THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
, in presenting Petitions from various places against the Revised Code of the Committee of Privy Council, said: My Lords, I rise to present to your Lordships petitions from various parts of the country, and especially from my own diocese; and to call your attention to the effects of the Revised Code, find of the alterations which are proposed to be introduced into it by Her Majesty's Government and which have been stated in the Houses of Parliament. My Lords, I am fully conscious of the awkwardness of discussing a question of this gravity without proposing a specific Resolution; but I feel that it is really forced upon your Lordships by the mode in which the question has been brought before yon. I cannot myself think it seemly to ask your Lordships to agree to any distinct Resolution on this proposed Code, because, as far as I am aware, there is no Parliamentary machinery by which in the event of any disagreement between the two Houses there could be any adjustment of that disagreement. If we proceeded by Bill, each Chamber, having the whole matter before it, would be able to introduce its own Amendments; the two Houses could consult together, and the ultimate conclusion of the Legislature would be the adjustment of any differences between the two Houses. But if we proceed by Resolution, there is no way to adjust and bring into perfect harmony what may happen to be the different Resolutions of the two Houses. Therefore it appears to me it would be inconvenient, in the present stage of the business, to invite the House to come to definite Resolutions upon the scheme as proposed by Her Majesty's Government. Not thinking, however, that the House should with old its expression of opinion on this great matter, and believing that its expression is to be obtained by a debating of the subject as far as by the forms of the House it can be debated, I think it desirable that your Lordships' opinion should be elicited and expressed, especially as I believe that outside the House the opinions expressed by your Lordships in debate have a powerful effect in guiding the mind of the country to sound and wholesome conclusions upon matters of deep importance like this. My apology, therefore, to your Lordships must be, that while it is desirable to give your Lordships an oppor- 991 tunity of expressing your opinions, and inconvenient to do so by Resolution, there is no other mode save the one which I have adopted of calling the attention of the House in an abstract way to a subject of the widest interest which can possibly be discussed or considered by it.
Perhaps I may be allowed to say for myself, that I hope to be excused, as the individual Prelate who brings the subject before you, by this one consideration, that the diocese over which I preside—it may be because the great University of Oxford, if not connected with it, is situated locally and practically within it—has paid special attention to the subject; has greatly assisted in devising the different modes by which the Church can meet the offers of the State for helping on the education of the people; is one of the few which has maintained a large training college, so greatly affected by the new Code; is one which has organized a wide system of inspection, and is able to give statistical returns upon the education of the middle and lower orders connected with the Established Church with a degree of exactness and to an extent which few other dioceses can equal. It is not, therefore, surprising that the clergy and laity in the diocese of Oxford should take a deep interest in propositions which will materially affect or readjust the relations between the Church of England, which devotes its labours to education, and the Government, as to the terms upon which State assistance will be afforded to education, and that they should be anxious that their opinions should be expressed fully and deliberately, yet as distinctly as possible, to those who will have the ultimate settlement of this question.
As the Revised Code was originally propounded, it appeared to me to be based upon a great many fallacious assumptions both with regard to the evils which the alterations were intended to remove, and, perhaps, still more as to the mode in which those evils were sought to be remedied. It is necessary to trouble your Lordships while I show the tendency of the Code before it was again revised, because I believe that, when looked thoroughly into, the proposed revision of the Revised Code, except in two instances, is really illusory, as far as removing the objections to it, and in some instances aggravates the evils of which we complain. The first great evil, and certainly that which is felt most widely in the country is this:—It is sup- 992 posed (and certain words in the Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners give a colour to the impression) that the cost involved in carrying out the system upon which during the past few years we have been assisting the education of the lower orders of the country is of indefinite amount. I believe it is entirely fallacious to suppose that the cost would be almost indefinite. I have gone over and over the figures as stated to the Commissioners, and from which they drew their inference; and making the deductions which must be made, so far from the expense being in any degree indefinite, I believe that less than threefold of the present expense would, on the largest possible estimate, cover the whole sum which, within a reasonable time. Parliament could under the old system be called upon to grant for the education of the people. Taking into account the proportion of population which at any time ought to be under education—taking into account the private schools, where the pupils are educated at the expense of their friends—taking into account the children not at present brought under education—children mainly of paupers, living out of workhouses, or of the vicious classes of the population—and supposing that education were extended to them all, less than three times the present amount expended on education would defray the whole charge. There are two ways of looking at this question of expense. Of course it alarms you. But is it an extravagant sum? Here two considerations arise—first, the greatness of the result; and secondly, the greatness of the resources of those by whose aid you are seeking that result. If you take the matter in the abstract, as to whether that large addition of expense would he an extravagant price to give to secure the sound education of the great mass of the people, considering what Great Britain is, I do not think that it would. Try it by any test by which you estimate your national expenditure. See, for instance, what is the cost of providing one implement to defend your coast against the possibility of invasion. Great as is the necessity of such preparation, it is not to be put against giving the right sort of education to the great mass of the people. If we are now living under a state of things in which we contemplate great sums being laid out by a great people for great results—for such results as the defence of our shores from an invading enemy—the mere 993 fact that the sum required for education is numerically great does not make it great when put in juxtaposition with the object which we are seeking to obtain. Those internal elements of sensual grossness, unreclaimed by moral and intellectual training, are a danger to a civilized country as great, and a threat against her liberties as real, as any external enemy whom you seek to repel from your shores. I cannot admit that upon the more fact of the figures being large we are to take it for granted that the expenditure is extravagant. There is one mode of estimating the expense upon which it seems to me we can rely, and it is one which Parliament ought to watch, for many reasons, with the greatest care, in order to see that the expenditure is not extravagant. I mean this—we ought to look, not to the actual money spent, but first to the amount spent compared with the result obtained; and, second, to the amount spent by the public compared with the amount contributed by the charity and piety of individuals towards bringing about the same end. Before I enter upon the first, allow me to say a word upon the second. It seems to me that the surest test as to the amount which we should spend is, when the private expenditure of those interested in the great cause and in the localities to be benefited bears a due and just proportion to the sums granted by Parliament. The eye of such people is ever on the work. If the money is spent and the work is not done, the private eye, which looks into details, is the first to take alarm, and the private purse, like some delicate thermometrical test, shows that the result is not satisfactory. There is another reason why this is the true test. I do not wish to see the education of the country committed entirely to Government management, and I am very much afraid of anything which tends to supersede private and charitable exertions in this work by Government help or by the result of taxation, for I firmly believe that the direct blessings which have been given to it from above depend upon the work being the direct work of charity, combining with all those ennobling influences which ever wait on well-directed efforts for the good of others, and prompted by high moral motives. And that that is the true principle, I for one believe, for this still higher reason, that the maintenance of the religious tone of education depends upon the religious education being carried on, as it now is, 994 through the aid of different religious denominations, rather