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dollars for every failure on the part of a private school to make the required returns of its pupils, prosecution to be brought by the school committee, and further measures are taken to make the latter body attend to these duties. The provisions of the present law are to remain with these additions.
We may now inquire how it happened that six out of seven members of a committee wandered so far out of their way to make such an attack on their unoffending Catholic fellow-citizens. How it happened that six presumably sane men should have agreed on a bill as silly as unjust, and as irritating as silly, and imagined that it would be accepted by a free and thinking community, passes comprehension. We can only imagine that they were driven by the madness which precedes disaster. They were politically “fey." We have occasion to mention the names of but two of this committee. First, that of Mr. Michael J. McEttrick, of Boston, a Catholic, who presented a minority report, in which he showed with much ability that the plan of the majority was contrary to the natural right of the parent, to the liberty of the citizen, to freedom of conscience, and altogether unwise and uncalled for. The other gentleman to be mentioned is Mr. Josiah Quincy, of Quincy, a young man of old and honored family, of social position and education, with both ability and ambition. He it is who is generally credited with the honor of having drawn up the bill. Let us hasten to say that we believe he was less malicious than deluded.
One would naturally suppose that a committee prescribing such drastic legislation had at least been convinced that there was a necessity for it. One would think that the number of employed children whose education is to be protected must be a large one. In point of fact the committee admit that it is small, and likely to be still smaller, for they recommend raising the age at which a child can be employed from ten to twelve years. They themselves say in their report that the census returns of 1885 state that the number of children employed between ten and fourteen was 2994, and that the chief of police stated, in 1887, that the number of children between twelve and fourteen employed in textile factories was 1616. A pretty number, truly! But perhaps these, or many of them, were very ignorant. We have failed to find any definite statement to that effect in the report of the committee. Perhaps, again, they require some high standard before children can be employed. On the contrary, all that they require is that the child should be able to read at sight, and write legibly simple sentences in the English language." Thus this astute committee recommends a system of tyrannical oppression of all the private schools in the State, so that two or three thousand children be taught to read and write, which these Solons do not deny they can do already.
Finally, perhaps, since they went out of their way to attack Catholic schools with which they were in no way concerned, they had some evidence of deficiencies in these schools. If we are correctly informed, all the evidence before the committee concerning the efficiency of parochial schools was the following: Mr. Levins, of the Salem School Committee, testified as follows: "I don't believe in parochial schools, but I am not fanatic enough to deny that in rudimentary branches the teaching in Salem is equal to that of any public schools that I ever went into. The reading and writing were remarkable. I think I never entered a public school where they were equal in the same direction.” School Superintendent Marble, of Worcester, said that the standard of education in the parochial schools of that city is superior to that in the public schools in some directions and inferior in others; but he had no doubt that the general standard met the requirements of the law. Mr. Kirtland, Superintendent of Schools in Holyoke, testified that the parochial schools there compare very favorably with the public schools. It appears, therefore, that the committee had no shadow of excuse for their interference, The question still remains unanswered, how came they to do it? It appears that Mr. E. C. Carrigan, of the State Board of Education, came before the committee and testified, what was true enough, that the present law concerning the approval of private schools by the school committee was a dead letter. He named no names and made no distinct charges, but left an impression on certain members that private schools required attention. Whether a prime mover or a tool, this man has been at the bottom of much agitation against parochial schools, and it appears to be owing to his influence on Mr. Quincy that the report was drawn up as it was. It is certainly sad that a committee appointed for an excellent object should have allowed itself to be transformed into a "no popery" society.
The committee reported two bills to the Legislature of 1888. One, which does not concern us, was referred to the Committee on Labor and passed in due time. The other was referred to the Committee on Education.
The first hearing, on March 6th, was but scantily attended. Mr. Flynn, of the Legislature, proposed that the friends of the bill should take the aggressive, but no one responded, so that perforce the lead fell to the opponents. The chairman of the committee threw himself into the breach by announcing that he was a friend of the bill and was prepared to answer questions. Mr. Marble, superintendent of schools in Worcester, attacked the bill in detail. He thought the registration alone was good, but he pointed out the impropriety of making the school committees relief associations in the cases of the poor. He further condemned the provisions for inspection and examination of teachers. He felt that the matter might safely be left to the parents, who would see to it that their children received a sufficient education. The side of the bill was then supported by Mrs. Abba Gould Woolson, who really thought that supervision was necessary and that good schools would not object to it. We wonder whether the good lady would adopt the logical sequence that the keepers of orderly houses should not object to the sudden entrance of police inspectors by day or night.
An extremely unpleasant event for the defenders of the bill now occurred in the appearance of President Eliot of Harvard in frank and outspoken condemnation of the part relating to the supervision of private schools. It came with the greater weight that the speaker is an opponent of parochial schools. He argued that it is desirable that the breach in educational matters between Protestants and Catholics should be closed and not widened. He pointed out that the proposed bill“ tends very greatly to widen the breach.” He further showed how this brings the question of religion directly into politics, as at the annual election of school committees the religion of the candidates will become paramount. "I can hardly imagine," he said, " a less desirable issue to be presented in a town or city election where the population is divided between Catholics and Protestants; and think those of us who are Protestants may look with some apprehension upon what is likely to be the result in those Massachusetts communities where the Catholics are in the majority or are rapidly approaching a majority."
