§ Mr. Brougham
rose. He said, he returned his best thanks for the candour and the kindness of both the hon. gentlemen, in allowing him the precedence; and now, without any further preface, he would at once enter upon the subject he wished to bring before the House. After a very Jong period of time employed upon its consideration, he had at length determined to bring forward a motion, which in his estimation, was second to none in its magnitude or its importance. Parliament had been for some time, indeed, occupied upon what might be vulgarly considered a topic of more importance, a question to which the most intense attention of the nation had been directed; but by the production of the plan which he was about to submit to parliament, he trusted, that 50 he should put it in the power of the House to do a benefit to mankind which would exist and be widely felt, long after that question should have been determined, and long after the differences which existed between the individuals (illustrious as they were) who were more immediately connected with it, should have been forgotten. He well knew that this was a very unfortunate moment for bringing forward a question proceeding upon such abstract principles as the present one; and he could only hope that the House would assist him, by its candour and attention, in listening with as little interruption as possible to the developement and elucidation of those principles, which became, for that very reason the more indispensable. Without meaning for one moment, or in the slightest degree, to convey any thing like a sneer or a sarcasm, he would beg leave to say, that if any hon. gentleman should feel that the subject before the House was one which possessed not sufficient interest to command his attention, it would be better that he should remove to scenes more capable of exciting that interest within him. It was now more than two years since those proceedings, the result of which it was now his duly to bring before them were commenced. They had been since pursued with various success, but with equal industry, perseverance, and zeal upon the part of the gentlemen who were engaged in them. Their inquiries and exertions had produced a mass of statistical information, which, for its importance and its kind, was equally unprecedented; for, instead of possessing the dry, abstract, and uninteresting character of statistics (and they who were versed in that science would know that such, generally speaking, was their nature), instead of mere numerical details and elaborate calculations, those, inquiries had produced a vast body of moral information, which, the more it was studied and examined, would be found to be the more important and valuable.
Before he proceeded further, he felt it his duty to return his most cordial thanks to those reverend gentlemen, without whose assistance they could not have advanced a single step towards that point of their labours at which they had arrived—he meant the whole of the clergy of the established church. It was, however, quite impossible that any 51 words of his could do justice to the zeal, the honesty, and the ability with which they had lent their assistance towards the attainment of the great object which had been proposed as the result of the inquiries. Those reverend persons had been actuated by no angry feeling, and had manifested no degree of impatience, when, from the circumstances of the nature of the information which was required, and the length at which it was to be detailed, their readiness to undertake what they might have considered a work of unnecessary labour was a thing hardly in reason to be expected from them. He candidly confessed that he felt it incumbent upon him to enter a little more into the statement which he thought it necessary to make upon this part of the subject, in justice to the important services of the reverend individuals in question. This was a measure the great burden of which must of course be thrown upon the ministers of the established church. It might be proper, therefore, rather to show, first of all, what were the claims of those clergymen to the confidence which this bill reposed in them; and that he could not do in any way so well as in stating merely what it was which they had done. The first work of the committee had been to address a circular to the whole of the clergy of England and Wales; the object of which was to call their attention to a variety of matters connected with the present subject. The clergy set about returning answers to these circulars; and as a proof with what alacrity they had exerted themselves in obedience to the wishes of the House, as signified through the committee, he need only mention, that, a day or two after, he had received no less than 600 returns, all in one day; and, two days after that, as many as 2,600; and that within one week, about one-third of the whole clergy had obeyed the wishes of the House,—that was, all those who were sufficiently near the capital to make their returns in such a space of time. After a little while the committee received nearly all the remainder; but, in a correspondence maintained with so large a number of persons as 11,400, there were, as might be expected, some defaulters; and they amounted to 600. To these another circular was addressed; whereupon, as universally happened in such cases, their number was soon greatly reduced; and 52 about 200 ministers only were still defaulters. He had next to mention a circumstance, of which he would only say beforehand, that there was no blame to be attributed to the clerks at the post office, nor to any of those channels of transmission whose extraordinary fidelity, accuracy, and dispatch, he most willingly acknowledged; nor to any party more immediately engaged in conducting or aiding in the inquiries; nor indeed to himself. By some accident, however, there were 360 returns that were mislaid after the dissolution of parliament; they were put into a box, for the purpose of being taken care of, and could not afterwards be found, as he should have occasion subsequently to explain. Another circular was in consequence addressed to the clergymen who had furnished these returns. Now, it did so happen, that these 360 returns had been picked out of the whole 11,400, as being the most elaborate, and the most ample of them all. They had been so selected, as pattern cards, if he might use the term, of the rest. Owing to the misconception occasioned by this unfortunate accident, however, a letter was sent to those gentlemen, couched in terms which pretty smartly imputed to them neglect and delay. Those very returns were a second time called for from reverend gentlemen who were thus chid, owing to a mistake arising out of an accident, (for which, he repeated, he was not aware that any one was to blame); which accident, again, arose out of the very fact of their superior industry, skill, and attention, as testified in the returns. Any one might have supposed that, after this, those ministers would have felt themselves hurt and aggrieved; and he should not have been surprised, for one, if they had answered publicly, and said, that it was really too hard that they should be again called upon to make out returns which they had before sent up, after infinite pains and some labour; for many of them extended to the length of ten pages and upwards. But would the House believe—and he protested that it did appear to him a most unexampled and incomparable instance of a very honourable and meritorious feeling —that so great and so zealous was their good-will to a most important national object, and such the truly Christian meekness and benevolence, which they evinced, that out of those 360 clergymen no more 53 than two murmured at the fresh trouble that was imposed upon them; and even those two transmitted the required returns, to get her with their remonstrances? Some of those gentlemen had fortunately kept copies of the statements which they originally sent to the committee; but others had not done so, and were under the necessity of making out fresh returns. He knew that, in making this allusion to the accident out of which the renewed applications in question originated, he ran the risk of incurring some blame; but he was content rather that blame should be imputed to him, than that he should fail to do justice to a body of men who had so handsomely and so liberally exerted themselves to remedy the loss of their own labours. The same reverend gentlemen had since answered even private letters connected with this subject, and letters written under no parliamentary authority whatever. He had himself sent private letters again and again to them, always, of course, making his most humble apologies for the trespass committed on their leisure. Another proof of the good-will to the cause which he was embarked in was this—that if any one would look through the digest, he would find that in many cases a foundation was supported entirely by the charity and exertions of the incumbent himself. When he said this, he spoke of the working parish priests, of those meritorious individuals who, to their great honour, devoted to this laudable purpose a portion of their money and their time. He did not speak of the more dignified prelate, who could not of course be expected to reside upon the one particular spot; nor of the pluralist, who could not, if he would, reside there; hut he meant the working parish minister—the true and effective labourer in the vineyard. In making this remark, he meant no compliment to those reverend gentlemen. It was merely an act of justice towards them.
He had said thus much in order to make out his case for intrusting the clergymen of the establishment with the execution of the proposed plan rather than any other body of men in the kingdom. The result of the labours of the committee was, that a Digest was prepared and ready to be put into the hands of members, which would exhibit the clearest and most prompt information on every part of the subject, and the state 54 of education in every quarter of the country; and there still remained for completion a separate volume containing supplementary statements, to which tables were prepared to be added to render the whole as complete as possible to show the state of education, exhibiting in one view, or rather in various points of view, the state of education in every county, parish, village, and even small hamlet, showing not only the actual state of education, but the defects which existed in each. It would therefore require but a few words to explain to those gentlemen the nature of his motion, particularly its extension in a separate form to England and Wales.—There were also two keys printed; one was to the numerical tables of the Digest, and the other referred more particularly to the subject. The Digest itself consisted of an abstract of the informations obtained, and in some parts recapitulated the very words of those informations. His late lamented and hon. friend, the member for Bedford, in 1806, proposed aplan upon a similar subject, but of a very different nature; Mr. Perceval objected to it, not with reference to its principle, but because he thought previous inquiry necessary: he said, "Have a commission first, and then see whether, from the information to be derived under it, a new and better plan may not be the result." What Mr. Perceval recommended had now been done. The commission had made the necessary inquiries. The result showed the errors which had hitherto existed. He held in his hand a calculation clearly proving how wide of the mark writers upon these subjects had been in former years, and how very ignorant they were of statistics. It was extracted from a book written in 1808, by Dr. Colquhoun—a man who had been always considered, both here and on the continent, of great authority upon matters connected with political economy. For himself, he would own that he had always been doubtful of the infallibility of such sweeping calculations as the doctor was accustomed to indulge in, nor could he ever reconcile to himself the absolute truth of a numerical calculation which went to ascertain, even to the fraction of a single woman of the town, how many were the females in London living by prostitution. Dr. Colquhoun was certainly a very lively writer, and in some respects entitled to credit, 55 but he was never more wide of the mark than when in an evil hour he undertook to calculate the number of children in the country whose parents were unable to provide education for them. His first statement was—that there were two millions of poor children in England and Wales, who were in want of education, and 50,000 in London alone. Now it did so happen that there were not two millions of poor children at any one time in existence in England and Wales, because the number of children of an age capable of education was reckoned at one-ninth part of the whole population of a country at any time. He (Mr. Brougham) estimated them at one-tenth, although he knew that his opinion was contrary to that of almost every foreign writer on these subjects. At this rate, however, the poor population of England and Wales ought to be 20 millions, and if the children of the rich were added in an equal proportion (and he should be sorry if every other man were a pauper), the whole population should be 40 millions. The next position of this author was, that there were 1,750,000 individuals in Great Britain and Ireland who grew up without education; and it was a position of which he would say, without troubling the House further on the subject, that it was equally absurd with the other. Here they had one calculation which omitted the children of the rich altogether, and another which made the number of poor children greater in amount than the total number of children in the country. The doctor went on, however, to hazard another calculation, which was yet more untenable; it was rather a proposition indeed; for he said, "let there be built a school in each parish, capable of containing 800 poor children." Now he (Mr. Brougham) had looked into this matter, and he found that there were only 50 parishes in the kingdom which did contain 800 such children; and that 700 parishes only contained even so many as 400 children. What was yet more was, that the average amount taken upon all the parishes of England and Wales was only 85 and not 800 children. So that, in fact, if Dr. Colquhoun had been talking about the empire of China, he could not have arrived at conclusions much more erroneous. It only served to show how surely and how fatally false deductions were derived from false premises.
