« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
we have considered. The private schools are more than 3000, and three-fourths of the people are instructed in them; at least, not in the national public schools. These private schools may be ridiculed : they may be called “Side” schools: but if worthless, Scotland would not foster them,--and if uninfluential, they could not be so multiplied and sustained. What a lesson is this upon the true educational liberty! What a spectacle of the certain defectibility of all institutions, which depend not upon the principle of self-government and the support of the people!
There is found in the Scotch schools very generally, even in those of different orders, a strong competitive practice. When a question is proposed, the class is expected to answer as quickly as possible. The pupil who feels that he is able to do so, darts forward, while his rivals, with eager looks and outstretched hands, are already at his side. The question is not put calmly to the first, and then to the second, and so onward to the last, but to all at once. Places are taken, tickets are given, and notices of the duxship are recorded. The effect is singular. All are intent. The organs of the teacher must be as quick as the gestures of the children. It is even a physical strain on all. All pant with emotion. It is a very struggle. The rush, the shout, but, above all, the impassioned physiognomy, furnish a curious exhibition. It may be doubted whether the extreme rapidity does not, in some instances at least, discourage the timid and hesitating mind : it must stimulate, in no mean degree, the ambitious and the ready.*
It would be unjust to an honoured name, not to mention the Glasgow system; in its more novel features originated, and in its more common ones improved, by Mr. David Stow. Its modifications of older principles are greatly commended by experienced teachers, and by those who have looked much into the minds of the poor. The elliptical practice is remarkable in it. It has become more important than at first it aspired to be: it is a normal school, to which many religious communities now send their future teachers. Another Institution, of a very different kind, is raised in St. Andrew's. It is the bequest of the Rev. Dr. Bell, the founder of the National Schools. He was a native of that venerable city. The academy is noble in structure, and its course of instruction is most liberal. The professors are very able and erudite. Though the Founder was a clergyman of the English Church, he has left the endowment quite unrestricted. If the Presbyterian influence be ascendant in it, it is not dictatorial nor exclusive. The author has never seen a school combining greater advantages, or administered on better principles. It answers to the manner of our chief
* When the eloquent Curran visited Scotland, he thus wrote to a friend :-"In this country, what a work have the four and twenty letters to show for themselves !- the natural enemies of vice, and folly, and slavery; the great sowers, but the still greater weeders, of the human soil."--Life of Curran, by his Son.
Proprietary College Schools. It stands amidst ruins, all of them awfully memorable,—the witnesses of noble martyrdom, the tombs of debasing superstition. How different the order of things it testifies! What new thoughts and hopes it proclaims !
Whatever may be the eccentricities and evils of Ireland, the contentedness of ignorance lies not upon its character. Its national mind is quick and susceptible. It craves for knowledge. Unrighteous laws long obstructed its development. Yet even when fine and imprisonment were enforced upon the Roman Catholic who kept a school, and when the Protestant Parochial school existed only in the perjury of those who had sworn to establish it, the poorer class sent their children to the hedge-school, a name of contempt for institutions in which the smatterings of knowledge could only be obtained. But now there is unrestricted freedom. The proselytising furor, which made the name of parties every thing, and which cared not what were its means and subjects, finds little favour in the eyes of the enlightened and sincere. The Hibernian Society, formed in London, 1806, gave a great impetus to the education which had long been legally restricted, or hypocritically pursued. The Kildare Place Society was productive of very enlarged good, and it may be doubted whether any better plan has been substituted. Still, if a national system were to be established, the very prejudices of the nation deserved to be consulted. Scripture extracts were preferred to the use of the whole volume. It then
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. All 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