HC Deb 12 May 1854 vol 133 cc232-95

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


said, he felt bound to move the Amendment of which he had given notice, that the Bill be read a second time on that day six months. He was compelled to oppose the measure with great regret, because he thought that many of its provisions would have effected a great improvement in the existing law. He, and those hon. Gentlemen who acted with him, had waited upon the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate and upon the head of the Government, and proposed that if the connection between the parish schools and the Church which now existed were allowed to remain, they would support any reasonable reform in those schools, and would not oppose the educational experiment it was intended to try; but as the Government had not agreed to their proposal, they believed that the rejection of the Bill would best serve the interests of education in Scotland, as it would enable the country to give a more mature consideration to that important subject. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had not given an answer to one important question which lay at the root of all legislation—namely, whether there was any necessity for passing a measure which went to such an extent as this Bill? It was certainly the general opinion that Scotland was a well-educated country; and, although the system of education was not perfect, it was not very defective as compared with that of other countries. In proof of this, he might refer to the names of many men of whom Scotland was justly proud, and who owed their success in life to the good education they had received in the parish schools, but he preferred to mention a fact which he thought was illustrative of the educational reputation of that country. He had read a letter a year or two ago in the Times from a settler in Australia, describing the arrival of an emigrant ship at one of the ports, in which the writer stated that every one who looked like a farm servant was immediately surrounded by bidders, but that those who wore a Scotch bonnet were absolutely mobbed. This was a proof of the estimation in which the superior moral training of the Scotch was held. Although England had lately made great progress in education, the Census which had been lately laid on the table of the House showed that Scotland still preserved her superiority in this respect. He found that the educational average for England, which Sir James Kay Shuttle-worth pronounced to be a fair one, was 1 in 8.36, whereas for Scotland it was considerably higher, being 1 in 7. He did not think, therefore, that Scotland had any reason to be ashamed of the result of its educational statistics, and there could be no doubt that the system established in that country, both as regarded parish schools and private seminaries of all sorts, was one full of vitality, and which had received a great impulse from recent events. Within a few years the Free Church had arisen with her 712 schools; the Established Church possessed 905 private schools, independent of the parish schools; the cause of education had also been much advanced by the Privy Council grants, and the Episcopal Church of Scotland, which, as he had been informed by one of the prelates of that Church, possessed, ten years ago, only twelve schools, now numbered ninety-three. A system which had produced these results could not be so defective as to stand in need of a very sweeping measure of reform, and, although there were certainly many deficiencies with regard to our great towns, that was not the fault of the parochial system. He concurred in the statement of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, that our great towns contained a mass of inhabitants steeped in ignorance and vice, among whom the schoolmaster ought to be sent; but this Bill provided no machinery for getting at those classes which needed schools the most, and frequented them the least. A rev. gentleman at Glasgow had told him that he did not so much want schools as the power of compelling children to attend them, and they might as well try to satisfy the wants of hunger by multiplying bakers' shops as to spread education by multiplying schools. The parochial schools, which were much interested in this measure, were institutions of which the country was justly proud; their constitution ought to be jealously guarded, and if they were to be reformed, it ought to be done with a careful hand, but they ought not to be swept with such a bosom of destruction as he considered this Bill to be. They were no doubt capable of improvement, as the schoolmasters were underpaid, and their salaries would be still more reduced by the operation of a recent law; retiring pensions ought to be granted to them, and the efficiency of the schools would also be greatly promoted, if they were every year inspected by a Government inspector, who would lay Reports of their condition before Parliament. He was opposed to the severance of the connection of the schools with the Church, which was the main feature of the Bill. He would not argue the question between religious and secular education, upon which he thought there would not be much difference of opinion among the Scotch Members, and, although there was a large and respectable body in Scotland in favour of secular education, the majority of the people would agree with the Lord Advocate, that the schoolmaster who threw away religion would throw away his best weapon. He did not believe it was the intention of his right hon. and learned Friend (the Lord Advocate) to weaken the religious element in the schools, but he had provided for it in a somewhat clumsy manner, and he (Mr. Stirling) must contend that some guarantee should be provided as to the quality of the education. He also thought that the connection between the parochial schools and the Church, which had existed with advantage to the country for so long a time, should be left as it was. He had lately been in communication with many clergymen on this point, and it was but due to them to say that their views in reference to it appeared to be most reasonable. As an instance, he had heard but one opinion as to the advantage it would be to have a Government inspector associated with them in the control of the schools. Some there were who said, in regard to another provision of the Bill, it was not fair to plunge your hand so deeply into the public purse for sectarian purposes. He denied that the parochial schools were sectarian, but if they were sectarian to the utmost possible degree, he would still say that they would not be doing wrong in getting the money in the way proposed. If they were doing anything wrong in that, at least they would not be doing a new wrong; for during many years that House had been granting money to schools, the masters of which were sectarian, and the teaching in which was strictly sectarian. He objected, however, to the proposed distribution of the money. There were about 1,000 parochial schools in Scotland, and the right hon. and learned Lord asked the House to endow each of those schools with 16l. a year, and to allow about 2,500l. for retired masters, making a total annual grant of 18,500l. This was really a very small sum compared with those vast amounts with which that House was in the habit of dealing, and he really thought that the right hon. and learned Lord might have asked for that sum without clogging it with any offensive conditions. If he had come forward and asked what sum he deemed equivalent for schools connected with the dissenting bodies, he (Mr. Stirling) thought the claims of those excellent institutions would have been as cheerfully admitted on his (the Opposition) side of the House as they could be on the other. It was argued in some quarters that the superintendence of the presbyteries over the schools had been exercised in so lax a manner that it was quite time to get rid of so inefficient and vicious a system. It was true that some years ago the Church of Scotland had been so much occupied with its political and polemical differences that many of the best men in it had neglected their important educational duties. Since that event, however, the Free Church had arisen, their educational fund had been created, and excellent schools had been established. The Church, also, had been aroused to fresh energies, so that the state of things of which Dr. Guthrie had complained was in reality, at the present moment, but a vision of the past. That being so, he very much regretted that the right hon. and learned Lord should have lent the aid of his powerful name, or, at all events, should have appeared to have lent it, to a charge which, if true once, was true no longer. The right hon. and learned Lord had said, in an admirable speech on a previous occasion, that it was quite notorious that under the superintendence of the presbytery the parish schools had in many instances been debased and degraded beyond imagination. If those words implied a grave charge against living men, he submitted that they ought to have been substantiated. If, on the other hand, they had been used in an historical sense,—a sense in which he admitted that they might have been used with much propriety—he thought it would have been well that that sense should have been made clear. He was of opinion that there did not exist sufficient data on which legislation should proceed upon a subject of this importance, and he observed that this was the opinion which had prevailed at most of the meetings which had been convened for the consideration of this matter. He begged to mention all the sources of information which were to be met with in the Library of the House upon the subject of Scotch education. There were just three documents in all:—1st, the Reports of the Inspectors, which only glanced at Scotch schools incidentally; 2ndly, there was the body of evidence taken before the Lords' Committee in 1845, who, he believed, did not finish the collection of evidence, or who, at all events, made no Report; 3rdly, there was the Census paper which had lately been furnished, and he believed he was correct in saying that that was all the information which existed on the subject. Upon this point he might also call into court the Lord Advocate himself as a witness, for the right hon. and learned Lord had told them, in his admirable and eloquent speech, that the Educational Board which he proposed to appoint should be employed for the first two years of its existence in making an educational survey of Scotland. An educational survey and an educational inquiry appeared to him to be very much the same thing, and he suggested that it would be highly inexpedient for the cart of legislation to precede the horse of inquiry. He would admit that the system of education in Scotland could not be strictly termed "national," but it was a system under which the poorest parent might, if really earnest in the matter, obtain for his children a good secular and religious instruction. He must deny that the boasted national system would be likely to do more than that. It was very true that "a system of national education" was a fine high-sounding name, but he trusted that the House, and still less the representatives of Scotland, would not be led away by fine names to depreciate a system which had worked efficiently and well.


seconded the Amendment, and said, that, in the first place, he wished to disclaim being actuated by any party or political motives, and must express his regret that on the first occasion on which he addressed the House, it should be his duty to oppose a measure brought forward by a Government of which the noble Earl (the Earl of Aberdeen) was the head. He was determined in the course he proposed to take solely by a consideration of the practical results of the present system. Although himself a member of the Church of England, he thought it could not be denied that the practical results of the existing parochial system in connection with the Church of Scotland had been attended with satisfactory results as regarded the education of the people of Scotland; and he could not but think it would be most unwise on the part of the Legislature to destroy a system which had worked so well, for the purpose of substituting in its stead a plan founded entirely on theory. He did not, of course, mean to contend that the parochial system was, not capable of amendment; he believed, on the contrary, that it might be much improved, and he would give his support to any measures which should be proposed for the improvement of education in Scotland, which were consistent with the principles of the present system. The preamble of the Bill of the Lord Advocate affirmed that the superintendence of the Church of Scotland over the education of the people had been defective, and that for that reason the Church should not have the same amount of control as heretofore. But he (the Earl of Dalkeith) was not prepared to admit that the system of superintendence by the Church was in itself defective because it might not have been effectively carried out; on the contrary, he believed that the people of Scotland were satisfied with the present system, and a declaration to that effect had been signed by upwards of 2,000 landed proprietors of Scotland, and in nineteen out of twenty-two counties where meetings had been held on the subject, a decided opinion had been expressed against the present measure, two had given no opinion at all, and only one had passed a resolution in favour of the principles of the Lord Advocate's Bill. In truth, the people of Scot- land were satisfied with the present system and with the education their children received, and were all but unanimous in their opposition to the proposed change. Moreover, he did not think the House had anything like adequate proof of the alleged defectiveness of the superintendence of the Church over the parochial schools; and he said again that, while he thought the parochial schools were capable of improvement, and that the superintendence of the Church might have been in some degree inefficient, still the system was defective in itself. Again, in the preamble to the Bill there was no reference whatever to the religion that was to be taught in the schools, or whether religion was to be taught at all, nor was there any reference to any test of religious belief that was to be imposed upon the teachers—so that for aught he knew the Roman Catholics and all the different sects in Scotland might be mixed up together. The House must not understand that the parochial schools as they existed at present were purely sectarian—on the contrary, the children of parents of all religious denominations had always attended these schools, and he believed no parent had ever raised an objection on the score of the religious instruction his children received there. He was perfectly ready to concur in any improvements which might be suggested in the parochial schools consistent with the principles of the present system; but he would ask the House to pause before they abolished a system which, upon the whole, had answered so well, which had been in existence for so long a period, and which had raised Scotland to that proud position as an educated nation, which she held among the civilised nations of the world, in order to substitute for it an untried and purely theoretical scheme. On these grounds he objected to the Bill which had been introduced by the Lord Advocate, and had been induced to second the Motion of the hon. Member for Perthshire.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day six months."