56 There was one difficulty which had formerly stood in the way of such a plan as that he had now to submit, which no longer existed: it was one which had not in fact been often attempted to be urged against the progress of knowledge, even in a time of general ignorance—he meant the objection that education would prove a detriment to the poor. He purposely avoided using the term "lower orders," not from any deference to those who had so strenuously objected to it, and whose counsels and evil courses if they had been followed, would have made them low indeed. He knew not what rational objection there could be to the appellation. Sure he was, that the forefathers of those lower orders never found fault with it. That House (the House of Commons) was called the lower House of Parliament, but that term did not imply any degradation to the Commons; it was used as a term of distinction between that and the other House. So it was when the lower orders were mentioned; the term was used to distinguish them from those who were above them in the scale of society. God forbid that he should say any thing against the poorer classes of society, for what would the rich be without the poor? Where would the pyramid be without its base? To return to the question. It appeared that since the peace of Amiens, and in consequence of what had taken place at the French revolution, the education of the poorer classes was objected to by some persons in this country, on the ground that it would make a man a worse subject. This was, however, a modern idea. He could show, from historical authorities, that the education of the poor was by no means a novel object; but had been held in early ages, and by the wisest governments the best security for the morals, the subordination, and the peace of countries. In France, in the year 1582, under the reign of Henry 3rd, the states-general met, and the noblesse of the day presented a petition to the sovereign, praying that pains and penalties might be imposed upon those who would not send their children to school; and nearly at the same time the Scotch parliament (perhaps the most aristocratical body then in existence) passed a law that every gentleman should send at least his eldest son to school, in order to learn grammar. In the 16th century, an or- 57 der was made that all children should attend school, and that alms and charities should be refused to those persons whose children did not so attend. He had also seen a charter of king David 1st, dated in 1241, in which mention was made of various public schools in Roxburgh, now a small village. Another charter dated 1163, spoke of the schools of Stirling. Another in 1244, noticed the number of schools at Ayr; and a fourth, dated in 1256, made honourable mention of the praiseworthy manner in which the schools of other districts were conducted. Shortly before the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1680, the most intolerant period of French history, was founded the first society in the world, and, for a long time, the only one, for the advancement of education: its founder was the celebrated Pere de la Salle, and the order was denominated "Les Freres des Ignorants," and their vow-was the foundation of schools. That society had established numerous schools for the education of the poor. In 1724, which was also a most intolerant period, pope Benedict issued his celebrated bull, authorizing and encouraging the extensive establishment of places of education for the poor. In that bull the pope mentioned the example of the Pere de la Salle, and expressed himself in the following words:—"Ex ignorantia omnium origine malo-rum, præsertim in illis qui egestate oppressi sunt, et qui elementa Christianæ religionis persæpe ignorant." A more accurate, a more scientific description of ignorance was never given, even by Voltaire, than that in this instance promulgated by the enemy of that great philosopher—by Benedict. He now turned to a different authority. From that of Pere de la Salle and his Ignorantium brotherhood, from the advice of the pope, to whose bull he had alluded, he came to the evidence, in 1738, of the lieutenant of police at Paris; a man who was, perhaps, much more conversant than either with the effects of ignorance. That gentleman stated, that from the period of the establishment of the ignorantium schools in Paris, the expense of the police in the Fauxbourg St. Autoine was reduced 30,000 francs annually. This was the evidence, be it remembered, not of a theoretical, but of a practical man. About the same time a remarkable circumstance happened in this country. In 58 1714, Mandeville published his "Fable of the Bees," condemning the charity schools of that day, because he said the children learned nothing there but to lisp "High Church and Ormond;" and in nine years afterwards the grand jury of the county of Middlesex thought fit to present him as a fit object for prosecution, and he was accordingly prosecuted for endeavouring to prevent the advancement of education and religious instruction, for irreligion, for decrying the universities, and for reprobating the instruction of youth. Thus, strange as it might seem, an impious man and an atheist at that time was occupying the ground since mistakenly filled (though only for a moment) by the pious and religious, who in our own day, worked upon by the false philosophy and evil consequences of the French revolution, had endeavoured to discourage the progress of knowledge. Mandeville charged the educators of his time with instilling principles of disloyalty, and an antagonist of Mandeville's, in a letter to lord Carteret, replied "I defy you to prove this; but, enter into any of the schools, and if you at any time find disloyalty inculcated, let the schools be pulled down." Now this was precisely his argument. He had heard that schools had been established in Lancashire and Cheshire, inculcating unconstitutional doctrines, radical doctrines; why then his advice was, if there were such schools, let them be shut up. He next came to the letter or circular of the pope, through the cardinal Fontana, to the Irish prelates, in 1819. In that letter was pointed out the poison, which was inculcated into the minds of the people from allowing them to read unauthorized versions of the holy scripture. The right reverend father said, with true philosophy, "it is not enough to prevent such works; in order to prevent your flock from being badly educated, you must yourselves educate them well," This was undoubtedly the language which, as a pious man, and as head of the church to which he belonged, he ought to use. The pope went on to say, "in order to avoid the snares of the tempter "(and no man seemed to have a better knowledge of the use of schools; no man saw more fully the necessity of instructing the ignorant)," I beseech the holy brotherhood, through the bowels of Christ, to work day and night in the establishment of Catholic schools, in order 59 to prevent the dissemination of improper doctrines." Now this was exactly his argument. Let them, in order to prevent bad impressions, inculcate those which were sound, and this was only to be done by education. He was happy to have such high authority with him on this point. The whole of this branch of his argument might be summed up in the memorable words of the great lord Bacon—"Lucis enim naturam puram,"&c.—that the light of knowledge was in itself pure and bright, however it might be perverted and polluted by wickedness or imperfect instruction; and that the channels by which it poured in upon the human species ought to be ever kept open and un-defiled.
