HC Deb 05 June 1850 vol 111 cc756-92

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to be [made to Question 17th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time," and which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


gave the Bill his cordial support, and expressed his great regret that the noble Lord the Member for Arundel should have departed from the liberal course he generally pursued, and have opposed a measure to diffuse the blessings of education. The principal objections which had been urged in the House had been founded not on the Bill before them, but on systems of education in foreign countries, and on propositions laid before foreign legislatures. It was said that the University of Paris, which had the monopoly of education, had made Frenchmen a nation of infidels; and hon. Members argued that the House should therefore reject any scheme of secular education. But the system of the Paris University was eminently religious and sectarian, and if hon. Members believed a university system of that kind created infidels, they ought to give this Bill their support. What was the principle of this measure, 80 much denounced? It first gave a complete recognition of the necessity of religious education, and then of the right of parents to teach whatever religion they pleased to their children. It would have been better if the hon. Member for Oldham had used the word "instruction" instead of "education," as the change would have met some of the arguments used by his opponents. But, after all, the Bill of the hon. Member was open to very little objection. The hon. Member proposed that there should be schools for teaching children—the children of the poor—reading, writing, and arithmetic. Although under the Bill it was proposed to give nothing but secular instruction, it was not proposed that the children should be limited to that On the contrary, the promoters of the measure were perfectly willing that the children of the poor attending those schools should receive religious instruction and information from any quarter, and in any manner that their parents or other natural guardians might think proper, leaving them perfectly free to receive such instruction as the children of the poor had been accustomed to receive from their priests or other ministers of religion. Now, that was what the hon. Member for Oldham required, and such a plan of education for the people of this country did not appear open to the complaints that had been made against it. In opposition to the measure, the noble Lord the Member for London told the House that he deemed it inexpedient that there should be any separation of religious from secular instruction, and the noble Lord also objected to the Bill on the ground that it savoured too much of centralisation, observing, at the same time, that the Committee of the Privy Council for Education existed in full force, and that in any plan for instructing the people Parliament ought to avail themselves of the existence of such a body, and of the aid that might be derived from it. Now, it was hardly fair to make that a ground of complaint against the measure of the hon. Member for Oldham; for any one who looked at the Bill would see that in framing his measure he had to some extent taken advantage of the existence of such a body as the Committee of the Privy Council for Education, and of the powers with which the law had previously invested that Committee. But then the noble Lord objected to the principle of the Bill. The obvious answer to that was, that the measure had been founded upon a principle which the Government themselves recognised. The very principle which the noble Lord found fault with, was the very principle upon which his own Government proceeded. Every one must see at a glance that it was the principle on which the present system of Government education was based. Then, the only difference between the hon. Member for Oldham and the noble Lord the Member for London, was one purely of detail. One of them said he would confide the business of secular and religious education in every case to an individual, and the other maintained the contrary; but what was the practical working of that? The persons so employed by the Privy Council to carry out their plans of education were obliged to separate secular from religious instruction. Then, if they must be separated, would it not be better to have two distinct classes of teachers? Further, in considering whether they would or would not pass the Bill then before them, they were bound to look at the state of public opinion respecting this question—they were bound to ask themselves what had been the ten-our of the petitions addressed to them. He would ask, had not the petitions been generally in favour of the Bill? and, more especially, he would remind them that the petitions to which the august ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church appended their signatures, had not they been all so far in favour of the measure as to avow a distinct preference for secular instruction over what was called religious instruction? They required, and doubtless every one who valued toleration would agree they had a right to require, that no book should be put into the hands of Catholic children, no instruction given to them, of which the clergy of that Church or the parents of the children disapproved; and furthermore, that Catholic children should not be required to join in prayer with those of their schoolfellows from whom they differed in religion. With reference to the present position of the subject, he wished to state one or two facts. In the united kingdom there were at present as many as 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 young persons desiring secular instruction, and, at the same time, the means for that purpose were confessedly insufficient. He would instance the case of Liverpool. The former returns from that town showed that about one person in eight had received the advantages of education, while the last returns, in comparing the educated with the uneducated classes, showed that the proportion was one in ten. Now, what was the principle which the Government had taken up that entitled them to stand forth so strenuously in opposition to the Bill? One of the principles on which they seemed to rest their opposition was this, that education should be maintained upon the voluntary system. That might be all very well in the case of religion. There the voluntary principle might be effective; but when men were called upon to be generous in the work of education, it was not easy to get them voluntarily to endow educational establishments. Still the Government opposed the measure of the hon. Member for Oldham, although the Church of England itself was not altogether unwilling to leave secular education in the hands of the State; and, in fact, the only difficulty in that part of the subject arose from uncertainty as to the meaning of the phrase "secular education," as to the precise sense in which the terms "secular" and "ecclesiastical" should be used. It really appeared to him, that in dealing with this question, the Government began at the wrong end—they began with the roof instead of commencing with the foundation. He had visited many of the national schools in Ireland, and he never knew harmony existing in any of those establishments where the rules laid down for their government were strictly carried out; but where a wise compromise was entered into by the clergy of both denominations with reference to the selection of books, then a good understanding was easily established and maintained. When, however, it was attempted to introduce the Government plan in its full vigour, it was found that it would not work; for how could persons professing opposite systems of religion, settle what things were essential, and what were not? The authority of tradition might seem to Protestants to be not a very important portion of the Catholic religion, whereas it was the very foundation of ecclesiastical authority in that Church. He had likewise to observe, that the funds proposed by the hon. Member for Oldham were to be derived from a local rate accompanied by local authority and local responsibility. If the House threw out the Bill, they would by that act recognise the principle of centralisation. As to the Catholics and the Protestant Dissenters, they laboured under a grievous want of the means of educating their young people. There were at present in Great Britain 100,000 Catholics in the utmost need of secular and religious instruction, whom it would be impossible to educate with the scanty funds now available for such a purpose. Many of those were Irish, and great numbers were in the parish schools and workhouses, exposed to the influence of a proselytising spirit, but whom their parents and friends did not possess any sufficient means of educating. At the present moment there were in the Marylebone workhouse as many as fifty-six children in that position. It was further not unworthy of notice that the most destitute districts were those in which it was found most difficult to raise funds for purposes of education. He should support the principle of the Bill, without pledging himself to all the details, and he warned those who opposed the Bill on the ground that the House had no right to withdraw social duties from the sphere of religious action, that they might, by carrying out this principle overmuch, degenerate into violent and ridiculous heresy. Those who would so act, must be prepared to convert society into one great, widespread, and universal Agapemone.


thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, who had brought this measure forward in a speech which had met with general approbation, had received a hard measure from both sides of the House. If there were one question upon which hon. Members were more unanimous than another, it was in asserting that the State ought to undertake the education of the people. Upon a former occasion he had remarked the sad confusion which prevailed in the terms "education" and "instruction." He was glad that this distinction was recognised by the hon. Member for Oldham; and it was only remarkable that the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had used the words "instruction" and "education" as convertible terms. They all agreed upon the substantative, but they were all fighting about the adjectives, some calling out for secular, others for biblical, or religious, or scriptural education; but still, a State education they all insisted upon having. Now, he believed that this was an impossibility. There were no two things more unlike each other than education and instruction. Instruction was putting some thing into a person, education meant drawing something out of a person. All instruction might be divided into two classes. They might give either scientific instruction or historical instruction, but they could give no other. The tendency of scientific instruction was to make sceptics. Every person who knew a smattering of science knew that scientific men took nothing upon authority. A lecturer upon anatomy, chymistry, or any other science, says, "You must not trust to what I tell you about the muscles, veins, tendons, arteries, or nerves; it will be your duty to trace them for yourself. You must take nothing whatever on trust." So it was with every other science. But with regard to historical research, the case was wholly different. There we must trust to the assertions of others. At this time of day we could not inquire whether such a man as Hannibal had ever lived. We must take the fact upon the assertion of others. We might investigate historical incidents, but we could make no new discoveries of facts. Niebuhr and his followers had merely modified things that were known before. But in education the state of things was wholly different. Learning, after all, was a luxury. A man's happiness was not made by it. It might increase his irritability and his self-sufficiency, but it gave him no increased means of happiness. Nor did it increase his morals. There was no connexion between intellectual power and moral improvement; but in education the thing was wholly different. Education was effected by the drawing forth of that which was good, and the non-drawing forth of that which was evil. This work could only be carried on by the parents when the child was young, and by the Church afterwards. Every heathen man could say— Video meliora proboque. But what followed?— Deteriora sequor. They must have the ordinances of the Church to communicate the power of doing that which was right, or they would have gained nothing at all, and they were day by day destroying that Church, and substituting this theory of universal instruction for the spiritual power of the Church. Such a theory was wholly fallacious. It was the love of the mother, and not the learning of the mother, that educated and nourished the child; and it was the pastorship and the love of the Church, and not its theology or its teaching, that had ever benefited or made a religious community.