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


said, he regretted very much that his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Stirling), whose name stood so deservedly high in the literary world, should have commenced his career by the exhibition of such illiberality as prompted him that evening to propose the rejection of this measure. He (Lord Elcho) regretted much likewise that his noble Friend who seconded the Amendment (the Earl of Dalkeith) had placed himself also in a position of hostility to the measure. While he lamented the position taken up by the hon. Gentleman and noble Lord who had moved and seconded the Amendment, he considered that position untenable; for while they spoke of the deficiency of the present educational system, they yet called on the Government to maintain the parochial school system which had already failed, and had led to the necessity of introducing the present measure. Both the hon. Members had stated that the parochial schools had been of essential benefit, and this no one acquainted with Scotland would deny. It was under this system that Scotchmen had become what they were—it was from this system that they had learnt both their duty towards God and man; but when the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) stated that these schools were of an unsectarian character, on this point he (Lord Elcho) must beg to differ from him; and though he admitted that the teaching was unsectarian, and that the doors of the schools stood open to all comers, still he thought no one acquainted with the constitution of these schools would be prepared to maintain that it was not essentially sectarian. The Government did not seek to effect, as had been stated, rudely to overthrow these parochial schools, but was anxious to introduce into their constitution such alterations as would bring them into harmony with the altered circumstances of the times in which we lived, and bring them back to that for which they were originally intended—namely, as public schools for Presbyterian Scotland; and this it was which the present Bill sought to effect. While adverting to the objections made to the present Bill, he wished to say that in his remarks he was not actuated by any feeling of hostility towards the Church of Scotland. He entertained for that Establishment the highest respect, and readily admitted the great benefits which had been derived from it. Such being his feelings, he would never have been a participator in any measure which had for its object the overthrow of that Establishment, or which would in any way impair its efficiency or endanger its position. He begged to call the attention of the House to the difficulties which surrounded the question of education in Scotland; and though it was generally admitted that something should be done, yet great were the differences as to what that something should be. Having given much attention to this subject, and read all that had of late been written on it, it appeared to him that there were but three ways in which they could hope to establish a system of education in Scotland. The first of these modes was to establish and extend the system which already existed, which was separate and denominational in its character, and supported to some extent by Privy Council grants. The second mode was to establish schools in which religious was separated from secular instruction; and a third mode was to establish a system of national education upon a religious basis, similar to that proposed by the present Bill. With respect to the first system, there were several objections which appeared to him to be fatal ones. The system of Privy Council grants was founded essentially upon sectarian principles, and its operation was, in effect, to increase the evil, while in the poorer parts of the country, where a smaller amount of funds was raised, and where Government assistance was most required, the system of necessity worked imperfectly, and the least amount of money was expended in instruction. Another, and a still stronger assertion was, that the system had been tried, and found wanting; and it was that which the present Bill mainly sought to remedy. With reference to the secular system, which its advocates maintained was the only one worthy to be called national, though he (Lord Elcho) thought that system most deserving of the term "national" which brought within its pale the largest number of people—with reference to this system, the present state of feeling on it must be borne in mind; for though the people of Scotland were divided on all other points, yet they were determined that in their public schools religious and secular instruction should not be dissociated. If in neither of these schemes they could find a solution of their difficulties, they must seek for it in the system proposed by the present Bill—a united system on a religious basis—that religious basis being the religion of nine-tenths of the people of Scotland. If the present Bill were to be judged of by the speeches which had been made, persons unacquainted with its provisions would be led to conclude that it entirely overthrew the parochial school system, and established one which a rev. gentleman had said would be a system of education without God and schools without religion; but nothing could be further from the truth than these assertions. The hon. Member who had moved the Amendment said that religion was not neglected by the provisions of the Bill, though the clauses were clumsily drawn. It must also be remembered that under this Bill the minister of the parish remained a member of the parish school board, and the preamble recited, with reference to religious instruction— And whereas instruction in the principles of religious knowledge and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, as heretofore in use in parochial and other schools in that country, are consonant to the opinions and religious profession of the great body of the people. In consequence of this, it is provided by the 27th clause— That every school committee under this Act shall appoint certain stated hours for ordinary religious instruction by the master, at which children shall not be bound to attend if their parents or guardians object, and no additional or separate charge shall be made in respect of the attendance of children at such separate hours. And, further, by the 17th clause it is declared— That of the school committee the minister of such parish shall in every such case only be an additional and ex officio member. Such were the provisions made in the Bill for religious education, and, in the face of these, he did not see how it could be asserted that the interests of religion were neglected. The chief objections to the Bill, he apprehended, were those advanced by the Established Church as to the removal of the superintendence of the presbytery and the abolishment of tests. With regard to the superintendence of the presbytery, he would not say it had not, as far as it was enabled so to do, performed its duties; but, under the existing state of the law, it was impossible for it efficiently to perform those duties. It was true that the presbytery had the power of examining the teachers, of administering the tests, and of annually visiting the schools; but they could have nothing to say as to the appointment of masters or teachers; they could not prescribe the books which were to be used, or the nature of the instruction to be given. Then, again, as to their powers of removal of teachers, these were practically found to be a dead letter, for in the Report of the Education Committee of the General Assembly it was stated— That where the teacher is old, disabled, or incompetent, endeavours have generally been made, without success, to procure his retirement. In such cases, the Parish School Law affords no remedy. It appeared, therefore, that however zealous the presbytery might be in the performance of their duties, still, from the limited nature of their powers, it was impossible that such a system could be efficient, and it was on this account that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had abolished the superintendence of presbytery, and established in its stead a Board of Education. He could not agree with those who regarded the parish schools as mere appendages of the church; and, as to overthrowing them, he begged to call attention to the fact, that the election of the parochial schoolmaster would remain, as heretofore, with the ministers and heritors of the parish. As to the other objection advanced by the Established Church regarding the abolition of tests, they must, in viewing them, look at the history of the times in which they arose, in order to judge of their bearing on parochial schools. They would find that tests were established for the purpose of maintaining and securing the Presbyterian faith, and would any one now pretend that it would be endangered by their abolition? It was with a view of excluding the Episcopalians that in 1690 the Test Act was obtained, and afterwards introduced in the Act of Security and the Treaty of Union, and he thought that the present Bill, by providing for the selection of schoolmasters from the other Presbyterian sects of Scotland as well as from the Established Church, did not by so doing infringe either the spirit of the framers of former Acts or the Treaty of Union. They could not now maintain tests in the public schools of Scotland, under present circumstances, in proof of which he begged to cite the following from the Census religious statistics, from which it would be found that the number of attendants at public worship on Sunday, March 30, 1851, were— Established Church, 228,757; Free Church, 255,482; United Presbyterian, 143,443; and, including an estimate for returns not sent in, Established Church, 351,454; Free Church, 202,308; United Presbyterian, 159,191. In the following counties the contrasts would be found to be still more striking:—Attendants at worship, March 30, 1851, in Edinburgh—Established Church, 15,264; Free Church, 18,858. Aberdeen—Established Church, 20,252; Free Church, 23,631. Argyll— Established Church, 4,238; Free Church, 6,305. Lanark—Established Church, 24,539; Free Church, 26,097. Perth—Established Church, 14,313; Free Church, 17,096. Caithness—Established Church, 442; Free Church, 6,779. Bute—Established Church, 1,457; Free Church, 3,691. Renfrew—Established Church, 8,987; Free Church, 12,344. Inverness—Established Church, 3,790; Free Church, 10,583. Sutherland—Established Church, 255; Free Church, 6,723. Ross and Cromarty—Established Church, 1,411; Free Church, 20,237. He would ask the House whether, in the face of such statistics as these, they could maintain exclusive tests? The abolition of tests was called for by reason, justice, and policy, no less than by the interests of the Established Church; for it must be evident that tests, so long as they were maintained, must prove a source of bad blood and ill-feeling, so that it was for the interests of the Church of Scotland that the change should take place—a change to which it could consistently agree, and without making any sacrifice of principle, because under the provisions of this Bill was found ample security for all that Church should seek—the establishment of a religious education. Objections had also been made to the Bill from an extreme portion of those who in Scotland held voluntary principles, who, rather than agree to the religious provisions of this Bill, would prefer that religion should be entirely separated from secular instruction in the schools under this Bill. He wished them to consider whether, in pressing their own views, they were prepared to enforce this separation, and so outrage the views and the opinions of three-fourths of the people of Scotland. He trusted, however, that this party would be induced to support the Bill on the ground that, though it fell short of their views, still it was a great improvement on the present system. As to the objections raised by Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, he thought that these might be satisfactorily met. He, as an Episcopalian, of course, felt deeply interested in all that concerned that sect; and his votes in that House on Roman Catholic questions were proofs that he would never be a party to a Bill which made no provision for the education of Roman Catholic children. To meet the views of these parties the 36th clause would be struck out of the Bill, and in Committee every assistance would be given to his right hon. and learned Friend to make such provisions as would afford every secu- rity to Episcopalians and Roman Catholics that, when the Bill passed into law, they should not be placed in a worse position than they were before, though it was intended, if possible, to better their position. He had till now been dealing with the objections to the Bill. From this it was not to be thought that it was not also favourably regarded, for the Free Church, though not wholly satisfied with the Bill, yet considered, as it now stood, that it would form a good basis for future legislation, and they were anxious that it should pass the second reading. They had a large body in the Established Church who were not led astray upon this question—thinking men, who saw the evils with which we had to grapple, whose senses were not blunted by prejudice or party and sectarian feeling, and who, taking a deep interest in the welfare of their country, wished that this Bill should pass into a law rather than that there should be no measure carried at all. If he referred to the petitions, he found, by the last return, that there were 44,000 signatures in favour of the Bill, and 28,000 against it, and 10,000 for alterations; and if they added these 10,000 to the 44,000 in favour of the Bill—for it appeared to be not an unfair inference to do so, seeing that if they had been against the Bill they would have petitioned against it—it would be seen that the great preponderance was in favour of the measure. The convention of Royal Burghs had petitioned for the Bill, the only thing they required being, that the provisions with reference to religion should be made more stringent, and that the religion hitherto in rise in the parochial schools should be practically embodied by enactment in the Bill. Therefore, though there was much opposition to the Bill, there was also a very large amount of public opinion in Scotland in its favour. This Bill had been criticised in a very partial and unfair spirit. In considering it, the people had been blinded by their prejudices and sectarian zeal, and, while they examined it line by line and word by word, and almost syllable by syllable, they had been led to condemn it unfairly, and had lost sight of that which was the main object of the Bill. Now, he thought such a question as this should have been approached in a very different spirit, because, unquestionably, the evil with which we had to deal was one of the greatest magnitude, and it was not denied by any party that there existed in Scotland, and especially in the large towns, a very great necessity for extending the means of education. The returns of the last Prisons' Report for Scotland, that of 1853, showed how inefficiently the population had been educated. Of a total of 21,336 prisoners, 4,388 could not read at all; 10,482 could only read with difficulty; 10,282 could not write at all; 539 could only sign their names; 8,360 could only write with difficulty. Of 438 prisoners who had been in the Model Prison at Perth three months and upwards, eighty-three, on admission, were unable to read at all; 175 could read with difficulty; 151 could not write at all; thirty-three could only sign their names; and 204 could write with difficulty. The chaplain appended to these facts the following statement— As regards their moral and religious condition, the generality of the prisoners are, on admission, deplorably ignorant. Many of them, indeed, are insensate, and, humanly speaking, impervious to conviction. Notwithstanding, however, this their natural depravity of heart, their innate propensity to every evil, their intaught aversion to every good—the result of a Godless, Christless upbringing, it is gratifying, nevertheless, to observe the anxiety with which they, sooner or later, in the course of their confinement here, avail themselves of the many advantages they possess of acquiring religious knowledge. The language in which his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate characterised the danger that threatened us from the growth of our criminal and uneducated population had in some quarters been characterised as exaggerated, but the sentiment of his right hon. and learned Friend had found an echo within the walls of the General Assembly itself; for Dr. Robertson, one of the ornaments of the Church of Scotland, in a speech of great liberality, which did credit alike to his head and heart, and which had been circulated among the Members of that House, spoke as follows— We cannot disguise from ourselves the truth that, be the cause of the evil what it may, thousands, and even tens of thousands, are growing up in the midst of us, from youth to manhood, whose education is grievously neglected. For these masses of society nothing is done, either intellectually or morally, to fit them for the important place which they ought to occupy, and which, were they qualified for its duties and privileges, is waiting to receive them. In the degraded condition to which their parents have been reduced, it is scarcely too much to say, that the training which they receive is but fitted to make them pests and plagues of society. Now, when the evil with which we had to deal was thus generally admitted—when words such as these came from the lips of the rev. gentleman and others in the Church of Scotland—surely it was our duty, as far as lay in our power, to reach these great evils; and he therefore hoped that the Members of that House, uninfluenced by sectarian or party feeling, would enable the Government to resist the Motion of his hon. Friend opposite, for he would say, not as a Member of the Government, and therefore deeply interested in the success of a measure brought in by them, but as a Scotsman who had the welfare of his country at heart, that he believed it would be an evil day for Scotland if the House of Commons rejected the Bill now upon its table.


