§ Mr. Wyse
, in resuming the debate which had now occupied so large a portion of the time of the House, begged leave first to thank the two noble Lords opposite who had taken so large a share in the debate, for it would be difficult to select from the speeches made avowedly in support of the measure, any two that were more calculated to advance it than the two speeches made by those noble Lords in opposition to it. He was willing to give every credit to the noble Lord who preceded the last speaker in the debate, for the exertions he had made on behalf of the factory children; exertions which had secured for him the approbation and the warmest sympathies of all men. He was also ready to give the noble Lord credit for the utmost benevolence; but he must be allowed to say, that the honesty of opinion to which he laid claim seemed to him to be of the kind which arose from a careful exclusion of all arguments on the other side—to spring from conclusions come to by a careful avoidance of all examination (at least in appearance) of what might have been urged against his own peculiar views. Through the whole of his hydra and chimera speech, the noble Lord seemed to have raised up to himself a phantasmagoria of evils, which had no foundation whatever in reality. If the noble Lord had examined the subject, he would have seen that the horrors and desolations of which he seemed to be so much in fear from equality of education to all sects and parties, had heretofore arisen from the want of general education. 530 Education it was that had always been considered the only agency by which those horrors and desolations might be neutralised and prevented. If the noble Lord had extended his view from his narrow world of this country, and had inquired into the condition of the rest of the civilised world, he would have found that religion, and not sectarianism, had been the source of all happiness to man. The noble Lord apprehended much evil from the monsters which his fancy had conjured up; but he should recollect that there were other moral monsters much more dreadful in their influence on society. There was the monster of brute force, unaccompanied by intelligence—there was the Polyphemus of physical strength, uncontrolled by moral feeling—Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum.But he would now direct his attention to another adversary, more dangerous to the cause of education than the noble Lord could assume to be—an adversary whose powers of debate had been so strongly characterised by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland. He (Mr. Wyse) could be under no apprehensions from the "gladiatorial talents" of that noble Lord—from the skill in research for which he was distinguished—because he had to bring into the field against him a still stronger combatant than himself. If the noble Lord of 1839 entertained the opinions he had stated in the course of this debate, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland of 1831 was more than a match for him. If the noble Lord now denounced this measure as unconstitutional—as one that would be scouted by all society of a religious nature in the country—what must be thought of the parallel measure introduced for Ireland in 1831? The objections to the present measure were surely quite as applicable to that. The measure was described as pernicious on two grounds; first, the mode in which the Board of Management was constituted; and, secondly, the evil effects which he apprehended from it on the education of the children. In many of those objections which applied to the constitution of the Board, he concurred, particularly as regarded the fluctuations in political and religious opinions to which, it was liable from its connection with the Government. But if, as the noble Lord 531 argued, it was wrong for the Lords of the Privy Council to have by this plan the power of applying, in a manner distinctly laid down, the funds to be granted by that House; how much the more objectionable must be the power of the Board in Ireland, according to the noble Lord's own plan of 1831, which not only gave that species of control, but also an entire control over the religious books to be used in the schools. The noble Lord now objected to the power given to the Lords of the Privy Council to erect schools, to confer gratuities on teachers, and to establish and contribute to the support of model Schools. But the Board in Ireland had full powers to make such regulations as to matters of detail, which, while not being inconsistent with the instructions given to them, they might in accordance with the intentions of Government. The strongest ground of objection taken by the noble Lord, however, was the effect which this plan would have on the religious education of the people, arising out of the education of persons of different religious persuasions in the same schools. The noble Lord expressed his beliefThat this was a system of education which would instil into the minds of the younger population a general belief that the Legislature attached equal authority to all versions of the Scripture—that it was a matter of indifference what creed was taught to the people; and by putting before the mind of the young conflicting doctrines as of equal weight and authority, the foundations of all faith were gradually sunk, and thus the strongest ground of opposition to the scheme substantiated; for through gradual doubt it would lead to general scepticism, and from general scepticism the step was short to national infidelity.Now, if the mere circumstance of persons of different creeds receiving their religious education in separate parts of the same building in which they received their literary education would produce all these lamentable results, what could be said of the Irish measure, the object of which was declared to be, not only to include Christians of all denominations—to unite in one general object children of different creeds, but the active co-operation of the clergy of all denominations was especially hoped for by its promoters. If it was wrong to encourage the Catholic faith in one instance, was it not equally wrong to do so in another? If it was pernicious to bring the Protestants of this country in contact with the Roman 532 Catholics, why did not the same rule apply equally to Ireland? If the adoption of a system of mixed education was right in Ireland, it was equally right and proper in England, and he could not understand why it had been rejected or repudiated by the noble Lord. He believed that the difference in conduct that had been pursued by the noble Lord could only be accounted for by regarding the noble Lord as he is, and the noble Lord as he was. The plan of education which the noble Lord had introduced into Ireland was one step certainly in advance to obtain the end, which he so anxiously desired. What-however, had been the noble Lord's proceeding in introducing this plan? In 1831, he (Mr. Wyse) proposed a plan of education for Ireland, and on his doing so, the noble Lord opposed the proposition; but, during the vacation, he prepared a plan, and with the consent of the Government, he appointed a Board to superintend the system, and in September of that year, he submitted his plan to Parliament, The noble Lord complained of the proposed plan not being sufficiently definite; but that which he then brought forward for Ireland was much looser and more vague in its description than that recently set forth in the minute of the Privy Council. He did not blame the noble Lord for having brought forward or carried his plan into effect; on the contray, he thought, that by doing so, he had conferred one of the greatest boons on that country, that had ever been conceded to it by a Government. He did not mean to say, that in adopting a system of education they must consider the peculiar circumstances of the case and make allowances accordingly, hut the observations which the noble Lord had urged against the adoption of the proposed plan appeared to him to apply more to the accessaries of the grant than to the principle of the system, that was proposed to be acted on. With respect to this great question itself, it should be regarded as a national matter whether they were not to have a peculiar system of national education. It had been a common thing to boast, that this was the first country in Europe in point of civilization, but it was a matter of astonishment to see how little had been done for the diffusion of general education. The defective state of education in England had been productive of the greatest evils, and it was felt not only in our moral and 533 social relations, but also in our physical condition. Instead of standing the highest in rank in point of civilisation, this country might be regarded as being almost the lowest in comparison with other European nations in the general diffusion of knowledge amongst the people. The evils were constantly being experienced of want of education in the elements of science, in matters of every day life, and in the pursuits of industry. It was scarcely possible to enter upon any investigation in agriculture without finding it connected, more or less, with the doctrines and elucidations derived from chemistry. For instance, we find it stated in the most able agricultural reports, that by injudicious use of lime many thousand acres in every part of the kingdom have been reduced to a state of almost total infertility. Again, with respect to manure, Mr. Malcolm complains, that he has not in any one instance been able to find any thing like system in the mechanical arrangement of the components of farmyard mixings, which he generally found put together as they were according to circumstances, and without any regard to rule. A great ignorance of the principles of mechanics was also being constantly manifested in harnessing horses, and in other simple processes of a similar character. With respect, also, to the ignorance that prevailed with regard to planting, Mr. Falkner says:—Thousands of acres of woods and plantations were utterly ruined from a want of knowledge of the process of vegetation—gross neglect was the rule, and tolerable attention was the exception.What, as a body, do we know of the chemical properties of the various soils we cultivate, or even of the different manures roost generally used and approved of by farmers to assist production? Positively nothing. They were compelled to admit, that as a science agriculture was even now but in its infancy. Mr. Lowe, chairman of the Sevenoaks Union, says,That the farmers for the most part keep indifferent accounts, and many of them none at all, which was a state of things utterly incompatible with any systematic improvement. He has nothing to look to which will indicate with precision the calculations which he has made. Again, in geology, 'that fashionable road: which leads to damnation,' immense errors were constantly being committed. Lavoisier, even without a minute knowledge of farming, by following an enlightened system is said, in good, years to have doubled the produce in 534 grain of his lands and to have quintupled his flocks.Farmers were generally found at present to be jealous of their labourers, but if education was more generally diffused amongst them, confidence would, in a great measure, be restored, and they would be most anxious to promote and encourage education amongst the labourers and their children. They would feel convinced, that the stupid and brutalised hind was not to be depended on from one moment to another; that as soon as the eye of the master is off him, he relaxes in his exertions, and that he only differed from the slave in this, that the slave started into activity upon the apprehension of the whip, while the labourer did so at the impending loss of his wages. The master would feel that he could not be everywhere, and that he constantly sustained losses in consequence, and that it was impracticable to introduce many improvements which he otherwise would adopt. If he were better informed, he would be convinced, that the only means of remedying these evils and inconveniences to which he was daily exposed, was by diffusing knowledge, and improving the condition of his labourers, both socially and mentally. The evils of this want of education were constantly being manifested and experienced in towns, in the ignorance of proper ventilation, and in discoveries that might be made generally applicable for the improvement of the condition of the people not being made available. The deficiency of knowledge that prevailed in the application of the elements of art to manufactures was strikingly obvious, when the productions in several branches of industry were contrasted with those of the schools of Lyons and Berlin. This was particularly obvious in the printing of cottons, and the late Sir Robert Peel attributed many of our great manufacturing losses to the inferiority of our workmens taste to those of the contitent. The inferiority of our population was not less striking as regarded the social condition of the lower classes. This was peculiarly obvious in the places of residence of the lower classes in the district of Manchester and its neighbourhood. He found, from a report laid before the British Association of Science, that the proportion of of the population of Manchester that lived in the cellars was 11¾ percent.; of Salford, 8 per cent; of Bury,3¾ per