§ On the Motion that the House go into a Committee of Supply,
§ MR. EWART
rose to bring forward a Motion which he said he had produced in several former years. He had embodied his views in the four subsequent Resolutions:—
The hon. Member observed, that annual statements were made regarding the army, the navy, and the ordnance; and as the promotion of education now formed a part of the annual expenditure of the country, justice to the people required that an annual statement should also be made on the state of general education, by a Minister of the Crown. This formed his first proposition. His next was, that training or normal schools for masters should be more liberally encouraged. The nation would never withhold an additional grant in the Estimates for what was now deemed so indispensable a purpose. His third Resolution referred to the institution, or encouragement, of public libraries. There were in this country no really public libraries, into which every one—rich or poor, native or foreigner—might freely enter. It was disgraceful to us that we had no such libraries here as existed in France, Italy, and Germany. The library of the British Museum was not unrestrictedly open like the libraries upon the Continent. In our only public library, conditions were annexed to admission. On the Continent, no questions were asked. The applicant for permission to read at the British Museum, must bring a recommendation from a Member of Parliament, or one of the Judges, or an eminent physician, or a clerk in a public office, or some other person equally, illustrious or equally obscure. These conditions were a burden on science—a tax on literature. They ought to be abolished, and unrestricted freedom of admission recognised. 1233 Lastly, he (Mr. Ewart) contended, that candidates for admission into subordinate public offices ought to be subjected to a preliminary examination of their acquirements. At present, these situations were made mere subjects of political patronage and Parliamentary influence. But in Prussia, nay, even in China, merit was the recognised test of fitness. Why should it not be so in this country? Thus the State would acknowledge the value of education, and infuse it into its own administrative system. On the subject of Education generally, how little had been done of late years! It was now nearly thirty years since Lord Brougham had turned public attention towards it, when he made his famous Motion respecting the grammar schools and charitable institutions of the country. The Commission then appointed had laboured for five-and-twenty years, and at length produced its result in an ample Digest of four folio volumes. Since Lord Brougham's movement, others had been made. Mr. Roebuck had proposed a Committee on National Education in 1833. Professors were examined, foreign and domestic; no specific result, however, followed. True, the Government proposed annual grants. 30,000l. a year for assisting in the building of school-houses, were long a yearly record of Parliamentary indifference. The grant at length grew to 75,000l. and now magnified itself into 100,000l. But this grant was not only inadequate to its object, but discreditable to the nation. Compare it with what had been done in foreign countries. Compare only Lancashire and Yorkshire, a population of 3,300,000, with Switzerland, a population of only 2,300,000. In Switzerland, there were thirteen normal schools, of far superior appointment to most of ours: in Lancashire, there was only one. France has seventy-six schools; we, only five deserving of the name. France has eighty-seven normal chief and one hundred and fourteen sub-inspectors; we only seven. Holland, too, had been maturing her system of education ever since the beginning of the century. Nay, he observed that even Turkey was now promoting the education of her people. He (Mr. Ewart) did not make these remarks that he might incite us to tread servilely in the footsteps of foreign nations. He wished for no undue interference by the State; but he wished for assistance, encouragement, and accountability. Let the public importance of education, at all events, be publicly recognised. 1234 "The universality of primary instruction," said M. Guizot, the French Minister of Education, in 1833, "is, in the eyes of the Government, one of the greatest and most pressing consequences of our charter." Why, in England, if we did not interfere with it, should we not watch over it—should we not foster it, should we not develope its growth? He cited examples to stimulate our energies, not to engage us in a servile imitation. In France, by the project of M. Guizot, every commune had its primary school; every commune with more than 6,000 inhabitants, its superior primary school; every department had a primary normal school. The masters were provided with a salary, as well as a contribution from their scholars, a residence, and a retiring salary, by means of a caisse d'epargne, or savings bank. On the importance of the profession of a schoolmaster, he (Mr. Ewart) believed that the House entertained but one opinion. That profession was, in this country, at once a noble and a neglected one. To whom were we more indebted than the schoolmaster? Whom ought we more liberally to requite? His duties and his aims were admirably described in that memorable production, the letter of M. Guizot to the schoolmasters of France. These were the words:—
- "1. That it is expedient that early and comprehensive measures be adopted for extending the Education of the People; and that a statement he made by a responsible Minister of the Crown, on the state and prospects of Education, every year, on going into the Education Estimates.
- "2. That it is expedient that the formation of additional training schools for schoolmasters he encouraged.
- "3. That it is expedient to encourage the formation of public libraries, freely open to the public, in large towns.