than by one Government board. In a state of society like ours, divided upon religious matters, a common administration of education could only be carried on by the removal of all elements of dissent; but the elements of dissension between those anxious on religious grounds for the education of the people are just those very religious differences the existence of which would make it necessary that we should withdraw all peculiar teaching in religion before we could arrive at any common ground on which a Government scheme of education could be administered. For this reason I am very desirous that there should be no such assistance granted from the public purse as could lead to any suspension of that private charity which has already done so much for the work of education. But the test, observe, is not the actual amount granted from the public purse, but whether the proportion which it granted is fair as compared with the amount given by private charity to the same end, and whether it is sufficient to develop that charity to the utmost. At present we may say that the amount granted by Parliament is in round numbers £800,000, and the real test is whether that grant has tended to increase or diminish private efforts. So far from its having done so, I believe the effect of the Government grant up to this time has been to increase every year the sum given by private persons for the moral and religious teaching of the people. The £800,000 now distributed by Government leads to the expenditure of something like £2,000,000, expended by the people in order to obtain better schools and to make those schools more true to their high purpose; and therefore my thermometrical test of the amount spent says that too much has not been spent, because that which has been spent from the public purse has tended to increase, and not to supersede, the giants from private charity. We come next to the second test—that which practical men would call the real—which test is, Do we get a proper return for our money, and is what we get the true article we want? To a certain extent I am ready to admit that there has been in many districts and in many minds a tendency to dissatisfaction with some at least of the results. Some persons say that there has been too much of what, by a wrong use of the word, is called 995 "over-education," but what I think might more properly be called cramming for examination children to whom cramming was a positive damage, both now and in afterlife. I believe that, to a certain extent, there has been an injury in that way; and I am bound to ask, then, whether the Revised Code does lead to an amendment of that evil. The proposal of the Revised Code with regard to that particular evil, as I understand it, is to reduce the examination, upon the result of which for the time to come the money to be granted to the school by way of a capitation grant in lieu of all other grants is to depend, to an examination mainly in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I wish your Lordships for a moment to weigh what is the real result of such an alteration in the inspection of schools; because we have heard words which I think—no doubt unintentionally—tended to draw away your attention from the real point. It has been said that the Inspectors, as sensible men, can hardly find more pleasure, or so much, in questioning children as to the course of rivers in India and other recondite matters of which they knew nothing, as in examining into the plain, practical results in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I think, my Lords, that is to place the question upon a false issue. Hitherto the inspection, whatever its faults, has been carried on by men of high education. Those who have inspected our schools, so far as I have seen or know them or read their reports, have been men of high moral bearing and high religious tone. I wish to do full justice to what was said on a former occasion by my noble Friend the President of the Council, when he claimed for himself the credit of not having made any of these appointments, in any sense whatever, opportunities for jobbery, or for the promotion of the interest of private friends; but that they had been given honestly and truly to the very best men he could find. I have no doubt whatever that such is the case. My own experience convinces me of it, and I do not think that the country has any fault to find in that respect. But, my Lords, when we are told that such men as these cannot find more pleasure in conducting an examination under the old system than they will under the new Revised Code, I must beg your Lordships to consider what the new examination, if it means anything, really does mean, and wherein it differs from the old examination. The old examination tried to take 996 a gauge of the moral, intellectual, and religious training of the school with which it had to do. The result of that examination was to be honestly and truly reported, and it could only be gathered from innumerable little incidents which the practised eye of the Inspector easily deciphered—the mere look of the children, the brightness of the countenance, the cleanliness of the countenance and hands, the smoothness of the hair, the readiness of the eye, the mutual bearing of child to child, of the children to the pupil-teacher and master, and of the pupil-teacher to the master—all these were objects of attention to the highly-educated and intelligent man who had to say faithfully and honestly whether the school satisfied him as a Government Inspector or not. But what will be the examination if it is carried out honestly and truly under the Revised Code? It is really to be a mere inspection—not of the children in their general bearing—but a mere searching into how far the children individually in every part of the school are up to the mark in the most mechanical part of their training, reading, writing, and arithmetic. I beg your Lordships to notice this, that reading in men of your Lordships' education ceases to be mechanical. It is the acquiring of information through reading—the mechanical act has perished. You glance at the book without spelling it over word by word, letter by letter. But in these schools, in young children particularly, who have only lately been denizens of the school, it is a mere mechanical, and the most mechanical part of their training—it occupies the whole of their attention; and when a child is put up to be examined by this terrible Government Inspector, the effect of his nervousness and fright is to make his attention to that mechanical training more servile, and probably to make his chance of shining in it less. The result of forcing your Inspector to go through the school head by head must lead to each individual child having an infinitesimal portion of the Inspector's time. The most patient Inspector, therefore, must always be in a hurry with each separate child, and your Lordships who have had any experience in examining your parish schools know how quickly the temper of the examiner spreads to the examined, so that an examiner in a hurry is another word for a pupil in a fuss. The child examined will be put out; there will be no time for him to recover his step; 997 the current of examination will run on, and his poor efforts to show his head above the stream again will be utterly hopeless. Your object is not to teach in these schools mere mechanical drudgery, but to give the children an opportunity of raising themselves intellectually and morally above the level which is too often found in their cottage homes. But, by degrading the examination from an inquiry into the moral and intellectual tone of all the school into a test examination of each individual child in the most mechanical part of its training, you prevent the schools from being the true enlighteners of these children. To say that under such a system you are going to pay for results is a most fallacious way of putting it, because, in fact, you are going to pay for the poorest results, and to take the very worst criterion of the progress of education. It seemed like testing the efficiency of the accident ward of an hospital by sending in the hospital Inspector to examine the patient while his broken limb is in splints, in order that he may report on the success of the curative process, instead of waiting to see what would be the action and usefulness of the perfectly restored limb. The real result is what you turn out of the school as the effect of the education you give in it. The real result of a curative process is whether the patient when he comes out of the hospital has his strength and proper power of action given him again. Therefore when inspecting the education, and taking the great result at the single acquirement of reading, writing, and arithmetic, it is a perfect fallacy to say you are going to pay only for results. Why, what have been the results, in the very few years since the system was introduced? How long has this system of amending education by the employment of pupil-teachers been in operation? How long do your Lordships suppose it has been tried in any part of England? Why, so recently have any of the pupil-teachers gone out of their schools that you have as yet the smallest data possible to go on as to what the amount of improvement in general education really is which the training of such teachers promises to give. Under the most favourable circumstances, we have had as yet scarcely time to test what is the result. It is only ten years since the first few pupil-teachers went into any training college at all. The first pupil-teacher who left a training school as a certificated master only went 998 out in January, 1858. And only four