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different matters, whose habits of life are not likely to have been such as to qualify them for so delicate and difficult an office, should exercise their functions as superintendents of general education, with all the knowledge and all the discretion requisite for such a task? And what security have we for anything like permanency of principle or consistency of operation in such a body? Will they not, of necessity, be acted upon, and moved as puppets, by a few artful and designing persons behind the scenes, who will pull the strings from time to time, and make the Privy Councillors gesticulate, and excite the mirth or the sorrow of bystanders; and will themselves do all the mischief, without incurring any of the responsibility? If this be not the case,-if they are not mere tools in the hands of a party, active but unseen, there is yet an alternative. The functions which they cannot perform themselves they will delegate to their Secretary, who will thus become the sole arbiter and director of popular education. And what security have we that this Secretary shall be a member of the Established Church? that he will not be a Socinian or a Roman Catholic? nay, what security have we for his being a Christian? My Lords, I would not speak disrespectfully of any of her Majesty's Privy Councillors, and I hope I may not have given offence by the comparison which I have made; but it is forced upon me by the symptoms which I think I have already discovered, of this fantoccini process, in the recent movements of the Committee of Privy Council. I must again say, that such a body can never advantageously discharge the duties which they seem disposed to take upon themselves, but must be in the hands of others, who will act without responsibility, and will probably misuse their power, to the injury of the Church. I repeat it, then, the State, having delegated its functions to the Church, as far as the religious education of the people is concerned, is not competent to resume them, nor to intrust them to any other body, except by a deliberate and solemn act of the legislature in all its three estates."-Hansard, 3rd Series. Vol. xlviii. col. 1305, 6.
The preceding extracts from speeches delivered on what may be termed the inauguration of the new Government machinery for popular education, form a most appropriate introduction to the consideration of the,present state of the education question, as it is again before the public, and will, we trust, be brought under the consideration of Parliament, in consequence of the longpending dispute between the Committee and the Church, on the subject of the management clauses, and of the recent Minute of the Committee, in reference to the proposal to grant aid from the Parliamentary education fund to Roman Catholic schools. The glaring departure in both these respects, from the compact entered into between the Privy Council and the Heads of the Church, on the one hand, and from the fundamental principle of the Parliamentary grant, declared and recognised by the Committee of Council itself, on the other hand, has not only fully
verified the predictions of the opponents of the State education scheme in 1839, but has made it perfectly evident that the education of the country never can be placed upon a stable and permanent basis, while the control now exercised over it by the Committee of Council is suffered to continue. It is, in our opinion, a subject of congratulation, rather than of regret, that the Committee should, by the lengths to which it has proceeded, both in trampling upon the rights of the Church, and in truckling to the demands of the Romanists, have established so strong a case against itself, and rendered an application to Parliament for the revocation of its unlimited and irresponsible powers, a matter of necessity rather than of choice. That such a necessity exists, is pretty generally agreed among all parties, except those immediately concerned in upholding the educational theory which the Committee of Council, or, as we should rather say, its Secretary, represents, and,-from secondary motives,-the fosterers of a system of policy at once inimical to the Church and favourable to Popery.
With this necessity before us, it appears desirable that the question should be thoroughly understood in all its bearings, in order that public opinion, being properly enlightened, may be brought to bear upon it in such a manner as to procure a satisfactory settlement; a settlement which shall not deny to any party what, under all the circumstances of the case, ought to be conceded, while, on the other hand, it shall not open the door to any concessions, which, as a matter of principle, ought not to be made. It is with a view to contribute our share towards such a settlement, that we have determined to take up the subject, and to place before our readers the leading features of the case as it stands at this moment. Before, however, we enter upon the more recent transactions, upon the documents which have come before the public, and the discussions that have taken place, it will be necessary that we should trace the history of the educational controversy which has so long agitated the public mind, to its first beginnings; for it is impossible fully to appreciate the tendency of present measures and disputes, without a knowledge of the traditional theories and occult impulses which are at work on one side of the question, and apprehended on the other.
The first rise of the spirit which has, up to the present hour, fought with such perseverance against the religious education of the great bulk of the population under the superintendence of the Church, appears in the efforts made by Lord, then Mr., Brougham, upwards of thirty years ago; when, in successive sessions, he pressed for Parliamentary inquiry into the state of the education of the poor; first in the metropolis, and afterwards VOL. XI.—NO. XXI.—MARCH, 1849.
throughout England and Wales. At that period, it will be remembered, the question of popular education had already been taken up by the Church, as well as by the Dissenters; their rival exertions in the cause having led to the formation of two voluntary associations-the National Society, for the purpose of promoting Church education, and the British and Foreign School Society, for the advancement of scriptural education on non-conformist principles. Two facts are thus clearly established at the very outset of the controversy, which it is essential to bear in mind, as on them the merits of the conflict to this day mainly depend. The first of these facts is, that the practical work of popular education was, from its commencement in the second decad of this century-to say nothing now of the parochial and charity schools of more ancient foundation-distinctly marked as a religious education, founded on the Word of God. The other important fact to be noted is, that the principle of a secular education, exclusive of religion, admitting the latter only in the form of tenets to be made the subject of special instruction, apart from the general system of training-the principle advocated by Mr. Brougham-had from the first the character of a mere theory-a theory opposed to the religious feelings of the country, and aiming at the subversion of the educational institutions actually existing. Mr. Brougham, and those that acted with him, were under the influence of a strong feeling of nationality, and of an equally strong reliance upon intellectual culture, as such, for the improvement of the people. To their apprehension, religion was a thing altogether extraneous to the national life, a matter of individual opinion and personal sentiment; which, accordingly, they were anxious to deprive of its hold upon popular education, because they clearly perceived that it necessarily must interfere with their scheme of so-called "national" education, which was intended to embrace all, without any reference to what they were pleased to term "sectarian differences."
