Page images

tion to this evil, and of calling it in the best way, by new and active remedies; and this uncandid and feeble lady, instead of using the influence she has obtained over the anility of these realms to join that useful remonstrance which Mr. Lancaster has begun, pretends to deny that the evil exists; and when you ask where are the schools, rods, pedagogues, primers, histories of Jack the Giant-killer, and all the usual apparatus for education, the only things she can produce is the Act of Uniformity and Common Prayer.

2.The Principles on which Mr. Lancaster's Institution is conducted. Happily for mankind,” says Mr. Lancaster, “it is possible to combine precept and practice together in the education of youth : that public spirit, or general opinion, which gives such strength to vice, may be rendered serviceable to the cause of virtue ; and in thus directing it, the whole secret, the beauty, and simplicity of national education consists. Suppose, for instance, it be required to train a youth to strict veracity. He has learned to read at school : he there reads the declaration of the Divine will respecting liars : he is there informed of the pernicious effects that practice produces on society at large : and he is enjoined, for the fear of God, for the approbation of his friends, and for the good of his schoolfellows, never to tell an untruth. This is a most excellent precept ; but let it be taught, and yet, if the contrary practice be treated with indifference by parents, teachers, or associates, it will either weaken or destroy all the good that can be derived from it; but if the parents or teachers tenderly nip the rising shoots of vice; if the associates of youth pour contempt on the liar ; he will soon hide his head with shame, and most likely leave off the practice.”—(Pp. 24, 25.)

The objection which Mrs. Trimmer makes to this passage is that it is exalting the fear of man above the fear of God. This observation is as mis. chievous as it is unfounded. Undoubtedly, the fear of God ought to be the paramount principle from the very beginning of life, if it were possible to make it so ; but it is a feeling which can only be built up by degrees. The awe and respect which a child entertains for its parent and instructor is the first scaffolding upon which the sacred edifice of religion is reared. A child begins to pray, to act, and to abstain, not to please God, but to please the parent, who tells him that such is the will of God. The religious principle gains ground from the power of association and the improvement of reason ; but without the fear of man—the desire of pleasing, and the dread of offending those with whom he lives-it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to cherish it at all in the mind of children. If you tell (says Mr. Lancaster) a child not to swear, because it is forbidden by God, and he finds everybody whom he lives with addicted to that vice, the mere precept will soon be oblit. erated; which would acquire its just influence if aided by the effect of example. Mr. Lancaster does not say that the fear of man ever ought to be a stronger motive than the fear of God, or that, in a thoroughly formed character, it ever is : he merely says that the fear of man may be made the most powerful mean to raise up the fear of God; and nothing, in our opinion, can be more sensible, or better expressed, than his opinions upon these subjects. In corroboration of this sentiment, Mr. Lancaster tells the following story :

“A benevolent friend of mine (says he), who resides at a village near London, where he has a school of the class called Sunday Schools, recommended several lads to me for educa. tion. He is a pious man, and these children had the advantage of good precepts under his instruction in an eminent degree, but had reduced them to very little practice. As they came to my school from some distance, they were permitted to bring their dinners; and, in the interval between morning and afternoon school hours, spent their time with a number of lads under similar circumstances in a play-ground adjoining the school-room. In this playground the boys usually enjoy an hour's recreation ; tops, balls, races, or what best suits their inclination or the season of the year; but with this charge, 'Let all be kept in inno. cence.' These lads thought themselves very happy at play with their new associates ; but on a sudden they were seized and overcome by numbers, were brought into school just as people in the street would seize a pick-pocket and bring him to the police office. Happenincat that time to be within, I inquired, “Well, boys, what is all this bustle about?'-'Whv. Sir (was the general reply), these lads have been swearing.' This was announced with as much emphasis and solemnity as a judge would use in passing sentence upon a criminal. The culprits were, as may be supposed, in much terror. After the examination of witnesses and proof of the facts, they received admonition as to the offence; and, on promise of better behaviour, were dismissed. No more was ever heard of their swearing ; yet it was obseryable that they were better acquainted with the theory of Christianity, and could give a more rational answer to questions from the Scripture, than several of the boys who had thus treated them, on comparison, as constables would do a thief. I call this (adds Mr. Lancaster) practical religious instruction, and could, if needful, give many such anecdotes. "-(Pp. 26, 27.)