years after this we are called on to pronounce that this system is, to a great extent, a failure! Having paid for efficiency, it is said, we are now to pay for results; we are going, in point of fact, under this Revised Code, to do away with the pupil-teacher system. Now, my Lords, the fallacy from which this state of things has arisen is this:—It has been stated by Her Majesty s Commissioners that in many schools the instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic has been unsatisfactory. But if proved, how far has that been the fault of the system, or a necessary evil, to be ascribed to the matter on which you have got to work? If you consider the interrupted attendance in schools of the lowest class, the gross ignorance out of which you have to raise the children, the dulness that waits on the first years of receiving instruction, I say the difficulty experienced in teaching these common things to the lowest classes is a difficulty to be ascribed to the subject-matter on which you have to work, not to the tools with which the work is done. I can quote from the Report of the Commissioners itself to show how greatly the evil has been exaggerated. In 89 per cent of the schools they state that reading is taught excellently or well; that it is taught moderately well in less than 11 per cent; and badly in less than one-quarter per cent. Writing is taught well in 90 per cent; moderately well in 9 per cent; and badly only in one-half per cent. Arithmetic is taught well in 83 per cent; moderately well in 15 per cent; and badly in 1½ per cent. But before the system is judged even by this not very frightful result, we must remember that of these inspected schools 20 per cent were not under a certificated master at all, and they pull down the general return from the whole of the schools. The results, therefore, have been grossly undervalued. But, suppose the deficiency is proved, in what way is this Revised Code likely to remedy it? The great proposition of that Code may be described as this:—It proposes to reduce all the payments for the assistance of elementary schools to a grant of one capital sum, instead of being given in many different ways, for pupil-teachers, on masters' certificates, and as a capitation grant. In the first place, my Lords, how will this tend, in any way, to remedy the evil? I believe it will not do so; on the contrary, I believe it will introduce 999 some new and some very great evils—some so great that I do not see how, practically, they can be met. One of these evils will be that the managers of schools must henceforth undertake the payment of pupil teachers and masters; they must take that responsibility on themselves, without having any general fund to which they can look for the supply of the money they need. From many things written in this Revised Code one would think it dealt with men to whom it is perfectly indifferent if they advance money at the beginning of the year on a possible chance of being repaid it at its close, on the chance that the scholars are tractable, that the Inspector makes a good report of the school, that everything goes well; it is assumed that the managers are perfectly indifferent as to incurring a certain and immediate outlay upon a somewhat indistinct chance of receiving their money back at the end of the year. But when we go to the fact, every one knows that, through a great part of the country, it is either some landowner who takes an interest in the matter, or, in the case of a great number of schools, the clergyman of the parish, who take on their own shoulders the burden of supplying everything that may be deficient. If there is any difference between the money spent and the money in hand, the clergyman has often to make it good, and the Report of the Commissioners shows that the clergymen expend a greater amount than the entire sum raised by private contributions. Now, you put a heavy burden on men who are overburdened already; and you put on them just that particular form of burden which a clergyman with a limited income, actuated by a full sense of honesty and duty, can least bear. You put on him, not a certain charge that he might spare out of his small income from the abundance of his charity, but an uncertain charge, that he cannot possibly say he shall be able to meet; and which, therefore, as an honest man, he cannot take. This part of the scheme is one that will not really operate, except in this one way—in checking the advance recently made in the work of education. And observe in making this one grant for the support of schools, as proposed, instead of in various grants, as hitherto, you do another injustice. You make what is a single grant, given on several different conditions, depend on the fulfilment of one single condition. The grants to these schools depend on the 1000 school buildings being appropriate and clean, on the masters being competent, on the pupil-teachers being what they should be. Then the second matter of inquiry is into the advance of the scholars—always a different inquiry in every respect. But now these two entirely dissimilar claims you propose to make dependent solely on the examination of the children. This is an injustice, and in direct opposition to the Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners, upon which the Revised Code bases its claim to consideration. Another head of offence is the proposition of the Revised Code, that henceforth the children shall be grouped for inspection by age. Any one conversant with the schools in the rural districts throughout the country will feel that it was hardly possible to devise a more bungling and mischievous proposition. The merest dunce—perhaps a girl just taken from what a popular writer has described as the "Moloch worship" of nursing babies—wishes to have the opportunity of training possessed by her younger sisters. The Inspector comes, and perhaps begins to examine this child among children of her own age, and finding a child of nine years of age, exceedingly backward, placed in Group No. I, the Inspector may take his estimate of the working of the school from this tremendous example. For that reason, my Lords, I look upon grouping by age as altogether a bungle and a mistake. The effect must be necessarily this:—That no schools which are looking for the capitation grant to any considerable amount can for the future afford to take these children on any terms; because, instead of raising, they will pull down the amount, so that just in proportion to the good which the school is doing will it be mulcted of the grant. And how is the difficulty met in the revision of the Revised Code? The rule laid down by the Revised Code is that no child above thirteen years old can be examined more than once. Now, it has been clearly shown that the children who get the greatest good in our schools are children of about this age. I speak on this point as a practical educator. After eighteen years of hard work as a parish priest in building up the school, I know from experience that the great object to be laboured for is to prevent a boy from being removed to keep the birds off the fields just as he is beginning to get the full benefit of the school. The result must be, that as these children are in future not 1001 to obtain the capitation grant after one examination, all the schools which find it difficult to obtain funds must throw these children over instead of clinging to them, because they will be too expensive to keep. And observe, ray Lords, that the districts most affected by this regulation will be not those in which the schools are supported by wealthy persons or are frequented by middle-class children, but they will be the poorer districts: the very places to which the public money ought to flow most freely, so as to make the maintenance of a good school possible, will be the places where the evil I have described, joined to the grouping system, will tell most cruelly Well, it is in the attempt to remedy this evil that a greater evil has been done. To meet this objection it is proposed that the younger children should be permitted to come to the night school. Now, instead of its being a good, it is the greatest possible evil to get those young children into the night school. All those who know anything of the working of Sunday Schools know that there was a time when the Sunday Schools were the means of continuing the education of young persons after they had left school; but gradually they became schools for young children, and the result is that those for whom they were intended have been universally driven away. So it must be. Let your Lordships picture to yourselves a night school. It is frequented by young fellows who are just of an age to feel the importance of education, but who have forgotten pretty nearly all that they learned at the slay school. They come with a hearty good will, anxious to learn; but they are awkward, and they are slow. Still, by gentleness and kindness, you may do with them a work of incalculable good. But now you are to send in three or four young children, eleven or twelve years of age, fresh from the first class of the morning school, and these will every evening be putting their elders to shame, making it impossible for them to endure the fool's-cap put upon their heads, as it were, by young children, just fresh from school. Believe me—I speak from experience—it will be one of the deadliest injuries you can inflict upon the moral and religious hopes which are hovering over the-e young men whom you are trying to raise from a life of boorishness through the influence of the night schools. Instead, therefore, of accepting this concession as a boon, I regard it as an additional injury.
