spoke to the following effect.
'My Lords,* In conformity with the notice which I gave some time ago, I now rise to submit certain Resolutions to your Lordships, on a subject the importance of which but one universal opinion confesses, although there may prevail a difference of sentiment regarding the course fittest to be pursued for attaining the end which all have alike in view. In calling the attention of the House to a matter of such deep and universal interest—both to the governors and the governed, of this and every other country—I feel that I need hardly preface my observations with any apology, or bespeak your attention to a topic so nearly affecting the welfare, and, indeed, the* Republished from a Corrected Report.1294 safety of the community at large. I have the misfortune it is true—and I have always felt it a misfortune—to differ from a large, at least a decided, majority of those whom I have the honour of addressing, in political principles, and in the feelings which these engender. Upon most things connected with the management of public affairs, I entertain my own conscientious opinions, which are the same I have ever held and ever acted upon. Your Lordships entertain your own, and will allow me to keep by mine, as I find no fault with you for retaining yours; but I certainly do feel, that whoever, standing in this position—whether as a Peer of Parliament, or as a Member of the other Assembly—undertakes to bring forward a subject like the present, has a difficult task imposed upon him. He makes himself the advocate of measures which ought to be kept free from all admixture of party feeling—apart from all the disturbing forces of political animosity—measures in which as all parties have the same stake, so none ought to interfere with any other view, but to consider their merits upon the most enlarged principles, and with the most inflexible resolution to consult only the true interests of the country.
Why, then, it may be asked, am I apprehensive of this great and common cause suffering in my hands from party dissensions? It is because I fear lest some of your Lordships may think more of the advocate than of the question—more of his politics, than of its merits. I know there are those who will not listen so readily to the claims of any subject, as they will consider the character and the habits—I mean the political character and habits—of him who introduces it. I know that there be those who are rather moved by the wrongs (if I may speak the language of my profession), the wrongs of persons, than by the rights of things; and unless your Lordships shall be convinced that this subject of popular education is, in itself, worthy your serious attention—unless I can make you fully aware of all its details, so as to conciliate your favour towards the things required for its full establishment—I may be doing mischief to that cause, the progress of which it has been the great object of my life to advance. Yet assuredly the situation in which I here stand, is nothing less than novel to me. I have never stood, at any period of my public life, either in this or the other House of Parliament, otherwise than as the Member of a minority, 1295 generally a minority inconsiderable in numerical force. I have always had a preponderating, often an overpowering majority of my fellow-members opposed to me in either House, even while a Minister of the Crown; nor was it until I had left the Commons, that my colleagues knew what it was to sway the voices of that Assembly, while I only exchanged an adverse majority of Commoners for a hostile majority of Peers. Yet it has been my good fortune to succeed in obtaining the assent of both Houses to many measures of paramount importance, at first propounded to unwilling audiences, rudely crossed by the influence of some, coldly supported by the flagging zeal of others, persevered in with the aid of the country, and backed by the force of reason, till in time the feeble minority swelled into an all but the unanimous voice of Parliament, as of the people. These recollections encourage me now to face the preponderance of my political adversaries, and give me hopes of a like success in my present endeavours.
Having detained your Lordships for a few moments with adverting to what I deemed not unimportant, I shall now come at once to the details of the subject which I wish to press upon the attention of the House. I shall first of all explain why I deem it to be inexpedient to bring forward for the consideration of Parliament, that which many of the warmest friends of Universal Education, with the best intentions, (though I think through mistaken views), are partial to; I mean a General Bill for the establishment of parish schools at the public expense, and under public regulation. I am very decidedly against any such measure, and I shall now shortly explain why I am against it. But as the opinion to which I now refer is entertained, though by a most respectable, yet not by a numerous class of persons, I should not feel justified in entering upon details to show why I differ from them, were it not that at one and the same time I shall be laying before your Lordships the present state of popular education in this country.
In the year 1818, the labours of the Education Committee of the House of Commons—labours to which no man can attach too high a value—were made the subject of great controversy—a controversy as fierce and uncompromising as almost any that ever prevailed—and to which I only now refer as affording another reason for the hope I so fondly cherish, that though now, perhaps, in a minority upon this, as 1296 upon many other questions here debated, I yet may ultimately find myself with scarcely an antagonist. That bitter controversy is at an end—the heats which it kindled are extinguished—the matter that engendered those heats, finds equal acceptance with all parties. Those are now still, or assenting, or even supporting me, who then taught that I was sowing broadcast the seeds of revolution, and who scrupled not to accuse me as aiming at the "dictatorship," by undermining the foundations of all property; those who once held that the Education Committee was pulling down the Church, by pulling down the Universities and the great schools—that my only design could be to raise some strange edifice of power upon the ruins of all our institutions, Ecclesiastical and Civil—have long ceased to utter even a whisper against whatever was then accomplished, and have become my active coadjutors almost ever since. Nay, the very history of that fierce contention is forgotten. There are few who now are aware of a controversy having ever existed, which a few years back agitated all men all over the country; and the measures I then propounded, among revilings and execrations, have long since become the law of the land. I doubt whether, at this moment, there are above some half-dozen of your Lordships who recollect anything about a warfare which, for months, raged with unabated fury both within the walls of the Universities and without—which seemed to absorb all mens' attention, and to make one class apprehend the utter destruction of our political system, while it filled others with alarm lest a stop should be put to the advancement of the human mind. That all these violent animosities should have passed away, and all these alarms be now sunk in oblivion, affords a memorable instance of those strange aberrations—I will not say of public opinion, but—of party feeling, in which the history of controversy so largely abounds. I have chiefly dwelt upon it to show why I again trust that I may outlive the storms which still are gathering round those who devote themselves rather to the improvement of their fellow-creatures than the service of a faction.
In those days then, the education Committee, by inquiries instituted respecting all the parishes of this island, obtained a full account of the means of instruction existing in each. The result of the whole was, as regarded England and Wales, that independent of Sunday-schools—which for the 1297 present I shall lay on one side—there were of day-schools, endowed and unendowed, about 18,500, actually educating, during six days in the week, 644,000 children—that of this number 166,000 were educated at endowed schools, and 478,000 at unendowed schools, schools supported entirely by voluntary contributions, or by the payments received from scholars. The number of endowed schools, was somewhat above 4,100—of unendowed, about 14,300. The former number of endowed schools, and their scholars, is of course nearly fixed—the latter of unendowed, is that which varies from time to time; therefore take only the variable number of 478,000, those educated at unendowed day-schools, and then consider what progress has been made in them since 1818; a progress partly owing to the exertions of private benevolence, but in part, too, achieved by the exertions of the poorer classes themselves; for it is a circumstance on which I dwell with the greatest pride and pleasure, that of the 478,000 taught in unendowed schools, 310,000 paid for their tuition, and 168,000 only were free scholars; and even taking in the unendowed schools, of the whole 644,000 taught, 320,000, or one-half of the whole, paid for their schooling.
Now, when I said I should lay on one side the education in Sunday-schools, it was not from undervaluing those excellent institutions, or because the details relating to them are unimportant, but because of the limited nature of that kind of education, and the necessarily inferior advantages which alone it can bestow; for while one day in the week is very little towards the purposes of instruction, it is still less towards the benefits—the far more important benefits of moral discipline. It is evidently not merely the teaching of reading writing, and ciphering, that profits the child: the regular school attendance is far more material for its improvement. Six days in the week, at six hours in the day, is a vast advantage in this training; but a single day, for three or four hours, although the child being kept out of harm's way may be something, is yet, comparatively speaking, insignificant as moral training,—as forming the invaluable habits of order, industry, and good behaviour. I desire it to be understood that I say nothing against Sunday-schools, or against those excellent individuals who patronize them, and who devote so much of the day of rest to teaching in them. It is not because I value them less—but because I prize the others more 1298 —those schools in which the whole time of the children is spent under the master's eye—that I have said nothing of the numbers taught on Sundays. There is, indeed, another reason for keeping those numbers out of our calculation; we have no means of knowing what proportion of the children attend the Sunday-schools alone, and how many attend both the Sunday and the day schools. Thus, there were, in 1818, as I have already said, 644,000 children attending day-schools, and 452,000 was the number of children attending the 5,100 Sunday-schools; but those two sums must not be added together, by way of finding how many children, in the whole, received any instruction. I believe that at least three-fourths, if not four-fifths, of the one class belong also to the other. I have, therefore, thought it better, for these reasons, to institute the comparison between the present and the former amount of Education, by attending only to that which forms its great branch—the number of children attending day-schools.