All that Mrs. Trimmer has to observe against this very striking illustration of Mr. Lancaster's doctrine is that the monitors behaved to the swearers in a very rude and unchristianlike manner. She begins with being cruel, and ends with being silly. Her first observation is calculated to raise the posse comitatus against Mr. Lancaster—to get him stoned for impiety; and then, when he produces the most forcible example of the effect of opinion to encourage religious precept, she says such a method of preventing swearing is too rude for the Gospel. True, modest, unobtrusive religion-charitable, forgiving, indulgent Christianity is the greatest ornament and the greatest blessing that can dwell in the mind of man. But if there be one character more base, more infamous, and more shocking than another, it is he who, for the sake of some paltry distinction in the world, is ever ready to accuse conspicuous persons of irreligion—to tum common informer for the Church -and to convert the most beautiful feelings of the human heart to the destruction of the good and great, by fixing upon talents the indelible stigma l of irreligion. It matters not how trifling and how insignificant the accuser cry out that the Church is in danger, and your object is accomplished ; lurk, in the walk of hypocrisy, to accuse your enemy of the unnatural crime of Atheism, and his ruin is quite certain ; acquitted or condemned, is the same thing; it is only sufficient that he be accused in order that his destruction be accomplished. If we could satisfy ourselves that such were the real views of Mrs. Trimmer, and that she were capable of such baseness, we would have drawn blood from her at every line, and left her in a state of martyrdom more piteous than that of St. Uba. Let her attribute the milk and mildness she meets with in this review of her book to the conviction we entertain that she knew no better-that she really did understand Mr. Lancaster as she pretends to understand him—and that if she had been aware of the extent of the mischief she was doing, she would have tossed the manuscript spelling. book on which she was engaged into the fire, rather than have done it. As a proof that we are in earnest in speaking of Mrs. Trimmer's simplicity, we must state the objections she makes to one of Mr. Lancaster's punishments. “When I meet," says Mr. Lancaster, “with a slovenly boy, I put a label upon his breast; I walk him round the school with a tin or a paper crown upon his head.” “Surely,” says Mrs. Trimmer (in reply to this), - surely it should be remembered that the Saviour of the world was crowned with thorns in derision, and that this is a reason why crowning is an improper punish, ment for a slovenly boy!!!

Rewards and punishments.-Mrs. Trimmer objects to the fear of ridicule being made an instrument of education, because it may be hereafter employed to shame a boy out of his religion. She might, for the same reason, object to the cultivation of the reasoning faculty, because a boy may here. after be reasoned out of his religion : she surely does not mean to say that

she would make boys insensible to ridicule, the fear of which is one curb upon the follies and eccentricities of human nature. Such an object it would be impossible to effect, even if it were useful. Put a hundred boys together, and the fear of being laughed at will always be a strong influencing motive with every individual among them. If a master can turn this principle to his own use, and get boys to laugh at vice, instead of the old plan of laughing at virtue, is he not doing a very new, a very difficult, and a very laudable thing?

When Mr. Lancaster finds a little boy with a very dirty face, he sends for a little girl, and makes her wash off the dirt before the whole school ; and she is directed to acoompany her ablutions with a gentle box of the ear. To us this punishment appears well adapted to the offence; and in this, as in most other instances of Mr. Lancaster's interference with scholastic discipline, we are struck with his good sense, and delighted that arrangements apparently so trivial, really so important, should have fallen under the attention of so ingenious and so original a man. Mrs. Trimmer objects to this practice that it destroys female modesty, and inculcates in that sex a habit of giving boxes on the ear.

