Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

that which has its basis in Scripture, and its principle in benevolence. You have to gain the confidence of the poor, as well as to instruct them. The chains of Xerxes might as easily bind the rush of the Hellespont, as you can shackle the popular opinion and feeling. Go and win the nation's heart. Go with the Sacred Volume in your hand, with the tranquil atmosphere of the sacred day around you, your lips breathing prayer and distilling knowledge, leading your young catechumens into the Christian Temple,_and long arrears of vengeance shall be cancelled, and a thousand wrongs shall at once be redressed. Only can you thus mould your people. They are tractable to light and love. Such a people are worthy to be respected, to be venerated: never need they to be feared. This is the palladium of our national existence, the raying out of our national glory, the building up of our national strength. “Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.”*

* How little this system was understood, how unduly it was estimated, at first, may be seen in Winter Evenings or Lucubrations, by Vicesimus Knox, vol. i. 48, “On the Beneficial Effects of Sunday Schools.” The Article is intended to be laudatory, but it is “faint praise.”

CHAPTER VII.

ON FOREIGN SYSTEMS AND MEANS OF EDUCATION.

IF any thing could bring to light the deep ignorance of France,—the reputed nation of intellectual vivacity and refinement, it was her Revolution. Instead of being the result of the strong expansion of mind, it failed from the want of it. Knowledge would have preserved all its blessings and prevented all its calamities. Never had a people a juster ground of quarrel, even to the last appeal: liberty has not ceased to mourn its bitter discomfiture by the betrayal of their folly. They threw away the noblest chance ever given to a nation of striking down tyranny throughout the world. What must have been the mental debasement of a people where the poissarde and the chiffonnier were often the principal leaders, and the lowest fauxbourg sent forth their daily report of the national destinies It is in vain to blame the illuminati. Great as was their guilt, this was not their doing, nor any result of their influence.* There were, however,

* See Mounier, with the remarks of Lord Jeffrey on it in the first Number of the Edinburgh Review; as also those of Lord Brougham in the 3rd vol. of his Political Sketches.

[ocr errors]

statesmen and publicists who saw the cause of failure, —men of benevolence and virtue, who abhorred the hideous crimes which stained that great event, crimes that have for ever robbed it of all authority as an example, and that for half a century have served for a plea to strengthen the most iron despotisms. These patriots saw that education had alone been wanting to have given freedom, -rational, constitutional, legalised,—to mankind. Early as 1794, the Convention passed a decree for the establishment of normal schools, the first use, we believe, of the word in this connection. * The schoolmaster was therefore to be created. Napoleon in 1802 established the EcoLEs PRIMAIREs. Education could not prosper where the conscription counted out the rising race: the youth of that empire was drafted for the carnage of far distant battle fields. The reinstatement of the ancient dynasty was unfavourable to schools which were strictly secular; and more religious seminaries well nigh absorbed them. Notwithstanding, the Minister of Public Instruction took them under his care and direction: and they still received a support

* “La Convention s etait imposée la mission de regénérér la France; elle procéda par la destruction de ce qui existait, avec l’ intention de tout reconstruire sur des bases plus solides et plus larges. . . . Mais si grande que fut sa puissance, elle s'en exagéra quelquefois l' entendue, et l'expérience nous a appris (legon retentissante et profonde) que s'il suffit d' un décret ou d'une loi pour

abattre et desorganizer, il faut d'autres moyens pour reedifier.”—

Ecoles Royales de France. Par Alexandre de Saillet, p. 316.

from the national revenue. But superstition was in this affair too confident, and the second Revolution opened with a prospect, bright and auspicious, for national education. With the principle of such government interference, we are not now called to deal: facts alone concern us. The present Monarch —in exile himself a teacher of youth—put himself at the head of the instructors of his people; and in the memorable law of June 26, 1833, he demands the presentation of a triennial report, to himself personally, of all these Elementary Schools. In the return offered by M. Villemain, we find the following particulars. Thirty-three thousand and ninety communes, out of the whole number of thirty-seven thousand two hundred and ninety-five, have now these primary schools. The children admitted to them amount to 3,000,000. During the past five years, £1,200,000. have been spent in building or purchasing school rooms. There are also many classes for adults. These include 68,500 persons, who repair to them in the evenings, after daily labour, crowding from the champ and the atelier, and during the hours of the Sabbath. There are 555 Infant schools, beautifully called Salles D'Asyle, – which receive a total of 51,000 scholars. Each commune must, for itself, or in conjunction with others, form one of these primary schools. The admission is gratuitous in all these communal establishments, where poverty cannot afford the ordinary terms, which are very low. Each citizen L

has a legal right to enter his children. The teachers obtain small stipends of about £25. These are increased according to the number of the pupils and the wealth of the district. There are also higher schools, les écoles supérièures, and many scholars pass from the one to the other. The Roman Catholic Religion, as that of the majority, is taught. Special Schools exist for Protestants, in which there is declared the fullest liberty, save that there is the same inspection of them by the Prefects, who, generally holding the popular faith, can scarcely be welcome visitants or impartial judges. One provision is certainly liberal. Each school is under the maire, a municipal council of twelve, the curé, the common magistrate, and the Protestant pastor, if there be any. These are subject to the control of a similar body of the arondissement, and that one to that of the department. This is superintended by the representative of the king. The funds for these schools are compulsory, but only according as there is need. The communes are to avail themselves of any local revenue, and of any donations or bequests for that end. Then they may levy, contributions fonciere, personnelle, et mobiliere. * If there be deficiency after all, it must be supplied from the national exchequer. The attendance is voluntary. The consciences of the parents are consulted in all that regards the

* For all expenses of rent, of the child's education, and of school furniture.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »