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If, on the contrary, it must be admitted that any direct and recognized powers which the clergy, as such, either exercise, or might exercise, in respect of education, are just as much a part of the machinery with which the State invests them, as is their parochial apportionment, it surely follows that such powers must be conferred and circumscribed in accordance with the laws which govern the State in its fundamental polity. Under what aspect then will these pretensions appear when placed in apposition with the two concurrent facts:
—a representative government, and a people divided into a multitude of religious sects?
For, view the question from what point we may, to this issue we must come at last. In the words of a distinguished Professor in the University of Oxford, “I would enquire what is to be understood by the State acknowledging the church to be true.' Does the State mean the whole nation? Dissenters as well as churchmen? Or, is it merely that the members of [a representative] government acknowledge their own individual belief and yet are to compel the people to support it?.........We hear some contending loudly for the essential protestant and evangelical christianity of this country,' and opposing to the uttermost any scheme of education which they conceive violates this principle. But what is meant by this essential protestantism of England ? Does the country contain Papists and Jews, or not? Are they subject to its laws? Do they share its burdens? Are they admitted to its rights ?"*
These are grave questions. Some of them have been answered by the following candid acmission of a recent
• State Education considered with reference to prevalent misconceptions on religious grounds. By the Rev. Baden Powell, Savilian Professor of Geometry in the University of Oxford, pp. 59, 60.
writer in the Quarterly Review : “The circle of the State," he says, “no longer coincides with that of the Church, and to continue to act as if it did can only involve insult to the Church, and pain to conscientious dissenters, while it exposes the most sacred offices of religion to the charge of hypocrisy and falsehood."*
Again: to say that the Church asks of the State only to be left alone, 'to apply its own machinery to the education of the people,' is at once to misstate an historical fact, and to stultify concurrent claims, put forward by the same parties, and almost with the same breath. They who say "Do not interfere with us,' not only add, 'Give us money for church extension,' but
Give us money for school extension too.' Most emphatically then may we repeat, that in the pretensions thus advanced on behalf of the church-however deserving they may be, under certain aspects, of serious attention-we have no answer at all to the question : • What can the State do to promote national education?' although in reviewing them we obtain additional evidence of the absolute necessity that the State should do something.
I have already indicated my opinion that the course which this exertion should take is very plainly marked out by existing circumstances. While fully admitting that the value of voluntary effort in aid of popular education is subject to great fluctuation and to many drawbacks, I am yet deeply convinced that it has many advantages, for the loss of which nothing could compensate. It will then be the business of government to encourage, to aid, and to direct, not to supersede, such efforts.
* Quarterly Review, No. 129, Dec. 1839, p. 148.
The first steps then of State interposition will, amongst other objects, include the following,--for all of which a fixed, general, and responsible controlling power is obviously indispensable:
Objects of State interposition.
1, The distribution of grants in aid of the
maintenance of existing schools, and of
the establishment of new schools; 2, The provision of a comprehensive system
of inspection of all schools so aided, in
cluding the publication of full reports; 3, The support of training schools for teachers,
with model schools attached to them, as well for the improvement of the methods and appliances of education, as for the practical application of the instruction
afforded to the teacher-pupils; 4, The removal, from time to time, of such
obstacles to popular education as it may lie within the power-administrative or legislative-of the State to remove; and generally, the consideration and conduct of all measures by which legislation and administration may be made to promote this great work.
The experience of several countries might be adduced in proof of the wisdom-in its general though not in its
universal application of that principle of proportioning 1. Distri. the pecuniary aid afforded by government to the amount
of voluntary contribution for educational purposes in a given locality, which has hitherto been acted upon in the appropriation of the parliamentary grants of the last six years. For many years, in the state of Connecticut, United States, public aid had almost superseded voluntary contributions, and the result was a growing indifference to the efficiency of the schools. Mr. Crawford, in the Appendix to his Report on American penitentiaries, * has strikingly contrasted the respective aspects of popular education in this state, and in the state of New York, where the principle of aiding and encouraging voluntary effort has long obtained. The commissioners on the affairs of Canada, in their general Report,t bear similar testimony with reference to educational experience in the province of Lower Canada.
The sums voted for the promotion of general education in Great Britain from 1833 to 1839 inclusive, amount to £150,000, which sum has been applied in aid of the further sum of £293,236, raised by voluntary subscrip- £143,236. tion for the erection of school-houses, &c., capable of accommodating 262,987 scholars. The schools, so assisted, have in every case been in connexion either with the National School Society, or with the British and Foreign School Society.
This result is in one point of view highly gratifying, but if the investigation be carried a step further, and it be asked, in what degree the appropriation of these sums has had reference to the educational wants of the respective localities, the answer is far less satisfactory. For it will be found, precisely as we should have expected a priori, that while subscriptions on this principle have been readily obtained in districts where the provision of schools—as respects their number—was already nearly on a level with the wants of the population, in
* P. 205.
+ Quoting the Report of a committee of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada. See General Report of the Commissioners, etc., App. p. 157.
other districts,—as, for instance, in the large manufacturing towns, where the disproportion in this respect is fearfully great,--so little has been done that the chil
dren, wholly without means of education, are still to be Education- counted by thousands. A very rapid and but partial
glance at the statistics of the question may serve to exhibit the extent of this disproportion. These statistics although no longer necessary to prove the indispensability of the interposition of government, throw a strong light upon the course which such interposition should take.
By the subjoined tabular view* of the number of children attending schools of all kinds (Sunday schools included) in the town of Birmingham, in the boroughs of Manchester and Salford, in the borough of Liverpool, in the city of York, and in four parishes of the city of Westminster, as compared with the whole number of children between the ages of five and fifteen in those districts, it will be seen that no less than 47 per cent. of such whole number attend no school whatever, while of the remainder a very large porportion either attend only at the lowest description of week-day schools, where they receive nothing deserving the name of
* Estimated number of children between
the ages of three and thirteen.
Birmingham .................. 45,000 21,82423,176, or 51:5 per cent.
7,000 4,571 2,429,-34.7 ...
į 10,750 St. Clement, St. Mary,
3,658 7,092, — 65.9 and St. Paul .........
t of this number no less a proportion than 52:55 per cent, are Sunduy scholars only, giving a mean average of 47 per cent. on the whole number of children attending no school of any kind,