§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
had a petition to present to the House, which was most respectably signed by the inhabitants of Manchester, on the subject of the Bill of which the noble Lord on his left (Lord Brougham) had given notice for that evening—National Education. The petition was originally intended to have been introduced to the notice of the House by the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Norwich, but owing to his being absent from town attending to some important duties, he had undertaken 426 to present it, and in doing so he was authorised to say, that the right rev. Prelate to whom he had alluded fully concurred in the prayer of the petitioners. The object of the petition was, as set forth in the statements which it contained, that such a system of education should be adopted as would admit every class of her Majesty's subjects to have the means of obtaining a proper education, and that the difficulties which at present existed, proceeding from a difference of religious opinions, might be removed; and with these suggestions he most cordially agreed. It was unnecessary for him to say, after the conversation which took place in that House a few evenings ago, that no intention existed on the part of the Government to force the adoption of a compulsory system of education, and there was no person more convinced than he was, that that could not form a part of any well-conceived plan, and he must also say, that it was not contemplated either by the Government or by any other body of persons whatsoever. A society had been alluded to which was known by the name of the Central Society of Education, and which was composed of many persons of the greatest respectability and of high rank in the country; and an opinion had been stated to be entertained by them, which, although it was afterwards qualified by the right rev. Prelate who had referred to the matter, was yet of a nature calculated to induce a feeling of distrust in the public mind in relation to the society. On referring to a volume which had been published by the society, he found, that it contained statements of a variety of opinions, but they appeared to be the collection of the opinions of other persons, and not to have proceeded from the society upon any belief which they entertained upon the subject; and it was put forth merely as a means of acquainting the public with the various propositions which had been made with regard to education. In speaking of the adoption of any plan, he must say, that he believed that the Government would better discharge their duty by taking the opinion of a noble Lord who had made education the subject of his particular attention, and whose qualifications and inquiries rendered him most competent to give an opinion upon the matter, and to adopt his plan, provided it should appear fit and proper, than by following any other system of their own, 427 the feasibility of which they might not have had an opportunity of ascertaining; but he most sincerely hoped that no unnecessary delay would be permitted to occur before some measure was taken with a view to the providing for the education of the poor in a mode more extensive and more appropriate than that which was now employed; for he believed that, although the system had been improved in some degree, yet that it was still very inefficient both in the towns and in the country. He believed that it was not the wish of any Member of that House that any system of education should be received unless religious instruction formed a portion of it; but he could not help pointing out to the House that there were many schools which were founded professedly with a view of providing a religious education for the children of the poor, but in which the objects of the institution were so badly carried out that the morals of the scholars suffered materially, and some improved plan must therefore be provided in order to give effect to the benefits which it was intended should be conferred; for unless religious instruction was combined with the inculcation of general good principles, and unless also the general topics of an ordinary education were introduced, he was convinced that no improvement in the morals of the people would take place. He could not but express his firm belief that the introduction of some good system of education was essential as well for the diminution of crime as for the general welfare of the people.
The Bishop of London
, having heard the remarks which had fallen from the noble Marquess with reference to what had been said the other evening in that House, could not suffer the opportunity to go by without again alluding to the statements which he had made, and which had been attempted to be controverted. He was not at present prepared to substantiate, by the production of documents or other evidence, the facts which he had brought under the notice of the House, but he could again state that two of the members of the society to which he had alluded had gone through the country making speeches, and that it was only in two or three instances, when they had been admonished by the expression of the feelings of the people, that they had changed the tone of their addresses, which before had been directed against 428 the introduction of the Scriptures in the course of the system of education which they proposed should be adopted. Now, when a Member of Parliament and a barrister were heard advocating such a plan, and when it was known that they were both members of the central society of education, and that one of them was also the editor of its publications, he would ask whether it were possible for any man to draw any inference from their conduct other than that the society of which they were members professed to advise and to advocate the adoption of the same system? Was it not too plain for any person possessing common sense to deny? Besides this, he would suggest to any noble Lord to read the correspondence which had taken place between a Mr. Simpson and Mr. Colquhoun, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, and to draw that inference which his judgment would suggest; and he would venture to say, that the same idea which he had founded on the facts to which he had already alluded would at once present itself to his mind. But in suggesting this he must guard himself from the suspicion of being supposed to impute improper motives to every Member of the society who might really and seriously be desirous of diffusing education among the people, and who might be far from countenancing or giving their sanction to the principles which had been advocated by the persons to whom he had alluded. Nor would he even allege such motives against those who had expressed the strongest opinions upon the subject; but he would declare, without hesitation, that they had taken a wrong view of the subject and that they proposed to introduce a system highly detrimental to the object which they professed to have in view, and to the spread of religious knowledge through the country. He repeated, that he would not impute to them improper motives; but when Members of the society were thus seen going through the country and advocating a plan in which the use of the Scriptures was omitted, he could not but think that that was the object also of the society. He would say a few words further, because it would spare him the necessity of addressing the House at a later period of the evening. He must admit that the present system of education was far from being perfect. It was only within thirty years that national education had been tried in this country; 429 and although it had not yet been attempted On so great a scale as might be hereafter adopted, or at ail commensurate with the amount of the population of the country, yet it deserved great praise, and little surprise could be felt that very beneficial results had not yet followed its introduction. Another generation must be permitted to pass before any judgement could be formed of its absolute effect, for before the fruit could ripen the seed must be long sown. He would say, however, with regard to the schools which were connected with the established Church, and to the national schools at present established, that the observations of the noble Marquess would not apply, whatever imperfections might belong to the system on which they were conducted. He knew, indeed, that such schools did exist as those referred to, and to which the remarks might be appropriate even in their most odious sense, but they were not in connection with the established Church. The National Society had made great exertions to improve the schools which they had established, and to extend the system of education—not merely scriptural but general education, comprising instruction in the usual useful branches of knowledge. In the agricultural districts there was much difficulty experienced in getting the children to attend the infant schools, and even when their attendance was obtained, it was only for that portion of their life between the ages of seven and ten or eleven years; for so soon as their parents found that they were capable of earning a trifle weekly by their labour, they were immediately removed from the place in which they might obtain some education in order to work. He was a warm advocate of infant schools; but every one must be aware that little could be done in the instruction of children in so short a time as that which he had pointed out. He felt that he was anticipating some of the remarks of the noble Lord (Brougham), but he could not conceal from himself the impression that no system could be devised which would reach the extent of prefection which was the desire of the noble Lord, in common, he was sure, with every other Member of that House. For his own part, he believed that the best course the Legislature could take in respect to this subject, was to express its opinions strongly, and to assist by grants of money and other encourage- 430 ment the views of charitable individuals and societies, whose object was the advancement of education; but he was of opinion that the views which it had would thus be carried out in a manner far better than they could be by any enactment.
§ Lord Denman
felt it due to the society and to himself to make some observations upon what had been stated, as well on a former occasion as now, by the right rev. Prelate who had just resumed his seat. He must admit that, from the qualification of the right rev. Prelate, no imputation had been cast upon any one individually, but he for one felt anxious that it should not go forth to the world that he had given his sanction to the projects which had been stated to have emanated from the society of which he was a Member. Although he was, as he said, a Member of the Central Society of Education yet he had no interest in it, further than his name being attached to it. He was applied to by some most respectable persons, as well as by some who were members of the same profession with himself, that his name might be attached to the list of Members, and he felt bound to acquiesce in this request, inasmuch as that he had a strong interest in the improvement of the system of education, and because he felt that it was defective. The evils of the present plan were admitted by the right rev. Prelate, and he was bound to say, that the remedy of those evils was the object of the society, and he confessed, that he thought it had been rather severely attacked. He was, unfortunately, not in the House when the matter was formerly discussed, but he understood that it had been stated, and it had gone forth that it had been stated, that the two objects of the society were to introduce a system of compulsory education, and that it should be purely and entirely secular—all religious instruction being excluded from it. He was authorised to say, that the society had declared no opinion whatever on the matter, but that the sole object which they had in view was—and it was admitted to be much wanted—to collect and diffuse information on the subject of education, and he would appeal to any noble Lord who had looked into the publications which had been put forth under the direction of the society, whether they did not contain much real and valuable intelligence? It might have been supposed, from the observations which had 431 been made, that the plans which it was said were entertained by the society had been learned from the publications which had been put forth as well as from the speeches which had been made by some of the members; but no such supposition could be justified by the books of the society. In them there was no opinion expressed upon the subject, the society only aiming to give the public as much information as possible upon which opinions could be justly founded. The name of the writer of every treatise was appended to his work, so that no error could well arise as to the source of the statement that the education recommended was of an entirely secular nature. He would say, that he had never met with more surprise than on the part of those whose opinion it was stated to be when the subject was alluded to in their presence. He thought it was impossible to draw any inference from any writings which the society had put forth such as had been expressed by the right rev. Prelate. Then it was said, that the notion was formed besides on the conduct of the members of the society; but he had authority to state, that the meetings to which allusion had been made had not been called by their desire, or by their permission. A meeting at which Mr. Wyse had presided had been referred to, and a communication from a Mr. Simpson to Mr. Colquhoun had also been spoken of: but Mr. Wyse had been called upon by the inhabitants to preside at the meeting, and Mr. Simpson was not a member of the committee of the society, so that on this ground there was no right to make any allusions of an improper tendency to the society. He repeated, that the sole object of the society was to convey intelligence to all parties on the subject of education, and this he conceived to be one which was likely to prove of a most useful character.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that he must repeat the observations which had already fallen from him on the subject of the schools at which religion was professed to be taught. He was surprised that what he had before said should have been taken to allude to national schools, for to them they had no reference, and he must express himself to be a most strong advocate of the system. He declared his belief that the only object which they had in view was the establishment of some system which should be founded on proper grounds.
The Bishop of London
said, that he had thought proper to endeavour to point out the error into which the noble Marquess had fallen in alluding, as he supposed, to national schools; because he knew that some very strong allusions had been made to them by the society—allusions which were preposterous and absurd, and which had already been ably controverted by those who had the management of the system.
said: In rising to state to their Lordships the outline of the two Bills to which he was about to direct the attention of this House, he ought first to state the reasons why he adopted the unusual course of explaining to the House the nature of those measures on moving that they be read a first time; and why he did not wait until they were before the House in a printed form. He trusted that his plan would not prove inconvenient to their Lordships, for he felt that, if he were to wait in the ordinary manner until the Bills should have been read a first time, and then explain to their Lordships the grounds on which he requested their Lordships' support, he should neither do justice to the framers or to the promoters of the measures; moreover, he would not be able to explain either the details or the principles of the Bills in such a manner as they merited. He should have no opportunity of removing from their Lordships' minds any objections which might start up in relation to the arrangements he proposed, and in coming after those objections, unanswered as they would be, had taken root in their Lordships' minds, he should have a difficulty in removing them, and hardly be considered to have exercised ordinary care in preventing them. If it were said, that he might take the chance of their Lordships' attention being drawn to the Bills in the interval between their being read a first and second time, then he found an answer to that suggestion in the observations which had fallen from the right rev. Prelate and the noble Marquess, neither of whom seemed to understand that the measures which he was about to bring forward, had both of them before been under the consideration of the House; but they appeared to imagine that he rose to bring forward a new plan, and both the right rev. Prelate and the noble Marquess seemed wholly unacquainted with his views. He did not blame the noble Lords for not having paid attention to the Bills when they were before the House three 433 years ago, and he did not blame them for fancying that he was about to break open a new measure—to tread an untrodden field, and to introduce a new principle; because, time after time, the matter had been broached in Parliament, but the House would not give its attention to the subject. The plan was before the House last Session—on the first night of the Session, and it was printed; and for the purpose of preventing the confusion that usually arises in reading the clauses of Acts of Parliament, and to aid those to whom the repetitions to be found in a statute would be obstructions, he took the liberty of circulating a digest—an abstract of the provisions of the measure, that no one should have the ordinary excuse for not reading the Bill, in consequence of the tediousness of wading through its details. At the end of the Session it was broached again. It was not attended to at the beginning of the Session, because it was too early, and it was not attended to at the end of the Session, because it was then too late. He could not say, that the reason for its not being attended to at the beginning of the Session was on account of the pressure of business of the House, for there was none; and for some time afterwards, the House did just as much. The Bill was, in truth, unfortunate at all times, for even in the middle of the Session, when they had literally nothing to do, it could not be proceeded with. At the end of the Session, there came an event which diffused universal joy among all classes of the people, which followed an event which had before produced extreme sorrow —it was the change of the Sovereign. It was incidental to matters of that description, that business like that of education should not be attended to; and, in consequence of the desire of her Majesty, that no further public measures should" be entered into that Session, and of the pressure of business, he was going to say— but of pleasure —which followed, it became necessary that it should again stand over. One Bill, then, which he now had to bring forward was, in its principles, the same as that which he first introduced; but in reference to the second Bill, there had been some alteration in the measure originally proposed, and this was to be introduced for the first time. With respect to this second Bill, he must observe, that he had last Session, anticipated that the necessity for introducing it would have been obviated by his hon. Friend, who was then Member 434 for Middlesex, having brought forward a measure in the House of Commons; but that having fallen to the ground, he was left to devise some new provision to supply the deficiency caused by it; and the matters, therefore, contained in the second Bill which he had to present to the House were now brought before their Lordships for the first time. In all other respects, the Bills were the same. It was true, that the Bill had been divided into two, that part which related to education generally having been separated from the portion which had reference to the better administration of charitable funds, and this division had taken place for reasons which must be obvious to their Lordships. He thought, that he should best discharge his duty to their Lordships and do justice to the great subject which he had to introduce, especially as the point had been indirectly discussed in the conversation which took place that night, as well as in that which occurred two nights before, if he began by stating what appeared to him to be the great general principles to be followed in any attempts the Legislature might make towards the improvement, the extension, and the perpetuation of the education of the people; and if, after having stated these general principles, he should then state the modifications to which those principles must be subject, from the peculiar policy of every country, and also from the peculiar circumstances of this country and of the present time. No one was better acquainted with the peculiarities of this country, as regarded education at present, than the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London), and no one was more aware than himself of the difference between universal principles applicable to all countries and to all times, and those principles which are drawn from the peculiar circumstances of the present time and of this country; and without minutely attending to this material distinction, it would be impossible for their Lordships' labours to have a good result. After detailing these general principles, he should proceed to unfold the several points of the particular measure to which he wished, on the present occasion, to direct their Lordships' notice. First, he thought, that there ought to be, in no time, in no country, whatever might be the constitution of the country, and the state of society, any positive and direct compulsion as to the education of the people. He was aware that some most 435 respectable persons differed from him on that subject—they were not a numerous body, but they were persons of great weight, because they had paid much attention to the subject, and because almost all of them were possessed of great general information; but still he could not help feeling assured, that they had been led away by looking at the circumstances peculiar to the several countries in which such a system now exists. His opinion of the system pursued in those countries and of those circumstances was, that they were totally inapplicable to the situation of England, and that they were absolutely pernicious. He thought that those persons had been led away in consequence of the mitigation of the compulsory system, from the peculiar situation of the states in which it exists; and, instead of seeing that what might work well there might be bad in itself, they had been led to believe that the compulsory system should be adopted here. They had been the more led away from their honesty, order, and zeal for public instruction; and they had not brought their own minds to the due consideration that there was a line over which the lawgiver ought not to pass, and beyond which he forfeited all claim to support, by the violation of some of the most sacred principles. If he Were required to prove that the compulsion ought not to be introduced, he would ask any man who calmly reflected upon the subject, how dangerous a thing it would be, upon whatever grounds they put it—whatever temptation there might be for extending education—whatever risk there might be in the continuance of ignorance—whatever might be the duty on the part of the parents to educate their children—whatever mischief might arise, or whatever consequences might infest the whole community, from the breach of that duty of parents—he would ask that man to consider how delicate, how perilous a matter it would be to usurp the parental office by public authority, and prescribe, by a command of the State, fortified perhaps by the penalties attached to a civil offence, the line of parental management which the father and mother should pursue in taking care of the offspring which Providence and nature had committed to their care? Another answer against the compulsory principle, if indeed any other were wanting, would be, that it was a violation of individual liberty—that it was a tyranny, introduced no doubt, and he admitted it, for a laudable purpose, but 436 nevertheless declaring, that in order to educate people they would enslave them, that in order to diffuse instruction amongst them they would contract their liberty, and introduce a system which would be intolerable to the citizens of a free state, and only fit (if fit at all) for a country ruled by a despotic government, where liberty being little known, slavery was the more bearable. He would next proceed with the principles and details of the measures he was about to propose. [Interruption in the House.] If noble Lords would neither read nor hear, he was not surprised at their want of knowledge on the subject. He knew the dryness of the subject, but he trusted they would at least bear with him while he stated his views on this important question. The details might be found tedious, but unless he made the House acquainted with them, it would be impossible for their Lordships perfectly or properly to understand the measures themselves. The next general rule he was disposed to lay down as fit to govern the conduct of those called upon to frame or consider measures of this kind, was not only that there should be no compulsion exercised and no interference on the part of the Government as regarded who should or who should not be educated at all, but that there should be no power given to the Government to educate the people— that was to say, that their interference should be excluded beyond what was absolutely necessary. With regard to the question of what course of education ought to be chosen, he would look with the greatest jealousy at the government of any country in deciding it. It appeared to him nothing more nor less than tyranny for any government to have the power of saying, "You shall have instruction, and you shall have none"—of deciding the number of schools to be established, the kind of instruction to be afforded in them, the mode of teaching to be adopted, and the description of books to be read. He was for no interference on the part of any authority whatever, but for leaving all parties uncontrolled and ungoverned. He would have no rules laid down either by law, or by boards, or by the joint operation of law and boards together; neither would he have the executive Government or the Legislature to prescribe a course of instruction, and teach the people according to its own model. He held it to be a right, that no Govern- 