said, that if the noble Lord had gone on and read the whole of the speech of Dr. Robertson from which he had just given a quotation, he would have found what was the essential principle of this Bill characterised by Dr. Robertson in strong and expressive language. His noble Friend had stated truly that there was a great difference of opinion with respect to this Bill. As to the Free Church of Scotland, he believed they were almost unanimous in favour of the Bill; and there could be no doubt that since its secession the Free Church had done much to forward the cause of education in Scotland. Their schools were more numerous than they could probably well support; and, as they wished to see them kept up in a state of efficiency, they looked to the right hon. and learned Lord to take them under his care. On the other hand, the Bill was opposed by the Established Church, by nearly the whole of the landed proprietors of Scotland—at least, 2,000 of the most important of them had signed a petition to that effect—and also by those who held what was called "the voluntary principle." He found, in a resolution adopted by this last party, a statement to the effect, "that the measure contemplated is unsound in principle, hostile to liberty, and opposed to the Word of God." Certainly, with such views as these he could not wonder that they joined the Established Church in their opposition to this Bill. He did not deny the immense importance of this measure, and the greatness of the object which it had in view. As his right hon. Friend near him (Mr. Walpole) said, on the introduction of the Bill, it had a worthy and noble object, and the speech of the learned Lord on that occasion was characterised by such great ability and conceived in so good a spirit that it was impossible not to go along with it; but to extend to the Bill of the learned Lord the same favourable opinion that was extended to his speech must depend on the character of the Bill itself, and, besides, it must be proved that such an amount of deficiency in the means and in the machinery of education in Scotland existed as would justify the sweeping and extensive change proposed. In February he had moved for returns to ascertain what was the actual state of education in Scotland, but these returns he had been unable to obtain. The Census returns could not be relied upon as giving a just view of the religious and educational state of Scotland; and he did not at all wonder that the case should be so, for when they remembered the great tendency which existed among all ecclesiastical bodies to exaggerate their numbers and importance—and certainly the Free Church had not shown an example which ought to be followed in that respect—they could not but attach great suspicion to the statistics which had been laid on the table. He held in his hand an extract from a speech delivered by a distinguished clergyman of the Church of Scotland—he referred to the minister of Forgendenny—in which he stated that the number of schools specially connected with the Church of Scotland was 1,890; the total number specially or virtually connected with the Church of Scotland 2,959, including 258,698 scholars; while the total number of schools connected with the Free and dissenting churches were 875, with 77,443 scholars. There were, besides, of private schools, 838, with 57,215 scholars; and Mr. Wilson in this way showed that one-seventh of the population of Scotland was under education. The Census returns came to something very near the same result. The minister of Forgendenny proceeded to state that, of all the schools in the country, about two-thirds were either schools belonging to, or schools immediately connected with, the Established Church. The number of scholars attending the schools belonging to the Free Church was stated at 59,896, while the number attending the schools under the superintendence of the Established Church was stated at 258,698, showing an immense majority in favour of the latter. The House would see, therefore, that there was no disinclination on the part of the people of Scotland to receive education in the schools belonging to and connected with the Established Church, and that there was nothing in the present state of things which could justify them in abolishing a system which attached the parochial schools to the Established Church, on the ground that that connection was distasteful to the people of Scotland. So far, then, as the allegation of deficiency went, no sufficient reason could be shown for the proposition of Government. Before proceeding further, he must strongly protest against their making the hardships to which the parish schoolmasters would be exposed from the operation of the present law a ground for forcing upon the people and the Church of Scotland any such measure as that now proposed. He thought that would be a most unjust and ungenerous proceeding. The fact that the parish schoolmasters, from the working of the present law, would have their already too small salaries reduced by about one-third for the next twenty-five years, and that, too, at a time when the price of all articles of subsistence was rising, should induce a generous Government to make some better provision for those to whom the great and important work of education was intrusted. The opponents of the present Bill were desirous that a short measure should be introduced to fix the salaries of the schoolmasters for the next term at the maximum of the present rates, and he thought it would not be difficult in the same measure to make those alterations with respect to the pensioning of deserving teachers who, from ill health or other circumstances, were no longer able to discharge their duties satisfactorily, and to the dismissal of incompetent or immoral schoolmasters, which all admitted were necessary in the present system. They would then be in a position to take up the whole question, and to consider those means for extending education in Scotland which he was not prepared to say were not, in some places, absolutely required. He did not deny, when he saw it asserted on the authority of such a man as Dr. Guthrie, to whom the cause of education in the large towns of Scotland and among the most destitute of the population was so greatly indebted, that there was a deficiency of the means of education in the large towns, or that they ought to approach that subject with an earnest desire to remedy the evils of which Dr. Guthrie so justly complained. At the same time that he admitted this deficiency of educational means in the large towns, he might be permitted to mention a curious fact, which was stated to him by a gentleman of great respectability connected with the county of Edinburgh—namely, that he had been informed by the Inspector of the House of Correction in Edinburgh, that for the first year after the introduction of ragged schools into that city, the number of juvenile offences greatly diminished, but that, unhappily, for the last two years the number had greatly increased, and that the children who came back to him were children who had attended the ragged schools established by Dr. Guthrie. He did not mention that fact to damp their zeal in the cause of education or to persuade them not to do all they could to educate the destitute children of large towns. What he wished to show was, that mere education would not suffice to stem that tide of crime and immorality and infidelity by which our large towns were likely to be deluged. He believed that the sources of crime would not have existed to so great an extent as they did if they had extended the system of education followed in the parochial schools to the large towns; for crime and infidelity were much more the child of false wisdom than of brute ignorance; though, as he had already said, he was disposed to admit that there was a deficiency of the means even of ordinary education in the great towns, and was willing to do all he could to remedy that deficiency. They professed to desire the union of secular with religious education. Now, the parochial schools of Scotland had solved the problem of that union; it had shown that the two could be united. Why, then, should they interfere with a system which had worked so well and so long? The longer these schools existed the more their advantages seemed to be extended in Scotland; and he maintained that the parochial schools were never at any time more efficient than they were at the present moment, and they only wanted proper encouragement to be more efficient still. The average attendance at those schools was greater in point of numbers than the attendance at any other class of schools in Scotland; and, before they attempted to abolish them—before they tried to approximate them to a new system which circumstances of recent growth might induce them to establish—he thought they would do well to ascertain that the experiment which they wished to make was likely to produce as good results as those which Scotland already possessed. He did not deny that the new system might fairly be tried in the large towns, where there were difficulties to the extension of the parochial system, but he trusted that they would not attempt to extend it beyond the districts where it might appear to be wanted. Within such limits he was quite willing that they should try their new system with some modifications, because it would be necessary to have some test of the Christianity and Protestantism of the teachers in the new schools; but he was utterly at a loss to see why they should seek to interfere with the parish schools. They said they attached great value to the union of religious with secular instruction. In the parish schools they had that union; and they themselves acknowledged that the opinion of the people of Scotland was unanimous in favour of a combined religious and secular education. It was a strange way to show their respect for the opinions and feelings of the people of Scotland to propose to sweep away, not only the test taken by the schoolmaster, but the superintendence of the presbyteries, which gave them the only security they possessed for the teaching of religion in the national schools. He could not help thinking, when he remembered, on the one hand, the promises held out by those who advocated this measure, and, on the other hand, when he looked at the provisions of the measure itself, that in this case we were exemplifying the adage of "keeping the word of promise to the ear and breaking it to the hope." When they told him that they relied on their preamble, in which they gave a general acknowledgment to the advantages of the union of religious and secular instruction, he must say that theirs was not a preamble on which he should be disposed to rely, even if he were disposed to rely upon any preamble, which, without enacting clauses, was always a broken reed to lean upon; and as to the present measure, to do so would only be to rely upon the very worst part of the Bill. What were the terms of this preamble? In the first place, they cast a slur upon the presbyteries of the Church, which had not a shadow of truth for its foundation, by saying that their superintendence over the parochial schools was extremely defective. He received a letter the other day from a minister in Kircudbrightshire, in which the writer stated that the thirty days of the hardest work he had in the year were those in which he was engaged in the superintendence of schools; and that statement was fully confirmed by another clerical correspondent. In his own county (Morayshire) he knew that the superintendence of the parish minister and of the presbyteries was of the most efficient kind, and he was convinced, from what he had observed himself in various parts of Scotland, that the statement in the preamble was unjust and untrue. The preamble further stated that the union of religious with secular instruction was "consonant with the opinion of the people of Scotland." They did not rest it upon the duty and advantage of cultivating the religious and moral as well as the intellectual faculties of the people—upon the tendency of that union to elevate and improve the education given in the schools—upon what was due by a Christian nation to the Great Author of all knowledge—or upon what was due to man's immortality; but they rested it, forsooth, upon "the opinion of the people of Scotland." He thanked God that it was consonant with the opinion of the people of Scotland; but the ground upon which they put it would just be as applicable in Spain and Italy for the exclusion of the Bible, as in Scotland for the union of religious with secular instruction. Only let it be consonant with the opinion of a great majority of the people, and, no matter how gross the infidelity or debasing the superstition might be, they were bound, according to the principle stated in their preamble, to support and encourage it. But even if their preamble had offered to a great principle a juster and nobler homage, he would not even then have been disposed to rely upon it independent of any clause which gave force to its spirit. In considering such a measure as the present, it would be as well to look across the Atlantic, and see what America had done, and done without any such Bill or preamble as that now boasted of. No one would deny that the descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers were as anxious to combine religious with secular instruction as the Presbyterians of Scotland, and the Americans had not speculated, but acted in this matter, and their advances were at once practical and solid. While speaking of America in connection with this subject, he could not help recalling the parting address of that great man, who was almost as much an Englishman as he was an American, Washington, to the people of the United States in 1796, when he retired into private life after his second presidentship. On that occasion this great and wise man said:— Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labour to subvert those great pillars of human happiness, those foremost props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles. He did not mean to say that America had kept up religious instruction in the same way as Scotland had, for there was little doubt that in the former country the schools as established had, in a great many instances, been limited to secular education alone, the effect of which was, unfortunately, but too sternly felt throughout the country. He had no wish to enter into any great details on this part of the question, but would merely refer to an opinion of a very eminent and learned divine on the subject—he meant Dr. Edson, who was for twenty-seven years resident rector in the province of Lowell, and held in the highest estimation by every one who knew him. This clergyman expressed his conviction, based upon observation and experience, that the public school system had already undermined, to a great extent, the doctrines and principles of Christianity. That was the result of a system introduced in defiance of the warning words of Washington, and yet they were told to rely on the preamble of a Bill which placed the foundation of the system upon what was "consonant with the opinion of the people of Scotland." With the evidences of such a result among the religious people of America, he could not but feel very jealous of those parts of the Bill which abolished all tests for the religion of the teacher and all superintendence of the Church over the religious element of the school. If they supported the present Bill, they would be introducing a wedge which here, as in America, would very soon sever religious from secular instruction in the common schools of the people. He had no objection to the Bill so far as secular instruction was concerned; but in abolishing the superintendence of the presbyteries over the religious element, they were giving a great blow to the Established Church, which ought to be encouraged and supported in every possible way. That such a Bill should come from a Government presided over by Lord Aberdeen was indeed a matter of astonishment; and when he remembered that the Aberdeen Act was the Act which the Church of Scotland regarded as the foundation of its rights, he really thought that Church might turn round and say, "Et tu Brute!" He ventured to say that if the Free Church never had existed, the present Bill would never have been brought forward. Well, how did that Church act with respect to its own schools? Did it allow them to be examined by the ministers of the Established Church? Quite the reverse; and he might mention that in one parish in the north of Scotland a Free Church minister refused admission to the communion table to parents who would not consent to send their children to the Free Church school. Yet, at the instigation of the Free Church, they were asked to deal a heavy blow to the Established Church. He did not wish to say anything offensive to the learned Lord who introduced the Bill, but it was really one of the most impudent things he had ever seen attempted in that House. One great reason for attaching the parochial schools to the Established Church was, that they knew what the doctrines of the Church were. The Established Church, in fact, was the only body which gave them that security. Their doctrines were acknowledged by the State and embodied in Statutes, and when she ceased to hold them she would cease to be the Established Church. Who knew what changes might take place in the doctrines of the Free Church, or of any other dissenting body? The Presbyterians of England were rapidly becoming Socinians, and a similar change might take place among the Dissenters of Scotland. But it was said that the superintendence of the presbyteries might be abolished, because that of the parish minister was still to be retained. Supposing, however, that the minister became negligent and careless, what then? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? He could not consent to fall back upon the general Board, the members of which might, for anything the Bill said, belong to any Church or to no Church at all. He could trust the presbyteries to see the superintendence properly carried out, but to the proposed Board he could trust absolutely nothing. He was quite willing to accept any other education in the place of the system we had at present, if it could be shown that the education to be substituted was in any way better than that we now had; but if it were not better—if it were only as good—he would say, "Leave us what we have, and do not place us in a position where we cannot be better and probably may be worse." He believed that the principle of the Bill was the separation of religious from secular instruction, and he was firmly convinced that if they introduced into Scotland a system which did not afford to parents a positive security for the Christianity and Protestantism of the education to be provided, they would find their schools fail; and if they introduced a system which would eventually lead to the separation of religious from secular instruction, they would confer a curse instead of a blessing upon the people of Scotland.


said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made an unprovoked and unjust attack upon the Free Church, for he said that the Bill would never have been heard of if there had been no Free Church. The history of nations did not, however, present so extraordinary an example of unselfishness as that of the ablest men connected with the Church of Scotland giving up valuable livings secured to them for their whole lives, and depending altogether for subsistence upon the support of the people. He would admit that the Bill was not all he wished, but he was not one who expected to get perfect reforms, either in political or educational matters, all at once. Scotland, he considered, owed a deep debt of gratitude to her parochial schools for the advantages they had conferred; but still, the altered circumstances of the country, and the progress of civilisation, rendered them now utterly inadequate to teaching the rising generation. He trusted the House was agreed that the principle of the Bill was good, although there might be some of the clauses which required a little amendment. He had not that confidence in the present system of Scotch education which the hon. Member for Elginshire (Mr. C. Bruce) had, but he thought it was absolutely necessary, for the purpose of tranquillising public opinion in Scotland, that such a Bill as the present should be brought forward. He denied that the Bill would separate religious from secular education, and he believed that it would in a great degree do what the House ought to do—leave education to the parents of the children, and the different congregations to which they belonged. He should support his right hon. and learned Friend in carrying this Bill into effect.


said, he was not willing to allow the House to go to a division without stating the reasons why he should vote against the second reading of this Bill. He trusted the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would not class him among the determined enemies of the Government, many of whose measures he had supported, and whose measures, whenever he considered that they were good, he should not oppose. No one knew better than he did how anxious that right hon. and learned Lord was to promote every good cause, and, as the title of the Bill expressed it, to make further provision for the education of the people of Scotland. He felt much regret that he could not go along with him in the measure he had introduced. He had given it every consideration, and during the recess had had ample opportunities of conversing with those who were acquainted with all the workings of the existing system, which had stood the test of centuries. He lamented exceedingly that the right hon. and learned Lord had struck the blow he had at that system, which had worked well and extended great benefits to the people of Scotland. All were agreed on the great importance of making further provision for the education of the people of Scotland. No one expressed a doubt that in the large towns there was a very great want of education, and that the children of the lower orders were in that respect greatly neglected. It would be of immense advantage if education were extended to them; and he would even go further, and say it would be very advantageous if they could compel the children of the very lowest orders to be educated, for then, perhaps, many who now swarmed in the streets, almost without clothing, and their minds thoroughly brutalised, might turn out after a time useful members of society. He disagreed, however, with the way in which education was proposed to be afforded by the provisions of this Bill. It would change the whole character of parochial schools in Scotland. By opening the parish schools to schoolmasters of all denominations it would raise a feeling of enmity between the schoolmaster and the clergyman, which would act most injuriously to the cause of education, as had been demonstrated by the experience of the last few years. Another objection was the substitution of the supervision of an inspector for that of the clergyman. The parish schools of Scotland were originally founded, 200 years ago, in connection with the Kirk, and ever since that time the clergymen of Scotland had watched over those schools, and regarded them as a sacred duty, which, in his opinion, rendered the change extremely ungracious. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate said the system of superintendence and management was greatly defective. Defects there might be; for where was the system in which there were no defects? But surely it was within the scope of the Government to remove them without interfering with the superintendence of the clergyman. Another point of the Bill to which he objected was the general centralisation of management. It appeared everything was to be referred to the general Board. He would just remind the House that it was centralisation which lost us our American colonies; for if self-government had been permitted, he believed we should have possessed them to this day. With regard to the separation of religious and secular instruction, he was much gratified to hear from the right hon. and learned Lord that no sort of objection would ever be made to allusions to Scriptures in illustration of what was taught in the school, and in many schools there would be no interference from the inspector. The clause, however, which made provision for stated hours in which religion was to be taught, also left it voluntary to the parents to allow their children to attend, and it was to be feared that some parents might act capriciously, and withdraw their children from those hours of sacred teaching. Reverting to the examination of the schoolmasters and the schools, he thought that men who had been educated at the colleges of St. Andrew's, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh—men well learned, and of acknowledged religious principle—were much more fitted for those duties than an inspector, of whom they knew nothing. It was to be regretted that the measure was one of such a sweeping character. Another in a much smaller compass would have answered every end. If such a Bill had been introduced, increasing the salaries of the schoolmasters, providing for their retirement when past work, taking care that those who were incapable should be removed, and extending the means of education to new districts—whether in the distant Highlands, where miles of moor intervened between the scattered villages, or in the no less dreary yet populous towns where vice and ignorance were to be found—he was quite sure the Government would have earned the thanks and gratitude of every Scotchman.