- "4. That it is expedient that appointments to the subordinate offices of Government be made, as far as possible, on the principle of open examination of the respective qualifications of the candidates."Doomed," he says of the teacher, "to see his life flow on in monotonous toil, sometimes even to encounter around him the injustice or the ingratitude of ignorance, he would be often saddened, or perhaps overcome, if he did not draw his strength and his courage from other sources than such as can be seen through the vista of direct and purely personal interest. A deep feeling of the moral importance of his labours should sustain and animate him. * * * * * It is his glory to pretend to nothing beyond his obscure and laborious condition, to exhaust himself in sacrifices scarcely calculated by those who profit by them; to toil, in short, for man, and only to expect his recompense from God.The public were much indebted to Mr. Kay, a Travelling Bachelor of the University of Cambridge, for his recent work on Continental Education. In it he (Mr. Ewart) found that in Austria, Bavaria, France, Hanover, Holland, Prussia, and Switzerland, the schoolmasters were honourably and independently supported, while their characters and acquirements were ascertained; but that it was "quite the contrary" in England. Had we no necessity for the schoolmaster? Our poor rates, as Mr. Kay truly stated, had increased. From about four millions in 1837, they were now nearly five millions. The 1235 poor would sink into the depths of habitual dependency. Outdoor relief was increasing. Probably, one million of our population was becoming dependent on it. What better resource than to teach them to think, to foresee, and to be independent? How can we do so except by education? Why perpetually adopt palliative, instead of preventive, measures? If we examined the valuable tables of Mr. Baines, and compared the proportion of scholars to the population in our manufacturing districts, we should find them far below the average on the Continent and in the United States. He (Mr. Ewart) feared that in the agricultural districts the state of ignorance was deeper and darker still. The Rev. Mr. Allen, one of the Government Inspectors, in his report for 1844, exhibited the condition of the schools in the counties of Bedford, Cambridge, and Huntingdon. Out of 123 parishes in Bedfordshire, there were 65 parishes "with no daily school, or a very bad one." In Cambridgeshire, out of 164 parishes, there were 57 "with no daily school, or a very bad one." In Huntingdonshire, out of 104 parishes, there were 49 "with no daily school, or a very bad one." But if, turning from the quantity of education to its quality, we interrogated the reports of the Inspectors, we should not find the prospect brighter. Of the teachers themselves, says Mr. Watkins,—the spelling is frequently very incorrect—the language is provincial and ungrammatical. They use a species of scholastic slang. I saw violent ebullitions of temper. In three schools there were notorious drunkards; in twenty-two the masters were incompetent.The Rev. Mr. Moseley, another Inspector, stated that—Some hundreds of children, taken from the highest classes of our national schools, were incapable of telling the name of the country in which they lived. Many were ignorant who governs the country. They told me that the Queen of England was also Queen of France; that England was in Africa; and that to reach Scotland, you must cross the sea.In a national school described by the Rev. Mr. Bishop, of Oriel, "the question being passed from boy to boy whether any of them had been baptized, they all answered, 'No;' but when it was asked whether they had been christened, they unanimously answered, 'Yes.'" No wonder that, such being the quality of education given, the reports of the Inspectors, Messrs. Allen, Cook, Bellairs, Watkins, and Moseley, coincided in stating the necessity of increasing the numbers and attainments 1236 of the "training masters." But why should we not make the teaching of our agricultural masters more practical? In France, fifty-two schools have land attached to them for the purpose of instructing the pupils in practical agriculture.To the schools in Switzerland," says Mr. Kay, "lands have been attached which are farmed and cultivated by the pupil teachers. On these lands, the pupil teachers and professors may be seen toiling in farmers' frocks, like peasants, rather than of young aspirants for the much-respected profession of a schoolmaster. The teacher is never allowed to forget that he is a peasant.The higher the instruction given him the more important it is deemed to—cherish his sympathies for the humble class among whom he will be called to live. They are thus taught from their childhood to combine a high development of intellect and a great elevation of character, with the simplicity and drudgery of a peasant's occupation.Alas! could we say that we had yet such large and elevated views in England? Was it deemed that religion did not extend with extended education? Quite the contrary. Must not the enlarged mind fly more willingly towards its Creator? In France, says M.' Guizot, in his already cited letter, "Partout où l'enseignement primaire a prospéré, une pensée religieuse s'est unie, dans ceux qui le répondent, au goût des lumières et de l'instruction." The cultivation of the mind was found, after long experience, by one of our missionaries in India, to be the most effectual means of developing Christianity in the soul. But from none of these systems abroad, so far as he (Mr. Ewart) understood, was religion banished. On the contrary, it was not only connected with, but infused into the system. It was found in the French system. It was found in the Prussian system. Why should it not be found in ours? The public was eminently indebted to Dr. Hook for the treatise he had written on this difficult portion of the subject, as it also had been to the Rev. Baden Powell several years ago. The course recommended by these gentlemen was open to us. The Irish system, practised also successfully at Liverpool, was open to us: or we might combine the systems. At all events, we might approximate, and gradually prove that religion could unite where theology attempted to divide us; that Education was the ally, not the enemy, of Christianity. But he (Mr. Ewart) did not wish to impose, he wished to invite, coalition. It might be the work of time. But let the good, of all sides, not despair of it. At all events, 1237 there was one part of their educational system, connected with the past, which required immediate attention. He meant the existing state of those ancient English foundations, our grammar schools. Why might not these schools be made available for modern purposes? The House was acquainted with the results of Lord Brougham's Commission. The property held by what were commonly called the charitable trusts of this country, part of which was attributable to education, was enormous. According to the Report of the Commissioners, these charitable trusts possessed in land more than 442,915 acres; in stock, 5,656,746l.; in mortgages, 1,011,782l.: total, 6,678,528l. The income was—from rent, 874,313l.; rent-charges, 79,930l.; interest, 255,151l.: total, 1,209,394l. Out of these, the income of the grammar schools was, 152,047l.; of schools not classical, 141,385l.; of charities given for, or applied to education, 19,112l.: total, 312,544l. Now, was it a great violation of the intentions of the founders of these schools to divert their funds from legal litigation, and turn them towards the education of the people? In most, if not in nearly all instances, he believed they would by so doing promote, rather than counteract, the intentions of the founders. Looking into the conditions on which these institutions were established, he found many of them susceptible of modern improvement. Some of them were appointed for the "teaching of mathematics and French." Many of the founders are more general in their language, and prescribed, "the teaching of grammar and other good learning;" others, "grammar and other literature," or "grammar and other godly learning;" others, again, "the Latin tongue and other more polite literature and science." Some prescribed, more generally, "virtue, learning, and manners;" and some, more quaintly, "grammar and other virtues." Now, he (Mr. Ewart) thought that, when terms so comprehensive as these were used, these ancient foundations might be extended to meet modern exigencies. Where they could not, the Legislature should interpose, as it had already partly done, and extend the limitations of the founder. A Bill giving powers to that effect had, he believed, been rejected in the Lords; but an amended measure was the early and indispensable duty of the Government. Rescue these institutions at once from the evils of mismanagement, and the perils, or rather 1238 plunder, of the law, and devote them to the education of the country. He would next turn to the system of education in Scotland. He directed the attention of the House to the character of the people of Scotland, and asked if some of their most eminent national virtues were not to be traced to the system of parochial schools introduced in 1696? By the memorable Act of 1696, it was provided that there should be a school and a schoolmaster in each parish. Nothing further, he believed, was done till 1803, when a pittance was added to the salary, and some new rules were made. The Statute of 1803 raised the schoolmasters' salaries from a maximum of 11l. 2s. 2d., and a minimum of half that sum, to a maximum of 22l. 4s. 5d., and a minimum of 16l. 13s. 4d. and gave the schoolmaster a house and garden—the house not to contain more than two apartments, including the kitchen—in the native Doric of Scotland, called "a but and a ben." The Statute of 1803 further made a provision for two schoolmasters in a parish; but in this case the salary of both was limited to 33l. 6s. 7d. The second master had no house or garden allowed to him, and commonly received 10l. or 12l. a year. Formerly, the schoolmasters of Scotland were persons of greater consequence than they now are, and were frequently educated at the universities. In 1824, they issued a statement of their grievances, and asked that they might have a power of appealing to the higher church courts, of which they were deprived by the Act of 1803, and also that their houses might not be limited to two rooms if the heritors thought more were required. The heritors with the minister were the judges of qualifications of the schoolmaster. It could not be said that they were always unexceptionable judges. Probably an infusion of other classes, as judges, would be beneficial. But in any extension of the system in Scotland, justice alike and the circumstances of the country, forbade them to show any undue preference either to the Establishment or to any sect whatever. Extend the system, if you like—it required extension and reform—but extend it fairly, and in conformity with the free state of opinion which now prevails in Scotland. From Scotland he turned his attention to Ireland. He rejoiced in being able to say that the national system of education, suggested originally by his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Wyse), and adopted by Lord Stanley, had proved most 1239 successful. There were, indeed, some demurs to it; but he believed that, by judgment and patience, even these would at length be overcome. The number of schools were, in the year 1833, 789; in 1840, 1,978; in 1845, 3,426. Of scholars the numbers were, in the year 1833, 107,042; in 1840,232,560; in 1845, 432,844. The total number of teachers trained in the year 1845, was 290. Of these the component members were Roman Catholics, Dissenters, Presbyterians, and members of the Established Church. The educational works issued by the Board were admirable for their simplicity and comprehensiveness. Thus they had nearly half a million children well educated, nearly three hundred teachers trained, an excellent system of school-books established. Above all, the members of various religious sects were brought together, and taught by association first to tolerate, and then to love each other. No religious discord disturbed, as he understood, either the dignified Commission which presided over, the masters who conducted, or the children who profited by, this system of education. But he would give the result in better words, as well as from better authority, than his own. These were the words of Mr. Corballis, at the last distribution of prizes at the normal school of the society in Dublin:—In the respectable body of teachers, of various religious denominations, whom I have the gratification to see before me, I find the strongest demonstration I could desire of the practicability, and the blessings of a mixed system of education in Ireland. Protestant, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic teachers, which of you, I ask, has quarrelled with your companions on the subject of religion since you came up here to be trained? Have you not lived together for the last five months on the most amicable footing? Have you not, as I once before remarked on a previous occasion, resided under the same roof, eaten at the same table, slept in the same bedroom, and mingled in the same amusements during the hours of relaxation, without party bickerings or religious strife? Have your religious impressions been weakened by this improving and delightful intercourse with your associates of different political opinions and religious persuasions? I can confidently give a satisfactory answer to these important questions. I can safely affirm that you have not forgotten, or neglected, or ceased to cling firmly to your own religion; because you have been taught to respect the feelings and conscientious opinions of those of another creed. Perhaps, however, you may have learned the folly of feeling dislikes without well knowing why—of cherishing local prejudices, the result of ignorance or limited inquiry—and I should rejoice if you have formed virtuous and lasting friendships amongst your companions from various parts of your native land, which will shed 1240 a lustre and diffuse happiness around your future prospects in life.Such were the results of this system. He believed that, if we did not, by some similar or corresponding means, promote education in England, Ireland would speedily show a superiority over us in the intelligence, attainments, and habits of her people. It behoved us, therefore, no longer to stand still. It was a libel on the labouring classes of this country to say that they did not appreciate the value of education. The National Society, in its Report for 1844, stated—"The poor, as well as the rich, now estimate the value of a sound education, and are found ready to pay for it. All experience tends to establish this truth." In the report of the Rev. Mr. Moseley, one of the Government Inspectors, he found these words:—"The labouring classes appreciate a really good education, and are prepared to make sacrifices to obtain it for their children." If the people were willing, was Parliament, was the Government to do nothing? Mr. Kay, in his excellent work on Education, showed that the poor rates were rising-yearly in amount, and justly argued that education would have the certain effect of correcting that evil, by inspiring the poor with habits of foresight and feelings of independence. Mr. Redgrave, of the Home Office, also showed in his report that the most uninstructed were invariably the most criminal among public offenders. In the earliest arguments which he (Mr. Ewart) had ever used for amending, as he considered it, the criminal law of this country, he had always said—as an attendant on such amendment—"Educate your people. Be not content with giving them a horror of the punishment: give them a horror of the crime." You can only do so by religious, moral, intellectual, social education. The popular power must extend itself. The development of democracy seemed, as De Tocqueville argued, one of the necessities of our social position. People argued as if the progress of democracy depended on political changes alone. There was a far more powerful, though more silent, movement in its favour, in the deep under-currents of the social system. Every thing tended to raise, as it ought to raise, the position of the great mass of the people. For his part, he thought that, in this sense, Railways were a greater revolution than the Reform Bill. The one might give political influence; the other tended to social equalization. If, then, the popular 1241 element must advance, was it not wise to inform the people? If they are to have power, enlighten, instruct, refine them; teach them how to reason, and teach them how to use their power. An ignorant and benighted democracy (such as now, thank Heaven, ours can never be!) is the worst of all tyrannies, because the most irresponsible. Had not instruction kept pace, to a certain extent, with democracy in America, the fury of a mob, or the wild instigations of the press, might have recently unchained the demons of hatred and of war. Again, therefore, he said, "Educate your people." But he did not wish either forcibly to interfere, or blindly to theorize. Let us, at all events, feel our way. Let us see if we cannot meet on some central ground. Let us, at least, give an account of what we are doing to the people of this country. In this spirit, with these convictions—believing that eventually his other propositions would be carried—he moved his first:—That early and comprehensive measures be adopted for extending the Education of the People; and that a statement be made on the state and prospects of Education, every year, by a Minister of the Crown, on going into Committee on the Education Estimates.