437 ment should appoint instructors—that no Government ought to be intrusted with the power of naming those from whom the public at large were to receive the benefit of secular instruction. Although he was stating most strongly and distinctly that there should be no compulsory authority exercised by the state upon the question of whether or not children should be taught, at all, or if to be taught, in what manner and in what things they should be instructed, and if to be instructed in certain things and in a certain manne by what persons that instruction should be given, although that was the principle upon which this plan was founded from beginning to end, and which he held to be the corner-stone of any system of education for a civilised community, or indeed for any community; yet he was at the same time disposed to add, upon all these points, not that an exception or modification could be admitted, far from it —but that concurrent principles might be adopted which would reconcile" all difficulties, and enable him to gain a benefit without incurring a loss. Thus, though decidedly against compulsion, against forcing parents to educate their children, he would be disposed to say, not that he would hold out inducements or encouragement to them to neglect the education of their children, because that it was a duty on their part to have them instructed, and that the breach of that duty was in one sense a moral offence, an offence, however, which ought not to be visited by the law, for that the obligation was imperfect, was admitted on all hands; but he felt that this made it the more necessary, if they could, without any violation of principle or undue interference, without infringing on the liberty of the subject, without commit ting any innovation on his rights, or without any such risk, to hold out an incentive, an encouragement, and to give facilities of every sort to enable the parent to discharge his duty, and to induce him by all possible means no longer to neglect it. If such a course as this were pursued, then would he say he had gained a benefit without incurring a risk. Accordingly, first of all, these inducements and facilities should consist in making education cheap, good, and easily acquired; but he need scarcely say, that he was prepared to go further. That the proposal for amending the law in one or two important points, with a view of making education desirable, had found 438 favour in his sight. Such amendments formed no part of his present plan; but it had been often said, with a view to afford an indirect encouragement to education, why not extend that provision of the Statute of Frauds which prevented certain contracts from being valid unless they were in the handwriting of the parties? It. had been also said, that society in this country was now in a very fitting state for the application of such a. provision under that intention. He had no great objection, therefore, on occasions where they could do so without great interference with right to extend the rule of the State's interference in the administration of a man's domestic affairs, and where there was quite a clear ground for interference, where they were absolutely certain that their direction and plan were correct, and that they were fully justified in the attempt, not only to extend excitements and incentives to the discharge of this duty beyond mere encouragement, and to render its neglect disadvantageous to the parties concerned, if not to make it attended with serious consequences. The propriety of the penal interference of the State, however, even in matters of acknowledged utility, had been matter of much controversy. He remembered an illustration on this point which had been employed in the discussion of a question of political economy that had been often broached—namely, how far a government was justified in interfering with the industry of the people in point of policy or in point of right. The illustration to which he alluded was drawn from the history of Russia under Peter the Great. The people of that country had not at that time acquired the use of the saw. Their great staple trade was in the exportation of deals, which being cut with a hatchet, were, of course, badly fashioned, besides that great waste attended the use of that instrument. It appeared to the Government—indeed, it was almost as self-evident to them as it was to us, that it is the duty of parents to educate their children—it appeared to Peter the Great —and if he had never done worse he would have earned the epithet bestowed on him —so clearly wrong and so prejudicial to his subjects to use the hatchet instead of the saw, that he commanded them to substitute the latter for the former instrument. A discouraging duty put upon deals cut otherwise than with the saw might, it was thought, have the effect of accelerating the use of it. A tax was ac- 439 cordingly imposed, and his recollection was, that the first year it produced a great return to the Russian exchequer, but that the next year there was scarcely a ruble received for deals cut otherwise than with the saw. Now, if he thought the people of this country had come to an universal understanding of their own, that they all felt the use of education as well as the duty of imparting it to their offspring, then should he be disposed to listen to the proposition, not certainly of compulsion even by the impost, but that some such disadvantage, or some such disqualification, should be thrown upon the uneducated: while, on the other hand, some such advantage should be given to the educated as must constitute a distinct and tangible preference between them, and thus accelerate the object the Legislature had in view. So far he was for non-interference he would not fix the kind of education, nor determine the parties who should receive it, but he would bring it home to the door of every man, by multiplying the number of schools; and not only would he, by making it cheap, bring it within the reach of all, but he would assist in improving the style of education, by providing schools for the training of schoolmasters, by giving them greater facilities for acquiring knowledge, and greater power to the people to avail themselves of these teachers' better qualifications. These were his ideas; he would interfere as little us possible; he would render assistance; he would not force, but help, not control, but co-operate. Considering the circumstances in which this country was placed, and the principles applicable to its present situation and time, he thought that any measure which should be propounded should not be based on any general principles, but should have particular reference to them, and to the actual state of education in England. The vast number of schools was one circumstance to take into consideration. There were somewhere about 50,000 schools established throughout this country, 39,000 or 10,000 of which were unendowed, and supported by the exertions and subscriptions of private individuals. The remainder were endowed. Now, he was by no means disposed to agree in the opinion that all children taught at those unendowed schools ought to be considered charity children. The greater proportion of them were not in any sense of the phrase charity children. He had the greatest respect for those who 440 maintained Sunday-schools; he looked upon them as having done great service to the country, but at the same time the education afforded by them must of necessity be very limited and imperfect, at least to those who attended no others; but he spoke of the unendowed day schools, and how many children, he would ask, of those who attended those schools were in a situation to be called charity scholars? Not one-half. Many years ago there might have been one-half, but even then the endowed schools were included. In the year 1820, about 600,000 was the number of children who attended all the schools, endowed and unendowed, and of that number but 300,000 were free scholars, while the other 300,000 paid. Look, then, at the increased number of day schools, and compare those who paid with those who were gratuitously educated. He found that about 1,120,000 children attended those schools, and that out of that number less than 390,000 were gratuitous, while 730,000—nearly double—paid for their education. These were facts which had been hitherto much overlooked and underrated in his opinion by many individuals who agreed with him (Lord Brougham) on other points, but who underrated the value of the present amount of education, attributing it all to charity and avowing rightly that a system supported by mere charity was pregnant with evil; that it tended to lower the character of the children; that it made too great a distinction between the different shades of society; that it was not based on the reciprocity of good offices and kindly feelings; that the kind offices partook too much of a patronising spirit, and a presumption of authority which could hardly fail from being attended with the submission, not to say degradation, of the recipients. It was supposed to be accompanied by feelings which lowered the individuals who received the education, and gave them a notion that they were not independent, but that, being the victims of poverty, they were therefore objects of charity. Now no one would go further, and he would say no one had gone further, than he in deprecating the extension of more than was absolutely necessary of that charitable system, and in wishing to see it superseded by one which would make that matter of right, which was too often considered matter of charity. But to say that all those were charity schools merely because they were supported by subscriptions, and by the 441 personal efforts, which was more valuable still, of public-spirited individuals, and that all the children who, by the exertions of those individuals, were enabled to receive instruction, were charity children, as if they were taught in workhouse schools, was stating what no one, who had minutely examined the real state of things, would venture to assert. Another fact which made it impossible that a general system of education could be established without regard to local circumstances, and the peculiarity of different situations, was, that whereas a system which might work well in one place, would be found totally inapplicable in another. Suppose, for instance, they adopted the course pursued by the Scottish Parliament previous to the Revolution of 1688, which had been often since recommended in the English Parliament,—namely, the parish-school system. The first answer to the proposal of establishing by law a school in each parish was, that there was perhaps half-a-dozen schools in each parish already, and that to add one more without considering the circumstances of that parish, would be a very preposterous proceeding, giving it very probably where it was not required, while other parishes stood much in need of it. That system had been adopted in Scotland when there was hardly a school in the country, and trade and manufacture being in their infancy there existed very little difference in the parishes, or between town and country; but in the present state of our towns and parishes it would be absolutely and entirely inapplicable. A system that might be good for a commercial, might not be good for a manufacturing, town. If applicable to a manufacturing, parish, it might not be to a rural parish, differing perhaps in every respect, even as to its inhabitants. Every system of education, therefore, if it were meant to succeed, must be so framed as to be capable of expansion and contraction, and easily susceptible of such variations and modifications as might suit the different parts of the country, and meet the views, the wants, and the altering state of the various towns and even villages which were found to exist in England. Another circumstance imposing restraint on the introduction of a general system was, that not only were these funds raised by the exertions of individuals, but there were also many funds arising from the endowments. In some parts these endowments were