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CHAPTER XI.

OF THE PRESENT POSITION OF THE QUESTION OF NATIONAL

EDUCATION, AS A DUTY OF THE STATE, AND OF THE

CONNEXION OF AN ENLIGHTENED PUBLIC ENCOURAGE

MENT OF THE FINE ARTS THEREWITEI.

“ Were but a hundred men to combine a deep conviction that VIRTUOUS HABITS MAY BE FORMED BY THE VERY MEANS BY WHICH KNOWLEDGE 18 COMMUNICATED; that men may be made better, not only in consequence, but by the mode, and in the process, of instruction: were but a hundred men to combine that clear conviction of this, which I myself at this moment feel, even as I feel the certainty of my being, with the perseverance of a Clarkson or a Bell, the promises of ancient prophecy would disclose themselves to our faith, even as when a noble castle, bidden from us by an intervening mist, discovers itself by its reflection in the tranquil lake, on the opposite shore of which we stand gazing. What an awful duty, wbat a source of all other, the fairest virtues, does not HOPE become! We are bad ourselves because we despair of the goodness of others.

IF IT BE SAID THAT IT SHOULD BE OUR ENDEAVOUR NOT SO MUCH TO REMOVE IGNORANCE, AS TO MAKE THE IGNORANT RELIGIOUS : RELIGION HERSELF THROUGH HER SACRED ORACLES ANSWERS FOR ME THAT ALL EFFECTIVE FAITA PRESUPPOSES KNOWLEDGE AND INDIVIDUAL CONVICTION."-SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

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“Nor let us believe with the dupes of a sballow policy that there exists upon the earth one prejudice that can be deemed salutary, or one error beneficial to perpetuate. As the petty fish which is fabled to possess the property of arresting the largest vessel to which it clings, even so may a single prejudice, unnoticed or despised, more than the adverse blast, or the dead calm, delay the bark of knowledge in the vast seas of tiine."--EDWARD Lytton Bulwer.

CHAPTER XI.

OF THE PRESENT POSITION OF THE QUESTION OF NATIONAL

EDUCATION, AS A DUTY OF THE STATE, AND OF THE
CONNEXION OF AN ENLIGHTENED PUBLIC ENCOURAGE-

MENT OF THE FINE ARTS THEREWITH.

That branch of the subject which we now approach surpasses in importance any that has yet occupied our attention, and is surrounded with far more serious difficulties. While inseparably connected with what has preceded, it opens up an extensive field of enquiry, of which but a small portion lies within our immediate view.

The discouragements which at present surround the artist in his humblest as well as in his loftiest efforts, spring alike from the grossly insufficient nature of that general education which prevails in England. Every generous attempt to revive historical and religious art amongst us is impeded by the absence, even in our highest educational institutions, of any adequate culture fitting the mind to appreciate those branches of plastic art. It is not a rare but a common occurrence to find Englishmen of mean acquirements expressing opinions in relation to the arts of design, which evince a total insensibility to their highest purpose, -regarding them as little more than a graceful means of gratifying a taste for ostentatious display. And descending lower in the scale, it is equally common to find such general and utter ignorance of the elementary principles of beauty in form and colour as renders nugatory the most energetic efforts to improve design in its application to

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our manufactures. Hence the comparative failure, hitherto, of our recently established schools of design.

What, indeed, can be the chances of real success for schools of design so long as general education in the great mass of our common schools for the middle and lower classes, shall remain in its present deplorable state of inefficiency? If important branches of our manufactures depend for their continued prosperity upon an improved taste extending throughout the community, (and nothing less than this will make improvement permanently progressive,) where is the wisdom of attempting to carry on the superstructure without regard to the quality of the foundations ?

And if it be also true that all enduring eminence in the highest departments of art must be founded upon a wide basis of popular sympathy, what can be more important in treating of those points in which the progress of the arts of design is involved in the administrative policy of the State, than to arrive at some clear opinion on the question. What can the State do to promote general education ?

That the State, as such, has some office to fulfil, and some duty to discharge in respect of national education is now a very general opinion. It is held in common by those who maintain the most diverse opinions as to the extent of the powers which this office requires or confers, and as to the means by which this duty can best be discharged. And the opinion is one thoroughly reconcileable with the highest appreciation of the value of that great principle of voluntary associative exertion which so peculiarly characterizes our country, and by which, in various ways, such magnificent results have been attained.

Wherever, indeed, the spirit of commercial enterprise can be called into operation, the more freely and unin

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terruptedly it is allowed to take its own course, the more certain is its success. And wherever any object of philanthropy is to be achieved by one powerful effort, no matter how costly, there, too, voluntary exertion may be safely left to do its work without aid or interruption. Or even where a more lengthened course of labour is required, so that the machinery to be employed be such as will stimulate and gratify the passion for display, and the results be plain and unmistakeable, voluntary exertion may still be equal to the task.

But in the work of education, especially in a country characterized by so artificial and material a civilization ency of voas is our own, the case is quite otherwise. Here, the forts to prospirit of commercial enterprise will but foster the very cation. dispositions which it is the great object of education to counterbalance. Sudden and ostentatious efforts to accomplish at once what can only be effected by longcontinued, patient, and unobtrusive labour, will but produce a reaction of disgust and indifference. And the attempt to arouse and keep up attention by highlywrought machinery, and by a display of dazzling results, will but convert education from a quiet and solid preparation for the labour and probation of a life, into a scenic display of mental dexterity, transforming responsible beings into curiously contrived machines.

The primary question then is this :-Seeing that a large portion of the population of this country is growing up wholly without education, and that any effort to supply the want, must be made from without, can this be done efficiently by voluntary benevolence? And if not, can the powers of government be usefully called in?

The second question is:-Seeing that general education is—not less, but more deficient in quality than in quantity, can this defect be supplied by voluntary exertion? And if not, can the powers of government in this respect also afford a remedy?

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