Imatges de pÓgina

soon sever religious from secular instruction in the common schools of the people. He had no objection to the Bill so far as secular instruction was concerned; but in abolishing the superintendence of the presbyteries over the religious element, they were giving a great blow to the Established Church, which ought to be encouraged and supported in every possible way. That such a Bill should come from a Government presided over by Lord Aberdeen was indeed a matter of astonishment; and when he remembered that the Aberdeen Act was the Act which the Church of Scotland regarded as the foundation of its rights, he really thought that Church might turn round and say, "Et tu Brute!" He ventured to say that if the Free Church never had existed, the present Bill would never have been brought forward. Well, how did that Church act with respect to its own schools? Did it allow them to be examined by the ministers of the Established Church? Quite the reverse; and he might mention that in one parish in the north of Scotland a Free Church minister refused admission to the communion table to parents who would not consent to send their children to the Free Church school. Yet, at the instigation of the Free Church, they were asked to deal a heavy blow to the Established Church. He did not wish to say anything offensive to the learned Lord who introduced the Bill, but it was really one of the most impudent things he had ever seen attempted in that House. One great reason for attaching the parochial schools to the Established Church was, that they knew what the doctrines of the Church were. The Established Church, in fact, was the only body which gave them that security. Their doctrines were acknowledged by the State and embodied in Statutes, and when she ceased to hold them she would cease to be the Established Church. Who knew what changes might take place in the doctrines of the Free Church, or of any other dissenting body? The Presbyterians of Eng. land were rapidly becoming Socinians, and a similar change might take place among the Dissenters of Scotland. But it was said that the superintendence of the presbyteries might be abolished, because that of the parish minister was still to be retained. Supposing, however, that the minister became negligent and careless, what then? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? He could not consent to fall back upon the general Board, the members of which

might, for anything the Bill said, belong to any Church or to no Church at all. He could trust the presbyteries to see the superintendence properly carried out, but to the proposed Board he could trust absolutely nothing. He was quite willing to accept any other education in the place of the system we had at present, if it could be shown that the education to be substituted was in any way better than that we now had; but if it were not better-if it were only as good-he would say, "Leave us what we have, and do not place us in a position where we cannot be better and probably may be worse." He believed that the principle of the Bill was the separation of religious from secular instruction, and he was firmly convinced that if they introduced into Scotland a system which did not afford to parents a positive security for the Christianity and Protestantism of the education to be provided, they would find their schools fail; and if they introduced a system which would eventually lead to the separation of religious from secular instruction, they would confer a curse instead of a blessing upon the people of Scotland.

MR. JOHN MACGREGOR said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made an unprovoked and unjust attack upon the Free Church, for he said that the Bill would never have been heard of if there had been no Free Church. The history of nations did not, however, present so extraordinary an example of unselfishness as that of the ablest men connected with the Church of Scotland giving up valuable livings secured to them for their whole lives, and depending altogether for subsistence upon the support of the people. He would admit that the Bill was not all he wished, but he was not one who expected to get perfect reforms, either in political or educational matters, all at once. Scotland, he considered, owed a deep debt of gratitude to her parochial schools for the advantages they had conferred; but still, the altered circumstances of the country, and the progress of civilisation, rendered them now utterly inadequate to teaching the rising generation. He trusted the House was agreed that the principle of the Bill was good, although there might be some of the clauses which required a little amendment. He had not that confidence in the present system of Scotch education which the hon. Member for Elginshire (Mr. C. Bruce) had, but he thought it was absolutely necessary, for the purpose of tranquillising

public opinion in Scotland, that such a Bill as the present should be brought forward. He denied that the Bill would separate religious from secular education, and he believed that it would in a great degree do what the House ought to do-leave education to the parents of the children, and the different congregations to which they belonged. He should support his right hon. and learned Friend in carrying this Bill into effect.

