Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

have to propose, viz. the declarations of Lord John Russell, that consistent supporter of national education, and Daniel O'Connell. (laughter) In the first place, Lord John Russell, commenting on Mr. Wyse's proposed liberal system of education last year, said, (I copy this from the Times of the 15th of June) :—“A very plausible system, and it would seem, at first, that persons of all religious creeds might be reconciled to such a proposition ; but I am convinced, in the first place, that is not a system which would ever meet with the general assent of the people of this country; and I am convinced, in the second place, although I speak from hypothetical grounds, that it would fail to implant in the minds of the children that religious and moral culture which is necessary in order to enable them to become good members of society.” (Hear, hear.) No better comment could be made upon the proposed measures of his Lordship's “central society;" it is as well just to remind him now and then of the judgment which he has passed, that if possible he may be made to act consistently with his declared opinions.

Now for Mr. Daniel O'Connell's sentiments; and with the single exception that he would enforce his doctrines and I would enforce mine, I entirely agree with him in what he says, I have read his words before in this parish ; but as his opinion on the subject of education may not be known in the County, and the extract from a published letter of his which I hold in

my hand is too good a quotation to be passed over now, Warrington ears must be content to hear it twice. (a laugh.) “I wish, and in all humility most anxiously pray that the word of God should be heard, not only in the schools of childhood, but in every school and in every place. I think no school deserves the support or countenance of any Christian man in which the words of religion, of peace, and of charityemphatically the words of God, are not heard, and instilled, and inculcated, morning, noon, and night. No man can desire more ardently, or estimate more highly than I do, the advantage of having the people, of having all the people educated. The more of education the more of wisdom and power. Yet I should shrink with affright from any scheme of education which did not include—which did not necessarily include—religious instruction. The most important of man's concerns is the eternal salvation of his own soul; and it would be a miserable delusion to educate men for the temporal and transitory business of this life, and to neglect to educate them for the all-important affair of an eternity.”

My Lord, I have to apologize for having taken up so much time, and for having so long kept away many more able speakers than myself; one concluding remark I would make. Such, as I have endeavoured to describe it, is our object in meeting together to-day; and on the grounds which I have stated, I feel justified in proposing the resolution, “that it is desirable to extend the means, and to improve the system of education throughout the country, on the principles of the Established Church ;" and I do hope and trust that God may so influence the hearts of all present, who profess to be really interested in the cause of education in church principles, that they may not only pass unanimously this, the first resolution of our meeting, but also that which is to come last, on the

fruits of which success depends; and feel an interest not only in their hearts, and express it with their mouths, but also give substantial proof of it through their pockets. (The Hon. and Rev. Gentleman sat down amidst loud applause.)

The Rev. Dr. CALVERT, Warden of Manchester, spoke as follows :I have to second the resolution of the honourable and Rev. gentleman who has just sat down, and I accede to the request not without some degree of diffidence and reluctance when I see around me so many distinguished individuals much better qualified than myself to address you on the present occasion. But, the business and purport of the meeting have been opened by the Right Rev. Chairman in so clear, satisfactory and impressive a manner, and the present resolution has been explained and enforced in a speech of such great ability and eloquence, that I feel little more remains for me than to express my hearty concurrence in the sentiments that have been advanced, and my most earnest desire, and I may say, anxious hope that the scheme for the amelioration and extension of education that has been devised, matured, and sanctioned by a body of men, eminently distinguished for their learning and talents, deeply conversant with the principles of legislation, and devotedly attached to our institutions in Church and State, may meet with such encouragement and support as may enable us to effect its general adoption and successful establishment. (Loud applause.) I trust, however, that I may be allowed to trespass on your indulgence for a very short time whilst I suggest a few observations that have occurred to me in considering the resolution now before you, “ That it is desirable to extend the means and improve the system of education throughout the country” is a position about which there can be no reasonable difference of opinion. It is admitted on all hands, and by all parties; and so strongly has public feeling been excited and expressed on this subject, that a crisis is at hand when something must be done to remedy the defects of the present system either by the legislature or by the voluntary and associated exertions of individuals.

