HL Deb 27 May 1864 vol 175 cc699-718

rose to call the attention of the House to the Report of the Public Schools Commission, and especially to the course of instruction which is therein discussed; to inquire the intentions of Her Majesty's Government; and to move for Copies of any Minute of the Board of Treasury, or Resolution of the Committee of the Privy Council, relative to the recent Report of the Public Schools Commission. The noble Earl said it appeared to him that their Lordships' House was especially fitted for the consideration of the subject, as it included among its members many right rev. Prelates who had taken part, more or less directly, in the work of public instruction, and two of whom — the Primate and the Bishop of London — had themselves been at the head of great public schools. That was a great advantage, and he hoped that either upon the present occasion, or in other debates which might be expected to take place at a later period, the House would be favoured with the results of their past experience and of their present judgment. He desired, in the first place, to acknowledge, in the fullest manner, the ability, industry, and candour with which the Report had been drawn up. The Commission was presided over by the noble Earl opposite the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (the Earl of Clarendon), and comprised also two other Members of their Lordships' House (Lords Devon and Lyttelton). They sat during three years, and exhibited the most unwearied zeal in eliciting information by every possible means— by printed queries, by oral examination, by private letters, and by personal visits to the schools. They had brought together a vast mass of evidence, which they had digested with great fairness, and which could not fail to be of signal service in promoting improvement in those schools. The Commissioners, therefore, were entitled to the cordial thanks of that House; and in any criticisms which he might make upon particular portions of the Report, he hoped that such criticisms would not be deemed, as in truth he did not feel them to he, inconsistent with the general commendation which he had now expressed. The Commissioners observed with great truth that there should be some principal branch of study to which the largest share of attention should be awarded. He apprehended there would he no difference of opinion on that point. Coming to the classical foundation of those schools, he found that upon that point the Commissioners made some excellent remarks, with a few of which he would trouble the House. The Commissioners said— We are convinced that the best materials available to Englishmen for these studies are furnished by the languages and literature of Greece and Rome. From the regular structure of these languages, from their logical accuracy of expression, from the comparative ease with which their etymology is traced and reduced to general laws, from their severe canons of taste and style, from the very fact that they are 'dead,' and have been handed down to us directly from the periods of their highest perfection, comparatively untouched by the inevitable process of degeneration and decay, they are, beyond all doubt, the finest and most serviceable models we have for the study of language. Then, they added— Besides this, it is at least a reasonable opinion that this literature has had a powerful effect in moulding and animating the statesmanship and political life of England. To the same effect was the letter of Mr. Gladstone, as printed in the second volume. In those opinions he (Earl Stanhope) entirely concurred; as he was persuaded that a classical foundation was essential to the proper course of study at public schools, and that any departure from that foundation must be attended by a loss of character and utility in those great establishments. He trusted that the time would never come when, in either that House or the other House, there should be any desire to depart from that foundation of classical study. Then, as to mathematics. The importance of the study of mathematics was, no doubt, very great. Locke had declared that he would have studied mathematics, even if the hard condition had been imposed that he should afterwards forget all and every part of it, because the habit of close reasoning and the exactness of thought which the study of mathematics imparted to the mind would still remain. He thought that, concurring in that view, their Lordships would be prepared to assent to the desire which the Commission had expressed, that the study of mathematics should be still maintained. Their words were— The importance of arithmetic and mathematics is already recognized in every school, and it is only necessary that they should be taught more effectively. The arithmetical and mathematical course should, we think, include arithmetic, so taught as to make every boy thoroughly familiar with it, and the elements of geometry, algebra., and plane trigonometry. We agree with the Astronomer Royal, Sir C. Lyell, and Dr. Whewell, in thinking it very desirable that in the case of the more advanced students the course should comprise also an introduction to applied mathematics. He confessed that he should be inclined to hesitate in accepting the last recommendation, thinking that the higher branches of mathematics had better be reserved for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Then, as to history and geography, the Commissioners said that greater attention should be paid to those subjects. They were undoubtedly important subjects of study, and the only question was how-sufficient time could be found to allow of compliance with that recommendation. Then, as to modern languages. It was only of late years that these languages had received the attention which they deserved; but at present they were taught at all our public schools, with only one exception. The Commissioners say— One modern language, at least, now forms part of the regular course at every school hut Eton. We are of opinion that all the boys at every school should, in some part at least of their passage through it, learn either French or German. He had so much respect for the judgment of the present authorities at Eton, that he could not think how accomplished men would permit that eminent seat of learning to remain much longer lagging behind in the study of that most useful branch of education. The Commissioners said, "They desire also to see more attention paid to English composition." He certainly thought it not at all creditable that any schoolboy should leave school without an adequate knowledge of English spelling. That does not seem an extraordinary requisition, yet some