HL Deb 15 July 1839 vol 49 cc308-31
Lord Brougham

said, that in consequence of the great length at which he addressed the House on the former occasion when the subject of education was under the consideration of their Lordships, he should feel induced to make a very short speech in proposing the second reading of the bill, which he had introduced. In the first place he must state, that he, as well as those who took the same part with himself in the discussion on Friday week, must feel disappointed at the result that was then arrived at; but, notwithstanding this feeling of disappointment, he felt disposed to take encouragement in consequence of what he drew from what was said on all hands. It was something very consolatory to himself and to others who had long adopted the same views as himself on the subject, and who had regarded popular education as a matter of great consequence to the well-being of the country, to find, that their opinions were becoming general. He regarded religious instruction with peculiar satisfaction, and he was one of the last to appreciate the vast importance of it when combined with secular instruction. In the outset of this statement, however, he wished to say, that it could only arise from a total want of reflection if any one confounded the present bill with the matter formerly under debate, or supposed that what passed on Friday had anything whatever to do with the substance or body of the present bill. Let noble Lords only recollect what were their objections to the Government plan of education. It was deficient in the means of religious instruction, as some contended; and by others it was urged that the machinery which would be created by the plan would prove detrimental as regarded the ecclesiastical establishments of the country. Nothing of this kind could be urged against the present measure; but if it could, it could not be urged against it in its present stage, for the objection could only apply to the details, and these must be considered when they came to examine them in Committee. Some might think that the present bill went too far in the provision, that it proposed to make for religious instruction, while others might think that it did not go far enough. If any such objections existed as he had first alluded to in the minds of noble Lords, they might be able to get rid of them in Committee by striking out those clauses which it was supposed were open to the objections while, if others thought the measure was open to the second objection, they might easily propose, that provision should be made for an increase. But he believed, that with regard to the general principle it was admitted on all hands, that the means of religious instruction for the people were greatly deficient, and that provision should be made, so that they were increased. The object of the bill which was before the House was to enable the people of this country to obtain religious instruction with more facility than they at present could. But there was a main ground of opposition to the Government plan which formed a ground of objection both to its principles and details, and was a constitutional objection to the very frame work of the resolution on which the plan rested. This was a full justification for carrying the address in opposition to the plan to the foot of the Throne, and vindicated almost all the arguments that were urged against the mode of proceeding, and which required a full and complete answer, and which was strongly pressed on its proposers by the antagonists to the other parts of the plan in the debate of Friday week—namely, that Parliament was not to be consulted with respect to the expenditure of the public money to be voted for this purpose, and that instead of any general measure or act being passed through both Houses, the plan was to be effected and passed by some bye proceeding, and that by the vote of one House of Parliament a certain sum of money was to be placed at the disposal of the Crown for the purposes of education, and that this was to be expended by certain persons named and appointed under a certain Order in Council. It was said, and with considerable force, that this was too important a measure to be passed in this way, and that the stipulations should be made, and that the control should be exercised behind the back of Parliament. This was a fair constitutional ground of objection to take. He fully admitted this, and it was a point which he was obliged to admit, in answer to a right rev. Prelate. He also said, that the 30,0001. voted would not give satisfaction in carrying out the plan with effect by these means. This was an irrefragable argument against any extensive plan of national education which was to be adopted and carried out by the Crown without the immediate control of Parliament. The course he pursued now was, to introduce a bill to Parliament which could undergo a strict investigation in that and the other House, and no other means could be resorted to which would afford so much satisfaction as applying the wisdom of both Houses of Parliament to the perfecting a measure for this purpose. The bill had been introduced to their Lordships in the first instance, and he thought, that respect was due in having the measure brought forward before them rather than before the other House. It was possible, that an arrangement might be raised against it as to its having been brought forward at a late period of the Session, as no great measure should be hurried through the Legislature. But he begged them to recollect, that he had introduced it several months ago, and he had left it on their Lordships' Table, that it might be fully investigated, and its bearing and enactments considered. He admitted, that there would be great difficulty in so framing the words of a bill in Committee as to steer completely clear of polemical topics and disquisitions. He felt this strongly, and he could not help saying, that a great portion of the inconvenience and trouble that had arisen was caused, he would not say by a want of toleration, because in these days a spirit of intolerance in any quarter was out of the question, but from a want of a feeling of mutual accommodation on the part of many different sects on the one hand, and on the part of the Church on the other. He thought that blame was justly attributable to both parties for their want of a spirit of accommodation. He had exerted himself on several occasions in making attempts to allay these feelings of jealousy in a matter of so much importance and deep interest to the community generally. Both parties said, they could not sacrifice their conscientious feelings. But these feelings for the most part, seemed to arise from jealousy. Dissenters were as much to blame as churchmen, and he had not hesitated for a moment to state this to a meeting of the Dissenters consisting of from 500 to 600. He considered, as he told them, they were to blame for not taking one step in the nature of conciliation towards having a more enlightened flock. "That the soul be without knowledge is not good;" above all, it is not good for religious purposes. Far from undervaluing religious instruction, if he were asked whether he would have the children of the labouring classes—for it was entirely to these persons and their children