said, he felt a very deep interest in this question, which he apprehended was after all the one great question upon which the maintenance of our happiness and the prosperity of our empire depended; and, perhaps, he had a special call to address the House, in consequence of the observations that had been offered by his hon. and learned Friend opposite, the Member for Youghal, in which he described the operations of a society with which he (Mr. Wood) had had the honour of being connected for some years, as utterly useless, and the society itself as effete. [Mr. C. ANSTEY: For this purpose, for the purpose of distributing Parliamentary grants.] Before he sat down, he thought he should convince the House of the extremely erroneous conclusions to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had arrived; but, before doing so, he was anxious to express, as every hon. Member almost, who had preceded him, had expressed, his satisfaction at the calm and temperate tone in which the subject was introduced to the House. It was a subject on which, of all others, they ought to be calm and gentle. He would endeavour, as far as possible, to follow the example of not being excited on this subject, feeling, as he did, that religion had been up to this moment the handmaid of education, yet it should not be through his lips, at all events, that such expressions should fall as that those who voted against this measure were voting in favour of the powers of hell, and that those who voted in favour of it were voting in favour of the powers of heaven. He had not even heard such an expression. Although he was glad that the hon. Member who proposed this measure disclaimed many of the idle and foolish expressions which appeared to be prevalent on this subject, yet at the close of his speech he somewhat inadvertently introduced some of those views. The hon. Gentleman read a document to the House purporting to emanate from a society of working men; and he said that he believed the feelings of the working men were not understood. He (Mr. Wood) believed them to have the average amount of intellect that the rest of mankind had; but he must beg leave to say, that the first sentence of that document convinced him it was not a working man's production. He never heard working men use such expressions as "the plastic minds and nascent judgment of our offspring should not be subject to external pressure." [Mr. M. GIBSON: But they adopted it.] The right hon. Member said they adopted it. That was his complaint. His great complaint was, that men availed themselves of this idle species of oratory. There was a fallacy in supposing that the great difficulty in educating the people of this country had arisen from the feeling of the religious sects, and that, instead of religion being the handmaid of education, it had been the obstacle. Another fallacy occurred in the suggestion, that they should leave out all those points on which men differed, and adopt the eclectic system, eliminating only those points on which all men agreed. He knew that men's minds were variously formed, as different eyes were variously affected by different colours, and that the pure ray of truth seldom fell upon any human mind. But this mode of proceeding would end in excluding every ray, and certainly all colours are alike in the dark. It was asserted that differences on religious subjects had prevented education. Now, he asked them to show him a single child who had been shut out of a school in consequence of religious education being given in it. He should show what education had been given by the different religious societies, and then ask what had been done by the schools of the philosophers. He would begin at the beginning. In what were called the dark ages, where was there any education except in connexion with the religious instttutions? The only information then possessed was derived from the religious institutions and the schools founded by them. He had a debt of gratitude to acknowledge to one of those institutions. He had had the advantage to be connected, as the right hon. Gentleman in the chair, and many other Members of that House, had been, with the oldest educational institution in this country. The school of Winchester was founded in 1393, more than 450 years ago, by William of Wykeham, himself a Churchman, and it gave a religious education founded upon religious principles, but not a religious education only. William of Wykeham well knew that no person could be properly educated unless all the powers of his mind were developed in harmony. It was a monstrous calumny on the Church, and on the different religious bodies, to say that they had ever been opposed to the development of the intellectual powers. Their religious institutions all recognised this truth, that in man there were intellectual, moral, and religious faculties, and that the equal and harmonious development of those faculties was the only real education. William of Wykeham's motto was, "Manners maketh man;" and he took no bigoted view of the subject of education. Eton was in the reign of Henry VI., founded on the same principle; as were also Westminster, and the various other public schools. In the time of Henry VIII., unfortunately, a vast spoliation took place with reference to those funds which might have been devoted to education; but when, through the influence of the clergy, and especially of Cranmer, some few fragments were saved, they were devoted entirely to the purposes of education. The Church had at all times distinguished itself in promoting the cause of education. Henry VIII. founded another institution to which he (Mr. Wood) was indebted, namely. Trinity College, Cambridge; the foundation being such that men of every line of politics had been collected within the walls. They then came to the reign of Edward VI., and from some additional fragments there was founded in that reign Christ's Hospital, in which five or six hundred children received not only religious but secular education. In that reign eighty public schools were founded throughout the country, amongst which was a valuable one in the town of Birmingham. That was the state of things down to the time of the Reformation. Was there any cessation in this course? He did not find any unless it were during the troubles of the civil war. No sooner were matters tranquillised by the Restoration than education was again set forward. And by whom? By the philosophers, of whom there were many in the reigns of Charles II., James XL, and William III.? No; the only schools founded for the poor in those reigns were founded by the clergy. It was a remarkable fact that in 1674, soon after the Restoration, there was founded a society for educating the poor of Wales, who were then, as he feared indeed they were still, in a peculiar state of destitution as regarded education. That society was founded by several eminent men, who signed a paper pledging themselves to carry out religious insiruction in Wales by diffusing religious works, and by having the children taught to read and write and to cast accounts. The first names which he found on this paper were those of Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Patrick, and Fowler, all of whom were afterwards selected by the Crown to fill the office of bishop; and he could wish that all subsequent appointments had been equally good. It would be remembered that in William's reign there was a commission for the selection of bishops. There was also the name of Richard Baxter—a name for which he entertained a high degree of veneration, though it belonged to one who became a nonconformist from the Church. His object was to show that it was the religious sentiment which had been the great cause of the promotion of education in this country, and that without reference to sects. He claimed for the Church the merit of pre-eminence and priority in carrying out the education of the people. [Mr. M. GIBSON: The Church came second.] His right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester said, the Church was second. That was a deplorable exhibition of the ignorance which existed with regard to that subject. It was a most remarkable fact that they should find such ignorance even there. He was prepared to establish his position by facts and figures. The first move in education after the Restoration was that to which he had just referred, which had Wales for its object. The next move was a most remarkable meeting, which produced the Christian Knowledge Society. It was held on the 8th of March, 1699; a meeting of five individuals who combined together with energy and perseverance. Of those five persons all were members of the Church; although only one was a clergyman; one was a judge, another a colonel in the Army. Their first resolution was as follows:— We, whose names are undersigned, do subscribe annually the sums affixed to our several names for promoting Christian knowledge. How? By creating catechetical schools, by raising catechetical lending libraries for the several market towns, by distributing good books, or otherwise as the society shall direct. The very first thing which this new society did was to establish good schools for the education of the poor. The first meeting having taken place in 1699, five years afterward, in 1704, there was holden the first of those annual gatherings of charity schools which had taken place every year down to the present time in this metropolis; and such had been the efforts of the founders of the society in the interval, that there were 2,000 children present. In 1729, only 30 years after the first meeting, there were in England, in consequence of the society's operations, 1,658 schools, containing 27,000 boys and 17,000 girls, in all 34,000 children. It had been said that the Church never thought of forming a National Society till Lancaster set up his school. He had shown that the Church engaged in the work of education a century before Lancaster was heard of. The truth was, that in consequence of the growing operations of the Christian Knowledge Society, the National Society split off from it. Hence the common trick of saying, that the National Society was only founded in 1811. Dr. Bell, a clergyman of the Church, established a school in Madras, in conformity with his views, in 1789. In 1797 he came to England, where he established a school at Aldgate. In 1798 Joseph Lancaster was a lad 18 years of age, but even at that age, being actively engaged in a school established by his father, he introduced great improvements in the system of instruction. In the work published by him in 1803 he expressed his regret that he was not acquainted with the details of Dr. Bell's system till he had somewhat advanced in his plan, as it would have saved him much trouble. The National Society having been formed in 1811, the British and Foreign School Society, which adopted Mr. Lancaster's system, was not established till 1812. His right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester was, therefore, under a most remarkable hallucination in supposing that the Church had ever lagged behind in the great work of educating the poor. But it was of much more importance to ascertain how the Church had been doing her duty towards the people amongst whom they lived and moved. If that question could not be satisfactorily answered, all that the Church had done previously would, he admitted, be as nothing; but he apprehended that those who considered that religious feelings stood in the way of education were here also most remarkably in error. He would just call the attention of the House to what had been done from the institution of the National Society in 1811 down to the present time; and he would particularly request them to mark what an improvement had resulted from the system adopted by the Government, or rather by Parliament, of making grants as stimulants to education. From 1811 to 1838 the National Society expended 104,000l., being at the rate of about 3,800l. a year. There was then introduced the system of making annual grants in aid of volun- tary exertions. What was the result as regarded this particular society? Why, whereas in the first 27 years of its existence it expended only 104,000l., in the nine years from 1838 to 1847 inclusive it expended 188,135l., or 21,000l. a year. He could not give the statistics of the different Dissenting bodies, but he believed that they also would exhibit great results. In 1837 the National Society had 10,800 day schools; in 1847 it had 17,000. Of Sunday schools there were 5,230 in the first period; 6,038 in the next. The number of day scholars receiving education at the schools in connexion with the Church was, in 1837, 558,000; in 1847, 955,000. So that, by the assistance of parliamentary grants, they had so stimulated the energies of those who had before despaired of being able to make