« PreviousContinue »
ing it, in educating a child, is among the greatest. Did any human being ever do so with his own children ?
And if the Bible is taught, how can it be so except according to the meaning and spirit of the excluded formulary?
Again, with reference to what has been so often mentioned, the moral, discipline of the school. Two of the children are not to be taught—that is, not in the words by which the Catechism teaches it—that their nature is of itself inclined to evil. But unless, in some words or other, this is taught to them, how is a master, such as I have described, to make rewards and punishments intelligible to the conscience of these children ?
It seems to me, then, that this famous rule must inevitably either be a nullity-or must be a mere delusion and blind upon those who are intended to avail themselves of it-or must lead to something much beyond what it professes to intend, to the general lowering of the doctrinal teaching of our schools. And, perhaps, I should mainly object to its general prevalence on account of the constant tendency it must have to produce, more and more, this last-named result. The inconvenience of such distinctions, among children in the same schools, would continually tempt school-managers to get rid of it by avoiding “ doctrinal peculiarities,” and would have a strong effect upon the character of the master of the school.
It is not my wish to speak with disrespect of systems which undoubtedly, in one form or another, have spread and are spreading very largely through countries inhabited by people of British origin, while they are hardly known in any others. But let us look at their result in that country where they have had the fullest development–in the United States of America. There, as it appears, all popular belief in a fixed and unchangeable body of revealed truth, as that which mankind are required to hold, is almost entirely destroyed.* I am aware that there are many who see no great harm in this. But it is not to them that I am addressing myself.
On these grounds I deprecate all these attempts in school education, by which religion is excluded, or is compromised. By all means let those who approve of them have full scope for their exertions. Let them have their share of the public funds, to which they have contributed. All this is according to established principle and practice, which no one wishes to disturb. But let not the enormous power of the State be applied to establish a general system which would absorb every other into itself, and which would greatly weaken the hold which this Church and people still retain on a definite body of religious truth.
I have only a few words to add, on an objection which very naturally suggests itself-namely, that in the schools which now exist for the children of the lowest class of the population, such as Union District Schools and Reformatory Schools, and which I propose to extend, the rule above-mentioned, of not enforcing
* Mr. Tremenheere (Notes on Public Subjects during a Tour in Canada and the United States) adduces strong evidence to this fact, though he gives no absolute opinion of his own. Mr. Godley's testimony (Letters from America, ii. pp. 224, 225) is singularly positive and clear. There is nothing inconsistent with it in the interesting collection lately published by Mr. Twisleton (Evidence as to the Religious Working of the Common Schools of Massachusetts, 1855).
formularies which are objected to by parents, always prevails. But the fact is, as has often been pointed out, that such schools are below the region of these controversies.* At Norwood, for example, the oldest and perhaps still the best of the District Schools, I believe it would be found that the objection in question has never been made. So it would be throughout; or it would be so seldom made as to be of no practical consequence. The case would be that above considered, under the first head relating to the effect of this rule. And from the provisions of the Act constituting District Schools, and the general character of our Parochial Unions and Boards of Guardians, I do not disguise my belief that, in the vast majority of cases, these schools, depending on the character of their managers and their masters, would practically be Church Schools. Nor do I believe that this result would cause dissatisfaction among the Dissenting communions. It is one of the few remaining prerogatives of the Established Church, that, in her character as such, it is not grudged to her that she should have the care of those lowest and most helpless beings whose charge, failing those to whom it should naturally belong, thė State is compelled to provide for.
* See, for instance, Mr. M. D. Hill's answer to Question 631 in the Evidence before the House of Commons' Committee on Criminal Juveniles (Report, 24th June 1852). Mr. Hill is speaking of young criminals ; but what he says is equally true of all children of the lowest class.
† See 7 and 8 Vict., c. 101, sec. 43.
I did not happen to see, till I had written the above, the Bill before Parliament for the better education of poor children. It does not appear inconsistent with anything I have proposed ; but I did not anticipate its provisions, because they proceed upon a principle which I did not suppose Parliament would agree to, though I make no objection to it. It simply authorises the Guardians to pay for the schooling of any pauper's child, at any approved school which the said pauper may prefer. That is, pro tanto it enables “ denominational” schools to be maintained out of the rates. It does not interfere with the compulsory principle, nor with the compulsory payment where practicable ; for a pauper, unable to maintain his children, à fortiori is unable to pay for them at school.
NEW ZEALAND AND THE CANTERBURY
Read January 11, 1859.
I have been asked to address you on the subject of New Zealand, on account of my connection with that Colony, and with the Canterbury Province of it in particular.
It is true that I have been so connected, now for some years. I am indeed both a landowner and a fundholder in New Zealand, and it is the only part of the world except this in which I have any property. Nevertheless I had some doubts about attempting to lecture thereupon.
I by no means think writing a lecture an easy thing
We hear it much debated in these days, concerning the Institutions which, under the various names of Mechanics’ Institutes, Literary Societies, and so on, are in fact all substantially the same thing, whether the books, lectures, pursuits of the members, should be instructive or amusing; whereas it is very evident that unless they are both, we shall do but little good. But there lies the difficulty.
If I wanted merely to impart dry information about New Zealand I might make use of a book, of the small folio size, which the Government of that Colony has lately been good enough to send me, called the “Statistics of New Zealand.” Now the fascinating branch of modern literature called Statistics means, as we know, a