more than sufficient to 442 provide for the required instruction; in others they just met the exigencies of the place, and in others, they were entirely wanting. How, therefore, could they frame any general measure, which, operating alike in all parts and in all places, could have a beneficial tendency? What would be perfectly sufficient for one place would be utterly inefficient for another. The peculiar state of this country, as regarded the religious feelings of the people, presented another obstacle to the well-working of any uniform measure. They had in all places the Established Church, but in some parts a great proportion of the people did not believe in the tenets and conform to the usages of that Church; in some places there were hardly any Dissenters, in others they were superabundant, in some districts they amounted to a majority, and in others they were almost on an equality with the members of the Establishment. Nay, the sects themselves varied in different parts, one sect prepondering in one district, and another elsewhere. If they founded one system which might be adapted to the religious peculiarities of one sect or district, and if they applied that system to other districts, it would be wholly inappropriate. Such was the present state of education here, so much had been done by private individuals, so many schools were at present in existence, the present funds, with the assistance of endowments on the one hand, and the payment by the scholars added to private subscriptions on the other, were so considerable, and the funds required for the universal establishment of some system adequate to the wants of the whole community were so large, that it became absolutely necessary to use the greatest care and precaution, so that the efforts of individuals might not in any manner be relaxed, and so as not to intercept the funds at present appropriated to this most desirable object; they ought to assist the further efforts of persons disposed to advance the good work, rather than supplant them, always bearing in mind that the measures adopted by the Legislature should not prevent the adoption in each locality of the system best adapted to the peculiar wishes, feelings, and exigencies of the inhabitants—that they ought not to interfere with the exertions of individuals who had already assisted in their own districts, and that they ought to excite, to encourage, and to stimulate those individuals for the purpose of increasing their exer- 443 tions. Not merely were the present means of instruction deficient in amount, not only were the schools already established by far too few for the number of the younger portion of the population, not only were there too few children attending these schools, for at the present period there were not more than one million and a quarter of individuals receiving instruction, or, he believed, in England and Wales, about 1,270,000, but the most lamentable part of the case was that which had been already adverted to that evening, that the majority of the schools, at least many which were called such by courtesy, or which by courtesy, and courtesy only, had the name of school applied to them, and to the operations pursued in which the application of the term teaching was also by courtesy applied, were no more fit to be called schools-if by the name schools were meant places in which anything was taught, and if by the term teaching were implied the communication of some knowledge by some method which enabled the attendants to learn, and which added something to the acquirements which were previously possessed by the pupil-they no more deserved the names by which those things were known than did any other operation to which no person would ever dream of applying the term instruction. He did not say such was the character of all the schools. No doubt many of the schools at present in existence afforded admirable instruction to the pupil attending them; and it was as certain that there were scarcely any, however good, in which the system of instruction was not capable of some improvement, if judiciously introduced. He did not mean to say that the misapplication of the name of school to places in which instruction was pretended to be imparted referred to any of the great schools; it did not refer either to the seminaries commonly designated National Schools, or to those established under the superintendence of the British and Foreign School Society- seminaries which he believed to be well conducted; but the misapplication was to the places called schools, to the operations pursued in which the name of teaching could by no kind of flattery or courtesy be legitimately given. He believed that in a large number, he thought in more than one-half of the whole 40,000 unendowed schools, the education afforded was exceedingly imperfect. He believed he should not at all overstate the fact were 444 he to add that at least one-fourth—he was confident above one-fifth—but at least one-fourth of these schools were in such a state of discipline and accommodation—of indiscipline, he meant, of course, and utter want of accommodation—and in respect of capacity and learning, those appointed to conduct them were so utterly unprovided, that, except by courtesy and by an excess of flattery, they could not be called otherwise than pretended schools. That immediate steps should be taken to correct this they were all agreed, and the right rev. Prelate had most justly observed, that there was no one course which could be taken by the Legislature more sound or more beneficial for improving the kind of education to he given at the schools than that of providing a large supply of well-taught and properly remunerated schoolmasters. At present there was no security for the continuance of the existing schools in any given district. In many parts of the country, and particularly in those places where education was most wanted-he meant in great cities and large manufacturing towns-where the number of schools was most defective, and the kind of teaching was most lamentably deficient, this insecurity was especially felt. In some of the great towns of the north, and, he would say, in the metropolis itself, where education was most of all wanted, people were not to be found who had the power of lending their assistance towards the education of themselves or others. They had neither time to give labour, nor a purse to afford money, and yet those were the places where education was most wanted, and for which, therefore, of course, it was most incumbent on the Legislature to provide the means. It was with a view to meet all these purposes, and after considering the course which was proper and fit to be taken, that he imposed on himself the task of framing a measure in the course of last Session, to which he had since added those points that appeared to him necessary to make his plan complete, and to which he would now beg to call their Lordships' attention more particularly in detail. In the first place, it seemed to be on all hands admitted that whether they were to go further in the way of making grants of money or not, at any rate a public department was essentially necessary-called abroad the Department of Public Instruction, but which we should call the Education Board. This department was 445 absolutely necessary, if it were only for the purpose of making a judicious application of the public money. Accordingly, the plan which he had prepared consisted in the first place in the establishing of such a board. His object now was to call their Lordships' attention to the duties which that education board would have to discharge. This formed the subject of the first Bill which he intended to submit to their Lordships. With respect to those | duties relating to the superintendence and administration of charity funds, to the remedies for breach of trust, to the better and proper application of the funds for the purposes of education, they were all matters of arrangement to be considered by themselves, and which would exclusively form the subject of a separate Bill. This division of the subject into two Bills was adopted for various good reasons. Many persons felt a great difficulty with respect to a legislative measure relating to the administration of charities, who experienced no difficulty at all with respect to the duties of an education board. That was his reason, therefore, for separating the subjects. They could not perhaps be ultimately separated, because such a board could not properly discharge its duty without having some control over the application of the charity funds. The board, as it was originally proposed by him, was to consist of three paid Commissioners, not removable unless by address to the Crown by both Houses of Parliament. To these were added three ministers of State, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. But in the plan he now proposed, he had omitted the Speaker of the House of Commons, and had also omitted one of the ministers of State, so as to make the board consist of two ministers of the Crown and three life members. It was needless to state why he had made this change. Many persons were of opinion that the Speaker could have no time to devote to this subject; and it being avowedly his (Lord Brougham's) intention that the Speaker should only interfere in cases of an extraordinary nature, where his experience and authority would be required, he (Lord Brougham) thought, upon the whole, that it might be proper to omit the Speaker altogether. Then, with respect to the omission of one of the ministers of State, many persons were of opinion that it would be as well to reduce the number of ministers on the board to two, which would, at the same time, avoid the incon- 446 venience of having an even number of members constituting the board. Accordingly, two ministers only were retained. It was necessary that there should be some members of the Government on the board, because there were many things in which the concurrence of Ministers would be required. If he were asked what those things were which made it necessary to have the constant interposition of a minister of the Crown, his answer was, that under the proposed system there would be grants of money, and there would be the administration of those grants; and it was well known that they could not intrust the task of distributing those grants to any board of Commissioners with that degree of confidence that would be felt were the distribution of them made with the concurrence of a minister of the. Crown, whom both the country, and the Parliament who made the vote, would look to as responsible. It was not, however, intended that the ministers of the Crown who were members of the board should have any power with respect to the appointments of schoolmasters, in order to prevent the possibility of turning the authority of the board to purposes of abuse, nomination, and political jobbing. Having stated who were to constitute the board, the next questions were, what powers were to be vested in them, and what was the board to do for the purposes of improving and extending education? In the first place, they were to distribute the grants made from time to time by Parliament, and the funds which, were now as the law at present stood, or which, as the law respecting charity funds might hereafter be made, might become disposable by that board for the purpose of education. In the next place, the board were to have the power to provide schools but with the concurrence of the local authorities. To this point, before he proceeded further, he prayed the particular attention of their Lordships. The great leading principle of the Bill, grounded on those rules which he began to state before he entered into details, was, that there should be a concurrence in every case of the local authorities—that was to say of the people amongst whom education was to be planted, or extended, or improved—with the central body before any change whatever could take place in any one of them. He thus took security, on the one hand, against too great an interference on the part of the Government — against abuse arising from that interference, 447 against too great power being exercised by Government, against control over the education of the people by Government; and, on the other hand, he took security against what was also a possible risk, and to be carefully provided against, namely, against local abuses, against a disposition on the part of local authorities for any peculiar purposes to obtain possession of funds which they ought not to have, or to raise funds even amongst themselves which they ought not to be permitted to raise. He thus took security against both the local and central authorities, by requiring, in every instance, the joint concurrence of both. Their Lordships would presently perceive how the Bill was calculated to work out these objects. The country, for the purposes of this measure, might be considered divided into two descriptions of persons—one into municipal corporations, whose local affairs were committed to town councils who represented the people; the other into those districts of the country lying beyond the bounds of any municipal corporation, where the people had no councils, nor any body in whom the functions exercised in corporate towns were vested; in short, where, in his apprehension, there was not at present existing any competent, safe, and beneficial body to discharge those duties which were intrusted to corporations. Now, supposing both the one and the other of this description of persons to desiderate the application of the provisions of the Bill he wished to introduce, it became incumbent on him to show in what manner those provisions would work. Suppose in any town or parish there was a great deficiency found in the means of instruction: it might either be that there was no school, or that there were too few schools, or it might be that the schools already existing were of a bad description, and ill provided with teachers, or it might be that two or more of these defects, or all of them joined together (which he was afraid was too often the case), existed. Immediately, and of course, an attempt would be made when the Bill came into operation to amend these defects, by-providing a sufficient supply, or a better kind of education, or by extending the number of schools, or improving those that existed. But the town council of the place could do nothing of itself. It must make its application to the education department. It must lay an estimate before the board, with all the particulars of the wants complained of, It must lay a plan before the 448 board, an estimate of what was required; it must also lay before the board a statement of the kind of school required, the different branches of education to be taught, the mode of teaching best adapted for the purpose of their local situation, and also a statement in respect of the rules and regulations for the management of the school, for the choice of the teachers, for the discipline and for the visitation and inspection of the schools, and for the relations between the schools and the patrons. All these rules must, by the town council, or the new local authorities (of which he should afterwards speak), be prepared and laid before the board, with the reasons for requiring the sanction of the board to their proposals. If the board, on listening to the reasons, were convinced, on examining the plan approved of in it, and on scrutinising the estimates, had no objection to them— if, above all, and first of all, after examining accurately the rules and regulations of the schools either proposed to be established, or proposed to be extended, or proposed to be improved, the board approved of them—then the board, and not till then, might give its sanction for further proceedings. The board might then say to the local authorities—"We see you require so much money to be advanced out of the parliamentary grant. Furnish a certain proportion according to the rules which we have laid down, and you shall have the sum required." It was unpleasant to interrupt oneself in a statement, but the right rev. Prelate had made an observation which justified him in stepping aside for a moment from the point he was pursuing. The system hitherto adopted in extending assistance from the Parliamentary grants, was exceedingly imperfect. The rule laid down by the Treasury was, that as often as any application was made from any quarter for assistance from the Parliamentary grant, it should only be given after a certain proportion—one half, he believed—of the sum required being raised by the parties making the application. It was said, that this was holding the balance quite even between the British and Foreign Society, and the National Society. He himself first thought it was so, and during the first year it was perfectly just, for the same application was made "from us" and from the National School. When he said "us," it was because he happened to be a member of the British and Foreign School Society, having, indeed, presided at its first meeting thirty years ago. In the 449 beginning, then, it seemed that both societies were on an equal footing with regard to the advances made to them from the Parliamentary grants. But this was confined to the first year. The British and Foreign Society actually exhausted their funds during that year; it was therefore unable to make a proportionate advance in subsequent years, so that next year upwards of two-thirds or three-fifths, or even four-fifths of the Parliamentary grant went to the National Society, and necessarily so, because that society being richer, was able to make the required proportionate advance. It did not, however, at all follow, that because applications were not made from any given place, therefore there did not exist an equal want of assistance. He could name places where the assistance from the Parliamentary grant was most pressingly wanted, and yet where there were no means of raising twenty shillings towards a fund. It was therefore imperative upon the Treasury to alter their present system. They must have a system capable of contraction, expansion, variation, and adaptation. To require a particular place to furnish two-thirds or three-fourths of the proportion of the sum wanted, might in some cases be too little, and in others to require even a much less proportion of the money, might be too much; and to require what was actually right, might probably occur only once in five hundred cases. The consequence was, that the money granted by Parliament was exhausted, and that yet education was wanted in many places. For aught he knew, the mere education and training of teachers might be alone sufficient to exhaust the Parliamentary grants, or it might be, that the Parliamentary grants should never be allowed except in those very rare instances where no fund could be got by rate locally, nor by private assistance locally. In all other cases he apprehended a school-rate might safely, and ought justly, and would beneficially, be directed under the authority of the Board, with the concurrence of the local authority. The people of such places could not complain, because they had consented to it by their representatives; they could not complain of their burden, because they had asked it by their representatives. They, and they alone, were to originate the plan. Unless they desired it they were not to be rated; unless they called for the rate, or for the power of rating themselves, the Bill gave no authority to impose any rate whatever upon them. So much for the 450 liberty which the Bill gave to what might be called the voluntary principle, in the proper sense of the word upon the spot. But then, on the other hand, that they should not at their own will and pleasure have the power of rating themselves without the authority of the central body he took to be perfectly clear also; because it did so happen that even representatives chosen by the rate-payers at large were sometimes disposed to incur expenses which their constituents if left to themselves would not have allowed. Therefore it became not at all superfluous to interpose a protection against the possibility of such a step. Accordingly the joint consent of the local authority of the district and the central department was required before any rate could be made. He would now call upon their Lordships to observe how the Bill would work with respect to these regulations. Suppose a local body were to propound to the Board, with an estimate and statement of the want of education in their district, a set of rules extremely injudicious—a set of rules to which the Legislature and the country ought not to afford its sanction; suppose there should be any intolerance in the case; suppose, for instance, the majority of the town council should be disposed to oppress the minority; suppose that the Dissenters should have obtained a great preponderance in that body, and should propose, for instance, that no clergyman of the Established Church—(he was sure that such a case was not the least likely to happen, but he put it merely as an illustration)—suppose that the Dissenters, having authority in that body, should propose that no minister of the Established Church should ever be a teacher in their school, it would then be for the board to say—constituted, as it would be first, by the three irremovable Commissioners, and then by the two responsible ministers of the Crown—whether the school applied for should be established under their authority, and under the powers and provisions of this bill, from being a master of which one of the school-rules positively and imperatively excluded any minister of the Established Church. He would suppose another case, which he hoped, nay, which he was quite sure, could not happen; but suppose there should be any town-council where, instead of the Dissenters having obtained a majority, the Churchmen had a majority, and that they should be disposed in their rules to propose that one of them 451 should be, that no Dissenter, or any other than a member of the Church of England, should ever be master of their schools. The board would then have the power to say to the town-council, "It is utterly impossible one can consent to this. It would be oppressive to the Dissenters; intolerable to all who were not members of the Church, not creditable to the Church itself, nay, it would be injurious to the Church; therefore, as friends of the Establishment and friends of toleration, it is our bounden duty to refuse our sanction to schools, one of the rules of which is of that exclusive and intolerant description." Why, then, it might be asked, what would be the consequence? The majority of the representatives of the rate-payers might say, "We have required to have schools established, and because one of our rules is, that no Dissenter shall be a teacher in them, we are refused assistance. Is it not hard that if we choose, as a majority, not to admit a Dissenter to be a teacher, we should be deprived of any assistance from the Parliamentary grant?" To which he would answer thus. "It is all very well for you who happen to be a majority, that there should exist such a rule, but there happens to be a minority as well as a majority, and I feel it my duty to interpose the shield of the board of education to protect that minority, so as to prevent the majority acting intolerantly towards them, and from excluding them and their children from those very schools to the support of which you, the majority, require the board to give you authority to levy a rate from that minority." Well, then, what happens. The board refuses to give the council authority to levy a rate. They must be left without a rate, and the parish must be left as it now is, and no school can be established upon this principle. Those who wish to subscribe to a school of their own, where the rule shall be that no Churchman, or no Dissenter, as it may happen, shall be the master of the school, may subscribe according to the voluntary principle out of their own money; but they can have no portion of a grant from Parliament; they shall have no power to levy a rate in an unjust, unequal, and intolerant shape. In