1002 Here, then, I have pointed out to you some great evils in this Revised Code, and I venture to say that, with two exceptions, the alterations proposed are of a mischievous character. One of those exceptions is the determination not to deal at present "directly" with the training colleges. I lay stress upon the word "directly," because indirectly the training colleges are affected. And even this withholding of direct interference is very much like the non-interference of a thundercloud which is just about to burst. We are told that for the present, in consequence of the outcry which has been raised throughout the country, "My Lords" do not propose to take away the official support now given to the training colleges. A great deal is said about the disproportion between the public funds received by these institutions and the local contributions; but this disproportion must be expected. In the first place, the training colleges have not the local interest possessed by the elementary schools. Take my own diocese. We educate young men—Queen's scholars—not for our own diocese only, but for every part of England which likes to bid for them. It is, in point of fact, a public institution, supplying the Church of England schools throughout the country with trained teachers. Such an institution must necessarily lack the individual and local interest which lead the clergy and the laity—especially the wealthy laity—to give their support to elementary schools; and, as it addresses itself, therefore, to the supply of no local want, I think it has a right to a disproportionate grant from the public funds. Another reason for this disproportion is the novelty of these institutions. At first there was a great scramble for the young trained men sent out from the colleges. The demand for them was far above what they were entitled to supply, and in one instance one of those young men absolutely refused £70 a year and a house, thinking himself worthy of much more. Such a demand for their services rather turned the heads of those young men. But the remedy for this is to adjust the supply to the demand, and let the article find its proper value in the market. This result has begun to follow already, and the very complaint you make—namely, that there are some young men who do not immediately get positions—shows the influence of this wholesome law of demand and supply. But you will prevent the influence of this law 1003 altogether if you will limit the operations of the training colleges. With the best possible sifting of the young men a certain number must be admitted who have not a vocation for the work. It is most undesirable that they should be forced into the profession of a schoolmaster if their heart is not in the work; and for this reason it is also most desirable that there should be a margin of supply over and above the immediate and pressing demand, so that those who, upon trial, are found deficient may serve their country and their God in some other way. The objection, then, about the over-supply and the disproportionate payment made from the public purse to the training colleges, is a fallacy leading to a wrong conclusion. We may well fear, as the ultimate result, that four-fifths of the training colleges would be closed after the great expenses which private persons had been encouraged to make to start them. But I said that the Revised Minute, at all events, seems to withdraw any direct attack upon the training colleges; but does it wholly withdraw it? It appears to me that it does not.
The second great complaint I make against the Revised Code and its revision is, that in practice it will, I think, be found to be almost fatal to the pupil-teacher system—which, in my opinion, has been the very best part of the scheme—and in proving fatal to that system will also prove fatal to the supply of scholars to become Queen's scholars in training colleges, and thus wither up those colleges by withholding the supply of candidates. You may say, perhaps, that the money of the country, ought not to be spent in this work of educating the poorer classes; but, my Lords, there is no disputing the fact that a great part of all the means of education provided for the higher classes in this country is supplied from public funds. We have our endowments of public schools and Universities. We cannot hope to obtain in the present day endowments for the support of the schools which provide for the education of the poorer classes. Then how are we to provide for those classes the assistance which the higher classes receive, if we do not do it out of the sum set aside by Parliament for the purpose of promoting the education of the middle and lower classes in this country? Then, how does the pupil-teacher system fare in this matter? It seems to be injured at every turn by this Minute. As the case stands now, every school with 1004 ninety scholars must have a pupil-teacher to come under the Government grant; but under the revision of the Revised Code, a school need not have a pupil-teacher until it reckons 130 scholars. Here is one injury. Then, by throwing upon the manager the whole support of these pupil-teachers, you make it morally certain that a great number of school managers will not venture to incur the now unnecessary expense of maintaining pupil-teachers, and these persons, therefore, will not be engaged. If you say 130 is the limitation that will take in the greatest number of these schools, I would refer your Lordships to the diocese of Canterbury, where the Inspectors tell us that out of 161 schools 123 have less than 90 scholars. You are not dealing with a few cases, but by the plan of throwing upon the managers the risk of employing pupil-teachers, and at the same time relieving them from the necessity of having those pupil-teachers, it seems to me that you are striking a blow—a fatal blow—to the pupil teacher system. More than this, in schools with more than 120 scholars up to 190 scholars, only one pupil teacher need be engaged by the managers; and if no pupil-teacher be engaged, then the penalty is the loss of a grant of £10 a year, but at the same time a saving of £19 in the cost of his maintenance. Pressed as are the majority of schools, I cannot but think that the working of the Revised Code—little as I know it was intended—but the effect of it will be to smite the very existence of the pupil-teacher system. There is nothing upon which the Royal Commissioners have reported more entirely favourably than this particular part of the system, and those who have examined into the state of education abroad and compared it with our condition at home have told us that the existence of that system was the one great feature that had improved the state of education in England so much within the last few years. Abolish that feature, and what would be the result? We should return to the old monitorial system—a change that, as it seems to me, would be fatal to the advance of education, because, as water cannot rise above its own level, so in the long run and in the majority of cases the taught cannot rise above the teacher; and if you have your untrained monitors instead of trained pupil teachers, you will degrade your schools to an extent which you can hardly 1005 estimate at present. In another point the new Code will tend to that result. In future, masters of day schools are to be allowed to teach in night schools, and pupil-teachers are to be permitted to receive instruction in these night schools. Any one who has ever been at a night school will know at once that there could not be a more mischievous suggestion. If a pupil-teacher is gaining anything, he is getting improved habits from the master, which raise him above the condition in which he first came to the school; and the process of raising, to do much good, must go on mainly not in the actual school hours or periods of teaching, but in the intercourse that takes place between the master and the apprentice. But, instead of that, the pupil-teacher is to be put into the midst of a crowd of young lads, after their day's work, with all the roughness and coarseness which are to be found among that class, and in the midst of hubbub and interruption arid all the lowering incidents attaching to a night school. I say that is no boon, but a great injury to the progress of education.
