Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

caster, or by neither. We have already expressed our opinion on that subject; and that opinion we still retain. But as present utility, and not priority of invention, must determine us in the choice of the two systems, the latter question concerns rather the honour of the parties themselves, than the public at large. Even if Mr. Lancasier were the inventor, we should still prefer it, when applied in support of the established religion. On the other hand, should Mr. Lancaster concede what he now disputes, his system would still be retained by those, whose interest it is, that the general principle shou'd not be applied to the furtherance of the established religion. With respect to the subsidiary practices, though we decidedly prefer those which are used by Dr. Bell, to those which are used by Mr. Lancaster, we cannot consider them as forming the esseníiul difference between the two systems. The subsidiary practices in the schools of Dr. Bell may be easily transferred to those of Mr. Lancaster, without any derangement of the general principle; while the real improvements in the schools of Mr. Lancaster, may with equal facility be transferred to those of Dr. Bell. But if they agree in the general principle, and the subsidiary practices are mutually transferable, there is nothing in the mechanical part, whether primary or secondary, which forms an insuperable barrier between

the two systems. Consequently, if there is a radical or essential difference between them, it must be sought elsewhere. Now the difference in the religious combination of the two systems is really such, that they are not mutually transferable. The combination of the general principle with the doctrine and discipline of the established church, a combination which has ever distinguished the system of Dr. Bell, can never be adopted in a school, which is really Lancasterian. Where the religion, which is taught, is professed to be a religion for all, the instruction of that school can never be appropriated to the distinguishing doctrines of any. Such a restriction of doctrine, in favour of any one religious party, would. not only be a deviation from the avowed plan of Mr. Lancaster, but a violation of good faith toward all those patrons and contributors to the institution, whose religious opinions were different from those which were attempted to be generally introduced. Nor would the restriction, in respect to religious worship, be less impracticable; for when churchmen and dissenters make a common cause in education, the religious rites of the latter must be holden as sacred as those of the former. Where the contributions are common, the claims are also common. The dissenters, who contribute to the Lancasterian schools, obtain thereby a right to enforce that distinction, which hitherto has been made neither in our foundation nor our charity schools; they obtain a right to insist, that in the place of worship, frequented by the children on a Sunday, the choice should be left to the discretiou of the parents. An applicant, who objected to any peculiar form of worship, can never receive from the trustees of such a joint concern, the same answer, as from the governors, either of our own foundation schools, or of academies belonging to the dissenters themselves. In either of the two latter cases the answer would be, If you cannot consent that your son should conform to the religious, as well as literary usage of this seminary, you must place him elsewhere. But in the first case the right is formally abandoned, to prescribe in the institution itself, the religion to which the children shall be brought up. In the schools therefore of Mr. Lancaster, which are jointly supported by churchmen and dissenters, the principle of tuition, which he has in common with Dr. Bell, can never enter into perfect union with the doctrine and discipline of the established church: a separation on the sabbath day will unavoidably take place; and though provision may be made by the intervention of other causes, to obtain a partial attendance at churches or chapels under the establishment, such attendance can never become a permanent and general rule. On the other hand, though the broad basis of the Lancasterian system prevents it from being made subservient to the support of any one religious party, and of assuming therefore the character of Dr. Bell's system, as bitherto practised, it is not impossible that the latter should assume the nature of the former. Though the religious combination is not mutually transferable, yet one at least of the systems is capable of change. Though we cannot enforce, in the schools of Mr. Lancaster, a general rule for attendance at church, we can introduce into the schools of Dr. Bell the same latitude in respect to places of divine worship which exists in the schools of Mr. Lancaster. But then the character which has hitherto attached to Dr. Bell's system, and which has chiefly recommended it to the friends of the establishment would be changed; as far as education has influence on religion, which used to be considered as a priņcipal part of it, the two systems would be reduced to a footing of equality; and the system of Dr. Bell, by whatever name it might be called, would in fact become Lancasterian. But as we cannot imagine that either Dr. Bell should desire, or his patrons advise a departure from that religious combination which has bitherto distinguished and recommended his system, we shall continue to consider such religious combination as forming the essential difference between his own and that of Mr. Lancaster.

After these preliminary observations on the nature of the two systems, let us consider their relative situation at the period to which we have alluded; namely, the month of June 1811; from that month we may date the commencement of those measures which led to the formation of the national society of which the first Report is now under consideration. At that time the system of A 2

Mr.

Mr. Lancaster, aided by exalted patronage, was rapidly spreading throughout the kingdom, while the number of schools which had been organized by Dr. Bell was comparatively small. Various attempts had indeed been made to explain the consequences to which the general adoption of the Lancasterian system would ultimately lead: but nothing seemed to be capable of arresting its progress, and there was reason to apprehend, that a system of educatiou would become general in this kingdom, in which no provision was made for the established religion. And as the history of all ages and all countries attests, that the religion of the people is dependent on their education, the rising generation was exposed to the danger of losing the religion of their fathers. Mr. Lancaster himself

had declared, that if any particular sect obtained the principal care in a national system of education, that part would soon be likely to possess the greatest power and influence in the state. The consequence therefore of entrusting this national education to any one who neglected to found it on the national religion, must, according to Mr. Lancaster's own acknowledgment, be the final prevalence of the substituted religious system over that which is at present established. This inference applies not so much to the person as to the plan ; it is not merely because Dr. Bell is a churchman, that the friends of the establishment (as falsely asserted) have preferred him to Mr. Lancaster; for if Dr. Bell himself conducted religious education on the same broad basis with Mr. Lancaster, the inference would be equally true, and the objectious equally valid. If therefore the religion, by law established in this country, is to be transmitted to posterity, as we have received it from our forefathers, it is this religion, and not any generalized system of christianity which must be made the foundation of national education. To establish a religion by law, and yet to make any other religion, whether general or particular, the foundation of a national system of education, is to destroy with one hand what we build with the other; and it would be inore rational to abolish our religious establishment at once, than to have recourse to such an absurdity.