§ MR. CHRISTIE
proposed to say a few words on a subject upon which he had frequently troubled the House—the state of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, to which they would shortly be called upon to vote a sum of money. He had given notice of a Motion for inquiry, in order to show the importance of the two universities as places of education, and the necessity of making them more accessible to the middle classes. He should be unable to bring the subject before the House at present, but he hoped it would receive the attention of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell). He knew the opinion of the noble Lord on the subject of the exclusion of Dissenters from the two universities; and the House had, besides, in the Members for Waterford and Manchester, ample security that the Government desired the removal of invidious religious distinctions in those places of public education. He had moved for a return of the lectures delivered by the professors, and the attendance upon their lectures; and this return disclosed a system that would show any one that great reform was required in the University of Oxford. Dr. Buckland was not able to command at his lectures more than ten pupils on an average of each 1242 course. The professor of chymistry returned his pupils in 1843 as nine; in 1844, four; in 1845, thirteen; in 1846, sixteen. The returns from Cambridge were similar. The professor of natural philosophy, for instance, had now a class of not more than ten or fifteen pupils. He believed the mind of the university was in some degree prepared for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, and he believed some of the most eminent and distinguished men in the university would rejoice if such a Commission were issued. The grammar schools were intimately concerned in the state of the universities, because nine out of ten of the grammar schools of England were restricted in their choice of masters to members of one or other of the two universities. There was, therefore, a close connexion between the State and the subject he had now brought before the House, A vote would shortly be required for the University of London; and he wished to take the opportunity of saying, that he trusted the University of London would, by a vote of Parliament, be put in possession of those accredited advantages which would form an inducement to individuals to go to that university and to take their degrees. The University of London might be much benefited by making a degree obtained there a necessary condition to employment in the public service, and also by making a degree in law available in shortening the terms kept at the bar. The London University might thus be made available for the improvement of legal education, which was now in a deplorable state. He cordially supported the Motion of his hon. Friend for an annual return on the subject of education made by a responsible Minister of the Crown. A Minister of Public Education would exercise most useful control over the education of the country and over the universities. A suggestion had been made by Earl Grey, when a Member of that House, that certain lower departments of the public offices, the Post Office for instance, might be made useful in rewarding proficiency in learning in the schools. A minute of the Committee of the Council of Education last year contained a letter from the Rev. Mr. Dawes, in which that rev, gentleman, adopting the suggestion of Earl Grey, said, that the bestowal of offices in the lower departments of the public service upon those youths of sixteen or seventeen who underwent a voluntary examination would greatly encourage education among the lower 1243 classes, and would be productive of much good.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
could not agree in the whole of the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member (Mr. Ewart); but he agreed that the time had come when something might be done on the subject of education. The experiments of the last few years had freed the subject from some of its difficulties, and enabled the House to see, that although private benevolence had been largely and liberally displayed, they could not and ought not to rely upon such sources alone. But if the State wished to give the people religious hearts, as well as to cultivate their minds, they must not give the go-by to the spiritual instructors of the people, but must take them along with them. The evidence of the success of recent experiments had prepared the minds of men to admit that the question could not be met except by some sacrifice of individual wishes on all sides. The noble Lord at the head of the Government was in a position in which he might effect more good than ever before. The country was disposed to give him the fairest possible trial, and to judge him, not à priori by the abstract wishes of men, but to accept him as a mediator between hostile parties, in which position he might effect a great amount of public benefit. This country was distinguished for its attachment to measures of practical good, and it would appreciate the Minister who should endeavour to carry them. The grammar schools had been alluded to, and no subject more earnestly demanded the attention of Government. At present they were often a positive obstruction to good, for the existence of a grammar school ill administered only prevented the establishment of better schools, which would in many cases be set on foot, if one did not already exist under the protection of an endowment. There was certainly a difficulty about interfering with such foundations. If they adhered too closely to the will of the founders, they would fetter all improvement; and on the other hand, if they neglected the feelings of the founders, they might unsettle the security of property, and prevent the bequeathing of property for such objects. He hoped that the Government would direct their attention to the grammar schools of the country, with a view to enlarge the educational objects to which many of them were now limited. Another question which well deserved attention was the difficulty of remedying any mismanagement of these 1244 institutions by means of the ordinary legal tribunals. At present there was, by the mode of administering the law in cases of this kind, a complete denial of justice. The expense of unopposed motions in court was no less than 70l.; and where any opposition took place, the costs were enormous. He believed that no one but a lawyer could remedy this evil; and he feared that there were very few lawyers who would be willing to undertake the task. There was, however, a noble and learned Lord (Lord Campbell) in the present Cabinet, whose official labours were not very onerous, and who might perhaps be able to devote some attention to the subject; and from the praise which that noble Lord had, in a recent work, bestowed upon those who had attempted to effect an amendment of the law, he would probably be the more anxious himself to found a claim to similar credit. He hoped that the experience of the last few years would not be thrown away upon hon. Gentlemen opposite, but that the noble Lord would endeavour to secure some practical and advantageous measure for the country in connexion with this important subject.