I will not weary your Lordships with going into minute details; but there are many other matters which I might easily point out. I trust I have made it plain, first, that here was to be introduced suddenly a change which must, to the very foundation, affect the whole system of popular education; next, that the suspension of Government assistance in the shape of money help to these schools has been introduced suddenly, harshly, and without due appreciation of many delicate and important parts of the present system. Now, granting, for the sake of argument, that retrenchment was necessary, how should such a change have been introduced? I say with notice, gradually, and in a way that would least alarm a sensitive and easily alarmed class of persons—in a way that would have enabled those who are interested in the cause of education to provide substitutes for those means which are now to be taken away. Certainly such a change should not have been introduced suddenly, with scarcely any preparation, with every incident to create alarm, with the semblance—and, I believe from my heart, only the semblance—of an unfair mode of introduction. I must also say that, comparing the speech made in another place with the acts that followed that speech, I cannot wonder 1006 that persons with small incomes, such as schoolmasters, should be sensibly alarmed at the apparent discrepancy between the promise that there should be no sudden interruption, and the hastiness of the projected reform. With the exceptions of not having struck a deadly blow at the training colleges, of having reformed the terms of the Concordat of 1839, and of their being no intention to interfere with the religious training in schools, this revision of the Code is illusory and mischievous. I will not trouble your Lordships further, but thank you for the kind courtesy with which you have listened to me. I will only ask you to consider, one and all, that you are dealing with a most important matter. If you consider what has been done within the last fifteen years, and that in this work there have been many different agencies at work, all combining to this great result—the National Society, in strict connection with the Established Church; the British and Foreign Society, which has always had the firm support of the noble Earl near me (Earl Russell), which support has greatly contributed to its great successes—if you reflect that the number of children at school has, within the last fifteen years, been raised from 500,000 to 2,500,000; that the balance has been redressed between ignorance and due knowledge to such an extent that, whereas then there was only one in seventeen of the population receiving education, there is now one in seven—your Lordships will perceive the importance of this subject. So great has been the change, that whereas formerly we were below many continental nations in the scale of comparison with regard to education, yet now—with perhaps the exception of Prussia, where elementary education is inflicted as a legal penalty instead of being conferred as a paternal boon—we now compare advantageously. When I see these results, and remember that education hitherto has been connected with the formation of moral habits and the kindling of religious sympathies; and when I hear of the efforts, not only of the Church of which I am a minister, but also of Christians of all denominations, I feel that under this system secular education has been endowed and sanctified by the communication of religious truths. When I see at this moment that this great good is still increasing, I have a right to beseech your 1007 Lordships, as I do beseech you, to pause before you adopt plans which, by the admission of all, were laid upon the table of Parliament so ill considered that their very suggestors have been obliged to withdraw many of the most important suggestions. I do beseech you not to risk such results as I have pointed out, and not to interfere with the present system upon advice so hastily given and so lightly retracted.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
—My Lords, in rising to make a few observations in answer to what has fallen from the right rev. Prelate, I must express my regret that indisposition prevents my noble Friend the Duke of Newcastle, the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Education, from attending in his place on this occasion and taking part in this discussion. I regret this absence the more because the speech of the right rev. Prelate consisted rather of an attack upon the conclusions at which the Royal Commissioners arrived than of an attack upon the measures which the Government have adopted, or are supposed to have adopted, in consequence of their recommendations. I regret likewise that, as I am myself now suffering considerable pain, I shall not be able to address your Lordships as I could wish, and I shall therefore be obliged to abridge my observations. The right rev. Prelate began by explaining the reason why he was the first Member of this House to bring this subject before your Lordships; and he said that he did so in consequence of the diocese over which he presides having taking the leading part in regard to the education of the children of the lower classes. Now, I was not myself aware of that fact before. I had always thought that the initiative in the movement was taken by the late Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, who conducted the original negotiations with the Government, which proved satisfactory to all parties; and that since that time there appeared to have been a most honourable rivalry between all the dioceses in the kingdom in the good work, so that it is exceedingly difficult to allot a more leading place to one than to another. It so happens, indeed, that in the diocese of Oxford—not owing to any want of energy, zeal, or ability, on the part of its bishop, as those who most differ from the right rev. Prelate's opinions must freely acknowledge, but from the rural character of the diocese—the very system of education now under discussion has 1008 made less progress, perhaps, than in any other part of the country. It is stated in the Report of the Commissioners that out of the whole number of parishes in that diocese—comprising, I think, 350—only twenty-four have schools conducted upon the system which has been so much praised by the right rev. Prelate. The real excuse for the right rev. Prelate is, that no one can better state the objections against the Government proposition. I rejoice that all that can be said against it has been said; and certainly when you are opposed by persons of considerable power, it is some mitigation of your fate to know that they do not quite agree among themselves. It is clear, for instance, that the right rev. Prelate is not in accord on this question with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), who does not oppose the principle of the Revised Code; nor is he exactly in harmony with the noble Lord (Lord Lyttelton), who has given notice of a series of Resolutions on this subject. I quite concur, therefore, that this House ought not to come to any hasty decision on the matter.
The first question with which the right rev. Prelate grappled was, whether there is necessity for economy in respect to the educational grant. He stated, very fairly I think, that the present system might be carried out at a cost nearer £2,000,000 than £3,000,000 sterling per annum; and that, considering the enormous importance of the education of the lower classes compared with the expense of defending ourselves against an external foe, he thought that sum was not too large for its object. Now, if it be impossible to educate the people without spending £2,000,000, and if those £2,000,000 will produce the desired result in the most efficient manner, I shall be quite as ready as the right rev. Prelate to advise the expenditure of that sum. But that is not the real question, which is this, whether this cannot be done, and done even more efficiently—for that is the whole gist of the matter—for a smaller outlay than the present, an outlay more under the control of Parliament, and producing more satisfactory results than those now realized. The right rev. Prelate then spoke—and I confess I was much surprised to hear it—of the immense value of the voluntary principle, of the enormous advantage of local management, and of not concentrating in the Government all the power to be applied to the education of the people. Hear, again, I entirely agree 1009 with him. But almost the chief characteristic of our proposal was, that instead of having something like 40,000 persons engaged in the work of education, whose number is increasing every year, directly connected with the Central Government, and that Government interfering with every possible detail of the application of the grant, there should, on the contrary, be more power and responsibility lodged with the local managers, who best understand the circumstances and requirements of their districts. The right rev. Prelate next refered to the Inspectors. I can personally bear witness to the immense service which these gentlemen have rendered to the cause of popular education. And after what we have heard as to the kind of occupation it would be for an intellectual man to have to examine children of 9 or 10 in reading, writing, and arithmetic, I must say I think that for the mere examination of a small school intended for the education of the labouring classes it is not absolutely necessary to employ senior wranglers and first-class men from Oxford. They are not needed for that part of the work. The chief good which these gentlemen have done has been in winning over the clergy and the landed proprietors of the country to the cause of the education of the poor, by the influence of their authority, attainments, and position, and in showing them the best menus of giving real effect to their efforts. With regard to what the right rev. Prelate calls the drudgery to be imposed on the Examiners, it is quite impossible, whatever may be the nature of the examination, that it should not be in some degree fatiguing both to mind and body of those who conduct it; and the reward of the clergy as well as of their lay brethen for acting in that capacity must be the consciousness of having discharged a duty and aided a work of great national importance. In commenting on the details of the proposed scheme, the right rev. Prelate dwelt very much upon the grouping of the children by age, and said that nobody who was practically acquainted with the working of the schools would have thought of recommending it. Now, I should be very glad if any person who is practically acquainted with the working of the schools would suggest an alternative and better mode of action—always supposing that you really intend to test the individual accomplishments of the children. The right rev. Prelate drew a partly pathetic and partly 1010 comic picture of that celebrated dance, sometimes represented as a male and sometimes as a female, who is physically incapable of learning, and who leaves school at about 9 or 10 years old. Now, I quoted a speech of Lord Stanley the other day, and also a memorial from a body of which the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury) is a distinguished member, which bore testimony to the great fact—a fact which is beyond all dispute, and which has been fully recognised by the Royal Commissioners as well as by the department with which I am connected—namely, that, setting aside exceptional cases, the great mass of the children of the labouring classes do leave school when between 9 and 10 or 11 years of age, and that it is quite impossible to keep them there any longer in opposition to the claim of their parents upon their earnings. Surely, then, this celebrated dunce, who is only one child out of a hundred, is not so important a person that the State should he called upon to incur an enormous expense for his or her education. Then we come to the subject of evening schools. Ever since my attention has been officially directed to the question of popular education the conviction has grown upon me that the only solution of the problem how to give education to the children of the working classes, and at the same time enable them to do that work which, whether we will or not, they are sure to do, is by encouraging evening schools. The right rev. Prelate says we are going to destroy the evening schools, and to do what happened to the Sunday schools in consequence of the changes made in the day schools. Now, I have always understood that Sunday schools preceded by many years, and with the happiest effect, the establishment of day schools. But we are told, "You will destroy the evening schools, because you will get there fine young fellows of 18 or 19, who have forgotten almost everything they learnt at the day schools; and they will be so discouraged by the superior attainments of children of 13 that they will go away altogether in disgust." The case of these young fellows would, I apprehend, be very much like that of the pupils of the dancing master or the fencing master, who are often told by their teacher that he could really instruct them much better if they knew nothing at all than if they have learnt something before, but have not quite unlearnt it all again. The real good to be done in the work of popular edu- 1011 cation is to be done by making the evening school a sort of continuation of the day school. It is by establishing a connection between the two that the scholar will be prevented from forgetting what he has previously acquired. The next part of this subject is the training colleges. Some of the arguments which the right rev. Prelate used with reference to that subject seem to me to be of an extremely dangerous tendency. He appealed to political economy, a science of which I am glad to say that schoolmasters have some knowledge, and said that the proper thing to do was to leave the article to find its market value. But how is that market value to be ascertained by the Government paying 80 or 90 per cent of the cost of producing the article, and then selling it in the market for nothing? If that process is to be carried on for years and years, it seems to me that this is an argument which the masters—at least those who have studied political economy—will not at all appreciate. Another argument which seemed to me to be very dangerous in regard to the influence which our debates have upon public opinion, and upon opinion in another place, was, that for the benefit of the training colleges, and to support them, every part of the old system ought to be maintained. I do not think that that argument is likely to tend to the advantage of training colleges, which, under proper regulations, have been and will be most useful institutions.
