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Committee of Council, except through the medium of the PoorSchool Committee. This is a point which is constantly kept before the mind of local managers. It is embodied in the published directions of the Poor-School Committee 1. In their address of March, 1848, after protesting that "the Committee desire nothing less than to interfere with local charities," they add :
"To obviate mistake, however, it must be stated, that applications to the lords of the Committee of Privy Council for grants for Catholic schools are required by the Vicars Apostolic to be made through the Poor-School Committee. The memorials must pass through the Committee's hands "."
And in The Catholic School of May, 1849, "promoters of schools are" again" reminded of the direction of the Catholic bishops, that all applications for Government aid should be made through the Catholic Poor-School Committee 3."
The absolute control which the bishops thus exercise over the Poor-School Committee, and through it over the whole work of Romish education generally throughout the country, has its counterpart in the absolute control which the priests exercise in their several localities. The administration of the funds is by a Circular of the Poor-School Committee, addressed to "the clergy of England and Wales," placed entirely in the hands of the priests:
"It is requested that one clergyman in every mission will consent to become local treasurer for the Committee; but if the clergy should be unwilling to undertake the office, in that case they will be good enough to appoint some competent and trustworthy member of their congregation, to discharge the treasurer's duties "."
And the light in which the relation of the priest to the schoolmanagers generally is regarded in official quarters, appears from the instructions issued for the "general examination of Catholic schoolmasters," in which it is said, with admirable naïveté, “The signatures of the managers of the school, in other words, of the Catholic priest, will be sufficient "."
By far the most powerful lever, however, which the Vicars Apostolic bring to bear upon the work of popular education, is the character of the proposed masters and mistresses, whose position in the Romish hierarchy will place them in a state of the most absolute subjection to ecclesiastical authority. Even the existing
1 Report, p. 50.
3 Catholic School, No. VI. p. 86.
5 Report, p. 93.
2 Report, p. 53.
race of "Catholic" schoolmasters are kept under strict control. The attempt made by one D. O'Gorman in the columns of the Tablet, to take up a more independent position, was speedily put a stop to, by an insinuation that he belongs to "the old leaven, which is now being purged out," and with a distinct intimation that "insubordination towards clerical authority" is "among the most serious disqualifications under which a schoolmaster can labour"." A most stringent regulation prevents any connexion between the masters and the Committee of Council, except through the approved inspector. The following postscript is appended to a Circular of the Poor-School Committee on the subject of the examinations under the Minutes of August and December, 1846 :—
"As it is of the greatest importance towards securing the nomination of a proper inspector of Catholic schools, that no Catholic master should present himself for examination before any other than the inspector approved by the Committee, it is hoped that the clergy, or other trustees or managers of Catholic schools, will impress upon their schoolmasters, that consent to any such other examinations will be a disqualification for future employment in a Catholic school'.'
And this regulation of the Poor-School Committee is endorsed by the following order, to which the signatures of the Vicars Apostolic are appended :
"We, the undersigned Vicars Apostolic of England and Wales, approve of the above caution to masters of Catholic schools, and hereby recommend its strict enforcement by the clergy of our respective districts"
While care is thus taken to exclude any thing like a co-ordinate influence on the part of the Committee of Council over the existing body of masters, it is contemplated, by an effective organization of normal schools, to provide a constant supply of teachers, both male and female, who shall, by virtue of their religious vows, be amenable to the strictest ecclesiastical discipline. This is necessarily a work of time; but even the arrangements made ad interim, contain a foretaste of what is intended:
"No school can succeed without efficient superintendence; and yet it must be confessed, that the services of good schoolmasters and mistresses are not easily procurable. Something beyond wishes and good intentions is wanted to make a teacher. Diligent study, and much previous training and preparation, are absolutely indispensable; and
6 Catholic School, No. V. p. 80,
s Report, pp. 49, 50.
7 Report, p. 49.
for some time to come, until the wishes of the bishops and of the PoorSchool Committee have been accomplished, in the establishment in England of one or more normal schools, we do not anticipate that this difficulty can in all cases be overcome. The Irish Christian Brothers, as is well known, have charge of some of our schools, and give much satisfaction. Good masters, trained under the Irish Commissioners of National Education, are occasionally found in this country, and other excellent teachers are not rare; but still, until we have a normal school, for the supply of trained and tried persons, the engagement of a master must retain something of the character of a speculation; and it will be impossible to indicate to the promoters of schools any means by which, without risk of disappointment, they may count upon obtaining a good master. The secretary to the Catholic Poor School Committee is usually acquainted with the names of one or more teachers, well recommended to him, and will always be happy to make them known. In the case of schoolmistresses, the want has not been so keenly felt, partly from the large and happily increasing number of religious ladies engaged in conducting Poor-Schools, and partly from social causes, which place so considerable an amount of female intelligence at the disposal of the managers of schools. Catechists trained by the nuns of the Presentation Convent, Doneraile, County Cork, Ireland, have been introduced into several schools in the North of England, and have received high commendation"."