§ SIR R. INGLIS
did not wish to follow his noble Friend (Lord Sandon) through all the topics upon which he had touched; but he fully concurred with the noble Lord that the present Government had a special claim to the generous confidence of the House. He considered that they were entitled to a fair and liberal trial, and he for one was quite prepared to give them such a trial. The hon. and learned Member for Weymouth (Mr. Christie), who was an advocate of free trade in everything else, proposed, as he understood, to give the University of London a monopoly with regard to education; for that hon. Gentleman suggested to the noble Lord at the head of the Government the propriety of compelling every person who wished to practise in particular courts to show that he was qualified to do so by adorning himself with such a degree as the University of London could confer. Now, if an attempt had been made to compel any person appointed to a clerkship in the Treasury, or to any other similar office, to come prepared with a degree from Oxford or Cambridge, he (Sir R. Inglis) suspected that a cry of monopoly would have been raised most vehemently by the hon. Member for Weymouth, and those with whom he generally acted. He hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Government 1245 would weigh well all the difficulties, as well as all the advantages, which might result from the adoption of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion with respect to the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into the system of university education.
§ MR. WARBURTON
considered that the Government ought not to neglect the suggestion embodied in the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. Ewart). Those people in the humbler classes of life who received a better education than others in the same position naturally put this question—"When we have obtained a good education, how are we to apply our knowledge? "Now, the hon. Member for Dumfries very properly suggested, that with the enormous patronage of minor places possessed by the Government, they might lay down such a rule as had formerly been acted upon with reference to clerkships of the Treasury, that no person should receive such minor appointments unless they produced testimonials that they possessed a certain degree of education. He considered that no persons should receive appointments in the Excise, the Customs, or the Post Office, unless they had gone through a certain course of education. There were two public departments which had recently been actually brought to a standstill in consequence of the incompetency of the persons who held office in them. The first was the General Registry Office, established by the former Whig Government. The parties who received appointments as clerks in that establishment were so completely incompetent, that nearly two years elapsed before the office was got into any sort of work. The other establishment to which he referred was one created by the late Government—an office connected with the Court of Bankruptcy, and over which Mr. Montague presided. He had been informed, that in consequence of the incompetency of the young gentlemen who received appointments as clerks in that office, it was found quite impossible to get through the business of the establishment. The plan suggested by his hon. Friend would not only secure competent persons to do the work in the public offices, but it would also afford encouragement to the extension of education in the country. He had been told that the wholesome principle recommended by his hon. Friend had formerly been applied to the clerkships of the Treasury, but that it had been abandoned, and he thought most unwisely, by the late 1246 Government. He considered that one of the best practical modes which could be adopted for encouraging education, and he hoped it would receive the attention of Her Majesty's Ministers.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the intention which had been expressed by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to give special attention to the subject of education, had occasioned great satisfaction throughout the country. Some four months ago he (Mr. Williams) brought forward a Motion on the subject of education in Wales, and his suggestions had been favourably received by the then Home Secretary (Sir J. Graham), who promised to send inspectors into the country to ascertain the extent and progress of education. Notwithstanding the time which had since elapsed, he regretted to say that nothing had been done in the matter. He was informed, however, that the right hon. Baronet to whom he referred, had intended to act up to his promise by appointing a Commission of Inquiry on the subject, but that the uncertainty of the tenure of office by the late Government prevented this intention from being carried out. He regretted the inability of the right hon. Baronet to fulfil his promise; but he hoped that the present Home Secretary (Sir G. Grey) would give his attention to the subject.
§ MR. HUME
was satisfied, from the attention he had paid to this subject, that it was as much the duty of the Government to provide a proper system of education for the people as to maintain a Poor Law for their support. He had regretted to find that a proposal for establishing a system of education to be maintained by the State, had been more strongly opposed by the Dissenters than by the Church of England. He considered that the duty of the State might best be carried out by regarding education as a civil duty, and leaving religious instruction to be communicated separately by the clergymen of the various denominations. Taking a list of the countries of Europe, he observed that in England the proportion of educated people was only as one in eleven; Belgium, one in ten; France, one in ten; Bohemia, one in eight; Friesland and the Tyrol, one in six or seven; and in all the rest, down to one in four, five, and six. Thus, England appeared to stand in the position of having the greatest amount of ignorance amongst her people. He also found that in Austria, Bavaria, France, Belgium, Holland, Prussia, and Switzerland, the children 1247 of different sects were educated together, whilst in this country they were separated; and he knew well that in the Church of England schools, they would not allow the child of dissenting parents to enter. If they were in doubt as to the working of the united sytem, then he could understand why they hesitated to adopt it; but there was the example of Ireland. When he was in Dublin, he visited and examined every department of the school of the Irish Board of Education; and in spite of all that had been urged against it by many divines of the Irish Church, to him (Mr. Hume) it appeared to be an excellent institution, conducted in admirable style, and productive of the most satisfactory results. They might take an example nearer home—in Liverpool—where parties who objected to the system of education adopted there subscribed a large sum for the purpose of having an exclusive Church of England system of education established; but in the end, the system which had proved so successful in Ireland also triumphed in Liverpool. But the observations which he particularly wished to make had reference to the estimate which they voted the other night of the expenses of the prosecution and punishment of crime. It amounted to 870,000l., exclusive of the immense expense of keeping up prisons. He was satisfied that if they took for education one-half the amount which was at present applied to the prosecution, punishment, and support of criminals, they should see the benefit of it in a few years, and would have the satisfaction of voting 800,000l. for the education of the people. For the sake of morals, economy, and their character as a Christian people, they ought to adopt a bold measure of that kind. The time was come when the Government ought to adopt the system which had been found so advantageous in Ireland, and so triumphant on the Continent. The country would be prepared to support them in carrying out such a scheme, and he could not for a moment doubt the success of it.
