it fails—and why? Because in no country has it been less regarded by the government. Look at those volumnious Reports, the result of Lord Brougham's inquiry into Charities, some thirteen years ago. What a profusion of endowments! What a mass of iniquities! Let me once more evoke from the ill merited-oblivion into which it hath fallen, the desolate and spectral instance of Pocklington School! Instance much canvassed, but never controverted! This school is largely endowed; it has passed into decay; its master possessed an income of 9001. a year! How many boys do you think were taught upon that stipend? One! positively one! Where is the school itself?—The school, sir! it is a saw-pit! Where is the school-master?—Lord bless you, sir, he is hiding himself from his creditors! Good heavens ! and is there no one to see to these crying abuses?- To be sure, sir, the Visiters of the school are the Master and Fellows of St. John's, Cambridge.* Now then, just take a drive to Berkhamstead; that school is very richly endowed; the schoolmaster teaches one pupil, and the usher resides in Hampshire !
These are but two out of a mass of facts that prove how idle are endowments where the nation does not appoint one general system of vigilant surveillance-how easily they are abused-with what lubricity they glide from neglect into decay !
* It seems, however, by a letter (imputed to Dr. Ireland, Vicar of Croydon) to Sir William Scott, that the omission of the worthy Master and Fellows of St. John's in exercising their visitorial powers originated in the uncertainty of their right rather than any neglect of duty. But uncertainty of a right, where such revenues, such public bencfits were concerned! Can there be a greater evidence of abuse? What long neglect must have produced that uncertainty! Is not this a proof that educational endowments cannot be left to the inspection of distant visiters, however respectable and honest as individuals?
But if the poor have been thus cheated of one class of schools, they have been ousted from another. Our ancestors founded certain great schools (that now rear the nobles, the gentry, and the merchants) for the benefit of the poor. The Charter-house-Winchester -Kings College, were all founded “pro pauperes et indigentes scholares," for poor and indigent scholars. In 1562, 141 sons of the inhabitants of Shrewsbury were at that ancient school, 125 of whom were below the ranks of squires or bailiffs. From the neighbouring district there came 148 boys, of whom 123 were below the rank of squires, so that out of 289 boys, 248 were of the lower or middle class! Our age has no conception of the manner in which education spread and wavered; now advancing, now receding, among the people of the former age. And, reverently be it said, the novels of Scott have helped to foster the most erroneous notions of the ignorance of our ancestors a tolerable antiquarian in ballads, the great author was a most incorrect one in fact.* At that crisis of our history, a crisis, indeed, of the history of Europe, which never yet has been profoundly analyzed, I mean the reign of Richard II,the nobles wished to enact a law to repress the desire of knowledge that had begun to diffuse itself throughout the lower orders. The statute of Henry VIII. prohibits reading the Bible privately—to whom? To lords and squires?-No!-to husbandmen and labourers, artificers or servants of yeomen. A law that could scarcely have occurred to the legislators of the day, if husbandmen, labourers, artificers, or servants of yeomen had been unable to read at all! The common investigator ponders over the history of our great Church Reform; he marvels at the readiness of the people to assist the king in the destruction of those charitable superstitions; he is amazed at the power of the king—at the rapidity of the revolution.. He does not see how little it was the work of the king, and how much the work of the people; he does not see that the growth of popular education had as much to do with that Reform as the will. of the grasping Tudor. Let me whisper to him a fact: within thirty years prior to that Reformation, more grammar-schools had been. established than had been known for 200 years before! Who, ignorant of that fact, shall profess to instruct us in the history of that day? The blaze is in Reform, but the train was laid in Education. As the nobles grew less warlike, they felt more the necessity of intelligence for themselves, thef court of the schoolmaster replaced that of the baron; their sons went to the schools originally intended for the humbler classes, the gentry followed their example, and as the school was fed from a distance, the abashed and humiliated pupils of the town diminished. Another proof how Custom weans institutions from their original purpose; how, if left to the mercy
**Equally distinguished," said Lord Salisbury of Sir Walter Scott,at a meeting at the Mansion-house in aid of the Abbotsford subscription"equally distinguished as a poet, an historian, and an antiquarian."- That was not saying much for him as a poet! God defend our great men in future from the panegyrics of a marquis !