cent.; of Ashton, 1¼percent.; of Stayley bridge, 1½ pet cent.; 535 of Dukenfield, 1¾ per cent., and of Liverpool, 15 per cent. Taking the whole of the working population of that large town, 20 per cent, lived in cellars, or in round numbers, 31,000 persons so resided, out of a population of 230,000. The report he had just referred to, stated,That the great proportion of the inhabited cellars were dark, damp, confined, ill-ventilated, and dirty. The numbers residing in each cellar varied from four to seventeen. As in many (perhaps in the majority of cases), there are only two beds to a family of five or six persons, of both sexes, the inconveniences and evils which must arise from this deficiency of accomodation are too obvious to require further remark.This was a striking illustration of the condition of the working classes in the manufacturing districts, and there was much additional evidence to show a similar state of things in other places. For instance, in the report of the Central Society of Education, it was stated, that out of sixty-six families in Norfolk, in twenty-four instances, the whole of the children occupied the same bed-rooms as their parents, and in thirty-six, boys were not separated from girls. It also appeared, that in Dukenfield, Staleybridge, and Ashton, there were 2,057 families, in which more than three, and less than four persons slept in one bed; 632 families, in which more than four, and less than, five persons were similarly situated; 180 families, in which more than five, and less than six, and 330 families, in which more than six persons slept in one bed. The children in most of these families were employed in the coal mines in the vicinity of these places. From the same report, he found that the number of beer shops, public houses, &c, in Bury, was in the proportion of one to every 122 persons, in Ashton one to every 113 persons, in Staleybridge one to every 200, and in Dukenfield one to every 254 persons. In the evidence taken before the commissioners appointed to inquire into the condition of the hand-loom weavers, the following striking facts were stated by one of the witnesses:—I have seen human degradation in some of its worst phases, both in England and abroad, but I can advisedly say, that I did not believe, until I visited the wynds of Glasgow, that so large an amount of filth, crime, misery, and disease congregated in one spot in any civilised country.Again, the want of education of the 536 working classes was strikingly manifest in the strikes that took place, which generally arose from a gross ignorance of the laws which regulated the rate of wages, and the interests of the labourers. It often happened, that 50 men in a manufactory compelled 1,500 to stop work. The best paid workmen were often the movers and instigators to these strikes, but the inevitable effect was to abate all motive to pre-eminent skill. They were often directed against the employment of machinery, but machinery generally led to an increased demand for the manufactured article, and thus an increased number of workmen were employed, and the amount of wages was increased. By strikes, however, the consumption of goods was diminished, and wages were ultimately reduced. On this subject, the following striking evidence as to the effects of one of these strikes was given before a Committee of the House. It related to a strike in the man ufacoies at Preston, which lasted from October, 1836, to February, 1837:—While the turn-out lasted, the operatives generally wandered about the streets without any definite object. Seventy-five persons were brought before the magistrates and convicted of drunkenness and disorderly conduct; twelve were imprisoned and held to bail for assaults; and about twenty young females became prostitutes, of whom more than one-half are still so, and also two of them have since been transported for theft. Three persons are also believed to have died of starvation; not less than five thousand must have suffered from hunger and cold; and in almost every family the greater part of the wearing apparel and household furniture was pawned. In nine houses out of ten considerable arrears of rent were due, and out of the sum of 1,600l. deposited in the savings bank, by about sixty spinners oroverlookers, 900l. was withdrawn in the course of three months, and most of those who could get credit got into debt with the shopkeepers. The trade of the town suffered severely—many of the small shopkeepers were nearly ruined, and some completely so.Again, the evils of the want of education were manifest when the moral and religious condition of the people was regarded. On this point, he would refer to the evidence that had been given as to the classes who were generally the inmates of prisons and houses of correction. It was stated at a late meeting of the British and Foreign School Society at Cheltenham, by Mr. St. Clair a deputy-lieutenant of the county of Gloucester:—That two-thirds of the youth in Gloucester 537 gaol were the most ignorant of society. There was at present on the treadmill of that place 120 men who had been convicted of small felonies; five out of six were under twenty years of age—nine out of every ten could not read a single word.It appeared from returns on the Table, that in 1837 not less than 20,000 persons had been tried for offences in England and Wales, and that 15,000 were convicted, while the number of criminal commitments to gaol were 100,000 annually. The report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the rural constabulary, give many instances of the barbarous habits of the people of this country on the coasts where wrecks occur, and more especially in Cheshire, Wales, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, and Kent, in which counties the deficiency of education was most obvious. It was also stated in the evidence of Messrs. Burt and Elliot, that England in respect of the state of the roads, followed next after Italy and Spain; cunning, however, generally superseded the place of violence. The latter, however, often predominated in the country districts. It was also stated in the same report, that there were 6,000 thieves at large in the metropolis, and within the metropolitan police districts there were 10,666 depredators. In page 79 of this report it is stated, that the—Majority of crimes which were attended by violence, are now committed in the rural districts, although the population and property in towns have increased in a far greater proportion.Again, in page 50 it was said:—Dupin graduates the increase of crime in a direct ratio, according to the condensations of populations in towns.The following return was also given, on the same authority, of the proportion of bad characters to the population:—In the metropolitan police district it was one to eighty-nine, in Liverpool one to forty-five, in Kingston-upon-Hull one to sixty-four, in Bath one to thirty-seven, in the county and city of Bristol one to thirty-one, and in Newcastle one to twenty-seven. It was also stated, that prostitution was as great in London as in Paris. The report of the committee on the central society of education states—Your committee are fully persuaded, that to the want of education is to be chiefly attributed the great increase of criminals, and consequently of cost to this country, namely, in twelve years from one to ten; and while the 538 population increased only thirty-two per cent., the committals had increased fourfold.He felt satisfied, that the religious education, as given in this country, was not sufficient. As an instance of this he would refer to the state of those parishes in which the ignorant imposter Thorn had obtained so many followers, namely, Herne Hill, Dunkirk, and Boughton. The inhabitants of those villages were induced to believe, that Thorn was Jesus Christ, and to imagine, that disobedience of his mandates would entail on them eternal damnation. It appeared, that he gave them the sacrament, anointed himself and them with oil, and told them that no bullet could touch them. He showed them the marks of the nails, and assured them if they doubted that, he should call them to judgment. He threatened also to rain fire and brimstone on them if they left him, and at the same time blessed the little children that were brought to him. This was in the midst of a beautiful country in which there was no hostility to the Poor-laws, where the peasantry had good wages, and where the poor-rates were comparatively low. The state of education in these districts, he believed, was as follows:—At Herne-hill there were fifty-one families, in which there were forty-five above the age of fourteen, and of them eleven could read and write, and twenty-one could do so very imperfectly, and the remainder not at all. There were 117 children under that age, and of these forty-two were at school; most of them made little or no progress, and they were generally taken away at an early period by their parents. Many of the children, who had been two years at school, were frequently found unable to read. The reading of the children in these schools was confined to the New Testament. Many of those who had been educated stated, that they could read the Testament once, but that they could not do so now. It was found, that the Sunday schools were insufficient, as the children could never be brought to connect what they learned in schools with their practice in life, and remained as idle, mischevous, and vicious as before. In Dunkirk there were 113 children; ten of them could read and write, thirteen could do so a little, and the remainder could not do so at all. In Boughton there were 119 children under the age of fourteen, and thirty-two attended school. Only seven attended school where writing was taught; the remainder only went to a Sunday school. These facts prove, that merely religious instruction of the kind obtained by these villagers was not of itself sufficient to fit men to discharge their duties to society.It was shown by the foregoing statements, that majority had been at Sun- 539 day schools, and were in the habit of attending church, and most of them who could read, read and possessed only religious books, so that not only the instruction they received, hut the only kind they had any opportunity of gaining, was wholly of a religious cast. There was a similar general defect of education throughout the country. For instance, in Manchester, in 1834 and 1835 there were 932 schools, and 56,189 scholars, being twenty-two per cent, of the population, and of these were 29,529 who only received Sunday tuition. In Liverpool, in the same years, there were 766 schools, in which there were 33,183 scholars, being fourteen 43–100 per cent, of the population, and of these 3,719 received only Sunday tuition. In Salford there were 211 schools, and 12,838 scholars, being twenty-three 43–100 per cent, of the population, and of these 6,344 received only Sunday-school tuition. In York there were 150 schools and 5,591 scholars, making nineteen 97–100 per cent, of the population, and of these 842 received Sunday-school instruction only. In Bury there were 79 schools and 5,727 scholars, making twenty-eight 63–100 per cent, of the population, and of these 3,102 attended Sunday-schools only. In Newcastle forty-nine out of every 100 of the youthful population between the ages of five and fifteen, did not receive any instruction whatever. At Gateshead 12¾ of the juvenile population attended schools. In seventeen of the chief towns in this country, the average of those who received daily instruction was only one in twelve; while in Manchester the proportion was only one in 35, while, according to the conclusion he had arrived at, it ought to be one in eight. The result was, that there were 3,000,000 of children in England to be supplied with instruction, half of whom were left in a state of complete ignorance. The population of children under fifteen was about 4,000,000, deducting those under two years about 500,000; there were 3,500,000 to attend school, and from this number 500,000 should be deducted as receiving private instruction. Taking the returns in other countries, it appeared, that in the United States in eleven States the education was one out of five; in seven other States one out of six; in three others one out of seven; in two one out of eight, and in two others, one out of ten; while in England and Scotland the proportion was as one in eleven; in Lombardy it was one in twelve; in France one in thirteen. The evils that resulted from 540 this defect in the general education of the people were obvious in the extent to which numerous depredations, petty thefts, and misdemeanours were carried and these were often carried to such an extent as to put a stop to cultivation and trading in many places. In 1836, 700,000l. were lost in Liverpool by depredations. The causes of this state of things did not arise from want. One of the chief causes was the want of steadiness in early occupations, for the want of this was one of the most powerful temptations to a career of crime, instead of a career of industry. The effects of prisons on early delinquents was most striking. Mr. Chesterton, the governor of Cold-bath-fields prison stated, that nearly in almost all cases of juvenile offences there was an ignorance of religion which amounted to almost perfect heathenism. The effects of this ignorance on society were, that there were large masses of the population either actually in the commission of crime, or preparing for it. There was also an envy and desire of enjoyment, which led to enormous abuses in the various relations of society; that the inattention of the upper classes led to the dissociation of the lower classes from them, and they were often induced to adopt Chartism and infidelity. In other countries, the state of things was very different, for robberies were scarcely ever heard of, and Prussia was marked as a country, almost a fine country in this respect, for a traveller to pass through. In a recent volume of Travels in Germany, published by Mr. Chambers entitled, "The Tour of an English Traveller in 1837," it was stated, "I have not seen three individuals drunk in Germany in three months." Again, it was stated in the same work,The Catholic churches, in both the towns and villages, are crowded by worshippers by five o'clock in the morning, not only on Sundays, but on week days, and the priests are in attendance to perform their duties at that hour.In Switzerland, also, there was a similar abstinence from wine. In that country there was a perfect freedom in trade, and a constant attendance on the offices of religion, and a morality superior, perhaps, to that of any other community; and such a feeling of equality prevailed between the rich and the poor as recognised, on both sides, the common humanity in which consisted the true dignity of man. It was the bounden duty of Parliament to put an 541 end to the existing state of ignorance among the lower classes in the country, which was productive of so frightful an amount of crime. Nine-tenths of the inmates of prisons throughout the country were unable to read. The very fact, that they enacted laws and inflicted punishments on those who violated them, proved that their first care should be, to provide adequately for the knowledge, the health, and the morals of the people. They had heard much of the voluntary system; but he would ask, had that system been successful? What were its fruits, and what was the harvest which had been reaped from it? It was well known, that no advantage whatever had sprung from the schools founded on the voluntary principle, and yet it was said it would be dangerous to meddle with it: but they should check that charity which was the natural impulse of the heart. But if the voluntary system had been good, why had it been abandoned in the case of the Poor Laws, the police, and innumerable other instances which he might mention? It was, because the voluntary system of education did not work well, that he wished to see an organised system substituted for it. He was anxious to see schools established where every one would be entitled to instruction as a right conferred by law, and this too, without reference to religion. In the present schools, it was evident that Roman Catholics could not be educated, but then it was not because they did not read the Bible. It was a fact not to be contradicted, that editions of both the Old and New Testament, sanctioned by the prelates of the Roman Catholic Church, had been diffused throughout Ireland. The noble Lord (Stanley) had asserted, that universal education had always been conducted under the superintendence of the Church, and for this he quoted the authority of the law in the time of Henry 4th, and the opinion of Lord Holt in 1701. It was true, that in Catholic times, the education of the people in this, and the other countries of Europe, was in the hands of the Church, but for his purpose the noble Lord might have adduced stronger authority than he had advanced. The Council of Latern would furnish much more conclusive evidence in his favour, and the doctrine of the Council of Latern was subsequently confirmed by the Council of Trent. This doctrine had been embodied in the law of both Ireland and 542 Scotland; and in Ireland it was carried out in a remarkable way in the diocesan and parochial schools. But was there any one so blind as not to see, that such a state of things was peculiar to the then state of society, and could have no reference to the present times? It was to be expected that in the feudal times education should be in the hands of the Church, for in those days there were none capable of affording instruction but the members of the Church. It was not fair, however, to infer, that because formerly the Church had the management of education, it should also have the exclusive management of it at the present period, when learned professions, and learning generally, had a distinct and separate existence. God forbid that he should oppose the proper interference of the Church in the religious education of those who belonged to her flock; but he could not go the length of confiding to her management and direction the secular as well as the religious education of the country. He would ask those who wished the clergy to have the sole direction of education in this country, did it follow, that because a clergyman was competent to instruct in religious matters, he was equally competent to afford instruction in mathematics, or in other collateral branches of learning? But if the Church of England laid down the position, that it ought to be the sole manager of the education of the country, it laid claim to a power which it could not maintain, and which, under existing circumstances, it would be impossible it could possess. If it made such a claim on the ground of its being the national Church, they should first understand what the word "national" meant. The claim might be tenable if the Church was the Church of the entire nation, but unless that could be shown, he apprehended that any such claim should fall to the ground. The Church had no right, and could claim no right, over those who had no sort of communion with her. He had already expressed his opinion of the two societies so often alluded to in the debate. He objected to their system, because under it the distribution of the funds was calculated to serve the richer districts in a most unjust ratio, as compared with the poorer districts. He likewise objected to it, because it failed to establish a plan for securing efficient teachers. It was not sufficient to say that a certain sum of money was to be given to certain schools. 543 The very essence, the very mind of the school was in the teacher; and any system proposed for the country generally, would be exceedingly deficient if it did not adopt some means for securing that most essential advantage. He also thought it most necessary to establish inspectors. Those upon whom the responsibility would rest, for the moment the House granted a sum of money that responsibility would arise, would never be able to account for the proper application of that money without the aid of inspectors. What appeared to him best for this country, as for every other, was to unite the two great powers—the central power and the local power; the first for transmitting and taking care of the funds; the latter for seeing that they were justly applied. Such was the system acted on, he might say, over the civilized globe. It had been adopted in Greece immediately after the revolution; it had existed in Naples since the year 1806; it had been established in Rome under Leo 12th; in Tuscany at a still earlier period; in the confederated republics of Switzerland—all had boards, ministers of instruction, councils, and local committees. France, by the law of 1834, had adopted it; it was in use in every one of the states of Germany, from 1802 to 1834; in Russia it had advanced, stage after stage, to its present excellence and efficiency; Sweden had her local boards and committees; Denmark her councils, inspectors, and secretaries: in Holland, as the House was aware, and even in the states of America, had such a system been adopted with success. In a report on the state of education in the state of Kentucky, the reporter stated—In the first place, the experience of those states, whose systems I have examined, recommends very clearly, that popular education be taken under legislative patronage and control. It cannot be denied, that in some cases legislative effort has not been crowned with all the success desired; yet it is also true, that the general diffusion of education has never been effected in any age or country, except by governmental aid and direction.And again, in more detail—If every parent in the State could and would educate his children, and educate them well, nothing more could be desired. But as it is essential to the well-being of society, that all its intellectual capital should be employed, if any member of the common family cannot educate his children, he should be assisted; 544 if any could, but will not, they should be impelled to it, by authority or inducement:"—That was from America, not Prussia—If all or any are disposed to do it, but to do it imperfectly, they should be overseen. The great object of legislative superintendence therefore, is, to see that all the children in society are educated, and educated well. That these ends cannot be attained without the direction of Government, is demonstrable from the experience of New York, shown in 1816, when the Legislature assumed the control of public schools, the number of children were reported at 140,000; whereas, at the present time, it cannot fall short of half a million.His great object was to have, if possible, an united system of education; but, no matter what happened, to have education. The Government plan had been objected to, because, as it was said, it would unite the different sects in the same schools. He had seen no proof whatever of any such intention. The Government only required that the children should be united to receive secular instruction, but that religious instruction should be given apart. He could not see, therefore, what difficulty there was in the way of religious instruction, or how it would be in the slightest degree changed or interfered with, under the scheme which had been proposed. It had frequently been acknowledged—nay, it was now received as a matter universally admitted, that the Protestant version of the Holy Scriptures contained numerous faults and imperfections; would it not then be much better, that the Catholic child should be allowed at school to read some version of the Scriptures, or even extracts from a version of the Bible, rather than that he should receive no religious instruction whatever? Gentlemen who took a different view of this great and important subject from that which he entertained were much in the habit of anticipating most alarming evils from the practical application of those principles of popular education, of which he had ever been the humble but earnest advocate. Now, if these evils were so likely to occur in England, he desired to know why it happened that nothing of the sort was to be found in Prussia, in Holland, or in the United States of America. The state of public morals in those parts of the world was such as the people of this country mightwell desire to see established in their own, and he did not hesitate to impute that superior condition to a superior system of popular 545 education. Amongst the objections urged against the system of which he was a supporter, there was this, that it tended towards the establishment of the religious ascendancy of the Catholic Church: he disbelieved utterly that it had any such tendency. He appealed to the statements of facts already before Parliament, and within the reach of every Member of that House, to bear him out in the assertion, that the system had not the least tendency towards any such result. If for a moment he thought that it would be followed by such consequences, he sincerely declared that it should receive no support from him. He was not opposed to Protestant ascendancy further than he was opposed to the ascendancy of any particular class of religionists. He was opposed to any species of ascendancy. He was as little favourable to Catholic as he was to Protestant ascendancy. There was no effort which he could make—there was hardly a sacrifice which he should consider too great, for the purpose of preventing anything so much to be deprecated as the ascendancy, in a religious point of view, of either the one party or the other; but it was in the confident belief, that the great ends of education could be fully and completely attained, without in the least promoting the ascendancy of any class in the community that he ventured earnestly to press upon the House of Commons the necessity of giving to the children of the people whom they represented a sound, a practical, and religious education; and at the same time that it was religious, protected from the dictation in matters of faith, of any section of the community. It was impossible to look abroad without being sensible of the fact, that there was, in every quarter of the country, a deplorable want of education—he might say, of almost every species of useful instruction; but he ventured to hope that the time was at hand, when this stain and reproach would be wiped away. If they refused their assent to the present scheme, it would be soon impossible to resist, with civilisation making such rapid strides throughout the great European family. The cause should advance; it was a righteous and a just cause; and, feeling confident in its future success, he would strike the earth like Galileo, and say it still went on.