all these cases matters would be left as they now are. He believed that those cases would be very rare, and that they were much more likely to happen in argument than in practice. Their Lordships would, therefore, perceive that compulsion being excluded, that intolerance 452 being excluded, that the joint operation of the board and the local authorities—and only the control of the board were necessary, and where safe as well as advantageous— being alone allowed—it might be truly said, that the voluntary principle, as far as it could be applied, would, according to the disposition and desires of each place, be exercised in applying and putting in force the power and authority of this bill for the improvement of the school and the adoption of conciliatory measures, But he might be asked, as had been frequently asked out of doors, and once or twice asked by one for whom he had the greatest possible regard—he meant a noble Friend in the other House of Parliament—he might be asked why, when stating that additional means would be rendered necessary to carry this measure into effect in places where there were no municipal corporations, he did not take the machinery that was in existence, instead of introducing new machinery? "You have, it is said, the machinery of the new Poor-law, you have the boards of guardians that have already been formed, and unions are likely to take place in all those parts of the country where they do not at present exist." The Poor-law Bill, he was told, would sooner or later extend over the whole country, and why not, therefore, take advantage of the arrangements of that important measure for the purpose of enabling the establishment of schools under the provisions of the Bill he now proposed, in places beyond the limits of the municipal corporations. He thought he could answer that question very satisfactorily, and show how utterly it was impossible, with a view to the well-working of this measure, as well as the right-working of the Poor-law Bill itself, to make this junction between them. In the first place, the Poor-law Commissioners were sufficiently worked already. The boards of guardians were sufficiently worked already. Indeed, he knew of places where it was complained of that they did not attend. But he passed that over, for that was really the least of his objections. No person was ever a more strenuous friend to that great measure than he was. He had often times had reason to repeat his opinion of the absolute necessity of that Bill; he had done so before the event, and since the event of its entire success in most places, and in all places of its succeeding better and failing less than he could ever have expected. Nevertheless, 453 he could not shut his eyes to the fact, that in some places that important measure—a measure calculated to work so much good, and in the end, he would venture to say, absolutely certain to conciliate all men's favour and affection—a measure which had already done so much good, not only to those who pay rates, for that was the least part of its merit in his eyes, nay, it was no part of its recommendation with him in supporting it, but in bettering the condition of the poor themselves, in increasing their comforts, and above all things in giving them a higher tone of moral feeling, a greater self respect and self-dependence; notwithstanding his partiality to that measure, and his absolutely certain conviction that in the end all men, even those who most oppose and most denounce it, would be reconciled to it, and approve of it, nay, further, would be grateful for it, yet he could not disguise from himself, nor conceal from their Lordships, that in some considerable portions of the country it had not met with that favour which it merited, but had been met in some quarters of the country, by a spirit of opposition and of attack which had not been confined to the measure itself, but had been extended even to its authors, and it was still in some places what might properly and shortly be termed an unpopular measure. But because the new Poor-law Bill was in some respects and in some places an unpopular measure, was he, to extend any part of the unpopularity of that measure to the Bill which he was then submitting to their Lordships' consideration? Was he to load with any unnecessary unpopularity derived from a connection with the Poor-law Bill, and which was peculiar to the Poor-law Bill, and which did not naturally belong to this Education Bill—was he to load with any unnecessary unpopularity, derived from such sources, a measure which to succeed must depend much upon the good feeling of the people? A general system of education, whether under the Bill he then proposed or under any other Bill, could not possibly be extended and improved, much less made universal over the country, unless the affection and respect of the people were, by all possible means, conciliated. That being the case, it would be one of the least prudent and least safe courses that could be taken to load this new measure, and through the medium of this measure to load education generally, with any one atom, however small, of the unpopu- 454 larity which at present, and only at present, attended the other measure. In like manner, no doubt, certain controversies would arise with respect to the administration of the new system of education. Great heats and contentions would doubtless at times arise as to the mode in which the provisions of the Bill should, in certain instances, be carried into effect. The board might differ from the local authorities—the local authorities might split amongst themselves —disputes, no doubt, would oftentimes run high, and frequently, perhaps, upon the very questions upon which there was the least real ground for difference, and upon which it were most desirable that there should be a perfect union of feeling and conduct. Against such difficulties the Bill could not provide, because they were difficulties that arose out of the infirmity of human nature. But with such difficulties to contend against, was he further to load his Education Bill with any of those matters of contention and of controversy to the Poor-law Bill? or, on the other hand was he to load the Poor-law Bill with any of the difficulties which were peculiar to the Education Bill, which might arise out of the Education Bill, but which could not by possibility arise out of the administration of the Poor-law, unless some injudicious union of the two were effected? It was his wish, and in the framing of the Bill it had been his endeavour, to keep the two measures totally and completely separate. He would not in any way unite them. Foreseeing a sufficient amount of difficulty in the administration of the one, he was most anxious not to introduce into it an of the bitter strife of the other. He now came to that part of the measure which related to the extension of the new system to those places in which there were no municipal bodies. For this purpose, keeping still to the voluntary principle, which ran through the whole of the Bill, he proposed, that if any parish or township, not having municipal institutions, chose, it might obtain for itself such a body as should give it the power of availing itself of the provisions of the Bill, and of putting those provisions in force in the way he had already described by the mutual assent of the local authority and the central board. For that purpose it was provided, that if any given number (five or six for instance) of persons in the parish or township made a requisition to the parish officer, the parish officer should call a meeting of all persons who liked to attend such a meeting. Who 455 those persons were he would presently state to their Lordships. The bulk of them, no doubt, would be the rate-payers and owners of property in the parish or township. When these persons, together with those whom he should by and by mention, had been summoned and assembled at the meeting convened by the parish officer, this question was to be propounded to them—"Did they choose to have a school committee appointed? "If the majority of them said," No, we do not want "it—we have education enough," he would not force it upon them; he would leave them as they were, waiting till the general progress of improvement had extended to them, and made them desirous of availing themselves of the utmost advantages that an improved system of education could afford them. If the majority of the meeting did not agree to have a committee, still it might be said amongst them, "We are the friends of education, but still we think there is enough here—we do not like anything in the shape of Government interfering, even through the medium of such a board as this—we do not like rates —let us remain as we are." Very well, they would remain as they were; the Bill would not apply to them; they might continue in the course which they deemed best, or which was the most agreeable to them. But if, on the other hand, the majority said, "We want schools, or the schools which now exist want steadier friends to support them—it is not right that we should allow our education to rest upon such precarious grounds—we want a better system of instruction and more money for that purpose," then if they chose they would appoint a school committee, which school committee would be composed of rate-payers, and the members of the committee so appointed would have the power of levying the rate for school purposes upon the parish. Having thus provided for the manner in which the school committee was to be appointed, the Bill afterwards detailed the manner in which the committee was to act, and defined with much exactitude the limit to be imposed upon the authority of the board on the one hand, and of the committee on the other. From the statement he had just made their Lordships would perceive that what the council were with respect to education in corporate towns, the school committee would be in places which had no corporations; and, further, that by the institution of the school committees, the system, according 456 to the principle he had already described, would be made quite universal throughout the whole of the country. Then the question arose, how was the constituency to be formed which was to choose the school committee? He besought such of their Lordships as honoured him with their attention upon that important question not to be staggered with the proposition for the qualification of voters which he was about to explain; because he began by stating that it was entirely new, and therefore he knew was not likely to find favour in the eyes of some of those whom he addressed. It might also be objected to by those who were against increasing the weight of the people in their elective capacity. Furthermore, he admitted, that after it had been once adopted—and he was sure candour could go no further than he was then going, for he was raising against himself that which he felt to be the most powerful argument that could be employed against his proposition, and running the risk of alarming such of their Lordships as were generally favourable to the Bill, on account of the possible perversion to other uses of the principle he proposed to introduce—a principle carrying with it all the startling effects of per. feet novelty, with a strong liability to be extended, nay, with a great temptation to be extended, to other uses which many of their Lordships would think a perversion and an abuse of it—he admitted that this part of the Bill was liable to all these objections; but still, with the feelings that he entertained upon the subject, it was utterly impossible that he could do otherwise than incorporate it in any measure upon the subject of education which it might be his lot or his fortune to introduce to the Legislature. He must add, having with the utmost candour pointed out the very formidable nature of the objections which he was quite sure would be used against him, and having also adverted, although he hoped only for the purpose of warning their Lordships against their own feelings and their own prejudices (if he might take leave to use such