said, that the Bill before the House was one of such vital importance to the best interests of the people of Scotland, that he was unwilling merely to give a silent vote in its favour, as he had done upon two former occasions, when Bills on the subject of education in Scotland were brought in by the noble Lord the late Member for Greenock. He had then no other intention than of signifying a general opinion as to the necessity of some considerable alteration being made in the whole system of education in that country, but he now wished to express his hearty concurrence, not only in the principle, but also in most of the details of the simple and efficient measure, the provisions of which had been so well and clearly explained by the right hon. and learned Lord who introduced it. This was, indeed, a Bill which, without paying homage to the sectarian prejudices of any one class of the community, went honestly and straightforwardly to carry out what it professed; namely, to amend the laws of education in Scotland, to inquire into the existing educational means in that country, and to make such further provision for extending them as that inquiry might show to be necessary. He believed that it was, in fact, the very fairness and impartiality of the measure that had given rise to much of the opposition that it had now to encounter, for nothing was more natural than that those who combated for the predominance of the sect to which they belonged should endeavour to arouse against a measure like this the intolerance of that Presbyterian spirit which, like all other great mental qualities, possessed its shadowy side. He rejoiced, however, that the good sense of the great mass of the laity in Scotland was too well able to appreciate the practical merits of the Bill, to be persuaded to reject the benefits that it offered, or to allow the evils that it went to remove to be augmented by further delay. He would not detain the House with any observations upon other parts of the Bill, but, as a member of the Established Church of Scotland, he could not help alluding to the provisions that had more immediate reference to the parochial schools. He deeply regretted the character of the opposition that had been offered to these provisions by the majority of the established clergy. It was impossible for him to imagine that the true interests of the Established Church had been consulted in their wholesale condemnation of this Bill. On the contrary, he felt persuaded that the course which they had taken was one which could not fail to be prejudicial to the Establishment, and he could not but think that they, and all others who had at heart the prosperity of the parochial schools, ought to be the first to thank the Government for the manner in which they proposed to deal with them. For by the provisions of this Bill new life would be infused into them, and under their operation there was every reason to hope that the parochial schools would once more resume their proper position as the great educational institutions of Scotland. The general Board, which had been so much condemned, would in his opinion, with some alterations in its constitution, but invested with the powers conferred upon it by the Bill, form a body really responsible for the character and the qualifications of the schoolmaster, and candidates of superior attainments would no longer be excluded by a useless and vexatious test, while the superintendence of the presbytery would be advantageously replaced by the more efficient inspection guaranteed by the Board. He was glad likewise that the Government were prepared to reconsider the question of the schoolmaster's salary and the retiring allowance, for he was decidedly of opinion that they must be considerably augmented in order to secure the permanent services of those best qualified as teachers, who had hitherto in most cases regarded a parochial school as a mere stepping-stone to the Church. Altogether, considering the difficulties with which this question was surrounded, he could not conceive that a more ingenious, a more comprehensive, and at the same time a more conciliatory measure, could well have been devised. In giving it his most unqualified support, although he could not admit of the expression used on a former occasion by the hon. Member for Elginshire (Mr. C. Bruce), "Experimentum fiat in corpore vili," he would imitate that hon. Member in calling the careful attention of English Members to this Bill, as one eminently adapted to the wants of Scotland; and he trusted that no dread of its being sent out as a pilot balloon to some projected measure for England would induce them to withhold a boon which was so earnestly desired by the people of Scotland.


said, he could not reconcile it with his duty to refrain from taking part in this discussion; though, as the measure was limited in its application to Scotland, it might be more proper if it were left exclusively to Scotch Members. The principle of the measure was, to make further provision for the education of the people of Scotland. It was one which the House received with unusual cordiality, and he was not disposed to object to it. It was certainly not on light grounds that he should put himself in direct opposition to what he knew to be the general opinion of the House, but he would state as concisely as he could the reason why he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling). In the first place, he might declare, without any circumlocution, that he objected to any scheme of what was called "national education." It was right he should state that broadly, that there might be no misapprehension as to the position he occupied. He would not ask the House to go into the merits of any abstract principle. He would assume that with regard to this the decision of the House was correct, and his judgment was entirely mistaken. He conceived that so vast were the interests involved in a measure like this, and so materially would they be affected by the determination of Parliament, either on one side or the other, it was hardly safe to be guided exclusively by abstract principles, however capable of demonstration. He would go further than that, he would declare that if he could but arrive at the conviction that the education of the people ought to be provided by Parliamentary enactment or legal provision, that supposing no greater evil than the evil intended to be remedied were produced, he would willingly surrender any theory of his own, either political or economical, in order to accomplish the attainment of so desirable a result. The measure presented itself to his mind in a practical aspect, and the spirit in which he wished to address himself to it was, as a proposal submitted to Parliament to accomplish by Parliamentary aid that which the House believed itself well qualified to perform. In that spirit he asked, what was it that this Bill was intended to accomplish, what was its proposed object, what was the evil it meant to remedy, what the mischief with which it was to grapple? Was it the general existence and alarming growth of popular ignorance in Scotland? The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, in introducing the measure, did not produce any evidence of a fact so melancholy and significant as that in Scotland education was diminishing and ignorance increasing. It was usual to support a proposal with a solid array of facts. Why did the right hon. and learned Lord not follow so laudable a custom? His office gave him easy access to the records of crime in his own country, and he might have ascertained without difficulty the broad and general results, though the Census tables of Scotland were not published at the time he introduced his measure. Statistics might not be interesting, but it would, perhaps, have guided the House in its impression, if the right hon. and learned Lord had informed them that one in every seven in Scotland were under scholastic training, and that nearly four-fifths were under training through other agencies than those which sprung from public provisions for education. Far from blinking the truth upon this matter, he felt that no good could be gained by any person shutting his eyes to the real state of affairs. He admitted, and he deplored as much as any Member of that House, the growth and rapid increase of a class—not, perhaps, actually criminal, but susceptible of crime—a class which so easily took the contagion, so tenaciously retained it, and held so cheaply all the miseries which it produced, that wherever it was numerous it must of necessity also be dangerous. He admitted that this class was universally distinguished by profound and brutal ignorance as one of its characteristics, but was it not prudent for the Legislature to inquire whether, supposing they got rid of the ignorance, they could alter in any respects the nature of the class itself. It was of the utmost importance that the question should be looked fairly in the face, in order to ascertain whether there were not evils far deeper than those generally described as ignorance, which neither this nor any similar measure could meet. The class to which he referred was peculiar to crowded towns and large cities. It might be found in Prussia and France, as well as in England and Scotland, and even in the United States of America, where employment was general, and the rewards of that employment large and sure. It was not unnatural. These centres of population naturally drew to themselves all those who preferred indolence to industry, and whose vicious habits exposed them, in smaller communities, to certain correction. All wished to bury crime in obscurity, and there they were all huddled in the closest contact, every influence that surrounded them exerting a deteriorating power on their character. We were accustomed to look at these matters in the mass. It was far better to look at the single illustration. Let any one go into a crowded district, into the undrained court which was their nightly refuge, where the sun seldom shone, and the air reeked with pollution—where every room of every house might be said to contain a household—where there was no distinction or separation of sexes, nothing to cheer, nothing whatever but a crust of bread or broken victuals to hope for—where vice, squalor, wretchedness, and misery were only to be seen, and profanity, blaspheming, and obscenity, almost the only sounds to be heard. Let them take a family from such a scene, and ask themselves how was it possible by the simple construction of additional machinery for education to touch the circumstances of that family; how could they draw them within the circle of influence they wished to exert on them; and, even if that were possible, how could they think that reading, writing, and arithmetic, would do much either to elevate or to civilise? He should depend on that argument and his own experience, even if he were not backed by the experience and information of any other party. But he found a remarkable confirmation in the Census tables on education by Mr. Horace Mann, whose Report went directly to the point— We may, however, be permitted to reiterate the doubt respecting the success of any schemes to elevate the mass of the population by mere elementary instruction, whilst the social circumstances of the multitude continue so unfriendly to their intellectual and moral progress; for the real educational calamity of the present day is not that the children do not go to school, but that they stay at school for so limited a period, and this results directly from the want of adequate inducement to prolong education, in the debasing nature of those circumstances. This bore out his general argument, that there was a certain state of general circumstances with which the poor were sur- rounded, which rendered it impossible that any machinery intended for the general population should reach their special cases or elevate their condition. Now, it was because the Bill was of this general character, and because it did not go directly to the evil which it had in view, but left the class who most needed it entirely out of its operation, that he objected to the scheme of the right hon. and learned Lord. There was another reason which he would urge upon the House. If they looked to the labouring and industrious poor—to the men who were in constant employment—he would not say what was the case in Scotland, but in England it was not the want of ability on the part of those classes that constituted the difficulty in the way of education, but it was the want of disposition to avail themselves of the education they had. Mr. Horace Mann, in his education census, stated that the school fee was the very least obstruction put in the way of the poor gaining education for their children; that while the fee was only 1d. or 2d. a week, they could gain in many cases 1s. 6d. or 2s. a week by their labour, and this was a temptation to the poor to push their children into active life too strong for them to resist. If the poor valued education, they had the means of obtaining it for themselves, or how would they spend 50,000,000l. a year upon intoxicating liquors, and allow their children to remain uneducated? He objected to the measure because it would be found impracticable—because it would produce no real positive result—because it would set up new machinery of which they already had enough; and it was a maxim with him that all machinery ought to be produced by life, but that life itself would not be produced by mere machinery. He thought the only result of a national system would be to put down national schools. He was aware that Scotland was already in possession of a national system, and if the Bill was intended only to continue and improve that system, to liberalise it, he would have thrown no obstacle in its way. But in this measure he saw something very different—he saw a vast scheme in embryo to be managed by one man, for practically the secretary of this Commission would have the whole education of Scotland under his thumb. Commissions were now multiplying on every hand; if they did not take care, not their comforts only, but their very liberties, would be buried under the mass of Commissions. He had not taken objection to the Bill on religious grounds, though on that score he felt that the Bill must either be latitudinarian or grievously unjust to the Roman Catholic and the Unitarian. It would either sin, on the one hand, by taking all creeds and teaching them alike, or, upon the other, by infringing the rights of individuals and excluding certain persons from the benefits of an educational system provided for all. On all these grounds, he would oppose the Bill.


said, the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was of a most singular character. The hon. Member prefaced his remarks by saying that he was dealing with the question as one of a practical nature, and the reasons he gave for voting against the Bill were, first, that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate who introduced it had produced no statistics in his opening speech to show that additional education was required in Scotland; and, secondly, because the Bill would not reach the very classes who were most deplorably ignorant; but the hon. Member had lost sight of this fact, that though it might not reach all classes, yet there were many classes whom it would. No doubt there was no more terrible problem for solution in the present day than the existence of the ignorant classes, and the way in which they were to be dealt with. Yet the hon. Gentleman knew enough of Scotland—though it must be confessed he knew very little of it—he knew enough of Scotland to know that a system of national education had existed there for upwards of two centuries, and surely but for that national system it must be admitted that many of the working classes, who were now most creditably conducting themselves, would have been in that deplorable state of destitution which the hon. Gentleman had so graphically described. He did not wish to discuss the question upon the narrow ground of the ascendancy of one sect or another; and he believed the real point at issue was, whether the Bill would or would not have a tendency to promote the intelligence, morality, and religion of the people of Scotland. Though objecting to some of the details of the Bill, he was ready to give the second reading his hearty support. He thought his right hon. and learned Friend had given needless offence to the Established Church, in his statement in the preamble, that the superintendence of schools had hitherto been inefficient and bad. He thought that that statement had better have been left out. Then he would recommend his right hon. and learned Friend to reconsider the 27th clause respecting the religious education. He had himself a strong view in support of what was called religious education, for he was satisfied that there could be no education without moral training, and that there could be no secure foundation for moral training except upon the revealed truths of religion. But then he thought that the securities for religious education rested rather in the religious character of the people at large than in any Statutes. He was much struck to find that in the Statutes of the old Scottish Parliament there were no provisions for the religious education of children—that was intrusted to the people themselves; and he much wished that his right hon. and learned Friend had imitated these precedents, and left it to the school committee to decide upon the character of the religious education, without raising that vexed question in his Bill. With regard to denominational schools, he regarded their existence as an evil which he had hoped the present Bill would have corrected, and he regretted that any provision should have been introduced for their perpetuation; but yet on general grounds he gave the measure his hearty support. As the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) had complained that no statistics had been produced in reference to the present Bill, he would refer to an authority which could not be disputed in favour of a better and more extended education in Scotland. The Commissioners of Poor Law Inquiry, who had investigated the whole condition of the working classes in Scotland, expressed their firm opinion that all means for suppressing pauperism would be inefficient unless accompanied by measures for the promotion of education; and they regretted that, instead of improvement in the education of the people, there appeared from the evidence to be deterioration. He found, too, by the 14th Report of the Directors of Prisons in Scotland, that while, comparing the years 1841 and 1851, the increase of the population was 10 per cent, the increase in the same period on the daily average of female prisoners was 35 per cent, and of male prisoners 54 per cent. These facts tended to show that there was a deterioration in the moral condition of the people of Scotland. If reference were made to the petitions which had been presented, it would be seen that there was scarcely one that did not admit the necessity of something being done to increase the educational means of Scotland. Under these circumstances, the right hon. and learned Lord had brought in the present Bill. And he must remind the House that they must legislate upon the subject this year, unless they wished to make the condition of the Scottish schoolmasters much worse than it was. Their salaries were fixed with reference to the prices of grain, to be revised every twenty-one years. Now, this periodical revision was to take place this year, and the average of the last twenty-five years would reduce their salaries at least 9l. a year each. His hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire asked why the right hon. and learned Lord had not brought in a Bill simply to remedy this state of things, and he hinted that such a Bill was in preparation on the other side. [Mr. STIRLING: The Bill is prepared.] That might be; but he should be surprised, indeed, to see that Bill carried through the House, or accepted by the people of Scotland. It should be borne in mind that, up to a late period, the system of education in Scotland was not only national in name, but in reality, for the Church of Scotland was the Church of the nation; but, now, instead of being the Church of the nation, it was the Church of the minority. While, then, an extension of the means of education was desirable, that extension could not take place simply on the existing basis. The right hon. and learned Lord proposed, in reference to the schoolmasters, to get rid of the religious test and the superintendence of the presbytery, which latter was admitted to be almost useless. These provisions were considered greatly objectionable by the members of the Established Church of Scotland; but here he must again point out that the test did not constitute the security which the people of Scotland possessed for the religious instruction of the people. The security was that deeply-seated religious feeling which was the honourable characteristic of the Scottish nation. If there were any doubt respecting the religious opinions of any master, the withdrawal of the children from his school would at once intimate the dissatisfaction of the parents; and this was the practical security which all parties in Scotland possessed for the religious education of the children. The test, after all, was only a proof that at a certain time of his life the master was willing to profess his adhesion to a particular creed, but was no proof that he continued to believe in that creed. The right hon. and learned Lord proposed that schools should be established at the expense of the ratepayers, and that their management should be intrusted to persons nominated by the contributors, subject to the superintendence of a Central Board. He thought this the best system that could be devised for the purpose of general education. Local management afforded security for the good administration of the schools, while the superintendence of a Central Board offered the assurance that they would be governed on sound general principles. He did not like the clause which gave the Central Board the authority to dismiss any schoolmaster without reason assigned, as such a provision was likely to create obsequiousness on the part of the persons liable to dismissal; but on the whole he repeated his confident conviction that the measure was calculated greatly to improve the education of the people of Scotland. Though not a Scotchman himself, yet, as one nearly and dearly connected with Scotland, and having some of his warmest feelings associated with the people of that country, he thought it was their duty not to hand down the country to their posterity in a worse condition as to intelligence, morality, and religion, than they had received it from those who went before them.