observed, that the question was not, whether they would take any particular step for the purpose of promoting 546 the ascendancy of the Established Church, but whether they would abandon a system which had worked well for the purpose of introducing a new system, which was alien to the constitution of the country, and to the feelings of the people. If, as was alleged, the Board possessed the power of introducing those extensive changes, they might do so at any time, and it was perfectly natural, so long as the Board possessed the enormous discretionary power of making such Changes, that the people of England should regard them with a salutary jealousy. These vie s of his were supported by the authority of one who was a Dissenter, a voluntary and a liberal; he alluded to Mr. Dunn, the Secretary to the British and Foreign Bible Society, who said,Why should we betake ourselves to measures so foreign to the habits and feelings of the nation—so liable to abuse, tending so directly to the worst of all tyrannies? The enslaving of public sentiment is a question I confess myself utterly unable to answer. I can discover no imaginable reason why we should thus toss at the feet of any Government an amount of moral influence, the possession of which, under some circumstances, might lead to the destruction of our liberties.Why should they, who sat on that side of the House, not follow the course which to their judgments seemed best, when so far from being condemned, it was supported by one who was a liberal, a voluntary, and Dissenter. The central society proceeded upon the avowed object of establishing a system not sectarian; nevertheless he admitted that it was no easy matter to be quite certain as to what were the views and wishes of the Central society, since, in imitation of very high authority, they agreed to leave many of their questions open questions. It would seem, that each member of that association acted, in many cases, quite independently of his fellow-members, or at least claimed the right to do so; hence it was not unaptly called Liberty-hall; but he concluded he should be justified in assuming, that the secretary of that body, and the editor of the publication which they patronised, might be held to speak pretty nearly the sentiments of the whole body. Mr. Duppa declared in the most distinct terms, that it was necessary to separate secular from religious instruction. He said, "to effect this object it is only necessary, that instruction of a purely scientific character should be separated from that which is 547 religious." Mr. Simpson informed them that children were educated at the National Schools from the ages of two years to fourteen. "The Bible," he said, "should not be taught from two to fourteen. Masters should be dismissed for meddling with the subject of revealed religion, I would prohibit the teacher from any reference in his lessons to Christian doctrines or Christian history. The Bible had better not be placed in the secular school at all. Without this we shall never carry into effect a system of national education." These were the sentiments plainly avowed by Mr. Simpson. He would ask the House was it not too much to require that he and those who thought with him should abandon the opinions which they held last year, merely because others had given up theirs—that they should join in denouncing now those principles in conducting the education of the country which they had formerly given their consent to when supported by the noble Lord opposite? who had strongly departed from the wise course in which last year he had earnestly engaged. There had been a great change in his conduct. [Lord John Russell "None whatever."] He repeated, that the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman opposite did by no means hold the same sentiments in the present year, that they had done in the last. On that account, as well as for other reasons, he should take the liberty of calling the attention of the House to a short extract from a speech of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last. It was in these words:—The great defect of English education is the total want of a national organization. There is not, as in all continental countries, a Minister and Council of Instruction—wandering voluntary system of instruction. If the State is to touch our public schools at all, she must do it through a proper department—no more grants, or a Minister and Council through which they are to come. Difficulties there may be but none which good sense and strong will may not beat down, There is no possible reason why Government in the case of England should not act as in the case of Ireland. Is a Home Secretary here of shorter arms and poorer courage than a Chief Secretary there? A letter of instruction may fairly anticipate an net of Parliament. What we want is the organization—a board of education for England.These were the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman: what did the noble Lord do? In February out came his letter of instruc- 548 tions; in April, the National Board was constituted, following step by step most marvellously the instructions of the society. The next step was the erection of a normal seminary. This, also, was insinuated by the noble Lord into one of his schemes. And what was the end which the Central Society had in view? The hon. Gentleman had to-night pretty strongly intimated that the object was to give the board full inspection and control over all the schools in the country, and thereby oblige them to alter their system according as they should think proper to suggest. He had stated, that this board did not give satisfaction to the Church of England, the Wesleyan Methodists or the great body of Dissenters; but did it give permanent satisfaction to the Gentlemen of the Central Board itself? No such thing. It was merely to be preparatory. They represented the Board of Privy Council as overloaded with business, not permanent in their constitution, and little versed in systems of instruction, and utterly unfit to superintend the national education. But the Central Society did not wish the noble Lord all at once to grasp at entire domination over national education; but by and by a proposal would be made for appointing three paid commissioners, as a noble and learned Lord suggested in another place, with powers more absolute even than those of the Poor Law Commissioners—powers to visit every school in England, to establish what was called a national school in every parish, and compel every child, from two to fourteen years of age, to attend them. It was perfectly obvious, then, that we were now entering upon the first step of the plan, as developed both in the publications of the Central Society, and in the elaborate evidence given before that committee, of which the hon. Gentleman was Chairman, and the House must be prepared for the results. The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, and the hon. Member for Lambeth, tried the other night to persuade them that their fears as to the results of this system were chimerical for that, in fact, it was only a recurrence to the old system, which had been in operation for the last six years. But, if it were indeed so, if there was no difference between the present plan and the Treasury scheme of Lord Althorp, why did not the noble Lord at once relieve the excited apprehensions of the country by acceding to, 549 the motion of his noble Friend, the Member for North Lancashire, for this Board of Privy Council, so long as it existed, would possess great powers and great discretion, which it might abuse! All he asked was, that they should revert to the rules laid down by the Treasury. But were the rules laid down by the Board of Privy Council really the same as those of the Treasury? They were as different as possible. The rules of the Treasury secured to the country the guarantee of two established societies, both for the character and permanence of the schools to which money was voted; but, under the Board of Privy Council, any school, however recommended, whether they had ascertained its character or not, whatever that character might be, whether it taught the most absurd or the most offensive doctrines, however ephemeral its existence might be, springing up to-day, and disappearing to-morrow, every such school might receive a portion of the public-money. The Treasury scheme possessed another very great advantage; it called forth from the different localities in which a school might be established a large amount of private subscriptions. The Privy Council Board presented no such guarantee for the judicious and proper application of the public money. It was true, no doubt, as the hon. Member for Lambeth had remarked, that there were districts in the country so poor that they could not afford to raise any local subscription; that fact was deserving of the utmost consideration. But let them, at least, supply those cases whose destitution the Treasury had examined, and which had not yet been relieved, before they were called upon to reverse the system on a mere theoretical objection. Besides, there were a great number of new district churches building throughout the country, and if the Treasury grants were continued, a school would be established in connexion with every one of them. Within the last six years, 120,000l. of public money had been expended for educational purposes; it had called forth no less a sum than 230,000l. in the shape of local subscriptions, and secured education to 230,000 children, and covered a population of two millions and a quarter. Thus had schools been erected with a perfect guarantee for both character and permanence; and it was hardly reasonable to call upon them to retrace their 550 steps, and reverse their system, because it had not effected all that some hon. Gentlemen might desire. If enough had not been voted, why did they not increase the Treasury grant? They had, through the National Society, applications from no less than 168 places, giving education to 32,000 scholars, drawing out of local contributions 55,000l., and receiving only 16,000l. from the Treasury. Here was a practical case—a tangible and substantial good to be accomplished. The Privy Council Board allowed the greatest possible latitude as to who should apply for a grant, and who should receive it; but they were very stringent in one rule; they insisted on a pledge to conform to the discipline and the rules laid down by the Privy Council. [Lord J. Russell.—No: their own rules.] He begged the noble Lord's pardon. He regretted, however, they had not yet heard the comments of any one of those four Members of the Board of Privy Council in explanation of this very obscure and very important document. They had been told a fortnight ago that papers should be laid forthwith on the Table, which would remove the gross misrepresentations which had been circulated respecting the noble Lord's scheme; but up to the present moment no explanatory document had been presented—nothing to correct misapprehension, nothing to obviate perversion, nothing to clear away the mist which enveloped this important Minute. When they came to the discussion, however, they were told by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, that there should be a conformity to the regulations and discipline established in the several schools, with such improvements as from time to time might be suggested by the Board. He would venture to say, that no member of the Church of England, no Wesleyan Methodist, no evangelical Dissenter, would put himself in connection with this Board under a system so constituted as to require from them a conformity quite inconsistent with their principles and conscientious opinions. The plan, therefore, of the noble Lord would exclude from any participation in the Parliamentary grant all who were attached to the Church of England, and those large classes of Dissenters who never would consent to the condition so unjustly imposed of opening their schools to the visitation, control, and capricious improvements, of a Board whose 551 plan was not yet matured, which was yet only in the womb of time, and which, so far as it had been developed, never would give satisfaction to the great bulk of the people. But it seemed, after all, that the most obnoxious feature of the former scheme, the erection of a normal seminary, had not been abandoned; it was only postponed; what mode of instruction, then, did the noble Lord propose to introduce in the normal school? Was it to be connected with the Church of England, on the system recommended by the British and Foreign School Society, which the noble Lord had admitted to be the best? The noble Lord's scheme was to lay aside all the special points of religion in which each sect differed, and reserve those general points in which they all agreed. The Central Society represented the British and Foreign School system as essentially sectarian; conscientious Unitarians and Catholics were opposed to it. The Bible must be taught regularly and systematically; its doctrines must be ingrafted on the minds of the children before any good moral result could be expected. On this subject he begged to quote the testimony of a distinguished philosopher and statesman. M. Guizot said,—It had been sometimes thought, that to succeed in securing to families of different creeds the reality and the freedom of religious instruction, it was sufficient to substitute for the special lessons and practices of the several religious denominations, some lessons and practices susceptible in appearance of being applied to all religions; this would not answer the wish either of families or the law; they would tend to banish all positive and effective religious instruction from the schools, in order to substitute one that is merely vague and abstract.The noble Lord's panacea of special and general religious instruction must, therefore, be a complete failure. He hoped the noble Lord, referring to the document which had lately been placed on the Table, and which enumerated no fewer than twenty-five different sects, would place on record those doctrines in which they agreed, and those on which they differed; the result would probably satisfy most hon. Members that a system of instruction projected on such a basis must fail of its intended effect. Then, there must be a master; abstract rules, mere idle regulations, could effect nothing. The master must form the habits and minds of the scholars. Now what religion 552 was the master to be of? If he were a member of the Church of England, all the other twenty-five sects would clamour against his appointment; and if he belonged to one of the twenty-five sects, the other twenty-four would clamour as loudly against him. If he were a man duly impressed with a sense of the religious principles of the sect to which he belonged, he would, of necessity, impress upon his pupils those religious principles which he himself conscientiously believed; and if he were a man of no religion, would the moral and religious people of England submit to have their children exposed to his tuition? What, then, were they to do with their model school, and with their rector, who was to initiate all the other masters who were to be appointed to regulate all the other schools in England? M. Cousin had observed, that children judged of the value of the instruction which they received in schools from the time and attention devoted to it. If, then, religion were to be excluded as a subject of instruction from these schools, what would children think of religion? They would regard it with indifference; and therefore this system was setting up a series of schools which would train up tutors and children in indifference to all those great and eternal truths which were essential to the maintenance of peace and order in society. He, therefore, protested against this system, from which practical religion was absolutely excluded—a system fraught with blunders, as the noble Lord had himself admitted, when he abandoned his first scheme. [Cheers from the Opposition, and cries of "No, no," from the Ministerial benches.] What was he to understand from those cries? That the first scheme was not even postponed? They had heard a good deal last night about open questions—was this to be another open question? The noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had said, on the former night of this debate, that that scheme was abandoned. "But no," says the noble Lord opposite, "the scheme is not even postponed." [Lord John Russell, I said nothing of the sort.] He begged the noble Lord's pardon then, but some one said "No," and he conceived that the cry came from the noble Lord, and the noble Lord would forgive him, if he attributed more of meaning to the hon. Gentleman who sat behind him, than to the noble Lord himself. Remembering 553 how often the noble Lord had brought forward and abandoned schemes which he had described as well considered and deliberately arranged, and remembering, too, that it was only last year that the noble Lord had abandoned his education scheme in deference to the opinions of those who usually sat behind him, he must say, that if the negative which he had just heard came not from the noble Lord, but from some of the hon. Members behind him, it afforded him great room at least for comment. Would the noble Lord then allow him to consider the last edition of his education scheme as the type of his meaning? Why, it was only last year that the noble Lord had declared in his place in Parliament, that he could not discover any mode of reconciling religious differences on the subject of education, and that those differences were so wide and irreconcilable, that he despaired of being able to present to the House any united scheme of education. The noble Lord, resting upon the petition from Manchester, signed by 22,000 persons, in support of the Government plan, and upon the petition presented by the hon. Member for Staffordshire, which was not against it, would perhaps argue, that there was now a greater concurrence in its favour than he had been led to anticipate, and would therefore be for introducing his proposed plan. He was therefore bound to come to the same conclusion to which his noble Friend had arrived on a former night; and as long as this Board was to be constituted, with unlimited discretion, and was to have power to deal as it pleased with the moral and religious education of the people; and, therefore, to tamper with those important elements of national prosperity, so long must he join with him in praying that this Board should cease.