Let us, then, see whether the number of 478,000 children, attending unendowed day-schools in 1818, has increased, or remained stationary, or fallen off. Ten years after the dissolution of the Education Committee—that is, in 1828—a great measure was carried in the other House of Parliament, chiefly by the exertions of a noble Friend of mine, Lord John Russell: I mean the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. As the invidious distinctions which those laws formerly created between Churchmen and Sectarians, had chiefly prevented their cordially co-operating together for planting schools, this appeared to me a favourable moment for bringing them into one plan of exertion, and for calling on them all to aid in the great work of education. Preparatory to any such attempt, I took the liberty of addressing 700 or 800 circulars to the clergymen of as many different parishes. I had no authority to do so; but trusting to their courtesy, and recollecting the good will with which the working-clergy had helped my inquiries in 1818, I asked for an answer to the queries contained in those circulars, respecting the state of education among their several flocks. I received answers to 487, which was one-twenty-first part of the parishes of England. That must be admitted to be a small number, comparatively; but still it appeared to me sufficient to ground a calculation upon. I had taken the parishes indifferently, so many in each county; and I 1299 had taken them at random, but from three classes—large parishes, middling parishes, and small parishes; and I had also taken them indiscriminately, from town and country, and from towns of different sizes, and I conceived that the answers given to these 487 circulars would lay a sufficient ground for drawing a conclusion, and forming an average for the whole kingdom. The result was this:—I found that there had been 50,000 children educated in those 487 parishes in 1818, according to the accurate tables then formed by the Committee, and given in the digest; while the number in 1828 amounted to 105,000, or five per cent (on the larger number), more than double. So that, if that calculation were correct, the number of children educated in unendowed schools had considerably more than doubled during those ten years. When I stated from this calculation, my confident belief that the whole number of children educated in England had increased in the same proportion; so that, where there had been 478,000, there ought now to be between 1,000,000 and 1,100,000, I spoke in the confident expectation that the Returns for the whole parishes of England and Wales would amply prove my calculation to be correct. But I cannot help pausing for a moment, to add, that I entertained this opinion, not alone, certainly, but in company with only a few of those with whom I acted. There was a great and almost universal outcry against the correctness of the reasoning and the sufficiency of the data, and reverend clergymen, and learned professors, and expert calculators—but not experienced men—were loud in their objections. For it was said, that the number of parishes from which I have received answers was but a small proportion of the 11,400 parishes in the whole country; and that, in the remaining 10,900 parishes, there was no reason why education might not have remained stationary, or have gone back. It was in vain I urged that these parishes, thus taken at random, would furnish something like an average for the whole;—in vain I foretold that, if the whole returns were made, my calculations would prove correct,—nay, that they must prove correct, unless a miracle had been wrought to effect, what nothing else could accomplish, the progression of education in 487 parishes taken at random, while all was stationary, or retrograde movement, in all the others. Well, the motion of a noble and esteemed Friend of mine in the other House of Par- 1300 liament, Lord Kerry, has now produced those fuller Returns; they have been classed and digested in great part; and I am now in a condition to show—not upon 487 parishes, but upon the whole parishes of thirty-three counties, alphabetically, from Bedfordshire to Suffolk inclusive, containing 10,110,000 souls, and, consequently, greatly more than two-thirds of the whole country—that my computation was perfectly accurate, and that I had framed it on sufficient data. I shall not trouble your Lordships with the figures in detail, but give the results at once; and you will then see how far my prediction is verified. In those thirty-three counties, which include Lancashire and Middlesex—two counties containing a population of about 2,700,000, but the whole thirty-three containing 10,110,000, the results are, indeed, most satisfactory. Assuming, as we most clearly may, that the rest of the country has now the same proportion of scholars, and schools, the result is, that, instead of the 478,000 attending the unendowed day-schools in the year 1818, having increased as I had anticipated to above 1,000,000, they have increased to 1,144,000, and the number of schools is increased from 14,000 to 31,000. This is not only not under my calculation, but is considerably above it; and the excess is owing plainly to the progress made since 1828.
I shall not detain your Lordships further on this point, than to observe, that the great increase on the unendowed schools and scholars has not been attended with a corresponding increase in the children receiving instruction at the endowed schools. On the contrary, these have fallen off in numbers, from 166,000 to 150,000; a fact which—considering the introduction of the new method, the Bell and Lancaster plan, into many of those foundations—gives rise to serious reflections. Such, however, is the present amount of daily instruction. In all kinds of schools, it is given to about 1,300,000 children, without any interposition of the Government or public authorities. And surely this leads to the irresistible conclusion that, where we have such a number of schools and such means of education furnished by the parents themselves from their own earnings, and by the contributions of well-disposed individuals in aid of those whose earnings are insufficient, it behoves us to take the greatest care how we interfere with a system which prospers so well of itself; to think well and long and anxiously, and with all circum- 1301 spection and all foresight, before we thrust our hands into a machinery which is now in such a steady, constant, and rapid movement; for if we do so in the least degree incautiously, we may occasion ourselves no little mischief, and may stop that movement which it is our wish to accelerate. I know well the difficulties of maintaining the continuance of subscriptions first begun on occasions of public spirit excited, and beneficent zeal aroused. I know well—as do all men who have bestirred themselves, how little soever, with the purpose of benefiting their fellow citizens—that nothing can be more perilous than to give contributors an opportunity of saying, what some will feel and others will be ready to urge—"We need not subscribe any more, for the Government, or the county, or the parish has stept in to educate the people, and will now maintain our institution." Let the tax-gatherer, or the county-assessor, or the parish collector, but once go his rounds for a school-rate, and I will answer for it, that voluntary assistance of men in themselves benevolent, and indeed munificent, instead of increasing, will soon vanish away; that the 1,114,000 now educated at unendowed schools will speedily fall down to almost nothing; and that the adoption of such a fatal and heedless course will sweep away those establishments which, at present, reflect so much honour on the community, which do so much good, and are calculated, with judicious management, to do so much more. Add to this, that in many parts of the country—and those the very districts where the people want instruction most—they are by no means anxious for it, nor very eager to send their children to school. Those persons who found and support schools, are of infinite use in encouraging the poor to benefit by their exertions; and all this useful engine of improvement would be destroyed, if the affair of education once were made a parish concern.
I need not dwell longer on this point. The error has arisen from only regarding the Scotch Parish-school Law, which having worked so well in one country, is expected to produce as good effects here. But a century and a-half ago, when there was hardly a school in Scotland, it was of incalculable importance to plant one in each parish, because this occasioned many others to be voluntarily established, and could interfere with no individual exertions then making, and no schools already established. Who does not see that this is not 1302 the case of England at the present day—when we have already nearly as many schools and children taught in proportion to the population, without any compulsory provision, as Scotland had, in 1818, after the Act of William and Mary had been in operation 130 years?
The ground of the Education Committee, in 1818, favouring the establishment of parish-schools by law, was the apprehension that the means of instruction afforded by voluntary contribution might prove occasional and temporary—that there was still a great deficiency—and that, instead of this being supplied, the existing schools might be suffered to decay. The experience of the ten years next ensuing, and of the six which followed those latter years, appears sufficiently decisive to remove such an apprehension; and we have now a right to conclude against any general interference of the Legislature, until the efforts of individuals shall be found insufficient, and the seminaries which they have established shall be seen going to decay.
While, however, I am (upon the grounds which I have stated) clearly of opinion that no general measure of interference should be adopted, I am very far from saying, that nothing yet remains for the Government to do. We are remote indeed from the condition in which we can say that every thing is as well as possible for public instruction—that all is on the best footing in those schools,—that there is a sufficient supply of them,—and that the Legislature and the Government have no duty to perform in connexion with the most important of all important subjects. When I look to the state of the schools, as compared with the constantly-changing condition of society, and survey the sort of instruction they communicate, I find them to be defective in very many essential particulars; and to these defects I shall now shortly address the attention of your Lordships; for on the due consideration of them must be grounded whatever aid is to flow from legislation; because, from an examination of them, alone, it is, that we can hope to discover the quarters in which parliamentary interposition is either requisite or safe.
I say then, first, that the schools are still too few in number; secondly, that they are confined to children of an age too advanced; and, lastly, that they give a kind of instruction exceedingly scanty and imperfect. I am prepared to demonstrate these three propositions by facts which are within the knowledge of many of your Lordships, and 1303 would be known to you all, if you deemed the subject of sufficient importance to fix your attention.
First, I am to show that the schools, numerous as they are, and much as their numbers have of late increased, and greatly multiplied as have been the scholars who attend them, nevertheless are still insufficient for the education of the whole of the people of this country, and for communicating to them even the small degree of knowledge which they profess at present to teach. It is a fact, and it is one of importance to bear in mind, that if you take the children of any country between seven and twelve years of age, they amount to between 10 and 11 per cent, of the whole population. If that be so, it is demonstrable that the average of instruction of the people of England, at the present moment, is still defective. The whole population of England and Wales amounts to 13,894,000. Of this large population, there is not a ninth* instructed, as the proportion requires;—no, nor a tenth part neither, for a ninth is 1,543,700; a tenth is 1,38,9,400, and there is only 1,294,000, or very little more than one-eleventh; and this number of 1,294,000 includes 65,000 infants under the age to which my proportion applies; so that it is in truth only 12,290,000 that are provided for, being only between one-eleventh and one-twelfth, and leaving a deficiency of above 300,000, as regards the ages between seven and eleven or twelve; that, indeed, is not the age to which, in my opinion, you should alone look; but I am now calling the attention of your Lordships to the inadequacy of the present provision, even for accomplishing its professed purpose of teaching a little knowledge to children out of the infant state. The whole amount of this kind of Education I have stated as given to not much more than one-twelfth of the population. But this is the average, and unfortunately it is unequally distributed, being most abundant in places where it is least wanted, and where it is most required, least liberally afforded. The average of all England and Wales we shall say is one in twelve; but what is the proportion in certain counties? Why, one-thirteenth,* The expression of schools for one-ninth of the population means this—That proportion of the whole people denotes the children of certain ages. Thus in a million of people there may be about 110,000 children between seven and twelve years old—that number, or one-ninth of the population, therefore requires schools, in order that all may be taught.1304 one-fourteenth, and one-fifteenth. And which are those counties, I would ask, where Education is the least expanded? They are Middlesex and the County Palatine of Lancaster; and I believe, though I have not the returns, I may add Surrey. Of Middlesex and Lancaster, however, I can speak with certainty, that the proportion is little more than one-fifteenth, being in each a deficiency of near 60,000 children, and these are the two counties in all England in which the importance of Education is the greatest; so that the provision for instruction is scanty, exactly in proportion as the circumstances of the people require that it should be abundant. For I ask, whether the metropolitan and the great manufacturing counties are not those which every consideration of public policy and of public morals (if things which are one and the same must be spoken of as distinct) prompts us to instruct most liberally—to fill with the means of education—to stud over with schools? Nor is this inequality of distribution confined to provinces; it pervades districts also. In those populous counties, with their large towns, the general proportion is little above one-fifteenth. But if this average were equally divided between the town and country population, the evil would be less. Unfortunately such is not the case, for in some of the great cities, as London, Westminster, Southwark, and the manufacturing emporia of the north, the average, instead of being a fourteenth, or even a fifteenth, sinks down to an eighteenth or nineteenth. Thus the average for all Lancashire being between one-fourteenth and one-fifteenth, in the two parishes of Ulverstone and Cartmel, where there are about 12,000 inhabitants, it is one-eighth, and in Manchester and Salford, where 182,000 people dwell, it is about one-eighteenth only, so that there is in that great town a want of schools for 10,000 children. In 1818, the average for all England was one-fifteenth; but for Lancashire it was only one twenty-fourth; and for Middlesex one-twentieth. At present Lancashire presents a proportion of one-fourteenth and a half, and Middlesex about one-fifteenth, so that the latter county manifests a greater degree of improvement than the former.