But when we proceed further, and affirm, that the extension and improvement should be effected' "on the principles of the Established Church,” we encounter at once a host of adversaries who scruple not to characterise such a system as exclusive and illiberal. Now, the great principle to which his Lordship adverted, that national religion should form the basis of national education, was first brought under the notice of the public by the present very learned and talented Bishop of Peterborough, in a Sermon preached at St. Paul's, in which it was shewn by unanswerable arguments that such a system of education is absolutely necessary and essential to the preservation of our Constitution in Church and State. A full conviction of this truth led to the formation of the National Society which is based on this principle. Not that the principle itself is a new one, for it is as old as the Reformation. The wise and good men, by whose learning, and labours, and sufferings, that great work was achieved, were fully sensible of the importance of giving a right impulse and direction to the minds and

[ocr errors]

affections of youth, and endeavoured to secure this great object as far as

they had the power, by providing that the rising generation should be ban trained up according to the doctrines and discipline of the then Refor

med Church. But we have to lament that this great principle has not been kept steadily in view by their successors, nor carried out with a due adaptation to the enlarged views of the legislature, and to the altered circumstances of the country.

The consequence has been that the provision then made to effect this object has become, by the lapse of time and change of circumstances, 'nearly ineffectual and inoperative, so far as respects the middle classes of society, which now form so important a part of the body politic. For a knowledge of the learned languages which are chiefly taught at the grammar schools of royal and private foundation, and which were designed originally as feeders to the Established Church, being no longer deemed a necessary part of education for any but the upper classes and the liberal professions, these Schools have fallen into disuse; and in their stead have sprung up a class of schools conducted by self-appointed teachers, pledged to no principle, inculcating religion in no definite form, too often neglecting the discipline of the mind, which is so important a part of education and preferring shewy and superficial attainments to the acquisition of sound learning and religious knowledge ; nor have any attempts been made (at least on a large scale) to check this growing evil

, or to turn the stream of religious education of the middle classes into the channel of the Established Church. Now, allow me to ask, what has been the effect on the public of this our supineness and neglect? Is it not amongst this very class that the main defection from the Established Church has taken place ? I ask further--is not this defection already such as to shake the stability and to endanger the security of the establishment ? I will further ask-will not this defection increase unless a great effort be made, and forth with made (to use the words of this resolution) "to extend the means and improve the system of education throughout the country on the principles of the Established Church.” The National Society, I admit, and I acknowledge it with thankfulness to the Author of all Good, is now doing, and has done, much in extending the benefits of sound and religious education, based on church principles, throughout the country. But this Society, originating in charitable motives, and supported by voluntary contributions, has had its operations and usefulness confined to the children of our poor neighbours; though the Society have long contemplated the extension of this principle of its foundation to the education of a higher class of pupils; and I am happy to say are now desirous of co-operating with us in bringing about a consummation so devoutly to be wished. This readily and efficaciously improvement may, perhaps, be most effected, not by any new machinery, but by that in existence. But I shall leave it to the gentlemen who follow me io enter into the detail of this business.

I am well aware, that in adopting and supporting the present measure, we shall be charged with an endeavour to attach the rising generation to the Church of England. I plead guilty to the charge-loud applause) -and I beg to say that we do so, not because it is the Established

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Church, but because we believe it to be a true and Apostolical church -(loud applause)—the church of the living God-the pillar and ground of the truth. (Great applause.) To the charge of the want of liberality, (a word much used, but little understood-loud cries of “ Hear, hear") —we answer that we claim no liberty which we do not willingly concede to others; that we deem it a paramount duty to educate children in those religious principles which we conscientiously believe to be true; that in doing so we seek not the praise of men but : of God; and that we are unwilling to sacrifice the spiritual and eternal ! interests of those who are near and dear to us at the shrine of this Moloch of modern idolatry. I cannot conclude, when I reflect on the magnitude and paramount importance of the undertaking, without in imitation of his Lordship) invoking the blessing of God on this our labour of love, beseeching Him to put into our hearts good desires, and to enable us to bring the same to good effect. (Loud applause.)