portions of this volume would show that it was one which was not constantly complied with. They said that the elements of English composition ought also to be studied. But were they studied? He would call their Lordships' attention to one passage, which would show how far they were from adopting a right course on that subject. At page 83 the head master of Eton gave his opinion as follows: — A boy ought to learn French before he comes to Eton, and we could take measures to keep it up as we keep up English. Upon this the head master is very naturally asked by Lord Clarendon, as chairman, "What measures do you now take to keep up English at Eton?" And the answer is, "There arc none at present, except through the ancient languages!" It seemed, then, that in the opinion of the head master French was to be kept up at Eton just as English is, and that English is not to be kept up at all! He must say he had read these answers with very great concern. He would not comment on them further, but he must express a hope that Eton, which had shown so generous and liberal a spirit on so many other things, would display a spirit not less liberal and generous on this most important and pressing matter. He had gone through several branches of study that were even now cultivated more or less at public schools, and in nearly all of which the Commissioners recommended some additional consumption, of time and study. But beyond this the Commissioners proposed to introduce new branches of education. In respect to this there might be some difference of opinion. The Commissioners gave it as their opinion that every youth should learn either music or drawing as a part of his public school education. From that recommendation he must say he dissented. Some pupils had a natural inaptitude for music. That the Commissioners admitted; but they seemed: to take it as a matter of course, that if there was an inaptitude for music there would be an aptitude for design. But, if he was not able to sing, it surely did not; follow that he must be able to draw; because he had not an artist's ear it did not follow that he must have an artist's hand. The question was not as to the value of these acquirements, but whether they should he taught of necessity at school. He thought this an injudicious recommendation of the Commissioners and one which Her Majesty's Government when they came to announce their intentions ought not to affirm. The Commissioners also recommended the teaching of the elements of natural science in public schools. Now, no one was more alive than he was to the great importance and value of natural science; but it was a very different tiling to; propose that this study, instead of being reserved for the University, should of necessity be taught at the school. The most eminent schoolmasters were decidedly against its being taught at school; but, in spite of this, the Commissioners were determined to proceed, and they said— With sincere respect for the views of the eminent schoolmasters who differ from us in opinion, we are convinced that the introduction of the elements of natural science into the regular course of study is desirable, and we see no sufficient reason to doubt its practicability. He trusted he would not be misunderstood on this point, as if he doubted the great importance and value of natural science; but he questioned very much whether, with the other calls on the time of boys, natural science could properly and advantageously be adopted as part of a public school course. And this brought him to what he desired to say was a general objection to the recommendations lie had just referred to. The Commissioners did not state what branches of study were useless, or might safely be dispensed with; they never spoke of omissions or of substitutes, and the burden of their recommendations might be comprised in one word, "Add! add! add!" Nothing was taken away. In this view of the subject, the health of the boys was not sufficiently considered. The importance of recreation had been admitted, not merely by men who were themselves inclined to leisure, but by some of the hardest students that ever lived. There was a passage of Milton, in his letter to Mr. Hartlib, which described the benefit of summer pastime to the young—a beautiful passage, which, as it was only in one sentence, he might venture to read— Besides these constant exercises at home, there is another opportunity of gaining experience to be won from pleasure itself abroad; in those vernal seasons of the year when the air is calm and pleasant it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth. It was true that the Commissioners did make mention in their Report of the importance of athletic games; but what was this but a hollow form of words if, while recommending games, they at the same time deprived boys of all leisure to pursue them? It was like recommending a lavish course of expenditure to a man whom, at the same moment, they were despoiling of his money. The case was, indeed, much stronger than he had hitherto stated, for the best writers on physiology in the present day concurred in lamenting the evils of over-study in young persons, and its injurious effects not only on the body, but on the mind. He durst say many of their Lordships had read the Essays of Sir Henry Holland and Sir Benjamin Brodie, and there was one quotation which he would take the liberty of making from the latter of those eminent physicians. Sir Benjamin said— In young persons it is not the mind only that suffers from too large a demand being made on it or the purposes of study. Relaxation and cheerful ccupation are essential to the proper development of the corporeal structure and faculties, and he want of them operates like an un wholesome atmosphere or defective nourishment to produce he lasting evils of indifferent health and a stunted growth. There was a further evil of over-study. Those who practised it— and there were too many instances of it in the present lay—learned to regard education not as he means, but as the end. Education was meant only as the means—the stepping stone—from which men might spring forward to the active duties of life; but the effect of over-exertion in the youthful mind was to make it regard education as the final end, instead of the means. They might compare it to running in a race where the goal was reached, but the runner dropped down breathless and faint, and incapable for a length of time of making any further effort or trial of his strength. He deemed it the more necessary to refer to this matter, because he thought this ill result had been practically experienced to some extent during the few last years in the Indian Civil Service.

The course of his argument had now brought him to this point:—They were agreed—or, at least, he hoped so—that the classical languages should be the foundation of the studies at public schools; but they might inquire whether there was any branch of study not essential to that classical foundation which had been introduced at a very recent period, and which, in the opinion of the most eminent classical scholars, so far from improving, actually deteriorated the character of that foundation? He maintained that there was such a branch of study, and he would explicitly name it—Greek. Greek composition in prose and verse. On that point he might refer to the opinion recently expressed by Mr. Gladstone in a remarkable speech made elsewhere, and with which he had no doubt their Lordships were acquainted. That speech had been deemed a most excellent one by those who were best qualified to judge of such a subject. The only fault he had heard found with it was, that it was a little too Conservative—a fault which certainly could not be imputed to all the recent speeches of the same right hon. Gentleman. Mr. Gladstone spoke of the practice of composition in Greek verse and prose and in Latin verse as having, in his judgment, been "carried to great excess." Now, the composition of Latin verse stood on an entirely different footing from the composition of Greek verse; because the former was coeval with the very foundation of these schools, and formed a necessary part of their studies. It appeared from a passage in the well-known Paston Letters, which the Commissioners had adduced—and which had been previously cited by Mr. Hallam for the same purpose—that so early as 1468, or rather, perhaps, 1478, which was, he believed, the right date, Latin verses —no doubt barbarous enough—used to be composed at Eton. Thus for a period of 400 years Latin verses had formed part of the instruction at that school. The composition of Greek verse, on the other band, appeared to be quite of recent origin. The exact date of its introduction did not seem to have been ascertained; but it was only within a very few years indeed that it had attained its present growth. Thus, in one part of the evidence in the third volume of the Report relative to Eton, Mr. Twisleton asked a most eminent Etonian, Sir John Coleridge— Do they not now write Greek iambics, which formerly were omitted nearly altogether? Sir John Coleridge answered— Yes; Mr. Lonsdale, who had been examining at Eton for the Newcastle Scholarship, told me it was quite extraordinary both the facility and the accuracy with which the boys composed in Greek. He mentioned one or two boys who in a short time had poured out their sixty, seventy, or eighty Greek iambics with hardly a flaw in them. So in like manner any of their Lordships who had attended at Harrow on Speech-day could not but have observed the great pains bestowed by the boys on their Greek verses, or fail to have been struck by the proficiency with which passages from Shakespeare were translated into Greek iambics. Some persons might think that that proficiency ought to be commended and encouraged; but his own opinion was quite otherwise. It was certainly desirable that what was done at all should be done well, but he entreated their Lordships to consider the immense cost of time and application before these laborious results could be obtained. Let them look at the amount of study and exertion before a boy could attain to the facility of pouring out sixty or seventy Greek iambics in a limited time. Why, years must be required for such an accomplishment. If Shakespeare were now alive, with what exquisite ridicule would he not denounce the preposterous practice of making boys turn his comedies into Greek verse ! He was happy to think that the practice of Greek verse composition had few adherents left—one of the very few was his noble Friend (Lord Lyttelton), whom he saw before him at the table, A great distinction was to be observed also between Latin and Greek composition in prose. The former was not only a very elegant accomplishment, but it was of decided utility; for Latin was, to some extent, the medium of communication between the learned men in every part of the world. Works in medicine or in philosophy, for instance, were frequently composed in Latin, so as to be available to the scholars of various nations. Then again, in writing epitaphs, odes, addresses, and on certain other occasions, a knowledge of Latin composition was valuable. He was sure that none of their Lordships who were at Oxford last summer on a memorable occasion could wish Latin composition to lie dispensed with, for he believed that none who heard it had forgotten the classical and beautiful Latin in which the noble Earl the Chancellor of that University commemorated the august presence and the winning grace of her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. He might observe also that the composition of Latin verse had served to dignify the leisure and employ the minds of men who had been among the most distinguished ornaments of their Lordships' House; for example, Lord Greriville and the Marquess Wellesley. But not so with Greek. Who would ever think of delivering a Greek address in a University; or who would write a Greek letter to a foreign correspondent? Why, the man who did so would cover himself with ridicule. There was this distinction, therefore, between Greek and Latin composition, that Latin composition was useful in prose, and elegant, and to some extent useful also in verse, but that the very reverse was the case in regard to Greek composition. He thought it must be owned, then, that, waiving the point of scholarship, there was no part of the education more thoroughly worthless than the practice of Greek composition. The point of scholarship was the only possible point in which it could be defended. If it did not improve their scholarship it did nothing, or worse than nothing. But did Greek composition improve their scholarship? There was a strong primâ facie argument to prove that it did not. This was, he believed, the only country in Europe where Greek composition in verse or prose was practised at all. Well, if it were useful, or, still more, if it were essential to scholarship, then our Greek scholars should be very superior to the Greek scholars of every other country. But he thought it must be owned that the German scholars were even superior in Greek to ours. He said that with all possible respect to the very eminent scholars among ourselves. With the aid of Greek composition, then, they did not, at all events, attain a higher standard of Greek scholarship than that which existed where it was not practised. But the question did not end there. They were able to produce very strong testimony to the fact, that even in the single point of scholarship Greek composition, far from being useful, was positively useless and injurious. Upon this point Dr. Whewell, who for more than twenty years had been Master of Trinity College, and who was held in high respect by every one, made the following striking remarks:— As writing Latin verse ought not much to occupy the student's time till a skill in writing Latin prose is secured, still less ought the writing of Greek prose to hold a leading place in the classical student's employments. This exercise may, perhaps, come with advantage at an advanced period of the progress of a scholar of eminent aptitude, but it cannot be considered as at all essential to the character even of a good Greek scholar. Many, perhaps most, of the more distinguished Greek scholars who have existed would probably have failed in an attempt to write Greek well. It is possible that practice directed to this special point may enable young students at the present day to perform such tasks with surprising correct ness and ingenuity; but such practice can hardly form a large part of the general course of classical teaching without leading to losses which far overbalance this gain The performances of some modern scholars have shown that an extraordinary degree of success is attainable in such exercises; but it does not appear judicious to make such performances an essential part of Greek scholarship, or even a necessary test of an accomplished Greek scholar. If they are so treated they are likely to draw to them a disproportioned amount of the student's time and attention; and, however completely such an accomplishment may be acquired, it does not imply any profound or extensive acquaintance with Greek authors in general. We may even add that this accomplishment may be pursued in such a manner as to direct the student's labours from good Greek authors; when, for instance, the faculty is cultivated by studying rules and collections of phrases made for this purpose, or by imitating previous imitations which we conceive to be remarkably successful. Such modes of classical study are very unworthy of being parts of a liberal education. Dr. Whewell summed up his opinion as follows:— The great amount of time and attention which is bestowed upon these accomplishments in this University has, I think, an unfavourable effect upon the knowledge of classical literature which our scholars require. Such was die accomplishment to which not only months but years were sacrificed, and, after all, the result in the opinion of a most eminent, man was actually unfavourable to the knowledge of classical literature. Was there ever a stronger case made out against a branch of study, or was there ever a greater necessity shown for some change? An argument was often put forward on the other side which had really no weight at all. It was frequently asserted that men who had become eminent in after life had distinguished themselves at college in Latin and Greek composition. There was, for instance, a noble Earl now present (the Earl of Ellenborough) who was once Governor General of India, and whose eloquence had so often delighted their Lordships. The first thing we heard of him was that he went from Eton to Cambridge and there gained a prize for Latin verse. Of an eminent man in the House of Commons—Sir Roundell Palmer, the Attorney General, a Gentleman most deserving of esteem and respected by all the world—we heard, in like manner, that he wrote a prize poem at Oxford. Surely, however, this proved nothing at all. If the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were to patronize some more recondite language—Sanscrit, for example, or Aramaic—the students, in their usual spirit of emulation, would exert themselves to the utmost to learn these tongues and to write prize poems in them; and the cleverest young men would, just as now, be those who would prevail. It appeared to him that there was an entire misconception upon this point, for it was ability that produced the prize verses, and not the prize verses that produced the ability. He was sorry to say that recently, in a spirit of over-kindness, additional facilities had been afforded to the practice of Greek composition. The University of Oxford, out of respect to the late Dr. Gaisford, had permitted the foundation by some private persons of a new prize for Greek composition in prose and verse. Far be it from him to begrudge that or any other honour to the memory of Dr. Gaisford; but he confessed he saw with regret that the liberality of the University was applied to an object which he thought ought to be discouraged rather than promoted. Latin composition in prose stood upon a different footing, and he should also wish Latin verse to be still studied, though he was persuaded that the latter had heretofore been permitted to occupy too much of the time and attention of students. In the practical recommendation of the Com- missioners bearing upon this very point he could not concur. It was that— Arrangements should be made for allowing boys, after arriving at a certain place in the school, and upon the request of their parents or, guardians, to drop some portion of their classical. work (for example, Latin verse and Greek composition), in order to devote more time to modern languages, mathematics, or natural science. He entirely objected to this reference to parents or guardians, which would tend to assimilate the practice of public to that of private schools. It was not consistent with the independence of public schools. Many of their Lordships knew that the main difficulty with which the heads of private schools had to contend was injudicious interference on the part of parents. An anxious mother wrote to the head master of a private school, "I hope you will not think it necessary to teach my dear boy arithmetic, because it always gives him a headache;" or, "I trust you will not push him any further in Greek, for he declares the Greek alphabet is very hard." It was extremely difficult for the head master of a private school to maintain an independent course in the teeth of such requests, however much he might be inclined to do so. Surely their Lordships would not wish to see such a system introduced into the public schools? It was the duty of the heads of those great establishments to prescribe themselves the course of study, and then to permit parents to send their boys or not, as they thought fit. Besides, he asked their Lordships to reflect how inadequate parents often were to form an intelligent opinion upon such points. Their Lordships might know instances in which mothers, left widows in straitened circumstances, had voluntarily deprived themselves of all the luxuries, and many even of the comforts, of life to obtain for their sons the advantages of a public school education: such cases were not unfrequent, and they were exceedingly meritorious and honourable to all parties concerned. Let their Lordships suppose a lady in such circumstances receiving the following letter from a head master:— "Dear Madam, I wish to learn your opinion of Greek iambics, and whether you judge it best that your son at this school should go on with Latin alcaics." What answer could the poor gentlewoman return to such inquiries, and what would be its value when received? But his objection to that recommendation of the Commissioners die not step here. Could anything be more injudicious than when there was a doubt about a practice, they should advise that a study might be commenced with a view to its being discontinued at a certain point? If boys were to drop their work of composition just when they were attaining some proficiency in it, surely it would be better not to commence it at all? And vet this was what the Commissioners recommended. On the whole, his opinion was that Greek composition ought to be discouraged and altogether discontinued, For the advantages of the accomplishment were very far more than counterbalanced by the loss of time which it entailed, and by the consequent neglect of more useful studies, such as modern languages, English composition, and mathematics. To that part of the Report of the Commissioners which related to the system of Government there was only one point on, which he would make a remark. It was proposed that there should be a council of assistant-masters, with co-ordinate powers, to aid the head master in the government of the school. That appeared to him to be a very dangerous innovation, inasmuch as it would weaken the authority of the head master. Such a council, like other legislative bodies, would soon become subject to divisions; and when the boys once learnt, as they would be sure to do, that there were so many masters on one side and so many on the other, their confidence in and respect for the central authority would be diminished. A bishop who had been for many years at the head of a great public school told him that during the whole of the time he had never had a single difference with any of his masters, but that, nevertheless, if an order had been issued directing such a council as was indicated by the Commissioners to take effect on Monday, he would have cent in his resignation on Tuesday. He would not have held the office for a single day on those terms. There was a vast difference between a head master freely consulting with his assistants and being controlled by a council with co-ordinate powers, whose decisions he would practically be compelled to obey. The head master was now, as it were, a limited monarch; let them take care that they did not make him a Doge of Venice with his Council of Ten. He wished to ascertain from the Government what course they intended to pursue in regard to the recommendations of the Commission, and he trusted that if they had formed any decision in the matter they would announce it. While desiring to see the improvements required in the public schools carried out without unnecessary delay, he yielded to no man in his respect for and attachment to those noble institutions. He looked upon them, even with all their imperfections, as one of the glories of England. He rejoiced to see how manly, how high-minded was the tone of feeling which for the most part they inspired—how sacred in the eyes of every schoolboy was his word of honour when once it had been passed, and how rarely, if ever, he swerved one iota from it. "I hope, Sir, you believe me," said a boy to Dr. Arnold. "I do believe you," replied Dr. Arnold; "your story is highly improbable, but nothing in the whole world is so improbable as that one of my boys should tell me an untruth." There lay the virtue of the English public school system. He hoped that system would long endure, that they would never cease to honour and uphold it, and that they would never, at any period or under any pressure, consent to surrender the solid classical foundation on which it stood, or those principles of Christian piety by which it was sustained. The noble Earl concluded by moving an Address for— Copies of any Minute of the Board of Treasury or Resolution of the Committee of the Privy Council relative to the Second Report of the Public Schools Commission.


