The Archbishop of Canterbury
said, that he had had the honour of presenting several petitions to their Lordships' House this evening, all of which had been directed against the plan proposed by the Government in relation to the scheme of education, and against the appointment of a committee of the Privy Council to carry out that measure; and praying the House to avert the evil by which the Church was threatened by the adoption of such a course. In the general sentiments expressed in those petitions he entirely concurred, although he entertained a full sense that that concurrence of opinion placed him in a situation extremely distressing to himself—he meant that of being in opposition to her Majesty's Government. He had never found himself in such a position, without the greatest pain and concern, and he could assure their Lordships, that nothing but the paramount importance of his duty could have determined him to place himself in that position, which was in many respects unbecoming; but, at the same time, he felt that standing in the situation in which he stood, invested as he was, to a great degree, with the important charge of the Church, the guardianship of which, as well as of the moral and religious interests of the country, in a great measure, devolved upon him, he could not, consistently with the obligations under which he was placed, decline coming forward upon this occasion. If, however, so far as his own personal feelings were concerned, he was disposed to decline the duty, he could not have resisted the call which was made on him by the voice, he would not say of the clergy, but of all the friends of the Church, and not only of all the friends of the Church, but also by a very numerous body of dissenters. The clergy, who were always the objects of attack upon these occasions, might possibly be reputed to be acting from interested motives, but could that charge, by any possibility, be supported, when it was seen that a body, dissenting from the Church, a body most highly respectable in itself, most anxious for religious freedom, and entirely devoid of political bias, had come forward on this occasion, and could it be supposed that the Church had no regard for the interests 1235 of religion, and would sacrifice the real interests of the people to political considerations? With respect to those who were friends of the Church, it would be seen that this was a matter which affected the true foundation, not only of the Church, but of religion itself. It was a question as to the manner in which the people should be educated—whether they should receive their education on the sound principles of the Church, or whether the door should be thrown open to the instillation of principles of every sect, however wild or extravagant. Much had been said against the clergy upon this occasion, and he presumed that they were attacked as distinguished from the Church, because they were supposed to be the most vulnerable. It was said, that the clergy wished to keep the people in ignorance, that they were actuated by bigotry, and that they put forward pretensions to the exclusive education of the people. There was, however, no foundation for any such objections. If they were guilty of any crime, it was not that they were adverse to the diffusion of knowledge, but that they wished to extend it further than it seemed proper that the people should have it, and that to knowledge of affairs relating to the world—to mere secular knowledge, they would add the sanction of religion. With regard to the accusation of bigotry, he presumed that that meant nothing more than a decided attachment to that religion which they considered the best, and to that charge certainly they were inclined to plead guilty, and he thought that there was no man in his senses but would give them credit for feelings of that kind. As to their arrogating to themselves the education of the people, all that they desired was, that the education of the children of the parents among their flocks who were attached to the Church might not be taken out of their hands, that there might be no interference with them in the performance of their duty with the young as well as the old, so that the children of their flocks might be educated in the same principles, and in the same faith and doctrines of religion, which they would afterwards hear preached in Church. In considering this charge more particularly, their Lordships would perhaps allow him to say a few words in reference to the history of the education of the poor of this country. It certainly might appear surprising to those who were pot acquainted with the state of things in 1236 those ages, that very little was done at the time of the Reformation for the education of the poor. The ignorance which up to that time had pervaded the country, and the evils which had resulted from it, had made the greatest impression upon the minds of all men, and the ignorance which was then most particularly desired to be removed was that of the higher classes, and many schools were therefore established immediately after the Reformation, which were, however, in the nature of grammar schools, and were meant for the instruction of the higher classes in languages, in order that they might be recovered from the ignorance which existed among them. It was not, however, until the end of the seventeenth century, in 1685, that the first charity school was erected in this great town for the education of the poor. That school was established by the friends of the Church. Subsequently, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the want of education among the poor began to press on the minds of the friends of the Church, and at that time societies, composed exclusively of the clergy, were formed, and they in the course of a few years extended the scheme, which subsequently continued to flourish to the great advantage of this town. The schools had since increased in number, but that was the work of the Church; it was the work of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; and while at first the number of persons instructed amounted to only 400 or 500, and had subsequently increased to 700, it was now so much extended that a selection of them only could obtain room in St. Paul's Cathedral at the annual celebration. Under the authority of this Society, about 1,500 schools had been established in England and Wales, and they were instituted on the principles of the Established Church, and not on the principle of dissent. What was done then was very inadequate, and when the population increased, the want of education in this country was found to be so great, as to make the friends of religion despair. It seemed impossible to devise remedies for the defects in the existing system, for nothing material had been done by the friends of the Church; and at that time throughout the country there was such a want of education, and there was such a mass of uneducated people, that the most sanguine persons would have been disheartened, About that time, however, a 1237 new system was established. He meant that which was first instituted by Dr. Bell, which was formed on the model of a school which he had seen in the East Indies, and which was afterwards adopted by Mr. Lancaster, and was now indiscriminately used, so far as the mechanism was concerned, as the Madras or Lancasterian system, for they were both the same, and gave an opportunity to the Society to extend their labours for the education of the poor. The House was aware, what was the state of the country at that time, and in seeing the change which had taken place in the course of thirty years since those schools had been first established, would be able to judge of the great obligations under which the country rested to this Society, and how much they were entitled to it for its labours. The Society at first proceeded to the accomplishment of their object by promoting the erection of new schools "throughout the country, and establishing a central school in London. In their report, they said, that they found themselves in connection with almost every diocese in England and Wales, and that by means of their funds, amounting to 120,000l., they had aided in procuring the establishment of new schools in 1,553 places. The number of schools formerly established, was 6,778, and the scholars amounted to upwards of 597,000; while in 1837, the number of schools was 17,341, while the scholars were a million and eighty-seven. Now, when the House heard these facts stated, the accuracy of which there was no reason to doubt, he thought that they might admit that the charge against the clergy, that they desired to keep the people without education, was totally without foundation. But then they were charged also with bigotry. Was it, however, to be expected—could the country with any show of reason expect—that they could act in opposition to their own principles and to the principles of that Church of which they were members? When they professed that their religion was pure in its doctrines, true in its constitution, sound in its morals, and was calculated in every respect to supply the spiritual wants of the poorer classes, could they endeavour to promote the education of children on principles of religion opposite to those which they themselves professed? He must say, that although they might be exclusive in their principles, and although they might confine the education 1238 and the instruction which they delivered to that which was according to the doctrines and precepts of their own Church, they were otherwise by no means exclusive, for they admitted children of every description into their schools—no one was excluded; but at the same time he must admit that they insisted that they should all be instructed in the principles of the Established Church. He conceived, that they were right in adopting this course, and that it could not be said that they were wrong; the boon had been most thankfully accepted by many Dissenters, and in reality might be accepted by all Dissenters, who were usually called orthodox. So far as the catechism and the commandments were concerned, there was nothing in them which was offensive to any Dissenter, and he could see no reason why the most conscientious Dissenter who held these doctrines should not allow his children to go to the schools; for, in truth, the only exception which could be urged was in some words used in the catechism. With regard to attending public worship, they were not compelled to follow the tenets of the Established Church, provided their parents took them to any other place. He knew that this was the regulation which existed, for at this moment there was a school established in Westminster at which there were upwards of forty Roman Catholic children, but in reference to them he saw no difficulty; because if ever there had been any expressions in the liturgy opposed to the Roman Catholic faith, they had been expunged by the good sense of those who reviewed it in after times. He trusted that he had sufficiently explained the opinion of the clergy. Their schools were open to the children of Dissenters, and they went as far as could be possibly considered proper. He trusted, therefore, that by what he had said he had absolved the Church and the friends of the Church in this country from the charge of having any desire to keep the people in ignorance, of having any aversion to the diffusion of knowledge, of being actuated by bigotry to their QWU principles; firm attachment they had, but bigotry they had none; and of having acted with any unfairness towards the Dissenters. It appeared with respect to what the Church had done—it appeared from public returns made in the year 1833—that the exertion of the Church and of the friends of the Church, 1239 in the promotion of education exceeded those of the dissenters in a degree which he was almost afraid to mention. If he took the lowest calculation that he had seen, made by an eminent person, it would seem, that the state of education furnished by the Church was twenty to one when compared with the education afforded by dissenters. But, in making that statement, he must observe, that the dissenters were not so much without education, because many of their children were educated in the schools of the Established Church; and so far they swelled the number of the scholars in those schools. Still there had been a very great deficiency in the amount of education, and even now there was a great deficiency in the education of the people. He had seen different statements and calculations upon this point, but the results were so uncertain that he would not trouble their Lordships with them. Whatever was said, however, these calculations showed, that there was a great deficiency in the amount of education in this country. No one more deplored this deficiency than the friends of the Church, and than the persons who conducted the society of which he had been speaking, and which might be considered the great organ of education in the hands of the Church, although there were many schools in the hands of the Church which were not connected with that society. They had been labouring to supply that want, and to introduce schools more extensively. In the course of the year 1838, and during the present year, they had been making great exertions—exertions which, he trusted, had been attended with a considerable degree of success; there was every prospect of it; and the friends of the Church had come forward in a manner that did the highest credit to their zeal and their expectations; although liable to all the imperfections which belonged to everything human, they would, he hoped, be realized in a high degree. It was proposed to establish a diocesan society; it was proposed, that teachers should be trained, for the want of proper schoolmasters had been extensively felt; it was proposed to establish a training school in every diocese, and he trusted that the best effects would follow. It was proposed, also, under the superintendence of the bishop and chapter of each diocese, to establish schools in every parish, or in 1240 every district where they could be conveniently founded. These schools were to be under the charge of the minister of the parish, and they would give to the whole agricultural population the benefits of religious and moral instruction. It was proposed likewise to establish a system of superintendence to secure the efficiency of the schools, and the uniformity of their proceedings. And, in a short time, he hoped, that the schools would be so far founded, that every clergyman—every good clergyman did it now—but he hoped soon that every clergyman would consider it as much his duty to promote a school in his parish as he did now to perform his duty in his Church. At the present time, if a clergyman neglected the duty of his church—if he absented himself from his parish, or failed in the performance of his duty—he was a marked character among his friends; and he (the Archbishop of Canterbury) trusted, that the time was not far distant when the same would be said of any neglect of the clergyman's school duty, and that every one of the clergy would deem it proper to promote the establishment of a school where there was none, and to superintend it if there was one. Now, considering the relation in which the Church stood to the State—considering the number of its members—considering the purity of its doctrines—considering the excellence of the moral and religious feelings which it tended to promote, and considering its obedience to the laws of the Government and of the State—he did not think that it was asking too much if it looked up to the Government of this country to assist it in promoting education. He thought that the claim could hardly be resisted. And at the same time the Government ought to have so much confidence in the Church as to intrust it with the management of the education of its own children, under the conditions he had before stated; or, at least, that the Government would abstain from all interference with religious teaching. He thought, that if the Government granted relief or assistance, it had a right to ensure the efficiency of its grant, and that wherever there was a grant of public money, the public had a right to see how it was applied. He was certain, however, that if the Government received an assurance that the schools were conducted properly with respect to secular learning, they might leave the religious instruction 1241 to the care of the members of the Church. In claiming thus much, was there any assumption—was there any arrogance—was there any desire to take into the hands of the Church all the education of the country? The Church had never advanced any pretension of that kind. He did not say, that injudicious language might not have been occasionally used upon this subject; but he appealed in confirmation of his statement to the conduct of the clergy in general. A grant of 20,00l. had been lately most laudably and most liberally made by the Government to schools connected with the National Society and with the Lancasterian Society. Had the clergy complained of the share of the Lancasterian Society? The National Society had taken their share, not only without complaint, but thankfully; they had never inquired what proportion was given to the other body, and they had been satisfied with the plan as a temporary expedient. Such it was stated to be. When Lord Althorp introduced it, he said that he brought it forward as an experiment. It had succeeded—it had been usefully applied, and he had never heard that the conductors of the Lancasterian schools were dissatisfied with the share they had received. It was considered by all as an experiment, as a temporary expedient; it was thought that a permanent system would be established in conformity with the expectations held out, and that the whole system of national education would be definitely settled. It was conceived also by the clergy that this system would be referred to the whole Parliament, and both societies had the greatest confidence that the wisdom of Parliament would distribute the fund faithfully, and with a due care for the claims of the various parties that might be entitled to consideration. He was satisfied, then, that it was hardly surprising, if they viewed the present state of things with suspicion and jealousy, and to that he attributed the great sensation in the country respecting the minutes of the Privy Council. It was considered that these minutes laid the foundation for a permanent system, without any application to Parliament. The country saw that these minutes established a board composed exclusively of her Majesty's Ministers, that the board was invested with large discretionary powers, and that it was disposed to introduce many innovations, not effected by any act of legislation, but by a mode of 1242 proceeding entirely excluding one branch of the Legislature excluding their Lordships' House from interfering, or from expressing any opinion on a matter of such great importance to the interests of the people. These apprehensions were greatly increased, because it was impossible not to look at the wild and extravagant schemes of education entertained in various quarters. They had seen a system of education proposed, from which religious instruction was entirely excluded. They had also seen a system of general education proposed, from which all creeds and catechisms were banished, and which would prevent the friends of the Church of England from educating their children according to their own views and their own persuasion of what was right. They had seen also, that it had been proposed to carry a scheme into execution for establishing what was falsely called a liberal system of education, without the intervention of Parliament. Let it not be conceived, however, from what he had said, or from the extract which he would read, that he was implicating the Committee, or that he was ascribing to them any participation in the design; but he meant only to show, that it was the plan of some persons. It was contained in the publication of a large society connected with education. The purport of the extract was, thatAll hope of amending the present system of education was to be abandoned in the nicely balanced state of parties; it would be some years before such a measure as the people had a right to demand would be passed by the House of Lords, but a bill was not a sine qua non. Ministers had the power in their own hands, by a simple vote of the House of Commons, of extending the schools, and of commencing a reform of those already established. It only required the establishment of a board of education, with the same powers of granting educational assistance as was given to the Lords of the Treasury. 20,000l. had been voted for erecting school-houses, but they served only to deceive the public into the belief that education was advancing, when it was really making but little progress. Let there be model and normal schools for the training of qualified teachers; let the central board not only determine the building of the schools, but superintend the training, and the ground would be laid for further improvement. The power of withholding pecuniary assistance would induce the schools which were mismanaged to be placed under the board. The plan was simple and feasible. An individual might waste a whole life in arguing with schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, and in 1243 reasoning with governors, without changing the system in above half-a-dozen schools; but a central board would, in a short time, produce a change which would appear to be the effect of magic.He hoped that he was not so far misunderstood as to charge the Committee of the Privy Council with any design of this nature. He had read the extract to show what power, in the estimation of some persons who wished to introduce a system of education which would entirely overthrow the National Church, would be in the hands of the Committee. If the persons who had written this had framed the Minute in Council, he could not see how it could have been framed more in accordance with their wishes; although, assuredly, if they had selected persons to execute the plan, they would not have selected the President of the Council and his colleagues to carry the scheme into execution. Such was the power which was lodged in the Committee, and which would officially pass to their successors, and if the plan were placed under other agencies. He would now take up the papers laid before their Lordships, with the view of showing that he had not in the slightest degree exaggerated the power thus conveyed to the Committee of the Privy Council, and which it was not possible to conceal might be used if the power were lodged in unsafe hands. In doing this he felt it necessary to go into the history of the education grants which had proceeded from the Government. He found from the papers laid before the House what was stated by Lord Althorp, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he moved that 20,000l. should be granted for the purpose of education. The terms of the resolution were exactly as he found them in the Treasury minute, from which he would read. He found that after the Lords of the Treasury had read the Act of the last Session, by which a sum of 20,000l. is granted to his Majesty to be issued in aid of private subscriptions for the erection of schools for the education of the children of the poorer classes in Great Britain, it was stated,The Chancellor of the Exchequer feeling it absolutely necessary that certain fixed rules should be laid down by the Treasury for their guidance in this matter, so as to render this sum most generally useful for the purposes contemplated by the grant, submitted the arrangements for the consideration of the board.That arrangement with which he need 1244 not trouble their Lordships in detail, provided, amongst other things—That no portion of this sum be applied to any purpose whatever except for the erection of new school-houses; and that in the definition of a school-house the residence for masters or attendants be not included; that no application be entertained unless a sum be raised by private contribution equal at the least to one-half of the total estimated expenditure; and that no application be complied with unless upon the consideration of such a report, either from the National School Society, or the British and Foreign School Society, as shall satisfy this board that the case is one deserving of attention, and there is a reasonable expectation that the school may be permanently supported.Now, they saw what were the resolutions proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day, and which were liberally complied with by the Lords of the Treasury in the application of the grants. The Lords of the Treasury were by this minute absolved from all necessity; they were directed to apply the money between the two societies, who were in communication with all parties in the country, and who were able to say what schools were entitled to the grant, and there could be no misapplication whilst the board acted upon that principle. The next year the Lords of the Treasury resumed the consideration of the subject, and reported the number of schools which had been built during the first year—there were sixty-two schools erected, having 12,191 scholars, at a total expense of 19,380l., the amount of 8,000l. and upwards having been appropriated towards that sum by the Lords of the Treasury. So far it appeared that the grants were of great advantage, even if they went no further than establishing sixty-two schools. And on their minute the Lords of the Treasury entered this:—My Lords have the satisfaction of perceiving that there exists throughout Great Britain the utmost anxiety that the funds provided by Parliament for the purposes of education should be made generally useful, and that private charity and liberality so far from being checked, have been greatly stimulated and encouraged by reason of the public assistance afforded on the principles laid down in their minute of the 30th August, 1833.It was truly said that these grants had greatly stimulated the exertions of private benefaction. But at this time the number of applications for schools had increased to that degree that the Lords of the Treasury were obliged to lay down a restriction, and 1245 to confine the grants to schools that should accommodate 400 scholars and upwards, and accordingly they applied the grants to the schools in connection with the National Society, and with the British and Foreign School Society, upon that principle, for upon that principle alone would they be enabled to make the sum meet the demands. The number of scholars to be accommodated in the schools then applying for assistance in connection with the National Society was 10,674, and in connection with the British and Foreign School Society 7,500: and the Lords of the Treasury were so much satisfied with the distribution thus made, that they recommended a further grant of 20,000l. These grants were made in succeeding years, and were applied on the same principle; and on the 5th July, 1838, the Chancellor of the Exchequer submitted to the boardThe expediency of procuring and laying before Parliament more specific and detailed information than had been as yet obtained with respect to the schools, towards the erection of which grants had been made by the public. For this purpose it appeared to him that the National, and British and Foreign School Society, should be invited to direct an inspection to be made of the several schools which they had recommended to this board, and for the erection of which grants had been appropriated out of the parliamentary votes.Another suggestion at the same time which the Chancellor of the Exchequer recommended was the erection of a "model school," to which, as considered by itself, there could be no objection, but would meet with general approbation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggestedThat in considering the number of new schools which had been assisted by the parliamentary grant, as well as the schools which were previously in existence, it appeared to him that the erection of model schools for the instruction of teachers by both societies would greatly tend to add to the efficiency of their several establishments; and that it was therefore expedient that the respective committees should be called upon, if they concurred in this opinion, to take steps for such purpose. Towards this object public aid might advantageously be directed; provided a suitable plan for carrying these intentions into effect were submitted to the Treasury, and approved of;but then it wasprovided that the principle of private contribution, already laid down and carried into 1246 effect by previous minutes of this board, should be stricily adhered to.And the Chancellor of the Exchequer proceeded to recommend, thatthese two important and pressing questions should without delay be brought under the notice of the National and British and Foreign School Societies, in order that their opinion might be expressed, and if those opinions were favourable to these proposals, that they should be carried into early and practical effect.He knew that there was no occasion to proceed further with this than to point out to their Lordships that, on the 5th July, 1838, it was