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The English counties widely differ from each other in their civilization and knowledge. Though their pursuits be the same, the natives do not seem of the same race. Something of the old national character which belonged to those counties, or junctions of counties, seems unobliterated. In Dorsetshire and Wiltshire are the strongholds of ignorance. The peasantry is in a state of rapid and grievous deterioration. In Northumberland there are few who are not able to read. The Sabbath school in that fine county seldom reckons any children who have to learn this humble attainment. It is generally held as a Bible class. Yet will it not be found a question of geographical degrees. There is some truth in the doctrine of races. But why is Cornwall so intelligent, but by its means of religious education ? Why is Kent so lost in ignorance, but for that very want ?
The system of Scottish Instruction has found both hearty defenders and opponents. It is strictly parochial. Its schools are 1052 in number. To these may be added 184 which are Burghal, that is, belong to Royal Burghs. With the Parliamentary Churches in the Highlands there are associated 42 more. These give the amount of 1278. The Statute strangely limits a single school to a parish. The ground of objection to these schools has appeared to us, very mainly, a dislike of their religious and catechetical character. But while these features are reasons with us for admiring them, we fear that their boasted efficiency is ill-proved.
The literary quality is poor. Many of them are ambulatory, and in the thinly-peopled parts are held only during four or five months in farm houses. Among coasts so wild, in regions intersected with loch and frith, stretching into headland, broken into islet, serious disadvantages must be felt. These, in all blame, should be allowed. But it is a mistake that the people are educated in these schools. Only one in thirty-eight was so trained, as recently as the year 1818. There is, subsequently to that date, a small increase of these schools. But they come too late. As national they have lost their influence. They were never gratuitous. Each child pays his fee. The endowed stipend would not yield the master the most meagre support. The General Assembly enquired into the state of Education in the year 1824. It was supposed that elementary training was within reach of all, save the inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands, and these amounted to about 50,000. In 1833 eighty-six additional schools were established in these destitute and dreary districts. But these were so inadequate, that only a thirteenth part was found to attend of those who needed instruction. Here, then, we have a national system of education, principally resting upon the subscriptions of the children. It is so far from meeting the case, that the highest Church Court interferes to extend it, not by legal assessments, but by popular collections. It is grown out of repute. How is it that the Scotch are, then, so well educated ? Not by the instrumentality
we have considered.
The private schools are more than 3000, and three-fourths of the people are instructed in them; at least, not in the national public schools. These private schools may be ridiculed: they may be called "Side” schools: but if worthless, Scotland would not foster them,--and if uninfluential, they could not be so multiplied and sustained. What a lesson is this upon the true educational liberty! What a spectacle of the certain defectibility of all institutions, which depend not upon the principle of self-government and the support of the people!
There is found in the Scotch schools very generally, even in those of different orders, a strong competitive practice. When a question is proposed, the class is expected to answer as quickly as possible. The pupil who feels that he is able to do so, darts forward, while his rivals, with eager looks and outstretched hands, are already at his side. The question is not put calmly to the first, and then to the second, and so onward to the last, but to all at once. Places are taken, tickets are given, and notices of the duxship are recorded. The effect is singular. All are intent. The organs of the teacher must be as quick as the gestures of the children. It is even a physical strain on all. All pant with emotion. It is a very struggle. The rush, the shout, but, above all, the impassioned physiognomy, furnish a curious exhibition. It may be doubted whether the extreme rapidity does not, in some instances at least, discourage the timid and hesitating mind: it
must stimulate, in no mean degree, the ambitious and the ready.*
It would be unjust to an honoured name, not to mention the Glasgow system; in its more novel features originated, and in its more common ones improved, by Mr. David Stow. Its modifications of older principles are greatly commended by experienced teachers, and by those who have looked much into the minds of the poor. The elliptical practice is remarkable in it. It has become more important than at first it aspired to be: it is a normal school, to which many religious communities now send their future teachers. Another Institution, of a very different kind, is raised in St. Andrew's. It is the bequest of the Rev. Dr. Bell, the founder of the National Schools. He was a native of that venerable city. The academy is noble in structure, and its course of instruction is most liberal. The professors are very able and erudite. Though the Founder was a clergyman of the English Church, he has left the endowment quite unrestricted. If the Presbyterian influence be ascendant in it, it is not dictatorial nor exclusive. The author has never seen a school combining greater advantages, or administered on better principles. It answers to the manner of our chief
* When the eloquent Curran visited Scotland, he thus wrote to a friend :-"In this country, what a work have the four and twenty letters to show for themselves !--the natural enemies of vice, and folly, and slavery; the great sowers, but the still greater weeders, of the human soil.”--Life of Curran, by his Son.
Proprietary College Schools. It stands amidst ruins, all of them awfully memorable,--the witnesses of noble martyrdom, the tombs of debasing superstition. How different the order of things it testifies !
What new thoughts and hopes it proclaims !
Whatever may be the eccentricities and evils of Ireland, the contentedness of ignorance lies not upon its character. Its national mind is quick and susceptible. It craves for knowledge. Unrighteous laws long obstructed its development. Yet even when fine and imprisonment were enforced upon the Roman Catholic who kept a school, and when the Protestant Parochial school existed only in the perjury of those who had sworn to establish it, the poorer class sent their children to the hedge-school, a name of contempt for institutions in which the smatterings of knowledge could only be obtained. But now there is unrestricted freedom. The proselytising furor, which made the name of parties every thing, and which cared not what were its means and subjects, finds little favour in the eyes of the enlightened and sincere. The Hibernian Society, formed in London, 1806, gave a great impetus to the education which had long been legally restricted, or hypocritically pursued. The Kildare Place Society was productive of very enlarged good, and it may be doubted whether any better plan has been substituted. Still, if a national system were to be established, the very prejudices of the nation deserved to be consulted. Scripture extracts were preferred to the use of the whole volume. It then