MR. G. DUNDAS said, he was not willing to allow the House to go to a division without stating the reasons why he should vote against the second reading of this Bill. He trusted the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would not class him among the determined enemies of the Government, many of whose measures he had supported, and whose measures, whenever he considered that they were good, he should not oppose. No one knew better than he did how anxious that right hon. and learned Lord was to promote every good cause, and, as the title of the Bill expressed it, to make further provision for the education of the people of Scotland. He felt much regret that he could not go along with him in the measure he had introduced. He had given it every consideration, and during the recess had had ample opportunities of conversing with those who were acquainted with all the workings of the existing system, which had stood the test of centuries. He lamented exceedingly that the right hon. and learned Lord had struck the blow he had at that system, which had worked well and extended great benefits to the people of Scotland. All were agreed on the great importance of making further provision for the education of the people of Scotland. No one expressed a doubt that in the large towns there was a very great want of education, and that the children of the lower orders were in that respect greatly neglected. It would be of immense advantage if education were extended to them; and he would even go further, and say it would be very advantageous if they could compel the children of the very lowest orders to be educated, for then, perhaps, many who now swarmed in the streets, almost without clothing, and their minds thoroughly brutalised, might turn out after a time useful members of society. He disagreed, however, with the way in which education was proposed to be afforded by the provisions of this Bill. It would change the whole character of parochial schools in

Mr. J. Macgregor

Scotland. By opening the parish schools to schoolmasters of all denominations it would raise a feeling of enmity between the schoolmaster and the clergyman, which would act most injuriously to the cause of education, as had been demonstrated by the experience of the last few years. Another objection was the substitution of the supervision of an inspector for that of the clergyman. The parish schools of Scotland were originally founded, 200 years ago, in connection with the Kirk, and ever since that time the clergymen of Scotland had watched over those schools, and regarded them as a sacred duty, which, in his opinion, rendered the change extremely ungracious. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate said the system of superintendence and management was greatly defective. Defects there might be; for where was the system in which there were no defects? But surely it was within the scope of the Government to remove them without interfering with the superintendence of the clergyman. Another point of the Bill to which he objected was the general centralisation of management. It appeared everything was to be referred to the general Board. He would just remind the House that it was centralisation which lost us our American colonies; for if selfgovernment had been permitted, he believed we should have possessed them to this day. With regard to the separation of religious and secular instruction, he was much gratified to hear from the right hon. and learned Lord that no sort of objection would ever be made to allusions to Scriptures in illustration of what was taught in the school, and in many schools there would be no interference from the inspector. The clause, however, which made provision for stated hours in which religion was to be taught, also left it voluntary to the parents to allow their children to attend, and it was to be feared that some parents might act capriciously, and withdraw their children from those hours of sacred teaching. Reverting to the examination of the schoolmasters and the schools, he thought that men who had been educated at the colleges of St. Andrew's, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh-men well learned, and of acknowledged religious principle-were much more fitted for those duties than an inspector, of whom they knew nothing. It was to be regretted that the measure was one of such a sweeping character. Another in a much smaller compass would have answered

every end. If such a Bill had been introduced, increasing the salaries of the schoolmasters, providing for their retirement when past work, taking care that those who were incapable should be removed, and extending the means of education to new districts-whether in the distant Highlands, where miles of moor intervened between the scattered villages, or in the no less dreary yet populous towns where vice and ignorance were to be found -he was quite sure the Government would have earned the thanks and gratitude of every Scotchman.

to remove to be augmented by further delay. He would not detain the House with any observations upon other parts of the Bill, but, as a member of the Established Church of Scotland, he could not help alluding to the provisions that had more immediate reference to the parochial schools. He deeply regretted the character of the opposition that had been offered to these provisions by the majority of the established clergy. It was impossible for him to imagine that the true interests of the Established Church had been consulted in their wholesale condemMR. G. S. DUFF said, that the Bill nation of this Bill. On the contrary, he before the House was one of such vital felt persuaded that the course which they importance to the best interests of the had taken was one which could not fail to people of Scotland, that he was unwilling be prejudicial to the Establishment, and he merely to give a silent vote in its favour, could not but think that they, and all as he had done upon two former occasions, others who had at heart the prosperity of when Bills on the subject of education in the parochial schools, ought to be the first Scotland were brought in by the noble to thank the Government for the manner Lord the late Member for Greenock. He in which they proposed to deal with them. had then no other intention than of signi- For by the provisions of this Bill new life fying a general opinion as to the necessity would be infused into them, and under of some considerable alteration being made their operation there was every reason to in the whole system of education in that hope that the parochial schools would once country, but he now wished to express his more resume their proper position as the hearty concurrence, not only in the prin- great educational institutions of Scotland. eiple, but also in most of the details of The general Board, which had been so the simple and efficient measure, the pro- much condemned, would in his opinion, visions of which had been so well and with some alterations in its constitution, clearly explained by the right hon. and but invested with the powers conferred learned Lord who introduced it. This was, upon it by the Bill, form a body really reindeed, a Bill which, without paying ho- sponsible for the character and the qualifimage to the sectarian prejudices of any cations of the schoolmaster, and candidates one class of the community, went honestly of superior attainments would no longer be and straightforwardly to carry out what it excluded by a useless and vexatious test, professed; namely, to amend the laws of while the superintendence of the presbyeducation in Scotland, to inquire into the tery would be advantageously replaced by existing educational means in that coun- the more efficient inspection guaranteed try, and to make such further provision by the Board. He was glad likewise that for extending them as that inquiry might the Government were prepared to reconshow to be necessary. He believed that sider the question of the schoolmaster's it was, in fact, the very fairness and im- salary and the retiring allowance, for he partiality of the measure that had given was decidedly of opinion that they must be rise to much of the opposition that it had considerably augmented in order to secure now to encounter, for nothing was more the permanent services of those best qualinatural than that those who combated for fied as teachers, who had hitherto in most the predominance of the sect to which cases regarded a parochial school as a mere they belonged should endeavour to arouse stepping-stone to the Church. Altogether, against a measure like this the intolerance considering the difficulties with which this of that Presbyterian spirit which, like all question was surrounded, he could not conother great mental qualities, possessed its ceive that a more ingenious, a more comshadowy side. He rejoiced, however, that prehensive, and at the same time a more the good sense of the great mass of the conciliatory measure, could well have been laity in Scotland was too well able to ap-devised. In giving it his most unqualified preciate the practical merits of the Bill, to support, although he could not admit of be persuaded to reject the benefits that it the expression used on a former occasion offered, or to allow the evils that it went by the hon. Member for Elginshire (Mr, VOL. CXXXIII. [THIRD SERIES.] K

C. Bruce), Experimentum fiat in corpore vili," he would imitate that hon. Member in calling the careful attention of English Members to this Bill, as one eminently adapted to the wants of Scotland; and he trusted that no dread of its being sent out as a pilot balloon to some projected measure for England would induce them to withhold a boon which was so earnestly desired by the people of Scotland.

MR. MIALL said, he could not reconcile it with his duty to refrain from taking part in this discussion; though, as the measure was limited in its application to Scotland, it might be more proper if it were left exclusively to Scotch Members. The principle of the measure was, to make further provision for the education of the people of Scotland. It was one which the House received with unusual cordiality, and he was not disposed to object to it. It was certainly not on light grounds that he should put himself in direct opposition to what he knew to be the general opinion of the House, but he would state as concisely as he could the reason why he should vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling). In the first place, he might declare, without any circumlocution, that he objected to any scheme of what was called "national education." It was right he should state that broadly, that there might be no misapprehension as to the position he occupied. He would not ask the House to go into the merits of any abstract principle. He would assume that with regard to this the decision of the House was correct, and his judgment was entirely mistaken. He conceived that so vast were the interests involved in a measure like this, and so materially would they be affected by the determination of Parliament, either on one side or the other, it was hardly safe to be guided exclusively by abstract principles, however capable of demonstration. He would go further than that, he would declare that if he could but arrive at the conviction that the education of the people ought to be provided by Parliamentary enactment or legal provision, that supposing no greater evil than the evil intended to be remedied were produced, he would willingly surrender any theory of his own, either political or economical, in order to accomplish the attainment of so desirable a result. The measure presented itself to his mind in a practical aspect, and the spirit in which he wished to address himself to it was, as a proposal submitted to Parliament to accomplish by Parliamentary Mr. G. S. Duff

aid that which the House believed itself
well qualified to perform. In that spirit
he asked, what was it that this Bill was
intended to accomplish, what was its pro-
posed object, what was the evil it meant
to remedy, what the mischief with which
it was to grapple? Was it the general
existence and alarming growth of popular
ignorance in Scotland? The right hon.
and learned Lord Advocate, in introducing
the measure, did not produce any evidence
of a fact so melancholy and significant as
that in Scotland education was diminishing
and ignorance increasing. It was usual
to support a proposal with a solid array of
facts. Why did the right hon. and learn-
ed Lord not follow so laudable a custom?
His office gave him easy access to the re-
cords of crime in his own country, and he
might have ascertained without difficulty
the broad and general results, though the
Census tables of Scotland were not pub-
lished at the time he introduced his mea-
sure. Statistics might not be interesting,
but it would, perhaps, have guided the
House in its impression, if the right hon.
and learned Lord had informed them that
one in every seven in Scotland were under
scholastic training, and that nearly four-
fifths were under training through other
agencies than those which sprung from
public provisions for education. Far from
blinking the truth upon this matter, he
felt that no good could be gained by any
person shutting his eyes to the real state
of affairs. He admitted, and he deplored
as much as any Member of that House,
the growth and rapid increase of a class
-not, perhaps, actually criminal, but sus-
ceptible of crime-a class which so easily
took the contagion, so tenaciously retained
it, and held so cheaply all the miseries
which it produced, that wherever it was
numerous it must of necessity also be dan-
gerous. He admitted that this class was
universally distinguished by profound and
brutal ignorance as one of its characteris-
tics, but was it not prudent for the Legis-
lature to inquire whether, supposing they
got rid of the ignorance, they could alter in
any respects the nature of the class itself.
It was of the utmost importance that the
question should be looked fairly in the face,
in order to ascertain whether there were
not evils far deeper than those generally
described as ignorance, which neither this
nor any similar measure could meet. The
class to which he referred was peculiar to
crowded towns and large cities. It might
be found in Prussia and France, as well as

