Изображения страниц

hath, and not according to that he hath not." If particular districts be marked as those which can neither originate nor sustain schools, the argument is larger than the instance supposed. . The member of the Establishment may most consistently use it. But how is it “fitted” in a Dissenter's “lips?" Would he say that, in places which could not maintain their own temples and services, government should uphold them? Is not the appointment and sustentation of instruction in religion an establishment, as far as it goes, of that religion? The supposed inability of any men, distributively or collectively considered, to do anything to its utmost success, can be no reason for not doing it to the utmost of their capacity: and reason cannot be offered, by that partial failure, for the interposition of the very aid which, in all the most cognate relations and their most notable failures, is sternly refused. Our country indisputably contains a hundred-fold of the wealth that would be required. There is one aspect in which such redundance stands forth with disgusting contrast to this appropriation of it. We pronounce no judgment, whether it be necessary or not, but we can only mourn to see the land covered with an army and a police. Every where force and defence are made to appear. Law and government grasp a rod of iron. The cannon, the sabre, the bayonet, the staff, wait for action. Prisons fill our landscapes and overhang our towns. How frightful must the morals of the people be to need this ever-present defiance and array! What enlightened and benevolent citizen does not desire that this expenditure could be otherwise directed, that moral means might be substituted for. those of violent repression and avengement, that prevention might supersede the punishment of crime, that the mind of that body which is now manacled might have been rightly instructed, that the heart of that convict now driven forth from society might have been touched and won | What plans of peace would this treasure have ripened ! What foundations of order, loyalty, and obedience, would it have laid! Soldiers and constables would have been exchanged for teachers: barracks and prisons would have been turned to schools: the outcasts of our penal settlements would have adorned their homes: the scaffold would have resigned its wretches for honoured life and dying triumph. We ask not this sum from the Exchequer,we crave its erasure from the Budget: we would not receive it from the Treasury, —we would refuse it to the Ways and Means. But where will be the impossibility of supporting, from private funds, that extension of education which we all desire? We are told, that the State alone can do it. There is a mystery of finance in this which we cannot unravel. How can the State raise the amount? Is it not to be raised upon the people? Is the inability in that integral amount, in its very self, until it has passed into the public coffers? Does it there acquire its potency and fulness? A very small effort, small when weighed against the property of the nation, will suffice. If the work be doing, if a great portion of it be adequately done, why should it be transferred to the government of our land? Are not its pecuniary obligations, at present, sufficiently heavy 7 Are not its inventive powers of supply well-nigh exhausted? Are not its duties and departments already too multifarious? The governments of great nations exhibit a reserve of legislation. The petty state is always addicted to its vexatious excess. “Plurimae leges, corruptissima respublica.”* The freer the people, the less they leave the State to do. And large impulses and movements prove that the nation, undirected and unaided by government, now ponders its responsibility and awakens its strength towards this undertaking. The National School Society has made its call, and the splendid answer of court, aristocracy, hierarchy, demonstrates that it needs no revenue but the good will of its members. The British and Foreign School Society is beginning to receive a new consideration of its long neglected claims and ungratefully requited efforts, while its patrons and supporters feel the exigent demand upon their utmost help. The Wesleyan Methodists throw all behind by a glorious suretyship of hundreds of thousands for future years. The Dissident Bodies are in consultation,many of them in action,-to enlarge and strengthen the basis of their well-known attempts to increase the enlightened happiness of the people. The public mind seems filled with the one idea. It will accomplish itself. It is the axle of innumerable wheels. If the plans, now inchoate, be realised,—if the operations, long since commenced, be furthered,—the stress of the case is encountered and the wants of the nation will be satisfied. It is the concession of one who has pleaded very strongly for a National Scheme of Education, but who has evidently felt its difficulty, if not its utter fallacy, at every advancing footstep, —it is the concession even of Lord Brougham himself—“We have now a right to conclude against any general interference of the Legislature, until the offerings of individuals shall be found to be insufficient, and the seminaries they have established shall be seen going to decay.”

* Tacitus.

* Speech in the House of Peers, 1837.

“My own opinion has long been that no government in this country can succeed in devising a measure for the general education of the people. The principle being admitted that all who pay the taxes are to be benefited by their expenditure, it would not be possible to adopt a system of education on Church principles, since that would exclude Dissenters. On the same principle it would be impossible to have an essentially Protestant education, since that would exclude Roman Catholics;—but the same principle would prevent any measure for a Christian education, even admitting the designation to be applicable to some systems which would exclude all the articles of the Christian faith and all the doctrines of the Christian religion; since the very name of Christianity is offensive to tax-paying Infidels.”-Letter of Rev. W. F. Hook, D.D., Vicar of Leeds, in the British Magazine, Oc. tober, 1842. See also the Charge of Archdeacon Wilberforce, 1843.

The Parliamentary grant, not equal to some royal pension, is unworthy of the cause which it is designed to promote. It should be declined. Both the Societies, which now partake and distribute it, should feel that their voluntary support makes them too independent to accept such boon. If it be for hire, the service and the wages are ignoble. The manner of the dole is as objectionable. It is a lure. A half is given where the other half is raised. This may appear, in its proportion, just. But even thus regarded, it is partial. Poverty, in the competition, has no power against wealth. Its terms are too high for the one, its largesses too inconsiderable for the other. But were it as munificent as it is mean, there are many who must refuse it. The interdict is not on all. They who contend that religion should be established by the State, may be consistent in receiving support from the same quarter for education. But they who have all along denounced that principle, must not now palter with it. It is not for them to say that there is no compromise if there be no stipulation. If religion be the smallest element in their ideas of education, they would receive, in the state support, the establishment of their religion. They would enjoy that particular use of the Public Money which others of their countrymen, who were equally taxed for it, could not enjoy. For it is a perfect dream that it can be given unconditionally. The dignitaries of the Established Church have already been obliged to make humbling condi

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »