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appeared that this Society had done the same! But it denied itself. It misrepresented its own excellence. It bowed to a clamour, and hid its own just deeds. It had been too indulgent, also, to the Protestant parts of the country, where it was less needed, and too niggard to the more fanatical. It had allowed itself an undue and sectarian bias. It is this bane which seems to canker every promise of melioration to that injured land; and the Society of which we speak was not proof against it. But it did good service. In 1830, it could enumerate 1620 schools, and 132,573 scholars. We blame not the new Board,—not its institution, for it seemed to be demanded by powerful bodies, --- not its directory, for that is beyond all praise. It has already more than 140,000 children under its charge. All difficulties considered, all competitions allowed, we cannot think that a more reproachless system, of a public kind, could be devised. The vice of both, is government money and government inspection. None are satisfied. AU is thwarted. Equality is promised, and each complains of unfairness. A system is taken up by one cabinet and denounced by its successor.
The life of a warm benevolence cannot beat in any scheme of State. It is a set of parchments and seals. It cannot be worked from the heart. Public treasure, made to pass in any channel but the direct disbursements of the commonwealth, “eats as doth a canker.” It is a bribe,----not in the sordid sense, -- but still a bride to partiality, recklessless, and sloth. The Irish Society of London for
Promoting the Education and Religious Instruction of the Native Irish, through the medium of their own language, has taken an interesting field. It enrols 16,975 pupils. Besides its youth, it teaches 13,048 male adults, and 2608 females. Educationally considered, the sister isle is not an ignorant country: we have spoken of externally sustained schools. In 1828, it was ascertained that there were 11,823 elementary schools. Of these, eight-elevenths were private, voluntary establishments, at which the pupils paid. They were entirely independent of parish, of society, of help; in every view, they were self-sustained. The number of scholars was, in the gross, 560,549; of whom 394,730 bore the cost of their own education, - nearly three times the amount of the Kildare Place Society's pupils. When all these and other more denominational acts are put into one sum, a superiority may be shown to Great Britain. The Shamrock triumphs over the Thistle and the Rose. Fourteen years since, the Writer heard a Resolution pass the Annual Meeting of the Sunday School Union of Ireland, -- held in the Rotunda, Dublin, — which thanked the 15,000 teachers associated in it, and the Earl Roden, as one, acknowledged the vote.
What a people would it be with the open Bible, and with the
open face” to read it! When will a holy calm succeed its upheavings of political excitement! When will its tender genius, loving its legend and its lore, cease to mourn the past, and paint its brighter visions of the future! Fair is thy verdure, Erin! but thou shalt yield
a fairer increase! Harp of thy wilds and halls! which erst was struck to strains of patriotism and liberty, whose witch-notes still survive! thou shalt ring with nobler themes and swell into diviner harmonies! Like Judah’s lyre, thou shalt be swept with the inspiration of the Saviour's love and glory! Like the harp of heaven, thou shalt breathe only the tones of an unearthly peace and love! And He who "taketh up the isles," and who spans his throne with a “rainbow in sight, like to an emerald,” shall take thee, thou emerald gem of the ocean, and set thee in that girdle of his covenant faithfulness and love!
When Great Britain and Ireland shall have advanced in the knowledge of Scripture, and in the spirit of Christianity, those ranklings, which have long alienated them, shall be forgotten. Why should they not be one ? Placed side by side, are they not ranged for love and alliance? How is it that they yield not mutual strength ? Who can wish that either should be exalted to the depression of the other ? Both must suffer together : both together only can rejoice. The true patriot should allow no rival claim.
“Non ego, nec Teucris Italos parere jubebo,
Nec mihi regna peto ; paribus se legibus ambæ
*"I will not compel the Latins to obey the Trojans. I seek not for myself new dominions. My only desire is, that two such nations, both invincible, may be indissolubly united by equal laws, and trothed for ever in imperishable treaties." --Virg: Æneid : lib. xii. 189, &c.
It is an unpleasant part of the enquiry, to ask whether Conformists or Nonconformists have better done their duty. The Nonconformist was earlier in the task; the Conformist was indifferent or averse. The Nonconformist loved the object, and fully trusted in it: the Conformist was but faintly attached to it, and fearingly doubted its consequences. But then, in the nature of things, some of this difference in the views and feelings of the parties might be expected. The one was scattered, independent, self-ruled : the other was an immense corporation, not free, not self-determined. Novelty might be a temptation to the first: antiquity could scarcely but be the prejudice of the second. The stake of the former was small : that of the latter was serious and vital. But when both were actually engaged, -the emulation between them cannot be denied, the disparity of means was speedily manifested. The buildings, the equipments, the revenues, of the Episcopalian schools were displayed in a proud preeminence. That Church took up its measures with a unity, a vigour, a success, which outstripped its forerunners and competitors. Its establishment gave those measures strength, its wealth facility, its discipline compactness. That which others were compelled to struggle in order to effect, it accomplished with a giant's ease. It still has the advantage of power and riches. None of those who may deny its right to be the instructress of the people, will complain of the influence which it has morally acquired, or grudge the ascendancy which it
has by its voluntary efforts won. Time was, when it was provoked to jealousy: it now quickens those who gave it the first impulse. We deem it, in the working of its schools, too exclusive in its terms of reception, too intolerant in its imposition of doctrine. But its system must be of certain benefit.
It extends to spots which cannot be reached by more detached exertions. The Dissenters, confident in the rights and blessings of knowledge, have fallen behind their avowals. In the Sabbath Schools they are, indeed, among the foremost. In the Weekly Schools they are grievously defaulting. It is conceded, that much of their doings is concealed within the British and Foreign School Society, of which they have no recognised honour but are still the main support. But were they all in it, were it all theirs, it is not enough. They ought to contribute more than all its funds: they ought to centuple all its schools.
There is a spirit, however, arising, which, from whatever quarter it may show itself, we are ready always to condemn. It is an affected ignorance of the labours of others. It is the utter evasion of them. Does any man sincerely hope that the whole youthful generation can be brought into his church or community ? Can he be bigoted enough to dream of such an absorption and comprehension ? Has he any right, in fact or in equity, to speak of all besides as destitute of Christian education ? No station, no talent, of such men, can make us believe this their oversight to be sincere, or this their zeal to be honest.