the requisite provision, that there had been an increase of 6,200 schools, and of 400,000 scholars. By the present system, then, they were overtaking the increase of population; and he would ask them whether they would substitute for a system which was producing such results, one which had never been tried, and thus run the risk of throwing back the education of the country? They should be guided by the facts of the case, and not by mere declamation. He had endeavoured to avoid declamation, and to confine himself to argument, and he trusted that he had established three points: first, that education in this country had from the earliest period been conducted on religious principles; secondly, that the Church had taken the lead in carrying it out; thirdly, that with the existing system, which combined the efforts made upon religious principles with the aid of the State, they were now in a position to overtake the educational wants of society. He would now state what amount was spent annually on Church education. The annual expenditure in the Church schools was 874,000l., a sum which exceeded the whole amount of the parliamentary grants from the period when the first grant was made, in 1833, down to 1848. The total amount of the parliamentary grants in those seventeen years was 720,000?., and it should be recollected that the aid of Parliament was not confined to the Church. He would add the pleasing fact that in the schools connected with the Privy Council, of a total expenditure of 200,000l., there was a contribution of 78,000l. from the children themselves. The Church contributions, independently of those of the children, were upwards of half a million annually. That fact showed that the Church was not indifferent either to religious or secular education. He had not yet mentioned the efforts which the Church was making to provide suitable teachers. And here he must admit that in this respect there was for a long time a lamentable deficiency. The council of the Christian Knowledge Society had this subject early under their consideration, and contemplated the establishment of schools for the training of masters. They felt the absolute necessity for so doing, and they also perceived the immense inconvenience of entrusting a large number of pupils to one master. The National Society had lately established training schools. In six years they had spent 60,000l. in that work alone, having sent out 1,043 teachers, namely, 553 masters and 489 mistresses. Since the Government first established the plan of granting certificates to masters who had proved themselves qualified to take pupil teachers, the masters connected with the National Society had been almost uniformly successful as candidates; and any one who looked at the certificates would find that it was not a small amount of secular education that would suffice. With regard to the pupil teachers, he would not enter into a statement of the qualifications, but many hon. Members of that House would perhaps have some difficulty in passing the examination. In his time at Cambridge, what was termed the common degree was acquired with a less amount of knowledge. There had been a large increase in the number of schools for pupil teachers, and in consequence of the advantages which were offered, training institutions were now formed in many parts of the country, towards the support of which the National Society alone had granted 3,400l. a year. There were at that moment in the various training institutions in and near London about 350 pupil teachers, whilst in the diocesan districts there were 312. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, that one of the greatest evils of the past had been the under payment of masters. When the National Society took the census of its schools in 1847, they found that the amount paid to teachers annually was 621,000l., whilst the number of teachers was 20,000, so that the average salary was only about 30l. a head. But the proper remedy for this evil was not to establish a new system, when so much good had been done under this existing one, but to remunerate teachers better through the aid of Government grants. Having all this machinery in operation, the first part of the system being only ten years old, and the last only three, were they, with such astonishing results before them, to put a stop to all that was being done, and to say that children should receive secular instruction only? It really appeared to him that the hon. Member for Oldham brought forward nothing in support of his proposition. The only tangible ground which he had heard for assenting to it was that stated by the hon. and learned Member for Youghal—namely, that the National Society and the Government were now engaged in a dispute. He regretted the unfortunate dispute which had arisen between the National Society and the Government, but he hoped it would be only for a time. He did not see anything in the disputed clauses themselves to which any Churchman might not give his sanction; but the great objection was felt regarding the clauses that were excluded; and all that was asked by those who most strenuously opposed the Government was, that instead of referring any disputes to the Committee of Privy Council, in the case of a school for which they might subscribe, they should be permitted to refer to the bishop. Now, he did not see why such cases should be excluded from the grant; and really the difference was so small, that he hoped a calm consideration of the circumstances by both parties would soon lead to an arrangement. From all he had stated, then, he came to the conclusion that the present was not a time to alter the educational course which they had taken; and if ever a time should come when they found interference necessary, he thought that it would be the duty of the Government to take such a step, and not a private Member of the House. He would not enter into a comparison of our educational efforts with those of foreign countries, but would simply observe that no experiment had as yet taken place in any foreign country which they could consider so satisfactory as to warrant their substituting it here for that which was already in operation. The hon. Member for Oldham had told them that he had no wish to impede or hinder the course of religious education, and that he agreed in the statement made by the hon. Member for West Surrey, that education was a different thing from instruction; and he further said, that education was a thing that could only be carried out by a highly-gifted teacher, or an affectionate pastor or parent. Now, instruction alone was not enough. In the circulars of the working men to which he had already alluded, it was stated that they could not consent that their children should be subjected to an "external pressure," as they called it, which would leave impressions upon their minds. But how was it possible to guard a child from impressions? The physical education of the child began at the earliest period, and its mental education might be said to commence at three years of age. Every expression from a parent, whether of word or look, left its impression; and, as the child grew, the active portion of the mind would be brought into lively action, according to the writing found engraved on the blank and passive portion of the mind. If they did not write something on it, somebody else would. Did they suppose that young children could run about the streets without something being written on their minds? Would not their "plastic minds and nascent judgments" receive a pressure of evil while they ran about the streets, if care was not taken by the schoolmaster or the affectionate pastor or parent to fill the mind with impressions of good? It was recorded by one of the earliest historians, that an experiment was made to discover the first language by shutting up two children till the period when they might be expected to speak. The only sound they made, however, was "Bah!" in imitation of sheep, which they had heard bleating. In other words, a mind without any impression would be that of an idiot. Now, he ventured to say that our children would, in like manner, just be open to the impression made upon them. If men had in themselves religious impressions, how could they avoid communicating them to their children? Did not the criminal returns show that the want of religious instruction was the cause of all the mischief? It was a fallacy to say that parents were opposed to having their children coerced, because that mode of expression did not convey the true state of the case. He feared that in truth, parents cared very little about the matter. He would state a fact illustrative of his meaning. Some of his friends established a school in which the catechism was taught, but it was given out that it would not be taught to any child whose parents objected. About 500 children were annually in the school, but the number who objected in the course of four years was only five. He was afraid that a great many who sent their children to school did not ask whether they were to be made Mahometans or anything else; but merely sent them, because they bad a feeling that they would there acquire something they did not possess before. He held that in England there was no need to lay down any rule on the subject of religious teaching. In the large towns, if any persons objected to the exclusive system, they had only to go to another school; and in the country districts he did not think injury would be done to any one, for the Church of England had always shown great forbearance in this matter. She was always ready to meet cases of emergency. In the case of the Factory Education Bill, introduced by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, the Church of England at once gave way in order to meet the case of a number of children of all classes of opinion, necessarily gathered together in one school, as belonging to one factory. They did not, in that instance, insist on the catechism being taught in those schools; but their wise and prudent conduct was not imitated by the Dissenting bodies, who were the means of throwing out the Bill. He contended then that it was their duty to write on the minds of children some views of religion; but by the proposed Bill they would be compelled to give up every school where religion was now taught, and adopt a school for merely secular education in its place. It would not only have the effect of shutting up such schools, but of imposing a compulsory rate for the support of mere secular education. Every place was to be reported dark where only exclusive schools, as they were termed, existed. So that if, as was the case in some parishes, nearly the whole population were taught in national schools, the parish was to be regarded as one having no school at all, and a rate must belevied. The greatest injury would thus be done to the friends of religious education. A man who cared nothing about religion could very cheaply afford to be liberal in this respect, because it did not signify to him what was taught, and he was ready to agree to anything. But a man who was in earnest about his opinions, and was convinced of their truth, felt that he was exposed to injustice by a measure like the present. True liberality is not indifference, but consists in a firm conviction of truth, whilst a man at the same time gives those opposed to him full credit for sincerity in the course which they take. He gave the hon. Member for Oldham full credit for being actuated by motives as pure as his own; but believing, as the hon. Member himself had said, that they could not have a person educated without a highly qualified teacher, or the tender care of an affectionate pastor or parent, he could not give his assent to the Bill he had introduced. It was proposed to take children from 5 to 13 years of age from their homes to be educated in these schools, but without letting in upon them the light of religion. Many of them had not the blessing of an affectionate parent to do that which the schoolmaster must leave undone. It might be said of them in the words of the unfortunate poet Savage— No mother's care Shielded my infant innocence with prayer. They took them from home to be placed in these schools, but no sure method was to be taken to imbue them with the salutary lessons of religion. With the opinions he entertained, he could not undertake to put a child to school under such precarious instruction as was proposed by this Bill. He asked the Legislature to put the child to a school where he would derive instruction from what his hon. Friend the Member for Oldham designated a highly-gifted teacher—a man who, devoting himself from religious motives to the duty of instructing youth, should display in everything he said not a mere mouth utterance, but the expression of a heart devoted to the service of his God.


