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1852. Education neglected in England at the Reformation. 339
selves, we have always believed it to imply a command to preach the Gospel to every creature,' and to do so especially in lands and among people to whom the glad tidings of salvation had not yet reached. We certainly cannot discover, either in the New Testament, or any where else, the smallest indication that Peter, Paul, or Barnabas ever kept a school, or made it his business to superintend the course of study carried on in a school. It is our belief, on the contrary, that the Apostles, and primitive teachers ordained by them, found too much occupation in preaching to pay heed to less urgent affairs; and that, under Divine Providence, their preaching proved effectual, because it was addressed to persons whose understandings had been previously enlarged in Jewish,—many of them in heathen schools, where the name of Jesus Christ had never been heard. Nor can we discover any evidence which goes to prove that the converts of these preachers either withdrew their children from the ordinary schools of secular learning in their respective neighbourhoods, or that new schools were set on foot under the management of ordained persons, even in Christian communities. In fact, it is not till we come down to the dark that any ages, trace can be discovered of that monopoly of education in the hands of the clergy, to which Mr. Denison now lays claim. Surely Mr. Denison is not prepared to take a precedent from the dark ages; surely he will not contend, that practices forced on by the weight of circumstances, and organised, so far as they went, in times of general barbarism, are either good in themselves, or of Divine institution, and therefore binding upon society, so long as the world endures. Besides, it is an excellent maxim in law, that rights suffered to lie in abeyance beyond a certain number of years cease to be rights. Assuming, therefore, that the clergy of the Middle Ages did establish a monopoly in the business of education, what became of this monopoly after learning revived, and the art of printing brought books within the reach of other than monkish collectors? Nor are there any monuments in England coeval with the Reformation, which speak to the zeal of her reformed clergy in the cause of popular education. No doubt we have our Universities strictly clerical in their system of management, but wholly of Popish origin. We have Eton likewise, and Winchester and Westminster, and the Charter House,—all excellent in their degree, however monastic in many of their arrangements. But what benefits do they confer upon the people? The people scarcely know them by name. What the people wanted three hundred years ago was a parochial system; the endowed school beside the endowed church, the manse and the schoolmaster's house facing each other. And
had there been the same energy and self-devotion south of the Tweed which made themselves conspicuous among the Reformers north of that river, England would have had such a system. But where is it now? It has no existence, nor ever had. The Reformation in England, being a courtly movement, was conducted according to the caprices of a succession of stern monarchs, who thought more of enriching their favourites, than of providing for the education of their people, out of the plunder of the Church. And the clergy, by what influence guided it is not worth while to inquire, failed to defeat-if they ever seriously remonstrated against-so iniquitous a policy.
It appears, then, that this clerical right, granting it to have been established under the papal régime, fell into abeyance at the time of the Reformation, and so continued till about fifty years ago. For two centuries and a half, such a thing as a parish school was unheard of from Land's End to Berwickupon-Tweed. Many endowments for educational purposes emanated, it is true, from the bounty of individuals; and old women professed to do in villages, what schoolmasters, not always better instructed than they, undertook to effect in towns and populous districts. But over these endowed schools the clergy set up no other claim of superintendence than the wills of the founders might have established, while the dames and other teachers taught as they could or as they pleased, without any interference on the part of the clergy. We admit that the bishops had power in those days to shut up any school within their respective dioceses, against which their wrath might be directed. But the licensing process appears to have been regarded on all sides rather as a relic of feudal power than any thing else. When exercised at all, it seems to have been exercised very capriciously. It could prevent the progress of education by hindering private persons from opening schools on their own account, but it operated in no respect as a stimulus to the clergy to promote or encourage the spread of secular knowledge among their parishioners. For two centuries and a half, therefore, the clergy, who now desire to be regarded as the only legitimate directors of popular education in this country, seem to have considered that they had done their part, when their sermons were preached and their Sunday catechisings attended to. What have they done since to justify the claim which their over-zealous advocates now advance for them?
The educational history of the last fifty years presents so little to captivate the imagination or to elevate the hopes, that apart from the consideration that it must be familiar as a household word in the memory of the reader, we could not bring ourselves
1852. Is there any Advantage in the Church System?
to trace it down, even in outline. Begun in a spirit of controversy and uncharitableness, the movement has led to few results on which any right-minded man can look with satisfaction. The Church slept till Joseph Lancaster broke in upon her repose; and then, placing the amiable, but most wearisome, Dr. Bell in her front, she marched forth to do battle. She got together the National Society, which was national only in name. She pledged herself to effect a purpose, sectarian in every sense of the word, and if she have not redeemed the pledge, the power and not the will has fallen short. Nor were other Churches and sects slack in buckling on their armour for a similar purpose. None of these assume so grandiloquent a title as that of which the seat of government is in the sanctuary at Westminster; but many perform their parts with quite as much zeal, and at least equal effect; and all united embrace, perhaps, a sphere of action not greatly more narrow than that on which, through the National Society, the Church operates. What evidence is there in all this, that the right of the clergy to educate the people is reasonable in itself, or that the people show any decided incli
nation to admit it?
But perhaps there is in the Church system some peculiar excellence; some perfect adaptation of means to an end, which justifies its supporters in claiming for themselves the foremost place, at least, among the educationists of the day. This is possible, but we confess that we have not been able to discover where the supposed excellence lies. The Church scheme, like that of the Wesleyans or the Independents, is eleemosynary throughout. It depends for its continuance from year to year on the voluntary contributions of the generous. The schools in connexion with it, though more numerous perhaps than those of all the other denominations put together, seem to be, at least as much as those in competition with them, subject to constant fluctuations. They rise and fall, flourish and decay, according to circumstances which it is as difficult to foresee, as it is impossible to control them when they occur. Most men grow weary of annual subscriptions, no matter how praiseworthy the object which they are designed to support. Many, as they subscribe grudgingly to a new scheme when it is first proposed, so they seize the earliest opportunity of withdrawing and pronouncing it a failure. Nor is it only because of the uncertain source whence their revenues are derived, that Church schools, even more than the schools connected with other denominations, live but from day to day. A great deal depends upon the nature of the instruction communicated, for which there is notoriously no fixed standard. Let
this be of a liberal and practical kind, and let practical men see to it, and a school will flourish in the face of a thousand disadvantages. Let the old hum-drum line be followed, which Dr. Bell and his admirers sketched fifty years ago, and no extent of liberality, as regards money contributions, will long keep the school from sinking. Go to King's Somborne, in Hampshire, and you will find a school projected in 1842 on the voluntary principle, and in 1850 rendered self-supporting. Whence comes this? Because Dr. Dawes, now worthily promoted to the deanery of Hereford, took his own view of what popular education ought to be, and steadily and unswervingly acted up to it. He had the usual resources to count upon; namely, large contributions from his own means, with small support by a few tenant-farmers. He began full of hope and zeal, and he triumphed. He set out with making his school something more than a mill in which reading and spelling might be ground. His course comprehended the elements of all the sciences which contribute by the readiest process to awaken the dormant powers of the mind, and to enlarge its faculties. Geography, natural history, mechanics, mathematics, grammar, natural philosophy, agricultural chemistry, were all taught in his school. He made it a place to which not the labouring poor alone, but tenant-farmers, shopkeepers, and thriving tradesmen, might be glad to send their children; and here is the result:
• The payments for the labourer's children are twopence per week for one, and a penny for every additional child in the same family. For the children of all those above the mere labourer, and whose parents are living in the parish, six shillings, and for those of a similar class out of the parish, ten shillings per quarter.
The school opened in October, 1842, with 38 children, which, in October, 1843, had increased to 106.
'At the end of the second year, to 110. 'At the end of the third year, to 144.
'At the end of the fourth year, to 158.
'On the opening of the school, the number of children paying by the quarter was 11, increased at the end of the year to 25, of which number one was from an adjoining parish.
'At the end of the second year, the number was 27, of which 3 were out of other parishes.
'At the end of the third year 34, of which there were 10; and at the end of the fourth year, 36, of which 14 were from other parishes: and at this present time the number is 45, of which 22 are from neighbouring parishes.
The amount of school payments for the successive years are as follow, the first column being the total amount, including books, &c.; the second being for books alone, and showing the amount to which they have been purchased by the children.
39 2 7
7th year to Michaelmas 1849
This result is very encouraging; and is a proof, that the class above the labourer will send their children to our parish schools, when the education to be had at them is such as to qualify them for their pursuits in life.
The amount paid for books the quarter (Lady-day, 1848) was greater than the whole amount for the first year, and is, for the last year, more than four times the whole amount for the first, and this, notwithstanding a very considerable reduction in the price of many of the books.
"The following was the state of the school at Midsummer last (1850): 219 children.
31 paying 10s. per quarter-27 boys and 4 girls.
And in the junior school of boys and girls, 52, all of whom pay 2d.
Payments from Lady-day 1849, to Lady-day 1850, were
Contrast with this the fortunes of a National School, founded about the same time, in the parish of Great Braxted, in Essex. There was no need of the begging-box here. The lord of the manor-the owner, indeed, of almost all the land in the parish, -commemorated his accession to the estate by building two commodious schoolrooms, with a residence for a teacher and his wife. In order that the control of this school might remain with himself, he refused all contributions towards the payment of the master's salary,-which he settled at 30l. a year,-to be provided for out of his own pocket, together with the children's weekly pence, each child paying a penny. The same generous
* Total of pence-paying children, 164.