In connexion with this account of the sources from which the present supply of masters is derived, the following passage is too curious to be omitted:
"We are left without a single institution in England and Wales, where a young man, wishing to become a schoolmaster, can acquire the principles of his art; or where an actual schoolmaster, desirous of increasing his qualifications, may witness a good system of primary instruction in operation, and derive hints for the improvement of his own practice. The Irish Christian Brothers conducting schools in England have been fitted for their duties by a long and systematic training. Trained masters from the Irish Commissioners' Normal School in Dublin occasionally find their way into this country; and teachers brought up in Protestant training schools have, after conversion, undertaken the charge of some of our schools. But it may safely be questioned whether there is in the whole of England and Wales one single native schoolmaster, born Catholic, who has received any regular adequate instruction in the performance of the most important duties entrusted to his care. This cannot be allowed to continue, unless we wish our schools to become a by-word and a laughing-stock'."
It is with a view to remedy this state of things, and to provide an adequate supply of teachers, qualified to claim stipends 9 Catholic School, No. II. p. 22.
1 Catholic School, No. III. p. 37.
under the regulations of the Committee of Council, that the establishment of conventual training schools has been made the most prominent feature in the plans of the Poor-School Committee. At a meeting of the Catholic clergy and laity of the Yorkshire district, held at York, in March, 1848, the following resolution was, among others, adopted :
"That, in order to secure to Catholic schools an efficiency which mere lay instructors can never impart, as well as to avail ourselves of perhaps the most important provision of the parliamentary grant, this meeting urgently appeals to the Catholic body, to establish in one of our most populous towns a normal school of religious teachers; and this meeting pledges itself to use its utmost efforts to raise a fund especially devoted to this purpose'.'
In accordance with this resolution, the address of the PoorSchool Committee of March, 1848, urges "the establishment of normal schools for masters and mistresses, qualified for their arduous duties by a regular course of systematic instruction, and fortified in their performance by approved discipline and religious vows ;" and from a paper on the subject of normal schools in the November number (1848) of The Catholic School, we learn the determination at which, upon a full consideration of the case, the Vicars Apostolic have arrived :
"These institutions being such, and so necessary, it remains to consider briefly how they may be introduced amongst us. The question is not a new one. It has long occupied the attention of those conversant with Catholic education. It has been brought before the Vicars Apostolic, and their lordships have taken an important step in selecting the institute in France, which they wish to adopt as the model of our own normal schools, and in which they desire a certain number of English youths to be trained, with the special object of fitting themselves to commence so grand an undertaking. The superiors of the house in question enter heartily into the scheme, and promise to forward it by every means in their power. The Catholic Poor-School Committee is not backward to perform its part. It will willingly provide funds for the support of the novices at Ploërmel during the period requisite for their complete training; and it is engaged in looking out for suitable young men to recommend for appointment by the bishops*."
A first beginning in the way pointed out at the close of this extract, has already been made by the Committee:
"It has undertaken to support five young women during the period requisite for their training as teachers in a conventual normal school
2 Report, pp. 45, 46.
Catholic School, No. III. pp. 38, 39.
3 Report, pp. 53, 54.
approved by the bishops. It has undertaken to support eight young men in a similar institution, and has corresponded with their lordships the Vicars Apostolic respecting the speedy establishment of a central normal school"."
The full development of this plan, in all the expansion proposed to be given to it, is set forth in the Report of the Poor-School Committee:
"The committee, from their first formation, have turned their earnest attention to this vital question; and at Easter, when the Vicars Apostolic met in synod, they requested their lordships' direction and guidance in establishing normal schools. Subsequently, with the bishops' authority, five female teachers were placed in training with the community of the Holy Child Jesus, then settled at Derby, but since removed to Hastings. These candidate teachers are to remain with the community for two years and a half, at a pension of 25l. each per annum, to be defrayed by the committee, and the superior entertains sanguine hopes that, at the expiration of the period named, the nucleus of a female training school will by this means have been formed. The bishops, after mature consideration, resolved upon selecting the brothers of Christian instruction, established in Brittany, as presenting more nearly than other orders the best model for an English teaching brotherhood; and their lordships sanctioned the committee's wish to send a certain number of English youths to the principal house of the brothers in Ploërmel, there to be trained under the eye of the Abbé de la Mennais, the Superior of the Order, who had kindly offered to cooperate to the full extent of his ability. Some time was necessarily consumed in preliminary arrangements, and in the selection of proper subjects, so that it was late in the year before any candidate teachers were ready for the journey. Up to the present time five youths have reached Ploërmel; and two more have been duly appointed, and will take their departure immediately"."
Then follow two letters; the first from one of the young men, the other from the Superior of the school at Ploërmel, after which the Report continues:
"In the assurances of the Superior in Brittany the committee find great support, and they look forward with deep anxiety to the time when a normal school shall be established in England, whence brothers, after completing a regular course of systematic training, may be sent out to teach our Poor-Schools; going singly to destitute missions, where the resources are unequal to the maintenance of more than one schoolmaster, and where the parish priests are willing to receive them; and in large towns forming comprehensive establishments, in which payments derived from boarders of the middle class will enable the brothers materially to
5 Catholic School, No. I. pp. 6, 7.
6 Report, p. 17.