said, he must maintain that the existing system of schools in Scotland was most liberal in its character. He denied that the parish schools were sectarian. He had visited many, and he had seen there the children of all denominations, but he had never heard of a single instance of an attempt to proselytise. The inspection on the part of the parish clergyman was excellent, and exceedingly advantageous. The clergyman was always on the spot, and had, therefore, the opportunity of constantly observing the state of the school; whereas under the present Bill the inspector would come into the neighbourhood only at stated periods, when everything would be prepared beforehand for his inspection, so that he would not have the means of knowing the real and ordinary condition of the school. In abolishing the test, he thought that security ought to be taken that the schoolmaster should be a firm believer in the truths of religion. If the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate could give him an assurance that the schoolmasters to be appointed by virtue of this Bill were not only real Protestant Christians, but that they would remain so, or else be instantly removed, he would then readily vote for the second reading of the Bill; but unless such a security were given to him, he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perthshire.


said, he felt called upon, as a representative of a portion of the people of Scotland, to speak the opinions of those whom he represented on the subject now under discussion, and he did so with great confidence when he declared that there existed a strong conviction on the part of a large portion of the people of that country of the necessity of some measure being passed to improve and regulate the system of education in Scotland. That some more efficient system of education was required to remove that state of ignorance, and its necessary consequence—crime, which now, unhappily, existed in Scotland, and which so strongly contrasted with the state of things in former times—was not only felt by his constituents, but throughout the country. There were some parts of the Bill, however, to which he should object in Committee. That, however, was no reason why the Bill should not be read a second time. The hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had asked, why should the Legislature meddle with the old-established system of parochial education? But there were many reasons to be assigned for doing so. Changes had taken place in the character of the population of Scotland which rendered it necessary that the system of education should be changed. Scotland was no longer an united people. They were united, he admitted, as a nation desirous of having a religious education; but they were divided in opinion as to the manner in which that education should be given. They were anxious to see both religious and secular education extended as widely and broadly as possible, and the difficulty was how best to effect that object. The separation which took place in the Church eleven years ago had produced consequences which made it impossible to expect that the people of Scotland would allow those belonging to the Kirk to maintain the exclusive superintendence and management of the parochial schools. Hence the necessity of something being done by the Government. For any independent Member to interfere was out of the question. It was a measure which could be managed by the Government only. That there were difficulties connected with the subject he admitted; but he was sorry to perceive that there was a disposition to allow those difficulties to induce hon. Members to oppose the Bill altogether. Nothing was more important than to revive, if possible, the morality and good conduct of the people of Scotland which formerly existed. There must be some cause for the deterioration of the morality of the people. He, however, knew of no reason why the people of Scotland should become worse while the people of other countries were becoming better. He admitted that the parochial schools had done immense benefit in Scotland, but that was no reason why he should not vote for the second reading of this Bill. The character of the population had changed, the opinions of the people had become divided, they no longer maintained a single religious establishment, and the question then arose, what ought to be done? The Government deserved credit for having attempted to meet that question and to solve the difficulty. While the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) admitted the evil that existed, he only proposed a remedy that was of a partial character. If indeed it were possible to leave the whole matter to local management, he should be most glad to see it accomplished, but that was now, he feared, impracticable. He remembered when a boy how harmoniously the parochial system worked. There were no distinctions made of ranks, or sects, or creeds; all classes attended the schools alike; and there was no want of attention on the part of the parents. It was on that ground that many persons now objected to the proposed interference on the part of the Government by its sustaining any portion of the expense. He had himself, on former occasions, objected upon principle to the public money being applied to objects of this kind. He was of opinion that local rates should be raised for the payment of the education of the people in the different localities. No doubt that system would be much more satisfactory, because then all classes would partake in an equal degree in the management and in the benefit of the system, and special care would be taken that, if the schoolmaster entertained opinions contrary to the opinions and feelings of the parent, he would soon be removed. He believed that by such a system the members of the education committees would, like the boards of guardians, be a check on improper conduct. In New York, Kentucky, and Massachusetts, that system had been adopted, and was found to work most admirably. Secular education was what was given in those schools, yet there was as great a desire to obtain a sound religious education, according to their views, in those States, as in any part of Scotland. The statistics of crime in America showed that it was only in a very small proportion of the population that the native educated American was guilty of crime. But, as he was not able to carry out his own views on this subject, he was willing to accept the next best thing—namely, Government aid combined with local rates. If his hon. Friend (Mr. Stirling) could devise any better mode than what was now proposed, he should be happy to support him; but, in the absence of any suggestion of a preferable course, he certainly did not think it would be wise to leave society in Scotland in that state in which it at present existed. There was one point which he was sorry to have occasion to notice, but it was a lamentable fact that there existed a want of inclination on the part of the parents to send their children to school. The same indifference prevailed in Norfolk—the county with which he was connected. There were schools capable of receiving all the children of the locality, but the parents could not be induced to send them. They did not appear to value the education of their children, and for the sake of saving a few pence kept their children away. He hoped his hon. Friend would consider that those who concurred with him in his general object were acting right in agreeing to the second reading of the Bill as a step towards effecting what must prove to be a most beneficial measure for Scotland. At the same time, he could not understand the principle upon which the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) based his opposition to it. What mode could he suggest for educating the people if he would not accept this Bill? He had certainly suggested none. Under all the circumstances, he strongly recommended all classes to unite to secure this measure, believing it would be sound economy to rate themselves in order to secure such an object. The only clause he objected to was the 27th. The principle of the Bill, however, he cordially approved, and he hoped the House would assent to the second reading.


said, that on the part of himself and others who objected to the Bill, he repudiated the imputation attempted to be cast upon them of being opposed to the extension of religious education in Scotland. On the contrary, their objection to the measure was founded on the circumstance that it contained no security for the promotion of that description of education. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate on a former occasion dealt somewhat hardly with those who were intrusted with the superintendence of parochial schools in Scotland, but against that animadversion he was able to set the opinion of one who knew Scotland and her schools well—he meant the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In a speech which that right hon. Gentleman delivered in the Mechanics' Institution at Manchester, within the last ten months, he accounted for the high moral position which the people of Scotland maintained in comparison with the people of other countries, "that every labouring man in Scotland had the opportunity of sending his children to schools where they could receive the blessings of a religious education, and the consequences of that had been, that there is an appreciation of those blessings among the people of Scotland continually growing with the enjoyment of them." The opponents of this Bill were, at least, as anxious to extend education in Scotland as any of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. There was no ground for the assertion that education had not been extended in Scotland of late years. It had been extended not only by the Free Church, but also by the Established Church. Members connected with English constituencies might not be aware that the parochial schools were not the only schools which were under the superintendence of the Established Church. The Assembly schools were also under the superintendence of the Established Church. He had a return which, although not official, he fully believed to be correct, showing that there were 1,049 parochial schools, and about 1,900 schools in all connected with the Established Church. In 1824 public attention was attracted to the deficiency existing in the means of education in Scotland, and the General Assembly determined on establishing schools called Assembly Schools, without any aid from the Government. In 1830 the number of these schools was thirty-five, with 5,000 scholars; in 1850 the number of Assembly schools had increased to 179, with 15,000 scholars. That did not look as if there was any indifference to the extension of education on the part of the Established Church. Even the unfortunate disruption of the Free Church had not paralysed the efforts of the Established Church in the cause of education, for, in 1844, the year after the disruption, the number of the Assembly schools increased to 139 from 127, at which it stood in 1840; and now as he had already stated, the number of these schools amounted to 179. If, as was alleged, the Established Church was a minority in Scotland, it was much to its credit that it had double the number of schools under its superintendence that any other sect in that country had. The right hon. and learned Lord in introducing the Bill, told the House that it was almost universally popular in Scotland. Now it was his belief, that with the exception of one sect in Scotland, the Bill was generally unpopular. This would appear from what transpired in the Assemblies of the three great religious divisions held to consider the Bill soon after its promulgation. The Assembly of the Established Church was, as every one knew, directly opposed to it. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire had quoted from the speech of Dr. Robertson, a distinguished member of the Establishment, as being in favour of the Bill; but had he looked further into his speech he would have found that rev. gentleman to say, that if the principles of this Bill were carried it would be a most severe blow to the Church of Scotland. In the Assembly of the Free Church, the Rev. Mr. Marshall, a minister of the Free Church in the borough which the Lord Advocate represented, declared that, with all the faults of the Established Church, he did not hesitate to avow that, "when he looked at the Bill, he would infinitely rather have the schools of Scotland left under the control of that Establishment than under the control of such an organisation as that proposed by the Bill, which was a combination of Erastianism and despotism, leading to latitudinarianism." As regarded the United Presbyterian Church, he had not seen an opinion favourable to the measure expressed at any meeting of its synods or presbyteries, and the Episcopal Church had, he believed, declared its disapproval of the Bill. No allusion had yet been made to the opinion entertained respecting the Bill by an important body in Scotland—he meant the laity. A declaration, signed by 1,900 gentlemen of Scotland, was drawn up to the effect that those persons signing it were strongly of opinion that, except to correct a few defects in the working of the present system of parochial schools, that system ought not to be inter- fered with. The declaration was not got up in the same way as the petitions which had been presented to the House, but it was signed by men well able to understand the merits of the case. He did not believe that the Free Church as a body approved of this Bill. The Rev. Dr. Guthrie, who was renowned alike for his learning, his piety, and his wit, only wished the Bill to pass as a stepping-stone for what was to follow. He would state the advice given by that rev. doctor at a meeting at Edinburgh, only a short time ago, when discussing this Bill. His words were these, on advising them to reconcile their difference of opinion with regard to this measure—"To each and all of these religious bodies, beginning with the Free Church, he would give the advice tendered to an hon. Baronet (Sir George, then Mr., Sinclair) when first elected for his native county. One of his supporters came to him and said, 'Now, Maister George, I'll gie ye an advice; they've made a Parliament man of ye, and my advice is, be aye taking what ye can get, and aye seeking for mair.'" This, says the rev. doctor, is just what you should do, take this Bill as you can get it, and "aye be seeking for mair." The rev. gentleman then goes on to state that this Bill is no attack on the Established Church, but that his only object is to get the people of the country educated, and the means by which he is to do so are, by his own acknowledgment, to keep up a continued agitation on the question; and so far as considering the Bill as a settlement of the subject, and as final legislation, he is to be always "seeking for mair," which means making further encroachments on the rights and privileges of the Established Church. Those who had long supported those schools, and were still willing to do so, declared that they were not opposed to the extension of religious education, and that if a Bill was prepared to correct the defects and increase the efficiency of the present system of parochial schools, they would not oppose it. He protested most strongly against the principle of the Bill, and believed, if it had been allowed to go into Committee, as had been suggested, the House would be told the principle was assented to. If it had gone into Committee, certainly the Bill would come out in a very different shape to that which it now presented; for even the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) could only find two clauses in the Bill which he received with unqualified favour. The only object which he (Colonel Blair) and those who thought with him had in view was, to have the people educated in those principles in which they had hitherto been educated, which had made the people of Scotland the pride of the country, and the admiration of the world. The right hon. and learned Lord who had introduced the Bill had met with no party opposition on that side of the House, but his Bill had been received in a calm and considerate manner. All discussion in that House had been sought to be avoided, and the matter had been discussed by the Scotch Members in a small Parliament of their own, and they had endeavoured to show the right hon. and learned Lord that they were perfectly desirous and willing to render him every assistance in improving the means of education, but implored him to leave alone their parochial schools. The right hon. and learned Lord had, last Session, made a most fervent appeal on behalf of certain venerable institutions, then threatened with attack; that appeal was responded to, and those institutions were preserved. He (Colonel Blair), in return, appealed to the House not to destroy an institution nearly as venerable, and far more sacred—the parochial schools of Scotland—and one that had been productive of so much good to his country. He could only say, in conclusion, that he felt it his duty to give his strenuous opposition to this Bill, as he considered it most prejudicial to the happiness and welfare of the people of Scotland.


said, that, in his opinion, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had diverted the attention of the House from the real subject to be considered. He would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman if he had read a speech made by a gentleman who opposed the Bill, in which the speaker stated that he would rather see the Russians in the country, and the streets deluged with blood, than see this Bill passed into law? Surely that was rather too strong. He disclaimed the charges which had been industriously made against the supporters of the Bill, both in that House and out of doors, that they were encouraging an infidel and godless system of education. He was fully sensible of the great benefits which had resulted from the parochial schools of Scotland, and he hoped to see them adapted to the altered circumstances of the country, so as to bring a cheap moral and religious edu- cation within the reach of the humblest in the land. He appealed to the Irish Members—who could bear testimony to the benefits which, in spite of the difficulties it had had to encounter, the national system of education had conferred upon their own country—to aid in the introduction (mutatis mutandis) into the northern parts of this island, where the same difficulties did not exist, of a system which was likely to be productive of so much advantage. He specially approved of the provision in the Bill for abolishing the superintendence which the presbyteries, as such, now exercised over the schools; and in illustration of his opinion, that such superintendence could not lead to the promotion of the great object sought to be attained, he would call the attention of the House to what had happened in the case of the large charitable fund bequeathed by Dr. Dicks for the improvement of the status of the schoolmasters in the counties of Aberdeen, Moray, and Perth. It had been found that the average age of the schoolmasters participating in this fund had been under twenty-one on their admission; and, upon investigation, it had turned out that the sons of the parish ministers had been appointed teachers, even before they had received their own education; that they went to the University of Aberdeen, or elsewhere, at the beginning of each session, leaving their schools for the purpose of attending lectures, and that their places were occupied during their absence by persons even less qualified than themselves to discharge the arduous and responsible duties of parish teachers. The trustees, he was sorry to say, had met with a good deal of opposition on the part of the Established Church; and he could refer to cases in which their good intentions had been all but thwarted by the opposition which some of the Presbyterians had made. A very solemn responsibility rested with those who opposed this Bill. Extremes met, and it was very possible that the heterogeneous elements which were ranged together might defeat the measure, but a very heavy responsibility rested upon them when they considered how short was the period which these children had to devote to attendance at schools, even under the most favourable circumstances, and when they remembered that, while they were disagreed as to the means of affording instruction, a new generation was fast being removed out of the reach of school instruction. He trusted, then, that the House would sanction the second reading of the Bill before it. He regarded it as a great step in the right direction, and believed it was calculated to raise the status of the teachers, to give instruction to the young, happiness and contentment to the parents, and blessings to the country at large.


