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yet perpetuate the spirit's bondage. We cannot trust these men. They have not learnt that “the redemption of the soul is precious.” Their aspirations are not those of conscience struggling to be free. We will unfurl a banner,-beneath it the defence of every mortal concernment is safe, -its shadow is a universal refuge,—which has other mottoes than those of policy, whose mighty field is emblazoned with other enrichments than those of war, whose foldings are stirred with other impulses than those of present passion and conflict, which streams towards heaven If we be accused of stupidity in not discerning that it is the right and duty of the State to educate the people; if we be charged with propounding, in the contrary view, a new doctrine; may we not retort? How long has it been understood? The Parliamentary Commissioners, of 1838, upon the condition of education in this country, thus report the result of their labours: —“They are convinced that, however inadequate the present system of instruction for the humbler classes may be, in many districts, it is owing almost entirely to the laudable and persevering efforts throughout the country, of benevolent individuals, that any thing at all worthy the name of education has been afforded to the children of the working classes in the large towns.” “Until very recently, the subject appears to have entirely escaped the attention of government.” “On this matter, important as it is to the welfare of all classes, there seem to exist no sources of information in any department of government.” Sudden, then, is the outburst of light which has come upon our jurists, statists, and legislators! Philanthropists and Christians for so long a time have intruded upon their province' “They are the men, and wisdom shall die with them !” But there is another tribunal. These senators and statesmen are but the functionaries of the nation. The solemn appeal has been made to it: Velitis, Jubeatis, Quirites? And if the answer of Britain be not sufficiently emphatic, for ever to debar such encroachments, for ever to warn such intermeddlers, its rulers must be seized with utter infatuation, no wise to be accounted for but by the judgment of Him “that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.”
When honest conviction is entertained, its honesty must be proved by its consistent support and perseverance. Now it is not denied that national education is a very favourite project with many. They only of late may have dwelt upon it. Still later has it been that they have understood its difficulty. But, from time immemorial, education has been benevolently, that is, voluntarily, applied. In this is no novelty. We find in this fact a well-proved principle. From it, with the experience of ages upon it, we are not inclined to swerve. It is not that which can coexist with any compulsory scheme It fades and falls before the contrary system. The idea is hopeless, that they can be concurrent means. Every present form of education must be weakened and absorbed, by the unitive and national measure which has been supposed. It cannot be a mere addition to what is now in subsistence: it must supersede. The “new piece” will destroy the ancient texture. Such contraries must dash in endless collision. No common basis, no reconciling solution, can be found. The man of enlightened and sincere principle must, in this conjuncture, be inflexible. He will find himself placed amidst conflicts of opinion. He will be condemned for the most opposite prejudices. He will be urged to move in the most contrary directions. His star is above, and he must steer by it.
“Wirtus repulsae nescia sordidae
Intaminatis fulget honoribus;
The sciolist, unread in history, unversed in constitutional knowledge, after a superficial glance of other countries, may repeat the verbiage, “that to this country the distinction is due, of being the least educated country of Europe, of being the only one which has no system of national education.” And wherefore, My Country, art thou thus arraigned ? What means this charge? This treason to thy honour, from them who
* “True courage, unacquainted with defeat, shines on with untarnished honours; neither grasping, nor laying down, the ensigns of its dignity at every turn of the popular will.”—Hor: Carm: lib. iii. 2.
call themselves thy sons? These parricidal, though imbecile, bolts against thy Shield? Is it that thou art dark, while all around thee glows in light? Is it that thou art alien to the love of knowledge and the advancement of learning? Is it that science and erudition and poetry have fled thy shores? Is it that the Muses find in thee no haunt P Hast thou no theatre for the arts? Is it that thy swains and artizans do not think and will not enquire? Canst thou boast no cunning workmen 2 Is it that thy mind stagnates and thy conscience sleeps? Is it that thy literature, complete or serial, teems multitudinously for one great appetite and zest? Is it that the bird-hum of infant pupils swells upon the village breeze? Is it that in the far distant dale, the school, of no common lore, lifts its grey porch 2 Thy crime is known | Despots have banded themselves to mutter it ! Thou art too enlightened and wilt radiate thy light ! Thou art too free, and wilt proclaim thy freedom! Thou wilt not give thy limbs to be bound ! Thou wilt not be cajoled into the surrender of thy rights | Thou art too high-souled, too erect, too thoughtful, for this abject education! Thou canst not be converted into a school! Thou canst not submit to the formula of a discipline! And, therefore, O my country! if I loved thee ever, I the more reverently love thee now,-now, that in thy greatness, thou hast broken the snare which aught less than thy jealousy of liberty might not have detected, and aught less than thy enthusiasm of independence might not have spurned ! Still may thine be,
“Pity and fear,
Others may desire the supple, slavish, unreflecting, race. We ask of men to think. We seek even the conflict of opinion. We know, in the language of Milton, that “opinion is knowledge in the making." They may afford the education which rather binds than unlooses the spirit of man. They would reduce society to a scale of exact graduations. Government they would erect into a universal control. They regard man as the mere accessory to higher aims. They play the game of their ambition,-the types of power and rank traverse their board,—and the people are the pawns with which they defend their privileged figures, and fill their vacant squares. We can take no such servile estimate. We renounce the cruel wrong. We desire to see the community astir: a thing of life and action. We hold that independence is its best virtue. The characteristic firmness of a nation is its surest defence. We scorn the discipline which so many love, and whose covert intention is to lull the noble and the brave into unsuspecting confidence, to tame them into abject submission.
* Shakspeare. Timon of Athens.