was anxious to say a few words in explanation of the vote he was about to give, and to point out in what respect he qualified the support he was about to give the hon. Member for Oldham. Before he did so he would refer to the allusions which had been made to himself by the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford. That hon. and learned Gentleman came there determined to attack the Bill and those who supported it by every means in his power. Not satisfied with questioning the merits of the measure itself, he made use of those stale devices and arguments which had been used in all times against new proposals of every description. He denounced as philosophers of the new school all who supported the measure. Then he said that it was a subject of such importance that individual Members of Parliament ought not to deal with it. With regard to that position, he (Mr. Gibson) entirely differed with the hon. and learned Member. It was a question at the present time eminently proper to be introduced to the notice of the House by a non-official Member. If it appeared that the public opinion was not sufficiently matured on the subject to entitle a Government to submit the proposal to Parliament as a Cabinet measure, and if an independent Member was not to be at liberty to bring it forward, there would be no opportunity at all of discussing its merits and assisting the formation of public opinion either one way or the other by a Parliamentary debate. Therefore, in his opinion, the House and the country were indebted to the hon. Member for Oldham for introducing the subject for the deliberation and discussion of that House. As to the epithet of "philosophers" applied to them by the hon. and learned Member, it reminded him that the same had been applied by the old school of conservatives to Wilberforce and those joined with him in the endeavour to emancipate the slaves. With regard to the Government not taking up the subject at this moment, which many deemed a suitable one, he was not going to reproach them on that account; it might be said that public opinion was not sufficiently ripe on the matter, but nevertheless he could assure the House that symptoms of unmistakable approbation had been manifested towards it. He was present at a large public meeting, and he should say he never witnessed an occasion where a subject-matter met with such enthusiastic support as did that of unsectarian education at that meeting, which was, to a great extent, composed of working men. Since then other meetings had been called in Manchester; and lately in one week there were no less than two meetings, one called by the mayor. They were open to all classes and parties; those who were opposed to the principles assembled with as great force as they could muster; the question was fairly put to the assemblage and carried, he would not say unanimously, but by an immense majority, in favour of secular education. He believed there was no question at the present moment in which the working classes took a deeper interest than in that proposed to the House by the hon. Member for Oldham. It appeared to him (Mr. Gibson), in reference to the manufacturing districts, that their position was a peculiar one, and one that called most emphatically on the Legislature to provide unsectarian education. What did the Legislature do in the first instance? It enacted that no child should be admissible, and, consequently, should not earn a livelihood, in any of the cotton, woollen, or silk factories, unless they had attended the local school. But there the measure stopped, without providing the school for their attendance. Now if they made school attendance the condition of employment, and if there existed more than the mere name of religious liberty in the country, they were bound to provide schools of an unsectarian character, to which persons of all religious denominations could resort. Now, if such were not done, the Government would be open to the charge of coercing the consciences of those who had no alternative but of attending a sectarian school of a different religion from their own, or of non-employment. He would take the hypothetical case of a Roman Catholic school in the immediate vicinity of one of those factories. The law practically compelled the factory children to go to that school, so that a Protestant child was in the position that it should go to that school to be indoctrinated with Roman Catholic tenets, or lose its occupation. In fact, the child might be compelled to forego its religion or its livelihood. That was not a fair position. If labour is to be contingent on school attendance in the manufacturing or agricultural districts, and if it was a good principle for one it was for the other. None but unsectarian schools were suitable, or the principles of religious liberty must be endangered. There was no reason for the denominations, whether Churchmen or Dissenters, to be jealous of the proposal of the hon. Member for Oldham. It might, however, be right that he should then qualify the support which he intended to give the measure of his hon. Friend. He should state he would not go the length of enabling the Privy Council to impose a compulsory rate in support of these schools; but he would declare in favour of giving the ratepayers a permissive Bill, empowering them to rate themselves, if they thought fit to establish schools on unsectarian principles. To that length he was prepared to go with the hon. Member, but not further. If there were those numerous schools of which the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford had spoken, and which gave general satisfaction, it would not be necessary that the ratepayers should further tax themselves to establish schools that were not required. If there existed that superfluity of education in parts of the country, and of a satisfactory quality, was it to be supposed that the ratepayers would voluntarily tax themselves for unnecessary additional schools? If it be laid down that in poor districts property must contribute towards schooling, there was nothing unreasonable in all holders of property paying in equal proportion at least towards secular education when religion was not interfered with. He was aware that in many agricultural districts some few gentlemen of property were called on to pay the expenses of the parish schools, whilst other wealthy gentlemen having property in the locality, but happening not to be resident, escaped contribution. If they were to contribute to the secular education of the younger classes, it was right that property should be called upon and rated in just and fair proportion. He did not in the least degree underrate the value and importance of the efforts made by the different religious communions in support of education. He thought it would be a great misrepresentation of the facts of the case if they denied that the religious communions of the country, Dissenters and Churchmen, on many occasions and in various parts of the country, gave most valuable and disinterested support to the cause of education. Both Dissenters and Churchmen had given aid the most valuable; but at the same time he should observe, that the British and foreign schools had been established throughout the country long before the national schools came into existence. But it would be useless to follow up that controversy which the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford had introduced. With regard to the accusation that they were indifferent to religious teaching because they supported secular education in the present measure, he should observe that the Bill was called "A Bill to promote the Secular Education of the People of England and Wales." It left religious teaching where it then was, and did not interfere with the existing machinery for dispensing religious instruction to the community. What was that machinery? Had they made no preparation for religious instruction? No country had expended half the amount that England had in giving religious instruction to the people. If they took the Church and the Dissenting bodies, and considered that some ten millions were expended by them in giving religious instruction, they would see that the amount—and he did not think that he was over the mark in stating it—was twice as much as was paid by any other country. Now, it was not proposed to meddle with that fund; and he then asked, why that trepidation in reference to religious instruction—had they not already provided for it? The Bill of the hon. Member for Oldham only called on them to superadd to the religious instruction already provided, intellectual instruction, which even the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford considered necessary to the harmonious development of all the faculties. They already, if they did their duty, had the means of improving the spiritual faculty; and therefore he called on them to develop the intellectual, that both might combine for the benefit of the community. He could not see why hon. Members who supported the measure should be open to the charge of endeavouring to diminish the extent of religious instruction. The Sunday schools would remain intact, as would all other religious institutions. He could see no grounds for serious opposition. Surely the teaching of arithmetic, geography, and reading and writing, could not per se be deemed irreligious. In this Bill the religious part of the question was not at all interfered with, because they merely said they would give the ratepayer the power to establish schools to which his children might repair for the purpose of receiving such elementary instruction as would enable them to improve themselves and discharge the active duties of after life; in fact, place within the reach of the working man day-schools similar to those which the upper and middle classes sent their children to for secular instruction. Let him see the trader or shopkeeper who sent his child to a day-school for other purpose than to obtain a moral training and secular education to fit him for the pursuits of whatever station he might be called to. He felt certain that no national school system could be established that was not un-sectarian; and in supporting the Bill, instead of lessening the chance of religious training, he believed they would be doing the opposite. He could not understand the principle that because they could not do everything they would nothing. He thought they ought to do as much as they could. Let them give secular education in the national schools, and leave to the religious communions and the ministers of the various persuasions that task which, he felt, their zeal would make them discharge with fidelity—namely, that of giving religious instruction. It was new to him to hear that it was the duty of the Church to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. He conceived it to be the duty of the Church to teach revealed religion to their own congregation, but not to give secular instruction. If it were the duty of the Church to give secular instruction, then what a reproach to her, considering her enormous funds, must not the fact be, that of the population of England and Wales, 40 per cent of those who presented themselves for marriage were not able to write their names. Let the Church, then, deal with the moral and religious training of her own members; but he saw nothing to prevent the ratepayers establishing, at their own pleasure, by an equalised rate on property, schools to which their children might repair to obtain secular knowledge and instruction.


said, the Bill had been avowedly introduced for the purpose of submitting the principles involved in it to public opinion, and he was, therefore, anxious to meet it on this ground; and as hon. Gentlemen opposite were anxious to have an intelligent consideration of the question, hon. Members on his side claimed the right of having their views fairly and honestly put before the public; and if that were secured, he had no apprehension but that right would prevail. He had been at considerable pains in sifting the Bill, and extracting from it the real question, in order that it be fairly and honestly discussed, and he wished both sides to have a clear stage and no favour. He would state what he believed to be the principle of the Bill, and then state his objections—his only desire being to meet the case fairly on its merits, and then to leave the issue to the country. The principle, as he understood it, was this—that it is the duty of the Legislature to compel a provision for education which makes the exclusion of religion—not the omission—an essential element of its plan of combined instruction. He called on the hon. Gentleman who had moved the Bill, when he came to deal with this case in his reply, to apply himself to that specific proposition, and show from what source he derived authority to cast on the Legislature the duty of compelling a provision by a rate on the rateable property of the country for the purpose of giving to the people an education severed from religion—from which religion as a principle was excluded. The objection as to compulsion, he understood, was met by the assertion of a duty which they owed to the people; and he admitted that if such could be proved to be the duty of the Legislature, the objection would be met. And he was glad to find these important concessions made by the other side—first, that the voluntary principle was insufficient to supply the wants of the country with regard to education; and, secondly, a recognition of a duty imposed on the State to look to the interests of the people, and, if necessary, by compulsory provisions to perform that duty, wherever its nature and extent have been precisely ascertained. Surely it can hardly be said that it is a religious obligation to exclude religion. The very proposition furnished its own refutation. The question was put rather on what was called civil policy. They were told, as he had read in the report of a speech of the hon. Member for Oldham in another place—that there was an analogy between this and the poor-laws; and they were asked, while they had a compulsory assessment providing for the bodily wants of the poor, were they to give nothing whatever to the starving mind? Were the intellects of the people to be starved, and their bodies supplied? His reply to that argument was this—that while you fed the mind, you had no right to starve the soul. If their argument was good for anything, they must go further. Secular education was also defended as a means of preventing crime. Now, he wished to examine in what respect they had hitherto recognised it as a duty of the Legislature to provide for the education of the country, because when they were asked to substitute experiment for experience they ought to examine that experiment in all its details, and see upon what basis it rested. Without touching on controverted points in respect to the administration of funds, he asserted that, in substance and principle, it had been as a religious duty that the State had acknowledged this obligation, and in no other respect; and the very letter from Her Majesty, which formed the foundation of the recent movement with regard to education, expressed a wish that the people of these kingdoms should be religiously brought up, and accordingly religion was to be combined with the whole matter of instruction, and to regulate the entire system of the schools. The great and leading objection to the Bill was, that it embodied a principle antagonistic to that on which they had acted hitherto. They had acknowledged the religious duty of educating the people. This, as a Legislature, they had done; and to whom were they responsible? There was no power between them and the Supreme Power on high. Therefore, as a Christian Legislature, they were bound to honour God, and perform his will to the utmost of their legislative ability. This duty they had recognised, and had accordingly based on religion the education of the people. They could not serve two masters; they might choose between them. They might exclude religion from their schools, and give only a secular education, or they might make religion the basis of education; but to reconcile the two systems was impossible. "As men," said Locke, "we have God for our King, and are under the law of reason. As Christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the law revealed by him in the gospel." It was upon that principle, not from any feeling of fanaticism, but on the sober principle of Christian piety, that they had hitherto acted with respect to education. They regarded the moral part of education as the important part, and the morals of Christianity as the highest form of moral principle. If, then, Christianity was something more than a fiction, how could they, a Christian Legislature, having to discharge a public duty, consent to this Bill, or what blessing could they hope to attend their labours? Therefore it was that the Government plan of education said that all intellectual instruction should be subordinate to the regulation of the thoughts and habits of the children for the doctrines and precepts of revealed religion. Assistance was given to the several denominations who acknowledged the duty of making religion the basis of their educational system. The scheme had been made as comprehensive as possible, but another sect it appeared was now to be added—those who required the exclusion of religion altogether; and it was by this small section of the community that they were now asked to adopt a principle antagonistic to that on which they had hitherto acted. The hon. Member for Oldham admitted that much had been done by the Church and by other religious bodies, and declared that he had no intention of disturbing the results of their efforts, but wished to add a supplement and extend the blessings of education still further. But it would be impossible for them, consistently with the principles which had guided them up to this time, to accede to his proposition. They were prepared to assist all denominations who acknowledged the duty of imparting religious instruction; but there they must stop—there they must put a limit to their exertions—beyond that, if they were asked to act in opposition to their principles, they must take their stand; for that was the true ground on which the Bill ought to be opposed, and on which the enemy must be met at once, in his first parallel, hand to hand and foot to foot. Before they were asked to break up the system on which they had hitherto acted, and sanction another and an opposite principle, it ought to be shown that some large and important portion of the community demanded the change, though he should still feel it his duty as Christian legislator to oppose the Bill, even though the whole country were against him. He had already observed on the analogy attempted to be set up between this case and the poor-law; but there was another very spurious argument to be anticipated. It was said that although the Bill excluded religion from the combined system of instruction for the poor, still it gave them an opportunity of having such religious teaching out of school as their parents might think proper. That, at first sight, certainly appeared a very plausible argument, and required to be answered. It was said you were not at liberty to impart religious teaching of which the parent did not approve. He took a far different view of the matter, for if the parent was unable or unwilling to perform the duty which they all acknowledged he ought to perform to his child, the State stepped in and lent its assistance, and standing as it were in loco parentis, gave such an education as it conceived a Christian parent ought to give. Was the State, with reference to the most important part of education, to accommodate itself to any opinions which the parent might happen to entertain, however false and however dangerous? Was it to give a child such an education as an infidel might approve of, and put a compulsory tax on the community for such a purpose? Parental authority derived all its force from God, and no parent could call on the State to be his accomplice in violating God's law. Had not Her Majesty the power of taking a child from its parents under certain circumstances, through the agency of the Court of Chancery? Instead of making sound religion the necessary basis of education, according to this Bill, it was to become a mere casual adventitious supplement, as the parent might think proper. It was sometimes argued that as you called on the people to obey the law, you ought to provide them with the means of knowing the law. By the constitution of the country they could make no binding law which was at variance with the word of God; and their very first duty, therefore, was to see that every child was made acquainted with the revealed will of God, that being the supreme law of the kingdom. The fifth section contained a proposal to present each child with a copy of the Holy Scriptures. He was delighted to see even this extorted homage to the law of God; but it reminded him of the barbarous nation which was said never to worship the sun in his meridian splendour, but to defer their adoration until its eclipse. This portion of the Bill was a monument to the power of conscience. The child, on receiving the Bible, might be startled to find that it taught the diligent instruction of the young in its truths; and recorded the privileges of one who from a child had known the Holy Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, in the debate which took place on the last occasion, when the subject was before the House, enlarged on the effects of the Reformation in loosening the bonds which fettered secular instruction. He admitted that such had been its operation; and be was not one who feared secular instruction when accompanied with a corresponding amount of religious teaching. But the great glory of the Reformation was that it had opened the word of God. It had enabled them to know the will of God, and this it was which had made this a great and happy nation. Another ground on which secular education was vindicated was, that it prevented crime; but he feared that, unassisted, it was wholly unequal to accomplish that end. Different opinions were entertained on the subject, some contending that it was calculated to produce, and others that its effects would be to prevent, crime. If they merely expanded the intellect without reforming the heart, they would have gone but a very short way towards the accomplishment of their object. On this part of the subject he could not do better than read to the House an extract from the works of a very celebrated French writer, Quetelet. In his work, Sur l'Homme, he says— In fact, the causes which influence crime are so numerous and so various that it becomes almost impossible to assign to each its degree of importance. It often occurs that causes which appear very influential, disappear before others which had scarcely at first been thought of. It is this which I have particularly proved in actual re-searches. It was too much preoccupied, I admit, with the influence which is ascribed to instruction in paralysing the inclination to crime. It seems to me that a common error pervades the whole of that which expects to find less crime in a country because it appears that more children are at school, or because more of the people know how to read and write. It is rather the moral instruction which must be taken into account, for very often the instruction received at schools only affords greater facility for the commission of crime. He had no desire whatever to exclude or depreciate a secular education; but what they had now to discuss and to decide was, whether the State is either bound or at liberty to sanction the avowed and explicit exclusion of religion from the education of the people, and to compel a rate on rateable property for this purpose? Such a proposition he considered to be directly opposed to the public national duty of a Christian State. In relation to this subject he would take leave to quote an extract from the statement of a man who was one of the brightest ornaments of the University which he (Mr. Napier) had the honour to represent—he alluded to Dr. Robinson, who used the following language:— I am not one who am likely to undervalue secular education. I mean not to boast of myself or my attainments; far be it from me—for never, when a discovery presented itself to me, never did I fail to give to God the glory, and to thank him for the power he he had given me to achieve it. With the exception of two or three of my more distinguished countrymen, there are none on this land—I say it here, simply and plainly, who surpass me in that kind of knowledge; and yet I say here, in the presence of you all, as I say it in the presence of Him who sees the heart—that all I know, and I have ever learned, is as nothing in comparison to any one chapter of Scripture. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, in one of his lucid intervals, had stated with true eloquence, that the secret of England's strength was in national Christianity. Secular philosophy is not its source or its support; the religion of the people is their power and their security. And never was there a time at which it was more incumbent on this House to show the enlightened religious portion of the public that here they had a voice and an echo of their sentiments. Not in fanatical zeal, but in sober sincerity, should this House earnestly desire "that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavours on the best and surest founda- tions, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety may be established amongst us throughout all generations."


