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We ought to renew the Adult school. The passing generation should share our zeal with the rising. It is a work to task all our energies, and to reconcile all our differences. Alas, how much knowledge is there which is but power to commit, and to refine, on evil! How much is there not only to teach, but to disabuse ! What lessons do the multitude need, not only to acquire, but to unlearn
“O miseras hominum mentes ! O pectora caeca !
And therefore is it that we feel the necessity of a more religious discipline. The effects of mere mental education are not lasting, however salutary. They are not parts of the character. They do not enter into the deeper recesses of the soul. They do not connect themselves with fixed ideas of moral obligation. There is no proper change of the man. Simple, speculative, knowledge restrains, of necessity, no passion,-eradicates no vice. It is the bulrush before the torrent. Whatever the strokes on the adamant, even to a thousand flaws, it is adamant still. For a time there may be arrest on immorality, a charm upon the most licentious. “In Orpheus theatre, all beasts and birds assembled, and forgetting their several appetites, some of
“O the unhappy spirits, the darkling views, of our race : Through what a gloomy life, amidst what frightful danger, is our age drawn out.”—Lucretius.
prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the airs and accords of the harp, the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit—of lust—of revenge; which, as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence, and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion.” This is all that we can anticipate as the result of simple scholarship, great or small. It is a spell for the time present. But let temptation arise, and the passions of our nature stir, and such learning offers little resistance. Man reverts to what he was. He has not been changed at all. Like the creatures of this Orphean mythos, he has stood entranced at the harmonies of the bard, but when that lyre was no more swept, the animal nature has recovered its strength, and the lower instincts have returned. The higher and religious nature of man needs our first care. We, therefore, earnestly strive that the education of the people be so conducted, that it should be rested upon a true regeneration,—the expulsion of the beast,-the evocation of the saint,—the triumph of a new creature,—an effect * Bacon. Advancement of Learning, Book i.
beyond the power of even moral means to produce, but which may only be sought in their diligent and prayerful application. While the evil is menacing, while it is principally found in the increase of population * over means of instruction, which were recently more adequate than at present they are, —let us not be drawn away from its anxious consideration, by questions which serve but to amuse the politicians of the day. Among these is the theory of a national education. It is little esteemed by those who urge it. It is ever and anon argued to satisfy a party. Nothing is done, and none know better than they who urge it, that nothing can be done.t. But it gains time. It staves off difficulty. It appeases importunity and clamour. Things remain as they are. This is what such politicians wish. They can admire Gray's Ode to Ignorance still, which the bard never completed, and which for his fame he ought not to have begun: for, satire as it is, though these Boeotians perceive it not, it is poor and tame. The guilt of the delay and of the failure, is devolved upon certain opponents. The advocates are clear, and appeal to their best, though unfortunate, efforts. Thus, the resistance of the Factory Bill, brought into Parliament during the session of 1843, is ingeniously described as the resistance of a wise, comprehensive, plan to educate the poor. An argument is very commonly raised upon that resistance, that they who were active in it, are bound in a most peculiar manner to assist national education. If, indeed, they had defeated a measure which would have wrought it well, and secured it permanently, the argument would be as stringent as just. But we hold that they defeated not a true and enduring instruction of the people, but its mockery and gag. The fact is, that it proscribed the best teachers of the young, and warred, to destruction, against the best existing methods of instructing them. The entire host of those petitioners against it, —the 2,068,059 appellants to the senate to cast out a measure whose fraudulency, dissimulation, bigotry, words were never made to describe and to denounce,—saw that the intention was to stop the moral advancement of the people. He who dared this insult, under the garb of benevolence, and in the name of religion, must have grasped at honours which vizier and inquisitor had hitherto left unattempted.* "Though the “Olive Branch” was rejected, the reader may accept it as a beautiful image of that education which a free people
* According to the scale of past experience, we may look for an increase of two millions and a half in the next ten years.
+ “From what you say, and from what I have heard from others, there is a very natural desire to trust to one or two empirical remedies, such as general education, and so forth.”—Life of Sir Walter Scott. Letter to J. B. S. Morritt, Esq., Rokeby.
not only need, but will, of themselves, provide, being reminded of the description in Sophocles: “Esty 2 is sya. Ta; 'Agizs 8x 42-axsa, Ov?' sy to us yax? Angio, wago.
It is not really necessary to mention distinctly the grounds of opposition to that nefarious measure. It may suffice to say, that it was most unequal to tax those who had already made large sacrifices for education alike with those who had hitherto made none. It was, also, most invidious, laying the charge of the greater ignorance on the manufacturing population, rather than on the agricultural, the monstrous reverse of fact. It must have proved physically ruinous to the very parties whose benefit was avowedly intended, for such were its conditions, that it could but throw a very considerable portion of the children out of employment. It was defective, even in its own purpose, for it could not have reached to the fiftieth part of the youth who need instruction in the mill districts. But its un-English, its Jesuitical, features, betrayed themselves. It fell before a blast of scorn and execration. The Catiline fled amidst the storm.
In a spirit, far removed from polemical, we must declare the eternal withdrawment of another agency beside the State. The Spiritual power was a well