that the question related—taught or instructed with or without religion, he should not have the slightest doubt or hesitation in answering, by all means have religious instruction combined with secular instruction. He thought religious instruction the most important of all instruction, and was desirous of assisting in carrying it out to the most utmost extent. But if he was asked, supposing it to be impossible to combine religious instruction, whether he would have secular instruction without it, or that the people should remain in ignorance? he should at once give his answer. Give by all means secular instruction without religious instruction, rather than the people should remain in ignorance. He would even for religious purposes, rather that the, people should be educated in that way than that they should remain a mass of brutalized rabble; for the Church and the clergy would have a much better chance with persons of some secular education than with those remaining in a state of mere brutal ignorance. Such was his opinion; but it was not one on which he had acted in this instance, because this Bill made provision for giving religious instruction. He had shown how different this measure was from the proposition that was under discussion ten days ago. He admitted, that notwithstanding the great differences that existed in the minds both of clerical as well as Jay persons as to the nature of the education that should be given, it was a matter worthy of rejoicing at, that this important subject of national education engrossed so much of public attention. About thirty years ago it would have been impossible to have got such an assemblage of their Lordships together—unexampled in point of numbers except on one occasion—who took such a deep interest in the debate—who continued till such a late hour in the next morning, and who, at length, divided so numerously—that division being on nothing more nor less than the subject of national education. Thirty years ago the man who should have avowed his belief that be should have lived to see such a state of things as that the fate of the Government should have been dependent on a question of general education, and that there should have been such a debate and such a division in that House on the subject, any such man who made such an avowal would have been reckoned as a mere enthusiast and a visionary, and he and his speech would have been laughed at as chimerical. He gratefully acknowledged with many of his friends this extraordinary change that had taken place, and bestowed for it all praise on the wisdom and goodness of that Power that brings good out of evil. The want of education and the deficiency of the means of popular instruction were almost universally admitted. He did not say universally, because there were some exceptions as to the extent; and on this point he must allude to the erroneous returns which had been put into the hands of the most rev. Prelate respecting the account of the deficiency of education, and as to the extent to which it existed at present. He should be happy to learn that the statement was incorrect as to the amount of popular instruction furnished by the national schools and the British and Foreign Society, and that it was as great as the right rev. Prelate had described it. He had a strong disposition to believe the statement, as to the extent of education, made by the most rev. Prelate; but he feared that he should be too sanguine if he did, and that it would not bear investigation. The Lancasterian Society was established at the end of 1810; and a few months afterwards—namely, in May, 1811—the National School was founded. There was a great similarity in these two institutions: the only difference was, that the one said the catechism must be taught in our schools and in the other not. In larger towns both these schools could exist with great advantage, and there was very little dif- ference between them. In smaller places he thought that the British and Foreign Schools would be better, because they would exclude none, although he admitted that in many places Dissenters sent their children to national schools. It was stated by the most rev. Prelate the other night that the number of children attending the national schools was 1,102,000, and it had been satisfactorily shown that the British and Foreign School Society educated at least the same number. It would therefore appear that in the schools of these two societies there were 2,204,000. If this were the case, this country was the best educated people in Europe, for in addition to the number he had just stated there were at least 800,000 children attending other schools, both of a public and private nature. Taking these numbers together, they would have one-fifth of the whole population of the country attending school, which, as was very truly said the other night by his noble Friend the President of the Council, would be considerably more children than were to be found in England and Wales. It was clear that 2,200,000 could not be taught at the schools of these two societies, as could be easily shown from the Parliamentary returns. These returns had been moved for by a noble, learned, most distinguished, and pureminded Friend of his, upon whose memory and great merits he should not have been able to restrain himself from passing some encomium, were it not that he was aware that he was in the presence of those to whom any allusions on the subject must occasion painful feelings. But the returns to which he alluded were moved for by his late noble Friend (Lord Kerry), and they were prepared by the ministers and churchwardens of every parish in England and Wales. The result was, that 1,270,000 children were educated in every kind of school in the country, including Westminster, Winchester, and Eton, as well as the national and other schools. This included the schools for the rich as well as for the poor, and also all those numerous schools for the middle classes. This was, then, a return of the number educated in all the schools in England. If, according to the most rev. Prelate, the national schools educated 1,100,000, they would leave to the British and Foreign Society no children at all to educate; therefore it was utterly impossible that the returns furnished could be correct. If they took the number of children in the national schools at 1,100,000, and the same number for the British and Foreign Schools, and 800,000 for all other schools, they would have a return of the children now under education about three times as much as the returns made on the motion of Lord Kerry from the ministers and churchwardens of every parish in England and Wales showed attended all the schools in the country. They had also other returns on the subject to which they could refer, which would confirm this view of the case. By returns made in 1818, it appeared that the whole amount of children educated in schools in England was 678,000. At the same period, however, the number educated in the schools of Bell and Lancaster was 150,000—another proof that the calculation in question could not be right, as it went to show, that they had multiplied twenty-four in twenty years, a pace which would be almost miraculous, and which, with all his good wishes to education, he could not allow to be