the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the principle of private contributions should be adhered to, and that reference should be made to the National Society and to the British and Foreign School Society, with respect to the erection of a model school. He now came to another era. He would not delay the House by referring to the papers relating to the letter addressed by the Secretary of State for the Home Department to the Lords of the Treasury, or of their answer thereto, because he understood that the plan suggested had been superseded by the subsequent proceedings. The order appointing the Committee of Privy Council, however, superseded the Board of Treasury. He did not know that the Committee of Privy Council would not answer as well as the Lords of the Treasury, who had so much on their hands. But he must say that the Committee of Privy Council was empowered to do a little more than the Lords of the Treasury. The Board of the Treasury could only receive applications from two societies, and determine upon them, and three or four of the members of the Board had sufficient occupation to prevent their having time to examine the different claims made to the two societies. The Lords of the Treasury had been superseded, and an appointment had been made of a Committee of the Privy Council, consisting exclusively of her Majesty's Ministers. That selection had been made without any regard to the fitness of the Members; he did not say that they were unfit; the selection was made without any regard to their fitness, but merely on account of the official situation which they held; and if the noble Lords retired tomorrow, their successors coming to the same places would take upon themselves 1247 this duty. When he considered that this was the foundation of a permanent scheme, it was singular that neither of the two Archbishops nor the one Bishop belonging to the Church, who were members of the Privy Council, should have been appointed. It might have been expected that the Government would have consulted such of the Bishops as were members of the Privy Council, and the only reason he knew why they were not consulted was, that their consent to the scheme never would have been obtained. But that was not a reason to satisfy the country, and it never would be. When these eminent persons were appointed, they drew up certain minutes. On the 13th of April, 1839, a scheme for the future guidance of the Committee was read. In the first place they proposed to found a school, in which candidates for the office of teacher in schools for the poorer classes might acquire the knowledge necessary to the exercise of their future profession, and might be practised in the most approved methods of religious and moral training and instruction. This school was to include a model school, in which children of all ages from three to fourteen might be taught and trained in sufficient numbers to form an infant school, as well as schools for children above seven. If a model school meant anything, it of course meant a model for all the schools throughout the country. Then came a most remarkable article. It related to religious instruction which was brought very prominently forward; and certainly the country would hear of nothing respecting national education in which religious instruction was not provided for. The subject, therefore, was in itself very properly brought forward; but as to the mode in which religious instruction was to be given, he could not say so much. Religious instruction, it seemed, was to be considered as general and special. He really did not know how to explain this. There was, he recollected, a passage in one of the reports on prisons complaining that convicts in gaols were not instructed in the truths of natural and revealed religion. Now, he supposed that general instruction referred to natural religion, and that revealed religion was what was meant by special. [A noble Lord "No."] The noble Lord said "no." He would not say it was; but that was the most natural interpretation he could put upon the language. He 1248 wished the noble Lord would state what was meant by general instruction in the truths of revealed religion? What was it but the teaching of the peculiar truths of religion. In fact the whole of Christianity consisted of peculiar truths—truths, many of which were certainly contested by various denominations of Christians, but which must be acknowledged by those who would be esteemed as orthodox in the faith taught in the primitive ages of Christianity. He would not, however, go into an examination of what those truths were; bat this he would say, that there was no such thing as instruction in Christianity without instruction in those peculiar truths. But to revert again to the minute of the Committee:—Periods were to be set apart for such peculiar doctrinal instruction as might be required for the religious training of the children. He had read, not many months ago, a report that in some parts of Germany, the attempt at combining religious instruction of different creeds with secular instruction, in the same school, had been abandoned, it being found impossible to conduct such a plan with satisfaction to any party. Different schools had been since established for the different persuasions of Catholics and Protestants, and the reason assigned for this appeared to be a very sound one; namely, that it was wrong to teach one set of children certain doctrines as true in one part of the schoolroom, and another set of children in another corner of the room that those doctrines were false. In a German publication, which he believed had not yet been translated into the English language, he had read a report of a person who had been sent to inspect the style and system of education adopted in different parts of Germany and France. The writer stated, that in some of the German states they had schools which comprehended children of all denominations, and even Jews; but that the persons intrusted with the care of those schools had protested strongly against such a measure, and that the inconvenience arising from it had been such, that alterations had been made in many instances. Their Lordships must at once feel how great would be the confusion introduced into the schools proposed to be established here if religious teachers of various denominations were to be admitted. The chaplain, who according to the scheme was to be appointed to 1249 conduct the religious instruction of children whose parents or guardians belonged to the Established Church would find it very difficult to maintain his authority if the parent or natural guardian of any other child were to be permitted to secure the attendance of the licensed minister of his own persuasion, at the period appointed for special religious instruction, in order to give such instruction apart. What confusion, too, would such a system produce in the minds of the children themselves! It was essential to the teaching of religion, that it should be taught with authority. Teachers did not appeal to the reason of the child, but taught him on authority. They said, such and such is the truth; such and such is the law of God; such and such is the rule of morality; and the child received it, as children receive all instruction, implicitly. If he were, at the same time told, that there are six or eight different opinions upon those truths, laws, and rules, to what can it possibly lead but to scepticism; to a rejection of all religion, or to an indifference to any? It must end in a rejection of the spiritual doctrines of religion from a conviction, that they are not true, and in a rejection of its moral precepts when it suits the convenience of the learner to suppose they are without any sanction. It was very true, that this scheme was not adopted. These resolutions of the Committee of Council were superseded by the report of the 1st of June, which was presented to and approved by her Majesty in Council. He had, however, felt it right to make these observations upon the original scheme preparatory to any remarks he should feel it his duty to make on the Order in Council, dated the 3rd of June, approving of the report of the Education Committtee, dated the 1st of June. He did not think the opinions of the Members of the committee, as expressed in the scheme they first laid down, were at all superseded by the subsequent report and Order in Council. The Order in Council set forth the report of the committee in these terms:—The Lords of the Committee recommend, that the sum of ten thousand pounds, granted by Parliament in 1835, towards the erection of normal or model schools, be given n equal proportions to the National Society and the British and Foreign School Society. That the remainder of the subsequent grants of the years 1837 and 1838, yet unappro- 1250 priated, and any grant that may be voted in the present year, be chiefly applied in aid of, subscriptions for building, and, in particular cases, for the support of schools connected with those societies; but that the rule hitherto adopted, of making a grant to those places where the largest proportion is subscribed, be not invariably adhered to, should application be made from very poor and populous districts, where subscriptions to a sufficient amount cannot be obtained.It might be very proper to make grants without adhering to the rule about the proportion of the contribution; but this point was stated so loosely, that there was no guarantee whatever for the propriety of those grants in particular cases. ForThe Committee do not feel themselves precluded from making grants in particular cases which shall appear to them to call for the aid of Government, although the applications may not come from either of the two mentioned societies.By this the restriction which originally accompanied the grant was entirely removed; and certainly relieved the Lords of the Treasury from any responsibility in making these grants, giving the committee a discretionary power. The committee then repeated their opinion:The Committee are of opinion, that the most useful application of any sums voted by Parliament would consist in the employment of those moneys in the establishment of a normal school, under the direction of the State, and not placed under the management of a voluntary society.(Thus these two societies were completely lost sight of.) But the Committee stateThat they have experienced so much difficulty in reconciling conflicting views respecting the provisions which they are desirous to make in furtherance of your Majesty's wish, that the children and teachers instructed in this school should be duly trained in the principles of the Christian religion, while the rights of conscience should be respected, that it is not in the power of the Committee to mature a plan for the accomplishment of this design without further consideration, and they therefore postpone taking any steps for this purpose until greater concurrence of opinion is found to prevail.He would appeal to their Lordships, whether a very large and undefined discretion was not thus left to the committee, which he did not say would be abused, but which might be very grossly abused. He could not, when considering the extent of this discretionary power, wonder that 1251 the established clergy, the great portion of the Protestant Dissenters, and indeed ill who had the interest of religion at heart, should feel alarmed at this enormous power being given to the committee, more especially when they connected it with what followed; forThe Committee recommend that no further grant be made now or hereafter for the establishment or support of normal schools, or of any other schools, unless the right of inspection be retained, in order to secure a conformity to the regulations and discipline established in the several schools, with such improvements as may from lime to time be suggested by the committee.A great portion of the people of this country were of opinion (and he must say he agreed with them), that a power was thus conferred upon the committee which ought not to be entrusted in the hands of any number of men, and certainly not to men who were exclusively members of her Majesty's Government. What security had they that, in process of time, these grants would not be made from political motives, or in favour of prejudices and predilections? They knew not how many circumstances might arise to affect the minds of the successors of the present committee. He concurred in these apprehensions and fears, which became stronger when he considered the whole of the scheme—when he recollected with what deliberate intention their Lordships had been excluded from having the slightest concern in the regulation of a matter so immediately bearing upon the best interests of the people, upon their religious education, and their moral training. Was not a subject of this kind proper for Parliamentary discussion? Was it fit that it should be disposed of by only one branch of the Legislature? Were their Lordships, many of whom had particularly directed their attention to the subject, and all of whom were qualified to judge of it, were they to be shut out from all participation in regulations of this description? Was it consistent with the respect which was due to this branch of the Legislature? Was it consistent with the respect due to the Lords spiritual and temporal, that the only assembly in which the Church had a voice should not be heard at all upon such an important subject? He did not mean to say, that the influence of the Church was not great elsewhere; but at the same time their 1252 Lordships' House was the only place in which the Church was represented at all by her ministers. He was sure that their Lordships, whatever might be their political sentiments, would agree with him in this; that the moral and religious instruction of the great mass of the people of this country was a subject peculiarly belonging to the clergy of the Established Church; that the Sovereign was the head of the Church, and bound by the most sacred obligations to the maintenance of its authority; that all the advisers of the Sovereign were under the same obligation not to advise her Majesty to anything that could be prejudicial to the Church, and that, if they did so, they would be acting in violation of a most sacred duty, and most unconstitutionally; and he would further add, considering the connection of the Church with the State, they would also be acting with the greatest impolicy with respect to the true interests of the people, whom they would hardly venture to say, could be better instructed than by the ministers of the Established Church. If (said the most rev. Prelate) the Church does not teach the true doctrines of our holy religion—if it does not inculcate the purest morals—if it does not insist upon obedience to the laws and the authorities of the country—upon loyalty to the Sovereign and the performance of every Christian duty—I say, my Lords, it is utterly unworthy of your support. Look to some other source of moral and religious instruction, and cast away a Church which is so grossly deficient in its duty, or fails in attaining that object, for the attainment of which all religious establishments are formed. Again, I say, if such be the case, let us look elsewhere: But since that cannot be said, it is, I assert, the duty of the Crown—it is the duty of the Government, to advise no measures which shall be to the prejudice of the Church. I do not mean prejudicially interfering with its temporalities, but which shall diminish its salutary influence over the people; and that, in the distribution of the public money for the encouragement of religion, their first object ought to be to maintain and extend the religion of the State; that religion, which, by the instruction it imparts, combines the great majority of the people of this country with the vast establishment which is responsible to the State for the proper performance of its duties. When public money was granted 1253 for religious purposes, that, I say, ought to be the primary object of the Government. He did not mean lo say that all assistance should be withheld from the dissenters. But whatever was done with respect to religious instruction, ought to be free from all party or political considerations; and those sums which were given, not to the just claims of the Dissenters, but in such a shape as to promote dissent, were not given consistently with the support which the State was bound to give to the Established Church of this country. He conceived that making such grants had a tendency to promote religious dissent, which was in itself a great evil, and cherished much misunderstanding among the people, and who must understand one another better before they could agree in their religious tenets. At the same time, he did not wish to be understood to say, that a certain degree of consideration was not due to the Dissenters. He had a great respect for those who religiously dissented. For political dissent, he must say, he had no respect whatever. Its objects were not religious. But, while he said that due consideration ought to be paid to the claims of the dissenters, he still maintained, that the distribution of those funds, and the management of all other matters connected with the very important subject of the religious instruction of the people ought to be decided by the united voice of Parliament, that no measure ought to be resorted to that excluded their Lordships from a share in the deliberations; and that he was convinced the people of this country would look with more confidence at any measure having the support of their Lordships, than to that which was only supported by one branch of the Legislature, a branch of which he was not inclined to speak with disrepect, and which was, perhaps, in its character, the most popular branch of the Legislature. The most reverend Prelate then concluded by moving the first of the following resolutions, stating, that after the first was carried, he should move the others seriatim,That this House has had under its consideration the various documents which have been presented by her Majesty's commands respecting public education, including those which refer to the application of public money in former years in aid of the building of school-houses in connection with the National Society and the British and Foreign School 1254 Society; and also the letters of the Secretary of State and the President of the Council the 4th, 6th, and 9th of February respectively; the Order in Council of the 10th of April, appointing a Committee of Council; the minutes of proceedings of that Committee of the 13th of April; and the report of the same Committee of the 3rd of June.2. That it appears, from the documents last mentioned, that a Committee of Council has been appointed, consisting exclusively of Members of her Majesty's Government, for the purpose of considering all matters affecting the education of the people, and of superintending the application of any sums which may be voted by Parliament for that purpose.That on the 13th of April last it was proposed by such Committee to establish a model school, which might serve as an example for other schools, and a normal school, in which a body of schoolmasters might be formed competent to assume the management of similar institutions in all parts of the country.3. It appears, by the report of the Committee, approved by her Majesty in Council on the 3rd of June, that the Committee is empowered to retain the right of inspection, in order to secure a conformity with such regulations as they may approve of for the management and discipline of all schools to which aid may be granted; and to make grants of public money to any schools which may appear to them to require such aid, irrespectively to the religious doctrines which may be inculcated in such schools.4. That it appears to this House, that the powers thus intrusted to the Committee of Council are so important in their bearing upon the moral and religious education of the people of this country, and upon the proper duties and functions of the Established Church, and at the same time so capable of progressive and indefinite extension, that they ought not to be committed to any public authority without the consent of Parliament.5. That it appears to this House, that the particular scheme of education set forth in the Minutes of the Committee of Council of the 13th April is open to grave objection with reference to the arrangements made for the religious instruction of children, to the use within the school of any other than the authorised version of the Scriptures, and to many other important details; and although it is stated in the report of the Committee of Council of the 3rd of June, that it is not in the power of the Committee to mature a plan for the formation of a normal school without further consideration, and that they therefore postpone taking any steps for the purpose until greater concurrence of opinion is found to prevail, yet the report gives no assurance that the scheme approved by the Committee on the 13th of April may not be hereafter carried into execution at the discretion of the Committee.6. That, under these circumstances, this 1255 House considers itself bound by the obligations of public duty to present an humble address to her Majesty, conveying to her Majesty the resolutions into which it has entered, and humbly praying, that her Majesty will be graciously pleased to give directions that no steps shall be taken with respect to the establishment or foundation of any plan for the general education of the people of this country without giving to this House, as one branch of the Legislature, an opportunity of fully considering a measure of such deep importance to the highest interests of the community.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
in the situation which I have the honour to hold, as one of that Committee recently appointed by her Majesty, which was the subject of the speech of the most rev. Prelate, and having been appointed upon that Committee, as the most rev. Prelate has said, (and that not in a manner in the least degree uncourteous), in reference probably, not so much to any peculiar fitness for the task, as to my political character as President of the Council, the rules of which made it almost indispensable that I should be a Member of all its Committees—your Lordships will not think it unnatural that I should, in that early stage, offer myself to your Lordships' attention. When the most rev. Prelate gave notice of the motion which he was about to submit to your Lordships, I listened to it with great anxiety—an anxiety combined in some respect with concern, inasmuch as it appeared to imply that the most rev. Prelate disapproved of the proceedings instituted by her Majesty's Council, but an anxiety also in some degree mingled with satisfaction, inasmuch as it insured my hearing, and what is far more important, the House and the public hearing, from the most rev. Prelate a distinct statement of the objections entertained to those proceedings, freed from all that gross exaggeration of language, and that unexampled licence of misrepresentation which have distinguished the proceedings held out of doors, and which have undoubtedly produced a great and widely-spread deception on the minds of a great part of the people. I have not been disappointed in my expectations, for although there remains much misapprehension leading, unintentionally no doubt, to some misrepresentation, as I hope to show in what the most rev. Prelate has stated as the foundation of his objections to this plan, yet they have been stated in a manner of which neither I nor any man has any reason to complain. I will add, too, that in many parts of the most rev. Pre- 1256 late's speech, sentiments are expressed, which it gave me great satisfaction to hear, and great pleasure to have recorded on this subject. The most rev. Prelate has adverted to opinions which have been expressed out of doors—opinions in which the most rev. Prelate in a great degree concurs—with respect to the connection which ought to exist between the Church of England, and the general education of the people in this country. From the manner in which those opinions have been stated out of doors, I had been led to differ greatly from them; but as stated by the most rev. Prelate in this House tonight, I in part agree with them. No person can feel in a greater degree than I do, that it is the duty of the Established Church of this country to take charge of the religious education of all those who belong to that Church. I hope to see the care of the Church, constantly, vigorously, and successfully extended to all that portion of the people. But when I see it stated at public meetings and elsewhere, that the clergy of the Church of England are charged, and ought to be charged with the exclusive religious education of the public at large, I must respectfully seek an explanation from the most rev. Prelate (I have obtained it in some degree from his speech, which I hope I have correctly understood), but I have a right to ask distinctly, whether he holds that the Church of England in this country has a right to educate, and ought to exercise the right of educating, the public at large, to the exclusion of all other teachers (for such was the ambiguous phrase employed in one of the resolutions of a large public meeting), including that portion of the public—no inconsiderable portion unfortunately, but amounting, I am afraid, to millions in this country, who are not the members of that Church. There are some preliminary points such as this upon which it is indispensable before recording an opinion as to the propriety of making any grant, or taking any step upon this subject, that we should form a distinct opinion. One point is, whether the claim of the Church to give religious instruction extends beyond the pale of the Church itself. I understand the most rev. Prelate to say distinctly not, and that the Church does not claim a right to instruct the whole people, but only that portion of them which belongs to the Church. There is another point also upon which it is most essential that our views should be distinctly stated before we proceed to the 1257 consideration of these important questions. It is this—whether it be conceived by any of the right rev. Prelates, or by any Member of their Lordships' House, that the claim of the Church of England extends not only to the right of controlling the religious instructions of the people of this country, but to the right of controlling their secular instruction. Because, before your Lordships know how to proceed, or what direction to give to the grants which have been made, or what assistance you are inclined to afford to the great object of educating the people of this country, it becomes necessary for us to know whether we are not bound to go beyond what the Church has done, or can do, in the way of secular instruction, combining it always with religious instruction, taking care that the last shall be carefully and constantly administered, but also taking care on behalf of the State, that the secular instruction shall be of the best possible quality that can be found; ever uniting with it every new practical discovery that can be brought into operation, for the improvement and cultivation of the minds of the people of this country. It is indispensable to come to an understanding upon these points. It is also indispensable to come to an understanding, if the Church does not take the religious instruction of those large masses of the population under its superintendence, which do not belong to the Church—it is indispensable, I say, to come to an understanding, whether, under such circumstances, it may not be becoming and useful in the State—nay, whether it be not the duty of the State—rather to lend than to withhold its countenance and aid from the education and consequent well-being of these particular classes of the community, whose numbers and whose position in society are such, as constantly to act upon the safety and condition of the whole community. I have heard upon another occasion, a right rev. Prelate of great eminence state that he would give no opinion upon this subject; but I am disposed to understand, from what has fallen from the most rev. Prelate this evening, that the most rev. Prelate entertains an opinion, and I have the satisfaction of believing a favourable opinion, as to the propriety of making, under certain circumstances, grants of public money for the purpose of giving a secular education to those who do not belong to the Church, Individual Prelates, 1258 and Members of the House may think proper to withhold an opinion on this subject, but Parliament must virtually pronounce an opinion, because it must act on that opinion. It is necessary that the sense of Parliament should be distinctly declared, as to whether it agrees or does not agree with the proposition which I understand to have received the concurrence of the most rev. Prelate—namely, that grants, under special circumstances, should be made for the purposes alluded to. If that opinion were once specifically declared, Parliament would know how to proceed; but if, on the contrary, Parliament is prepared now to lay down the maxim (maintaining what I have heard in some places called a slate conscience on the subject) that, having once chosen and selected from the unceasing conflicts of different religious opinions one particular and strict rule of faith, therefore it thinks it irreconcileable with its duty—having pronounced that particular rule of faith to be the best—to grant any aid or to afford any assistance, under any circumstances, to those portions of its fellow subjects who entertain what it may conceive to be more or less grave errors upon the subject of religion, but who, nevertheless, are members of the one great Christian Church—if Parliament were prepared to adopt that opinion, and to withdraw from the dissenting bodies throughout the kingdom all countenance and support, I must undoubtedly admit, not only that Parliament cannot proceed with the very limited amount of possible assistance that may be granted to that class of persons under the proceeding which has met with the sanction of the Privy Council; but that there is not one year that has passed in the course of the last twenty, in which their Lordships would not have Acts of Parliament to recall, and systems of policy to remodel—Acts passed under the responsibility of different Administrations, carried with the sanction and approbation of various and different Parliaments, which, upon other bases than those now advanced, have thought it the duty of the State to provide for the education—first, of the members of its own establishment, but not to overlook the interests (interests in which the welfare of the public is bound up) of those particular classes who may be good subjects of the State, although not fortunately brought within the particular pale which has the sanction of the law, and, if their Lordships think proper, so to express it, the sanction of their Lordships' conscience. 