a term upon such a subject)—having with that view stated the objections to his principle in their broad dimensions, and painted his project, he really thought, in its very worst colours—having so done, might he be permitted to add, in fairness to himself and to his measure, that the principle to which he had thus adverted was not so combined with the Bill as to be 457 inseparable from it if there were found to be an invincible repugnance to it, so that those who approved generally of the rest of the measure, but objected to that one point of it, would not be under the necessity of voting against the whole Bill? That part of the Bill, if the objection to it were invincible, might be lopped off and cast away without injury to the remainder. If their Lordships were to tear out that provision of the Bill with all the disgust, abhorrence, and aversion that men could properly entertain towards any proposition, they might do so if they pleased—it did not necessarily affect the rest of the measure. He hoped it had vigour to survive the operation. His first hope was, that the operation would not be performed: it did not follow that death should ensue. Did their Lordships suppose that it was universal suffrage that he proposed to introduce? He thought that something might be said for universal suffrage in an Education Bill. The qualification of those who were alone to levy the tax required that they should pay the tax themselves which they joined in levying. He did not propose universal suffrage as regarded the election of the school committee. Not at all. The school committee was to be composed of persons who paid as their neighbours paid, and who had no right to put their hands into their neighbours' pockets without at the same time in proportion putting their hands into their own. So that universal suffrage, if' applicable to the education franchise, that was to say to the franchise for the choice of a school committee, whose duties and labours were to be confined solely and exclusively to the management of school concerns, was not liable to the same objection in this instance as it would be if applied to the elections of Members of Parliament, because the party chosen had the qualification of being a rate-payer himself. But in truth, it was not universal suffrage that he was about to propose; he proposed a qualification for the franchise—a qualification not only, he was much afraid, infinitely restricted in comparison with universal suffrage—not only a qualification, he was sorry to add, that would exclude a vast portion of the industrious, honest, worthy fellow-citizens in every part of the country—a qualification that would not only keep out from all concern and all voice in the affairs of any one parish or township a vast many thousands of their fellow-citizens, who, if 458 there were not certain qualifications required for performing the duties of the office, which unhappily they had not yet attained, would in every respect be most fitted to take part in the proceedings of these committees—but a qualification, a franchise, so restricted that when he stated the nature of it their Lordships would at once perceive that it was peculiarly appropriate where the question was the choosing a committee for the superintending the affairs of a school. He proposed an education qualification. The Legislature had given a right to choose Members of Parliament to persons who possessed a 10l. franchise or a 40s. freehold. It had also given a right to choose town councillors to persons who were rated in anyway. Of course his object was, that all those persons who were rated at any amount whatever should in the first place enjoy the franchise of voting for the school committee; but then he went further. He held that there could be no harm, but every kind of benefit possible, in extending it in the direction he was about to mention. They wanted well-informed persons; they wanted persons of sober and industrious habits—men whom they could safely trust —men who were not likely to be led away by their ignorance, or to be debauched by bribery and corruption, to which persons of dissipated habits, and who were not respectable in their life and conversation, were liable. He proposed, then, to take those men who had given a proof that they were of sober habits, that they were of industrious lives; that they were friends to education; that they had made efforts to educate themselves; and men who, to a certain extent, had profitted by their successful efforts, and had already, to a certain extent become educated men. In the first place, he might, perhaps, be asked what test he had that these men were sufficiently educated? and in the next place, it might be inquired how, when he had proved the extent of their education, he proposed to unite them with the particular locality in which the provisions of the Bill were to be put in force? In reply to these questions he would state, that in order to combine the voters with the locality, he required twelve months' residence. It was provided in the Bill that no person, otherwise qualified, should be at liberty to use his qualification unless he had been resident in the parish or township for the full period of twelve months. These, then, were the persons who inde- 459 pendent of the rate-payers, would be admitted to the franchise, The board would have the power of enrolling, by an act of its own, all mechanics' institutions, all associations for education, all literary societies for all classes, and all education societies for all classes, under certain restrictions and according to certain rules; so that all persons who had for a certain time been members of those most useful, most advantageous, most meritorious bodies—all persons who for a certain time had devoted themselves to the affairs of those societies and associations, and thus promoted the education of others and improved their own—it was provided by the Bill that all these persons, having passed a certain time in such course, and being inclined to become members of such a body, should have a right to vote, each in the parish in which he resided, for the members of the school committee. He went a step further. He proposed to extend this privilege to all persons of whatever rank who had been educated at either of the universities, at the inns of court, at the inns of chancery, at the public schools, or any schools whatever, and of all classes of the community whatever, were it high, middle, or low—he proposed that all these persons, the time they had spent at school being taken as guarantee that they were not ignorant, illiterate, uneducated persons, should, after a year's residence, be admitted to the right of voting on the school affairs of the town, parish, or district in which a school committee should be appointed. He had thus detailed boldly and at once all the points of the Bill upon which he anticipated the strongest opposition. The principle of election which he had last explained was, he knew, the most formidable. He might have omitted it altogether; he might have left the franchise in country districts and in unincorporated towns upon the same footing as that upon which it already stood. But as he entertained now, and had always entertained, a very strong and decided opinion in favour of this kind of encouragement to education, in favour of this species of indirect, he could not call it compulsory, furthering of education—as he had always had a very strong opinion of the merits, the transcendant merits, of those industrious classes, who, to their immortal honour, struggling with every disadvantage—struggling against narrow circumstances and cramped means—struggling against the difficulties and the disadvanta- 460 ges that resulted from an imperfect education—struggling against the obstacles and impediments presented by those who would discourage them in their efforts to improve, from a foolish and preposterous jealousy of their treading upon their own heels, and who, for that cause, would prevent them rising in society by the best and most meritorious ladder— mental superiority—who against all these disadvantages and disencouragements, still occupied the highest place in the estimation of those who looked at man beneath the surface— with the heartfelt respect which he had always cherished for those persons—with the affection and love which he entertained for those classes from a long and intimate knowledge of them, and from a deep and daily increasing sense of their transcendant merit, both of understanding and honesty, and he must be permitted to add of genuine independence, he believed he should not have discharged his duty, nor have acted fairly towards his own feelings or principles, nor fairly towards the persons he had mentioned, nor fairly towards this measure of education, if he did not in the outset declare and explain the nature of the principle he had introduced into it, and which he hoped would be permitted to receive the sanction of the Legislature. He preferred making the statement boldly and at once because he knew he could not press the Rill through another stage without the necessity of apologising to their Lordships for having in the first instance avoided any allusion to so new and so important a principle. He took leave to add that he had never concealed from their Lordships, for the last two or three years, the strong impression which prevailed in his mind of the necessity, as he stated the other night, of a material extension of the elective franchise, properly so called. He spoke then not of the school franchise, but of the parliamentary franchise. The parliamentary franchise, it was true, had nothing to do with the measure he was then bringing forward, and ought properly, no doubt, to be altogether excluded from their consideration upon that occasion. If he adverted to it at all, it was for the purpose of reminding their Lordships of what he had stated a few nights ago, and which had elsewhere been most unaccountably misunderstood. It was stated, that the idea of a further extension of the suffrage was a new opinion that he had recently taken up—an opinion that he had never advanced before. Why he stated the very same 461 thing in the last Session of Parliament. He stated only a few months ago, standing in his place in that House, that his opinion was, that to amend a few of the details of the Reform Bill would not be sufficient, but that it would be absolutely necessary to extend the right of voting. He had got no new light upon the subject, although he believed others had. He held now the same opinions that he held the last Session, and which he had then declared. At the close of the Session, he expressly and explicitly declared what his opinions upon that point were; and only about six weeks ago he had repeated them, in a letter addressed by him to the people of Manchester. To say, therefore, that he had received anything like a new light upon the subject, was a mere forgetful ness of the whole facts of the case, and he should not be doing justice to other persons, nor common justice to himself, if he did not take that opportunity of alluding to the erroneous statement. But this had no connexion with the Education Bill, the franchise conferred by which was, as he had already explained, a very ample extension of the franchise as it was given either by the Reform Bill or the Municipal Corporation Bill. But that part of the Bill which related to the franchise was separable from the rest. It mixed itself up with none of the other details of the measure. It appeared to him (Lord Brougham), to be a great improvement; and, he hoped and trusted, that the Bill would not pass without it; but if any man objected to it, unless he objected to the rest of the Bill upon other grounds, he would have no right to endeavour to defeat the whole measure on account of any disinclination or aversion which he might feel for this part of the proposition: it could, with ease, be separated from the remainder. He had not introduced the vote by ballot; he did not consider that the vote by ballot would be applicable to this subject. His opinion upon the