probable. The simple truth was, that instead of there being education for one-fifth of the children of the country, there was not education for one-tenth or one-eleventh. But the deficiency in the quantity of the education was not the least defect in the present state of things. If we had less in quantity of education than France, Prussia, Central Germany, Holland, and the Protestant cantons of Switzerland, still, if the education given was good in quality—anything worthy of the name—he would be slow to move for any legislative measure on the subject of education; but he felt bound to say, that the quality of instruction at present afforded in this country was very inferior. That he might not be suspected of exaggeration, he would quote the statements of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury on the subject of the education given at the schools in Manchester and its immediate neighbourhood. The hon. Gentleman had himself quoted from the published papers of the Statistical Society of Manchester, who had looked to, not merely the holiday appearance of the schools, but had gone into them, and examined the pupils and the conductors of the schools also. It appeared, from their statement, that 49½per cent. of the boys of Manchester could not read at all, and 67 per cent. could not write their names, and these were all children above fourteen years of age, above, therefore, the factory age, and consequently beyond the operation of that Act. Of the girls 57 per cent. could not read, and 88 per cent. could not write their names. The rooms were dark, small, damp, dirty and ill ventilated, many of them used for dormitories as well as schools, and in almost all cases inadequate in point of size. One instance was mentioned in which the size of the room was only ten feet nine, up two pair of stairs, and not less than forty-seven children were contained in it, and the little window, which alone lighted this apartment, was obstructed by the person of the schoolmaster, that being the only part of the room in which he could perform his duty. A great many of these day-schools were conducted without any attempt at order or system, and nine-tenths of the children received no instruction whatever that was worthy of the name. The greater number of the instructors were persons utterly unfit for the performance of the duty, and many of them had merely adopted the profession in despair of obtaining any other mode of livelihood. Some of these individuals were examined. One of them, after giving a series of off-hand answers as to the nature of his instruction, was asked whether he knew geography and the globes. His answer was, that he knew geography and both the globes, and when asked for an explanation, he answered, that he knew that one of the globes meant one part of the world, and the other the other. Another was asked whether he understood Greek? Yes. Geography? Yes. Latin? Yes. Then one of the examiners observed, "Aye, we have multum in parvo here," upon which the teacher, seeing the notes of his answers were being taken, added, "yes, and you may put down multum in parvo too." In one of the girls' schools, the teacher being asked how she taught religion to children of different persuasions, replied, that she kept both catechisms going at the same time. In another place a teacher was asked, whether proper attention was paid to the morals of the boys under his care, when his answer was, that they did not teach morals there, as they belonged to the girls' school. Such were the statements quoted by Mr. Slaney, and upon them he could not help remarking in the words of a noble Lord, a Member of that House, that although such anecdotes might be very amusing, they, at the same time, exhibited a most melancholy picture of the state of things in this country as regarded education. In justice to the two societies, he must say, that his observations did not attach to their schools; but, unfortunately, the number of schools where the children were taught in comfortable apartments, and by competent teachers, was unfortunately very small, even in connection with the societies, for when the right rev. Prelate spoke of the 11,000 schools, he, no doubt, referred to the schools "in connection" with those societies. The next question, after having ascertained the existence of a want of education, was how to supply the deficiency, and with a view to this he would venture to lay down a few principles which he conceived were essential, and which formed the foundation of this bill. The first principle he would endeavour to lay down was, that all education must be voluntary. He did more than repudiate, he abjured and abominated, all plans for compulsory education. He was aware of the offence he gave to many worthy and excellent fellow-labourers of his, who, blinded by their honest zeal and enthusiasm for the cause of popular education, closed their eyes to the totally irreconcileable difference in government, manners, customs, and institutions between the people of this country and those of Prussia—a people who were drilled as if they were in a camp, and considerably more like regular troops than the inhabitants of a free country. He objected to all such institutions, and could no more approve of them than he could approve of other regulations of that country, under which a friend of his was prevented from leaving Prussia, because he could not get an apothecary to make up a prescription of Sir Henry Halford, until countersigned by a Prussian Physician, who, in his turn, would not sign unless it were previously signed by another physician. Against any attempt to force education on the people of England, he would only give one reason—that he was quite sure that if the people of England was now for education, the effect of such an attempt would be to make them against it. The next principle which he proposed to lay down was, that there should be no attempt to ensure the universal adoption of any one kind of schooling or mode of instruction, because in different places different sorts of instruction were required. For instance, one kind of instruction was required in the manufacturing districts and another in the agricultural. In one part of the country one set of rules was required, and in another part of the country another. The third principle might be said to govern the other two. It was that all those who contributed towards the expenses of the schools should have a considerable share in their management. It was as a friend of education that he proposed the adoption of the rule, satisfied, at he was, that if a school were opened in a parish, the inhabitants not being called upon to pay a farthing towards its support, such a school would not be willingly attended. One of the great uses of the voluntary system in education was to induce persons to send their children to the schools, which they would not do if the management of the schools were taken out of their hands by the Government. What he proposed, therefore, was, that under due control and check on the part of the Government, those who contributed ao the support of the schools should have share in the management of them. The effect of this would be that not only would they send their own children to the schools, but the children of their poor neighbours also. The fourth