Now, my Lords, what is the melancholy result of this statement? It is neither more nor less than this,—that in the great towns of England there is still so considerable a deficiency in the means of elementary instruction provided, whether as re- 1305 gards endowed schools, or schools supported by voluntary contributions and private exertions, that in those places where it is most important to have the people instructed, there are nearly one-half of the children of the poor destitute of all means of education. I shall call upon your Lordships, therefore, with the view of remedying this great evil, to adopt the principle sanctioned by the Report of the Education Committee of 1818. I am of opinion that the only safe course which we can take for supplying the lamentable deficiency which I have described, is to furnish the great towns with the funds now wanting, and to apply this public aid so as not to interfere with the exertions of individual zeal, or cut off the supplies of private munificence. This is to be done, in my opinion, by acting upon the principle recommended in the Second Report of that Committee. The obvious course is, to plant the school, or rather to overcome the difficulty which generally prevents schools from being commenced—the want of an outfit for providing a building. I would by no means say to the people of Oldham, for instance, in Lancashire, or of Marylebone in Middlesex,—"Here is a sum of 200l. a-year, or 150l. a-year, to pay a schoolmaster or schoolmistress;" for that would have the effect of preventing many persons from subscribing annually, and it would especially disincline the poor to spare something for quarter-pence,—an exertion, on their part, of admirable use, as it not only preserves their independence, but makes them prize far more the instruction which they pay for. But the great difficulty of establishing schools is connected with the first cost—the building or buying a school-house. Let us, then, start the establishment, overcome the first difficulty, and meet individuals half-way who are anxious for the spread of education. Do not even say—"Here are 500l. for this object;" but proceed on this principle—"If you will subscribe so much, we will subscribe the rest;" and you will, by these means, instead of repelling voluntary assistance, invite individuals to come forward in the cause. Such was the principle acted upon by the Church Building Commission, as tending to encourage, rather than to repress, the exertions of the community. It was also adopted by the Government in distributing the grants of 20,000l. voted by the House of Commons in the years 1833 and 1834; and I am happy to say, that the manner in which it was bestowed has pro- 1306 duced all the results expected by the promoters of the plan, which was, indeed, only acting upon the Education Committee's Report in 1818. The establishment of hundreds of schools, and the contribution of thousands of pounds, for the furtherance of education, has been the happy result; and but for the aid, the somewhat scanty aid, thus afforded, those sums would never have been devoted to this great national object, and those schools never would have existed.
But I come now to the second ground of complaint against the schools established throughout the country. My next proposition is—that they are only open to children too far advanced in years. I consider the establishment of infant schools one of the most important improvements—I was going to say in the education, but I ought rather to say in the civil polity of this country—that have for centuries been made. I believe no one who has had an opportunity of observing those institutions, will feel the least hesitation in assenting to this opinion, and in confessing how desirable it is that the system should be generally adopted. But I wish now particularly to call the attention of the House to the reasons of fact, on which alone the usefulness of infant education is established. I assert, that we begin much too late in the education of children. We take for granted that they can learn little or nothing under six or seven years old, and we thus lose the very best season of life for instruction. Whoever knows the habits of children at an earlier age than that of six or seven—the age at which they generally attend the infant schools—whoever understands their tempers, their habits, their feelings, and their talents,—is well aware of their capacity of receiving instruction, long before the age of six. The child is at three and four, and even partially at two and under, perfectly capable of receiving that sort of knowledge which forms the basis of all education; but the observer of children, the student of the human mind, has learnt only half his lesson, if his experience has not taught him something more: it is not enough to say that a child can learn a great deal before the age of six years; the truth is, that he can learn, and does learn, a great deal more before that age than all he ever learns or can learn in all his after life. His attention is more easily roused in a new world—it is more vivid in a fresh existence—it is excited with less effort, and it engraves ideas deeper in the mind. His memory is more retentive in the same 1307 proportion in which his attention is more vigorous; bad habits are not yet formed, nor is his judgment warped by unfair bias; good habits may easily be acquired, and the pain of learning be almost destroyed; a state of listless indifference has not begun to poison all joy, nor has indolence paralyzed his powers, or bad passions quenched or perverted useful desires. He is all activity, inquiry, exertion, motion; he is eminently a curious and a learning animal; and this is the common nature of all children, not merely of clever and lively ones, but of all who are endowed with ordinary intelligence, and who in a few years become, through neglect, the stupid boys and dull men we see.
The child, when he first comes into the world, may care very little for what is passing around him, although he is, of necessity, always learning something even at the first; but, after a certain period, he is in a rapid progress of instruction; his curiosity becomes irrepressible; the thirst for knowledge is predominating in his mind, and it is as universal as insatiable. During the period between the ages of eighteen months or two years and six—I will even say, and five—he learns much more of the material world, of his own powers, of the nature of other bodies, even of his mind and of other minds, than he ever after acquires during all the years of boyhood, youth, and manhood. Every child, even of the most ordinary capacity, learns more, acquires a greater mass of knowledge, and of a more useful kind, at this tender age, than the greatest philosopher is enabled to build upon it during the longest life of the most successful investigation, even were he to live to eighty years of age, and pursue the splendid career of a Newton or a La Place. The knowledge which the infant stores up—the ideas which are generated in his mind—are so important, that if we could suppose them to be afterwards obliterated, all the learning of a senior wrangler at Cambridge, or a first-class man at Oxford, would be as nothing to it, and would literally not enable its victim to prolong his existence for a week. This being altogether undeniable, how is it that so much is learnt at this tender age? Not certainly by teaching, or by any pains taken to help the newly-arrived guest of this world. It is almost all accomplished by his own exertions—by the irrepressible curiosity—the thirst for knowledge only to be appeased by learning, or by the fatigues and the sleep which it superinduces. It is 1308 all effected by the instinctive spirit of inquiry which brings his mind into a perpetual course of induction, engages him in a series of experiments, which begins when he awakes in the morning, and only ends when he falls asleep. All that he learns during those years he learns not only without pain, but with an intense delight—a relish keener than any appetite known at our jaded and listless age—and learns in one-tenth of the time which, in after life, would be required for its acquisition.
Now, while the faculties continue so acute, and the curiosity so keen, much more might be learnt, especially after the second or third years, and all this invaluable time is now thrown away; nay, even during those earlier years—the second and third—while he is, as it were, by accident, acquiring his knowledge of external objects, he might also be receiving lessons of an Important description, which would never be effaced from his memory, even to the last hour of his life. But so might he certainly in the fourth and fifth year, and after his first knowledge of external objects is completed. All these years—these most precious years—are thrown away; nor is this the only or the worst consequence of that time being lost; for if much that might be learnt is thus lost for ever, much that is pernicious is assuredly imbibed. While good habits, which might be implanted, are not formed, evil ones are fixed, which half a life-time can hardly eradicate. It is really wonderful how much a child knows, at the age of seven, that he ought not to know, unless great pains have been taken to teach him better; to exclude the worst species of knowledge from his mind, and prevent the most mischievous habits from becoming a second nature to him. Listless, indolent, inattentive habits are formed before the age of seven, and the victim of curiosity becomes an indocile being. Perverse and obstinate habits are formed before the age of seven, and the mind that might have been moulded like wet clay in a plastic hand, becomes sullen, intractable, obdurate, after that age. To the inextinguishable passion for all learning, succeeds a dislike for instruction, amounting almost to disease. Gentle feelings—a kind and compassionate nature—an ingenuous, open temper—unsuspecting and seeking no cloak nor any guard—are succeeded by violence, and recklessness, and bad morals, and base fear, and concealment, and even falsehood, till he is forced to school, not only ignorant of what is good, but also well learned in 1309 much that is bad. These are the effects of the old system, the postponed education, and the neglected tuition of infants. But the history of Infant Schools has been consolatory to the philanthropist; their manifest good effects have roused the attention of the community to the sacredness of the trust reposed in their hands—to the absolute necessity of effecting a total change in the system of Education—to the incalculable benefits derived from the infusion of useful learning, upon sound principles, into the minds of children at the docile age, and of giving them innocent pursuits and wholesome habits, while these can yet be implanted in a virgin soil.
More would really be superfluous upon the general advantages of Infant Schools. I will only add, that in France, as well as in this country, the most sanguine hopes are entertained by all parties of the benefits to be derived from their universal establishment. Our enlightened neighbours having sent over accomplished persons to learn the method, Infant Schools (called Salles d'Asyle) are established at Paris, and elsewhere; and, indeed, were I to point out the best I have ever seen, I should say, from the accident of a peculiarly qualified teacher having undertaken it, that the best is at Paris. The authorities of that capital are now occupied in multiplying such establishments. In this country, I think it is now about seventeen years since my noble Friend (Lord Lansdowne), and I, with some others, began the first of these seminaries, borrowing the plan, as well as the teacher, from Mr. Owen's manufactory at Lanark; and though it has been eclipsed by others to which it gave rise, especially Mr. Wilderspin's, in Spitalfields, and Mr. Wilson's, at Waltharastow, it yet has done vast good in its neighbourhood. On this I can appeal to any one of your Lordships who may like to satisfy himself of the excellence of the system. The school I allude to still flourishes in Westminster, a few hundred yards from the spot where you now are.