Having summed up all he had to say against the Revised Code, the right rev. Prelate urged, that if changes were to have been made, they should not have been made in so hurried a manner. I cannot think that the manner has been so hurried, and certainly the result has shown, that if a change was to be made, it was necessary to make it as soon as possible, and not to defer it until a time when it would have been impossible to introduce it, on account of the great number of persons who would have fancied that they had some sort of vested interest in the existing system. I think, that when at the request of Parliament a Commission has been appointed to inquire into a subject; when that Commission has sent its emissaries into every part of the country, and has sat for three years; when it has reported in March, and a plan has been brought forward five months afterwards which cannot come into operation fur another year, there is no undue haste, or indeed any, of which 1012 those most interested in the existing system have a right to complain. I do not wish to speak longer to night, because I think that the more convenient time at which to discuss the details of this measure will be when it is brought formally before your Lordships by the Resolutions of the noble Lord (Lord Lyttelton). I shall be happy to hear anything which any noble Lord may have to say, or to give any further explanation which may be required; but, so far as I am concerned, I think that it would be injudicious, and not agreeable to your Lordships, that I should go further into the subject. I will only add, that nothing that has passed has shaken my conviction that at an opportune moment we have brought in a measure of which the principles are just and good, and which is favourable to the propagation and extension of those really sound elements of instruction which are most appreciated by parents, which are most useful to children, which do not interfere with the acquisition of habits of order and discipline, or of that more extended knowledge which we shall be happy to see taught in schools if the managers see fit, but which are so thoroughly essential to the education of the children of the labouring classes of this country.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, that as there appeared to be a general desire that this subject should not be discussed that evening, and as the question must come forward again, he would not detain their Lordships at any length, but he must say that he did not think that the noble Earl had in any manner answered the grave charges and objections which had been brought forward by the right rev. Prelate. As to the introduction of younger children into the night schools, his right rev. Friend had no desire that those children should go without education; but he had contended, and with reason, that their admission into evening schools would diminish the attendance of those for whom such schools were specially intended. One grave objection to the new system was, that instead of the education of the country being conducted as heretofore religiously and conscientiously, it would introduce into it a mercantile spirit—that there would be a danger of its engendering and fostering a feeling in the minds of schoolmasters which would induce them to look upon their pupils as having a certain money value, and to neglect those whose instruction was not 1013 likely to be remunerative. The schoolmaster's pecuniary interests rather than the moral training of the child would be rather attended to. It would also prevent managers from giving to the schools that constant notice and attention which they had hitherto bestowed upon them, and would expose teachers to the temptation—one which he hoped and firmly believed would never be yielded to, but which would nevertheless exist—to falsify returns in order to secure money payments. The money payment might be forfeited for a thousand and one causes over which the teacher had no control. A parent might, out of some motive of pique or spite, prevent his child from being present on the day of examination; or a child, in order to be revenged upon his teacher, might refuse to answer any questions which were put to him. He hoped that their Lordships and the other House of Parliament would pause and thoroughly consider this question before they determined to adopt a system which he believed would seriously impede and obstruct the great work of educating the independent poor of this country.
§ The EARL OF DERBY
—I think the House and the country are deeply indebted to the right rev. Prelate for having brought forward the important subject of the new Code of Education in a manner which com mends itself to the admiration, if not the assent, of all your Lordships. That right rev. Prelate has spoken with a power of language which few who heard him can presume to emulate—with an influence of language all the greater because it is evidently used to express convictions founded upon a thorough knowledge of the subject which he has brought to your attention. I will not presume to weaken the effect of that most powerful address by attempting, in the present state of the House, and seeing the general desire which exists that the subject should be discussed on another occasion, to enter on any portion of this great subject of education. I only desire to call your Lordships' attention to the fact that the speech of the right rev. Prelate is of eminent value from its deeply suggestive character—not however exhausting the subject, but, on the contrary, showing to your Lordships, and to the country at large, how extensive, how wide is the field, how multifarious the considerations involved in the decision to which both Houses are invited, and of what vast importance in their ultimate results must be those portions of the scheme of educa- 1014 tion which are regarded by the noble Earl opposite as mere details, but each of which nevertheless involves principles of the greatest magnitude and of the highest interest to the country at large. I confess I heard with some surprise the statement that there must be considerable difference of opinion between myself and the right rev. Prelate on this subject, inasmuch as I had, on a former occasion, expressed my approbation of the principle of the Revised Code. I do not remember ever expressing such approval of the Revised Code. What I did say with regard to the re-Revised Code of Education of the Committee of Council on Education was this:—I stated that, so far as I could judge—so far as the alterations in the re-Revised Code were concerned—those alterations were in the right direction. That was the highest amount of approval which, to the best of my recollection, I ever bestowed on any part of the Revised Code.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
—I must take the liberty of reminding the noble Earl that he stated that he regarded the Revised Code as a Bill which was entitled to be read a second time, although there were details in it to be discussed in Committee. The second reading of a Bill I have always understood implies approval of its principle—the details are to be considered in Committee.
§ THE EARL or DERBY
—I am much obliged to my noble Friend for explaining how he has so entirely misapprehended and misrepresented my views on the subject. I am happy also that he has called my attention to the particular cause of his misapprehension, as it affords me an opportunity of saying a few words on a subject which I consider of great importance. I was just saying that I considered the right rev. Prelate had done good service by the suggestive character of his speech, and by showing the mass of details contained in the new Code, ail of which were of the highest importance, but which it was impossible in a loose and cursory discussion to do justice to, or for the country to come to a right conclusion. But my noble Friend reminds me that on a former occasion I stated my opinion that in proceeding to consider this Code it would be desirable that our proceedings should be analogous to those of the House of Commons and of your Lordships' House after the second reading of a Bill, when its several provisions are separately discussed in Committee. Assuming that this House was 1015 prepared to receive the Code laid on the table by the Government as a Bill which had passed the second reading, the course I recommended was the taking up of the several portions of the whole scheme—the whole enactment, if I may so say—and considering them seriatim, as you would consider the clauses of a Bill in Committee. Well, I confess that, after all I have seen, after all I have read, after all the conversation I have had, I am confirmed in my opinion that the proper course of proceeding would have been for the Government to have placed the whole scheme before the House embodied in Resolutions, on each of which the two Houses might have been able to enter on a separate discussion, and on each of them come to a definite conclusion. That is a course which on a former occasion was pursued in "another place" by the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he introduced a system of education. He laid before the House of Commons a series of twelve Resolutions, to which, separately, he invited the consideration of the other House. [Earl GRANVILLE: That would have required a Bill.] I heartily wish that a similar course had been pursued on the present occasion in both Houses, so that the scheme might have been exposed to the criticism which a Bill receives in every stage of its progress—not decided by a hostile vote to a proposition of the Government, but criticised and discussed along the whole deliberate course of proceedings in progress through both Houses, and the result of such mature deliberation forming the foundation of a legislative measure. If the Government earnestly desire—not to save themselves trouble, not to pass an imperfect, ill-considered scheme—but to co-operate with the two Houses of Parliament for the purpose of carrying through, with general assent, a measure which must be felt to be a great improvement upon the existing temporary, tentative system, I say they would have offered spontaneously to your Lordships and the other House the best and the simplest means of discussing every detail; and I say it is a proof of the sense which the Government entertain of the weakness of their own proposal, and of their inability to stand the test of criticism, that they have laid on the table a whole Code as they propose to have it passed, without affording an opportunity for either House to criticize its separate and detailed provisions. Why, take any important mea- 1016 sure of legislation intended not for temporary but for permanent purposes, which should be calculated to exercise not perhaps a twentieth part of the influence which this measure must have on generations yet unborn—suppose the noble Lord on the Woolsack bad placed the Bankruptcy Bill on the table—had placed it there as a whole, and told you it was competent for you and the other House to take one vote whether you would have that Bill or none at all—I ask what would have been the feeling of Parliament and of the country if such a course had been taken—if such a mode of proceeding had been adopted, utterly unfitted for sifting the defects of the measure? And yet I do not hesitate to say that, important as that Bankruptcy Bill of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack was, it shrinks into insignificance—nay, into nothingness—in comparison with the influence, for good or for evil, of the passage of this Revised Code for Education. I therefore regret that Her Majesty's Government did not give us an opportunity of discussing the enactment—for such it is—of discussing this Code clause by clause, and coming to a deliberate decision on all the important points which the right rev. Prelate has so ably and with so much power and eloquence laid before you. I rejoice to think that in the other House, if not in this House, the several provisions of this measure are likely to undergo a greater amount of discussion than Her Majesty's Government appear to have proposed to themselves. I concur with what fell from the right rev. Prelate that, as the case stands at present, it would be more expedient that we should learn from the discussion in the other House the views of that House regarding the several provisions of the Code before we proceed to fetter and bind ourselves down by abstract Resolutions, from which we should have no power to depart; and therefore I would add to the earnest recommendations of the right rev. Prelate that the noble Earl should for a time abstain from asking your Lordships to come to any decision on those points. I do think it is important that, at some time and in some manner, the Houses of Parliament should have an opportunity of pronouncing—not a judgment on the whole measure by abandoning the Vote for any educational purposes, which might be the alternative presented by the Government—but I think it is most important that most frequent op- 1017 portunities should be given for enlarging on and discussing the various points which the right rev. Prelate has brought under our consideration tonight. In the absence of any Government Resolutions such as I have adverted to, the next most expedient course appears to me to be, that the salient points of this measure should be brought under the consideration of the House in the form of Resolutions; and I rejoice to find that—not, however, without some hesitation—not without some vacillation, which appeared to me somewhat extraordinary—Her Majesty's Government have consented that the House of Commons should go into a Committee of the Whole House to consider certain Resolutions on the subject. But in doing so I think the Government have abdicated a portion of their own functions, because they have cast upon others a task which they should themselves have undertaken. The most straightforward course would have been for the Government themselves to have prepared Resolutions in such a manner as to enable Parliament to pronounce an opinion upon them. There are many leading points especially those mentioned by the right rev. Prelate, which would strike the minds of many as those on which the greatest amount of deliberation was necessary, and on which it is most important that the opinion of Parliament should be pronounced; but there are a vast number of minor details, not insignificant in themselves nor unimportant in themselves, but which are not of a magnitude to render it necessary to ask the opinion of Parliament on them. Every Amendment which may be suggested, and which meets the assent of Parliament, the Government would, of course, insert in the Resolutions. Still, even supposing the scheme to be taken with the Resolutions and Amendments suggested, it would still result in a very imperfect work because of the minor details which might be overlooked. I shall not now trouble your Lordships further, more especially as my noble Friend opposite (Earl Granville)—perhaps conscious of the weakness of the case he has to support—has not given the slightest answer to the objections in principle—to the prominent objections in principle—raised by the right rev. Prelate. The noble Earl has not shown how the great evils pointed out by the right rev. Prelate would be obviated. He has not shown that they will not be even increased and aggravated by the provisions of the 1018 Revised Code. It would be almost indecent to go into the details of that speech of the right rev. Prelate. I only hope that it will go forth into the country—it cannot go forth into the country with the power and force with which the House has listened to its eloquence—but I hope the substance, the suggestions contained in that eloquent speech, will go forth to the other House of Parliament and to the country; for to the one and in the other it will show, beyond the possibility of doubt, the vast importance of the question with which we and they have to deal; the evil which may afflict the country if the question is dealt with as proposed by the Government—the absolute necessity for the deepest consideration and the greatest pains-taking revision—if they do not wish to weaken or abolish much of the good which has been effected during the last fifteen or twenty years; and if they do not wish, by hasty and inconsiderate legislation, to bring on the country not a blessing but a curse—to destroy the blessing which the country has derived and may probably derive in a still greater degree—if only certain modifications and improvements are made in the present system—if they will persevere in that course from which we have derived great advantages, in which we have only made our first steps and experiments, but from which every year, if there is no rash interference, you may reap a largely-increasing benefit.