He now came to a new topic. It had been objected that he (Mr. Brougham) wished the poorer classes to be taught Greek and Latin and fluxions, and other knowledge which would draw them from the cultivation of the soil, and their various humble occupations. He really had no such wild project in his contemplation. He agreed with one of the wisest men that had ever lived, that to one of the rank to which he alluded, a knowledge of all the languages of the globe could not, in point of utility, be put in competition with an acquaintance with a single mechanical art. Milton, the most learned man of a learned age, endowed with many rare accomplishments of genius and of acquisition, in his small "Tractate of Education," had expressed himself in the following forcible and beautiful language:—"And though a linguist should pride himself to have all the tongues that Babel cleft the world into, yet if he had not studied the solid things in them, as well as the words and lexicons, he were nothing so much to be esteemed a learned man, as any yeoman or tradesman competently wise in his mother-dialect only."— Still however, he was persuaded that if a poor man had a little more education, it would be no bar to his industrious occupations. Without dwelling upon theoretical opinions, he would quote a practical authority of a remarkable nature, in a letter from Mr. Gilbert Burns, brother to the immortal poet of that name, who though a self-taught man, would pass down to posterity with the name of his country; a man who had by his songs rendered that country dearer to its natives, as must have been felt by all those belonging to that country, who had ever 60 visited foreign countries. He would read an extract of a letter from the brother of that man to Dr. Currie, and it was- the more worthy of attention as the hand that wrote it had, half an hour before, been probably engaged in directing the plough. Mr. Gilbert Burns in his letter, said, "I can say, from my own experience, that there is no sort of farm-labour inconsistent with the most refined and pleasurable state of the mind that I am acquainted with arising from a liberal education, thrashing alone excepted." He would here beg leave to observe, that the writer did not clothe his ideas in perhaps as fine or as roundabout a dress as would be used by some other gentlemen; he stated what arose in his mind clearly, but simply. He had, perhaps, been threshing shortly before, and had therefore felt the irksome-ness of the employment. He went on to state, "That, indeed, I always considered an insupportable drudgery, and I think the ingenious mechanic who invented the thrashing machine ought to have a statue among the benefactors of his country in a corresponding niche with the first introducer and cultivator of potatoes. I maintain, moreover, that as the sort of dim religious awe is wearing off which used hitherto to guard the morals of the people in this part of the world, from a great variety of causes, men will go suddenly into an opposite extreme, if they be not so educated as to enable them to see the separation between the essence of true religion and the gross systems so often confounded with it." So much for his peasant. He came at once to the point; and he (Mr. Brougham-) wished that many other persons whom he knew would do the same. He would now call the attention of the House to the result of the inquiries that had been made upon this subject. It appeared from those returns that there were now educated at unendowed schools 490,000 children, and to these were to be added about 11,000 for 150 parishes from which no returns had yet been made. In the endowed schools 165,432 children were educated; making a total (exclusive of the 11,000) of 655,432. In England it appeared that on the average l–14th or l–15th of the whole population was placed in the way of receiving education. The Breslaw tables, on which the calculations were made in France, included children between the ages of 7 and 13 years, and represented one-ninth as the proportion of the-popu- 61 lation which required education. He had gone through the laborious task of checking those tables by the digests now before the House, which digests were made up from the actual statements of clergymen, from the personal knowledge of their own parishes; and the result was, that instead of one-ninth being the ratio of children requiring education, as compared with the whole mass of the population, he found that it was nearer one-tenth. Now in England the proportion of those actually receiving education was only one-fourteenth or one-fifteenth, so that there appeared to be a considerable deficiency. Another deduction ought also to be made for the dame-schools, where 53,000 were educated, or rather not educated, for it amounted to no education at all, since the children were generally sent too young, and taken away just when they were competent to learn. He admitted, notwithstanding, that these dame-shools were most useful, on account of the regularity and discipline they inculcated. The average means of mere education, therefore, was only in fact one-sixteenth in England; yet even this scanty means had only existed since the year 1803, when what were called the new schools, or those upon the systems of Dr. Bell, and Mr. Lancaster, were established. Those schools were in number 1,520, and they received about 200,000 children. Before 1803, then only the twenty-first part of the population was placed in the way of education, and at that date England might be justly looked on as the worst-educated country of Europe. What a different picture was afforded by Scotland! the education there was in the proportion of l-9th or between l–9th and l–10th. Wales was even in a worse state than England: at the present day the proportion was l–20th, and before 1803, it was l–26th.
It might be useful that he should state the condition in this respect of three foreign countries, France, Switzerland, and Holland; and he was happy to be able to do so, not from books, but from the assistance and information which had been generously afforded him by distinguished foreigners; among them he might mention the baron de Stael, the duke de Broglie, M. Cuvier (who had supplied the information regarding Holland), and the chevalier Laborde, at the head of the department particularly connected with this subject in Paris. The proportion in France at this day was one-twenty-eighth, but even this had only 62 been produced by very recent improvements. In 1819, only 1,070,000 children of the population received education, but that number was greater by 200,000 than in 1817. In 1817 only one-thirty-fifth part of the population of France received education. In truth France was at that period in almost as bad a state in that respect as Middlesex, which, though the great metropolitan country of England, was, beyond all dispute, the worst-educated part of Christendom. No sooner had the defect been discovered in France, than the inhabitants set about to reform it, and, from the zeal with which the subject was undertaken, no Jess than 7,120 new schools had been opened, and an addition of 204,000, or the children of two millions of the whole population, had since 1817 received education—an example well worthy of admiration and of imitation. If they went on in the same way for ten years, there would not be an uneducated child in France. Regarding the state of Switzerland he had received much valuable intelligence from his well-known friend, Mr. Dumont, in a letter written in a most beautiful hand, by his servant, who was from the Pays-de-Vaud, and had never received a single lesson but in one of the parish-schools. From this and other sources he found that in Switzerland there was twelve times as much education as in England, the proportion was about one in eight, and there was not above one person in sixty who could not read and write. In 1812, in Holland, according to M. Cuvier, there were 4,451 schools, educating 190,000 children, or one-tenth of the population.
Such were the general averages by which he thought it fit to preface his plan; and he would now take another, and not an uninteresting, view of the subject. He would state, in the first place, what was the amount of population in England wholly destitute of the means of education. He would take 600,000, as before as the number educated in endowed and unendowed schools, deducting the number placed in dame schools. To these he would add 50,000 for the children educated at home by private tuition; also 100,000 for such as were educated at Sunday schools. The latter received, indeed, in this way, a very small modicum of education; and, above all, they obtained none of the useful habits inculcated by the discipline of schools under the 63 eye of a master, which was more beneficial to the child than that of a parent. The total therefore of the children receiving education was 750,000; according to which calculation no less than 2,000,000 of the population of England was left in this respect unprovided for; in other words, every fifth person was without the means of education; so that the condition of Switzerland was twelve times better than our own. The last view he should take of this subject was founded upon a comparison of the number of parishes and ecclesiastical districts which had, and had not schools. There were about 12,000 ecclesiastical district parishes, or chapelries, in England; of these 3,500 had not the vestige of a school, endowed, unendowed, or dame; they had no more means of education than were to be found in the country of the Hottentots. Of the remainder, 3,000 had endowed schools, and the rest relied entirely on unendowed schools—of course fleeting and casual. In Scotland it was known that every parish, great or small, had one or more schools; some of them endowed, upon which were formed the bulk of those where the majority of the population was educated. Were he not afraid of fatiguing the House, he could show, as in a map, how education was spread over the country. The average of the whole of England being one-fifteenth, in Middlesex, it was only one-twenty-fourth, and if the dame schools were deducted, it would be only one-forty-sixth; and excluding this county from the calculation would lower the average of England to an eighteenth. Thus it was evident that Middlesex was three times worse educated than all the rest of England. Lancashire was next in the scale, where it was one-twenty-fourth, or very nearly half as bad again as the rest of England. In the four northern counties taken together, the average was one-tenth of the population; but in Westmorland singly, he was happy to say, that it amounted to one-seventh. It was far from his wish to state any thing disrespectful of other counties, but it was his duty on this occasion to observe, that the proportion was extremely different in many districts. In the six midland counties, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, and Huntingdonshire, where lace-making was the ordinary occupation, and the great enemy both to education and morals, the 64 average was one-twenty-fourth. A great deduction from the dame schools was to be made as respected these counties, in consequence of that occupation. In the eastern counties, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, the proportion was one in twenty-one, and in Somerset and Wilts one in twenty-four. He had no desire to build any argument upon the connexion between education and the amount of poverty and criminality, without reference to all the circumstances and disturbing forces which formed such an essential ingredient in a calculation. Amongst these must be reckoned a vicinity to sea-port towns, the comparative density of population, and manufacturing habits. Making allowance for these obstructions, the result would still answer as a practical exemplification of his theory. The average of the poor of all England was one-twelfth, exclusively of the northern counties, where the average was about one-fifteenth. In Westmoreland and Cumberland, the counties in which the population was twice as well educated as in any other part of the country, the proportion of poor was but one half of what it was elsewhere. He held in his hand a table of the number of commitments, with reference to the population of each county, for the last ten years. That number, estimated for all England, was in the proportion of one in 1,400, but in the northern counties was one in 4,200, and in the midland counties one in 2,100. In Westmoreland the numbers committed for crimes varied but little for the last twenty years, and this was matter of little surprise; they were not to expect miracles from education—education enlightened the people—it did not immediately remove them from crime."—They must mix with their fellows—they must wait for the gradual improvement which time brought about but if, notwithstanding the disturbances of late years, if the number of committals did not increase, he thought he might rely on the fact as affording a proof of the salutary and permanent effects of education. It was surprising to find how the proportion of those who received education without paying for it varied in different districts. In the four northern counties the number of children educated free were 16,300; those who paid were 37,000. In Westmoreland, out of 2,700, only 48 were educated free. In the six midland counties 18,000 paid, 20,000 were free. In Wilts and Somerset 11,000 paid, 16,000 65 were free. In the three eastern counties 24,000 paid, 30,000 were free. Now in Scotland, which was again pre-eminent in this instance, although all the children were educated, there was scarcely one whose parent or friend did not pay something for it. In Scotland there was hardly such a thing as gratuitous education. If in drawing up the returns for that part of the king's dominions, the paper of two columns had been sent under the heads of "Paid" and "Unpaid Schools," the return to the "paid" would be nil.—Even the peasants took care to provide means for this purpose; and we in this part of the empire might well envy Scotland the possession of such a peasantry. We might also be assured that there was no way of getting rid of the poor-laws, and of their increasing evil, except by a restoration of those wholesome and independent feelings which England once had, which Scotland still had, but which she would not long continue to have, if the poor-laws were extended to that country.
He might here point the attention of the House to a digest of the reports of the Scotch clergy on this subject, as one of the most admirable and affecting documents which had ever been submitted to their consideration. In that might be taken a correct view of the character of the people; in that might be found manifested, in a thousand ways, the zeal and earnestness of parents in procuring instruction for their children. The children of the poorer classes worked half their time, and their earnings constituted a fund, not, as in other places that should be nameless, where the sweat of their brow was imposed to support the dissipation, or gratify the impure desires of their parents; not to be wasted in drunkenness and debauchery; but to be carefully reserved as the means of obtaining education. Scotland was not a land where many visionaries or speculators were to be found. Metaphysically as some of its inhabitants were inclined, they had an utter contempt for every thing that did not promote their own real and substantial advantage. It was for this he praised them. His praise of the Scotch was, that they knew and followed what was their real advantage, and that they did not see the advantages of vice and ignorance. Their youth were not brought up in vice or idleness, but in persevering and industrious habits. The clergymen said, that 66 the poor people who could not afford to keep their children all the year at school, kept them at work for the summer, and with the amount of their wages, which seldom amounted to more than 20 shillings, they sent them to school in the winter, at that invaluable period of life when mind, as the Roman poet said, "might be fashioned like wet clay." In Scotland there were parishes fifteen miles in length, and six in breadth. It was easier for an adult to go to church than for a child to go to school in such cases. But what was the expedient suggested by their zeal and ingenuity? The schoolmaster was taken into houses successively, and was boarded in remuneration for his trouble in teaching the children. Scotland was not remarkable for abundance of animal food, but the parents gave him some kind of subsistence, probably better suited to their means than to his appetite. There was a curious similarity in this respect between that part of the kingdom and the south of France. It was observed, in a report of the French commissioners, that "happy was the schoolmaster who lived in the rugged districts of the Pyrennees; there he was at least sure of not dying of hunger, for the people having no money, boarded him by rotation." Such was exactly the state in the Highlands, in what he would call the Pyrenean parts of Scotland. He would join these poor people in preferring the humble and pious prayer of their clergy for the love of God to grant them more widely the means of education; for the love of that religion which their Divine Master said was preached for the rich as well as the poor, he implored parliament not to be stingy on this branch alone of their internal administration, and not to limit to an annuity of 10l. the stipend of the teacher who was to assist in this good work.—It was probable that if they did, some persons would be found to contrast their ill-starred economy on this point with their profusion upon other projects. The money which had been thrown away on the Caledonian canal would have educated half of England, and the whole of Scotland.
He had now no further statements to offer to the House, and would therefore proceed to lay before them, as shortly as he could, the principal heads of that plan which he felt himself justified in recommending. If this plan had been struck out in a heat, if it was the offspring of 67 mere theory, a creation of fancy, or the adaptation of a system established elsewhere to the state of this country, as, mutatis mutandis, an act of William had endeavoured to extend the parochial system of England to Scotland, criticism and opposition might well be expected. But he entreated every honourable member to believe, when any objection presented itself to his mind, that it had previously occurred to the committee, had been well weighed and fully considered, both by himself and the hon. members whose assistance he had enjoyed. Had it been otherwise, indeed, the plan could neither be rational, practicable, nor feasible. He was sure that the length of time which had been employed in the considerations and inquiries of the committee evinced their sense of the importance and difficulty of the task which they had undertaken. There was no part of the plan that was not warranted by the information which had been laid before the committee. Queries had been propounded upon every leading branch of the inquiry—witnesses had been examined on every material point, and the benefits of their united wisdom and experience brought in aid of the deliberations of the committee. The plan in question was divided into four branches, and referred in the first place, as might be supposed, to the foundation of schools. In the second place, it related to the appointment and removal of masters; in the third, to the admission of scholars, and their mode of tuition; and in the fourth, to the improvement of old education endowments. The first thing naturally to be considered was, how to plant the school; the second, how to procure a proper schoolmaster; the third, what he was to teach when procured; and the fourth, how to relieve the country of part of the expense necessarily attendant upon the plan, by making the old endowments in some measure available. He proposed to rest the authority of initiating proceedings in four different classes of persons, and that the tribunal for determining and adjudicating on the subject should be the quarter-sessions. The ecclesiastical division of districts was that which he had adopted, and the first class of persons to whom he had alluded was the grand jury at the Easter sessions, to proceed either by finding a bill of indictment, or presentment of their own. Upon this, he submitted, that the case ought to be triable in the following 68 sessions. The matter of complaint should be either that there was no school within the district, or none in the adjoining districts sufficiently near to be available to the inhabitants of that district, or that there was only one school where two were necessary, or three, in the case of very extensive or populous districts. Beyond this he did not go; it was right some limit should be set, and when there were three schools in a parish a great deal would have been done. Evidence might then be heard, and the question determined at a special or school sessions; no certiorari or writ of error being allowed. The second class of persons entitled to apply was, the rector, vicar, perpetual curate, or actual incumbent of each parish, with a power of uniting two parishes or chapelries together, and making the application jointly. In the third place, his plan would enable any two justices acting for a division in an ecclesiastical district to prefer similar complaints; and, in the fourth and last instance, would confer a like discretion on any five resident householders. Notice was to be given and affixed to the church-door in such cases, for the period of a month before the first day of quarter-sessions; two chapelries or parishes might join in the application, four householders of each parish or chapelry concurring; the parish officers were obliged to defend, at the request of five householders; an estimate of the expense of the school-house and garden was to be furnished; the education digest and population abstract were to be given in evidence, but liable to be rebutted; costs of the application were to be allowed; no appeal or certiorari was to be allowed; the salary of the schoolmaster should not be less than 20 or more than 30l.—This last point he was aware might stagger some persons, and he begged them to believe that he had not fixed so low a sum without mature consideration. It might be objected, that this was a great deal too little; but he did not wish for sinecurists, or to take from them the desire of obtaining day scholars. He deemed it important that they should find their own interests immediately concerned in this particular. It was in fact important, and it was his great object, that whilst measures were adopted for bringing education home to the doors of all, that all should still pay a little for it. He was desirous of seeing the instructor live by his art, and obtain 69 some remuneration for his pains, and the advantages which he communicated, from each of his pupils. He, however, allowed a power of increasing the salary with the concurrence of two-thirds of the householders paying school-rate; the absent proprietors voting by agents. He could anticipate that there might be cases in large parishes, such as those of Liverpool or Manchester, where it might be an object of great public importance to secure a schoolmaster of superior talents at a higher salary than 20 or 30l.—such men as Joseph Lancaster, had he continued industrious in his vocation; and in mentioning him, although he lamented his errors, he could not but express his sense of the great service which he had rendered to society. With this view he proposed, in the first instance, that the order of sessions for the master's salary should be a warrant to the parish-officers to levy it half-yearly; and 2ndly, that the inhabitant householders might, at a meeting with one month's notice, and consent of the resident parson, increase the salary when the office was vacant, provided that two-thirds of such inhabitants concurred.
He now came to the delicate question of how the expense was to be defrayed; and he was quite sure that no country gentleman would complain of the small additional burthen of a few shillings, or even of a pound a-year, which would be imposed upon him as his quota for the maintenance of a schoolmaster; for in a very few years he or his son would experience a diminution of the parish rates brought about by these very means. The expense of building the school, however, ought not, in his opinion, to fall upon the country gentlemen, but upon that part of the community—those engaged in manufactures—who, whilst they increased the objects of the poor-rates, contributed but little towards them. He should propose then—but here he almost trembled whilst he spoke, for he saw the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer, was becoming uneasy—the hon of the Treasury was roused—but he should propose that the money be advanced, in the first place by the treasurer of the county, provided that it did not in any case exceed 200l. This sum might, however, be deemed too large or too small for the purpose, and he was perfectly ready to acquiesce in some other estimate. This sum, whatever it was, he proposed should be replaced out of the consolidated fund in the hands of 70 the receiver-general of the land-tax, and that the commissioners of the treasury should direct it to be paid on seeing the order of sessions. The digest was, indeed, filled with complaints of the evils that arose from having schools in very large houses, by which the original object was destroyed. He was for making them nothing but school-houses, in the strictest sense of the word—buildings, where the master and his wife, with a guardian to assist him, might reside, but in which no boarders should be admitted. He looked upon the schoolmaster to be employed in an honourable and useful capacity—so honourable, that none was more highly to be esteemed, if the individual were faithful in the discharge of his duty—so useful, that no man, he believed, effected more good in his generation than a good parish schoolmaster. That class would not, however, be offended when he observed, that they moved in an inferior station of life—and, their circumstances being contracted, to eke them out they were glad to practise a little land-surveying, or a little conveyancing. The more conveyancing they undertook, the better it was for the profession to which he belonged; for their labours in that line generally brought plenty of grist to the mill in Westminster-hall. Sometimes they only occupied themselves in copying conveyances, which was a more harmless pursuit, and they were generally assisted by their pupils in that innocent amusement. In aiding in the correspondence of the fair, there was often employment for the epistolary taste of the village schoolmaster. Every man who read the Digest, must see the necessity of watching, with the greatest vigilance, the mode in which the building of these schools was contracted for, and carried on. With this view, it was intended that no parish officer should be employed in building a school; and where land for the purpose was purchased from persons in that situation, that the county surveyor should be called in to inspect it, and to report on its value. The public should be answerable for the sum expended in building the school, but the salary of the schoolmaster was to be defrayed by the county. The outfit was placed to the public account, and the salary was made a local matter for the best possible reasons. In the first place, individuals possessing local information could best decide on the amount of salary that should be given; secondly, rendering the pay- 71 ment a local charge was useful, inasmuch as it established a certain degree of control over the schoolmaster's conduct: and thirdly, that the charge ought to fall only on those parishes or districts that had not already voluntarily provided the means of education. If for instance, it should happen, that a parish was without any school (as that in which he resided in the country actually was, though it also happened that in that parish there were no children, at least none who were not educated at home), if the present inhabitants paid no master, and their ancestors had not had the grace to found one, it would be hard that the inhabitants of the next parish, who had a school, should be obliged to pay to make up for their neighbours' neglect. But the building might reasonably be paid out of the general fund, as well for the reasons which he had before stated, as because it might form an impediment to the establishment of the schools, because the householders, to whom the power was left of making an application for a new school, might be deterred from doing so by the apprehension of being called on at once for a considerable sum. It would be found that all the four classes of persons alluded to in the digest were landholders; and though they would not be willing to pay the 30l. or 40l. towards the outfit, they would have no objection to lay down the 205. or 30s. for salary. He stated these points, as drawn from the Digest, to show that they were all facts deduced from experience, and not depending on theory. Parish-officers, it would be provided, might summon a jury to assess the value of any land or house that might be taken, whose verdict should be final. It was intended that the warrant for levying the master's salary should be issued half-yearly. Another provision was, that the inhabitant householders might, at a meeting regularly convened, after one month's notice, and the consent of the resident clergyman, increase the salary of schoolmasters, when the office became vacant, by a sum not exceeding 20l., provided that not less than two-thirds of such meeting concurred. Proprietors of above 100l. a-year might vote by their agents at such meeting, being duly authorized in writing.
They had now the school planted and endowed, and the next step was to put in the schoolmaster, which was one of the most important parts of the whole system. The appointment and the removal of the 72 master were distinctly provided for; and those provisions he would state to the House, rather than send gentlemen to examine a bill, which was very rarely read by those who were directed to it. In the first place, the master's qualification must appear from the certificate of the clergyman, and of three householders of the parish in which he had resided for twelve months; or from the clergymen and two householders of two parishes. He should not be less than 24 years of age, nor more than 40. The youth of some masters, and the advanced age of others, had occasioned great evils. He believed that boys of 15 and men of 70 had knocked up more schools than any other cause whatever. He must be a member of the established church, and have taken the sacrament, in testimony of that fact, one month previous to the election. It was provided that parish clerks should be eligible to the office. Without that specific statement they would have been eligible; but it was thought right to mention parish clerks particularly, as it would be a hint that that body were the best calculated to fill the office of schoolmasters. That ancient but now degraded body, the parish clerks, in the older and better limes of the church, were viewed in the light of minor spiritual assistants. Even now, in Catholic countries, they were so considered. They were one of the five minor orders of the Catholic church, amongst whom were the ostuarii, the bell-ringers, &c. Our parish-clerk, however, filled a more respectable situation; but the office of late years had fallen so much into decay, that some of those who were appointed to it pursued the very lowest occupations. He recollected one of that fraternity, who, to procure a livelihood, went about singing, or rather disturbing the slumbers of the neighbourhood, if not depressing the spirits of those who did not sleep. In truth, he could not say that his voice was remarkable for its sweetness, or the ditties which he poured forth remarkable for their elegance. Having refreshed the parishioners in this manner, the worthy man regularly proceeded to refresh himself—and, for the most part, it was necessary to carry him home. These were his nightly amusements—his occupation during the day was mole-catching. On Sunday he appeared in church, reading—not indeed with a distinct voice, but as audibly as he could, and as fast as his abilities enabled him to read—that part of the divine ser- 73 vice which was allotted to him. He (Mr. Brougham) was not very squeamish about these things; but he thought when he witnessed this exhibition (and it was a long time ago), that it was a very undignified mode of performing a religious service. He thought it would be a great advantage, if, by the proposed alteration, a better class of men were placed in the situation of parish clerk, which must be the case if they hoped to combine with that duty the duty of parish schoolmaster. In Scotland, the sessions-clerk, who was connected with the church, was very frequently the school-master.
He now came to the mode by which the schoolmaster was to be elected. 1st, a meeting was to be called, by notice, posted on the church-door a month before the election of inhabitant housekeepers, rated to the school rate. They were to assemble in the church between 12 and 3 o'clock. 2nd, Proprietors of above 100l. a year might vote by their agents, authorized in writing for that purpose. 3rd, The senior parish-officer to preside, and have a casting vote, in case of equal numbers. And here he requested the House to observe how he had united and knitted the system with the Protestant establishment. The senior parish officer was to read the certificates, and to declare by letter, to the resident parson, on whom the choice of the meeting had fallen. He, doubtless, would here have the church with him, but he feared that the sectaries would be against him. It did, however, appear to him, that the system of public education should be closely connected with the church of England, as established by law. He stated this, after the most mature consideration; and he was anxious to make the statement, because on a former occasion he did not go quite so far as he now did. He had then abstained from going so far, because he dreaded the opposition of the sectaries. Their argument was, "You are making this a new system of tithe. You are placing a second parson in each parish, whom we must pay, though we cannot conscientiously attend to his instruction." He had bowed to this position; because there was certainly some justice in it; but, when he came to compare it with the inestimable advantages of a system that would secure the services of such a body of men as the established clergy—when he looked to the infinite benefit that would arise from having the constant, 74 the daily superintendence of such a character as a well-educated and pious English churchman—when he became sensible, as he soon did, how much the durability of the system would be increased by giving it that solidity, that deep root, that wide basis which no new system could possess or acquire without being grafted on an old stock, so as to infuse through the feeble and fickle graft all the strength that was imbibed, and only could be imbibed, through a long course of ages, in which that stock had flourished—he felt the full force of the argument, as opposed to that advanced by the sectaries; and if no other argument could have been adduced, that which he had stated was sufficient for him. But there were two other satisfactory reasons which he would state to the House, for connecting the system intimately with the church establishment. In the first place, a religious education was most essential to the welfare of every individual. To the rich it was all but every thing—to the poor, it might be said, without a figure, to be every thing. It was to them that the Christian religion was especially preached—it was their special patrimony; and if the legislature did not secure for them a religious education, they did not, in his opinion, half execute their duty to their fellow creatures. What would give them the chance that this system of education would be a religious one, was placing it under the control of those who taught the doctrines of the church. Another consideration was, that the church had a direct interest in promoting a religious education. The clergy were the teachers of the poor—not only teachers of religion, but, in the eye of the law, they were teachers generally. It was true they could not be compelled to teach, but they did teach as far as their means allowed them. Their labours in the other parts of the vineyard were, however, too extensive to admit of their cultivating this portion of it to any considerable degree; and therefore it was necessary that they should have assistants to act under them. What then could be more natural than that they should have a control over those who were selected to assist them? He might almost say, that a parson was a clerical schoolmaster, and a schoolmaster was a lay-parson. This was his view of the subject, and the plan he now detailed to the House was founded oh that view.
There was one other consideration 75 which induced him to adopt the principle he had stated. Let the House look to the alacrity, the zeal, the warm-heartedness, which the established clergy manifested for the education of the poor. They did not wait till these numerous statements, filling 2 large volumes, were placed in a more palatable and more digestible shape before the House; but they at once declared their anxiety for the dissemination of education amongst the poor. The names of those individuals were contained in the Digest, certainly against their will; for some of them had not scrupled to blame the conduct of their neighbours. But they overcame any reluctance they might have felt on that head, anxious only for the better education of the poor; and their letters on the subject were now before parliament. In those letters they declared that blessings would be poured down on parliament if they carried into effect a religious system of education, which they expressly declared to be the most effectual barrier against the prevailing vices of the time. These were the persons whom Providence had appointed to assist in this great work of educating the poor. Should they then, to overcome the scruples of a few individuals (he said a few, for many of the Dissenters, he was happy to say, supported the opinions of those who approved of the system) — should they, on account of the scruples of a few, do away all chance of success in this great undertaking, and forego the benefits of this excellent measure, by rejecting such assistance—by turning their backs on the clergy of England, whom Providence had raised up to give strength and stability to the plan? He would say, No. And he had not the least doubt when the Dissenters themselves understood the nature of the measure, that their repugnance to it would be removed.
