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In the new circumstances of the Congregational Board of 
Education, originating in the meeting at Derhy, it was 
thought to be wise, and necessary, that the sentiments of the 
Board on the Educational question should be propounded 
fully, and in a permanent form ; and hence the Course of 
Lectures, contained in this volume, was delivered, under the 
direction of the Board, in Crosby Hall. The announcement 
of their delivery was responded to by crowded audiences ; and 
their publication in the columns of the British Banner has 
given an opportunity to many thousands of persons to read 
them, who would never have seen them in their present form. 

The Board feels under deep obligation to the Lecturers 
for the time, and labour, devoted to the preparation of the 
Lectures ; and tenders to tliem its warmest thanks ; and trusts 
that tliis volume will not only lead to the increased diffusion 
of sound principles, but will encourage many to make 


vigorous efforts for the spread of Education, and to contri- 
bute liberal donations and annual subscriptions towards 
sustaining the Board in its general operations, and in the 
establishment of its contemplated Normal schools. 

As the Lecture of the Rev. John Burnet was not 
written, the Board feels that it would be unjust to that 
gentleman to print the brief, and imperfect, report of it, 
which appeared in the Newspapers. 

Congregational Board of Education, 


April mth, 1848. 








ALGERNON WELLS . . . . . . . .51 
















Page 38, last line, for " proportion of the children of the woriiing classts in 
Day-schools in 1846, 1 in 2i," read, " 1 in 2^." 

In page 33, line after the table, "increase of population from 1833 to 1846, 
86 per cent," ought to be, " from 1803 to 1846, 86 per cent." 





Introduction — Government measure of education — Reasons against it — The voluntary 
principle explained and defended — I. Intellectual and moral condition of the 


II. The MODERN ERA OF POPULAR EDUCATION — Sunday-scliools — Day-schools — 
Joseph Lancaster and Dr. Bell — British and Foreign School Society, and National 
Society — Infant Schools — Ragged Schools — Mechanics' Institutions — Other educational 
societies and establishments — Normal Schools — Statistical view of the great 
RESULTS OP voluntary EDUCATION — Comparison of 1803, 181S, 1833, and 1846 — Great 
improvement in the character of education— Grounds of confidence for the future — 
Opinions of Mr. Macaulay and Mr. Burke— Progress of the periodical press— Conclusion. 

Among the many controversies of the age, it is cheering to find 
some great truths which receive general assent. Few persons, for 
example, would question the proposition, that Religion, Knowledge, 
and Liberty conduce to the highest prosperity of nations. There 
would be great diversity of opinion as to the practical application of 
the truth, — as to the kind of religion, the method of promoting 
knowledge, and the best form of liberty. But it is an advantage, 
and one which England has not very long enjoyed, that the general 
principle is admitted. No English writer, now-a-days, commends 
Ignorance as the mother of devotion, or advocates the despotic in 
preference to the representative form of government. 

Religion, knowledge, liberty, then, may be regarded as forming 
the golden tripod on which the genius of Britain sits, dispensing 
truth and happiness to the world. Each stem of the tripod should 
have the strength of the rock, and all should lean towards and 
support each other. The religion should be that divine principle 
which not merely restrains, but animates and ennobles, — which 
shuts out no ray of light, and sanctions no species of injustice. The 
knowledge should be pure truth, free from all superstition and 
servility, illustratuig at once the claims of God and the rights of 



mnii nmong his fellow-men. The liberty should be nccordiiip; to 
knowledge, mid consistent with the pence nnd order inculcated in 
the Gospel. 

I shftU not be understood by this figure to imply that I elevate 
any right or interest of man into rivalry with the claims of his 
Maker. No. Hut I deem knowledge nnd liberty to be heaven- 
born, —to belong to religion itself,— to be embraced with it in the 
same radiant circle — even the girdle of righteousness and love with 
which ihe Almighty encompasses bis decrees. 

If this view be correct, it is the sacred duty of Englishmen to 
protect and advance religion, knowledge, and liberty, in their alli- 
ance with each of her, nnd never to promote one at the expense of 
the rest. The facts to be brought out in this Lecture seem to me 
to illustrate the connection of which I have spoken, as natural and 
worthy of being perpetuated. Venerating religion nnd loving liberty, 
it will be my object to show that knowledge ought to be promoted 
among the youth of Knglnnd with a due regard to both. 

It is humbling but snlutary to rememl)er, that the influential 
classes of this country have not long ndmitted the duty, or even the 
safety, of encouraging the bulk of the people, that is, the Inbnuring 
clnsses, to acquire knowledge. Populnr education in ICnglnnd may 
be said to bear dnte from the commencement of the present century. 
Hefore tbnt period, knowledge, like liberty, had been slowly though 
siu'ely uinkiiig way ; but it very rnrely extended beyond the upper 
nnd middle clnsses. It wns thought unsttitnble for the Inbouring 
class, or beyoiul their reach. The nristocrney, ami even the clergy, 
regnrded ignoraiu'c as the safeguanl of order, and knowledge as 
incompatible with subordination. 

In the middle of the nineteenth century, when ediiejntion is more 
exteiuled, and more rapidly exteiuling nnd improving, than at any 
former period, our rulers hnve taken up the belief, that it is not safe 
to leave ediication to the people themselves, but that, in order to 
make it general nnd efficient, it mtist be aided and controlled l)y the 
Government. It is my firm and sorrowful conviction, thnt this is 
one of those nberrations in the progress of truth, of which history 
contains so many exnmples. tlow often have we seen error, when 
defeated on one side, unexpeefedly making head on another, nnd 
threatening to recover all the ground it had lost I It has been so in the 
history of religion, of government, aiul in many of the departments 
of knowledge. Imperfect reformations, half conquests, and balanced 


nilvantngfs, olinrnrtcrizo the inarch of truth through this erring world. 
The englp gaxe of Luther did not receive every ray of solar light. 
Tlie Piolcslant 1{( fonnation of (Jerniany, Switzerland, and Kngland 
did not qnitu destroy the ehackles of jjiejudicc. The almost blame- 
less llpvolution of America left the monster form of Slavery to rear 
itself heside the largest growth of Freedom. The great l^eform 
of the English House of Commons was neither conij)lete nor 
unhlemished. In Germany and France we have seen philosophy 
debased by infidelity. The revival of s])iritnal religion in our own 
day is accompanied by revived snj)erstitiou. And we have scarcely 
emancipated industry from Government control, under the name of 
" protection," when the same control, under nearly the same mis- 
nomer, lays its grasp on the more sacred interests of education. 

It seems very remarkable that Government, which in all former 
ages held aloof from the education of the people, should now, for the 
first time, claim its superintendence as a right and duty, when the 
people have made such extraordinary advances in educating them- 
selves. If it be indeed the duty of Government to promote the 
education of the people, it is a dnty which has been so entirely 
neglected throngh all the periods of our history, that we couhl 
not safely rely upon the Government for its discharge in future. Of 
this newly-claimed right and newly-discovered dnty we may say, 
that no claim could be made with a worse grace, and that the duty 
is undertaken precisely when it is least needed. 

It will hardly be denied, within the limits of England, that the 
people have a riffhf to educate their own children, and that it is their 
dufy to educate them ; that this right and duty belong first, by the 
law of nature, to parents, and next, by the law of Christianity, 
to those whom Providence enables to assist their poorer neigh- 

I shall not further discuss this question, because it will be under- 
taken by an abler haml in a fntnre Lectnre.* I will only remin<l 
you of the general rule, that the more responsibility is divided, the 
less efhciently is the duty performed. 

Whilst I believe that edneation is the duty of the people them- 
selves, 1 am equally persuaded that it does not come within the 
province of Government, according to just views of what that pro- 
vmce is, under a system of political and civil liberty. But I am, if 

* My friend nnd townsman, tho Hcv. Dr. Hamilton, author of the " Insti- 
tutions of Popular Fdncation," and of the third Lecture in this series, " On 
the Pftrties responsible Ibr the Education of the People." 


possible, still more strongly of opinion, that, wherever the duty lies, 
it is eminently the interest of the people to discharge it themselves ; 
and for these, amongst other reasons: — 1st. That a duty is likely 
to be best discharged by the parties on whom it most directly rests, 
and who have the strongest motives for its performance. 2nd. That 
our duties are the discipline ordained by Heaven for our moral im- 
provement, and that to relieve men of their duties is to deprive them 
of their virtues. 3rd. That the virtues especially cultivated by Volun- 
tary education are those which most conduce to the interests of 
liberty and religion, namely, self-reliance, the great safeguard of 
freedom, — and active Christian benevolence, our only hope for the 
evangelization of the world. 4th. That education conducted by a 
people themselves, is likely to have a more vigorous and healthful 
character, than it could have if the schoolmasters were continually 
looking with hope and fear to Government officers. 5th. That new 
and improved methods of instruction are more likely to be intro- 
duced under the free competition of a Voluntary system, than under 
the uniformity and vis inertice which usually characterize a Govern- 
ment system. 6th. That with whatever zeal a Government agency 
might be worked at first, it would be likely to be perverted to pur- 
poses of Ministerial patronage. 7th. That though at present a wish 
is professed only to aid Voluntary effort, yet the natural tendency of 
the system is to deaden the Voluntary spirit, and to bring schools 
more and more into dependence upon the Government. 8th. That 
the question of education is implicated with that of religion, and 
therefore the serious objections which apply to Government inter- 
ference with religion apply also to Government interference with 
education. 9th. That in the state of things which exists now, and 
is likely still to continue, a Government Education Board must be 
under the influence of the Church and the Aristocracy ; and from 
this and other causes, the Church of England is sure to obtain the 
lion's share of evrey education grant, — the only alternative being, 
the still worse evil of subsidizing the schools of all sects, which 
amounts to the subsidizing of all forms of religion. 

I am aware that some of these reasons will not have their due 
weight with the friends of Church Establishments. It is evident 
that many have been prejudiced against the Voluntary system in 
education, by their rooted dislike to the Voluntary system in religion. 
Nor can I deny — on the contrary, I am fully convinced — that both 
rest substantially on the same principles, and must be opposed or 
defended by the same arguments. Whatever weakens the cause of 


Voluntary education, weakens that of Voluntary religion ; and what- 
ever strengthens the one, strengthens the other. 

Whilst I say this, I cannot but express a doubt, whether it was 
sound policy on the part of Churchmen to seek to extend the Estab- 
lishment principle, by obtaining a supplementary establishment for 
education, inasmuch as education had hitherto been free, and as the 
advantage they expect to gain mil only aggravate the sense of injus- 
tice already felt by Nonconformists. 

Two great and influential classes among our public men are jealous 
of the Voluntary Principle, — first, the partizans of the Church, be- 
cause they regard that principle as hostile to the existing Establish- 
ment; and, secondly, the disciples of the Continental policy, of 
endowing all education and all religion, because, I believe, they 
really do not understand the Voluntary Principle, but connect it 
with over-earnestness, or fanaticism, in religion — an error with 
which they themselves are certainly not chargeable. Some object to 
the Voluntary Principle as inefficient ; but others object to it, though 
they do not say so, because it is too efficient. Most think it not 
trustworthy, on account of its alleged want of steadiness and uni- 
formity : and, with all my admiration for the Voluntary Principle, I 
must admit that it has the same defects as — Nature and Freedom, ; 
— that it does not always move in straight lines, or array its forces in 
regimental order, or obey pedantic rules, or make the succeeding 
century a copy of the preceding, or flatter statesmen by limiting 
improvement within Acts of ParHament ; but still I believe that, 
like Nature and Freedom, it has a magnificent rule and range — the 
rule of a li\ing spirit, and the range of whatever achievement God 
has made possible to man. 

I speak here of the Voluntary Principle in an enlarged sense, not 
confining myself to its operation in providing the means of religious 
instruction. Of course I do not ask for it, throughout the scope 
of my whole argument, that New Testament sanction and 
authority, which rests the support of religion on voluntary liberality, 
to the exclusion of the compulsory interference of the magistrate. 
We must, indeed, extend that New Testament principle to religious 
education ; for, if we once receive public money for religious instruc- 
tion in our schools, we should very soon receive it for religious 
instruction in our chapels. On that point there can be no dispute, 
except with men whose views are exceedingly confused. Noncon- 
formists, giving religious education, are precluded by their religious 
principles from receiving Government money. 


But I do not confine my views, in defending " Voluntary educa- 
tion," to merely religious education : I apply the terms to the 
cultivation of the human mind in all its extent — to literature, science, 
art, and politics — to colleges, newspapers, magazines, books, and 
literary and scientific institutions— to the life-long training of the 
adult, as well as the elementary instruction of the child. Con- 
cerning all these I am ready to declare my opinion, that the Volun- 
tary Principle is adequate, is the most consistent with liberty, is 
conducive to the highest improvement ; and, on the other hand, 
that these things do not come within the province of Government, 
whilst Governmental interference often retards advancement and 
shackles freedom. In support of my views, I appeal to the free 
press, the free literature, the free science, and the free education of 
England, in opposition to countries where all these things are taken 
under the care of Government. 

If my argument should fail to vindicate the freedom of our 
schools, it must equally fail to protect the freedom of our periodical 
press and our general literature. The press is quite as important 
an educator as the school : the case for placing the former under 
Government help and superintendence, is as strong as for placing 
the latter, — nay, stronger, as any one will be convinced who reflects 
on the manifold defects and abuses of a free press, and on the un- 
speakable importance of that great engine, which so principally 
moulds the mind and will of England. Nearly all the Continental 
Governments which pay and direct the school, pay and direct also 
the pulpit and the press. They do it consistently. And our 
Government educationists at home would only be consistent, should 
they recommend Government grants and inspection to all our 
ministers, our editors, and our authors. 

To prevent misconception, I may say, that I do not deny the 
power of an enlightened despot to erect a vast and complete machi- 
nery of education, and, by a large expenditure of his people's money 
on colleges, museums, galleries, and theatres, to force the growth of 
learning, art, and taste among them, especially when they are 
precluded from the nobler duties and more practical enterprises of a 
free people. I look at the whole question, and at the whole man ; 
and, regarding man in all the capacity of his moral and intellectual 
nature, and communities in all their interests, I reject the petty 
advantages of despotism, and claim the more generous, though 
perhaps looser, regimen of freedom. 

It may be well also to explain, that the Voluntary Principle does 


not exclude, or affect to be independent of, the aid which men of 
wealth, power, and station can give to public objects. It even asks, 
that " kings should be nursing fathers and queens nursing 
mothers" to religion. It invites the largest donations of princes 
and nobles towards the erection of the temple, the college, or the 
school, when " they offer willingly of their own proper goods" — 
acknowledging that " all things come of God, and that of his own 
they have given him."* It accords praise to our Alfred, our 
Henrys, and our Edwards, and to a long train of nobles, prelates, 
ladies, gentry, and merchants, whose munificence founded, out of 
their own estates and incomes, most of our ancient schools of 
learning. The only conditions of accepting help which the 
Voluntary Principle requires are these — first, that the gift be truly 
Voluntary, not the produce of exaction, or the appropriation of what 
does not belong to the donor himself ; and secondly, that it in no 
way interferes with the absolute self-government of the Church. 
Thus the Voluntary Principle is independent, without pride, — 
willing to accept, without covetousness or subserviency, — jealous 
for the purity of the Church and the interests of liberty, — not 
anxious for endowments, because of their liability to abuse, — more 
willing to give than to receive, — ever appealing to, and thereby 
cultivating and strengthening, the highest motives, love and duty to 
God, and love and duty to our fellow-men. 

But we are told, by a thousand tongues and pens, — "The Volun- 
tary Principle is a failure ; however plausible it may appear in argu- 
ment, experience proves its inefficiency." 

I accept the appeal to experience ; and boldly maintain that the 
Voluntary Principle, so far from having failed, has triumphantly 

In illustrating " the progress and efficiency of Voluntary education 
in England," I must ask leave to resort to two modes of proof, 
namely, the historical and the statistical. You may think it strange 
that I should apologise for using what may seem almost the only 
kinds of proof in a question of this nature ; but in nearly every work 
or speech which I have read on the side of State Education, I find 
a tacit discountenance of all appeal to by -gone years. There is 
extensive research among the Blue Books issued by Government 
Commissioners, but an almost total abstinence from a comparison of 

* The thanksgiving of David, -when he, his nobles, and his people had 
•'offered willingly" their treasures for the building of the Temple. — 1 Chron. 
xxix. 3 — 14. 


our present with our former educational state. I doubt whether, in 
all the speeches of Ministers and their supporters last Session, there 
was a single reference to the experience of the last fifty years, for 
the sake of ascertaining the progress of popular education, and' 
determining the worth of the principle on which it had been con- 
ducted. Still less did they venture, by more remote historical 
inquiry, to pry into " the hole of the pit from which we were 
digged." And as to statistics, it is the fashion to scout them, not 
only as troublesome, but actually as proving nothing ! Last year I 
was sneered at by the Times as " bristling with statistics." And a 
few weeks since, in reference to an examination of the educational 
statistics of Wales, the Morning Chronicle said — 

"Mr.Baines has reproduced his old argument for the sufficiency 
of the Voluntary Principle, namely, the number of children at school 
in proportion to the whole population. We do not think it at all 
necessary to go into the details of this argument !" 

On the same occasion the Daily News said — 

" We repeat for the fiftieth time, statistics are next to worthless 
in this inquiry !" 

Now if " the number of children at school in proportion to the 
whole population" be not a point of the highest importance in this 
question, and if " statistics are next to worthless," we might as well 
discard the science of numbers as a troublesome invention, tempting 
men to ridiculous exactness and inconvenient demonstration. I had 
thought that figures were admitted to be useful, as representing 
numbered, measured, and ascertained facts ; but it seems the inde- 
finite is preferred to the definite ; and certainly it is more convenient 
to the rhetorician, who has to cover over an exposed fallacy. In 
the use of figures this evening I shall be sparing ; and those which 
I introduce shall be so plain, that they may be instantly compre- 
hended and easily retained. But I cannot gratify our opponents 
by treating an arithmetical question with an entire absence of 

First, however, let us take a hasty glance at 


I persuade myself that you will accompany me with interest, 
whilst I select a few facts as symptoms of the state of the population 


in former times. For unless we attempt to gauge the depth from 
which we have risen, it will be impossible to have any just notion 
of the elevation now attained, or any correct estimate of the agency 
by which it has been reached. 

Before the invention of the art of printing, though there were 
colleges and schools in England, the educated classes were extremely 
few in number. The clergy almost monopolised the scanty portion 
of learning which was then to be had ; and the nobles and knights 
were for the most part unable to write, and in many cases to read. 
The largest library in England in the middle of the fifteenth century, 
namely, that presented by Duke Humphrey of Gloucester to the 
University of Oxford, did not exceed 600 volumes ; and it was the 
close of that century before the Greek language began to be taught 
in that seat of learning. Inasmuch as the bulk of the labourers 
were held in a state of serfdom till the end of the fourteenth century, 
we may infer, with certainty, that they were nearly as ignorant of 
letters as any tribe of barbarians ; and though the boroughs were 
attaining some political and commercial consequence, yet their popu- 
lation was insignificant compared with the rural population. It is 
estimated, that all the towns of England, including London, then 
only contained 170,000 inhabitants, whilst the population of Eng- 
land and Wales amounted to 2,700,000.* 

After the invention of printing, which was introduced into Eng- 
land in 1474, books multiplied; and the centuries which have since 
elapsed have witnessed a gradual extension of education. From the 
days of Chaucer a noble literature has accumulated in England. In the 
reign of the lettered EUzabeth a constellation of men of genius ap- 
peared. Many schools and colleges had been founded, and richly en- 
dowed. Yet, even of Elizabeth's day a modern historian thus writes — 

" The learning which existed in this age, however remarkably it 
may have shone forth in particular instances, was by no means gene- 
rally diffused, even among the higher classes ; while the generality of 
the lower and many even of the middle classes, remained to the end 
of the period almost wholly uneducated and illiterate. The father 
of Shakspeare, an alderman of Stratford, appears to have been 
unable to write his name ; and probably throughout the community, 
for one man that was scholar enough to subscribe his signature, 
there were a dozen who could only make their marks." f 

* Pictorial Hist, of England, vol, ii., p. 269. f ^^^^••> ^o^- "•» P- ^23. 


This was at the close of the sixteenth century. "With the growth 
of freedom, commerce, and wealth, education still extended itself. 
Newspapers were first published during the civil wars of Charles I. 
But after the Restoration, an Act was passed, that only twerdy 
printers should practise their art in the kingdom; in 1666 there 
were only 140 "working printers" in London; and the censorship 
of the press — that early form of Government care for education — 
was not abolished till the Revolution of 1688. The periodical press, 
with few exceptions, was meagre and paltry till the close of the 
eighteenth century. The first magazine was published in the year 
1731. But so scanty was our literature during the first half of the 
eighteenth century, from 1700 to 1756, albeit including the Augustan 
age of Anne, that the average number of new works published 
during that period did not exceed 93 each year. At present, the 
average number of new books exceeds 2,000 volumes yearly. It is 
a still more decisive proof of the small amount of reading, and there- 
fore of education, in England a century ago, that, in the year 1 744, 
not more than 100,000^. is computed to have been spent by the 
people in books, newspapers, and publications of every kind ; whilst 
in 1844 the amount thus expended was 2,085,600/.,* — being an 
increase of more than twenty -fold, though the increase of population 
within that century was only two and a-half-fold.f 

The moral state of the population a century back corre- 
sponded with its intellectual state. "We often hear lamentable repre- 
sentations of the crimes and immoralities of our own day, which, in 
the estimation of some, is worse than all that have preceded it, and 
hastening to the catastrophe of public convulsion. Yet I never 
converse with old men, either in London or the country, but, not- 
withstanding the propensity of age to think former days better than 
the present, I am told of an astonishing improvement in morals and 
religion. It will be of real use, as giving us correct views on a 
most important subject, and inspiring thankfulness to God for the 
days on which we are cast, to recal a few particulars. 

The reader of the lives of the "Wesleys, "V\'^hitefield, and the Countess 
of Huntingdon, will remember only too many illustrations of the 
brutal ignorance, demoralization, and irreligion with which those 
great modern revivalists had to cope, especially in the early part of 

* Mr. Charles Knight's " Life of Caxton." — Appendix, 
t The population of England and Wales in 1750 was 6,517,035, and in 1841 
it -was 15,906,741. 


their career. From the close of the " Life and Times of the Countess 
of Huntingdon" I select the following passage, descriptive of the 
Church and the clergy in the former part of the last century : — 

"The parson satin the kitchen of the village-inn, smoking tobacco 
and drinking ale with his parishioners ; or he played the fiddle and 
attended at the merry-makings of the neighbourhood. A higher 
class hunted with the neighbouring gentry ; as magistrates, joined 
them in the prosecution of poachers, and were game-keepers rather 
than soul-keepers ; mighty hunters before the Lord, but not eager 
in the pursuit of truth ; fishers, but not fishers of men ! A still 
higher grade associated with the wits and beaux esprits, were fine 
gentlemen even in the pulpit, and gave the tone to their district. 
But the meek, the humble, the devout minister of religion was rarely 
to be met with ; the earnest, eloquent, persuasive, energetic, urgent 
messenger of the Gospel was almost unknown. If such were the 
shepherds, what were the sheep ? A few only were Papists, but 
multitudes were daily becoming Dissenters ; the Socinian heresy was 
much encouraged, the Deists flourished, and there were even those 
who boasted of Atheism. Lambeth Palace had its balls and routs ; 
music parties for Sunday evenings even the Bishops countenanced, 
and card parties were not unfrequent on the Sabbath evening. The 
humble classes imitated their betters. A sneer at religion was wit ; 
the parson was the standing joke ; and the church was used chiefly 
to rail at, on account of the occasional levies it occasioned, and which 
appeared to recal its memory to the otherwise forgetful people. 
Hundreds of thousands of persons were without the means of reli- 
gious instruction ; milHons had never heard a sermon ! 

" Such was the case with the Church of England. What is the 
picture now ? 

" The education of the people, once opposed by all the 
GREAT, is now the universal demand, and the contest of the two 
grand political divisions in the State is, not who shall best stave off 
the disagreeable necessity of general education, but who shall have 
the glory of advancing it— who shall have the power to influence and 
to direct its course."* 

The author proceeds to show the delightful contrast of the 
present times with the former in regard to religion and virtue. 

Any one who shall turn to the close of the fourth volume of the 
" Pictorial History of England," will find drawn together, from 

* " Life and Times of the Countess of Huntingdon," vol. ii., pp. 540, 541. 


various authorities, many details of the morals, manners, and con- 
dition of the population of London in the reign of George II. I 
select a few : — 

" There were many shops in which toys, trinkets, and jewellery 
were disposed of, not by regular sale, but by a raffle ; and to these 
places gallants were wont to take their mistresses, and treat them 
out of their winnings. These fooleries were imitated in humble 
life, so that the very fruit-stalls in the streets were places for 
gambling, where dice or the wheel of fortune initiated apple- 
munching urchins into the doctrine of chances. Thimble-rigging 
was also fearlessly practised as a trade in the open streets. But a 
still more pernicious kind of trade was that practised by a class of 
pedlars, who vended strong liquors in the streets upon stalls 
and wheelbarrows, or carried them about wherever a crowd was 
gathered. Drinking-houses were at least as numerous in London as 
they are at present, although the population was little more than 
one-third of its present amount."* 

According to a Report, drawn up by the Justices of Middlesex, 
in 1 736, " Every sixth house in the metropolis was a licensed gin- 
shop,"t in addition to those who sold liquors in the streets. 

The consumption of liquor in England and Wales a century back 
and at present is illustrated by the following facts : — In 1742, the 
quantity of British spirits distilled was 7,160,000 gallons ;:|; in 
1847, it was 5,356,794 gallons. At the former period it averaged 
1 and 1-1 0th gallon per head to the population ; at the latter period 
only 3-lOths of a gallon per head.§ In 1750, the consumption of 
malt averaged nearly five bushels (4* 85) to each individual in the 
country; in 1845, it averaged 1^ bushels (1'30).|| From these 
facts we deduce, that the consumption of strong liquors in England 
is not more than about one-fourth of what it was a century ago, in 
proportion to the population. The total abstainers among my 
audience will well know that this fact speaks volumes : let them 
" thank God, and take courage." 

To resume my extracts from the History : — 

" But the natural evils of rain, mud, and dust, were not the worst 
to be encountered in walking about the metropolis. Pickpockets 

* " Pictorial History of England," vol, iv., p. 822. 
t Ibid., p. 854. t Ibid., p. 853, 
§ Excise Revenue for 1838 — 1847. — (Parliamentary Paper.) 
II Porter's " Progress of the Nation," (Ed. of 1847,) p. 564. 


had become wonderfully numerous, so that, whether at church or 
market, the theatre or the ball-room, purses, snuff-boxes, and 
watches disappeared with a facility incomprehensible to the owners." 
In 1728, a gang formed a design to rob the queen, in St. Paul's- 
churchyard. "The squares of London were infested with throngs 
of beggars: frequently these wretches were also thieves."* "Play- 
going was still as frequent and as fashionable as ever, without the 
theatre having undergone any moral improvement : the same sort 
of plays were acted, and the same license in behaviour tolerated, as 
had prevailed during the reign of Charles II." A place of most 
infamous resort, called Bellsize-house, with gardens, music, and 
other attractions, was opened at Hampstead ; and it is curious to 
read in the advertisements, that " for the security of the guests, 
twelve stout fellows (afterwards increased to thirty), completely 
armed, patrolled between London and Bellsize, to prevent the 
insults of highwaymen, or foot-pads, which may infest the road ! " 
The historian brands this place as " a precious temple of Cotytto." 
" The great approaches to the capital, and especially Bagshot and 
Hounslow-heath, and Popham-lane, were traversed by mounted 
highwaymen, either singly or in small bodies." " Few, therefore, 
ventured to set out on a journey without being well armed, and 
sanguinary encounters with robbers were frequent upon the high- 

In 1 744, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London represent, in an 
address to the King, " that divers confederacies of great numbers of 
evil-disposed persons, armed with bludgeons, pistols, cutlasses, and 
other dangerous weapons, infest not only the private lanes and 
passages, but likewise the public streets and places of usual con- 
course, and commit most daring outrages." In 1751, the celebrated 
Henry Fielding, a magistrate, published his " Inquiry into the 
Causes of the late Increase of Robbers," in which he compares the 
London gangs to Italian banditti ; and adds, that this state of 
things exists, though cart-loads of our fellow-creatures were once in 
every six weeks carried to slaughter at Tyburn. 

The pressure of the poor-rates was far more severe a century ago 
than at present. The food of the population was far inferior. 

At this period the amusements of the people, and not merely of 
the lower class, were brutal and degrading : prize-fighting and cock- 
fighting were patronized by princes and nobles ; bull-baiting and 

* Pictorial History of England, vol. iv,, p. 823. f Ibid., pp. 825—832. 


bear-baiting prevailed throughout the country ; dog-fighting and 
low gambling were the favourite amusements in every suburb of 
London on the Sunday morning. 

Speaking of a later period, namely, from 1/60 to 1/84, the 
historian says, in reference to the best paid class of workmen in the 
metropolis : — 

"There was little of education even among these, the only 
sections of the lower classes where it could well be looked for. The 
aimless and excessive violence of their trades' unions, then for the 
first time heard of, show on how Iowa stage of intelligence they stood. 
Among the remainder of the honest poor, wages were in one sense 
high, but precarious. For the education of all this dense mass no 
provision was made. That class had drifted out of the cognizance 
of the Church : the charity and free schools of earlier times were 
organized on too narrow a scale for their use. Sunday-schools were 
an invention of the latter part of this period, but did not come into 
play till the next. The Methodists were the only teachers of the 
poorer classes of the metropolis ; and persevering, and in some 
respects dexterous, teachers they were."* 

One more authority as to the moral and intellectual state of the 
humbler class in the towns and villages of the country, towards the 
close of the century, and I close this part of my case. It is from 
the immortal founder of Sunday-schools, Robert Raikes, whom I am 
proud to call a brother- editor. In a letter of his, published in the 
GentlemarCs Magazine in 1 784, he thus describes a common scene 
in one of the suburbs of Gloucester : — 

" On Sunday, the street is filled with multitudes of little wretches, 
who, released on that day from their employment, spend their time 
in noise and riot, playing at chuck, and cursing and swearing in a 
manner so horrid, as to convey to any serious mind an idea of hell, 
rather than that of any other place." 

In his first published recommendation of the plan of Sunday- 
schools, in his own newspaper, the Gloucester Journal, on the 3rd 
of November, 1 783, he says : — 

" The Lord's-day has hitherto been prostituted to bad purposes. 
Farmers and other inhabitants of the towns and villages complain 
that they receive more injury in their property on the Sabbath than 
all the week besides : this, in a great measure, proceeds from the 

♦ " Pictorial History of England," reign of George III., vol. i., p. 654. 


lawless state of the younger class, who are allowed to run wild on 
that day, free from every restraint." 

And he adds, as the result of his experiment for more than a 

*' The harbarous ignorance in which they had before lived, being 
in some degree dispelled, they begin to give proofs that those 
persons are mistaken who consider the lower orders of mankind as 
incapable of improvement, and therefore think an attempt to reclaim 
them impracticable, or, at least, not worth the trouble." 

You will hardly think that I have wasted your time, in placing 
before you these evidences of the state of the population, in regard 
to education, morals, manners, and religion, before the era which I 
have called that of popular education. Where " progress" is to be 
estimated, I know no other way of doing it than by ascertaining 
first the point from which we started, and then the point we have 

But I may be told that a retrospect of the centuries we have 
glanced at is not satisfactory for the Voluntary Principle, — that it 
shows the people did not do much to educate themselves. I reply, 
if the people did little, what did the Government do ? Nothing. 
"Worse than nothing. During part of the time, it placed the Press 
under censorship, and often punished the free and fair use of it with 
cruel severity. The ruling and influential classes habitually, with 
few exceptions, frowned on the instruction of the working people. 
Whatever schools there were, whether superior schools, common 
schools, or charity schools, were provided on the Voluntary 
Principle. The means of education kept pace with the public sense 
of its desirableness, and even with the amount of intellectual food 
that proceeded from the Press. During the whole period we have 
reviewed, I apprehend that the improvements realized in our laws, 
institutions, literature, industry, and national character, originated 
mainly with the people, and in very few cases with the Government. 

Our civil freedom, the main source of our present greatness, was 
undoubtedly won from reluctant governors, by the pressure from 
beneath. It is readily admitted that the Voluntary Principle in its 
action follows public opinion, and does not precede it. But Govern- 
ment, though in some rare cases it may precede public opinion, in 
the immense majority of cases refuses even to follow — until it is 
compelled. The grand question, after all, is, which is the natural 
and usual source of jpopular improvement, — the Government or the 



people ? If it is the Goveniment, I give up my cause as lost. But 
if it is the people, then the interests of education, like those of 
liberty, are most safely committed to their keeping. 
We come now to consider, secondly : 


1. And first, in order of time, and in some respects even of 
importance, we speak of 


This great institution dates from the year 1781 or 1782, when the 
first Sunday-school was gathered by Robert Raikes, in Gloucester. 
Nothing can be more simple than the history of the institution. It 
commanded approbation wherever it became known. There were, 
indeed, opponents belonging to the classes which are jealous of 
every innovation ; but they were soon silenced by its rapid and 
decisive success. All sects adopted it. At first the teachers were 
paid ; but it was found that gratuitous teachers might everywhere 
be had, who made up by their zeal and religious interest in the work 
what they might want in technical skill, and whose numbers also 
compensated any inferiority to the single paid schoolmaster.* Ac- 
cordingly it was thrown entirely, or with very few exceptions, on 
gratuitous teaching. The eiFects have been most blessed. The 
teachers are almost as much benefited as the scholars, — reaping 
a moral and spiritual reward for their labours. That thousands of 
teachers derive intellectual improvement from their exercises for and 
in the Sunday-school, is undoubted ; as it is, too, that thousands 
owe their conversion to its holy influence. Unions and associations 
of Sunday-school teachers prevail very generally, and are productive 
of many and great advantages both to the teachers and to the 
schools. Who would not tremble at the thought of losing this 
hallowed, edifying, and sanctifying employment for the better 
instructed youth of our congregations ? 

The effect of the Sunday-school on the working classes must 
obviously have been most salutary. This would be declared to be 
inevitable, even by one who had no practical knowledge of the 

* A small tract very recently published, (" An Account of the Origin of 
Sunday-schools in Oldham and its Vicinity, by C. A. O'Neill,") shows that the 
Wesleyan Class-leaders of Oldham began the plan of gratuitous teaching as 
early as 1785. 


matter. By giving to millions of children a sacred occupation for 
some hours of the Sabbath, instead of leaving them to range the 
streets and fields, — by giving them the habit of attending religious 
worship, — by placing them under the affectionate instructions of 
pious, or at least virtuous and benevolent persons, of a rank above 
their own, and possessing mental cultivation, — by establishing bonds 
of regard between teacher and scholar, which often have an influence 
beyond the school-days, — by the effect on parents of what the 
children learn, and of the teachers' visits, — and, above all, by the 
actual knowledge of Scripture truth imparted to the scholars, — an 
amount of good is done, and of evil prevented, which is beyond 
calculation. Who would not shudder to contemplate the probable 
state of our population at this moment, had Sunday-schools never 
existed ? 

There has been no general enumeration of the scholars in Sunday- 
schools, since the Parliamentary returns of 1833, at which time 
there were in England and Wales 16,828 Sunday-schools, containing 
1,548,890 scholars. The proportion of scholars to the whole popu- 
lation at that time, was 1 scholar to every 9 1-3 inhabitants. I 
thought it a moderate estimate in 1846, that is, thirteen years later, 
to take the number of Sunday scholars at 2,000,000 ; which would 
be in the proportion of 1 scholar to every 8^ of the population. I am 
persuaded, that this proportion would now be an under-estimate. 
The improvement of Sunday-school tuition, the pecuhar zeal mani- 
fested of late years by the teachers, the increased attention drawn to 
education, the happy invention of Ragged- schools, and the great 
increase of public day-schools, most of which are also used as Sun- 
day-schools, combine to assure us, that the proportion of Sunday 
scholars to the population must have considerably augmented. 

It is also to be borne in mind, that the children of the upper and 
middle classes rarely attend the Sunday-school. On this account, 
we may deduct about one-fourth from the population ; after which 
it would appear, that the proportion of Sunday scholars to the 
labouring classes would be as 1 scholar to every 6^ inhabitants, or 
even, allowing for the increase which seems probable, as 1 scholar to 
every 6 inhabitants. This represents a very large proportion of the 
children of the working classes in Sunday-schools. 

The number of children from 5 to 15 years of age, in England 
and Wales, in 1846, is correctly stated by Professor Hoppus, in his 
"Crisis of Popular Education," (p. 118,) as 3,891,127. Deduct 



one-fourth for the upper and middle classes, and the number of chil- 
dren of the working classes, between the above ages, was 2,918,345. 
If the whole of these children attended Sunday-schools for ten years, 
from the age of 5 to 15, there would be 2,918,345 Sunday-scholars. 
If the number of scholars was only 2,000,000, it would either show 
that a considerable proportion do not attend the Sunday-school, or 
that, if they do, it is for a shorter term than 10 years. Two million 
Sunday-scholars would give an average attendance for every child of 
the working classes equal to seven years. 

But, as we know that many young people attend the Sunday- 
school beyond their 15th year, and up to their 18th or 20th, let us 
take another view ; — let us take all the children of the working 
classes from the age of 5 to the age of 20 ; they are found to be 
about 4,177,774. If every child attended Sunday-school for 15 
years, we should find 4,177,774 Sunday scholars ; and as the actual 
number is supposed only to be about 2,000,000, it would follow 
either that more than half the children did not attend school, or 
that, if they did, it must be for less than 15 years. In this view, as 
in the former, the actual attendance averages about seven years for 
every child among the working classes. What is the real proportion 
of the children attending school, and what the duration of their 
attendance, must be matters of opinion. My own judgment would 
be, from the above figures, and from my knowledge of the discon- 
tinuous attendance of children, that there is no large proportion of 
the children of the working classes who do not receive some years of 
Sunday-school instruction. 

There is great diversity in the proportions of Sunday- scholars in 
different parts of the country. In the metropolis, they do not much 
exceed 1 in 20 of the population, — so far as we can judge from the 
reports of the Sunday-school Union, and the Parliamentary returns 
of 1833. But in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, Lanca- 
shire, and Cheshire, they were found, by actual returns in 1843, to 
amount to 1 in 5 2-5 inhabitants. And from the Reports of the 
Commissioners to inquire into the state of education in Wales, it 
appears, that the Sunday-scholars are as 1 in every 4 of the popula- 
tion.* As a general rule, it will be found, that where the working 
classes are numerous, the proportion of Sunday-scholars will be 
large ; and on the other hand, where the upper and middle classes 

* The population of Wales, in 1847, was 970,857, and the number of 
Sunday-scholars returned by the Commissioners was 238,740. 


are numerous, and great numbers of the children attend Day-schools, 
the proportion of Sunday-scholars will be small. The towns of 
Liverpool and Manchester illustrate this rule : in Liverpool, where 
the proportion of the labouring classes is less than in Manchester, 
there are considerably more Day-scholars, and considerably fewer 
Sunday-scholars. Notwithstanding many first-rate and model Sun- 
day-schools in London, and its Normal-schools among the first in 
the world, the enormous masses of this unparalleled metropolis are, 
according to the accounts hitherto published, very ill provided with 
Sunday-schools, and not well provided even with Day-schools. The 
recent establishment of Ragged-schools will do something to supply 
the defect. But in all large cities and towns there are haunts of 
vice and wretchedness — the philanthropist's "Slough of Despond" 
— which baffle both police and benevolence, and challenge the utmost 
ingenuity, perseverance, and even heroism of Christian zeal for their 

There has been no general enumeration of Sunday-school Teachers. 
But in the returns from the Northern Manufacturing districts, in 
1843, the proportion of teachers to scholars was found to be 1 in 
6 1-5 ; in the recent Welsh Reports of the Commissioners, the 
number of teachers returned is as 1 to 7 1-10 scholars; and in the 
metropolis, the proportion is 1 teacher to 10 scholars. Perhaps we 
may assume 1 teacher to 8 scholars as a probable average through- 
out England and Wales ; in which case, the number of Sunday- 
school teachers will be 250,000. A noble band ! The Young 
Guard of England ! The Volunteers of our Sacred War ! Let 
them deeply meditate the charge committed to them, and by self- 
discipline, devotedness, and prayer, insure success in their blessed 
enterprise ! 

A few years ago it was common for our State-Educationists, both 
official and private, to scoff at the Sunday-schools as a contemptible 
agency. This tone has now been abandoned. The testimonies to 
the value of Svmday- schools are too important to be withstood. I 
select two or three unexceptionable witnesses. Dr. Hook, the Vicar 
of Leeds, says : — 

" The mainstay of religwus education is to be found in our 
Sunday-schools." " The most earnest, the most devoted, the most 
pious of our several congregations, are accustomed, with meritorious 
zeal, to dedicate themselves to this great work." * 

* Dr. Hook's Letter to the Bishop of St. David's, p. 47. 


Mr. Fletcher, the Government Inspector of Schools, says : — 

" The history of Sabbath-schools would exhibit an amount of self* 
denial and benevolent devotion, unsurpassed in the annals of philan- 
thropy." * 

Mr. J. P. Kay Shuttleworth, in the official " Instructions" to the 
Commissioners on Education in "Wales, says : — 

" The Sunday-school must be regarded as the most remarkable, 
because the most general, spontaneous effort of the zeal of Christian 
congregations for education. Its origin, organization, and tendencies 
are purely religious." 

Mr. Jelinger C. Symons, one of the Welsh Commissioners, 
says : — 

" The thousands who throng these schools belong exclusively to 
the working classes ;" " in many places these working people, in 
their Sunday-schools and chapels, have alone kept religion alive, and 
have afforded the only effective means of making known the Gospel." 
" The system is admirable ""^ 

Mr. Henry Vaughan Johnson, the Commissioner for North 
Wales, calls the Sunday-school " the main instrument of civilisation 
in North Wales." He speaks of " the vast number of schools ;" 
" the frequency of the attendance, the number, energy, and devo- 
tion of the teachers ; the regularity and decorum of the proceedings, 
and the permanent and striking effects which they have produced 
upon society.";^ 

Such are the admitted character and working of the Sunday- 
school. Contrast the state of our labouring population before its 
invention and at the present day, as shown by the facts and autho- 
rities laid before you ; and say, if a moral and intellectual improve- 
ment has not taken place, compared with which all Our extended 
commerce, wealth, and dominion are unimportant. 

I remark, then, on this great institution — first, that it is purely 
Voluntary, — and, secondly, that it is distinctively reliffious. It is 
the fruit of the zeal of religious bodies for the religious education of 
the poor. I must claim it as a magnificent effect of the Voluntary 
Principle, combined with the religious spirit. It is unprecedented 
in the history of the world. An army — a vast army — numbering a 
quarter of a million, of teachers, organised and disciplined for a 
work of pure religious benevolence, and continuing at their duty 

* Fletcher's Report on Schools in the North of England, p. 449. 
f Mr. J. C. Symons's Report, p. 51. % Mr. Johnson's Report, p. 59. 


year by year, without fee or reward, — devoting themselves aflFection- 
ately and prayerfully to the moral and spiritual improvement of no 
less than two millions of our rising youth, distributed among them 
in little companies of six or eight, so that nearly all the children of 
the working class, in their turns, receive the truest kindness and 
the most valuable example from those somewhat above them in 
society ; — it is a spectacle beyond measure noble and delightful ! 
England ought to be more proud of its Raikes than even of its 

Imagine, for one moment, that all these two million children 
could be educated on the Sabbath by paid teachers under Govern- 
ment support and inspection. Would the result be as valuable? 
Not by one half. It is not the receivers only of the good, but the 
doers of it that are benefited ; and, for our congregations to lose 
these fields of sweet and profitable employment for their young men 
and women, — and for society to lose this precious cement of its 
different classes, — would be a calamity of the greatest magnitude. 
But would any Government have ever conceived such a project, or 
attempted to execute it? The idea is ridiculous. The fact is, that 
freedom and willingness infinitely surpass Governments in invention, 
enterprise, and power of adaptation to circumstances. Governments 
have neither heart nor soul ; and, so far from being disposed to 
self-denying activity, their natural and normal state is to be at rest. 

We come now to speak, secondly, of 


The merit of giving the first great impulse to popular education in 
England belongs to Joseph Lancaster. But the method of tuition 
by which he attracted so much public notice was, in its great prin- 
ciples, adopted by him from the plan invented by the Rev. Dr. Bell 
at the Military Orphan Asylum at Madras. When superintendent 
of that institution in the year 1791, Dr. Bell one day observed a boy 
belonging to a Malabar school writing in the sand : thinking that 
method of writing very convenient, both as regards cheapness and 
facility, he introduced it in the school of the Asylum ; and as the 
usher refused to teach by that method, he employed one of the 
cleverest boys to teach the rest. The experiment of teaching by a 
boy was so remarkably successful, that he extended it to the other 
branches of instruction, and soon organized the whole school under 
boy-teachers, who were themselves instructed by the doctor. On 


his return to England, he published a Report of the Madras Orphan 
Asylum, in which he particularly pointed out the new mode of school 
organization as far more efficient than the old. 

This publication took place in 1797, and the following year Dr. 
Bell introduced the system into the school of St.Botolph's, Aldgate, 
London. He afterwards introduced it at Kendal, and made attempts, 
with small success, to obtain its adoption in Edinburgh. Settling 
down soon after as rector of Swanage, in Dorsetshire, he was nearly 
shut out of the world for some years ; yet he retained his strong 
opinion of the value of the new system of education, and had the 
school at Swanage conducted on that system. 

In the meanwhile, Joseph Lancaster, son of a Chelsea pensioner in 
the Borough-road, London, opened a school in his father's house, in 
the year 1 798, at the early age of eighteen. He had been an usher in 
schools ; and being of an original, enterprising, and ardent character, 
he had himself made improvements in tuition. Dr. Bell's pamphlet 
having fallen in his way, he adopted the Madras system with eager- 
ness, and made several improvements in its details. In the year 
1802 he had brought his school into a very perfect state of organ- 
ization, and found himself as well able to teach 250 boys, with the 
aid of the senior boys as teachers, as before to teach eighty. His 
enthusiasm and benevolence led him to conceive of the practicability 
of bringing all the children of the poor under education by the new 
system, which was not only so attractive as to make learning a 
pleasure to the children, but was so cheap as exceedingly to facilitate 
the establishment and support of schools for great numbers of the 
poor. He published pamphlets recommending the plan, and in one 
of them ascribed the chief merit of the system to Dr. Bell, whom he 
afterwards visited at Swanage. He also made his own school free, 
and obtained subscriptions from friends of education for its support. 
He had embraced the religious views of the Society of Friends, and 
some of the benevolent members of that society seconded his enter- 
prise. The patriotic Duke of Bedford, having been invited to visit 
Lancaster's school, became a warm and liberal patron of the system. 
Lancaster pushed his plan with the ceaseless energy of an enthusiast ; 
nothing daunted or disgusted him ; he asked subscriptions for new 
schools from every quarter. At length the king admitted Lancaster 
to an interview, which took place at Weymouth, in 1805 ; and, being 
charmed with what he heard of his large designs, the admirable 
order and efficiency of his schools, and also with the simplicity and 


overflowing benevolence of the man, his majesty subscribed 100^. 
a year, the queen 50/., and the princesses 251. each, to the extension 
of the Lancasterian system. George III. also declared himself 
patron of the society, which was soon afterwards formed, to promote 
education on this system. 

Such was the origin of the " British and Foreign School Society," 
which was formally established in the year 1808, and designated 
"The Royal Lancasterian Institution for promoting the Education 
of the Children of the Poor." It was a favourite view of Lan- 
caster, that, whilst the Scriptures were read, and Scriptural instruc- 
tion given in the schools, there should be nothing taught in 
which all sects of Christians might not unite. This feature of 
the plan soon caused opposition from members of the Church of 
England. Whilst Lancaster was travelling about the country (in 
1805) lecturing on the new plan, and obtaining golden opinions 
in every quarter, even from bishops, Mrs. Trimmer, a clever and 
zealous educationist, but of the straitest section of the Establishment, 
took and sounded the alarm. She corresponded with Dr. Bell, 
roused him to jealousy, brought him to London, and published 
pamphlets exposing the latitudinarian tendency of Lancaster's 
system, and summoning the Church to take up the education of the 
poor on Dr. Bell's plan, and so as to provide for "the proper 
instruction of the young members of the Church and State, in 
accordance with the Act of Uniformity.'" In her letters, she called 
Lancaster the " Goliath of Schismatics ;" and, at a later date, Dr. 
Southey, who was a friend of Dr. Bell's, commonly spoke of 
Lancaster as "the Dragon," sometimes joking on "Bel and the 
Dragon" — the subject of a caricature of the day. 

In process of time, the Archbishop of Canterbury adopted Dr. 
Bell's plan in the Lambeth Schools, and the Duke of York in the 
Schools of Chelsea Hospital ; numerous schools were established on 
that plan in 1808, in London, Winchester, Shropshire, Durham, 
&c. Dr. Bell endeavoured to get the Government to take up his 
plans, and to establish a National Board of Education under the 
Government, with schools placed under the management of the 
parochial clergy. In this he failed. 

At length, alarmed with the rapid progress made by the British 
and Foreign School Society, and fearing that the children would be 
drawn away from the Church, the bishops and clergy, with many 
of the aristocracy, combined to form "The National Society for 


promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Estab- 
lished Church throughout England and Wales." This Society was 
formed in October, 1811, at a meeting at which the Archbishop of 
Canterbury presided. Patronised by the prelates, the aristocracy, 
and members of the Government, it made rapid way. Diocesan 
Societies, in connexion with it, were formed the same year at 
Durham, Exeter^ and Winchester, and others soon followed. A 
main object of this Society, as of that in the Borough-road, was to 
train schoolmasters ; and for this purpose an institution was opened 
in Baldwin's-gardens, Gray's-irm-lane, of which Dr. Bell was made 
gratuitous superintendent. We find that in 1812 there were schools 
in connexion with the National Society, containing 8,620 scholars ; 
in 1813, schools containing 40,484; in 1814, 60,000; in 1815, 
97,920; and in 1818, no less than 180,000 scholars. It is not to 
be supposed, however, that all these were new schools : many, 
doubtless, were old schools remodelled, and placed in connexion 
with the National Society. 

Such was the origin and early history of the two great educational 
Societies. They were both purely Voluntary, and so continued up 
to a very recent period. I could not better explain my own views of 
what is desirable for the education of the country, than by quoting a 
sentence from the Report of the National Society, for 1815 : — 

" The work which has been so auspiciously begun, they are 
satisfied will never be abandoned : their resources are inexhaust- 
ible : their fund is the never-failing liberality of an 
enlightened nation, ever anxious to encourage the growth of pure 
reHgion, and deeply impressed with the conviction, that a Christian 
education alone can lay the solid foundation of national prosperity, 
in the virtue and piety of the people." 

I am a firm believer in that " inexhaustible fund" — " the never- 
failing liberality of an enlightened nation." But the Society which 
trusted it when its scholars were 97,920, loses its confidence when, 
by means of that very liberality, the scholars under its superintend- 
ence, directly or indirectly, had swelled to 911,000 ! 

It is impossible for me to trace, in ever so slight a way, the 
history of all the educational institutions which have sprung up in 
this country within the present century, to provide for the diversified 
wants of the community. Yet I must mention a few of the most 
important, among which is — 

The Infant School — that beautiful exhibition of wisdom, kindness. 


and gentleness, which might seem to have heen designed only to 
promote the happiness of the playful inmates, whilst it allures them 
into knowledge, and charms them into order. Perhaps the first 
professed Infant School was that in Vincent- square, Westminster, 
which I remember to have seen with great admiration in the year 
1824 ; though in the same year I saw children trained in nearly the 
same way at the admirably-conducted mills formerly belonging to 
the benevolent David Dale, and then to Mr. Owen, at New Lanark. 
I am not able to pronounce who was the inventor of the system ; 
but it certainly owed its pretty general adoption to the zeal and 
ability of Mr. Wilderspin. The Infant School is an invaluable 
addition to our educational institutions ; yet there are physical 
causes, such as the impossibility of sending very young children to 
any considerable distance from their homes, and especially in the 
winter season, which will prevent its ever including so large a 
proportion of the infant population as might be desired. At the 
educational census of 1833, the children of Infant Schools were 
89,005. In order to train teachers for Infant Schools, the Training 
School of the Home and Colonial Juvenile and Infant School 
Society was opened in Gray' s-inn- road. That excellent institution 
bears date from 1834. Like the Infant School system, it was of 
purely Voluntary/ origin, and so continued till the recent measure of 
the Government forced its supporters — as they thought, at least — 
either to accept public money, or to abandon the Institution.* 

The Ragged School, or School of Industry, had its origin in West- 
minster, in the year 1837, where a school under that name was 
established by Mr. Walker, an agent of the London City Mission, 
and supported for many years. It was improved upon in the year 
1843, at Aberdeen, by a few benevolent individuals, among whom 
Sheriff Watson took the lead. The design of its authors was to 
reach the very depths of ignorance, vice, and destitution, by drawing 
the mendicant and ragged children out of the streets, — and the 
Scotch improvement was the addition of one or more meals per day, 
in addition to the inducement of kind treatment and gratuitous 
instruction. Prudence and constant vigilance are required to guard 
such an institution from imposition ; but when these qualities are 
exercised, together with peculiar kindness and perseverance, the 

* So I have been informed by one of its leading friends. I presume some of 
the more influential subscribers must have threatened to withdraw, if the Insti- 
tution did uot place itself in connexion with the Government. 


Ragged Schools are found to produce excellent effects. At Aber- 
deen, the school exceedingly duninished mendicancy and juvenile 
crime. Its operation having been made known through the press, 
and chiefly through " Chambers's Journal," Ragged Schools were 
established in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, 
Birmingham, York, Dundee, and other large towns. In this city 
a Ragged School Union has been formed, and the schools include 
6,000 children. It ought to be mentioned, that there has for some 
years been a Sunday-school for the very worst of the juvenile poor, 
in connexion with Surrey Chapel. 

Once more I draw attention to the fact, that this most modern of 
our educational improvements is a fruit of the Voluntary Principle ; 
and it is admitted by Lord Ashley, who has taken a lively interest 
in the Ragged Schools, as well as openly maintained by their leading 
friends, that these are institutions which can only be worked by 
Christian benevolence, and which would be marred by Government 
interference. They require too much self-denial, too much pure 
Christian principle, too much patience and delicacy of management, 
to be in any way trusted to Government functionaries. Mr. William 
Chambers, in his article on the Dundee Ragged School, in March 
last, earnestly deprecates any attempt to ally tbese institutions with 
" such inert bodies as parochial boards." He says emphatically : — 

" Private benevolence and enterprise have done it all ; and vdth 
these agents, what may not be anywhere, and on any matter of 
social concern, accomplished?" 

lecho— " What?" 

There is another class of institutions of which I have much 
personal knowledge, and which cannot be omitted, namely, the 
Mechanics Institutions. It is proper to mention them, because 
many of them are not mere institutions for the benefit of young 
men and adults, but have large evening classes, especially for the 
instruction of the young, and even Day-schools. The Liverpool 
Mechanics' Institution has, in its various Day-schools, from 800 to 
900 children, taught by upwards of 50 masters. In the Hudders- 
field Mechanics' Institution nearly the same number of youths 
attend the evening classes ; and a Female Educational Institute in 
the same town, for the benefit of the factory girls and servants, is 
attended by 130. The Leeds Mechanics' Institution has Day- 
schools attended by 140 boys, and evening classes attended by some 
hundreds of boys and youths. The first Mechanics' Institution was 


formed by Dr. Birkbeck, at Glasgow, as far back as 1 790 : but I 
only know of one other Institution of the kind established before 
that of London, namely, the Edinburgh. In the year 1824, I 
attended a lecture by Dr. Birkbeck, at the London Mechanics' 
Institution, which then met in an old chapel, I think in Falcon- 
square. Henry Brougham, who afterwards did so much to promote 
these institutions, was one of the audience. Since then. Mechanics' 
Institutions have multiplied rapidly. We have no less than 86 in 
Yorkshire, containing 16,000 members. Probably there will not be 
less than from 80,000 to 100,000 members in Great Britain. This 
is a kind of institution that may be established in every* town and 
village of the kingdom, — so that no one can foretell what may be 
the extent of its usefulness. You will observe that the Mechanics' 
Institution, like all the others I have mentioned, is a fruit of purely 
Voluntary zeal. 

Whilst Voluntary associations have stooped to the wants of the 
very lowest classes, they have shown themselves not unequal to pro- 
vide for the education of the highest. Two colleges on the scale of 
universities have been established in the Metropolis — namely, Univer- 
sity College and King's College — and a University at Durham, with- 
out any aid from the Government. Several important Theological 
Schools have been established by the Congregationalists and Wes- 
leyans, and also several schools for the sons and daughters of 
Ministers and Missionaries. Numerous Proprietary Schools have 
been formed in various parts of the kingrJom, both by the Church 
and by Dissenters, to combine the advantages of a high education 
with residence under the parental roof. At York, and, probably, in 
other counties. Yeoman Schools have been founded, under high 
patronage, for the special benefit of the agricultural population. 
Philosophical and literary societies, public libraries and museums, 
and various institutions under the names of Athenaeums, Lycseums, 
Youths' Guardian Societies, as well as reading-rooms, news- 
rooms, &c., have been multiplied through the kingdom, A\[ of 
these belong to the present century, and all are Voluntary. 

There are several great Educational Societies, in addition to the 
National, the British, and the Home and Colonial Infant School 
Societies. The Wesleyans have undertaken to build 700 schools in 
seven years, and they are doing the work. The Congregationahsts 
commenced an effort in 1843, by which the great sum of 120,000^. 
has been raised, to promote the building of schools. The Roman 



Catholics have opened both schools and colleges. The Free Church 
of Scotland is raising 700 or 800 schools, besides a college. There 
are County Educational Societies in Essex, West Kent, Cambridge- 
shire, Devonshire, and Pembrokeshire. 