1259 Before I sit down, I will point out case after case, in which every Government, including almost every individual who has ever been a Member of any of the recent Ministries, and having now a seat in that House, has acted upon the principle I have stated. If, indeed, their Lordships are disposed to act upon the opposite principle, there is an end at once to all discussion upon the subject; and then their Lordships and the other House of Parliament will only have to place in the hands of the prelates of the Church of England—if, indeed, the other House could be induced to vote any money under such circumstances—so much money as they may think proper to allot for the improvement of education, carefully limiting, and entailing that education upon the members of the Established Church; and having done that, to relieve themselves of all further care upon the subject. But I have a right to assume until I see all those votes recalled—votes which have proceeded upon the principle I have alluded to—votes which have not rejected the claims of any numerous and well-conducted portion of the subjects of the State, even in its remotest dependencies, be their form of Christianity what it may—until those votes are recalled, I have a right to assume that such is the principle upon which Parliament is disposed to act, and that the degree to which the assistance is to be given is the only fair question now open for the consideration of the Legislature. I have heard statements from the most rev. Prelate with regard to the present state of education in this country, which as far as they go, tend to show that in his opinion it is in a more favourable and more satisfactory condition than I think many are disposed to admit; but the most rev. Prelate did not venture to state, that the state of education in this country is in as satisfactory condition—in as advanced condition—as it is in other countries of Europe. On the contrary, the most rev. Prelate admitted that there exists a deficiency in the education of the people of this country which calls for the attention of every good man—of every religious man—and especially of the Government and State. I believe, that that which is the opinion of every intelligent and enquiring person in the country will derive very great confirmation from a comparison with the progressive state of education in other parts of the world, and more especially in those parts with which we should most naturally compare ourselves, 1260 namely, the central nations of Europe. I believe, that during the twenty or thirty years that have elapsed since the general peace, there is no enlightened government in Europe that has not made the improvement of the education of the people one of the objects of its most earnest solicitude. It has been done by all governments—monarchical, constitutional, and republican—which have shown any enlightened regard to the interests of their subjects; and it has been going on from year to year with increased activity and increased success. It is quite true, as the most rev. Prelate has stated, that there is, in this country, a very great difficulty in procuring accurate returns of the actual state of education in all the different parts of the kingdom; but, as far as any approach to truth can be made upon the subject, I believe, that England at this moment, in point of general education, is far behind Germany, far behind Switzerland, I am almost inclined to believe (but of that I am less certain) it is behind France; but especially and certainly it is far, very far, behind Holland. I believe, that if a scale of education were constructed, it would be found, that popular education has in one or two of the central states of Europe reached its actual maximum, and that the number of children (or those who required to be educated) who are there educated, is one in every five or six children throughout the country. This is particularly the case in the kingdom of Wurtemberg, and in one of the cantons of Switzerland j and extensive education prevails in other parts of Germany. In short, excluding Spain and Russia, and taking only the central states of Europe, England would come last in the scale, both as to the quantity and the quality of its secular education. While the educated in Wurtemberg are one in every five or six, the proportion in England is one to every eleven or twelve of the entire population. I believe, too, that greater care is exerted abroad to train the schoolmasters in normal schools, and I am happy to have the testimony of the most rev. Prelate, on this point, when he states that normal or training schools form one of the most important and valuable parts of any system of education that can be attempted to be carried into effect among a people. If this be the case, by the bye, the Government were not so far wrong in proposing to direct their first effort to the establishment of a normal school, and I am glad to hear this opinion of the most rev. Prelate, although the most 1261 rev. Prelate might consider the arrangements for that purpose open to objection. To shew the extent to which this part of the subject is attended to in other countries, I may mention that in Prussia, there are thirty- or forty schools for training masters, several in Holland, and in Saxony nine—seven or eight in Bavaria, while England has not one. I will not specify more examples. I will only say, that from all I can learn, the character of the education given to the people is lower here than in any part of central Europe. There are no means, as I have already stated, afforded by any machinery at the command of Government of collecting perfectly accurate data in this country j but whenever, by the chance of events, the means are afforded of ascertaining the state and quality of education in any particular district, whenever we have been able to heave the lead, and sound the depths of society most remote from ordinary observation,—there is brought up suddenly to view an amount of ignorance—an absence of every thing that can be called general education, dangerous to the whole fabric of the State, and disgraceful to the character of a great country. With respect to the agricultural districts, it is only accidentally that their particular state has been opened up, and the extent of ignorance, and of bad habits engendered by ignorance among the rural population laid bare. Scarce a year has elapsed since, in a part of the country near London, where schools were supposed to exist, or were described as existing in the returns, within reach of those influences which might be expected to be most salutary—I mean the county of Kent—there has been an exhibition of folly, of credulity, of absence of all instruction, of ignorance of all true religion, of the total want of all knowledge that enables men to judge of right and wrong, to determine between the probable and the improbable, which has exposed the simple and untaught population to become the ready dupes of one of the most absurd and ignorant fanatics that ever ventured to practise upon the credulity of the multitude. I need scarcely remind your Lordships, that in a part of the country where a certain portion of the inhabitants were receiving an imperfect education, this person, whom you will all recollect by the name of Thorn, succeeded in the course of a short time in inducing the people to receive him first in the character of one of the Messrs. Rothschild next in that of the king of Jerusa- 1262 lem, then in that of Earl of Devon; and finally, I am sorry to say, in that of the sacred character of Saviour of Mankind; and in all these successive characters, but more especially in the last, he was implicitly believed and blindly followed by the greater proportion of the whole population of three or four parishes. So little did the imperfect system of education which existed in that district contribute to check the influence and authority of this individual, that of the few day schools which existed there, one had been kept by a person who was enrolled among his most devoted followers, and afterwards by the wife of a person who was also his follower, and another was kept by the wife of a person who was also one of his most devoted followers. It is vain to-indulge in the opinion that such a state of things is peculiar, and that there are not many of the agricultural districts in which the inhabitants are quite as ignorant, and liable to be deluded. Kent is not singular in its ignorance. A recent inquiry into the state of parts of a very-populous district of Warwickshire, has afforded results, no less striking, and there are parts of the West of England within reach of my own observation, where I must say, it would only require the appearance of another Thorn to give rise to a similar exhibition of fanaticism. This is my own belief, and it must also be that of all your Lordships who have informed yourselves on, the subject. Efforts I know have been made to supply the existing deficiency on the part of the Church by many enlightened, and benevolent individuals, but efforts as far as they have gone hitherto, wholly unequal to dispel this extraordinary amount of ignorance. But if such be the state of the agricultural districts, with how much more of alarm—with how much more of concern—ought the attention of the Legislature to be directed to those great manufacturing classes whom it is the nature of our social system to accumulate, but for whom, unhappily, it has not hitherto been a part of our social system to provide the means of education! Upon this point also, the statistical details are exceedingly imperfect; but owing to the pains taken by particular individuals in Manchester, Leeds, York, and other great towns, particularly in the North of England, there has been revealed an amount of ignorance most disgraceful to a civilized nation. It is shewn, that in four of the great manufacturing towns there are 80,000 children growing up without the shadow of educa- 1263 tion, and that of the grown up population of Manchester, and the surrounding places, there is only something like the proportion of one-fourth that can either read or write, the remainder being in that condition of hopeless ignorance, which prepares the way for those ebullitions of passion which are the result of ignorance, and which threaten the peace and security of society. The experience of the last year or two conveys some fearful lessons as to the effects of ignorance on the passions of uneducated men. Your Lordships have seen what these pent up feelings of ignorance are capable of doing when any portentous occurrence, loosening and setting them free from their obscure abode, sends forth these elements of mischief from the dark caverns in which they dwelt, to scare the face of day, shaking the foundations of society, and shocking the world with their mis-shapen and hideous forms. There is no supernatural being on whom your Lordships can rely to stay the progress of this evil, to allay the coming dangers—dangers already blackening the horizon.—You can rely upon no other commanding and beneficent spirit, but the diffusion of sound, moral, and religious instruction.Celsà sedet Æolus arce,Sceptra tenens: mollitque animos et temperat iras.Ni faciat, maria ac terras cœlumque profundumQuippe ferant rapidi secum, verrantque per auras.In the 80,000 uninstructed children now growing out of infancy, as it appeared in three or four only of the great towns of the north without any creed, if it were not a farce to talk of creeds in connexion with persons so ignorant, your Lordships may see the rising Chartists of the next age. I declare to this House and to the public of this country, that if they neglect to supply that instruction which is so loudly called for, and to supply it in a proportion increasing with the increase of population, they may repress the excesses of untaught violence by penal laws, but they will have no right to acquit themselves of the guilt of having neglected to lead those misguided men into the way in which they should go, and make them useful, respectable, and orderly members of society. It is evident from all the information we can obtain upon the subject, that the state of education throughout the country is such as to call for the interference of Parliament. Then arises the question of how the interference of Parliament is to be made. Thus the question is reduced to a com- 1264 paratively small compass, and all that is left to Parliament to determine, is the channel through which the influence of Government should be exerted in aid of the moral reformation and improvement of the people. So far as I have hitherto gone in the consideration of the various topics pertaining to this subject, I am happy to think, that I have had what appears to be the assent of your Lordships, and the assent, too of the most rev. Prelate, and the right rev. Prelates beside him. I have obtained, I think, their assent to my positions, that the Church has imposed on it, the duty of attending to the religious education of its own members, and has no right to claim to superintend the religious education of those who were not comprehended within its pale; that there are in this country thousands or millions of men who are not members of the Church of England, but who contribute their quota to the general taxation, and are represented in the other House of Parliament; and who, therefore, have a just claim to share in the benefit of any grant which might be made from the general fund for the purposes of general education. Thus I am led to the conclusion, first that it is the duty of Parliament and of the Government to interfere for the purpose of extending and improving the general system of education; and, secondly, that it is the duty of Parliament to interfere in such a way as, leaving to the Church an uninterrupted sway over the religious education of its own members, shall still respect the rights and consciences of those other sections of the community who are not in communion with the Church, and should extend to them in common with the members of (he Establishment, the advantage of an improved system of education. I think that the most rev. Prelate has admitted something like this—I think that the most rev. Prelate has made some admission in favour of the Protestant dissenter, and most gracefully the admission fell from his lips. I could have wished, however, that the most rev. Prelate had not drawn a distinction between one class of Dissenters and another, who both rest their dissent on the dictates of conscience—[A noble Lord—The most rev. Prelate spoke of Dissenters—] Exactly. The most rev. Prelate's allusion to the Dissenters has been doubtless inspired by a liberal feeling, but yet the most rev. Prelate hag drawn a dis- 1265 tinction of a somewhat invidious character, between political and religious Dissenters. What is it, I must ask, that establishes any such distinction? What right has the most rev. Prelate to tell any man that his religious opinions are determined by considerations of politics, and not of conscience? Has the Dissenter a right to come into this House and look round its benches, not excepting the right rev. bench itself, and say, "So many here are political Churchmen, so many are religious?" On behalf of every one of the Queen's subjects, I claim the right of forming his own opinion, of expressing that opinion, and adhering to his own religious faith, without being subject to the censure of any other man of another religion for the motives which have actuated him. It would be most inconvenient to draw such distinctions, and I think, that on consideration, the most rev. Prelate will retract the expression, perhaps inadvertently used and but for which the opinion he has expressed respecting Dissenters would do honour to his high character and to the station which he holds. I come now to consider the manner in which the authority of the State should be exerted in furtherance of education, and this brings me to the particular consideration of the motion of the most rev. Prelate, in reference to the Order of Council which has been laid on the Table, and which has excited so much animadversion. I feel, in adverting to the objections which have been made to that document, with great respect to the most rev Prelate, that I must borrow the aid of the most rev. Prelate's I magnifying glass to be able to handle them, and to discern with any plainness the grounds on which they rest. In the first place, I must say, that the most rev. Prelate's motion, though professing to be drawn from the document on the Table, and to be a recital of facts, is unintentionally, no doubt, on the most rev. Prelate's part, an incorrect statement of the facts. In the second resolution their Lordships are invited to declare:—That it appears, from the documents last mentioned, that a committee of council has been appointed, consisting exclusively of members of her Majesty's Government, for the purpose of considering all matters affecting the education of the people, and of superintending the application of any sums which may be voted by Parliament for that purpose.Now where. I ask, does the most rev. Prelate find this information? It is not 1266 in the order of council. I will tell the most rev. Prelate where he has found the latter part of his resolution, or rather where it has been found for him, for I am sure that the candour which always marks the most rev. Prelate's conduct would not have allowed him to insert the words if he had found them himself. They were contained in a letter of Lord John Russell's, and have been transferred from, that letter to the order of council, which the most rev. Prelate affirmed to be the order appointing the committee. The words are not to be found in the order of council, but in a letter written long before the order was made, and in the interim, when the propriety of appointing the committee of her Majesty's Ministers came to be considered, it struck me, that the words were of too vague a character, liable to be misinterpreted, and involving the committee in a scope of action too wide for such a body. The advice I had the honour of giving to her Majesty on this occasion was, to confine the functions of the committee to superintending the distribution of the grants made by Parliament. Those words, therefore, "all matters affecting the education of the people," were purposely omitted in the order. Is it then fair, is it just, for the sake of raising an argument against the order in council, to ascribe to it a proposition, which not only does not form a part of it, but which has carefully and scrupulously been excluded from it. Confining the order in council to that which it really contains, I would ask the most rev. Prelate candidly to declare to me what difference there is between the appointment of three or four of her Majesty's responsible servants, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to superintend the distribution of the money voted by the other House, and the leaving the distribution of that money to the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone. I am ready to admit, that if a board had been established by Act of Parliament to take into consideration the whole subject of education, one of the first things would have been to place one or more of the right reverend bench upon that board. But, at the same time, it cannot escape your Lordships' attention, and the attention of the right reverend bench, that the moment that was done, the money that was voted for the purpose of education being the money of the whole nation being the money of the three millions, or four millions of persons who are separated from the church, as 1267 well as the money of the members of the establishment—the moment that that was done—the moment that one of the right rev. bench was placed upon the board, a claim would immediately arise to place some dissenter upon it also. Does the most rev. Prelate think that this would have advanced the cause of education, does he think that it would not have given rise to many differences and to great difficulties? The Crown pursued a different course. Instead of leaving the duty to one Minister assisted by a secretary and one or two clerks, it is now intrusted to two or more responsible Ministers of the Crown. These Ministers I need not say are annually accountable to Parliament, and if in any one instance the public money is proved to have been misapplied, it will be easy for Parliament to rescind the resolution of the committee of Council. Anything like a permanent settlement of every thing connected with a question like the present I have not yet seen attempted either in this or in the other House of Parliament. When I state that it would be an attempt made in a case, delicate in the extreme, surrounded by difficulties on every side, imposed upon the Government and the public with a full sense of all the obstacles which political and religious feeling would oppose to their progress, I think that I have said enough to show that a permanent settlement is at present quite out of the question; and if there be anything more than another to recommend the present arrangement, it is this, that it is of a temporary nature, that it can be modified at pleasure, that it can be revised at any moment, and that it can be enlarged on any future occasion if it shall be found to work well for the benefit and improvement of the people. So much for the objection against this plan, founded on the fact that a temporary committee of the Privy Council is to distribute the funds granted by Parliament. But then comes another objection, that a certain change has been made in the usual Parliamentary grant, of which no notice has been given. But in what does the different constitution of the grant consist? Why, the persons undertaking the distribution of these funds promise that the two establishments already in existence for providing education being considered in a peculiarly favourable light, they will not refuse to investigate other claims, founded on special circumstances, and particularly with reference to the poverty of particular districts, every such 1268 case being reported to Parliament, and the discretion of the committee being liable to be called in question if improperly exercised; an extension of the former rule so necessary that it was unanimously recommended by a committee of the House of Commons. The third objection made to the scheme is, that the grant is made in such a peculiar manner, as not to afford the House of Lords even an opportunity of voting upon it. Now, if there be anything established in the practice of Parliament, more particularly of late years, it is that grants of this kind should be made in the House of Commons; that they should be carried, by address, to the foot of the Throne; and that they should be administered on the responsibility of Ministers. It has been said, that the first grant of 20,000l., for the purposes of education was a new principle. Indeed! Then how did it happen that the right rev. Prelate did not object to its being made? Have any of your Lordships ventured to dispute the right of the House of Commons to come originally to such a grant? No, not one. Year after year has this grant of 20,000l. been voted—year after year it has been voted without any objection having been taken to it; and yet your Lordships are now to be told that the present grant is a novel proceeding, by which the House of Commons seeks to put aside the constitutional privileges of this House. The right rev. Prelate may perhaps say, that there are particular circumstances connected with this grant which distinguish it from all other cases. Now, I contended that there is not in the grant even the appearance of anything like a proposition to withdraw anything from the Church. There is, therefore, no special case which renders it necessary for the House of Commons to proceed by bill instead of resolution, and to send up that bill for the approbation of your Lordships. I might remind you that there are numerous precedents of high authority to justify the course now pursued. In the year 1829 the House of Commons came to a vote, by which all the grants previously made to the bishops of Ireland for the administration of Charter schools in that country in connexion with the Church were placed at the disposal of the Lord-lieutenant for the time being, and were to be applied generally, without distinction of sects, for the purposes of education. Was that so, or was it not? If it were so, and it would be difficult to deny it, they were 1269 guilty of an attempt to delude and to deceive your Lordships, who said, that it was a novel mode of proceeding, and without precedent, to act upon a grant upon which your Lordships had no means of pronouncing an opinion. There are, however cases of grants which go far beyond the grant to which I have just referred. There was a special authority for making such grants in the last charter of the East India Company, not objected to at the time. There were grants for our colonies in America, for our West Indian islands, and for our settlements in New Holland—all made upon the express understanding, that a portion of the funds so created should be allotted to the dissenters, and that a system of joint education should be adopted for churchmen and dissenters indifferently. Your Lordships will find on your table a very able despatch from Sir J. Franklin, the Governor of Van Dieman's Land, detailing the difficulties which he has met with, and which he has overcome, in carrying a joint system of education for churchmen and dissenters into effect in that colony, and stating the very beneficial results which he has every hope of deriving from it. I am sure, that it will not be said by any of your Lordships, that this has taken place in a distant colony, inhabited by convicts, or the families and companions of convicts, for whom any mode of instruction is indifferent. But where and how had this convict population arisen. Would to God that those persons had been instructed as they ought to have been in this country, and then, in all probability, they would not have become forced residents in that penal colony! Who will venture to say, that if schools for general, moral, and religious instruction had been established in Manchester, in Liverpool, in Bury, in Sal-ford, in Birmingham, and in our other large commercial and manufacturing towns, the great feeders of our penal colonies; and that if the population of those districts had been trained in those schools in good moral and religious principles, no matter whether those principles were those of the Church of England, or of some sect dissenting from it—who, I ask, will venture to say that many of the convicts now in New Holland, and several from the parent land might not have escaped from their present cruel fate? Again, in the East India Company's charter, there has been a particular provision inserted for the purpose of enabling a joint education to be given to 1270 the children of various Christian churches. Let me not, then, be told that it is an unalterable principle of Parliament to exclude all sects of dissenters from instruction, either general or special, and that its grants are solely devoted to the education of children in the principles and doctrines of the Established Church. I have now touched on every objection which has been taken in the House of Commons to the minute now laid on your Lordships' table. The only change made, by which the present plan is distinguished from those former schemes is this—that instead of the funds being intrusted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone, they are to be