Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

cation, an education by the fashionable agency of central board and stipendiary inspection? The literary information and taste of such a people can never be exalted: but however great could be their proficiency, 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. Oh how unlike the spontaneous, the original, the vigorous, outworking of our country's mind! How artificial, tame, monotonous, compared with the nuturulness mid 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 must be stunted to be made equal, and be rigid to be made even. The trees of the forest must be clipped to one pattern. The windings of the river must be straightened to the most undeviating line. "Avenir!" We cannot welcome it. We see in this formalistic plan no seeds of power, no auguries of glory! The nation, so handled and worked into its shape, never can be illustrious! Its generations can only be cycles of what has been! There is no advance. It has no susceptibility of progression. It never can be greater, by the All Hail, Hereafter!

Poor Louis, from his Bed of Justice at Versailles, declared his "resolve to establish, in every part of his kingdom, that unity of design and system, that correspondence of the parts with the whole, without which a great State is only weakened by the number and extent of its territories." He, therefore, would put down the various parliaments of his kingdom. He must centralise! He provoked the nobility and clergy against him, as well as the people. The project brought him to the prison and the block.

Such uniform education binds and tethers a people. It leaves generation after generation in the same hopeless state. It allays discontent, but it is by stopping all progress: it is the gain of slavish supineness at the loss of immortal craving: you, for the sake of the citizen, forego the man. The pendulum does not describe an arc of more unvarying measurements, nor sweep a succession of more tiresome vibrations.

But even now the reaction comes. The State and the Church of France cannot act together, nor agree as to the proper share of each in this business. The Minister of Public Instruction, in this present year, (1844,) has brought in his Education Bill, establishing liberty of instruction for all individuals, and the right of parents to educate their children in their own way,—securing perfect control for the government only in all public establishments. The Monarch, on opening the present Session of the Chambers, announced his wishes to give freedom to education. The meaning is plain. The Church would overawe the Civil Power, and claimed, for this end, the training of the people: the Civil Power perceives that it must abandon some portion of its former pretensions, in order to hold in check the haughty purposes of the Church. The Univers, the organ of the hierarchy, furiously assails the Bill. Between these fierce encounters, which shall be the greater tyrant and divide the larger ascendancy, State or Church, the only hope arises, that the youth of France may escape being brought into bonds by both! Such struggles, if not the happiest means, are, perhaps, the surest earnests, of liberty! When Pope and Emperor contended, then only was the breathing time for liberty,—then only was Europe free!

And this is a warning to us of prophetic menace. The ambition of the Papal See is unappeasable. The Order of Jesuits sought, by every ingenuity, to impose its yoke upon the mind of nations. It began its tamperings, wherever it could worm itself, with the simplicity of youth. Its aggressions soon became so daring, that Europe drove it from court and college, a hissing and byeword of beguilement and oppression. Strange is it that its treachery is so generally overlooked. Its self - inconsistency surely might be trusted to condemn it. Its boasted poverty has ever contrasted with its mighty wealth, its affected meekness with its aggrandising cupidity, its averred submission with its sovereign independence. But it is not always that power itself perceives the danger. It stoops to be the abject instrument of the Papal superstition. So is the Sorceress seen still sitting on the Beast, (the symbol of tyrannic poUty,) with its head and its horns, curbing it to her will. The people succumb also. And she is seen, therefore, sitting upon many waters, (the emblem of popular, multitudinous, interests,) ruling also their surging violence. Shall there be no end? Resign education to the national governments, and it will not be long ere the banners of every country shall cringe to the Gonfalon of Rome!

It is not a dim pathway which leads into the glorious future. It is not by a crooked course that we can enter it. The development of national mind may be but the riveting of a prejudice. Whatever isolates people from people is a mischievous partition wall. Our race is a family. We must establish the true community: the family of nations, as well as the family of man. Intercourse must be the soul of all. The road of the world is found. Its ends are made to approximate. And surely it is an ill-chosen period for nations, boasting of their educational establishments, to pervert those very establishments, that they may hoodwink credulity, cement superstition, and exasperate rancour,—seeking, under their mask and by their aid, to paralyse liberty and bind religion in chains.

. We turn with humble submission and grateful delight from the institutes of man to the ordinances of God. In the laws of that religion by which He reigned before his ancients gloriously,—a polity and a church, as well as a faith,—there is no enactment which dissolves parental responsibility in the education of offspring; none which transfers it. He spake of the great ancestor of that people the encomium which contained the germ of their government: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the law, to do justice and judgment." This was to be the rule of transmission. "Teach them thy sons s

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »