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peculiar tenets of any sect of Christians; and, in order that perfect security may be afforded in this respect, any ratepayer or parent shall have the right to complain to the school committee of the conduct of
any teacher; and, in case of dissatisfaction with the decision of the school committee, he shall have the right of appeal to the county board and to the courts of law and equity." Again (in Sect. viii. 20),
Nothing shall be taught in the normal schools, which favours the peculiar tenets of any sect of Christians." In the catalogue of subjects of teaching set forth in Section iv. the Bible is not in any way alluded to. The object of the “Plan," then, clearly is, as stated in the definition of its basis, to impart “secular instruction only.” Now, this we have no hesitation in declaring is first impossible ; secondly, in the highest degree unjust; and thirdly, entirely opposed to the national feelings and habits. The impossibility of the attempt is proved, as we shall see presently by the admission of the National Public School Association itself. In Section vi. of the “ Plan” we find that, in addition to the subjects of instruction in the day school, which we have already seen are exclusively secular, shall be sedulously inculcated a strict regard to truth, justice, kindness, and forbearance, in our intercourse with our fellow creatures ; temperance, industry, frugality, and all other virtues, conducive to the right ordering of practical conduct in the affairs of life.” And afterwards, with regard to infant schools, it is expressly stated that in them the education of the moral feelings shall be the proininent object.” Now, had the “secular instruction only” been exclusive of all moral teaching, the attempt, however pernicious, would, we conceive, have been within the limits of possibility. But once include moral teaching—and this we have seen even the National Public School Association are afraid of dispensing with, and you have done with “secular instruction only; for it is a moral impossibility to inculcate morality at all
, much less to make it a “prominent object” of teaching, without having recourse to the sanctions of religion. With all the aid which we derive from the written word of God, with the promises and threats, the encouragements and sanctions, of revelation in our hands, the attempt to inculcate “a strict regard to truth, justice, kindness and forbearance, in our intercourse with our fellow creatures—temperance, industry, and frugality, and all other virtues conducive to the right ordering of practical conduct in the affairs of life"-is, as we learn from sad experience, in at least ninety-nine cases out of an hundred labour lost. To do so, independently of these
sanctions, is simply impossible. We do not believe that any teacher of common sense, whatever his theory might be, would ever in practice really make the attempt. We are sure he would never repeat the experiment. The object, therefore, of the National Public School Association is, by its own admissíon, impossible. But, even were it possible, it would be the most unjust and tyrannical proceeding, the most complete violation of the rights of conscience and religious liberty, the most unscrupulous abuse of ancient endowments, ever imagined. For it would not only be forcing a very large body of the people to contribute a rate for the support of that which they abhornamely, secular instruction apart from religion--but making it impossible for them even at their own expense to have schools after their own liking; and, even more than this, wresting to a purpose the very opposite to that for which they were given large sums of money contributed from time to time on the express condition of certain trusts being performed. Such is a part of the “Plan” of the National Public School Association.
“ SECTION VI.-1. The School Committee shall have power to levy and raise in each school district a rate for the
of this system, and to require the overseers or borough officers to collect and pay
over the same to them after the manner in which borough rates are laid, raised, and paid.
“ 2. The School Committees may purchase, lease, or hire, school buildings, and may purchase land, either absolutely or in chief or ground rent, and erect school buildings thereon.
“3. The School Committees may purchase, lease, or rent existing school-rooms, notwithstanding any trusts or endowments for any specific kind of teaching therein ; provided always that the trustees, managers, or proprietors of the schools so transferred, shall have power to reserve to themselves the sole right to use the buildings for Sunday. schools, and for the purpose of communicating religious instruction in conformity with the respective trust deeds, at such times as they may not be required for the purposes of instruction under this system.”
The extreme injustice of this clause is somewhat modified, though by no means removed, by an appendix proposed to be added to it at a meeting of the Executive Committee, on August 12, 1851:
“ That schools already in existence may become free schools under the direction of their present or future managers, and receive per week for each scholar educated in them, provided-1. That on inspection they are found in a satisfactory condition. 2. That the inculcation of doctrinal religion shall not take place in them between the hours of and in the afternoon. 3. That the attendance of the scholars, on the inculcation of doctrinal religion, shall not be com
pulsory. 4. That the inculcation of doctrinal religion shall not be a part of the duty of the teachers under this system. 5. That no part of the school payments derived from the rate shall be directly or indirectly applied to the inculcation of doctrinal religion."
