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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 their own children like their neighbours of the same class in society. The wealthier members of the body, too, have been most laudably zealous in affording, by their charitable contributions, the blessings of instruction to many of their poorer brethren. Thus the various schools established on the British and Foreign Society's plan, receive many thousands of their children, as well as of the children of churchmen. But it is neither true that Disscnters alone support those schools, nor that all their poor, or any thing like it, receive the needsul portion of instruction, There are whole districts in London and its neighbourhood, and in all the great towns of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire, where the Dissenters form a considerable proportion of the population, and where the means of cducation are wanting to their poor, as well as to the other classes of poor, in the same, or nearly the same, proportions, While we admit how much this respectable body of men have done for education, let us not forget, in the present argument, How much has been done by the piety and benevolence of the Establishment. The Digest shows that permanent endowments exist in England, with a revenue, at this moment, of above 300,0001. a year, but which is worth, if duly improved, and all property included, ncar half a million, which alreadly afford education to 165,000 children, and night, with case, instruct 200,000; and it is certain that this magnificent work is all raiscd by the hands of churchmen, who have thus for ever provided the means of educating two millions of the people. Were we to reason upon the principles adopted by those whom we are now most reluctantly forced to combat, we should be entitled to contend, that such good works of the Church well entitled her to confidence in this question. At least they who argue that no scheme should be adopted against the wishes of the Dissenters, because those worthy and conscientious men bave done so much for education themselves, may fairly be met by a statement of how much more has been done by the Establishment; and all the pains taken, and zeal displayed by the resident parochial clergy in helping the labours of the Education Committee, may well be appealed to in further support of the same argument.*
To conclude, we firmly believe that we have now been meeting the reasons of a few only among them; and we most earnestly implore the Dissenters at large to turn a deaf car towards any restless agitatoss who may, on the present important occasion, seek the means of gratifying their own spleen or vanity by fomenting suspicions and ill will among their more respectable and conscientious brethren. It is not very easy, however pleasing it might be, to refuse our belief to the suggestion, that among the reasons which have been urged in different quarters, there are some on which those who used them for the purposes of controversy did not place any reliance; and that other motives dictated the opposition which those arguments were einployed to justify. The body of the Dissenters never can so far shut their eyes to all that passes around them, as to believe that all the poor are well educated or even all their own poor; nor can they so far forget all their own principles of pure and enlightened charity, as to be lukewarm upon the question of a plan for universal instruction. What they do not really believe, they are wholly incapable of maintaining as a cover for what they chuse not to avow. A more honest body of men exists not in the world, nor one more devoted to the cause of civil liberty, and more desirous of promoting the improvement of their fellow-creatures. To them at large we should fearlessly appeal, even if the question were about founding, at the expense of the whole community,' a system which could only give full instruction to the children of all churchmen; because they know so well the infinite importance of even this good to the whole State, and to its liberties, religious as well as civil, that they would cheerfully contribute their share towards the attainment of it, and overlook the injustice of being made to pay for benefits from which their own sect were excluded. - Why do we express such a confidence in their liberality? Because they are at once enlightened and humane but also because we never heard of their raising any serious objection either to the annual grants to the poor clergy, or to the million laiely voted for building churches, to which they contributed their share, although without the possibility of benefiting by it-nay, with the avowed reason of the grant before their eyes, that the want of churches multiplied sectaries. Can we doubt that, in behalf of Education, they would make equal sacrifices ? No-But they are called upon to make none at all. Their scruples are consulted; their peculiar interests are preserved; the schools which they are require ed to support are, in the strictest and largest sense of the word, schools for all. It would be in the highest degree unjust, then, to suspect them of joining the clamour which some are trying to raise; above all, of endeavouring to cry down the whole Plan, without attempting to amend the parts which they dislike, and of using arguments which go to stop every effort in favour of National Education, because some of the measures proposed appear to them objectionable. Let us hope that such attempts will fail as they deserve; and that the painful sight will not, upon this great occasion, be displayed, of the best friends to the happiness and improvement of mankind taking the very course most agreeable to the victims of bigotry, and the patrons of servile principles. *
* As a justification of our distrust in the candour of some active men in London among the Dissenters, we may mention the appear. ance of resolutions concerning Mr Brougham's plan, because it im. posed a Sacramental Test, a week after the provision had been openly given up.
We have avoided loading this article with a comparative statement of the Scotch System of Parish Schools, and the System proposed for England, because we trust that we shall soon have an opportunity of discussing the improvements that are universally admitted to be wanting in the former ; and notice has been given in Parliament that these will be made the subject of a separate measure. We may here observe, however, upon the subject of the prejudices said to be en. tertained by our Presbyterian brethren of the South, against the interference of the Parson with the appointment, and of the Bishop with the superintendence of Masters, that this principle, mutatis mutandis, is amply recognised in our Scotch scheme. The minister, with the heritors, elects; the Presbytery approves and visits-remov. ing without appeal, if it thinks fit. Undoubtedly the Presbytery, acting as a court, may be, in the eyes of Presbyterians at least, bet. ter fit to discharge the visitatorial office. But an Episcopalian esta. blishment must, of necessity, entrust the bishop with that function. And let us only ask the objectors, whether they would be satisfied with vesting the power of approbation and visitation in a body of the neighbouring clergy_which is the case in our Presbyterian scheme? Surely they would, on behalf of the Dissenters, not prefer this to one minister and a bishop. The Seceders, Baptists, and Catholics in Scotland, have never yet objected to our plan of school discipline ; and yet there are whole districts in the North peopled with Catholics, and some of the most populous of the districts in the West are filled with Baptists and other sectaries.
We shall add two facts here respecting the use of the Education Inquiry generally. In one county in Scotland, four advertisements to contract for building parish schools, appeared immediately after the Education circular reached the neighbourhood, and showed that. the eyes of that watchful Committee were turned towards it. The law had thus been evaded for above a century.
In the last Report of the Commissioners under Mr Brougham's acts, the St Bees' school coal is stated to have been taken constantly during the last 20 years, by the Lonsdale family, under their celebrated lease for 867 years, at 31. rent; and they are stated by the Commissioners to have, in that time, raised from thence no less than 677,600 cubick yards or tons of the coal! See the attacks on the Education Committee now."