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Education in Belgium is not in a satisfactory condition. The Roman Catholic clergy have obtained, or at least have aimed at possessing, almost a monopoly of education. Against this ambition the Government and the liberal politicians of the country have had strenuously to contend. As to popular enlightenment, Belgium stands immeasurably below Holland. The two National Universities are those of Ghent and Liège, but the Roman Catholic clergy erected, soon after the Revolution which separated Belgium from Holland, a University at Louvain, which is under the patronage of the Virgin Mary, and where the strictest ecclesiastical discipline prevails. As a counteracting agency, the liberal politicians organized a Free University in Brussels.
In Belgium the Jesuits have four Seminaries. Reflecting that education should be a grand national fact, into which no sectarian element ought to intrude, the condition of Belgium in this respect is infinitely to be lamented.
Italy offers the striking spectacle of a country which has done more for the civilization of the world than any other, but where enlightenment, even in the most restricted sense, has never reached the minds and homes of the people. The sublimest educational agencies have abounded-still aboundbut the Italian peasant has received no inculcation beyond that imparted to him by the illimitable beauty of the climate and by the gorgeous pomp of his religion. But as the political regeneration of Italy has begun, the intellectual regeneration will doubtless soon follow.
In a country so rigidly and exclusively Catholic as Spain, it is not easy for popular instruction to penetrate. Out of sixteen millions of Spaniards, perhaps not much more than the tenth part can either read or write. Yet Spain has ten Universities, and at one of them—that of Madrid-seven to eight thousand students attend. There are ample means, therefore, for the
creation of a learned class, though multitudes are sunk in ignorance, indolence, and superstition. Still, for education, as for other important things, there has been a considerable revival in Spain ; and, as the Spaniards are a nobly gifted race, they may become, ere many years are passed, as enlightened as they are valiant and chivalrous.
Portugal is a country where popular education can scarcely be said to exist. There are some learned institutions at Lisbon, and there is a University at Coimbra. But culture was far more general when Portugal was a great conquering country than it is now. In Portugal there is more tolerance than in Spain ; but Portugal is as much deprived as Spain of those literary, and especially scientific influences, which mould almost more than politics, the destinies of England, Germany, and France.
The modern history of Poland is a painfully interesting one. Few, however, whose sympathies have been awakened for Poland's woes, are aware that the intellectual development of this down-trodden people presents much that is impressive and admirable. The Polish language is highly perfected and singularly melodious; and the Polish literature is exceedingly rich. With the introduction of Christianity, nine hundred years ago, the civilization of Poland began. For centuries her culture differed little from that of other countries lying more to the south-west. But the time arrived when Poland was the most enlightened and tolerant country in Europe. At that period many remarkable works were written by the Poles in Latin. Then arose the national literature, properly so called, and down to our own day this literature has been fruitful in masterpieces, of which the works of Mickiewicz, a modern poet of the highest rank, are among the chief. In 1773, a Ministry of Public Instruction was established in Poland, the first of the kind the world had ever known, and Polish patriots laboured
hard to give their countrymen the light of knowledge. With the supremacy of Russia, however, reaction and retrogression began, and under Nicholas, the most important educational institutions were unhappily suppressed.
Since the time of Peter the Great, education in Russia has undergone remarkable vicissitudes. Peter attempted to lessen by barbarous means the barbarity of his people. Catherine II. interested, or affected to interest herself, in popular instruction. Alexander I. in his earlier and better days, was perhaps more serious in the matter. But Nicholas, dreaming only of Russia's geographical expansion and military growth, threw education back, as far as it was in his power to do so. Education, indeed, on a grand scale could never co-exist with serfdom, and even if the abolition of serfdom answers all the expectations which it has aroused, its blessings, those of education included, can be only slowly evolved. There are in Russia seven Universities; but the other important educational institutions are mainly designed to achieve military purposes.
Wherever the colonial empire of England extends, education makes more progress even than in England itself. In the United States of America, education is the general heritage of the people, though the ideal of education is certainly not of the loftiest kind.
In Modern Greece where, in harmony with the glory and the greatness of Ancient Greece, education should be not merely universal, but nobler than everywhere else, it is deplorably neglected.
Scotland is a well-educated country, but while the mass of Scotchmen are perhaps better educated than the mass of Englishmen, the academical standard is much lower in Scotland than in England.
In education, Ireland resembles Scotland, England, or Bel
gium, according as the Presbyterian, the Anglican, or the Roman Catholic, element predominates.
The most cursory survey of mental cultivation in other lands is sufficient to show, as we have said, that nothing elsewhere presents affinities to English Universities or to the great Endowed Schools. The peculiarity of both is in their combination of the Cloistral, the Aristocratic, the Classical, and the National. To make this more clearly understood, it may be desirable to add to the above outline of the present state of education in various countries, a glance at the development of Schools.
There is no trace of Schools, in the popular sense of the word, till after the introduction of Christianity. Their first real founder is supposed to have been Charlemagne. He erected educational institutions for all classes, in all parts of his vast dominions, and he invited the co-operation of the priesthood; but his death and the anarchy which followed defeated the noble purpose he had in view.
Two classes of Schools, however, had a better fate than befell the rest—the Cloistral Schools Scholæ Claustrales, or Monastica, and the Cathedral Schools. The former, indeed, were not so much created as modified by Charlemagne, for they had existed from the beginning of the fifth century. The Cloistral Schools and the Cathedral Schools appear to have differed little from each other, except that the latter were under the immediate supervision of the Bishops, and that their teachers were the Canons. To the time of Charlemagne education was limited to the so-called Trivium, including Grammar, Rhetoric, and Dialectics. By his command, the Quadrivium was added, consisting of Music, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Astronomy. The Trivium and Quadrivium comprehended together the Seven Free Arts.
The chief book employed in the Cloistral Schools was the
Satiricon of Martianus Capella, who lived towards the end of the fifth century. This work is a kind of allegorical encyclopædia, wherein prose and verse are whimsically intermingled. With much that is chaotic and crude, the Satiricon contains notions somewhat in advance of the author's age. For example, it presents the germ of the Copernican theory of the universe. Two or more works of Cassiodorus, who died about the middle of the sixth century, were also used in these Schools. The superintendent of a Cloistral School was called Rector, or Scholasticus; each of the inferior teachers was termed Magister.
At the beginning of the ninth century, these Monastic Schools were divided into Internal and External ; Scholæ Interiores, and Scholæ Exteriores or Canonica. The former admitted those children who were dedicated to a monastic life and who were called Oblati or Donati; the latter those who were to be employed in secular affairs; but for the mass of the people, sunk in bondage, degradation and misery, the Cloistral Schools were of no value.
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there was an immense industrial expansion. Cities acquired political and social importance, and Schools were formed for the education chiefly of the children of citizens.
The Renaissance imparted a stimulus to classical culture, but it had little direct effect upon the education of the people. Yet in them the yearning for knowledge was fast becoming irrepressible.
The schoolmasters, however, merited little esteem and enjoyed none. They were formed into Guilds; they travelled
1 “It is certain," says Sharon Turner, " that this wasteful period of civil misery was an interval in which the Anglo-Norman mind was extensively educating itself ;” and Mr. Hallam affirms that, “about the latter part of the eleventh century, that ardour for intellectual pursuits began to show itself, which in the twelfth broke out into a flame.”