At a time, then, when there is an almost universal clamour against the principle of church-rates--when even Churchmen themselves are anxiously looking for some legislative enactment which shall place the repairs of churches on a more equitable and therefore more manageable footing—the very parties by whom this clamour is most loudly raised coolly come forward and propose a compulsory rate for one particular system of education—that system being beforehand known to be highly repulsive to the feelings of a large number of those who would be forced to contribute to its support! Not content with this, they claim a power to lay violent hands upon all existing school-buildings, no matter under what trusts erected, or furnished with endowments for what specific kind of teaching ; and appropriate them, except for the limited number of hours during which, having no use for them, they kindly concede them to those whose property they are, to this one particular and repulsive system of teaching. Old grammar-schools, built and richly endowed centuries ago by the sovereigns, the nobles, and the esquires of Great Britainthose founded in more modern times by voluntary contributions and the aid of the National and British and Foreign School Society and the Parliamentary grant-Church of England schools, Roman Catholic schools, Methodist, Baptist, Socinian, Independent schools are all to be seized as soon as they are wanted, and amalgamated in the secular crucible. The one system is to reign paramount to the destruction of every thing else! Truly, it has been reserved for the Liberals of the nineteenth century to devise an invasion of the rights both of property and conscience such as never entered into the head of the most bigoted Churchman-such, indeed, as has no parallel in the history of the world. The very injustice of the "Plan,” were there nothing else objectionable in it, would be enough to ensure its being rejected by the Peers and Commons of England. But, over and above the injustice of the “Plan," the principle on which it is based—namely, that of imparting "secular instruction only”-is directly opposed to the whole genius of the English character. Notwithstanding the vast amount of ignorance and ungodliness with which, it cannot be denied, the land is overspread, we are, nevertheless, as compared with other nations, eminently a religious people. Were it possible that anything religious could be natural, we should best explain what we mean by saying that the people of England are naturally of a religious temperament. The leaven of religion may be traced in every rank and gradation of society. It is the basis on which rests every institution throughout the land-even the crown itself: on which is founded our national independence, our mercantile prosperity, our very existence; and we have such an opinion of our fellow countrymen as leads us to believe that it would take many long years of previous preparation, tampering, poisoning, and seducing, to fit them for the reception of the ungodly “Plan” of the National Public School Association—that it would need a long-continued exercise of the most bigoted opposition to the establishment of the enlightened yet sound system of education, which is their heart's desire, to drive them to this as their last resort. God forbid that the English character should, under any circumstances or by any means, undergo such an wholesale change as to give even the least encouragement to a“ Plan” as odious in the basis on which it rests as it is in its machinery unjust and in its object impossible !
We turn, then, with pleasure from Mr. Denison's extreme of bigotry, and the National Public School Association's extreme of latitudinarianism, to the “Instructions for the Draft of a Bill to promote Education in the municipal boroughs of Manchester and Salford, February, 1851.” For the idea on which these instructions are founded, and for many of the details, it is not as generally known as it ought to be that the public are wholly indebted to the great ability and indefatigable exertions of the Rev. Charles Richson, the clerk in orders of the cathedral in Manchester. Now, the first thing in this scheme which strikes us, as well as a point in which it differs from the two already discussed as likewise in the light of a great recommendation, is, that it is a strictly local experiment, to be tried in a place and under circumstances peculiarly favourable for securing it a fair trial. It is for the “ Municipal Boroughs of Manchester and Salford alone,” and, as provided in Section xiv., for “any contiguous township or townships,” but for no other place—that is to say, a limited area—but an area, nevertheless, by reason of the dense population with which it is covered, and the singular willingness of all parties to try the experiment, peculiarly fit for the purpose, and including, moreover, all denominations within its limits, has been selected for testing the success of a very important experiment as yet wholly untried. If it fails, only this one limited area will suffer ; and, as the representatives of almost every party connected with this area have joined in the res
ponsibility, the failure may easily be remedied, and, if necessary, everything even restored to its present condition. The country meanwhile will have learned a very valuable lesson; and, at the cost of no irreparable damage, voluntarily incurred by a comparatively small district, will have taken one great step and escaped one great risk in experimental education. If, on the other hand, it either partially or wholly succeeds, to that extent, not only that particular area on which the experiment has been tried, but the whole country, by following in the same course, will reap the benefits arising from the success; and, by improving upon such portions of the plan as have failed, will have been saved from much loss and inconvenience. The fact of the proposed measure being a local one, is, without doubt, in the case of an experiment of such vast importance, a great recommendation and ought to disarm all except local opposition. Surely, if the inhabitants of the municipal boroughs of Manchester and Salford are willing to run the risk of immolating themselves for the good of their country, it is very churlish in others to place any obstacle in the way of such laudable patriotism.
We shall get at a good deal of the object of the proposed bill by reciting the preamble, which is as follows:
“Whereas in school buildings erected within the respective municipal boroughs of Manchester and Salford, in the county of Lancaster, there is a great amount of unoccupied or unused school-room, which it is desirable to make available for the children of the inhabitants of the said boroughs; and, whereas there is, notwithstanding, in some parts of the said boroughs, a want of conveniently accessible school. room for such children, which it is necessary to supply; and, whereas it is expedient to provide greater inducements than heretofore, whereby the children aforesaid should be led in larger numbers and with more regularity than at present to attend school; and, whereas it is expedient to provide out of some public resource for the proper repair of school-buildings already erected, and for a more effectual support of daily schools for the children aforesaid than voluntary liberality, aided by the payment of the children's pence, at present furnishes, &c."
On the one hand, then, there is recognised a superabundance of vacant school-room, though not always exactly in the right place. On the other hand, attention is drawn to the defects in our present school system, as has been before observed, so generally and severely felt—the thinness, namely, and irregularity of attendance on the part of the children, and the difficulties connected with the annual maintenance of the schools. We may presume, therefore, that the contemplated measure proposes, not only to remedy the existing de