said, it must be a source of. great satisfaction to his colleagues on the Public Schools Commission, as it certainly was to himself, that the attention of their Lordships had been drawn to the Report by one so eminently qualified for the task as his noble Friend, whose varied acquirements, sound judgment, and high, well-earned literary reputation, gave so much weight to his opinions. He begged, in the name of the Commission, to thank his noble Friend for the manner in which he had spoken of their labours. Their labours were not light; but the Commissioners applied themselves to their duties, which were in some respects of an inquisitorial and even invidious character, with a deep sense of their responsibility to the country, but also in a spirit of fairness and good feeling towards the schools. Besides visiting these establishments, the Commissioners had upwards of 120 meetings; and as the inquiry proceeded the interest never flagged. Throughout, they had taken pains to observe how the character of the boys was formed—how the raw material, as it were, of English intellect was prepared for the various duties of after life, and in what manner, and to what extent, the qualities essential to good citizens and Christian gentlemen were fostered in the schools. The Report of the Commission might be somewhat ponderous and uninviting; but they ought not to grudge the length of an inquiry which had enabled them to elicit the views and evidence of men eminent in science and literature, as well as of those more immediately connected with public education. The information thus recorded would be long appealed to to show the errors to be avoided and the objects to be attained in our public school system. As each school was treated separately, anyone who wished to learn the state of a particular institution need not read the whole Report. The general Report summed up the evidence and recommendations of the Committee, and it was impossible for anyone, however little concerned in the question of education, not to peruse with the same pleasure and advantage as the Commissioners had listened to it, the evidence of the Astronomer Royal, Professor Owen, Sir Charles Lyell, Professor Max M¨ller, and other distinguished men. He was glad to find that his noble Friend concurred with the Commissioners as to the importance of retaining the classics as the basis of public school education. He was satisfied the great majority of their Lordships would share the same view; but, as some objection had been raised on the subject, he would read the opinions of Dr. Temple, the head master of Rugby, who put the case very ably— All studies up to a certain point help each other, but among all the possible studies this power appears pre-eminently to belong to those which I class under the general name of literature. Modern literature is not fully intelligible, except to those who have studied the classics. A. student of mathematics does not find it any help to him to study the early writers on the science. No one is aided in learning the differential calculus by going back to fluxions; nor will the study of physical science gain much by beginning with the writings of earlier discoverers. But literature can only be studied thoroughly by going to its source. Modern theology, modern philosophy, modern law, modern history, modern poetry, are never quite understood unless we begin with their ancient counterparts. In the next place, the perfect and peculiar beauty of the classical literature will always put it at the head of all other. Then Dr. Temple quotes the following opinion of Mr. James Stuart Mill:— The classic life contains precisely the true correction for the chief defects of modern life. The classic writers exhibit precisely that order of virtues in which we are apt to be deficient. They altogether show human nature on a grander scale, with less benevolence, but more patriotism; less sentiment, but more self-control; if a lower average of virtue, more striking individual examples of it; fewer small goodnesses, but more greatness and appreciation of greatness; more which tends to exalt the imagination and inspire high conceptions of the capabilities of human nature. If, as everyone must see, the want of affinity of these studies to the modern mind is gradually lowering them in popular estimation, this is but a confirmation of the need of them, and renders it more incumbent upon those who have the power to do their utmost to aid in preventing their decline. The Commissioners, therefore, did not complain that the lion's share of time was devoted to that study. But what they did complain of was, that if a boy showed no proficiency in classics he had no chance of turning to other studies, and seeing whether his powers might not be developed in some other branches of learning. But their Lordships would find in the Evidence appended to the Report answers from the most distinguished persons in the Universities, almost all of whom concurred in declaring that the preparation for the University course was imperfectly performed in the great public schools—they said that the young men came up to the Universities with very slovenly habits of mind, that they were deficient in the elementary parts of grammar and mathematics—they stated that the knowledge possessed by these youths of English literature was very imperfect, and that their acquaintance with arithmetic was most meagre, and indeed that one third of them were unable to pass the matriculation examination, which was a very simple one. He would now take the liberty of reading the opinion of the Rev, Mr. Butler, the head master of Harrow School, as to the general results, under favourable circumstances, attending the passage of a boy through a public school. Mr. Butler said— I believe that the system of education pursued at Harrow is admirably adapted to train a boy to do his duty efficiently, and in a generous spirit, in any position of life to which he may be called. It does not profess to train him directly for any one particular profession or employment, nor is it pretended that when a boy leaves Harrow at the age of eighteen or nineteen, he has reached more than the threshhold of the education of his life. His actual acquirements are, probably, extremely scanty; with many of the most useful mental accomplishments he is very imperfectly equipped; to many of the highest branches of knowledge he is practically an entire stranger he