provision was, the organization of a central board, which under due restrictions should have the check and control over the local management of the rate-payers. The fifth and sixth principle was, that the central board was useful, not only in controlling and superintending, under due restrictions, the local boards in their management of the schools, but also in maintaining communication between the Church or the Government (as might be provided) and the schools; and, above all, in collecting from all parts the lights and improvements which experience would produce, and diffusing them generally throughout the country. A fundamental principle of the bill was this—that without compelling any parish or place to have a school where a school was not wanted, yet due facilities should in all cases be given to the establishment of schools. For this purpose, he proposed to give power to summon a meeting of the rate-payers, a majority of whom were to have the right to communicate with the Central Board of Education, for the purpose of establishing the school. He would now describe the constitution of the proposed Central Board. He proposed that there should be on the board two great officers of state, who would, of course, be responsible to Parliament; and removeable by Parliament; and also three irremoveable commissioners to be appointed by the Crown, or by statute, as might be hereafter decided, but only removable by address of the two Houses of Parliament. Thus a communication would be established between the executive Government and the board by whom the money was to be spent, a provision which would be enforced by this additional one—that no act of the board involving the payment of money should be valid unless agreed to by a majority, one of them to be a Minister of the Crown. He would apply the same principle to the distribution of school patronage, the appointment of school inspectors, secretaries, or clerks, in all which instances he conceived the same constitutional principles should prevail, of not vesting such powers in irremoveable commissioners. The first duty of the board so established would be to distribute the Parliamentary grants. At present the distribution was discretionary on the part of the Government. They had hitherto chosen to give them in proportion to the two societies, but there was nothing to have prevented them from giving all to either of them. He would much rather see so very important a function as this vested in a body subjected to the veto of the Minister, at the same time that the Minister could not exercise that function without the assent of a majority of the board. Another important function of the board would be the discretionary power vested in them of sometimes controlling the decisions of the local rate-payers. It sometimes might happen (as it often did in local affairs) that the majority of rate-payers might, for mere jobbing purposes, agree on the necessity of a school. In such a case, the board would exercise the power of protecting the minority, and the others would still have the option of establishing a voluntary school of their own. The board would also have the power to name the inspectors, whose functions should extend to all schools that might choose to put themselves in connection with the public; to all schools maintained by rates; and to all that were extended out of the funds. Two parts of the subject he had reserved to the conclusion—the religious instruction to be given—the schools and the qualification of the voters at the local meetings for the institution of schools. With regard to the first, it was a great question with those who were friendly to education whether any religious instruction at all should have been combined in this bill. Some were of opinion that as the subject was sure to be raised, it had better at once be raised by the bill itself; while others thought it had better be raised in the course of the debate. On the other hand many zealous friends of education, and some of them most pious men, were of opinion that it would be quite easy to keep secular instruction quite apart from religion, just as religion was now kept apart from secular education. He was of opinion, however, that the ab- sence of instruction in the Bible would totally preclude clergymen and other religious instructors from teaching religion, and he thought that they must ultimately resolve that religious instruction must be given under the provisions of this Act. He had had the honour a short time ago of meeting forty or fifty individuals, who had come to town chiefly on account of a very important question which then agitated the public mind, and in which he had taken very great interest—he meant the termination of negro slavery, and they having also paid considerable attention to the subject of education in obedience to a request which he made, held a conference with him in reference to it. He did not mean to say that it was not without preparation, for they had communications together, by means of which each was able to ascertain the opinions of the others; but at the conference he had a good opportunity of hearing what were the prevailing opinions among them. He confessed that the one question which they wished more particularly to discuss among them was that of mixing religious with secular instruction. There were many of them members of the Established Church—many of them members of the Society of Friends, and of various dissenting congregations; but among them all he found that there was one only who had any doubt at all as to the propriety of making some provision for religious instruction. He had had very great doubts upon that point himself, and he had often stated the grounds of those doubts; but he could not deny the impropriety of giving any weight to those doubts, and he at once admitted the force of the reasoning employed, because it was quite true that, if a system of secular education only were adopted, teachers of religion must be employed, as well as those instructors who were ordinarily engaged, and that would be too much for the child of the poor man. He proposed, therefore, that this measure should provide that it should not be lawful for the board to sanction the establishment of any school in which it was not part and parcel of the regulations, that the scriptures—the authorised version of the Scriptures—should be taught: then if a Catholic should not choose that his child should be in the school where the authorized version of the scriptures was read, he might withdraw him at that time, but unless he signified his wish, in writing, to that effect, the child would not be removed. The same regulation would also be adopted in the case of the Jews, so that no hardship could be complained of. In speaking of this last class, he could not help saying that he had never met with more zealous co-operation or more liberal and munificent aid for the purpose of Christian education than from the Jews, and that whenever in such a cause pecuniary assistance was required, the largest sums had been subscribed by them. He now came to another question. He proposed that if any school the local directors, being members of any sect should chose to lay down as part of their rules that the catechism, the liturgy, and the articles of the church should be taught, the