said, he would state very shortly the reasons which induced him to oppose the Bill. He would admit that with regard to the principle of the Bill, it imposed upon them a great responsibility, but any plan upon which the House was called to decide, ought, at least, to be free from all reasonable objection. They were told that there was great concurrence on the part of the people of Scotland with regard to the question of education, and with regard to the opinion that religion must be connected with all education. Here, then, was a basis upon which to go, and the right hon. and learned Lord proposed in this Bill to introduce into Scotland a national system of education. He should not, on the present occasion, advert to the national system of Ireland further than to say, that he differed from the conclusions of the hon. Member who spoke last on that point. Now the objection he took to this Bill was, that it was not supplementing the agency of the Established Church of Scotland, that it did not take up unoccupied ground, introducing a system to work in harmony with that of the Established Church of Scotland, but that it superseded the existing agency, which had been so long bound up with the feelings, the principles, the happiness, the habits, and the progress of the people of that country. The right hon. and learned Lord began, therefore, first with the work of destruction, and, instead of improving the existing schools and taking up unoccupied ground, he began his national system by entirely overturning that system to which the members of the Established Church of Scotland were so devotedly attached. How, then, could this be expected to be received as a national system, when it began in a spirit of retaliation? It would, in fact, be a mere transfer of the education from one body to another. The two great parties into which the people of Scotland had been divided by the disruption did not differ on any matter of religious doctrine, but on the principle of interference by the civil power. The members of the Free Church had repudiated that interference, and yet they were found the keenest advocates of this Bill, which took away the superintendence of the Established Church over the parochial schools, and placed it in a Board, a large majority of the members of which were to be the nominees of the Government. The education of the country was transferred to a Board of thirteen persons—eight of whom were to be nominated by the Government of the day, who would thus practically possess the control, and the despotic control, of the whole thing. Now, if religion were indeed the vital part of education, it ought not, he thought, to be superintended by a Government Board. The teacher, upon whom the character of the school mainly depended, was at the mercy of this Government Board, but his religious character depended mainly upon the superintendence of the local clergy; the parochial school education would never be rightly conducted unless the local minister and residents were at their place, and took a lively interest in the subject. All that Government could do was to assist them in that work. They might give them grants, but, if they took the matter out of their hands, and placed it in the hands of a Government Board, the system would be unsuccessful. Any new experiments made in regard to education in Scotland ought, as he had said before, to be made upon unoccupied ground, and, if the Government struck down the parochial system, taking the thing out of the hands of the clergy of the Established Church, removing all the settled institutions which have been so long the pride of Scotland, and putting the practical control of the whole into the hands of a Government Board, it would be idle to call this bringing in a system of national education. Through the instrumentality of the religious teaching which they enjoyed, the people of Scotland had obtained a high character for morality and knowledge, but it was now proposed that their character should be moulded by a Government Board, and that the old and tried system which had done so much good should be altered. Instead of improving that system by giving a better training to the teachers, they wished to cast it aside in order to try what he thought was a wild experiment, in order to attempt to transfer the management of education in Scotland to a Government Board, and, as he would not be a party to that attempt, he felt bound to oppose the Bill.


said, that he should not have obtruded himself in the presence of so many Scottish Members but that one English Member had spoken whose remarks required some observations. His hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) had a mind so logical and acute, that if he made a speech which failed to convince his audience, it must be because he had an impossible case to deal with. His hon. Friend said that he was opposed to all State provisions for education. But no one wanted it; what was really wanted was a local system regulated by Act of Parliament. His hon. Friend went on with a defence of his objections to a system of national education, and there he thought that his hon. Friend had landed them in the slough of despond altogether, for he pointed to large cities with teeming populations immersed in ignorance and vice, and asked how were they to be educated. He thought that there was hope for his hon. Friend, even from the Scottish view of the question. Large cities did not reproduce their population, which, if they were left to themselves, would die out in a few generations, but their populations were reproduced because they were recruited from agricultural districts. If, then, you wanted to improve the character of the population of towns, you must have not merely education for great cities, but general education, and in proportion to the progress of general education would the character of life in cities be improved? His hon. Friend said, that if you went into the narrow courts of cities where there was no ventilation or scavenging, you would find an outcast and degraded population. But where did these people come from? Did they come from that part of Great Britain which for centuries had had a system of national education? Did you find in this degraded population any considerable number of Scotchmen? No. Why was that? Why was it, as an hon. Gentleman had said, when a Scotchman appeared in a place in Australia, with his blue bonnet on, that he was surrounded by a crowd of persons anxious to engage his services? It was because he came from a country where there was some national education. His (Mr. Cobden's) plan was to have national education, not only that in Scotland, and even that improved, but generally. His hon. Friend said, if a system of national education was established, the people would not come to it. In that his hon. Friend was somewhat inconsistent, for he and his friends said that the population was educated; that in England one child in eight went to school, and in Scotland one in seven, and yet he said that if you had good schools people would not send their children to them. His (Mr. Cobden's) experience showed him that if there was a good school, and especially where there was a good master, there was an instinctive desire on the part of the people to send their children to them, and even when they were ignorant themselves, they had an instinctive knowledge, and could appreciate when their children were improving. A good master sent a child home in good spirits from school, and not languid and depressed, for a good master must himself have good physical spirits and energy, and thus the children were enlivened by going to school, and the parents soon saw it. His hon. Friend and his party were opposed to any national education, and deny that the question of education ought to be dealt with by this House or the Government. Now, that opinion was calculated to raise a party in England and Scotland, which would tend to the abandonment of all hope of a national education, since there was no scheme on which all parties could agree, and the matter must be left to the chance efforts of individuals. He (Mr. Cobden) thought this Bill was calculated to increase the number of those who agreed with his hon. Friend, and to be against all national education; for in dealing with this question the Government had involved itself in a series of difficulties and inconsistencies. He did not see how this Bill could come out of the discussion which it would have in that House and in Scotland. The Government start by saying in the Bill that education must be religious, and they go on to say that no test of fitness in masters to teach religion should be required. If there was to be no test of this fitness, he wanted to know what religion was the master to teach; and if he was to teach religion, of all men he was the very one who ought to be subject to some test with regard to his religious teaching. Again, to make the inconsistency complete, notwithstanding all they were constantly hearing in that House, and especially from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), who had ostentatiously repeated the other day at the British and Foreign School Society, that you cannot and ought not to separate secular from religious education, there was a provision in the Bill that there should be secular instruction at one hour in the schools, and religious instruction at another. If that was done in good faith you had adopted the principle of separating religious and secular instruction. If so, why not avow it, and say that it could be done; and if it was adopted, he could promise that you would revive the hopes of the country, and prevent his hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale from making converts to his opinions in opposition to all national education, and you would conciliate one-third of the people of Scotland, who, as voluntaries, were opposed to this Bill, and the mass of the people of England and Scotland, who now called for sectarian education, would be with you; for he would vouch for it, that in all meetings held on the subject, the mass of the people would give opinions favourable to the principle. Let there be one system. But so long as you said one thing at the British and Foreign School Society, and another thing in this Bill, you would be at a dead-lock; and while you stealthily inserted a clause in the Bill to evade the principle on which you profess to act, and thus played fast and loose with the question, you would weaken yourselves in the promotion of education and give encouragement to the party of his hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale. He (Mr. Cobden) would maintain that Government could do nothing for education until you separated secular and religious teaching. The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Napier) said, why not set up on a better footing all the parochial schools in Scotland as they are now constituted, and give grants to other sectarian schools? Now, he put it to the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he did not believe that to be impracticable, for the right hon. and learned Gentleman well knew that there were religious parties in this country as earnest and conscientious as the Church itself, who renounce State grants and would not pay rates for the purposes of religious endowment, who would not receive endowments for religious purposes, and would not send their children to endowed schools, or where there were endowed teachers. The Census showed that there were many of the same opinion in Scotland. How was it in Ireland? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman support a system by which Roman Catholics should be allowed to teach their religion in schools, and the Protestants to teach their religion in their schools? No! and the right hon. and learned Gentleman knew that there had been an attempt to escape from that dilemma, and an attempt to separate religious and secular teaching by adopting those extracts from the Scriptures which both parties could read. He (Mr. Cobden) said that all that you could do for national education would fail unless you met the religious objection as it had been met in America, in Prussia, in Holland, and elsewhere, by separating religious and secular teaching. Do not let him (Mr. Cobden) be called a secularist, or let it be said that he did not recognise the value of religious teaching as much as any one, but if you did not allow the separation of religious and secular teaching and instruction, as had been done in other countries, it was no use pottering over the question, for you would be at a dead-lock, and could not advance another step. You might pass this Bill, but it would cause another explosion in Scotland. He saw by the declaration signed by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, himself a voluntary, that no voluntary will accept the Bill unless you abrogate the 36th clause, the 27th clause, and part of the preamble; and that no voluntary will place a child in the schools; and that no voluntary could accept the office of teacher. Now, if you excluded one-third of the population of Scotland, the Bill could not be operative. Not only was it possible to separate religious from secular instruction, but it had actually been done in America. In that country the school system was started precisely in the same manner as in Scotland, where there was one school and one Church for the community. The Catechism was taught in the school and every one learnt it. But when dissent sprang up in America it was found necessary to relax the system, and avoid teaching the Catechism where it was found to be an obstacle to the acquiring of secular knowledge. In many cases, where there were a large number of Roman Catholic children, it had been found necessary to abandon the reading of the authorised version of the Bible. But that had not at all interfered with the religious character of the American people. The hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. C. Bruce) had quoted an opinion of Mr. Tremenheere, and no doubt Mr. Tremenheere had found some eccentric person in America who stated that vital Christianity was perishing under the present system in that country. But was that the opinion in America, or was it the opinion of an intelligent Swede, who had been recently travelling in that country, or was it the opinion of the deputation of the Congregationalists who went to America and reported on the state of religion, and stated that there were 2,000,000 of communicants there, and that there had been no such progress in evangelical religion since the time of the Apostles as had taken place there. Compare the religious feeling of England and America as evinced in the attendance in churches, the observance of the Sabbath, and the respect paid to ministers of religion, and he would venture to say that the state of religion in America was not second to that of England. Why could not what had been done in America be done in England? Why could not the experiment be tried in Scotland? He was told that you could not separate secular and religious education in England, for if you did no one would send their children to the schools. But he wanted to have that question fairly discussed in that House. Who would tell him that you could not have that separate teaching—for in practice you did have separate teaching—for religious teaching was mostly carried on by the clergy, and other teaching by the masters of schools. As regarded Scotland, was there any country in which there was less necessity for calling the masters to help the divine, who had always had his share of the religious teaching of the country? and twelve years ago, when there was a disruption of the Church, and 500 clergymen left it, their places were speedily filled again. He said that Scotland might try the experiment whether the schoolmaster could not be separated from religious teaching. Would any one have supposed, from listening to the debate that night, that its object was to improve the secular education of Scotland, but would they not rather have thought that it was a question between the old and the new Churches of Scotland? With regard to the clauses of the Bill, there was one which he was glad to see, that which went to improve the status of the schoolmasters. There never would be proper secular teaching till there was a better class of masters; and that could not be until you paid them better, and placed them more in the condition of the middle classes of society. On looking to the Census, he found that there were 1,100 masters, and the average of their salaries was 46l., with a garden and house of only two rooms, besides a kitchen. That showed what the notion of a schoolmaster was fifty years ago. A salary of 46l. to a schoolmaster gave him less than what a butler gets, and until they were better paid you had no right to expect a better class of masters. As to the clauses generally, as he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill solely with the view of discussing the clauses in Committee, he would not now go further into the discussion of them at present. He should vote for the second reading also because the majority of Scotch Members on his side of the House were going to do so, and they ought to know best whet their country required, and because he thought that education in Scotland, whatever it may formerly have been, was now defective. It was the opinion of Mr. Horace Mann that there were 1,000,000 of children in England not at school, who ought to be there, and in Scotland the same state of things apparently prevailed. Was it not necessary that working people should be placed in a position better to appreciate their social relations, and even their own interests, and that they should be so informed that they could carry out the more refined portion of our manufactures. A better education ought to be given to the working classes to enable them to understand their position with regard to their employers, and the questions of wages, and profits, and labour. For want of a proper understanding on this question, one of the great towns in the north of England had recently been socially convulsed. Schoolmasters were required who would teach the people the social relation between master and man, and so much of political economy as would enable them to avoid strikes and other acts of violence, by which they were so much injured. Mr. Whitworth had published an account of the state of matters in America, where it appeared they were in a far more satisfactory condition. England ought not to allow this to be so. If the Americans built a vessel which made the voyage across the Atlantic in two days less than our vessels, we should immediately set ourselves to work and tax our ingenuity to the highest to equal or surpass that vessel. But when America obtained a better educated and better conditioned set of workpeople, England was content to leave her in the enjoyment of her superiority. A better education would enable men to understand and appreciate their own po- sition and that of employers; to see what capital could, and what it could not do, for them. The House might depend upon this, that if the schoolmaster were left to do his part, and were enabled to do it well, the clergyman would be able to perform his task, and perform it satisfactorily. It was, therefore, because he believed that by separating them, the interests of both would best be promoted, that he had, therefore, voted, and should continue to vote, for the separation of religious and secular education.


said, that if we began by teaching children only their duty to man, and neglected to combine with it their duty to God, we could not expect to make them either good citizens or good Christians, and it was for this very reason that he objected to the Bill of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate—that it did not take sufficient precaution to instil into the minds of the pupils the religious element. Not one of those who had spoken in favour of the Bill had given unqualified approbation to it. They had supported the Bill on the ground that they could make alterations in Committee. He thought that a Bill which proposed to make alterations in a system which had a period of 300 years to recommend it, ought to come to that House recommended by something of a more substantial character. The Bill took away all power of testing the religious belief of the teachers; it removed the teachers from clerical control, and placed them under a body subject to the influence of the Government of the day; and it abolished entirely all clerical superintendence. It must also be borne in mind that this Bill was held up as the pattern and model upon which another Bill might hereafter be framed, and he therefore claimed the support of English Members in the opposition which he felt it his duty to offer to the measure.


said, he considered that the vote the House was about to give involved a question of much more serious importance than the success or failure of this particular Bill, for that vote would in fact decide whether a national system of education was possible not only in Scotland, but also whether a system of national education was possible in Great Britain. It was not to be disguised that the alternatives set before the House were clear and distinct. They must either have a national system of education based upon religious instruction combined with secular instruction; or a national system of secular instruction disconnected from religion; or the system commonly called denominational. He would not follow the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) into discussion with respect to a system of secular education separated from religious instruction, because in Scotland, at all events, such a system was utterly impossible, for the people would not have it. If the hon. Gentleman could show that a system of secular education would be adopted by that House, or was practicable in Scotland, he (the Lord Advocate) would have to determine whether he would throw obstacles in the way of the education of the people. But he was confident the people of Scotland would not have such a system; neither did he believe that the House of Commons would not adopt such a system; the voice of the country was against it; and, in this discussion, they might as well throw that question aside altogether. Then there was the denominational system. They had the denominational system already in Scotland. It had been tried and proved, and had been found most unquestionably wanting. There were great evils connected with it. Before they could educate the people by the denominational system, they must be sure that the denominations were willing and ready and able to educate the people. By such a system they would render the education of the people dependent upon the will, the position, the feelings, and, it might be, the caprice of the denominations to which they trusted. The consequence would be, as had been found to be the case both in England and Scotland, that, while they were subsidising the denominations, ignorance would grow faster than the denominations could be subsidised. The denominations would erect their schools, not where they were wanted, but where it was most convenient to establish them, and ignorance and crime would remain as they were. If that were the case, then, they must endeavour to ascertain upon what footing they could establish a national system of education based upon the combination of religious with secular education. He had been told that he ought to have commenced this discussion with statistical statements. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment (Mr. Stirling) had said, that he (the Lord Advocate) ought to have waited until a Parliamentary Commission had established the necessity of an enlarged system of education. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Miall) had also expressed surprise that he had not laid a foundation for the Bill, by showing that there was an amount of educational destitution which rendered this measure necessary. He (the Lord Advocate) admitted that he did not so commence the argument, because he thought that, at this time of day, he might safely take that fact as granted. He did not think it a matter to be decided by statistics, or by the average proportion of children educated throughout the country. What was it to him if one-fifth of the population of Inverness-shire or one-tenth of the population of Banffshire went to school? What was it to him if one portion of the population was highly educated while the remainder were in a state of the greatest ignorance? This was mere idle trifling and waste of time upon such a question. The hon. Member for Rochdale, in his very remarkable speech, had no sooner told the House that the people of Scotland were educated to the extent of one-seventh than he pointed out in the most graphic manner the class of society—the miserable and squalid dregs of society, who were the very ban of our social institutions—who require to be educated. Having done this, however, the hon. Gentleman asked what was the use of education for these classes? "They will be no better," said he, "if you do educate them. Light them, feed them, clothe them, let their houses be drained; but you must accomplish all this before education will do them any good." Surely, however, it did not escape the perspicacity of the hon. Gentleman that with all this misery ignorance was associated. The hon. Gentleman's argument was a lecture against education. He might have said, "Do not drain the houses of these people; it is of no use to do so if you don't give them light; don't light their houses because you cannot clothe them; don't clothe them because you cannot feed them." Now, was not this the very way in which they went on trifling with this question from one year to another? The argument of the hon. Member simply amounted to this—that we must change the face of society before we can ameliorate the condition of these people. Was the House, then, to sit down and do nothing until they could change the face of society? He (the Lord Advocate) admitted that this Bill would not effect what the hon. Gentleman desired to accomplish. It would not at once raise the class to which he had referred from ignorance and crime to the position of good citizens, but it was part of what Parliament was bound to do; and if the hon. Gentleman or any other hon. Member would propose a Bill which would effect the sanitary improvements to which he had alluded, and which would raise the physical as well as the moral condition of the people, he (the Lord Advocate) would not say, "I will not consent to carry out these sanitary improvements until you have educated the people." Ile (the Lord Advocate) had been disappointed with the tone which the discussion of this subject had assumed both in and out of that House. Surely the time had come when they could afford to throw aside their minor and narrower feelings, when they might cease to discuss whether this man or that man—this sect or that sect—was to have the management of schools, and when they might endeavour to ascertain, in a fair and philanthropic spirit, in what manner they could, if it were possible, consolidate the basis of their social institutions. This Bill was an attempt to accomplish that object. He thought the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) had greatly misconceived the grounds upon which the measure was based. The Bill started with the assumption that Scotland was a Presbyterian country; that Scotland was agreed in creed and in religion; that that country required a system of religious and secular instruction; and that any such system, under fair and popular control, should necessarily be a system based upon the Presbyterian canons, and upon the general creed professed by the Established Church and by the other Presbyterian denominations. The Bill proceeded upon the assumption that the people of Scotland were substantially agreed with regard to doctrine, and that they wished to have their children educated according to that doctrine. The Bill had been before the country for two months, and he would admit that it had met with a variety of opponents. One man objected that it excluded religious teaching; another opposed it because it included religious instruction. He read a pamphlet the other day, bearing the signature, "J. C. Colquhoun," which endeavoured to prove that the Bill involved the American system, while the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) had to-night held up the American system to him (the Lord Advocate) as the model he ought to have adopted, and complained that he had not followed it. He found the most extraordinary coalitions existing in Scotland with reference to this measure. The Rev. Dr. Muir and Lord Dunfermline had joined in opposing it. The measure might, perhaps, be too liberal for the one, while there might be too much of the religious element in it for the other. After all, however, the Bill had received a very large amount of support in Scotland, not from the Free Church, as had been represented, but from moderate and philanthropic men of all denominations. He had the other night presented a petition adopted almost unanimously in favour of the Bill from the town council of Glasgow, which contained a large proportion of the members of the Established Church. He had also presented another petition to the same effect from members of the Established Church in Glasgow, and that petition, which did not emanate from a public meeting, but was laid upon the table of the Glasgow Exchange, received in a few days the signatures of more than 100 men of the highest reputation, respectability, wealth, and intelligence in that city, including the Lord Provost, the Dean of Guild, and twelve elders of the Church. Now, why was this? The reason was, that Glasgow was a place where poverty and wealth ran shoulder to shoulder, and where crime held its revels close by the palaces of the merchant princes of the west. They saw that crime before their eyes day by day; they knew that, while these vain contentions continued, the time would come when the evil would have overgrown any efforts they could make; and they felt the period had arrived when contention should be laid aside, and when they should set themselves earnestly to work to remedy the existing evils. The object of the Bill was, in the first place, to regulate the parochial schools, which they could not help dealing with in consequence of the position of the parochial schoolmasters. It was proposed, not only to give the parochial schoolmasters the position they held before the expiration of the Act, but almost to double their salaries. It was proposed to give them 50l. a year as the maximum—nearly double what they previously received—and 25l. as the minimum salary, to increase the house accommodation, and to give the masters retiring allowances, which they had not previously enjoyed. It was also proposed to give facilities with regard to dismissals and superintendence which had not hitherto existed. Then, with respect to additional schools, the hon. Gentleman who had complained that no inquiry had been instituted seemed to have forgotten entirely the provisions of the Bill. The first provision of the measure was that there should be an educational survey of Scotland, to be completed on a scale never yet attempted, the result to be reported to Parliament in two years. Some hon. Gentlemen had complained that this was not a final measure. It was not, and never was intended to be, a final measure, but it was intended to lay an authentic and authoritative basis for legislation. Not only was a survey to be instituted, but, while it was in progress new schools were to be established wherever the necessity for them was found to exist. Was this, then, legislating in the dark, or putting the cart before the horse, as one hon. Member had been pleased to state. The Bill contained another clause, which he regarded as one of its most important provisions. They wished to establish a system of reformatory schools, and that their opponents proposed to put an end to. They were going to try an experiment which many of the best friends of civilisation had wished to try, and against the means to be employed he had heard nothing like an argument, yet this also was to be rejected on the second reading. On what ground were provisions which all admitted to be beneficent, to be thus sacrificed? The objections brought were twofold, and singularly inconsistent in their character, one, that they proposed to do away with the test which limited the choice of schoolmasters to the Established Church, and that they made provisions which were said to be insufficient for religion; the other, that they were dealing with the religious question, and left power in the hands of the Establishment. With respect to the latter class of objections, it was not necessary to deal with them in detail. The voluntary party in Scotland had behaved with great moderation on this subject; although individual speeches had been made to which that description was not applicable, yet throughout the voluntary party he had many good friends to this measure. One of these he could not resist the pleasure of mentioning, than whom a more trustworthy, stout-hearted Liberal never breathed, a gentleman who was known to most Members of that House, but who was intimately known and respected by all the Scottish Members—Mr. Adam Black; and he, the leader of the voluntary party in Scotland, came boldly forward and said that, however much he might wish to see this Bill modified in certain particulars, still he was too good a friend to his country to think of opposing it. The real reason why they wished to sacrifice this Bill was, because it proposed to take the exclusive power out of the hands of the Established Church of Scotland. There was no other reason; it was not because there was not sufficient security for religion, for that security could be given without making members of the Established Church the only parties eligible to the office of schoolmasters; but they would not take any security but one, and that was the security which secured a monopoly. He was entitled to say that, for he had said to the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he said it again, "If you are willing to surrender that test, which only limits the choice of good men to a particular class, who hold the same opinions with their brethren, differing only in belonging to a particular communion, I am ready to meet you on the rest of the clauses of the Bill, and consider them with you." He was not wedded to any particular mode of carrying out his views, but he saw plainly that if that test were not done away with, it would be utterly impossible to carry out any reform whatever. Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not like the Census return, which had been published most opportunely, and which disclosed a state of things which he was certainly not prepared for and did not expect. He asked hon. Gentlemen to consider the position of the Church of Scotland with reference to the other sects. The Dissenters in Scotland belonged nearly to the same denomination as the Established Church, one portion of whom went off in 1730 on the question of patronage, and the other in 1843, on account of the undue interference of the civil courts, but both one and the other maintained the doctrines founded by John Knox at the time of the reformation of the Scotch Church. This test was not a test which made the schoolmaster declare a certain confession of faith, but one that made him declare that he was a member of the Church of Scotland, and no person but a member of that communion could be chosen for a schoolmaster. Now, if they were to pay Government money under this Bill to place those schools on a proper footing of efficiency, he contended that Government and Parliament were perfectly entitled to consider whether these or any other provisions were necessary for the good of the Established Church. He would ask hon. Gentlemen who occupied the bench opposite to him whether it was possible to say with any show of justice or reason that, in the state of things he was now going to describe, this test could be maintained. Taking the five northern counties of Scotland—namely, Caithness, Sutherland, Inverness, Ross, and Nairn, he found by the returns in the Census for the different towns that the proportion of the Established Church was 6,000, and that of the Free Church 41,000. Could they say that if there were established a national system of schools in those northern counties, where the proportion was something more than six to one, the choice of schoolmasters should be confined to that which had the smaller proportion? It might be said this was an exceptional case—unfortunately it was too general. It made the heart bleed to see the confusion and jealousy that were engendered by the present system—to see children who were learning the same thing taught to look with suspicion on each other because they attended different schools. So long as they maintained the present system, they must expect to see the spirit of disunion subsist; but let them remove the barriers which now kept the different classes of pupils apart, and they might see those mingling in harmony who were now separated. But if those northern counties were exceptional counties, how did it stand with others? Let them take the larger counties of Aberdeen, Forfar, Perth, Lanark, and Edinburgh. He could not give them the figures in each instance, but he could tell them the Established Church numbered 102,000 to 117,000 of the Free Church and 17,000 of the United Church, making together 134,000; and on what principle he would ask, if a national system of education were to be established in Scotland, could they hope to maintain the choice of schoolmasters for the particular denomination of the Established Church? It might be said he wished to attack the Church of Scotland, but he was convinced that the sweeping away this subject of contention was doing a most friendly act to that Church. The real difficulty, therefore, being entirely on their side, it was only for them to say they did not insist on the schoolmaster taking that test, and there would be an end of it. He came next to the question of superintendence of the Church. In the observations which he had the honour to make on the introduction of the present measure, he never stated that he considered the question of superintendence as one of the same importance as that of the test; and he did not know, if the question of test were given up, that that of superintendence need trouble them, but he felt it necessary to make a few remarks upon it in consequence of some observations which had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) and an allusion made by another hon. Member. It seemed to be supposed that the preamble of the Bill, and the observations he had made with respect to the superintendence of the schools, were intended as a slight, and that he was throwing a slur upon the Church of Scotland. If, in any observations he had made there was the least expression tending to create such a feeling, he should be the first to acknowledge his error, and say that his former speech on the subject was a little too highly coloured, or contained expressions of too strong a character; but, on the other hand, when he found that a Committee or Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had stated that the preamble of the Bill was a foul calumny, he felt himself impelled to make a few explanations, and he would say, in the first place, that the expressions he had used did not relate to the gentlemen who seemed to have taken them so much amiss. He was speaking of that period of the history of the Church of Scotland, when those gentlemen either for good or evil had not much to do with the swaying of her councils; he was thinking of that period of the history of the Scottish Church, when men with whom he himself had been associated, ruled her councils, when Andrew Thompson and Thomas Chalmers left the Church of Scotland what she was—the cheapest, the most hard-working, the most popular Church. It had been his good fortune to live on terms of intimacy with those men of liberal hearts, distinguished knowledge, sympathising with the people and possessing the confidence of the people. They well knew the Church of Scotland, and they had been forced to lament that under the present system of superintendence the parochial schools had, in many instances, been debased and degraded. It was a notorious fact that between 1800 and 1825 the parochial schools had been going down, and he believed that there had never been, for 150 years, a period in the history of Scotland when the schools had been so low, and the management so low, as in that latter year. From 1830 to 1335 occurred that revival in the mode of education, under the superintendence, he believed, of the late Dr. Welsh, and when that unfortunate disruption happened in 1843, the Free Church went out, and carried on their system of education, and the other remained behind, and carried on theirs. The laws by which the superintendence of the presbytery is regulated rendered it impossible that such superintendence could be efficient. They could not remove a schoolmaster without his being proved guilty, and to prove him guilty the presbytery at their own expense must prefer an indictment against him, and such cases were very liable to be upset at the Court of Session. The result had been that schoolmasters who have been tried for most intolerable offences had succeeded, under some point of law, in escaping; but it had more often happened that the presbytery, wearied out with the law's delay and expenses, had rather allowed an inefficient schoolmaster to remain in his situation than be dragged through all the proceedings necessary to obtain his removal. He knew it to be the case that, from this state of the law, in many, many parishes the schools were ineffective, owing to an inefficient master continuing in his situation during the whole of his life. He thought it right, without entering further into these facts, to state to the House, not on evidence extrinsic, but from the minutes of the General Assembly, from which it appeared that in 1799 an order was issued that the presbyteries should send up annual reports as to the schools within their bounds. This order was systematically disobeyed. The last of these reports was dated 1832–3; and from the minutes it appeared that in 1832 twenty-two presbyteries, including a great many parishes, had made no return, and of these two had made no return during the last five years, and nine had made none during the last six years, and the minutes recommended that measures should be adopted in order to obtain better compliance with the order. He was, therefore, justified in his observations on the superintendence of the presbytery, when he said that, taken in detail, it had not proved efficient; and he accordingly proposed this Bill, with a view of remedying this defici- ency. He was told that they were upsetting the parochial schools. Where was it supposed, then, that the governing power was placed? It was taken from the presbytery, but was placed in the hands of the minister and the heritors or landowners of the parish; and although the presbytery might annually have visited the schools, still it was the minister and the landowners who in practice substantially managed the school. They had taken the power from a general and placed it in a local body—inspectors were to make their reports, and over these authorities was placed the general board. With regard to the provisions for securing religious instruction, he would tell hon. Members opposite that he had always felt that, theoretically, there was much difficulty in saying that instruction in religion should be taught by a schoolmaster, without having some security for the character of the man. This was one of the objections which he felt he had a right to complain of being urged on the second reading of the Bill, for he was most desirous to obviate these difficulties, and to meet the views of those who raised such objections, by introducing important modifications. It was intended that the provost or delegate, as the town councils might choose, of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, and Aberdeen, and also the principals of the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and two delegates from the Universities of St. Andrews and Aberdeen, should be ex officio members of the general board, so that they would at all events have at least four, if not six, ecclesiastics at the general board agreeing in their religious tenets, thus affording sufficient security for the religious character of the system. He trusted, as a result of this measure, a system of normal training would have arisen, so that they might not have had to depend upon any test for the character of teachers, but on a normal system of training, where those who had educated them might certify as to the characters of those teachers who were sent out. It was impossible to have introduced such a system into the present Bill; but it was one which he wished to see result from it. He thought he had now disposed of the objections as to the removal of the schools from the superintendence of the presbytery, but then he was told that there was no security for religion. The hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden) said that it was stated that religion was to be taught; but it had not been said what that religion was to be. It was unnecessary, with regard to Scotland, to have stated this; and he hoped he was not wrong in the trust he thus had placed in the people of Scotland, for if these hopes were erroneous, then there was no meaning in, or foundation for, this Bill, unless they were agreed in establishing in these schools the Presbyterian faith, and this was sufficiently stated and provided for by the preamble and 27th clause of the Bill. He was most willing that the clause with reference to the removal of schoolmasters should be modified, and also that several other matters should be so treated, and this could better be done in Committee. With regard to the position in which the Bill placed Episcopalians and Roman Catholics, he considered that the clause bearing upon this, the 36th—the denominational clause—had been much misunderstood. This clause was introduced to obviate the difficulty that was felt that in attempting to set up a national system of education, and to impose a national rate, it was quite plain that many who would have to pay that rate could not take advantage of this system of education. He was of opinion that it was impossible to call upon parties to pay a rate for which they did not receive a good and substantial return; and he was sure he might, on behalf of the Government, say that they did not feel themselves in a position to conscientiously ask Episcopalians and Roman Catholics to subscribe towards a national educational rate, at the same time that they could not assist them in the education of their children. He felt that great responsibility had rested upon him in introducing this Bill, but he did not see how human ingenuity could have framed it to have subscribed for more assistance than he had done—he could not see how, by walking either to the right or the left, he should not have caused two opponents to rise up for the one he had conciliated. If he had listened to the Established Church, he would have had all the rest of Scotland opposed to him; if, on the other hand, he had listened to the secularists, he would have had the Free Church, the Established Church, and the great majority of that House, opposed to him. He, therefore, asked hon. Gentlemen, if they could not show him a better plan for a system of education, to follow then that which he had proposed, and he trusted that the division would show that, however sepa- rated they might be in abstract opinions, yet that they were one in doing their best to relieve their country from misery and gnorance.


said, that the only objection he had to the very able speech addressed to the House by the right hon. and learned Lord was, that it was too much a speech in the interest of the dominant Church of the majority without regard to the interests of the minority. [Cries of "Divide."] He stood there as the representative of a minority, and as such he trusted he should be permitted to make a few observations. That minority under the present system enjoys certain advantages which they highly appreciate. They had their share in the grants that were distributed by the committee of Council; they had inspectors belonging to their own communion, and the management of the schools was under the direction of the clergy and prelates of their Church. The right hon. and learned Lord dwelt very much upon the fact that the system introduced by this Bill was a Presbyterian system. He had spoken of the value which the people of Scotland set upon their religion, and the value they set upon religious education. But the minority, for whom he (Mr. Bowyer) was addressing the House, also set a great value upon religious education, and he asked from the Government some assurance that the rights of that minority would not be neglected, and that that minority should have the same advantages as they now enjoy under the present system.


said, he did not make himself understood to the hon. and learned Gentleman, if he did not understand him to say, that if it were not possible to make the Episcopalians and Roman Catholics better in the matter of education, most assuredly they would not be made worse.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 184; Noes 193: Majority 9.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Blackett, J. F. B.
Anderson, Sir J. Bonham-Carter, J.
Atherton, W. Bouverie, hon. E. P.
Baines, rt.hon. M. T. Bowyer, G.
Baird, J. Boyle, hon. Col.
Ball, J. Brady, J.
Bass, M. T. Brocklehurst, J.
Beamish, F. B. Brockman, E. D.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Brotherton, J.
Biggs, W. Brown, H.
Bruce, H. A. Johnstone, J.
Buckley, Gen. Johnstone, Sir J.
Byng, hon. G. H. C. Keogh, W.
Cardwell, rt. hon. E. Kershaw, J.
Chambers, T. King, hon. P. J. L.
Cheetham, J. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Cobbett, J. M. Laing, S.
Cobden, R. Langston, J. H.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. Langton, H. G.
Coffin, W. Layard, A. H.
Colvile, C. R. Lemon, Sir C.
Cowan, C. Lindsay, W. S.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Locke, J.
Dalrymple, Visct. Lowe, R.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Luce, T.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B
Divett, E. M'Cann, J.
Drumlanrig, Visct. MacGregor, John
Drummond, H. M'Taggart, Sir J.
Duff, G. S. Mangles, R. D.
Duff, J. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Duncan, G. Marshall, W.
Dunlop, A. M. Massey, W. N.
Elcho, Lord Matheson, A.
Ellice, E. Matheson, Sir J.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Milligan, R.
Euston, Earl of Mills, T.
Ewart, W. Milner, W. M. E.
Fagan, W. Michell, W.
Feilden, M. J. Moffatt, G.
Fergus, J. Monck, Visct.
Ferguson, Col. Moncreiff, J.
Ferguson, Sir R. Monsell, W.
Ferguson, J. Morris, D.
FitzGerald, Sir J. Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.
Fitzgerald, J. D. Muntz, G. F.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Mure, Col.
Fitzwilliam, hn. C.W.W. Murrough, J. P.
Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W. Norreys, Lord
Foley, J. H. H. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Forster, C. O'Brien, P.
Forster, J. O'Brien, Sir T.
Fox, R. M. O'Connell, D.
Fox, W. J. Oliveira, B.
Freestun, Col. Osborne, R.
Gardner, R. Otway, A. J.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Paget, Lord A.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Palmerston, Visct.
Glyn, G. C. Pechell, Sir G. B.
Goderich, Visct. Phillimore, J. G.
Goodman, Sir G. Phillimore, R. J.
Gower, hon. F. L. Phinn, T.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Price, W. P.
Greene, J. Ricardo, O.
Gregson, S. Rice, E. R.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Richardson, J. J.
Grey, R. W. Roche, E. B.
Hall, Sir B. Russell, Lord J.
Hankey, T. Sadleir, John
Hastie, Alex. Sawle, C. B. G.
Hastie, Arch. Scholefield, W.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Scobell, Capt.
Hervey, Lord A. Scully, F.
Heywood, J. Scully, V.
Higgins, G. G. O. Seymour, W. D.
Hindley, C. Smith, J. A.
Horsman, E. Smith, J. B.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Smollett, A.
Hughes, W. B. Stafford, Marg. of
Hume, J. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Hutt, W. Stuart, Lord D.
Ingham, R. Sullivan, M.
Talbot, C. R. M. Wickham, H. W.
Thicknesse, R. A. Wilkinson, W. A.
Thompson, G. Williams, W.
Thornely, T. Wilson, J.
Thornhill, W. P. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Traill, G. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Vivian, J. H. Wyvill, M.
Vivian, H. H. Young, rt. hon. Sir J.
Walmsley, Sir J.
Walter, J. TELLERS.
Warner, E. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Whitbread, S. Mulgrave, Earl of
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Emlyn, Visct.
Alexander, J. Farnham, E. B.
Annesley, Earl of Ferrer, J.
Arbuthnott, hon. Gen. Fellowes, E.
Archdall, Capt. M. Floyer, J.
Arkwright, G. Follett, B. S.
Bailey, Sir J. Forbes, W.
Bailey, C. Forster, Sir G.
Baillie, H. J. Franklyn, G. W.
Ball, E. Frewen, C. H.
Baldock, E. H. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Galway, Visct.
Barnes, T. George, J.
Barrington, Visct. Gladstone, Capt.
Barrow, W. H. Graham, Lord M. W.
Bateson, T. Greaves, E.
Beach, Sir M. H. H. Greenall, G.
Bective, Earl of Greene, T.
Bell, J. Grogan, E.
Bentinck, Lord H. Gwyn, H.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Hadfield, G.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Halford, Sir H.
Blair, Col. Hall, Col.
Boldero, Col. Hamilton, G. A.
Booker, T. W. Hamilton, J. H.
Booth, Sir R. G. Harcourt, Col.
Bruce, C. L. C. Hayes, Sir E.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Burrell, Sir C. Herbert, H. A.
Butt, G. M. Heyworth, L.
Butt, I. Horsfall, T. B.
Cairns, H. M. Hotham, Lord
Campbell, Sir A. I. Hudson, G.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Hume, W. F.
Cayley, E. S. Irton, S.
Cecil, Lord R. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Child, S. Jones, Capt.
Christopher, rt.hn.R.A. Jones, D.
Christy, S. Kendall, N.
Clinton, Lord C. P. Kennedy, T.
Clive, R. King, J. K.
Cocks, T. S. Knatchbull, W. F.
Codrington, Sir W. Knightley, R.
Compton, H. C. Knox, Col.
Conolly, T. Knox, hon. W. S.
Crossley, F. Langton, W. G.
Davies, D. A. S. Lennox, Lord A. F.
Davison, R. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Deedes, W. Liddell, H. G.
Dod, J. W. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Duncombe, hon. A. Lisburne, Earl of
Duncombe, hon. O. Lockhart, A. E.
Dundas, G. Lockhart, W.
Dunne, Col. Long, W.
Du Pre, C. G. Lovaine, Lord
East, Sir J. B. Lowther, Capt.
Egerton, Sir P. Lucas, F.
Egerton, W. T. Macartney, G.
Egerton, E. C. Mackie, J.
MacGregor, Jas. Somerset, Capt.
Maguire, J. F Sotheron, T. H. S.
Malins, R. Spooner, R.
Manners, Lord G. Stafford, A.
March, Earl of Stanhope, J. B.
Meux, Sir H. Starkie, Le G. N.
Miall, E. Sturt, H. G.
Miles, W. Swift, R.
Montgomery, H. L. Taylor, Col.
Montgomery, Sir G. Thesiger, Sir F.
Moody, C. A. Tollemache, J.
Moore, G. H. Tomline, G.
Mowbray, J. R. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Mullings, J. R. Tudway, R. C.
Mundy, W. Tyler, Sir G.
Naas, Lord Vance, J.
Napier, rt. hon. J. Vane, Lord A.
Neeld, J. Vansittart, G. H.
Newdegate, C. N. Vyse, Col.
Oakes, J. H. P. Waddington, H. S.
Packe, C. W. Walcott, Adm.
Palk, L. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Palmer, R. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Pellatt, A. Welby, Sir G. E.
Pennant, hon. Col. West, F. R.
Percy, hon. J. W. Whitmore, H.
Peto, S. M. Wigram, L. T.
Pilkington, J. Williams, T. P.
Pritchard, J. Wise, A.
Repton, G. W. J. Woodd, B. T.
Robertson, P. F. Wyndham, Gen.
Rolt, P. Wyndham, H.
Sandars, G. Wynn, Major H. W. W.
Scott, hon. F. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Seymer, H. K. Wynne, W. W. E.
Shirley, E. P. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Sibthorp, Col. TELLERS.
Smijth, Sir W. Stirling, W.
Smith, W. M. Dalkeith, Earl of

Words added; Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Second reading put off for six months. The House adjourned at Two o'clock, till Monday next.