in England and Scotland, and even in the rounded, which rendered it impossible that United States of America, where employ- any machinery intended for the general ment was general, and the rewards of that population should reach their special cases employment large and sure. It was not or elevate their condition. Now, it was unnatural. These centres of population because the Bill was of this general chanaturally drew to themselves all those who racter, and because it did not go directly preferred indolence to industry, and whose to the evil which it had in view, but left vicious habits exposed them, in smaller the class who most needed it entirely out communities, to certain correction. All of its operation, that he objected to the wished to bury crime in obscurity, aud scheme of the right hon. and learned Lord. there they were all huddled in the closest There was another reason which he would contact, every influence that surrounded urge upon the House. If they looked to them exerting a deteriorating power on the labouring and industrious poor-to the their character. We were accustomed to men who were in constant employmentlook at these matters in the mass. It was he would not say what was the case in far better to look at the single illustration. Scotland, but in England it was not the Let any one go into a crowded district, want of ability on the part of those classes into the undrained court which was their that constituted the difficulty in the way of nightly refuge, where the sun seldom shone, education, but it was the want of disposiand the air reeked with pollution-where tion to avail themselves of the education every room of every house might be said to they had. contain a household-where there was no distinction or separation of sexes, nothing to cheer, nothing whatever but a crust of bread or broken victuals to hope for where vice, squalor, wretchedness, and misery were only to be seen, and profanity, blaspheming, and obscenity, almost the only sounds to be heard. Let them take a family from such a scene, and ask themselves how was it possible by the simple construction of additional machinery for education to touch the circumstances of that family; how could they draw them within the circle of influence they wished to exert on them; and, even if that were possible, how could they think that reading, writing, and arithmetic, would do much either to elevate or to civilise? He should depend on that argument and his own experience, even if he were not backed by the experience and information of any other party. But he found a remarkable confirmation in the Census tables on education by Mr. Horace Mann, whose Report went directly to the point

Mr. Horace Mann, in his education census, stated that the school fee was the very least obstruction put in the way of the poor gaining education for their children; that while the fee was only 1d. or 2d. a week, they could gain in many cases 1s. 6d. or 2s. a week by their labour, and this was a temptation to the poor to push their children into active life too strong for them to resist. If the poor valued education, they had the means of obtaining it for themselves, or how would they spend 50,000,000l. a year upon intoxicating liquors, and allow their children to remain uneducated? He objected to the measure because it would be found impracticable-because it would produce no real positive result-because it would set up new machinery of which they already had enough; and it was a maxim with him that all machinery ought to be produced by life, but that life itself would not be produced by mere machinery. thought the only result of a national system would be to put down national schools. He was aware that Scotland was already in possession of a national system, and if the Bill was intended only to continue and improve that system, to liberalise it, he would have thrown no obstacle in its way. But in this measure he saw something very different-he saw a vast scheme in embryo to be managed by one man, for practically the secretary of this Commission would have the whole education of Scotland under his thumb. Commissions were now multiplying on every hand; if This bore out his general argument, that they did not take care, not their comforts there was a certain state of general cir- only, but their very liberties, would be bucumstances with which the poor were sur-ried under the mass of Commissions. He

"We may, however, be permitted to reiterate the doubt respecting the success of any schemes to elevate the mass of the population by mere elementary instruction, whilst the social circumstances of the multitude continue so unfriendly to their intellectual and moral progress; for the

real educational calamity of the present day is not that the children do not go to school, but that they stay at school for so limited a period, and this results directly from the want of adequate inducement to prolong education, in the debasing nature of those circumstances."


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