This, indeed, is an argumentum ad hominem to the good but ignorant people who fear Catholic progress; but we feel sure that Mr. Eliot would have added, had he been asked, that no man in his senses could fear that the Catholics could do worse to Protestants than the latter propose to do to the former by this bill. Continuing, Mr. Eliot declared that the bill “tends to enlist the sympathy of all persons in our community in behalf of parochial schools who really believe in the rights of individual conscience.
“ I have read with astonishment in this bill a short passage against which it seems to me that anybody who is descended from the freedom-loving Englishmen who founded this Commonwealth must protest. It is the passage which provides that the school committee be required to visit and examine once a month, personally or by agent, all private schools, and to pass a vote annually approving or refusing to approve each one, which vote may be rescinded at any time. The bill proceeds : ‘For the foregoing purposes any member of the school committee, the superintendent of schools, and in cities, any authorized agent of the school committee, shall have authority to enter any building or room where any such private school is in session; any member of the State Board of Education and any agent thereof shall have the same authority, together with the same right to examine such private school as to examine a public school.' Surely this is a very extraordinary proposition to be made in the State of Massachusetts. The State hereby proposes to authorize any one of a large number of individuals, of his own motion, to enter upon private premises without warning, and to examine at his discretion into the confidential and delicate business which is there conducted. This inspection is to be submitted to by everybody conducting a private school for children who may subsequently seek employment. A Catholic member of the committee may invade a Protestant school, or a Protestant a Catholic school; an uncivil man may visit any girls' school, or a meddling woman any boys' school. A fanatical or indiscreet committee-man or agent may at any moment make infinite mischief. I think it would be hard to contrive a more exasperating and dangerous bit of legislation than that contained in the paragraph I have quoted."
Mr. C. F. Donnelly spoke at length as a Catholic in protest against the bill. This speech was able and convincing, but need not be repeated to those who are familiar with the Catholic side.
At the second hearing, the friends of the bill came out in force. The first hearing had been a dismal surprise to them. If they could not bring men of learning and standing to their side, they at least brought what they could, and no man can do more. An auctioneer, said to be a close friend of the Rev. Justin Fulton, declaimed against “Pope or potentate interfering with the public schools of Massachusetts.” The Rev. Joseph Cook, after rather innocently admitting that his attention had only just been called to the matter, uttered many words. He became rather amusingly involved in contradictions while protesting his holy horror against any division of the school fund by the fact that the proposed bill would require the employment of agents to look after Catholic schools. Other clergymen followed. The sentiment of the supporters was distinctly anti-Catholic and that was all. One of the opponents of the bill taunted them with having made no attempt to reply to President Eliot without eliciting any response. The most amusing as well as the most interesting incident of the morning was the appearance of Mr. Josiah Quincy. He stated that he was there to explain the bill, not to advocate it. He seemed far from comfortable, and on being questioned as to his share in the production of the bill of which he is reputed to be the author, he replied that he would not answer the question. The bill was signed by six members, and he accepted one-sixth of the responsibility, no more, no less. He protested that he regretted that the religious question had come under discussion. Truly if a young and ambitious gentleman of an honored name and good position has been misled into doing the dirty work of the “Know-Nothing ring, he cannot be expected to wish attention called to it. It was elicited from him that insinuations, but no open charges, had been made against parochial schools by Mr. Carrigan. His defence of the bill was a very weak one, and he frankly admitted that there were objections. He allowed himself some statements concerning the rights of the State as against the parent that he probably will not care to defend. The subsequent hearings need not be discussed in detail. The opponents followed up their advantage by presenting among others Mr. J. W. Dickinson of the State Board of Education, some teachers in the public schools, and especially three prominent men, none of whom had ever been suspected of any leaning to the Church. The first in order was General Francis A. Walker, the distinguished President of the Institute of Technology, who pointed out that such a movement should not be begun without most careful study of the question, and that the issue had not been before the people. His experience as a member of the school committee enabled him to point out the injury to education that must result from forcing upon private schools the defects of the public ones. The Rev. Edward Everett Hale spoke also in opposition, showing that it was humiliating and inconvenient for private schools to teach under the command of the school committee. One of the most telling speeches was that of Colonel Higginson. He argued that there was no body of men to carry out the provisions of the bill, and further that if carried out, all originality would be taken out of teaching. His remarks on the supporters of the bill must have been another trial to these unfortunates. “Mr. Chairman,” he said, “I took my first lesson in religious liberty when I stood by my mother's side and watched the burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, a Catholic convent burned by a Protestant mob; I took my second lesson when in the Know-Nothing days I saw procession after procession of Protestants march through the streets then occupied by Irish Catholics, with torchlights and having every form of insulting banner in their hands, and making every effort to taunt those Catholics out of their houses and bring them into a street fight which, from the self-control of those naturalized foreigners, they failed to do. I hope never to live to see the renewal of those questions, for if those scenes were to be renewed it would not be necessary to go further than this room to find those who would lead the mob.” He ended as follows: “It is the right of the parent, within the necessary limits which the State has fixed as a minimum of training, to choose his own school; and any attempt