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, that he concurred with the noble Earl in admiring the extreme ability and force of the speech with which the right rev. Prelate had introduced this subject to their notice; but be was reminded of the advantage which members of a sacred profession enjoyed in the pulpit of putting their opponent's arguments in their own words, and thus facilitating the task of demolition. No later than Sunday he listened to a sermon in which an elaborate definition of Calvinism was given by the preacher; but he (the Duke of Argyll) did not recognise it as any sort of Calvinism which had ever been taught in Scotland: however, there was no one there to contradict it. Upon the present occasion the right rev. Prelate had taken most extraordinary liberties with the arguments which were supposed to be held by his opponents, and pointed out what were the grounds of objection to them. The right rev. Prelate stated that the new Code was founded upon the supposition that under the present system 1019 there was over-education; and then he said that in order to get rid of this evil they were about to lower the standard of examination. This, however, was not the fault, or one of the faults, objected to the present system—and he entirely omitted to notice, except perhaps inferentially, that the main accusation against that system was, that three-fourths of the children of the poor received no education at all which they were able to retain for a single year after they had left school. The speech of the right rev. Prelate was able, elaborate, poetical, and, like all his speeches, ingenious, because he contrived to deal with this great question without alluding to the fact that the Royal Commission, for the appointment of which the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) deserved the thanks of the country, betrayed to the country the alarming fact that, with the great sums annually provided, they did not succeed in educating to any practical result three-fourths of the children of the poor. The right rev. Prelate ought, at least, to recognise the fact that the report of the Commissioners was not that the children were over-educated, but under-educated—not that the examination was too high, but that there was no examination at all. Such was the proposition and statement of the Royal Commission, and the whole question was whether the new Code was fairly directed towards remedying the evil. The children of the poor did not attend school after they were ten or eleven years of age; and if they had not learnt to read and write before they left school, they left absolutely without the means of self-education and self-improvement. It was no light accusation which the Commissioners brought against the present system. It was a fundamental objection that it failed to give that education without which all other gifts were useless. The right rev. Prelate had dwelt on the advantages of moral and religious education; but what security had the country that the children would carry away with them religious and moral education when the mere mechanical art of being able to read the Bible and Prayer Book was utterly lost, in a very short time after they left, through a deficiency in the education which they had received? He maintained that, as a rule, moral and religious influences would have no permanent hold upon children who neglected to acquire the ability to read, write, and cipher; and that, on the other hand, 1020 where the time of the children was well employed in learning to read, write, and cipher, moral and religious teaching was more likely to have a lasting influence. But, whether that was so or not, the children would at least be provided by the State with the means of self-improvement and self-education. With regard to the observations which had been made upon the manner in which the Government had dealt with the subject, he had full confidence that it was the desire and intention of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) to keep the question separate from anything like party influences. The noble Earl had avowed that intention on the first night of the Session; but he (the Duke of Argyll) confessed he thought the almost excited tone in which the noble Earl had spoken that night had rather an ominous sound about it; and when the noble Earl complained that the Government did not proceed by Bill or Resolution, he must surely have forgotten that the system was originally founded upon Minutes of Council, subject, of course, as every act of the Executive must be, to the approval of Parliament. It was too late to blame the Government for having done precisely that which every other Government had done, and which, he presumed, the noble Earl contemplated might be done when he appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the practical operation of the present system. He approved of the grant being distributed through the medium of the different denominations, and also in such a manner as best to stimulate private charity and local efforts. These were the two fundamental principles of the Code, though innumerable alterations had been made at different times in the manner of carrying them out. The Royal Commission had distinctly shown that the system was not producing all the effects which were hoped from it, and it was the bounden duty, therefore, of the Government at once to endeavour to remedy its deficiencies.
§ The EARL OF DERBY
explained: The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) seems to think it inconsistent in me to suggest proceeding by Bill or Resolution, when the present system was established originally by Minutes, and altered continuously by Orders in Council. My answer is simple. That up to the present time the system has been avowedly experimental and tentative. We have now a great change proposed, which would materially alter the 1021 existing system, and introduce many new principles and provisions; and we now have it announced by the Government, that there is, for the first time, a cessation of a temporary system and the introduction of a permanent one—and I say, though we may be satisfied with the result of the experimental system of education, varying slightly from time to time; yet when we are going to take steps for founding a permanent system the greatest precaution should be taken, and just opportunities should be afforded to Parliament to decide what the alterations should be. In many most important points the plan of the Privy Council differs distinctly from that of the Royal Commission; and in none more than in the point adverted to by the right rev. Prelate. Nothing can be more distinctly laid down than the proposal by the Commission that there should be two separate systems of remuneration, I do not dissent from the noble Duke's statement, that the Royal Commission has laid it down that reading, writing, and arithmetic have, in many instances, been neglected; what I do dissent from is, the noble Duke's statement that the Commissioners have reported that the education of the people under the system of Parliamentary grants, had been a complete failure. So far from this, the Royal Commission distinctly state, that with regard to a great portion of the schools, even on the very points adverted to, the children have been taught in a satisfactory manner; and the Commissioners speak in the highest terms of the practical results which have ensued from the labours of the teachers and managers, and from the visits of the Inspectors. I am surprised the noble Duke should have confounded reading, writing, and arithmetic, with education, and that because these have been imperfectly taught in some instances, therefore the system of education has been a failure. I hold, that though children may leave one of these schools with an imperfect knowledge of the important but secondary matters of reading, writing, and arithmetic, they will still have gained immense advantages from the school by the habits of order, discipline, cleanliness, and respect for those in authority over them; and that the fruits of good training would be discernible, and they would probably be influenced in some degree with a desire to fulfil their duty faithfully and honestly in that state of life to which it should please God to call them.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
denied, that he had represented the Commissioners to have reported that the present system of education was a failure; what he had said was, that they had stated that three-fourths of the children of the poorer classes were not so instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic as to retain any knowledge of those matters after they left school.
THE BISHOP OF OXFORD
said, he did not intend to occupy much time in reply. The noble Duke had accused him of putting words into the mouths of his opponents; but the noble Duke himself had certainly attributed language to him which he had never uttered. He had never said that the New Code was founded on an opinion that there had been over-education under the present system. What he did say was, that it was founded on a statement that a large proportion—three-fourths—of the children of the poor left school without knowledge which it was most important for them to possess; and having done that, he proceeded to show why the particular mode adopted by the Government would increase instead of diminishing the evil; that this was a retrograde movement, that it would give worse teachers, and afford the taught a shorter time for instruction. The great reason of that evil was not in the schools—for the Commissioners had never said so—but that soon after they left they forgot their reading, writing, and arithmetic, because they left too early, and as there had not been created in their minds a sufficient estimate of the value of those attainments; and this new scheme would aggravate the evil. The noble Duke had communicated to their Lordships that some unknown preacher, in some unknown church, in some unknown part of the metropolis, had misrepresented the arguments of somebody else; and if next Sunday this unknown preacher should repeat the process, he would be able to say, "I have done no more than a noble Duke did in his place in Parliament, when he refuted an argument which was never adduced."
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he certainly recollected having heard the right rev. Prelate make use of an argument founded on the assumption of over-education.
§ Petitions ordered to lie on the table.
§ House adjourned at Eight o'clock, to Thursday next, half-past Ten o'clock.