A distinct and important feature of our educational improvement 
consists in the Normal or Training -Schools, for the training of 
teachers. It has sometimes been said, that all these have been 
assisted by Government ; and it is, indeed, true that several of them 
have accepted public money in aid of their buildings. But you will 
remember that the Borough-road School vFas a Training-School for 
more than thirty years before it ever received a grant ; that the West- 
minster, and several of the other Training-schools of the National 
Society, as well as several of the diocesan Training-schools, existed 
for many years purely on the Voluntary Principle ; that the Bat- 
tersea Training-school was established by two individuals, Mr. Kay 
Shuttleworth and Mr. Tuffnell, with their own funds ; that the 
Home and Colonial Infant School Society's Training-school, in 
Gray's-inn-road, was founded on an independent footing ; that Mr. 
Stow's Training Institution at Glasgow had existed many years, 
and acquired eminence, before it received a grant ; that the Congre- 
gational Training Institution for female teachers at Rotherhithe, and 
the Brecon Normal College, are fundamentally and altogether Vo- 
luntary ; and that the Male Normal School, now about to be founded 
by the Congregational Board, will be so. It is, therefore, absolutely 
false to say that the Normal Schools are the creation of Government, 
or that they require funds beyond the strength of Voluntary effort. 

I last year enumerated twenty-eight Normal Schools in England 
and Wales, containing about 900 students, with accommodation for 
1,100.* You are about to add to the number. A Normal School 

* I quote the folio-wing from the Report of the National Society for 1846, 
and the Reports of the other Societies named : 




National Society's Normal Schools : 








St. Mark's College, Chelsea 

Westminster Training Institution 

Whitelands, Chelsea 

Carried forward 





for the Evangelical Church at Cheltenham is about to be opened ; 
and a prospectus has been issued by Lord Ashley for another 
Church Normal School in London. The British and Foreign 
School Society lately contemplated four new schools of this kind. 
If Normal Schools do not rise up in England equal to the demand 
for them, we must read our political economy and our experience 
backward. It is puerile to suppose that for such institutions we 
need the aid of Government. Even if large and handsome buildings 
were required, could we not point to colleges in London, Birming- 
ham, Manchester, and Liverpool, at Richmond, Didsbury, and 
Airedale, and to many Proprietary Schools, as well as to a multitude 
of ancient endowed schools, to show that nothing which is truly 
required is beyond the power of Voluntary benevolence and spirit ? 
And now have we any means of measuring the progress which, by 

NORMAL SCHOOLS, 1846.— (Continued.) 

Brought forward 

Diocesan Training Institutions, 
For Schoolmasters: 


York and Ripon (at York) 






Gloucester and Bristol 



Llandaff (at Newport) 



For Schoolmistresses: 


York and Ripon (at York) 

Chester (at Warrington) 

Chichester (at Brighton) 


Oxford (at Kidlington) 


British and Foreign School Socieh^ 

Home and Colonial Infant and Juvenile School So- 
ciety (mstructed during the year) . . . 

Brecon Normal School 

Congregational Training Institution : 


Total . . . 












all these appliances, has heen made ? Can we take an observation, 
and find the longitude ? I think we can, if you will permit me to 
become a little statistical. And as it is of the highest importance 
not to delude ourselves or others with vague statements, I believe 
you will indulge me. 

We have no earlier educational statistics than the year 1818, when 
a Committee of the House of Commons, of which Lord Brougham 
was Chairman, obtained returns of all kinds of Day-schools, from all 
the parishes of England and Wales, through the medium of the 
parochial clergy. But one object of Lord Brougham was, to ascer- 
tain the progress that had been made by the schools on the Bell 
and Lancasterian systems ; and therefore his schedules contained 
columns for the " New Schools." It appeared from his returns, 
that in the year 1818, the number of Day-scholars in England and 
Wales, was 647,883. The numbers returned under the head of 
"New Schools," were 150,642; and as all these schools had been 
established since 1803, the inference drawn by Lord Brougham, and 
with apparent fairness, was, that by deducting them from the total, 
we should ascertain about the number of scholars in 1803. Deduct 
150,642 from 674,883, and we have 524,241 as the probable num- 
ber of Day- scholars in 1803. 

The next educational census, after Lord Brougham's, was by a 
Committee of the House of Commons, of which the late Earl of Kerry 
was Chairman, in 1833. Those returns were obtained through the 
medium of the overseers of the poor. The schedules included many 
more particulars than those of 1818. The returns of 1833 gave a 
total of 1,276,947 Day-scholars in England and Wales, of which 
89,005 were in Infant-schools. 

The present number of Day-scholars, or rather the number in 
1846, has been the subject of much controversy. In that year, I 
estimated them at 1,876,947, being certain that this was below the 
mark, but resolved to err on the side that was opposed to my own 
wishes and argument. This calculation was severely attacked. I 
say nothing of the result of the controversy ; but I add, that Pro- 
fessor Hoppus, who published his " Crisis of Popular Educatiori'' 
about twelve months later, after the closest and most impartial 
scrutiny of all the evidence he could find, conducted on scientific 
principles, arrived at the conclusion, that the number of Day-scholars 
in England and Wales, in 1846, was 2,000,000, and that there was 
school accommodation (if equally distributed) for 2,300,000. Mr. 



Charles Knight, in a very able article on the " Progress of Education 
in England," in the Companion to the British Almanack for 1847, 
after a careful and elaborate calculation, arrived at the conclusion, 
that there were 2,200,000 Day-scholars* Professor Hoppus's esti- 
mate, therefore, exceeded mine by 123,000, and Mr. Knight's 
exceeded mine by 323,000. 

The reports of the Commissioners of Education in Wales show so 
extraordinary an increase of scholars in that country since the year 
1833, that I sincerely believe Mr. Knight's estimate of 2,200,000 
Day-scholars for England and Wales, not to be above the truth. 
However, I will still lean to the side of moderation, and will take 
Professor Hoppus's estimate of 2,000,000. 

We see, then, that the number of Day-scholars in 1803, was 
524,241; in 1818, 674,883; in 1833, 1,276,947; and in 1846, 
was at least 2,000,000. There has been a great increase of the 
population ; but, allowing for that increase, we find that the pro- 
portion which the scholars bore to the population rose as follows : 
In 1803, there was 1 Day-scholar to every 17i of the population ; 
in 1818, 1 to 17; in 1833, 1 to 11^; and in 1846, 1 to 8^ 


IN 1803, 1818, 1833, and 1846. 








Proportion of 

Day-scholars to 


In 1803 

— 1818 

— 1833 

— 1846 


1 to 17^ 
1 to 17 
1 to U\ 
1 to 8| 

Increase of Population, from 1833 to 1846 
Increase of Scholars, ditto ditto 

86 per cent. 
281 per cent. 

If we took Mr. Charles Knight's estimate of the number of 
scholars, of course the comparison would be still more favourable — 
the improvement still more extraordinary. 

But the most interesting conclusion to be drawn from these statis- 
tics is one which I do not remember to have ever seen clearly 
brought out. It is, the immense extension of education among the 
working classes, as distinguished from the upper and middle classes. 
Nearly all the increase must have taken place among the working 
classes : it has by no means been spread equally over the upper and 


the lower portions of society. This is evident from a slight con- 
sideration of the facts. We may assume, that in 1803 the children 
of the upper and middle classes were pretty generally educated. 
Now, what were their numbers ? — and what was the whole number of 
scholars ? The whole number of children between five and fifteen 
years of age, in England and Wales, in 1803, was 2,190,841. If we 
assume one-fourth of the population to belong to the upper and 
middle classes, the children of those classes would be 547,710. But 
we have seen that the entire number of Day-scholars, in 1803, was 
only 524,241. It follows, of necessity, that the children of the 
upper and middle classes were not then receiving education for the 
whole ten years from their fifth to their fifteenth year. If we 
suppose that they were at school eight years, instead of ten, we 
ought then to find 438,168 of these children in school at one time ; 
and, deducting this number from the 524,241 Day-scholars, it 
would appear that there would be 86,073 scholars who must have 
belonged to the working classes. But the whole number of children 
of the working classes, at that time, was 1,643,130. The result is, 
that only 1 in 19 of the children of the working classes, who were of 
the school age, was at school at one time, in 1803. 

How different is the case now ! — The whole number of children 
from 5 to 15 years of age, in 1846, was 3,891,127 ; one-fourth of 
these may belong to the upper ^d middle classes, and the other 
three-fourths to the working classes. Suppose that the 972,782 
children of the upper and middle classes attended school, on the 
average, eight years each ; we ought to find 778,2^6 of them there 
at one time. But the total number of Day-scholars, in 1846, was 
2,000,000, — leaving, therefore, 1,221,774 scholars belonging to the 
working classes. Now the total number of children of the working 
classes was, in 1846, 2,918,345. The result is, that 1 in 2\ of the 
children of the working classes, of the school age, was at school, at 
the same time, in 1846. 

In 1803, only 1 in 19 of the poorer children was found in school 
at one time ; in 1846, 1 in 2^ is found in school. At the former 
period there were only 86,073 scholars of the working classes ; at 
the latter there are 1,221,774. Is not the improvement in the 
educational state of this class, forming the bulk of society, indeed 
astonishing ? And I point it out, not merely because it is so gra- 
tifying in itself, but because it is the triumphant and crowning proof 
of the power of the Voluntary Principle ; for the class in which this 


mighty improvement has been effected, ttras precisely the class least 
able to help themselves. 

But it may be said, that the figures just given are still very un- 
satisfactory, inasmuch a? they show only 2,000,000 scholars, out of 
3,891,127 children of the school age ; and, if we confine our view 
to the working classes, only 1,221,774 scholars, out of 2,918,345 
children of the school age. But this would be a perfect fallacy. 
No reasonable man can expect all the children of the country, rich 
and poor, sick and healthy, to attend school for ten full years, from 
their fifth to their fifteenth year, I have contended, that it would 
be as much as we could reasonably expect, if we found all the 
children attending school, on the average, five years. Dr. Vaughan 
distinctly says, — not in the British Quarterly, but in his " Reply 
to Mr. E. BaineSj Jun.," prefixed to the republication of that 
article : 

"I admit th&t Jive years is as long an average as we should 
calculate upon." (p. 13.) 

Now, if all the children were receiving an average of five years' 
schooling, the number found in school at one time would amount to 
about 1 in 9 of the entire population. In 1820, Lord Brougham 
thought it would be sufficient if we had 1 in 10 of the population in 
schools ; and in 1 835, he thought it would be sufficient if we had 
1 in 9. The Parliamentary Education Committee of 1837 estimated 
that 1 in^ 8 of the population would be sufficient to be found in 
schools ; and this is the proportion actually existing in Holland and 
Bavaria, — countries of which the education is said to be very com- 
plete. Now we have seen, that in England and Wales, in 1846, we 
had 1 in 8^ of the population in schools. 

The number of Day-scholars gives an average length of schooling 
of more than five years to every child of the school age in England 
and Wales. 

If we suppose that the children of the upper and middle classes 
attend school for eight years, on an average — which seems to be a 
reasonable estimate — we should find that the number of scholars 
belonging to the working classes gives an average of 4 1-5 years for 
every child among those classes. Of course, I do not mean to say 
that every child is educated ; but only that the number of scholars 
actually found in school would yield that average for the whole. 

There is one circumstance which will make the result rather less 
favourable, namely, that the scholars in Infant-schools, most of 



whoTn are below five years of age, are included in the 2,000,000 
scholars, whereas the number of children with whom we have com- 
pared them are only those between 5 and 15 years. In 1833, the 
number of Infant-scholars was returned as 89,005 : if they should 
have borne the same proportion to the whole of the Day-scholars in 
1846 as in 1833, their numbers would be 139,397, out of the 
2,000,000. They would probably, however, bear a larger propor- 
tion, — but we cannot tell how large. Suppose we take them at 
200,000, which, being deducted from the 2,000,000 Day-scholars, 
would leave 1,800,000 between the ages of 5 and 15. The effect on 
my calculations would be this : — It would give an average duration 
of schooling of 4f years to all the children in the country within 
the school age, and an average of 3^ years' schooling to the children 
of the working classes within the school age. But the proportion 
of scholars to the whole population would remain the same, namely, 
1 in 8^. And the reduced calculations do not show the whole 
amount of education in the country ; because it must be remem- 
bered that, on the supposition, 200,000 infants below 5 years of age 
are found in Infant-schools. 

If, however, Mr. Charles Knight's estimate of the number of 
scholars were correct, as I believe it is, it would not be necessary to 
reduce my first calculations. We should then have the general 
average of 5 years' schooling for every child in the country between 
5 and 15 years of age; and, in addition, 200,000 infants below 
5 years of age receiving instruction. 

In regard to Day-schools, I must observe, that some assistance 
has been given by Government, since the year 1 832, for the erection 
of the buildings, (about one-fourth of the cost of a large proportion 
of those buildings,) — the total amount granted between 1832 and 
1846 having been 395,000/. But nothing whatever was given 
towards the annual expenses until the measure of last year. Volun- 
tary benevolence has supplied three-fourths of the cost of the 
buildings, — in many cases the whole cost, — and in all cases the entire 
expense of maintenance, over and above the school fees. For these 
varied purposes, including the building and maintenance of both 
Day-schools and Sunday-schools, several millions sterling must have 
been voluntarily raised within the last thirty years.* 

And now, having done with the items, let us strike the balance of 

* For a calculation on these points, see my " Letters to Lord John Russell 
on State Education," (1846.) — Letters 4 and 5. 


profit and loss in this great matter of the education of the people. 
But of loss I can find nothing — nothing in number of scholars, in 
quality of education, in the morals, religion, habits, or condition of 
the people. All has been clear gain. And what a gain ! We have 
seen the Sunday-school institution spring up from nothing, till it 
comprises 2,000,000 scholars, and 250,000 teachers ; and it is as 
though, on some piece of waste land, covered with rubbish, and 
ruins, and stagnant pools, we had seen reared, as noiselessly as the 
great Temple on Mount Zion, without the sound of axe or hammer, 
a glorious structure dedicated to the praise of the Most High. Then 
we have seen the whole people awakened to a sense of the value of 
Day-school education, and the number of Day-scholars increased 
from 524,241 to upwards of 2,000,000 ; whilst the working classes, 
which had only 1 in 19 of their children receiving education in 
1803, had 1 in 2^ in 1846. We see, at this day, schools in which, 
on the average, every child in England and Wales, of the school 
age, is receiving aboixt five years of Day-school education, and every 
child of the working classes is receiving seven years of Sunday- 
school education. 

We have no information, except from a few localities, as to the 
proportion of scholars receiving both a Day-school and Sunday- 
school education. We may assume that very few of the 972,782 
children of the upper and middle classes, or of the 778,226 children 
of those classes whom we have assumed to be found in Day-schools 
at the same time, attend the Sunday-school. And, on the other 
hand, as the children of the working classes attend the Sunday- 
school seven years on the average, and the Day-school only about 
half that length of time, we should naturally infer that about half 
of the Sunday-scholars would not be in actual attendance on the 
Sunday-school and Day-school at the same time. From these 
simple elements we should naturally draw the conclusion, that of 
the 3,891,127 children between 5 and 15 years of age, there would 
be very few who were not either among the 2,000,000 Day-scholars 
or the 2,000,000 Sunday-scholars ; and, indeed, that a very large 
proportion of the whole must receive some period of Bay- school 
instruction, and nearly the whole of the children of the working 
classes must receive a considerable period of Sunday-school instruc- 
tion. Dr. Vaughan stated, in a letter to the Patriot, in December, 
1846, that he found in " two Sunday-schools near Manchester, of a 


description likely to give a fair average, in this respect, of Sunday- 
schools in general in the manufacturing districts," that out of 1,465 
children, there were only 5 1 (or 3^ per cent.) who had not, at one 
time or other, attended Day-school. Of the 1,465, there were 
616 attending both Sunday and Day-school at the time; 798 
attending Sunday-school, and who had attended Day-schoo?; and 
only 51 at the Sunday-school who had never been at Day-school. 
Dr. Vaughan himself drew the following conclusion from the 
facts : — 

" It will, I think, be found upon inquiry, as indicated in this 
result, that in England Sunday-schools prove to be of value as 
subsidiary to Day-schools ; but that children who never become 
Day-scholars do not often become Sunday -scholars." — Reply to 
Mr. E, Baines, Jun., (p. 9.) 

I beheve, with Dr. Vaughan, that nearly all Sunday- scholars 
receive Day-school instruction at some period of their lives ; and if 
so, nearly all the children of the poor must be in that case. Pro- 
fessor Hoppus concluded, from the scanty evidence which he found 
on the subject, that about 3,290,000 children were receiving either 
Sunday-school or Day-school education ; and Mr. Charles Knight 
carried the number up to 3,500,000. All these facts and calcu- 
lations concur to show that there is but an inconsiderable number 
of children absolutely destitute of education ; and of course there 
is a still smaller number destitute of the opportunity of acquir- 
ing it. 

IN 1846. 

Sunday-scholars .... 

Sunday-school Teachers 

Day-scholars ..... 

Proportion of Sunday-scholars to Population 
Proportion of Day-scholars to Population 




1 in 8i 
1. in Si 

Proportion of the Children of the Working Classes in 

Day-schools in 1803 (86,073 scholars) . . . 1 in 19 

Proportion of ditto in ditto, in 1846 (1,221,774 scholars) 1 in 2\ 


Average Duration of Day-school instruction for all the 
Children in England and Wales (exclusive of 200,000 
Infant-scholars) ....... 4| years 

Average Duration of Sunday-school instruction for all 
the Children of the Working Classes in England and 
"Wales 7 years 

I do not say that this is enough. I am far from saying, that 
here the swelling tide of knowledge ought to stop, or will, or can. 
Looking at the mighty progress that has been made, at the velocity 
with which the great engine of education is now travelling on its 
magnificent way, at the unexhausted force of the motives which are 
impelling it, at the momentum which even the brute mass of society 
has acquired, I no more expect to see it brought to a stand, than to 
see our planet halt in its revolution round the source of light. But 
I could as soon believe this, as I could believe that the substitution 
of the Compulsory for the Voluntary Principle would mend its speed. 
To my judgment, the change is as wise as it would be, in dissatis- 
faction with the unseen forces and noiseless movements of the orbs 
of light, to hang each planet to its sun in visible chains. I think 
there never was a more vulgar piece of narrow statesmanship than 
that of Lord John Russell, in adopting the project of Mr. Kay 

But we are told that the justification of that measure is in the 
inefficient character of the education now given. Two years ago, it 
was the fashion to say, that we had not half as many schools as 
were wanted. That delusion having been dispelled, we are now told 
that the education given in the schools is worthless. I frankly 
admit that we have still many wretched schools. I have been told 
by the Morning Chronicle, that I am the advocate -general of 
bad schools. In one sense I am. I maintain that we have as 
much right to have wretched schools as to have wretched news- 
papers, wretched preachers, wretched books, wretched institutions, 
wretched political economists, wretched Members of Parliament, and 
wretched Ministers. You cannot proscribe all these things without 
proscribing Liberty. The man is a simpleton who says, that to advo- 
cate Liberty is to advocate badness. The man is a quack and doctrinaire 
of the worst German breed, who would attempt to force all mind, 
whether individual or national, into a mould of ideal perfection, — 
to stretch it out or to lop it down to his own Procrustean standard. 


I maintain that Liberty is the chief cause of excellence ; but it would 
cease to be Liberty if you proscribed everything inferior. Cultivate 
giants if you please ; but do not stifle dwarfs. The servants were 
well-intentioned, but not wise, who proposed to pluck up the tares ; 
for there was danger that they should root up the wheat with them. 
Yet this is the very spirit in which many Members of Parliament 
and leading journalists, — calling themselves Liberal, too — are now 
proposing to remodel society by Act of Parliament, and to govern 
mind and morals by Boards of Commissioners. 

In the better days of his political philosophy, Mr. Macaulay thus 
rebuked this dangerous propensity to lean upon the State for the 
mental and moral advancement of the nation : 

" It is not, (said he) by the intermeddling of Mr. Southeys idol, the 
omniscient and omnipotent State, but bythe prudence and energy 
OF THE PEOPLE, that England has hitherto been carried forvmrd in 
civilization ; and it is to the same prudence and the same energy that 
we now look forward with comfort and good hope. Our rulers will 
best promote the improvement of the nation, by strictly confining 
themselves to their own legitimate duties ; — by leaving capital to 
find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry 
and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural 
pjinishment, by maintaining peace, by defending property, by dimi- 
nishing the price of law, and by observing strict economy in every 
department of the State. Let the Government do this ; the people 


But I declare my belief that education has improved in quality 
quite as much as it has increased in amount within the present 
century. One feature of that improvement consists in the substitu- 
tion of a mild and reasonable for an excessively severe discipline. 
This reform was a leading characteristic both of Dr. Bell's and Mr. 
Lancaster's systems. Dr. Southey thus speaks of Dr. Bell's expe- 
rience in his childhood, at a school at St. Andrew's : 

" He never spoke of the discipline, or rather tyranny, which he 
witnessed and endured in those years of his life, without indignation : 
— ' Oh, it was terrible !' he said, ' the remains of feudal severity ! I 
never went to school without trembling. I could not tell whether 
I should be flogged or not.' His father, he used to say, had been 
driven from the grammar-school by cruelties that would now hardly 

* Critical and Historical Essays, contributed to the Edinburgh Review. By 
Thomas B. Macaulay ; vol. i. p. 269. — See also the same article, pasnim. 


be believed ; yet neither his father nor he were wanting in capacity 
or diligence. Schools (adds Dr. Southey) were everywhere con- 
ducted in those days upon a system of brutal severity." * 

I hardly need say, that this system is now banished from nearly 
all kinds of schools, and has been denounced by every educa- 
tional reformer, as well as satirized by our most popular writers, 
who exercise an influence as great as a hundred Government 
inspectors. If there are any schools where the brutal severity 
lingers, I apprehend it is those which are furthest removed from 
popular influence. 

The methods of tuition, the school apparatus, the school books, 
the plans of constructing and ventilating school-buildings, the com- 
bination of moral and religious with secular instruction, and every 
other branch of this great practical question, have been illustrated 
and improved to a most gratifying extent, by Pestalozzi, Oberlin, 
Bell, Lancaster, Fellenberg, Wilderspin, Arnold, Stow, and many 
others, — by the Normal-schools of Yverdun, the Borough-road, 
Battersea, Chelsea, Gray's Inn-road, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and 
Dublin. The Central Society of Education, the Society for the 
Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and many other voluntary associa- 
tions, have at least circulated the improvements of others, if they 
have not made discoveries themselves. The science of education has 
made far greater progress in our own day than that of medicine, 
jurisprudence, or political economy. 

Now, inasmuch as our Normal-schools at present contain about 
1,000 schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, which number is renewed 
every year, or every two or three years, and as fresh Normal-schools 
are constantly rising up, it is absolutely certain that the country 
will soon be pervaded with well-trained teachers ; and by the natural 
and necessary competition among teachers, in the presence of a 
critical public — and perhaps few portions of the public more critical 
than the parents among the working classes, or I may even say the 
children themselves, who are ever comparing notes with each other 
— the improved methods of tuition must inevitably be forced into 
general adoption. 

If it be said, that private schoolmasters will not adopt these 

improvements, I reply, that they are far more interested in adopting 

them than the teachers of public schools. Their livelihood absolutely 

depends on their success. And if Parliament can discover stronger 

* Southey 's Life of Dr. Bell, vol. i. p. 5. 


motives than self-interest and necessity for the rapid and sure adop- 
tion of improvements, it is the most remarkable discovery of the 
day. I am by no means sure, that large public schools will in the 
long run prove the most efficient instruments of education. The 
discovery of Dr. Bell was long supposed to be invaluable ; but the 
monitorial system is now condemned by many able educators, espe- 
cially on the Continent. Let every system have an open field, and 
in the end the best will win the day. Let private schoolmasters 
receive fair-play from the Government, and not be unjustly dis- 
couraged by grants of public money to public schools which compete 
with them. Every interference of Government tends to increase the 
necessity for that interference and the habit of it ; the more Govern- 
ment interferes, the more likely shall we be to have a practical Act 
of Uniformity in regard to schools ; and in my judgment that 
uniformity, so far from being an advantage, as many doctrinaires 
suppose, would be the greatest obstruction to improvement. 

The private schoolmasters have just adopted an institution which 
promises to be of great utility, if it should keep clear of Government, 
and avoid the evils of a monopolising corporation, namely, the 
" College of Preceptors. '" If wisely and popularly conducted, the 
College will acquire public confidence ; and its examinations and 
certificates will be quite as valuable as those of any learned body. 
This is another proof of the unlimited inventiveness of freedom. 

It would be just as hopeless to continue bad modes of education 
when better become generally known, as it would have been to 
retain the old weapons of war after the discovery of gunpowder, — to 
spin with the one-thread wheel after Arkwright and Hargreaves had 
perfected their spinning-frames, and Watt the steam-engine, — or to 
travel by pack-horses and stage-wagons, after the construction of 

Even the strongest of all the Educational Societies is subject to 
the law of competition. In the year 1826, Dr. Bell, finding that the 
National Schools were falling off, wrote as follows : 

" Our schools are not attended as they might be, because neither 
parents nor children find they are worth attending ; and other 
schools, inferior in almost every respect, but where something is 
taught, however badly, have attractions for scholars which ours have 
not, because superior attention is paid to their modes of instruction, 
however inferior in themselves, and to superintendence." * 
* Life of Dr. Bell, vol. iii., p. 317. 


The National Society, then, was under the same necessity as any 
other Society, — of improving its schools, or losing its scholars. And 
so it ought. I am aware that Government wish to promote good 
education. The first effect of their interference may be to produce 
some improvement ; but unless all experience is valueless, the ulti- 
mate effect will be to stereotype the methods of teaching, to bolster 
up old systems, and to prevent improvement. 

One of the grand arguments of our State Educationists is, that 
the Voluntary Principle will not, and cannot, sustain the annual 
expense of well-conducted schools. This argument is strongly 
pressed both by Professor IIoppus and Dr. Vaughan ; and my 
respected friend, the Professor, in a recent letter in the Morning 
Chronicle, after making a calculation of what he supposed would be 
the annual cost of public schools, appealed to me whether it was 
possible for the Voluntary Principle to sustain it. My reply is 
brief, but I think conclusive. First, That the Voluntary Principle, 
by its two modes of operation, namely, the payments of those who 
are benefited, and the contributions of the benevolent, can sustain, 
amply sustain, every needful cost, both of education and of religion. 
And, secondly. That if the people cannot sustain it, the Government 
cannot; for the Government has neither strength nor money but 
what it derives from the people. 

It may be responded — " We know that the people have the power, 
if they are disposed to use it, but they are not ; and, therefore, it is 
necessary to compel them." Oh, then, it is not a pecuniary or a 
physical ability that is wanting, but a moral ability ; and for that you 
leave the people and fly to the Government! — you abandon the 
Voluntary for the Compulsory Principle ! For shame ! — Where have 
you been living, that you know so little, and think so meanly, of 
the people of England ? Have you been shut up within the walls 
of colleges, poring over German philosophy ? Yet even those 
colleges should have spoken to you of the power of English liberality 
and public spirit ; for every stone of them was laid by the Voluntary 
Principle. Have you never heard that the Nonconformists of Eng- 
land and Wales, who are the poorer sections of the community, have 
built about 13,000 places of worship,* and are sustaining their own 
ministers and services ; which, at an average of only 1 20/. a year for 
each place, implies an aggregate Voluntary expenditure of more than 
a million and a half yearly ? Are you not aware that the Church of 

* The following table .of Nonconformist j>lace8 of worship in England and 


England have, within our own generation, built or rebuilt several 
thousands of churches, and that for most of them new funds have 
been provided? Do you forget the millions that must have been 
expended in building and supporting Sunday-schools and Day- 
schools ; and the still more extraordinary fact of the moral and 
spiritual agency employed in the Sunday-schools ? Do you not 
know that there are benevolent societies, having their centres in this 
metropolis, which collect from the people more than half a million 
sterling every year, by far the greater part of which is intended for 
the religious benefit of heathen nations, — the black man and the red, 
the savage and the cannibal ? Have you not heard how many 
Sunday-schools and Day-schools are supported by these societies, 

Wales has been compiled with care from the official publications of nearly all 
the religious bodies mentioned for the year 1847 : 


Wesleyan Methodist . . . 3,000 Methodist New Connexion . 277 

Independent 1,800 Unitarian 220 

Baptist 1,435 Orthodox Presbyterian . • 147 

Primitive Methodist . . . 1,421 Lady Huntingdon's ... 30 

Roman Catholic .... 540 Inghamites, New Jerusalem 

Bible Christian 391 Church, and various, (esti- 

Quaker . 346 mated) 500 

Wesleyan Association . . . 316 

Total . . 10,423 


Calvinistic Methodist .... 759 Quaker . . , 9 

Independent 640 Wesleyan Association ... 6 

Baptist 312 Primitive Methodist .... 12 

Wesleyan 469 Various minor Sects, (supposed) 80 

Unitarian 30 

Total . . 2,317 


Chapels in England ...... 10,423 

Ditto in Wales 2,317 

Total . . 12,740 

Beside the above, there are many preaching-places. For example — The Pri- 
mitive Methodists, in their Annual Report, say that the 1,421 chapels mentioned 
above are " Connexional Chapels," in addition to wiiich they have 3,340 
" Rented Chapels." The Wesleyan Association also mention 215 " Preaching- 
places, rooms, &c," The Wesleyans, Independents, Baptists. Quakers, and 
perhaps all the other bodies, have also preaching-rooms and stations, in addi- 
tion to the chapels enumerated. « 


thousands of miles from our own shores ; — that they have founded 
colleges for training ministers in Hindoostan, China, and the islands 
of the Pacific ; — that they have Normal-schools and Infant-schools as 
successful as those of England, in islands a few years since only peopled 
by the most hrutal barbarians ; — that their devoted agents plunge into 
the wilderness, take up theii' abode in the most pestilent climates, and 
brave every danger and hardship, for the benefit of tribes who often 
repay them by seeking their blood ? Or, as it is the moral ability of 
the people that you question, have you not heard that a million and 
a quarter of the inhabitants of Britain, and a much greater number 
in Ireland, have had the moral courage to abandon the use of 
intoxicating liquors ? And that at least half a million of persons in 
England, representing perhaps families comprising two millions, are 
joined in Provident Societies, which require the self-denial of years 
to provide against remote and contingent evils ? 

If you know these facts, as you do, how can you doubt the ability 
and willingness of the religious people of England to give their poorer 
fellow-countrymen and fellow- Christians whatever help may be 
needed towards the education of their children ? And above all, 
how can you doubt it, when you must know that by far the greater 
part of the work is already done, and the schools already in operation ? 

You talk of the impossibility of raising a few hundred thousands 
a year, — forgetting that the annual income of the people of England 
and Wales must be from two to three hundred millions ! 

If you think my confidence in my fellow-countrymen unwarranted, 
listen to the far bolder faith, which one of the greatest of our political 
philosophers expressed in the people of our American colonies. 
Had his wise and generous principles been acted upon, England 
might have saved her colonies, her blood, and 140,000,000/. of her 
treasure. What Mr. Burke said of the American Assemblies in 
1775, may, with confidence immeasurably stronger, be said in 1848, 
of the people of England. He represents his ministerial opponents, 
who were for levying taxes by force on the Americans, as saying to 
him, by way of objection to his measure of conciliation : 

" Your plan gives you no revenue. No ! (he replies ;) but it 
does. It secures to the subject the power of refusal ; — the first 
of all revenues. Experience is a cheat, and fact a liar, if this power 
in the subject of proportioning his grant, or of not granting at all, 
has not been found the richest mine of revenue ever discovered by 
the skill or by the fortune of man. It does not, indeed, vote you 


152,752/. lis. 2frf., nor any other paltry limited sum ; but it gives 
the strong box itself, the fund, the bank, from whence only revenues 
can arise from a people sensible of freedom : Posita luditur area. 
In truth, this dread of penury of supply from a free assembly" 
(I may say, from a free people) " has no foundation in nature. For 
first observe, that besides the desire which all men have naturally 
of supporting the honour of their own government," (I may say, of 
their own country, or county, or city,) " that sense of dignity and 
that security to property, which ever attends freedom, has a ten- 
dency to increase the stock of the free community. Most may be 
taken where most is accumulated. And what is the soil or climate 
where experience has not uniformly proved, that the voluntary fiow 
of heaped-up plenty, bursting from the weight of its own rich 
luxuriance, has ever run with a more copious stream of revenue than 
could be squeezed from the dry husks of oppressed indigence by the 
straining of all the political machinery in the world? " 

Thus " the power of refusal," which our State Educationists 
consider the fatal vice of the Voluntary System, is pronounced by 
Mr. Burke to be "the first of all revenues :" and the power "of 
not granting at all," which they believe would certainly be exercised, 
is declared by that statesman to be " the richest mine of revenue 
ever discovered by the skill or by the fortune of man." In that one 
passage is contained the true and profound philosophy of the 
Voluntary System. 

May I^ before I close, present to you an ocular illustration of that 
vast advancement of the people in knowledge and intelligence which 
it has been the object of this Lecture to demonstrate, and to trace 
to the independent energies of the people themselves? Lord 
Brougham has called the newspaper " the best possible public 
instructor." Whether this description be correct or otherwise, no 
one will deny the vast power of that instrument of the diffusion of 
knowledge. Perhaps in a free country there could hardly be a truer 
indication of the amount of popular thought, active intelligence, and 
general reading, than the newspaper. The supply of intellectual 
food must bear some proportion to the intellectual appetite. I wish, 
then, I had had copies of the London newspapers of the last century, 
to contrast before your eyes with the colossal papers of the present 
day. Unfortunately I have not. But it chances that I possess 
copies of a provincial newspaper belonging to four different periods ; 
and as the memory of the eye is stronger in many persons than that 


of the ear, 1 will exhibit them. This is a pronncial newspaper of 
the year 1729 ; — this is the same newspaper of the date of 1739 ; — 
this of 1778; — and this of 1848. [The Lecturer exhibited copies 
of the Leeds Mercury for the above periods.] The first is a 4-page 
tract ; the last contains more matter than an ordinary octavo volume. 
The first contains 5,000 words, — the last 180,000. Such has been 
the growth of knowledge and intelligence in England without 
Government help. Wouldrthe growth have been as great with it ? 
Would it have been one-tenth part as great ? The improvement in 
those newspapers explains the political reforms of the last hundred 
years : and I ask, did those reforms proceed from the Government, 
or did they proceed from the people 7 

I have done. The case is before you for your verdict. You will 
bear me witness that I have drawn my facts from no narrow range, 
my authorities from no exclusive circle, my conclusions from no 
scanty or doubtful premises. A broad view has been laid before 
you of the growth of education and intelligence, in combination with 
that of virtue and religion, among the people ; and, at the same 
time, we have so entered into details, and applied the test of figures, 
as to avoid the delusion that often attends vague generalities. Am 
I not warranted in saying that the progress of England during the 
last century, but most of all within the last half-century, has indeed 
been mighty 1 — that it has been accomplished by the independent and 
voluntary exertions of the people themselves ? — that Religion, Know- 
ledge, and Liberty have gone hand-in-hand, ana mutually strength- 
ened each other ? 

For myself, when I survey the recent history of my country, my 
heart swells with exultation. I am proud to be an Englishman, and 
still more proud to be a Voluntary, But if I am proud of the past, 
I can trust the future advancement of my country to the same 
principle which has achieved such great moral triumphs. I should 
neither think it honourable nor wise to change our policy in the full 
tide of our success. And if a Continental policy should be creeping 
in among us, — a policy whose spirit is materialism, and whose grand 
resource is functionarism, — a policy which would impair the noble 
self-reliance of the people, and bring religion itself into bondage, — I 
call upon you to give it your utmost resistance, and to rally but the 
closer around that standard of vntuous TfHlm(/hood, which our 
fathers reared in worse times, which we ■will never desert, and 
which, I confidently believe, will wave over a regenerated world. 


,11 3>lUTD:iJ 




Present difficulties connected with the question — Working classes — Their full manhood — 
Their vast numbers — Their social importance— Their depression— Exaggerated repre- 
sentations of the evils prevailing among the working classes — Desires for their elevation 
— Virtue essential to this — The working classes need many ameliorations, but education 
essential to them all, and religion essential to a just education — Means already provided 
for their education— Constant improvements therein — Aims in education ought to be 
high — The people should be moved to seek and provide education for themselves — An 
educated nation a noble spectacle — Congregationalists can only educate religiously — 
Cannot receive Government grants — Are not sectarian in their present educational course 
— Could not possibly approve the present Minutes of Council — Regard education Itself 
but as a means to promote liberty, piety, and salvation. 

A LARGE subject — a theme in itself of deep interest — and now 
rendered by circumstances in England doubly momentous. Here, 
past neglect, with its arrears of labour, and its dangers of mischief 
— ^with its difficulties to be overcome, and its controversies to be 
decided — addresses a loud call to every lover of his country and of 
his species, to contribute his mite, however small, towards the great 
work of educating the people of England ; while there are dangers 
not a few to be avoided, arising out of the excess, and irregularity, 
and impatience of our new-born zeal, which may rush upon its end, 
too regardless of the means employed, and exaggerating at once the 
evils to be remedied and the results to be gained. Just now some 
sober wisdom, some exact inquiries, some moderated expectations, 
may be hardly less useful, and not at all less necessary, than energy 
and courage, to do well, and for permanent good, the too longr 
neglected work of general education. 

Our sympathy is this evening challenged for the working classes : 
that is, in fact, almost for human kind at large, the condition of 
labour being so universally that of our race, as to render the sons of 
wealth and of ease but the exceptions, and the fractional minority in 
all lands and in all ages. Ever imposed on by appearances, and 
seeing mankind distributed into ranks and orders, presenting an 


exterior, in some to dazzle, in some to repel, we yield to an influence 
too likely to sway our judgment, till we call the proud happy, and 
despise the poor. But here we own the working classes our fellow- 
men. We see in each peasant and artizan entire human nature, in all 
its integrity and completeness. In each we recognise and honour all 
the physical and mental, all the social and moral, all the spiritual 
and immortal endowments and capabilities of man. We put aside 
rank, employment, culture, condition, that we may come at the 
nobleness and value of our common nature. Nor do we perceive, in 
these our brethren, any inferior type of humanity, — a feebler reason, 
a heart capable only of less noble sentiments, and less tender 
affections — a moral sense, yielding but poorer virtues, and less 
trustworthy integrity. No ! — all the differences of developed man we 
attribute to culture, but find original, native man, quite irrespective 
of rank — the equal child of the impartial Maker and Benefactor of 
the race. 

Neither can we admit or feel, that the well-being, happiness, and 
future destiny of an individual in humble life are less important than 
those of an individual in a higher social position. To relieve the 
pain of a peasant, is to remove as much suffering as to cure the 
equal ailment of a prince. To save the soul of a labourer from death, 
is to effect a work as important as if that spirit dwelt in a person 
arrayed in fine hnen and faring sumptuously every day. To render 
a cottage the abode of household virtues, and domestic enjoyments, is 
to diffuse as much happiness as to carry the same blessings into a 
more splendid abode. 

The Christian revelation teaches the sublime and ennobling doc- 
trine of the essential, not of the social, equality of mankind. The 
personal man — the accountable, immortal man — is, in its creed, the 
same curious, wonderful, and fearful workmanship of God all the 
world over. Outward development and position may indefinitely 
vary. Diversified ranks and relations among men for social pur- 
poses are as much the will of God, and therefore as sacred, as the 
essential equality of the race. Just sentiments towards our fellow- 
men can only result from giving due weight to both these considera- 
tions. But by far the more common and fruitful source of views 
unfavourable to benevolence and to justice is found in the prevalent 
habit of sinking the individual in the class, — of rarely coming close 
enough to the person through thought of his condition — and of 
forgetting the man equally in the great and the humble, the splendid 


and the mean. Genuine philanthropy is that love of man, and care 
for his welfare, which nothing; but fellowship with personal, living 
human nature, in its native powers and workings, can produce. 

But when we pass from consideration of the individual to that of 
the class, then the interests and welfare of the humbler portion of 
mankind are found to preponderate unspeakably. Here numbers tell 
with prodigious, overwhelming force. If each man of every class 
be essentially of equal worth, the multitudes of these equal beings, 
grouped as the working classes, give to that division of our common 
race an unutterable importance. IIow they swarm and increase 
in the earth ! We labour for terms to express or intimate their 
numbers. They are the "masses," the "millions," the "people." 
They are thought of as in excess. They increase too rapidly. How 
shall they be i'ed ? — how governed ? — how improved ? Indeed, their 
multitudes render them awful. We equally want faith in God, and 
love to man, when contemplating in thought the sublime spectacle of 
these innumerable crowds, — we inquire, what can we do for their 
welfare ? How can they be lifted up to knowledge, virtue, and 
happiness ? 

Nor is their social importance inferior in its place to their essential 
consequence. The three elements of the resources of the great 
human commonwealth are labour, intelligence, and capital — the last 
is gathered and administered by the wealthy ; the second is con- 
tributed by the gifted and studious : but that first great contribution 
of endless toil is supplied by the working classes. There are they in 
your fields and your mines, your factories and your ships, your 
warehouses and your workshops, giving an amount of manual and 
physical effort which no nature, no patience but that of men bred to 
labour, could sustain. Hardly less consumers than producers, they 
form that great elastic power in the community which endures 
privation and adjusts demand and supply. Amidst scarcity and 
high prices, their unavoidable privations diminish consumption ; and 
amidst plenty and cheapness, their increased enjoyments restore the 
remuneration of capital and the profits of trade. In national policy 
their judgment, once enhghtened, would have immense force and equal 
value— their voice, raised in favour of religion, peace, rational liberty, 
and just government, would be irresistible. These multitudes, once 
enlightened and virtuous, would render the social fabric immovably 
secure and peaceful. 

Hitherto the condition of the working classes has been, in all 


times and in all countries, one of severe and unjust depression. In 
itself it is far indeed from dishonourable or unhappy. It favours 
health, simplicity, and freedom from factitious care. Its wants and 
temptations are few. Thoughtful moralists pronounce, that if in 
the scale of advantages for human welfare it does not rise above, at 
least it does not sink below, the positions occupied by the learned, 
the wealthy, and the powerftil. Of course this vast portion of the 
human family must ever take its full share in the calamities inci- 
dent to the human race in its present condition — such as are the 
results of the order of things prevailing in this world beyond the 
power of human control — such as bear undeniable marks of being 
the appointments of the Great Ruler of the system amidst which we 
live From neither public nor private calamities can the lowly 
position of the multitude shield them. Disease and death spare 
them not. By them the horrors of famine must be first endured. 
Among them pestilence reaps its most ample harvest. The iron 
hoof of war tramples them to the dust. Unjust laws and exactions 
make them their first victims. It is to these last that reference is 
here most relevant. The many of mankind have suffered awfully at 
the hands of the few. Either terrible retributions, or better days 
are at hand. The latter, we hope and believe. The very names 
branded on the sons of the soil vividly portray the treatment they 
have received from its lords. Villein, serf, vassal, slave, are terms 
of dire import. The notion that the people must be kept down, is 
a shocking maxim. The sentiment that they must not be taught, 
lest they should cease to obey, smites a heavy blow on the Govern- 
ment which is conscious that it would never be endured by an 
enlightened people. Through fatal mistakes, it has been thought 
necessary to maintain rank by proscription — trade by monopoly- 
religion by ignorance — power by force — property by terror ; and the 
dregs of this cup of miseries the poor have wrung out and drunk. 
Neglect of the people — unconcern at their sufferings — apathy or 
despair as to their improvement — forms a serious count in the indict- 
ment brought by justice against those who ought to have been their 
shepherds and benefactors, using for their behoof all the powers of 
Church and State. But brighter times are at hand. Light breaks 
through these heavy clouds in all directions. The glorious enter- 
prise of elevating the multitude has been commenced. The 
heavenly mission of proclaiming glad tidings to the poor has been 
entered upon. On all sides men are busy in exploring their suffer- 


ings, and publishing their wrongs, that they may be redressed. 
This is the bright and hopeful feature of our time. This fully 
redeems it from the opprobrium, that it is utterly sordid and 
material — that it has no great thought, no noble impulse. Care for 
the many is its great thought, its noble impulse : a far higher 
mood of man this than that which has fought battles, built 
cathedrals, and adorned cities. Nor will this mission be vain and 
unsuccessful. The many may be instructed and raised. They will 
be found grateful for benefits. Light will vindicate its superiority 
to darkness ; Christianity will win its last earthly honour, and gain 
the last earthly confirmation of its truth, in the power of its spirit 
and its doctrine to raise the multitude out of the wrongs and 
miseries of so many afflictive ages. 

The condition of the working classes in our own country at this 
time has been portrayed in very dark colours. Not a little 
exaggeration must be allowed for in the descriptions given by many 
excellent persons in pursuit of most laudable and benevolent efforts 
for the general good. Zeal to move the public mind, and to obtain 
the necessary funds for the removal of diversified evils, has led in 
many instances to representations of those evils, too strong, too 
highly-coloured, too general : hence our country has been, in fact, 
libelled. The Romanist has derived from Protestant witnesses a 
testimony unfavourable to the influence of the Reformation, after 
three centuries of trial, on the English people. The advocate of 
State centralization has borrowed the statements of the friends of 
Voluntary education, to prove Prussia and France far more generally 
educated countries than England. The Protectionist has drawn 
most gloomy pictures of the operatives — the Free-trader in reprisal 
has set forth in still darker colours the condition of the peasantry. 
Churchmen and Dissenters, after their different modes, bewail the 
irreligion of the people. Advocates for sanitary reform proclaim the 
squalor, indecency, and domestic degradation of great multitudes ; 
■while those who toil for the improvement of our criminal code and 
prison discipline, make every reader shudder by their details of 
hardened profligacy and juvenile delinquency. On all sides a dismal 
chorus is heard chaunting one unvaried theme of reproach, lamenta- 
tion, and terror, on the condition of the people — the milUons — of 
England. It is all true, or not true, as it is applied. If these 
statements are made to embrace all, or most of the English people, 
they are false and hbellous ; if only to apply to portions of the 
people, unhappily they are too true ; and they supply a melancholy 


coinment on party religion, party politics, class legislation, and 

excessive commercial cupidity. But, after all, the great multitude 

of the working classes in England are not brutal, not ignorant, not 

vicious. There are soundness and health in the land. There are 

materials for improvement, and grounds for hope. The better 

qualities, the better condition of the great mass of our population, 

supply motives for effort, no less than the wretchedness and vice of 

detached portions of it. Some require to be redeemed ; — all want 

to be raised. We are not for keeping down, we are for raising up. 

We would lift, by a tranquil process of improvement, the entire 

fabric of society without dislocation, conflict, or confusion ; as the 

wide surface of society is elevated, we would have it heave up all 

the higher ranks at their present relative altitudes, or in better 

adjusted and safer proportions — all rising together equally, and in 

due order : like those vast geological forces which lift whole regions 

— plain, mountain, valley, lake, and river — without convulsion or 

disturbance — a rise unknown till the previous line of sea margin on 

the shore is found to have been raised far beyond the reach of 

ocean's highest tides. 

Our ambition is to see the multitude of the English people 
enlightened and virtuous — raised above dishonourable dependence, 
and whatsoever is abject in want and suffering. We would see 
them in decent attire and comfortable dwellings — in family order 
and domestic pleasures. Tliey should have their rational sports 
and recreations — their well-spent holidays and excursions. Their 
toil should be lessened, and their pleasures increased. England is a 
free country. She has noble representative institutions. She makes 
public opinion bear powerfully on legislation and policy. She 
summons her sons to think and speak on public affairs and national 
interests. It is, therefore, at once unsafe, inconsistent, and 
disgraceful that any numerous class of her people should be un- 
educated ; unable to appreciate either her interests or their own ; 
impatient for a suffrage which it is equally unsafe to concede or 
to withhold, because they are disqualified, not by poverty, but by 
ignorance, for the trust which only the enhghtened and virtuovis can 
fitly hold. 

We have no idea of either personal or national elevation apart 
from increased virtue in the individual or in the multitude. Social 
virtue is the parent of social welfare. The good man in the good 
citizen. Temperance, honour, courage, prudence, and self-respect ; 
the fear of God and thp love of man, — these are the virtues which 


will ever bless the possessor, and make him a blessing. Impregnate 
with such virtues the multitudes of a nation, and that will become a 
great and glorious people. The wealthiest and the mightiest of men 
cannot dispense with these virtues ; without them their possessions 
and their power will be but a curse to themselves and others. 
The humble sons of labour need them no less ; for they alone can 
redeem their toil and straitness from degradation and misery. 
Virtue is our want. Whatever will promote virtue is our remedy. 
Without virtue we are but mocked with promise of reform, and 
predictions of prosperity. Religion without virtue is a sham. 
Liberty without virtue is a cheat. Free institutions without virtue 
are but chains in another form. Intelligence without virtue is but 
illuminated wickedness. Tell not the people knowledge is power : 
virtue is power. Tell not the people, the franchise is liberty : 
virtue is liberty. Speak not of national conscience, of incorporated 
religion. Goodness is ever personal, and the virtue of a nation is 
the virtue of its individual citizens. Their several bosoms are the 
only store-places of this inestimable and noble treasure. There is a 
God in Heaven, and a law on earth, which will ever bind together 
crime and misery, virtue and happiness, as in the most inevitable 
connexion of cause and effect. 

What, then, shall be done for the working classes of England ? 
Many things would we do for them, were power and will to us the 
same. We would improve their dwellings, and make them scenes 
of comfort, order, and affection. We would shorten their hours of 
toil, and in many cases greatly increase its remuneration. We 
would lessen their need of charity by rendering to them more justice. 
We would diffuse among them afresh the power of reUgion, and 
gather them into the sanctities of the Sabbath and the house of 
prayer, as the scenes of their holiest, happiest earthly hours. But 
one thing must be done : they must be educated. This alone is not 
all they want ; but this they do most urgently need, and without 
this their many other wants can never be supplied. Through this 
the way may be found to their fidl emancipation. Non-education is 
indeed an impossibility. The child not trained to knowledge will 
be schooled in ignorance ; if not brought up in industry, idleness 
will be his instructor ; if not disciplined for virtue, the lessons of 
vice are at hand. Every true lover of education raises his standard 
high. He can be satisfied with no low aims. He would have the 
understanding informed, the powers exercised and enlarged, the 
character formed, the man developed. Instruction and education 


are his two ideas. By instruction, he would have knowledge stored 
and built into the mind. By education, he would have the native, 
in-born powers of the mind drawn forth and invigorated. In both 
processes he would have the sacred and the common mingled and 
interwoven. They are in their own nature allied, and mutually 
dependent and helpful. Everything true is in harmony with all 
other truth. No knowledge can we acquire of nature, of history, of 
art, but, if we will trace it to either its root or its end, we find it in 
God. Nothing that we know can we interpret or apply, but it will 
give an utterance in favour of virtue and right. Knowledge has 
been too much and too long divorced from religion : their disloca- 
tion, not their blending, is unnatural and injurious. It is not, 
indeed, so much theological and dogmatic religion that should be 
blended with all education, — but that of the heart and the life — the 
simple and the practical — the rudimental and the genuine. The 
teacher of religion, whether parental or professional, should ever be 
religious, and teach religion — should employ its sanctions — unfold 
its principles — drop into the young mind its seeds ; be himself 
governed by its spirit, and be animated by an enlightened care for 
the very highest interests of his pupils. 

How shall the working-classes be indeed educated ? How shall 
schools be provided for those as yet altogether neglected? How 
shall the schools already in operation be improved and rendered 
really efficient ? How shall the working-classes be themselves 
awakened to a just sense of the value and necessity of education for 
their children ? How shall education for the many be best diffused 
throughout this country in harmony with its free institutions, and 
without collision with its numerous and deeply-rooted diversities of 
opinions and parties in religion? These are questions equally 
weighty and difficult. But they are not now asked for the first 
time. The answer to them requires not still to be sought in specu- 
lation and theory. On the contrary, these problems have already 
been studied and solved by wise and practical benevolence. The 
answer to them is, in great measure, supplied by the schemes, the 
exertions, and the successes of the first half of this nineteenth 
century, during which eventful and illustrious period a firm founda- 
tion has been laid, on which to carry forward the noble work of 
universal education. Beautiful and astonishing are the contrivances 
and adaptations of recent philanthropy to diffuse the advantages of 
education among all classes. 

There are Infant-schools, for children of an age at which it was 


formerly thought impossible that they should acquire knowledge or 
endure discipline, and so were left to acquire every habit and dispo- 
sition hostile to subsequent culture. Now, to the first freshness of 
childhood, school is rendered a pleasure, and learning a pastime. 
The years that were once worse than wasted, are now made to 
receive an influence preparatory and advantageous for all the in- 
struction of after-years. There is now also added the Sunday, as 
well as the week-day, infant-class, when these interesting groups 
are guided to knowledge and devotion by methods of engaging 
gentleness and skill, instead of being coerced into unnatural quiet, 
amidst the scenes of worship they could not in the least comprehend. 

Then follow Sunday-schools in their almost universal adoption 
and use. In them intelligence and religion are happily blended. 
The sacred hours of the day are not desecrated, but hallowed, in 
these labours of benevolence and necessity. Every charity of the 
human heart is here exercised. Instruction is aiforded in ingenious 
and endless diversity, from the Infant-class for those that can but 
lisp, to the Bible-class for those of more advanced years and attain- 
ments. These Sunday-schools are the honour and salvation of 

There are your Daily-schools in constantly and rapidly increasing 
numbers. Then there rise above these, evening-classes, people's 
colleges, and mechanics' institutes. 

For the outcasts there are Ragged-schools. For jufenile delin- 
quents. Penitentiary-schools. For pauper children, Union-schools ; 
these two latter classes of the unfortunate or criminal being legiti- 
mately provided for by the Government, to whose care they are 
confided, equally by the necessities and institutions of the country. 

All these diversified forms of education are even more rapidly 
improving than extending. They constantly become more efficient. 
No part of the entire system shows any mark of decline or deterio- 
ration. It is in full growth of power and improvement ; but is as 
yet at an early period of development. In this age of astonishing 
progress, education is seen holding an equal and honourable place 
in the general advance. To this nothing has more contributed than 
the strenuous efforts made for the improvement of teachers. Nor- 
mal and Training-schools for instructors are admirable and indispen- 
sable institutions : in them the future teachers of your schools are 
themselves trained in knowledge and in the best mode of instructing 
and governing youth. In these, also, there is constant improvement : 
they will soon be made colleges of no mean rank. The elevation 

60 ON Tin: ]:;di;caxiox of tiij', wokkinu ciassks. 

of the schoolmaster has commenced, and is certain. The old oppro- 
brium of his ignorance and tyranny will be wiped oflF. He will 
become the man of intelligence and character — the friend and bene- 
factor of his charge. 

Constant, also, are the improvements in school books and school 
plans. The science of mind is found as open to discovery as the 
science of matter. How to teach, how to improve children, are 
questions admitting of new and advanced solutions, no less than 
inquiries how best to cultivate the soil, or to perfect manufactures. 
And these improvements cannot fail to proceed indefinitely, so 
long as education is kept wide open, and free to competition, and 
to all those impulses which liberty constantly supplies. But once 
close up this great science and movement of mind from these 
invigorating breezes, whether by monopoly or bounty, whether by 
coercion or patronage, and the sure result will be torpor and stag- 
nancy. Remove the popular impulse — tell the people they cannot, 
or they will not do this work — give them the notion that there is 
another power at hand to supply their deficiencies, and to do what- 
ever they neglect — let this be done, and education will obey the 
same law that has hitherto invariably consigned to decay endowed 
religion, protected trade, regulated literature, and patronized art. 

If it be asked, " What hmits would you place on the education of 
the working-classes?" the answer is, "None." Teach them all 
you can, by any means induce or enable them to learn. How far 
would you carry the instruction of the working-classes ? As far as 
possible. Alas ! we need place no limits, we need be jealous for 
no bounds, we need fear no excess here : they, your pupils, will 
restrict you. You will have no need to restrain them. Look at the 
case. Ponder the facts. How brief an attendance can you secure 
at your daily schools ! How few can you allure to your evening 
classes and people's colleges, for advancement of their education 
in the youthful period from fifteen to five-and -twenty ! — In how few 
can you kindle an emulous desire of advancement ? How do toil, 
care, and want quench aspiration, and press down noble purpose! 
How does disordered human nature fail to value the intellectual, 
the moral, and the immortal ! No ! ye friends of education, ad- 
vancement will be your toil ; limitation your fear I You are not yet 
surrounded by clamorous applicants. Far remote appears the day 
in which too much acquirement will be the peril of the multitude. 

But apart from this, — Who is afraid of knowledge ?— of sound, 
healthful intelligence 1 Of knowledge, the light and joy of souls ! 


Of knowledge, the object for which minds were made, and their 
faculties given ! Of knowledge, in capacity for which man resem- 
bles his Maker; and in acquiring which he communes with all 
created things ! Of knowledge, the Ibe of everything infidel, 
sensual, and brutal! What page of history, science, or genuine 
poetry must we close from any man, saying. Here knowledge is 
perilous — here ignorance alone is safety ? Of what discovered facts 
in nature— of what refined productions of genius — must we say, 
" These are the luxuries of the few alone?" If, indeed, only of the 
few, those few are not the favoured in circumstances, but the 
select in mind, and these may be found among the working-classes 
in as large proportion as among the privileged classes ; and wherever 
they may be found, there they should be sought, that at this un- 
costly and noble banquet of mind they may be welcome guests, 
and joyful partakers. Lift up the people, cheer on the people, to 
as much acquisition of knowledge as possible. Raise everywhere 
the standard of mind. If some, if many, so encouraged and helped, 
press upwards into higher departments and circumstances in society, 
so much the better : they will bring health and power with them 
into the ranks, by which they will be hailed as brothers, not scowled 
upon as intruders. No ; teach the people all they can learn, all they 
will learn. 

Then we would instruct the working- classes in manhood as well 
as in childhood — we would prolong their education from the school 
into life. By the pulpit, by the press, by lectures, meetings, and 
discussions — by missions, politics, and affairs — ^we would inform, 
enlarge, and elevate the general, the universal mind. We would 
have a knowing and a thinking people. Nor is this impossible : 
we are on the way to this noble state. Should the second half of 
this century equal the first in progress — should it advance as far 
onward from its present starting-point as that now closing has done 
from its infinitely more unfavourable beginning, England will com- 
mence the twentieth century of the Christian era, a land of light 
such as the world never before saw ! And this is, moreover, the true 
sentiment on which to attain whatever degrees of education are 
really practicable; namely, to aim at the highest mark and standard. 
It will be found an entire mistake to suppose that, if we design no 
more than to teach the working-classes to read, write, and cipher — 
this, being a simple matter, will be easily effected — and zeal to 
accomplish it will be in proportion as the object seems practicable. 


On the contrary, so poor, so mechanical a notion will never rouse 
to any generous, inspiring effort ; neither will such acquirements 
be ever valued for their own sake, by the working-classes. It is 
only as means to an end that elementary school-learning can ever 
be thought valuable. "When these accompHshments were rare, and 
a distinction to the possessor, then the working-classes valued them, 
because, on going into life, easier and more lucrative situations were 
open to them on that account ; but now that they are becoming 
common, even universal, they no longer confer this distinction and 
advantage, but must be recommended as the necessary avenue to 
mental advancement and pleasure — to a respectable character and 
position in society— to a share in the great movements of mind 
everywhere in action. 

And though, at first sight, it may not appear so, yet, in truth, 
this proposed elevation of the people is rather the recovery of a lost, 
than the creation of a new, equality in society ; for, when in past 
ages the noble and wealthy could but seldom read and write — when 
the history of the nation was sung in ballads and preserved by tra- 
ditions — when the wisdom of the age was limited to maxims of 
prudence, signs of the weather, and tales of wonder — then the serf 
knew as much as the baron — and, however power and wealth distin- 
guished the oppressor from the oppressed, they lived, at least, in the 
same intellectual world, and were, by force of a common supersti- 
tion and an equal ignorance, one people. But now that intellectual 
has accumulated perhaps even more than material wealth, while the 
possession of the former, equally with that of the latter affluence, 
has been confined to a portion of society, the causes of distance, and 
the diflTeretice between the working and the reading classes, have 
been injuriously augmented. Were a wider, and somewhat less 
unequal diifusion of wealth than that now prevailing, possible, it 
might be healthy and good for the body politic — but, to diifuse 
among all a portion of that magnificent treasure of knowledge now 
possessed not merely by the learned, but by the informed, of this 
comitry — an equitable adjustment, by which none would be 'WTonged, 
none robbed — a distribution, possible as well as just — this would be 
a benefaction and a blessing, which, however inestimable in itself, 
could not come alone : it must draw thousands in its train. One 
movement of immense force and value in the great work of advanc- 
ing the education of the working-classes will be gained, whenever 
this o;reat benefit shall become a matter of demand as well as of 


supply. At present, the universally prevalent idea is, that education 
must be provided for the working classes — given to them — pressed 
upon them. It is thought much if they can be induced to receive 
instruction. The idea generated in the minds of many not unintel- 
ligent working men, by the interference of Government in the affair, 
is, " We had rather have schools for our children as a legal right, 
rather than as a charitable boon— by Act of Parliament, than by 
effort of benevolence." It may be greatly doubted whether, in such 
a case, dependence on public taxes, and control by public authority, 
is really less dishonourable than dependence on benevolent exertion, 
But, indeed, why any dependence at all in the case of a vast number 
of skilled artizans ? Their resources are surely adequate to secure 
education for their children in schools of their own selection, and 
under their own influence. Once moved to take the work into its 
own hands, this class can do for itself far more than either Govern- 
ment or benevolent associations can effect in its behalf. Then 
would arise competition among schoolmasters, and the inspection, not 
of a paid agency, but of interested and vigilant parents. Then 
would the funds of benevolence be released for a more effectual 
supply of real destitution. And then would education be no longer 
a controversy, but a work and a triumph. 

The world has never yet seen the magnificent spectacle of an 
educated nation. France and Prussia are not educated nations. 
Their people may be taught less or more ; but, for general enlighten- 
ment, free thought, command of books, liberty of discussion, — they 
know nothing of these elevating privileges. The instruction given 
by power must subdue, not emancipate : it must inculcate slavish 
sentiments equally on the teacher and the taught. But when a 
whole people may and can explore all themes, discuss all subjects, 
think freely, and speak free thoughts ; when freedom, enlighten- 
ment, and virtue meet together, — how will a people, so ennobled, 
reform its institutions, maintain its peace, spread abroad its com- 
merce, and become more mighty to diffuse blessings and happiness 
in the world, than ever the most renowned of conquering nations 
to carry victory and havoc, triumph and miseries, far and wide 
among mankind ! 

It may not be misuitable for the present Lecturer to offer some 
explanatory remarks on the course recently adopted by the Congre- 
gational Union on this most important and national interest — the 
education of the working classes. His hope is, that these proceed- 


ings will be found worthy of the principles and objects ever sacredly 
cherished by Independents in every period of their history. 

They deem glorious and Divine Christianity specially the friend of 
the people,— the multitude. They find among the prominent and 
lasting proofs of its divinity, " that it proclaims glad tidings to the 
poor." They read in its history the sure, though often interrupted, 
rescue and advancement of the people. The corruption of mild and 
merciful Christianity they find to have been ever the wrong and 
scourge of the people. They perceive a blessed adaptation of the 
gospel to the people, and of the people to the gospel. Carry simple 
Christianity to the multitude ; it will win them and bless them. 
Let a people receive the gospel, and they are emancipated and 
blessed. Independents have no hope for mankind but in connexion 
with pure Christianity. Its designs and promises, its resources and 
means, they think alone adequate to regenerate the world. They 
also deem the gospel as friendly to knowledge in all its forms and 
developments, as it is to the people. Itself a revelation of truth on 
subjects respecting which without its guidance man could discover 
and know nothing, it gives aid to every rational inquiry, and subor- 
dinates to its purposes every advance of truth. Moreover, Inde- 
pendents have ever laboured to harmonise strict religion and entire 
liberty. They have ever rejected priestly claims, and secular autho- 
rity in rehgion. They have turned from the great to the humble. 
They have sought strength from the many, not from the few. They 
have trusted their cause to a wide diifusion rather than to a perilous 
height. For better and for worse, they abide by principles and a 
mission, which send them among the people. 

Nothing could be more natural and inevitable than that Inde- 
pendents should bear part in all movements for popular, education, 
and that they should pay special attention to the principles on 
which it might be proposed to conduct this work. For them to 
adopt any separate operations for educating the people, detached 
from Christianity, was impossible. Could they have borne part in 
a merely secular education, they would have acted as citizens among 
their countrymen, not as religionists and Dissenters, apart by them- 
selves. As churches, they could have no ground of combined action 
but their sacred principles ; they could have no object but to com- 
bine, with their best efforts for general enlightenment, their equally 
strenuous struggles for genuine Christianity : hence, with them, an 
insurmountable obstacle to the receipt of public money for their 


schools. Their schools must be religious. For religion they can 
receive no tax-raised money — they can admit no interference of that 
GoTernraental authority which ought to follow, and must follow, 
wherever public funds are received. 

Moreover, to them entire independence is essential. They must 
ever be equally free to act and speak. They must hold themselves 
entirely clear of all temptation to ask, when their pubhc testimony 
is required, — How will our conduct affect our grants ? The belief 
of many Independents is that, from the hour they received Govern- 
ment money, they would be a changed people — their tone lowered — 
their spirit altered — their consistency sacrificed — and their honour 
tarnished. They know not how to conceive of their deputations 
waiting at the Treasury — how honoured men, whose names must not 
be mentioned, could there mingle with the delegates of other name- 
less bodies in the antechamber of the Committee of Privy CounciK 
How they would be received by the dispensers of Parliamentary funds, 
we can easily imagine ; how welcomed with bows and smiles ; how 
they would be complimented on their enlarged views and new 
liberality of sentiment ; and how they would feel we may be sure — 
that their birthright was sold, their locks shorn, and they like other 
men. Therefore some Independents think the question is, not How 
can we obtain Government money ? but, How can we avoid it ? If 
there must be any ingenious interpretation of our principles for any 
purpose, let it be to determine how we can maintain our liberty, not 
how can we receive the grant ? So that, supposing such Indepen- 
dents to have no settled judgment, whether the State can or cannot 
rightfully and usefully interpose in the work of general education ; 
whether some other classes of the community could or could not, 
consistently and advantageously, receive State co-operation, money, 
and control in their schools, — they would still say. Independents 
must be independent ; which they will be no longer, and no further, 
than while they " owe no man anything." This may be an arduous, 
but it is an honourable, position : to be Dissenters in education, as 
well as Dissenters in religion ; to be misunderstood and repudiated 
on all sides ; to be shut out and kept down, without hope of 
emerging into national equality and advancement, is no light matter ; 
but a clear, ringing testimony to truth and liberty is worth it all. 

It is not without many regretful feelings that Independents find 
themselves now acting their part in this national work in their sepa- 
rate denominational character. For all the pleasure, and for many 


of the advantages, presented by co-operation in such a cause with 
the wise and good of other Christian communities, they would have 
preferred to act on a wider and more open basis. In part, necessity, 
and in part conviction, led them into their present course. Those 
acting on this sectional basis have concluded, after anxious delibera- 
tion on all the complex circumstances of the case, that they could 
thus most effectively contribute their influence and aid to the 
common enterprise. No alienation of heart from Christian brethren 
— no indifference to the great interests of their common country — 
no desire to build up party strength — no love to differ — no fondness 
for the little and the narrow, drew them into their present position. 
Their hope is, that by the compactness and unity of sectional organ- 
ization, they will be able to work with most power for the public 
good, and to exact most effectual influence in favour of true educa- 
tional principles, of the best educational plans, and of true-hearted 
rivalry to excel in this great department of philanthropy and patriot- 
ism. Some of those bearing part in the movement which has origin- 
ated these Lectures, have altered their early opinions on the subject 
of State aid and control in popular education. At first, zealous and 
arduous for the object, they hailed Government as a powerful co- 
worker. Experience, progress, and discussion changed their views. 
But their sentiments on the grant, as now administered, have never 
undergone the slightest alteration. As Voluntaries in religion, they 
always objected to pay their portion of the tax, as much as to receive 
their portion of the grant. They demur to pay for the teaching of 
the Church Catechism and the Roman Missal — of John Wesley's 
System and the Improved Version ; and, were civil equity to be fully 
carried out, of the Jewish Ritual and the Deist's maxims. They do 
still resist the erection of a supplementary establishment of schools 
in aid of the establishment of Churches. As firm Whigs, they do 
object to the unconstitutional procedure of a summary settlement of 
delicate questions of religious freedom by Minutes of a Committee 
of Privy Council, sanctioned only by a money vote of the House of 
Commons, sitting in Committee of Supply. They do believe cen- 
tralization un-English and perilous to liberty ; and are still in favour 
of that system of local action and government, as old as Alfred, 
which carried Saxon liberty through the Norman Conquest, the 
Papal tyranny, the Crown encroachments of both Tudor and Stuart, 
the perils and advancements of the glorious Revolution, and without 
which England never could have been free, and never can continue to 


be free. Yet, after all, strong and moving as were these consider- 
ations, it was, and is, as Educationists, that Independents most of 
all object to the Government grant for education. They believe it 
will in the end impede, deaden, restrict, and injure this sacred cause. 
Could they have thought otherwise on this point, they would have 
felt under temptation at least to acquiesce. The practical might 
have overcome, in their minds, the theoretic. For the sake of 
education they might have risked apprehended injury to hberty. 
But there can be no such dissonance and contrariety among true 
principles. The sacrifice of truth and liberty can never be the 
redemption of knowledge and enlightenment. One freedom will 
beget, one Hberty will protect another. But unfair authority is no 
less generative and prolific. State power in religion. State power in 
education, State power in money. State power in inspectors. State 
power in Whitehall reaching over England; these all, as kindred 
influences, are against Dissent, against liberty, against national 
spirit, — and therefore against every allied interest of a self-governed, 
self-acting people. 

But enough. Liberty itself is with us but a means to an end — the 
handmaid of virtue and religion, the instrument of intelligence and 
happiness. We desiderate a people, an entire people, raised through 
liberty to knowledge, with knowledge to virtue, by both to happiness 
and honour. If we have mistaken our way to that end, we shall be 
happy that others share not our error. If paths which we thought 
had a different direction, conduct other labourers to our wished 
results, we shall rejoice when their success convinces us of our mis- 
take. We would see educated England the model nation of the 
world, that other peoples may take our State for their pattern, our 
history at once for their warning and their guide ; that so they may 
reach our results without our distractions, and that we may be 
inspired and solaced amidst every labour and struggle by which we 
tend to so glorious a destiny ! 



.'n in^TMd 




Definition of the terms— The paiental constitution— The right to education — False premises 
on this subject — The province of government— That it is bound to educate, a new dogma 
— Its compact and its capacity— Disadvantages with which voluntary education ha* to 
contend — Hopeful presages. 

It is the People which the present examination respects, — a wide, 
generic, term. Statistically considered, they are the inhabitants of 
a given land. Imperially regarded, they are the subjects of a 
sovereign power. The term knows nothing of classes, orders, dif- 
ferences : it is the patent of simple citizenship. " High and low," 
** rich and poor," " small and great," are the same in this category. 
No man can aspire to any nobler rank. He who springs from the 
people can never pass beyond them. All ambition ranges within 
this fellowship. Everything is great only as it is popular. Pre- 
rogative is but the borrowed loan of the people. Aristocracy and 
commonality are but spontaneous marshallings of the people. The 
crown is but the badge of the voluntary service of the people. 
There is no right which the people can surrender or transfer. They 
have no power of alienating aught of their manhood or of their 
civism, one particle of human or social claim! All power is in 
them, all honour, — all that they can do in reference to those posses- 
sions is, — not to cancel them, that were their political annihilation, 
— not to sell them, that were their moral slavery, — but to entrust 
the power for particular administration of public aifairs, and 
to invest the honour for particular reward of patriotic virtues. Let 
neither be parted with! If that people be great, if they would 
become greater, let them keep in mind and in hold the original 
compact ; let them remember, that this outward condition of things 
is mere arrangement and compromise, — that the signiory is native 
and necessary to them, — that it cannot be pawned by venality nor 
betrayed by abjectness, — that it not only immediately reverts, but 


never can be relinquished, — and that while their lien is maintained 
upon whatever they have allowed the use of to some for the benefit 
of all, the equality is absolute, and the fee-simple of this glorious 
inheritance is only and for ever in themselves. 

In speaking of the people, I would not refuse nor hesitate to 
apply the term in the universal sense. It may predicate our kind. 
And as we both desire and foretell the extension of every blessing 
to the species, to every member and portion of the human family, — 
it would not be an improper treatment of the thesis, though incon- 
veniently large, to demand. What parties are responsible for the 
education of the race ? I trust that we should not be behind, in 
our benevolence of definition, the philanthropy of toast which a 
warm-hearted man, once suddenly called upon to give one, most 
candidly and impartially proposed, "All people that on earth do 
dwell." A difficulty, indeed, occurs in all such inquiries, whether 
more restricted or comprehensive, — "What those parties can be that 
are to educate the people ? Are they not themselves the people ? 
And if so, who are to educate them ? " Quis custodiet custodes ?" 
Whence do they kindle their torch 1 

We do most repugnantly allow the term to denote the labouring 
multitude. We envy and grudge them such a distinction. They 
are no more the people than ourselves. It is to our shame if they 
have won propriety in it. Deeply will it mortify us, should we be 
pompelled to resign our share. Not as a refuse, at least, can they 
so be called. Theirs is the majesty of numbers. Not as lower 
orders can they be figured, save as the rustic work of the palace, or 
the plinth of the Corinthian column. In them is productive wealth, 
and that which multiplies value tenfold. They are strength and 
life to a community. All besides are for them ; they are for them- 
selves. Without them capital is not wealth, and knowledge is not 
power. Not that they are selfishly divided from the rest. They 
sustain and elevate. They are not the trunk on which flower and 
fruit are grafted, but which bears them after its kind. We cannot, 
therefore, speak of them in scorn. Scarcely know we pity. We 
burn at their wrongs. We sicken at their abuses. " This people ! " 
cried the ancient hypocrites : " the people," thus a vulgar refine- 
ment describes them. A philosophy, cruel as Herod, scowls upon 
their birth, as though they intruded upon nature's festival, and 
incommoded lordly guests holding banquet there. Thus are their 
practical applications computed. To what account can they be 
turned ? Mechanism can be made almost intelligent : why should 


not intelligence be made almost mechanical? They are the in- 
feriors! Coarser clays to be rudely shaped into the vessels of 
dishonour ! Bom for menial drudgery, — sound into their ears inces- 
santly their destiny and doom! To hope to be otherwise, is a 
quarrel with a fixed law, an inexorable fate ! They are the tools of 
gain, the conscripts of ambition, the materials of luxury ! 

It is somewhat a new doctrine that the people, as they are styled, 
ought to be instructed. Time was when the opposite doctrine was 
favoured and impressed. They could not know too little, or be left 
in a too contented ignorance. They were bound to let others think 
for them ; they had nothing to do with such privileged things as 
government and rehgion. But it is now discovered that they must 
be taught. That which was maintained to be the spring of their 
industry, the preservative of their virtue, the mother of their devo- 
tion, is now discarded. The truth is, that the people have found 
for themselves an education, and have acquired the art of thinking, 
— and these parties do not approve of the spiritualism of that educa- 
tion and the independence of that thinking. They would take both 
under their management. They would give it their own direction. 
Hence their sudden conversion and new-bom zeaJ. They would 
imsting the evil. They would wiel4 the power. — " That it spread no 
further among the people 1" 

It is necessary that we should fully and distinctly inform our- 
selves of what education consists. The education of the people may 
suggest to different minds most different ideas. If it be a business 
of mere instruments, — for reading and writing are only means, and 
not ends, — -we should take very little interest, and certainly no 
share, in the controversy. We would not run a tilt or a gauntlet 
for the sake of alphabets, — we would not know au ebullition for 
pothooks, nor bare our bosom for hangers. Ours are deeper, more 
solemn, views. We look upon man. We seek to educate him. He 
must be developed and expressed from inward capacity ; he must be 
directed and disciplined for an awful future. He must be inter- 
preted aright. He must be properly placed. With at least as 
careful study as with which we examine the instinct, the habitude, 
the habitat, of bird, or beast, or fish, we are bound to search into 
the true nature of man. Like other existences, he is marked by a 
fixed nature. All hearts are fashioned alike. But there is not that 
inflexible certainty of acts which may be affirmed of the mere 
animal. The creature of reason and volition cannot be foreseen by 


US in his doings. We must, consequently, allow in him for moral 
eccentricity. Yet may we define what he is. Man is something 
more than matter, — he is a spiritual being. He is accountable for 
the exercise of his liberty, possessing a choice of conduct. Death is 
his enlargement and enfranchisement to immortality. He lives for 
ever. These are the views which make him great and dread. To 
draw out such a being for his duties, and his beliefs, and his 
prospects, must be a religious task. Any attempt to educate him, 
save religiously, is a mockery and an insult. It is like the prophetic 
picture, the " roots in the earth, with a band of iron and brass." 
It is depreciation and repression. We cannot, indeed, conceive of 
an education of man's nature, without a constant appeal to his rela- 
tions towards the Deity, and to the influence of rewards and punish- 
ments over him. Wliat is defended as secular education is most 
superficial, considering the depths of his soul; most incidental, 
considering the laws of his being ; most temporary, considering the 
revolutions of his duration. Such a secular education need not say, 
there is no God ! but it must not say that there is one. Such a 
secular education need not say, that Christianity is a lie; but it 
must not say that it is the truth, and no lie ! Such a secular 
education need not denounce the faith of an hereafter; but it, 
as a thing of an earthly seculuni, must never point to secula 
seculorum ! 

But we admit, that the children of the poor are placed under 
serious disadvantage. If every man has a right to education, if 
education be due to every man, if he must be educated to be pro- 
perly the man, then indigence does interpose a great restriction, and 
handicraft demand a vast diversion. And we also admit that, upon 
this showing, there is a class to which the labouring poor may look 
up for help in the matter of education. It is a proper indemnity to 
them. They who owe to them the means of wealth, leisure, and 
knowledge, ought to pay back to them not only the wages of 
labour, but that priceless possession of which labour tends to 
deprive them. 

In saying this, we are aware that there is an appearance of con- 
cession. The right of man to education needs to be well considered 
before it can be allowed. Upon whom of his fellows is it to be 
enforced 1 If it be his due, of whom is it to be required ? These 
researches might only conduct us more circuitously to our thesis, 
and but clog our discussion ; for they, in some sort, would be a 


petitio principii ; they would anticipate and assume what we have 
to prove. Nor would the desirableness of education establish its 
right and due. Many other advantages might be pleaded for the 
same consideration. If there be any claim of man, it is such as he 
may assert, and which he may be left to himself to win. The 
original title to education is of the child on the parent : the gentle 
Desdemona could thus address her father, Brabantio — " To you I am 
bound for life and education !" 

I am anxious, before any other party be admitted, most suppositi- 
ously, in the education of the people, to defend and hallow the 
parental constitution. This is the grand provision. Society is 
based npon this law, the earliest law. It cannot be imitated. It 
cannot be transferred. It cannot be superseded. All nature cries 
aloud, by a common instinct, against interference with oflFspring. 
No outrage is so universally resented ; no bereavement is so bitterly 
rankling. Say what men please against its too arbitrary power, — it 
is the only check to a tyranny, not like itself, possibly capricious, 
but necessarily and only oppressive. Say what they will against its 
transmission of error and prejudice, — it is the only new independence 
to break up the conceits and presumptions which otherwise would 
be perpetually secure. Say what they will against its engendered 
evils, — it contains the solitary corrective and remedy of every evil. 
The scheme which would repair its mischief, would indefinitely 
multiply mischiefs, all of them indefinitely more portentous. There 
is not a fouler treason, than to gainsay this original institution. A 
distrust of it is a traitorous spirit. Trace it where man is worst — 
amidst his worst habits and temptations, — still, where could you 
replace its tenderness, its care, its guardianship, its sacrifice ? Those 
brawny arms of toil speak its strength, alike with the softest arms of 
embracing love. Intrude upon it, and society stands still. The 
incentive of labour is gone. We live no more in the future. Come 
once between parent and child, and the golden band which knits all 
together is snapped asunder. What is that — call it State, conspi- 
racy, rapine — which aifects to take charge of my offspring? My 
other acquisitions are conditional ; my other treasures are alienable ; 
my civil rights are things of covenant and arrangement ; these have 
been earned, uiherited, or won ! But I have another property and 
propriety in my children ; these are imprescriptibly my own — they 
are myself! Parenthood is their protector ! It is the vulture which 
tears the broodUng from the covering wing ! Traverse the length 


and breadth of the land. Enter its cabins and its hovels. Judge 
not according to a sentimental romance, but judge righteous judg- 
ment. There are abuses, grievances, cruelties. These mark them- 
selves. They stand out. They force themselves into notoriety. 
They are noted — conned. "What are they in figures, what in excep- 
tions, to domestic allegiance and regularity ? Count them against 
the rural peasantry of the village and hamlet, going forth to their 
work and their labour until the evening, when the housewife spreads 
the simple repast, and children greet the return! Count them 
against the, perhaps, ruder crowds who, at the reverse of the curfew, 
hasten to the factory, but eat their meals in their adjoining cottages, 
and, when the shadows lengthen, there lie down to rest ! The brawl 
of the street is rare. Nightfall, in its stillness and in its peace, vin- 
dicates the domestic character of the people. Those homesteads of 
poverty are, after all, though slandered and reviled, happy dwellings 
— tabernacles of joy. I have faith in the great workings of Nature ; 
in the tenacious links of parent and progeny ; in household order, 
and rule, and influence. I deprecate whatever would tamper with 
it. There cannot be a substitute for it. Its penates are worth a 
whole mythology besides ! 

I do not allow, by any of the previous admissions, that labouring 
habits are incompatible with a considerable share of education ; nor 
that they are unfavourable, except for their consumption of time, to 
self-cultivation. To allow this would be fatal to the question ; for 
it is a chimerical idea, that the poor shall cease out of the land, and 
that engrossing occupation shall be no more needed. It may be 
requisite, in some future conditions of society, that every man, like 
the ancient Jews, shall learn a trade. The world will never refine 
into a learned leisure. If education be destined to universality, it 
must consist with hardy, as well as skilled, labour. "We want to be 
disabused of our artificial prepossessions. We ought to feel that 
there is no imlikelihood nor contrast between Araunah and the 
threshing-floor, — Elisha and the plough, — David and the sheep-fold, 
— Amos and the sycamore-tree, — Peter and the fisherman, — Paul 
and the tent-maker. 

"We shall surely concede to the labouring poor, not only the full 
parental investiture, but the right, in common with ourselves, to 
depute the educating power where they please. If they cannot teach 
their children, they are entitled to choose those instructors whom 
they prefer. They are not to be shut up to this or that. If it be 


repliecl, that they will not avail themselves of any, the fact is osten- 
sible, that poverty is generally extravagant in this. There is a pride 
which overcomes a very parsimony, — or if it produces parsimony, 
for its sake, in all else, cheerfully abides the strait. If it be replied, 
that they are unfitted to discriminate between rival claims, the tact 
which guides them to the best leech and lawyer will be adequate to 
direct them to the best schoolmaster. It is the old dogma, — the 
people can know nothing about religion, and it must be dictated to 
them. But so the religious mind of Britain was never created, — it 
is self-formed and self-renewed. 

"We may be expected, on our known principles, to protest against 
forcible, compulsory, education. We only passingly notice it for 
future obser\ation. It is surely little to say, that liberty is more 
precious than education ; that education could be no counterbalance 
to the disturbance of any right ; that the reluctant parent, embit- 
tered by the violence, would thwart any contingent good ; that the 
deported, abducted, child would participate the parental rancour, and 
nurse his little revenge ; and that this would be a civil war to the 
very hearth. We do not believe that, whatever pains be taken to 
blind and corrupt the people, the nation's heart will ever be so 
craven and so sunk as to endure the indignity. 

It is now asked by many. What is to be done ? Who are to be 
evoked to do it ? We proceed to the answer, — but by no means 
conceding that parents have generally failed in their responsibility, 
or that there is any great dearth of the educatory apparatus. 

That which is public mind is often long in being stirred to public 
opinion. It is commonly inert and stagnant, loves a careless ease, 
settles into a dreamy notion, until its fears are alarmed and its inte- 
rests endangered. Then its short-sighted stupor is roused, and its 
activities may only become too eager. Public opinion is slow in its 
formation. Great general principles are commonly elicited and matured 
in retirement. Quiet, reflecting, spirits have patiently been at work 
upon them. They are wrought in studious abstraction. They 
resemble not the experiments of the forge, the crucible, and the 
retort. They are tried, and tried again, in another laboratory. 
They, like mathematical truths, must be the same at every time and 
in all possible circumstances. They resemble the gold vein, the 
richest of ores but the latest of minerals. Think of Adam Ferguson 
or Adam Smith (such first and foremost men deserved the original 
man's patronymic !) sitting with wrinkled brow and wasting lamp in 


their deep meditations. They have mused long and searchingly. 
The problem at length is solved. They have found it ! They have 
found it ! They cast some greatly simple principle into the public 
mind ; it is not quickened except it die, or seem to die ; it is buried 
in seeming death. It takes hold of the surrounding soil, it spreads 
its fibre, it strikes its root, it bursts the surface of the ground, it 
multiplies on every side of the furrow into which it fell, it waves to 
heaven ! We may not be ruminant as they. We cannot boast their 
far-seeing sagacity. But we have come by a greatly simple prin- 
ciple. We have found it, we have found it ! We see how the 
people can be educated, and how they only can. It is in struggle. 
That is what we want. It cannot henceforth be overlaid by indiffer- 
ence and scorn. It is opposed. It must then be heeded, sifted, 
agitated. This is good for truth and right. The harrow is as 
necessary as the share. Tremendous interests are stricken. A 
shattering blow has fallen upon ancient and mighty foundations. 
We are prepared for a death-grapple of sides. The terms are most 
unequal. The odds might affright the stoutest nerve. But we are 
so assured of the principle, that we should sin against it were we to 
falter in its maintenance or to despond of its victory. 

We have seen false maxims, once deep-seated in the public mind, 
once strongly fortified by the public opinion, yield to argument, and 
shrink before truth. Few, some brief years ago, doubted that the 
ratio of wages was to the price of food. It was assumed, it was not 
discussed. Once brought into question, the theory was quashed. 
It was contrary to common sense. The wages of labour could only 
be ruled by the standard of labour, — by its worth or by its demand. 
It is exploded, it is extinguished, — it cannot come into human 
thought again. As little do we doubt that very popular, very 
plausible, very enticing, assumptions, touching the question of edu- 
cation, are even now about to receive condemnation, and are hasten- 
ing to inglorious exposure. This, at furthest, is the beginning of 
their end ! No sentiment seems at present more rife and attractive 
in certain quarters, than that it is the province of the Government 
to educate the people. This is the statesmanship of the times. 

We may venture to inquire. What is Government ? Many make 
a mystery of it. They hedge it with a divinity. Now, none are 
better satisfied, more profoundly convinced, than we, that He, who 
is not Author of confusion, wills the social order of men, adapts 
them to it, and has ordained its larger outhnes. The duties of the 


ruler and of the subject are given a general interpretation and 
enforcement. From the inspired code, we ascertain that the things 
of God are eternally distinct from the things of C^sar, that earthly 
jurisdiction cannot encompass thought, that faith and conscience go 
together, that the civil sword is not borne in vain in regard to well- 
doing and evil-doing, but that it is borne in vain, that it is a very 
vanity, ** an air-drawn dagger," when it is brandished over the soul ! 

It is not necessary to argue the abstract proposition. We are not 
timid of it. We do not shrink from it. Were a people unani- 
mously to invest a Government for this purpose, we deny that they 
could give it this right. They could not thus transfer to it parental 
duty. They could not convey the requisite power and capacity. So 
far as it was attempted by the deputed party, it must be wretchedly 
performed. It will suffice, however, for our present argument, to 
contest the question in simple reference to the elements of our 
Government and the principles of our Constitution. 

To try the question, whether this be the province of the Govern- 
ment, we must apply various tests. Let us examine our own. Is 
it, in this case, enacted and provided ? Is it in the bond ? I love 
not to hear my fellow-subjects speak doubtingly of the Constitution, 
— where it exists, — what it is. It is an understanding, an intelli- 
gent covenant, something better than dusty archives, or engrossed 
parchments, — which guards property, liberty, life. Its reign is that 
of law. Its tribute is that of suifrage. Look at your statute of 
treason, your trial by challenged jury, your Habeas Corpus. Its 
principles are avouched and inviolable. It may not be consistently 
carried out. But it is in itself a wondrous thing. Every republic 
looks to it, even for its model. Our fathers devised it, upheld it, 
and shed their blood in its defence. But, we demand, knowing that 
in its spirit it is a trust had and held of the people, — when, in this 
great compact, again and again renewed, sometimes at the sword's 
point and the cannon's mouth, — in Council-chamber, in Aulic con- 
gress, inaugurated at Runnymede, and ralUed at Chalgrave, — by 
oath, by blood, — where does the people, in what clause, surrender to 
the State the responsibihty of their education, — and where, in what 
clause, does the State imdertake it ? Show us the statutes at large. 
Apply to them the constructive latitude of exposition. Let court- 
lawyers and constitutional lawyers be summoned to give judgment. 
We are appellants to them, and let them answer our appeal. What 
tribunal speaks ? What juris consults respond ? What grey-beard 


ancestry calls up the remembrance ? From what remote antiquity 
comes a voice ? Out of what depth of ages resounds the oracle ? 
We are constantly reminded of the wisdom, of the foresight, of the 
providence, of our fathers. They bear authoritative names. We 
venerate their urns. On which part is their prescription ? To 
whom do they give their sanction and bequeath their experience ? 
Education was a part of their religion. None honoured it more 
than they. " Ever witness for them" their schools and their col- 
leges ! How they spread the means of learning over our land ! Did 
they abandon the task to Government ? Did they crouch for extra- 
neous and public aid ? Their endowments, the broad stripes of their 
estates with which they cheerfully parted, their princely bequests, 
prove how olden a principle is Voluntary self "reliance. Descend to 
nearer times. Unwind the scrolls of your best patriots, senators, 
magistrates, true to prerogative, yet ever most on the side of the 
people. Listen to your Somerses, your Newcastles, your Chathams, 
your Burkes, your Camdens ! Talked they of the right or duty of 
the State to educate ? It coalesces with none of those high prin- 
ciples which gradually develop themselves in the constitutional 
history of our country, which season the very forms of our legisla- 
tive and juridicial institutions, which seem to thread themselves, like 
as the nerves which rise almost imperceptibly from the human 
brain, until they are foliated and knitted into the organs and instru- 
ments of the manly frame. 

Government Education is the crudest novelty. It was not 
attempted until 1833. It is not fifteen years old. Is it so proved, 
so clear, so efficacious, that it must disturb and subvert all that cen- 
turies have confirmed and achieved ? Is the upstart to scatter all 
that is rooted and well tried ? Is the Grecian monster-toy to be 
trusted rather than our anciently enshrined Palladium ? 

Bixt whether it rank among modern platitudes or not, let us 
examine its pretensions, — let us canvass its merits : is it right or is 
it wrong ? Is it strong in truth, and benevolence, and policy ; or is 
it unhealthy and untenable ? 

Putting from us all the mystery of things, — acquainted with 
nothing, however high and holy, into which we may not inquire, — 
we address ourselves to the simple question, What is Government, 
as it obtains among a free people ? We know nothing of its arcana, 
— we will hear nothing of its State-craft, — we do no worship to 
heaven-born Ministers, though we have often prayed that they had 


been heaven-retained, and had never qnitted their birth-place. 
Government is — we employ the terra with no sneer— the creature 
of the nation. It is a trust. It can possess no legal competence to 
do otherwise than the nation's will. If it assume an independence 
of that vrill in some great peril,— amidst some gross popular delu- 
sion,— still at its own hazard, still awaiting its own account, — we 
might even see a heroic virtue in the act. Our idea of the most 
liberal Government is far higher than delegateship. It may be 
obliged to resist momentary outcry. But we deny that it can intro- 
duce a new principle into the code, much less into the constitution, 
without an appeal to the nation. It must be put to issue. When 
has such a convention been held ? When have popular meetings, 
and municipalities, and petitions, declared for the principle ? Some 
have approved aid, some have sought it, — none have been bold 
enough to avow the principle. Nay, they have charged us with 
morbid sensitiveness and cruel wrong in suspecting that such a 
slavish principle could anywhere, or by any one, be possibly 

Before the State can fairly take upon itself the work of public 
instruction, it should establish its peculiar capacity for it. We sav 
no more concerning the distance at which hitherto it has stood, and 
the delicacy with which it has hitherto refrained, from this work. 
It has all to begin. It finds no machinery to assist its operation. It 
looks around in vain for a minister of education. It can go to no 
board, nor bureau, nor portfeuille. The wisdom of our ancestors has 
left no such appendage to a Cabinet. All is to be created. The 
ministry sets about it. There is a chief, — he is a Cabinet minister, 
— and then an array of clerks and inspectors, who certainly are not 
of the Cabinet. The whole is irresponsible. But the justifying 
allegation is, that a Government, from its high position of intellectual 
superiority, should guide the mind of the people. In what does 
this superiority consist ? Scarcely in literature. Its speeches and 
its manifestoes lead to a rather painful distrust of its peculiar aptness 
to teach the art of eloquence and the syntax of composition. Scarcely 
in politics. It invariably lags behind the questions of the day, 
always carried from without ere they receive its support and stamp. 
Scarcely in religion. Perfect respect sometimes fails to follow its 
expositions of doctrine ; nor can a true holiness invariably warrant 
even certain points of practice. Heaven does not uniformly hear 
our prayer to " give unto the Lords of the Council grace, wisdom, and 



understandiug," nor to " teach our senators wisdom." We are 
compelled to conclude, that the people are generally in advance 
of those who govern them, in all the higher elements of a true 

It may be objected, that this is an inversion of things ; that a 
paternal idea is involved in the State. That this is sometimes 
averred, we know, — and we know, that the supposed duty of teaching 
the people is suspended upon it. But all the parental duties are 
then implied ; and we must not stop at one. Well ! can the State 
carry out all ? It is thus that figures are abused. " These sheep," 
said David, " what have they done ? " The metaphors of the family 
and the flock are beautiful — but only beautiful — metaphors. No 
argument can be raised upon them. They are not literal truths. 
Children owe their existence to parents. But the people exist 
independently of the State. If it be said, that only political existence 
is intended, — be it so. We are helped. The people is here the 
parent ; it is the author of political existence ; it is before all other 
things ; it is the source of all relations, and the origin of all institu- 
tions : it begets the State, it feeds the State, it clothes the State, it 
revises the State, it checks the State, it chastises the State, it may 
outlaw the State ! It finds, no doubt, a froward child and a forgetful 
pupil. But it has the means of discipline. It has the key of the 
wardrobe of velvet and ermine. It has the charge of the refectory of 
tribute and revenue. It has not, however concealed, quitted its 
hold of the rod. In extremity, it may turn the prodigal out of 
doors. If the question be stirred, who shall educate ? — who is the 
better qualified ? — at least the respective postulants must submit to 
a previous examination ! 

Rights and duties, it is allowed, are not always -correlative. I 
may have a right, and yet it may not be my duty to press it. 
Things lawful may not be expedient. Still is it scarcely conceivable 
that the rights of a Government should lie in abeyance. Such 
rights, if genuine, if beneficial, if unselfish, are for use. How can 
it be a right to educate, and not a duty ? Be it remembered, that 
this is not a business of personal rights, inherent and connate in the 
individual, — but public, the trusts of public investiture, the pledges 
of public benefit, — not like those which are private, under the con- 
trol of a circumstantial prudence. We, then, infer that, if it be the 
right, it must be the duty, of a Government to teach. Two conse- 
quences will be granted. First, that it ought to enforce obedience. 


Law ueeds an executory principle. Be the penalty some disqualifi- 
cation, some deprivation, it is force as much as mulct and imprison- 
ment. No matter what, — sanction is required, and it is the duty of 
the Government to see that its behest is obeyed. But, secondly, if 
the obligation be in Government to teach, the obligation must be on 
subjects to learn. If such were a theocracy, God would have made 
these duties parallel. If a nation has formed its Government with 
this provision, that nation is bound to take the attitude of the scholar 
towards its own anointed instructor. Let us see where we now are. 
Let us weigh the corollaries. These parties cannot lawfully think in 
different ways. Teacher and learner must act in common. All, in 
the condition of subjects, cannot but yield. This is the foot of in- 
tellectual tyranny ; but we have bowed our necks to the sole of that 
foot. Nor is this all. There are other and more serious conse- 
quences. Education must be religious. Numberless awakenings rise in 
the course of it, which can only be religiously answered. If Govern- 
ment has found out the true religion, and can insist upon infusing 
into education some parts of it, why may it not insist upon its whole ? 
Indeed, it has always seemed to me, that if Government is seised 
of the right, and laid under the duty, of establishing a religion, all 
toleration is inconsistency. From such right and such duty perse- 
cution becomes the clearest of all rights and duties. Doubtless, we 
may rejoice in every degree of religious sufferance or liberty, — but it 
is only a relief, a mitigation, under a state of things which never 
should have been. 

A true moral philosophy, blending with a hardy logic, deals with 
certain questions, not only on their own principles, but by pushing 
them to their necessary difficulties and natural results. 

The pecuniary assistance of the State — the lowest, though per- 
haps not the least, exercise of this supposed right and duty — must 
have its conditions. It cannot be flung idly away : it must be 
accounted for. Now, if this boon cannot be equally divided, or if it 
must be accompanied with invidious distinctions, then is there par- 
tiality. And let us never forget, that all this money is the people's 
money, and that they all have an equal right to it. Why should it 
most la\'ishly be bestowed upon the rich ? "Why should a religious 
section be preferred ? Why should it be turned into a bounty upon 
particular opinion ? Why should some parties be altogether denied 
their pittance of a share ? We complain not of these consequences, 
we tax them not with injustice, — they are inevitable — they belong 



to the responsibility of managing a public expenditure ; but we do 
thus convict such measures of injustice when they, of their own 
nature, debar and force back impartiality. 

That statement is good for nothing which proves too much. The 
statement that Government ought to educate a people, is general. 
Does the whole educational system of the country properly attach 
to it ? Is the entire nation comprehended ? Some will qualify it, 
and say that they only intend the poor. Then there is one law for 
the poor and another for the affluent. Then, too, poverty and 
affluence — mere accidents — are rendered the types of ignorance and 
wisdom, which are mental states. But it is not impossible that 
some shall contend to include the wealthier classes. I am free to 
declare that this is my opinion, the case being allowed. If Govern- 
ment be authorised to teach any, let it teach all. Let it study hard, 
and begin with itself, for self-cultivation often bears a full ripe fruit. 
A Normal-school for courtiers would be worth a visit of inspection. 
An Infant-school for those of noble blood might elicit that sweetness 
of common nature which fictitious manners so soon disguise. A 
Finishing-school for placemen and pensioners, would aiford a rich 
exhibition of supple joint and sinew. A very gymnasium might 
open its gates, teaching by its poles how to climb, and by its hoops 
how to bend, until curved backs and itching palms should fill the 
scene. Here, too, might be taught the manly sports of shooting 
pheasants in battu, or of evicting tenants by almost as summary a 
process, without which how could proprietors live on their estates 
or endure their homes ? Oh, let it go round ! Let the State do 
its duty by all alike. Teach the poor for what they were born. 
Teach the rich their proper destiny. Discern between the delf and 
the porcelain. There must be no exception. None must play 
truant. The nation's forms are set! The nation's tasks are 
appointed! All in ! all in ! (as some of us urchins used to say at 
school.) Seems this absurd ? It is but a legitimate dilemma. 

An equal support of all religions is the virtual proclamation that 
all are equally true. But as this is impossible, the real construction 
is, that all are equally false. Either the one or the other is a most 
evil and noxious implication. A practical mischief ensues, not 
incidentally, but necessarily ; for if the danger be escaped of con- 
sidering them alike and tantamoimt, then has every man to assist 
that which he rejects, and still may not find his equivalent (which 
conscience cannot allow it to be) in the maintenance of his own. He 


who coDsents to such an arrangement takes an ignohle bribe. To 
advance himself, he submits to the encouragement and premium of 
those forms of error which he most abhors. It is a poor boast for 
the Protestant, that what he receives for his cause he must give 
back in aid of Romanism, — a wretched truce, that as Trinitarian 
Christianity is helped, so is Unitarian aggression upon it promoted 
Ukewise. If this be to build, it is only to pull down what we build, 
and to make over to others the materials. They mock us in every 
rival structure. 

Nor let us suppose that the worst evil is involved in this loose 
and indiscriminate support of all the Christian professions. The 
principle is carried farther. Look at the vast colonial empire of this 
country. Continents as well as islands, mainlands as well as coasts, 
fill its map. In the Indian Prefecture, schools are maintained where 
idols are set up for the reverence of the children. Amidst the 
Australian territories, new people are tampered with by all that is 
slavish in underling policy and corrupt in pseudo-catholicism. 
These latter specially threaten our country. They are the wider 
circumvallations of a siege which, if not arrested, would constantly 
close upon the innermost citadel. They are the convolutions of the 
serpent, which, if not destroyed, will press out the life of our civil 
and religious strength. 

If it can be shown that the aid of Government leads to the dis- 
couragement and extinction of the Voluntary support of education, — 
its only imagined or argued support until a few most recent years, — 
many would esteem it, so far, an evil. It must ever be a generous 
and elate emotion which springs from independence. It is something 
to bear a weight alone. We summon all our strength for it. Let 
us be helped, and the strenuous effort is relaxed. Its glory is 
snatched from it. Atlas would drop his load of earth, and sink 
under his burden of heaven, were a brother Titan to interpose. 
Now, when the Exchequer opens for us, the consciousness of pres- 
sure upon us ceases. It may be said this is but to incite us. It is 
not according to the laws of human motive that it should. For a 
time we may maintain it, because the aid is measured out in strict 
proportion to it. But we are tempted to withdraw, not believing the 
threat that Government will withdraw. The school is built, — the 
master is appointed, — the pupils are gathered. Shall that school be 
left to decay, — that master to starve, — those pupils to become out- 
casts? Government has expounded its resi>onsibility to us; and we 


have reliance, though we decline, that it will remain true to it. If 
it be its duty, it is a pitiful mode of performing it. To require a 
bribe before it will act at all, would seem to show little heart for 
it. It would seem, upon a triple calculation, that it has reached 
the conviction that its duty in this affair is as one to three, and that 
of the people is as two to one ! 

I have no wish to impute any sinister design ; but many men 
about Government avow the policy of getting the mind of the nation 
under an unitive system of education. They would cast all its ideas. 
Can we think these men the enthusiasts of knowledge and freedom ? 
They would bid for all influence, — the Pulpit and the Press; they 
would buy up all priesthoods and fellowships. They would torture 
all into shape, and fix that shape for ever. It is against such a 
Machiavelian, Austrian, Chinese archetype that we contend ! 

A concession is sought to be wrung from us, in respect to certain 
departments and classes, among which it is affirmed that the State 
only can be the educator. We are pointed to our prisons, to our 
troops. Government, in these cases, is said to stand in loco jmrentis. 
Little welcome may be given to Voluntary instruction in such 
instances. Still has it found its way. Where gyved hardihood and 
profligacy yelled with bestial strength and gnashed with bestial 
fury, — where sympathy was derided and kindness spurned, — was 
found a better teacher than the State ! The State was the keeper 
before the door, and kept the prison ; but an angel of the Lord 
came upon those wretched and branded inmates, " and a light 
shined in the prison." Elizabeth Fry sat, prayed, persuaded, wept, 
there, in loco matris. She was to them more than a parent ; and, 
as they listened and as they gazed, they were as those whom their 
" mother comforteth." Where is the gaol, to which we might have 
access, that should want a Voluntary education? Our distant 
soldiers and sailors find evangelists, teachers, pastors, in those 
noblest of Voluntaries, our Missionaries. 

The argument for the jurisdiction of the State in popular educa- 
tion often halts, but still more frequently betrays and neutralizes 
itself. Its advocates wll rarely assert that it ought to ply its 
jurisdiction, the people being already educated. But this proves 
that its interference might not be necessary, that the object might 
be otherwise attained. If it ought not to interfere, its task being 
accomplished by others, then it may either depute its duty or 
suspend it. The common plea is, that it ought to educate the poor. 


because the parents of the poor cannot, or v?ill not. This is to 
make it but a succedaneum. It reserves to itself an ad interim 
power. Its present right or duty grows out of the neglect of the 
rights or duties of others. Then it has not the primary, the 
inherent, vocation. When parents shall attend to these rights, or 
duties, the Government is superseded, and reverts to its natural 
irresponsibility. The argument is complete. We, at the same time, 
deny the assumption on which it proceeds, — that these parents 
generally are chargeable with such inability or negligence. 

Then, who are to do it ? Do what ? We believe that a very 
large bulk of the people are now under instruction. But there is 
defect. We feel that there is much to overtake. The sentimental, 
or the partizan, cry of them who never expressed a care, or took 
a part, for education until now, shall not turn us to indifference. 
I do not think any can be over-educated. I wish every man uuder- 
stood geometry as well as Barrow, and the stars as Newton. But, 
first of all, let the people trust to themselves. Let them seek all 
that is withheld from them, by the force of knowledge, and virtue, 
and religion. These are the only weapons with which they must 
contend, with which they can succeed, in the conquest of their 
immunities. Much of education is in their power. The thirst, the 
effort, the resolve, for it cannot be in vain. Mind enlarges with 
these dispositions. ITiousands of ways are open, thousands of 
means are at command. They never want help who will help them- 
selves. Let the vicious vulgar, — let the low dissipation, — let the 
contented ignorance, — let the hopeless apathy, — be eschewed. Let 
the people, the mighty folk of labour and industry, lift themselves 
up. The ocean-coasts more generally sink than rise ; but some 
have been known, without convulsion, to rise, — nobler headlands 
than before, while the billows recede and sink. So shall the true 
elevation of the people be hailed by all the good! Its swelling 
rampart shall not appal, but only more firmly beat off the waves 
And now, let all true-hearted and Christian philanthropists show 
themselves ready to this good work, zealous of these good works. 
They have every augury in the state of the public mind. They, on 
every hand, may read note and presage of onward movement, I do 
not say that Christian ministers, as ministers. Churches as Churches, 
are peculiarly obliged to lend an impetus to it. But all that is 
benevolent in them, all that breathes warmly for our humanity, all 
that is refinedly and expansively Christian, assuredly does. It is 


no superfluous, no gratuitous, duty, to desire and pursue the weal of 
our race. "We must love our nation. We must honour all men. 
We must condescend to the man of low estate, the brother of low 
degree. We must not despise one of these little ones. Let us act, 
with others, if it might be a national league. Let us act, but only 
when repulsed, alone. Let us keep the cause before the world. 

It is wrongly objected, that we withstand others in doing the work 
which we will not do ourselves. We only withstand a noxious 
principle, which we beUeve to be destructive of the work. We do 
not boast, but of that work we hope that we emulate our share. 
Yet we are likened to the dog in the manger. We never were in 
the manger. We keep watch at the stable-door. We guard the 
entrance against the intruding steeds which would eat our master's 
hay and com, and the pilfering varlet grooms who would abstract it. 
We raise the alarm by our deep baying. We should be caressed if 
we took the bait thrown out to us, — were we dumb dogs that would 
not bark, lying down and loving to slumber. 

Do not suffer yourselves to be hurried into extreme conclusions. 
Let not the taunts which meet you irritate, and thus blind, your 
judgments. Your business is with your Government, and your 
people. If there be an argument which could vary the question as 
to others, this does not bind yourselves. If there be aught to 
favour such a treatment of serfs and slaves, repel it when it 
approaches freemen. Nor does consistency pledge your objection to 
every act of the State in extending science and art. Let it equip 
the voyage of discovery. The national navigation may be its lowest 
excuse. Let it purchase statues and pictures. The national refine- 
ment may not exhaust its reasons. We have contended against 
Governmental Education. By this we have understood, the whole 
civil and moral training of our nation. We would not that its mind 
be cast into a mould. We would not that its ideas should be nor- 
mally prescribed. But what have expeditions to burst the polar ice, 
— what have galleries stored with treasures snatched from Ilyssus 
and Xanthus, — to do with our constitutional jealousies and whole- 
some fears ? To encourage and cheer the State to these enterprises 
is one thing ; but it is a very different thing to entrust it with the 
key of knowledge, and to acknowledge its right of custody over 
that key ! 

That which we had best attempt, considering our means, is not 
the building, furnishing, and peopling, of schools, but the training 


of teachers. Our Churches are rich m suitable candidates. Our 
principles are most adapted to form right views and habits of 
instruction. We shall thus concentrate our influence. We shall 
direct the moving power. We shall stand at the springing of the 
waters. Let nothing divert us from it. Let us r\m to and fro, that 
knowledge may be increased. Our prosperity and greatness can 
rest on no comparable foundation. It will be the stability of our 
times. It will give each his place, and all their intercommunity. 
And when shall come the consummation, theirs shall be the praise, 
theirs the triumph, who went straightforward with steady principle 
to achieve it, — never seeking it by crooked policy — never helping 
it by beggarly elements, — satisfied to be esteemed lukewarm, unre- 
pining when accused of disaffection and hostility, — never turning 
aside to sophism or to lure, determined on conquest, but as deter- 
muied that the conquest shall be worthy of the cause ! 

Constituting a religious community, the system of Sabbath-school 
instruction particularly appeals to us. Be sure here is a mighty 
power. We see it now in a very elementary and inchoate condition. 
It has hitherto been a struggle with the crudest prejudice and igno- 
rance. Its labour has been that of the pioneer. A nobler work is 
before it. It is the sower going forth to sow. Here is the fulcrum 
of that lever which shall raise society from its most degraded 
depths ; and here, too, is the holy signet which shall stamp upon it 
an exalted sanctity. 

We do not conceal from ourselves our disadvantages. We cannot 
soon forget our proud sacrifices. We love education, but there are 
things which we love better. For them we have suffered loss and 
rupture of the oldest and the dearest ties. It was, indeed, a taunt 
which we had not* deserved, when Education was inscribed on the 
standard of our foes ! 

We see arrayed against us that love of money which makes stoop- 
ing sycophants and crawling mercenaries, called into action by bribe 
and bounty. The teacher and the child are to be bought. It is 
a small beginning : the wedge has one side thin. Commonly, to 
give it power, you must strike hard if you would drive it to its head ; 
but this works its own way, for it is a wedge of gold. " Virtue poet 

We see in all such measures a tendency to pauperize education. 
It is already made too eleemosynary. Where it is paid for, it is 
always more thankfully estimated. Any aid which is now proposed, 


SO vain is the scheme, will not originate a school, nor cheapen one ; 
but then it is known that the Government has power over it, yields 
support to it, and each child will be thought its foundling. 

We see in these tamperings with a higher independence more 
than a tendency to destroy the self-reliance of a people. It is but 
an experiment and reconnoissance. It is a precursor. A system is 
avowed, of which this is little more than a symptom. It is publicly 
recommended to take all general interests into the State, and to 
stipendize all who superintend them. 

We see strengthened, by these means, that ghostly power which 
seemed well-nigh laid, — once more ruling by superstitious fears, 
now beguiling maiden simplicity and sensibility, — then extorting the 
miser's hoard. The cowl and the crucifix insinuate themselves. 
The infant mind is brought under the control of those unscrupulous 
agents, who are the hirelings of one Church, but the familiars of 

We see an insatiable rapacity which millions of sterling cannot 
appease, grasping at more. It knows not Balaam's check, though 
its house is full of silver and gold. Not the little addition makes it 
happy, but the prospect which that addition opens ! It sees it with 
a gloating eye ! Its joy for it is almost riotously elate ! It " grins 
horribly a ghastly smile, to hear its famine shall be filled, blessing 
its maw, destined to that good hour." 

We see a centralization which is always to be deprecated, — not as 
accidentally, but necessarily, tending to abuse, — an over- riding of 
the country by inquisitors, a multiplication of officials, — new sources 
of a corrupting influence in seduction and in intimidation. It is an 
insidious attempt upon the independence of the electoral consti- 
tuencies. It is to be a quietus to the rising claims of the poor. 

We see in it a futurity of evil. The nation will blindly lend itself 
to an accrescent power. We shall have a new pension list, a new 
national debt. Claims thicken and seize on a perpetuity. It is 
" little," it is " small." But, — for it is not the pecuniary cost about 
which we comparatively care and fret, — so is the alligator's egg, and 
the lion's cub. "It is but a scratch ; marry, 'tis enough. No ; 'tis 
not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door." The well of 
truth they would not sink, and the church-door is wide enough for 
all our renegades. 

We see a fetter forged for the restriction of educational freedom 
and competition. Left to its native strength, committed to its true 


independence, mind will grow up under it variegated and prolific. 
When the culture is cramped, there will be a dwarfish and barren 
growth. There will be an organization of ideas. A very concrete 
of dead intelligence only will be left. Nothing will be created to 
inform the life within, or to enrich the world beyond. That which 
should liberate will rivet; that which should develop will straiten. 
There will be no laying open of the soul of man. In a modem 
instance of statesmanship nothing very great is contemplated — 
though visions are made to play before us of a more artistic laundry 
and a more mathematical excise ! 

But I do not despond, much less despair ! It will be hard to 
bow the mind of England ! There are too many historical glories, 
too many constitutional safeguards, too many free institutions, too 
many popular habits, to justify a drooping thought. It is a pending 
crisis ; but crises are the birth- throes of all great issues. It is a 
serious struggle ; but struggle is the price of all momentous victo- 
ries. At present the few must stand against the many ; but " the 
fewer men, the greater share of honour !" I pity the schoolmaster 
who is set over boys to teach them servility and slavery. There is, 
ground and kneaded into our native temperament, that enthusiasm 
for freedom and erectness, that this may be a hapless fate. One of 
this order, among the ancient Falisci, brought his pupils with him 
to betray them to the Roman general, Camillus, who was then 
besieging that people. Revolting at such treachery, though in his 
own favour, the generous conqueror spurned him ; and, arming the 
boys each with a rod, sent back the traitor, with a strict command 
to them to flog him all the way. I trust they stoutly obeyed. I 
hope they settled all arrears. "What would I have given to have 
claimed the opportunity of reprisals upon some who reared my 
tender thought with little commiseration of my tender skin ! So 
may every school, turned into a house of bondage, be in an uproar, 
— and such taskmasters learn, from a well-swinged experience, the 
peril of insulting their country's mind and independence ! 

The retrogressions of social and religious truth are illusory, and 
not real. No step is lost. All — though it seems to waver, or even 
to recede — truly advances. It must make way. Whatever surrounds 
it, must make way for it. We might have thought that this battle 
had been decisively fought. We were prepared to claim the field. 
We had well-nigh shouted the victory. But it is happy that the 
strife has been rejoined. We may rejoice that it is once again put 


to the issue ! The whole of the question was never before placed in 
sight. The entire gage is only now thrown down. And though we 
may deem the repetitions of error and sophistry tiresome, — though 
we might have hoped that the common places of vulgar ignorance 
and obtuseness were worn out, — yet this has always been the trial 
of those who would forward the race, and amend the world. It is to 
be done, and to be done again. But thus only can that which is 
achieved be consolidated. There is no giving way — no yielding. 
The giant plants his foot a little farther back to take a more mighty 
spring, and to deal a more conquering blow. There is no mere 
turning round — no circle. Like the seven ledges of Dante's Moun- 
tain-cone, we travel no ground again : each curve is a spiral ascent, 
and each winding lessens as we rise ! 

At least we have one ''Patriot" with us. That is a patriotic 
host. It has stood firm with us amidst frown and menace. Its 
high and eloquent intelligence has been of the greatest stead and 
service. Its " leaders" might be manuductions to the age. Now 
up with the " Banner / " I am not content with a flag- staff, with 
its drapery reefed and furled ! Where is the meteor streaming forth 
of its folds ? Where the breadth of the shadows it might fling ? 
Where the thunder of the flappings it might resound ? Where is 
the battlemented height on which it should be planted, — a signal 
known afar ? It wants but one device to its emblazonments, but one 
motto to its legends, — Free, self-sustained, self-advancing. Educa- 
tion. Then, what will be its gorgeous field ? Then, what will be 
its triumphant flight ? When will the meridian hour strike ? * 

Our ranks may even thin. Truth may fall in the street. Men 
may ride over our heads. Our natural allies may turn to be our 
bitter foes. Whig, Reformer, Free-trader, whom we never forsook 
in their evil hour, may desert us. Where we cannot find consistency, 
we can ill hope gratitude. We grudge the delay for our generation. 
For ourselves, we can bide the time. We do not seek, with Malcolm, 
" some desolate shade, and there weep our sad bosoms empty ;" 
but rather say, with Macduff, " Let us hold fast the mortal sword ; 
and, like good men, bestride our downfallen birthdom." Galileo 
was not more convinced of his principle than we. Somewhat like 
his is our persecution. Others would bring the sun of knowledge 

* The allusion is to two well-known newspapers of the Nonconformists. 
The latter had said that it was only an early hour as to its convictions : if it 
•were true at seven, it must strike at twelve. 


to wait upon them. We would bring them to wait upon the sun of 
knowledge. If the earth will catch its light and warmth, the earth 
must move, and move round it. The mechanics of the universe 
were always right. The laws of mind have been disturbed. But 
they once were duly obeyed, and shall be obeyed again ! Look forth 
upon the spiritual, moral, universe ! The sun is high ; and if it 
moves, it moves not to us, though it may draw us with it into some 
more glorious depth of splendour, into some mightier firmament of 
power. The earth circles it, in tribute and for regeneration. Let 
the people, like the planet, know their duty. As she relumes her- 
self at the great urn of solar fire, let them seek their true enlighten- 
ment. It will not revolve for them : let them secure for themselves 
this only peaceful and holy revolution. Still, with Galileo, — not in 
suppressed mutter, but with outcry from the housetop, — we proclaim. 
The Earth must move ! does move ! 