But to proceed with the point respecting the election of the schoolmaster. The 4th provision under this head was, that the parson might, upon the examination of the successful candidate, reject him, and direct the parish officers to issue notices for a new election. The parson had here a veto —not a nominal, but a real and effectual veto. This would in a great measure prevent any improper person from offering himself at the period of the election. If such a power did not exist, the appointment might become a mere matter of canvas, and persons not suited to the situation might have a majority. 76 As, in ordination for the church, the bishop had a right to report a candidate for orders minus efficientis literatureœ; so, in this case, he would allow the parson to pronounce on the qualifications of the candidate for the situation of master. The next head was that of visitation. The first regulation was, that the bishop of the diocese from time to time, as he might think fit, might visit the school by himself; secondly, by the archdeacon; thirdly, by the dean, within the limits of the deanery; and, fourthly, by the chancellor. The visitor might, in the fifth place, remove the master, who might appeal from the subordinate visitor to the ordinary, and from the ordinary to the metropolitan; all of whom were to act not as courts, but to decide privately on the appeal. This latter regulation might be objected to. He had at first entertained doubts of its propriety, but, by the ancient law, the visitor was privileged to decide privately; and he felt that it would be extremely dangerous to introduce an innovation, without absolute necessity. He had there fore adhered, in this regulation, to the spirit of the ancient law. 6thly, The visitor (subject to the appeal before mentioned) might direct the master to be superannuated, with a pension not exceeding two-thirds of his salary, after a service of 15 years continuance. As no individual would be eligible to the situation after the age of 40, it was evident by this regulation that he need not remain in the situation after he had become too old to perform its duties. 7thly, The diocesan to make yearly returns of the names of masters, the number of children under their care, their salaries and average emoluments, with any remarks that might occur to him; power being granted to him to apply to the parsons for such information as they might possess. This provision was similar to that contained in the Clergy Residence acts (43 Geo. 3rd, cap. 84 and 51 Geo. 3rd, cap. 99). The diocesan, under these acts, returned annually the number of non-resident clergy, and the object he (Mr. Brougham) had in view would be obtained by the introduction of an additional column to, the return, in which might be inserted the state of the schools, &c. in the diocese. 8thly, The parson to be allowed at all times to enter the school and to examine the children. The Dissenter might say, that he would be obliged to support this establishment, though he never could be 77 prevailed on to send his child there. He, however, as the House would presently see, had taken care, in the formation of this measure, that none but very squeamish Dissenters indeed would refuse to send their children to these schools.
The school was now planted, endowed, and the master appointed; and they consequently came to the admission of the children. The first regulation, on this point, was, that the parson, with the parish-officers, as assessors, were, on the appointment of each new master, to fix the rate of quarter-pence—which was to be not less than 2d. nor more than 4d. per week. 2ndly, This rate to be, in all cases, 2s. per quarter, or 2d. per week, for the children of persons receiving parish relief. If their parents could pay this small sum, so much the better. If they could not, he was sure the parish-officers would defray the expense; since be believed most of them felt that education was the surest means to check the growth of pauperism. Between those who were thus paid for, and those whose parents defrayed the charge, he would allow no distinction to be drawn. If there were a line chalked across the schoolroom, indicating that on one side of it there were gentlemen who paid, and, on the other, paupers who did not pay, it would be attended with the worst moral effects. He never, would suffer the spirits of poor children to be beat down and broken by such a distinction. He would always, on the contrary, store their minds, as much as possible, with the seeds of independence. 3rdly, The parson, with the parish officers, as assessors, might direct the master to admit certain children gratis; but no other distinction whatever to be observed respecting such children, or pauper children. 4thly, Parents to be allowed to agree with the master for extra hours, or extra tuition, as they might think proper.
The next head, under this branch of the subject, was the mode of education to be adopted. With reference to this part of the plan, it would be proposed, 1st, That the parson, at each new appointment of master, should fix the course of teaching according to the state of the parish. He should also notify the times of vacation, not exceeding twice a year, either a fortnight at each period, or a month at once. The regulation on this point to be fixed in some conspicuous part of the school-room. 2ndly, The Scriptures 78 alone to be taught, the parson fixing, if he pleased, the passages to be rehearsed from time to time. 3rdly, No other religious book to be taught, nor any book, without the consent of the parson—nor any form of worship to be allowed in the school, except the Lord's Prayer and other passages from the Scriptures. With respect to this provision, he hoped he should not have the church against him here, as he had the Dissenters against him on other points. But he conceived the church had no right to complain when the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments, which were so intimatety connected with the Christian religion generally, and which contained doctrines that were not the subject of dispute, were to be repeated in the school. It was not necessary that the schoolmaster should teach any particular religion. It would be much better to leave the children to their Bible alone. It was, in many parts, a much better school-book than any other. Now, so long as nothing but the Bible was taught, it appeared to him that no sectary could refuse to send his children to one of these schools. He did not wish to exclude them—he would much rather invite their attendance, 4thly, The children to attend church once every Sunday, either with their parents or with the master. Dissenters to take their children to their own churches or chapels. To take the children to church once in the day he conceived to be sufficient. When they became adults, they might go twice on Sunday,—the oftener the better; but when children spent four hours at church, they naturally became tired of it. In his opinion, it was not a good plan to keep children more than an hour and a half at religious worship, on the day set apart for it. It was not the proper way to make them love and respect it. Let them go to church in the morning, and let their evening be devoted to that innocent play which was most congenial to their age. With respect to the children of Dissenters going to their own churches or chapels, it was nothing more than was just and proper. Of course, no conscientious Dissenter would allow his child to go to a Protestant church, any more than a Protestant would suffer his children to attend the service of the church of Rome. He had heard it said "Compel all children, Dissenters and others, to go to church," and those who gave this advice founded their opinion on a passage in the report 79 of a committee, before which the rev. Mr. Johnson was examined. That eminent man, who came from that part of the country which was proverbially well educated, was diffusing in this country the benefits which, at home, he saw derived from the extension of knowledge. His school, in Baldwin's-gardens, the central metropolitan school, was the finest perhaps in the world. Mr. Johnson stated, that many Dissenters sent their children to his school. But what was this but to say that they were not Dissenters? They were what was termed "Anythingarians," or "Nothingarians,"—individuals who had no over-ruling predilection for any particular creed; and consequently wholly different from real Dissenters. He would not call on individuals of this latter class to send their children to church. He would not gain converts to the church by duress. He would as little attempt to starve an individual into a churchman by want of mental, as he would by want of bodily food. 5thly, That there should be a school-meeting every Sunday evening, for teaching the church catechism, and other portions of the Liturgy, such as the parson might think fit to direct, and all children to attend except those of such Dissenters as might object. Such a meeting as this would be attended by many children of that species of Dissenters whom Mr. Johnson had described as allowing their children to attend his school at Baldwin's-gardens. 6thly, Reading, writing and arithmetic to be taught in all the schools, and to all the children of fit age.
He had now gone through the three branches of the subject—planting and endowing the school, electing, superintending, and removing the master, and admitting and teaching the children. Those three heads exhausted this part of the subject. He now came to that which was an appendix to the bill, but was of the utmost importance—namely, to make the existing endowments more available to the purposes of educating the poor than they actually were. He hoped that nothing contained in this part of the bill would be prejudicial to it, and that the House would not reject the measure till they saw something better. All that he had laid down in the 4th branch, it was true, was confined to schools; but there was not one point of it that was not applicable to every charity whatsoever. And if the suggestions here contained were extended to charities generally, he should have re- 80 deemed the pledge he had given to the House three years ago, when he stated that he would devise a plan to remedy the errors in the existing system. The subject of what he had termed the appendix to the bill consisted of several branches:—1st. Supplying defects in trusts. Enabling trustees to improve the administration of the funds. 3rd. Enabling trustees to improve the disposal and application of funds. 4th, Proceeding for cases of failure, total or partial, in the object of the charity. And 5th, the necessary checks to operate on the whole of the four preceding branches. What he was about to state was founded on the Education Digest, and the report of the commissioners on charitable foundations; and here he took the opportunity of amply acknowledging the beneficial labours of those who had collected such materials. He thought it right to state this, because he did not augur so well of them when they commenced their functions. He perhaps was not wrong in exercising a fair jealousy on that occasion, since it seemed to be beneficial to have the eyes of a vigilant public narrowly directed to watch their proceedings, not with respect to their integrity, but their activity. He would not use the word "retractation," which according to the hon. member for Galway no gentleman could use. but he made this concession, which was all an honourable man could be called on to make. With respect to the latter branches of the bill, for supplying the defects of trusts, it was proposed, first, that where the number of trustees was reduced below the quorum. the remainder should be allowed to fill up the vacancy. The second provision for supplying defects in trust was, that, where ail the trustees were gone, the founder's heir at law should name trustees. The third was that where no heir at law was to be found the visitor should name trustees. The fourth, where there was neither visitor nor heir at law, that the legal estate, if above 5l. a year, should be vested in the clerk of the peace, to administer it under the order of the quarter sessions. And the last provision under this heed was, that where there were no trustees, heir at law, or visitor, and the estate was below 5l. a year, it should be vested in any three of the charity commissioners.
The next general head was the mode of enabling trustees to improve the administration of their funds. This was proposed to be done—1st, by giving them powers 81 to sell, borrow, or exchange, or by borrowing for the purposes of repairing, or improving their revenue by new investments, of paying their debts, &c.,—2nd, by making all papers for conveyances or receipts free from stamps; and here again his bill came into contact with the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer's province;—3rd, by enabling the receiver of the county to hold the money arising from sales, &c, until invested; and, 4th, by a declaratory clause, that no trustee should be a party beneficially interested in the purchases, sales, exchanges or loans already mentioned. It might be thought extraordinary that such a clause should be necessary. It was not occasioned by any opinions of the lord chancellor or of lord Kenyon. But ignoramuses who had never seen a law-book had pretended to quote the authority of the greatest lawyer that was ever in this country—he meant lord chancellor Eldon, for an absurdity of this kind, and therefore he had introduced this declaratory clause.
The next general head, in this branch of the subject, was that for enabling trustees to improve the application or disposal of their revenue. Under this bead he should propose two declaratory enactments to secure the intentions of founders, and two enacting clauses for altering the laws of the foundation in order to effect their obvious object. The first declaratory enactment was, to allow trustees in all cases to contract with the master of a grammar school to teach reading, writing and arithmetic, by himself, or assistant, on the same terms as in the ordinary schools. With existing masters it would be voluntary, so that vested interests were not to be touched. But on all masters hereafter appointed it was to be binding. But the dignity of the master would be saved by allowing him to teach inferior branches by an assistant, and the expressed object of the foundation would be effected by the master teaching the same branches that were now taught in grammar schools. The second declaratory enactment was, to enable trustees to make the number of children, now limited and not confined to grammar, unlimited, and to limit or prohibit the taking of boarders. Here it appeared strikingly true, as stated by lord Kenyon, in the 6th volume of the Term Reports, how shamefully the intentions of founders were perverted. In many instances the master 82 did nothing but receive the salary, so far as the foundation was concerned, while he kept 50 boarders at 100l. each. The salary in many instances was no more than 50l.; but even if it were 100l., the schoolmaster would willingly give it to the poor if they pleased, his wish being only to have the situation of master of the endowed school and the house. In some places there were but 20l. for a library given to the master, but then the sum was unlimited for repairs. In one instance, where only 10l. were paid for rent, 401l. were paid for repairs and taxes. The object was, to drive away as much as possible the poor from the benefit intended for them. The master was quite ready to teach them, but he was bound only to teach Latin and Greek, and nothing else. "My school," he would say, "is open, but then I can teach you only Latin, Greek, and, if you please Hebrew." The children of paupers and beadsmen might thus be taught Hebrew roots, and the paulo post futnrum in Greek, but they could not be taught reading, writing, or arithmetic. The schoolmaster gained all the benefit. Let him have the benefit of boarders, and gain 5,000l. a year elsewhere, but. let him not occupy the situation of another, who should be bound to teach English; or let him retain the name and the place, but let his ostiarius, or usher, teach the inferior branches, while he taught Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. In many cases those grammar-schools were expressly founded for paupers. But paupers were said to be persons in easy circumstances. He would not enter into any discussion respecting the universities, that multum vexata questiu. But when the poor were mentioned every man at once saw that men of easy fortunes were meant. It was, indeed, less obvious, that poorest meant the same class of persons; but when it was recollected that poor meant affluent, it might be inferred that poorest meant the most affluent. Possibly those who were poor at the time some of the establishments were founded, might, as things stood at present, be regarded as persons in easy circumstances. But the case was not left in any state of doubt by the will of several of these benevolent founders. For instance, in the establishment at Lewisham the founder distinctly prescribed the education of the poorest children, and on other foundations the provision was specifically for the children of the poor in. 83 alms-houses, while in others the provision was for the children of persons in low estate involved in distress, or hardly having the means of common sustentation. In others, too, it was directed, that the children of parish paupers should be educated. It would be allowed, that these at least were not the terms best calculated for conjuring up to our idea the affluent, and those abounding in every luxury, clothed in purple, and cloth of gold. In the times when those endowments had been made the poor were taught Latin; but not in the sense now attached to that part of education; they were taught Latin for the church service. This was well known to have been necessary in Catholic times, for the priests were taken from the lowest orders of the people. It was true there were then barons, fortified three deep in castles; whose daughters were almost royal, for often they were married to sovereigns; who while they sent their eldest sons to the army, designed their youngest sons for the church. The avowed reason was, that they might pray for the sins of their father who had just returned from, and their brethren who bad just gone to the wars; but another consideration was, that they could generally obtain a commendam of 10,000l. a year. Thus was one branch of the church supplied. But the vast majority of those who belonged to the clergy in those days were the sons of the poor; he meant the monks of all orders; and hence the necessity of having the children of the poor instructed in the Latin language in endowed schools. Had the pious founders of those schools foreseen the light of the reformation which was afterwards to dawn upon the world, they would indeed have hated it, because they were ignorant of its advantages; but, had they foreseen and understood the value of that greatest revolution which ever blessed mankind, they would not have confined their endowments to the teaching of Latin; but would have required the English to be taught as the language in which religion could be taught. To his mind it was conclusive that they would not have neglected the language in which church service was to be performed twice every week.
Let it not be said that grammar-schools would thus be degraded into parish schools; he held in his hand a list of 200 endowments, with calculations of what 84 they actually did, and what they really Could do by the improvements proposed. Here again he was obliged to have recourse for illustrations to the north. In Cumberland there were 8 schools, of 500 boys each, at an annual expense of 292l. In 16 other counties there were 101 children educated at an expense of 3,123l.; the average in the first case being 11 shillings and sixpence for each child, and, in the others, 30l. 19s. for each. Thus 5,246 children could be taught in these schools, on the Cumberland average. It was practicable, upon a proper plan, to educate 35,000 children, in 100 schools, at an expense of 2,500l. a year. Economy was with him but a secondary consideration in the proposed bill; but if they regulated well the funds already provided, they would introduce much economy into the system of education. His principal object was to regulate these schools, and connect them with the parish schools.— This he would do without degrading the head master from the rank of a gentleman, besause he would have the inferior usher to teach the lower classes in the school. This would have a most desirable effect, inasmuch as it would open the door of preferment to the parish schoolmaster, and raise that class of men above their present condition, by raising their emulation, and instigating them to acquiring that knowledge which would fit them for higher situations. It would be an advantage analogous to that which existed in the church. Many persons objected that in the church one individual should have 20,000l. a year, while another laboured for 50l. a year; but the good must be weighed with the bad, and this good would be found in the disparity of income, that, by how much 20,000l. was superior to 50l., was the character improved and the class raised of the persons who had only 50l. but who had a prospect of obtaining' 20,000l. Mr. Burke had said of this variety of orders in the church,—he begged pardon for referring to a writer whose very words he could not recollect, but from whose words no variation could be made without loss to the force and illustration of his meaning,—but Mr. Burke had said, that the church ought to rear her mitred front in courts and palaces; and this, he said, was necessary, not for the sake of the mitred heads, but for the sake of the people; the poorest of whom were interested in the character and talent of 85 the clergy of all orders. For the same reason he was for establishing that principle with respect to schools. No means could be so effectual in raising the character of parish schoolmasters as to make it common property between a parish school and a grammar school. This was the kind of reform which Mr. Burke had recommended as the most useful and the wisest; as tending at once to preserve and to improve; so he (Mr. Brougham) was for rejecting only what was bad in the present system, and for improving what was good; and thus to obtain, with the life and vigour of a new institution, the sanctity and veneration of the old.—Among the provisions of his bill he meant to propose, that where any charitable establishment, originally designed for boarding, lodging and clothing, as well as for educating poor children, was found deficient in funds, those establishments should, if necessary, be confined to education alone. For it was no part of his views to establish hospitals for the children of paupers, by making a provision to board, lodge, and clothe them; such establishments indeed were, in his judgment, but to much calculated to remove every salutary check to an over-abundant population, and therefore ought to be deprecated. There was no worse charity than that for clothing and boarding. It was a premium for the neglect of prudence and frugality. The town of Bedford was an instance: for 30,000l. a-year were so employed there, and yet Bedford was overwhelmed with paupers. It was infinitely better to let children be fed and clothed by their parents. Hospitals for children were but nurseries for population, and contributed more than any other means to de-range the regular course of population, and to counteract the principles of the soundest political science, especially in the encouragement which they afforded for improvident or careless marriages. He wished to promote instruction by every possible means, but by no means to countenance such injurious establishments. The next provision in this department was for enabling trustees to treat with the ministers and parish-officers, or two justices of the peace, for having the children permanently taught in the parish school, where the founder had designed that they should be taught in other schools, but that design had been frustrated by the inadequacy of the funds. Another part of this provision was, that where no endowed school was 86 found, the funds should be applied in aid of the parish school. In both these cases, the founder's name was to be placed conspicuously on the outside and on the inside of the school-house. If all parties agreed that an endowment-school should be put on the same footing with the parish-school, no objection could be made to that arrangement; and the master might be rejected in such a case who was not approved by the parson. The last head of all was that where there was a failure of the objects of the trust. This failure was in many cases total; in others it was partial. There were now 4,500l. a year belonging to the Tunbridge school, and a decree had been made to that effect, but 500l. a year was twice as much as was wanted for that school. The superfluous 4,000l. in this case, would, according to his plan, be sufficient to provide for the support of 200 schools, which would be quite enough to educate the poor children of the whole county of Kent. In order to remedy all such failures of the objects, he proposed to give power to trustees to appeal to the commissioners of charitable abuses.