§ MR. J. STUART
admitted that this was one of the most important subjects that could occupy the attention of the Legislature; but he was not prepared to agree with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the subject of education was more important than the subject of the Poor Laws; for he conceived that the subsistence and the preservation of the lives of individuals was even more important 1248 than the subject of education. He could not see that all the difficulties which em-barrased this subject had been removed; and it appeared that the object of some hon. Members who had now supported the introduction of the subject, was to have a fling at the Established Church. He would not have intruded on the attention of the House but for the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, who, departing from the subject of education, entered on the question of the administration of justice in the courts in this country, with reference, he presumed, to the subject of education. The noble Lord did not seem to be quite aware of the statute law recently passed on this subject, giving most extensive powers. [Viscount SANDON: I am.] The noble Lord, in the course of his sweeping observation, seemed to confound the schools which were the subject of endowment with those which were supported by the bounty of Parliament. [Viscount SANDON was not aware of any schools endowed by Parliament, though he was of schools endowed by Royal bounty.] He referred to schools aided by the bounty of Parliament, and that bounty descended so low that the University of London was the subject of a grant, and he as a taxpayer contributed his portion towards the course of education carried on in that university. The noble Lord said that lawyers would not, with few exceptions, assist in the amendment of the law. Now, he was not one of those who were ambitious of a seat in that House; but he entered it with the hope, that as an humble individual he might be able, from any knowledge and practice in his profession that he might have, to contribute his mite in assisting towards the amendment of the law. That there were evils in the administration of the law, no one would deny; but the noble Lord had instanced as a denial of justice a case where justice could only be obtained at the cost of 70l. in an unopposed matter; and said, that if the matter had been opposed, the expense would have been enormous. He wished the noble Lord had mentioned the case, and he would have aided the noble Lord in remedying what he considered to be an enormous abuse. His experience, however, had not furnished him with any parallel case. He wished the noble Lord, who made a sweeping accusation against the law, and the courts of justice, and the lawyers, to be a little more specific. He asked the noble Lord how it was that, knowing facts which 1249 would be a disgrace to this country, he did not put them into a course of inquiry in that House? Sweeping accusations against courts of justice and lawyers had always been made; and he did not expect that the profession of the law would be a popular profession, or that that court in particular to which he had the honour to belong would ever be popular, or liked by the great body of the vulgar. When a case was brought before that court for the purpose of doing justice against a trust which perhaps for twenty years had been abusing the confidence bestowed on it, complicating accounts, and destroying vouchers, was it to be expected that the administration of justice in such a case could be otherwise than a long and excruciating process? And when the proceeding resulted in the punishment of a party guilty of fraud, was it to be expected that the Court could have the good will of that party? The persons who raised the outcry against the Court were the parties smarting under it; those who had had their frauds disclosed, and were compelled to make amends. From such parties he did not expect compliments towards courts of justice or towards lawyers. He should like to know whether there was any member of the profession whose assistance the noble Lord had invoked towards the amendment of the law, and who had refused it? It was very easy to call for improvements, but not so easy to make them. Why, there was now before the House a Bill, the effort of a society of gentlemen, not merely lawyers, including, as he believed, the hon. Member for Dumfries himself—the Society for the Amendment of the Law—and that Bill, which had passed the other House, was an instance of the enormous difficulty of any proceeding for the more effectual administration of the law. It was a Bill for facilitating the conveyance of Real Property—a subject which seemed simple enough; but that Bill, notwithstanding the labour bestowed upon it, was such a mass of absurdities and nonsense, that he believed no one in that House would stand tip and take charge of it; he had in vain asked Members of the Government whether they acknowledged it; he should like to know whether the hon. Member for Dumfries would take charge of it. It would tend so to invalidate titles, that no man who valued the security of his property ought to take a conveyance under it. With respect to the law as to charitable trusts in particular, his experience led him 1250 to say that they could be dealt with very easily, and, as he believed, at a very moderate expense, though he would admit he had never had an opportunity of ascertaining accurately and exactly what that expense was. He was not prepared at present with any suggestion for putting the administration of that branch of the law on a better footing; perhaps it was because he felt more than some the enormous difficulty.But fools rush in where angels fear to tread.He hoped the quotation might be used without offence, and would leave these few observations to the kind consideration of the noble Lord.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
hoped he might explain. He was not aware that he had merited so severe an attack; he knew the poets were irate, but did not before know that the lawyers were equally so. He had not impeached the general purity of the courts of justice; but that they were excruciating in their processes the hon. and learned Member himself allowed. Long habit probably made the hon. and learned Member consider that excruciating process necessary; he had become used to it as inflicting it; but those who were retiring from under it were naturally not so well content with it. It was strange to hear it treated as a mark of a vulgar mind to complain of the process of the Court of Chancery as tedious and expensive, especially on the subject in question, since the very highest authorities of that court but a few days since had confessed that it was so. But with regard to the particular instance to which he had referred, it was a simple case, where it was desirable to make some change in a trust for the advantage of the parties concerned; and, on inquiring of a solicitor what would be the probable expense, the answer certainly was that it would be at least 70l.; and, if opposed, he could not tell what it would be.
