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v.] THE lilGIlTS OF THE STATE. 147
system (as it is called) is the only system possible in this country which is consistent with the father's rights, which respects his religious liberty. But those rights and that liberty are not absolute. They are conditioned by the rights and needs of the social organism. The same principles which warrant the State in undertaking the Education of children who, otherwise, would not be educated at all, also warrant it in requiring that the intellectual instruction of the nation shall come up to a certain standard. "A government." to quote words of Mr. Mill, "is justified in requiring from all the people that they shall possess instruction in certain things, but not in prescribing to them how, or from whom, they shall obtain it." * Does it, however, follow that Education thus enforced by the State should be paid for by the State? By no means. The function of the State is to define the public duties of the subject. Upon the subject lies the obligation of performing those duties, at his own proper cost and charges. But unquestionably the principle of social solidarity requires that those who, while doing their best for the Education of their children, are unable to comply with the legitimate requirements of the State should be assisted from the public funds in the fulfilment of that duty. The cry raised against the aid thus given to Denominational schools as an indirect endowment of religion is absurd. With religion, as a divine revelation, the unreligious * Principles of Political Economy, Book V. c, xi. § 9.
State is not concerned. With religions as teachers of morality, is it deeply concerned, and such teaching it may justly subsidise. The great practical difficulty arises in the endeavour to discriminate between those who cannot and those who will not help themselves in the Education of their children. The true justification of "Free Education" is that it is the best possible solution of that and other difficulties and a boon which, in virtue of social solidarity, may very properly be conferred ujwn the poorer classes, at the expense of the community at large. Again, the right of the State to satisfy itself as to the quality of the Education given in elementary schools does not primarily arise from its pecuniary grants in aid of them. The true reason for the public control of Education is not that public funds are used for it, but that it is a thing of vital importance to public interests. Nor can such control be properly entrusted to Local Boards. The matter is of imperial concern and should be as directly ordered by the State as are the Army and Navy, or the various departments of the Civil Service.
So much may suffice to indicate what appears to me the true principle which should regulate this matter of such vast importance to the public weal. But I would not pass away from the subject without noting how necessary it is, in the highest interests of the body politic, that the funcv.] "A NATIONAL SYSTEM." 149
tions of Government in respect of Education should be jealously restricted within the limits which I have as I trust clearly, however roughly, traced. The replacement of the Denominational system by what is called "a national system," sometimes advocated in the name of liberty, would really be a deadly blow to liberty. It would bring about a liberty which is not liberal: a liberty a la Frangaise. There are certain weighty words of Mr. Mill, so well worthy of being pondered in this connection, that I cannot end the present chapter better than by citing them:
"That the whole or any large part of the education of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as any one in deprecating. All that has been said of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity of opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exist at all, as \ one among many competing experiments, carried on for the J purpose of example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain standard of excellence. Unless, indeed, when society in general is in so backward a state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper institutions of education, unless the government undertook the task: then, indeed, the government may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself the business of schools and universities, as it may that of joint stock companies, when private enterprise, in a shape fitted for
undertaking great works of industry, does not exist in the country. But in general, if the country contains a sufficient number of persons qualified to provide education under government auspices, the same persons would be able and willing to give an equally good education on the voluntary principle, under the assurance of remuneration afforded by law rendering education compulsory, combined with State aid to those unable to defray the expense.
The instrument for enforcing the law could be no other than public examinations, extending to all children, and beginning at an early ago .... Under this system the rising generation .... would be brought up either Churchmen or Dissenters as they now are, the State merely taking care that they should be instructed Churchmen, or instructed Dissenters."*
* On Liberty, chap. v. There is a striking passage to the same effect in the author's Principles of Political Economy, Book V. chap. xi. § 8.
I Take it that we may regard the Shibboleth of Woman's Rights as being, in some sort, an outcome of all the Shibboleths which we have been considering in the foregoing chapters. It appeals to Public Opinion, in the name of Progress, on behalf of the Liberty of a section of the human race alleged to be oppressed, claiming for them their place as an element of The People, and relying upon the power and influence of Education. The Shibboleth is certainly well adapted to impress the general mind. To render to all their rights is, manifestly, simple justice. To withhold them from that half of humanity which is alike fairer and weaker, more innocent and less selfish, is, as manifestly, iniquity of a peculiarly base kind. But if the Shibboleth is specious, it is also, like most Shibboleths, vague. The utterances of those in whose mouths it is most frequently found, though strong, are by no means clear. One wants to know precisely what the rights claimed for woman are, and how they arise. And in the hideous hum of