I, Importance of the subject — Normal schools the garrisons of education— 2. That party must 
succeed which trains the best teachers — 3. (a) Description of a Normal school — 4. Effects 
— collects into a focus the experience of teachers — 5. Gives rise to Model schools — 
6. Prevents teachers from hastily quitting their work — 7. Longer time needed at the 
Normal school — 8. (b) Principle at the basis of the Normal school — that many persons 
hhve a natural passion for teaching the young — other educational impulses — love of 
parents — curiosity of children — benevolence of the public — 9. The love of teaching — the 
born teacher no hireling— 10. Teachers too incompetent — underrated — American specimen 
— 11. Humiliating treatment of teachers — 12. Government reports of English teachers 
to be suspected — 13. Self-supporting schools to be preferred to a charity education — Free 
Normal schools tend to create the former — 14. (c) History of educational efforts — 15. Pesta- 
lozzi — 16. Count Fellenberg — 17. Lancaster — interview with George III. — 18. Wilder- 
spin, &c., all volunteer teachers— 19. (A)MeaTis of elevating the class of teachers as awhole 
— no outward means alone raise personal character — 20. Train only religious teachers — 
opinions of Central Society— Prussia — Arnold — Derby resolution — 21. Elevating influence 
— make education a Christian mission to the young— 22. (e) History of Normal schools 
— Prussia — Holland — France — Saxony — 23. Effects on Germany — Stow's opinion — Horace 
Mann — Carlyle — Howitt— Krummacher — 24. Effects in France— despotic power — 25. 
America — few Normal schools — no Model schools — 26. American teachers deficient — 
instances — 27. General effects of American education — 28. British Normal schools — 
began as early as abroad — 29. British and Foreign School Society Normal schools — con- 
nexion with Government — indefinite religious basis — 30. National School Society Normal 
schools — general character — 31. Home and Colonial Infant Normal school— 32. Battersea 
Training school — 33. Irish Normal schools — 34. Scotch Normal schools — Glasgow — 35. 
Congregational Normal schools — 36. Government effort to ally with itself all British 
Normal schools — dangerous effect of such an union — 37. (f) Principles for the future 
conduct of Free Normal schools — 38. United or Denominational action— 39. Spirit of 
Directors — 40. Economy in building — 41. Use existing schools as model schools — 42. Not 
over-cheapen the training — 43. An Infant Normal school required at once— 44. Improve- 
ment of Sunday schools — 45. Character of Director, Matron, &c. — 46 . Care in selecting 
pupils — 47. Summary of argument — 48. Concluding address to Congregational Dissenters 
— 49. Address to teachers. 

A PATRIOT of olden times, full of noble confidence, is said to 
have thus addressed the rulers of the day : " You shall make 
the laws — let me make the ballads for the people." In a simi- 
larly profound consciousness of the importance of my subject for 



this evening, I feel disposed to say to my colleagues and the 
public, "You shall teach the children — let me but train the teach- 
ers" The more important the subject, the more sensible of a 
want of experience and capacity to treat it as it deserves must the 
lecturer acknowledge himself. I come forward by request. I 
cannot be charged with presumption. But apologies are vain. 
The effort must be made, and there is at least a powerful stimulus 
to brace up the utmost energies in order to illustrate a subject which 
appears to me second to none of this series in practical moment. 

1 . 1 must confess my surprise, that, in recent discussions on educa- 
tion, this subject has found so little illustration, that the public are 
but slightly acquainted with the purport of this branch of education, 
and by no means alive to its high claims on their attention and 
support. Those persons who are most conversant with modern 
education on a large scale know, that the real secret of power lies 
in training the teachers. I wonder at tbe anxiety of our Govern- 
ment to burden itself with the charge of local schools, while it can 
quietly secure the entire control of the Normal schools. The State 
may make the most liberal offers of grants without inspection, of aid 
without control, and may safely surrender the choice of the teachers 
to the local subscribers, and rarely trouble itself to look after the 
schools, provided it has under its plastic influence the model schools 
on which all the general schools are formed, and the Normal 
seminaries whence the teachers are sent forth, imbued with such 
bias as the State Commissioners may please, and through life held 
to the central school, whence future help and promotion may be 
expected. Were I asked an opinion as to the ultimate probability 
of success on the part of the great educational rivals in England at 
present, those who accept State grants, and those who refuse them, 
I should unhesitatingly say, — the party which secures the training of 
the teachers, which ultimately succeeds in sustaining the best and 
most numerous Normal seminaries. I would say to educational 
societies, let the schools for children take care of themselves, but 
busy yourselves to train teachers. Beat all competitors here, and 
you are safe. Spare no effort to supply the best teachers in the 
greatest number, and it matters not what appliances are brought to 
bear on schools, — what petty bribes or promising inducements ; it 
will then be evident that to you belongs the palm of increasing both 
the number and the efficiency of the schools ; you will obtain the 
confidence of Committees, the gratitude of teachers, and the meed 


of public distinction. Normal schools are the garrisons of education. 
Whoever possesses the garrisons commands the open country around 
them. While others are mainly striding to allure children to their 
schools, and lavishing funds on fresh and sightly buildings, be it 
your wisdom to expend the chief effort on first-rate Normal schools, 
and you will have your reward. 

2. There can be no doubt that we, the Congregationalists, are fully 
committed to an honourable contest to preserve liberty of education 
for this country. We have passed the Rubicon ; there is no retreat ; 
for, like Hannibal, we have burnt the ships. We are pledged, in 
the face of every opposition, to maintain, so long as we are able, a 
system of rehgious education independent of State aid. We firmly 
believe, that eventually we shall succeed. Government education 
will not be popular. Secular education cannot be effective. Sooner 
or later, our principles will triumph. But the struggle may be long 
and arduous, and it is of the utmost consequence to us to avail 
ourselves of every modem improvement which may economise our 
resources and give us an advantage. But have not our rivals the 
start of us ? Are not all the Normal schools in their hands already ? 
Can they not work this principle better than we can ? There is 
much cause of alarm in these queries, but as yet there are only few 
Normal schools in this country, and those by no means so efficient 
as they might be. We are therefore at less disadvantage in starting 
than might have been expected. These institutions may be worked 
with far more economy, and with even greater effect, than has been 
usual. Let us strain every nerve to have the best British Normal 

3. (a) But I am in danger of beginning to build without lay- 
ing a foundation. Not a few persons may require a definition and 
brief history of Normal schools before they are prepared to consider 
their value, and duly to estimate their importance. The word 
normal is derived from normxi, a rule or standard. It is conven- 
tionally used for a seminary in which teachers are trained, because 
there, in effect, the standard of education is formed for a particular 
system or country. A Normal school, therefore, means an institu- 
tion where persons desiring to qualify as school-teachers receive 
instruction for as long a period as they can afford, under an able 
conductor, assisted by lecturers on various branches of education, 
who superintend their training in the science of teaching and the 
improvement of their own minds ; besides which, there should be, 

H 2 


in union with the establishment, schools of a superior order for 
children, (therefore called model-schools,) in which the pupil-teachers 
may have frequent opportunity of practising the art of instruction 
in the classes under the eye, and corrective suggestions of an 
intelligent and kind master. Such is the outline idea of a Normal 
school. The idea of such schools probably originated out of the use 
of monitors. When a larger number of children was placed under 
one master, by employing some of the older ones to teach classes of 
the younger, a great advance was made in extending the means of 
popular education. These monitors the master, of course, found it 
necessary to drill with special pains, that they might be qualified to 
teach. The training of monitors became of prior consequence, even 
to teaching children. Some of these monitors remained a consider- 
able time in the schools, and ultimately went forth as teachers. 
Here is, then, the germ of a Normal school for training teachers, 
and the next step of the generalization is perfectly easy and natural, 
from the training given by a master to his monitors, to the collecting 
of a number of pupil-teachers, or candidates for the position of 
teachers, under one roof, to be trained under a superior master, and 
in connexion with a model-school. 

4. Some of the objects contemplated mioravm^Xhe^t pcedagogical 
schools may be here noticed. It soon became a general maxim, 
that " like master, like school ;" or, as it has been quaintly expressed, 
" The master is the mirror at which the children dress themselves." 
The improvement of masters was soon, therefore, felt to be a primary 
concern, and the real secret of all educational success. Committees, 
before engaging a master, felt the insecurity of trusting to a passing 
examination of his knowledge, or to vague testimonials of ability, 
often the most hollow and deceptive. A man may converse well 
and be well informed, and yet have no ability to teach children. 
Teaching is partly a gift ; but the art may be acquired, and is always 
susceptible of much improvement. A good teacher, untrained in 
the various methods which genius has discovered and experience 
confirmed, must spend the first years of his labour in a series of 
experiments on the first principles of tuition, at the expense of his 
pupils ; and almost as soon as he becomes familiar with his 
vocation, he may be removed, and all his hard-earned experience 
dies with him. A Normal school collects the scattered experience 
of past educators into a focus, and communicates its concentrated 
impulse to succeeding generations ; so that by a year's instruction 


at such a seminary, a teacher is spared much trouble and disappoint- 
ment in the outset, commences with far better principles than he 
could have struck out for himself, and has, through his whole course, 
a valuable centre of information, whither returning at intervals, he 
may learn the improvements of others, and to which he may com- 
municate any fresh plans which matured reflection has suggested to 
himself. As might be expected, it is found that nothing tends so 
rapidly to advance tuition in a district, as the foundation of such an 
institution. I shall presently trace its origin and history ; but it 
has now been tried in Germany, England, Holland, France, 
Switzerland, and partially in America, with uniform success. "While 
in Austria, where teachers are still trained by mere attendance at a 
common primary school, without the advantage of a Normal school 
— the school system is comparatively stationary, and exhibits little 
progressive improvement. 

5. The model schools connected with Normal seminaries must 
usually be of a high character, and give an elevated tone to all other 
schools in their neighbourhood. Other schools branch off from 
these in diiferent directions, and an element of education is produced, 
which will always create its own demand — a large number of com- 
petent teachers sent forth with due qualifications every year. 

6. If it be objected, that teachers furnished with a superior 
education would be tempted to relinquish their calling for a more 
lucrative pursuit, it may suffice to reply, that each pupil-teacher 
usually pledges himself, on entrance, to give three or four years to 
school instruction after he leaves the Normal school, or to refund 
the value of the pecuniary assistance he has received there. If a 
person so trained has not sufficient love for teaching, or finds on trial 
that his tact is not in that direction, or that he prefers and can succeed 
better in some other walk of life, surely it can hardly be a source of 
regret that he should be enabled to better himself! The tendency 
-of these establishments is decidedly to elevate the rank and profits 
of the educator, and eventually to counteract the disposition to leave 
this class of occupation for others. 

7. The time spent at these schools varies considerably. It has 
gradually lengthened as these institutions have risen, and their 
worth has been felt. Stow states, that at first " a month was con- 
sidered a great sacrifice —many contented themselves with a fort- 
night, and some even with a week : by-and-by the students 
remained two mouths. We then refused to admit any for a less 


period than three months. Next, six months was fixed, and now 
a year is required."* 

The period has extended abroad to two and even three years, 
which last term will, I am persuaded, not be thought too much 
when education takes its proper rank among the useful professions. 
Every trade has its apprenticeship of five to seven years. The farmers 
have their agricultural college, or are with a practical farmer for 
several years to learn their business. Law, medicine, and the arts 
have their colleges, curriculum, and pass examinations for their 
pupils. The clerical office has its colleges and course of preparation. 
It is high time for the educator of the young to have similar 
advantages extended to him, quite as much from a sense of the 
importance of this profession to the public welfare, as from any idea 
of personal kindness to himself. Three years would be well spent 
in such preparation. The first year would be used in confirming 
the knowledge already possessed, and* in giving it depth, solidity, 
and extension. The second in studying the theory of education, and 
bringing the pupil up to an average standard of acquirement in each 
branch of knowledge. The third might be more particularly given 
to practising in the model-school, with the presiding teacher, which 
might occupy partial attention during the previous years also. On 
leaving, an examination should be held, and various certificates 
presented. The pupils would retain a connexion with their alma- 
mater during life, and hence would arise a kind of inspection of the 
Normal school over schools supplied by its teachers. Everything 
should be done to consolidate the establishment, that it might 
become worthy to be called, what it really is, the Educator's 

8. (b) Having thus described the Normal school, for the benefit of 
any who may be imperfectly acquainted with its meaning, I will now 
proceed to illustrate some principles which may more fully show the 
great importance of this modern improvement. It must not be 
forgotten that the chief hope of the general education of the people 
rests on that strong disposition to teach the young which is with 
many persons a ruling passion of the character. 

Those who despair of the education of children, save under the 
interposition of the Government, cannot have properly considered 
the constitution of society, and the strong and varied impulses com- 
municated by Divine Providence, in order to secure that most 
* Stow's Traiuing System, p., 104. 


important object. There is the instinctive and fond love of father 
and mother, who, in different ways, extend to their offspring a tender, 
self-denying care, which all the adverse influences of social selfish- 
ness cannot quench, and which needs only to be enlightened to prove 
effectual. There is the inherent curiosity of the child — his desire 
to learn — his docile pliability and quick observation and inquisitive- 
ness, which affords a ready avenue to the hearts of the young, if 
rightly used, and needs only to be properly directed in order 
marvellously to facilitate the work of education. There is the 
emotion of public benevolence, which comes in as an auxiliary where 
the former are dormant ; the strong desire which man feels, that 
his neighbours should share the privileges he enjoys— a feeling 
which Christianity arouses to the highest pitch — which has given 
birth to a great variety of charitable institutions — which has already 
effected much in aid of the education of the poor, and promises a 
daily advance. Now, the interference of the State, instead of 
fostering these native impulses, sets them aside, and becomes a poor 
substitute in their room. This is the strongest objection to such 
interposition. But there is yet another social guarantee for educa- 
tion, less regarded than the former, yet no less directly efficacious, 
and which, as it more especially lies at the basis of my topic, I shall 
notice at greater length. 

9. I refer to that love of teaching, that desire to communicate know- 
ledge, with which many minds in the community, in every nation 
and age, have been strongly imbued. Though parents may fail to 
train their children from ignorance or carelessness, and though the 
docility of children, together with the benevolent efforts of the 
public, were less operative in favour of popular instruction than 
they are, yet there may always be found a large number of persons 
in society providentially disposed to perform the teacher's office 
from a real love for its duties, with the additional and natural ex- 
pectation of some fair remuneration. To some, this service appears 
so destitute of all charm, and so servile a drudgery, that they wonder 
the richest rewards can tempt a competent person to undertake it. 
But they must not judge of others by themselves. There are those 
who feel a peculiar fondness for little children. Like an ear for 
music, or a taste for the arts, this disposition seems innate. To 
the female, it appears like a part of the essential distinction of her 
sex, though some are more fully under its influence than others. 


There are also those among men who vie with the softer sex in being 
enamoured with the engaging society and artless ways of children. 
Of their prattle they never weary. Their opening characters they 
love to trace. They delight to gratify the spell-bound listeners 
with the marvellous tale, the merry song, the amusing or harrowing 
narrative. They discern the importance of making their influence 
bear upon the formation of right conceptions and virtuous feelings. 
They feel amply rewarded in the unfeigned and transparent grati- 
tude of these affectionate young creatures. This disposition is 
happily combined with the natural impulse — the almost craving to 
communicate which the possession of knowledge usually inspires, 
and the yet more general desire of benevolent minds to benefit other 
minds as largely as their powers extend. Out of these mingled 
elements Nature's teacher is formed ; and such characters are more 
numerous in society than may be supposed. Such a man becomes 
an instructor spontaneously, whenever he falls into the society of 
children. He intuitively understands their sympathies, and has 
the happy art of becoming one with them. He possesses the true 
professional ardour. He is the born-teacher — the educator nactus 
non f actus. There is no earthly situation he more covets. Even 
without large emolument he would select the educator's sphere ; 
nay, at a sacrifice, he would aspire to the noble task of training the 
" young idea." He is no hireling, who drudges on at a labour he 
detests for the consideration which he covets. The means of living 
are necessary to him of course, and he gladly avails himself of them 
in this work ; but the work itself he loves, whether he gain or lose 
by it. As the faithful minister feels within himself the call to 
preach the gospel, irrespective of station or emolument, so the 
teacher is conscious of an inward call little less distinct and impera- 
tive. Very commonly, the ideas which lead men to both offices are 
the same; for the true teacher is not often a man without religion. 
Many such minds are moved by very decided spiritual influences. 
They behold the work in its full evangelic importance connected 
with the eternal issues — the native obstructions — the scriptural 
expedients which revelation discloses. These considerations main- 
tain their sleepless vigilance and prayerful anxiety under a sense of 
accountability to God, which arouses emotions unknown to the mere 
secular teacher. The teacher we describe is h pastor as well as a 
teacher, seeking, in the midst of his httle charge, by the lielp of 


God, that hereafter, as their spiritual father, through the Spirit, he 
may joyfully exclaim at the bar of God, " Here am I, and the 
children whom thou hast given me." 

Such a man will need little inspection or oversight. He may be 
trusted. To the best of his power he will do his duty, whether 
men witness or he is unobserved ; for he works to God rather than 
to man. He will be diligent in furnishing his own mind with all 
necessary acquirements, and will feel the importance of keeping up 
the interest of his pupils by continual freshness of information. No 
portion of their training will appear unimportant to him, for each 
has a reaction so powerful that all are necessary, in some sort, to his 
ultimate aim. 

10. But it will be said, such eminently-qualified teachers are very 
rare. The common complaint is, that masters are so very incom- 
jjetent, and that the office is so despised by society, that respectable 
persons hesitate to enter on it, and the remuneration is so exceedingly 
small, that no exterior attraction sets the situation in a better aspect. 
Here is a vicious circle, out of which many despair of finding an 
escape. It is to be feared such remarks are too true. The follow- 
ing racy American dialogue, from a Government Report, shows how 
much underrated are the services of a teacher : 

" A. calls on one of the trustees. 'Well, neighbour A.,' says the 
trustee, * we have hired a man to keep our school this winter.' 

* Oh ! how much do you give him a month ? ' * Twelve dollars.' 
(48*. — 30?. a- year.) 'You must be a bright one, to pay a man 
such high wages, these hard times, to keep our school. I've just 
hired a man to work for me this winter, at chopping, threshing, 
and drawing logs, and I give him only eight dollars a month, and 
he's a real smart fellow, too. He can thresh ten or twelve bushels 
of wheat in a day, and clean it up in the evening ; and he'll chop his 
four cords of wood day by day, and not wink at it ; and I think 
it is a pity if we can't employ a man to sit around the stove all day, 
and have thirty or forty to wait on him, as cheap as I can hire one 
to do the work I have for a man to do ; and I think it's a chance if 
he has much of a school.' 'I know,' says the trustee, 'it's too 
much ; but no one else came along, so we thought we had better 
hire him.' ^ DidnH you try to beat him down any ?^ *I should 
think we did, We worked him from noon till nine o'clock at night, 
and got him down four dollars. He asked sixteen dollars at first.' 

* You should have beat him down four dollars moife ; and that 


would be more than a teacher ought to have.' " — New York Report, 
1843, p. 136. 

I rejoice to feel that, daring and false as our Government Com- 
missioners are, (witness the Report on Wales,) they dared not have 
made such a statement as this regarding public opinion. Possibly 
such a scene might occur in some of our darkest rural districts ; but, 
in all our towns, such an unworthy estimate of the educator, as an 
" unproductive labourer," meets with the contempt it deserves. 

1 1 . Yet the teacher is neither remunerated nor respected according 
to his real worth. 

I have often been grieved to witness the conduct of the managers 
of schools to the master or mistress. They receive, too commonly, 
the treatment of servants. There is no shake of the hand, as to a 
labourer loved for his work's sake ; no seat offered them ; but their 
inferiority marked, by their standing while the Committee sits. 
They are taken to task without delicacy, even before their pupils. 
Strenuous self- vindication is considered arrogant presumption. If 
they succeed, they obtain a cold approval or a humiliating patronage. 
If they fail, under great discouragements, they are borne down by 
expressions of dissatisfaction, instead of being upheld by sympathy ; 
and at length dismissed without ceremony, to find another situation, 
if, with broken spirits and damaged character, any door shall open 
to them. How trying to hear, on some great school show-day or 
examination, when parents and subscribers are gathered, and the 
poor teacher has laboured to prepare the children, and his strength 
is spent in conducting a most interesting examination, comphments 
paid to the subscribers, — laudations to the wealthy patron in the 
chair, — congratulations to the parents, — rewards distributed to the 
children ; — and yet, amid these lavish praises, there stands the hard- 
working and poor-paid teacher, who has toiled daily against immense 
difficulties with untiring patience, exhibiting qualities of head and 
heart, which in any other station would gain him general esteem — 
he whose energy has brought up the scholars to the pitch of 
excellent order they exhibit — he stands there almost unnoticed, 
modestly retiring from remark, and cordially enjoying the happiness 
of the children and parents in whose welfare he has so deep an 
interest. Where are his praises, his congratulations, his substantial 
rewards ! They are found less often in the earnest and respectful 
co-operation of Committees, than in the grateful affection of scholars 
and parents, and in the testimony of a good conscience. This 


reproach is fast passing away. I cannot forbear lifting my voice 
against such an enormous wrong. 

12. Many teachers, no doubt, have been unworthy of the position 
they have held. It is not my place here to hold them up to derision. 
I could soon extract, from Government Reports, statements 
respecting our common and dame schools, which would greatly 
tickle your fancy. But, for my part, I become more and more 
suspicious of the authority of those Reports. Be it never forgotten, 
that when Popular Education found a cold reception from the higher 
classes, she found her best friends among these humble assistants, 
who felt her value, welcomed her presence, and laboured alone in 
her service. Surely with an ill-grace do those higher classes, now 
they see their error, and repent, and are inviting Popular Education 
to their aid, turn roimd, and spurn away the poorer attendants, who 
so long and patiently attended her in the days of her humiliation ! 
It suits their purpose, who come to spy the nakedness of the land, 
and sweep the ground clear for the introduction of their new-fangled 
State schemes, to despise these unpretending seminaries ; but the 
true patriot has cause to glory in their general diifusion, which 
proves the spontaneous power of natural resources for educating the 
people, even during the apathy of Government, and the neglect or 
opposition of public sentiment. It may be fairly doubted, whether 
the mass of Government schools, in other countries, are better than 
many of our common day-schools. These are often kept by respect- 
able persons who have seen better days, and have had a good 
education. The small number of scholars — the domestic air of the 
school — often gives it a greater moral influence over character than 
the larger and more pretending school acquires. 

13. I am free to confess that I desire to see the schools of the 
poorer class self-supporting ; conducted not by Committees, as 
charity-schools, but by enterprising and well-trained teachers on 
their own responsibility. Certainly, for the middle-class, schools 
kept by private individuals, who are responsible for their success, are 
usually preferable to proprietary schools under the control of 
Committees. But this change can never be wrought for the lower 
classes, except by training teachers qualified to raise and sustain 
schools which may ultimately stand on their own merits. Of coiirse 
this system could not be generally adopted at present ; ])ut I hope 
the Normal school will gradually prepare the way for school after 
school to throw off all charitable aids, and stand on an independent 


basis. I oppose all Government aid on the ground (amongst others) 
that it must prevent this gradual improvement ; keep the education 
of the lower classes dependent on charity ; and hinder even those 
schools which might easily become independent from assuming that 
superior position. From our free system and efficient Normal 
school we may expect to rise up a large number of good self- 
supporting schools, first in the larger towns and cities, and gradually 
even in country towns ; which, in the outset, partly sustained by 
generous contribution, vdll remain in close alliance with our 
religious institutions, beside which they will have grown up. 

14. (c) — Now that we have illustrated the love of teaching, and 
the character of the true educator — of whose efforts even yet society 
has so low an estimate — let us glance at the history of the chief 
educational efforts in this and other lands. 

Slow has been the process by which educators themselves and 
the public have, by degrees, learnt " how to teach." As in other 
sciences, progress has been realised by the efforts of individuals. 
One has lived to remove this error, another to deposit this conclu- 
sion. Persons urged by superior intelligence and inspiring philan- 
thropy to venture away from the ordinary routine, have applied fresh 
methods. The world has followed in their wake, but in the lapse of 
time their method proves its imperfection. The views of reformers 
are pushed to an injudicious extreme by their followers. Thought 
is awakened — others break away — correctives are sought — till some 
bold experimenter discerns a new principle, commanding both the 
former inadequate reform and its correction. He assumes the lead, 
and the world again follows the new guide. So by successive elimi- 
nations of error, we arrive at nearer approximations to truth, and 
society finds step by step the untracked, spiral path up the inacces- 
sible and misty mount of science. Time will not allow me to speak 
of the educational efforts of past ages — the early Christians — the 
Reformers — of Fenelon and Spener, pious Catholics waked to a 
holy rivalry with the Protestants — of our own far-seeing and patriotic 
Milton — our sagacious and practical Locke — our Edgeworths, Hamil- 
tons. Mores, &c., — of the German Frank, whose noble orphan-house 
at Halle contained one of the earliest and best Normal schools, and 
who left his mantle on the illustrious Count Zinzendorf, 1 700, whose 
pious system resulted in the schools of the Moravian brethren, which 
are so justly celebrated for their orderly and quiet discipline. Nor 
can I criticise the efforts of Rousseau and the sceptic philosophers 


of France, giving them the meed they deserve ; nor describe the 
counter efforts of Bassedow and the philanthropists, in their turn 
opposed by the rationalist Kant, and Eclectic schools, during which 
contention the question was, whether education should be based on 
the self-development of nature or on the remedial applications 
of revelation for a disordered nature, and which severe contest 
resulted in the defeat of the naturalists and the permanent connexion 
of religion with education. 

15. We come now, however, to some names on which I am fain to 
linger, as fine specimens of the real educator. Pestalozzi is not 
improperly called the " Father of Modern Education." His school 
at Yverdun, and little book, " How Gertrude teaches her Children," 
formed an era in education. Dr. Biber's memoir should be perused 
by every teacher. He commenced his labours by teaching seventy 
children at the asylum at Stanz. They were from the lowest class, 
exceedingly depraved, and seemingly incorrigible, without school 
accommodation, destitute of friendly aid. Discouraged and opposed 
by various obstacles, he was resolved to attempt their transformation 
by power of sympathy and love. Well did he succeed. " Before," 
he relates, "the snow of our mountains melted under the influence 
of the vernal sun, those children could no longer be recognised as 
the same beings they came to me." " There," adds Dr. Biber, " in 
the midst of his children, he forgot there was any world besides his 
asylum. At the first dawn of day it was his voice that called them 
to the light of the rising sun, and to the praise of their heavenly 
Father. All day long he stood among them, teaching the ignorant 
and assisting the helpless, encouraging the weak and admonishing 
the transgressor. His hand was daily with them, joined in theirs ; 
his eye beaming with benevolence, rested on theirs. He wept when 
they wept, and rejoiced when they rejoiced. He was to them a 
father, and they to him as children." Here was the true teacher. 

16. The Abbd Girard followed the same principles at Friburg. 
Count de Fellenberg was a fine specimen of the enthusiasm for 
teaching. He originated the idea of a practical or industrial educa- 
tion. " Educate the people for what the people are designed to be." 
This man, bom to aristocratic honours, and in high station, conde- 
scended to the position of a despised schoolmaster, under the influ- 
ence of the most generous pity for the poorest of the poor — the 
lowest of the low. It was his desire to raise these depraved classes 


by " the formation of the future man, who in twenty short years 
would be giving the tone and manners to his country." To this 
aim he consecrated a large fortune, a long hfe, and the entire facul- 
ties of a cultivated mind, and a large heart. For more than thirty 
years he kept his post, and had his reward in great usefulness and 
a wide esteem. He had above 6,000 pupils under his care at Hofwyl, 
though he began with literally a single scholar. He trained a large 
number of teachers, who, now he is gone, remain to spread his 
principles, and swell his usefulness. One of the most distinguished 
of these is Vehrli, who at present conducts one of the best establish- 
ments in Switzerland. 

17. Nor must I forget our own Joseph Lancaster, the son of a 
Chelsea pensioner, a poor but a pious man. At eight years, he 
says, his heart "filled with love to God," with breathings of good 
will to the human race, " and with desires to devote his life to the 
service of God." At fourteen, reading Clarkson on the "Slave 
Trade" impelled him to start for Jamaica, to teach negroes to read the 
Bible. At eighteen, he began a school at home, with nearly ninety 
children in Southwark. Many were taught free of expense. Two 
benevolent friends paid for five or six poor children, and from this 
became regular subscribers. Over the school was the singular 
inscription, " All that will may send their children, and have them 
educated freely ; and those who do not wish to have education for 
nothing, may pay for it, if they please" The school filled, but his 
income was very scanty. Those philanthropic peers, the Duke of 
Bedford and Lord Somerville, helped towards a new school-house. 
" The children now came in flocks," and the " necessity was the 
mother of invention." The old plan of education was inadequate ! 
He now struck out the monitorial system. He soon had 1,000 chil- 
dren, with whom he was always domesticated — joining in the games 
of play-hours — and he even gave dinners to the most needy of them 
in distressing times. " The character," says his biographer, James 
Corston, " of benefactor he scarce thought of; it was absorbed in 
that of teacher and friend. Is it any wonder that children so trained, 
to whom so many endearing occasions were presented, evidences 
should abound of affection, docility, and improvement? In them 
he had many ready co-operators, and, however incapable of forming 
designs, never were agents more prompt and ready to execute." 
He now became an object of fashionable notice. " Foreign princes. 


ambassadors, peers, commoners, ladies of distinction, bishops, and 
archbishops," visited his school. He had an interview with George 
III., in 1805, characteristic of both parties. 

" Lancaster, I have sent for you to give me an account of your 
system of education, which I hear has been opposed. One master 
teach 500 children at the same time ! How do you keep them in 
order, Lancaster?" 

" Please thy Majesty, by the same principle thy Majesty's army 
is kept in order, by word of command." " Good — good — it does 
not require an aged general to give the command — one of younger 
years can do it." Lancaster describes the system. '* Good — good, 
Lancaster, I highly approve of your system, and it is my wish that 
every poor child in my dominions should be taught to read the 
Bible. I will do anything you wish to promote this object." 
" Please thy Majesty, I can go through the country, and lecture on 
the system, and have no doubt but in a few months I shall be able 
to give thy Majesty an account, when 10,000 poor children are 
being educated, and some of my youths instructing them." (Here 
is the first hint of an English Normal school.) " Lancaster, I will 
subscribe 100?. a year, and (to the Queen,) you shall subscribe 50/.; 
Charlotte and the princesses 2ol. each, and you may have the money 
directly." " Please thy Majesty, that will be setting thy nobles a 
good example." The Queen : " How cruel that enemies should be 
found to hinder his progress in so good a work !" Charlotte : " A 
good man seeks his reward in the world to come." A truly 
interesting interview, and creditable to both parties. 

Lancaster was well fitted for the teacher's post, but not for the 
management of a large association, and of complicated money 
matters. He got into sad troubles. A friend relates his first 
introduction thus : " I called at his school to inquire about the 
training of a teacher, and after some conversation about it, I slipped 
into his hand a 10/. note, as an acknowledgement of my obligations. 
What was my astonishment to see this quiet man, who had been 
calmly conversing a moment before, turn pale, tremble, stand fixed 
as a statue, and then, flinging himself on my shoulder, burst into 
tears, exclaiming, ' Friend, thou knowest it not, but God hath sent 
thee to keep me from gaol, and preserve my system from ruin.' " 
He was arrested for debt. His affairs arranged — a society formed 
of wliich he became a paid agent, out of which sprung the British 


and Foreign School Society. Unfortunate iu business matters, he 
was a true educator of the first class. 

18. So also was Wilderspin, who was one of the earliest founders 
of Infant schools. If he did not first collect these very little ones 
into schools, he first systematized the teaching proper for such 
institutions. He had a large school in Spitalfields, and was called 
the " Baby Professor." 

Some of our Sabbath-school teachers and the founders of our 
modern Ragged schools deserve a mention here, but I must not 
pause to describe their efforts. 

There can be no doubt that the finest specimens of real educators 
have risen spontaneously, and that the chief improvements in the 
art of instruction are owing to them. 

We may rely on it that society will continue to supply such 
Volunteer teachers, unless Government should step in and discourage 
private attempts by a stereotyped system of State mechanism. 

19. (d) How, then, may the common school teacher be raised, 
and somewhat of the exalted spirit of these great patterns he infused 
into the class ? Some say, give him the dignity of a Government 
officer, and a novel majesty will attend his office. Others, that we 
must offer better salaries before we can expect better men. Far 
more sensible is the suggestion we are anxious to advocate, that the 
opportunity should be given to teachers of a good training in a 
Normal school. Yet we own, our reliance does not rest alone on 
any of these mere outward helps. The teacher must raise his own 
office, after all, by the exhibition of a right spirit, and the carrying 
out of good measures to full success. The outward importance of 
the office may be elevated, and yet the teacher fail to support his 
dignity. The salary may be never so much increased, and yet the 
greater is the risk of the intrusion of hirelings. Even the Normal 
school may open its halls and send forth its quota of full-trained and 
certificated instructors ; but unless they have an innate and strong 
love for the duties of their profession, they will soon flag and 
abandon it ; and if they possess not the native ability to convey 
instruction, all the drilling in the world will not give them the 
incommunicable power of electrifying and vitalizing the minds of 
others, by the vitality and sympathy of their own. And unless they 
succeed thus, how can the public be expected to value their exer- 
tions ? Men do not value, unless they feel advantage. Society must 


be made to feel the full power of the educator — to see fruits — to 
witness glorious trophies. Men must examine a sample ere they 
will believe the praise lavished on the crop, and advance the funds 
required to reap the harvest. Whatever contributes to the success 
of education, tends directly to exalt and glorify its conductor in the 
public eye. No teacher, therefore, should be encouraged who takes 
up the vocation merely for a livelihood. This awful mistake must 
be corrected. It is felt that the care of souls is too solemn a matter 
to be an affair of traffic — that the Bible ought to bear no profit on 
its printing and publication, but be sold at cost price. How long 
shall the formation of the character of the young be left to tutors 
and governesses, who, from the inferior treatment they receive, 
cannot be expected to give themselves to the task from other than 
sheer necessity, or mercenary considerations? It must be loudly 
proclaimed, that education is a business which calls for a deep per- 
sonal devotion and love in all who engage in it, and is too responsible 
to be placed in competition with pecuniary gain. 

20. If a reliffious education is the onlj/ real education, it also 
follows, that none but truly pious men are qualified to manage it. 
This aphorism, most appropriately stated by the Hon. and Rev. 
Baptist Noel, at a meeting of the British and Foreign School 
Society, should be regarded as an axiom, and must on no considera- 
tion be violated by those who would place the training of youth on 
its right footing. 

Even the school of educators connected with the Central Society 
of Education, (not usually leaning towards the union of religion with 
education,) in their Journal of Education, in the article on Prussian 
schools, adopt this principle : — " It may be laid down as a principle, 
that a man whose religion is not intimately combined with his senti- 
ments, is totally unable to teach religion to others with any practical 
effect, whatever may be his power of instruction or his eloquence." 
Even in Prussia teachers are required to prove, in the mystic, yet 
significant language of German philosophy, that " their religious and 
moral feeling is aroused." Dr. Arnold — than whom few men were 
finer specimens of the practical educator — has given a decided opinion 
on this subject in his Lectures eta Modern History, in the following 
language : — " This is the exact difference between teaching and 
education: a teacher — whether it be of Latin and Greek, or of 
French and German, or geography and history, or of drawing, or 
of gymnastics — has nothing to think of beyond his own immediate 


subject. It is not his concern if his pupils' tastes and abilities are 
more adapted to other studies, — if that particular knowledge which 
he is communicating is claiming a portion of time more than in 
accordance with its value. He has one single object, — to teach his 
own science effectually. But he who educates must take a higher 
view, and pursue an end, accordingly, far more complicated. He 
must adjust the respective claims of bodily and mental exercise — of 
different kinds of intellectual labour ; he must consider every part 
of his pupils' nature, — physical, intellectual, and moral ; regarding 
the cultivation of the last, however, as paramount to that of either 
of the others." Much more is it incumbent on a religious body 
like ourselves to resolve, as we did at Derby, — " That, agreeably to 
the practice which has hitherto been adhered to by the Congrega- 
tional Board of Education, no candidate for admission into a Normal 
school in connection with this Board, shall be eligible, who is not in 
communion with some Christian Church." No information, no 
aptitude, no fervour of zeal, will make up for the want of spiritual 
motives. So far as we can judge of character, we must seek to put 
the conduct of our schools into the hands of intelligent Christians — 
men of God — full of love to God, and to the souls of men. How 
else can we hope to insure a religious education in our schools? 
How else can we believe that the blessing of God will be truly and 
acceptably sought, so that his " grace, which bringeth salvation," 
will be bestowed upon the hearts of teacher and children? The 
natural eye may not see much difference between a school under 
such a regimen as we have described, and one in which such holy 
influences are disregarded ; but the eye of faith instantly detects the 
glaring want — the spiritual mind feels painfully the cold earthly 
touch — the privation of whatever evinces sacred unction and healthy 
moral feeling. The absence of fruitfulness will soon expose this 
destitution ; for, without reUgion, the effects of education on character 
will be poor indeed. 

21. But what is more sure to raise the teacher's office, than to 
fill it with men truly disinterested, sincerely at home in the work, 
and breathing into it the soul of holy grandeur and of heaven- 
inspired love ? "Who could witness- such labours without a deep and 
favourable impression ? How could such men be despised by the 
wise and good ? Normal schools are excellent preparations towards 
exciting a higher professional tone among teachers, but they must 
be wholly re-modelled before their general tendency shall be such as 


to produce teachers of the highest class. Not only must the quali- 
fications for admission include the requirement of a well-accredited 
religious character, but the methods of training adopted must be 
consistent with this loftier aim. Then will a class of educators 
rise who shall extort respect, even from the worldly, by the practical 
effects of their superior influence. Then education itself shall be 
disencumbered of objections and difficulties which have narrowed 
the path, and shall command all the facilities proper to its merciful 
task. It shall wield a vast moral power over the destinies of man- 
kind. It shall enrich earthly society with many unimagined bless- 
ings, and cause each generation to advance rapidly on that which 
preceded. It shall prepare for heaven, from the lost and perishing 
outcasts of society, many seraphic spirits to adorn the train of the 
King of Glory. The educator shall stand side by side with the 
philanthropist, the pastor, the evangelist, the missionary, exercising 
his ministrations for the good of humanity in a different sphere, but 
in a kindred spirit, and with like success and honour, when educa- 
tion shall be evangelised, and conducted as a Christian mission to 
the juvenile population of the world. 

22. (e) Having thus illustrated the sort of elevation which is 
desirable in the character of our Day school teachers, let me pro- 
ceed to examine the value of Normal schools, in order to produce the 
contemplated improvement. It has been supposed that we are 
indebted for the origination of Normal schools to the central 
influence of Governments, and that they are peculiarly and almost 
necessarily connected with a system of State education. Nothing 
can be more unfounded than such an idea. The plan for the for- 
mation of Normal schools was first conceived and executed by enter- 
prising private educators, not only in this country, but in Switzerland 
and Germany, where they took their rise. The great improvements 
made by Basedow, at Dessau, and Solzman of Schnepfenthal, and, 
after them, by Pestalozzi, at Yverdun, induced other public schools 
to send their teachers, on purpose to learn their superior plans. 
Hence arose Normal schools. Teachers were sent to be trained in 
Pestalozzi' 8 school in 1806. The State did not undertake this 
work in Prussia till 1817. (In 1833 there were forty-three Normal 
schools, with 2,036 pupils, sending out annually near 800 teachers 
of primary schools.) In 1838, forty-five Normal schools, with 
2,583 pupils, sending out yearly near 956. The best of these 
schools (for they are very unequal) are in the Rhenish provinces, at 

I 2 


Moers and Bruhl ; in Saxony, at Erfurt and Weisinfels ; and in 
Brandenburg, i^otsdam, and Berlin. These are in a good state of 
efficiency. The students are sure of promotion to schools, exempt 
from military service, raised in public regard as officers of Govern- 
ment, and permitted to retire on a pension when incapacitated. 
About one-third of the young men so sent out prove unfit for the 
work. The number required annually to maintain an efficient system 
is four per cent, on the number of teachers in schools. Prussia had 
23,921 primary teachers in 1838, and, therefore, 95fi pupils would 
be wanted. Only 846 were trained, so that 110 is the deficiency. 
It is held that twenty-five more Normal schools are required to per- 
fect the Prussian system. It is through the Prussian Normal 
schools that the Government conveys its impress on the public 

In Holland, general education was first carried out by the Society 
of Public Utility, and taken under State patronage about 1804. 
Most of the Dutch teachers have been trained in primary schools, 
and only recently two Normal schools have been founded at Gro- 
ningen and Haarlem. The latter, under that spirited educator, 
M. Prinsen, is well and favourably described by the French philoso- 
pher. Cousin, and our Chambers. 

France entered on this career yet more lately, and it is hard to 
trust her education statistics. In U42, they report seventy-nine 
Normal schools, with 860 pupils, of which, however, 713 had been 
placed there during the year. Their period of instruction must 
therefore be very brief. The best specimen is that at Versailles, 
which has furnished thirty pupils annually out of the 120 under 
instruction. Generally the French Normal schools are not of a high 
character, but in a state of experiment. 

In Saxony were, in 1832, including the Freyburg school, seven 
Normal schools, with 253 pupils, furnishing seventy or eighty 
teachers per year. About 100 are wanted for this kingdom. 

23. What, then, is the effect on the character of European school- 
masters and their teaching ? Where the G( vernment has least 
influence, as in Holland, the teachers are free ; but in Prussia and 
France the Normal school is the most powerful engine of despotism, 
and the schoolmasters are functionaries, obsequious and subservient 
to the State, on which their promotion and even standing depends. 
In Prussia, the master is expected to educate 100 children without 
any monitors — a requirement which must be fatal to success. He 


has minute instructions (according to Mr. Howitt) from Govern- 
ment, to inculcate reverence to royalty and implicit obedience, and 
the eye of Government is on him constantly, through inspectors and 
boards, &c. Mr. Stovir says that John McCrie, an intelligent 
young man, was sent by the Glasgow Society, for nine months, to 
study the Prussian system, and reported that there was nothing 
new in it ; that " in Prussia they had not moral training ; and as to 
Bible training, it was not attempted."* Horace Mann, of America, 
(a great authority,) declares that many Prussian teachers are " in- 
wardly hostile to the doctrines they are required to teach." He 
asked one how he could teach what he disbelieved ? He replied, 
" It is a lie of necessity : the Government compels us to do this, or 
it takes away our bread." He found one inspector of a large dis- 
trict, a " thorough Pantheist and disbeliever in the Divine authority 
of the Book, whose use, and the inculcation of whose doctrines, as 
held by the State, he was enjoining on all schools under his charge." j- 
Howitt, and even Thomas Carlyle, declare that the body of pro- 
fessors and teachers in Germany are generally infidels. CarlyleJ 
says, " Formal and Normal schools of heresy are so organised, that 
one can only marvel how any pass through the ordeal of a univer- 
sity, or even a theological education, with a spark of faith remaining." 
And Howitt§ says, " Among the whole number of German students 
I have known, it would be difficult to select a dozen who are not 
confirmed infidels." Such is the effect of State training on the 
freedom, liberty, and religion of Prussian schoolmasters ! 

24. In France the teachers are much the same. There is even 
less possibility of competition. In 1831, a few spirited French 
gentlemen, with Count Montalembert at their head, opened a free 
school in Paris, unconnected with the State. It was forcibly shut 
up by the police, and the transgressors arraigned before the Court 
of Peers, prosecuted by the Government, and actually fined 100 francs 

* Stow's Training System, p. 58. 

+ Report of Educat. Tour, pp. 233—238. 

X Moral Phenomena of Germany, p. 67. 

§ German Experiences, p. 91. — Several of these testimonies are taken from 
Edward Baines' Letters on State Education, Letter 9. To these may be added 
the testimony of the Rev. Dr. Krummacher, of Berlin, who has publicly 
denounced the present educational system of Prussia, in a clerical assembly, as 
" one of culpable neglect and soul-killing latitudinarianism, more fitted to rear 
a nation of iufidel philosophers than of believing Christians." — See Evan. 
Christendom fur March, 1848. 


each, for keeping a public school without the authority of the Impe- 
rial University.* After such specimens, nothing can be a more 
proper subject for jealous dread to a patriotic Englishman, than the 
union with the Gorernment of Normal schools — engines the most 
powerful for evil or good — for enslaving or elevating the public 
mind, as they are themselves fettered or free. 

25. America, which, in respect to education, is said to be in 
advance of most countries, by no means appears to advantage, as 
regards the training and qualifications of teachers. There are but 
few Normal schools in America, and those which exist have no 
model schools attached to them, in which the pupil teacher may 
practise what he learns of the art of teaching. He goes forth, 
therefore, with armour which he has not proved, and knows not 
how to wield. 

It reminds me of a young friend of mine who was sent to learn 
farming at a so-called Agricultural College, when, forsooth, there was 
no farm on which to train the students ! He paid me a visit in 
Norfolk, and hearty was the laugh of the Norfolk farmers, when 
they heard of a youth learning to be a farmer at a college, without 
an acre of land. Such deficiency must attend a Normal seminary 
without a model school. 

The Americans, sensible of the defect, ingeniously contrive a 
substitute, by forming the pupil teachers into classes, which they 
instruct as if they were real children, each in turn. I need not 
explain the poverty of such a substitute, or the impossibihty of 
efficiently sustaining so fictitious a system. 

26. The accounts given of teachers by their own reports are 
accordingly far from satisfactory. One says, " It was stated pub- 
licly by a member of a school committee in a town containing thirty 
or more school districts, that at least one-half of the teachers 
approved by them would be rejected, only that it would be vain to 
expect better teachers for the present remuneration." — Central 
Society. — Paper on America. 

Massachusetts has very few Normal schools. New York State 
reports, since 1830, the foundation of sixteen such institutions, but 
they hardly deserve the name, and are spoken of by official reports 
as a "failure." In 1843, the following statement was made by the 
inspectors : — "It appears, from the reports of the deputies, that of 

* France, her Government, &c., p. 183 ; a book which should be re-read at 
this crisis, by all who would see the real origin of the late Revolution. 


9,000 teachers whose schools were visited by them in their annual 
inspections, one-half had taught the same school less than one 
year, 958 only two years, 475 for three years, 329 more than three 

"The number of teachers under 18 years was 903: between 
18 and 21, 2,421 ; between 21 and 25, 2,895 ; between 25 and 30, 
1,170; over 30, 1,611. 

" The average compensation for male teachers, 1 7 dollars (3/. 8s.) 
a month; and for females, 7 dollars (\l. 8s.); or about 401. for 
a man, or 16/. for a woman, per annum." How can education 
flourish under so penurious a system ? 

" In the south of Alleghany, but one teacher out of 165 had 
taught the same school for two successive years. In Broome county, 
but six out of 242 for three years, and 133 less than six months on 
the whole. In the county of Cayaga, only ten out of 221 for more 
than two years, and 130 less than six months. In Columbia 
county, 121 of 266 for less than one year in the whole, and in the 
county of Gennesee 93 of 147 teachers were entirely destitute of any 
previous experience." 

" I was forcibly impressed," says the Tomkins county deputy, 
" with the sage remark of a teacher who had been engaged in the 
business for years, when I requested him to have his pupils read 
less, and to be more particular that they understood what they 
read!" " Sir," he replied, "children can do but one thing at a 
time ; and if they read well, they cannot be expected to understand 
what they read, nor can I require it of them. I wish them to 
learn to read well, and when they are old enough they can take 
dictionaries, and learn the definitions of words, and then they will 
understand what they read ! !" 

Another inspector states, — " During these examinations, I have 
found 169 teachers, of whom 68 were males, and 101 females: of 
the males, 17 or 18 may be, comparatively speaking, ranked among 
the first class of teachers, pursuing the inductive mode — teaching 
idecM as well as words ; 14 of them ought not to have been licensed 
or employed, having no ability to teach, and in several cases they 
were wanting in all respects. 

" In one instance the inspectors of schools in Mayfield granted 
certificates to a man known to be intemperate." — New Fork Report 
for 1843. 

It is remarkable that female teachers are in many district?: more 


numerous than men. Often a man teaches in summer, and a 
woman in winter. Even boys' -schools are frequently entrusted to 
women. The idea gains ground, that women are as competent 
teachers for boys as men. How far economy and a defective idea of 
education originate such notions, I cannot say ; but the fact tells 
badly for American schools. 

27. Pennsylvania and the other States have scarcely any preten- 
sions to offer to the name of Normal schools. If I have not been 
able to flatter the Americans on the high character of their teachers, 
I think I have shown the extreme importance of the institutions for 
training teachers, for which I am at present pleading, by the evil 
consequences which, in this enlightened country, arise from their 
almost entire absence, or very imperfect character. 

(I I wish it to be understood, that, in speaking of American educa- 
tion, I have had special reference to the teachers and provisions for 
training instructors, but not so much to the primary school system. 
I should willingly testify on another occasion to the excellent effects 
of American common schools ; at the same time, I hold that its 
connection with Government has proved injurious. 

Those who understand the real working of the much-lauded 
American system, are aware, that though it widely diffuses the 
common elements of reading, writing, and arithmetic, it has glaring 
defects. It constantly tends to increasing centralization and 
Government influence. Permanent endowments in the hands of 
trustees are substituted for taxation and public representation. A 
gratuitous admission decreases its value, and produces a most irre- 
gular attendance of children, which would be far less if they paid 
for the teaching received, and can only be remedied under the 
present system, by making attendance compulsory. 

The incompetence and small salary of the teachers, and the failure 
of Normal schools — the want of religious and moral influence in the 
school training, and the overbearing jealousy against Voluntary 
schools, sustained independently of the State system — show that 
America has yet much to do before her education be adapted to 
raise up a virtuous and godly republic, or even stand a comparison 
with the unendowed Voluntary common schools of Britain. 

28. We have already seen that the first germ of Normal schools 
appeared in the school of Pestalozzi, in Switzerland, about 1806. 
It is satisfactory to know, that a similar institution arose in our own 
country about the same time, under the Lancasterian system ; the 


adaptation of which, whether by Joseph Lancaster or Dr. Bell, was 
about 1808, when was formed the British and Foreign School, and 
in 1811 the National School Society, which two societies have taken 
the lead in all English educational movements up to this day. Both 
these Societies now have extensive Normal schools. 

29. That of the British and Foreign School Society is too well 
known in this city to require a detailed description. In 1818 the 
Borough-road sent out 45 teachers; in 1828, as many as 87; in 
1838, increased to 183 ; in 1841, no less than 20/. 

In 1839, a grant of 5,000^. was received from Government towards 
erecting new and commodious buildings. The model-schools of this 
Institution, its staff of superintendents and tutors, are surpassed by 
no other seminary in this country, — perhaps in the world. 

It is well known that the Committee of this Society has long 
showu a disposition to ally itself with Government ; and that, in 
a recent deliberative Conference on the new Minutes of Council, a 
decision was arrived at which (so soon as it has been confirmed by 
the next annual meeting in May, a step essential to its validity by 
the constitution of the Society) virtually makes the British School 
Society a medium through which the grants of public money are to 
be distributed to schools applying. While the constitution of the 
Society allows the mixture of Voluntary contributions and public 
grants in its support, we cannot agree to recognise it as a Voluntary 
Society, nor, consistently with our views, can avail ourselves of the 
acknowledged advantages of its training establishment. It is with 
great concern and disappointment that we have witnessed these 
changes, which constrain us to provide for ourselves Normal schools, 
in which teachers may be received and trained according to our own 

But were the Borough-road School still unconnected with the Go- 
vernment, there would yet remain a serious defect in its arrangement 
for religious instruction, which would render it requisite for us to 
make some better provision. I am aware, that many schools con- 
nected with this Society are as religiously conducted as we could 
desire. But at the Normal and model schools the original purpose 
of steering between religious parties, so as to offend none, is pre- 
served ; the Bible is read and taught without explanation — jjublic 
prayer is inconsistent with the rules of the constitution — and the 
liberality of the theory is found mischievous in practice. Attempts 
have been made, it is true, to require a profession of orthodox views. 


and a certificate of piety from every candidate for Normal training ; 
but such efforts have only partially succeeded, and have drawn down 
severe and just animadversions, as a departure from the original and 
free constitution of the Society. This Society, therefore, while it 
retains its present constitution, can never take the lead of an 
expressly Evangelical education. "We would gladly indulge the 
hope, that even yet this valuable Institution — the child of Voluntary- 
ism, and so long the sheet-anchor of the cause of liberal education — 
may not be lost to liberty, nor become the instrument of Government 
and the fountain of an irreligious secular education, such as liberal 
politicians desire to see, cooling down the Methodistic enthusiasm, 
which, to their disgust and dismay, is fast returning on the common 
people, and threatening to bring about a general religious fervour 
through chapels. Dissenters, and Sabbath-schools, and religious Day 
schools, similar to that which animated England in the Common- 
wealth, under the Puritans, only of a more enlightened and far less 
martial kind. I still hope better things of a Society cradled in 
opposition — inured to conflict — whose success has arisen from its 
very difficulties, and whose freedom of thought has been boldly 
maintained — at least till a year or two ago, when its Report thus 
closed — "Unpledged to any particular system, and by no means 
exclusively attached to that which is at present adopted, the British 
and Foreign School Society stands forth as ready to receive as it is 
anxious to impart. Its sole object is to have the children of the 
labouring classes taught in the best possible way, and by such 
methods only as shall appear most likely to effect that end. Its 
ultimate aim is to render them intelligent and devout students of 
Holy Scripture, the only book which is " able to make them wise 
unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 

This Society had projected four additional Normal schools in the 
provinces, which appear to be delayed for the present. 

30. The National School Society has several Normal schools. 
This system is closely connected with the Established Church. 
Every child learns the Catechism and parts of the Liturgy, and must 
attend Divine service at church. This Society has Juvenile and 
Infant schools ; and, moreover, it is a Sunday-school Union. I shall 
afterwards use this fact to show the importance of taking our 
Sabbath-schools into close connection with our Educational Board. 
The chief training school of this Society is in the Broadway, West- 
minster. The Central Infants' school is in Tufton-street, West- 


minster. St. Mark's College, Chelsea, under the Rev. Dr. Coleridge, 
has been recently founded on very superior plans. An interesting 
Report is furnished by the Rev. J. Allen. It is too young as yet 
to have had much effect. It had forty pupils. Establishments, 
also, for training adult teachers, are open at Manchester- buildings, 
and in Smith' s-terrace, in which were sixty masters, and seventy- 
one mistresses, making up for previous deficiency. Through fear, 
on the part of the Evangelical party, lest these seminaries should 
fall into the hands of the Puseyites, a Training school has been 
opened in Cheltenham, under the Rev. F. Close, the state of which 

1 am not able to describe ; but its formation is a sign of the times. 
Such schools must raise the character of the Church of England 
education, which, in truth, greatly requires elevation. The rote 
learning of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Commandments, Collects, 
and often the Articles, occupy the first consideration, leaving room 
only for a little reading, writing, and ciphering. For a sample of 
the spirit of this system, I may point to the elementary arithmetic 
of the Rev. J. C. Wigram, Secretary of the Society, whose questions 
are formed on the idea of combining Scripture and arithmetic thus 
ludicrously. In numeration, he asks : " Mesha, king of Moab, was 
a sheep master, and rendered to the king of Israel 100,000 lambs. 

2 Kings iii. 4. Write down the number." In addition, — " Of 
Jacob's four wives, Leah had six sons ; Rachel had two ; and Zillah 
and Billah also two each. How many sons had Jacob ? " Also : 
" There were seven days between the birth of Jesus and his circum- 
cision, and five days from that event to the Epiphany, — the time 
when the star led the Gentiles to worship the Holy Child. How 
long was it from the Nativity to the Epiphany ? " What can be 
more unreasonable than such a use of Scripture, or more bewildering 
than such a mode of teaching arithmetic. Such education needs 
to be purged of nonsense, and elevated many degrees. Even in the 
central schools, however, there is much opposition to the introduc- 
tion of further information. The average attendance of children in 
the model school, is said to be under a year. The period of training 
teachers, only a few months. The fear of over-educating the poor, 
which prevails among the clergy, aristocracy, and country gentry, is 
a constant clog to the progress of the Society. A new spirit, how- 
ever, has awakened some of the Church party to the necessity of 
improvement, if they would keep pace with others, and maintain 
their hold on the public mind, which is doing much to overcome 


old prejudices, and make them earnest and formidable rivals in 
popular education, 

31. There is an admirable Infant Normal school in the Gray's Inn- 
road, called the Home and Colonial Infant Training School. This 
society is unsectarian, but has latterly fallen into some connection 
with the Government schemes. Its plans are, perhaps, the most 
worthy of imitation, in our view, of any Normal school in England. 

The qualification of pupils are founded on the following admirable 
principle : " Religious and moral principle. — As the primary object 
of Infant schools is to cultivate religious principles and moral senti- 
ments — to awaken the tender mind to a sense of its evil dispositions 
and habitual failings before it becomes callous by its daily inter- 
course with vice — and to lead it to that Saviour who so tenderly 
received such little ones, and blessed them — to accustom them to 
trace the hand of their heavenly Father in his works of providence 
and grace, and to be impressed with the truth that his eye is ever 
on them; — since such is the primary object — an object which, if 
unattempted, infant education is valueless — the Committee consider 
that, iu addition to an unimpeachable moral character, decided piety 
is indispensable, and that without it no teacher can be fitted for his 
VI oxk."— Report. 