Reflexions like these were, at the period above-inentioned, submitted to the public from the pulpit of St. Paul's, and very genes rally diffused throughout the kingdom. The friends of the establishment very soon perceived the necessity of active measures to restore the established religion to that place in our system of education which it had been accustomed to occupy, but was then in danger of losing. The impulse being once given, a number of zealous and real patriots, whose names have been modestly concealed from the public, formed a plan for a general association throughout the kingdom, in support of the established religion.

For

For this purpose a Prospectus was drawn up, and communicated to the archbishops and bishops of both provinces, who expressed their approbation of it, and promised their co-operation. At the same time the Archbishop of Canterbury consulted the Prince Regent, who likewise expressed his approbation of the intended institution, and afterwards became its supporter and patron. In this Prospectus it was stated, that

* Beside the advantages resulting from the mechanism of the new system, another benefit, of the highest importance to the nation at large, is derived from the circumstance, that this mechanism is conducted by Dr. Bell, in perfect unison with the doctrine and discipline of the established church. It is indeed essential to the preservation of the constitution, both in church and in state, that the national religion should be made the foundation of national education ; and it is evident, that if the children of the poor, who constitute so large a portion of the population of the country, should be generally educated in other principles than those of the established church, the established church, in the course of another generation, would have a majority against it. That this event, with the consequent downfall of the church itself, is really to be apprehended, unless speedy measures be taken to prevent it, is manifest from the rapid progress which is now making toward the diffusion of the mechanical part of this system detached from the religious part of it, as practised by Dr. Bell.

But as the proposed institution was designed only as a measure of self-defence, as a measure necessary for retaining in the establishment the children of the poor, who might otherwise be withdrawn from it, and was not at all designed to interfere with the just privileges of the dissenters, the following declaration was immediately added.

• It must indeed be admitted in this country of civil and religious liberty, that every man has a right to pursue the plan of education that is best adapted to the religion which he himself professes. Whatever religious tenets, therefore, men of other persuasions may think proper to combine with the mechanism of the new system, whether tenets peculiar to themselves, or tenets of a more general nature, they are free to use the new system so combined, without reproach or interruption from the members of the establishment. On the other hand, the members of the establishment are not only warranted, but in duty bound to preserve that system, as originally practised, in the form of a church of England education.'

The Prospectus then concluded with the following exhortation.

The friends, therefore, of the establishment throughout the kingdom, are earnestly requested to associate and co-operate, for the purpose

of

promoting the education of the poor in the doctrine and discipline of the established church. It is hoped that such co-o will not be wanting, when the object in view is nothing less than the preservation of the national religion, by ensuring to the great body of

the

6

ration the people an education adapted to its principles. And since that object can be 'attained by no other means, it may be fairly presumed, that every man will be ready to co-operate, who is attached to our invaluable constitution, of which the parts are so interwoven, that the destruction of the one must lead to the dissolution of the other.'

The necessary steps having been thus taken to bring the preposed institution into existence, a meeting was held at Bartlett's Buildings on the 16th of October, 1911, (the Archbishop of Canterbury in the chair,) at which it was resolved, that the proposed institution should be established, that the Archbishop of Canterbury should be the president, and that a committee, of wbich the Bishop of London was appointed chairman, should draw up rules for the government of the society, which assumed the title of the National Society for the Education of the Poor, throughout England and Wales, in the Principles of the Established Church. On the 21st of October the Archbishop again took the chair at a ge 'neral meeting held in the vestry-room at Bow Church, when the rules for the government of the society were unanimously approved. The whole of the proceedings were then submitted to the Prince Regent, who expressed his entire approbation of them, and became the patron of the National Society.

We have thought it the more necessary to give a short account of the origin and formation of this important institution, as they are not generally known, and indeed have been elsewhere incorrectly related. Its subsequent history is furnished by the documents which are now published. The institution, as soon as known, was very liberally supported: not only the Prince Regent, but the Dules of York, Cumberland, Cambridge, and Gloucester, were among the foremost of the subscribers; the bench of bishops, with a very large proportion of temporal peers and privy council, lors, in short the clergy and laity of every description shewed equal zeal in their support of an institution which involved the interest of church and state. The two universities subscribed five hundred rounds each, independently of individual subscriptions to a considerable amount. Aided by these contributions, which, in the course of a few weeks, extended to as many thousands of pounds, the committee proceeded to carry into execution the designs for which the society was founded; a correspondence was opened in various parts of the kingdom with the view of gradually promoting a general co-operation among the friends of the establishment: and to effect the two-fold purpose of educating the poor in the metropolis, and providing a constant supply of masters for the provincial schools, which should enter into union with the parent institution, they determined to erect a central school in such a situation, as from the number and the indigence of the inhabitants,

appeared

« AnteriorContinuar »