He had now gone through the plan he proposed, and had, he feared, fatigued the attention of the House. Its merits must rest on itself. But it was necessary for him to speak at some length in order to explain his views, and he hoped the House would think that he had redeemed the pledge which he had given two years ago. Before he concluded, he was anxious to do justice to those meritorious individuals who had assisted him in this task. He had never known individuals who had been so diligent in a labour new to them, and therefore the more difficult, and so skilful as they had proved themselves. If this inquiry should be extended to Ireland, if statistical researches were generally pursued,—a pursuit so honourable and so useful, so honourable as a matter of science, so calculated to distinguish us among the nations of Europe, and so useful in promoting our morality and security; if other statistical inquiries should be instituted, those who had assisted him on this occasion would be better qualified for it than any others, and than they as well as he had been for this inquiry. He had been able to apply only the summer and part of his vacation to the task; they had applied the whole year. He was precluded from mentioning their names, but he should not have done jus- 87 tice if he had not mentioned their merits. The mere progress of education was not all he expected as the result, if this plan were cautiously and steadily acted upon. He anticipated that dame-schools would get into better hands, and be better conducted. One school of that most interesting class was but a short walk from the spot on which he then stood; and he had already called the attention of the House to it. If a child was neglected till six years of age, no subsequent education could recover it. If to that age it was brought up in dissipation and ignorance—in all the baseness of brutal habits, and in that vacancy of mind which such habits created—it was in vain to attempt to reclaim it by teaching it reading and writing. They might teach what they chose afterwards; but if they had not prevented the formation of bad habits, they taught in vain. But if dame-schools were better regulated, and adapted to the example of the school in Westminster, and the examples of Fellenberg and Lanark, he would not say that there would not be a pauper or a criminal in England, but he could say that Scotland or Switzerland would not have fewer than England, even in seaport-towns. An infant was in a state of perpetual enjoyment from the intensity of curiosity. There was no one thing which it did not learn sooner and better than at any other period of life, and without any burden to itself or the teacher. But learning was not all, nor the principal consideration—moral habits were acquired in these schools; and by their means children were kept out of nurseries of obscenity, vulgarity, vice, and blasphemy. In the establishment at Westminster to which he had just alluded, none but children between three and five years of age were admitted, and there they were kept out of the streets, and taken care of by a parental indulgent dame, while their mothers were set at liberty to go out and work. The expense of this establishment was quite trivial, especially compared to the good which it produced. Such establishments, therefore, would, he trusted, be universally created. They required but little money, and the superintendance of a dame of good temper, who might let the children indulge in any amusement; always taking care, however, to keep them out of improper company. Whether they learnt less or more was of little consequence. The moral discipline was the great con- 88 sideration. When he was in Switzerland, talking of the Bell and Lancaster system, his friend, M. Fellenberg, had said to him, "it teaches too fast—you make mere machines of your scholars." He had not been able to answer that objection. The school in Westminster was intended for that purpose. It brought the mind of the child into sufficient discipline by the age of six years, to give it all the advantage of the Lancasterian system afterwards.—There were one hundred of the children in the school at Westminster who did little more than attend the school, and even by this much good was done. Their mothers were able to go out to such work as they happened to be engaged in, and while they thus gained 3s. or 4s. a week, did not grudge paying a single penny of it for the education of their children. He would be exceedingly glad of contributions from any gentleman who had heard him, but the contributions he had mentioned proved the utility of the institution. Who could deny that children thus educated were prepared, though not perhaps fully prepared, to defy the shocks and buffettings of the world infinitely better than they whose progress was more showy, but who became only educated machines? He had almost forgotten to state the expenses of carrying his plan into effect. Taking the average from Devonshire, which was the county least provided with schools, the expence would be for building of new schools, purchasing of ground, &c &c. 850,000l. But taking the average from Cumberland, it would be only 400,000l. Striking a fair medium, he calculated that about half a million would be sufficient—a less sum than had been granted by parliament for building six churches. There had been a time when such an object would have been provided for in England, without any hesitation or delay, by a voluntary subscription—but that time had ceased—the various burdens of taxes and rates had put an end to that feeling, and he was compelled to require the necessary aid of parliament. The expence, however, of building these schools, combined with the maintenance of them (which he estimated at about 150,000l. a year) was so comparatively trivial that he could not suppose parliament would refuse to assent to it; especially when the important objects in view were duly taken into consideration. Of course he should go more fully into the details of the proposition when in the committee. At present 89 he would conclude with moving "That leave be given to bring in a bill, for the better Education of the Poor in England and Wales."
said, he had listened with much satisfaction to the perspicuous details given with so much ability by the hon. and learned gentleman. He was quite incapable of giving any opinion at present on the general merits of the proposed plan, but he should best discharge his duty by giving his consent to the bringing in of the bill, reserving to some future occasion the discussion of its principles. From the importance of the subject and the great interests involved in it, he hoped the hon. and learned gentleman would not press the bill during the present session. After the bill should have been brought in, it could be printed, and members would then be prepared for its discussion. He, at least, would give it his best attention.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, he had no wish to press so important a measure hastily through the House, as, independently of the advantages which would accrue from its discussion within doors, great advantages would also be gained by its discussion out of doors—he meant among the clergy of the establishment, and all who were in any way connected with it. If the sense of the House should appear to be in favour of passing his bill during the present session, he should certainly, speaking individually, be better pleased; but if the House should think that it ought to be delayed to a future occasion, he should cheerfully submit to such delay as to the House might appear most advisable.
§ Mr. Wilberforce
expressed the obligations which he felt to his hon. and learned friend for the exertions which he had made, not only in establishing the principles, but in explaining the details, on which his bill was founded. He was confident that those exertions would be productive of the greatest benefits to the community, and that too at no very distant period.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
had listened to the hon. and learned gentleman's speech with the utmost attention, and expressed his opinion that the details which were presented in it rendered it more incumbent than ever upon the House to take the state of education throughout the country into their immediate consideration. Some of the plans, however, which the hon. and learned gentleman had proposed were totally inapplicable to Ireland. If he had not himself called the attention of the House, as he had promised 90 on a former occasion, to the necessity which existed for advancing the interests of the poor in Ireland by a similar investigation, it was not because he had abandoned the intention of doing so, but because he deemed the present to be an unfit time for the institution of such a measure. The circumstances of that country rendered it peculiarly necessary that some steps should be taken for the moral amelioration of its poorer inhabitants.
§ Sir J. Newport
also remarked on the deficiency of education, and the necessity of bestowing it on the people of Ireland. He was sorry that the act for numbering the population had not been sooner put into force, because that, by showing the extent of the want, it would have brought the House so much nearer to the accomplishment of that object. He considered that in any measure of this sort as applied to Ireland, it should be distinctly borne in mind that the great majority of the nation were of a different religion from that of the state.
§ Mr. Brougham
observed, that he had studiously abstained from any mention of Ireland throughout his address to the House, from a consideration of the state of religion in that country; and if the Dissenters in England bore any such proportion to the members of the Established Church, as the Catholics in Ireland did to those of that country, his views of the subject would have materially differed.
§ Sir James Mackintosh
said, that he had read with great satisfaction the report of the education committee, and had heard with still greater satisfaction the measure which his hon. and learned friend had founded upon it. Having been himself alluded to in the course of the observations which had been made upon this subject, he would assert, that though he might be considered a speculatist, yet he was no visionary on the subject of education. He did not intend to trouble the House with many observations on it at present; but he could not help making one observation which had been repeatedly forced upon his notice during his residence in a distant part of the British empire. He had repeatedly had occasion to remark that morality if not produced, was at least best preserved, amongst those of our soldiers and sailors who were possessed of the power of communicating with their relations in Europe by means of writing. It was a truth so obvious, that there was no need for him to waste words in dilating 91 upon it, that the most powerful incentive to virtue, and the most effectual restraint against vice, was destroyed, whenever the opinion of the circle in which a man moved ceased to have an influence upon his conduct. When the intercourse with that society in which he originally moved ceased totally to exist, the restraint against vice generally ceased to exist at the same moment. Character was then lost, because no sense of shame was left to preserve it, because no affections bound the individual to society, because no attention to his establishment in life secured his good behaviour. He had seen the beneficial effect of keeping up an intercourse with their friends and relatives in Europe strikingly exemplified in those soldiers who came from the same part of the island of which he was a native; for they had often made him the channel through which they remitted sums of money to their relatives at home—sums which he allowed were but small in themselves, but which were of so much the more value, as they would induce virtue, temperance, and frugality, if not domestic affection. At that time it appeared to him that the art of writing, which one of our poets had so warmly eulogized as calculated to promote affections much inferior to those which he had just mentioned, was an art which made it almost true that those who were acquainted with it carried their homes with them wherever they went; for by it they were enabled to look back upon the home where they were born as the home to which they would hereafter return. All this depended upon the art of writing, which was used by them for a better purpose than that of "wafting a sigh from Indus to the pole." It was used by them to solace the sufferings of aged and absent parents, and to foster all the noblest affections which belonged to humanity.
§ Leave was given to bring in the bill.