A probation of a month is required of all candidates. Their stay 
in the seminary we think far too short — twenty weeks. In 1842, 
pupils, 194 admitted, and 47 before in the Institute; equal to 241. 
Of these, 56 had withdrawn, 148 been trained, and 37 remained to 
next year. There are good model schools. Half-yearly meetings, 
to discuss education, are held for the benefit of the pupils. The 
society appointed Mr. Bilby as an inspector of Infant schools, but 
were compelled to relinquish his valuable services by the expense 
incurred. One feature of this school deserves attention. Nursery 
governesses are trained at a reasonable expense, and carry into 
families the plans here used. This is a most important practice, 
which should not be lost sight of in our new Congregational move- 

32. There is also in London a Normal school, which sprang from 
private enterprise, in order to train teachers for industrial schools ; 
but which has lately become completely attached to the National 
School Society. The account of the origin of this school is very 
interesting.* In a visit on the Continent by Dr. Kay (now Shuttle- 

* Minutes of Council, for 1846. 


worth,) and Mr. Tuffnell, thev were particularly struck with the 
school of Vehrli, at Kruitzlingen, and whose plans they describe 
with a poetic enthusiasm. "Such men," say they, speaking of 
teachers trained in this school, " we felt assured would go forth 
cheerfully to their humble village homes to spread the doctrine which 
Vehrli taught of peace and contentment in virtuous exertion ; and 
men similarly trained appeared to us best fitted for the labour of 
reclaiming the pauper youth of England to the virtues, and restoring 
them to the happiness, of her best instructed peasantry." Returning 
home, they resolved to establish a Normal school, for the supply of 
good teachers for the schools of our prisons and workhouses. They 
found a valuable coadjutor in the Hon. and Rev. R. Eden, of Bat- 
tersea, and obtained suitable premises. In January, 1840, they 
opened the schools. The pupil teachers were 24, placed there at the 
expense of some wealthy friends, at the rate of 201. per annum. Two 
tutors were engaged. A garden of five acres surrounds the house. 
The detail of the difficulties encountered and overcome, is one of the 
healthiest educational documents I ever perused. The plans of the 
institution are excellent. The balance of accounts in 1840, however, 
showed a debt of its then enterprising reformers of 1,283/. Not- 
withstanding the aid of the Government, and the great success of 
this experiment, in which 50 pupil teachers were trained, its origi- 
nators found it too burdensome for private individuals, and have 
transferred it to the National School Society, under whose control 
it remains. They never fairly cast it on voluntary henevolence. 
These are the chief institutions of the kind in London, save our 
Congregational Normal schools, to which I shall presently advert. 
In the rural districts of England are a few similar establishments, 
but not of great standing or merit. 

33. In Ireland, the Commissioners of National Education have 
a large and flourishing Normal school in Tyrone House, Dublin, for 
the use of which several excellent school-books have been provided. 

34. Scotland has several Normal schools of high repute, the chief 
of which exist in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and originated, not from 
Government endowments, but from the earnest enterprise of intel- 
ligent educationalists like David Stow, of Glasgow, and Pillans and 
Wood, of Edinburgh. 

The Glasgow Training school has been well described by its inde- 
fatigable originator, Mr. Stow. 


The model school is a juvenile seminary for both sexes, who, as 
in the Infant schools, are educated together. The formation of 
character is the main object. The children are under the master's 
eye, both in the covered and uncovered school-room (as Mr. Stow 
happily styles the play-ground). He states the fact, that 180 
children of the lower classes in Glasgow for five months frequented 
the play-ground, which is planted with flowers, shrubs, and fruits, 
without the slightest injury to the garden, or theft of the tempting 
productions. The Institution includes an Infant school, a juvenile 
school under fourteen years, and a Normal school. The use of 
books is discouraged, and the mode of simultaneous lectures to the 
children in the gallery preferred. After the lecture, the school 
divides into classes, under monitors, who examine the pupils as to 
what they remember. These schools received Government grants ; 
but at the disruption in the State Church they took part with the 
Free Church, and, I believe, stand aloof from the schemes of 
Government education at present. 

A model and Normal school has also been erected in Edinburgh, 
in connection with Government and the General Assembly. 

35. Besides these schools, our own denomination has been the 
means of founding, since the alarm of Sir J. Graham's Bill, an 
efficient Normal school in Wales, which it has been lately resolved, 
at a very spirited conference, to remove from Brecon to Swansea, 
where it appears likely to enjoy liberal patronage, and to hold to its 
Voluntary character. Also, we have a very promising Normal school 
in London, for mistresses, which has already sent out some valuable 
teachers, and the arrangements of which our Committee are now 
earnestly labouring to expand and improve.* It is high time to do 
so : for the Government has already put itself in communication 
with all the other Normal schools. Irish education is entirely under 
the State control. But for the Free Church, all the Scotch Normal 
schools had been affiliated with the Government ; and in England 
the two main societies — the National School Society, and the British 
School Society — have fallen into the wake of the plans of the Com- 
mittee of Council. If we woidd secure our position, as determined 

* Mr. Baines calculates that we have in Britain no less than 28 Normal 
schools, with at least 900 pupil teachers ; an amount worthy of compare with 
continental efforts, and all originating in the Voluntary principle. — See Lec- 
ture I. of this Course. 


supporters of free education, it must be by a prompt and liberal 
attention to the maintenance of Normal schools of a first-rate 

36. Few sources of information throw so much light on the 
animus of the Committee of Council as their correspondence with 
various Normal schools, which have received grants. These docu- 
ments show a disposition on the part of the Government to secure 
all possible power, a reluctance to concede to reasonable demands, 
and yet a positive anxiety not to break off such negotiations in the 
outset, by hazarding the refiisal of their grants, and the consequent 
loss of influence. Thus it was only after a lengthened correspond- 
ence, that a veto on the appointment of Scotch Inspectors was given 
to the Committee of the General Assembly. The British School 
Society most humbly petitioned against being inspected by Church 
of England Inspectors, admitting, most unworthily, that they could 
not expect to have a veto like the Scotch, but only asking that the 
Reports should be submitted to them in writing before being pub- 
lished. They got an abundance of fair promises, but no sight of 
a Report. They accept a grant on condition that they shall be at 
liberty to refund it at any time, if they are disposed to refuse inspec- 
tion. Mr. Tremenheere's crushing Report comes out, and is sub- 
mitted to the Committee. Stung by its depreciating remarks, they 
at last adopt the bolder tone of threatening to abandon the grant. 
What reproof do they receive ? Forthwith, Lord Wharncliffe gives 
them the veto already accorded to the Scotch, and, to heal the 
dreaded breach, 750/. per annum is granted in' addition.* There 
is no doubt, therefore, that Government is alive to the importance 
of securing in their favour these Central Institutions, at whatever 
cost. Should the influence of the State predominate over Normal 
schools, a most formidable and growing power over the pubUc mind 
must ensue. 

It is impossible to be blind to the ramified powers over teachers, 
committees, schools, and parents, which the influence of a Normal 
school must gradually impart. If held exclusively by the Govern- 
ment, it constitutes a power the more arbitrary and irresponsible, 
because indirect. We must wrestle hard, in fair competition, to 
place this influence in the hands of a Voluntary society responsible 
to public opinion. The last thing to be yielded — the first which 
has been desired and sought — is the power to train teachers. 
* Minutes of Council, for 1845. 


If anything could make me regard with less sorrow the embarrassed 
state of the public funds — the retribution which has begun to fall 
on a shameless and military expenditure in a time of distress — the 
significant warning given by our French neighbours, who have forced 
out the ministry which has been long the tool of despotism, and 
which vainly sought to repress the just demands of the people for 
constitutional reform — or even the odious increase of the odious 
income-tax —it is the hope that an empty treasury may prevent our 
ministers from achieving their schemes of State centralization, bor- 
rowed from the Continent ; and that they may learn, from the 
example over the water, to retreat in time from the effects of irri- 
tated public feeling, and let alone their constant officious tampering 
with commerce, education, and religion. 

37. Let me now make a few remarks on the principles most 
suited to the future conduct of Free Normal schools. 

38. I confess I could have wished to see a somewhat wider confede- 
ration of all friends of education, who, like ourselves, object to receive 
Government grants, and who hold evangelical views of religion. But 
this subject has been fairly discussed, and appears not suited to the 
temper of the present age. The various evangelical bodies seem as 
yet disposed to separate, rather than associated, action. This posi- 
tion has been taken, and can scarcely be reconsidered. Let us hope, 
that advantage may arise out of the emulation of division of labour 
among smaller and compact bodies ; and let us labour to preserve a 
firm, good understanding, — a comparison of plans, and a readiness to 
co-operate, among the several denominations labouring in this field ; 
otherwise the country will exhibit a patch-work supply of education, 
irregular as to its provision, its character, and its results. If these 
evils are watched against, the different societies may animate, impel, 
and imitate each other — sowing with each other broad-cast in the 
spring, and rejoicing with each other in reaping the autumn harvest. 

39. Sure I am, that not the Directors of a Missionary Society ought 
to be more thoroughly penetrated with a sense of responsibility, and 
need of Divine assistance, than those who form a Board of Manage- 
ment for rearing a new generation for the service of God and the 
improvement of human society. They should be men of intelligent 
piety, men of prayer, of sound, tried wisdom, of educational experi- 
ence, and they should engage in so sacred an undertaking with an 
earnest devotion to it of their utmost energies. Their primary 
concern must be, to fill existing schools with good teachers. 


Reliance must not be placed on the offer of better salaries to 
teachers alone. The only way to raise the character of teachers is 
to raise their training. Then a model will be aiForded for the imi- 
tation of local schools. Instructors will be annually sent forth into 
the country, well fitted to improve the tone of education, to raise 
public feeling to a juster appreciation of educational labour and 
results ; and public feeling thus raised, would re-act on the selection 
of masters*; for a people who had once been accustomed to good 
teachers would never again be content with an inferior class. An 
effective Normal school, then, is an essential pre-requisite to all 
improvement, or even to the retaining our present position. We 
have made a beginning, but our institution is as yet quite imperfect 
and immature. Let us try to conceive a beau-ideal of the training 
school with which we can be satisfied. 

40. Many persons who have seen the Borough-road School, and 
pictures of the splendid buildings of the National schools and Scotch 
Normal schools, at once see, in imagination, rising in some fashion- 
able part of London, a large, elegant, and costly architectural 
structure, which may bear on its imposing front the inscription, 
" Congregational Normal Schools." I do not object to tasteful 
buildings suited to the object, and within the means ; often, in a 
large and new edifice, beauty is quite consistent with true economy. 
But, after all, in schools and chapels, the beauty is in the moral 
work effected by them, not in the building. These sumptuous 
erections were the snares which made Government grants necessary, 
and for which they have been received. Let us free ourselves of 
this ambition, and be content with external plainness, that we may 
expend all our available resources on the internal efficiency of the 
institution. Some roomy, old-fashioned house, with enlargement, 
may suffice to send forth teachers as well fitted for their work as if 
they heard lectures in a classic theatre, took meals in a spacious 
hall, slept in the most commodious dormitories, and were ranged for 
daily worship in a splendid chapel appropriated to their use. 

41. As to model schools, we have already in London some Con- 
gregational schools admirably fitted for this purpose, as at Bermond- 
sey and at Stepney, the chief expense of which might be spared by 
locating the Normal school in their neighbourhood. 

42. I am by no means an advocate for gratuitous, or even over- 
cheap education, either for children or teachers. In most of the 
Nonnal schools the young people board at the seminary, paying 



according to a fixed rate. In Edinburgh they do not all board 
under the roof. At the Borough-road there are, I believe, two rates 
of charge, 12s. or 6s. a week. At the Glasgow Training School the 
students support themselves, and pay a fee of 31. 3s. on entrance. 
I would not seek to cheapen down our Normal schools. The de- 
pressed state of our colleges for the ministry is, in my opinion, owing 
mainly to the subscriptions of the public going to defray the board 
and lodging of the students, instead of obtaining for th»m the best 
literary and theological advantages. Let us spend as much of our 
income as possible in forming the character of the future educator, 
and as little as possible charge ourselves with the burden of his 
physical wants. Underselling other institutions in this respect must 
bring its own retribution ; for the less you charge pupils for their 
own maintenance, the less advantages can you afford them in the 
great purpose for which they resort to the Normal school. 

43. No central Normal school is complete without three distinct 
branches — the Juvenile Masters' Department, and Boys' Model 
School ; the Juvenile Mistresses' and Girls' Model School, and the 
Model Infant School, with both male and female pupil-teachers. 

We are now expanding our efforts so as to have a Normal school 
for masters as well as mistresses ; but hitherto nothing has been said 
of an Infant Normal School. 1 cannot suppose that this deficiency 
is designed, and I feel sure that it ought to be at once removed, and 
the infant school effort be undertaken along with the others. 
The Scotch and the National School Society combine them, and 
they are found to strengthen each other, and play into each other's 
hands. Juvenile schools, without infant schools to feed them, and 
prepare for them, are at great disadvantage. In many places an 
infant school may be kept up, and after a time the elder children 
retained, where a juvenile school would have no chance, from the 
early age at which children go to work. In the Normal school, 
some pupil-teachers, who show no tact for juvenile children, are 
found well quaUfied to take charge of infants, and the reverse. 
Were the institutions connected, an exchange might in such cases be 
made. In the training of infant-school teachers, we should have but 
one or two competing institutions — the Home and Colonial, and the 
National school, both under Government influence. There is ample 
room in this field for all, and the want of a liberal establishment of 
the kind has been long felt, and would, I fear not, prove successful. 

44. It has long been felt that our Sunday-schools need improve- 


ment, and often has the idea been suggested of model Sunday- 
schools, in which all improved methods might be tried and shown in 
practice. The British School Society, from its constitution, could 
not enter on this field. The National School Society unites this 
with its other eJBForts, in some measure. At Battersea, the pupil- 
teachers are instructed in the management of a Church Sunday- 
school — in certain matters of parochial business, and even in playing 
the organ. Generally speaking, I am averse from expecting a Day 
schoolmaster to teach in a Sabbath school ; but very often they both 
can, and will do so, of their own accord, and often would have a class 
of their own elder monitors on the Sunday, which might be of the 
utmost value to our Churches. But on Sunday there is no reason 
why the model schools of the Central Seminary should not be turned 
into Sabbath schools — boys', girls', and infant, and such of the pupil- 
teachers as were willing to devote part of the Sabbath to this pur- 
pose, practised in teaching. The novel institution already found so 
useful in many quarters — an Infant Sabbath school — would be 
improved, and the idea spread wherever it is yet unknown. No 
means could be more powerful in aid of our educational eifort than the 
linking closely together our Day with our Sabbath schools. They 
would thus react on each other for mutual improvement. Never be 
it forgotten, that the Sabbath school was the pioneer of daily educa- 
tion for the people, and should be held in grateful esteem by all 
educationalists : of course I do not intend to suggest that our Day 
scholars should be forced or unduly enticed into our chapels or 
Sabbath schools, but merely that the two agencies for educating the 
people should be harmonised and combined. 

45. We are then to suppose our operations thus expanded, our 
school buildings ready, and our model schools near at hand. "What 
should be the internal arrangements? The model schools, with 
their master and mistresses, may be left out of the question. It is, 
however, very important that a due control should be possessed over 
these by the Board of Education, or that the Committee of the 
schools, which may be adopted as model schools, should be one in 
which perfect confidence is felt, otherwise the operations of the 
Normal school may be seriously impeded and thwarted. The 
Normal school itself will require a principal and a matron resident in 
the house, and having charge respectively — one, of the male teachers 
and the entire educational proceedings of the institution, and the 
other, of the female teachers and the domestic arrangements. Various 

K 2 


masters and mistresses for different branches of instruction are 
needed. Lecture-room, sitting-room for pupil-teachers, and sleeping- 
rooms must be provided. And so the establishment in its outline is 
before you. 

The director of such an institution should be a sort of embodiment 
in his own person of the principles on which it is founded. His 
chief business is to lecture, and exercise the pupils in the art and 
practice of teaching. This is done by giving them instruction on 
the methods and objects of teaching, the general history and con- 
dition of education in other countries, the most recent improvements 
in different branches of the art, — into all which remarks there should 
be ever infused such a moral and religious spirit, as may mould and 
influence the character to higher aims than those of mere secular 
training. The lessons should usually open with a prayer. His 
intercourse with the pupils out of the lecture-room is a most 
important means of benefit. It should be affectionate, improving, 
and religious in its tone. The director should be familiar with the 
private views and feelings of his pupils. He should visit them by 
turns in their own room, or have them into his, for the purpose of 
labouring to arouse them to the most eminent attainments, in their 
chosen calling, for the service of religion and their country. He 
may sometimes read and pray with them, taking kind notice of their 
difficulties — reproving, instructing, and encouraging them — entering 
into their personal circumstances and prospects — seeking to win 
their confidence — watching over their health and character with 
affectionate interest. His connection with them in the Normal 
school should be of such a character as to secure their grateful 
affection through life, and make them ever ready to have recourse 
to this early faithful friend and adviser in future difficulties. The 
matron, also, should be capable of similar influence over the female 
teachers ; not a mere housekeeper, but one whose intercourse may 
prove quickening to the pupils who are in daily contact with her. 
The same may be said of all the masters employed. May our 
Normal schools be fortunate in obtaining the services of thoroughly 
qualified and devoted labourers, who cannot desire a nobler sphere, 
and may expect, in success, a rich reward ! 

46. The admission of pupils requires the greatest vigilance. 
Those candidates must be selected who are most likely to advance 
the character of education. Those who assume the position of 
teachers mainly for a livelihood, must not be encouraged. Those 


who have no marked capability for the work, or who, whatever tact 
they possess, have no decidedly religious motive for undertaking it, 
must not find admission. Let the Board place little reliance on 
recommendations or certificates, but use every exertion to make 
personal and indirect inquiries, and rely much more on a judicious 
examination in their own presence. Few persons have courage 
enough to refuse recommendations if solicited, though they doubt, 
or are quite ignorant of the person's worth who asks them. Pastors 
cannot do a kinder thing to a young person, whose gifts are not 
striking, than to dissuade rather than encourage any application. 
The present system, according to which ministers sign their names 
and give testimonials, simply because they see that others have done 
the same, or to relieve themselves of trouble, is a disgrace to us as a 
body, and renders this kind of recommendation of none eifect. 

After all, the best test, next to a strict personal examination, is a 
month's probation ; after which the case should be again examined 
formally, and decided. Timidity as to consequences should never 
induce managers to relax these requirements. To keep up the high 
character of their seminary is of far more ultimate importance than 
the losing a few mediocre applicants. Beside moral and religious 
character, natural good temper, active habits, fondness for children, 
and aptness to teach, as well as a good measure of general informa- 
tion to begin vdth, are very desirable in every pupil-teacher. At 
first, it may be difficult to find those who come up to such a mark ; 
but the very setting up of the standard would soon gather a sufficient 
number around it, and when once the character of the educator is 
thus raised, an incomparable pattern would be exhibited to the 
country and the world. It is requisite, that the teachers should be 
trained beyond the point of intellectual attainment absolutely neces- 
sary ; for no one teaches well what he knows, unless he knows a good 
deal more than he teaches. The pupils must practise teaching 
under the eye of the director in the model- schools. They should 
be trained to bear the criticism of their masters and fellow-teachers. 
At other times they should be left alone with a class. The period 
of residence at the Normal school should be fixed, and should not 
be less than two years. Some provision should be made to insure 
the services of those who leave the training school, for at least two 
or three years after the close of their preparatory course, or for the 
refunding of the expense incurred by the Institution in their prepa 
ration. So it might be reasonably hoped the services of a large 


number of well-qualified persons would be obtained, and they would 
go forth, year by year, in more numerous companies, "full of the 
Holy Ghost and of wisdom," to reproduce, by the grace of God, in 
various localities, what they had witnessed and assisted to sustain in 
the model schools. One such institution as this would eflfect a more 
salutary and radical change in our entire educational system, than 
the most unsparing profusion of schools scattered over the country, 
and retaining the present deficient objects and methods of popular 

47. I have now done. I have sought to explain the proper cha- 
racter of a Normal school — the elevation required before the educator 
takes his right place in society — the utility of Normal schools in 
accomplishing that elevation, and the history of these institutions 
from Pestalozzi to the present day, in Europe and America, as well 
as in our own country. I have also ventured to suggest an imme- 
diate expansion of our Congregational Normal schools, to meet the 
present emergency, especially the speedy formation of a Normal 
school for training infant-school teachers. I would urge the 
expending on these efforts the main resources of our educational 
movements. I doubt not the gentlemen of the Board, and its 
officers, and the chief friends of education among us, are fully alive 
to the importance of training first-rate teachers. But possibly some 
of our ministers and people, looking anxiously to their local schools, 
may overlook, unless reminded, the imperative need of helping to 
maintain, in full vigour, that central institution, on whose efficiency 
must depend the character of all provincial schools, because it 
moulds their teacher. Let me entreat our wealthier friends, both in 
town and country, to contribute heartily and largely to this effort, 
remembering that in our present state it is more true than ever that 
" Bis dat qui cito dat." On the whole, I regard the call on us to 
support our Normal schools peculiarly in this day of struggle for 
freedom of teaching, as scarcely inferior to the high claim of our 
colleges for the education of the ministry. 

48. Congregational Dissenters, suffer the word of exhortation. 
We are committed to a noble but arduous stand for liberty, both of 
education and religion. We are entering on an encounter with for- 
midable and numerous antagonists. The vast preponderance of 
influence, both in Church and State, is combined with a desperate 
eagerness to prevent the prevalence of our ecclesiastical principles. 
Our cause we feel to be good and right. The signs of the times are 


in our favour. Our predecessors had not our opportunity to gain 
public attention. The time they were biding has at last arrived. 
If in this crisis we are to play the part of Christian men, it must be 
with sacrifice. For a time popularity may depart. As we gain a 
real power, our sense of weakness and the abusive opposition of 
opponents will increase. When we are decided, waverers will leave 
us offended. We shall be shaken and sifted. The burden may fall 
heavily on the property, character, and interests of those who are 
thoroughly earnest. Some may die before the triumph comes. Yet 
faith in a cause allied so closely with the honour of our religion, and 
the liberties of our fatherland, shall not be disappointed. 

Some there are, I grieve to say, who would sound a retreat ; who 
affect, most untruly, to represent a large disaffected minority ; who 
expose to our opponents an exaggerated picture of our weakness 
and divisions ; who provoke jealousies and heart-burnings amongst 
us; who blame our intemperate zeal, and boast their superior 
moderation ; who bid us conceal our obnoxious principles, from a 
prudent regard to circumstances ; who excite prejudice by declaring 
that we are neglecting to build the Church of Christ, in order to 
pull down other church systems, and that Dissent is now declining 
through the new rash policy of avowing our ultimate designs, 
wholly unmindful of its collapsed condition during the previous 
years of moderation and reserve. What though these unworthy 
attacks come backed by the grave authority of men of learning, 
character, and experience, who profess to befriend us ! Here, in the 
heart of London, I hft my humble voice against the injurious and 
disheartening counsels of all such timorous spirits. Had our 
enemies spoken thus it were natural, but our friends — 

" Who would not laugh if such a man there be ? 
Who would not weep if Atticus were he ? " 

Why conceal our principles, unless we are ashamed of them? 
Why fear to bring down the assaults and sacrifices which Truth 
ever expects her servants bravely to endure? Let us hold fast 
Christian charity, self-possession, and a reverential subordination of 
our own views to the will of the Most High. But let us not shrink. 
Remember Mordecai's motto, sent to Queen Esther in a fearful 
crisis, reminding her that influence bestowed by Heaven brings with 
it responsibility : — " For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this 
time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jew* 


from another 'place, hut thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed ; 
and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a 
time as this!" Divine Providence prepared our forefathers, even 
according to the infidel Hume, to save the civil liberties of English- 
men. " JVho knoweth" whether he hath brought us to our peculiar 
and trying position for a similar noble purpose. If any smile at our 
apparent boasting, let him think that God has made us the depo- 
sitaries of certain principles which seem destined to overthrow the 
present tottering ecclesiastical Establishments ; and the same God 
can endow us with grace to become the means, in his hand, of pro- 
ducing the greatest changes. Great occasions have ever been the 
nursery of magnanimous and heroic conduct. The heroism of the 
Greek character was formed in the furnace of the Persian invasion. 
When the innumerable host of Xerxes threatened, by land and sea, 
to sweep the people from their ancestral soil, then discords ceased ; 
a national feeling arose ; Athenian celerity and inventiveness blended 
with Spartan fixedness and resolution ; a combined devotion of pro- 
perty and person was called forth by stern necessity, from which the 
formidable foe at last recoiled. 

We Congregationalists must pass through the furnace to become 
worthy of success. The present crisis may, under the Divine 
blessing, impart to us, as a body, that elevation of character and 
breadth of purpose which only can qualify us and our descendants 
to wield, with wisdom and purity, the influence which must accrue 
when our views become prevalent. This education struggle is our 
present battle-field. I look upon these Normal schools as a Ther- 
mopylae, where a few brave hearts may rally, and succeed in repulsing 
from a free territory the encroachments of a powerful host. And I 
rejoice that we are not without a Leonidas, who, by his incomparable 
exertions, — his sacrifice of personal connections and interests, — his 
able, temperate, and unflinching advocacy of free education, at the 
very moment when it was both most difficult and most necessary, — 
has shown how much one man of resolute purpose may do in 
stemming the current of popular feeling. Fear not but, in the long 
run, a free education will work better, and be more popular, than 
Government schools. But, whatever the issue, it is our part to 
make the experiment, and to preserve our Voluntary schools to the 
last, in the face of the most overpowering competition. To this end, 
let our chief efforts be directed towards the training of the best 
teachers, in the largest possible numbers. 


49. I cannot forbear from addressing a closing word or two to 


Ponder well, I beseech you, my friends, which system will tell best 
in the end on your profession. No doubt, to you as individuals, 
advantageous offers may present inducements to accept public money. 
But are you sure whether by doing so even the remuneration of 
your services will be permanently increased ? Will not the grant 
which Government gives go rather to save the money of the sub- 
scribers than to afford you any additional help ? So it has been with 
the Irish Regium Donum, which has shamefully diminished the free 
contributions to the ministers' salaries from Presbyterian congrega- 
tions. It is already reported to have been so in schools which have 
taken the Government grants. On the Voluntary principle, the 
salaries of teachers have been constantly rising and must rise, while 
the Government bounty, if it raises them a little at first, vrill fix 
them at a stationary point ever after. But you do not regard 
pecuniary interests as a paramount consideration. Look then, into 
the public reports of Government. Inspect, and ask yourselves, to 
what a stretch of power the influence of these gentlemen may not 
be carried, and how little independence will remain to teachers 
subject to it. To please a Committee may be hard enough, but how 
will you deal with a single Inspector, from whom you have no prac- 
ticable appeal ? who can at once dissatisfy your supporters with your 
labours, and may hinder you from gaining a fresh situation ? If you 
enter a Normal school connected vrith the State, you will become 
through life part and parcel of a system which, though it appear 
liberal and generous in the outset, claims and possesses the power 
to rob you of all independence, to ruin your prospects if you resist, 
and which must become (as in other lands) more and more grasping 
and arbitrary as it consolidates its power, and loses fear of provoking 
dangerous resistance. Look at the clergy of this and other lands 
who have become endowed by the State. At first some inde- 
pendence, and the form of self-government, was left to them ; but in 
process of time, that honourable profession has been stripped of all 
ecclesiastical power — burdened by oaths and other restrictions — bound 
hand and foot by the power and bribes of human governments. 
The forms of liberty remain in Established churches, but only as 
the objects of sad ridicule and deserved mockery to all intelligent 
observers ; while the real power is exercised by worldly politicians, 
who tighten rather than relax the reins of usurped authority. Let 


the day-school teacher, who is no hireling, but who honours and 
loves his profession, avoid the snare which has written " Ichabod " 
on the endowed clerical profession, lest a like degradation befal the 
educator also. 

And, brethren, in a day when absurd panics of invasion— of wars, 
and rumours of wars — have directed public attention to the weight of 
martial taxation, the sin of national warfare, the folly of mural and 
armed defences, let those who are anxious to avert any recurrence 
to the horrors and atrocities of European war, employ the season of 
peace yet more earnestly in cultivating the intelligence of the masses 
of the people, and so throwing round our native land the best of all 
bulwarks— that sound Christian education which has been well 
called "the cheap defence of nations!" 





Introductory and apologetic remarks — Limited view of tlie State Educationists— Tlielr 
mode of dealing with the subject protested against— The question stated— Compulsory 
provision for education objected to — 1. As displacing a confessedly superior system of 
means— 2. As involving conseqViences too great for calculation— 3. As retrogressive 
in its character — 4. As offering no guarantee for the fulfilment of its promises — 5. As 
likely to enervate social phUanthropy, and lower the tone of public spirit — 6. As con- 
demned by experience — 7. As essentially unjust — 8. As opposed to the general tenor 
of God's moral administration — Concluding summary. 

The subject assigned to me for exposition by the Committee who 
arranged for the present series of Lectures was described by them in 
the following words : — "The Non-interference of the Government 
with Popular Education." If, guided by a reference to the other 
topics selected by them for treatment, and in the absence of a more 
exact specification of their plans, I have correctly caught their 
meaning, it is this — That it is neither the duty of Civil Government, 
nor would it be for the interest of its subjects, to make legal pro- 
vision for the education of the people. This, at any rate, is the 
conclusion to which it will be my aim to conduct you. 

I can most unfeignedly aver that I enter upon my imdertaking 
with great diffidence. I would fain have shrunk from it, if my 
conscience would have permitted me. In many respects, I feel 


myself to be ill-qualified to do it justice. Amidst the pressure of 
other engagements, I fear that my visits to the abstract truth, at 
whose shrine I bow my reason, have been too hurried, and, there- 
fore, too irreverential to allow of a full and satisfying insight into its 
more hidden mysteries. I could have wished to have given to the 
contemplation of it a mind, at once calm, free, earnest, and undis- 
tracted — and not to have come forth from its presence until my 
whole intellect and heart had become penetrated by its light, and 
baptized with its spirit. I look upon the theme as invoMng in it 
principles of the grandest import, the reception of which by nations 
is an earnest of indefinite progress, the rejection of which is a sen- 
tence of perpetual wandering to and fro — in relation to which belief 
will conduct them at last to " a land flowing with milk and honey" 
— disbelief, leave them to " perish in the wilderness." Hence, I 
am painfully sensible, how likely it is that the question should prove 
too lofty for my reach, and too comprehensive for my grasp ; and I 
candidly confess, that if sense of obligation would but have over- 
looked the cowardice, inclination would have prompted me to give 
my task the slip. 

Let me not, however, be misunderstood. Painfully alive as I am 
to the deficiencies under which I labour, in this attempt to make 
good the position assigned me to defend, I have not the smallest 
misgiving as to the soundness of the position itself. With all my 
consciousness of the fallibility of human judgment, and with the 
readiest and heartiest recognition of the authority, learning, and 
talent arrayed against me, I feel myself entitled to declare, that my 
convictions on the subject are settled, and, I think, unchangeable. 
This profession, I am aware, savours somewhat of presumption ; 
but unless a modest estimate of our own powers binds us to surren- 
der at discretion any or all knowledge which we hold to be morally 
certain, at the bidding of superior intellect, or, it may be, pre-emi- 
nent virtue, I think I may retain my humility without letting go my 
confidence. A child upon a hill-top may see the relative bearings 
of the objects outspread before him more clearly than a philosopher 
at its base. That the advocates of a compulsory provision for the 
education of the people are wrong, I have no more doubt than I 
have that some of their premises are right ; but the whole strain of 
their argument convinces me that they look at the question from a 
low position. I impugn not their motives — I am far from under- 
rating their ability — but I do say, in no faltering accents, that from 


the gronud of immediate and temporary expediency, they cannot 
command a view of the whole subject before them. How the means 
of elementary education may most speedily overtake the wants of 
the people, however important an inquiry, is not one the answer to 
which should be held to decide the propriety of Government inter- 
ference. And here, as it seems to me, is the radical error of our 
opponents. Their benevolence is in a hurry. The eyes of their 
judgment are bedimmed with the tears of their sympathy. Them- 
selves rejoicing in the abundance of pleasure and profit resulting 
from education, and feeling acutely for the privations of the ignorant, 
they burn to impart to others what they value for themselves with 
all the haste which human possibilities will admit of. Like over- 
fond parents, they wish to stimulate the mind of their country into 
precocious development, forgetting, in the excess of their affectionate 
concern, that by a general law, admitting of but few exceptions, 
precocity of all kinds is followed by an early death. 

I must protest, therefore, at the very outset of this discussion, 
against the claim of any conclusion to be regarded as final, which 
covers nothing more than the proof of a clear want, and a plan 
adapted to supply that want. I protest against the wrong done to 
my reason, when I am told, here is a terrible evil, and here are 
means by which it may be removed, and am bidden at the same 
moment to overleap all the considerations which lie between' the 
want and the proposed method of removal. I may have physical 
demonstration of the inconveniences attendant upon an ulcerated 
limb, and I may have satisfactory evidence that it may be cured by 
the use of HoUoway's ointment ; but, surely I am not bound there- 
upon to admit, that a resort to such a remedy must be the dictate 
of far-seeing wisdom. I might inquire, for instance, before looking 
upon the question as finally closed, whether the ingredients of that 
much-advertised medicine, are such as prudence would consent to 
put in contact with my constitution — whether the sores it is capable 
of drying up may not be symptoms of a disease which it is sure to 
aggravate — and whether, whilst it does what it undertakes to do, it 
will not also do something else, which was not " set down in the 
bond," and in comparison of which, I would prefer to endure my 
pain and my infirmity for a few months longer. It is to the solution 
of inquiries precisely analogous to these, that I propose to devote 
the few remarks which follow. I am not here to deny the exist- 
ence, nor the yirulence of the festering complaint, although I take 


leave to remark, in passing, that when partizans describe English- 
men as " the worst educated people in Europe," their tone of exag- 
geration suggests the idea of a beggar in quest of alms, rather than 
of a physician soberly stating his judgment of a case. Nor do I 
undertake to point out to you the efficiency of another and more 
natural agency of cure ; this has already been done by one pre- 
eminently qualified in all respects for his work. My business, as 
I conceive, is this — I have to consider whether, taking for granted 
the worst of these representations which have been made to us of 
popular ignorance, and assuming virtue in the specific recommended, 
a wise people should consent to remove the one by the application 
of the other — whether there are not some great laws of mind and of 
Providential government which, in doing this, we should violate, and 
the violation of which will entail penalties more to be dreaded than 
those which past neglect have brought upon us, — whether, in a 
word, we should do well to listen to the advice of men who propose 
to alleviate present misery, without paying any very solicitous 
regard to prospective and remote consequences. Our opponents 
may be considered as counsel for the present generation. I stand 
here as counsel for posterity. They call for an instant suppression 
of a crying grievance. I ask for a wise suppression of it. They 
appeal to the specialties of the case. I appeal to broad, general, 
indefeasible principles. 

I believe it is common for Englishmen, before they fight, to strip ; 
for soldiers, before they lay siege to a fortress, to clear away the 
brushwood by which it is surrounded ; and for lovers of truth to 
disencumber their argument of all those extraneous questions, which 
tend to perplex the judgment. I will try, then, to make bare, 
definite, and palpable, the point at issue. 

It may be as well, at the outset, to state, that I shall have no 
occasion to put this audience to the trouble of drawing a distinction 
between secular and religious education — a distinction so easily laid 
down on paper, and so impossible to be preserved in practice. It 
will content me, so far as the present question is concerned, to 
understand by the term " education" the communication of desir- 
able knowledge, and the formation of praiseworthy habits. This, 
I imagine, to be a fair statement of the good sought to be imparted, 
whether by the Government, or by any other organized agency. 
Neither do I intend to push my opponents to a strict definition of 
what is meant by popixlar education. It is quite certain, that to the 


eye of a statesman attempting to reduce theory to practice, and 
words to things, a grave difficulty might be seen to lurk under the 
term. Is he to give education to the people, irrespectively of their 
worldly circumstances, to rich and poor alike ; or is he to select the 
poor only, and, if so, where is he to draw the line of demarcation ? 
I repeat it, I will dispense with the advantage which common 
sense might wrest from our opponents, by these and similar demands 
for further and more precise information. I will suppose this 
information to have been furnished — I will suppose the word 
" popular," or " national," when employed to designate the precise 
range within which a compulsory provision of the means of instruc- 
tion is expected to bear fruit, to exclude all who can afford to 
educate their own children, and to include those only who are abso- 
lutely dependent upon help from without. Further, I will allow 
the advocates of Government interference — and herein I shall be far 
more liberal to them than the Legislature, whose aid they invoke — 
to choose their own plan, to construct their own machinery, to 
appoint their own officers, schoolmasters, and monitors, and to pre- 
side in every parish or district over their own schools. So far as 
I can avoid it, I will give them no opportunity of setting aside all 
my reasoning — the good, the bad, and the indifferent alike — by 
telling me that it is directed against the theory of a State system of 
education, whereas they contend merely for a National system. 
Government interference I will assume to mean nothing more than 
a legal provision of the means of desirable instruction for those who 
cannot secure them for themselves. And now I come to the point 
to be determined. A certain, and, in accordance with my conces- 
sions, a clearly defined portion of the community are wholly des- 
titute of the means of suitable instruction. On what principle is 
that destitution to be met ?— on the principle of moral and religious 
obligation, or on the principle of legal authority ? Granting, not as 
a fact, but simply as an argument, that the force of " you ought " 
has not sufficed as yet to remove the evil, is it wise, is it just, is it, 
in the long run, kind to resort, for that purpose, to the force of 
" you shall ?" With all the emphasis which strong conviction can 
give to expressive language, I answer " No!" 

I am quite conscious that this answer is of Uttle worth unless 
backed by an array of good substantial reasons, and that its dignity 
will be measured by the train of argument at its back. To marshal 
these before the judgment of this audience constitutes the burden of 


this evening's task. Whilst engaged in this work, I venture to 
hespeak your patience and your candour. It may be, that consider- 
ations which have left an indelible impression upon my mind, may 
fail to plant a trace of their power upon the minds of others. Yet, 
perhaps, it will not be deemed unbecoming in me to remark, that, 
on high moral questions, the weight of an argument is not always to 
be calculated from the degree of pressure felt from it by the under- 
standing. Where all the habits and exercises of thought have been 
called into activity, by what we term the practical business of life, it 
is only natural that men should exhibit a toughness of mental tex- 
ture, which makes them insensible to the force of abstract moral 
speculation. It may be, also, that in an opposite case, that force 
may be unconsciously over-rated. All, therefore, that remains for 
me to do, is to submit to you, in order, the views which have guided 
me to the conclusion I maintain, and leave you to decide, after a 
careful examination of them, whether you can trust them to conduct 
you to the same point. 

The first thought which beckons me in the direction of my final 
decision, is suggested by the spontaneous concession of our oppo- 
nents. I find them forward to admit, that the education of the 
young devolves originally upon the parent, and that any lack of 
power in the parent to discharge his trust would be more fitly sup- 
plied, supposing it to be supplied at all, by benevolence, than by 
authority. They say, that if the force of " you ought " were but 
adequate to do the whole work of education, it were unquestionably 
to be preferred to the force of "you shall." True, some who have 
conceded this in terms, recal it in their argument, and claim for the 
poor man the luxury of demanding the education of his offspring as 
a right rather than a boon. I will not stay to test the validity of 
this claim, further than to ask from what source a man with nine 
shillings a week, and who may be taken, for argument sake, to come 
just within the line of destitution, derives his right to require from 
his neighbour, with ten shillings a week, who stands on the other 
side of the line, to contribute in taxation to the instruction of his 
children ? Setting aside, then, this novel and over-stretched claim as 
empty flourish, I ask, whether the admission generally made, that 
Voluntary benevolence, if it were but up to the mark, is superior as 
a moving power to magisterial authority, does not imply something 
worth consideration ? Either there is a virtue in this agency which 
cannot be discovered in that, or there is a defect or danger in that 


which does not attach itself to this. Whether a sense of moral and 
religious obligation works the machinery of popular education more 
kindly, — whether it elicits and exercises more nobleness of soul, or 
gives freer scope to the play of generous affections, — whether its 
movements are less clumsy, and are capable of readier adaptation to 
changing circumstances, — or whether legislative intervention imports 
some elements of danger, deadens some laudable sensibilities, or 
drains its vitality from a spirit of self-reliance, it is not necessary for 
me to decide in the present state of the argument. My immediate 
business is with the concession itself, — with the recognised superi- 
ority in kind of "ought" over "shall," as a moving force in the 
matter of national education. It occurs to me, as I should presume 
it will occur to every thoughtful mind, to inquire what is the 
exigency which dictates a resort from the one to the other. The 
Voluntary principle, it is said, cannot overtake the evil calling for 
removal. Now, what does this mean ? That it cannot overtake the 
evil this year, or next, or within twenty years, or within fifty ? 
What are the broad features of its past history ? Until a very 
recent date, it did whatever work was done, single-handed and alone, 
— did it, too, when fashion and authority opposed its influence, and 
sneered at it for its pains and perseverance. Well, has education 
advanced under its auspices, — and is it still advancing ? Instances, 
no doubt, may be adduced, of efforts here and there given up, or of 
periods of exhaustion after particular outbreaks of spasmodic excite- 
ment and exertion. But draw not your inferences from the wavelets 
that ripple at your feet. The tide may be steadily rising, though 
the pebble you saw covered but just since is now left dry. Calculate 
by some surer marks. Cast your eye back some twenty years. 
Are the means of education fewer, in proportion to the population, 
now than they were then ? Is the question less prominent than it 
was, or does it excite less interest than it did ? Are there more or 
fewer readers, — an increased or diminished supply of books, papers, 
and periodicals? Are the working classes, on the whole, more 
brutal in their tastes, or less intelligent and enlightened than they 
were ? Or, comparing the last five years of the twenty with the 
first, can it be averred, that sense of moral obligation in this par- 
ticular matter is less general, less powerful, or less active than it 
was? I am not afraid of the answer. The pen of history has 
written it, and the world has yet to witness the effrontery which 
would tear out the leaf. Mark now the demand that is made upon 

L 2 


US ! Two generations have scarcely passed away since England awoke 
to the importance of educating the poorer classes. Spontaneous 
benevolence commenced the work, — carried it on, spite of numerous 
difficulties and powerful opposition, — is still active, energetic, and, I 
may add, augmenting, both in power and in skill. Do you reall}' 
believe, in the face of all this evidence, that what yet remains to be 
done can never be accomplished by this same system of agency, — a 
system which you admit to be preferable in kind to that of magi- 
sterial or legal compulsion ? Let your faith, however, be what it 
may, ours roots itself in a knowledge and experience of the past. 
We cling to the confessedly superior system, and doubt whether 
" ought," which is prospering in its work, can be prudently thrust 
aside by " shall," simply because it has not yet completed it ; 
because, although advancing by rapid strides, it is not " as swift as 
meditation or the thoughts of love." You point us to much yet 
remaining to be done, — to much more than Government itself can 
do in a trice ; but we will take leave to question whether the ulterior 
and less difficult stages of the enterprise ought to be handed over for 
achievement to a totally opposite principle of agency to that which 
accomplished the earlier and the more arduous. We do not say 
that out of the concessions of our opponents we can fairly extract 
a justification of our refusal to admit compulsory aid ; but we say 
that, viewed in juxta-position with the history of popular education 
in this country, they may well make us pause, and think further 
before we finally commit ourselves. 

And here a second and still graver thought forces itself upon our 
consideration. The advocates of a legal provision for the education 
of the poor call for the adoption of a change so entire, so vast, so 
fraught with new elements of influence and contingencies of peril, 
that we must be excused for asking them if they really know and 
appreciate what they are about. Let us look at it first in miniature. 
Is it too much to assert, that individual character is largely, is 
incalculably affected, for good or for evil, by the kind of force which 
is brought to bear upon it, in order to the determination of conduct ? 
Is not every one aware, that when the moving power is from within, 
the wheels, if I may so express it, which it sets agoing, and which 
direct and regulate, whilst they transmit it to its chosen end, are the 
main elements of virtue ? and that, when the moving power is from 
without, the whole mechanism of mind is superseded as useless ? 
Whv, what is the essential distinction between a freeman and a 


slave, but simply this, that the personal conduct of the one is 
prompted by his will, that of the other dictated by authority ? The 
two states differ most materially, not merely in the class of enjoy- 
ments each will yield, but in the kind of virtues which they admit 
of. No moral change can happen to a man calculated more 
extensively to affect his destiny, than that which removes him from 
the sphere of "you ought" to that of "you shall." It brings the 
growth of his character under subjection to an entirely opposite set 
of conditions. Most of the impulses which before moved him 
become useless. All the exercises of thought, desire, prudence, 
judgment, self-command, and the like, are thrown out of gear. To 
the whole extent to which he is under external pressure and con- 
straint, he ceases to be a living soul— he is nothing more than a 
structure of complex animal mechanism. 

Now, we take the liberty to ask our opponents when, in relation to 
one great department of social responsibility and duty, they aim to 
transfer a whole nation from the dominion of the one force to that of 
the other — from the self- moving power of moral obligation to the 
external power of legal authority — whether they possess any certain 
means of measuring the extent of the moral change they are seeking 
to effect ? Few of them, we suspect, have seriously taken this into 
account. They talk loudly of the impolicy, the cruelty, the danger 
of leaving so large a section of the community as are now devoid of 
the means of instruction in their present state of helpless ignorance ; 
but have they, in that spirit of manliness which dares to look on 
both sides of the question, pondered the result upon, not a fragment 
of society, however large, but society itself— of placing it under what 
may be called a new dispensation ? Why, in reach and duration of 
influence over national character, I cannot conceive of any merely 
political revolution that might bear comparison with it. How far 
it would ultimately reverse the current of thought— the seeds of 
what novel habits it would sow — what modifying power it would 
exert upon the sympathies— or what sort of effect it might have 
upon sense of obligation — are problems of solemn moment where a 
great nation is concerned ; of far more solemn moment, though, 
perhaps, not generally so felt, than any change in the form of civil 
government. I do not determine, at this stage of the discussion, 
whether the alteration would be for weal or woe. My purpose, just 
now, is simply to draw attention to its magnitude. Men have talked 
so gUbly, and even jestingly, about it, that we are in danger of con- 



tracting the notion, that nothing more serious is involved than more 
or fewer schoolmasters— a better or a worse provision for the instruc- 
tion of the poor. The truth, however, is, that the proposal put 
before us is nothing less than that, to an immense extent, we should 
shift the axis of social morality, and that, whereas, so far as care of 
the mind and morals of our neighbour is concerned, it once turned 
upon sense of responsibility, it shall turn, for the future, upon legal 
compulsion. "Without deciding whether ttis be right or wrong, we 
say the change recommended is so vast, so incapable of accurate 
measurement, that, before we could be brought to accede to it, we 
must see a much stronger case of necessity than any which has yet 
been made out, and laid before the public. We are not disposed to 
try this tremendous experiment upon national character merely to 
put forward the cause of education by a few years. 

I advance another step in the argument : I submit, that the 
transference of educational movement, so warmly urged, from the 
basis of Voluntary exertions to that of law, is not only a change of 
inconceivable vastness, but one which carries us in a backward direc- 
tion. It deliberately sentences the nation to sit on a lower form. 
Hitherto, the progress of humanity has been upwards — from passive 
submission to power, to cheerful and willing obedience to truth. 
Just in proportion as the wise and far-reaching combinations of 
Providential government have developed man, just in that proportion 
have they elevated him into the region of individuality, and taught 
him to find his impelling motives in his own conscience and affec- 
tions. That he might be governed by truth rather than by power, 
would seem to be the leading purpose of revealed religion. Hence, 
Christianity has exhibited truth to him in forms of loveliness so 
attractive, of adaptation to his wants so complete and cognizable, of 
mastery over his affections so potent and transforming, that, wherever 
it is received, it supersedes the action of law from without, by im- 
planting a stronger and more generous law within. And it is worthy 
of remark, that all the arrangements of Providence are adjusted upon 
the principle of calling out into daily exercise this inner and indivi- 
dual life. The stage upon which we are placed is crowded with 
opportunities inviting it to action — all its appropriate exercises are 
accompanied by pleasure — all its neglects entail penalty. Within 
the range of his capabilities, each man is made responsible for the 
progress and welfare of the world ; each has his post, his influence, 
his power over other minds, his share of social importance. The 


first, the most natural, and, in the long run, the most eiFective, 
appeal of want and misery for help and alleviation, is to individual 
sympathy and sense of social obhgation. No favourable response to 
that appeal can be given without improving and ennobling the nature 
of him that gives it. Society trained up under such an arrangement 
— encouraged, on the one hand, by the ample rewards which follow the 
discharge of obhgation, and disciplined, on the other, by the sharp 
penalties incurred by neglect, gradually gets the better of its selfish- 
ness, becomes more thoughtful, acquires a greater sensibility of 
conscience, and drops, one after another, as not only useless but 
cumbersome, most of those severe restraints and appliances of coer- 
cion which it once judged to be absolutely indispensable. 

Looking at the nature of the human mind, at the general prin- 
ciples of Providential government, and at the spirit and tenor of 
heaven-born Christianity, it may be safely affirmed that law, as law, 
is " a beggarly element of the world ;" that in its operation upon 
human nature it advances none of the great ends of man's probation 
— elicits none of his active virtues — ripens in him none of the germs 
of truth. To the whole extent to which it displaces individual sense 
of obligation, it sends him back from manhood to infancy — from the 
world to the nursery — from a moral dispensation to a dispensation 
of physical force. 

Now, I confess, that I augur no lasting good to society from the 
very general disposition of the present age to merge individual 
responsibility into that of civil government, and to perform our 
duty to our neighbour by a sort of public proxy, — thus attempting 
to evade the penalties of our own indolence and selfishness, by 
purchasing a joint-stock substitute for fulfilling our solemn trust. 
If peril arises to our social security and our free institutions, from 
the growth in our midst of a formidable excrescence of ignorance 
and vice, does not that peril warn us for some nobler purpose than 
that of going back to coercive principles, and of renouncing our 
reliance upon all the higher motives to exertion ? Is that a wise, is 
it a becoming use to make of the punishment of our past neglect, to 
put ourselves into a position which exiles us from the region of 
future virtue, and ministers to our safety only by degrading us from 
the category of agents into that of tools ? When Providence affixed 
to our social selfishness and inactivity the appropriate penalty of 
danger to our social interests, was it with the design, think you, of 
spurring us forward to increased vigilance, generosity, and concern 


for others, or of driving us into a resignation of the high and 
honourable charge committed to us, into the hands of civil govern- 
ment ? The men who counsel us to consent to a legal provision of 
the means of education for the poor, point to the consequences 
resulting from many generations of delinquency ; and, instead of 
deducing therefrom the most cogent argument for instant, earnest, 
and self-denying activity, tell us that virtue must be abandoned as 
inefficient, and that we must seal our own humiliation by invoking 
the interposition of force. I object to this, as treachery to the 
moral dignity of society. I protest against this hasty revocation of 
the commission it holds — or, rather, this passionate and unmanly 
transfer of it to other hands. I challenge the right of any people, 
however unanimous, to shift the responsibiUty which God has 
imposed upon them as individuals, upon the shoulders of a mere 
Committee for the whole. And I am compelled to wonder whither 
has fled the respect of Christian men for their own nature, to say 
nothing of the genius of the religion which they profess, when, in a 
matter so vital as the training up of childhood, they ask that their 
country shall be relieved from any further trial of the law and dis- 
pensation of moral obligation, and shall be subject, henceforth, to 
the law of brute force. Why, it is nothing less than condemning a 
community — on account of some awkwardness in its earliest attempts 
to feed itself— to a perpetual infliction of the bib and the spoon. It 
is a concession made to laziness ; one of those short cuts by which 
national sloth hopes to save itself the toil of a tedious journey — the 
vulgar impatience which cannot wait to untie a knot, but calls for a 
knife to cut it — the puerile officiousness which, distrusting the influ- 
ence of sunshine and rain to open the rose-bud, pulls it open with 
rude fingers, and thinks to hasten it to its blushing and beauteous 
maturity. It bodes no good ; it bodes, I fear, darker and drearier 
times, this itching propensity to go down to Egypt for help— to run 
for shelter from the land of promise, to the land of horsemen and 
chariots. If we take not heed, it will put back the moral destinies 
of the world for many generations. 

Before we can be expected, in reason, to acquiesce in this great 
change, or to beat a retreat upon a principle which, in such a matter 
as education, we cannot, either as freemen or Christians, occupy 
without shame, we ought, at least, to be well assured that the special 
advantage which, by such means, we hope to purchase, will be fully 
obtained. That it should be as extensive as it jjromises— substan- 


tial, and not hollow — permanent, and not transitory — is the least 
demand we are entitled to make. But, to my judgment, no guarantee 
has been yet oiBFered us, that the demand will be satisfactorily met. 
This legal provision of educational means may possibly prove a 
failure. I confess, I, for one, have my doubts — doubts strong 
enough to drag me upon the very confines of disbelief. In the first 
place, the real disease appears to me to lie far down beyond the 
reach of cmy system of educational means. When you have placed 
your school, your schoolmasters, your books and apparatus, in every 
parish or district, just as you have provided your church and your 
clergyman, is there not ground to fear, that abject poverty will 
operate to prevent the use of them by the children, in the one case, 
as it does by the parents in the other ? That undermost stratum of 
English society, in our large towns especially, upon which ignorance 
squats contented, and crime crawls about unconscious of its own 
hideousness — that too rapidly increasing class, in fact, which has 
stirred men's fears, and provoked the cry for Government inter- 
ference, — will that be reclaimed, or even touched, by any instructional 
machinery which coercion can furnish ? I will not say — far from 
it — that no mental and moral light can be let in upon this more than 
Egyptian darkness ; but I do say, that, if there be any constancy in 
the laws of human nature, this numerous herd of outcasts from 
comfort and civilization, these familiar companions of squalor, filth, 
and brutality, can be attracted from their cellars and their garrets 
by no light but that which is warm from sympathizing hearts. I 
fear that nothing but burning love, like that of Him who went in 
search of the lost sheep until he found it, will be able to do much 
good in that grim region of desolation and the shadow of death ; 
and that the unclean spirit which possesses and vexes that hapless 
section of the community, is of a sort that will not go out but 
by prayer and fasting. Glowing hearts and liberal hands must 
pioneer the way through that jungle, for alphabets and primers, 
books and pens. 

And, then, as to the industrious poor, — the main body for whose 
benefit a legal provision of school means is claimed, — are we quite 
sure that, on the whole, and in the long run, they will be gainers by 
this plan ? I refrain from speaking with perfect confidence on this 
point ; but I beg to throw it out as a problem well worthy of mature 
consideration, whether, in the pursuit of any great social ends, 
moral in their kind, as contradistinguished from physical, the last 


result is not always an equivalent, neither less nor more, of the 
amount of will which has been employed to achieve it ? For my 
own part, the older I grow, and the more I observe, the less am I 
disposed to place reliance upon the power of mere machinery. 
Given, a certain amount of social interest in the work of education : 
and you will have, in real social value, a result equivalent to that 
amount. And no extension of machinery, which it does not itself 
make and sustain, will enable it to realise more than this equivalent. 
The facilities which aid it to cover a much larger surface, will also 
prevent it from giving the same degree of watchful and superin- 
tending care to the wider sphere which it did to the narrower. In 
process of time, when novelty has exhausted itself, the whole series 
of instrumentalities, — committees, inspectors, schoolmasters, and 
assistants, will become the medium of transmission to so much 
efficiency, and no more, as public interest in the matter will supply. 
A self-moving and self-improving apparatus, let no one expect! As 
is the man, so will be his strength. As is the life, so will be its 
development. As is the value at which society estimates the educa- 
tion of the poor, so, with or without Government interference, will 
be the ultimate value of the effect it will produce. All beyond that 
will turn out to be an imposing sham, or, in the words of the Lord 
Chief Justice of England, *' a delusion, a mockery, and a snare." 

It is, moreover, worthy of remark, before we quit this branch of 
our subject, that moral vitality seldom augments, either in intensity 
or in volume, as the result of being provided with a large stock of 
ready-made facilities. The will of man to do good is usually most 
lusty and vigorous when compelled by circumstances (pardon the 
homeliness of the phrase) to " rough it." He who wrestles with 
difficulties, is most likely to exhibit a brawny development. Action, 
antagonism, re-action, growth, is the order of things settled by Pro- 
vidential law. Where all is smooth and mechanical, the spirits 
soon flag. Of all the roads that one can walk upon, that which is 
straight and level is the surest to induce weariness. Many a man, 
charitable to the full extent of his small means, has speculated 
upon the immense good he would do with a princely fortune ; and, 
pretty generally, where a legacy to a large amount has dropped into 
the lap of such an one, his benevolence has not expanded with his 
opportunity of expressing it, I have a grievous suspicion of all 
"royal roads" to great moral ends, and I feel a qualm come over me 
when I see inscribed upon any plan, " National Education made 


easy." Whatever else may be the effect of such a system, sure I 
am that it will not brace up the now existing amount of intelligent 
and disinterested care about the matter. Spontaneous virtue, which 
grew and flourished out of doors, will be none the stronger for being 
removed into a greenhouse. Mind may make opportunities, but 
opportunities seldom make mind. 

These considerations have carried con\nction to my judgment, that 
the proposed change from " you ought" to " you shall," in refer- 
ence to the education of the poor, vast as it is in its character, and 
retrogressive in its spirit, may, after all, fail to work out the perma- 
nent extension and improvement of the means required, with a view 
to which we are asked to adopt it. But this is not all. The sub- 
stitution of legal authority for philanthropic zeal in this matter, will, 
if there be any constancy in the laws by which human hearts are 
swayed, or any truth in experience, inflict deep and irreparable injury 
upon the intellectual and moral prospects of this empire. I know 
how puerile it would be to utter such an opinion at random. I have 
not done so, and I proceed to submit to this audience, with all the 
brevity which the question will allow of, the train of reasoning which 
conducts me to this conclusion. 