But, my Lords, I do not confine my panegyric of Infant Schools to the general use of early training; I have a much more precise and definite purpose in view; and when I express my meaning to your Lordships, the proposition will probably be welcomed with the same degree of respect which my calculations received in 1828 from the inexperienced persons whom I have already described. I and my coadjutors may again be described as visionaries, spe- 1310 culatists, enthusiasts, to sum up all in one worst of words—theorists. We walked, but walked onward, among clouds of such phrases, thickly buzzing about from every corner; a little noisy, less troublesome, but offering no kind of resistance to our progress. If my opponents smiled at me, I smiled at them, so that quarrel we had none; and at length they who laughed, were first silenced, then convinced, and are now active coadjutors. And now I am again exposing myself to a repetition of the ridicule, when I state that I consider that the establishment of Infant Schools in large towns, where crime is rife, where the people are closely crowded and ignorant, and vicious as well as ignorant—that planting those schools in such haunts of men as London, Westminster, Southwark, Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield, would be the most simple and most efficacious preventive of crimes. It is usual to regard punishment as the means of deterring men from committing offences. I know that there are some who put their trust in the gallows for extirpating vice; that those who recoil from the idea of execution, fall back upon transportation; that those for whom the transport-ship has no charms, yet affect the Penitentiary; that those who dislike the unwholesomeness of the Penitentiary, yet cling to the treadmill, believing in the virtues of solitary confinement for two weeks, or confinement not solitary for the residue of six or twelve months. I know that various persons patronise these different punishments, that each has his reason for pressing his particular fancy, and that all flatter themselves their own favourite nostrum will be found the specific for our diseased moral condition. But this I also know, that no one ever stops to examine in what way punishment deters from crime, or asks himself if it really operates in that way at all; resting satisfied with the old received popular opinion—learned by heart and repeated by rote, without the least regard to its meaning, far less to the reasons it may rest upon—that "the example of the punishment deters from the commission of the crime,"—and so no remedy beyond punishment is ever thought of as worthy of a moment's consideration. Far, indeed, is it from my intention to say, "Abolish the criminal judges, do away with the gallows, the convict-ship, the tread-mill, and repeal your Criminal Code;" for I full well know that while the present system continues, you must have all the apparatus of penal legis- 1311 lation. I am not, certainly, one of those who believe in the kind of adage I have mentioned—the jingle about example and deterring; but although little good arises, according to my opinion, from the infliction of punishments, yet a great deal of harm would be done by their repeal, and, therefore, I do not say, "Dispense with such inflictions;" but I do really and sincerely declare, from the result of my practical experience, and on all the principles which I have ever called to aid me in the inquiry, that the present system of punishment fails so entirely in accomplishing its object, that nothing can be less consolatory to the feelings of him who has to administer criminal justice, or him who presides over the councils required to execute it. It is almost incredible to those who have not well examined the subject, how little good can be ascribed to punishments in the way of preventing crimes. Hardened criminals may be got rid of by one infliction, banished by another, removed from society by a third; but the example of their suffering, were it far more known than it is, produces very little effect.
Having thus guarded myself from the imputation which I might have drawn upon myself, of wishing you to alter any part of the Criminal Code upon these grounds, I may proceed to state my reasons for holding the opinion which I have stated as being mine. It appears to me evident that all who have discussed this question of crime and punishment, have proceeded upon an erroneous supposition. They have all assumed that a person making up his mind about committing an offence against the law is a reasoning, provident, calculating being. They have all argued on the supposition, that a man committing a robbery on the highway, speculates, at the moment of planning his expedition, upon the chance of being hanged for it; or that a man projecting a forgery, is well aware of the punishment which awaits him, and feels a conviction that he shall suffer it. All reasoners on this subject have gone upon the assumption, that the individuals who commit crimes, calculate beforehand the consequences of their conduct, as the merchant, in his counting-house, reckons on the chances of profit and loss in his speculations; or the farmer—(if, indeed, farmers ever calculate)—on the crops, the markets, and the seasons. That is the first mistake; but there is another not less detrimental to the argument. It is equally assumed, that the individual is, at the time of making the supposed calculation, un- 1312 biassed and free in his mind—that he considers the subject with calmness and deliberation—in short, that he is altogether in the same frame of mind in which we are ourselves, when devising the punishment for his offences; whereas, he is almost invariably under the influence of strong excitement. He has lost money at the gaming-table, and is ruined if he cannot pay it or replace it—he ought to have calculated before he went there, and he might then have reasoned; but that is not the moment to which the penal denunciations are addressed—he thinks not at all till he feels the consequences of his imprudence, and has debts to pay after his losses—has a family and a station to support in spite of them; and then comes the question, what shall he do—and then he is supposed to count the risk of detection, conviction, and punishment, if he plunges into a course which will relieve him from his pressing embarrassments. In circumstances like these, I very much doubt his calculating at all, for what fills his whole mind is his ruined condition; he feels much; he fears much; and he is disordered in his understanding, by the vehement desire to escape from the endless difficulties into which his rash imprudence has hurried him. In such a frame of spirit, he is little likely to pause and consider. But suppose him to calculate—his reckoning will not be so much of the amount of danger to be encountered by the Criminal Act, as of the utter ruin and disgrace in store for him if he be a defaulter. The truth is, that men rush on the commission of the greatest crimes, under the dominion of passions which lay their reason prostrate. The greatest of all enormities are almost invariably committed under the influence of mighty excitement. It is the madness of lust, and a rape is perpetrated—or the fury of revenge, and murder is done—or hatred wrought up to frenzy, and houses are burnt or demolished; the stings of conscience being felt after the offence, and in the calm that succeeds the tempest of passion. Even offences of a more sordid kind, those against property, and which are more connected with speculation, are planned with such a desire of obtaining the things sought after, to supply some necessity, or gratify some propensity, that in estimating the risk of detection and punishment, hardly a thought is bestowed on those dangers; so that altogether very little reliance can be placed on the deterring influence of punishments, whether seen or only heard of. But if 1313 punishment is inefficient, I am sure that prevention is effectual. The schools which have already been established for children at the ages of seven, eight, nine, and ten, exhibit results consolatory as far as they go; but these are very ineffectual instruments of improvement compared with those which I wish to see established, where the child, at the earliest age, may be taken under the fostering care of the instructor,—where the acquisition of vicious habits may be effectually prevented, and the principles of virtue may thus early be instilled into the mind,—where the foundation may be laid for intellectual as well as moral culture,—and where, above all, the habits of prudence, industry, and self-control, may be taught at a season when lasting habits are easily acquired. If, at a very early age, a system of instruction is pursued by which a certain degree of independent feeling is created in the child's mind, while all mutinous and perverse disposition is avoided,—if this system be followed up by a constant instruction in the principles of virtue, and a corresponding advancement in intellectual pursuits,—if, during the most critical years of his life, his understanding and his feelings are accustomed only to sound principles and pure and innocent impressions,—it will become almost impossible that he should afterwards take to vicious courses, because those will be utterly alien to the whole nature of his being. It will be as difficult for him to become criminal, because as foreign from his whole habits, as it would be for one of your Lordships to go out and rob on the highway. Thus, to commence the education of youth at the tender age on which I have laid so much stress, will, I feel confident, be the sure means of guarding society against crimes. I trust every thing to habit—habit, upon which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the schoolmaster, has mainly placed his reliance—habit, which makes every thing easy, and casts all difficulties upon the deviation from the wonted course. Make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be hateful and hard,—make prudence a habit, and reckless profligacy will be as contrary to the nature of the child grown an adult, as the most atrocious crimes are to any of your Lordships. Give a child the habit of sacredly regarding truth—of carefully respecting the property of others—of scrupulously abstaining from all acts of improvidence which can involve him in distress—and he will just as little think of lying, or cheating, or stealing, or running in debt, as 1314 of rushing into an element in which he cannot breathe.
Now, the problem we would resolve, is to find the means of preventing that class from coming into existence amongst whom the criminals that infest society are created and fostered; and to solve this problem, we must first examine of what persons that class is composed. I consider that they come almost entirely from among the poorer orders of the people, and chiefly in the large towns. My calculation, into the data of which I will not now stop to enter, is, that the persons among whom crime is generated form about one-fifth of the population in the large towns, about one-sixth in those of middle size, and about one-seventh in the smaller towns. The class to which I refer is not among the higher ranks of society, not certainly among the middle class, nor yet among those immediately below the middle classes—I mean that most respectable body of the working classes who are at once skilful, industrious, and respectable; but the persons from the body of whom criminals are produced, are a certain proportion of the mere common day-labourers, who almost, of necessity, suffer severe and constant difficulty in obtaining the means of subsistence in the present state of society, and for whose conduct every possible allowance ought in justice to be made. The question, then, is reduced to this—How shall we so deal with this body of the people as to prevent them from growing up with vicious or with improvident habits, which are the parents of vicious ones, and turn them to habits of an opposite description—such habits as will make profligacy, and improvidence, and crimes, foreign to their nature? Then, I say, that planting a sufficient number of Infant Schools for training and instructing all the children of those classes of the people, will at once solve the problem of prevention. Of this I cannot doubt, unless I disbelieve the evidence of my own senses in England and France, and deny all that I knew from the testimony of others regarding such seminaries. In any community crimes would be reduced to an inconsiderable quantity, if Infant Schools could be established, sufficient for the children of all those classes of the community to which I have alluded. The real difficulty is, indeed, inconsiderable—it only relates to providing the schools; for all those persons who have themselves been thrown into evil communication by the want of know- 1315 ledge, and by early bad habits, have invariably, to their praise be it spoken, looked favourably upon infant tuition. I have had an opportunity, myself, of observing that portion of the community; and I am happy in being able to say that I never saw any one of them, however exceptionable might have been their own conduct, or however deficient they were in education themselves, that did not express an anxious desire to place their children where they could be better brought up than at home, and made better than themselves. Here, then, is a powerful lever to be moved by us, whenever we shall interefere in this great department of public policy. With such an object in view, and with such facilities as this good disposition in the poor affords, I cannot conceive that there will be any material difficulty in obtaining the means of planting Infant Schools, in sufficient numbers, to train the proportion of the people which I have already mentioned. The cost I know, from an accidental circumstance, to be moderate. A legacy estimated at 7,000l. or 8,000l. was some years ago left to me, on the supposition that I held certain opinions which I really did not entertain. I, of course, felt that I had no right to take it, given, as it was, under an entire misapprehension, and I destined the money to the purpose of establishing Infant Schools,—sufficient to train any of the great parishes of this metropolis,—which all the inquiries and calculations made, proved that the fund would easily do. However, the opinion of Mr. Hart being taken, and finding that I must undergo a Chancery-suit before the money could be obtained, I abandoned it altogether, by renouncing. But, in consequence of the project I had conceived, inquiries were set on foot, by which it was made manifest that for 7,000l. we could establish schools which would train that portion of a population of 130,000, which I suppose to furnish the criminals. If the schools were established by the Government they would probably cost a little more, because Government never can work so cheap as individuals; but I am quite satisfied, that if the wisdom of Parliament give but the inconsiderable sum of 30,000l. for two years, (inconsiderable compared with the millions so easily and so lavishly voted for wars and other evil purposes,) we should be able to provide for the training of the whole of London, on both sides of the river, and that the effects of it, on our criminal judicature, would very soon 1316 become apparent, as well as on our parish expenditure. We should witness the improvement of the morals of the community, in the diminution of crimes—the improvement of its circumstance in the diminished improvidence and poverty of the people. This measure would be remedial, and preventive, and healing in a degree far surpassing all that has hitherto been attempted by the unwieldy arm of criminal jurispudence.
I well know the consequences of the present system of punishment, and, in truth, nothing can be worse. There are in London thousands of juvenile offenders, as they are termed, and not incorrectly, for they are eight, nine, ten, and eleven years of age, and they have offended, but they are as yet beginners in villany; they are not adult criminals; they are not inured and hardened in vice; they have accidently, occasionally as it were, violated the law:—but enclosed for a week or two in Newgate, or some other school of crimes, some receptacle for accomplished villains, the immature rogues perform their noviciate among the most finished adepts in the art, and return thoroughbred, irreclaimable profligates to that society which they had left raw and tender, delinquents. If there were Infant Schools, instead of Newgate schools, for receiving the children of the needy, a very different fate would attend those unhappy youths. Vice would be then prevented—nipped in the bud, instead of being fostered and trained up to maturity,—and more would be done to eradicate crimes, than the gallows, the convict ship, the Penitentiary, the treadmill, can accomplish, even if the prison discipline were so amended, as no longer to be the nursery of vice. That the number of Infant Schools is at present lamentably inadequate to produce any thing like such good consequences as these, needs hardly be shewn. In the thirty-three counties for which we have the Returns, there are only 2,200 such schools, with 65,000 scholars, so that instead of there being Infant Schools for about the mean proportion of one-sixtieth part of the population, there are schools for not much more than 160th part, not much above a third of the demand: and this average is very unequally distributed; for in all the most populous and manufacturing districts it is lower, Middlesex only excepted: thus in Lancashire the proportion is 1–212th, and Cheshire, 1–223rd. In the four northern counties there are hardly any Infant Schools at all, 1317 but the other schools are much more numerous than elsewhere.
I cannot quit the subject of the connexion between ignorance and crimes, without taking notice of an objection which has been raised to my argument. It is said, "Education is increasing, but offences are multiplying still faster than schools," and so men cry out. "You do no good with all your teaching." Upon this I must first observe that the increase of crime is not evinced by the increase of prosecutions, as circumstances have operated to bring before the public of late years many violations of the law which were formerly committed, and not visited with prosecution. Those juvenile offenders are now in vast numbers prosecuted for felonies, who used before to be whipped by their parents or masters, after being taken before a magistrate. It is deemed expedient, in the great desire of criminal justice, to hurry the children off to gaol, there to be instructed in all the arts of consummate villany. Nor has any thing tended more to multiply such prosecutions than the recent alteration in the law, giving costs to the prosecutor out of the county rates. But if I am asked for proof that the connexion between vice and ignorance is intimate and apparent, I can prove it, should any one deem a proof necessary of a proposition so self-evident, by documents which leave no doubt whatever on the subject. One or two examples may suffice: 700 persons were put on their trials, in the winters of 1830 and 1831, charged with rioting and arson, and of those 700 (not all of the lowest rank of life, nor, as might be expected, of the worst offenders) how many could write and read? Only 150; all the rest were marksmen. Of the number of boys committed to Newgate, during three years, two thirds could neither read nor write. At the Refuge for the Destitute it is still worse; for from an examination there made, it appears that the number of children received, who can read with tolerable facility, is in the proportion of only one in every thirty or thirty-five. A respectable magistrate of the county of Essex, a Member of the other House of Parliament, has given evidence before a Committee of that House, and he states that nine times out of ten the persons who come before him are unable to write, and that he is obliged to take their marks instead of their signatures. With such glaring facts before us, I suppose I may be allowed to assert, that it is not mere speculation to connect ignorance with crimes.
1318 The experience of other countries runs parallel with our own upon this important matter; and it is principally from a conviction of the truth which I have been propounding, that so general a, disposition prevails among the rulers even of arbitrary governments, to promote public instruction. Indeed, the greatest exertions have been made for this purpose in those states, which have not, as yet, a free constitution. France, I am sorry to say, admirable as her present efforts are, must be reckoned amongst the lowest in point of actual amount of instruction, excepting, of course, Russia and Turkey, the former of which is hardly within the pale of European society—the latter, certainly without it. As late as 1817, the proportion all over the French territory was one in thirty-five,* while with us it was one in fifteen of the population. But this disgraceful state of things roused the noble spirit, of that generous people;—philanthropic societies were everywhere formed—the Government lent its aid in founding schools, and in the space of only two years, the proportion was reduced to one in twenty-eight; so that schools must in those two years have been planted for no less than 215,000 children. Since that time, and under the present Constitutional Government especially, the progress has been rapid, and parochial instruction is now a branch of the law of the land. In Holland, it appears from the report of the celebrated Cuvier, that as early as 1812 there were schools sufficient for the education of 1,90,000 children, and that the proportion was one in ten, being equal to Scotland nearly. In Wurtemberg schools are required by law to be supported in every parish out of the Church funds. In Denmark, Bavaria, and Saxony, they are supported by a parish-rate; and even in Russia, which I said was almost out of the European pale, so sensible is the Autocratic Government that it is necessary to educate the people, at least in towns, that the public funds maintain schools in all the town parishes. Sweden is, perhaps, the best educated country in the world, for it is there difficult to find one person in a thousand who cannot read and write. The accounts from those countries show that the progress of education, but especially of infant tuition, has been attended with marked* That is, as before explained, there were schools not for one-ninth of the people, or for all children between seven and twelve; but only for one-thirty-fifth, or for one-fourth part of the children that require schooling.1319 improvement in morals; and it is well known that in Spain, the worst educated country in Western Europe, tenfold more crimes are committed of a violent description, than in Germany, England, and France. The opinions of the jurists and statistical writers in Prussia are strongly pronounced upon this subject; and I need not dwell upon what all your Lordships know, the regular system of even compulsory education which prevails both there and in some parts of Switzerland.
But the third proposition which I undertook to demonstrate, relates to the kind of education given at our present schools. Not only are those establishments too few in number,—not only do they receive children at too advanced ages,—the instruction which they bestow hardly deserves the name. You can scarcely say more in its praise, than that it is better than nothing, and that the youth are far better so employed than idling away their time in the streets. They learn reading, some writing, and very little arithmetic—less it is nearly impossible to learn. I speak of the ordinary day-schools generally; and I affirm that to hear such places called seminaries of education is an abuse of terms which tries one's patience. Learning of that scanty kind is only another name for ignorance; nor is it possible that it should he better; for the schoolmasters are uneducated themselves; they know little of what they ought to teach, less still of the art of teaching, which every person who is only a little less ignorant than the children themselves, thinks he is quite capable of exercising.