board should be allowed to sanction the establishment of that school, provision being made in the cases of children, not members of the Established Church, analogous to those to which he had just alluded, and the schools being established under the same restrictions. Having thus stated the grounds of his motion, he begged to state that so great was his desire to attain the great object of education, and so important did he consider that object for the religious and the moral welfare and for the spiritual good of the public, that, if he could not get religious instruction to be included in his scheme, he should say by all means take the secular branches of knowledge. The people will then be all the better prepared to receive religious instruction hereafter. But he should add then, that if he could not get them secular instruction, unless coupled with such religious information as he should disapprove, he should say—and he had come to the conclusion after infinite discussion and mature deliberation—that although he should lament that it was so, and he wished it was otherwise, and might have the greatest possible desire to see a different kind given—yet, so great was his alarm, and so great was his fear of the bad consequences to the morality and the peace of society likely to be produced by the continuance of the prevailing ignorance, that he should much rather have them taught a creed which he disapproved than not taught at all. That opinion was founded upon a very high authority. It was from Scotland, from a Presbyterian, and it was from one of those who objected to the Roman Catholics, and who had proverbially an almost hereditary dislike to that religion. He himself was as much opposed as any man to all sectarian and exclusive principles; but there was nothing which he so much desired to see removed as ignorance. He would now say a few words upon the subject of the qualification, but he would first add a word in reference to that which was the most important of all plans of education, because it went at once to the amount of crime in the country, and to the whole administration of criminal justice—he meant infant education. He verily believed from experience that though the law might be executed, the good of preventing crimes by the force of example was lamentably less than they could wish. It was from the bad passions of men that the evils arose, but let the principle, "Train up a child in the way he should go," be adopted, and then when the child should become a man, if they had instilled into his mind a regard for truth, and kindly feelings towards his fellow-creatures, avoiding everything low or detestable, keeping them out of the contamination of their families, if they happened to be persons of low habits, and keeping them in a moral atmosphere, and making their minds hospitable to better feelings, then he should hope that as much had been done as the frail nature of man could do towards eradicating the evil. He would now observe upon the subject of the qualification, which he knew had staggered many, and for which certainly he must admit, that he did not feel the usual partiality of a projector. The persons to whom he proposed to give the power of voting at school meetings were those who had been members for three years of a Mechanics' Institute; and he would go a little farther, and say, that the right of voting at the choice of the school committee should also extend to every person who should possess the certificate of a schoolmaster of his due attendance at any of the public schools. The plan and principle of the bill, and the only principle, which would be affirmed by giving it a second reading, would be this, that a Central Board should be established for the purpose of directing public education, and that public education, as superintended, should be further established by the joint consent of the Central Board and of the local authority. The subject was of the greatest importance, and as he had never grudged his attention to the subject, he hoped that the House would not hesitate also to give it that consideration which was due to it.

The Bishop of Chichester

presented himself early to the notice of the House, not from any vain persuasion that what he had to say was calculated to give that degree of light and interest to the important subject before them, which their Lordships had a right to expect from those who put themselves voluntarily forward in front of the debate, for he was far too conscious of his own deficiencies far such a thought; still less from any ill-advised eagerness to contend with the noble and learned Lord, whose exertions in the cause of education he had long admired; but because, having been unable to deliver his opinion on a former debate on the same subject, when he had the misfortune to differ from the most rev. Prelate, to whom he owed, and towards whom he was desirous to cultivate, all canonical obedience, he was anxious to profit by the present occasion for the same purpose, and the more, because the noble and learned Lord had alluded to the discrepancy on the right rev. Bench. He trusted, therefore, that before he applied himself to the scheme of education propounded to the House by the noble Lord, he should be pardoned for offering a few remarks which, while they might serve to throw light upon the grounds of his former vote, would acquit him of any inconsistency in now opposing, as he intended to do, the motion of the noble and learned Lord. He dissented upon that occasion from the motion of the most rev. Prelate, and of the right rev. Prelate who presides over this diocese, not because he differed materially in opinion respecting the great principle of national education, for he agreed cordially in much that fell from both, but because he could not honestly and conscientiously bring his mind to the conclusion to which they had come, and expressed in the resolutions submitted to the House only a few hours before the members were called upon to decide upon them. He could not think that there was that difference either as to responsibility or regulation between the new authority and the old, appointed for the distribution of the Government grant, which should authorise the extraordinary measure of an address to the Queen, and justify those who approved of the regulations for so many years in disapproving and condemning, the minutes of the new Committee. On the contrary, he felt that in some respects, the alterations suggested in the minutes of the Committee constituted a ground of preference in its favour. That a Committee of the Privy Council, with the Lord Treasurer at its head, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at his side, was quite as responsible as the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone; and that a power to deviate occasionally from the stoical regu- lations respecting local subscriptions for the purpose of assisting destitute parishes, was a truly Christian improvement, and one which he had recommended in a charge to his own clergy; and that the appointment of government inspectors, not for the purpose of regulating or interfering with the instruction, but to satisfy the Government that the money raised from the people had been spent for the advantage of the people with respect to those matters