The controversy was thus, in its origin, a struggle between schools actually established and filled with scholars, which had an essentially religious character, and imparted religious instruction of some sort, and that upon the basis of Holy Scripture,—and a theory which deprecated religion as a principle of education, admitting it only, under certain precautionary restrictions, as a distinct branch of knowledge; or, reversing the sentiment, it was a struggle between a non-religious spirit, (to use the mildest term,) floating in the air without local habitation or name, like the spirit which "walketh through dry places, seeking rest and finding none," and the spirit of religion, embodied in numerous institutions in full action, engaged in training up the young in
knowledge upon a principle of faith. This position Mr. Brougham himself distinctly apprehended; so much so, that while he pursued with unremitting ardour, session after session, his favourite idea of forcing a 66 non-sectarian," a truly national" system upon the country, by means of legislative enactments, he was sanguine of success in proportion as he thought he could discern symptoms of a decline in the intensity of the religious feelings of the people. The greatest difficulty which he saw in his way was "the steering clear of religious differences, which," as he expressed himself in his place in Parliament in 1816, "were daily subsiding."
In this expectation, however, happily for the country, Mr. Brougham and his party were mistaken and disappointed. So far from "daily subsiding," religious differences came out year after year in stronger relief, in consequence of a deepening of the religious sentiment in the minds and hearts of the people. The more men were in earnest about their religion, the more strongly, as a matter of necessary consequence, did they assert the distinctive doctrines of their respective communions; the more prominently were their "religious differences" brought into view, and the less were they inclined to forego their "religious peculiarities" in the work of education. Churchmen became more intent upon having Church education in their schools, while dissenters grew more determined to plant around theirs the fence of non-conformity.
The result was that, after years of conflict, the theory of nonreligious education had to acknowledge itself vanquished on the floor of the House of Commons. The impossibility of subverting the existing schools, founded upon religion, and of substituting in lieu of them schools constituted on the non-religious principle, became more and more apparent; and as, at the same time, the demand for school-extension became more and more pressing, the result was the determination come to by Parliament, in the year 1833, to make a pecuniary grant from the public purse, for the expansion of the then existing systems of religious, scriptural education. This victory of the religious education principle was not achieved without a hard struggle. Mr. Brougham was, indeed, removed from the arena where the battle had to be mainly fought, and reduced to the poor expedient of venting his unabated zeal in the cause by the occasional delivery of lectures on education in the Upper House of Parliament. His place in the Lower House was filled by Mr. Roebuck, who, supported by Messrs. Wilks and Brotherton, in vain attempted to pledge the House to the assertion, at least, of the principle, that means ought to be devised "for the universal and national education of the whole people,"
or, as one of their petitions expressed it, for the education, "not of a sect, but of a nation.”
In spite of all these efforts, the House of Commons not only repudiated the theory of a non-religious education, but voted a grant of 20,000l. annually-the amount at which it remained till 1839, when it was raised to 30,000l.-for educational purposes, to be applied in support of existing systems of education, at the discretion of the Lords of the Treasury. It is a fact worthy to be recorded that the first of these grants, voted in 1833, had to encounter the opposition, not only of Messrs. Hume, Warburton, Cobbett, Colonel Evans, and others of their school of politics, but of stanch Churchmen like Sir Robert H. Inglis, Sir E. Knatchbull, and others; and was carried against their combined opposition by a majority of two-thirds. The principle on which the grant was asked for and voted, is distinctly recorded in the Treasury Minute of August 30, 1833, drawn up under the direction of Lord Althorpe, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, which laid down the following regulations :
"1st. That no portion of this sum be applied to any purpose whatever except for the erection of new school-houses; and that in the definition of a school-house, the residence for masters or attendants be not included.
"2nd. That no application be entertained unless a sum be raised by private contribution, equal at the least to one-half of the total estimated expenditure.
3rd. That the amount of private subscriptions be received, expended, and accounted for, before any issue of public money for such school be directed.
"4th. That no application be complied with unless upon the consideration of such a report either from the National School Society, or the British and Foreign School Society, as shall satisfy this Board that the case is one deserving of attention, and there is a reasonable expectation that the school may be permanently supported.
"5th. That the applicants whose cases are favourably entertained be required to bind themselves to submit to any audit of their accounts which this Board may direct, as well as to such periodical Reports respecting the state of their schools, and the number of scholars educated, as may be called for.
"6th. That in considering all applications made to the Board, a preference be given to such applications as come from large cities and towns, in which the necessity of assisting in the erection of schools is most pressing, and that due inquiries should also be made before any such application be acceded to, whether there may not be charitable funds or public and private endowments, that might render any further grants inexpedient or unnecessary."-National Society's Report for 1835, p. 21.