§ MR. HORSMAN
suggested that the system of school inspection might be beneficially carried further than at present; not by compulsion, but voluntarily. Those schools which were inspected, and had reports of their condition published from time to time, would attract the greatest share of public confidence, and in that way the system would be extended, and might even be made to include the public schools. Reports might be made to Parliament annually. It was a remark of an eminent and intelligent foreigner, that when he went 1251 among the middle classes in England, and into the manufacturing districts, he found the men better educated than the women; but when he went among the aristocracy, he generally found the ladies better educated than the gentlemen.
LORD J. RUSSELL
I think it will be better on this occasion if I confine myself to a very few observations, because there are remarks that I might make upon pai—ticular parts of this subject which would rather impede the progress which I wish this matter to make, than conduce to that end. With regard to the remark which the hon. Member has just made, and which relates to the first proposition of the hon. Member for Dumfries, I certainly can have no hesitation in repeating the assurance given by the late Prime Minister, and declaring that I think it right that in every year in which a vote for education is asked, a statement should be made of the progress of education during the year, and of the state of the people in this respect, so far as it can be ascertained, before that vote is called for. I think it will be the means of furthering education itself; and I think it is due to the House, to enable it to judge what further measures are fit. With respect to other parts of this question, I agree very much with what is stated by the hon. Member for Dumfries; but I own I do not think that there are in this country the facilities which he says are to be found in other countries, and which are found even in parts of the United Kingdom; and I think that one of the most serious obstacles in the way of any general plan with respect to education is the extent to which voluntary effort has already proceeded. When M. Guizot began the improvement of education in France, he had a law, enforced by despotic authority, establishing schools according to a certain organized plan throughout France. When the King of Prussia promulgated certain laws with respect to education, he had full and undisputed authority, with respect to that subject, to promulgate such laws as he thought fit. Those wise persons who sat in the Parliament of Scotland in 1696, and passed a law with respect to education in Scotland, had the full confidence of the people of that country, then united in one religion; and no doubt they acted in conformity to the national will, unequivocally expressed, and unequivocally obeying their law, when they passed the Act establishing parochial schools in Scotland. That is in some degree the case, though not nearly to the same extent, with what was done in 1252 Ireland, under the system introduced by Lord Stanley. But with respect to this country, we stand in a very different situation. The efforts of the National School Society have been in a very great degree successful. There is a vast number of children educated in the schools in connexion with that society. The British and Foreign School Society, which began earlier than the National Society, has, in many places, schools in connexion with it; and various denominations of Dissenters, the Wesleyans, the Congregational Dissenters, and others, have shown the greatest zeal and energy in the establishment of schools. Now, each of these bodies is very much attached to the particular model which it has taken for itself. They adhere very closely to the rules and regulations which they have thought the best; they are proud, and naturally proud, of the good which they have been able to accomplish, of the religious light which they have admitted into the cottages of the poor, and of the degree in which they have removed ignorance in the large towns of their country. It is therefore no wonder, and we are not to be at all surprised, that when we come in contact with any of these bodies, and propose an alteration of their schemes and regulations, we should find considerable resistance, and jealousy that some other religious body, or some other society, or the State itself, wishes to interfere with, perhaps to damage or to destroy, the work which it has been the object of their benevolent labour and their voluntary gifts to establish. I only state this as a matter which any Government or any Legislature is bound to consider in dealing with this important subject. But, on the other hand, I must state that I have been for years, and am now still more, impressed with the conviction, that after all these efforts; after really numbers of persons—clergymen belonging to the Church, Dissenting Ministers, persons in high station, and persons in low station—have shown the utmost generosity and zeal on this subject, yet the amount of ignorance in this country, the want of education, the degree to which the Gospel is entirely a sealed and unknown book, is a most lamentable fact—I say a lamentable fact; but, for my own part, I think the disgrace and dishonour of it to this country are light in comparison with the evil itself, and the fact itself, which we have to deplore. With respect to the resolutions which have been proposed to the House, I feel no difficulty in saying that I think additional training 1253 schools would be an advantage; and, above all, I think it would be of advantage if the profession of schoolmaster could be made more honourable and more lucrative than it is. I do not know that there is any profession of more importance to the community. At the same time, I do not think that it would be sufficient that measures should be taken on the part of Parliament to give additional endowments for that purpose: I think it requires a change in the opinions of society; and I am very glad when persons like my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries, who has devoted so much time and attention to that subject, call the attention of the public to it, be cause I think the expressions which fall from them tend to lead the public to attach greater importance to the point. My noble Friend opposite (Lord Sandon) has adverted to a very important subject in reference to the endowment of schools. I will carefully avoid any allusion to the course of remark into which he so unfortunately fell; but I will say, that I do think it is of very great importance that we should have some means of making the large sums which have been given to endow schools more useful than they are at present. I own I cannot carry my scruples to the extent to which my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Sir R. Inglis) carries his, when he says that if there is a school founded for teaching Greek and Latin, and there is nobody who learns Greek and Latin, and the school is entirely useless to the community, you must yet keep it according to the very letter of that foundation, because the time may come when there may be persons who may wish their children to learn Greek and Latin. We know my hon. Friend's habitual reverence for all that is established and ancient; but I think it is carrying that reverence rather too far, when he says that he would not interfere with a foundation even in that case. I think you have some right to put yourself in the place of a founder of a school of that kind; and to ask, supposing that a person wished to found a school at this time, what would be the terms in which he would make the grant? I can well conceive that a person who was acquainted with the Greek and Latin books, which he was enabled to read in the year 1580, if he were informed what works can be read in the English tongue in the year 1846, would not confine the teaching to Greek and Latin in the school that he founded. It is very useful to read Cicero; but if a child is 1254 taught to read Jeremy Taylor, I do not think the substitution would be any very great loss. Sir, I have already said, I do not wish to enter much into this subject now; but I can assure the House that it is a subject to which I shall pay the most constant attention; and I do trust, that when it comes before the House again, I may have some statement to make which will show that the pains I may have taken have not been in vain.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