for which it was granted—these were differences which he approved; and whereas the resolutions affirm that there was no assurance on the part of the Government that the plan of model schools proposed in their former minutes, and which had been abandoned, should not be resumed at their own discretion, he felt and believed, that there was an assurance of the very strongest kind—an assurance partly derived from the circumstances themselves—namely, the inadequacy of the sum left at their disposal, the largest portion of it having been already distinctly assigned to other objects: the limitation by Parliament of the grant to a single year, in consequence of the necessity of applying at that period for a renewal of their powers;—above all, in the declaration of the noble Marquess the President of the Council, and in the character and honour of the persons appointed to manage the grant, he felt an invincible assurance that no unfair advantage would be had recourse to, to renew, but in the most open manner, what they had professed for a time to abandon. He trusted that this explanation would suffice to acquit him of all inconsistency in the motion he was about to make. The noble and learned Lord had declared in his speech that the two questions were distinct; and in justice to his own (the Bishop of Chichester's) feelings, he might now add, that in all substantial points there was little difference betwixt his own opinion and that of the great majority on the right rev. Bench. They were at this moment all labouring together in the great cause of popular education collectively in the National Society, and separately in their several dioceses, and through the powerful and zealous agency of the parochial clergy. And they were not without a well-grounded hope, that they should be able, by great and united efforts, to establish throughout the country an harmonious system of national education, which, while it was founded upon the basis of Christian instruction, according to the principles of the Established Church, would be so extended and improved in all secular subjects, as to satisfy the most sanguine friends of popular education; and when known to the noble and learned Lord, would induce him to withdraw the plan which he had proposed to them, and which he himself could only hope to carry upon the ground of some deficiency in the present means. The bill of the noble Lord proposed a scheme for the education of the people in a country earnest, intelligent, and humanly speaking, religious above their neighbours, living satisfied for the most part under the spiritual superintendence of the ministers of an Established religion, the doctrines of which they approved, and the benefits of which they were desirous of transmitting to their posterity. For which purpose they were well aware that the education of the people was an important means, widely diffused and long practised throughout the country. For this people a scheme of education was proposed which had this remarkable defect, that it had no reference whatever to that established Church, or to any of its offices or ministrations hitherto held to be so influential in this department of instruction. He had read the bill with great attention, but he could not find in any of its clauses the word clergyman expressed or implied, or any other reference whatsoever to the office which he bore; no more, in truth, than if there had been no established religion in the country. This was the first great objection; but looking further into the bill it would be seen, that every part of the minutes of the committee of the Privy Council, which had been lately the subject of animadversion in the House, would be found in the learned Lord's bill, but carried to a far greater extent, and without any of those limitations and restrictions, which served to reconcile the minutes of the committee to his mind. For instance, the committee of the Privy Council had been condemned, because it consisted of lay members of the Privy Council only, without any of the bishops—though it was constituted solely for the distribution and management of the Government grant, and did not pretend to regulate the quality and matter of the instruction. But the scheme of the noble Lord set out with the establishment of a commission much more comprehensive in its aims—to be intrusted with the management of much larger funds, and with authority to consider and control all matters relating to the education of the people, and having three paid com- missioners, only removable by a vote of Parliament. But this was not all. While the committee of the Privy Council left the schools in villages and towns to the superintendence of the clergy, the scheme of the noble Lord aimed at establishing in every parish and every town a committee, with power to manage the schools and to make rates for their maintenance. And then, let it be considered of what this committee might consist. He would not say, that such a case might occur frequently, for the good sense of the country would prevent it, but there might he many approximations to it; for as the rate-payers were to elect, the chairman might be the shopkeeper or clerk of the parish, and the clergyman might sit as one of the committee. Surely such a change as this in country parishes could never be tolerated. Again, it was objected to the committee of the Council that they retained the right of inspection; though, as explained by the noble Marquess, this matter was restricted to those matters for which the money was granted. But the inspectors of the noble and learned Lord, ten in number, were to have power to take under their examination and review the whole state, condition and conducting of all the schools connected with them, and, indeed, of many others that were not so, and to report upon them; and the commissioners upon such report were to give opinion and advice touching the conducting of the same. And whereas it was imputed to the Government that they had intended to establish one model school for the advantage of all classes of her Majesty's subjects, of all persuasions in religion, a scheme which they afterwards abandoned on account of the difficulties which surrounded it, the plan of the noble Lord contemplated the establishment of schools for mixed education through the whole country, and proposed at once that indefinite extension of the scheme, the distant possibility of which was regarded with alarm by the supporters of the Address. It was not, however, necessary for him to dwell longer upon objections which would better appear in committee, should the bill ever reach that stage; he would rather apply himself to the only grounds upon which such a strong measure as the noble Lord's could be fairly advocated—the alleged inadequacy of the present means of education in the country—namely, the National Society, as the great centre of communication and direction, the schools in union with it, and the clergy who were the sup- porters as well as the superintendents of popular instruction throughout the country. With respect to the National Society, he was disposed to think, that the noble and learned Lord had greatly underrated the numbers that were educated under its influence, and that the returns furnished to the committee were, in point of fact, much nearer to