“When a boy gets into a singing tone in reading (says Mr. Lancaster), the best mode of cure that I have hitherto found effectual is by the force of ridicule.—Decorate the offender with matches, ballads (dying speeches, if needful); and in this garb send him round the school, with some boys before him crying matches, &c., exactly imitating the dismal tones with which such things are hawked about London streets, as will readily recur to the reader's menory. I believe many boys behave rudely to Jews more on account of the manner in which they cry old clothes' than because they are Jews. I have always found excellent effects from treating boys, who sing or tone in their reading, in the manner described. It is sure to turn the laugh of the whole school upon the delinquent; it provokes risibility, in spite of every endeavour to check it, in all but the offender. I have seldom known a boy thus punished once, for whom it was needful a second time. It is also very seldom that a boy deserves both a log and a shackle at the same time. Most boys are wise enough, when under one punishment, not to transgress immediately, lest it should be doubled."(Pp. 47, 48.)

This punishment is objected to, on the part of Mrs. Trimmer, because it inculcates a dislike to Jews and an indifference about dying speeches ! Toys, she says, given as rewards, are worldly things ; children are to be taught that there are eternal rewards in store for them. It is very dangerous to give prints as rewards, because prints may hereafter be the vehicle of indecent ideas. It is, above all things, perilous to create an order of merit in the Borough School, because it gives the boys an idea of the origin of nobility, especially in times (we use Mrs. Trimmer's own words) which furnish instances of the extinction of a race of ancient nobility in a neighbouring nation, and the elevation of some of the lowest people to the highest stations. Boys accustomed to consider themselves the nobles of the school may, in their future lives, from a conceit of their own merits (unless they have very sound principles), aspire to be nobles of the land, and to take place of the hereditary nobility."

We think these extracts will sufficiently satisfy every reader of common sense of the merits of this publication. For our part, when we saw these ragged and interesting little nobles, shining in their tin stars, we only thought it probable that the spirit of emulation would make them better sangers, ushers, tradesmen, and mechanics. We did, in truth, imagine we had observed, in some of their faces, a bold project for procuring better bre-ches for keeping out the blasts of heaven, which howled through those garments in every direction, and of aspiring hereafter to greater strength of seam and more perfect continuity of cloth; but for the safety of the titled orders we had no fear; nor did we once dream that the black rod which

whipt these dirty little dukes would one day be borne before them as the emblem of legislative dignity and the sign of noble blood.

Order.—The order Mr. Lancaster has displayed in his school is quite astonishing. Every boy seems to be the cog of a wheel-the whole school a perfect machine. This is so far from being a burden or constraint to the boys that Mr. Lancaster has made it quite pleasant and interesting to them, by giving to it the air of military arrangement; not foreseeing, as Mrs. Trimmer foresees, that, in times of public danger, this plan furnishes the disaffected with the immediate means of raising an army; for what have they to do but to send for all the children educated by Mr. Lancaster, from the different corners of the kingdom into which they are dispersed, -to beg it as a particular favour of them to fall into the same order as they adopted in the spelling-class twenty-five years ago; and the rest is all matter of course

