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which has been taken by those who have provided the means of education, that religious and moral instruction should be imparted. In your Bill, no sucli care appears to be taken, and therefore
you are not entitled to the benefit of the implication, of which you endeavour to take advantage. Private education is to be considered as under the more immediate superintendence of parents ; but those well-disposed persons who have founded public eleemosynary institutions, for the purpose of education, have considered religious instruction as a matter of too inuch importance to be left to chance, or to the discretion of those to whom the conduct of education might happen to be entrusted. They have, therefore, provided for such instruction, as a primary object, and have guarded, by fundamental regulations, against the possibility of its being neglected. Shall the state, Sir, be the only patron that makes no provision for the religious instruction of those whom it educates ? Shall the state-the order, quiet, and safety of which depend so much upon the prevalence of religious principles, and the consequent practice of religious duties--neglect the precautions which every private benefactor thinks it necessary to take, in order to insure the great object of education-religious and moral instruction?
“ If, indeed, there were no established religion in the country, it would be attended with considerable difficulty to incorporate religion with a system of national education; because, in that case, no one religious system could, for such a purpose, claim a preference over the rest. It was, apparently, a sense of this difficulty which led Mr. Joseph Lancaster, when he forgot the preference which, with a view to national education, was justly due to the established Church, to propose that generalizing system of religious instruction, which, in order to include in its support, "all denominations of professing Christians," was to inculcate no religious opinions about which those denominations had differed, but only those in which they all agreed; a system which would obviously exclude instruction in any of the essentials of Christianity, and, consequently, in Christianity itself. Happily, however, no such difficulty exists among us. We have an established religion which is founded on the evealed will of God, and which most studiously inculcates every Christian duty; a religion, of which it may truly be said, that there is no virtue which its members are not thereby instructed to practice, no vice which they are not thereby specifically admonished to avoid. How natural was it, when the legislature was devising a plan for the education of the children of the lower classes, a plan, the avowed object of which was to promote religion and morality; how natural, I say, was it 'to make the inculcation of such a religion the distinguishing feature, or rather the operative principle of the measure! Nay, how astonishing is it, that the commons of Great Britain in parliament 'assembled, in passing a bill for the above express purpose, should have overlooked a provision, so admirably and so obviously cal
culated for the attainment of the end which they had professedly in view!
It is not to be supposed, that any jealousy of the established church, or any dread of extending its influence, could enter into the feelings of the house on such an occasion, or on any occasion. But it is possible that the fear of appearing illiberal, may have induced, in some minds, an unwillingness to give the Church even an apparent preference, lest they might be thereby suspected to pronounce, that other religious professions do not equally tend to religion and morality. If, indeed, considerations or feelings of this nature had any influence on the decision of the house, the case would afford a striking instance of the mischievous effects of that false liberality, which is so characteristic a feature of the times in which we live, and which tends so alarmingly to the unsettlement of all the institutions of society. The strength, and consequently the security, of those institutions, depend chiefly upon the attachment of the people who are interested in their preservation. But the attachments of the great mass of mankind, even to their most valued and most valuable establishments, are formed without reflection, and, indeed, are necessarily the result of education and habit ; modern liberality, therefore, considers them as blind and servile prejudices, and as such attacks them with ridicule, and sentences them to disgrace. And as a sense of shame is one of the strongest impulses of which the human mind is susceptible, no sooner do these liberal feelings become prevalent, than mankind blush to support what, if it were attacked in any other way, they would defend with their lives. The intimidating influence of such feelings is not, however, confined to those who act from habit : it awes even those who are most accustomed to reflection, and who suffer themselves to be deterred, by the dread of being thought illiberal, from a manly avowal of principles which they have deliberately formerl, and which, not long ago, they would have most strenuously maintained. At length, for want of that zeal which is inspired by sympathy, the minds of all are brought to regard with apparent indifference, interests which formerly excited universal solicitude. Not only are the ties of ancient attachment relaxed, but opinion itself is set free upon all subjects whatsoever. Nothing is now to be taken for granted, “ Every thing (as Mr. Burke observed) is to be discussed, as if even the constitution of our country were to be always a subject rather of altercation than enjoyment.” But if, in the discussions to which every thing is to be subjected, we would escape the laugh of ridicule, or the contemptuous sneer, we must be careful not to pay any respect to the opinions of our ancestors—we must beware how we slight the authority of that proud though fallible reason-infinitely more fallible because it is proud which modern vanity and presumption have set up, as the court of appeal from the decisions of all past times. Already has a great change been thus produced among us ; a change so great, that if the language of our forefathers be compared with
that which is now current upon the discussion of any question of vital importance, it is difficult to believe that we are descended from such a stock, or that we are united to them by the bond of a common country. We find means, however, to solve this difficulty, by applying to ourselves the term enlightened, and by plunging them into the tenebrosity of the dark ages. Perhaps, with the aid of a little more light, we shall discover that we are entitled to arrogate to ourselves the exclusive possession of wisdom, and to consign them henceforth to the regions of folly. I much fear, however, that, in the result, ancient foily will be found, beyond all comparison, preferable to modern wisdom. The former, under the direction of plain common sense, availing itself of the benefits of experience, and never losing sight of the essential properties of human nature, endeavoured by practicable remedies, to correct positive evils, but most cautiously preserved whatever had been found excellent in the existing order of things; and thus, by slow degrees, it erected, on solid foundations, the noblest fabric of human felicity, that has appeared in any state of society since the creation of the world: the latter, or the contrary, preferring the dazzling blaze of brilliant talents, to the clear and steady light of common sense, estimating at a low rate, if not actually despising, the benefits of experience, and proudly conceiving that human nature has undergone some great and most advantageous change, rashly planges into schemes of visionary improvement : and in the pursuit of imaginary good, the acquisition of which, as well as its value, when acquired, is doubtful, madly risks that which is already in possession, and the inestimable value of which is proved by actual and long continued enjoyment. Thus are those venerable institutions which have been so long our boast, and which have made us the envy of the world, brought into the most imminent hazard. How long, under such circumstances, they are likely to last, is a question which deserves our most serious consideration. Assailed with all the energy which malice, vanity, and a rage for novelty and innovation can supply, their outworks already gone, and themselves defended with indifference, languor, and pusillanimity, it requires no gift of prophecy to foretel that they must speedily fall, unless a very different mode of defence be adopted; unless, in short, that arrogant, but imposing spirit of liberality, which so evidently constitutes their chief danger, be driven from our senates, and expelled from our hearts ; unless we can subdue that vanity which makes us exalt ourselves, and despise the accumulated wisdom of ages : unless we can condescend to consult history and experience, and to borrow light from the dark ages of antiquity.