is still a boy, and not a man; but it is confidently believed that if he has employed his time diligently at school, he will carry with him, when he leaves it, some capacity for thinking clearly, some sense of the value of accuracy and thoroughness in work, some respect for knowledge for its own sake, some appreciation of the most graceful and the most generous, if not yet of the most profound thoughts enshrined in literature a consciousness that he knows but little, and a desire to learn more; and, turning to the moral and social rather than the intellectual side of the education that he has received, a grateful conviction that he has throughout his school course been treated in a kindly and liberal spirit, always largely trusted, and latterly invested with large responsibilities, as one equally interested with the masters in maintaining the moral welfare of the body to which they all alike belong, and taught to believe that that welfare cannot be maintained unless its leaders are distinguished by vigilance, courage, love of justice, sympathy, and courtesy. That was said of a youth, who, under the best circumstances, and with the highest distinction, had passed through the public school, and who was supposed to have employed his time diligently at school. But it was very well known that a great majority of boys did not employ their time in the same diligent way. Nobody could value or appreciate more fully than he (the Earl of Clarendon) did the training of the public schools as being calculated to make youths manly. It rendered them, through the force of a public opinion prevailing among them, independent, and fostered all the best qualities of their nature. He did not grudge the time given to those games to which the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) had alluded, and which were generally of a national character, tending to make the English gentleman what he was, and what he would, it was to be hoped, long remain. But participation in these sports was not inconsistent with the acquisition of useful knowledge, and there was a great deal of time now passed at public schools, which might be more usefully employed. This state of things ought not to be allowed to continue. The Rev. James Riddell, Fellow and Tutor of Balliol, stated — Five-sixths of the pupil-teachers in schools receiving aid from Government are better readers than five-sixths of the men who come to the University. Nearly half of the men who came under my notice as an examiner were imperfect spellers. Many of them are persons who were allowed as boys to carry their idleness with them from form to form, to work below their powers, and merely to move with the crowd—they are men of whom something might have been made, but now it is too late; they are grossly ignorant, and have contracted slovenly habits of mind. It was melancholy that at public schools there should be no means taken of keeping up the teaching of the English and French languages; though a knowledge of the French language was admitted to be requisite for an English gentleman, yet the authorities of Eton obstinately refused to make it any part of the education of the school. Some fifty or sixty years ago, when the Continent was closed against the English, the inconvenience of not knowing the French language was not then felt; but now, when international communications were complete and cheap, and when everybody travelled, the man who could only speak his own language lost half the advantages of foreign travel. Such a person was dependent on others for information, and became a burden to them, and had, moreover, no access to the poetical, historical, and scientific works, and to the vast mine of thought and intellect in foreign languages, except through the cold and unsatisfactory medium of a translation. Yet at Eton the only French instruction given was by one tutor, whose position was described by himself as an extra, belonging to nobody, and his pupils did not exceed seventy out of a school of 800 boys. He would not. after this, allude to any particular school. It was not his desire to disparage any or institute a comparison into the relative merits of schools. But he wished to say, with respect to the Masters of the different schools, that many of them were men as industrious, as able, and as zealous in the performance of their duties as were to be found in any rank or profession of life, and that many of them knew and agreed with the Commissioners in thinking that the schools were not keeping up with the requirements of the age, and that the Commission would be of great service if it should succeed in directing sufficient public attention to the subject. His noble Friend had referred to the number of hours that the Commissioners proposed should be given to school work, and seemed to think that they had not devoted sufficient consideration to that point, or they would have come to a different conclusion. He seemed to think that the only object of the Commissioners was to keep steadily in view how they were to "add," "add," and he quoted the opinions of two most eminent medical men as to the injurious effects of over-study. But he was sure their Lordships would hear with surprise and satisfaction, that, although they did not propose a different distribution of time between the various studies, they had not recommended the addition of one single hour of school work to what was now the average amount. What they proposed was that twenty hours should be devoted in the course of the week to the various lessons, assuming that they took an hour each, and that ten additional hours would be required for preparation in classics, two in modern languages and natural science, and five in composition. Thus thirty-seven hours of school work was all that they recommended in the course of the week. His noble Friend had referred to natural science, and to the recommendation of the Commissioners on that head, as being opposed to the opinions of the moat eminent schoolmasters. But with all due respect for those opinions, the Commissioners felt that the introduction of the study of natural science in schools was most desirable. He should like to read what the Commissioners had said on that point. It was this— Natural science, with such slight exceptions as have been noticed above, is practically excluded from the education of the higher classes in England. Education with us is, in this respect, narrower than it was three centuries ago, while science has prodigiously extended her empire, has explored immense tracts, divided them into provinces, introduced into them order and method, and made them accessible to all. This exclusion is, in our view, a plain defect and a great practical evil. It narrows unduly and injuriously the mental training of the young, and the knowledge, interests, and pursuits of men in maturer life. Of the large number of men who have little aptitude or taste for literature, there are many who have an aptitude for science, especially for science which deals, not with abstractions, hut with external and sensible objects; how many such there are can never be known as long as the only education given at schools is purely literary; but that such cases are not rare or exceptional can hardly be doubted by any one who has observed either boys or men. Nor would it be an answer were it true, to say that such persons are sure to find their vocation, sooner or later. But this is not true. We believe that many pass through life without useful mental employment, and without the wholesome interest of a favourite study, for want of an early introduction to one for which they are really fit. It is not, however, for such cases only that an early introduction to natural science is desirable. It is desirable, surely, though not necessary, for all educated men. Sir Charles Lyell has remarked on the advantages which the men of literature in Germany enjoy over our own in the general acquaintance which the former possess with what is passing in the scientific world; an advantage due to the fact that natural science, to a greater or less extent, is taught in all the German schools. To clergymen and others who pass most of their lives in the country, or who, in country or town, are brought much into contact with the middle and lower classes, an elementary knowledge of the subject, early gained, has its particular uses; and we believe that its value, as a means of opening the mind and disciplining the faculties, is recognized by all those who have taken the trouble to acquire it, whether men of business or of leisure. It quickens and cultivates directly the faculty of observation, which in very many persons lies almost dormant through life, the power of accurate and rapid generalization, and the mental habit of method and arrangement; it accustoms young persons to trace the sequence of cause and effect; it familiarizes them with a kind of reasoning which interests them, and which they can promptly comprehend; and it is perhaps the best corrective for that indolence which is the Tice of half awakened minds, and which shrinks from any exertion that is not, like an effort of memory, merely mechanical. With sincere respect for the opinions of the eminent schoolmasters who differ from us in this matter, we are convinced that the introduction of the elements of natural science into the regular course of study is desirable, and we see no sufficient reason to doubt that it is practicable. The Commissioners preferred the opinion of such men as the Astronomer Royal, Professor Owen, and Dr. Whewell, to that of the schoolmasters on this subject. His noble Friend (Earl Stanhope), with sonic reference to his own tastes, condemned I them for recommending that music and drawing should form part of the subjects. taught in schools. On this point the Report said— We are of opinion that every boy should learn either music or drawing, during a part at least of his stay at school. Positive inaptitude for the; education of the ear and voice, or for that of the hand and eye, is, we believe, rare; and these accomplishments are useful as instruments of training and valuable possessions in after life. These subjects were now introduced in the younger schools, and very frequently grown up people were grateful for having learnt them. There was another reflection which his noble Friend had made, and in which he was hardly justified, with reference to the interference of parents. But their; Lordships should observe that what tins' Commissioners proposed was this—that parents might be allowed to suggest some change, because, after all, a parent was likely to be better acquainted with the disposition of his son than the head master. What they recommended, therefore, was that arrangements should be made for allowing boys, at the request of the parents, after arriving at a certain place in the school to drop some portion of the school business—such as Latin verse or Greek composition—in order to devote more time to mathematics, modern languages, natural science, and so on; or, on the other hand, wholly to discontinue mathematics, modern languages, or natural science, in order to give the spare time to other studies. But then the Commissioners added that care should be taken to prevent abuse of that privilege. They recommended that permission to discontinue any portion of the school work should in each case rest with the head master, who, before determining, should consult the boy's tutor, if he had one, and also the master who had given him instruction in the study which it was proposed to discontinue; and should thus satisfy himself as to the propriety of refusing or of giving permission to discontinue that particular study. The Government had found that there existed at Rugby and Harrow the form of school council which the Commissioners suggested, and that it had been attended with the happiest effects. No Minute of the Privy Council had been issued, because the Government thought there was no time this year to go into a full discussion on the subject with respect to the governing bodies of schools and the other points of the system. It was, however, the intention of the Government to bring in on Monday a short Bill, providing that any persons taking office from this time in the governing bodies of the schools should be subject to the provisions of a Bill which it was intended to introduce hereafter. They had no desire to revolutionize the schools; but the fact could not be concealed that these institutions did not entirely keep pace with the requirements of the age, and the demands of public opinion. Her Majesty's Government thought, therefore, that the time had now arrived when it would be neither safe nor proper to postpone legislation upon the subject.

Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.

House adjourned at a quarter past Seven o'clock, to Monday next, Eleven o'clock.