the truth. There might possibly be some error in combining Sunday-schools with day-schools—the same children being sometimes liable to be reckoned over twice. But this error was not common, and great pains had been taken to prevent it, as he well knew; and he himself had instituted inquiries in his own diocese, and had reason to believe, that the reports of the society were correct. He could not doubt, indeed, that the number of children now receiving education under the auspices of the society now at least amounted to nearly a million; and he had reason to know that many schools, whose teaching was in perfect conformity with the National Society, were not now reckoned in the number, because not actually and technically in union. But whatever deficiencies might be supposed to exist, he had now the pleasure to state, that they were in a way to be removed. Great accessions of numbers and of force were daily made to the society. New measures were taking for extending and improving the education; diocesan and local boards for education were forming or already formed in every part of the country; a college was already in preparation for the more effectual training of masters, and for a model school, and a most liberal salary of 4001. a-year and a house were offered to the person who should be thought qualified to undertake the important task of superintending its management. He would next pass on to the consideration of the clergy themselves, and the assistance which they had hitherto given and were still disposed to give in the furtherance of education. The noble e and learned Lord bad argued more largely, indeed, on a former night, but shortly on the present, that the clergy of our Establishment, occupied as they were or ought to be, in labours of a purely ministerial character in compositions for the pulpit, in pastoral visits, and in all those subsidiary cares and studies which served to adorn or to commend their lessons, had not sufficient time to instruct the children of the parish even in religious knowledge, much less in those secular acquirements which the times required. He was con- vinced that the clergy of this country would at once disown this plea, and repudiate the leisure they might obtain by it. If the case should ever come to this—if the whole burden of educating the poor should be thrown upon them—they would be ready to spend themselves, and to be spent, in such a cause; and rather than deliver to others a charge which their divine Master solemnly committed to his apostles, and which had been transmitted by direct succession to themselves, they would still gird themselves for the task, and persevere even to their own injury. But how stood the fact? Were the clergy of the Church expected to be schoolmasters? Were they required practically to teach even the spiritual, much less the secular lessons given in the school? To watch over the whole progress of the scholars and to administer the punishments and rewards? If this were the case, of what use would be the schoolmaster, and why should we now unite in the cry of the noble and learned Lord, for better masters and new training schools? No; what was required from the clergy was this—to be the alone superintendents of the christian doctrines and lessons taught in the schools; to select the books; to visit frequently the classes; to try and examine the children, especially in their catechism and religious progress; to council and to aid the masters. This was all that they were charged to do; this was what they were willing and what they were able to do; and they could do it in their daily walks with little sacrifice of time. But there was another fact corroborative of the sufficiency which had been stated, and which he would not refrain from bringing before the House; a fact so creditable to the clergy, so conclusive upon the point before them, and so instructive of our present moral state. There was no person acquainted with the actual effects of the Poor-law Amendment Act but must have observed—and he wished it might not furnish another arrow to the quiver of the noble Lord—that it compelled the parents to take their children from the parish schools at an earlier age than they were wont to do before; and for this reason, that, to guard even for their present independent support, much more to provide against the future, it was absolutely necessary that the poor man should bring to market the labour of his children as well as his own, from the moment that any value was attached to it. The earliest period, therefore, that a parent could profit by the labour of a child, that period put an end to his instruction at the day-school; and this happened often at so early an age that all the previous instruction was in danger of being entirely lost. But let it be remarked how the ingenious zeal of the clergy had endeavoured to supply this defect. Already evening schools have been established in many parts of the diocese of Chichester, for the express purpose of continuing and supporting instruction, both religious and secular, till they could arrive at an age when education would be no longer necessary. He trusted therefore, that there was no good ground for believing that the clergy had not sufficient leisure for this task; and when it was considered, further, what a beautiful provision was made in this early intercourse in the school for a confidential spiritual communion between the clergyman and his flock, of what great advantage it might become in every season and circumstance of their lives, more especially in preparations for confirmation and the holy communion, the friends of the Church would surely be desirous to pause before they adopted any plan which should be the means of removing the clergy from that superintendence in the schools which was now practically committed to them. The noble and learned Lord had already pointed out the great distinction between the inhabitants of this free country and those of Prussia, with respect to the arbitrary regulations of the government; and if he would extend his enlightened views a little further he could not, he thought, fail to perceive that for a similar reason every scheme of education that, in the present state of the public mind, should embrace all sects and persuasions of religion as did that of the noble and learned Lord, was impracticable. They were not indifferent enough nor cold enough for such an experiment, and there was one striking dissimilarity between England and Nassau and Prussia which would prevent the same general education from being practicable here, namely that in this country there was much greater zeal and earnestness connected with religion and religious opinions than in any part. This was not said boastfully; it might appertain in some measure to our national character and only showed a tenacity and earnestness which had appeared in our history before; but so long as this difference did exist, so long would it be impossible to educate the children of all persuasions of religion together, supposing every other objection to be removed, without pain, jealousy, and heartburnings. Under these impressions he was desirous to move, what he wished at least to be the most respectful mode of opposing the plan of the noble Lord, that the bill should be read this day six months.

Viscount Melbourne

said, that in all the discussions upon this question it had been stated, and generally admitted, that some more extended system of education was necessary, in consequence of the increasing population, and the increasing intelligence of this country. His noble and learned Friend had certainly brought forward his bill in a clear, an able, a distinct, and a comprehensive manner, he had unquestionably stated grounds for this measure, he had well shewn the objects he had in view, and the means by which, as he conceived, they could be effected. His noble and learned Friend had also stated, that all he meant to establish by the second reading of this bill was, that a system of education should be founded, and that there should be such a general control as would give an improved system of education to the people of this country; and that the details of the measure, and the objections which might he taken to it, were open to consideration in Committee. With respect to the constitution of the board, and all other matters of detail, such as the qualification for voting, they were open to alteration in Committee. Concurring in the object of the bill, and in much of the argument of his noble and learned Friend, on which he had founded this motion, he unquestionably, if the motion were pressed to a division, did not see how he could refuse to enter into a consideration of the subject, when, by universal agreement, and by the common voice of all mankind, the present system required speedy and effectual alteration. When, however, he considered the objections which might be taken to this bill, and when he considered the period of the Session, he saw little probability of a successful termination of his noble Friend's labours, or that the bill could pass into a law during the present Session. He would, therefore, put it to his noble and learned Friend, whether it would not be wise and prudent, whether it would not be consistent with his honour, and better further the object he had in view, by withdrawing the bill in the present Session, and bring it forward in an early part of another Session, with such alterations, as with his great knowledge of the subject, and his great ability, might suggest themselves to him.

Lord Brougham

said, that he and his noble Friends were agreed as to the principle, and he could not help feeling the force of what his noble Friend had said, when he recollected that this was the 15th of July. His only objection to a delay, without pressing his motion to a division, was that it might look like neglect on his part, and even if he did divide with a small number, the minority would, he was sure, increase; he should not be disconcerted, even if there were but small additions at first, for he knew that he was right, and he was sure that the more his plan was discussed, the more converts it would gain. Still, at that period of the Session, he thought it better to withdraw the bill, declaring, at the same time, that he was not to be prevented from pressing it next Session, and at an early period of the Session, if he should think it necessary. He was gratified by what had been stated by the right rev. Prelate, for if that was all that could be said against his plan, he looked to early and eminent success. He certainly would withdraw his bill altogether, if he thought that it would have the effect of checking the useful exertions of the clergy, in the cause of education. The only injury this bill could be to the exertions of the clergy was, that it would plant schools where there were no schools in connection with the Church. But the use of his central board would be, to prevent the planting of schools where there were efficient schools at present. He knew by experience, the great and regular calls on the incomes of the right rev. Prelates for many purposes, which greatly reduced their nominal incomes; but he was glad to find that, notwithstanding this, they were giving large subscriptions for education. God prosper their work! The clergy had been his fellow-labourers in the cause of education for the last twenty years; he had borne testimony to their labours in the House of Commons, and the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London) had kindly drawn attention to his remarks. To them he adhered. But suppose the clergy should succeed in raising 100,0001., what would be the use of that amount compared with the 200,0001., or 300,0001. a-year which the board could raise? As to what the right rev. Prelate had said on the subject of an ecclesiastical member of the board, there was nothing in his bill which prevented a prelate from being one of the commissioners nominated by the Crown; but by putting a prelate on the board, they would be raising the question, whether a dissenting clergyman ought not to be there also. [The Marquess of Lansdowne—"That was the difficulty."] He thought that it might be found advisable to adopt the rule laid down for the poor-law boards in Ireland, of allowing neither a clergyman of the Established Church, nor a dissenting clergyman to sit on the board; but it was not necessary to discuss that point at present. As, however, the churchmen and the dissenters were all agreed that something must be done to better the present system of education, these amicable dispositions would have the effect of smoothing tile difficulties, and he hoped that before long the time would come when the present difficulties would be removed, and when the wish of all would be carried into effect.

Motion and amendment withdrawn.

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