intrusted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Lord President of the Council, to the Lord Privy Seal, and to the Secretary of State for the Home Department—that those officers, though they may give a preference to the schools of the National Society and to those of the British and Foreign Society, were to have power to make exceptions from that rule, and to found schools distinct from them where the poverty and population of the district required it—and further that they should have the right of sending inspectors to all the schools under their charge for the purpose of seeing that the public money was properly disposed of and carefully adminstered. Of this plan no part was, in my opinion, more unexceptionable than this wise provision of inspectors. I appeal to the experience of those noble Lords who sat upon the committee of inquiry into the state of education in Ireland, of which committee I had the honour of being chairman—I appeal to the experience of those noble Lords whether they were not met at every step of their inquiry by evidence showing that some inspection of those schools on behalf of the public was absolutely indispensable to their success as a means of promoting education? I have the authority of the secretary of the National Society, and also of the secretary of the British and Foreign Society, both men of great sagacity and experience in education, both of whom stated, that the inspection of the schools is at the root of all good. I could carry your Lordships through a long detail of the present state of the schools in different parts of the country, and could show in what a wretched condition many of them are owing to the want of this inspection, I have by me the notes of a member of the Church of 1271 England, a gentleman filling too an important and responsible public situation, who, from motives of benevolence, has visited many of the national schools not distant from London. His notes prove, that in some of those schools, the state of education, though perfect in form, is so deficient in substance, that though all the children can repeat the catechism by rote, not one of them knows or can give any meaning whatever to the words contained in it, including those most significant of the religious tenets and distinctions to which so much importance is attached. I must also state that, it has come to my knowledge that, in some instances, the Treasury grant has been misapplied, and has been directed to very different objects from those which were originally intended. But the most reverend Prelate seems to apprehend that there is lurking, under this proposition of inspectors to see the regulations properly enforced, an intention to interfere with the ecclesiastical instruction of the children. Will the most reverend Prelate believe him when I assure him that it has never entered into the mind of any one Member of her Majesty's Government that the inspection should be used for the purpose of interfering directly or indirectly with religious instruction. But what it is proposed, and what it is most important to effect, is, that the inspection shall be applied to the introduction of those improvements which even in secular education may be effected, and those admirable arrangements which your Lordships may witness at the school in Norwood, established by the Poor-law Commissioners, arrangements not bearing upon the question of religion, but bearing upon that which is of equal importance—the training the children in habits of order cleanliness, discipline, and industry, which might form a part of a general system of education without interfering with these high truths, which it is the duty and the privilege of the Church to inculcate. I have now touched upon most of the points respecting the plan which is before Parliament, and have noticed the principal objections which have been made to the scheme in this House, by the most rev, Prelate and elsewhere. The most rev. Prelate has thought it necessary to advert to a former minute of the Council, which has been withdrawn, not so much on account of the opposition made to it out of doors, as on account of the difficulty which has been experienced, before, and defeated other plans in 1272 coming to a distinct understanding between conflicting opinions, as to the way in which a normal school, intended for the benefit of all, should be established. Now I do not depart from the principle, that the establishment of a normal school would, under the sanction of Government, be most important and beneficial. But there is no intention on the part of the Government to take such a course without bringing it under the view of Parliament and publicly stating the grounds upon which it is proposed. The amount of the vote itself indeed is sufficient proof that no such intention exists. The most rev. Prelate has spoken a great deal of the distinction between general and particular religion—which he thought implied in that first minute, and having assumed that by "general" religion, "natural" religion was to be understood—he has argued upon that supposition; an erroneous supposition, for the words "natural religion," did not occur in the minute. If the right rev. Prelate wished to know where the distinction between general and special religion was first taken, he would inform him. It was in a speech of Sir R. Peel's. In proposing a grant many years ago for the maintenance of schools in Ireland, Sir R. Peel stated that he saw no reason why a distinction should not be drawn between general and special religion, and why there should not be different persons to teach both in the same school. For myself, I disclaim any other distinction on the subject than that which naturally arises between truths which are common to several religions, and those which are peculiar to each. The Government intends not to propose anything but what it considered will conduce to the grand object of promoting secular improvement, reserving to the Church, free from all possibility of interference from inspection, or any other cause, the right of religious teaching—a right which I do most solemnly declare I most sincerely desire that the Church should retain, and which I believe it is the duty of the Church to exercise. But because I wish the Church to preserve that right, I am not prepared to exclude from the benefit of improved education any class of her Majesty's subjects, and as a Member of Parliament I am bound to see that a grant voted by the representatives of all, at the expense of all, shall be distributed for the benefit of all. That is the sole claim which the Government puts forward upon this occasion; 1273 and in the manner I have described, I would distinctly state that it is the intention of her Majesty's Government, or the Committee of the Privy Council, to administer the system they have proposed; nor will I abandon the hope that this plan, limited as it is, and relieved from those objections to which the too curious apprehensions of some persons, and the deep-rooted prejudices of others have exposed it, will become the means of leading the country to the adoption of some practical system with respect to education, equally conducive to the interests of the Established Church and to the general welfare of the country. With these feelings I shall now move the previous question to the motion of the most rev. Prelate, adding, that even if the most rev. Prelate's motion be carried, I shall not regret that an important attempt has been made on the part of the Government, to carry into effect that which I believe is the only mode of providing for any advance of that improvement in the general condition of society which at the present time, more than at any former, is imperatively called for. If the first resolution[The following is one of the documents referred to. The resolutions moved by the Archbishop of Canterbury may be found at the end of his speech, 1253]Extract from the Minute of Council of the 3rd of June, 1839;—printed by order of ths House of Commons.The Lords of the Committee recommend, by their Report, that the sum of ten thousand pounds, granted by Parliament in 1835 towards the erection of Normal or Model Schools, be given in equal proportions lo the National Society, and the British and Foreign School Society. That the remainder of the subsequent grants of the years 1837 and 1838, yet unappropriated, and any grant that may be voted in the present year, be chiefly applied in aid of subscriptions for building, and, in particular cases, for the support of schools connected with those societies; but that the rule hitherto adopted of making a grant to those places where the largest proportion is subscribed be not invariably adhered to, should application be made from very poor and populous districts, where subscriptions to a sufficient amount cannot be obtained.The Committee do not feel themselves precluded from making grants in particular cases, which shall appear to them to call for the aid of Government, although the applications may not come from either of the two mentioned societies.The Committee are of opinion, that the most useful applications of any sums voted by1274 be however carried, I shall move the omission of that part of the second, which contains the affirmation of words existing in the minute of Privy Council, which are not to be found there.*
The Bishop of Exeter
said, that in presuming to follow the noble Marquess of the eloquent speech which he had just delivered, and which was by far the best defence of that system of education, if system it could be called, which had been adopted by the Government, he should first address himself to the various questions which he had put to rev. Bench, of which he had the honour to be a member. In attempting to answer those questions, he was anxious to have it understood that he was not speaking the sentiments of the rev. Bench, much less those of the Church at large. He trusted, however, that he might be forgiven if he ventured to express his own individual opinions on the questions which the noble Marquess had put to the rev. Bench. The first question which the noble Marquess had* These words were upon Lord Lansdowne's motion afterwards struck out without a division.Parliament, would consist in the employment of those monies in the establishment of a Normal School under the direction of the State, and not placed under the management of a voluntary society. The Committee, however, experience so much difficulty in reconciling conflicting views respecting the provisions which they are desirous to make in furtherance of your Majesty's wish, that the children and teachers instructed in this school should be duly trained in the principles of the Christian religion, while the rights of conscience should be respected, that it is not in the power of the Committee to mature a plan for the accomplishment of this design without further consideration; and they therefore postpone taking any steps for this purpose until greater concurrence of opinion is found to prevail.The Committee recommend that no further grant be made, now or hereafter, for the establishment or support of Normal Schools, or of any other schools, unless the right of inspection be retained, in order to secure a conformity to the regulations and discipline established in the several schools, with such improvements as may from time to time be suggested by the Committee.A part of any grant voted in the present year may be usefully applied to the purposes of inspection, and to the means of acquiring a complete knowledge of the present state of education in England and Wales.Her Majesty, having taken the said Report into consideration, was pleased by and with the advice of her Privy Council, to approve thereof.1275 put to them was this—"Had the Church a right to claim the education of the people at large, including that portion of them, amounting to many millions in number, who do not belong to the Church?" In proposing that question, the noble Marquess had proposed a question which at first appeared perfectly clear and simple; but the terms in which it was couched raised matter of considerable doubt in his mind. He would, therefore, in answering the question, ask for some information as to the terms of the question itself. When he was asked whether the Church had a right to claim the education of the people at large, he answered, that he was not of opinion that the Church had a right to claim the enforcement of any system of education on the people at large, least of all on that part of the people which did not belong to it. But the Church had a right to demand of the State—and if the Church and State were prepared to do their duty, that demand would be answered—the Church, he said, had a right to demand of the State the means of offering education to them all, no matter whether they belonged to the Church or not. God forbid that the Church should compel them to take its system of education! But the Church had a right to demand that the Church, which the State acknowledged to profess the true religion, and whose duty it was to extend instruction to all within its pale, should have the necessary means supplied to it. Then he asked the noble Lord to propose such a grant as would enable the the Church to educate all within its pale. Was the noble Marquess prepared to do his duty in that respect? He would answer for the most rev. Prelate, for his other right rev. Brethren, and for himself, that neither they, nor the clergy of their respective dioceses, would neglect their duty if the State did its duty, as had been, hastily and hypothetically it was true, but still in some manner indicated by the noble Marquess himself. The next question which the noble Marquess had proposed to the rev. Bench was, whether the chain of the Church of England extended, not only to the religious, but also to the secular education of the people? His answer to that was, not that the Church presumed to demand that it should direct the secular education of the country in secular matters, but it had a right to demand and receive from the State the means of sanctifying secular instruction, particularly of those classes who must be assisted with the means of giving education to their children. 1276 Speaking as they now were, mainly of the education of the poorer classes of her Majesty's subjects, he must say that he saw very little need of secular education that ought not to be combined with religion. He did not ask, (God forbid that he should) that the poor man should not be permitted to make all the acquirements in science which it should please God to enable him him to make; but, looking to the poor as a class, they could not expect that those who were consigned by Providence to the laborious occupations of life, should be able largely to cultivate their intellect. If they could concentrate their views upon one great subject—above all, if they could make the Bible the corner-stone of all their learning—if they could learn history, in order to illustrate the Bible—if they could learn the various sciences to the extent to which acquaintauce with them is ordinarily carried by persons of that class, in order to illustrate the Bible—he believed a larger portion of secular education would be acquired by them, than if they were cast upon the sciences, without anything scriptural and sacred whereupon to found their studies; that, in short, by making the Bible the foundation of all, and applying secular science to illustrate it, they would learn a larger amount of science, than if trained in those schools where nothing but science was taught. A third question, an answer to which, he frankly owned, seemed to involve more difficulty than either of those that preceded it, was this—whether it were lawful for the State to give its aid to those who did not belong to the Church? The difficulty of answering that question was somewhat increased by what appeared to him a little difficulty, in distinctly understanding the precise meaning of the noble Marquess. Did the noble Marquess mean to ask, whether it were lawful for the State to give its aid generally to persons who did not belong to the Church, which the State recognized as teaching the truth; or whether the State was entitled to give instruction to others for the purpose of teaching them erroneous doctrines in religion? He could not answer the question, unless he knew in what way the noble Marquess meant it to apply.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, his question was, whether it were fit for the State, under particular circumstances, to provide, in the most effectual manner, for the better and improved education of the people not belonging to the Church.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, if he was then asked whether the State were gene- 1277 Tally to assist in the education of persons who did not belong to the Church recognized by the State, he would answer most readily, he thought it right that the State should give such assistance. But, if asked whether the State should give it specially in the way of teaching doctrines which the State believed to be false in religion, then he said, with equal candour, the State would depart from its first duty, if it dared to do so.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
.—I said, the State should provide for the education; I did not say for the spiritual and religious instruction, but for the secular education of the people.
The Bishop of Exeter
was glad the noble Marquess had given that explanation. He assented to the principle. [The Marquess of Lansdowne—In England]—Well, in England be it; although if the principle were just in England, it would not become unjust by crossing the water. That would be a more extraordinary mode of doing justice to Ireland than he believed had yet been suggested. He was glad, however, to find, that on inquiry, the opinions of the noble Marquess so far approximated to his own, and that as far as England at least was concerned, they were perfectly agreed. The noble Marquess had asked whether the education in England was in a satisfactory state! God knew he thought in a most unsatisfactory state. He thought with the noble Marquess that there were myriads of their fellow-subjects, of their fellow-Christians, of their fellow heirs of immortality, left in a condition so eloquently depicted by the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess called upon them to recollect the 80,000 poor children in Manchester and the neighbourhood immersed in the very abyss of ignorance and vice; and he said, if they left them there, they might punish their crimes indeed, but the guilt of those crimes would rest on other heads. There again he rejoiced entirely to agree with the noble Marquess; but then he must carry his principle a little further back. He should say, if it were the duty of the State, as he most cordially and entirely agreed with the noble Marquess it was, to rescue those unhappy persons from that tremendous position in which they had been left, whose, he must ask, was the fault of their being so left? Was it to be attributed to the neglect of the Church? Had the Church been the cause of that tremendous extent of misery which had accompanied the exten- 1278 sion of our manufactories? Had the State been ready to assist the Church, in giving the blessed truths of the gospel to those which the state was most anxious to breed up and encourage in those very occupations which, if left to themselves, could only terminate in ignorance and vice of the most fearful character? No, never had there been such virtue in the State of England since the Reformation. He grieved to say, that illustrious and blessed era had not been without the most grievous stains, and the greatest of all was, the niggard manner in which the State of England since that period had dealt out the means of spiritual instruction. Had the Slate then stood forward, and rescued from the grasp of a tyrant that ecclesiastical wealth which he applied to pamper his minions, and at the same time to feed his own vices, there would have been means by which spiritual instructors would have been provided for the instruction of a large proportion of those whose distressed situation was so well described by the noble Marquess. Not only then; at no period since, with one great exception, had the State stood forward us she ought to hav done upon this question. The exception to which he alluded was afforded by the conduct of one of the best and purest of. men—whether the ablest of statesmen he did not affect to decide—he meant Mr. Perceval. That excellent man—that truly Christian statesman—even at a time when our finances were most dilapidated, and when there were the largest demands upon our pecuniary resources, proposed a vote of 100,000l. for extending the means of spiritual instruction to the people, through the increase of small livings. That vote was continued for eleven years. Why had it been discontinued? Because Parliament, after having, by God's blessing, been permitted to carry the country through the greatest dangers with which any country was ever yet visited, thought fit to cast off all recollection of its Almighty patron, and rather than continue this boon for that blessed purpose, discontinued the 100,000l. to its own lasting disgrace, even in the midst of peace. There were persons now present not altogether guiltless of that error; there were some who were ready to complain of the tremendous destitution of religious knowledge in the manufacturing districts who had some share in preventing Parliament doing its duty in that respect: he hoped when such recollected this, they would be willing to make the only reparation in their power—a reparation which, by 1279 God's blessing, they might yet be able to make—by giving additional means of Church extension in this country. Without that, it would be in vain to look for any benefit to be derived from those schemes of education which were devised from time to time; without that, he would not say it was insincerity he would not say it was hypocrisy, but he would say it was gross inconsistency, for the noble Marquess, and those who thought and spoke with him, to get up in that House and speak of the tremendous destitution in the manufacturing districts, and even hint that it had in any degree been occasioned by the want of exertion on the part of the Church. He was glad to hear the noble Marquess did not even intend to hint that it was owing to neglect on the part of the Church. He did not wish his observations to be taken as exclusively applicable to any Government—they applied to noble Lords opposite, highly as he honoured them, in a greater degree than noble Lords on the Ministerial side of the House. The commenced that deplorable desertion of the highest duty of the State; and if they wished to retrieve themselves, they must retrace their steps and take care that there was a clergyman in every part of the country ready to give instruction, and then there would be neither the same extent of religious dissent nor of crime which unhappily now prevailed. The noble Marquess had mentioned something about Sir William Courteney. Other schemes might give a better result; but undoubtedly the plan of the noble Marquess was liable to this observation—if there had been one of his model schools in Kent, those misguided individuals who believed Thom to be inspired would have chosen him as their teacher, if their numbers had been sufficient to come within the rule laid down by the committee of Privy Council, they might have received assistance from the State in propogating their doctrines. He did not think the noble Marquess gained much by his reference to Sir William Courteney. After the very able and lucid statement of the most rev. Prelate, he should not detain their Lordships with many observations. The noble Marquess had complained of the introduction of words from Lord J. Russell's letter, as descriptive of the present system, but as that letter was enumerated with the other documents mentioned in the resolutions, he could not help thinking that the objection, which had been taken in the shape of a verbal criticism he supposed, was a little 1280 beneath the noble Marquess. It was important further to consider what was the precise state of things at present. No fewer than three plans of education had been in existence under the authority of her Majesty's Government since the 1st of January 1839: first the plan under the Treasury minute of August 3, 1832; that was superseded by the measure of April 13,1839; and that had finally been not superseded by being placed side by side with the Order in Council of June 3. He said not superseded—and why? It was quite plain, from the whole tenour of these documents, that all the matters explained in the order of April 3, were not only contemplated as possible, but cherished as most desirable to be carried into effect whenever opportunity offered. The model school was stated as the very first thing the committee had to carry into effect. The noble Marquess assented to that condition, and the Queen's sanction was given upon that understanding. True, there might be inconvenience in carrying it into effect—difficulties had arisen, but the House had not been told whether those difficulties arose in relation to schools, or whether they proceeded from quarters much more important, which made it much more difficult to get rid of the objections. Under the appearance of withdrawing it, the scheme was hidden under a mass of words, and thus the design had been covered from the eyes of the unknowing. If the difficulty arose from Parliament, it was quite clear that when Parliament ceased to sit, the difficulty would at the same time cease also. This, which the committee were so anxious to carry into effect, must depend upon a certain concurrence of opinion, of which they were to be the sole judges. Now, their Lordships would recollect, that her Majesty had been advised to express her decided approbation of the course pursued by the noble Marquess, from which they must be aware that the committee would carry into effect the purpose avowed, so soon as they perceived the concurrence of opinion assumed to be necessary for that purpose. He should not then take upon himself to reply at any length to all the observations of the noble Marquess; but there was one made by him, in answer to the most rev. Prelate, upon which, perhaps, he might be permitted to make a remark—it related to the special and general religious instruction of the pupils with whose education it was intended to interfere. They had been told that a religious principle was to enter into 1281 the whole scheme of instruction; that it was to direct and govern the whole, but that special religious instruction was to be reserved for stated periods. The noble Marquess told them, that the general religious instruction was to embrace the general mass of opinions upon which all Christians were agreed. It might, perhaps, have been better to describe it as including those truths only which were admitted by all who professed any religion whatever; but even that would be grossly inconsistent with the principles previously professed by the noble Marquess himself, for Mahometans, Hindoos, and other inhabitants of India, were in respect of their education to become objects of care and attention to the Government of this country. He would take the nature of the general religious instruction to be imparted on the noble Marquesses own showing; and he would take the liberty of asking what were the truths in common amongst all classes of Christians? Short as were many of the documents laid on the Table of their Lordships' House upon this subject, he would take upon himself to say, that the shortest amongst them would not be found so short as the catalogue of those truths, were it correctly made out. There was hardly a dogma left unquestioned by one class of Christians or another; the commission itself, short as it was, would be much longer than any such catalogue. He, of course, deeply regretted that all the truths of religion were not received; but there was only one fair way of dealing by all men in this matter. If there were one plan more partial and unequal in its operation than another—if he were called on to devise one which should have partiality for its basis, he declared that he did not think he could devise any which could exceed the present in its injustice. The fact was, it brought the State to pay for those who had the least religion, by striking off every disputed doctrine. Then it provided that the moral instruction of the children should proceed without reference to their religious instruction. He desired to know if the noble Marquess, as a Christian, was willing that his child should learn his duty to his neighbour—should be instructed in his moral duties as a man, without being informed of the state in which he was in as a man—as a fallen man, incapable of the performance of his duties, unless assisted by divine grace? Did the House for a moment suppose that there could be any moral training, any moral regulation or sanctity, unless in 1282 conjunction with the higher doctrines of Christianity? Having so long trespassed upon their Lordships' attention, he should forbear from touching many subjects which he felt ought to be noticed; and he was the more strengthened in his resolution to avoid them when he recollected how much more powerfully they would be handled by others.
