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Dr. Edson's statement to me, founded on general observation, was, “ that less than half of the whole number of children (at Lowell) between the ages of five and sixteen attend any Sunday school, or do so only most irregularly."
Multiplying the above number of 3876 by two, will give 7752.
The number 3876, therefore, exceeds the half of the number 7618 by 134 only (7752 — 7618 = 134); and Dr. Edson's statement to me, with regard to the attendance at Sunday schools being less than half of that at the dayschools, is proved to be almost literally correct, by the published statistics of the day and Sunday schools of Lowell, completed by fair and liberal estimates.
“ It will be seen,” Dr. Edson adds, “ by perusal of the Report of the Sabbath School Union, that the tendency of each particular school is to report itself large. It is but the natural result of a laudable emulation of the schools between themselves to report as many as circumstances will justify, and of course to include those pupils whose attendance is but very irregular and of inconsiderable amount.
· It may be remarked also that there are included in the 3876, pupils privately educated, or otherwise not belonging to the public schools. If these were added to the 7618, it would somewhat affect the ratio of the two numbers,” in the way of further confirmation of Dr. Edson's calculations.
When it is remembered how much it is the custom among the upper and middle classes in the United States to send their children to the Sunday schools, and to attend themselves as teachers, it is perfectly safe to infer that the great majority of those who neglect to send their children, belong there, as in this country, to the least educated portions of society.
By these latter, secular education is, in England, coming more and more to be regarded almost in the category of material wants, since it is found to be one of the best instruments towards supplying them. Such persons will send their children to the day-school to obtain the small amount of common learning which they think necessary, and withdraw them at the earliest possible age at which this can be attained. And the better the school, generally speaking, the earlier the age at which the majority of such children leave it. After that period, neither schoolmaster, nor clergyman, nor dissenting minister, can feel the least certainty that he will ever see anything more of them again as far as education is concerned, secular or spiritual. If the few early years of secular instruction are not seized upon, to impart at the same time all the elementary principles of Christian doctrine, and to make the first impressions in favour of a firm Christian belief, where is the probability that the great majority of those who most need such early training and direction will ever obtain it? Even if the whole were gathered into Sunday schools, which is beyond all expectation, who is to teach them? The clergy are already overburdened, and greatly too few to meet the present demands upon them. The voluntary teachers, whatever may be their zeal, cannot be expected, except in comparatively rare instances, to possess that command of elementary knowledge and that tact in using it, which are indispensable, if teaching is to be impressive and successful. And if these elementary principles of a firm Christian belief are not fixed early in the mind, according as they are understood by the church or sect to which the child belongs, the progress is direct and rapid, first to indifference to any, and then to the rejection of all. That this process is going on in the United States, as the direct
result of their public school system, is the opinion of many portions of the principal religious bodies —in particular the Roman Catholics, the Church of England, and the old Presbyterians or Puritans-irrespective of mere party views; although at the same time the belief is common that no other system of general education in that country is possible. It is an experiment from which, touching as it does the foundation of “those great pillars of human happiness, religion and morality,” to use the words of Washington, we should do well to abstain. *
* In some remarks on my book, “ Notes on Public Subjects," &c., in the “Westminster Review” for April, 1853, it is imputed to me that ihe information which I gave upon this subject in that volume was collected “under the influence of the ultras of the high-church party and my own bias.” I beg, in the first place, utterly to disclaim any bias towards the high-church party; and in the next, I assert that my information was collected indiscriminately from a great variety of persons, and without the least attempt at inquiry as to, or any knowledge of, the tenets of those who gave it or assisted me in procuring it.
It is further said, “that Mr. Tremenheere has been very careless, to say the least of it, in adducing authorities. Thus in enumerat. ing his adverse testimonies, he represents the Bishop of Massachusetts as saying, that he would prefer, in the interests of religion, a mixture of religious with secular teaching, but that this is not attainable. But we are assured by the Bishop that he was misreported. Being asked whether he would not prefer having the schools more under his control, he said “Yes,' but added, “that this was impossible, and that he was quite satisfied with the working of the present system,' of which satisfaction we are not favoured with a hint.”--Westminster Review, April, 1853, p. 515.
In confirmation of the correctness of my own statement, and in opposition to that of the writer of the review, I appeal to the answer given by the Bishop to Mr. Twisleton, printed in the Appendix to the Report of the Select Committee on Manchester and Salford Education (1852), p. 492; which answer, verified by the Bishop's signature, together with the question, was as follows:
It would be easy to quote from public documents of the United States proofs of extravagant expenditure sanctioned by Congress, and something more than extravagant
" Question 5.—Generally, do you approve or do you disapprove of that system ? and what are the main grounds on which your approbation or disapprobation of it is founded ?
Answer.--Although I individually should prefer arrangements under which the tenets of my own Church were directly taught in the common schools, yet, on the whole, I approve of the present system, because it ensures the means of providing a more efficient system of instruction than could permanently be maintained for all the children of the commonwealth in any other way.”
The approval of the right reverend gentleman is thus shown to be founded, not on religious grounds, but on the fact that in his opinion a more efficient system of instruction could not be permanently maintained for all. This is very different from an assertion that he "was quite satisfied with the working of the present system.”
A writer in a periodical has stated that I was only two days in Boston, and therefore had no right to give an opinion upon the schools there or in that neighbourhood. I was in Boston eleven days, from the 25th to the 27th of August, and from the 5th to the 14th of November, 1851.
[Since the above was written the official declaration of the number of votes upon the questions submitted to the electors of Massachusetts, in November last, have reached this country. The votes for the proposed new Constitution were-yeas, 63,222; nays, 68,150 ; majority against, 4928. For Sectarian Schools, 65,111 ; against, 65,512; majority against, 401. While, therefore, a purely secular system is being advocated here, on the strength of the example of Massachusetts, public opinion there is evidently undergoing a change upon that subject.]
contracts granted by public officers to individuals. But this book has been written, not to excite irritation, or designedly to give offence, or for the purposes of flattery, or to encourage national self-complacency, but simply to illustrate great political principles, in their ordinary and natural action. I therefore confine myself to the following summary, which has the appearance of being authentic, and which, if so, contributes to the proof that democratic majorities are not always the most careful guardians of the public purse :
(From the Daily National Intelligencer.)
Washington, Sept. 25, 1853. “ Amount of Appropriations reported at the last Session of Congress, by the Committee of Ways and Means, for the Service of the Year ending June 30, 1853:
Dollars. Civil and Diplomatic
6,052,770 Invalid Pensions
1,366,240 Navy ditto
45,000 Indian Department
7,396,775 Military Academy
141,500 Rivers and Harbours
1,501,290 Navy ..
6,705,467 Transportation of Mail by Ocean Steamers 1,467,250 Lighthouses
26,188,275 In the passage through the House of Representatives the Democratic majority added to the above sum, as follows: