« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the education of youth, yet that, in securing such a number of teachers, a nucleus is obtained for social advancement. These, it is contended, are in themselves a vast accession to the stock of national learning and intelligence. We cannot concede it. It is an empty boast. They are no part of the community. They are no ingredient in a people. They stand only as a class separated from all beside. They are imposed: they may be recalled. It bespeaks a most undesirable encroachment. Such men are nothing in a nation but as instructors. Their instructions are carried very generally to the full limit of their own knowledge. They have been trained for a certain office, and are most uninfluential out of it. And what is their independence in lending themselves to a uniform system of literary and religious tuition? They are the underlings of a despotic power. They are the drudges in the execution of its decrees. They may educate the people in this slavish rut; they may educate them well: but what are they in themselves ? What discoveries will they make? What high-souled virtues will they establish? What barriers of prejudice will they throw down? What lights will they carry forward into the future? We mark them with a deep jealousy. They are the ready agents of every anti-popular plot. They are the Prætorian guard. They are as the Switzers and the Janisaries of the tyrants who hate our “nature's onward plan.”. Subserviency is written on their brow. They are held in leash to assist, at any moment,
the iron arrest of enquiry and the reckless suppression of liberty. They are the taskmasters to crush the human spirit. Mechanically inured for mechanical duty, they are creatures of the routine, the circle, the groove: they are not the men to think, to reason, to soar away towards the sun of truth. They are the puppets of a show,--they are only impelled and managed by unseen springs and wires.
Other countries, other powers, may see, in this uniform training, the precise means to as precise an end. They proclaim that their purpose is unitive. They would melt down all discordances of opinion into a common mould. The following extract from Le Siècle of 18th March, 1837, cannot be mistaken :-“An end of this kind can only be obtained by the means of education, which, in taking generations at their source, finds neither prejudices nor interests contrary to its influence. This is above all necessary, after a revolution which has fractioned the country into so many parties; for if education were free, parents would entrust their children to those schools wherein their principles were professed; society would still remain divided; political strife, party and religious hatreds, would thus be perpetrated from age to age; and it would be impossible for government to accomplish the peaceful mission with which it has been charged. We would, therefore, have been willing enough to restrain parental authority, and the rights of teaching, in favour of the University, provided that University had received the impulse of a
national government.” Was that the wolf-bark of the Corsican dynasty ? Was it the toothless doting of the elder Bourbon ? It is the apology of the second revolution of the regenerated nation, of the popular kingship, of la Jeune France, in favour of its educatory catholicon! The University, it is intimated, is not quite in unison with the movement. There is no Napoleon to cow it. There is no Charles to entice it. If it were less independent, more democratic, it might take the masterdom of all the ideas and convictions of the people! This may be the language only of journalism. Another extract shall be taken from the Report which was drawn upon Public Instruction, 1837, by M. Dubois, member for La Loire, member of the Royal Council of Public Instruction, a general Inspector of the University, and Director of the Normal School:“Thank God and the progress of civilization, it is now admitted that the State cannot allow the education of the people, nor yet the higher branches of knowledge, to be exposed to the mercy of political and religious parties, and to the changes of private industry.” “Can a government allow the principles, the rules, the manners, and the habits, religious, civil, and political, on which it is founded, to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine ? Every day, complaints are heard about the anarchy which prevails in public opinion. Would it, by chance, be a remedy for this evil, if, in the midst of so many new systems of education, the national majority, of which the government, after all,
is but the highest expression, -the majority, that constituted, acknowledged, and sovereign, authority, in all other matters, dared not, or could not, proclaim itself sovereign also in education ?"*
The spirit and the scope of these quotations are explicit. We blame them for no disguise. But we indignantly ask, What must be the state of the country which can endure them, which can applaud them ? The right of private judgment, of unbiassed enquiry, of moral independence, is blotted from their charter by the citizens themselves. Public education is abused for the avowed purpose of this disfranchisement. It is to be employed for the very end of a universal assimilation. The modifications of mind are thus sought to be destroyed. The religious individuality of man, the most solemn thought which can possess him, that which is the “whole of man,” is not recked of. His present social condition and subserviency is the total view and care. His “large discourse, looking before and after,” is erased. He must think only through one medium. His patriotism consists only in a Procrustean denaturalization. And should it not be a warning, like that of the Treble Woe, how we indulge the theory of a Public Education, an education by the fashionable agency of central board and stipendiary inspection? The literary information, the proper taste, of such a people can never be exalted: but however
* The Author is indebted for both extracts to the Pamphlet before quoted, “Reasons against Government Education,” &c.
great should be their intellectual progress, the most accurate knowledge would be no substitute for the sense of personal accountability. Their minds might be filled with the curves of geometry and the wonders of physiology, to say nothing of poetry and romance; and yet the Plague of Darkness might be upon them, the more portentous that it was not felt.
Would we know what France anticipates as its millenium, its euthanasia, its apotheosis, we need but consult the Book of its Royal Schools, or, according to the second title of that beautiful publication, “L'Avenir de la Jeunesse.” That high hope is founded upon certain institutions for cadets. The youthful candidates for fortune are trained in them. They almost all point to the public service,-Polytechnic, Naval, Staff, Charters, Verduring, Mining, Cavalry, Road and Bridge construction, Engineering and Artillery, and even Veterinary! There are also establishments for the Fine Arts, for Law, for Medicine, and for Music. The normal school is the most honoured of all. It is the “Pepiniere” of a universal influence. It is the centre and ganglion of a universal distribution. O how unlike the spontaneous, the original, the vigorous, outworking of our country's mind! How artificial, tame, monotonous, compared with the naturalness and independence of our people! The arts and professions cease to be liberal; and the soil, over which government sets its army of mercenaries and espials, resounds with the one step, or rather tramp, of a mechanical uniformity. All