§ Mr. C. Buller
admitted, that he was one of those Members whose cry of" No," had called forth so much eloquent indignation from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. He was sorry to have done any thing to force the hon. Member out of the usual placidity of his demeanour; but he could not but contradict the assertion that the first plan proposed by Ministers had been abandoned by them on account of its blunders, when its abandonment had been justified by them on the single and adequate ground of their inability to carry it in despite of the opposition with which it had been encountered. There was 554 one thing in these debates, which was very valuable to the cause of national education—it was this, that whatever might be the line of argument adopted by any speaker on the opposite side, or whatever feeling might be assumed by him, the arguments and the reasoning of all resolved themselves into nothing more nor less than this—determined and unconquerable hostility to the general education of all classes and sects of the people of England. He was not then going to defend the particular defects which might be pointed out in the plans of the Government, and which had given room to the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire (Lord Stanley) to treat some of his former colleagues to a sample of those courtesies by which he loved to revive the tender recollections of his bygone friendships, and to expatiate upon a subject of which no person had greater experience—the most convenient mode of abandoning a course on which a man had once entered. He (Mr. C. Buller) admitted that both plans had this fault, that while they were liberal enough to excite the hostility of the thoroughgoing advocates of the exclusive pretensions of the Established Church, they were not on such a scale of practical utility as to excite the sympathies of the masses. There was, however, this of promise in both plans, around which the friends of civil and religious liberty ought manfully to rally; there was in both plans a recognition of the principle already recognized by every other enlightened Government in the world, and which this had been the last to acknowledge, namely, that the business of the education of the people ought not to be left to the voluntary principle, to the whims and caprices, or to the unaided and ill-directed efforts of individuals, but that it should be conducted as a matter of vital interest to all classes of the community. Around this principle, and the Government which adopts it, it is the duty of every friend of education and freedom to unite. But he must tell the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, that he and his worthy coadjutor, the noble Member for Dorsetshire, had given them a fresh and far stronger motive of union than they had before. It is not on either of the Government plans, but on his own amendment, that the noble Lord compelled them to vote to-night. That amendment positively and specifically annulled the only, 555 the slight, but only provision for general education ever attempted by the Government of this country. He proposed no other scheme. He called upon them to annul the superintendence of education which the Government now proposes, to intrust to the Committee of the Privy Council. He did this on the ground that that Committee is not a clerical body. He called on them to affirm, that whatever the Government of Great Britain does for education, must be done by the agency of the Established Church; and that if it cannot do anything through that agency, it must do nothing at all for education. That was a proposition which he would ever resist. He was sure that it would be successfully resisted, unless he mistook—greatly mistook, the spirit of his countrymen. He was not then going to trouble the House with examining the different points which had been urged in debate. He did not mean to deprive of a particle of its value all the antiquarian lore which the noble Lord opposite had been able to pick up upon this subject. He left to the noble Lord all the advantage which he could get from the Chief Justice of Henry the 4th, for he should not even attempt to contest the point, whether the education of Protestant Great Britain, in the nineteenth century, should be regulated by the maxims of a bigotted old barbarian—[Ironical cheers from the Opposition]—yes, of a bigotted old barbarian, whose chief employment was the burning of Lollards. He would leave the noble Lord all the advantage he could get from an example drawn from these pure wells of bigotry undefiled;—from the worst age of their Popish ancestors—an age that was the most disgraced by Popish persecutions. [Lord Stanley said, he had not said anything like that.] He was not pretending to repeat the exact terms of the noble Lord. He knew that the noble Lord and others opposite were too canning to commit themselves to the precise formulas of bigotry which were adopted by their supporters out of the House. But he appealed to any man who had listened to the speech of the noble Lord, whether he did not in substance advance these doctrines, from which he now sought to withdraw?—the doctrine that no education should be given by the state, except under the superintendence, and by the means of the Established Church. That was the doctrine, which he 556 now felt himself called on to combat; and his objections to it were twofold. In the first place, the consigning the business of education to the Established Church was only an uncandid way of throwing aside education altogether, for the Established Church had not the machinery for dispensing education; so that, when they talked of leaving education in the hands of the Established Church, they only meant to leave it to the voluntary associations of its members. What part of the funds of the Church were allocated to education?—what portion of the hierarchy particularly devoted themselves to it?—what portion of its patronage was given by the Church to those who devoted themselves to education? Why even those funds and dignities which had been set apart for the education of the people at the time of the Reformation, had been perverted from their original purpose, and turned into mere sinecures. These were statements in which he should not be contradicted by those who were interested in diocesan schools and who had been the first to complain of this abuse. But this system of leaving education in the hands of the Established Church had had a long trial, and what had been its effects? Let them look to the state of education in this country. Were they to judge of them by that perverted system of education which is to be witnessed in our Sunday and charity schools, or were they to look for them in those wide and populous districts which are left destitute of any education whatever? What were they to think of the merits of that instruction in morality and religion which had afflicted our country with more thieves and prostitutes than any other in the world? He should be ready to intrust the education of the people to the clergy of the Established Church when he saw, that clergy giving some earnest of its zeal in the cause by restoring to their original destination the funds which had been originally devoted to education, and when he saw any portion of its honours conferred upon those who humbly devoted themselves to the task of instructing the people. The second objection which he had to make to the plan of education by the Church was a stronger one. In this country liberty of conscience had been more folly vindicated than in any other country, and it wag, consequently, more divided into sects. If any offer of education was 557 made through the agency of the Established Church, and through its agency alone, the Dissenters would refuse to accept it. This might be said to be bigotry on their part; but such was the feeling of the country, and Ministers were not to Overlook it in establishing a system of education. What would be the effect? Why not that you would have got any way in giving religious instruction, but that you would have debarred from education of every kind all those who would not accept it on condition of being connected with the Established Church. But amongst these were some of those to whom they ought above all others to take care to give education—not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of all classes of the community. My great object, said the hon. Gentleman, in rising to night, is to call the attention of the House to this particular view of the question. You will not appreciate this question aright while you consider education as the mere privilege of the individual—as a boon which you confer by way of charity, and which you may deal out with a bountiful or a niggard hand, as a premium on conformity to the Established Church. Education is indeed the highest of a freeman's blessings, and the most valuable of a freeman's rights. But it is still more to be regarded as the first precaution of a wise government—a precaution which it is above all things the interest of the possessors of property to take with respect to the mass of the people, and a precaution which is so necessary in no other country of the world as in this, in which the singularly artificial structure of society, and the great inequality of social conditions expose us to such constant perils from the ignorance and discontent of the uninstructed poor. This is an aspect of this and other questions, which I never can behold without emotions of alarm. Whenever I contemplate the condition of the working classes, the deep and dark gulf that separates them from the knowledge and the sympathies of their superiors in fortune, the utter ignorance in which we are of their feelings and wants, the little influence which we have over their conduct, and the little hold which we appear to have on their affections, I shrink with terror from the wild passions and dense ignorance that appear to be fermenting in that mass of physical force. We see vast portions of them utterly neglected, utterly 558 uninstructed, and plunged in debauchery during the intervals of toil. Among another and yet wider class we may observe the spread of thought yet more pernicious, and the intercommunication of sympathies yet more menacing. Sometimes the murmur of their discontent and ignorance assumes an articulate form, and speaks in the accents of the disciples of Thom, the followers of Stephens, and the millions whose creed is Chartism; for such are the instructors to whom you leave the minds of the people. Some learn their religion from a lunatic, in whose resurrection they believe; others are taught that every man has a right to what wages he thinks reasonable, and that he may enforce his right by the dagger and the torch. Others learn that rents and profits are a deduction from wages, and consequently believe that the owners of land and capital are the plunderers and