† Latimer complains with great bitterness, "that there are none now but great men's sons at college;" and that the devil bath got himself to the University, and causeth great men and esquires to send their sons thither, and put out poor scholars that should be divines."
of events, the rich, by a necessary law of social nature, encroach upon the poor; how necessary it is for the education of the people, that a government should watch over its endowments, and compel their adherence to their original object.
A great progress in popular education was made fifty years ago, by the establishment of Sunday-schools, and the efforts of the benevolent Raikes, of Gloucestershire; a still greater by the Bell and Lancaster System in 1797 and 1798. The last gave an impetus to education throughout the country. And here, sir, let us do justice to the clergy of our established church. No men have been more honorably zealous in their endhavours to educate the poor. They have not, perhaps, been sufficiently eager to enlighten the poor man; bnt they have cheerfully subscribed to educate the poor boy. I find them supporters of the Sunday and Infant Schools, of the School Societies, &c.; but I never see them the encouragers of Mechanics’ Institutes, nor the petitioners against the Taxes upon Knowledge. Why is this? the object in both is the same. Education closes not with the boy,-education is the work of a life. Let us, however, be slow to blame them; it may be that, accused by indiscriminate champions of knowledge, they have not considered the natural effects of the diffusion of knowledge itself. They may imagine, that knowledge, unless chained solely to religious instrution, is hostile to religion. But for the poor, religion must be always; they want its consolations; they solace themselves with the balm. Revelation is their Millenium,—their great Emancipation. Thus in America,* knowledge is the most diffused, and religion is the most fondly and enthusiastically beloved. There you may often complain of its excess, but rarely of its absence. To America I add the instances of Holland, of Germany, and of Scotland.
I take pleasure in rendering due homage to the zeal of our country's clergy. One-third part of all the children educated in England are educated under their care; and in vindicating them, let us vindicate, from a vulgar and ignorant aspersion, a great truth: the Christian clergy throughout the world have been the great advancers and apostles of education. And even in the dark ages, when priestcraft was to be overthrown, it received its first assaults from the courageous enlightenment of priests.
A far greater proportion of the English population are now sent to school than is usually supposed, and currently stated. I see
* In an oration delivered at Philadelphia by Mr. Ingersoll, in 1832, the following fine passage occurs. Speaking of the religious spirit so`rife throughout the States, the orator insists on religion as a necessary result of popular power “Even Robespierre," saith he, “in his remarkable discourse on the restoration of public worship, denounced atheism as inconsistent with egality, and a crime of the aristocracy; and asserted the existence of a Supreme Being, who protects the poor and rewards the just, as a popu. lar consolation, without which the people would despair. "If there were no God," said he, “we should be obliged to invent one.” This fine sentiment bespeaks truly the sympathies of republican governments with that faith which the Author of Christianity brought into the world; laying its foundations on the corner-stones of equality, peace, good-will,—it would contradict all philosophy if this country were irreligious." But Mr. Ingersoll errs in attributing that noble sentiment to Robespierre--it is a quo. tation from Voltaire; the thought runs thus, and is perhaps the finest Voltaire ever put into words: “Si Dieu n'existoit pas il faudroit l'inventer."
before me at this moment a statistical work, which declares the po: pulation to be only one in seventeen for England, one in twenty for Wales. What is the fact? Why, that our population for England and Wales amounts nearly to fourteen millions, and the number of children receiving elementary education in 1828 are, by the returns, 1,500,000. An additional 500,000 being supposed, not without reason, to be educated at independent schools, not calculated in the return. Thus, out of a population of fourteen millions, we have no less than two millions of children receiving elementary education at schools.