ballot had undergone some change, and he was not ashamed nor afraid to avow it. He still thought that the ballot would afford no protection to the tenant; he still thought, that it would be inefficacious to the protection of the tenant in towns; but, at the same time, he could not shut his eyes to the fearful position in which the working of the Bill had placed another class of voters, who deserved protection as well as the tenants—he meant the inhabitants of the towns, the honest tradesman who dared to vote as his conscience 462 dictated. Therefore, it was, that he had come to the opinion that the ballot must be tried, unless some other measure could be devised and passed for the protection of that valuable class of the community. Having come to that opinion with the utmost reluctance—having had all along, for reasons which he need not then repeat nor explain, having oftentimes adverted to them in the other House of Parliament— having throughout the whole of his career entertained a degree of repugnance and aversion for the ballot, which he had never found words sufficiently strong to express —nothing but an absolute, uncontrollable necessity—nothing but the total want of any other remedy—nothing but the despair of finding (after so many fruitless attempts had been made) even the shadow of a protection to the honest and conscientious voter in any other direction, or from any other quarter—nothing short of this could have persuaded him to overcome the aversion and repugnance which he entertained to the ballot. But the experience of the last two or three years, and more particularly of the last election, compelled him, with great reluctance, to come over to the opinion that the ballot should be tried. However, he did not think that any necessity existed for introducing the ballot in school elections. Here, he thought, the common mode of voting would be preferable. At all events, he expected it would succeed. Whether their Lordships, and the other House of Parliament, should be of opinion that the education suffrage should he proposed, should be taken to its full extent, or with restrictions and modifications, or should be omitted altogether, leaving the rate-payers only to elect the school committee, in either case, he was quite sure, that there would be no necessity to prescribe any other than the ordinary mode of election in the choice of these local bodies. He had now stated the outline of all the provisions of the measure. He was perfectly ready to admit that it was one of considerable extent, in many respects new, and in all respects dealing with interests of the highest importance. He thought, that the more their Lordships considered its details, and the principle upon which it proceeded, the more it would be found to deserve the name which he last year gave it, namely, a measure for the purpose of doing all that is wanted for the education of the people without doing more, of interfering on the part of the Legislature and the Government as far as 463 is necessary, and no farther, a measure for reconciling all wishes and all local interests, and interfering with none, supplanting nobody, suppressing no efforts, and giving rise to no vexatious heart-burnings or jealousies, but simply consulting the improvement of the people, and the bettering of their condition, without at all interfering with their domestic affairs, or endeavouring to enforce those who, to be really improved, ought to be enticed and drawn. It was a Bill which reconciled many apparent inconsistencies and established forms which amounted in the whole to one great universal system of education, as far as anything systematic could be applied to a country the diversity of whose local circumstances were so great and various as in England. If in bringing forward a measure upon this subject, he had overlooked or neglected the great number of schools already established, the great amount of charitable funds applicable to the purposes of education, the unequal distribution of those funds, and the state of the country with respect to its religious denominations; if, neglecting all these circumstances, he had at once framed a plan upon some general systematic, symmetrical principle, it would have appeared far more plausible to their Lordships, much more beautiful to contemplate, much more deserving the name of a system, much more entitled to the useless praise of symmetry and proportion, but when it came to be worked would be found applicable perfectly to no place, perhaps repugnant to the feelings, and irreconcileable to the interests of many places, and in almost all places less advantageous than a measure founded upon the same principles as that which he was then introducing to their Lordships' attention. He entreated the attention of their Lordships, he solicited the attention of the country, to the subject; he anxiously hoped for the support of the country, and for the support, above all, of those who had been the steady, the indomitable, and the zealous friends of education for all classes and all sects. That there should be any clause in a measure of this sort excluding religious instruction no man in his sober senses would ever for a moment dream of. That there should be a clause providing for religious instruction, and laying it down as an absolute rule that the whole of that branch of education should be given in such places, could only be supposed by a man equally out of his senses. That there should be no exclu- 464 sion of religious instruction, but that, on the contrary, there should be a direct recognition of it, he was decidedly of opinion. He certainly was one of those who thought that the Bill should contain, in positive and express terms, a provision that in all schools founded, extended, or improved under the Bill, the Scriptures should be read. He had accordingly introduced into the measure, a provision making it imperative upon the board to give its sanction, whether for the foundation, extension, or improvement of schools, to none of which the rules and regulations did not prescribe, that a part of the reading of the scholars should be from the bible, and that the whole scriptures should be read. He did not mean that the scriptures only should be read, far from it, God forbid, but that they should form a part of the reading. The clause was of course accompanied with this proviso, that the children of any Jewish or Roman Catholic parents who might attend the schools, should not be required to be present when the scriptures were read, unless the parents desired it. He had no doubt that this was fit and proper to be added to the Bill; and he was equally of opinion, that it would still all differences of opinion upon the subject of a national system of education. He had sanguine hopes of the success of the measure. If it were well administered—if education continued popular in the country—if nothing were done to raise the spirit either of political faction, or, above all, of religious discord, in the course of the passing of the Bill—and if, after it had passed and come into operation, those feelings should continue which took their rise out of a common and universal and truly wise, as well as truly Christian regard for the right instruction of the people—then he verily believed that the Legislature which had passed the measure, would be acknowledged in all time to come to have bestowed the greatest blessing that ever lawgiver conferred upon a nation. He felt that he ought to apologise for having detained their Lordships so long, but he conceived that he should not have discharged his duty if he kept back any one feeling that he entertained either upon, or in connection with, this important subject. The noble and learned Lord then laid the Bills upon the table.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, he should not have troubled their Lordships on the present occasion but for something which had fallen from the noble and learned Lord 465 in the latter portion of his observations. He had no hesitation in declaring that there were many sentiments in the long and powerful speech that had been delivered by the noble and learned Lord in which he heartily concurred; and more especially he had great satisfaction in finding that from the noble Lord's proposed system religious instruction was not excluded. Nay, so far was religious instruction from being excluded, that in every school the reading of the Scriptures was enjoined.
The Earl of Winchilsea
It was to form part of the system of education; and, therefore, instead of religious instruction being excluded from the noble Lord's plan, it was required. This was in accordance with the sentiments on the subject contained in the petition which had been presented by a noble Marquess from Manchester, and in the petition which had been presented by a noble and learned Lord. He repeated that that part of the noble and learned Lord's proposition gave him great satisfaction; for he had always held it to be the first and most positive duty of a Christian legislator of this country, however disposed he might be to extend the education of the people (and he was far from being indisposed to extend that education as widely as it could, with propriety, be extended), to take care that of that education, religious instruction should form the foundation. He felt that he had not sufficient ability to follow the noble and learned Lord into his numerous details on the subject; but he was apprehensive that those details were so extensive and so complicated, that it would be impracticable to found upon them any general system of education throughout the country. There was one point to which he certainly objected, and that was the establishment of boards of commissioners for life, armed with powers to counteract the wishes of the majority of those by whom the schools were to be supported; for, if he understood the noble and learned Lord correctly, where the majority of a parish or district was in favour of the establishment of a school on such or such principles, the Commissioners might overrule their decision, and give effect to the opinion of the minority.
All that the Commis- 466 sioners could do under such circumstances, would be to decide that there should be no school.
The Earl of Winchilsea
said, he should be sorry to see a board of commissioners armed with such power as to render the decision of the majority ineffective. He would not go into any consideration of other opinions which in the course of his speech had been maintained by the noble and learned Lord; especially as they were not connected with the subject before their Lordships. If it should be proposed to extend the suffrage under the Reform Bill, or to introduce voting by ballot, on those questions he should be prepared to state his opinion whenever they might be brought before their Lordships; but he could not help expressing his great regret that the great question of Parliamentary Reform, the agitation connected with which had begun to subside, was to be again thrown open; and he could not avoid anticipating the most prejudicial consequences from the proceeding.
wished to explain with respect to the provision of the Bill, to which the noble Earl had adverted. It was only to prevent a majority from levying a rate for a purpose in which the minority was uninterested, and to which they were opposed. The majority might still subscribe money among themselves for the purpose of having the description of school which they preferred. For instance, suppose the majority of the inhabitants of a parish were Dissenters, and they wanted to have a description of school which would include the children of the Church of England persuasion, and to levy a general rate for that purpose, "Oh no," the Commissioners would say, "we will hold the balance between the members of the Church of England and the Dissenters, and we will not allow the Dissenters to levy a general rate for their particular purpose." The same would take place, if the majority of the inhabitants, being members of the Church of England, wished to include the children of Dissenters.
§ Bill read a first time.