The Bishop of Durham
was understood to say, that when on former occasions he had felt it his duty to state his views on the subject of education, he had professed himself to be favourable to normal schools, and he continued of that opinion. In reference to the subject then more immediately under their Lordships' consideration, he felt bound to call their attention to the fact, that the national schools, the British and Foreign Schools, and the schools established at Glasgow, had partaken of the Government grants. He had endeavoured to make himself as fully acquainted as he possibly could with the real condition of the people in reference to education, and he therefore sought his information from those who were, as he had reason to think, best informed upon the subject. An imputation had been cast upon the Government, as if they rashly jumped to a conclusion the very reverse of that which they had adopted in 1838. This, he thought, an unjust imputation, though he did not profess to know what considerations had more immediately induced the Government to adopt the course which they appeared resolved to pursue, but he was aware of many circumstances which might have had that effect. In the course of the last year, both Houses of Parliament had received various petitions from different parts of the country, praying the adoption of an extended and general scheme of education. There was hardly any subject by which public feeling had been so much agitated; but it was one which ought to be decided by facts, and not by mere speculation; he had therefore endeavoured to procure as full information as he could possibly obtain respecting the state of crime and the relation subsisting between it and education, or rather the want of education. In the acquisition of such information as he had obtained on the subject, he had been much assisted by the Poor law Commissioners, and had received a considerable portion of that information through the kindness of Mr. Chadwick. From all the 1283 documents and information which he could ' collect, it appeared that there existed a very general desire, and, indeed, a great necessity for the adoption of a more popular system of education—more applicable to the instruction of the lower classes throughout the country. Considering the improvement that had taken place on the Continent, and the very great comparative ignorance existing in England, he felt that the Government were warranted in enlarging their grant, and in giving such latitude to its dispensation by the new orders in Council as would probably give rise to a progressive and indefinite extension of the benefits derivable from a sound system o f national education.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
had heard, with great pleasure, the speeches of the most rev. Prelate who opened the debate, and of the right rev. Prelate who had just sat down; but it was a pleasure arising from very dissimilar causes, on account of the different materials of these two speeches. Towards the conclusion of his speech, the most rev. Prelate said, that if the Church ceased to teach pure morals and a right faith in Christianity, religion and the State should cast off the Church. He trusted that no individual in that House thought that the Church should be cast off on either of these grounds, or on any grounds; but it did not appear to him that this was a ground upon which could be built the conclusions to which the most rev. Prelate, and the right rev. Prelate who followed him, had arrived. He would take the liberty of complaining, that neither of these reverend Prelates had grappled with the true question before their Lordships. If, indeed, this was a new system, now projected for the first time by her Majesty's Ministers, then the most rev. Prelate might be justified in omitting to allude to this most important feature in the present debate which he now shrunk from grappling with. But the fact was, that a grant of money for similar purposes to the present, had been made in five successive Sessions by the House of Commons. He should have expected, therefore, that any person endued with reasoning faculties, in objecting to this proceeding at the present time, would have endeavoured to point out some glaring inconsistency between the present proposal and that which had been sanctioned by so many successive votes of the House of Commons. From that task, however, the most rev. Prelate, and the 1284 right rev. Prelate who followed him in debate, had shrunk. Distinctions had been attempted to be drawn, but of real and substantial differences not one had been advanced. Now, with respect to the first ground of objection, it could surely not be looked upon as a substantial difference, whether the grant was to be applied through the hands of the Lord President, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Secretary for the Home Department, or those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and three or four of the junior Lords of the Treasury. Another ground of objection was, as to this scheme being in connection with certain societies now existing; but he thought that the committee to be appointed were not bound to follow the rule now acted upon, and that it was not advisable that they should follow it. The other difference was, that previous subscriptions by individuals were not demanded on behalf of those schools to which the grants were made. The effect of enforcing the existing rule in reference to this subject was this, that education was denied to those localities which, from their poverty, stood in the greatest need of it. Therefore, although he admitted that, as a general rule, it was desirable that this plan should exist where there were local funds, and where there were persons whose means enabled them to subscribe, yet he thought that under other circumstances the system ought not to be strictly carried out. He took the liberty of saying, that among those who admired the speech of the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter), there were many who admired it for a variety of qualities. In the course of his address, the right rev. Prelate had taken occasion to pass no very measured censure upon all those who had sat in Parliament before him, whether in this or the other House of Parliament. During a period of three centuries, according to his views, the conduct of the State had deserved the severest animadversion; but he thought that, during a period of ten or eleven years, the State had done its duty to the people of this country. But what was done during those few years—that exception to which the right rev. Prelate alluded? There was a grant made of 100,00l. a-year. But what was the object of that grant? Was it for the good of the people—was it for the purpose of affording them instruction—was it for the purpose of rescuing them 1285 from the dangers in which they were involved by the non-teaching of them in the truths of Christianity? No, no such thing; but the only object was that of increasing the value of small livings. He did not disapprove of that object; he thought it was a worthy and proper one; but he begged leave to say, that that money was given to the ministers of the Church, and did not in any way necessarily increase the religious instruction of the people.—[A noble Lord: "It increased residence."] No, it did not even increase residence; the building of glebe-houses would have promoted that object, but this sum was not given for that purpose, and the noble Lord who had interrupted him must show that the clergyman, in consequence of the increased value of his living, was a better pastor than he was when he had only his 701. or 80l. a-year, in order to make out his proposition. He repeated, that he did not object to the grant, but he contended that it was not given for the benefit of the flocks; and besides that, it had no reference at all to the population of the parishes in which the minister lived; but that it was solely given in reference to the poverty of the living, and, therefore, solely and entirely for the minister of the Church, and the complaint which the people had a right to make was, that the Government had an eye to the ministers of the Church; and omitted all care of the flocks which they superintended. Now he would advert to a part of the speech of the right rev. Prelate to which he must confess he had listened with great surprise. His observation referred to the words he had used, that there was not a dogma of Christianity that had not been denied. There was no doubt that the subtleness of a mind like that of the right rev. Prelate might find the means of suggesting a denial to every dogma; but would the right rev. Prelate get up in his place, and say, that there were not many dogmas of Christianity which were acceded to by every religious sect in the empire? He had heard the expression of opinion on the part of the right rev. Prelate with the greatest pain, and with the strongest impression of the danger which such an opinion might produce out of doors. It appeared to him that persons disposed to take the same views with regard to the education and instruction of the people as the right rev. Prelate, were inclined to look upon them, 1286 as not being calculated to make the people more Christian, but, on the contrary produce a directly opposite tendency. Now if that were the truth, that the more know, ledge a man might acquire, and the more accomplished he might be, and the more competent to appreciate intellectual pleasures, the less fitted he was to receive the doctrines of Christianity. [No, no.] That was the argument; but he conceived that the truth was directly the contrary, and that the more educated the man might be the more disposed he would be to receive the truths of Christianity with greater spirit. He believed that between the two plans there was no such difference as to justify the House taking a course different from that which had been before adopted, and he should give his vote in favour of the previous question; but at the same time he must be candid and fair to his noble Friends on the ministerial benches. The noble Marquess had endeavoured to show, and he thought that Iris endeavour had been attended with considerable success, that there were reasons for not forming on this occasion that sort of board which should be formed if it were to assume a permanent character; but at the same time he had little doubt that the formation of a committee had led to a great deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation out of doors; and therefore, although, as he had before said, the noble Marquess had well defended the system, he did not conceive, viewing the question as a matter of expediency, that her Majesty's Ministers had been well advised in the course which they had taken—he meant well-advised in its limited sense, so far as their interests were concerned. That there was anything to complain of in the constitution of the committee he was far from believing; for he thought that a committee of the Privy Council was no worse than that which had before been in existence. He would now refer to a branch of the subject from which the noble Marquess had, most unfortunately, been compelled to recede—he meant the establishment of normal schools. Few of their Lordships, he trusted, had not in some portion of their lives been concerned in establishing schools; he would therefore appeal to every noble Lord whether the greatest difficulty which they had felt in taking such a course had not been in finding good schoolmasters? Such difficulties met them at the very out- 1287 set, and great, indeed, were the qualifications required for conducting schools well. He most sincerely lamented, therefore that his noble Friends had been under the necessity of abandoning that part of their scheme; but while he did so, he augured well for the attempt which they made, and if it should not be successful in their hands, he took leave to say that it would drive many others up to the collar, and so secure the general object of education. The money in this instance had been voted, and he trusted that her Majesty's Ministers would be advised by men who would have sufficient firmness to give a proper answer to the address which he did not doubt would be presented. All that he had to say was, that if her Majesty's advisers should yield to the address, and those who framed it, they would betray the best interests of the country; and if, under the dictation of lay Lords, or of spiritual Lords, they neglected their duty, they would lose sight of the great interests of the people, whom they would deprive of the 30,000l. granted by Parliament, and all the benefits which the proceedings taken by the two Houses of Parliament during the last five years had conferred upon them. The House could not get out of that. They had acquiesced in these votes for five years, and they knew very well why they had done so. It was because they knew and felt the great interests of the people of England, and they knew their duty too well to make any objection to them. He believed that to whatever vote they might come that evening, there were few among them who would think it right that his noble Friend should give that advice to her Majesty which he had suggested; but he cautioned them that if by their act the people of England were disappointed and discontented and evil were produced, the responsibility which the Ministers would in the first instance incur would recoil back upon their Lordships' heads with redoubled force.
The Bishop of Norwich
rose with great diffidence at that hour of the night, because he knew that noble Lords opposite seeing him sitting where he did, might be somewhat surprised at hearing that his opinion was not in accordance with their own; but at the same time he did not hesitate to express that opinion in opposition even to his right reverend Friends, because, although be was aware that he was opposed to them, he felt that they were all engaged 1288 in the attainment of the one great object. They might be going in different paths, but he hoped and trusted that their end, and aim, and object were the same; and he hoped that the right reverend Prelates would aid the Government by every means in their power to do that which would promote the welfare of the people, and the establishment of a good system of education. He rejoiced that he had heard the right reverend Prelate near him (the Bishop of London) declare the other evening that the clergy of the Church of England claimed to have the education of the flocks committed to their charge. He said that he rejoiced to hear this, because it was a refutation of the charge which had been made against the clergy, and of the calumnies heaped upon them, that they were in a state of apathy; and when that refutation was given he was convinced that the people of England would at no future time hear that calumny repeated. No, the clergy would be ready to educate the people, and he hoped that their energy and their zeal would be always displayed in that great and important purpose. In this view of his opinion he went beyond the right rev. Prelate, and he thought that if the clergy of England were what they were and would be, they would proceed not only to the education of their own flocks, but to that of the masses of the people. Considering that clergymen now were in the habit of humbling themselves to go among the middling, and even the very lowest classes, and of acting as their friend and consoler in the day of trial and tribulation, surely such men as these, to whom the latch of every cottage door was open, and who were welcome every where, were worthy to be trusted with the education of the people, and he pitied the dissenter who would not hold out the hand of fellowship to a clergyman who thus performed the duties of his mission. When he saw the great change which had taken place in our Church—when he remembered that at one time it required that some moral courage should be exerted to mention the word education and to support the enlargement of the mind, at a time when we were fettered in having a most insignificant degree of education doled out to us, might be not anticipate the future great changes which would be made? He recollected the times when infant schools were even looked upon as dangerous to the Church; 1289 for he remembered when he was taunted, and that by a clergyman, upon that subject, because, forsooth! it was considered that they were engines of Socinianism, and were looked upon as engines to undermine the Church. Socinianism from infants in the cradle? Danger to the Church from puerile delinquents, and from delinquents in the nursery! Such facts showed that great changes had taken place, and he looked forward to the time when the Church of England would practise toleration as well as profess it. There were differences in this question of such a nature that he thought it ought to have been discussed dispassionately, but would appeal to their Lordships and the world whether it had been calmly and dispassionately considered? How had it been received? By exaggerated falsehood—by every degree of obloquy—and by every degree of vituperation that could be heaped upon the Government. Surely this was not the way to receive it. How would the Church have looked if every defect in the system had been pointed out with the microscopic eye of observation? The fact was, that every one had a plan of his own, hammered out upon his own anvil, to which he sedulously attached himself. To say that the Government scheme was perfect would be untrue. There might be many defects, and many points which required explanation; but the country had condemned the plan without inquiry or explanation. Was this fair? [laughter.] This might be jocular; but he did not think that noble Lords were treating the subject with that seriousness which was required. In the first place, he admitted that there was a great defect as regarded the Church and Clergy. They might be anxious and willing to educate the people, but they were not sufficiently numerous, energetic, and anxious as they might be to educate the great number of persons to whom they would obtain access. He appealed to the right rev. Prelate below him (the Bishop of London), and he would tell the House that there were fourteen or fifteen parishes in which there was only one clergyman to 15,000 persons. How, then, could the clergy carry education to such masses? Again, there was a difficulty in educating churchmen and dissenters together. That was a very serious question, and it required great tact and judgment to manage it. He was not a novice in education, for the greater 1290 part of his life had been spent among the humble classes of the people. He knew what they could do; their feelings and passions; and he gave it as his deliberate conviction that they might be educated together, though of different persuasions. He now came to a very delicate question—that which had been so much touched upon during the evening—he meant the system of education in which religious instruction was divided into general and special. This subject had been before alluded to, and harsh language had been used towards the Ministers for making this subdivision. He would read the words which had been used. They were—"Where was the distinction founded between general and special religion? What authority had they for it? Where did they find it? Did they find it in the primitive fathers, in the founders of the Reformed Church, or in the Bible itself? Such a distinction was reserved for the crude and presumptuous analysis of the Committee of Privy Council." Now he could give an answer to this. The Members of the Privy Council had either the merit of starting a most valuable discovery, or they had committed a plagiarism upon a man whose character was without reproach. If it were a plagiarism it was one of which they ought not to be ashamed, for the man from whom, they copied was neither more nor less than a right rev. Prelate, whose name when he mentioned it would command universal esteem—he meant Daniel Wilson, bishop of Calcutta. Now, he would tell the House what had been done. There was an establishment in India called the Martiniere Institution, which was instituted by a person, named Martin, who went abroad as a private soldier, but who amassed a large fortune, and dying a major-general, left his money for the support of the establishment for the education of the people, upon the principles of general education without reference to their creed. In that establishment the religious instruction of the children was divided into two parts, the one general and the one other particular. Then, what was the general sytem? It embraced the fundamental truths of Christianity as they were held in common by the five existing great divisions of Christendom; while the other related to discipline, Church-government, the sacraments and other matters on which differences more or less existed. 1291 The Committee which had been appointed to frame the plan in their Report, considered that the first part should be taught daily and publicly to all the children by the head master of the school, while the second should be taught privately and on particular days by the ministers and teachers whom the parents might, with the approbation of the governors, select. The report then proceeded to point out the general doctrines which were taught. When they saw such a system, therefore, carried on with such admirable effect, he thought it was too much to complain of a system so strongly resembling that of the Martiniere, without some explanation being required and afforded upon the subject. Another part of the same plan was now under consideration. It would be asked how the Bishop of Calcutta acted with respect to the difficult case of the Scriptures. He spoke of two versions—As it respects the versions of the Holy Scriptures, your Committee are not aware that the Greek and Armenian churches have any English version of their own. The English and Scotch Churches use the authorized English version. It remains only that the Church of Rome be considered, which has long possessed a version of its own—that of Douay and Rheims.One great point made against the present plan in England was that the Douay version was to be used by the Catholics. Now, what was the Douay or Rheimish version? It was a translation from the Vulgate. With respect to that book, what had the University of Oxford done? In 1679 the University of Oxford had published an edition of the Vulgate, and pronounced the text of that translation of the Scriptures to be superior to every other that existed. This was about sixty years after the publication of our own version? But then they might say that the Rheimish translation of the Testament was a corruption of the Vulgate. What did the University of Oxford do with respect to that? When the French emigrants were driven, during the excesses of the Revolution, to seek in crowds an asylum in this country, it was singular that the University of Oxford published a large edition of the Rheimish version, and disseminated it among that people, who received it as a boon worthy of the University of Oxford to bestow. He was willing to admit that a gloom now hung over them—he readily 1292 admitted the difficulties they had to encounter; but it would not be long before the mist would be cleared away, or before the light would penetrate that gloom. He saw amongst them much that tended to promote prejudices and angry passions; but the time would come when those prejudices and those angry passions would sink like dross to the bottom, and when there would rise to the top the buoyant principles full of hope and success, and when they would gather the fruit, the seeds of which the Government had spread most abundantly abroad—when, instead of being controversialists, fighting each other face to face, they would go hand in hand, and often instead of entering into these controversies, they would unite to combat their common, their more powerful enemy, ignorance and vice, and profligacy. It was their duty to join hand to hand, and heart to heart, the churchman and the dissenter, to conquer that common enemy of their common country; and although her Majesty's present Ministers might not live to see the fruits, they had sown the seeds which no power could crush; they would germinate, they would shoot up; they would spread and all should look forward with joy to the time—all should cherish—all cling to the hope that the consequence of what her Majesty's Ministers had done would be that the people of England will be educated.
The Bishop of London
spoke as follows:*At this late hour of the night, and in an atmosphere resembling that of the diocese (Calcutta) to which my right rev. Friend (the Bishop of Norwich) seems to wish me translated, it is very unwillingly that I trespass upon your Lordships' notice; but the subject in debate is one of such urgent and paramount importance, one in which I am so deeply interested as Bishop of the most populous and influential diocese in England, that I feel it to be inconsistent with the duty which I owe to the Church and to the country, not to offer a few observations to your Lordships before the discussion is brought to a close. The right rev. Prelate who has just sat down, and to whom I give full credit for sincerity in the wish which he expresses, that all men may be brought to a community of religious sentiment, although I am less sanguine*From a corrected report published by Fellowes,1293 than he is as to its fulfilment, has also expressed a hope, that the Church of England may in time be as tolerant in practice as she is in theory. My Lords, I will not enter upon a discussion of this point any further than to observe, that if there be a church in the whole world, which deserves the character of toleration in practice, as well as in theory, it is the Church of England. Nay, my Lords, I am by no means sure, that she is not more tolerant in practice than in theory: I am not sure, that toleration has not been extended, in fact, further than is consistent with the Church's constitution. Not that I complain of this. I would not, if I could, retrace a single Step which has been taken in that direction. I only allude to the fact, as a proof, that the Church's practice deserves at least as much praise as her theory, in respect of toleration. Now as to the subject, more immediately before us, it is with unfeigned reluctance, my Lords, that I declare my purpose for voting for resolutions, which are in effect condemnatory of a highly important measure, which has received the deliberate and determined sanction of her Majesty's Government; so determined indeed, that they persevere in it, notwithstanding the loudly expressed disapprobation of the country at large, upon the strength of an insignificant majority of two in another assembly, against an over- whelming majority of the people, testified by about 3,000 petitions against the measure, to 100 in favour of it; a proportion of thirty to one. It is the more painful to me to pursue the course, which I feel it to be my duty to take, because this measure has assumed a shape, which gives it the semblance of having received the personal approbation and sanction of the Sovereign herself, the temporal head of our Church. I know, however, that this is not necessarily the case. I know that I am to deal with this measure as a measure determined upon, not by her Majesty, but by her Ministers; but still, the form, in which it comes before us, makes it the more painful to me to stand up for the purpose of opposing it. In applying, as I feel myself compelled to apply, the language of censure to the measure which has been adopted by her Majesty's Government with reference to the important question of public education, I hope I shall not be considered as imputing unworthy motives to any of the individuals who compose that Government. I shall without hesitation charge them j with erroneous principles, leading to inju- 1294 rious results; but I do not ascribe to them any deliberate intention of producing those results, by setting at work a machinery, which, if it be suffered to move on unimpeded through all the stages of that process, to which its functions are adapted, will undermine and weaken, if it does not ultimately subvert and overthrow, the Established Church of this country. Least of all am I disposed to impute any such design to the noble Marquess, the President of the Council, and of this Education Committee, who has assured us to-night, as he has often done before, of his attachment to the Established Church. He knows too well how inseparably the best interests of the country are bound up with the well-being and efficiency of that Church, to give his approval or assistance to any measure which he should perceive, or even suspect, to be, in its tendencies, likely to impair its strength or to lessen its usefulness. But, my Lords, while I give full credit to her Majesty's Ministers for the rectitude of their motives, I must deal freely and unreservedly with their measures; and I frankly confess, that the measure before us is of such a nature, that it requires no trifling exercise of that charity which thinketh no evil, not to be suspicious of their motives. But I again declare, that I acquit them of any deliberate intention of bringing about the results which are to be apprehended from this scheme. I believe them to be acting under the advice, and from the impulse of others, whose intentions are less friendly to us than their own. I think they are in the hands of a party hostile to the Church, and bent upon its destruction, who entertain the hope of securing their assistance, as instruments for carrying their own pernicious designs into effect. That there is such a party in the country, a party bent upon destroying its dearest and best institutions, is a fact which cannot have escaped the observation of your Lordships; a party not perhaps very numerous, certainly not very respectable: but active, sagacious, persevering in their endeavours; constantly at work about the very foundations of the Monarchy and the Church, and knowing perfectly well, that through the medium of the Church the Monarchy may be most successfully assailed; for if the Church falls, my Lords, all the other glorious and happy institutions of the country will follow; if ever the Church should be cast down, it will involve the Throne in its ruin. I speak advisedly, when I say, that there is a party in the 1295 country entertaining these designs; seeking, without much attempt at concealment, to accomplish them; and intending to employ popular education, as a most effective instrument for that purpose. Some, no doubt, are associated with them, in their plans for extending education, who are little aware of their ulterior objects. It is now nearly two years since I warned your Lordships, and the country at large, against the machinations of this party. I took occasion, upon presenting an important petition from the inhabitants of Cheltenham on the subject of National Education, to caution you against the schemes, which were put forth and recommended by a society, comprising in the list of its members some persons, eminent for station, for uprightness of conduct, and for benevolence, whose names, I must think, have been given to that society in ignorance of the designs which its chief promoters have in view, and of the results to which they tend; I mean the Central Society of Education. Their avowed object is, to induce, if possible, the Government of this country to interpose its authority for the purpose of separating religious and secular education; to withdraw the superintendance of it from the Church; to subvert our national system; and to substitute for it one exclusively secular. It is openly declared by one of the chief advocates of their plans, that the absolute and entire exclusion of the Bible from the secular school, is a sine qua non to the establishment of any National system of Education. I think I have a right to urge her Majesty's Government not to adopt or sanction any such plans as these; but I think I am also justified in expressing some apprehension of their doing so. I trust that I am not dealing with them uncandidly or unfairly, when I say that the Society in question appears to me to have been, directly or indirectly, the adviser of the Government in the present instance; seeing that the plan, first put forth by the Committee of Privy Council, agrees perfectly in substance, almost in words, with that referred to by the most reverend Prelate who moved the resolutions, as being contained in one of the society's publications.