The Right Rev. CHAIRMAN then read the resolution, which he put to the meeting. So far as we could see, every hand of the densely-crowded multitude was held up in its favour. His Lordship then said, -I think, after what I have seen, I shall be excused if I do not ask for any dissentient.

Lord Viscount Sandon, M. P. for Liverpool, rose to propose the next resolution. He said :-My Lord, there are only two grounds on which

1 I can feel myself in any way entitled to the very prominent part which has been assigned to me in the proceedings of this day; and when I look around me, and see so many gentlemen distinguished by talent and high station in this important diocese, I hope I shall be excused for stating them as my justification. In the first place, I have the honor of being one of that Committee of inquiry and correspondence acting under the sanction of the National Society, out of whose investigation the system now proposed for your adoption has arisen. In the second place, I take it as a tribute to the important town, which I have the honor of representing, one of the most important in the diocese, I should have said of the empire ; and if anything had been needed to inspire me with a deeper interest on the subject of education, and a deeper anxiety that it should be further extended on right principles, it certainly would have been my connexion with that great, and populous, and growing community; not that in that community I find any apathy on the subject—not that I have not seen whenever the name is men. tioned, a spirit which shows itself not in words, but in extraordinary exertion, both personal and pecuniary—but that I find in spite of the existence of such a spirit, the strongest evidence in that community, that education still greatly needs extension, improvement, method, organization: and that security that it shall be not only now, but in future, conducted on moral principles, which I hope the diocesan system now proposed to you will be able to provide.

The observations of your excellent Rector, who has opened this day's proceedings, have gone so fully, so ably, and so clearly, not only

[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

als object. But I wish to mention to you a fact, which I think will prove Lur other, has been already enabled to furnish us with many interesting up

into the general question of education, but into the particular means what by which it is now proposed to carry it into effect, that he has left little Gent for those who follow him. I may perhaps also be allowed to say, that

having gone myself fully into the subject only yesterday, at a similar meeting in the diocese in which I reside, I feel less disposed to trespass long upon your attention to day. On a few points, however, I still feel called upon to make some observations. Your worthy Rector dwelt much upon the importance of one distinguished featnre of our plan, namely, the improved education which it is intended to offer to the middle classes of this country, in connexion with the National Church, and I believe he can hardly exaggerate the importance of the beyond a doubt, that it is no imaginary want, that we are called upon to supply in this respect.

The Exeter Diocesan Board which being earlier established than any facts, ascertained on investigation, that there existed in that town, already, twelve schools for the middle classes, the pupils in which pay from two to eight guineas a year for their instruction: that of these twelve, eleven of the masters distinctly recognized the principles of the National Church, were themselves members of it, taught its formularies, and were willing to enter into union with the diocesan board. So far then apparently there would appear no great call for our interposition. But pushing these inquiries further into the rapidly growing population of Plymouth and its neighbourhood, much now akin to ours, they discover a very different picture, one I am afraid to which we shall find but too many parallels among ourselves. The number of schools for the middle classes in that district was thirty-seven, in five only of which the principles of the Established Church are recognized by the masters; but even of them, two only express at present a willingness to enter into union with the Board; fifteen of the masters are Dissenters; three are of no religious denomination whatever ; and fourteen have no settled or fixed opinion on the matter. Now is this a state of things which whether as Churchmen, as Christians, or as Patriots, we be content to leave untouched? Are these the hands in which we can be content to leave the Education of the Middle Classes, the very pith and marrow of our country's strength? I do not mean to say, that there are not many able, many excellent men already engaged in this honorable career, but I do say that facts, such as these, show that there is much to be done in this field, and that at any rate we ought to have better security than now exists, that so important a charge should not be abandoned to improper hands.

At the same time we impose no compulsion, we propose no restraint, we do no more than offer our system with its advantages to those who may voluntarily desire to be connected with it, who

may

wish to take our yoke upon them; we hope and believe that like that of our great Master our yoke will be found easy and our burden light.

The duty of connecting any general scheme of Education, with some definite religious system has been so fully argued, that I have little to

[ocr errors]

can

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

chart, a

« VorigeDoorgaan »