The advocates of a legal provision for the education of the people 
would do well, I cannot but think, calmly and patiently to revolve 
in their minds the question how far, in matters relating to the 
intellect, the character of every movement depends upon the point 
from which it starts. Commence, for example, with compulsion, 
in the shape of an educational rate, and all your machinery must 
necessarily be constructed with strict relation to the original moving 
power. Thereafter, nothing whatever can be safely left to any force 
but a compelling one. From the first step to the last, all must be 
kept in motion by pay, and regulated by authority. The ability, 
industry, and perseverance of the master ; the due supply of the 
material of instruction which he is to employ ; the efficiency and 
regularity of inspection ; the worth of periodical examination — all 
the details of arrangement, must be legislated for on the presumption 
that you have unwillingness to deal with. At no stage of the pro- 
cess can you pass into the region of Voluntaryism. Nowhere will 
the mechanism admit of the introduction of spontaneity. It must 
needs be pervaded throughout by compulsion. The system must be 
destitute of inherent vitality. The force which sets and keeps it in 
action must, in every instance, come from without. Upon this 


hypothesis all provisions and regulations must be framed. Now, we 
do not believe that indiiFerence can be made, by any series of evolu- 
tions, to work out the same ends as Voluntary zeal. The problem 
to be solved is the vivifying of national intellect ; and the solution 
proposed is a galvanic battery. We have no faith in it. Like 
begets like. The stamp answers to the seal. Where all the ap- 
pliances of mastership are but a graduated scale of external restraint, 
the general features of scholarship will be sure to exhibit traces of 
the same character. To teach up to the point absolutely required 
by law, will be all that the first will attempt ; to learn as little as 
such instruction will demand, will be all that the last will profit. 
To minimise trouble will be the ruling motive of all parties. The 
object to be accomplished — an object, let it be borne in mind, which 
is expected to raise the character of the rising generation — is thus 
entrusted to an organised army of functionaries, whose leading idea 
it will be to accomplish it to the least possible extent. Compulsion 
ought always to suppose a natural antagonism between the obliga- 
tions it imposes and the inclination of the instrument it employs. 

We are convinced that a greater misfortune cannot befall a people 
than to have their intellectual habits gradually encroached upon by 
this spirit of authority. We can conceive of no condition more 
certain of terminating in disastrous results than one in which "you 
shall" is promoted to the guardianship of mind and morals. If, in 
that department of human affairs, there is not freedom ; if the 
training of intellect and of conscience is to be deliberately committed 
to an authority whose force is official rather than real ; if the 
idiosyncrasy of the nation is to be determined, not by men whose 
hearts are prompted by spontaneous interest in the matter, but by 
pay and preferment ; if, in a word, all that is truly spiritual amongst 
a people is to take its origin from the low and sordid motives which 
endowed officiality inspires, then, as a people, we are undone. All 
hope of progress is paralysed : all tendencies to growth are doomed 
to extinction. Everything is after its own order ; every seed produces 
fruit after its own kind. If we can satisfy ourselves with external 
decency — a state of things which appeals to the eye rather than the 
judgment — then a compulsory provision for the education of the 
people may answer the purpose. But if we aim at higher objects — 
if it be our desire to furnish mind with full and free scope for natural 
development — if we would have organised institutions to be some- 
thing nobler than " organised hypocrisies " — if we are anxious for 


the embodiment of the true, the real, and the living, as contradis- 
tinguished from the false, the nominal, and the dead — if the expan- 
sion of a God-begotten thing be dearer to us than the extension of a 
mere form of human device, then we shall patiently work the prin- 
ciple of willinghood. The immediate results may not be showy, 
but they will be solid. There will be less outward decency, perhaps, 
but more life. The body, for a time, will not be comely, but it will 
be quickened by a soul. And this, after all, is what we want — life — 
reality — conscience. The mechanism which undertakes to fill up 
the vacancy which these ought to fill will be found, in the end, to 
be an impediment rather than an assistance. 

Meanwhile, who will furnish us with an estimate of the deterio- 
rating influence likely to be exerted upon the public spirit of our 
people by this transference of responsibility ? The value of moral 
obligation as a moving force is to be computed, — in the secular, as 
well as in the religious education of our countrymen, — not merely 
from the direct results to which it conducts, but also from the 
indirect influence of the process which it employs. Dwell upon it 
a moment or two ! Society, suppose, is conscious of some urgent 
want — lives on in the neglect of its obligations, and reaps the 
penalty. Anon, here and there, men of sensitive consciences, large 
hearts, and indomitable resolution, are inwardly impelled to cast 
about for a remedy. Here is life to begin with. The germ may be 
as " the smallest amongst seeds," but it is a living one. The 
unostentatious philanthropists, each in his own sphere, become 
" preachers of righteousness," — inculcate upon individuals their 
responsibility and their duty — hold up before society the light of 
some forgotten truth, and commend it, by persuasion, to the notice. 
Presently a few kindred spirits wake up from previous torpor, 
respond to the appeals with which they are addressed, and, gather- 
ing about the original nucleus, swell the amount of life. So much 
mind and feeling are now awake in reference to the particular object. 
Combination follows— concert — co-operation. The press is era- 
ployed. Arguments are collected, marshalled, and sent forth to 
invade and subdue the general indifference. Triumph after triumph 
is achieved ; not, however, without hard labour, great self-denial, and 
unflinching perseverance. New domains are won from the vast 
territory of public listlessness. The spirit of moral conquest be- 
comes contagious. Whole classes are seized by it. Activity grows 
to be as universal as it is spontaneous, and by the time the end is 


gained, one is at a loss to decide which is most important — the 
object accomplished, or the tone and habits of the public mind, 
nurtured by the process of accomplishment. 

I assert, without the fear of contradiction, that it is to the action 
of this moral force, to the gradual working out of its ends by the 
power of " you ought," and to this alone, that Great Britain is 
indebted for whatever public spirit it can boast of. Devolve upon 
the principle of compulsion the social obligations which are now 
spontaneously, or from inward impulse, assumed by the philan- 
thropic, and patriotism would shrivel up into a senseless prejudice — 
a mere chattering, boasting, self-glorifying passion. The men who 
work, because the voice within them commands them to work — who 
act up to the extent of their capacity and means, without waiting to 
see what others will attempt — who seek their happiness in the 
discharge of duty, and who cultivate responsibilities which others 
willingly permit to perish of neglect — these are the men who pre- 
serve the social body from actual putrefaction. One such, in a 
district, will create a silent public opinion, which renders further 
degeneracy all but impossible. In his own sphere, one such will 
diffuse just enough light to make sleep uneasy, and to compel all 
sorts of noxious things, which else would have lived and gendered 
there, to crawl away into completer darkness. Not a few of these 
practical patriots and philanthropists have been disciplined by their 
moral obligations, in every part of the empire. To them most 
modern schemes of social amelioration and progress may trace their 
origin. They are to be found in every Committee-room in which 
a good work is to be done, for the mere pleasure and the utility of 
the doing of it. From them goes forth, through various channels, 
a powerful influence to modify the opinions, principles, and modes 
of action of all classes of society. They are the life, the conscience, 
the heart of the body politic. Senators may be ignorant of them ; 
the public press may know nothing of their whereabout; the 
wealthy may hear of them only through some appeal for pecuniary 
contribution ; but, after all, these are the men upon whom the 
higher interests of manhood rest — the springs which keep the world 
in motion towards a brighter and a happier destiny. If, therefore, 
it could be proved that the country would gain, from a legal pro- 
vision of educational means, a large increase in the amount, or a 
considerable improvement in the quality, of the book-learning 
imparted to the people, the advantage would be dearly purchased by 


the loss, or serious diminution, of the class we have attempted to 
describe. And yet this, in our judgment, would be the certain and 
disastrous issue of the introduction of compulsion in aid of education. 
The two principles " ought " and " shall " are antagonistic, and 
cannot well run in couples. The Irish Regium Donum is the most 
modern proof of that. Make the erection of the school-house, the 
maintenance of the schoolmaster, and the superintendence and direc- 
tion of education, the business of authority, whether national or 
local, and the active and earnest advocates of popular enlightenment 
will die out in a generation or two. For a brief period, those wlio 
took an interest in the work will take an interest in it still. But 
their occupation will be gone. Their hold upon the conscience of 
the community will be lost. Their arguments will want cogency — 
their appeals, pertinence and power. Mechanism will have dis- 
placed life, and mere doing will supersede all care for the mode and 
spirit in which it is done. I characterise any approach to such 
a consummation as a great national calamity. The moral sympathies 
of society, rendered comparatively useless by the constant presence 
and action of legal authority, would shrivel up Uke an unexercised 
limb. Supersede the necessity of philanthropic effort, and the vis 
vitee of the nation will become extinct. We can derive no perma- 
nent advantage from aught that is not capable of spontaneous 
growth amongst us ; we can ensure only evil by counteracting Pro- 
vidential laws. Communities, as well as individuals, are under the 
merciful sentence, " By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread." 
All attempts to evade our responsibility will terminate in disappoint- 
ment and in sorrow. Indolence, however ingenious its devices, will 
bring home to us at last sickliness and shame. Increased sense of 
duty is more to be desired than increased knowledge. Let us 
beware lest, in the ill-considered methods we adopt to enlighten the 
understanding, we harden the conscience, and breed a canker in the 

I pass on to observe, that a legal provision for the education of the 
people is condemned by experience. I am prepared, of course, to 
see this decision controverted. Instances will be adduced whose 
testimony in favour of resorting in this matter to the compulsory 
powers of law, many are disposed to accept as worthy of confident 
reliance. So far as they apply, let them, by all means, have their 
weight. To me they do not speak in very convincing accents. 
Where time enough has elapsed to allow of the full influence of the 


system upon national character, results have not been such as alter 
my judgment. A wide, or even universal, diffusion of knowledge, 
when accompanied by a general intellectual pugnacity, servile sub- 
mission to ancient standards, and a rigid attention to mere shows of 
propriety and decency, and, at the same time, unattended by superior 
morality, deficient in generosity, devoid of all high-toned principle, 
and quickened by scarcely a breath of spirituality, may have its 
charms for utilitarian philosophers, but will never do much, I fancy, 
to help on the right in its struggle with might, or to make conquest 
of any large domains of human nature for virtue and religion. I 
may be a heretic for saying so, but I would rather have an ounce of 
heart, than a pound of brains. And where the experiment is going 
on amongst a newly-settled people, whose amplitude of territory 
produces more than enough for all, and by whom, consequently, 
pinching poverty need never be known except by the hearing of the 
ear, no proof is afforded me that the much which is now done by law, 
would not be accomplished as easily, as surely, as efficiently, and 
with greater satisfaction, and nobler rewards in the doing of it, by 
the simple force of moral obligation. The experience, however, to 
which I refer, lies at our own door. We have had, for centuries 
past, a legal provision for the instruction of the people — for training 
up the nation in morality and religion, — I allude to the Established 
Church. It has enjoyed ample revenues — it has secured the services 
of highly educated functionaries — it has distributed them with skill 
over the entire breadth of the country — it has wielded immense 
influence — and it has had time enough to develope all its capabilities ; 
and what has been its success ? I do not ask, what sort and mea- 
sure of Christianity it has diffused among the people, because I 
shall be told in reply, that the question is irrelevant — that the nature 
of religion elevates it above the reach of assistance from law — and 
that spiritual ends were never likely to have been promoted by any 
merely secular machinery. I will not therefore press for a reply 
quoad vital godliness, nor dwell, in accents of commiseration, upon 
the evidence daily thrust before our eyes, of the strange uncomfort- 
ableness exhibited by the genuine Christian spirit which unfortunately 
has got entangled with this unlikely system of means, and which, if 
it were to utter its complaint in Scripture language, could discover 
no sentence more appropriate than that exclamation of the Apostle, 
" Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body 
of death ?" But then, if reference to the failure of the Established 


Church, in so far as spiritual Christianity is concerned, is pronounced 
to be beside the mark, it may claim to be admitted as pertinent, up 
to the limits of all that is merely intellectual and external. If it be 
anticipated, that legal compulsion will diffuse abroad some accurate 
knowledge of Julius Csesar, surely I am not out of order in inquiring 
whether it has communicated to the poor an historical acquaintance 
with the life of Jesus Christ. Revelation consists, for the most part, 
of facts, narrated with inimitable simplicity, and instinct with mar- 
vellous interest. How comes it that, with such ample provision for 
their instruction, the poor of this country, by tens of thousands, are 
represented as utterly ignorant even of these facts ? The doctrines of 
the Gospel may be understood, as mere propositions, by the most 
unlettered. Whence happens it, that they know nothing of them even 
as propositions ? The precepts of Christianity will be admitted to be 
sufficiently plain and comprehensive. Why, then, do you marshal 
before us troops of ragged children who, on your own showing, can 
scarcely distinguish between right and wrong? If your immense 
system of means and appliances for religious instruction, as by law 
established, cannot convert men's hearts, it might, at least, have in- 
formed their minds, and have imparted to them the first elements of 
religious truth, — a mental cognizance of its facts, dogmas, and prin- 
ciples. Now, has it really done this ? Have its vast resources and 
peculiar advantages been made to conduce to even this narrow result? 
Withdraw our Sunday schools, the most precious of the embodiments 
of moral force, from our villages and hamlets, from our districts and 
haunts of the poor in manufacturing towns and great cities, and how 
much Scriptural information, think you, will be left in their midst ? 
What proportion of the residue can be fairly traced up to the legally 
authorised source ? And yet men, who would blush to answer these 
questions as conscience dictates, would fain persuade us to repeat and 
enlarge the experiment. Because an elaborate and richly-endowed 
national system, constructed and kept in motion to civiHze and 
moralize the people, by instructing them in the leading facts and 
doctrines connected with the life and death of Jesus Christ, has 
utterly failed in its duty, we are desired to set up a similar and sup- 
plemental system, to compass the same point, by teaching children 
the history of Socrates or Julius Csesar. Why, it is really a tax 
upon our patience to reply to so preposterous a demand. If you rely 
upon a pecuniary provision and a staff of able teachers, as sufficient 
to humanize the destitute by instruction, have you not got them in 


the Established Church ? If any kind of information let in upon 
the intellect is calculated more than another to elevate, to purify, to 
refine, is it not just that kind which there are already the most 
ample compulsory means for imparting ? And, in the face of egre- 
gious failure, are we to be taunted with indifference to the mental 
and moral progress of our poorer countrymen, because we decline to 
be parties to the erection of more machinery, on precisely the same 
principles, but intended to work up far inferior stuff? I really 
wonder where the wits of some of our good friends have fled ! If 
they had half the faith in the Voluntary Principle which they appear 
to hare in the Compulsory, or half as keen an eye to the short- 
comings of the last as they clearly have to those of the first. Dis- 
senters at this day would have presented an unbroken front against 
the advance of a principle which has already cost them so dear. 
^ I hurry on to the last argument upon which it is my purpose to 
dwell. I might, perhaps, and not without effect, have arrayed against 
a legal provision for popular education some considerations illustra- 
tive of its essential injustice — and, indeed, such was my original in- 
tention. I might have challenged the right of human law, whether 
representing the will of organized power or merely of a majority of 
rate-payers, to reproduce in the next generation, at the public ex- 
pense, in which I am compelled to bear part, opinions which I hold 
to be unsound and prejudicial. But lest I should unreasonably 
detain you, and, desirous of leaving for a more fitting occasion every 
argument which might possibly provoke a skirmish upon mere 
details, I will content myself with having barely mentioned it, — re- 
serving, however, my right to expand it hereafter, should I deem it 

I request, then, your candid attention to that principle of the 
Divine administration which every resort to legal compulsion for 
the achievement of positive moral good, seems to me to counteract. 
Glance, in rapid thought, over the history of this country, justly 
regarded as one of the most signally-favoured spots on the surface 
of the globe. Where is the mind that can take in anything ap- 
proaching to an adequate idea of the iniquity, crime, and impiety, 
which have run, in times past, and still continue to run, their devas- 
tating career ? In the Church, as well as out of it, what lamentable 
perversities, what miserable mistakes, what hideous forms of selfish- 
ness, what awful hostihty to the purity and benevolence of revealed 
truth ! What myriads of lives have been pqured out before the 


altar of ambition — of hearts, have been broken by the cruel lawless- 
ness of lust — of souls, have been destroyed by the prevalence of a 
lie ! How many sighs of anguish have gone up to Heaven, laden 
with the touching story of the poor man's wrongs ! If earth could 
give back all the scalding tears she has drunk up, wrung from the 
defenceless by the iron hand of oppression, who could look upon 
that vast lake of sorrow, without having his spirit within him stirred 
to vengeance? And yet the whole scene is patent to the eye of 
God — has been from the first. Why has He not interposed ? 
With Him has dwelt at all times the power of standing between 
depravity and its prey, and of forcing disorder back within the 
lines of peace and justice. How comes it that He allows the yet 
unequal struggle between right and might, light and darkness, truth 
and error, holiness and sin, to be so indefinitely protracted, when 
it were but for him to will victory, and instantly it would appear ? 
Who questions His power ? Who doubts His goodness ? Who 
impugns His wisdom ? Six thousand years has He looked down 
upon the wretchedness and malignity of mankind, and yet never 
during that time has he abandoned his mighty plan of destroying 
moral evil by the sheer force of moral good. The sublime prin- 
ciple of His administration is calmly and unswervingly adhered to, 
although human fears, hopes, passions, prayers, and curses, cry out 
unceasingly for a temporary suspension of it. Silently, like the 
dew. He is penetrating, refreshing, and beautifying individual spirits, 
sending them forth into regions of darkness and death, and waiting, 
in majestic composure, the slow development of the assimilating 
energies of his own truth. And, whilst the process goes on — to our 
apprehension, how tardily ! — mark how he holds back the hand of 
his power! When, by the slightest pressure of his almightiness 
upon the springs of human destiny, he might put forward our history 
at his will, and cut short, in their very midst, the days of iniquity 
and woe, he, nevertheless, forbears, and having, from the beginning, 
chosen to obtain sway over man by a moral sceptre, refrains from 
every display of the sceptre of force. Can any man contemplate this 
soul-subduing spectacle without being filled with the thought, that 
there is deep meaning in all this 1 When the world's history shall 
have been completed — haply before its days have finally run out — 
can any mind which has faith in God entertain a misgiving, lest the 
grand secret should not transpire ? — or doubt that when it does loom 
upon created intelligence, it will satisfy every soul that all has been 

M 2 


right? When man's eye can discern the connection of the now past 
with the now future, and trace back the tree of life, laden with the 
fruits of immortality, to those earlier ages, when the extreme slow- 
ness of its growth excited his special wonder, will there not be reason 
ample enough to bless Eternal Goodness that it had power to wait, 
and that the hurry and impatience of creatures, incapable of seeing 
more than a part of the magnificent plan, did not and could not 
extend themselves to the all-seeing Creator? 

Now, inasmuch as God is thus manifestly carrying on a stupendous 
process of moral amelioration by moral means alone, working out his 
high purposes in this world by the force of truth on individual con- 
sciences, and hiding, meanwhile, " the thunder of His power" — 
inasmuch as he has authorized us his servants, in humble imitation 
of Him, to seek the elevation of our fellows, and the fitting develop- 
ment of their faculties, by means such as He employs, bat has 
nowhere authorized us to compel the unwilling to assist us — inas- 
much as no interpositions of his resistless might to hasten on the 
great experiment, invite, sanction, or suggest a resort by us to force — 
does it become men of religion, men who have faith in truth, — for 
I address myself this evening specially to such, — to exhibit all the 
flurry of a sceptical impatience at the apparent slowness of sense of 
obligation, and to be foremost among those who clamour for a meaner, 
but somewhat swifter, power ? If the work of educating destitute 
childhood does not prosper as they would wish to see it, in the hands 
of spontaneous benevolence, self-denial, and devotedness, why is it ? 
Are these great moving agencies comparatively torpid? Take up, 
then, the trumpet of warning, and blow a blast which drowsiness 
itself shall hear ! Put your heart into the strain, for the echo will 
surely correspond with your earnestness ! Have you done this ? Are 
you doing this ? Do you verily believe in this ? If so, calm your 
apprehensions, and possess your souls in patience. You are doing 
what your Master has bidden you to do, and you may leave the 
results with him. But, alas ! this is just what you, the advocates of 
a legal provision, are not doing. No ! with the best intentions, 
doubtless, but with the vexed temper of disappointed eagerness, you 
go up and down society uttering all kinds of unworthy suspicions as 
to the competency of moral obligation to do its own work — weaken 
its elasticity by the breath of your own unbelief — collect statistics to 
prove its powerlessness — and end by renouncing it as too feeble for 
what it has undertaken, and by calling in compulsion to paralyze and 


rid the world of it. Fatal mistake ! Virtue turned out of doors, as 
an impostor, by the hands of her own friends ! And why this out- 
rage ? Why this dethronement of conscience, and this installation 
of magisterial power? Because, forsooth, your sympathies are in 
haste, and cannot bide the issue of God's appointed method of 
raising dejected mankind. "Words of persuasion, of exhortati#n, 
of entreaty, of encouragement, of reproof — words that will burn their 
way into the heart — words that, like the lyre of Orpheus, will draw 
life and spirit forth from inanimate nature — words that, wherever 
they fall, will quicken into deeds — words that will shake and scathe 
even thrice-mailed selfishness — these, which in other and higher 
enterprises are found effective, and upon which, backed by God's 
blessing, you rely for subduing the whole world to Christ — these 
will not do — are all too inefficient, in the work of education ! Albeit, 
they have made some way since first they were directed to this end, 
and, against fearful odds, have won a vantage ground, they are not 
strong enough for the magnitude of the undertaking, nor swift 
enough for the vehemence of your desires ! You must have thunder — 
the thunder of this world's law— "nothing but thunder." Oh! it 
is a mournful sight, this propensity of religious hands to snatch up 
the sword of the magistrate, in order to drive on their own schemes 
of usefulness. It argues anything but confidence in the ultimate 
superiority of moral force, or approving acquiescence in the leisurely 
movement of the Divine purpose. If we really believe that mankind 
may be intellectually and morally bettered, more speedily and effec- 
tually by mere power than by truth — and that the main-spring of 
our mechanism to convey instruction to the mind must be forged 
out of compulsion, because sense of obhgation is too weak to bear 
the strain — why, it is about time for us to cease boasting of an all- 
pervading Providence, and, since we reverse his plans, we may as 
well lay aside our hope in his triumph. But, come! I cannot con- 
tinue further in this strain. I do trust that this return to " the 
beggarly elements of the world " has been proposed without serious 
consideration of all the evil it involves. Other minds, looking at 
the question from other points of view may not have discerned in 
it the dishonour done to moral principles, and to God's administra- 
tion, which strikes me with so much force. They will pardon me 
for speaking out all that was in me-— for only thus could I have 
delivered my soul ! 1 own, I am growingly jealous for the sufficiency 
of Christ's Gospel, as embodied in men's hearts, to carry on, as fast. 


as the nature of things and the laws of mind will permit, all great 
enterprises of practical usefulness ; and hence 1 seized the oppor- 
tunity, unexpectedly and courteously offered to me by the Committee 
under whose arrangements we now meet, of vindicating the para- 
mount claims of the principle of individual moral obligation from 
some of the obloquy recently cast upon it. 

I have now laid before you the course of reasoning which has 
compelled my judgment to pronounce against any system, however 
modified, which would provide means of education for the poor on 
the principle of compulsion. I need hardly point out to you that 
my arguments, if good for anything, cut away the ground on which 
every plan, admitting the aid of law, must ultimately rest. Indeed, 
it has been my aim to steer clear of all plans now before the public, 
and to strangle the error itself rather than any particular form of its 
development. It was open to me to have reached the same conclu- 
sion by a widely different path. I might have commenced with an 
examination of the legitimate objects, powers, and functions of civil 
Government ; and have gone on to show, that the care of mind does 
not fall within the range of its duties, and cannot be assumed with- 
out injuring the people it is professedly taken up to serve. But, as 
I have already hinted, the occasion appeared to me to demand, that 
the argument should be built up on high moral considerations, 
rather than on a basis, however solid, of merely logical deduction. 
My object has been to drive at conscience, for it is possible to take 
the understanding captive without touching the will. 

"With a brief summary of the whole case, as I have endeavoured 
this evening to present it, I will close my observations. The sub- 
stance of the question submitted for examination was : — " Is it expe- 
dient, is it wise, would it be conducive to national well-being, to 
provide for the education of the destitute by the interposition of the 
authority of law? " To this question my answer has been, " No ;" 
because Voluntary benevolence, prompted by sense of obligation, 
universally admitted to be superior as a moving force, is already 
largely engaged in the work, prospers in it, and promises to com- 
plete it. " No ;" because to abandon moral for legal force, in so 
important a department of social duty, is fraught with contingencies 
of peril, and may involve effects upon national character, which no 
man can accurately estimate. " No;" because the change proposed 
is nothing less than social retrogression — a retreat, without neces- 
sity, upon " beggarly elements." " No ;" because we have no 


guarantee that the surrender we make of a high position, will insure 
even the specific advantage for which alone it could be given up. 
" No ;" because, even if we had, the good attained would be coun- 
terbalanced by the greater evil, of damage to our intellectual cha- 
racter and to our pubHc spirit. " No ;" because experience warns 
us to anticipate an egregious failure. " No ;" because the step 
recommended cannot be taken without trampling upon the claims of 
justice. " No !" finally and emphatically, because we cannot adopt 
such a course without a virtual impeachment, and immediate coun- 
teraction, of the manifest design, scope, and principle of God's moral 
administration. On these grounds, leaving out of sight the nature 
and purpose of civil government, which conduct us to the same 
conclusion, we offer our protest against any interference of the 
Government with popular education. 





Reason why the subject was selected — The Government Commission — HiSToay of Educa- 
tion IN Wales, during the first three centuries of the Christian era — Fame of British 
learning in Europe — The monastery of Bangor-Iscoed — The mission of Austin — His 
intercourse with the Fathers of the British Church — His instigation of the Saxons to 
make war on the British — Alfred the Great invites professors from St. David's College to 
Oxford— Decline of learning amid the civil wars— The Welsh and Henry vii.— State of 
Wales after the Reformation — Dr. Llewellyn's testimony — John Penry's efforts — Rev. 
Rhys Pritchard — Rev. Thomas Gouge — Rev. Griffith Jones, Llanddowror — His cir- 
culating schools — Mrs. Sevan's munificence, and its results — Moral state of Wales 
ABOUT A CENTURY AGO — Description of it from the Rev. Thomas Charles's Trysorfa — 
Testimony of John Wesley— Of Mr. Charles's Welsh biographer— Of Mr. Charles himself 
— Of the Rev. John Davies — Of Arthur James Johnes, Esq. — Statistics of Education in 
1803 — Progress of education in Wales- Statistical comparison of 1803, 1818, 1833, 
1846-7 — Efficiency of Voluntary education — Extent of reading among the people— Number 
of Bibles circulated — Of Commentaries — Their general literature — Mr. Symons's judg- 
ment respecting it— List of English theological works translated — Periodicals— Effect of 
education on the character of the people — Their chapels and Sunday-schools— Their 
liberality — Testimony of Mr. Johnes — Of Rev. W. Jones — Of Dr. Owen Roberts — Of Dr. 
Carl Meyer— Of T. W. Booker, Esq. — Official testimony — Criminal returns — " Rebecca" 
commissioners — J. Wyatt, Esq.— Examination of the Commissioners' Report — Their 
character of the people not true — Their incompetency for their work — From ignorance of 
the language — From their prejudices as Churchmen— From want of sympathy with the 
' religious feelings of the people — From wishing to make out a case— Their mode of con- 
ducting the Inquiry — Selection of assistants — Proportion of Dissenters and Churchmen 
examined — Suppression of evidence— Method of eliciting evidence — The most ignorant 
and depraved class made to represent the whole population — Mr. Symons's unfairness — 
Cause of clerical hostility — Examination of evidence of the Rev. R. P. Davies— Of the 
Rev. John Griffith — Of the Rev. Henry Lewis Davies — The effects of the Report in 
Wales — Conclusion. 

I CANNOT conceal from myself, that it is owing to an accident, and 
that of no very flattering description, that the subject which is to 
occupy your attention this evening has gained the distinction of a 
place in the present course of Lectures. It may be true enough, 
that there is much in the past history and present condition of the 
principality of Wales, that well deserves and would amply reward 


the study of both the philosopher and the Christian. Its people 
might well be regarded with a mixed feeling of curiosity and venera- 
tion, forming, as perhaps they do, the only pure and genuine remains 
of that ancient Celtic race, which occupied at one time so large a 
place in Europe — the aboriginal possessors of this island — the first 
stratum in that wonderful social formation which it now exhibits — 
who amid all the changes that have affected and amalgamated its 
population, the successive immigrations of Romans, Picts, Saxons, 
Danes, and Normans, sweeping like so many inundations over its 
surface — have alone retained unmixed their distinctive national 
character — cherishing in the mountain retreats to which they were 
driven by these repeated invasions, their own ancient language in its 
purity and strength, and preserving many hereditary customs, and 
the fragments of a traditional literature, hoar with immemorial 
antiquity, where may be found, imbedded, as it were, to this day, 
the fossil remains of a former European world. It may be also true 
that this ancient people, after having been first oppressed, and then 
neglected for many centuries, have, within the last hundred years, 
become marvellously quickened into a new life, by having infused 
into the heart of society among them the leaven of mighty spiritual 
principles, which have raised them from the degradation of barbarism 
into the light and liberty of the Gospel ; and the practical result of 
which is seen in the most complete and remarkable machinery of 
the means of spiritual instruction and worship that has probably 
ever been produced by the spontaneous and voluntary piety of a 
poor and obscure, but earnest and true-hearted. Christian community. 
All this, and much more, may be true ; but it is owing to none of 
these things, but to a cause far less creditable, that my native 
country has been raised to the questionable eminence which it is to 
occupy to-night. It is because the whole nation has been brought 
publicly to trial, at the instance of the Government of this country, 
and on the most serious charges against its intelligence, morality, 
and religion, that those who cherish towards it yet some lingering 
feelings of favour, have granted this opportunity to one of the 
humblest of its sons to bring forward what it is yet possible to say 
in its defence, before it is abandoned to summary and final condem- 
nation. Perhaps, also, the gentlemen who arranged this course of 
Lectures, feeling that, as in the case of Marathon, Morgarten, and 
Naseby, those names became magic and memorable words in the ears 
of men for all ages, not because the spots themselves were specially 


distinguished by any natural attributes of beauty and grandeur, but 
because they were the fields on which the supposed battles of liberty 
were waged and won, —so the principality of Wales might well be 
raised out of its native obscurity, and become the object to which 
all eyes should be directed, when it is known or suspected that it is 
likely soon to be chosen as the battle-field on which a conflict of 
great principles is to be fought, in the issue of which, the liberty, 
the independence, and the social dignity and progress of the people 
of this country are most essentially involved. You are all, doubtless, 
aware, that in the latter part of the year 1846, a Commission was 
appointed by the Government to inquire into the state of Education 
in Wales, This Commission consisted of three gentlemen, Mr. 
Lingen, Mr. Symons, and Mr. Vaughan Johnson. They have 
accomplished their task ; and the result of their labours has been 
presented to the public in the three bulky volumes now before us. It 
is assumed, of course, that the Commission is a prelude to some 
system of practical action on the part of the Government in reference 
to the education of the people ; and most assuredly, if the spirit in 
which this preliminary inquiry was conducted is to be taken as any 
index of their future intentions, it may well awake the earnest and 
immediate alarm of every true friend of evangelical Dissent and 
Voluntary education. 

In treating the subject allotted to me this evening, the plan I shall 
adopt will be this : I will first give you a brief and rapid sketch of 
the history of education in Wales, from the earliest times to the 
rise of Methodism and modern Dissent ; I will then endeavour to 
show what has been accomplished there, in the work of education, 
since that time ; and lastly, I will try to examine the character of 
the Commissioners' Reports, with a view to ascertain how far they 
may be taken as a fair, satisfactory, and trustworthy representation 
of the present state of the principality. 

It will answer no practical purpose to lead you back to the times 
of our Druidical ancestors. Suffice it to say, that from the frag- 
ments of their ancient literature that have come down to us, it is 
evident that they held knowledge in high veneration, and conferred 
special, social, and civil privileges upon those who were engaged in 
cultivating it themselves, and in teaching it to others. 

After the introduction of Christianity, which took place unques- 
tionably within the first century of the Christian era, it was not 
likely that this love of learning should be dinjinished, after objects 


of knowledge and inquiry, so much worthier their attention, had 
been introduced among them. Accordingly we find, in the records 
of the first three or four hundred years of the Christian church in 
Britain, that many large collegiate establishments were formed, dedi- 
cated to religion and literature. Of these the most celebrated was 
that at Bangor-Iscoed, in Flintshire, where, at one time, were two 
thousand one hundred monks ; part of them devoting themselves to 
bodily labour to provide sustenance for their brethren, that they 
might uninterruptedly give themselves to reading and the ministry 
of the Word. From these institutions went forth men thoroughly 
instructed in all the learning of their times ; some of them bearing 
the fame of their country's piety and erudition to the uttermost 
parts of Europe. In the large oecumenical councils, summoned 
under Constantine the Great and his sons, in the third and fourth 
centuries, at Aries, at Nice, and at Sardica, to decide the great 
Donatist and Arian controversies, which disturbed the unity of the 
Catholic faith, we are told that the British churches were repre- 
sented by men who bore an honourable part in the defence of sound 
doctrine ; for Athanasius himself testifies that bishops from Britain 
joined in condemnation of the heresy of Arius, and in vindication of 
himself. As a further illustration of the extent to which theological 
learning was cultivated among the British churches, it may be 
observed that Pelagius, who, though he unhappily swerved in some 
of his speculations from orthodox doctrine, and thereby agitated all 
Christendom by the controversies to which he gave rise, was, never- 
theless, acknowledged by the most illustrious of his adversaries, 
Augustine, to have been a man of great ability and piety. Pelagius 
was a "Welshman, whose name originally was Morgan, and who was 
educated, it is supposed, at the monastery of Bangor-Iscoed, to 
which I have already referred. Now, you will please to remember, 
that the Britons had attained to this high state of mental culture 
and Christian erudition, which enabled them to send forth learned 
men, whose names resounded throughout all Europe, some centuries 
before your ancestors the Saxons had begun to forsake the old Pagan 
superstitions which they had brought with them from Germany; and 
when, at length, in the sixth century, the Pope sent the celebrated 
Austin, as a missionary, to convert the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants 
of this island to the Christian faith, he found that the ancient 
Britons, driven, by the successive invasions of these formidable foes, 
to seek their last asylum in the mountains of Wales, were not only 


in possession of Christianity, but were so well instructed in its prin- 
ciples, that they finnly resisted all the attempts made by that arro- 
gant ecclesiastic to bring their churches to acknowledge the usurped 
spiritual authority of the Bishop of Rome. When he first arrived 
here, he invited Dunawd of Bangor-Iscoed, who had been repre- 
sented to him as pre-eminent among the scholars of the age, to 
come and assist him in preaching the Gospel to the Saxons ; but the 
abbot replied, that he did not think it worthy to preach to that 
cruel people, who had treacherously slain their parents, and robbed 
them of their just and legitimate property ; and at the same time, 
we are told, " did dispute at large, with great learning and gravity, 
against receiving the authority of the Pope, or of Augustine." 
Having thus failed with Dunawd, that he might demonstrate to 
the Cambrian priests and monks the legitimacy of his pretensions, 
he assigned them a conference on the banks of the Severn, the limit 
between their territory and that of their conquerors. The assembly 
was held in the open air, under a large oak. Augustine required 
the Britons to reform their religious practices according to the usages 
of Rome ; to return to the Catholic union ; to be obedient to him- 
self ; and to employ themselves, under his direction, in converting 
the Anglo-Saxons. In aid of his studied harangue, he set before 
them a man of Saxon birth, who, he pretended, was blind, and 
restored him to sight. But neither the Roman's eloquence, nor his 
miracle, had power to terrify the Cambrians, and make them abjure 
their old spirit of independence. Augustine, not yet discouraged, 
appointed a second interview, which, with a degree of complaisance 
that attested their good intentions, was attended by seven bishops of 
British race, and a number of monks, chiefly from the great monas- 
tery of Bangor ; but, after a long conference, they conveyed to him 
their decision in these words : " We will never acknowledge the 
pretended rights of Roman ambition, any more than those of Saxon 
tyranny. We owe to the Pope of Rome, it is true, as to all Chris- 
tians, the submission of fraternal charity ; but as for the submission 
of obedience, we owe it only to God, and, after God, to our vene- 
rable superior, the Bishop of Ker-leon-on-the-Usk." For a long 
while, tbe British Church continued resolute in its refusal to recog- 
nise the Papal authority ; and the consequence was, that in accord- 
ance with the ancient policy of that persecuting church which he 
represented, Augustine and his successors excited their Saxon con- 
verts to make war upon the British, exasperating the national 


animositieSj already sufficiently violent between the two people, by 
adding to it the fanatical frenzy of religious bigotry. For many ages, 
therefore, the Britons were liable to frequent incursions from their 
Saxon neighbours ; who, instigated by the councils of Rome, invaded 
their country, destroying their churches, burning their monasteries, 
and putting to death the pious and learned monks, who, in the 
seclusion of those establishments, were pursuing the peaceable occu- 
pations of literature and religion. But that the British did not 
forget their ancient love of learning, even in the midst of these com- 
motions, seems clear from the fact, that when Alfred the Great 
ascended the throne of England, one of his first acts was to invite 
three able teachers from the College of St. David's to superintend 
the University of Oxford. The persons selected on this occasion 
were Asser, who taught grammar and rhetoric ; John Menevensis, 
who read logic, music, and arithmetic ; and John Erigina, who pro- 
fessed geometry and astronomy."* 

After this, however, it would seem that learning gradually declined 
in Wales, agitated and torn as society was constantly by civil feuds 
among their own princes, and by the fierce and sanguinary conflicts 
which they waged, but waged in vain, against the ascendant destiny 
of the Saxon and Norman races. Severe and oppressive laws, also, 
suppressing the ancient bards and minstrels, who had always stimu- 
lated into activity the national mind, and enacting that no Welshman 
by birth could hold the smallest public office in his country, which 
were from time to time passed by the English kings, must have 
tended greatly to discourage the cultivation of knowledge and the 
progress of education among the people. When Henry VII. landed 
in Wales, to contend for the English throne with Richard III., the 
poor Welsh, knowing that the blood of their own Tudoj was flowing 
in his veins, planted the banner of the Red Dragon on the top of 
Snowdon, and rallied enthusiastically around his standard, and, by 
their devotion and bravery, contributed not a little to secure for him 
the celebrated victory which changed the dynasty of England on 
the bloody field of Bosworth. " Henry VII.," says M. Thierry, 
" placed the Cambrian dragon in his arms by the side of the three 
lions of Normandy, and, by means of the archives of Wales, 
traced his genealogy to Cadwallader, the last chief who bore the title 
of King of Britain. But these frivolous acts of vanity, rather than 

* Thierry's History of the Norman Conquest, book i. 


of gratitude, were all that the new kuig did for the people whose 
devotion had given him victory and a kingdom. His son and 
successor, Henry VIII., treated the mass of the people — like all 
his predecessors — as a conquered nation, to be feared and dis- 
Uked. He studied to destroy the ancient customs of the inhabit- 
ants of Cambria, the remains of their social state, and even their 

When the Reformation was established in England, as the result 
of royal will rather than the spontaneous election of the national 
mind, Wales, never much attached to the Roman Church, became, 
without reluctance, nominally Protestant, along with' the rest of the 
country. But, as it was the work of the Government and not of 
the people, it seems to have produced in the Principality little effect 
on the popular mind, for no efforts were made by the Government 
to secure to them those means of instruction which, according to the 
theory of Protestantism, ought to be provided for all whose faith, 
being set loose from the anchor of dogmatic authority, need to be 
put in a condition to use with efficiency the principle of private 
judgment, substituted in its stead. Not only did the Government 
lend no assistance in the religious enlightenment of the Welsh people, 
but they actively interfered to repress the efforts they put forth 
themselves ; for although they gave every encouragement to the 
translation of the Bible into English, when some persons in Wales, 
zealous for the new reforms, had undertaken, at their own cost, a 
version of the Scriptures, orders were given for the seizure and 
destruction of all the copies, which were carried off from the churches 
and publicly burned. Nay, in Dr. Llewellyn's historical account of 
the Welsh versions and editions of the Bible, it is said, — " For 
upwards of seventy years, from the settlement of the Reformation by 
Queen Elizabeth, for near one hundred years from Britain's separa- 
tion from the Church of Rome, there were no Bibles in Wales, but 
only in the cathedrals and in the parish churches and chapels. 
There was no provision made for the people in general, as if they 
had nothing to do with the Word of God ; at least, no fiirther than 
they might hear it, in their attendance upon public worship once in 
the week." 

About the middle of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the celebrated 
John Penry, whom you regard as one of your Puritan fathers and 
confessors, and who was a Welshman, made an attempt to call the 
attention of the Government to the deplorable destitution of the means 



of religious instruction which prevailed in his native land. There are 
two pamphlets of his still extant on thi^ subject, entitled, " A Treatise 
containing the Equity of an humble Supplication to Parliament for 
preaching the Gospel in Wales," and " A View of the Wants and 
Disorders in the Service of God in Wales, with a Petition to Parlia- 
ment for their Redress." 

But I cannot find that these patriotic efforts of Mr. Penry, acting, 
of course, according to the prevailing convictions of his time, as to 
the duty of the State to provide religious instruction for the people, 
was ever followed by the smallest practical result. 

In the reign of James I. there arose a very remarkable man in 
South Wales, who for a long time exerted an extensive and most 
salutary influence upon the mind and character of his countrymen : 
I allude to the Rev. Rhys Pritchard, Vicar of Llandovery, in Caer- 
marthenshire, known throughout the whole principality to this day, 
by the familiar and emphatic name of " The Vicar." This most 
excellent man, penetrated with deep sorrow at witnessing the de- 
graded condition of his countrymen, took all means in his power to 
awaken the slumbering mind of the nation. By his earnest and 
eloquent preaching in his native tongue, (a thing at that time most 
rare in Wales,) he attracted such crowded congregations, that he 
was often compelled to come out of his church, and to address the 
assembled multitudes in the churchyard. He is said to have trans- 
lated many books into Welsh. But the work by which he is best 
known, and by which he will continue to be known as long as a 
fragment of the Welsh language survives, is the " Candle of the 
Cymry," generally called by the Welsh themselves, " The Vicar's 
Book." This work consists of a number of poems on moral and 
religious subjects, most simple in their language, and even slovenly 
in their metrical composition ; but full of poetry and feeling, and 
thoroughly saturated with evangelical truth. It is not a very easy 
thing to give to an Englishman a correct notion of the beauty, 
sweetness, and simplicity of the original; but the following spe- 
cimen, translated by an able Welsh scholar, seems to be, on the 
whole, happily done. It is called " Gweddi Foreuol," — ^Morning 
Prayer : 

" At dawn, when first thy slumber flies. 
Raise to the Lord of Hosts thine eyes ; 
To him who watched, and gave, and blest 
Thy hours of helplessness and rest. 


" Oh ! give the first-fruits of thy heart. 
The first-fruits of thy mind and tongue, 
For second thoughts are not the part 
Of Him to whom all hearts belong. 

" The redbreast, ere his little bill 
He moistens in the morning dew, 
Carols to Him who saved from ill 
His tiny couch the darkness through. 

•' Alas ! that man should wake more dead 
To all the blessings God has shed, 
Than the wild birds, which, morn and eve. 
His gifts with hymns of praise receive." 

The effects produced by this work none can conceive, who do not 
know the enthusiastic love of the Welsh for the poetry of their 
native tongue. It ran like a stream of electricity throughout the 
country, vivifying the national mind, and lodging inany of the pre- 
cious truths it embodied deep in the core of the national heart. 
And yet, it would seem, that during his own life-time these poems 
were not printed, but recited by him orally, and thus taught to the 
people. The reason for this, no doubt, is to be found in the repre- 
sentation which he gives, in one of these beautiful poems, of the 
mental and moral state of his countrymen : 

" 'Tis a reproach and bitter shame. 
That rests upon the British name, 
That not a hundredth part, indeed, 

God's book in their own tongue can read." 

To remedy this crying evil, as far as he could, he gave an endow- 
ment of 201. a-year — no insignificant one in those days — to establish 
a school in his own parish. This school went on prosperously 
during the life of the founder, but soon after it disappeared. The 
school-house, we are told, having been built on the banks of the 
river Tywi, was swept away by an inundation of the river, and the 
endowment was swept away by another torrent yet more violent and 
voracious, which has swamped and absorbed a good many more such 
charitable bequests — I mean clerical rapacity ; for we are told that 
" Thomas Manwaring, the son of Dr. Man waring, Bishop of St. 
David's, who had married the vicar's granddaughter, took possession 
of the land belonging to the school, undertaking to pay the school- 
master himself, which he did for a year or two, and then withheld 
from it all support." 

The next effort which I find made on behalf of the education of 

N 2 


the Welsh people, was by a pious and excellent Nonconformist 
minister, of the name of Gouge. I suppose he must have been 
acquainted with the language of the Principality ; * for, after having 
been ejected from his living of St. Sepulchre, in London, he imme- 
diately turned his attention to Wales, and began to travel and preach 
in that country, and translated, or got translated, various useful 
works from the English. But seeing the deplorable destitution of 
the means of education among the Welsh, he seems to have formed 
an association of English gentlemen, to raise and establish a fund 
for publishing pious books, and opening elementary schools in Wales. 
And it is delightful to observe the men of which that association 
consisted ; for there we find the most illustrious names of the 
Church of England and of the Nonconformists, forgetting their own 
differences of opinion, uniting together to bless and befriend our 
poor country — Archbishops Tillotson and Stillingfleet, combined with 
Richard Baxter, Poole, Bates, Patrick, and others. In the first 
report they published of their operations they say, among other 
things, " that they had placed 812 poor children in schools, to 
learn the English language, in 51 principal towns in Wales, and that 
there have been bought and distributed in several families 32 Welsh 
Bibles, which were all that could be had in Wales or London, and 
likewise 240 New Testaments." 

I suspect that this generous contribution was not an endowment, 
but an annual subscription, which ceased with the life of the bene- 
volent donors ; for I am not aware that any of the schools established 
by Mr. Gouge and his coadjutors survived for any considerable time 
after his death. 

Another long interval of drowsiness and neglect appears to have 
elapsed before anything more was done for the education of the 
Welsh, during which they had sunk into the grossest state of igno- 
rance and brutality. About the beginning of the eighteenth century 
God raised up another man of apostolic mind and purpose, whose 
heart was stirred within him as he looked abroad, and saw his 
countrymen wholly devoted to iniquity — Griifith Jones, of Llandowror. 
He was the founder of what are called the " Circulating schools," in 
Wales, very remarkable institutions, the account of whose origin is 
as follows : — Mr. Jones was accustomed, on the Saturday before the 
sacrament Sunday, to assemble his parishioners, for the purpose of 
familiar catechetical instruction and prayer. By the difficulty and 

* Mr. Charles, in his Trysorfa, I find, says that Mr. Gouge did not know the 
Welsh language. 


reluctance manifested to answer the simplest questions which he put 
to them on scriptural subjects, he discovered the appalling ignorance 
which prevailed among the people. He determined, therefore, as he 
had no other resources, to appropriate the money collected at the 
ordinance to the establishment of a free day-school. In process of 
time he began to procure aid from other quarters, especially from the 
munificence of Mrs. Bevan, a lady of large property and great 
generosity, residing at Laugharne, in Caermarthenshire. This 
enabled him to originate several others ; and, in order that the 
advantages derived from them might be diffused as widely as 
possible, the schools were removed in two, three, or four quarters, 
from one parish to another : hence they obtained the name of 
" Circulating schools." In 1763, the year of Mr. Jones's decease, 
that is, about thirty years after the first experiment had been tried 
" with the sacrament-money of the parish of Llandellin," the number 
of schools which had been established at different times, and in 
various places in Wales, amounted to 3,495 ; and the number of 
scholars who had been educated in them amounted to 158,237. 
This was certainly a degree of success which the most sanguine 
friends of the institution could have hardly anticipated. We can 
only justly appreciate its real extent when we recollect that the popu- 
lation of Wales during this period contained, on an average, 
between 400,000 and 500,000. 

For twenty years after the death of Mr. Jones these schools, which 
had been multiplied to more than 200, were entirely supported by 
the private liberality of Mrs. Bevan, who, when she died, left in her 
will 10,000/. for their perpetual support. The validity of this will 
was contested by the Lady Stickney, the heiress and executrix to 
Mrs. Bevan, by which means the property was thrown into chancery 
for twenty years, when it increased to 30,000/. Mr. Charles Bala, 
writing in his " Trysorfa," in the year 1800, and in reference to 
this property, observed that there it continued till very recently, 
when the Lord Chancellor decided the case in such a manner as to 
render the money utterly unavailable for the benefit of Wales. This 
prognostic proved true ; for although there are a few of the schools 
still in existence, they are in a condition miserably languid and 
inefficient, and entirely under the control of the clergy, who prize 
and employ them far more as instruments of petty vexation to the 
Dissenters, than as means of promoting popular education. 

Notwithstanding, however, these scattered and occasional efforts, 


the state of the country, previous to the rise of Methodism, and the 
beginning of what may be called modem Dissent, was, on the whole, 
very dark and deplorable. As it is impossible to estimate aright 
the amount and value of what has been accomplished in the way of 
education, without comparing the present with the past condition of 
the people, I must ask your attention to a picture, drawn from the 
most authentic sources, of what that condition was in the Principality 
eighty or a hundred years ago. In a publication, called the " Try- 
sorfa," edited by a man whose name will be fragrant in the memories 
of his countrymen for ever — I mean the Reverend Thomas Charles, 
of Bala — and which was published in 1799, the following account is 
given of the state of Wales, about the middle of the eighteenth 
century : — " In those days the land was dark indeed : hardly any 
of the lower ranks could read at all. The morals of the country 
were very corrupt, and in this respect there was no diiference 
between gentle and simple, layman and churchman. Gluttony, 
drunkenness, and licentiousness prevailed throughout the whole 
country. Every Sabbath there was what was called a chwareu gamp, 
a sort of sport in which all the young men of the neighbourhood 
had a trial of strength, and the people assembled from the sur- 
rounding country to see their feats. In every corner of the town 
some sport or other went on, till the light of the Sabbath-day had 
faded away. In the summer, interludes (a kind of rustic drama) 
were performed, gentlemen and peasants sharing the diversion 

John Wesley, on his first visit into Wales, at the beginning of 
Methodism, has left on record in his journal the opinion, that the 
ignorance of the people was so great, " that they were as little versed 
in the principles of Christianity as a Creek or Cherokee Indian." 
But to come yet lower down: Mr. Charles's Welsh biographer, in 
referring to the state of the country a little before the time when he 
(Mr. Charles) commenced his labours, describes it thus : — " Ig- 
norance, recklessness, and every species of iniquity, had spread with 
great power through the land. The Church ministers were in a 
most degenerate state, both as to principles and practice — the gentry 
using no influence in favour of religion or good morals, but them- 
selves giving examples of many kinds of wickedness ; the common 
people sunk in darkness and superstition ; and the few Dissenters 
that remained, generally asleep, in mere formality, and some of them 
fallen into doctrines and practices equally corrupt. In short, the 


condition of our country was very deplorable, through the abseuce 
of knowledge and religious influence ; the Bible rarely to be found, 
despite the valuable exertions of the Christian Knowledge Society, 
and in many parishes of our country it was impossible to find ten 
persons that could read in any language." Then he adds, in a 
note : — " The pubhshc- of this memoir has obtained credible tes- 
timony, that in Anglesea there were many parishes in which there 
were scarcely two or three persons, besides the clergyman, who 
could read, about the year 1740." Nay, what does Mr. Charles 
himself say, in a letter written to a friend in London, so late as the 
year 1808 ? — " In my journeys through many parts of North Wales, 
about twenty-three years ago, I found that the condition of the 
poor, generally, was so low, with regard to religious instruction, that 
there was scarcely one in twenty, in many places, who could read 
the Scriptures ; and in some places, after special inquiry, it was 
difficult to find even one who had been taught to read." I 
might multiply quotations of the same kind ; but I will try your 
patience with only one more, taken from the Memoirs, recently 
published, of an excellent and venerable man, well known to me — I 
mean the Rev. John Da vies, of Nantglyn, who died so late as June, 
1843, at a very advanced age. In writing, some time before his 
death, an account of the state of the country in his youth, he 
says : — " About sixty years ago, the people were sitting in pagan 
darkness and ignorance, and all, great and small, lying in wicked- 
ness. Few went to the churches, or anywhere else, to worship 
God ; all parts of our country were full of every species of sports 
on the Sabbath-days — others in the taverns, drinking immoder- 
ately, danciug and singing to the harp. Interludes, were then in 
high esteem among the people ; they were wont to travel a great 
way to hear and see them, and they were regularly announced by 
the parish-clerk in the churches, after the service, and the sports in 
like manner. There were very few in a parish that could read at 
all ; and those who could were rather high people, who had received 
some English schooling. Occasionally a Bible might be found in a 
great house, which was kept in a chest or box, locked up as a charm, 
to keep the house from harm. There were many charms performed 
with the Bible. As an instance of this, I remember an old man, a 
neighbour of mine, who suffered greatly from asthma. Somebody 
advised him to place a Bible under his head for three nights. His 
wife went through the neighbourhood to search for one, and at last 


found an old English Bible in a house called Plas-Newydd, HeuUan. 
She brought it home, and placed it under the old man's head ; after 
which she declared that he slept very comfortable. Another person, 
a large farmer, had a cow very ill on Sunday. After giving her 
physic, it was thought the animal was dying. He immediately ran 
into the house, procured the Bible, and read a chapter out of it to 
the cow. Another time, the clergyman and the clerk of the parish 
went to administer the sacrament to a farmer who was ill. The 
clerk entered the house before the clergyman, and the farmer's wife 
asked him, ' What have you got in that green bag, Thomas V ' The 
Bible and Common Prayer Book,' was the reply. ' Pray let me look 
at the Bible !' said she. ' There it is,' said Thomas. * Well, blessed 
be God!' exclaimed the old woman, 'there never was one in this 
house before, nor any occasion for it before, blessed be God!' " 

Mr. Johnes, in his "Essay on the Causes of Dissent in Wales," 
to which I shall presently advert, after tracing the effects of Griffith 
Jones' schools, says: — "We are irresistibly led to three con- 
clusions — 

" 1st. That, before the rise of Methodism in Wales, the churches 
were as little attended by the great mass of the people as now. 

" 2nd. That inditference to all religion prevailed as widely then as 
Dissent in the present day. 

" 3rd. That if the influential members of the Church had evinced 
the same zeal for the religious education of the people as was shown 
by G. Jones and his cof.djutors, the Welsh peasantry would have 
continued to look to the Church for instruction, instead of seeking 
it from the Methodists. But," he adds, " that a portion of the 
clergy zealously opposed Mr. Jones, and that many of the higher 
classes were systematically opposed to the education of the poor ; 
while the bishops of Wa es had not even countenanced his measures." 

According to a statement made by Lord Brougham, in the House 
of Commons, in 1820, it would appear — and I can easily beheve it, 
as it corresponds with the authorities I have already quoted — that, 
before 1803, the proportion of day scholars to the population in 
Wales was 1 to 26. On this part of my subject, I gladly avail 
myself of Mr. Baines's admirable statistical analysis of the Com- 
missioners' Reports, together with the view he has given of the 
results which these exhibit, as compared with previous returns of 
the educational state of the Principality ; and I take this opportu- 
nity of conveying to him what I beheve I may represent as the 



earnest and unanimous thanks of a whole people, for the gallant 
manner in which he stepped forth to do battle on their behalf against 
the Commissioners and their allies, the London papers : — 



Day Scholars. 

Proportion to 

In 1803 

— 1818 

— 1833 

— 1846-7 





1 to 26 
1 to 22 
1 to 15 
1 to 9 

But this is not all. " Remarkable and even marvellous," Mr. 
Baines remarks, " as this is, the increase in strictly religious educa- 
tion, as indicated by the increase in Sunday-schools, is still more 
surprising." It was in the year 1789 that the Rev. Thomas Charles 
established the first Sunday-school in North Wales. And now mark 
the wonderful rapidity vfith which these excellent institutions have 
struck their roots, and spread their fibres through the whole extent 
of the country. 



Sunday Scholars. 

Proportion to 

In 1818 

— 1833 

— 1846-7 


1 to 28 

1 to 4 4-5ths 

1 to 4 

How, then, has such a statement as this been dealt with by the 
Commissioners and their abettors? They dispose of the whole 
thing by pronouncing, with oracular air, this comprehensive dogma : 
" That statistics are n?xt to worthless in this inquiry," and " that 
no mere statement of either the number or increase of their schools 
can possibly prove that the Welsh are able to provide for their own 
education." It is not a little remarkable to observe the change 
which has come over these gentlemen's minds, as to the value of 
figures. I remember well, when these liberal politicians and literati 
began to awake in earnest (and let me add, at a very late hour of 
the day, after the Dissenters had been long at work,) to a sense of 
the importance and necessity of popular education, they abounded 
with statistics. We had calculations and returns of all sorts poured 


upon us — calculations as to the proportion of children to the whole 
population — as to the proportion that ought to he at school — the 
proportion that were at school — the proportion that were not at 
school — the comparative proportion at school in England and other 
European countries. If any one attempted to open his mouth, in 
favour of past educational efforts, he was instantly deluged with 
a shower of statistics. We were told, there was no arguing with 
figures ; no means of refuting the severe logic of the Rule of Three. 
But when a gentleman was found, who had vigour and dexterity of 
arm to wrest their favourite weapon out of their own hand, and to 
turn it against themselves, and in defence of Voluntary Education, 
they suddenly discover that " statistics are next to worthless in this 

But how does the remark apply to this Welsh controversy? 
Why, I suppose it is meant to be affirmed that the education 
nominally given there is inefficient and worthless, and produces no 
practical result on the intellectual and moral condition of the people. 
Well, I join issue with them on that question, and am willing to 
submit to any fair test they can themselves propose. Is the demand 
for books and the actual amount of reading, which prevails through- 
out a community, to be regarded as any proof that the education 
given them has, at least, taught them effectually the use of letters ; 
stimulated their mental activity, and generated studious tastes and 
habits ? Well, let us apply this test to the Welsh. And first, as to 
the circulation of Bibles among them. I hope the mention of this 
book will not cause any of those worthy gentlemen to curl their lip. 
A greater man than any of them is likely to be, has said, in com- 
paring the choicest forms of heathen literature with these writings, 
even as guides on questions of political science — 

j,, " Their orators thou then extoU'st as those 

„ ; The top of eloquence ; statists, indeed. 

And lovers of their country, as may seem ! 
But herein to our prophets far beneath. 
As men divinely taught, and better teaching 
The solid rules of civil government 

tV In their majestic, unaffected style, 

, Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome. 