But the Central Society of Education, my Lords, is not the only body which is labouring with mischievous activity to accomplish the same objects, and to prevail upon the Government to establish some such system of education as this, in lieu of that which is connected with the Church 1296 of England. There is another Society, formed of the professed enemies of the Church, calling itself "The Society for promoting Religious Equality," which has lately passed certain resolutions, and this is one of them:That to compel any one to contribute to the support of religious rites of which he disapproves, or to the ministers of a church from which he conscientiously dissents, is manifestly unjust, and at variance with the spirit and principles of Christianity: that State establishments, by which any particular Church, or sect, is selected as the object of political favour and patronage, and its clergy are invested with exclusive rights and secular preeminence, involve a violation of equity towards other denominations, and are the occasion of inevitable social discord.All this is very well; it is a plain declaration of hostility to the Church, which is no more than was to be expected from persons who are at enmity with all religious establishments. Indeed, it is no more than was declared, I believe, by a deputation of Dissenters who waited upon Earl Grey, when Premier, and who said that nothing would satisfy them, short of the entire subversion of the Church Establishment. But how do they expect to accomplish their object? How is the end to be attained? Their address discloses the secret. They say,—On every hand, in some shape or other, the Church and State question meets the politician. It is the Tithe question in Ireland; the Church-extension question in Scotland; the Church-rate question, and the Education question, and the University question in England.And this reminds me of cautioning your Lordships how you admit the principles which the Government seems prepared to adopt; for if they are brought into full operation in the education of the poorer classes, you may expect them to be forced upon our Universities. The resolution continues:—In no measure of legislation are the social and religious interests of all denominations more deeply involved, than in those relating to national education, in reference to which a false step on the part of the Legislature will be with difficulty retrieved,These persons, my Lords, may be considered as representing the party to whom I have alluded, and the first step towards the accomplishment of their objects, seems to me to have been taken, and the general outline of their plans to have been sketched, in the scheme put forth by the Committee 1297 of Privy Council. With respect to the part which the clergy have taken in this great question, they have frequently, but not in express terms in this night's debate, been charged with being opposed to the general diffusion of knowledge. My Lords, no persons are more sensible than the clergy are, of the evils which flow from ignorance, and of the duty incumbent upon them, as upon every enlightened Christian, to do all in their power towards removing the cause of those evils: nor can it be truly said of them, that they have been negligent or remiss in the performance of that duty. The most rev. Primate has already stated in detail, the exertions which have been made by our Reformed Church in the cause of education; but I think he has not mentioned the precise increase of the means of education which has been effected during the last twenty years by those exertions. By the returns made to Parliament in 1833, the total number of children in the kingdom receiving daily education, was 1,276,947; of whom, the dissenting schools contained 51,822, or one twenty-fourth of the whole: and the increase, since the year 1818, was 671,248, from which, if one twenty-fourth be deducted, there will remain 643,280 additional scholars, the fruits of the church's efforts during the abovenamed period. The Dissenters, therefore, being somewhat less than one-sixth of the population, (if the Wesleyans be deducted, they are less than one-seventh, are educating one twenty-fourth of the whole number of children receiving daily education. In Sunday schools, which by the way had their origin in the Church, the disproportion of numbers is not so great. Compare, then, my Lords, the million of children who are now receiving education in schools connected with the Church, with the total number educated in any schools, before the time when that great impulse was given to the public mind, which led to the formation of the British and Foreign School Society and the National School Society, and you will not be disposed to charge the Church With supineness in the work of education; certainly not the clergy, who have been at all times the most liberal contributors to schools, in many cases supporting them entirely at their own expense, and almost universally devoting their time and talents to the superintendence and management of their Parochial and Sunday Schools. A just tribute was paid to the disinterested and useful labours of that excellent body of men in a speech delivered nineteen years ago, 1298 in another place, by a noble and learned Lord, who has devoted so much of his time and great abilities to the subject of education; a tribute, of which I am sure he will not now be disposed to retract a single word. But I know it will be said, in answer to these statements, "It is all very true; we admit the correctness of your numbers; we acknowledge that you have a great many schools, and a respectable roll-call of scholars; but what is the education which you give them? It is a worthless and bad education." Now, when we proceed to inquire a little more particularly into the grounds of this charge, we find, that the badness of our education consists principally in this, that we devote too much time, as they think, to religious instruction, to the study and explanation of the Bible, and too little to the objects of instructing the children of the poor in those branches of secular knowledge, and those mechanical arts, which may be useful to them in after-life. My Lords, we are content to bear this imputation. We acknowledge that we hold the great object of education to be, the training up of immortal beings, admitted by baptism into a special relation to their Maker, to a meetness for fulfilling the duties of that relation. We hold it to be more beneficial to them, and more incumbent upon us, to give them a knowledge of God and of themselves, of their duties and their destiny; to form their habits of thought and action by the rules of truth, and holiness, and charity, than to imbue them very deeply (and yet we would imbue them as deeply as a due attention to the more important object may permit) with that secular knowledge which they will be sure to acquire for themselves, if they find it to be serviceable in promoting their advancement in life, and securing to them the world's advantages; a knowledge which, if not sanctified and guided, in its use and application, by the restraints and motives of Christianity, may be, nay, rather, my Lords, will be a curse to them rather than a blessing. Yes, my Lords, I use the words deliberately and advisedly, a curse rather than a blessing. For let me not be told, that the acquisition of knowledge, of whatever kind, cannot under any circumstances be otherwise than beneficial to man as a reasonable being. If, my Lords, we bear in mind that man is not only a reasonable being, but that he is therefore a moral and accountable agent, we shall see, that a broad ground is laid for restricting and qualifying that position. That 1299 the acquisition of knowledge, commonly so called; that knowledge, which sharpens the wit of man, exercises his faculties, and stores his memory, while it leaves untouched the conscience and the heart, that this does not of necessity benefit the person who acquires it, we learn by the testimony of fact. That education, unsanctified by religion, is evil in its tendencies, and injurious in its results, is the conclusion of sound reason, confirmed by experience. What, my Lords, is the state of the case in France at the present moment? What are the fruits of that system, which takes present utility, and not religious duty, for its mainspring and regulating principle? Do we see anything there, which should encourage us to give that prominence and value to mere secular education, which are given it by the supporters of the Central Society? Many of your Lordships are probably acquainted with the Educational Statistics of M. Guerry, and with the extraordinary results of his very careful and minute inquiries; results which may well shake, if they do not overthrow, the confidence of those who look upon education, as they understand the term, as the grand panacea, of all the evils, moral and political, by which the country is afflicted. His word's are these:—While crimes against the person are most frequent in Corsica, the provinces of the South-East, and Alsace, where the people are well instructed, there are the fewest of those crimes in Berri, Limousin, and Brittany, where the people are the most ignorant. And as for crimes against property, it is almost invariably those departments that are best informed which are the most criminal—a fact, which, if the tables be not altogether wrong, must show this to be certain, that if instruction do not increase crime, which may be a matter of dispute, there is no reason to believe that it diminishes it.It is strange, that the writer, who is an acute and sagacious person, should wholly overlook the cause of this surprising anomaly. It is at least strange that any Christian should overlook it. The cause is neither more nor less than this, that the education, of which he speaks, is a purely secular education, wholly untinctured with religion. I know, my Lords, that the government of France desire it to be otherwise; and I believe, that they are making efforts to supply this fatal defect in their system of education; but it has not yet been supplied. To prove this, I need only quote from a Report made to M. Guizot by one of his agents, who gays of the schools in France, 1300 "As to moral and religious instruction, there is none at all." The same result is deduced from the educational statistics of America by De Beaumont and De Tocque-ville; and the same cause exists, or nearly the same—namely, that religious instruction, at least that religious instruction which deserves the name, forms no essential part of the established system of education. I state, upon authority which cannot be called in question, that of their own reports, that in America, which is held up to us as a model in this respect to be imitated, and where the governments in different states interfere to make education in some measure compulsory, moral improvement has by no means kept pace with intellectual training. The second report of the Massachussets Board of Education, at the head of which is a person of distinguished ability and learning, Mr. Everett, speaking of the constitutional rule, that no books shall be used in the schools which favour the tenets of any particular sect of Christians, and of the existing scarcity of such books, announces the publication of a series of religious works intended to form a school library. "One series for children, another for maturer readers."Each book in the series is to be submitted to the inspection of every Member of the Board; and no work can be recommended but upon their unanimous approval. Such a recommendation, it was believed, would form a sufficient assurance to the public, that a sacred adherence would be had to the principle which is embodied in the legislation of the commonwealth, on the subject of school-books, and which provides, that school-committees shall never direct to be purchased, or used, in any of the town schools, any books which are calculated to favour the tenets of any particular sect of Christians.And therefore a series of constitutional books are in preparation, which are to teach religion in the general; and if they are to teach any religion worthy of the name, and yet to be free from all peculiar doctrines, I shall be curious to see them. Appended to this document is another report from the Secretary of the committee, Mr. Horace Mann, who discloses, without intending it, the results which have followed from a secular education.In my report of last year," he says, "I exposed the alarming deficiency of moral and religious instruction then found to exist in our schools. That deficiency, in regard to religious instruction, could only be explained by supposing that school-committees, whose duty it 1301 is to prescribe school-books, had not found any books at once expository of the doctrines of revealed religion, and also free from such advocacy of the tenets of particular sects of Christians, as brought them within the scope of the legal prohibition.Indeed, my Lords, I should have wondered if they had.And hence they felt obliged to exclude books, which, but for their denominational views, they would have been glad to introduce. No candid mind could, even for a moment, accept this as an evidence of an indifference to moral and religious instruction in the schools, but only as a proof that proper manuals had not been found, by which the great object of moral and religious instruction could be secured, without any infringement of the statuary regulation. A knowledge of the deficiency, then for the first lime exposed to the public, has turned the attention of some of the friends of education to the subject, and efforts are now making to supply the desideratum. Of course I shall not be here understood as referring to the Scriptures, as it is well known, that they are read in almost all the schools, either as a devotional, or reading book.And therefore books are to be prepared, which are to answer all the purposes of religious instruction, without inculcating any religious doctrine to which any sect of Christians objects: an undertaking, which if the literati of America shall accomplish, I shall admit, that they have achieved, what till then I must believe to be an impossibility. My Lords, I pursue this line of argument, not for the purpose of disparaging the value of intellectual education, but of shewing that it is even worse than valueless when wholly dissociated from religion; and especially with respect to those classes which form the bulk of the community. Intellectual refinement may perhaps give additional strength to those principles or feelings, such for instance as the principle of honour, which in the higher ranks of society may preserve men from the commission of crime, may fill up those vacant hours which would otherwise be given to gross and debasing recreations, and may serve, as far as this life is concerned, as a substitute, however imperfect, for religious principle. But it is not so with the poor. If they have not religious principle, they have no principle at all. I have exposed the system which in America, in some at least of the United States, effectually excludes religion from the schools. Mr. Mann speaks of the exclusion as "alarming." Let us now see the results. In the State of New York, 1302 500,000, out of a population of 2,000,000, are at school; one-fourth of the whole. Yet crime is rapidly increasing. In Connecticut, education is still more extended, and nearly one-third of the population is at school; and yet crimes multiply to a frightful extent. The truth is, that the effect of merely intellectual education is, not to diminish the numerical amount of crimes, but to alter their character and complexion; to diminish violence, but to encourage fraud. In Russia, where there is no such thing as popular education, out of 5,800 crimes committed in a certain period, 3,500 were accompanied with violence; while in Pennsylvania, where education is general, out of 7,400 crimes, only 640 were with violence; one-twelfth, instead of three-fifths as in Russia. The records of our own criminal courts exhibit proofs of the same results as flowing from mere intellectual education. The intelligent and pious chaplain of the New Prison at Clerkenwell, says, in. his report of last year;—Your chaplain finds daily, that those whose intellects have been most cultivated, are generally the most depraved. Three of the best so educated, now in prison, have been committed, one eight times, another seven or eight, a third twice.The same clergyman, in his report for the present year, repeats his statement; and he assures me, that the experience of each succeeding year serves to confirm him in the truth of it. But, after all, my Lords, I would not be understood to speak disparagingly of the intellectual part of education; nor to assert that the system, which now prevails in our schools, is by any means perfect. On the contrary, I have on more than one occasion told the clergy of my own diocese, that the education usually given in our National Schools is susceptible of great improvement, and I have exhorted them to labour at improving it. I see no reason why instruction in many branches of human knowledge may not be advantageously given in our schools, provided always that it be so given, as not to subtract from the time and attention which ought to be devoted to the grand and primary object of all. I do not see why, for instance, geography, and history, and the elements of natural philosophy-should not form subjects of teaching; and especially if they are connected, as to a great degree they may be, with the study of the Bible itself. Far from weakening the taste of the learners 1303 for that sacred book, they will, when judiciously interspersed in the course of religious instruction, give a fresh zest to their scriptural lessons, and make them recur with pleasure to the most important study of all. But, my Lords, this work of improvement has begun, and is steadily, if not rapidly proceeding; and therefore, there is no reason why the Government should interfere with our system. And when we speak of the imperfections which still lessen its efficiency, we ought to remember the difficulties with which we have had to contend in setting forward this great work; the state of things five and twenty years ago, the experimental nature of our plans, the inadequate means we have possessed for carrying them into effect, the ill-qualified hands with which we have been obliged to work our machinery. But still, much has been done; more is now doing; and much more will be done by the Church, if the State fulfils its duty, and provides her with the requisite means. And this brings me, my Lords, to another most important branch of the subject; upon which I almost fear to enter, after having already trespassed so long upon your Lordships' patience; but as it may perhaps spare you the infliction of another speech upon the bill of the noble and learned Lord, to which a great part of my remarks will be applicable, I shall venture to offer some further observations. I am by no means disposed to deny or call in question the right, or the duty, of the State, to interfere in the important concern of education. Whatever of necessity affects the moral condition, the usefulness, the well-being of the people at large, and, in its results, the very existence of social order, must fall within the scope of the State's directing and controlling power. Looking at it only as it concerns the duty, incumbent upon every Government, to prevent, and thereby to obviate the necessity of punishing crime, Education must needs be a State question. A good education, my Lords, that is, a religious education, administered by the teachers of religion, is by far the cheapest, as well as the most effective measure of police which any Government can adopt. My right rev. Friend on my left has, with great feeling and eloquence, depicted the evils which have resulted in the more populous districts of the kingdom from the neglect of Government in not supplying this want. My Lords, if one-tenth part of the vast sums of money which have 1304 been expended within the last few years upon the erection of gaols, and houses of correction, and penitentiaries, and asylums, had been laid out fifty years ago in building churches and schools, it would, I verily believe, have saved the outlay of a great part of the remaining nine-tenths. But the right of the State to interfere being thus admitted, then arise the questions, how, and how far, and in what direction, and by what means, is that interference to be exercised? And these are questions, my Lords, which cannot at once be determined in the general, by a formulary which shall be equally applicable to all countries, at all times, and under all circumstances: but the solution of the problem must very much depend upon the peculiar features of each separate case. For instance, the same kind and degree of interference which is practised in Prussia, where a despotic government can drive a whole community of Protestant dissidents beyond the limits of its dominions, or, on the other hand, arrest and imprison two archbishops of one of its established churches, may not be suited to the institutions and habits of a free country. Yet the example of Prussia is that which the Central Society of Education holds out for our imitation; urging the adoption of measures which are calculated to pave the way (and I am not sure that the first stone of the road has not already been laid) for the establishment of a system, which the people-, it is admitted, are not yet prepared to submit to; a system, which invests the Government with the whole control and direction of national education, arms it with powers to compel the people to send their children to be educated, and educated upon its own plan; makes, in short, the Government the universal pedagogue, the sole trustee of all charitable funds for education, and the whipper-in of all loiterers in the chase after useful knowledge. But, my Lords, the question of the State's interference in the business of education, as far as our own country is concerned, is in a great degree settled and determined. The State has already interfered, legitimately as J think, and effectually, by establishing a National Church, a great instrument of education, which ought to conduct the whole process, as far as religion is concerned: for let us not forget that education is not the mere training of childhood and youth, but the continued teaching of an immortal being; and therefore it is not to be confined to the walls of a school, but is 1305 carried on in the Church. The clergyman is to continue what the schoolmaster has begun. The Church then, in this country, is the only recognised medium of communicating religious knowledge to the people at large; and where there is an Established Church, the Legislature ought to embrace every fit opportunity of maintaining and extending the just influence of the clergy, as ministers of religion, due regard being had to complete toleration. I am using not my own words, but the words of an enlightened and philosophical friend of education, Mr. Leonard Homer, who fully admits this principle, although in the mode of working it out he may not entirely agree with me. At least, my Lords, it is the duty of the Government, and I am sure it is its interest, not to do anything which may lessen and impair, much less destroy the Church's efficiency. But this I am persuaded it will do, if it does that to which its advisers are urging it; namely, take the whole business of popular education out of the Church's hands into its own; appoint inspectors, choose schoolmasters, select school-books; in short, do every thing but chastise the boys in person. My Lords, these are functions, which the Government, as such, is not competent to undertake, in this country at least. It is not competent either practically or constitutionally. It is not practically competent; for how is it possible, that four or five political personages, holding office at the pleasure of the Crown, or, more properly speaking, of the House of Commons, whose time and thoughts are of necessity occupied with far different matters; whose habits of life are not likely to have been such, as to qualify them for so delicate and difficult an office, should exercise their functions, as superintendents of general education, with all the knowledge and all the discretion requisite for such a task? and what security have we for any thing like permanency of principle, or consistency of operation, in such a body? Will they not, of necessity, be acted upon, and moved as puppets, by a few artful and designing persons behind the scenes, who will pull the strings from time to time, and make the Privy Councillors gesticulate, and excite the mirth or the sorrow of the bystanders; and will themselves do all the mischief, without incurring any of the responsibility? If this be not the case, if they are not mere tools in the hands of a party, active but unseen, there is yet an alternative. The functions, which they 1306 cannot perform themselves, they will delegate to their secretary, who will thus become the sole arbiter and director of popular education. And what security have we, that their secretary shall be a member of the Established Church; that he will not be a Socinian, or a Roman Catholic; nay, what security have we for his being a Christian? My Lords, I would not speak disrespectfully of any of her Majesty's Privy Councillors, and 1 hope I may not have given offence by the comparison which I have made; but it is forced upon me by the symptoms, which I think I have already discovered, of this fantoccini process, in the recent movements of the Committee of Privy Council. I must again say, that such a body can never advantageously discharge the duties which they seem disposed to take upon themselves, but must be in the hands of others, who will act without responsibility, and will probably misuse their power, to the injury of the Church. 1 repeat it, then, the State, having delegated its functions to the Church, as far as the religious education of the people is concerned, is not competent to resume them, nor to intrust them to any other body, except by a deliberate and solemn act of the Legislature in all its three estates. In asserting this, I do not claim for the Church the right of educating any other children than those of her own communion. I do maintain that she is, by the constitution of the country, the established and recognised organ of religious education; and she ought to have sufficient means for the discharge of her functions. If there be any, and many, no doubt, there are, who refuse to accept the education we offer them, let them seek instruction according to their own views and methods. Let them even be assisted by the State, if the necessity should arise; but let it be done in the way of charity to the dissidents from our Church, not as a matter of right: at all events, let it not be so done as to make it appear to the people, that the Government withholds its confidence from the Church, and is desirous of withdrawing from its parental care and teaching, those who might under that care be brought up as its intelligent and attached members, but under a different system will become its prejudiced and dangerous foes. It is chiefly, though not entirely, because the Government plan is calculated to disparage and weaken the Church, that I so strongly disapprove of it. Why not continue, at least for some time to come, the 1307 system of encouragement pursued for the last six years, by giving pecuniary assistance towards the erection of schools, through the two great Educational Societies? I do not mean to say, that the principle involved in that system is free from objection; or that it is altogether consistent with those which I have laid down. But almost all theories, when reduced to practice, must in some cases give way to unforeseen necessity, so long as no vital nor essential principle is compromised. At all events, we have not been disposed, nor are we now disposed, to question the propriety of those pecuniary advances to the two Societies alluded to, for the same objects, and under the same restrictions. For here, my Lords, lies the difference between those grants as administered by the Lords of the Treasury and the proposal of the Committee of Privy Council for the distribution of future grants. They were made to two established Societies, whose principles and regulations were well known; and they were made upon certain fixed conditions, to meet local subscriptions in certain proportions. In the first instance, Parliament voted a sum of 20,000l., experimentally, for the promotion of education. Schemes for education were not then so rife as they are now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, very properly insisted at the time, that certain fixed rules should be laid down for the distribution of the money. Those rules were accordingly made, were uniformly acted upon, were made known, together with the operations resulting from them, to Parliament, who thereupon saw fit to renew the grant; and so on from year to year; the Church making no remonstrance; but obtaining, by means of its larger contributions, by far the greater portion of the money. We knew then what we had to expect; we knew how the money would be distributed, and we acquiesced in the fairness of the rule. But under the new scheme we have not the least notion what we are to look for. I have no doubt, but that the noble President of the Council is sincere, when he says, that they mean to act upon the same general principles as the Lords of the Treasury acted upon. But they give us no security for their doing so. On the contrary, they reserve to themselves the liberty of departing from those principles, by certain regulations which will serve as loop-holes for them to creep out of their general rules, and to destroy their effect. I allude particularly to their departure from the principles of regulating 1308 the amount of aid by that of local subscriptions, and of making the two Societies the channels of that aid. By breaking through these restrictions, they make the plan of their proceedings quite indefinite, and therefore to be regarded with suspicion. My Lords, I am not prepared to say, that a plan may not be devised, by which the general object of promoting popular education might be entrusted to some public body, reserving to the Church the exclusive direction and control of religious education in her own schools; but this must be done by an act of the legislature, after accurate inquiry and mature deliberations; and for this the time is not yet come; for the information hitherto obtained by Parliament, on the subject of education, is far from being complete or correct. Independently of my objections to the Government scheme now under discussion, as derogatory to the Church, and justly liable to suspicion, I cannot but think that the time for attempting this innovation has been exceedingly ill-chosen. The system of administering the Parliamentary grants was working well; true, it was in some sense only a temporary system; but if it had worked well for a time, and on a limited scale, why not try it for a longer period, and on a more extended scale? It is a singular reason to give, for adopting a new system, that the old one had done its duty satisfactorily. My Lords, that new system, I feel it my duty to declare, is one, which opens the door to a continually increasing latitudinarianism. Its beginnings may be but small; but the principle of evil is there. It may be only the seed which is now sown: but it will fall upon a congenial soil, well prepared for its reception; it will be carefully tended and well watered; and before many years are elapsed, will bring forth a plenteous harvest of bitter fruit. But I shall be told, that according to the principles upon which I insist, it will never be possible to educate the children of Churchmen and Dissenters together. My Lords, I fear, if these discussions are forced upon us, looking to the feelings which they are likely to excite, that such may indeed come to be the case. And if it should, it would be a more desirable result, than could follow from bringing them up together, upon the express or implied condition of their not being taught the distinguishing doctrines of their respective communions; that is to say, of suppressing what they respectively believe to be religious truth. Such a system could only engender a disregard for all truth. 