said, that throughout this prolonged debate he heard nothing whatever that touched precisely the facts on which he grounded the necessity of this measure, or some measure of this description. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken could not have weighed the considerations on which he justified the expediency and necessity of the measure, or he would not have attributed to him the intention of merely wishing to raise a discussion upon an abstract principle. The hon. and learned Gentleman's speech was directed against a phantom of his own creation. He (Mr. Fox) had never proposed to exclude religion from education. He founded his attempt to do something for his fellow-countrymen, for the improvement of the instruction actually given to them, something for the extension of instruction to those now destitute of it, not on any abstract principle, but on the demonstrated necessity that something should be done. It was not his intention to demolish any existing systems of education in order to establish new ones, the absurdity of which experience had demonstrated, not merely in reference to education, but with regard to all kinds of reform whatsoever; but to ascertain how very complex and imperfect systems could be harmonised, purified and made to do a greater amount of good than they had hitherto effected. Such was the nature of his proposition, and, so far from excluding religion, it pre-eminently sought to retain the religious impulse for the diffusion of education. He appreciated quite as highly as the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford the results which had been produced by the religious impulse; but all religious impulses required to be watched, and more particularly as connected with education, lest what was called religion, but what should be more properly designated theology, should be made an instrument of proselytism, and lead to the perversion of education itself. The great fact on which he founded his proposition was, that after all that had been done for the extension of education in this country, it was still deplorably deficient, whilst its quality was lamentably inferior. He ventured to affirm that the principle of a theological education and the proselytism which was inseparably connected with it, had so far swamped other modes of instruction as to impair the effects of the religious principle itself as instilled into the minds of pupils by means of such imperfect instruction. The evidence which existed for that statement it would be difficult to gainsay. They had it in evidence that the number of persons who were unable to sign their names to the marriage registry amounted to thirty-one per cent of males, and forty-five and a half per cent of females. It appeared that the number of persons who two years ago were unable to sign the registry amounted to 42,429 males, and 61,877 females. This showed that the returns quoted by the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford required to have large deductions made from them. Again, the return of juvenile offenders in 1847, which had been made on the Motion of the hon. Member for Pontefract, showed that of 11,195 juvenile offenders, 4,738 were unable to read, and that of 14,756 juvenile offenders in 1848, no less than 5,200 were unable to read. These statements proved that whatever returns were made from the schools, the number of persons instructed was much smaller than could be supposed. And furthermore, they had to combine this with the startling fact, that, large as was the proportion of persons who were unable to read, it was not, after all, amongst the uneducated class that the greatest number of criminals was to be found. This was a most important and striking fact, and one to which he regretted the attention of the House had not been more largely directed. During the twelve years that had just elapsed—twelve years, he admitted, of magnificent exertions in the cause of education—this deplorable fact stared them in the face, that, whilst during these years the percentage of children who received instruction had increased, the proportion of offenders was considerably larger. It was thus to be accounted for. The fact itself proved incontestably that some defect existed in the educational system itself. It was necessary to have recourse to some such supposition in order to arrive at a reasonable solution of the circumstance. They found a religious education, as it was called, in existence; theological dogmas were inculcated, but it was evident that in the absence of the due training of the mind and character they had borne no fruit, and did not produce any deep impression with respect to the distinction between right and wrong. There was no magic in the repetition of mere words, by which they could make children moral, careful, prudent, and devout. Those who persevered in this fruitless course had not home in mind the beautiful parable by which the fruitlessness of sowing seed in stony ground—where there was no intellectual soil for its reception and growth—was inculcated. But, furthermore, there was danger of a complete relaxation of the practical and actual powers of those to whom the education of the country was committed. It was resolved to make great societies the means of communicating education. What was the position of these societies? The National School Society was at war with the Committee of the Privy Council. The Catholic School Society was holding off, and was not yet in a position to receive any advantage from the national fund appropriated to education. There were divisions in the British and Foreign School Society. Here then were the main springs of these educational operations damaged, and in such a condition that they could not work as they had heretofore done. All this showed that something else was essential to put education again on its onward course. The inspector of schools for the northern district stated that one school out of every five was either defunct or in danger of becoming extinct; and he gave it as his opinion that the same was the case throughout the kingdom to a considerable extent. They had it reported to them that in the 1,300 and odd schools of the National Society there was school room for twice the number of children that constituted the daily average attendance. This again showed the estimation in which the present system was held. But it was assumed throughout the debate that a secular education meant the exclusion of religion. He denied that secular and religious instruction was necessarily opposed. He could well understand why the noble Lord the Member for Arundel should insist on such an opposition. But there was a religion which said that "the heavens declared the glory of God," and bade them "look to the lilies how they grew;" so that instruction in these matters was closely allied to religious truth and purity, and was opposed to the impious assumption that men could be led away from religion by studying the works of the Creator. It was his firm belief that the more the mind was furnished with intellectual truth, the better it was acquainted with the works of the Creator, the greater would be the disposition of the pupil's heart for superior religion. Instead of there being any antithesis between secular and religious education, he regarded them as auxiliary to each other. Well, then, it might be urged, why not unite them in the same school? His answer was that it could not be done in a country where there was such a variety of religious opinions. There was the difficulty, and with that difficulty they had to grapple. What each wanted was not so much to have religion inculcated as to have the religion which he himself professed—that was to say what he believed to be the true religion—taught in schools. But what was the true religion? Who was to be the judge of that? Was it to be a majority of that House? Was it to be the majority in the country? That could not be, for they had respected the consciencious scruples of the minority. He was quite correct, therefore, in saying that there were insuperable difficulties in the way of placing the instruction of the country totally and entirely in the hands of the Church. But besides this, the Church had another and a higher mission. It was the duty of the clergy to keep the people entrusted to their care from crime and sin—to catechise the children in their respective parishes on week days and on the Sabbath. The all-important concern of salvation was quite enough to exercise all the powers of those who were entrusted with the ministration of religion. But the business of teaching referred to the concerns of this world and not of another—it had to make good citizens, and not saints. The parson had no right to make the schoolmaster his proxy, and then come upon the liberality of the public for the payment of the schoolmaster. He was departing from his own most important duty when he turned aside to see how the schoolmaster executed his. Another reason why the Church could not perform this duty was, that it set limits to its influence by its own religious formulœ. Another reason was, that a system of national education required an outlay of public money, and the Dissenters would not submit to be taxed even for secular purposes if the money was to handed over to the Established Church. Another reason why he should be unwilling to leave the control of education in the hands of the Church was, that the perfect independence of the schoolmaster was essential to the imparting of a good education. It was said by Dr. Busby that he would not take off his hat in his schoolroom, even in the presence of the Sovereign; and in his opinion it would be vain to expect a good and perfect education where the schoolmaster was overshadowed by a clerical superior. He knew an instance where a teacher was rebuked for instructing a child who had not been baptised according to the ordinances of the Church of England. With a clerical superior thus watching and dictating to the teacher it was not to be expected that he could consider himself responsible for the due discharge of that important trust—the forming of the character of the rising generation. Then see the miserable stipends which they receive. Let them consider the advertisements which appeared every day in the newspapers for educated teachers at 48l. a year and less. Sometimes also their salaries were paid in a most degrading manner. He was aware of one case where the teacher had received a receipt book and was told to collect his salary himself from the subscribers if he could; and there was a printed form in the National Society's Schools for dismissing the master at a week's notice, and sending him immediately adrift upon the world. What could they expect but discontent under such a system? Could they have any other than careless teachers, or persons who were on the look-out for more profitable employment? He would now come to the partition of secular and religious education, and in doing so he would ask what had been the result in Ireland, where the national schools were strictly and properly schools for the promotion of secular education? because, whatever religious education was given, was given in another place at another time, and under different