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structure of national education, might be entrusted to a Board to be nominated by the Executive, and called “The Board of Education.” To this body returns might be annually made of the progress and state of schools in each diocese of the kingdom, and by them presented to the Privy Council and Parliament. The erection or purchase of school-rooms and bouses might easily be provided for out of this annual income, because, in consequence of the present want of such accommodations, and of masters, not more than one-half of it would be required, during the first 3 or 4 years, for the payment of salaries. Voluntary local contributions would also, doubtless, in the majority of cases, be supplied in aid of these erections and purchases, and such assistance might be encouraged, by giving those Parishes the priority of a claim to a school, which would raise a certain proportion of the expense of its outfit. One general plan, to be observed in all such necessary buildings, might be published by the Board, and several inspectors for each Diocese (gratuitous, if selected from among the Clergy,)might be nominated, to see it properly and economically carried into effect. The Bishops would, of course, in any case, preside over, and take cognisance of, the whole course of education within their respective jurisdictions; and, in order to assist in securing the future unimpaired efficiency of schools, a superintendent of them might be appointed by their Lordships, or their Archdeacons, for each ecclesiastical district, whose duty it might be to make those annual reports to their Diocesan, which the latter would have to transmit to the Board. But, upon the Parochial Clergy would, of course, devolve all the local management of the schools. To these would properly belong the appointment of all School-masters, subject to the ratification and licence of the Bishop; and to them should also belong, under certain restrictions, the power of dismissal. The schools should, in every instance, be Sunday as well as daily, and all persons should have a right to send their children to them, subject to a small weekly payment from those whose parents may be above the order of common laborers ;? but every child so sent should be educated in the principles, and required to attend the worship, of the Established Church; whilst, to secure uniformity
! Some arrangements perhaps should be made to prevent, as much as possible, the diminution of the present voluntary support of schools; and others, also, adapted to the peculiar circumstances of very populous Parishes.
2 The entirely gratuitous education should certainly be confined to instruction in reading and religious knowledge. The education of the poor in our National Schools has, hitherto, from necessity perhaps, been too extended. Indeed, the rapidity with which knowledge is acquired, under the improved systems, is, as was well observed by one of the evidence before the House of Comnions Committee, in many respects, an evil. A long course of early discipline is necessary to establish firmly good moral and religious
and uninterrupted soundness of instruction, no books should be admitted into the schools, but such as are at present, or may be hereafter, placed on the catalogue of the “ Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge."
This, my Lord, is an imperfect outline of a plan, which, if the National Society should not be adopted for the purpose, might, perhaps, assist in forming the basis of a true and effective system of National Education. It is, undoubtedly, exclusive in its fundemental principles, calculated to add to the moral influence and usefulness of the Clergy, and powerfully to uphold the constitutional Establishments in Church and State, as well as to stampa practically moral and religious character upon the people, and such, my Lord, I presunie to think it should be, or its tendency would be evil, and its peculiar name a fallacy. No members of the Church of England, possessing right attachments, can ever consistently give their countenance to any other plan different from it in principle; no candid Dissenters, who understand at all the constitution of their country, can ever reasonably condemn it, or judge harshly of its supporters. And, if it should be objected to by any of the former, they must have exchanged much of their religious preferences and sound patriotism for unreal or perverted philanthropy; if, by
any of the latter, they must have sacrificed much of their sense of political gratitude, and more love of religious harmony and national quiet, to an exaggerated feeling of minor evils, if not to views of sectarian hostility and ambition.
I cannot now, my Lord, conclude this letter, without again expressing a hope, that the very great public importance of the subject of whịch it treats, will successfully plead my apology for intruding it on your Lordship. It could not, I imagine, have been addressed to any other individual so properly as to yourself, since, besides filling the most considerable part in the domestic adminis tration of the State, you are generally regarded by the country as one of the most constant and conscientious protectors of the essential integrity of its established order. I could have wished, indeed, that the cause which it advocates had been undertaken by some abler and more experienced pen; but my end will have been amply answered, if, by any means, I shall have succeeded in attracting the attention of the Government, the Legislature, and the public at large, to one of the most certain sources of national good or evil, which the present eventful times have yet disclosed.
In endeavour ing to do this, my Lord, I trust I lrave steered equally clear of an intolerant and a compromising spirit; for the former habits, but it cannot now be obtained without the communication, at the same time, of a large portion of unnecessary acquirements.
! This is now one of the rules of the National Society.