In the number of schools and of pupils, our account, on the whole, is extremely satisfactory. Where then do we fail? Not in the schools, but in the instruction that is given there: a great proportion of the poorer children attend only the Sunday-schools, and the education of once a week is not very valuable; but generally throughout the primary schools, nothing is taught but a little spelling, a very little reading, still less writing, the Catechism, the Lord's Prayer, and an unexplained, unelucidated chapter or two in the Bible; add to these the nasal mastery of a hymn, and an undecided conquest ovər the rule of Addition, and you behold a very finished education for the poor. The schoolmaster and the schoolmistress, in these academies, know little themselves beyond the bald and meager knowledge that they teach; and are much more fit to go to school than to give instructions. Now the object of education is to make a reflective, moral, prudent, loyal, and healthy people. A little reading and writing of themselves contribute very doubtfully to that end. Look to Ireland: does not the Archbishop of Cashel tell us, that a greater proportion of the peasantry in Ireland, yes, even in Tipperary, can read and write, than can be found amid å similar amount of population in England. I have been favoured with some unpublished portions of the recent evidence on the Poor-laws. Just hear what Mr. Hickson, a most intelligent witness, says on this head:
Query. “Are you of opinion that an efficient system of National Education would materially improve the condition of the labouring classes?"
Answer. “Undoubtedly; but I must beg leave to observe, that something more than the mere teaching to read and write is necessary for the poorer classes. Where books and newspaperg* are inaccessible, the knowledge of the art of reading avails nothing; I have met with adults who, after having been taught to read and write when young, have almost entirely forgotten those arts for want of opportunities to exercise them.”
*I am happy to find in this witness a practical evidence of the advantage of repealing the stamp duty on newspapers; an object which I have so zealously laboured to effect. “I believe," says he, in his answer to the commissioners, "that the Penny Magazines will worke usefully, but cheap newspapers would do much more good, have found it difficult to create an interest in the mind of an ignorant man on malfers of mere general litereture; but his attention is easily enlisted by a narrative of the stirring events of the day, or local intelligence.... The dearness of newspapers in this country is an insurmountable obstacle to the education of the poor. I could name twenty villages within a circuit of a few miles, in which a newspaper is never seen from one year's end to the other."-[Evidence of Mr. Hickson, (unpublished.)
“At the Sunday-schools," observes Mr. Hickson, afterward, "of most Dissenters, nothing is taught generally-I except rare instances—but reading the Bible and repeating hymns.”
While we have so many schools organized, and while so little is taught there, just let me lead your attention to the four common class-books taught at all the popular schools of Saxe Weimar.
The first class-book is destined for the youngest children; it contains, in regular gradations, the alphabet, the composition of syllables, punctuation, elementary formation of language, slight stories, sentences or proverbs of one verse upwards, divers selections, sketches, &c. “ The sentences,” says Mr. Cousin, “struck me particularly; they contain, in the most agreable shapes, the most valuable lessons, which the author classes under systematic titles,such as our duties to ourselves, our duties to men, our duties to God; and the knowledge of His divine attributes,-so that in the germ of Literature, the infant receives also the germ of Morals, and of Religion?”
The second book, for the use of children from eight to ten, is not only composed of amusing sketches,—the author touches upon matters of general utility. He proceeds on the just idea that the knowledge of the faculties of the soul ought a little to precede the more profound explanations of religion: under the head of dialogue between a father and his children, the book treats, first, of man and his physical qualities; secondly, of the nature of the soul and of its faculties, with some notions of our powers of progressive improvement and our heritage of immortality; and, thirdly, it contains the earliest and simplest elements of natural history, botany, mineralogy, &c.
The third work contains two parts, each divided into two chapters: the first part is an examination of man as a rational animal, -it resolves these questions. What am I? What am I able to do? What ought I to do? It teaches the distinction between men and brutes; instinct and reason; it endeavours to render the great moral foundations of truth clear and simple by familiar images and the most intelligible terms.
As the first chapter of this portion exercises the more reflective facnlties, so the second does not neglect the more acute, and comprises songs, enigmas, fables, aphorisms, &c.
The second part of the third work contains, first, the elements of natural history in all its subdivisions; notions of geography; of the natural rights of man; of his civil rights; with some lessons of general history. An Appendix comprises the geography and especially history of Saxe Weimar. The fourth book, not adapted solely for Saxe Weimar, is in great request throughout all Germany; it addresses itself to the more advanced pupils; it resembles a little the work last described, but is more extensive on some points; it is equally various, but it treats in especial more minutely on the rights and duties of subjects; it proceeds to conduct the boy, already made rational as a being, to his duties as a citizen. Such are the four class-books in the popular schools of Saxe Weimar; such are the foundation of that united, intellectual, and lofty spirit which marks the subjects of that principality.*