1309 But, ray Lords, it is not impossible, even with an adherence to these principles, to educate in the same schools the children of Churchmen and Dissenters. I have had some experience in the management of schools, as well as my right rev. Friend, both in the country and the metropolis, and my experience has taught me, that such a joint and common education in Church schools is by no means impracticable, under discreet and judicious management. I have myself had the principle direction of a large national school, in which children of every denomination, Jews not excluded, were receiving education. I know that it requires judgment and kindness to maintain that state of things; but it is possible to avoid giving offence to reasonable Dissenters, without compromising any important principle of the Church; and in the case to which I allude, the Dissenters were content to leave their children in our hands, satisfied, in general, that the essential truths of their own creeds would be taught in every school which was in connexion with the Church of England. If anything be calculated to put an end to this state of things, and to render it impossible to give a common education to the children of parents who belong to the Church, and of those who differ from it, I think it is the conduct of those who are perpetually charging the Church with bigotry and intolerance, or with the inculcation of false doctrine, and who may thus impose upon us the necessity of asserting more strongly our own principles and rights, and of drawing more tight those bands of discipline, which we have to a certain degree relaxed in some instances, for the sake of bringing the children of all denominations within the Church's beneficial influence. If such be the result, we must come at last to a separate education; nor do I believe that children are the more likely in after-life to regard their brethren with less of the spirit of Christian charity and kindness, because they were educated apart from one another, without any misunderstanding or collision upon religious subjects: whereas the inevitable result of their being educated together, upon the plans now recommended to the public, would be to teach them to regard the fundamental principles of Christianity as unimportant, because they are to be carefully kept out of sight, and made to appear to them as matters of less moment and interest than those branches of merely secular knowledge, which are to be sedulously taught to all, for the purpose of 1310 qualifying them for their occupations in this world, without any reference to their prospects in the next. The most rev. Prelate who moved the resolutions alluded to a report on the subject of normal schools, made by a very eminent man, Professor Thiersch, justly celebrated for his classical learning, especially for his knowledge of the Greek language. Speaking of the seminary for teachers at Kaiserlautern, he says—Many arguments recommended the division of the seminary for teachers; according to the confessions of faith. I know and respect the motives which dictated, that in the circle of the Rhine both confessions (Protestant and Romanist) should be united in a single seminary, in the advantages of which even future rabbies should partake. But it is conceivable, and the experience of other countries shows that it is found to be so, that when seminaries are separate, toleration may be secured both among teachers and communities; indeed that this is more effectually attained, the more each confession is secured in its real wants. Amongst these wants, it would seem that the education and instruction of the persons, to whom elementary schools are to be intrusted, must be specially included; and as such an education cannot be conceived, unless its basis be firmly laid in the knowledge of some Christian confession, then the division of seminaries, according to the modes of faith, as happens in Nassau, in Prussia, and, perhaps we may say in every other country, is necessarily required.The Minister of Education in France, in a circular addressed to the Prefects in 1833, said—It is in general desirable that children, whose parents do not profess the same religious opinions, should early contract, by frequenting the same schools, those habits of mutual good will and toleration, which, at a more mature age, will grow into justice and union. It may, however, be sometimes necessary, even with a view to the public peace, that separate schools should be opened in each commune for each faith.If, therefore, we should be driven to this system in England, I do not apprehend any serious detriment to the cause of charity or of the Christian church. My Lords, I have only one other observation with which to trouble you before I sit down; and it relates to the inexpediency, to use no harsher term, of any attempt to withdraw the superintendence of popular education from the clergy of the Established Church. It is always important, my Lords, upon subjects, respecting which the opinions of men are much divided, to learn the sentiments of persons of enlarged and 1311 philosophic minds, remote from the scene of contention, and at a distance from that turmoil of political conflict which is so likely to obscure the judgment, and to prejudice the minds of those who are engaged in it. It is for this reason that I am desirous of quoting to your Lordships the opinion of a very eminent person, M. Cousin, who has laboured much in the cause of education, and whose valuable reports to the Minister of Education in France, are no doubt well known to you. But before I adduce his testimony, it occurs to me that I may very properly introduce another witness, and request your Lordships to hear the sentiments of a body of men nearer home—not less enlightened or less philosophical—who have expressed and left on record their sense of the importance not to say the duty, of entrusting the education of the country to the clergy, and of not separating in any case the instruction of the people from the ministry of the Established Church. The report of a Committee of the House of, Commons on the subject of education, made in 1818, said:—Your Committee have the greatest satisfaction in observing, that, in many schools where the National System is adopted, an increasing degree of liberality prevails, and that the Church Catechism is only taught, and attendance at the established place of public worship is only required of those whose parents belong to the Establishment.After recommending the adoption, under certain material modifications of the parochial school system of Scotland, the report says—Your Committee forbear to inquire minutely in what manner this system ought to be connected with the Church "Establishment. That such a connexion ought to be formed, appears manifest; it is dictated by a regard to the prosperity and stability of both systems; and in Scotland the two are mutually connected together." "To place the choice of the schoolmaster in the parish vestry, subject to the approbation of the parson, and the visitation of the diocesan, but to provide that the children of sectarians shall not be compelled to learn any catechism, or attend any church, other than those of their parents, appears to your Committee the safest path by which the Legislature can hope to obtain the desirable object of security to the Establishment on the one hand, and justice to the dissenters on the other.The report of M. Cousin said—The fundamental principle of the government of the Schools of Primary Instruction in Prussia, is, that the ancient and beneficial 1312 union of popular instruction with Christianity and the Church, shall be maintained in a suitable proportion, under the supreme direction of the State, and of the Ministry of public instruction and worship. In every case the clergy form leading members of the committee.' "I ask," he said, "whether we desire to respect the religion of the people, or to destroy it? If we undertake to destroy Christianity, then I admit we must take care not to have it taught in the schools of the people. But if we aim at quite the opposite result, we must teach the children the religion which civilized their fathers; and we must let the clergy fulfil their first duty, that of watching over the teaching of religion." "Religion is, in my opinion, the best, perhaps the only basis, of popular instruction." "The more I consider the subject, the more I converse with the directors of the Normal Schools, and with the advisers of the Ministry, the more I am persuaded that we must at any price come to an understanding with the clergy respecting the instruction of the people, and make religious teaching a special and carefully conducted branch of instruction in our Primary and Normal Schools.He goes on to say—I am well aware that these counsels will be displeasing to more persons than one, and that at Paris I shall be thought a Methodist; and yet I write, not from Rome, but from Berlin. He who thus addresses you is also a philosopher, once the object of suspicion, and even of persecution, to the priesthood; but that philosopher has a heart superior to personal insults, and is too well acquainted with human nature and with history not to regard religion as an indestructible power—Christianity, properly taught, as a means of civilizing a people, and a support necessary for individuals, upon whom society imposes painful and humble duties, without any future of worldly prosperity and consolation of self-love.With these words, more eloquent than any that I could use, I might well take my leave of the subject. I may, however, add a similar expression of opinion from the report of the Commission of Peers made in 1833, which says,—The Ecclesiastical authority ought to be represented in the education of the youthful population, as well as the civil. 1 "The people's school is a sanctuary, and religion has the same claim to be there, as in the church or the chapel.I hope, my Lords, that I have already guarded myself against the objection that may be made against me, as claiming for the church the superintendence of the secular as well as the religious parts of education; and against the argument, that the two may very well be separated, and the 1313 latter alone left in the hands of the Church. I hope I have already shown that the attempt to separate religious education from secular, is a fatal mistake. It is the union of the two, in all the sanctity of the one, and all the present usefulness of the other, which must constitute a complete and consistent education—such an education as I readily admit the Church is bound to attempt to give to the people—which the Government is bound to provide the Church with the means of giving; which means if the Church possessed, that she would use them faithfully and effectively, is proved by her present strenuous and unparalleled exertions to multiply schools, to enlarge the circle of instruction in those schools, and to increase the efficiency of those to whom their administration is intrusted. I have now to thank your Lordships for the patience with which you have listened to me; and I have to assure her Majesty's Ministers, that, in the line which I have felt myself called upon to take on this occasion, I have been influenced by no feelings of hostility towards them—no desire to embarrass them. I am well aware that it is my duty, as I am sure it is my inclination, to support, as far as I can, any measures which have received the approbation of the temporal head of our Church. But there is a higher duty than this—a duty which I owe to the Sovereign herself in that character, and which binds me, stedfastly, and without flinching, to resist any measures, from whatever quarter proposed, which in my conscience I believe are calculated to undermine the Church, or to impair its efficiency and usefulness. My Lords, I cordially support the motion of the most rev. Prelate.
If the rev. Prelate who some time ago rose to address your Lordships, had occasion to regret the late hour of the evening, and state as a reason for doubting whether he would be favoured with the attention of your Lordships, how much more reason have I to be afraid who rise at this still later period of the night. I must first say, a more able, a more convincing, and a more concise speech it has never been my fortune to hear on so diffuse a subject than that of the right rev. Prelate; a more temperate and a more candid speech I have never heard upon a question, above all others, calculated to excite the feelings, connected as it is both with politics and religion. But I can use no discretion in the matter. I am obliged to take part in the discussion after what I have heard from the rev. Pre- 1314 lates (the Bishops of London and Exeter), and to a certain extent, but only a small extent, after what fell from the most rev. Prelate, If any person had entered this House after the greater part of the speech of the rev. Prelate (Exeter), if that person had not heard the speech of my noble Friend, the President of the Council, or had never read the papers upon the subject of education which are on your Lordships' Table, could he ever have conceived, for one moment, that the right rev. Prelate's speech was at all bordering upon, or in the slightest degree, had any reference to the discussion now before your Lordships? Could any man, for one moment, dream, considering that he only heard the very able and very elaborate speech from the rev. Prelate, separated from the general text, that above all things religious instruction is favourable to the morals of the country, and is beneficial in forming the character of the people, is provided for in the Ministerial plan? Could any man, for one moment, hear the right rev. Prelate charge the noble Lords, my Friends in the Government, that they are ready and willing tools, only waiting the to be taken up by the Central Society for Education—that they were ready made tools, anxiously waiting to be put to use by the Society for the Promotion of Religious Equality—a society of which I have heard for the first time to-night. I put it to the candour of your Lordships, whether any person entering the House, without having heard the speech of my noble Friend, or having read those papers which are now lying before me, could he, by possibility, my Lords, believe, after hearing the eloquent and elaborate declamation of the rev. Prelate, against an irreligious education being highly demoralizing to the country—I put it to you, my Lords, is it possible that he could have conceived that speech was used as an argument against a plan of education, on which it is fairly and fully set out in the paper the motion is founded, and which was staring the rev. Prelate in the face during the whole of his speech, that the fundamental quality of the plan is, that there shall be a general and especial religious education; that it is to be combined with, and is to imbue the whole manner of instruction; that a chaplain is to be employed to conduct the religious education of the children belonging to the Establishment in every school, and that the parent or natural guardian of every child was to have free liberty to instruct him in the principles of his own religion? My Lords, could any man 1315 fancy, that that speech was directed against a plan of which these were the fundamental principles? Surely the Central Society must repudiate this principle. One would think we were discussing a general scheme for the education of the people:—all the apprehensions and alarms were pointed at this—all the mischief apprehended, or affected to be apprehended, is to be derived from a general system of education—compulsory in its nature—in the hands of the Government—irreligious—based on a design to pull down the Established Church. "Anti-Christian" was the term applied to it in one petition,—"Popish," by another,—and one petition, culling both the flowers, applied them both—probably thinking that "Popish," was "Anti-Christian." But what is the plan? No general system whatever. A mere Minute of Council, recognizing the doings of a certain function by four Members of the Privy Council, which heretofore had been done by one: namely, the superintending the distribution of the annual Parliamentary grant, and establishing one normal school, this last having been abandoned. I am sorry for it. I wish there had been any ground for the change respecting this; I complain of the system as not going far enough. I regret that the Government, in deference to the senseless apprehensions of some—the miserable affectations of others—and the foolish prejudices of the rest—have pared down what ought to have been a general measure for the education of the people, into a mere plan for founding a single school in London, and appointing a Committee of their own body, to superintend the grant of 20,000l. or 30,000l. I am mortified that Parliament is not ready to do its duty to the people, that after twenty-five years spent in deploring the want of public instruction in this country, after it has been by all parties confessed, that the people of England are lens educated than those of Central Europe, and only better educated than the people of Spain or Italy; I am ashamed of our inglorious singularity in this respect, of our shameful exception to the character of the age in which we live, that after all that has been confessed, even by the right rev. Prelate, of the utter inadequacy of our present means of education, that all we have been able to "screw our courage" to, has been the asking Parliament for a paltry 30,000l., and appointing a committee of noblemen to distribute it. But it is still more mortifying to find; that there exists millions is this country who have been so far child- 1316 ish, thoughtless, and unreflecting, as to be led away by the cry, the clamour, the vulgar exploded outcry of danger to the Established Church! while 20,000l. a-year has been annually distributed by Government at their discretion, without any such cry being raised. How much must I fear then for Friday, when I bring forward my plan, which is to furnish every parish with the means of affording to all classes, without distinction of sects, the benefits of education. However, my Lords, I must do my best to defend the plan of the Government, which, as far as it goes, is in the right direction, and which is only to be attacked by ignorance and misrepresentation. My Lords, one great error which pervades the whole argument of the right rev. Prelates, I wish to clear up at the outset, because, till the terms on which we are contending are rendered intelligible, we are but fighting in the dark. If there is one proposition more dwelt upon than another by the opponents of the Government plan, when they condescend to argue, which is but seldom, it is this,—that to the Church the State has committed the religious instruction of the people, and that therefore the Clergy should have the secular education of the people. First, they claim a right exclusively to educate the children of their own persuasion. How is it possible that there can be any plan of education based upon the exclusive right of the clergy to teach the children of the Church? Are no Churchmen to be suffered to send their children to be educated by the Dissenters? Take care, however, that you do not give some preference to Churchmen over Dissenters. Remember that funds raised by the representatives of all, should be applied to the benefit of all. But, then, it is said that the Church should be provided by the State with ample means for giving secular instruction to all classes, Churchmen and Dissenters. How is that to work? The members of the Established Church are to teach not only secular, but religious instruction? Of course they can teach none but their own religion, to the Dissenter's child as well as the Churchman's. That is impossible; unless, indeed, the Dissenter consents. But how is his consent to be obtained? And if you cannot get it, are we to allow you the exclusive appropriation of money voted for general instruction? For, after all, though you may think this a vulgar point, it is a necessary one—it is that on which the whole dispute really arises. If the clergyman is to teach his 1317 religion to all classes, the Dissenter will not send his child to be, as he thinks, "perverted," or as the Church thinks, "converted," and thus he will lose the benefit of a grant, towards which, nevertheless, he contributed; for it is not as with the two Bishops in the reign of James 1st, who asked one whether the King might not take his money? to which the answer was, "Assuredly;"—and on asking the other Prelate, he answered, "Please your Majesty, you may take my brother's money, for he gives it you." But the Legislature compelled the Dissenter to pay, and then it is proposed that he should not participate in the benefit of the grant. Well, is the clergyman only to give secular instruction? If so, for that the Dissenting teacher is, ex concessis, equally qualified. If he is to give religious instruction, therefore, the Dissenter is excluded. If secular instruction, the Dissenter is as well qualified. What is meant by leaving all instruction in the hands of the clergy? The right rev. Prelate said, that no men could be more unfitted to act as schoolmasters than her Majesty's Ministers—that they were incapacitated by other duties, and so on—and it was wittily suggested whether they were to whip the boys. Nobody ever dreamt of such a thing. The words of the Minute are, that the Committee of the Privy Council are to "consider all matters affecting the education of the people;" was it ever imagined that this meant they should see to the details of the education—to the books and slates used—to the declensions and inflections of grammar? Certainly, they might as well look to the operation to which I have just alluded, and on which I abstain from further remark.
The Bishop of London
I was not speaking of the Government plan at all, but of the plan which the Government were urging us to adopt, and of which, I understand, the present plan to be preliminary.
Really, my Lords, this is too hard, to have to defend not only the plan which is adopted and published, but a plan which I know nothing of—which nobody knows anything about—which may at some uncertain period, by some unknown person, be proposed; which has no existence, save in the fancies of imaginative individuals. But the argument is, that the Government are unfitted, by other duties, for the business of education. I wonder, my Lords, that the acuteness of the right rev. Prelate did not lead him to discover that other men besides her Majesty's Minis- 1318 ters had their time fully occupied. I have not heard for the first time to-night, that the clergy are a hard-worked and ill-paid class of men. No man knows this better or has had greater opportunities of knowing it, than I have. They are hard-worked; ill-paid, inadequately lodged—so lodged, in many instances, that residence is made disagreeable to them, and thus great temptations are held out to them to violate a high and imperative duty, a duty, the observance' of which is binding on their own consciences, and essential to the welfare of their flocks. I readily admit, that no class of men labour harder in their vocation than; the working clergy of this country. I have; often had occasion to pay them a humble; a grateful, and a sincere tribute for the services they have in many respects rendered to the cause of social improvement,' and in particular to the cause of education. These have been rendered at spare times and by hours snatched from the more peculiar avocations of their sacred calling. But the attention of the clergy ought not to be diverted from the main object of their lives, the explanation of the, doctrines of religion to the people. That is enough to occupy them, particularly when the visitation of their flocks, without which they, never could adequately discharge their duties, is rigidly attended to. To say that, to the duty of expounding and defending; the truths of Christianity could be added, that of superintending secular education, is, a proposition so utterly monstrous, so destitute of all likelihood and possibility, that I must surely have mistaken those who, urged your Lordships to intrust the education of the people to the clergy. Those are words without meaning, sounds without sense; words devised to get up a cry in favour of this plan, and excite a clamour against the Church. I deny, that the clergy can become the general instructors of the" people, or have a right to teach anything' more than religion, or can have any preeminence in the great and important business of education. They are, no doubt, teachers in the highest sense of the word—religious teachers; they are to teach religion, others were to teach learning. How far is this confidence in the Church to be' carried? Is natural philosophy not to be' taught by laymen? Is chemistry not to; be left in the hands of surgeons and men of science, but confined to the ministers of the altar? How can they be made the teachers; of secular instruction to the poor any more: than to the rich? I cannot understand 1319 those who argue that intellectual learning is all very well for men of high station, because it might come to them in the aid of the lessons of honour, but that religious knowledge is adequate of itself to all the wishes and moral wants of the poor man. I believe, that in some cases the right rev. Prelate would be disposed to regard learning as a curse. My Lords, I do not understand this. I do not think the upper classes can dispense with the sanctions of religion any more than the poor. I do not agree in that code of moral laws laid down by the right rev. Prelate; if he will allow me to say so, I think he has laid down a very unsound doctrine. The distinction made by the right rev. Prelate is, that you might dispense more safely with religion in one class than in the other—the sanction of honour, he supposes is sufficient with men in a high station of life. [The Bishop of Exeter—might be]. The right rev. Prelate said, that men in the lower station of life were Dot influenced by that sanction of honour which produced good effects in men of higher ranks. Now the sort of sanction honour gives is of a doubtful kind in the upper classes—to pay damages in certain actions rather than tradesmen's bills, to prefer paying debts of honour incurred in gambling, contrary to the law of the land, in preference to just and lawful debts; to take offence at a word, and go out and kill a man; to give up all intercourse with a neighbour, and friend, and relation who has refused to go out and kill a man. That is the code of honour of the right rev. Prelate. It is an odd, whimsical and grotesque code. I dont say anything against it? it is the moral dispensation under which we live, and which I should hope when the schoolmaster is abroad, some twenty years' hence will be entirely annihilated. I know of no such distinctions between different classes of society. I call vice, "vice"—crime, "crime"—unlawful conduct, "unlawful conduct," whether committed by a peer or a peasant; and whether honour induces the one to do what religion condemns, what law denounces, what morality adjures, what the feelings of the natural man abhor and despise, I call that wrong, I call it crime, 1 call it sin, whether it be committed in a high station or a low; and here the moral law, the secular doctrine of the schoolmaster, coincides entirely with the spiritual teaching of the priest. I know it 1320 is very often said, and indeed has been said to night, that the poor have too much to do in the way of gaining their daily bread, to cultivate learning. Those who say that are ignornant of their habits—are ignorant of their tastes—are profoundly ignorant of their capacities—and more ignorant of the salutary effects which that kind of tuition is calculated to produce. Why, there has existed for the last half century in the eastern part of this metropolis, a society composed of the humblest journeyman labourers, whose reading has been the mathematical sciences—confined to the most abstruse of those sciences. Five men out of those whom I now address, "who sow not, neither do they spin, who toil not any more than the lillies of the field," who have money, and funds, and teachers, as well as time at your command, not five of you, I would venture to say could read those books, which are complained of by this Society of journeymen artisans, as not profound enough in the mathematical sciences. Now, that is a fact, for 1 am connected in the publishing of those very works that are said not to be deep enough. Some of the works published by the Society to which I allude are most scientific, and they have had the greatest circulation among the working-classes. Indeed, men who have aprons round their haunches and paper caps on their heads, have come when their day's work was over, with their contributions to those scientific publications. It betokens great ignorance of their manners and customs—of their tastes and capacities, (and there is a habit of underrating and of crully depreciating their capacities and tastes) to draw the invidious line which I have often heard drawn between the upper and lower classes by saying that the delicacies of science are to be reserved for the upper classes. My Lords, I would ask why is it that the clergy are more than the laity peculiarly adapted to teach those primary objects of instruction? But I am told you must combine religious with secular instruction. Who thought of separating them? Not certainly the authors of this plan. Religion is to be combined with the whole matter of instruction, and not to be separated at all from it. The rule adopted by the British and Foreign School Society is this, that secular instruction is taught by secular teachers, and religious instruction by religious instructors. The most rev, Prelate 1321 said, that there was so trifling a distance for the Dissenters to come over to the Church, that it might be easily got over. Now this was the very creed of persecution—this was the very language of the inquisitor. "The difference between you and me." says the inquisitor, "is slight, and of such a nature, that I may compel, force, burn you into compliance. Mine is the true faith—mine is the faith endowed by the State—the State patronises me the State conscience is with me—it reposes in confidence upon me. Come you then over to me. What right have you to complain of the gentle force I use towards you? If I asked you to turn Mahometan, or to preach atheism, and threatened you with the rack or with the fagot, you might indeed call me a persecutor; but I am doing no such thing; I am only asking you to do the most gentle and the most reasonable thing in the world. I ask you to get over a trifle, for which the Greek and Latin Churches in the ages of folly were mad enough to persecute each other. There is only an iota of difference between us. You are a Homoousion, I am a Homoiousion. Come then to us. Rest on our bosom—it is for the good of your souls, and I will make it for the interest of your body also." Expanded into the language of the inquisition, this was the argument used by the right rev. Bench. This was—
The Archbishop of Canterbury
rose to order. The noble and learned Lord was doing him great injustice in fastening so invidious an argument upon him. He had said nothing that could justify such a misrepresentation. He had said that the Church was accused of intolerance, and in refutation of that charge he had said that the clergy had shown the greatest willingness to educate the children of Dissenters, and that the Dissenters had not objected to let their children receive that education, because they fell that the difference between them and the Church was trifling, and might perhaps be got over.