circum-stances from the secular education. How had the system been found to work? Did it make the pupils less religious than those who had been instructed in other schools? That would not appear to be the case; for he had seen a report of the examination of pupils educated in the national schools of Ireland. And the examination declared that the religious knowledge of the pupils was equal, if not superior, to that which had been inculcated in other schools. He would read for the House high authority to show that secular and religious education might be kept separate and distinct, without any damage to religion. Here was the opinion of an eminent professor of moral philosophy in the University of Oxford (Dr. Hampden), who was afterwards made a bishop by Her Majesty's Government. He thus speaks, in a course of lectures delivered at Oxford in 1835:— But since the separation of philosophy in general from theology, whilst other sciences have profited largely by their independent cultivation, there has remained a timidity of speculation in ethics, a backwardness to use that liberty of reason here, which has been so beneficially adopted in other branches of knowledge. There is a sort of superstition on the subject; the demons of impiety and profaneness haunt the imagination, when we contemplate the establishment of moral obligations, independently of the revealed will of God concerning a future state of existence. Thus, both Shaftesbury and Boling-broke have shown, and I think unanswerably, that the principles of morality are founded in our nature, independently of any system of religious belief, and are, in fact, obligatory even on the atheist. But I intend, in asserting the independence of moral obligation on any religious sanction, to refer, in evidence of this position, to the indisputable instances which have appeared, of an upright tenor of life—of the duties belonging to the various relations of life—correctly performed by those who have wanted the higher inducements to right conduct, resulting from the profession of a better creed. Here was the opinion of the Rev. Mr. Dalton, rector of Wareborne, Kent, as given in his pamphlet on national education:— But the great fallacy of the day is 'the danger of separating religious from secular instruction.' A little reflection ought to have shown that this is one of the most fanciful contingencies that could be imagined. Religious and secular instruction are already separate; they are as separate and distinct as any two parts of the same whole well can be; and if they were not so they would not have different names. The task of separation is done to our hands; it is the task of uniting that remains to be performed, and care should be taken that this combination should not lead to confusion. It requires no small caution, in combining religion with anything secular, to preserve the religious element from desecration, and the secular from perversion. There is a great danger of having the forms of godliness substituted for the power thereof; let us be cautious of leading the young into the dangerous error that all religion is included in its forms. National education does not mean simply the education of the poor, for the poor do not constitute the entire nation. A truly national system must be so comprehensive as to embrace every class of society. The Church cannot undertake the direction of such a system for many reasons, but most especially for the very obvious one, that the Church is not co-extensive with the nation. Education is a question of religion, a question of morality, a question of health, a question of finance, and a question of police. To what ultimate power do we refer all questions of public morals, public health, finance, and police? Every one knows that the decision of such question is the proper function of the State, and that the State has been constituted to discharge such functions. He had, perhaps, still higher authority—that of the Primate of the English Church. He did not mean to say that that Prelate's language implied an approval of his (Mr. Fox's) scheme; but it stowed that he considered that secular education could be imparted, separate from religious education, without any detriment to religion. [The hon. Gentleman here read an extract from a charge of the Archbishop of Canterbury to his clergy, in which he stated, that "the literary character of the schools depended on the schoolmaster, but its religious character depended upon the minister."] He chose to give the opinion of others who could not be suspected, rather than advance any of his own on the Motion; because he was well aware that if he did so persons would not be wanting to call him infidel and atheist. But he firmly and sincerely believed that the separation was in every way necessary to produce the full amount of good both as regarded religion and education. He did not wish to see persons thrown upon the world ignorant of the commonest everyday matters. He did not want an education which left persons ignorant of the number of ounces in a pound, of the number of inches in a foot, of the name of the reigning Sovereign, and who did not know whether the months of June and July were winter or summer months. He wanted an education which would enable the pupils in after life to steer their course steadily—which would not leave them unacquainted with modes of industry—which would save them from becoming the dupes of the demagogues or the fanatic—which would induce them, from moral considerations, to postpone the marriage connexion till they were in a position to maintain a family—which would teach them, in some degree, what it was the Legislature could do, and what it could not do, to elevate their position—which would impart those larger views of science which would give dignity to their operations in mechanics, or in the factory—and which would finally enable them to profit by the lessons of religion, as, no doubt, they would best be able to profit from those lessons if their minds were more expanded. He did not want the value of education to be deteriorated by the inculcation of sectarian opinions. He knew several instances where poor men, who knew the value of education, were obliged to forego strong religious scruples in order to obtain instruction for their children. It was not fair to take this advantage over poor but conscientious men. The working people of this country were ready to make sacrifices in order to obtain the blessings of education, and it was not fair or just that they should step between them and that desirable object, because they could not agree amongst themselves on their religious opinions. The education which was given on the Continent had been referred to, and it was said to be irreligious. He denied the fact. What was the case in Prussia? The children were instructed together in secular schools, but there were separate schools where the different sects were instructed in their own religious dogmas. Mr. Cay, in his late work, On the Social and Educational Condition of different Parts of Europe, says— Four years ago the Prussian Government made a general inquiry, and it was ascertained that of all young men in the kingdom, of 21 years old, only two in every 100 were unable to read. The average age of marriage is about 35 for men. These statistics showed that in Prussia 1 man in every 16 who married is 45 years old, while in England only 1 in every 21 is 45 years old, and nearly half of the men married every year are not older than 20 years. Then take France, and let them consider the result of the educational system there. Look at the words of the statute of April 25, 1834, upon the elementary schools:— In all the divisions (of each school), the moral and religious instruction shall rank first. Prayers shall commence and close all the classes. Some verses of the Holy Scriptures shall be learned every day. Every Saturday the Gospel of the following Sunday shall be recited. On the Sundays and fast-days the scholars shall be conducted to divine service. The reading books, the writing copies, the discourses and exhortations of the teacher, shall tend continually to penetrate the soul of the scholars with the feelings and principles which are the safeguards of morality, and which are proper to inspire the fear and love of God. M. Cousin, in his account of the Dutch schools, states that— There is a total absence of all special instruction either in religion or morals The educational arrangements are altogether independent of any church, and the schools are managed by local committees. By the law of 1806, religious instruction is separated from all free, poor, and private schools; and no instructor must interfere as to religion. We are informed that the Bible is not read in the schools; and that Jews, Catholics, and Protestants of different opinions, are instructed together. Children are permitted to withdraw at fixed hours to attend their pastor for religious instruction; but this is not imperative, being left entirely optional to the parents. This system has now been in operation forty years. The wide diffusion of the elements of knowledge among the Dutch, harmonises well with the general character of the people. They are proverbial for their economy, prudence, and attention to business; and they probably enjoy as large an amount of physical comfort as any nation in Europe, if not the largest. In the United States, in New Hampshire, where the population in 1840 was 284,574, there was raised for the year ending June 6, 1849, 149,237 dols. 49c. The total raised for schools was 159,430 dols. 38c. So far from levying an additional tax superseding private contributions, they had raised 160,000 dols., which was about 40,000 dols, more than was required to be raised by law, and 10,000 dols, more than was raised last year. In the State prison the total convicts were 94—under 15, 2; under 20, 17; there were 17 foreigners, and 45 natives of the United States. The public library had 600 volumes. In Massachusets the year's State expenditure on January 1, 1849, was 1,166,623 dols., and the towns contributed 795,706 dols. [Here the hon. Gentleman proceeded to read various details as to the number of schools, scholars, population, &c., of the previously named State, and also of those of Pennsylvania and New York.] What was the result as to religion? We had the statistics of all the different churches in the United States, and the returns of the communities of various religious denominations was in the proportion of one in five of the entire population—a state of things which the most zealous religious localities of this country would be very happy to see. He would not propose education as a panacea; other efforts should be made, but he would say this, that education was an essential condition, and that, without it, the best measures would be inefficacious. People were apt to be misled as to what most nearly affected their interests. And what had the country now before it? The lonely and dark precipice of a continuance of burdens that now pressed heavily; whilst by the knowledge of religious principles, they would give the first chance of enlightened, devoted loyalty, and they would have the great mass of the people first humanised and then christianised.