oppressors of the workman. These doctrines advance unencountered by the morality or the simple political reasoning which would dispel their influence. This bad instruction is allowed to be the only instruction of the poor, while you, the enlightened rulers of this country, whose property and lives will be the first victims of these terrible delusions of the masses, spend in a squabble about creeds, the precious time which is rapidly bearing us on to the dark catastrophe of our culpable folly and neglect. And when the Government—the last of civilized Governments to awake from its torpid neglect of the minds of the people, proposes at length to send the schoolmaster among these dangerous yet teachable masses, the noble Lord, and the Church, and the aristocracy, and the great conservative party, bar his passage with the thirty-nine articles. Take, for instance, the population of Manchester. A large proportion of them are Irish Roman Catholics. They are poor, they are ignorant, they are drunken, and, in addition to this, they have introduced into England, their country's vice of illicit distillation, and its attendant mischiefs. They are entirely under the influence of their priests, and ill supplied even with their aid; not at alt with any other instruction. Whose interest is it that these people should be educated? That of every peaceable resident—"every man of property in Manchester and the whole country. Why is it, that they are not to be educated? Because 559 their priests will not let them read the Bible in any version but the Douay one which in some score of passages differs from ours; and because the noble Lord says, that he never will aid them to learn to read, if they are to read any version but our own. What does he gain by this? Does he get them to read the true version? Does he dispel their religious errors? Not a whit. He only places them more at the mercy of their priests—only rivets them by utter ignorance more to their religious errors—only adds entire, to partial ignorance. The consequence is, that the poor man reads neither the Douay nor the English version, nor any book whatever. Now do you mean to say, that no instruction is of any use to a Catholic—that all Catholics are alike? No one can say this who knows anything of different Catholic nations—who knows the difference between the educated Catholic of Lucerne and Baden, or the uneducated Catholic of Spain and Portugal. This is the choice presented to you; and the noble Lord thinks it better to leave the Catholics of Manchester in the state of the Spanish than in that of the Swiss Catholic." Quam parvâ sapientia regitur mundus."! He had heard, the hon. Member continued, the argument of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, the object of which seemed to be to prove, that there could be no common instruction for people of different religious creeds, because education should not be given separate from religion. The whole argument rested on a confusion between education and instruction. Using the word education to denote the whole bringing up of a child, he would admit, that it would be a mere abuse of terms to say, that in a Christian country there could be any complete education which did not include religious instruction; but it seemed to him an equal abuse of terms to say that there could be no instruction in particular branches of knowledge without its being combined with the teaching of religion. There was not one of them who did not, in private life, constantly receive particular instruction wholly unconnected with religion. They did not look for instruction in the law through the medium of religion. When he himself sought from a conveyancer and a special pleader instruction in the law, he never inquired what was the religion of either, and he could, very safely say, that 560 it was not customary with students in the legal profession to make any such inquiry. Staunch Protestants, as were hon. Gentlemen opposite, even they required not that those who taught their children music or French should be Protestants also. Some men, indeed, he knew, were so conscientious, that they insisted upon their daughters learning bad Swiss French, because they would have none but a Protestant governess; he hoped, however, that it might never be his misfortune to hear the young ladies, who had learnt music or French, from Protestants, exhibit their accomplishments. It might, however, be considered that these were mere accomplishments, and minor parts of education. But if they applied the rule to the teaching of French and of music, why not also extend it to geography, or arithmetic, or history, or all other useful branches of instruction? And for arguments, such as these, you give up all the great advantages of a common system of education. You give up the valuable influence that it would have in softening the animosities of sects, and strengthening the common feelings of charity. Was it not bad enough that the people of this country should be kept asunder in after life by the divisions and separations of the various sects? And was it not most desirable that, in early youth, associations might be formed, which might soften the asperities of after life, by the recollection of the common studies and sports of childhood. And what religious denomination would be the gainer by a community of education? If the friends of the Church of England were wise (and he said this without a fear of infusing suspicion into the minds of the Dissenters), they would see that community of education must tend to the advantage of the Church of the majority. How did it tell, in fact, among the upper class, the immense majority of which belong to the Established Church? Was it not daily seen that the sons of Dissenters, who had made their fortunes, on becoming students at Oxford and Cambridge, were found to turn to the religion of the majority, and became members of the Established Church? He, therefore, had no doubt that the effects of a common education would be to swell the numbers of the Established Church. But it was in vain, he feared, to expect wisdom from clergy of the Established Church. He wished to speak with every respect of 561 the Clergy of the Established Church. [Cheers from Members on the Opposition benches.] He could tell hon. Gentlemen who cheered rather sarcastically, that though he did not make many professions on the subject, he had always upon political grounds, been desirous of maintaining the Established Church, and that he never had advocated the voluntary system in England. Feeling, then, the strongest desire that the clergy should be entitled to the respect of the people of England, he must say, that it was with regret, that he felt himself compelled to say, that since the times of Dr. Sacheverell, and of church mobs, never had the conduct of the clergy been so injudicious and offensive in politics; and never since the days of Laud had the doctrines put forth by the Church of England been so alarming to the friends of civil and religious liberty. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were in the habit of identifying Members on his side of the House with every extravagant opinion of every individual, who happened to entertain any of the same political sentiments, such as the excesses of the Chartists. He did not mean to imitate this injustice; but, he did not think it was unfair in him when he said he could not entirely dissociate hon. Gentlemen opposite from a party, which had an important influence out of that House, and which had representatives in that House of great ability, great activity, and of great influence. He must couple the Gentlemen opposite with the efforts that were being made, and with the doctrines promulgated by the University of Oxford. When he saw the opinions that had there been put forward; when he knew that they had found followers among a vast proportion of the parochial clergy, when he knew that their influence had invaded the chairs of the professors, and got into their hands a great share of the education of that University, and when he saw many able Representatives in that House of these doctrines, he could not but look with suspicion on the designs of these Gentlemen. He should not enter into the doctrinal points in dispute, nor the wonderful affinity which was shown in the theology of these gentlemen to that of the Church that they most reviled. He left the clergy of the Church to settle these points with their new allies, the Wesleyan methodists. He only begged of the great mass of the members of that de- 562 nomination to take well to task those who brought them in contact with Gentlemen who contended for absolution and penance, and as if that were not enough descended to the puerilities of Catholicism, and cried up the virtues of the sign of the cross. But he wished to direct the attention of the House to the political tenets which had been put forward by his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Gladstone); and all must admit his candour in taking for the object of his attack, a work which might be considered as the ablest exposition which could be given of these doctrines by a gentlemen, of whom he would not speak without congratulating him on having been one of the few men in the present age, who ventured not only to put forward unpopular tenets, but followed them to their legitimate consequences with a logical intrepidity as rare, and almost as admirable as his moral courage. He would ask the House to recollect his hon. Friend's arguments for what was a system of religious favouritism, if not of religious intolerance; and, whether there was more than one logical step between these doctrines and religious persecution? His hon. Friend's humanity had shrunkrom that one step; but could we rely on similar moderation from all his followers? His hon. Friend's arguments went to the root of the great bulwark of Protestantism, the right of free inquiry and of private judgment—and he wished to know, whether, upon the exquisite reasoning, of his hon. Friend, they would allow the right of private judgment to dwindle into the right of simply agreeing with the Church of England in everything she proposed? He asked them, the guardians of the liberties as well as of the religion of the people of England, to look well to those doctrines so fatal to freedom and to Protestantism which were making rapid and dangerous progress. And if the arguments which he had previously used were not sufficient to induce them to refrain from placing education under the superintendence of the Established Church, at least before they did so, let the considerations which he had last adduced, induce them to require a guarantee that their placing the education of the country in those hands, would not favour the propagation of doctrines than which the Papacy in its worst days never advanced anything more degrading to the human mind, and more inconsistent with human liberty.