. Nothing could be further from my intention. I quite agree with the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) that the Established Church is much more tolerant in practice than in theory. But in what does the tolerance consist? Is it in permitting Dissenting children to be instructed in those schools in which the Church doctrines alone are taught? If you throw open the doors to Dissenters in those 1322 schools in which the Church doctrines, and the Thirty-nine Articles alone are taught, and the Dissenters are induced to go there, that does not prove that the Church of England is more tolerant, but that the Dissenters are either indifferent or insincere. You cannot view it in any other light. If the Dissenters are induced to attend at schools where the Thirty-nine Articles, which some of them term idolatrous, and others blasphemous (I am speaking the language of the Dissenters, not my own), this does not prove that the Churchmen are more tolerant, but that the Dissenters are either indifferent or insincere. It is one species of persecution to say "Come over to me," and it is another species to say, "There is little or no difference between us." My Lords, no difference conscientiously entertained upon religious matters can be slight. If any man says that he thinks the difference important, and that he honestly, and sincerely, and conscientiously, sets a value upon that difference, no man breathing has a right to say the difference between us is slight—we are to be listened to, and you are not—come over to us—endow us more, enrich us further, amplify our powers, enlarge our sphere of action, encourage us, discourage others. My Lords, from the earliest times, and among other persons, this has always been the forerunner of persecution. The most rev. Prelate is too humble-minded, too elevated in piety, too philanthropic and charitable to have any such ideas; and I will tell him, his own reading must have taught him, that these are the doctrines by which persecutors have worked in all ages, and wherever they have been allowed to act upon them, they have never failed in the end to arm themselves with the scourge, the faggot, the pincers, and the torch. Men who value religious liberty do not, in these days, dread anything that can be called persecution, but they do dread privileges and oppressive exclusions, preferences to one sect over another; and upon another thing they are absolutely determined, which is absolutely irreversible—they are resolved never to pay to man any tax to support education, if the fruit of the tax does not go to maintain education to which all shall have an equal access. My Lords, it never entered into my head to propose any general system of education, which would not be combined with religious instruction. It is a common thing to talk of the Revolution in France, as having undermined religion, and destroyed education but I believe, even 1323 the warmest friend of the ancient regime will not assert that there was a very large amount of religion in France, just previous to the Revolution. The plan now before your Lordships is liable to none of the objections that have been urged against it, but the crime of not having been brought before Parliament. Who ever thought of introducing any general system of education without consulting the wisdom of Parliament' The law stands thus—the Ministry can give away a million of money to any person they please, without ever asking your Lordships whether you will or not—without asking your Lordships' consent. All they have to do is, to have a vote of the other House. The resolutions, therefore, merely ask the Crown to ask its Ministers to do so and so. More uncalled-for resolutions—anything more uncalled-for I have never seen. If there were any document to show that there was the slightest intention even to attack the Established Church—were there even the scrap of the letter of a Secretary of State, to show that there was any intention to make even the slightest attack on the Established Church, or the established religion of the country, as it has been called this night, I might understand holy men buckling on the armour of the faith. I could understand men meeting in vestries, and sending up 3,000 petitions, praying your Lordships to take decided steps against the antichrist, and for the preservation of our holy religion. But, my Lords, there is not a word, not one whisper against the Establishment; so far from that, there is a clear recognition of the Establishment, by the appointment of chaplains of the Church to every school. That, my Lords, is an integral part of the plan—that, my Lords, is the corner-stone of the plan. I have lived long enough, my Lords—too long—for I am ashamed to say, I have lived long enough to hear the cry of "No Popery"—" No Catholics"—"The Church in danger." Not one of those cries have I ever known to have arisen from any but the most insignificant of causes that the wit of man could possibly devise. In 1807 the whole country was convulsed—the Government was changed—England, Scotland, and Ireland were agitated by a general election—the cry was "No Popery," "Rally round the altar and the Throne," for one never could be shaken without the other falling. Such was the language of the rev. Prelate tonight. Is there now one word said against the Church? Is there now a single whisper against the Establishment any more than 1324 there was in 1807? No one word or single whisper is heard of such a character. On the contrary, professions of attachment to the Church are numerous. In 1807 the cause of the cry of "No Popery" arose from a bill being brought in, to allow an Irish Catholic, who was a colonel in his own country, to hold the same rank upon coming to England. That was the real origin of the cry of "No Popery." Just as trifling is the cause of the cry now made. A single school is to be formed for the purpose of teaching teachers. In that school, the Established Church is to have a chaplain of that single school, who is to ruin the whole Established Church, and sap the very foundations of religion. My Lords, there is another ground of similarity; the bill in 1807 was only shown and withdrawn, still the cry continued; the proposed school is no longer even in existence as a proposition; it was only shewn, and at once covered up, and still the cry continues. When the atmosphere had cleared away, when the storm was dispelled, when the clouds no longer hung around, I won't say the Establishment, for that reared its pinnacles above, and no clouds even hung round its base—but when the clouds dispelled which had been obfuscating men's understandings, it was found that five years afterwards, the bill had passed in silence and neglect, and the first that we heard of it was a year afterwards, when it was found in the statute-book. This is not only matter of amusement, but it is pregnant with instruction. The men who now feel, and others who affect to feel so much apprehension about this harmless and trivial measure, will in a very short time forget it. Much more than this will pass, I believe will pass without exciting a single murmur, or whisper of discontent, or feeling of alarm. Now I venture to form a cheerful hope, which amounts to a sanguine expectation, that the same course will be taken now which was taken then, and men will begin to open their understanding to reason, will cease to make religious matter the ground and object only of feeling, but will make it matter of sound, moral, intelligent, reason also; and then I have not any fear of the work of education being checked by any clamour of danger to the Church, or of danger to the clergy, or of danger to religion; but I shall live to see the Parliament of England perform, at length, its too long-delayed and most sacred duty, of giving instruction to all classes, of all descriptions, all ranks, and all sects of 1325 people, upon the broad, universal, and eternal principles of religious as well as of civil liberty.
§ The Duke of Wellington
confessed he was astonished at the admiration which had been expressed by the noble and learned Lord of the speeches which had been made by the most rev. and right rev. Prelates, the greater part of his own speech being directed at the same time to do away their effect, by the exercise of those powers of ridicule with which he was so liberally endowed. Indeed, it was not till within the few last moments of his speech that the noble and learned Lord had at all referred to the particular matter under discussion. The first of the resolutions which the most rev. prelate had moved was a mere statement of a matter of fact, which no one had disputed, and the last contained a conclusion to which the noble and learned Lord had little objected, except that there was no occasion, as he said, to ask the Crown not to introduce the system of education except by an Act of Parliament, because he could not think such a system could be introduced without an Act of Parliament. He, on the other hand, contended, that those Acts and Orders in Council did the very thing which their Lordships had a right to require should be done by an Act of Parliament, instead of by Orders in Council. It had been said by the noble and learned Lord who last spoke, and by the right rev. Bishop (of Norwich), that these Orders in Council did no more than had been done for years by Minutes of the Treasury Board. The fact was very much otherwise. Under the Treasury Minutes there was nothing further than a grant of money very much in the way of charity to those who in certain circumstances had subscribed a fixed amount, and who were to have the management of the funds; but certain conditions were required by the Board of the Privy Council, and it was essentially necessary that that House should entreat the Crown not to carry these measures into execution without knowing precisely what they were, and having the sanction of Parliament to them. He should vote for this address to her Majesty, in order that Parliament and the country might clearly know what those measures were which the Government intended to propose for the education of the people. The noble Marquess opposite had thought proper to put certain questions to the most rev. Prelate, which were afterwards answered by the right rev. Prelate, who succeeded the 1326 noble Marquess in debate. But, begging the noble Marquess's pardon, he thought it was the duty of her Majesty's Government to state clearly what their intentions were, and what share they intended the Church to have in their education of the people: and not to require from the most reverend Prelate, and the right rev. Prelates generally, what the intentions of the Church were on this subject. The noble and learned Lord stated, that the regulations proposed by Order in Council were really nothing at all, that there was something brought forwards and afterwards withdrawn. But it appeared to him that there was something put forward which was very important, something not at all un like what was put forward of late yean ill the Irish system of education. Now, he always understood that this principle was intended to be restricted entirely to Ireland, and he was quite sure it would not answer in this country. It appeared to him that these resolutions would authorise the use of the Douay version of the Scriptures, and the versions of the scriptures of the Unitarians, the Anabaptists, and others, including even the followers of Courtenay, who had been more than once alluded to m the course of this debate. Now, what he desired to know was this, whether the people of this country, having founded the Established Church on the principles of the Reformation 200 or 300 years ago, they should now be called upon to raise taxes in order to educate the people in the tenets of Popery, or the systems of the Unitarians or the Anabaptists. This he thought the people of England were entitled to know; and to demand that the projects, if entertained, should be regularly brought before Parliament and the country in the usual way. This was not the way in which the plan ought to be introduced into the country. If no such thing existed, ought not they to be so informed? But if there was such an intention, ought they not also to be informed of what really was intended I He begged the noble aria learned Lord's pardon; but that Order in Council was not so quiet or so innocent as he had endeavoured to make it out to be. Even in the noble and learned Lord's own view, it was not so harmless with respect to the Established Church. He had read some of the noble Lord's speeches on this subject, and he saw in his speeches, and in his publications on this subject, that he more than once stated the great advantage arising to education from private benevo- 1327 lence. Let them then see what was likely to be the consequence of this system upon private benevolence. The order in Council stated positively this—"that if any school accepted any money from the public"—mind, that the Board of Treasury having required that half the sum should be subscribed by private benevolence; but then if they accepted money from the public, "it should immediately come under the direction of the Board, and be liable to inspection." Did this say that there was to be inspection by the clergy? Did it say that the clergyman of the parish was to have superintendence over that school? There was no question here of rich and "poor, so that none of the arguments of the noble and learned Lord, which he had displayed with so much ability, could be found to apply—they fell to the ground. But if the money was granted, the clergyman was excluded, and the school came under the inspection of the Board. He begged their Lordships to look at this resolution of the Committee of Council, and then ask themselves the question, which of them would make themselves liable to the inspection of this officer, appointed by the Committee of Council? What were the questions which this officer of inspection would ask from them? "Have you the Douay version of the Bible?" "Have you the Bible of the Unitarians?" "Have you that of the Anabaptists?" He wished to know which of them would make themselves liable to questions of that description regarding schools which their benevolence thought proper to establish in their neighbourhood, or in places under their influence throughout the country. The consequence then would be to deprive the clergy of their superintendence. The schools would lose not only the value of the superintendence of the clergy; but this system, small as it was said to be by the noble and learned Lord, must go greatly to impede the tide of benevolence. Then they had a right to call Upon her Majesty's Ministers to stir themselves on this subject; but they had also to entreat of her Majesty not to allow such a system to be carried into execution in the country without allowing Parliament the opportunity of fully discussing it, and thus doing their duty to the public. Nay, it would be necessary for them to do this, even for the purpose of doing their duty to the system of education, and particularly to the system of education by private benevolence, by having this system fully investigated, or explained before they allowed it to 1328 go one step farther. Even at that late hour, he had felt it to be his duty to call their attention to what was, in his opinion, the real question for the House to determine. He hoped that he detained them but a very few minutes in doing so, and he thought that the noble and learned Lord would admit, that not only would the clergy have good reason to complain of it, but those who founded schools of private benevolence would have reason to complain also.
§ Viscount Melbourne
should be very well content to leave this subject to be determined by the speeches which had been made by his noble Friend, the President of the Council, and the noble and learned Lord who had just addressed them; but considering the great importance of this question, and considering the nature of the motion that had been made, it might perhaps be expected that he should address a few words to their Lordships before the debate terminated, and he promised they should be few at that late hour. After the long discussion in which they had been all engaged, it appeared that they were all agreed in the point they had in view. They were all agreed as to the extending of the education of the people—they were all agreed as to the benefits of education, and they were all agreed that the benefits of education should be diffused; but yet it was very strange that, in a matter so plain, so just, and so true, that something should occur to prevent them carrying into effect intentions in which all were agreed, because they were unable to come to an agreement as to the manner of carrying them into effect. It would be still more remarkable, if they admitted that they all participated in the one object, and if they all admitted the advantages of the great object which they proposed to support, and yet that there should be some incomprehensible obstruction to their carrying the object of all their efforts into effect. This was a matter which, if it did take place, might cause some to laugh and some to weep, and he was afraid it would afford to those satirists who disparaged human nature, the means to find some food for satire, and some matter upon which to plume themselves. He trusted, that their Lordships would not, on the present occasion, adopt the resolutions proposed by the most rev. Prelate, which would throw a great obstruction in the way of that object, which they all had equally in view. The right rev. Prelate who presided over the metropolitan districts, in the course of a very 1329 able speech, had stated his objection to the present measure, and the apprehensions he entertained respecting it. He did not deny all the facts stated by the right rev. Prelate. There might possibly exist a party hostile to the ecclesiastical establishments of this country, and who were hostile to the monarchical institutions of the country. There might be that party. They knew that there were very violent opinions upon all manner of subjects, and very possibly the designs of persons holding such opinions were such as they had been described to be by the right rev. Prelate, but he only denied one part of the right rev. Prelate's statement, where he was pleased to assert, that her Majesty's Government was in the hands of that party. The right rev. Prelate was pleased to say, that her Majesty's Government were in the hands of that party—that they were guided and directed by them like so many puppets, and made use for their purposes—that all their power and all their influence were directed to carry into effect the ends of these persons. Now, he denied that there was any foundation for any motion of that sort. He knew not what the rev. Prelate meant, or what he designed, but of this he was perfectly certain, that there was no foundation whatever for the apprehensions the rev. Prelate entertained. The rev. Prelate had also pronounced a high eulogium upon the clergy of the Established Church, and stated the exertions and efforts they had made in the cause of education. He had not the slightest doubt this eulogium was fully deserved, but the rev. Prelate had introduced it by a statement, "that it had not been stated in express terms in this debate, that the clergy were hostile to the diffusion of knowledge." Stated in express terms! Why it had not been hinted at. It had not been insinuated by any person. Nobody said anything of the kind, and he only wished to take notice of it, for whatever reason introduced, in order that it might not be supposed, that any person in that House had uttered any imputation or insinuation whatever against any part of the clergy of the Established Church, against their conduct, zeal, industry, or any part of their merits. Unquestionably, he had listened with great satisfaction to the speech of the most rev. Prelate who had introduced this motion. It was a very temperate and able speech, but in it there was much that had no immediate reference to the question before the House, and he had sought for and lacked any sufficient grounds for the 1330 motion with which the most rev. Prelate had concluded. In fact, the objections which the most rev. Prelate took to the present measure appeared hardly to lay grounds for so strong a censure, especially when he considered the previous arrangement for the distribution of the grant by the Treasury, and which had the unqualified approbation of the most rev. Prelate. Many of the objections which the most rev. Prelate took to the Committee of the Privy Council applied with equal, if not greater force to the jurisdiction which unquestionably for four years had been acquiesced in of the distribution of this grant by the Lords of the Treasury. The most rev. Prelate said, that the Committee of the Privy Council were party men, and that, therefore, these grants would be given for political purposes, and with a political object. Was this charge never brought against the Treasury? Was it supposed that nothing of this sort ever took place there? He knew it to be so: but that was not the general opinion on this subject, and he should have thought, that with common feelings and ordinary notions, perhaps a Committee of the Privy Council might be supposed as little objectionable as the Lords of the Treasury. The rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) felt, that he put himself out of Court by any approbation of the distribution of the grant by the Treasury, that it was evident that any objection that lay against a Committee of the Privy Council would also lie against the Lords of the Treasury, but that there was this difference, that had been overlooked, a difference pointed out by the noble Duke, namely, that the Treasury pointed out the grounds on which they went, they told the principles on which they proceeded, whereas the Committee of the Privy Council worked in the dark. The Committee of the Privy Council certainly meant to depart from the rules laid down by the Lords of the Treasury in one or two instances. They meant not always to ask for a proportional subscription from those to whom they gave money. The most rev. Prelate said, that in some instances this rule was evidently right. It was clear, that if they only gave money to those who subscribed, it was evident that they would be giving it to the most wealthy, and in the greatest proportion to those who were most wealthy, and, therefore, unquestionably it was right to depart, in some instances, from that principle laid down by the Lords of the Treasury. If their Lordships did not place confidence in the Committee of the 1331 Privy Council, if they would not give them the distribution of this grant, if they had not so much confidence in them as to allow them to decide in what cases they should dissent from the principles, unquestionably they would be right to deny that confidence; but it was in the highest degree unreasonable to suppose, that with respect to proceedings done quite openly, that steps taken in the face of all mankind, which were known to all, and which were laid before Parliament, and which related to a sum of money to be voted annually by Parliament, that there should be a degree of suspicion and diffidence, surprised him, and it appeared to him in the highest degree absurd to deny that confidence, unless they were prepared to deny all confidence whatever, and to say, that they entirely distrusted the authority of the Committee of the Privy Council. The noble Duke opposite said, that if parties accepted grants of money under these terms, they would subject their schools to the inspection and direction of the Privy Council. The most rev. Prelate admitted, that nothing could be more fair, if they gave public money to schools, than that Government should be enabled to ascertain whether the money was rightly bestowed and applied, and whether the schools were managed according to the rule proposed. That was all they had to submit to; they did not ask them to submit to any direction whatever, or to control or command; they only asked them to submit to what was reasonable on the part of Government; to ask from those who received aid from the public purse—namely, that Government should be allowed to ascertain by inspection how that money was applied. It appeared to him, that there were Parliamentary and constitutional objections to the last resolution moved by the most rev. Prelate. That resolution was for an address to the Crown, praying the Crown not to take any step to establish this measure finally, without giving their Lordships an opportunity of giving their opinion upon it. The resolution did not say, that the Crown had exceeded its power or prerogative, or that it had done anything that it had not a right to do with respect to the exercise of that prerogative; but if the Crown thought proper of its own right and prerogative to do what it had a right to do, an Act of Parliament was not necessary for that purpose. There was no reason for resorting to Parliament for what could be done simply by the prerogative of the Crown. He thought it 1332 would be wise and prudent in their Lordships to pause before they adopted the address which was intended to be moved. They never well knew what was likely to create alarm, and to raise a cry, but he must say, that this was one of the most idle and unfounded cries that was ever raised, and he was extremely sorry, that it had been taken up as it had been by the right rev. Prelates, and he would only add, that their Lordships would neither consult the course of proceedings which they ought to take, nor their own dignity, nor the interests of the country, if they adopted those resolutions.
rose to protest against this measure being introduced into Scotland. He could assure her Majesty's Ministers, that it would meet with a very cold reception north of the Tweed.
said, that was the first time he ever heard of the people of Scotland refusing to participate in a grant of the public money.
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
said, that it certainly was intended to extend this measure to Scotland. He begged to say, that he would take the sense of the House upon the previous question, and if that were not carried he should move the omission of certain words in the second resolution, so as to reduce it to a mere annunciation of a matter of fact.
§ The House divided on the previous question: Contents Present 171, Proxies 58–229— Not-Contents Present 80, Proxies 38–118: Majority for the first Resolution 111.1335
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|Duke of Cambridge.||Thomond|
|Liverpool||Willoughby de Broke|
|Hawarden||Stuart de Rothesay|
|Duke of Buccleuch.||VISCOUNTS.|
|Ailsa.||Bath and Wells|
|Earl of Essex||Earl of Morley|
|Earl of Dalhousie||Lord De Mauley|
|Earl of Leven||Lord Kinnaird|
|Earl of Orkney||Lord Segrave|
|Earl of Carnarvon||Earl of Shrewsbury|
|Earl of Courtown||Lord Carew|
|Earl of Bradford||Lord Sherborne|
|Viscount Doneraile||Earl of Kintore|
|Viscount Exmouth||Lord Strafford|
|Lord Manners||Duke of Sutherland|
|Lord Wallace.||Lord Lovat.|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Uxbridge||Stuart de Decies|
|LORDS.||Saye and Sele|
|Lilford||Stanley of Alderly|
|Barham||Vaux of Harrowden|
|Oxford and Mortimer||Dorchester|
|Fortescue (Ebrington)||Howard de Walden|
§ The Marquess of Lansdowne
then moved, that the words to which he had previously referred be omitted; amendment adopted and the amended resolution with the remainder of the resolutions were agreed to 1336 and were ordered to be presented to her Majesty by the whole House.
§ Lord Cloncurry entered the following protest against agreeing to the Address to her Majesty on the Archbishop of Canterbury's Resolutions on Education.
- 1. Because the Church of England, as by law established, has been for three centuries in possession of great wealth, and, being entrusted with the education of the people, have not performed their duty in that respect, as has been proved by the gross ignorance of the peasantry, more particularly in the vicinity of Canterbury.
- 2. Because the Church of England established in Ireland, infinitely more wealthy than the Church of England, had, for seventy years and upwards, the disposal of enormous parliamentary grants, and of other vast funds, for the support of charter and other schools, into which a catechism was introduced, teaching the Roman Catholic children, that their parents were wicked and damnable heretics, thereby destroying the most endearing duties of social life; and the charter schools were ultimately and of necessity closed in consequence of their proved immorality, and the pollution in some instances of the infant scholars by the masters.
§ July 5.