Famque faces et saxa volant. The main object, however, for which this book is written is to prove that the Church Establishment is in danger from the increase of Mr. Lancaster's institutions. Mr. Lancaster is, as we have before observed, a Quaker. As a Quaker, he says, I cannot teach your creeds; but I pledge myself not to teach my own. I pledge myself (and if I deceive you, desert me and give me up) to confine myself to those points of Christianity in which all Christians agree. To which Mrs. Trimmer replies that, in the first place, he cannot do this; and, in the next place, if he did do it, it would not be enough. But why, we would ask, cannot Mr. Lancaster effect his first object? The practical and the feeling parts of religion are much more likely to attract the at. tention and provoke the questions of children than its speculative doctrines. A child is not very likely to put any questions at all to a catechising master, and still less likely to lead him into subtle and profound disquisition. It appears to us not only practicable, but very easy, to confine the religious instruction of the poor, in the first years of life, to those general feelings and principles which are suitable to the Established Church, and to every sect; afterwards, the discriminating tenets of each subdivision of Christians may be fixed upon this general basis. To say that this is not enough,—that a child should be made an Antisocinian, or an Antipelagian, in his tenderest years, may be very just; but what prevents you from making him so ? Mr. Lancaster, purposely and intentionally, to allay all jealousy, leaves him in a state as well adapted for one creed as another. Begin ; make your pupil a firm advocate for the peculiar doctrines of the English Church ; dig round about him, on every side, å trench that shall guard him from every species of heresy. In spite of all this clamour you do nothing ; you do not stir a single step; you educate alike the swineherd and his hog; and then, when a man of real genius and enterprise rises up, and says, Let me dedicate my life to this neglected object,-I will do everything but that which must necessarily devolve upon you alone, -you refuse to do your little, and compel him, by the cry of Infidel and Atheist, to leave you to your ancient repose, and not to drive you by insidious comparisons to any system of active utility. We deny, again and again, that Mr. Lancaster's instruction is any kind of impediment to the propagation of the doctrines of the Church ; and if Mr. Lancaster were to perish with his system to-morrow, these boys would positively be taught nothing; the doctrines which Mrs. Trimmer considers to be prohibited would not rush in, but there would be an absolute vacuum. We will, however, say this in favour of Mrs. Trimmer, that if everyone who has joined in her clamour had laboured one hundredth part as much as she has done in the cause of national education, the clamour would be much more rational and much more consistent than it now is. By living with a few people as active as herself, she is perhaps some. how or another persuaded that there is a national education going on in this country. But our principal argument is that Mr. Lancaster's plan is at least better than the nothing which preceded it. The authoress herself seems to be a lady of respectable opinions, and very ordinary talents ; defending what is right without judgment, and believing what is holy without charity.

PARNELL'S HISTORICAL APOLOGY. (E. Review, July, 1807.) Historical Apology for the Irish Catholics. By William Parnell, Esquire. 8vo. pp. 147.

Fitzpatrick, Dublin. 1807. If ever a nation exhibited symptoms of downright madness, or utter stupidity, we conceive these symptoms may be easily recognised in the conduct of this country upon the Catholic question. A man has a wound in his great toe, and a violent and perilous fever at the same time; and he refuses to take the medicines for the fever because it will disconcert his toe! The mournful and folly-stricken blockhead forgets that his toe cannot survive him;--that if he dies there can be no digital life apart from him: yet he lingers and fondles over this last part of his body, soothing it madly with little plasters and anile fomentations, while the neglected fever rages in his entrails and burns away his whole life. If the comparatively little questions of Establishment are all that this country is capable of discussing or regarding, for God's sake let us remember that the foreign conquest, which destroys all, destroys this beloved toe also. Pass over freedom, industry, and science and look upon this great empire, by which we are about to be swallowed up, only as it affects the manner of collecting tithes and of reading the liturgy-still, if all goes, these must go too ; and even for their interests it is worth while to conciliate Ireland, to avert the hostility and to employ the strength of the Catholic population. We plead the question as the sincerest friends to the Establishment ;-as wishing to it all the prosperity and duration its warmest advocates can desire,—but remembering always what these advocates seem to forget, that the Establishment cannot be threat. ened by any danger so great as the perdition of the kingdom in which it is established.

We are truly glad to agree so entirely with Mr. Parnell upon this great question ; we admire his way of thinking; and most cordially recommend his work to the attention of the public. The general conclusion which he attempts to prove is this : that religious sentiment, however perverted by bigotry or fanaticism, has always a tendency to moderation ; that it seldom assumes any great portion of activity or enthusiasm except from novelty of opinion, or from opposition, contumely, and persecution, when novelty ceases ; that a government has little to fear from any religious sect, except while that sect is new. Give a government only time, and, provided it has the good sense to treat folly with forbearance, it must ultimately prevail. When, therefore, a sect is found, after a lapse of years, to be ill-disposed to the government, we may be certain that government has widened its separation by marked dis. tinctions, roused its resentment by contumely, or supported its enthusiasm by persecution.

The particular conclusion Mr. Parnell attempts to prove is that the Catholic religion in Ireland had sunk into torpor and inactivity, till Government roused it with the lash : that even then, from the respect and attachment which men are always inclined to show towards Government, there still remained a large body of loyal Catholics; that these only decreased in number

« PreviousContinue »