said, he was deeply impressed with the opinion that the House of Commons was a most unfit place to be the arena of polemic disputation on points of faith or on matters of religious difference, and he assured hon. Members he should not be tempted by the precedent offered to-night to follow the example of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard. The hon. and learned Member had thrown out Some taunting expressions with respect to the hew alliance between the friends of the establishment and the Wesleyan. He would ask the hon. and learned Member, whether he thought that, in Cornwall, where, as he well knew, the labouring classes had all the intelligence of a manufacturing population, and where many of them were Wesleyans, they would be satisfied with any education which was not based on religion? But the hon. and learned Member little knew the character of Englishmen, groaning beneath the grinding effects of the transition system (as it was termed) with respect to the employment of capital and labour in our manufactures, if he thought that their causes of complaint would be remoted or their inconveniencies and sufferings assuaged by such propositions on the subject Of national education as they had been favoured with on this occasion. Men who are suffering the misfortunes of this life, need to rest on the realities of another world; and there was no doubt that they felt severely the state of destitution of religious instruction in many parts of the kingdom, and the consequent deprivation of spiritual consolation in their families. He believed that no description of education dissevered from religion would be acceptable to the working men of England; and he did not think they would be grateful to those Who, like the hon. and learned Member, proposed to extricate them from the Squabbles of conflicting creeds, by involving them in the squabbles of political economy. The hon. and learned Member had borrowed assistance from a doctrine certainly not Very novel, and by which it was always easy to ensure a laugh, namely, that the teaching of mathematics, dancing, and French, was not connected with religion, and thence would have inferred there was a similar want of connection between a system of national education and religion. There was no parallel between the cases.? What might be true 564 with reference to instruction in the better-informed classes of society, might, as in the parallel attempted to be drawn, be quite erroneous, as respected the more ignorant and prejudiced portion of the population. The question before the House was whether the functions of the Established Church should be made over to a board of public' instruction; and whether, in some ten or twenty years hence, England should have a minister of public instruction or an Established Church. He would show, before he sat down, what the Church had done in this country, for circumstances had called upon him to investigate the subject. Certainly, care of the public education had, in most cases, been confided, and most beneficially, to the superintendence of the Church. In the universities and down to foundation and grammar Schools, the charge was almost exclusively confided to the clergy. It had been erroneously supposed that the law in this respect had been altered of late years; but he believed no lawyer would deny, that, notwithstanding the extension of religious liberty, the Church is entrusted with some general superintendence over education, however limited, in special cases. The Acts of 1779, by which Protestant Dissenters were first enabled to keep school, contained a special limitation, forbidding the appointment of Dissenting schoolmasters to foundation or endowed schools, unless they were endowed by and for Dissenters; and the Act of 1791, giving the same permission to Roman Catholics, contains the like limitation. The decision of the Court of King's Bench, on the Archbishop of York's case, was subsequent to these Acts, in 1795, and rests on the principle that "keeping" of schools is, by the old law of England, of ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and neither the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act, nor the Catholic Relief Bill made any difference in this respect. In the Roman Catholic Relief Act he found this clause:—Provided also, and be it enacted, that nothing in this act contained shall be construed to enable any person, otherwise than as they are now by law enabled, to hold, enjoy, or exercise, any place or office whatever, and by whatsoever name it may be called, of, in, or belonging to any of the colleges or halls of the universities, or the colleges of Eton, Westminster, of Winchester, or any college or school, within this realm.Then he came to the question whether 565 there were any grounds for supplanting the Church in this general superintendence of education, whatever that might be, to which she was entitled, and delivering it over to a body unknown to the Constitution of England. On this point he would not go into particulars antecedent to this century. But as hon. Members opposite were in the habit of speaking as if the initiatory step in the business of education had been taken the other day, he would just observe that those charity schools which called forth the admiration of every foreigner who visited this country, dated as far back as the year 1698, Archbishop Tennison having founded one of the first of them. Then, again, not to mention the schools established by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, containing, in the year 1714, a large number of children, they had the Sunday schools, which were first established by members of the Church of England, about 1780; and yet arguments were constantly thrown in the faces of hon. Gentlemen on his (the Opposition) side of the House, which seemed to proceed upon the assumption that the Church had never stirred in the education of the people before the year 1837, at least such was his understanding of the argument of the noble Secretary for the Home Department, who dated the activity of the Church from his address to his constituents in that yean He did not mean to insist that the Church had educated all who were worthy of education at her hands, but he would say, that the hon. Member for Waterford was strangely mistaken in the statements he was in the habit of making of the deficiency of education in this country. Last year, according to the hon. Member, the proportion was one-fifteenth part of the population; this year it seems that things had somewhat mended, and the hon. Member made it one-thirteenth. Now what was the real state of facts? The population was about 15,500,000. 1,000,000 poor children were educated under the Church. About 50,000 children were wholly educated in the weekly schools of Dissenters. It was stated, that there were 750,000 children in Dissenting Sunday schools; but here a large deduction must be made for doable entries. There were 600,000 other children under education, in schools conducted by members of the Church, for children of parents above the class of poor. 566 What, then, has been the progress of education in this country? At the beginning of the century, the proportion of children; at school to the whole population, was one to twenty-three; in 1820 the proportion was one to sixteen. Now, he thought he might safely defy any one to bring it below one to eleven; and he believed it was considerably higher. As to the share which the Church had in this, let it be observed that since 1826 the population had increased 25 per cent.; that in 1826 the Church educated 500,000 children, and that she educated now above 1,000,000; so that the number of children educated by the Church had doubled since 1826, while the population had only increased twenty-five percent, during the same period. In the schools of the National Society, the number of scholars had increased, since 1820, in the proportion of 200 per cent., while the population had only increased 35 percent. And by whom were all these schools supported? The hon. Member for Kilkenny had charged the clergy with being paid for the education of the people, and doing nothing for their hire, alleging that the state of public education was a disgrace to the body of the clergy. To repel so unfounded and calumnious a charge against the clergy, it would be found, on referring to the Inspection returns of last year, that, in 376 of the schools which were more particularly assisted by the parliamentary grant oft the recommendation of the National School Society, there was paid no less a sum, for salaries to efficient teachers, than 9,381l. In 420 cases, including infant schools, less than 10,591l. a year was paid for a similar purpose, for the payment of which the clergy were mainly responsible. He might give one instance of the extent to which members of the Church were accustomed to support the cause of education. At a meeting of the clergy of the diocese of Norwich, which took place some little time ago, who were addressed by the right rev. Bishop of the diocese, and in the course of some remarks on this subject he mentioned that more than two-thirds of the children of the diocese Were educated by the clergy, and that in the county he found, that no fewer than 900 schools were maintained, supported, and attended solely by the rev. gentlemen around him; and the rev. Prelate declared 567 his happiness in recording the fact. With respect to the question of training masters, he was quite ready to admit, that there was room for improvement in that respect; and that the Church was most anxious to effect such an improvement; at any rate after the speech of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), it was clear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not borne out in the assertion which he made last year, that "the reason why no part of the 10,000l. voted for model schools were applied were, that neither of the two societies had come forward to accept the offer." But he was also quite sure, that any attempt, such as that which the Government had made, to establish a system of training for them would prove abortive. He wished to throw out one suggestion to the Government. The practical difficulty was to furnish the masters with any prospects of promotion in active life, and remuneration for their services after retirement. If the Government would take some plan into consideration for giving retiring pensions to those who had spent their life as teachers, they would confer a great benefit on society. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had granted for the purpose of inspecting the schools aided by Parliament, 500l. to each of the two societies—the National, and British and Foreign,—the first of which had 425 schools, the other 117; he (Mr. Acland) said, therefore, that if 500l. was a proper grant for that society which had 117 schools, then in the same proportion 1,820l. ought to have been given to the other, which had 425. Application had been made to the right hon. Gentleman on the part of the National Society to have the grant enlarged, but the request was refused; but notwithstanding this refusal, the Church entered on the inspection while the British and Foreign Society refused to do so. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard had said, that the Church had no machinery for education, and that all she did in education was by means of voluntary bodies. Now, that the National Society was a voluntary body was strictly true; but still it contained in it by charter the whole Bench of Bishops. He (Mr. A.) had wished to abstain from alluding to what the Church had done during the last year, but he must be allowed to state, that by this machinery, diocesan boards of education had been established in sixteen dioceses, and in 568 eighty subordinate districts, by its exertions in a single year, and he was happy to say, that among the supporters of those plans, were to be found many of the most intelligent members of the middle classes in this country, and he thought, that there would be found in the Church a machinery for the purposes of education superior to any which the Government could call into operation. He certainly was not without hopes that the people would find in their future happiness, as he was sure they did at least in their earthly comforts, that the Church had a machinery suitable for education, which she was doing her best to put in operation. The hon. Member for Lambeth had accused the Church of exclusiveness. As an answer to that charge, he would refer him to a parish in his own immediate neighbourhood, in order to show him how unjust were his taunts. He accused the Church of turning away the Dissenters from the benefit of her schools, but what was the fact. He need not go to any distance for proofs, he had only to cross the water from Lambeth to Westminster, and he would find in one parish, Sunday Schools containing twenty-two Roman Catholics and forty Dissenters, weekly and Infant Schools, containing forty-five Roman Catholics, and fifty Protestant Dissenters. He would repeat, that the Church was, by the Constitution, intrusted with the general superintendence of the education of the people, and he would affirm that it had not, either by neglect, or exclusiveness forfeited that trust. What then were the arguments in favour of the expediency of the principle of a State education? They might, perhaps, be told, that by taking the education of the people from the clergy of the Church, and placing it in a central board, security would be given for the permanency of education. He thought, that this was fallacious. Supposing the economists of the day should say, as Mr. Cobbett said, when Lord Althorp first proposed a grant for education, that they did not see the use of education, and refuse a vote of money on its behalf, they would at once take away all its support, and its permanency would be at an end. Much had been said of the advantage of uniformity, he believed that compulsory uniformity was a disadvantage, and that far more good would result from the emulation of voluntary exertion if properly encouraged. It was then urged, that 569 a system of State education had succeeded in Prussia and in Holland. In Prussia there was no such thing as an united system of education of various sects—the Church was always intimately connected with the schools. The hon. Member quoted the assertion of some German professor to the fact, that the different religious bodies in Prussia have different schools. It was quite true, that in the Batavian republic, under French influence, all systems of religion were put on the same footing, and a system of education was devised in which all religious sects participated. But in Holland no one could teach a school without a licence, and that licence was extremely difficult to obtain; in England any one might teach. In Holland also there was no vent for religious animosities, which was not the case in this country. All these circumstances might tend to make such a system appear to succeed for Holland, though it might be very unfit for this country. But he knew, that this system had not given satisfaction in Holland. A sect called the "Separatists" had sprung up, who grounded their dissatisfaction on objections to the united system of education; because it taught no specific religion to the pupils; and he had been informed, that a member of the Government had resigned his situation in consequence of similar objections. He would quote the authority of Mr. Brougham in 1820, to prove the utility of placing education under the clergy. That now noble and learned Lord had then proposed a system of general education for the whole country; and he proposed that the Bishops should visit the schools by themselves, their archdeacons, or chancellors, and that appeals should be made to the metropolitan, and not to an educational board. This was the system recommended by Mr. Brougham, as calculated to promote a sound and useful education. The Church had never objected to the system introduced by the Government of Lord Grey, of granting aid to voluntary societies; but it could not acquiesce in the creation of a new body unknown to the Constitution, and with powers undefined. He would not enter into the specific plan proposed by the Committee of Council, because no clear conception could be formed at present of the measures which the Government intended ultimately to adopt. What he 570 wished was, that the subject should be practically dealt with. If any class of her Majesty's subjects were excluded from the full benefits of education, let a plan be specifically brought forward to remedy that evil. Let it be clearly defined, and the discretion of the Government strictly limited as to the means of execution. In the meantime he contended, that the national Church was the only constitutional, authoritative educator of the people—that it trenched not on the liberties of any other class—and that substantially all restrictions upon education were removed. And he could not consent to any plan which would involve the establishment of schools, with the sanction of the State, under the direct superintendence of ministers of religious bodies, avowedly hostile to the Established Church, whether Roman Catholic, Unitarian, or Baptist, nor would he agree on any consideration to the permanent separation of secular from religious instruction, as the basis of a plan of national education.