The importance of a religious education, and the evil confequences so commonly observed to arise from the want of it, are thus strongly depicted: VOL. XIV.
GO Chm. Mag. March, 1808.
“In the discussions which have taken place on the interesting question, in what manner the lower classes ought to be educated, quite opposite opinions have been entertained. Some persons think that those classes should receive a degree of instruction, which, there is much reason to fear, would give them a distaste for those laborious exercises on which they seem destined to depend for their subsistence : while others maintain that no provision should be made, upon a general system, for affording them any literary instruction wliatever ; and they seem to think that the education of persons of that description is complete, when they are properly qualified for their respective callings in life. But surely those who adopt the latter opinion, take a very limited view of this important subject. They forget that education has for its object, not merely to qualify youth to procure a subsistence, but to prepare and dispose them to become good members of society, in the stations in which it has pleased Providence to place them. If man were merely an animal being, it might be sufficient to teach him to plough, sow, reap, thresh, and winnow; but he is also a moral being, and, as such, has many duties to perform, the due discharge of which is essential to his usefulness and his happiness. He owes personal duties to himself ; he owes relative duties to those to whom he is associated by the ties of family connexion, of friendship, of neighbourhood, of civil subjection, of a common country, of a common nature; he owes religious duties to the Supreme Being, obedience to whose will is the sum and the principle of all moral obligation. To give him a right notion of all these duties—to impress a deep sense of them on his tender mind—and to inspire him with a lively apprehension of the direful consequences, temporal and eternal, which await his habitual neglect of them—these are surely among the most important objects of education. How defective then, must be that education, if education it can be called, which consists merely in qualifying him for those bodily labours which constitute the chief employment of the industrious poor : It might, indeed, make him a good husbandman, or a skilful mechanic; but he might, nevertheless, be an undutiful son, a brutal husband, a cruel father, a false friend, an unkind neighbour, a disloyal subject, in a word-an irreligious being. Education therefore, in order to answer its true purpose, must correspond with the compound character which he is to sustain, and it should prepare him to act well the various parts of which that character is composed. All those parts have a mutual connection, and they afford each other reciprocal support. The neglect of any one occasions a chasm that renders the whole defective, and leaves the individual unfit for his station in society. Habits of well-applied industry, besides conducing to their immediate object the providing of the necessaries of life, are of admirable use in promoting a performance of all its social duties; insomuch that, as it were, by their mechanical effect, they sometimes, without any other aid, induce a general
outward regularity and propriety of conduct. On the other hand, a conscientious regard to religious and moral duties, is a necessary security for persevering industry. , How often for want of that security, does the expert, and for a time, diligent artisan, acquire by degrees habits of intemperance and sloth, and ul. timately involve himself and his family in penury and wretchedness! Nay, how generally for want of that security, do the artisans who reside in cities and manufacturing towns, squander so large a portion of their time and their earnings at that ensnaring receptacle, that bane to the morals, of the labouring classes the public-house, that they are led, by their extravagance, to combine inexacting from their nominal masters a rate of wages which is extremely injurious to the commercial interests of the country; while, notwithstanding, their own circumstances are embarrassed, and their families are often in want of the necessaries of life !--To guard against consequences so destructive to the individual, so injurious to society, no means can be effectual but that knowledge and sense of duty, which it is the peculiar end of a religious education to impart. And as such an education cannot be bestowed without so much literary instruction, as is necessary to enable youth to learn their duty from that volume, where, alone, the knowledge of it is fully and authoritatively communicated, and properly to join in the public exercises of their religion, it follows that, to such an extent, literary instruction is an indispensable part of education, even in the humblest walks of life.
At the close of this excellent letter, are some judicious remarks on the old regulation, which required that every schoolmaster should have a licence from the bishop of the diocese. It were to be wished, that this regulation could be revived with effect and generally enforced. The benefits would be incalculable, and many evils that now exist would be remedied.
In the Supplement, the author attacks, with success, the splenetic cenfures on his former letter contained in the Monthly and Critical Reviews. The editor of the latter, he observes, made an open avowal of socinianism; and our information be correct, the very critic who animadverted upon Mr. Bowles's publication, is a clergyman officiating in the Church of England; but of the Criucal Reviewers and their Fellows, enough.