It is strange to observe how far we are behind other countries in this most essential particular—the quality of our education. It should seem as if our insular prejudices had spell-bound us, as it were, by a word, and made us believe that a school means useful instruction; and that when we had covered the land with such buildings, whatever was done within them or left undone, we had finished the work of instructing the people. I had lately an opportunity of observing what is now doing in almost every part of France, for the truly paramount object of making education good as well as general. Normal Schools, as they are called—places of instruction for teachers—are every where establishing by the Government. This happy idea originated with my old and venerated friend, Emanuel Fellenberg—a name not more known than honoured, nor more honoured 1320 than his virtuous and enlightened efforts in the cause of education and for the happiness of mankind deserve. Five-and-twenty years ago he opened a school for the instruction of all the teachers in the Canton of Bern, of which he is a patrician. He received them, for the vacation months, under his hospitable roof, and gave them access to the lessons of the numerous learned and scientific professors who adorn his noble establishment at Hoffwyl. I blush for the infirmities, the imbecility, of the order he and I belong to, when I add, that the jealousy of the Bernese aristocracy prevented him from continuing this course of pure, patriotic, and wise exertion. But the fruits of his experiment, eminently successful as it proved, have not been lost. In other parts of the Continent, Normal Schools have been established; they form part of the Prussian system; they have been established in other parts of Germany; and I have seen and examined them in all the provinces of France which I visited last winter. I have seen twenty in one, thirty or forty in another, and as many as 120 in a third Normal School, all teachers of youth by profession, and all learning their invaluable and difficult art. In fact, the improvement of the quality of education has every where, except in England, gone hand-in-hand with the exertions made for spreading it and augmenting its amount, and has never been overlooked, as often as any Government has wished to discharge one of its most important and imperative duties—that of instructing the people. It has never, save in our own country, been deemed wise to deal out a niggard dole of mental sustenance by teaching mere reading and writing, which is what we call education, and we hardly ever look beyond it. Our neighbours, whom we habitually look down upon, provide a system of learning far better deserving the name. In addition to writing, reading, and arithmetic, geography, natural history, practical geometry, are taught, together with linear drawing, one of the most improving and useful exercises for the humbler classes, giving them not merely means of harmless recreation, but valuable habits of observation, and a capacity of acquiring precise ideas of external objects, whether of nature or of art, and proving actually gainful in almost every occupation, if any question of mere profit and loss is to be mentioned by the side of such considerations. This accomplishment is universally found not only most attractive to the working classes, 1321 but most useful for the improvement which it gives them in their several occupations.
I have inquired of well-informed foreigners—not, certainly, in France—if, in addition to a little natural history and mineralogy, the children were not allowed to learn civil history also? The answer was, no; that is forbidden; and in certain countries, seats of legitimacy, it may not, without risk, be taught. So that the pupils learn the history of a stone, of a moss, of a rush, of a weed; but the history of their own country, the deeds of their forefathers, the annals of neighbouring nations, they may not read. They are not to gain the knowledge most valuable to the members of a rational and civilized community. History, the school of princes, must present closed doors to their subjects; the great book of civil wisdom must to them be sealed. For why? There are some of its chapters, and near the latter end of the volume, which it is convenient they should not peruse. Civil history, indeed!—the History of Rulers! Why that would tell of rights usurped,—of privileges outraged,—of faith plighted and broken,—of promises made under the pressure of foreign invasion, and for gaining the peoples' aid to drive back the invading usurper and tyrant, but made to be broken when, by the arm of that deluded people, that conqueror bad been repelled, the old dynasty restored, and its members only remembered the invader and the tyrant to change places with him, and far out-do his worst deeds of oppressing their subjects and plundering their neighbours! History, indeed! That would tell of scenes enacted at their own doors—an ancient, independent, inoffensive people, overcome, pillaged, massacred, and enslaved, by the conspiracy of those Governments, which are now teaching their subjects the history of the grasses, and the mosses, and the weeds;—it would tell them that the Bible and the Liturgy were profaned which they are now commanded to read, and the Christian temples where they are weekly led to worship, were desecrated by blasphemous thanksgivings for the success of massacre and pillage! It would tell them of monarchs who live but to tyrannize at home and usurp abroad—who hold themselves unsafe as long as a free man is suffered to exist—who count the years of their reign by just rights outraged, and solemn pledges forfeited—monarchs who, if ever by strange accident, the sun goes not down upon their wrath, exclaim that they have lost a day—mo- 1322 narchs who wear the human form, and think nothing inhuman alien to their nature! No wonder, indeed, that Civil History is forbidden in the schools of those countries! The tyrant cannot tear from the book the page that records his own crimes and the world's sufferings, and he seals it up from the people! But let us be thankful that despotism is, for the wisest purposes, made as capricious as it is hateful, and that those scourges of the earth who dare not have their deeds told, yet teach men the knowledge which must, in the end, extirpate their own hateful race.
Those seminaries for training masters are an invaluable gift to mankind, and lead to the indefinite improvement of Education. It is this which, above every thing, we ought to labour to introduce into our system; for as there are not more than two now established by the exertions of individual benevolence, and, as from the nature of the institution, it is not adapted to be propagated by such efforts, no possible harm can result from the interposition of the Legislature in this department. That there are already provided, and in the neighbourhood of this House, the means of improving our elementary Education, and of training good teachers, I have the satisfaction of knowing. In the Borough Road School of the British and Foreign Society, any of your Lordships may, at any time, see a seminary of great excellency. I have lately visited it in company with some of your Lordships, and certainly a more extraordinary spectacle of the progress of instruction among children I never beheld, or, indeed, heard of in any country at any time. It is really astonishing how the human faculties could, at so early an age,—indeed at any age,—be cultivated to such a degree. A dozen or two of the children were asked such questions as these:—"What is the interest of 535l. 7s. 4d. for fifteen seconds?" "How many men will stand, allowing two feet and a-half to a man, on three-quarters of an acre?" Scarcely a minute was given for the answers, and they were as correct as they were instantaneous. The pupils were never puzzled in any case of calculation but one, and that must have been from some misunderstanding, for it was really the only question which I could have answered without pen and ink. But this marvellous display was not confined to arithmetic: among other things, I saw a boy take a slate, without having any copy, and solely from memory trace upon it the 1323 outline of Palestine and Syria, marking all the variations of the coast, the bays, harbours, and creeks, inserting the towns and rivers, and adding their ancient as well as their modern names. Now all this is real, substantial, useful knowledge, fitted alike to exercise and to unfold the faculties of the mind, and to lay up a store of learning at once the solace of the vacant moments, and the helpmate of the working hours in after years. I feel quite certain that when those children leave the school they will be governed by such worthy principles, and stimulated by such generous appetites, as will make their pursuits honest and their recreations rational, and effectually guard them from the perils of improvidence, dissipation, and vice.
Here, then, is the path plain before us—for there is not a single school in which the children might not be thus trained and accomplished. Place Normal Seminaries—seminaries for training teachers—in a few such places as London, York, Liverpool, Durham, and Exeter—so that the west, south, north-east, and north-west of the island shall have the means of obtaining good masters, and you will yearly qualify 500 persons fitted for diffusing a perfect system of instruction all over the country. These Training Seminaries would not only teach the masters the branches of learning and science they are now deficient in, but would teach them what they knew fur less—the didatic art—the mode of imparting the knowledge which they have, or may acquire—the best method of training and dealing with children, in all that regards both temper, capacity, and habits, and the means of stirring them to exertion, and controlling their aberrations. The whole operation would occasion a very trifling expense to the State: I think 20,000l., for five or six years would, with the individual efforts that must be called forth, suffice for reforming effectually the whole education of the country.
I now come to another branch of the subject, which will bring me to the conclusion of my task, and release your Lordships for the present; it is suggested by the consideration of expense to which I have just been adverting. There are already, we are often told,—and justly told, great funds in the country devoted to the purposes of education, and nevertheless, it is said, we would draw upon the public purse for more. No man is more ready than I am to admit the ample amount of those funds, and I will add that they are 1324 so applied as to produce a most inadequate accomplishment of the purposes to which they were destined by the donors. In many cases those funds are rendered absolutely useless by being withheld from the purposes for which they were designed; but in others they are almost equally useless from an opposite cause—from there being a too strict adherence to the letter of the Gift or Foundation, which the altered circumstances of society have rendered wholly inapplicable to any good purpose at the present day. If the Grantor or Founder has not given to the trustees a sufficient discretionary power over the property, they are unable to administer it to any advantage without the aid of a private Act of Parliament. If they have no discretion in its application, they cannot provide for a partial or total failure of objects without the expense and anxiety of an application to the Court of Chancery, and even then the remedy is very incomplete. But the chief evil arises from Gifts to Education purposes, which are no longer of use in diffusing the requisite knowledge; and large funds, indeed, are thus rendered next to useless. Many a man thought, however, two or three centuries ago, that he was conferring a great benefit on his neighbourhood by establishing a grammar school, and endowing it with an estate, then worth two or three hundred pounds a-year, at present worth as many thousands. Now, the Court of Chancery holds that a Grammar-school is one exclusively devoted to teaching Greek, Latin, or Hebrew; and that to bestow the funds otherwise is a misapplication. I know of a foundation of this kind in a large manufacturing town, with an income of some thousands a-year, and which offers to the numerous uneducated people a kind of instruction altogether useless; while writing, geography, ciphering book-keeping, mechanics, chemistry, drawing, would be invaluable acquisitions to the whole community, I could name other schools of the same kind, with nearly as good an income, and which support well endowed masters to teach two or three boys, because they are Grammar-schools. The true remedy here is to extend the powers of the trustees by law.