I hold to be inconsistent with the honest profession of English principles, and the latter, with the firmness which should ever maintain them. They are both utterly at variance with the right allegiance which every member of the Church of England owes to his religion and his country. The true Evangelical character, and the long desired unity of that religion, can never be promoted by discordant alliances, or by concessions, big with danger to her purity, but fruitless of benefit to her peace; the laws of that country, at the same time that they point with unvarying steadiness to the fold of Truth, enjoin respeci and kindness of demeanour towards all, who, peaceably, and for conscience sake, wander without her enclosures.
I trust, therefore, that the decision with which I have dwelt upon the necessity of a strict system of national education, will not be misinterpreted, as resulting from a harslı, much less a hostile feeling, towards any respectable dissenting persuasion. It proceeds not, I am conscious, in the smallest degree from any illiberal, much less, so impure a source, but from the firm conviction, that, as certain fixed principles of religious belief are indispensable requisites in all infant instruction, so none such can ever be rightly supported by any Government which, like ours, is exclusively connected with pure Christian Institutions, but those, which thus form a holy and an integral part of itself.
I hope, however, my Lord, that it is superfluous here to add, that this conviction, as applied to the case of our own country, derives all its real strength from an abiding sense of the eternal authority of those “ forms of discipline and devotion," which constitute the National Church, of “the great danger of sin (to use the words of a venerable writer') appendant to their destruction," and of their direct tendency to give the people that only true wisdom, to which all other wisdom should ever be held subordinate. I shall be disappointed, indeed, in no common degree, if this master feeling, the only true basis of affection for the Church of England, shall not easily be recognised, as having given their tone to all the sentiments conveyed in this letter. And if in any instance I shall have appeared to have spoken with too purely political a feeling of disaffection to our constitutional establishments generally, I trust it will be recollected that, however the fashion of the day may strive to break through the identity of Church and State, preferences and interests, they can never, whilst the spirit of the English Government inhabits its present frame, be separated in their mutual relationship, or in the causes and consequences which ultimately affect them. But in saying this, my Lord, I am far from meaning to
stigmatise with political disloyalty, in the common sense of the expression, all those who display active hostility to the Church, and much less that valuable, and, I would hope, numerous, body of Dissenters, who do not differ from her to the extent of wishing her destruction. Although the conduct of Sectarians of the former stamp does, it must be admitted, tend directly to political, as well as religious, change, and although hostility to the Church is too apt to generate an indisposition towards the powers which are allied to it, yet many of those individuals, doubtless, acknowledge and sincerely prize the excellence of those civil institutions which, they thus, unwittingly perhaps, but not, therefore, less certainly, bring into hazard.
As to the general national danger involved in the subject, on which I have been raising a feeble but a warning voice, I wish that I could yet persuade myself that I have displayed them in exaggerated colors. The more, however, your Lordship reviews their many and powerful sources, the more alarmingly I feel assured you will be compelled to appreciate both their variety and extent. You will observe, in such a review, the pure and direct current of popu. lar instruction vitiated and diverted on all sides. Here, you will see the careless Churchman checking it with indifference; there, the latitudinarian staining it with incongruous mixtures ; on the one hand, the zealous Dissenter striving to draw it aside to fertilise the fields of Schism; on the other, the infidel revolutionist and the furious democrat laboring entirely to pervert its course, and to poi
very elements ; whilst the pure asylum for the education of the people will appear like thinly scattered spots of health and refuge in the midst of a sickly and ill-cultivated region of intricacies and dangers.—Thus, whether surrounded, as we are, by political agitations and religious discord, we are doomed, in the end, to suffer the evils of intestine anarchy; or whether “God will once more smite us in our spirit, and lay the scene of his judgments especially in Religion ;" these perversions of the public mind, unless powerfully and in time counteracted, will have laid the train of almost interminable evil. The steady perseverance, with which they are persisted in, sufficiently proves, that there is wisdom enough in the self-named reforming spirit of the times to see clearly, that, as long as the roots are sound the tree of the Constitution will continue to florish; in other words, that, whilst the unseduced affections of the people administer to it health and nourishment, the worst storms of faction will assail it in vain. It is, therefore, my Lord, the necessary policy of all such destroying wisdom to poison these sources of our social life, and it should be equally at least ours, to invigorate and enlarge them. Let a grand national effort be properly made to secure the permanent peace of our country in Church and State, by an endeavour to found it deep under a true system of National Education, in the practical religion, the intelligent morals, and the really patriotic attachments of the people ; and the State will then have done its duty to itself, as well as to the true happiness and interests of its subjects, and the security of the Constitution afterwards, in both its branches, against all its ungrateful and infatuated enemies, together with that of all the varied happiness of which it will thus be the dispenser and centre, may safely be left to its own intrinsic excellence, the conscientious vigilance of its appointed guardians, and the wise, but unsearcbable dispensations of Heaven.