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ter of course. But as the school and church boundaries were to be the same, it followed that the living parts of the Plan, as it were, might correspond with.great convenience. But a certain mechanism was to be found, or made, for electing the master; and if one could conveniently be found, that was a good reason for not making it. Were it not better to use the churchwardens already known to the law, and accustomed to parochial offices, than to contrive new functionaries for calling meetings, levying rates, and looking after buildings or repairs? The master, when once clected, was to be superintended by some higher authority. The Ordinary of the diocese, with his assistants, has already the superintendence of each parish quoad sacra; and nothing could be more convenient than to vest in the same known quarter the visitation of the schools. Some inspection was desirable as to lesser particulars; and a person of learning and character being already established in each district, was it fit to reject his services because he also happened to have the care of religion within the same bounds ? Discretion and authority in all these particulars, and in others which we have stated above, was to be vested in some persons; and those must be persons of responsible character, known to the publick, accustomed to instruction, of sufficient learning themselves, and, above all, persons perpetually existing, by continued uninterrupted succession. Could any thing have been more absurd, than to pass over the parochial clergy, who seemed made for the very purpose, there being necessarily one of the body in each district where such a functionary was required ? Surely the strongest reasons must be urged against this arrangement, to justify the Legislature in hesitating about taking advantage of a machinery ready made, and so peculiarly adapted to the purpose. We are now only arguing upon the ground of convenience; and purposely because this is a ground on which the most rigid Dissenter from the Establishment may, consistently and conscientiously, meet the members of it; and if they have a common object in view, the Education of the People, they must concur in adopting that plan which most easily and permanently secures the object by means of existing institutions, unless it can be shown that serious evils are likely to arise from seeking such aid in such a quarter. Let us see then what those dangers are which the Dissenter may apprehend.
He objects, first of all, to the increased power which this plan will give to the Church; and, if any considerable power were so conferred by it, he would have a perfect right to feel this repugnance. But we cannot help thinking that he ratly orerrates it. Nothing can be more fallacious than to suppose
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that the veto given to the parson will give him the choice of the master. All the householders are to elect; and, put the case relied on as possible, at least in some parts of the country, that the majority of the inhabitants are Dissenters, how can the parson ever compel them to elect the man of his choice? It is true, that they cannot compel him to approve the man of their choice; but does not every one at all acquainted with such matters know, that, in practice, such differences always end in a compromise? The electors may not succeed in carrying their man, and the parson will assuredly not carry his; but some third person will be taken, probably better adapted for the place, at least free from the chief objections which one party had to each of the other two. But such controversies will be rare; and practically the matter will be accommodated: Whereever the minister lives on good terms with his flock, his advice will have its weight on the one hand, and their wishes will weigh with him on the other. For let it be observed, that the resident and officiating minister alone is to interfere, either in the election or in any other part of the Plan ;-and there is a much better security against contentions and jarrings between him and the parish, than betweon the nonresident incumbent, and those who only know him by paying tithes. But it is said that the master will be a merc creature of the parson. Nothing cau be more unfounded than such a fear. The moment he is elected and approved, he holds his office perfectly independent; and care is taken in the Plan to prevent the least influence from being exercised over him by the parson, who has no authority whatever to interfere as to either salary, or hours, or vacations, except when the place of master is vacant. Every arrangement iş made during that vacancy, and is to last as long as the master continues in office. *
The Bishop, however, may be said to exercise more effectual controul over the master. But this is very different from a local power. Practically speaking, how can a parish schoolmaster so far come in contact with the diocesan as to make him swerve, through private pique, from the line of impartial justice ? Besides, the Bishop acts in this, as in all cases of visitation, upon his responsibility; he is before the world; his conduct may be canvassed; and Parliament is open to complaints if he abuses his power, Nor must it be forgotten, that no sentence of removal can be carried into effect without the
* The authority given to the parson to approve of an usher, seems the only exception to this principle, introduced probably from necessity ; but an appeal may be given to the Ordinary in this case.
deliberate concurrence of two dignitaries, after both have separately investigated the case and heard the parties;--for, under the powers of the Act, a court of law would compel them to hear before they determined. Is it contended that the Bishops will dismiss schoolmasters who do not favour their own views of temporal policy, or religious doctrine? But the Plan wisely excludes the Master from all share in political contests, by dem priving him of a yote; and it is difficult to discern in what way he can influence the religious opinions of his scholars, when he is not allowed to teach any religious book but that to which all sects equally appeal. And this leads us to the grand objection of all--the fear that all children will be made Churchmen, whether they and their parents will or no.
Now, we own ourselves unable to perceive by what means this process of conversion can be carried on. Children at the early age of five or six, and even as old as eight or nine, are surely not very likely to imbibe the principles of one creed rather than another; nor, if they should receive any slight impressions in favour of particular forms or doctrines, are they very likely to retain them in their riper years. Will not any man of ordinary sense be persuaded, that, as far as regards the sect to which & child shall belong, his tuition under eleven or twelve years of age is of very trifling importance, compared with what he learns after that period of life? We by no means undervalue the usefulness of early, even of the earliest, religious impressions. We are aware that the infant mind may be imbued with a sense of the great truths of religion--those truths which all sects equally admit and revere in common. We grant, too, that habits of decent respect for the outward ordinances of religion, the ceremonial of a particular church, may be formed at a very tender age. But we cannot imagine that the nice points on which Churchmen and Sectaries differ, are very likely to occupy a child's attention, or to engrave themselves on his memory, at least to the exclusion of his reason and reflexion upon further inquiry in after life. Supposing, then, that the New Plan took no precautions at all to prevent one doctrine more than another from being taught, or one form of worship rather than another from being adopted, in the parish schools, we are clearly of opinion that the children of Dissenters educated there would not on that account be made converts from the faith of their parents, and would only learn that respect for the ordinances and observances of the Church which the best and wisest of the body have never failed to pay, even while they differed. But it is most fit that the matter sliould not rest here: it is most just that the scruples of the parents should be consulted, and that the schools for which all pay should be open to the children of all, without the possibility of the most tender conscience being hurt by taking advantage of the institution. The Plan appears to remove every ground of cavil on this head. The Bible qo' lone, of all books of religion, is suffered to be taught; no form of prayer, except that which all Christians use alike, is to be adopted; the Catechism of the Church is only to be taught at an hour when the children of dissenting parents may absent themselves; and attendance at church is to be perfectly voluntary also. Is it not uncandid to represent this arrangement as excluding Dissenters from the benefit of the Institution ? The Churchmen might as well say, that because the Catechism is not taught daily, and because the Liturgy is not daily read, therefore they cannot conscientiously send their children to the parish schools. It is plain that as much is required from the one as from the other, in the way of mutual sacrifice, for the sake of a common benefit to all.
Still the Dissenters contend that the system is clerical; that the priests and bishops have too great sway in it; and that they cannot take the benefit of such a scheme. Yet, who ever thought of carrying this refinement into any of the other establishments connected far more intimately with the Church ? Do not conscientious Dissenters send their children to the universities and publick schools, which are completely ecclesiastical in all their branches ? They will not, indeed, permit them to take degrees which require subscription to the thirty-nine Articles; but the rest of the academical course they freely allow them to pursue. Nay, why should the Dissenters refuse to give their child education at a school, because a part of the Church has had some concern in the choice of the master, any more than they abstain from employing a Catholic to teach musick, or French or Italian, in the upper classes of society, or in its humbler walks refuse parish relief from the hands of the minister and parish officers ? Let the evidence of some eminent secm tarians before the Education Committee be examined, where they are questioned upon the principle adopted in the Report of 1818, and pursued in Mr Brougham's Plan. It is very instructive; for it shows that the only argument which they adduce, when pressed to state the bad consequences apprehended from the controul of the Church over the school, is the dread that the fittest master would not always be chosen. Now suppose this to be true in a still greater degree than they have stated; suppose that the fittest were never chosen; we still may. venture to suggest, that teaching young children to read, write, and cipher, is not the most difficult of all tasks, but one which
a man of good character and ordinary accomplishments may be able to perform; and that, therefore, no very enormous mischief would ensue either to the Dissenter or to the cause of education, were the most competent person passed over, and an inferior artist appointed, provided he could do the work; for surely no man will pretend to be afraid that the system can end in chusing a set of masters who can neither write nor read.
The Dissenters, or rather some among that worthy and respectable Body, have decried all attempts at establishing a national system of education as superfluous. They have alleged, that Mr Brougham greatly overrates the defects in the existing means of instruction; for, it seems, they are convinced, by their own inquiries, that those means are not deficient.' Surely it can hardly be admitted, that this is the language of candid reasoners, only seeking after the truth. Surely it is somewhat too much to claim from the publick an implicit confidence in the result of such inquiries.' Mr Brougham's statements are the numerical results of an inquiry carried on for years among the persons best able to report the state of education in each village and hamlet of the Island. Those persons have, by the most minute details of matters within their own knowledge, enabled him to state the exact numbers of schools actually existing, and the number of children actually taught in each. Either the Population of the country has fallen away three millions within the last few years, or the deficit is what he has stated to Parliament; unless indeed the objectors mean to deny the truth of the Parochial Returns, and to charge all the clergy of the country, to the number of twelve thousand, with a conspiracy to understate the number of schools or of children taught, Those who set up against such documents as these, their reason to think' from their inquiries,' in common justice to the magnitude of such a subject, should have recollected that those with whom they were differing had inquired also, and that they had shown, in full detail, the grounds of their reasons for thinking' the most lamentable deficiency existed.
It has also been said, in a manner if possible more vague and gratuitous, that it would be hard if the Dissenters, who educate all their own children, were compelled to contribute towards the education of others. They require no new system of instruction, it seems, themselves, and are quite content with the present state of things. These assertions are easily made, and, unquestionably, they come either from persons profoundly ignorant of the truth, or hostile to the Plan, for reasons which they are unwilling to avow; for nothing ever was more unfounded than this statement. The middling classes of Dissenters educate