considered that mere reading and writing did not make a good man, nor scientific acquirements a moral man. He wished to know how many Oxford scholars made the science of theology a study. The Member for Montrose, in speaking of the state of education in this country, referred to the amount of crime, and contended that this country was more steeped in crime than other nations. He denied the assertion. In England there was less crime than in France, Spain, or Portugal. A higher tone of morality prevailed in this country than was to be found in continental nations. Education was everywhere encouraged here, and the system of parochial education in particular redeemed such numbers from crime as must be gratifying to those who promoted this system. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had, in a few sentences, disposed of those fallacies which had of late been so prominently thrust on the public; namely, the expediency of introducing the French system into this country. The French system might do for France, as the Prussian system might be of advantage to Prussia; but neither of those systems could be productive of any good, if introduced into England. The true object of education was not to make men learned, but to make them good men and good subjects. Education wrongfully imparted had only the tendency of making the criminal a more clever criminal.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
gave his meed of approbation to the noble Lord for the statement of his intentions to the House. He would, however, make one or two observations on that portion of the noble Lord's remarks which appeared to convey his opinion that schools endowed to teach Greek and Latin had no means of altering their system. He would remind the noble Lord of the applicability of the cy-pres principle to this apparent difficulty. He must enter his strong protest against some of the observations addressed to the House by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. 1255 Ewart). That hon. Member had drawn a comparison between the systems and state of education in England and France, and had advocated the French system of instruction, in preference to the system in force in this country. Now if any one was desirous of informing himself of the true character and working of the French system, he would recommend him attentively to peruse a work by M. Cormenin, which gave such a full exposure of the system as would deter him from desiring to see it adopted in this country. It was quite impossible, considering circumstances connected with some of the French professorial chairs, to assimilate the French with the English system of instruction. He was well aware of the kind of popular argument that was constructed out of and founded upon statistical returns. The advocates of the French system constantly told them of every commune in France possessing its primary and secondary educational institutions; they were told of schools appointed by the State, and Ministers of Public Instruction responsible for the education of the people. All this doubtless sounded very well on paper; but the real state of educational affairs in France was to be collected from the able book of M. Cormenin. He should deeply regret to see that system on which our Church, and our charitable institutions were mainly founded—the system of private munificence—superseded by the French system. He should be sorry to see those splendid private efforts, which were founded on private virtue and self-denial, give place to the French system; for if that system were adopted, the same results would soon be witnessed here as were now witnessed in France.
§ DR. BOWRING
was surprised to find that his hon. Friend's remarks had been so misunderstood as to lead other hon. Members to believe, he wished to throw a check on those individual efforts which conferred so much honour on this country. He did not wish to see the despotic system, even in matters of education, enforced in this country; and, indeed, he thought the people of England would never consent to hand over their educational system to that species of despotism wielded by a Minister of Instruction. But he must say, that very little had been done for the education of the people in this country. It was disgraceful to the Government that this was so. In these days of peace, the requirements of the people ought to come prominently forward. The subject of education, 1256 in particular, ought to be investigated in all its details. He hoped no attempt would be made to impair the freedom of private munificence, or to restrain private efforts; but, at the same time, he must say, he considered the State was bound to furnish the means of giving the people a better system of instruction than that which was now to be found. These discussions in Parliament would do good. They would tend to elevate the character of the teacher, and to cause him eventually to occupy that position in the public mind which he certainly did not enjoy at present. Nothing could be more satisfactory to him than to find that the Government were about to give their attention to the subject. In the Votes, he saw a sum of 100,000l. was to be asked for the use of the British and Foreign School Society. Now, he did not complain of this vote; but if no other hon. Member took up the subject, he should, at the proper time, ask the House to inquire whether the British and Foreign School Society had kept faith with the public; and to ascertain if a violation on their part of the terms on which they had received the public money had not occurred. He did hope in these establishments that no religious tests would have been introduced. He understood, however, that some of the teachers had been rejected, on the ground that the doctrines they held were not exactly orthodox. The subject was one that ought to be investigated; and he feared, when an investigation did take place, the fact would be as he suspected. He hoped the attention of the House and of Government would be directed to the subject.
§ MR. ESTCOURT
, as one of the Members for the University of Oxford, felt it was impossible to allow the Vote to pass without expressing his great satisfaction at the tone which had been observed during the present discussion, by the noble Lord and other hon. Members, who had addressed the House. On former occasions attempts were made to impress the House with the belief that the promotion of public education ought to be the work of Government. But he would remind those who held this opinion, that the most successful and most advantageous national results had been accomplished by private efforts of individuals. He wished to express his anxiety for an increase of the number of establishments for training masters. Certainly, there was a period when ignorance greatly prevailed; but he had lived to see a great improvement in the system, and in particular, he 1257 saw his neighbours now enjoying an improved means of education in consequence of having the advantage of a mistress from one of the training schools. He had been peculiarly gratified at hearing the noble Member for Newark and other hon. Members state their views on education. He was one of those who thought that the country would derive no advantage from making men good scholars, without reference to moral character. He agreed in the opinion that it was better to teach that system which made men good men and good subjects, rather than that system which sought only te make good scholars. He entertained a very favourable opinion of the establishments for training masters, and he hoped to see them endowed by Government.
§ MR. EWART
, in explanation, said he never uttered any wish to introduce the French system into this country. He had only said that the French system of training masters and of normal schools was well worthy of consideration. He did not mean to say that religion should be left entirely out of account. Although he did not think it was advisable to have religion taught in the public schools, still he considered that the religion inculcated by the religious teachers ought to form part of the system.
§ House in Committee of Supply.