In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt. 
What makes a nation happy and keeps it so." 

Well, then, of this book, which, according to Milton, is best 


adapted to " make a nation happy, and keep it so," the Welsh have 
had no sparing supply ; nay, I should, perhaps, be safe in saying, 
a more ample supply, than any other nation under heaven. My 
esteemed friend, the Rev. Thomas Phillips, the agent of the British 
and Foreign Bible Society in Wales, has kindly furnished me with 
the following information on this subject, taken from the records of 
that noble Institution : 

Bibles and Testaments circulated in Wales from the establishment 
of that Society in 1804, to January, 1847, "40,000 copies. In 
order to show the rate at which this work is going on now, he has 
favoured me with the following calculations : 

Population of North and South Wales at the last census, 911,321 . 

Bibles and Testaments sent there during the last three years, 

Proportion to the number of individuals, 1 Bible to every 7. 

So that, in addition to the enormous numbers previously sent, the 
Bible Society alone has, within the last three years, fumi^ed a Bible 
or Testament to every 1 in 7 of the whole population in Wales. The 
highest average in England is 1 in 8f . Mr. Symons is pleased to 
say, in one part of his Report, that the peasantry, especially the 
female peasantry in Cardiganshire, are grossly ignorant and illiterate. 
Now Mr. Phillips informs me, that the highest average of Bible 
distribution in Wales, for the last three years, is in that county ; 
that is, in the proportion of 1 to every 3f of the entire population. 
Now, mark, these are not all the Bibles circulated in Wales. There 
are many issued by the Christian Knowledge Society, besides what 
are sold by private booksellers. In addition to which he informs 
me, that of the Rev. Peter Williams's Bible, which is a large quarto, 
with aimotations, the price from about 20s, to 30s. a copy, there 
have been sold, in eighty years, 40,000 copies in the principality. 
Now, it should be remembered, that the whole of these Bibles, from 
the Bible Society and elsewhere, were not given away, but'sold ; so 
that this immense supply was fairly created by the demand. And, 
I ask, what could the Welsh want with such a multitude of Bibles, 
if they could not read ? 

But it may be said, that the Bible is sought by them only out of 
fashion or superstitious reverence, but that they cannot and do not 
make any eiforts to obtain an intelligent acquaintance with its con- 
tents. In reply to this, I adduce the following significant fact, — that 
the Welsh have in their own language, and in extensive use among 


them, translations, in whole or in part, of the following eminent 
English commentators : — Matthew Henry, Thomas Scott, Adam 
Clarke, Samuel Clark, Dr. Gill, Dr. Coke, Guise, Burkitt, Brown of 
Haddington, Campbell, and Barnes. In addition to these, there are 
six or seven original commentaries on the whole Bible, some of them 
very able and elaborate, with many more on separate books of Scrip- 
ture. As an evidence of the extent to which they are in request, I 
may say, that one commentary on the New Testament, which has 
only been published a few years, has sold 8,000 copies, and a new 
edition was issued from the press about a twelvemonth ago. Later 
still has been the appearance of Barnes's admirable work, the de- 
mand for which has been still greater, — I may say, indeed, enor- 
mous, — if what I have heard of its circulation even approaches the 

But let us pass from this to take a survey of their general litera- 
ture. Mr. Symons, indeed, with his characteristic modesty, autho- 
ritatively declares, that " the Welsh have no literature worthy of the 
name ;" and Mr. Vaughan Johnson still further improves on this 
dictum by adding, that they have " neither language nor literature " 
for secular knowledge. Really, in the face of such an assertion as 
this, one is almost startled out of the profound reverence which one 
would ever wish to cherish for so dignified and consequential a cha- 
racter as a Government Commissioner, and tempted to ask, be the 
literature of the Welsh what it may, what on earth can these men 
know about it ? They have never read a single page of Welsh lite- 
rature in their lives. The nearest approach that I can find which 
any of them ever made even to an attempt to understand it, was by 
the following notable device : — Mr. Johnson got some person ac- 
quainted with the Welsh language to translate, off the wrappers, the 
contents of one or two numbers of some half a dozen of the Welsh 
pei'iodicals. And as a specimen of Mr. Symons's critical competency 
on the literature of the Welsh, I will give you a very edifying anec- 
dote, which will illustrate also several things besides his critical 
talents. The Rev. Thomas Price, better known in Wales by his 
literary name, Carnuanhawc, is one of the most estimable and learned 
clergymen in the principality. In company with this gentleman, 
Mr. Symons visited and examined a school in his parish. Havmg 

* " We have upwards of five hundred volumes of religious works, and of 
those, forty-two are commentaries on the Bible." — Rev. W. Williams's Lecture 
on the Welsh as a Nation. 


asked a question which Mr. Price thought beyond the capacity of 
such young children, and, when they failed to answer it, having 
" commenced a lecture on their ignorance in a strain of severity which 
he considered not only out of his province as a Commissioner, but 
rather more harsh than the case required," Mr. Price was tempted 
into asking Mr. Symons if he could answer that question himself. 
The learned Commissioner blushed and blundered, but could bring 
out no reply. So great an insult to his dignity seems, however, to 
have sunk deep into his heart, as he takes every opportunity he can 
possibly find in his Report to sneer at and ridicule Mr. Price. Thus 
in one place he refers to a History of Wales, in the Welsh language, 
published by that gentleman some years ago, and takes upon himself 
to say, that it is written in such obscure and scholastic Welsh, as to 
be absolutely unintelligible to all but a few scholars, and that " the 
sale never paid the expenses of the printing." Now I know this work 
well, and can assure you, that it is as perfectly intelligible to every 
ordinary Welsh reader as Hume's " History of England" is to you. 
And as to the sale, Mr, Price says, in a letter to the Times, noticing 
this piece of spiteful impertinence, " This assertion, I am happy in 
being able to place amongst the other untruths of which I have to 
complain, and I have the further gratification of saying, that of tlie 
2,000 copies which were printed, almost the whole were bought by 
the labouring classes — a description of people who, Mr. Symons 
would have us believe, are scarcely able to read at all." Mr. Symons, 
referring, in another part of his Report, to the Normal school at 
Brecon, says, in the depreciatory and sneering spirit which pervades 
all his remarks, that unless Government pays the teachers (for that 
is the plain English of his meaning), that " a college for the cultiva- 
tion of :\ rabic in Birmingham would scarcely be a more hopeless 
enterprise than a Normal school in Wales." Now I venture to say, 
that he would be quite as competent to fill the Arabic chair in this 
imaginary college at Birmingham, as he is to pronounce a judgment 
on the merits or demerits of Welsh literature. 

What, then, is the character of the literature which the Welsh 
possess ? It would be of no avail for me to enumerate or describe 
to you the many able and admirable original works — the productions 
of native learning and genius— of which they can boast, as you would 
not be able, of course, to form any opinion of them. But you know 
the worth and value of your own literature. And I find that, in 
the department of theology, the works in whole or in part of the 


following eminent divines, ancient and modem, have been translated 
into Welsh: — Calnn, Baxter, Owen, Charnock, Goodwin, Bishop 
Hall, Fisher, Brooks, Banyan, Gurnal, Boston, Watson, Flavel, 
Fleetwood, Poole, Brown of Haddington, Colqoun, Samuel Clarke, 
Mason, Harvey, Doddridge, Watts, Jonathan Edwards (all his prin- 
cipal works). Cole, Fawcett, Maclean, Keach, Burder (Eastern Cus- 
toms), Wesley, Robert Hall, Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Dick, Abbott, Finney, 
Angell James, Gurney and Jenkyn, together with many of the works 
of the Christian Knowledge Society, and Religious Tract Society. 
And yet "the Welsh have no literature worthy of the name!" 
There may be differences of opinion, to be sure, as to what is worthy 
of that uame. Perhaps if the Welsh had in their possession Lord 
Byron's poetry and Charles Dickens's novels, Mr. Symons would 
have admitted they possessed something like " a literature." But I 
am content, before such an audience as this, to rest their claims to 
that honourable distinction on the noble list I have just read. 

Turn we now for a moment to their periodical literature, — no bad 
index to the mental activity of a people. They have, first of all, a 
quarterly, which I dare to affirm contains articles which would not 
dishonour the pages of your own British Quarterly or Eclectic. 
They have about fifteen monthly magazines, with a circulation of 
at least 60,000 a month. But this does not half represent the case. 
By far the greater part of these circulate among the peasantry and 
the labouring classes. Nay, more, many of the principal contri- 
butors to them are men of that class. Mr. William Rees, a church- 
man, and a highly respectable publisher at Llandovery, who has 
sent forth from his press specimens of typography which would 
reflect credit on the first houses in London, gives the following 
evidence to Mr. Lingen on this point : — " The Welsh peasantry are 
better able to read and write in their own language than the same 
classes in England. Among them are found many contributors to 
Welsh periodicals. I publish a monthly periodical myself {Tr Haul), 
and have many contributors from this class." * Now, without 

* I regret exceedingly to find that this gentleman has descended to so 
unworthy and ungenerous an act, in order to injure his competitors in Welsh 
Periodical Literature, as to inform Mr. Symons that, " during the progress and 
reign of Rebecca-ism, his was the only one of the Welsh magazines that 
openly denounced its promoters and abettors." This imputation, which was 
first advanced against the Dissenting periodicals by the Times' Commissioner 
(as he was called), was amply refuted at the time. I translated, myself, some 
articles of earnest and eloquent denunciation of the Rebeccaites from the 


wishing to institute any invidious comparisons, will you allow me to 
ask, how much of the periodical literature of England finds its way 
among the agricultural labourers of Kent and Essex ? How many 
of the chaw-bacons of Norfolk and Suffolk are accustomed to illu- 
minate the world through the pages of our magazines ? I wonder 
whether my friend Dr. Campbell has any large proportion of his 
literary staff from that quarter ? Now, mark, gentlemen. In order 
to estimate aright the significance of this fact as to the extent of the 
Welsh periodic and other literature, you must take into account that 
all this provision is made for a population of not more than 600,000 
persons at most ; for, when you subtract those parts of Wales that 
are entirely Anglified, and those classes of the community whose 
literary tastes are exclusively confined to the English language, and 
who take no interest whatever in the literature of their native land, 
I beUeve the number I have stated is considerably outside the mark 
of the purely Welsh portion of society, who have to consume the 
whole of the literary supply I have described. Now, I appeal to 
you in the name of all common sense, if the Welsh are in such an 
utterly uneducated and illiterate condition, as some folks would have 
us believe, what do they want with all these books ? They are not 
good for eating or drinking, but only for reading ; and the poor 
Welsh have no money to spare, to lavish on commodities that are 
utterly unnecessary and worthless to them. 

But what efiect has the education of the Welsh had on their 
moral and religious character ? It is difficult to know what order of 
facts would suffice to satisfy the sceptical and sarcastic gentlemen 
with whom we have to deal. What will they say to such a fact as 
this, — that, within the last fifty years, the Welsh have built, or 
rebuilt, for themselves, 2,000 chapels, for which an excellent judge 
computes them to have already paid at least eight hundred thousand 
pounds ? Surely, in whatever contempt Dissenting conventicles may 
be held, the people who did this could not have been sunk in the 
" depths of ignorance, and in the slough of sensuality !" What will 
they say to this other fact, that, in about sixty years, the Welsh 
have, by their spontaneous energy, without help or sympathy, but 
the reverse of both, from Government or gentry, covered the entire 
face of their country with an array of 2,514 Sunday-schools, with its 

Diwygiwr, edited by the Rev. David Rees, Llanelly, which were published, at 
the time, in the Patriot. I am afraid Mr. Rees must have known that he was 
reviving a slander which had been abundantly and notoriously disproved. 


noble band of 33,662 voluntary and gratuitous teachers, and 238,740 
scholars? Would they ascertain the influence of this system, in 
exciting and cherishing the benevolent sympathies of the people on 
behalf of others, let them attend to this third fact, furnished to nie 
by my friend, the Rev. Thomas Phillips, to v?honi I was indebted 
for the return of Bibles circulated in Wales : — Free contributions sent 
from Wales to the Bible Society, in the last three years, in addi- 
tion to paying for the large numbers they required themselves, 
10,062^. 13s. 2d. ; proportion to the number of inhabitants, 2^d. to 
every man^ woman, and child throughout the country. Free contri- 
butions from England during the same period, 81,645/. 10s. lid. ; 
proportion to the number of inhabitants, \^d., — just one-half of what 
the Welsh have contributed. In England, the highest average of 
free contribution to this noble society has been in Rutlandshire, 
which was 4:jd. to each person. In Wales, the highest average has 
been in the Isle of Anglesea, which was ll^d. to each person. And 
yet, this is the country " that is fast sinking into barbarism !" 

Shall we look more minutely still for evidence of the character of 
the people ? Be it so. Whither, then, shall we turn ? I will not 
summon Dissenting witnesses — they may be supposed partial. A 
few years ago, there was published a prize essay, on the Cause of 
Dissent in Wales, by Arthur James Johnes, Esq. This gentleman 
is a churchman ; and the whole purport of the essay is to deplore, 
in the bitterest terms, the prevalence of Dissent, and to suggest 
means for the recovery of the people into the bosom of the Church. 
It is, however, written with eminent ability, and in what may be 
called a somewhat candid spirit, for a churchman. This gentleman, 
speaking of the absurd reasons which some assigned as causes of 
Dissent in Wales, remarks : — " Nothing, for instance, can be more 
unsatisfactory, than to rank ignorance and individual eccentricity as 
in themselves causes of Dissent in Wales ;" for the fact is, he adds, 
that "Dissent has advanced with knowledge, and not with igno- 

Shall we take the evidence of a clergyman ? Take the following 
from an essay on the Character of the Welsh as a Nation, by the 
Rev. W. Jones, of Nevin, who, before he was ecclesiastically 
enlightened, was a Baptist minister, but who had then been received 
into the bosom of the Apostolical Church. This gentleman, let me 
add, has, since the publication of this work, been doing the amende 
honorable to his clerical brethren for the too glowing eulogies he 


had passed on the influence of Methodism and Dissent, by coining 
forward very copiously in these Reports as the defamer of his country. 
But before he had been smitten with that influence, this was the 
style in which he spoke of the people i — "In an important sense, 
and to a very great extent, the Welsh are a religious people. Reli- 
gion has been so far disseminated in all parts of the Principality as 
to give the Bible an universal reception. The people at large are 
able to read the Scriptures. True, there are exceptions, but those 
are limited to children under ten years of age, and to old people 
above seventy. One of the loveliest features of the moral condition 
of the Principality is seen in the careful manner in which the sabbath 
is observed. It may be doubted whether the seventh day is so 
scrupulously observed in any land on earth. It is just that I should 
say, that this arises, in a great measure, from the labours of the 
Welsh Methodists, and on account of the dissemination of their 
principles among the great mass of the people. The same views 
are entertained by other denominations, and they order the members 
belonging to them to observe the Lord's-day in a similar manner. 
The Welsh may claim a character for being honest. That much 
deception is practised by the most depraved part of the people, is a 
fact not to be denied ; but the wicked acts of a small number must 
not be held as forming the character of the whole nation, whilst the 
majority of the people lead a life of virtue." 

Shall we take the evidence of a layman? The following are 
the words of Dr. Owen Roberts, of Bangor, who, I believe, is not, 
professedly at least, a Dissenter : 

"As to religious education, — if by that hackneyed phrase be 
meant a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and an acquaintance with 
the practical Christian duties inculcated in the New Testament, — 
I will, without scruple or hesitation, assert, that there can hardly be 
met with in North Wales a child, who is ten or twelve years of age, 
and whose parents are members of either of the Dissenting denomi- 
nations, who will not be found as fully well informed, if not better, 
than four-fifths of the clergy of the EstabUshed Church ; except, 
perhaps, those who were originally educated for the ministry among 
the Dissenters. The advance made in Scriptural knowledge, which 
in so peculiar a manner distinguishes Wales, has been efl'ected in 
spite of all the efforts, covertly and openly, made by the clergy of the 
Established Church, to check its progress, and to crush those indi- 
viduals who have favoured so truly benevolent an object." 



Would the opinion of an intelligent English gentleman residing 
among them be satisfactory ? Here are the words of T. W. Booker, 
Esq., the present High Sheriff of Glamorgan, respecting what the 
Commissioners describe as the worst part of the Welsh population. 
In answer to Mr. Lingen's questions, he says : " A residence of thirty 
years in Glamorganshire has made me acquainted with the condition 
of the mining and manufacturing population of a great part of the 
county. Their domestic accommodation of late years is greatly 
improved, and each succeeding year improving. Habits of sobriety 
are, on the whole, well cultivated. Habits of providence and 
economy are, in my opinion, as well observed by the population of 
Glamorganshire as by that of any part of the United Kingdom. 
Their religious feelings and observances are very marked in this 
Welsh county : witness the almost universal orderly observance of 
the sabbath — the large attendances at weekly prayer, and other 
meetings — the careful maintenance of the churches and chapels — 
and the sacred reverence for the churchyards and depositories of the 
dead. Their care for their children, and sense of parental respon- 
sibility, are exemplary in the extreme ; particularly so in comparison 
with other mining and manufacturing districts. When kindness 
and protection are manifested and extended by their employers and 
superiors, respect, with unreserved confidence and attachment, are 
returned. Their moral and mental condition is still improving, as 
evidenced by the banishment and absence of political discontent — 
the increased indulgence in domestic comforts — the growing neatness 
and smartness of dress and furniture — the avidity to give educa- 
tion and schooling to their children — and generally, wherever oppor- 
tunity is afforded by local institutions, or influential encouragement, 
to make provision for a reverse of times and for old age. The women 
are kindly, tenderly, and respectfully regarded. Their " character" 
is chaste but confiding, honest and industrious. Their influence is 
great, and on great emergencies powerfully exerted. The duties of 
wife and mother are naturally and well understood, and fulfilled." 

Would you prefer the testimony of a foreigner 1 — you can have it. 
Dr. Carl Meyer, a learned German, who has resided lately for some 
time in Wales, and has travelled throughout the country, gives the 
following important testimony: — "To speak against Dissenters is 
quite anti-national ; and he who does so should not be considered a 
patriot — not only because the Dissenters constitute by far the great 
majority in Wales, but because they are the most respectable and 


esteemed portion of the community, on account of their character 
and strict discipline, and their honest and straightforward dealings. 
Should Dissent become extinct in "Wales, the chief ornament of the 
nation would be lost at once." 

Would official testimony be more satisfactory to you? — ^we can 
furnish that. The criminal returns show, that in 1845, whilst the 
commitments in England were as one to every 635 of the population, 
in Wales they are but one in 1,311. Even the Commissioners of 
Inquiry that were sent down to investigate the causes of the Rebecca 
riots, in 1843, observe in their Report, that "the average amount of 
crime in the greater part of South Wales is so small, that a large 
proportion of the magistrate's duties is of a ministerial rather than 
a judicial nature." 

In the " Cambrian Quarterly Magazine," vol. ii., p. 52, we have 
an extract of the evidence of J. Wyatt, Esq., the then Attorney- 
General for a part of North Wales, before the Law Commissioners. 
It refers to three counties in which Welsh is spoken exclusively, and 
which are proverbial for their Dissent: — "The great body of the 
people speak the Welsh language, and their habits and manners are 
but little changed. They are quiet, religious, and loyal people ; 
their ancient simplicity and habits of respect to their superiors 
remain unaltered ; and the crimes which disgrace and terrify Eng- 
land, and which her boasted judicature is unable to suppress, are 
little heard of. Capital punishments are rarely inflicted ; and these 
three counties boast with pride, that for the last forty years only two 
executions have taken place in Merioneth, two in Caernarvonshire, 
and none has taken place in Anglesea." 

I believe that every Englishman who visits Wales is struck with 
the peaceful, decent, industrious character of the people, their social 
order, and respectful demeanour to strangers. Notwithstanding all 
that is said in these Reports, " honest Welshman" is a proverbial 
expression, which has not yet lost its force, wherever the people are 
known. The following lines by Thomas Churchyard, an old poet of 
the age of Queen Elizabeth, describing the inhabitants of Wales in 
his time, is, I believe, still fully applicable to them ; while, since that 
period, many higher qualities of character have been added to those 
which he celebrates : 

" They -wUl not strive to roist, and take the -way 
Of any man that travailes through the land; 
A greater thing of Wales now will I say : 
You may come there, beare purse of gold in hand, 
o 2 


Or mighty bagges of silver stuffed throwe. 
And no one man dare touch your treasure now ; 
Which shevres some grace doth rule and guyde them there, 
That doth to God and man such conscience beare." 

Such, ladies and gentlemen, is the evidence hy which I illustrate 
" the progress and efficiency of Voluntary Education in Wales." 

Having thus endeavoured to furnish you with the means of judg- 
ing what Voluntary Education has done for Wales, I turn now to 
compare this representation with that given by the Commissioners 
in their recently published Reports. And what is the character of 
their representation ? Taking all the evidence of facts and figures 
contained in these Blue Books, it would be extremely difficult, from 
the confused and contradictory statements with which they abound, 
to elicit from them any consistent or uniform result at all. But 
there can be no mistake as to the general impression which the 
Commissioners themselves are anxious to convey, as to the state of 
the country. That impression is, in the highest degree, unfavour- 
able. It is scarcely too much to say, that any one reposing plenary 
faith in the competency and fidelity of these gentlemen, and forming 
his judgment under their guidance alone, can hardly fail to come to 
the conclusion, that there is not a more ignorant, depraved, idle, 
superstitious, drunken, debauched, lewd, and lying population on 
the face of the earth than are the Welsh. That this is not too 
strong a representation, will appear from the impression which they 
have actually produced on the minds of Englishmen, who have no 
other means of information than that which these Reports supply. 
The Morning Chronicle, for instance, gathers from them the conclu- 
sion, that " Wales is fast settling dovra into the most savage bar- 
barism." The Daily News, also, whose words I have not this 
moment at hand, strains language to the utmost, to express the 
total degradation, moral and social, in which the Principality is 
wallowing. The Editor of the Examiner infers, from the same 
evidence, that the Welsh " are sunk in the depths of ignorance, and 
in the slough of sensuality ;" and, that " their habits are those of 
animals, and will not bear description." Is this, then, true ? If the 
experience of eighteen hundred years, as to the effect which the 
faithful and earnest preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will 
produce on the moral character of a community is not to be sud- 
denly belied and reversed, — it is not true. If innumerable testimo- 
nies from men of all grade, condition, creed, and character, Whigs 
and Tories, Churchmen and Dissenters, rich and poor. Englishmen 


and Welshmen, which are rising spontaneously from all parts of the 
Principality, to contradict these Reports, are to have any weight,— 
it is mt true. If resolutions passed at crowded pubUc meetings, 
convened in all the neighbovirhoods, more specially and conspicuously 
branded by the Commissioners and their witnesses, to protest against 
and deny, line by line, and statement by statement, the charges 
contained in the evidence, and to dare and challenge their slanderers 
to the proof, are to be counted of any significance, — it is not true. 
If the universal cry of stern indignation, which has been wrung 
from the heart of a people of simple feelings and secluded habits, 
and utterly unused to all political excitement, but stung beyond all 
patience by a sense of intolerable insult and wrong,— a cry which is 
waxing louder and fiercer every day, and multiplying its echoes, like 
reverberations of thunder among the mountains and along the valleys 
of Wales, — if this unanimous and protesting cry of a whole nation is 
entitled to any attention, — it is not true. If the testimony of an 
individual so humble as myself, but not without means of forming a 
judgment at least equal to those possessed by these Commissioners, 
born and educated in the heart of Wales, intimately conversant with 
the character, habits, language, hterature, and religious ministrations 
of the people, were of any importance to be added to this cloud of 
witnesses, — I scruple not to give it, and to say it is not true, but 
grossly, foully, scandalously false. How, then, comes it to pass 
that the Reports of these Commissioners, appointed expressly for 
the purpose of securing accurate information, and who prosecuted 
their labours with no small parade of impartiality, are of a nature 
so untrue and unfair? It will be my business now to explain how 
this happened, by exposing the principles upon which, and the 
process by which, these huge documents have been compiled. And 
if I do not convince every unprejudiced mind, before I have done, 
that they are utterly untrustworthy as a full, fair, and satisfactory 
delineation of the national character and the state of society in 
Wales, I shall be content to receive from your lips a verdict of 
Guilty, against my country. 

Let me, however, at the outset, guard myself against misconstruc- 
tion. I stand not here as the apologist of anything evil in Wales^ 
I stand not here to assert its immaculacy, nor to pass extravagant 
eulogies on either its intelligence or virtue. I admit freely that, 
notwithstanding all that has been done and is doing, education in 
Wales, as in England, is still in a most imperfect condition. I 
admit that there is in Wales, as there is unhappily in every country 



in the world, a large amount both of ignorance and immorality. 
I will even admit, that the kind of microscopic inspection which the 
country has undergone, by the labours of these Commissioners, has 
brought to light considerably more of both, than the more sanguine 
and hopeful of us had imagined to exist. I will admit further, that 
there are among the "Welsh certain habits and practices of the most 
painful and reprehensible sort, which their Christianity has but 
partially corrected, and which reflect deep dishonour on the national 
character. I have not scrupled, frequently in the presence of my 
countrymen, to lift up my voice against those evils in tones of most 
emphatic and unmistakeable reprobation. And if I do not expatiate 
upon these to-night, it is because I feel (and I am sure I shall carry 
the sympathies of every generous Englishman with me in the feel- 
ing,) that the proper time to display your magnanimity and moral 
courage, in exposing the frailties and imperfections of a friend, is 
not when that friend is standing arraigned at a public tribunal, on 
a criminal charge, before partial and prejudiced judges, and on the 
evidence of his most determined and rancorous enemies, who eagerly 
seize the hour of his trial " to feed fat the grudge " which they 
have long cherished against him. I do not admire, and will not 
imitatCj the chivalrous candour which would deem that a fitting 
opportunity to hold up to the public gaze the blemishes and defects 
of my Fatherland. I will, however, attempt to deny no charge 
that can be fairly made and sustained ; but when the most ample 
concessions have been made with regard to the social evils we have 
still to deplore in the Principality, I do not hesitate to affirm, that 
these Reports present even those evils in a most exaggerated form, 
while almost all the good, which might serve to relieve and modify 
these dark colours, is habitually, studiously, and systematically kept 

But I return to the task which I have set myself, of explaining to 
you in what manner these Reports have been concocted. I say, 
then, in the first place, that the Commission itself was originally 
constituted on a principle utterly at variance with all justice and 
fair dealing — that the men selected were entirely and in almost 
every respect lacking in the qualifications necessary to discharge the 
task in a manner impartial and satisfactory to the public mind — that 
the mode they adopted of prosecuting their inquiries, both in what 
they did and what they omitted to do, was such as thoroughly to 
disentitle the fruit of their labours to credit or confidence, and that 
much of the evidence which they have actually collected in these 


books, derived, as it is, from men who were either most imperfectly 
acquainted with the real state of the people, or violently prejudiced 
against them, is not to be relied upon, as a mere statement and 
collation of facts. 

I hold, then, that the gentlemen selected as Commissioners, what- 
ever may be their personal accomplishments and virtues, agamst 
which I have not a word to say, were in almost all respects perfectly 
incompetent for the task they midertook ; and, in the first place, 
mark, they knew not one word of the language ! Whether it be 
their misfortune, as the Commissioners loudly assert, or their hap- 
piness, as others believe, the fact remains the same, that the great 
bulk of the inhabitants of the Principality speak and think in Welsh. 
And would it not strike any one as a practical absurdity, too glaring 
to be for a moment entertained, that when an inquiiy had to be 
instituted into the education of a whole people — into their mental 
and moral training — the men to be chosen for this work should be 
those who had no acquaintance with the organ through which the 
ndnd of that people could alone reveal and express itself, and no 
direct medium of communication whatever between the inquirer and 
the objects of his inquiry ? What greatly aggravates the absurdity 
in this case, is the fact, that these adventurous gentlemen, instead 
of restricting themselves to their proper duty as inspectors of schools, 
aspire to give a complete estimate of the national character, and of 
the whole system of society — to pass a judgment on the domestic 
habits, the reUgious institutions, and the literature of the country, 
together with the influence and operation of all these on its social 
character, and the development of its civilization ; and all this 
without knowing a syllable of the language. Could so radical 
a disqualification be supplied by the aid of assistants and inter- 
preters ? Mr. Symons, in one place, speaking of the anomaly of 
administering justice in English to a people who do not under- 
stand the language, makes this strong remark — " The mockery of an 
English trial of a Welsh criminal, by a Welsh Judge, in English, is 
too gross and shocking to need comment.'" Now, did it never occur 
to him, that to bring a whole nation to trial, under circumstances 
yet more unfair and disadvantageous, had in it at least something 
equally " gross and shocking ?" The fact is, that such an appoint- 
ment, after the Ministers had been expressly admonished against it, 
was an experimentum in corpore vili, an ungenerous presumption on 
the helplessness of their victims, which I beUeve they would not 
have dared to inflict had they not thought that the poor Welsh were 


an obscure, defenceless, and unfriended people, on whom they could 
practise any injustice with impunity, because there was no one to 
stand up in vindication of their rights. 

But this is not all : not only were the "Welsh to these gentlemen 
foreigners in speech, but they were also, to them, schismatics in 
religion. It is now too notorious a fact, resting on indubitable 
statistical returns, to need being insisted upon here, that the great 
bulk of the Welsh people are Dissenters, both in fact and feeling. 
By a return, carefully and elaborately made last year, it was proved 
that the Dissenters, compared with Churchmen, are as eight to one. 
But this is not all. In the essay " On the Causes of Dissent in 
Wales," Mr. Johnes remarks : — " The mere number of Dissenting 
chapels (enormous as it is), furnishes but an inadequate idea of the 
popular feeling towards the Establishment. In many districts the 
churches have hardly any congregations whatever ; many of those 
who frequent the church go quite as constantly to chapel ; and it is 
a very common remark, that when the clergyman is beloved, it is 
generally rather as a benevolent layman than as a clergyman ; and 
that even then the people chiefly confide in the Dissenting ministers 
for guidance and consolation." Such being the case, who does not 
perceive, that an inquiry into the state of education in Wales, con- 
ducted in the comprehensive form which these gentlemen chose to 
adopt, would, to a great extent, resolve itself practically, and in 
effect, into a trial of the influence of Dissent ? And was it a small 
matter in these circumstances, that all the men who were to conduct 
this inquiry should be Churchmen in all their feelings, and habits, 
and prejudices ? It is not necessary — in order to demonstrate the 
obvious unfairness of appointing Church Commissioners to inspect a 
nation of Dissenters — to assume that the gentlemen in question 
were blind and violent bigots. But it would assuredly be paying 
them a poor compHment to suppose that they were so utterly indif- 
ferent to the Church in whose bosom they had been brought up, 
and by whose spiritual ministrations their rehgious characters had 
been formed, as to have no fond filial partialities towards their eccle- 
siastical mother, and no lurking jealousies or grudges towards those 
who they saw had supplanted her in the affections of a whole people. 
Can you conceive it possible, without imputing to them a state of 
feeling which I should be very sorry to charge them with, that this 
circumstance would not, consciously or unconsciously, influence their 
judgment, and cast its own hue over the whole sphere of their vision ? 


And, in point of fact, innumerable evidences of this continually ooze 
out over the entire surface of these huge volumes. 

But, even apart from these sectarian prepossessions, I suspect that 
these gentlemen (or at least some of them) laboured under a still 
more serious disqualification for doing justice to such a people as the 
Welsh — I mean a total want of sympathy with their religious views, 
sentiments, and feelings, and the modes of thought, habits of cha- 
racter, and forms of worship and action to which they give rise. It 
is a principle which I believe all men of any reflection will admit to 
be both true and important, that before we can understand aright 
an individual or a community, we must bring our own mind into 
some degree of sympathy with theirs. Now, the Welsh are pre- 
eminently a reUgious people. The Bible is their text-book and study. 
Theology is their science. The ministry of the Gospel is the great 
spring of their mental and spiritual activities. The discussion of 
religious truth, and the exercises of religious worship, constitute the 
chief impulses and excitements of their intellectual and moral nature. 
All this, combined with their national idiosyncracies, have conspired 
to form a peculiar type of character, which, I will venture to say, 
these gentlemen, from their own widely-different education and 
habits of thought, were singularly ill-fitted to comprehend or appre- 
ciate. I appeal to you as Evangelical Protestant Dissenters, whether 
you would consider every educated and well-informed man of the 
world, competent to estimate your religious system of thought and 
action, or whether you would be content to abide by his judgment ? 
Why ! do we not here in England, with the advantage of a common 
language and frequent intercourse, find it impossible to make states- 
men and politicians, and even the leaders of the so-called Liberal 
Press, understand our principles ? Are they not constantly falling 
into the most ludicrous blunders, as well as the grossest miscon- 
structions of our feelings and aims, in their attempts to interpret 
and apply our sentiments ? Now, the Commissioners who were sent 
down to Wales were men of this class — young Whig barristers, who 
accepted this job, no doubt, as a hopeful step to further oflScial 
employment and promotion.* But were these the men qualified for 
so delicate a task, as to investigate and pronounce judgment upon 
the religious character and institutions of a community of Evan- 
gelical Christians ? I have no particular grudge against gentlemen 

♦ Two of them, Mr, Syrnons and Mr. Lingen, have already obtained their 
reward ; the former having been appointed " Inspector of Schools." 


of the law. It is my happiness to number among my friends some 
members of that profession, who are as much distinguished by their 
piety as their intelhgence. But I would put it even to them, 
whether they would regard the sort of education which these young 
gentlemen passed through at Lincoln' s-inn, as likely, in any eminent 
degree, to prepare them for such an occupation ? Would the Sun- 
day-school Teachers, that are present here to-night, like to see such 
men intrude into their classes ? Would our ministers be content to 
submit their public teaching, their devotional exercises, their church 
arrangements, to the critical discernment of such arbiters as these ? 
As they stood by, with pencil and note-book in hand, and, perhaps, 
a scarcely-suppressed sneer on their hp, to pry into our most sacred 
and spiritual services, would we not be disposed to exclaim, with 
Wordsworth, on another occasion, — 

" Art thou a lawyer ? Draw not nigh j 
f Go, carry to some fitter place 
The keenness of that practised eye— 
The hardness of that sallow face." 

Now, the practical result of this utter want of sympathy with the 
religious system of the people, is everywhere painfully apparent in 
these Reports. There is a constant depreciation of the value of the 
scriptural and religious knowledge gained in the Sunday schools, and 
an elaborate eulogy upon the incomparably superior worth and im- 
portance of secular knowledge. There is a continuous running sneer 
at the interest which the people feel, and the great vigour and dex- 
terity of mind which it is admitted they display on questions of 
doctrinal theology. The information illustrative of Scripture, which 
they derive from such commentaries as those of Thomas Scott, and 
Matthew Henry, and Adam Clarke, is contemptuously described as 
" the Rabbinical sort of learning, and exalted doctrine, which suits 
the popular taste." The language of their devotional poetry, which 
is as familiarly in use with us as with them, is characterised as " a 
singular piece of religious jargon." Forms of speech, technical if 
you please, but inconstant and current use in all evangelical circles, — 
such as a "call to the ministry," a " gift in prayer," — are sarcasti- 
cally italicised, as evidently strange cant phrases in the estimation of 
the Commissioners. Revivals and Rebecca riots are placed in the 
same category, and their origin explained on precisely the same 
principles. Need we wonder, then, that the religious community in 
Wales of every denomination have protested, as with the heart of one 
man, against being judged on the evidence which has been collected. 


and the opinions which have been pronotinced by snch men as 
these ? 

But there was still another circumstance which increased the 
h-priori probability that the labours and results of Voluntary educa- 
tion in Wales would not be fairly and impartially represented by 
these gentlemen. They began their work under the influence of '* a 
foregone conclusion." They were sent, and they fully understood 
this implied purport of their mission, to make out a case in favour 
of Government aid and interference. The disciples of the transcen- 
dental philosophy maintain that the human mind, in its intercourse 
with external nature, projects so much of the forms of its own con- 
sciousness upon the things it sees without, that it may be said to 
half-create the objects it beholds — 

" We receive but what we give, 

And in our life alone does nature live." 

And so I am very certain that these gentlemen brought along with 
them, in minds prejudiced and predisposed, much of what they saw 
in Wales. The vigilant eye of Mr. Baines instantly detected this. 
It has, I believe, been denied by Mr. Symons, but his declaimer, of 
all men, on this point, will receive little credence. His report, more 
than any of the others, abounds with indications of his extreme and 
nervous eagerness to prove the utter powerlessness of the Welsh to 
educate themselves. The following is an extract from a letter I have 
recently received from a friend in Wales, which will serve to illus- 
trate the way in which Mr. Symons collected his materials on this 
subject : — " Mr. S., in quoting the evidence of five gentlemen at 
Tregaron, to support his conclusion that the Welsh are generally 
favourable to receive Government aid, employs this expression — 
* They voluntarily made and signed the following statement.' Now, 
is not this meant to convey to the reader, that, having discussed the 
subject, they unanimously came to the same opinion, and then 
expressed it in the words they considered most applicable to their 
views ? If so, then it is a mistake. The affair was managed as 
follows : — After conversing on the subject in his presence, Mr. 
Symons, constituting himself their chairman and secretary, expressed 
their views in his own style, and they afterwards signed it — I cannot 
say with certainty that they all fully understood what they signed, 
owing to their imperfect acquaintance with the English language." 
In the prominent and emphatic manner in which this question was 
brought forward on all occasions, — in the careful avoidance of those 

i ! 


men and their evidence, who were known to be declared and deter- 
mined opponents of Government Education — in the extreme avidity 
with which sentences or fragments of sentences, favourable to that 
opinion, are seized and brought forward into ostentatious prominence 
by means of italics — in the constant insinuation, in the strongest 
language, of his own personal conviction on the matter, there are such 
ample proofs that Mr. Symons was ever desiring to make out such 
a case, that one cannot but be surprised at the cool audacity which 
could have ventured on the denial. And this secret purpose would, 
of course, lead the Commissioners to take and to give the darkest 
possible view of the character of the schools, the qualifications of 
teachers, the attainments of the children, and the whole apparatus 
of Voluntary education throughout the Principality. 

I have thus shown, I think, pretty clearly, that the men selected 
to constitute this Commission were not such, in qualification or 
character, as were adapted to inspire beforehand much confidence 
in their labours. 

I now proceed to examine whether their mode of conducting their 
inquiries was such as to remove the dissatisfaction and jealousy with 
which the original constitution of the Commission was justly 

I have already given you the proportion of Dissenters and 
Churchmen in Wales. Well, the first thing which these gentlemen 
did on their arrival in the Principality, was to wait upon the bishops 
to consult them " in the difficult task of selecting suitable assistants." 
A difficult and a delicate task it unquestionably was ; but were there 
none deserving to be consulted on this subject but the bishops of a 
church, which is in a minority of one to eight of the inhabitants of 
the country 1 The Right Rev. Fathers recommended, as was very 
natural, that they should seek their assistants among the young 
clerical students in the Church College of St. David's, at Lampeter. 
This arrangement was accordingly adopted, and out of ten or twelve 
persons employed as assistants and interpreters during the whole 
investigation, only two were Dissenters, the rest being Churchmen, 
mostly these half-fledged young clerics from Lampeter. The next 
question we have to ask is. From what sources did these gentlemen 
seek their information ? To say that, from the predominance of 
Dissent, we might have justly expected Dissenting ministers would 
at least have been equally consulted in the collection of evidence, is 
only to state half the case. Not only were they entitled to this by 


reason of their superior numbers, but they were, beyond all com- 
parison, the most competent to testify to the state of the country. 
They are the pastors of the people, who mingle with them in all 
their relations, who understand their character, enjoy their con- 
fidence, preside over their religious institutions, and are themselves 
the most active and important agents in their moral and spiritual 
education. The clergymen of the Church of England, for the most 
part, live aloof from the people ; some of them caring little for 
aught but the emoluments which they reap from them, and others 
regarding them with sullen and rancorous bitterness, on account of 
the preference they give to the unauthorized teachers of Dissent over 
their own canonical and apostolic ministrations. In these circum- 
stances, then, how were the opportunities of giving evidence appor- 
tioned 1 In the following way. There were examined— 
Clergymen . . . .159 
Lay Churchmen . . .73 

Dissenting Ministers . . 34 

Lay Dissenters . . .45 

giving a majority of 153 Churchmen over Dissenters. 

But as we trace the working of this system in particular districts, 
its gross injustice becomes still more flagrantly apparent. " In the 
hundreds of Dewisland," says a writer in the Principality News- 
paper, " Keness and Kilgerran, in the county of Pembroke, in which 
the Dissenters are as nine to one of the population, as the Report 
itself will prove, we find out of 54 who give their evidence, 38 are 
clergymen of the Church of England, and not one Dissenting minister! 
Yet . there are living in the above district a large number of re- 
spectable and influential ministers connected with the Independents, 
Baptists, and Calvinistic Methodists." Indeed, nothing strikes a 
person acquainted with the Principality so strongly, in looking into 
these Reports, as the absence of almost all the most conspicuous 
men connected with Welsh Dissent. Where, I may ask, (as has 
been asked by hundreds of Welshmen besides,) where is the evi- 
dence (to confine myself only to South Wales) of Mr. Richards, of 
Fishguard ; of Mr. Rees, Llanelly ; of Mr. Thomas, Pontypool ; of 
Lewis and Lloyd, of Henllan ; of Grifiiths, St. David's ; of Evans, 
Penygroes ; Stephenson, Nantyglo ; and many others, whose names are 
throughout Wales " familiar in men's mouths as household words ?" 


Now, gentlemen, let me ask you to conceive that a commission 
similar to this had been sent out in England, the practical result of 
which, whatever might be its ostensible design, would be to bring 
to trial the influence and operations of Dissent. What would you 
say if, in looking over the reports of such a Commission, you missed 
the names of such men as Mr. James, of Birmingham ; Mr. Jay, of 
Bath ; Dr. Rafiles and Mr. Kelly, of Liverpool ; Dr. Hamilton, of 
Leeds ; Dr. Campbell, Dr. Morison, Mr. Wells, and Mr. Binney, 
of London, — and indeed almost all the best known and most trusted 
men amongst you ? while you found given, in extenso, the eiddence 
and opinions respecting the influence of English Dissent on the 
intelhgence and morality of the people, of the Rev. Michael Augustus 
Gathercole, and the editor of the John Bull newspaper ? I do assure 
you, most solemnly, that this is a precisely parallel case to what has 
been done towards Wales in these Reports.'* 

But this is not all. Not only did these gentlemen ignorantly or 
wilfully omit to consult the best informed and most competent 
authorities, but they did far worse. Now, observe, I am not going 
to mince the matter ; I have taken care to get firm ground beneath 
my feet before I stood here. I do distinctly and deliberately charge 
these gentlemen with having dishonestly garbled or suppressed, not 
once or twice, but in many instances, evidence given to them by 
some of the most respectable and intelligent men in Wales, but 
which evidence was almost uniformly in favour of the people. I 
will not refer to the numerous indignant complaints which constantly 
appear in the Welsh papers from persons whose evidence is con- 
tained in the Reports, against the mutilated form in which it is given, 
and against the manner in which the Commissioners have made a 
general application to the entire population of certain -strong expres- 
sions employed only in regard to a small and most depraved class of 
the population; — I go on authority of the most direct and undoubted 
kind, when I affirm that the following gentlemen furnished valuable 
and copious information to the Commissioners, every line of which 
has been suppressed : — The Rev. Lewis Edwards, President of the 
Calvinistic Methodist College, at Bala; the Rev. John Phillips, 
Bangor, Agent for the British and Foreign School Society in Wales ; 
Dr. Owen Roberts, Bangor, a respectable lay gentleman, who has 
interested himself long and deeply in the social and educational con- 
dition of his country ; Rev. Edward Davies, of Haverfordwest, who, 
in a letter I received from him this week, says, — " I gave evidence 


myself to Mr. Lingen, which covered nearly two pages of his folio 
note-book, and of which there is not a word in the Report ; simply 
because, I suppose, it tallied not with the grand purpose of making 
out a case for Government aid ;" the Rev. Thomas Thomas, Prin- 
cipal of the Baptist College, at Pontypool ; the Rev. Evan Jones, 
of Tredegar; the Rev. Mr. Bright, of Newport.* There are some 

* Mr. Symons, in a letter addressed to the Rev, H. Griffiths, Brecon, and 
which, at his own request, was published in the British Banner of March 22nd, 
seems to deny this charge. I feel bound, therefore, to produce the following 
facts relating to his district. The Rev. D. R. Stephen has repeatedly made 
this statement at public meetings held on the subject of the Reports, both in 
England and Wales : — " The Rev. T. Price, Cwmdu," the respectable clergy- 
man already referred to, " had a long conversation with Mr. Symons, and of the 
whole conversation the latter reports only a single phrase, which Mr. Price says 
no clergyman could have uttered in such a connection as that in which it is 
given, and which those present at the time, say he never uttered at all. This 
I have from Mr. Price himself." The following is an extract from a letter 
which I received, in reply to Mr. Symon's assertion in the Banner, from the 
Rev. T. Thomas, Principal of the Baptist College at Pontypool: 

" My dear Sir, — I am sorry I cannot very distinctly remember all that 
passed between Mr. Commissioner Symons and myself, when, about twelve 
months ago, he honoured me with a call, I, however, recollect enough of the 
substance of about an hour's earnest conversation to assure you, that I expressed 
strong views and opinions relative to the state and prospects of the Welsh popu- 
lation in these parts, which were at least as much entitled to be ' deemed 
evidence,' as the unwritten statements of others to whom Mr. Symons refers 
in his Report. While I expressed in emphatic terms my disapproval of the 
Minutes of Council on Education, and represented legislators and employers as, 
to a great extent, the authors of the people's ignorance and degradation, who 
were making the effects of their own bad laws, — heavy taxation on the neces- 
saries of life, and on the means of instruction, &c., — the reason for establishing, 
at the nation's expense, a system of educational patronage and police, / stated 
to him my full confidence in the ability and disposition of the working men, if fairly 
treated, to educate themselves, without Government aid or inspection. * * 
* * But what passed between us on the occasion referred to, Mr. Symons, 
banister-like, will not by any means take as evidence, though relating exclusively 
to the objects of the Commission ; for he says, in his letter in the Banner, ' What 
passed in conversation with my informants, I, of course, in no case deemed 
evidence, or reported as such.' Mr. Symons must mean only that when ' what 
passed in conversation' was favourable to the morals, intelligence, and religion 
of the working-classes of Wales, he in no case deemed or reported it as evi- 
dence ; for when a nameless ' lady connected with and living at one of the 
large iron-works, told ' him of a man who, while pouring rum into his tea, said 
he could not afford to spare his girl's wages, — and when a Bristol merchant, 
for whose respectability we have no voucher, told him that all his efforts to 
carry on commerce with the Welsh, were wholly frustrated by their inveterate 
faithlessness, — their viva voce testimony, made prominent in the Reports, must 


of my countrymen, probably, present here this evening, and they 
know and can testify that there are not, throughout the whole Prin- 
cipality, men who, from their high character and standing, the 
official positions which some of them occupy, and the prominent 
and remarkable part which others of them have taken in connection 
with this very subject of education in Wales, are more entitled to 
be heard on this question than the gentlemen I have just named ; 
and yet the evidence of all these men has been studiously sup- 
pressed ! And why is this ? I do not hesitate to say, that it was 
because it was of such a character as did not suit the purpose of 
the Commissioners ; — nay, indeed, Mr. Symons scarcely makes a 
secret of this. He refers to the three gentlemen whom I mentioned 
last, — Mr. Thomas, of Pontypool ; Mr. Jones, of Tredegar ; and 
Mr. Bright, of Newport, — and acknowledges that they " gave him 
very valuable assistance in the prosecution of his labours." Why, 
then, are their testimony and opinions on the state and prospects 
of education in Wales withheld ? No possible reason can be con- 
ceived, except it be found in a sentence which Mr. Symons has 
coupled with the introduction of their names, viz., that "they 
expressed, in no measured terms, their disapproval of the Minutes 
of Council." 

Now, is not this monstrous ? Did Mr. Symons, when he received 
his commission, understand that he was to accept and record the 
evidence and the judgment of none who differed from him in their 
estimate of the Minutes in Council ? These, then, were the prin- 
ciples on which the Commissioners selected their witnesses. 

Let us now turn to ascertain in what manner they elicited evidence 
from those who were thus chosen. Among them were not a few 
who were sufficiently ready, without any prompting, to bring forward 

be taken as good ' evidence' against the people, and in favour of Government 
interference. The interview and subsequent correspondence I had with Mr. 
Symons were quite enough to satisfy him as to the kind of evidence I would 
have given in answer to his printed queries. Mr. S., therefore, did not furnish 
me with those queries, nor had I the remotest idea of their existence until I saw 
them, with convenient answers, in the Blue Books ; and I cannot find in the 
Reports a single instance of evidence given by a Dissenting Minister, or other 
person, previously known to be hostile to the interference of Government with 
the education of the people. * * * * 
" I remain, 

" My dear Sir, 

" Yours very truly, 

"Thomas Thomas." 


whatever would most reflect discredit on their neighbours ; but, in 
truth, the Commissioners left them little option as to the selection 
of their materials. Their inquiries were evidently shaped in such 
a form as to bring out the worst aspect of character, and the lowest 
specimens of intelligence and morality, throughout the country. As 
an illustration of this, take the following out of a series of questions, 
which were sent in a written form, by Mr. Symons, to different 
parties throughout his district : — " Is there any deficiency of good 
Day schools, with competent masters, in your neighbourhood ; and 
in what respect are they defective?'''' "Is there much ignorance 
among the poor; and on what subjects?" "Are their morals 
defective ; and if so, in what respects ? State instances and facts 
which illustrate this!" Now, is it not easy to foresee that in 
answering such leading questions as these, in which the attention of 
the witness is specifically and pointedly directed, not to the educa- 
tion but to the ignorance, not to the social virtues or good qualities, 
but to the immorahties of the population by which he was sur- 
rounded, that the inevitable result would be to bring to the surface, 
and to expose in undue prominence, all the corruptions and feculence 
of society ? Can any one in his senses doubt, that if Mr. Symons 
had framed his inquiries differently, — that if he had asked for the 
amount of knowledge possessed by the people, instead of for their 
ignorance, — if he had sought to elicit an account of the humble 
virtues and excellences of the poor, instead of searching what was 
defective in their morality, — if he had desired instances and facts to 
illustrate their piety, their devout and religious habits, the self-denial 
and devotedness with which they support the cause of God, — that 
the eye of every one of those questioned would have been directed 
to another class, which, I thank God, are neither few nor rare in 
the Principality, and that practically, and in fact, a widely different 
picture of the social character of the people would have been evolved 
as the result ? Now, I want your particular attention to this point, 
as it will serve to explain much of what these Reports contain. I 
do not deny, observe, that many of the evils depicted in them do 
actually exist in Wales ; though even these are, I firmly believe, in 
many instances grossly exaggerated. But what I do object to, and 
vehemently pi-otest against, is, the practice uniformly pursued by 
the Commissioners, of taking the utmost pains to hunt out, with the 
keen scent of a vulture, all the corruption and garbage of society* v 
and putting these forward as fair average specimens of the intelli- 


gence and morality of the people. Take the half a dozen foul and 
revolting statements, which have been carefully selected and paraded 
by the "Whig newspapers out of these Reports, and what do they 
prove, even if they are true ? — which some of them, at least, are not, 
as I shall presently prove to you. That there are in Wales, as 
there are, unhappily, in every community under heaven, extreme 
instances of gross depravity. But, in the name of all common sense 
and justice, is it fair to take these as the standard by which to form 
your estimate of a whole people, and, on the strength of them, to 
rush to the conclusion that "their habits are those of animals," 
and that they are " fast sinking into the most savage barbarism ?" 
Apply the same test to the population of this metropolis. Let a 
number of men be appointed, who shall regard it as their duty to 
rake up all the ignorance, and filth, and vice, and depravity, and 
wretchedness, to be found in London, and let them bring forth the 
most hideous examples of pollution they can find, as illustrations of 
the state of society ; and, let me ask you, would you be content 
that any foreigner should form a judgment of the whole metropolitan 
community from such materials as these ? As I have been wading 
my way through these enormous volumes, where, I have asked 
myself again and again, are the hundreds, and thousands, and tens 
of thousands of my poor countrymen, who are the worthy, con- 
sistent, and exemplary members of our Dissenting churches, who, 
in their humble stations, exemplify the power and loveliness of 
Christian principle, and adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in 
all things — from whose stone hearths there ascends, day and night, 
the incense of a simple spiritual devotion, perhaps more acceptable 
in the sight of Him that reads the heart, than the glittering pomp 
of priestly pageantries, or the pealing swell of cathedral music ; . 
whose homely huts, though devoid of all pretensions to the 
elegancies, and even many of the comforts of life, are nevertheless 
adorned with the beauty of holiness ? "Where is the record of these 
men's characters and virtues 1 That there are hundreds and thou- 
sands of such, I know. Have I not stood beneath their humble 
roofs, whose naked rafters were polished and japanned by the smoke 
of the mountain turf? Have I not sat at their uncovered deal 
tables, to partake of their buttermilk and oatmeal-bread, which, 
coarse fare though it be, they feel a hospitable pride in dispensing ? 
Have I not knelt on the mud floor, beside the wretched pallets on 
which they were stretched, and learned from lips pallid vdth the 


hue of death, lessons of Christian resignation, and of holy and 
triumphant confidence in God, such as I never learned elsewhere? 
Where, I say, are these men who shed the lustre of their humble 
piety over the hills and glens of my native land ? I find no trace 
of them in these Blue Books ; and until I do find them, I utterly 
refuse to accept their contents as a fair representation of the character 
of my countrymen. 

I do not mean to say that all the accounts given of the intellec- 
tual, moral, and social condition of the "Welshmen in these Reports 
are of the one-sided and unfriendly sort I have described. I do say, 
indeed, that, for the most part, this was the kind of information which 
the Commissioners, and especially Mr, Symons, most diligently 
searched for. And I do say, moreover, that such is the prevailing 
and predominant character of the whole mass. In spite, however, of 
the careful selection of witnesses, and the significantly suggestive 
nature of the questions proposed to them, there have come out, in the 
course of these investigations, not a few facts and opinions, highly 
honourable to both the intelUgence and morality of my poor vilified 
countrymen. And how do the Commissioners deal with this part of 
the evidence ? I will admit (and I do it with the utmost pleasure,) 
that the testimony they have borne to the excellence and good effects 
of the Sunday schools is both candid and cordial. But, in other 
respects, the summary which these gentlemen had to construct out 
of the evidence collected, is founded upon, and illustrated by the very 
worst portions of that evidence, while that which is favourable to the 
people is, in general, kept in the background, or officiously and care- 
fully explained away. I would undertake to compile out of these 
Blue Books themselves, without introducing anything of my own, be- 
yond a few connecting and explanatory sentences, a widely different 
character for the Welsh from that which the Commissioners have 
brought into the foreground of their picture. I ought, perhaps, to 
say, that these remarks apply with more especial emphasis to Mr. 
Symons than to either of the other two. It is most remarkable to 
observe the resolute and relentless purpose with which this gentle- 
man sets himself to blacken the reputation of the country. Not only 
does he bring forward isolated instances of extreme stupidity, wrung 
from terrified and confused children, as fair specimens of the school 
instruction — not only does he introduce mere hearsay evidence, which 
he may have picked up in casual intercourse at an inn, from some 
wandering and irritated bagman, as sufficient authority on which to 

p 2 


ground a sweeping imputation on the honesty and integrity of a whole 
nation— not only does he give the utmost prominence to the falsest 
and foulest charges against the teaching and services of the Dissen- 
ters, as directly nursing the grossest immoralities among the people, 
without apparently troubling himself in the slightest degree about 
their truth or probability — not only does he carefully mark in italics, 
lest they should escape any one's attention, these slanderous charges, 
and whatever else he could find unfavourable to the cause of Volun- 
tary Education ; — but, when facts highly honourable to the nation, 
and too marked and notorious to be overlooked, or kept out of sight, 
are forced on his notice, he anxiously sets himself to explain away any 
favourable impression which they were calculated to produce on the 
mind of the reader. I will give you one striking example of this. 
After he had drawn a picture of the morals of the country, daubed 
with the darkest colours, he remarks — "Notwithstanding this 
lamentable state of morals, the jails are empty." He gives, then, a 
short tabular comparison between the relative criminality of the three 
counties in his district with that of the neighbouring agricultural 
county of Hereford, the result of which shows that " crimes are twice 
as numerous in Herefordshire, as in Radnorshire or Brecknockshire, 
and five times more so than in Cardiganshire." Well! and does he 
pass this fact over to the credit of the moral and religious principles 
of the population, or even leave it without remark to make its own 
impression on the reader's mind? Oh, by no means ! He first in- 
forms us that this absence of crime is to be regarded as a strange 
"moral anomaly in the Welsh character," and then proceeds to 
explain it in the following fashion : — " I attribute this paucity of 
punishable oiFences in Wales, partly to the extreme shrewdness and 
caution of the people, but much more to the natural benevolence and 
warmth of heart, which powerfully deter them from acts of malice 
and all deliberate injury to others." You see, Mr. Symons will 
allow nothing to be attributed, if he can help it, to the restraints of 
moral and religious obligation acting on the character of the people, 
nothing to the practical influence of that Christianity taught in their 
Sunday schools, and preached every Sunday, from more than three 
thousand pulpits, throughout the land. 

It is time for me, however, to offer a few remarks on the evidence 
itself to be found in these books. And first of all, as to the phy- 
sical condition and domestic habits of the poor. The Commissioners 
loudly complain of the want of order, cleanliness, and decorum, in 


their economic arrangements. No doubt there is much to be deplored 
in this respect among the lower classes ; but 1 deny that it is to be 
taken as a proof of their moral degradation. If they live together in 
their small cottages, in a manner which is at variance with our 
notions of propriety and comfort, it is because they cannot help it. 
" Their poverty, and not their will, consents." It is very well for 
these jaunty young gentlemen, travelling about the country in post- 
chaises at the expense of Government, to turn up their noses, in 
horror and disdain, at the want of decent accommodations and 
domestic comfort in the home of the poor Welsh cottager. But set 
them down with a wife and large family of children, to subsist upon 
seven or eight shillings a week — the usual wages of an agricultural 
labourer in Wales — and see what a figure they would then cut ! What 
dignified domestic arrangements would they make in such a case ? 
How many spare bed-rooms would they have to rejoice in ? How 
much of privacy and social elegance would they expect to enjoy ? I 
say it is not fair to the poor, in forming our estimate of their habits, 
to forget the mighty difficulties with which they have to contend, from 
the extreme narrowness of their means, and the necessary straitness 
of their habitations, to preserve even an approach to domestic order 
and decorum. 