The imperfections of old foundations may well be illustrated by another example. Pious persons, in former times, thought that they did a good work when they established Foundling Hospitals. They imagined that such institutions would prevent child-murder and exposure of infants, and di- 1325 minish the other evils arising from the illicit commerce of the sexes. As late as the last century, this was the prevailing notion among tolerably sensible, and certainly, moral and religious people; and if their means had been commensurate with their wishes, we should have had a Foundling Hospital in every town in the kingdom. That delusion has, however, long ceased to prevail. All men are now agreed that such establishments are not charities, but nuisances of an enormous nature, having the direct effect of encouraging immorality and increasing infanticide; and the funds destined to support these hospitals have been otherwise applied, the name alone being retained. Machiavel says—that in political affairs you should beware lest in changing the name you alter the thing without intending it; but he also says, that it is sometimes good, when you would change the thing, to keep the name. This maxim has been fully acted upon in the case of the London Foundling Hospital, and I have seen the bad consequences of following the Machiavellian rule. When lately in France I made war upon Foundling Hospitals, and I found a formidable host of prejudices embodied in their defence; a host the more dangerous, that they had been enlisted in the service by the purest feelings of benevolence. I visited establishments of this description in every part of the South of France. While examining one, I was amused with the self-complacency of my conductors, whose countenances mantled in smiles, while they exhibited for my admiration what were considered the peculiar merits of their institution, especially its revolving box, with the bell, and the comfortable cradle, open at all hours of the night, and nurses ready to attend the summons, and charge themselves with the fruit of guilty passion, or improvident wedlock. Through this wicket, I was told that half the children in the house were taken in—their parents, of course, wholly unknown; while the remainder, (and here was the other boast of the hospital,) were received after the most careful examination of the father and mother, My opinion was expected, and, doubtless, a favourable one. I was compelled to admit, that I considered the arrangement, more especially the mechanism of the tour or turning cradle, to be quite perfect—to be adapted with singular skill to its object; and I added, that if all the fiends below had met in council to contrive means of propagating immorality, certainly they could have invented nothing 1326 to surpass this. But when the rigorous system of examination was relied upon, and when I asked, "If they were quite sure no improper person, amongst the parents of the hundred children thus received, were suffered to participate in the advantages secured to deserted children?" the answer was—"None such could succeed in their application, because all were submitted to the most careful scrutiny as to their Jives and circumstances." "I dare to say not," said I: "and further, that no persons ever present themselves who cannot stand the tests applied; for why should they, when they have only to go under cloud of night, and leave their infants in the cradle, ring the bell that calls the nurse, and walk quietly away?" It is needless to add, that no answer was made to this, because none could be given. At Bordeaux, too, there is an institution of the same kind, where above 2,000 foundlings are maintained; and these, as is quite sure to happen, have very much increased, being now one-third more numerous than they were five years ago; and I found that the bulk of the cases which came before the police, were of young men and boys who had been bred in the Foundling.
Many of my excellent and enlightened friends in France held the same opinions with me upon these subjects; but the majority, and especially of charitably-disposed, persons, overbore us with their numbers, and by their amiable and meritorious, but inconsiderate and unreasoning, feelings of false benevolence. Those persons I always found citing against me the supposed fact, that we have in this metropolis a Foundling Hospital; indeed, a street deriving its name from thence, and a quarter of the town its property. My simple answer was, that the name alone had been for half a century known among us, the thing itself having long since been put down with consent of Parliament. In Dublin, too, the Foundling, one of the most dreadful abuses ever known in any civilized country, has, though much more recently, been abolished. In neither of these houses can a single Foundling now be received. The parents are strictly examined before any child is admitted; and yet all the estates, and all the other funds, were expressly given for the single purpose of supporting Foundlings! Who complains of Parliament for having wholly diverted those gifts from the only use to which the pious benevolence of former ages consecrated them? Is not the answer sufficient to satisfy all men, 1327 that the benevolence being mistaken, and the purpose mischievous, though well meant, another use must be made of the property, and the bounty of the donors turned into a channel the donors never had dreamt of? So Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough publicly said, that if the Small-Pox Hospital was found hurtful it must come down, whatever good intention we might ascribe to its benevolent founders. If, then, Parliament could interpose in such instances, I say it has the self-same right to interpose its authority where there is a pernicious application of the funds given to other charitable purposes; and the locking-up an ample revenue from public use, because there are no children who require tuition in the learned languages, is a pernicious application of funds. From the Statute of Elizabeth downwards, charitable funds have been subject to public control, and dealt with as public property; and the Acts of George 3rd, and 4th, as well as of his present Majesty, have all recognized the right—the duty—the expediency—of such interference, without in the least disregarding the rights of property, or the power of the trustees, or others connected with the different trusts. But the remedies given by the law are still very imperfect, and of a kind not at all adapted to some of the most prevalent evils.
Beside such defects in the endowments as I have mentioned, there are few education charities where an improvident application of the funds is not directed. Thus most of them are given not merely for the wholesome, and useful, and little expensive purpose of instruction, but also for feeding, and lodging, and clothing the children. Now, unless in certain comparatively rare cases, as that of orphans, a permanent fund of this sort is open to exactly the same objections which have weighed most with the Legislature in reforming the Poor-laws—it is a fund for giving pay without work, and for promoting improvident marriages. That it is also a most wasteful application of money, there can be no doubt. I can illustrate this from the state of the London charities. Of thirty-six Education endowments in Middlesex, in the year 1819, the revenue was 31,000l. a-year, of which 22,000l. arose from permanent funds. In these schools the number trained and educated by the foundation was only 2,260, at a cost of nearly 10l. (the sum being 9l. 10s.) for each child. In four great London foundations the revenue, at the same period, 1328 amounted to 81,000l. a-year, and the number of children educated was 1,620, being an average of 52l. a-year for each child, but of these numbers some were only day-scholars, as in the case of St. Paul's school which is limited to 153 boys in number; and as the expense of these was, of course, not so great (yet still, I think, from 20l. to 30l. a-year, which is inexplicably high), the average charge of the others is within a trifle of 54l. a-year. The average for Education in the Foundling Hospital was the enormous sum of 45l. a-year for each of the 195 children in-doors, while for 180 children in the country, the average was 11l. 5s.
Now, if a respectable Board were formed, it could do much for Education and for economy, without any rude or harsh interference. A Board composed of persons who are not retail tradesmen, and interested in jobbing with the funds, but men who derive authority from their station in society, and from their known disinterestedness in the discharge of a merely public duty, would be able, calmly and deliberately, to discuss the matter with the trustees, even of charities wholly supported by subscription. This we did, to a certain extent, in the Education Committee, and with marked success, though the interests of the tradesmen thwarted us at every turn,—those same tradesmen who rejected, at one institution, the proposition of Mr. Justice Bayley, to prevent the house being furnished by articles from the shops of the committee of management, and thus made that most learned, most honest, and most humane Judge, withdraw in disgust from a charity which he found systematically perverted to purposes of the most sordid avarice. A Board possessed of due weight, and discreetly performing its duty, could, I doubt not, in a twelvemonth's time, convert the thirty-six endowments I first mentioned, into the means of giving the best possble Education to 30,000 children, instead of taking less than a twelfth part of the number off the hands of their parents and maintaining them, with a very indifferent kind of tuition, at an enormous expense, to the great profit of the retail-trade trustee. The spirit of conciliation, mutual respect, and good-will, between the managers or trustees and this body, would, I confidently expect, frustrate these sinister views. The bulk of the subscribers, and of the trustees where there is a foundation, are always persons who act upon principles of benevolence, and have no sinister views 1329 to serve; but from indolence and inexperience in business, they get into the hands of the interested individuals I have described, and these succeed in diverting the stream of beneficence into their own impure channels, sometimes openly, sometimes covertly by means of the thin cloak cast over their jobbing, of changing the Committee yearly, and allowing no one while upon it to supply the articles required, but each one playing into the hands of his predecessor, who is also to be his successor, and receive the reciprocation of favour. To terminate these abuses, and also to put the whole of the institutions upon a sounder and more useful footing, it only requires a full and kindly conference between the Board and the disinterested portion of the patrons in each charity; for these only require to be informed and to be supported; they will do their duty in co-operating with the Board, and the good work is finished. Whether any thing further may be done for improvement in this matter, I will not at present say. In the first instance, this may be sufficient; but, at all events, endowments of every kind ought to be jealously watched, especially now that the Charity Commission has expired. Trustees should be repeatedly called to account; they should be aware that there are still some persons in authority who have a control over them, although the Commissioners are no more.
A power should also be given to the Board, without which no endowed school can be expected to flourish for any length of time. However well trustees may perform their office, they should be watched over by this Board, and even where there are visitors or guardians, custodiet ipsos custodes. But the power of making strict conditions with the schoolmasters, and of removing them when the conditions are broken, is wanted at present even by the most enlightened and honest trustees. For want of it, in my opinion, many of the lesser endowed schools are every day going to decay. It is absolutely necessary, in order to make them fruitful in the good things for which they were originally founded. I have not lived in the Court of Chancery four years, to have yet to learn the course which this matter ordinarily takes. There are many who covet the place of the master of an endowed school, though the salary may be small; but this covetousness is not of teaching the poor. That was the object of the founder, who desired to see instruction diffused among all 1330 the children of the humbler classes; but that is no object with the schoolmaster, who lives in the founder's house, and takes the profits of his land. The doors of his school are, no doubt, flung open; and there is no manner of doubt that the poor children may enter—if they dare. No doubt the boy may come in; the parent may send his child, if he had rather his child should suffer under, and plague the master, than that he himself should suffer, by being plagued with the child at home. If he be so careless of vicarious suffering in his child's person, he may thrust him from under his own eye, and place him under the rod of the endowed schoolmaster, who, I freely admit, will never shut the door in the child's face, nor ever tell him to depart, nor in words threaten the parent, or forbid him—the endowment must, in no wise, be openly violated. But this I also know that the master of the charity school has boarders, children of a higher rank and station, under his care and in his house,—the very last creatures in the world that the founder ever dreamt would enter it. The wary master knows full well how the children of the better classes dislike to associate with charity-boys; he feels that as the number of unprofitable pupils increases, the number of profitable ones falls away; and therefore, although, the door is open, the face of the master is not; on his brow sits the frown perpetually; his hand beckons not to entice the pupil of humble degree, the sole object of the donor's bounty; it is lifted only in anger, and as the instrument of punishment; and the boy, not the teacher, is of course always in fault. Thus I have lately heard in Chancery proceedings of amply-endowed schools, the poor scholars of which had fallen off from]00 and 150, to one, two, and three; and yet the foundation exists, the Master exists, the house exists, the fund exists for the repairs, and the furniture, and the taxes. The name of the school is, or has been, celebrated as an endowed establishment, but its reputation is among the wealthy, whose children are there boarded at large prices, and taught Greek, and Latin, and fencing, and the dance, while no man knows that it is all the while a Charity School, the benefits of which have been handed over to be enjoyed by the rich, and to serve the interests of the Master. Now, in many endowments the power of the trustees to impose conditions is doubtful; in others, some college at Oxford or Cambridge appoints a Fellow, and takes care to 1331 fetter him by no restrictions. And even if conditions are attached on the nomination by trustees, and the master breaks them, who is to undergo the pains and the perils of a chancery-suit in order to accomplish his removal? Indeed, if the trustees neglect to require a fulfilment of those conditions, no one can, by any proceeding that I know of compel them to call for a performance; in fact, the superintending power of equity is little better than nominal. The doors of Chancery, like those of the school, are open to all, but there is the schoolmaster's frown and his rod to be encountered, in the one, and the heavier rod and sterner scowl of the master's office in the other. I hold it to be of essential importance, therefore, that there should be the power of removal vested in the trustees, and in the Board.