§ Sir S. Lushington
said, that the question under discussion in the form and manner in which it had been treated could no longer be regarded as of a fugitive character, or of a temporary interest. It had been discussed on great and important principles; and on these it should now alone be decided. He rejoiced that this discussion had taken place; and, for one, he thanked the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire for having brought forward his motion. He cordially thanked the noble Lord for having given the House an opportunity of discussing the question in all its bearings, and for affording the country the means of knowing whether it were to have a national education or no; and, if it were, in what form or shape was it to be offered? He also thanked the noble Lord for another and not less important result of his motion—he thanked him, because it gave the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, the opportunity of promulgating an opinion in which he cordially concurred, "that the education of the people was a point of the last importance, because it not only led to the suppression of crime, but was also most conducive to their happiness here and hereafter." He held that opinion in common with the noble Lord; but he remembered the day well, when the education of the people was laughed to scorn in that House—the day when it was seriously 571 argued that innumerable mischiefs would accrue from it—when their intellectual education, in short, as contrasted with their physical, was scouted; but that day was gone by, and a new era had come, even on the showing of the noble Lord himself. If the noble Lord's opinions were well-founded, then it was the duty of the State to undertake the education of the people. If it was the duty of the State so to do, and the right of the people to claim education, as it clearly was, on the noble Lord's own showing, then on what principle of justice or expediency could the line of demarcation be drawn between one sect and between another? Who had conceded to hon. Gentlemen opposite the power to draw such a line? Who gave them a right to abandon that duty so clearly prescribed by themselves? But how stood the question? He only sought truth. He was deeply interested in the education of his large constituency as well as in that of the colonies. The noble Lord opposite had told the House, that the Church of England was against the plan of the Government, and that the Wesleyans were the same; in short, that they were supported by no one important sect in the country. But for that he did not care; if he stood alone he would assert what he conscientiously believed to be the truth. The noble Lord had stated that; but he believed it not to be a true representation of the case. A great diversity of opinion existed on the subject, and the apparent unanimity which prevailed for it was, in fact, only apparent—was in a great measure obtained by the vilest misrepresentations ever palmed upon the people of this country. When he saw paraded through the streets placards combining Popery and infidelity together, he felt fully entitled to call them most miserable clap-traps, and to assert, that the people of England were grossly imposed on. The two noble Lords differed in some essential particulars, but they agreed in one paramount point. The highest encomiums and greatest praise had been passed on one great and respectable body of religionists—the Wesleyan Methodists; and it was stated, that they were only slightly separated from the Church of England even by one of her right rev. Prelates; but those encomiums had been conveyed in stronger terms of praise on the present occasion, and with more of adulation, than he had ever heard 572 them before adverted to in that House. He held that great body in the highest respect; but when he found them put forward as their own, sentiments inconsistent with reason and justice, he also held, that it was his duty to express his decided disapprobation of them. The paper which he held in his hand had been already quoted by the noble Lord opposite. This was their leading objection:—Such a restriction appears to this meeting to be due to the yet unrepealed principles of our Protestant constitution, and necessary for the prevention of that direct violation of the rights of conscience which would be perpetrated, if Parliament were to sanction the taxation of the Protestants of England, for the establishment and support of Romish schools, in which the corrupt versions, and mischievous notes of the Romish Church would be made by authority, to a considerable extent, the basis of State instruction.What was the meaning of that passage? It meant this or nothing: that the Protestants might take the money of the Roman Catholics, and apply it to the maintenance of the Protestant Church; but that, not withstanding, the Catholic was to be denied the slightest participation in its advantages. Nay, what was ten thousand times worse, it stated that it was a direct violation of the conscience of Protestants to contribute to the support of these schools; and yet what allowance was made for the consciences of Roman Catholics? Had not the Roman Catholic the same feelings as the Protestant? Was there a shadow of right on the broad principle of toleration, to treat him in that manner? Nay, what was worse still, education was admitted to be essential to the happiness of the people of this country, here and hereafter, and yet the Roman Catholic and the Dissenter were excluded from its benefits by those who made that admission; and condemned the Catholics and Dissenters to the domination of perpetual ignorance, that fruitful parent of crime. But the deduction went further. If the principle were good for anything, it went the whole way with the argument. It made no exception to any one species of religion more than another. He sheltered himself under no ambiguity. He was right in his deduction, or he was wrong; but he held that in matters of religion no man should set himself up as a judge of others. A noble Lord had asked, and asked truly, "Can a Protestant of the Church of England ask what is truth?" He never 573 could. He who belonged to the Church of England must be supposed to be convinced of the truth of its doctrine. But what right had he (Sir S. Lushington) to say that that which appeared to him to be true must necessarily appear to others to be true. If he were in a minority upon the present occasion, he should not despair of one day seeing his principles adopted and carried into execution. He had fought more hopeless battles in that House, and had lived to triumph. He would never despair in a good cause. It was impossible that he should speak with disrespect of the Established Church: he did not disavow its recent exertions in the cause of education. He thought that the Church had awakened from its long sleep, and was now really zealous in the cause of education; but he could not agree in the doctrine laid down by the hon. Gentleman opposite, that the Established Church in this country had a right to a control over the education of the people. Subsequent to the Reformation no traces could be found for centuries of any liberal enactment in favour of education. In James the First's reign it was necessary to have a licence to teach from the Bishop, and it was not till the time of George the 3rd, that the Dissenters were permitted to keep a school by the Act of Toleration. Mark the absurdity that existed meanwhile. The sovereign was giving the Regium Donum to Dissenting clergymen; the law ("the most blessed portion of the law," as the informed Lord Holt had termed it) stood in such an atrocious state that a Catholic priest was forbidden to teach a Catholic child under the penalty of perpetual imprisonment. Grammar schools were always retained under the special superintendence of the Church, because by their foundations they were specially so set apart, and were exempted as such from the effects of all statutes. He would never attempt to argue that the people of the Church of England should be withdrawn from the care of the Church of England. It would be committing the same sin of oppression that he condemned in others. As to the former plan of national education, it seemed that there was something in it so utterly irreconcilable to the feelings and principles of the people of England, that it was given up as totally untenable, but if he were in a situation to carry it into operation he would have no hesitation to uphold it with all 574 his power. It was not merely insinuated, but stated in speeches and newspapers, and repeated all over the country, that the Government were intent on converting (under the guise of this system of combined education) the children of the Church of England into Papists and Socinians. Now, it had not been intended to interfere with any existing schools, whatever the press or individuals might assert. The original plan proposed a normal school and model school; and he asked any man acquainted with the existing system of instruction, whether such establishments were not much wanted, and whether the present system was not defective in the most essential parts? He thought the plan presented some most praiseworthy features; one was, that chaplains of the Church of England should attend to the education of the children, however small their numbers might be; yet it had been said that the education was promiscuous. That was not the case. The education was general and special. He put it to the noble Lord, to the House, and to the country, whether it was just to denounce the Government plan as leading to the introduction of popery and spread of infidelity, merely because it gave to the children of each religious class, to Churchmen, Catholics, and Dissenters, separate and adequate religious instruction, each at a separate time and totally apart from interference? The Government scheme had been exposed to the grossest misrepresentations upon this part of the question. It had been said that the Catholic version of the Bible was to be read by Protestant children, and that their infant minds would be corrupted by coming into early collision with papistical and other unsound religious opinions. Nothing could be more unjust or less in conformity with the principle and basis of the scheme. Other parts of the plan had been denounced by hon. Members as despotism and tyranny. Let them consider whether there were any grounds for such aspersions. One distinct feature of the plan was that of inspection. And the noble Lord the Member for North Lancashire had agreed that when the money of the State was to be given for education, the principle of inspection was not objectionable; and he believed that the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, seemed to entertain an union of sentiment in that respect. Then, 575 what objection to the appointment of inspectors by the Government? Was it meant to be said that the inspectors would interfere with the duties of the clergy of the Church of England? Nothing could be more unwarranted. He wished to make a single remark upon another point. It had been argued that the Church had shown great liberality by consenting to allow a portion of the public money to be given to the British and Foreign School Society. The Church had conceded so far. She had given way to that extent, although it was a departure from her principles. Why, he asked, did the Church give way a single step? But as the Church had yielded so far, where, he would ask, could it be shown in the constitutional history of the country that the British and Foreign School Society was to be the impenetrable line of demarcation? There were thousands of schools conducted on the mixed principles of the National School Society and the British and Foreign School Society, and would they exclude those other schools which were more favourable to the Church than the latter? He thought the executive might be safely left with discretionary power in that respect, and he had every confidence that the Government, whoever they might be, would administer the grant fairly and impartially for the public good. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock had talked of loose representations having been advanced as to the state of education in parts of the metropolis. He should like to know where he acquired his information? What gave him any pretence for such an assertion? The statements on that subject were the results of inquiry made by the central society for education under the directions of Mr. Fowell Buxton, and had been sifted for accuracy in three different ways. In the district of Spitalfields and in a circle of two miles there were 10,000 children destitute of every kind of education, and there were no means available by which their ignorance could be removed. He pressed this lamentable state of things upon the attention of the House, because destitution and ignorance here went together, and the evils of penury were aggravated by the entire want of education. The greater that such penury existed the more it was the duty of the House to apply the funds of the country to supply the deficiency: and one of the best fea- 576 tures in the plan of the Government was, that it provided means of doing so, by giving the proposed board of education a discretionary power to appropriate part of the public grant in quarters where aid was most required from the poverty of the inhabitants. He was not afraid of defeat, but of this they might rest assured, that if the House should declare to the country that they have resolved to act upon a principle of exclusion—that they are determined to refuse essential aid to the education of the people in proportion to their contributions to the establishment, and to their wants and numbers, it would be taken as a declaration of hostility against the great body of the community, and could only be viewed as a determination to condemn them to a continuance in that deplorable state of ignorance which it was their bounden duty to remove. Debate again adjourned.