rose amidst loud calls for a division.


interrupted the hon. Member, and said that it appeared that on the former debate on this subject, an Amendment had been moved by the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire, which was seconded by the noble Lord the Member Arundel. After the noble Lord there was the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield, then the noble Lord the Member for Bath, then the hon. Member for Ponte-fract, and then came the name of the noble Lord the Member for the city of London, which was followed by the name of the hon. Member for Montrose. So that the hon. Member had already made his speech.


declared, amidst much cheering and laughter, that he was not aware he had spoken before.


wished to ask the hon. Member for Oldham whether he intended to abandon the compulsory part of his Bill? [Mr. Fox replied in the affirmative.] He had been brought up a member of the Church of England, and never having seen reason to dissent, he could have no objection to her conducting the education of the people, if he thought that possible; but an extensive acquaintance with the working classes led him to say that it was not at all possible. The working classes were against the interference of the Church. The question then was, should these children go uneducated, or receive a certain amount of education? Having employed a vast number of men in his own time, he could say without fear of contradiction, that there was a marked distinction between those who were thoroughly and those who were partially educated; the former were so much more open to reason, and easily managed. He doubted whether any education could prevent crime. The great cause of the increase of crime was the increase of privation. Sensible as he was to the advantages of education, he should give his support to the Bill after the statement now made by the hon. Member for Oldham; and whether the present measure were carried or not, he hoped the Government would take the matter into their serious consideration.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 58; Noes 287: Majority 229.

List of the AYES.
Adair, H. E. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Aglionby, H. A. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Anderson, A. D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.
Anstey, T. C. Evans, Sir D. L.
Armstrong, Sir A. Ewart, W.
Bass, M. T. Fergus, J.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Ferguson, Col.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Forster, M.
Brotherton, J. Fortescue, C.
Brown, W. Fox, W. J.
Bunbury, E. H. Greene, J.
Cayley, E. S. Hall, Sir B.
Clay, J. Harris, R.
Cobden, R. Henry, A.
Heywood, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Lushington, C. Stuart, Lord D.
Marshall, J. G. Stuart, Lord J.
Melgund, Visct. Tenison, E. K.
Milnes, R. M. Thicknesse, R. A.
Milton, Visct. Thompson, Col.
Mitchell, T. A. Thornely, T.
Mowatt, F. Villiers, hon. C.
Muntz, G. F. Wall, C. B.
O'Connell, J. Walmsley, Sir J.
Pechell, Sir G. B. Williams, J.
Pelham, hon. D. A. Willyams, H.
Romilly, Col. Wilson, M.
Russell, F. C. H.
Sadleir, J. TELLERS.
Scholefield, W. Gibson, T. M.
Smith, J. B. Hume, J.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Clive, H. B.
Adair, K. A. S. Cobbold, J. C.
Alcock, T. Cocks, T. S.
Alexander, N. Coke, hon. E. K.
Archdall, Capt. M. Cole, hon. H. A.
Arkwright, G. Coles, H. B.
Ashley, Lord Conolly, T.
Bagge, W. Copeland, Ald.
Bagot, hon. W. Corry, rt. hon. H. L.
Bailey, J. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Baillie, H. J. Crowder, R. B.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Cubitt, W.
Baldock, E. H. Currie, H.
Baldwin, C. B. Damer, hon. Col.
Bankes, G. Davies, D. A. S.
Barrington, Visct. Deedes, W.
Bellew, R. M. Denison, E.
Benbow, J. Denison, J. E.
Bennet, P. Devereux, J. T.
Bentinck, Lord H. Disraeli, B.
Beresford, W. Dodd, G.
Best, J. Drummond, H.
Blakemore, R. Drummond, H. H.
Blandford, Marq. of Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Boldero, H. G. Duff, G. S.
Booth, Sir R. G. Duff, J.
Bowles, Adm. Duncan, Visct.
Boyd, J. Duncan, G.
Bramston, T. W. Duncombe, hon. A.
Bremridge, R. Duncombe, hon. O.
Broadley, H. Duncuft, J.
Brockman, E. D. Dundas, Adm.
Bromley, R. Dundas, G.
Brooke, Lord Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.
Bruce, C. L. C. Du Pre, C. G.
Buck, L. W. East, Sir J. B.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Edwards, H.
Bunbury, W. M. Elliot, hon. J. E.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Emlyn, Visct.
Busfield, W. Enfield, Visct.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Estcourt, J. B. B.
Cabbell, B. B. Euston, Earl of
Cardwell, E. Evans, W.
Carew, W. H. P. Farnham, E. B.
Castlereagh, Visct. Fellowes, E.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Chaplin, W. J. Floyer, J.
Chatterton, Col. Forbes, W.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Childers, J. W. Fox, S. W. L.
Cholmeley, Sir M. Frewen, C. H.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Fuller, E. E.
Galway, Visct. Maxwell, bon, J. P.
Gaskell, J. M. Meux, Sir H.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Miles, P. W. S.
Gooch, E. S. Miles, W.
Gordon, Adm. Milner, W. M. E.
Gore, W. R. O. Monsell, W.
Goulburn, rt, hon. H. Moody, C. A.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Moore, G. H.
Greenall, G. Morgan, H. K. G.
Greene, T. Morris, D.
Grenfell, C. P. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Grenfell, C. W. Mullings, J. R.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Mure, Col.
Grogan, E. Naas, Lord
Gwyn, H. Napier, J.
Hale, R. B. Neeld, J.
Halford, Sir H. Neeld, J.
Hallyburton, Lord J.F. Newdegate, C. N.
Halsey, T. P. Noel, hon. G. J.
Hamilton, G. A. Norreys, Lord
Hamilton, Lord C. O'Brien, Sir L.
Harcourt, G. G. Ogle, S. C. H.
Hardcastle, J. A. Oswald, A.
Hastie, A. Packe, C. W.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Paget, Lord G.
Headlam, T. E. Pakington, Sir J.
Heald, J. Palmer, R.
Heathcote, G. J. Palmer, R.
Heneage, G. H. W. Parker, J.
Henley, J. W. Patten, J. W.
Herbert, H. A. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Peel, F.
Hildyard, R. C. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Pennant, hon. Col.
Hodges, T. L. Perfect, R.
Hood, Sir A. Pigot, Sir R.
Hope, H. T. Pilkington, J.
Hornby, J. Plowden, W. H. C.
Hotham, Lord Plumptre, J. P.
Howard, Lord E. Portal, M.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Powlett, Lord W.
Hudson, G. Price, Sir R.
Hutchins, E. J. Prime, R.
Jermyn, Earl Pugh, D.
Jocelyn, Visct. Pusey, P.
Johnstone, Sir J. Reid, Col.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Repton, G. W. J.
Jones, Capt. Ricardo, O.
Ker, R. Rice, E. R.
Lacy, H. C. Rich, H.
Langsten, J. H. Richards, R.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Rehartes, T. J. A.
Law, hon. G. E. Romilly, Sir J.
Legh, G. C. Rushout, Capt.
Lemon, Sir C. Sandars, G.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Sandars, J.
Lewis, G. C. Scully, F.
Lewisham, Visct. Seymer, H. K.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Shell, rt. hon. R. L.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Simeon, J.
Lockhart, A. E. Slaney, R. A.
Lockhart, W. Smyth, J. G.
Long, W. Smollett, A.
Lowther, hon. Col. Somerset, Capt.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Macnaghten, Sir E. Spearman, H. J.
Mahon, Visct. Stanford, J. F.
Manners, Lord C. S. Stanley, E.
Manners, Lord G. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Masterman, J. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Matheson, A. Stuart, H.
Matheson, Col. Stuart, J.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Sutton, J. H. M.
Talbot, J. H. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Taylor, T. E. Walter, J.
Thornhill, G. Watkins, Col. L.
Tollemache, hon. F. J. Wegg-Prosser, F. R.
Tollemache, J. Welby, G. E.
Towneley, J. Wellesley, Lord C.
Townley, R. G. West, F. R.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Whitmore, T. C.
Trollope, Sir J. Willoughby, Sir H.
Turner, G. J. Wilson, J.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Wodehouse, E.
Vane, Lord H. Wood, W. P.
Verner, Sir W. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Vesey, hon. T. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Villiers, Visct. Young, Sir J.
Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Vivian, J. E. TELLERS.
Vyvyan, Sir R. R. Arundel and Surrey, Earl of
Waddington, H. S.
Walpole, S. H. Stafford, A.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill to be read 2° on this day six months.

The House adjourned at five minutes before Six o'clock.