My Lords, according to the tenor of the observations with which I have detained your Lordships, the Resolutions are framed, which I now respectfully submit to your consideration. I have delayed bringing them forward, not from any indisposition on my part, but because immediately after I originally gave my notice, the Government was changed; and though I took no part whatever in any of the arrangements consequent upon that event, I found all parties were so engrossed with them, that nobody would throw away even a thought upon a subject like the Education of the People, until the crisis was at an end. This is the only reason of the delay. I now move your, Lordships,—1. That although the number of Schools where some of the elementary branches of education are taught, has greatly increased within the last twenty years, yet there still exists a deficiency of such Schools, especially in the metropolis and other great towns, and that the means of elementary instruction are peculiarly deficient in the counties of Middlesex and Lancaster.2. That the Education given at the greater number of the Schools now established for the poorer classes of the people is of a kind by no means sufficient for their instruction, being for the most part confined to reading, writing, and a little arithmetic; whereas at no greater expense, and in the same time, the children might easily be instructed in the elements of the more useful branches of knowledge, and thereby trained to sober, industrious, prudent, and virtuous habits.3. That the number of Infant Schools is still exceedingly deficient, and especially in those great towns where they are most wanted for improving the morals of the people, and preventing the commission of crimes.4. That while it is expedient to do nothing 1332 which may relax the efforts of private beneficence in forming and supporting schools, or which may discourage the poorer classes of the people from contributing to the cost of educating their children, it is incumbent upon Parliament to aid in providing the effectual means of instruction where these cannot otherwise be obtained for the people.5. That it is incumbent upon Parliament to encourage in like manner the establishment of Infant Schools, especially in the larger towns.6. That for the purpose of improving the kind of Education given at Schools for the people at large, it is expedient to establish in several parts of the country Seminaries where good Schoolmasters may be trained and taught the duties of their profession.7. That there are at present existing in different parts of the United Kingdom funds as well real as personal, to a large amount given or bequeathed to Charitable Uses connected with Education, but which, partly from want of objects in the particular places to which such gifts are confined, partly from want of proper powers in the Trustees, partly from other defects in the Foundations, and partly from a change in the habits of the people, have become, in many instances, unavailing to the purposes for which they were originally intended, and are now productive of very inadequate benefit to the country; while, from want of publicity, abuses frequently creep into the management of them, only to be remedied by tedious and expensive litigation.8. That in order to superintend the due and just application of the funds, from time to time, voted by Parliament for the promotion of Education, to establish proper Seminaries for training teachers, to encourage the trustees of Charities connected with Education, in using beneficially the powers now possessed by them, to watch over the abuses of trust committed by such trustees, and to control the exercise of such new powers as Parliament may grant them, it is expedient that a Board of Commissioners be appointed, with powers and duties to be regulated by Act of Parliament.9. That it is further expedient to give such Board a power of filling up the numbers of trustees, when they have fallen below the quorum in any will or deed of foundation, subject to the approval of the special visitor, where there is one, and to authorise, subject to the like approval, the sale, mortgage, or exchange, of any property given to charitable uses, connected with Education, for the promotion of the objects of the foundation, as far as these may be deemed beneficial to the community.10. That it is further expedient to give such Board a power, subject as aforesaid, of directing the trustees of any Grammar-school, where the funds are sufficient, to apply such part thereof as may not be wanted for teaching Grammar, in providing the means of common 1333 and improved Education for the people at large.11. That it is further expedient to give such Board a power, subject as aforesaid, with consent of the trustees, and subject to appeal to the King in Council, to apply a portion of the funds intrusted to them in such a manner as to produce a more general benefit, and at a cheaper rate, in the Education of the people at large, where the particular employment of the funds directed by the founder has become difficult from want of objects, or prejudicial from the employment pointed out being no longer beneficial to the community.12. That it is further expedient to give such Board the power, in conjunction with the trustees, of imposing conditions upon the masters of endowed schools, in respect of taking boarders, and otherwise conducting themselves, and of removing them with consent of the trustees, in case of breach of such conditions.13. That it is further expedient to give such Board the power of calling, from time to time, for accounts of the management of endowed schools, both from the trustees and from the teachers.14. That it is expedient to require all trustees of Charities connected with Education, to deliver yearly to his Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, an account of all sums of money received and expended by them in the execution of their trust.I now beg leave to propose that, with your Lordships' permission, these Resolutions be read; and it is my intention to move that the further consideration of them be postponed, by adjourning the debate.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said: I rise, my Lords, for the purpose of expressing my entire approbation as to the course which my noble and learned Friend has adopted; and my entire, complete, and cordial concurrence in the views which he has taken on this most important subject. I assure you, my Lords, that his Majesty's Government are deeply impressed with a desire of promoting the Education of the People; and I am perfectly convinced that the repression of crime, and the propagation of virtue, peace, general tranquillity, and order, are objects inseparably connected with a well-considered and well-directed system of education. All the objections which have hitherto been urged against diffusing education throughout the community (and some of the arguments urged against it are not without force) have been applicable to schemes of education ill-considered and ill-directed—to the abuses and evils resulting from a bad system, and do not at all bear upon such a plan as would enable the poor to receive instruction and 1334 information, and induce habits of industry, prudence, and frugality, I have only to say in reference to the resolutions of my noble and learned Friend, that as the Government are called upon by them to interfere with long-existing privileges, and to interpose its authority in matters of vital importance to the community, the course taken by the noble and learned Lord, which admits of deliberation and caution, is a wise and prudent one, the advantage of which shall not be lost sight of by his Majesty's Government, who will, I am satisfied, give the closest and most anxious attention to the propositions which have been submitted to your Lordships' decision.
The Bishop of Gloucester
expressed his concurrence in most of the views taken by the noble and learned Lord in his able and eloquent speech. He particularly approved of that part of it in which the noble and learned Lord refuted the assertion that crime bore a proportionate increase to the spread of education. There was one topic, however, which arose out of the noble and learned Lord's resolutions, on which he was most anxious to say a word—he meant that the religious instruction of the people should not be neglected, their minds should be enlightened, not merely by a knowledge of writing, reading, and arithmetic, but that they should be provided with that education which would "make them wise unto salvation." He did not, however, intend to insinuate, that because the noble and learned Lord had refrained from touching upon this part of the subject himself, he was desirous to exclude others from its consideration. Of the wonderful progress which education had of late years made in this country, he had an opportunity of witnessing a few days ago, when he attended an examination at the Central National School, where extraordinary instances of proficiency in writing, reading, and arithmetic, were exhibited on the part of children of nine and ten years of age. In reference to the resolutions before their Lordships, he should at present say no more than that it must form a subject for their calm and serious consideration, whether the religious institution authorized by the Church of England should be connected with any system of education on which they might determine.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
observed, that in the far greater part of the eloquent and instructive speech of the noble and learned Lord he entirely concurred, He 1335 should, in accordance with that desire for promoting the education of the people which he and his brethren had always exhibited, give the resolutions of the noble and learned Lord all the consideration which their importance demanded. For the whole period that he had had the honour of a seat in that House, being for the last twenty-one years, the principal object of his care and attention had been the education of the poorer classes. In various ways he had endeavoured to attain that end, being convinced that the education of the people was the most effectual means of diminishing crime. There was one point on which he had invariably and clearly announced his opinions, and, that was with reference to the question alluded to by his right rev. Friend. He had always proclaimed it as his conviction, feeling that it was a duty which he owed to the public, that in order to make education real and useful, it must be founded on the basis of religion.
§ Lord Denman
said, that as allusion had been made to the effect which education produced upon the proceedings of criminal justice, he might, he trusted, be permitted to address a very few observations to their Lordships. He was persuaded that the evils resulting from the commission of crime would be lessened, as the offences themselves would be diminished, by the establishment of a well-directed system of education; and he confessed he had, after reflecting upon the question—not as a subject for rhetorical declamation, but as one demanding grave attention, doubted how far the state was justified in inflicting punishment for an offence against the commission of which it had taken no pains to guard. If the government in a case of serious offence shared any portion of the guilt which was pronounced against the offender, they certainly incurred severer responsibility when they suffered the young and comparatively unsophisticated mind to be contaminated, on the commission of a trivial transgression, by the example and practice of the inmates of a prison. The reports of their Lordships' Committee on prisons, which was laid before them, would show the fearful evils which confounding prisoners of all shades of guilt had wrought to the community. The Legislature had no higher duty than to educate the people; the next to that was to prevent the immoral education of a prison from spreading among them. Criminal justice could not supply the defects in morals or in religion; but with the aid, of general education and 1336 an enlightened system of police, the greatest advances might be made towards social perfection in the community. The best assistance which could be given to law was to dispense the means of defeating the machinations of those who lived by depredations upon others among the community; these means were to be found alone in education.
replied, and said, in answer to the right reverend Prelates who had addressed their Lordships, that he was not unaware of the difficulties which surrounded this question on the subject of religion; but he thought he should, at a future time, be enabled to lay before them a plan by which the objections which had been urged would be obviated.