It is probable, however, that the Commissioners will justify 
themselves in drawing so dark a picture of the country, by referring 
to the testimony of others residing on the spot, and supposed to be 
intimately acquainted with the people. Now it is perfectly clear 
that it would be impossible for me, on an occasion like this, to deal 
with such an enormous mass of evidence as is collected in these 
volumes as a whole. All that I can do is to select a few of the most 
remarkable and characteristic parts, as samples of the rest. I had 
intended to advert, in the first instance, to some rather peculiar 
specimens of Dissenting evidence to be found in these pages ; but I 
abstain for the present, in the hope, notwithstanding what has 
appeared in the Banner, that certain parties will deem it wise, even 
for their own sakes, to imitate my abstinence. I will say no more 
on that subject, but pass on to observe, that in almost every instance 
the worst evidence, — that which contains the foulest aspersions, and 
the most sweeping charges, has proceeded either from clergymen, or 
from renegade Dissenters, or from men who combined both these 
characters in their own person. I will endeavour to explain the 
cause of this. Separated as Wales has been, by position and Ian- 


guage, from the rest of the kingdom, it is not until within the last 
few years that the English public has been made acquainted with 
the actual religious and ecclesiastical condition of the Principality. 
A few of us, however, whose lot in Providence has been cast among 
you, have of late endeavoured to bring before your notice the fact, 
that so mighty has been the prevalence of Nonconformity in Wales, 
that it has spread like leaven among the population, until it has well 
nigh leavened the whole lump. Considerable publicity has been 
given, from time to time, to these disclosures. Now there is a class 
of clergymen in Wales, to whom these revelations were in the highest 
degree distasteful ; men for the most part of the most worthless 
characters themselves, personal and official, who did and are doing 
little or nothing by their own exertions to promote the mental and 
spiritual improvement of their countrymen, but who nevertheless 
cannot endure that others should have the credit they deserve for 
fulfilling those obligations which they had so grossly neglected. 
These men attempted in the first instance, and for a long time, to 
deny the fact that dissent was in the ascendant in Wales. The last 
desperate effort of this sort that I have seen was directed against 
myself. At the great Educational Conference, held in this room 
last year, to oppose the Minutes of Council, I stated as a reason 
why the Government plan would press with peculiar hardship on 
Wales, that the great body of the Welsh people are Dissenters. A 
few nights after, Mr. Bright made a similar statement in the House 
of Commons. The following week there appeared a letter in the 
St. Jameses Chronicle, in which the writer did me the honour of 
coupling my name with Mr. Bright in reference to the above state- 
ment, and to charge us both, in elegant phrase, with having been 
guilty of " enormous lying." Abundant and accurate statistics 
have, however, come from various quarters, to illustrate the matter 
in dispute, and it was found at length that this war with figures was 
too utterly hopeless to be long sustained. What, then, was to be 
done next ? Well, the next best thing was to endeavour to prove, by 
the most reckless and exaggerated representations of the ignorance 
and immorality of the people, that Dissent had been a great curse 
to the coufitry, that under its regime the inhabitants, instead of 
improving, were sinking fast, not only into superstition and fana- 
ticism, but into the lowest depths of moral and social degradation. 
Now this commission was a golden opportunity for these men to 
accomplish their purpose ; and chuckling with secret glee at their 


luck, tliey eagerly seized it, to pour out the long-accumulated 
rancour of their bigotry upon the people and their religion. Now 
let it be distinctly understood, that I do not include in this descrip- 
tion all the clerical gentlemen whose names appear in these books. 
I acknowledge, with the highest gratification, that there are not a 
few who acted the part of high-minded and honourable men, who 
refer to their dissenting neighbours in terms of kindness and respect, 
who recognize their right to object to the imposition of the Church 
Catechism on their children, and who make frank and generous 
admissions of the value of their past and present services in the 
instruction of the country. There is no tribute of gratitude and 
admiration which I am not prepared to render to these men. But I 
am going to speak of a totally different class — fierce blustering bigots, 
who deem it a small matter to affix the stigma of infamy on the 
brow of their mother-land, so they might but avenge themselves 
upon Voluntaryism and Dissent. As a specimen of the animus by 
which these worthies are actuated, take the following extract from 
the evidence of the Rev. Lewis Evans, vicar of Llanfihangel-y- 
Creyddyn. Mr. Symons asks, " Do the Sunday schools supply 
existing defects in Day schools ? and state your views of the character 
and results of the Sunday-school system in this district." To which 
replies the reverend gentleman : " They do not. Their character 
is to pu^up the young with pride and contempt of public worship^ 
And thei/ are beds to nurture Dissent and its evils; disorderly 
behaviour and disobedience, inasmuch as they are generally 
left to themselves, or superintended by incompetent persons, and 
under the control of illiterate and ignorant masters." "What 
are the chief obstacles," again asks Mr. Symons, " to the mental 
and moral improvement of the poorer classes ?" " The want of a more 
efficient body of the clergy — the poverty of the livings ;" and after 
enumerating various other reasons, he adds, "But above all, the 
night meetings of the Dissenters, and the immoral and poletnic 
teaching of their preachers.^' 

Take another specimen from the evidence of the Rev. Richard W. P. 
Davies, of Crickhowel. It relates to one of the mining districts in 
Breconshire, called Brynmawr, which Mr. Symons, mainly on the 
authority of this gentleman, describes as a sort of pandemonium. Mr. 
Davies, after referring contemptuously to the existence of Dissenting 
chapels in this neighbourhood, as being no antidote to the evil which 
prevailed, because they are without " responsible guides and pastors," 


goes on to depict his neighbours in the most hideous colours. The 
Commissioner, of course, eagerly seizes this delicious morsel, and 
putting it in the fore-front of his summary, assures the reader, on the 
strength of it, that " not the slightest step has been taken to improve 
the mental and moral condition" of this dangerous population. This 
flattering description of themselves comes to the ear of the people. 
They call a public meeting at the Market-hall. The attendance, we 
are told, " was crowded, and the excitement intense, and yet the 
people conducted themselves with good sense and propriety." At 
that meeting there came out the following facts, that while it was 
true enough, as the reverend witness had testified, that there was 
neither church nor chapel of the Establishment, within two miles of 
Brynmawr there were six Dissenting chapels, which had been built at 
an expense of nearly 6,000^., and which numbered 1,136 members 
in actual fellowship, and in which accommodation for worship was 
provided/br every man, woman, and child in the place. But this was 
not all. This dangerous and degraded population have lately erected 
a British school, at the cost of 300Z., and have among them a band 
of 200 Sunday-school teachers. 

At the same meeting a medical gentleman, residing in the neigh- 
bourhood, and, from his profession, of course in habits of close and 
daily intercourse with the people, voluntarily came forward, though 
an Englishman and a Churchman, and made the following state- 
ment : — " Having been a resident for some time in your town, and 
having an opportunity afforded me in my professional character of 
judging whether or not the inhabitants of Brynmawr deserve the 
character given of them by some of the gentlemen examined by the 
Commissioner, I most emphatically assert that they have been 
belied by some of the gentlemen examined, and whose evidence 
appears in the Report. Let facts speak for themselves, and they 
are the best evidenc. I will mention one or two. There is a 
population of about 5,000 in this town, and I ask what has been the 
extent of criihe in this place for the last few years, although vsithout 
the protection or presence of the military or police (I was wrong, 
there is one police-officer in the town for the last week) ? I say, 
very little, indeed. And what can we ascribe this state of things to, 
except the very moral and peaceable disposition of its inhabitants. 
But I should not be at ail surprised if the very reverse was the case, 
and which undoubtedly it would, were it not for the Dissenting 
ministers and their congregations, whose conduct is creditable, and 


beyond all praise. They have acted as men and Christian ministers ; 
and, as a member of the Established Church, I regret to be obliged 
to say, that the contrast is great indeed between what they and the 
clergymen of the Establishment have done for the religious and 
moral instruction of the people ; for while on the one side I behold 
five or six Dissenting chapels and schools, on the other there is not 
even a church or school, or substitute for one, to be seen in the 
whole town ! I therefore say, it comes with a very bad grace from 
clergymen of the Establishment to say that the people are ignorant, 
and without knowledge of either a God or a Saviour. I also deny 
that the inhabitants of Brynmawr are the immoral, low, and 
degraded people they are made to appear by the Report, or that 
there are only one or two respectable shopkeepers in the town." 
Well, and how is all this to be accounted for ? Did this reverend 
informer bear false witness against his neighbour ? Oh, not at all ! 
for to his apostolic eye these exertions of Dissenting zeal and 
benevolence, were in effect as nothing. For, listen to the lofty and 
oracular style in which he instructs the Commissioner as to what 
the Government should do, and in the course of which, perhaps, 
you will find some explanation of the strange circumstances just 
narrated. " It appears to me to be the imperative duty of a wise 
and patriotic legislature to encourage and facilitate, to the utmost of 
their power, by public grants, and public patronage, and advances, 
the education and instruction of the people committed to their care ; 
the resources of' Government cannot better be applied than by 
affording knowledge, civilizing and enlightening mankind; and it 
would ill become a minister of a Christian Apostolical Church, to 
suggest any other mode of dispensing education, than entrusting it 
to the heads of those, who, by Divine appointment and Divine 
right, are constituted the channel for diffusing the light of Christian 
truth. The Church and its ministers are the proper vehicles for 
carrying out the same." Do you not see the swell of spiritual and 
sacerdotal pride spreading and dilating over his reverend face ; and 
what had the poor scabbed sheep of Brynmawr, who, when left, 
uncared for, to wander over the mountains, had sought shelter in 
the unconsecrated folds of Dissent, to hope from the tender mercies 
of this apostolic gentleman, who seems to hold sacred the " right 
Divine of priests " to garble the truth, and to slander their 

There is another instance of clerical bigotry, yet more malignant 


and revolting, furnished by the evidence of the Rev. J. Griffith, 
Aberdare. I beg you to observe, in the first place, that it relates 
to the self-same district, described in such terms of generous com- 
mendation by J. W. Booker, Esq., in the testimony which I have 
already cited. There is this diflFerence, however, between the two 
witnesses, that the latter, at the time when he gave his evidence, 
had resided among the people some thirty years, and the former 
about three weeks or a month. The substance of Mr. Griffith's 
replies to the Commissioners, may be given in a few words. 
" Generally speaking there is very little sobriety ; the men drink in 
the beer-shops, and the women at home. Nothing can be more 
improvident than the Welsh miners and colliers. Nothing can be 
lower, I would say more degrading, than the character in which 
the women stand to the men. Promiscuous intercourse is most 
common, is thought of as nothing, and the women do not lose caste 
by it. Their religious feelings are peculiar to the temperament of the 
Welsh. They are very excitable — have nothing like what is con- 
sidered elsewhere a disciplined religious mind. They go to meeting 
at six, come out at eight, and spend the remainder of the evening at 
beer-shops. Properly speaking, there is no religion whatever in my 
parish ; at least, I have not found it yet." Well, on Wednesday, 
the 23rd of February, a meeting was called at Aberdare, by public 
advertisement, which is described as " the largest and most enthu- 
siastic ever remembered to have taken place in the parish." Mr. 
Griffith was invited by the Rev. Thomas Price, a respectable Baptist 
minister, " in a very respectful letter," to meet him there, to sup- 
port the statements he had made in his evidence. His insolent 
reply was conveyed in this one sentence — " I will never give you 
that honour." The meeting, nevertheless, went on, when witnesses 
far more competent than Mr. Griffith deposed to the following 
facts, — That though no doubt there is there, as in all large works, 
too much drunkenness, yet is not this evil characteristic of the 
Aberdare workmen ; that the women are not at all addicted to 
intemperance ; that this " improvident" people had, within the last 
forty years, established no less than from forty to forty-five societies 
for the express purpose of providing for the contingencies of sick- 
ness and death, to which they contributed 200Z. per month, or 
2,400^. per annum, and that there were in the neighbourhood from 
1,500 to 1,800 houses, built by the workmen alone for themselves, 
within the last few years ; that the assertion about the women was 


a gross and wanton slander, as " the women of Aberdare stand as 
high, with regard to moral purity, as any women in the kingdom ;" 
that not one out of 800 persons ever frequented a public-house on 
Sundays, and that it " was a standing rule in religious communities 
belonging to Dissenters, to exclude from their society every man 
who frequented a public-house on Sunday;" that in this parish, 
where the reverend vicar could find "no religion whatever," there 
had been built, within the last thirty-seven years, sixteen places of 
Divine worship, at an expense of about 10,000^., and twenty sab- 
bath-schools and benefit societies had been established. It was also 
proved, that, although there are eight Dissenting ministers residing 
at Aberdare, two of them of thirty-five years standing, Mr. Lingen 
never called upon any one of them, but took his entire description of 
the character of the place and the people from this reverend bigot,* 
who, at the time, had been in the parish about three weeks ! Was 
there ever a more utter defiance, I will not say of justice, but of 

* I despair of conveying to the English reader any adequate idea of this 
man's chai*acter, except by saying, that he is a sort of Welsh Gathercole. 
Rabid hatred of Dissent is the one animating principle, which imparts a kind of 
grim and galvanic activity to an intellect otherwise of the meanest order. Since 
giving the dbove evidence, he has been writing letters in the Merthyr Guardian, 
expressly to neutralize " any favourable consideration of Dissent in the forth- 
coming Report of the Commissioners in Wales," an apprehension which, as the 
event has proved, he might have very safely dismissed. In these letters he 
deliberately makes the following atrocious assertion : " That if nine out of 
every ten of the Welsh people are educated by Dissenters, so are eight out of 
every ten of the men so educated, when they can afford it, drunken and immoral; 
and eight out of every ten of the women, above the age of sixteen, unchaste and 
insensible to female virtue." 

I had once intended to have offered some rather strong remarks on this man 
and his productions ; but really, however strongly tempted to it by loathing 
and disgust, one is restrained by a sort of contemptuous pity, from planting 
one's heel on the head of a creature, already crushed and writhing beneath the 
concentrated indignation of a whole people. He may be safely left to " the 
universal hiss, the voice of public scorn," which is greeting his ears from every 
part of Wales. He is now trying to bear up under the load of obloquy, by 
which he is overwhelmed, by writing incessantly in one or two of the Welsh 
newspapers, in a style of affected smartness and nonchalance, dissuading Lord 
John Russell from paying any heed to the complaints and remonstrances of the 
Dissenters, in regard to the Reports, and reiterating with additional vehemence 
and ferocity, his thrice-refuted slanders against his countrymen and country- 
women — 

" Wipe out the slime of calumny in vain, 
The cteature's at his dirty work again." 


common decency, than is exhibited in the whole of this Aberdare 

But I prefer selecting from all others, for special examination and 
remark, the evidence of the Rev. Henry Lewis Davies, of Troedyraur, 
in Cardiganshire. And I do so for several reasons. In the first 
place it is one of the worst (involving the most serious charges 
against the people and their religion) to be found in these three 
volumes. In the second place, it is put forward with great and 
studied prominence by Mr. Symons in his summary. In the third 
place, it has been carefully culled as a choice specimen, by all the 
Whig papers, and published as an illustration of Welsh morality ; 
and, in the fourth place, the parties on whose authority I am about 
to contradict its statements are personally and intimately known to 
me, as men on whose veracity the most absolute reliance may be 

"The Day-schools are very deficient in Wales. The people gene- 
rally desire and deserve to have better schools. I believe that good 
schools, where the Bible should be taught, without the Church 
Catechism or any sectarian doctrines, would flourish ; but I am sure, 
that in this neighbourhood no schools exclusively on any Church or 
sectarian principles would answer, or be sufficiently attended. As an 
instance of this I may state, that when Sir James Graham's Bill was 
proposed, the Dissenters and Methodists in my parish opposed my 
school, and told the people I was a Roman Catholic. Very few chil- 
dren remained, and it was obliged to be given up in consequence. 
The Independents and Methodists then joined in establishing a Day- 
school in my parish. They tried to teach each their own doctrines 
and catechism in the joint school, and soon split, and were obliged to 
establish a separate school within two or three fields o£ each other ; 
and yet their principles are nearly similar. 

" The Welsh poor people are wofuUy ignorant on all secular sub- 
jects. They used to be well instructed in the Sunday schools in the 
Bible and in Scriptural truths ; but latterly, since so much doctrinal 
controversy has arisen, they pretty nearly confine their questions, 
(pwnc in Welsh,) and catechising, to polemics. For instance, such 
as State and Church connection ; that confirmation is contrary to 
Scripture ; that baptism ought to be by immersion, or the reverse ; 
Presbyterianism and Independency, &c. ; they thus attend far less to 
Bible history and Gospel truths than to these sectarian points. Hav- 
ing been absent in England for about twelve years, I perceived a great 


change for the worse in this respect on my return six years ago ; and 
this state of things is rather worse than better now. The pvmc is 
generally printed, and always chaunted at the schools about here. 
They often meet at evening schools, in private houses, for the prepa- 
ration of the jmnc, and this tends to immorahties between the young 
persons of both sexes, who frequently spend the night afterwards in 
hay-lofts together. So prevalent is want of chastity among the 
females, that, although I promised to return the marriage-fee to all 
couples whose first child should be born after nine months from the 
marriage, only one in six years entitled themselves to claim it." 

Now, I happened to be pretty well acquainted with this locality 
myself, and having received the impression, from annual visits to the 
neighbourhood for nearly ten years, and free and frequent intercourse 
with the people, that they were peculiarly peaceful, intelligent, and 
reUgious, I was utterly astounded when I read this piece of evidence. 
I wrote instantly to a friend residing there, calling his attention to it, 
and begging to know what truth there was in it. He made it known to 
his neighbours, and a universal storm of indignation was raised 
through the parish. Mr. Davies was written to in the first instance, 
to produce his authority for the charges he had made, each of them 
being separately and minutely described. He sent back a note deny- 
ing being actuated by any sectarian feeling in what he had advanced, 
and declaring " his intention to enter into no paper discussion on the 
subject," But that would not do, for the Welsh blood was up. A 
public meeting was called. The largest chapel in the neighbourhood 
was densely crowded. Every one of the charges contained in the 
evidence was deliberately examined, and indignantly denied. It was 
proved that Davies' s school was broken up, not because the people 
thought him a Roman Catholic, but because he insisted upon the 
children, (nearly all of Dissenting parents) attending the Church on 
the Sunday ; that such " a joint school of Independents and Metho- 
dists, which soon split, because each tried to teach their own doc- 
trines and catechism," never had an existence, except in the curate's 
own imagination— that instead of the Sunday schools confining their 
questions and catechising to polemics, that not one of the schools in 
his parish ever had a catechism on any one of the subjects he men- 
tions — that so far from the evening schools for the preparation of the 
pwnc leading to the immoralities he describes, there has been no 
Evening-school held in the parish for fifteen or twenty years, — that 
the seeret of his never getting any one of his female parishioners to 


claim the promised return of the marriage-fee, was not the cause 
which he slanderously insinuates, but because Mr. Davies had made 
it a condition that the child should be brought to him to be baptized, 
and the people, being all Dissenters, disdained to sell their principles 
for the sake of his contemptible bribe — that, in one word, almost the 
whole of this foul representation was a tissue of the most wanton and 

gratuitous (you know what), invented by this man, to avenge 

himself of his parishioners, because they were Dissenters. But this 
was not all. These spirited Welsh farmers determined that they 
would not leave the matter half done. At the meeting referred to, 
they adopted a memorial to Lord John Russell, in which they call 
his Lordship's attention to the above facts, ard earnestly protest 
against being judged on such evidence as this, and conclude with the 
following consolatory hint to his Lordship : — " Your memorialists beg 
leave further to state, that whatever may have been their impres- 
sions before, as to the desirableness of Government aid, the spirit 
displayed in these reports has gone far to awaken such deep distrust 
of their fairness and impartiality, as to make it more than doubtful 
whether such interference would not be more a curse than a blessing." 
This memorial, signed by 150 persons, all freeholders, farmers, and 
householders in the parish of the Rev. Mr. Davies, I now hold in 
my hand, and shall endeavour to find some means of transmitting it 
to his Lordship in the course of a few days. 

I could easily milltiply samples of the same description. But ex 
uno disce omnes. Such is the character of much of the evidence 
contained in these books, on the authority of which our schools are 
depreciated, our efforts to enlighten and elevate the people ignored 
or sneered at, our ministers and their labours defamed, our peasantry 
represented as mere animals, our women slandered, and our whole 
system of social civilization held up to the scorn and reprobation of 
mankind. But notwithstanding all this, I can hardly regret that this 
Commission was issued, and that it prosecuted its labours in so un- 
mistakeable a spirit. It is working well in the Principality. Before 
it came out, I was greatly afraid that many of my countrymen — 
what with the severe pressure of poverty and the hardship of the 
times, on their scanty means, and the recent and imperfect manner in 
which their attention had been directed to the question, and the in- 
fluence of many syren voices that had been employed, in soft and dulcet 
tones, to woo them into the caressing embrace of the Government, 
— I had begun to fear that they would allow themselves to be 


tempted into becoming, in the matter of education, pensioners of the 
State. But the veil with which this fond suitor had covered his face, 
Uke the "veiled prophet of Korhassan," has been lifted too soon, and 
discovered features so hideous, that the half-consenting maid has 
hrunk back with a shriek of horror from the'polluted embrace. Just 
in the nick of time, the Principality newspaper had been started 
as the organ of Welsh Dissent, and conducted, as it is, with admira- 
ble spirit, vigour, and ability, it has rendered to the people of Wales 
uch inestimable service, in rousing and sustaining, and directing the 
national opinion at this critical moment in their history, that they 
ought, were it only in gratitude, to rally around it, as with the heart 
of one man. The effects already produced have been great. " The 
Reports," says the editor of that paper in a letter to me, "have done 
incalculable service to Wales. I augur much good from them. A 
Government official would now be scouted from the country." A 
respectable minister of the Calvinistic Methodists writes, " My own 
Connexion are coming out to be Anti-State-Education and Anti-State- 
Churchmen. The slanders heaped upon them by their former friends 
of the church have done, and are still doing them, immense good." 
The Rev. David Rees, Llanelly, in describing to me what he stated 
to Mr. Lingen, says, " I told him that we at Llanelly had endea- 
voured to form a general educational union, but as many Churchmen 
and Wesleyans would not join unless we applied to Government, and 
as nothing but secular education would be given, we consented to 
apply for money to build the school, but that I thought that neither 
parents nor children would ever value a thing which cost them 
nothing. Subsequent to his being here, the Minutes made their 
appearance, and we at once stood up and said, ' Union or no union, we 
shall not be a party to receive one farthing of the 500Z. voted to 
us by the Committee of Council.' Our brethren, who were for 
Government grants, respected our conscientious scruples, and we 
kept together, and rejected the 500^. And now a school-room, 
and a splendid one it is, capable of holding 600 children, which 
will cost 750^., is built, the master is elected, and the school-room 

I count myself happy to have had this opportunity to stand up in 
vindication of my calumniated country, in the presence of so large a 
body of intelligent and high-minded English gentlemen. You have 
the character, and, as far as I have seen, most deservedly so, of being 
pre-eminently a generous people — lovers of fair play, who do not like. 


and will not suffer the weak and defenceless to be trampled under 
foot, by mere wanton and irresponsible power. 

I appeal to you, then, on behalf of my vilified Fatherland. I 
appeal to you on the ground of right, and as you love justice, to 
protect us from being first overwhelmed with calumny, and then, 
under cover of that, be oppressed by a yoke on our conscience, which 
neither we nor our fathers were able to bear. 

I appeal to your sympathy as fellow Christians and fellow Dis- 
senters, to help us to defeat the conspiracy which is assuredly forming 
against freedom of religion and education in Wales. I might appeal 
to you on the ground of self-interest — for in our persons your princi- 
ples are imperilled. I invoke the justice and generosity of English- 
men, to interpose the impenetrable shield of their lofty moral indig- 
nation, between a simple, warm-hearted, but defenceless people, and 
the wTong which it is designed to perpetrate upon them, under the 
pretence of evils which do not exist, and in the name of a charity 
which is not felt. 







The Lectures previously delivered— Subject of the present Lecture — The condition of England 
affects all other nations — The true greatness of England— What is education f— Who are 
to be educated ? — Education for real life — Moral and religious culture — Civil rulers not to 
enact, nor enforce religious teaching— The educational condition of England at remark- 
able periods, and among classes and professions— Failure of Government grants, and the 
success of Voluntaryism in advancing agriculture — Religious knowledge among different 
classes — The educational condition of peculiar localities — Some places specially require 
a Government commission — Our educational condition as to quality and quantity — Lost 
mind, and men who have emerged from the deepest poverty — Who are the Nonconform- 
ists? — Historical facts — Persecutions by the Church and the State — Dissenters and 
existing institutions — Deeds of Voluntaryism — Past success an argument for ad- 
vancement — Joseph Lancaster — David Nasmith — Our duty to our country and to 

Ladies and Gentlemen, — It devolves upon me to close this 
series of Lectures. For seven evenings you have listened with 
patience, kindness, and the closest attention, to the gentlemen who 
have preceded me. Great themes have been expounded ; great 
principles have been illustrated, and sustained by irrefragable 
arguments ; the misrepresentations and falsehoods, in the Reports of 
the agents of Government in relation to Wales, have been exposed 
— and refuted by the withering power of truthful evidence ; covering 
the Commissioners with reproach and shame sufficient to justify 
the virtuous indignation of an outraged and slandered people — the 
censure of all impartial men in the House of Commons — the con- 

Q 2 


demnation of all honest Englishmen — and the consignment of the 
"Reports" to the waste-paper department of the Committee of 
Coimcil on Education. 

Your attention to-night is respectfully asked to " The educational 
condition of the people of England, and the position of Noncon- 
formists in relation to its advancement." 

A comprehensive subject. Personally, socially, nationally im- 
portant to Nonconformist, Churchman, and to every British subject ; 
and indirectly, if not directly, to the well-being and elevation of 

The condition of England, affects most materially the condition 
of all other nations. Our science, literature, commerce, laws, liberty, 
and religion ; and our personal and social habits, are conveyed 
to other nations ; modifying and changing ancient governments, 
enlarging national liberty, stimulating industry, and provoking 
emulation. They are taken to uninhabited shores— to unclaimed 
districts of the antipodes — to dense forests — and, borne on the tide 
of emigration of Britain's sons and daughters, they become the 
guide, and model for new countries, and infant empires — for 
monarchies, and republics — destined, probably, to last the duration 
of our globe. 

England's greatness and influence are not to be measured by the 
extent of her sea-girt isle, her colonies, her dependencies, nor even 
by her wealth. These are surpassed by her knowledge, freedom, 
religion, great institutions, and great principles : which have cradled 
and nurtured her children into men and women — thinking, reasoning 
men and women — which have accumulated and expended an amount 
of benevolent and pious labour, self-denial, enterprise, and self- 
sacrifice on her own shores, and for the benefit of the slave and the 
free, the uncivilized and the civilized heathen in distant climes, 
unequalled, and unapproached by any other nation. Let us, in 
considering the condition of England, prepare ourselves for an 
enlarged and just judgment. Contracted views, class prejudices and 
notions, antiquated bigotries, defences of errors and abuses, because 
of their age and ancestry, must be abandoned. We want sound 
principles. Truth, justice, love, liberty, freedom of conscience, 
freedom in religion, wise and equal laws, the enjoyment of just 
rights by all classes of the people, and the education and elevation 
of the masses to their rightful position as our fellow-creatures before 


God, and our fellow-subjects and citizens in a free and advancing 
commonwealth. The millions of England ask for these ;— and they 
must have them. Be it ours to help them, by education, self- 
government, the love of order and virtue, and the fear of God, 
universally to obtain them. 

In speaking of the educational condition of England, let us under- 
stand what we mean by education — who are the persons that should 
receive it— and whether the accident of birth, or of poverty, should 
be a barrier to any persons possessing it — or whether, on these 
accounts, they should be debarred the enjoyment of what they can 
acquire? The notion of education, now happily passing away, 
comprehended little more than being able "to read, write, and 
cast accounts." To make some of the poor a more useful kind of 
mechanical apparatus, appears to have been the highest aim of many 
who sanctioned education in a Charity-school ; and even this was en- 
cumbered with notions and doctrines so slavish, and depressing, that 
the child dared scarcely glance at a superior, unless when performing 
an act of obeisance. 

In education there is the end, or object we seek to accomplish ; 
and there are the means by which it is to be effected. The means 
of education are even now, in different classes of schools, too much 
confounded with the end, and substituted in its place. The educa- 
tion of an intelligent being embraces ; first, the development of the 
mind ; — the unfolding, strengthening, and cultivation of the mental 
powers according to their constitutional tendencies and character. 
And second, the development of the heart ; — wherein the culture, 
growth, training — and the discipline and government of the affections 
and passions should be assiduously attended to. Where such 
developments are not aimed at, the teacher is either deficient in a 
just conception of what he has to do, or blameable for neglecting 
the highest and most important end he has to accomplish. 

For educating the intellect we must have proper means, and they 
must be judiciously employed. Reading, writing, and the science 
of numbers must be taught ; and they should be acquired with as 
much ease and pleasure, and in as short a time, as accurate and 
sound instruction will permit. Knowledge of many things can be 
acquired chiefly by reading ; writing enables us to preserve our 
thoughts, and the fruits of our reading ; puts us in possession of 
the power of corresponding with absent relatives and friends, besides 
its multiplied uses in mercantile, professional, and literary life 


And it is by the science of numbers, the poor boy selling oranges in 
our streets counts up his daily earnings, and Newton, La Place, and 
Airy measure the magnitude and distances of the heavenly bodies. 
Languages and the sciences still further enrich and enlarge the domain 
of mind; increase our pleasure, and augment our power of usefulness. 
The heart is to be cultivated by moral and religious truths and 
principles, and by examples of kindness, disinterestedness, and 
goodness ; so that we may have loving children, affectionate and 
devoted brothers and sisters, faithful friendships, kind, humane, 
benevolent dispositions cherished towards all men, and that habitual 
desire of self-culture, and self-control — that honourable and Chris- 
tian fulfilment of the duties and relationships we sustain, which shall 
sweeten life, smooth some of its rough and rugged features, and 
promote the happiness and common good of our families, our 
country — our race ! 

With these views of education, who are the parties to be educated? 
Shall the family of a working-man be excluded, or even neglected ? 
or shall he, on account of his position, in which he cannot enjoy 
what wealth purchases, be in any way restrained as to his mental 
acquirements and aliment ? Common sense — the honour and safety 
of our country — Christianity — and the common tie which binds us to 
Him who created the mind, and the heart, all condemn the exclusion, 
or the neglect even of the humblest, most defaced, and broken 
image of the blessed God we may find upon the earth. With us it 
is an axiom, that every child should have the best educa- 
STANCES CAN COMMAND. Every person of sound mind should 
learn to speak and write his mother-tongue easily and accurately ; 
every one should be taught to reason rightly on moral questions 
and duties, and on religious and general subjects ; to utter what he 
thinks, easily, and without embarrassment ; to be a lover of sound 
wisdom, truth, purity, and goodness ; to be able, in a humble 
degree, to understand some of the wonderful works of the blessed 
Creator, which are around, above, and beneath him ; and as he is 
amenable to the laws of his country, he should be so familiarly 
instructed in them as to prevent his breaking the law, or, through 
ignorance of it, becoming unconsciously involved in trouble and 

Many who are friendly to what they call education, and even 
ladies and gentlemen, on school committees, arc unfavourable to 


some departments of instruction, under the idea that they will lift 
a poor child out of his proper place. And what is his proper place, 
but that which he can attain, through a kind providence, by know- 
ledge, industry, talent, ability, perseverance, and virtue? Why 
should a boy continue in a Union workhouse if he can become a 
merchant's clerk ? Why should a ragged urchin, running about our 
streets, be left to become the prey of ignorance, vice, and crime, if 
we can clothe and instruct him ; and, instead of letting him go to 
gaol, train him to industry — make him a useful member of society — 
a mechanic — a tradesman — or a teacher of others ; and let him run 
a career with, and probably outstrip, those who were born under 
happier circumstances, and vdth a brighter prospect ? 

It is with us a deep, and growing conviction, especially in reference 
to our schools for the middle and upper classes, that much time is 
lost in unsuitable studies — much wasted by the manner and method 
of learning languages, which, in a majority of cases, are subsequently 
forgotten, or but little used — many matters of great practical moment 
for real life overlooked — and the learner and learning, not sufficiently 
aided by the teacher and teaching. An eloquent writer in the Edin- 
burgh Review, nearly forty years since, thus propounded his view of 
education for real life ; and so far as it goes, we think justly and 
admirably. Speaking of a young man intended for public Ufe, he 
says, " We would exhort him not to affect the reputation of a great 
scholar, but to educate himself for the offices of civil life. He should 
learn what the constitution of his country really was, how it had 
grown into its present state, the perils that had threatened it, the 
malignity that had attacked it, the courage that had fought for it, 
and the wisdom that had made it great. We would bring strongly 
before his mind the characters of those Englishmen who have been 
the steady friends of the public happiness, and by their examples 
would breathe into him a pure public taste, which should keep him 
untainted in all vicissitudes of political fortune. We should deem 
it of the utmost importance that his attention was directed to the 
true principles of legislation ; what effect laws can produce upon 
opinions, and opinions upon laws ; what subjects are fit for legisla- 
tive interference, and when men may be left to the management of 
their own interests ; the mischief occasioned by bad laws, and the 
perplexity which arises from numerous laws ; the causes of natural 
wealth ; the relations of foreign trade ; the encouragement of manu- 
factures and agriculture ; the laws of population ; the management 


of poverty and mendicity ; the use and abuse of monopoly ; the 
theory of taxation; and the consequences of the pubUc debt." 
Neither our schools nor our colleges do much even as to elementary 
tuition in these matters ; and our merchants, professional men, and 
senators, as such, are educated to a great extent in the counting- 
house, the office, the House of Commons, and by their intercourse 
with the people. 

Deeply important as we deem these branches of education to be, 
we cannot sanction the absence of moral and religious training. 
No development of the mind is nobler, than when a Milton, a 
Boyle, a Bacon, or a Newton, is found in humble prostration 
before the eternal Source of all life and light ; and no development 
of the heart can be more perfect, than when there is a growing 
likeness to the virtue, goodness, and love of Jesus Christ ! Our 
religion we get from the Bible ; our morals from the same book. 
God is the creator of the child and the adult we would educate, and 
the Author of the book whose Divine truths and precepts we would 
teach. There is in it that which can alone raise a fallen being to the 
highest virtue — enable him to pursue an honourable, useful, and 
holy career in life — supply him with the purest motives for the 
most self-denying and lofty actions — and inspire him, as he thinks 
of the loss of mother or father, sister or brother, friend or alien, 
with the hope of re-union beyond the grave. For the poor, whose 
homes, alas ! in many cases, are not yet the abodes of piety, whose 
time at school is necessarily short, whose opportunities in after life 
for religious instruction are embraced or neglected, very much under 
the influence of their early training ; we cannot, we dare not, give 
them only secular learning. They must have, if they desire it, or 
do not oppose it, the morals and the religion of the Bible. They 
must be taught, not by a hireling, but if possible, by one who 
believes what he teaches. The labourer is worthy of his hire : he 
must be paid. The parents must pay ; where they cannot, richer 
neighbours and the friends of education must pay. No civil ruler, 
not even a House of Commons, is justified in enforcing the teaching 
of religion in churches, chapels, or schools, and compelling universal 
payment for it, by making the Socinian pay towards Roman 
Catholic doctrines, and Roman Catholics towards doctrines they 
deem heretical, and all parties made to aid, by compulsory payment, 
the spread of error and of truth. This is an injury inflicted upon us 
as religious men ; an infringement of our Uberty by the civil ruler. 


which we ought not to bear, and is opposed to the freedom for which 
we have been struggling for years, and must struggle until we obtain 
it. In teaching religion in our schools, there must be liberty to 
teach what is considered essential to the enlightenment of the mind 
and the culture of the heart ; making religion, by the spirit per- 
vading the school, and the manner of teaching its lessons, lovely in 
itself, and the thing to be desired to make men and families live in 
peace, and love one another. We fully agree with Milton, that '* the 
end of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by regaining 
to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to 
imitate him, to be like him as we may the nearest by possessing oar 
souls of true virtue, .which, being united to the heavenly grace of 
faith, makes up the highest perfection." 

With such a standard to judge by, what is the educational con- 
dition of the people of England ? On the one hand, we have to 
avoid the exaggerated statements, made by such travelling tourists 
as Mr. Kay, and such clergymen as Mr. Bennett, of Knightsbridge. 
On the other hand, we have to discriminate, and while bearing testi- 
mony to the largeness of the general supply, we must frankly admit 
any specific and remarkable local deficiencies, and endeavour to 
supply them. If we had larger space than one lecture furnishes, 
we might have referred at length to the educational condition of 
England — 1st, at remarkable periods, or historically; 2nd, as it 
exists in the various classes and professions in society ; 3rd, as we 
find it in peculiar localities ; and, 4th, as it now exists, both as to 
quality and quantity, among the millions. Our allusion to these 
topics must be very brief. 

There was a time when, instead of the Colossal metropohs which 
now exists with its population of 2,000,000, the banks of our river 
exhibited roughly-constructed wooden huts, inhabited by uncivilised 
beings, scantily clad. Their religion, or rather superstition, was 
very prominent. Their priests were the Druids,— their temples, 
groves and secret recesses, — their sacrifices human beings, — and 
their punishments, by the priestly power, the severest that could be 
inflicted. Knowledge, such as it was, the priests claimed. The 
Romans changed this state of things, but only by the strong arm of 
the law. Other priests in progress of time appeared, and at an 
early period in Ireland, Wales, and England, learning for a time 
flourished. The earliest literature in any of the native languages of 
the British Islands, of which any remains have reached our time. 


appears to be the Irish, and the next the Welsh. The clergy for 
centuries were considered almost the only persons who were required 
to know anything. Schools, however, were multiplied, and about 
the thirteenth century such was the fame of Oxford that she num- 
bered 30,000 students. Subsequently learning declined, and in 
1357 the number was reduced to 6,000. Scholars became mendi- 
cants, and carried with them recommendations for the charity of 
the benevolent. The historian of the University of Oxford, Anthony 
Wood, relates a story of two of these learned travellers, who pre- 
sented themselves at a baronial castle, and exhibited their credentials ; 
in which, among other gifts that they possessed, it was said they 
had a poetical vein. The Baron was determined to put it to the test. 
He ordered them to be suspended in a pair of buckets over the 
draw-well, and to be dipped alternately in the water until each 
should produce a couplet on his awkward situation. The Baron 
and his friends enjoyed the fun. The exciting power of cold water, 
after some time, brought forth the poetry, and they enjoyed the 
hospitality for which they had begged. 

Early in the fifteenth century printing was introduced to England. 
This soon began to work a change. The period of the Reformation 
was increasingly favourable to the spread of education. The foun- 
dations of Edward and Elizabeth were intended to consolidate the 
Reformation, by diffusing learning among the middle and humbler 
classes. The range of instruction was not very extensive. Reading 
was not taught earnestly, and writing was greatly neglected. The 
prescribed curriculum, as we find it in the 79th canon, was as 
follows: — "All schoolmasters shall teach in English or Latin, as 
the children are able to bear, the larger or shorter catechism, here- 
tofore by public authority set forth. And as often as any sermon 
shall be upon holy and festival days within the parish where they 
teach, they shall bring the scholars to the church where such 
sermons shall be made, and there see them quietly and soberly 
behave themselves ; and shall examine them at times convenient 
after their return what they have borne away of such sermons. 
Upon other days, and at other times, they shall train them up with 
such sentences of Holy Scripture as shall be most expedient to 
induce them to all godliness ; and they shall teach them the gram- 
mar set forth by King Henry VIII., and continued in the times 
of King Edward VI., and Queen Elizabeth, of noble memory, and 
none other." 


Neither the church — monastic education before the Reformation — 
nor the endowed grammar schools, nor free schools after the Reforma- 
tion, were sufficiently numerous or comprehensive to instruct the 
population even of those times. In a very able article on the progress 
of education in England, in the " Companion to the British Almanack 
for 1847," the writer, though an advocate for State interference, 
bears the following testimony : — " The education of the people since 
the Reformation has proceeded from the people. It has been uni- 
formly in a state of progress, though occasionally exposed to corrup- 
tion and consequent decay. The endowed grammar schools are 
coincident with the progress of the middle class ; the free schools, 
which are not grammar schools, go along with the gradual rise and 
progress of the operative class ; the Sunday-schools, and the other 
schools of Voluntary association — the schools of the present century, 
belong to a new era, when the universal education of the people is 
held to be a matter of duty and iiecessity." We date the rise of 
popular education from the rise of popular preaching. Deep sleep 
had fallen on the clergy of the Establishment, and Dissenting 
ministers had great fear in their hearts of the political consequences 
of religious agitation, when Whitefield and Wesley came to rouse 
the slumbers of one world by the thunders of another. The Esta- 
blished Church had existed for upwards of two centuries. No want 
of revenues, no want of exclusiveness, no want of legal enactment, 
nor of priestly pretensions ; the parishes were numerous, the popu- 
lations comparatively small, but darkness covered the land, and gross 
darkness the people. The humbler classes at that period were in 
a state of great mental and moral debasement. Grossly ignorant, 
intemperate, brutal in their habits and sports, addicted to the pro- 
fanest swearing, and living in open contempt of the sabbath and of 
religion. Such was the dread of evangelical piety at that time at 
Oxford, that six young men were expelled the University, not for 
immorality — that was allowed to flourish, but for reading, praying, 
expounding the Scriptures, and singing hymns in private houses. 
Whitefield and the Wesleys brought about a new order of things. 
With religious feeling came the thirst for religious knowledge, for 
the Holy Scriptures, — and the new era of Sunday-schools and Bible 
Societies, Tract Societies and Lancasterian Schools followed ; and 
whatever may be said, or thought of the present time, as to education, 
religion, liberty, and onward progress in literature and mental free- 



dom, sure we are, that this is the best instructed, most religious, 
and the freest age, of any in our national history. 

As to the educational condition of the classes, and professions in 
society, very various opinions will be formed by thinking men, whose 
judgments will he guided chiefly by the kind and extent of education 
they have observed among them. We thank God for the great men, 
and the good men in the high places of society ; for upright, learned, 
and just judges. The profound learning of our English judges, in 
their own proper departments, is not surpassed in any nation upon 
the globe. Among the clergy of the Established Church, we have 
scholarship of the highest order ; extensive, accurate, and scriptural 
theology ; great theological acumen ; and virtue and piety of the 
highest class ; and within the same pale, we have men who are 
superstitious, foolish, ignorant ; whose theological knowledge is sur- 
passed by a well-trained Sunday-scholar, whose religion is in cere- 
monies, whose piety is in alms-giving, and whose pleasures and sports 
are in the world. And as the Church is now constituted — with her 
prizes — with her bounties upon hypocrisy — the unprovided members 
of the aristocracy and of the gentry standing at her gates — she must 
remain one of the most mixed churches as to the moral character of 
her ministers, if not the most corrupt denomination in our land. All 
State-Church establishments, in all countries, are liable to this low state 
of moral character, and of religious disqualification for the discharge 
of the Christian ministry. Other denominations in this respect have 
infinite advantages over the State-Church, because they have disci- 
pline ; and even as to learning, there are Presbyterians, Wesleyans, 
Congregationalists, Baptists, and others, who now rank with the most 
learned and able of the English clergy. Among our senators we have 
able men of birth and of rank ; and some who have come up from 
humble life, and earned for themselves a fame which the oldest and 
ablest British statesmen have gracefully conceded. Political education 
has been considered to be almost the exclusive right of the aristocracy. 
That day has gone by. The army, the navy, and the bar supply too 
many senators : but it is obviously to the interest of these professions 
to do so, though greatly to the increase of our fiscal burdens, and the 
injury of the people. The medical men of England are not surpassed 
for skill, science, and benevolence, by any in the world. Our scientific 
men, for discovery and practical utility, take the precedence of all 
others. Our working mechanics, for intelligence, skill, ingenuity. 


and finish of their work, in almost every department of labour are 
unrivalled. Our literary men constitute a mighty host, and our free 
institutions and our free Press, have given them an advantage over 
thousands on the Continent, who could think, but until recently could 
give no utterance to their thoughts. Our soldiers are a brave, fearless, 
desperate body of men, especially in any great emergency ; but they 
are grossly ignorant, and thousands of them most licentious and de- 
praved. Among our sailors, within the last few years, there has been 
an extensive reform. Temperance, and spiritual religion, are now found 
in many British vessels ; and sailors, who see so much of the power 
and goodness of God, are not afraid nor ashamed to acknowledge and 
adore Him in whom they live, and on whom they hourly depend. These 
men, as the supposed representatives of English morality, habits, and 
religion, have in times past done inconceivable mischief on foreign 
shores, and sadly libelled their country. Many of them are doing 
it still ; but the process of regeneration now going on we hope will 
not stop, until our naval and mercantile seamen are in morals and 
religion, as great an honour to Britain as in bravery, perseverance, 
courage, and skill. And what shall we say of our agriculturists — of 
our agricultural labourers ? — men and women living in thinly popu- 
lated districts, and in villages, where there is a church to a parish, 
generally with an excellent living ; where the Clergy have had it all 
their own way for centuries ; where they have had the finest oppor- 
tunity of showing what a richly-endowed church could do in a small 
population ; and where it is said the Voluntary Principle cannot pos- 
sibly succeed. To the everlasting disgrace of the Church, and of the 
compulsory principle, we are compelled to say, that the agricultural 
labourer is generally most ignorant, senseless, and stupid. No class in 
society was of easier apcess to the Clergy, but it was neglected ; while 
from the soil, on which the sweat of the labourer's brow fell like the 
dew of heaven, they annually gathered — never neglecting it — their 
tenth of the produce. Yes, the tiller of the earth they looked upon as 
one of its clods : the sheep they had sworn to feed and to fold, they 
did little else to, but shear : and then left them to wolf or bear ; or to 
the still more destructive monsters — ignorance, intemperance, and 
irreligion. Let any man study the history, and understand the con- 
dition of our agricultural population for the last century or two ; and 
let him ask what the millions of money received by the Clergy have 
done for that population? — generation after generation having grown 
up ignorant of the rudiments of learning and of religion, dolts in 
intellect, serfs in their social position, and degraded by utter ignorance 


as low as a rational being could be made to descend. Hence they 
have been easily oppressed, hard worked, and badly paid ; and by 
some masters not so much cared for as the cattle they feed, and the 
horses they plough and harrow with. Of course, in these remarks, 
we refer to the great body of the Clergy, as having acted thus in time 
past, and not a few of them who even now dislike thoroughly the 
instruction and improvement of the labouring population. Other cler- 
gymen, however, have done, and are doing all that they can to remedy 
the fearful state in which they find the people ; but they are fettered 
by the prejudices and the fears of some of the upper classes : many of 
them dreading that serfdom and slavish submission cannot coexist 
with knowledge, elevation, and liberty. In 1841, we had 881,622 
agricultural labourers ; 277,135 farmers and graziers; and 49,232 
gardeners, nurserymen, and florists : making a total immediately 
connected with the culture of the earth, of 1,207,989. Knowledge 
is spi-eading in the first class ; the third class, for some years, by its 
position has been making great advances in learning and science : 
and the second class, (thanks to the Voluntary Principle,) has now 
taken an onward movement which we trust will conduct it to honour, 
to its proper status in society, and to prosperity. 

We cannot resist giving you an illustration of the power of the com- 
pulsory, and of the Voluntary Principles in relation to agriculture. 
About the year 1 793, agriculture was said to be in a very low state : 
as it is said of education in 1848. The Shuttleworth of education 
was the Sinclair of agriculture. Nothing, it was declared, could make 
British husbandry flourish but Government patronage, and annual 
grants from the House of Commons. Sir John Sinclair at length 
succeeded in establishing the Bo.ard of Agriculture.* It received a 

* An Unfulfilled Prophecy. — Sir John Sinclair, in his " Code of Agri- 
culture,", page 501, asks, " What public encouragements for the advancement 
of agriculture ought a wise Government to bestow ?" And he proceeds to 
argue, and to prophesy as follows : " Many able men, reasoning solely from the 
abuses to which the system o/ encouragement is liable, have thence been induced 
to condemn this policy, and to recommend that of giving to individuals the 
entire freedom of exercising their industry in their own way, without any 
legislative interference whatever. They dwell much on the reply once made 
by some of the principal merchants of France to the celebrated Colbert, who, 
having asked What Government could do for them ? was answered, ' Laissez 
nous faire ' (Let us alone). It is certainly better to let agriculture alone than 
to establish injudicious regulations respecting it. But if a Government ■will 
make such inquiries as may enable it to judge of what can be done with safety 


charter from George III. For nearly a quarter of a century it had 
an annual grant. These grants ceased in 1817, and the Board of Agri- 
culture died a natural and unlamented death. Government grants 
had paralyzed it ; its officers were comfortable ; and, after a time, 
the only harvest looked for was — the annual grant. What is the 
state of things now? The agriculturists — and most of them good 
Churchmen— are trying the Voluntary Principle, and with admirable 
success. The Duke of Richmond, Sir Robert Peel, and others, took 
part in the formation of the Royal Agricultural Society, on the Volun- 
tary Principle. It has succeeded. It is doing a great work for Bri- 
tain and the world. In education, in the arts and sciences, it is 
eminently successful. It has about 7,000 members — an annual 
income of about 10,000^. ; it had invested property, on the 1st of 
March, 1848, amounting to 8,999/. stock, and a cash balance, at 
the bankers, of 2,629/. A Government grant for agriculture would, 
I believe, be scouted even by Sir Robert Peel, as a " heavy blow and 
great discouragement " to its prosperity. 

But what is the state of religious knowledge among the different 
classes we have enumerated — I mean of publicly reported religious 
knowledge ? What is it in our schools and colleges ? — What is it at 
Eton, Harrow, Westminster, Cambridge, and Oxford ? And what is 
it in many schools of inferior repute ? Is it made a primary, or even 
secondary, object, to imbue the mind and heart with the spirit of the 
New Testament? Are the principles and doctrines of Christ ex- 
pounded for the modelling of the heart and the guide of the life ? Is 
there an earnestness, a reality, in reference to spiritual and practical 
religion — a living and prominent imbodiment of it in our scholastic 
establishments ? How many living Arnolds — and how much religious 
Arnoldism have we for the young men now growing up to fill the high 
places of society ? Public opinion and the Press are doing much more 

and advantage, and will promote agricultural industry, not only by removing 
every obstacle to improvement, but by granting positive encouragement, 


SUPERIOR DEGREE than by the ' let-alone ' system, under the torpor of which 
ages might pass away, without accomplishing what might be effected in the 
course of a few years under a judicious system of encouraging regulations ! " 
Sir John had the " positive encouragement " for a quarter of a century, and it 
failed : the " let-alone " system is now resorted to, and the science of agricul- 
ture is flourishing beyond any period in our national history. 


than the systems and regulations of the schools. Whatever may be 
the deficiencies in the theories, there is, however, an improvement upon 
the practices of bygone years. The great body of the Clergy, sixty or 
seventy years back, was a public scandal. There are now in their 
ranks some of the best men upon the face of the earth. As for the 
House of Commons, one of the sources of our laws for the State, and 
for the Church, the very name of religion is, among many of its 
members, a bugbear, and a laughing-stock. It is a synonyme for 
cant, humbug, clerical power, rapacity, and bigotry ; for selfishness, 
discord, and exclusiveness. And is it to be wondered at ? Where 
have they seen religion, but in creeds, ecclesiastical history. Church- 
rates, tithes, penal enactments, party-strifes, and denominational 
struggles and feuds ? And of what use do they think religion, but 
for a status in society, a good living, Government patronage, and 
occasionally a bishopric from the Premier, for some political relation or 
friend ? Has anything for many years created a tithe of the contempt 
and disgust in the public mind, in reference to religion and Church 
establishments, that the falsehood, injustice, and worldly policy 
involved in the Hampden controversy have done ? Religious education, 
(if these be the fruits of a " National religion") among the intelligent, 
moral, upright portions of the community, will be at a discount, while 
the corruptions of the Church establishment remain ; and, like the 
immoralities of a theatre, they are essential, to its existence, and 
poUtical utility. We have, however, more religious men in the House 
of Commons, and at the Bar, than formerly ; but we have many who 
for infidelity, irreligion, and vice, are as bad as strong minds, strong 
passions, plenty of money, and corrupt companions can make them. 
There is more religion, morality, soundness of character, and social 
happiness among the middle classes of British society, than in any 
other country. They are the strength of the Commonwealth, the 
source and spring of our industry, genius, commerce, science, and 
prosperity. In the miscellaneous and agricultural population in Eng- 
land, there is but little religion, except where Voluntaryism has taken 
among them a religion, not of forms, ceremonies, tithes, — but of in- 
telligence, feeling, and principle. Look at Essex, as an agricultural 
county, where an unendowed religion flourishes, — and then look at 
Dorsetshire, where an endowed Church has been subject to but few 
and feeble interruptions, and the state of society, of mind, know- 
ledge, social enjoyment, and independence of thought and action, vnll 
tell which system is a blessing, and which a calamity to the country. 


There is a third aspect in which we may look at the educational 
condition of England ; I refer to certain localities in large cities, 
towns, and rural districts. And here we admit that some of them 
are very bad. We want an educational mission to these localities. 
These are the places where the black paint is obtained ready made, 
with which the Government inspectors exhibit upon their blue 
canvass the picture of England. It appears that Wales is very bad. 
Even hay-lofts have been ransacked to get at the state of the people. 
Three questions put by Mr. Symons, to elicit information, were 
these : — " Is there any deficiency of good day-schools, with competent 
masters, in your neighbourhood ; and in what respect are they 
defective ? Is there much ignorance among the poor ; and on what 
subjects ? Are their morals defective ; and, if so, in what respects ? 
State instances and facts which illustrate this." Now, let this 
same Commission be sent into all our cathedral cities, beginning 
with Westminster, and let them inquire into the state of the popula- 
tion, especially of that part of it living nearest to the cathedral ; let 
them ask about the ignorance and the morals of the poor ; let them 
witness the degradation of the wretched beings that they will find 
by hundreds and thousands in Westminster. They will want no 
** statement of facts." They will see enough in one hour, to disgust 
and humble them for a week ; and let them ask what the cathedral 
has done for these people? — what the clergy of the cathedral? 
And the answers will be humiliating, and scarcely to be credited. 
We have no dislike to cathedrals, to daily worship, to soul-ravishing 
music ; but unless these are the end of religion — the object of the 
mission of Christ — the great purpose for which he died ; we would 
rather see the whole cathedral staff, headed by the Dean, pioneering 
their way into the abodes of indigence, squalor, disease, and death, 
discharging the high and Divine functions of the ministers-of Christ, 
in teaching and comforting the poor, even were it but for one day, 
than we would hear their prayers and music for a week. Chris- 
tianity is a li^'ing, soul-indwelling religion. Our Lord intended it 
for real hfe, for the enlightenment and comfort of the poor, not for 
the worldly aggrandizement and ease of men, elevated to prefer- 
ment and to episcopal thrones by a civil ruler, whether from poli- 
tical friendships, or antagonism, or reward. 

Having visited, and reported upon the state of the population 
around our cathedrals, let this same Commission go into Dorsetshire, 
Cambridgeshire, and Bedfordshire, and other counties where the 


Church has not been much roused by Dissenters. Let Mr. Symons 
go to Oxford — to Cambridge. Let him go to the heads of houses, — 
to inn-keepers, — to stable-keepers, — to wine-shades, — biUiard-rooms, 
— and other places I forbear to name. Let him ask, "Is there 
much ignorance here ; and on what subjects ?" Are the morals of 
the people [and of the students] defective ; and, if so, in what 
respects ? " State instances and facts which illustrate this !" 
Why, a commission upon the morals of Oxford and Cambridge, if 
fairly and honestly gone into, — nothing concealed, and all published 
in a blue book, — would, by comparison, leave Wales a land of rustic 
innocence and simplicity. And for a thorough acquaintance with 
the Bible, Wales need fear nothing in comparison with Oxford and 
Cambridge. Last Sunday I was at Cambridge. In the evening I 
preached in behalf of the Cambridge Town Mission, The popula- 
tion is about 25,000;— not 5,000 families. Now, with all the 
clergy and Dissenting ministers in the town, with the hundreds of 
young men— nearly 2,000, I understand — training for the Church, 
there are so many poor families in Cambridge, who are neglected, 
and have no religious instruction, that the Dissenters, by Volun- 
taryism, support a missionary, and want to support two, in order to 
convey (not ecclesiastical or party instruction — this is forbidden), 
but religious knowledge and consolation to the poor. It is time 
that the people knew and felt that religion is their inheritance ; and 
while men are paid out of national funds to propagate it, and 
administer its consolations, some authorities, either spiritual or civil, 
ought to see that the poor are not neglected. 

There is another, and the largest view of the educational condition 
of England, as it respects school provision and school agencies for 
the miUions, that might and ought to be taken here ; but it has been 
so fully, comprehensively, and ably illustrated by my friend Mr. 
Baines, that I feel it to be unnecessary to introduce it. It would be 
easy to introduce other illustrations of the past state of society, and 
to repeat similar statistics ; but a reference to Mr. Baines's lecture 
will amply illustrate this part of the subject. In that lecture you 
will find information as to the past and present educational con- 
dition of the masses- Sunday schools — Day schools— British and 
Foreign schools — the school of the National Society— Infant schools 
— Ragged schools — Normal or training schools — the proportions of 
children to the whole population in attendance at schools, as well as 
general observations upon the whole question of the greatest value. 


It is consolatory to mark the progress of education as to quality 
and extent among all classes, especially among the humbler. 
Although we have no love for the Church Catechism — the most 
meagre compendium of theology extant, and containing some most 
false and unscriptural statements whether in the hand of the child 
of a Dissenter, or Churchman, — yet, with the drawback of teaching 
this in National schools, we rejoice to know that these institutions, 
especially where there are competing schools, are greatly improved. 
For the people, we hope great things ; and from the people we 
expect great things. Let them have the best education. Some of 
them, now in Voluntary schools, are obtaining a better education 
than many in boarding-schools and grammar foundations. To say 
nothing of what has been lost to nations, and to the human race, by 
neglecting the mental culture and development of the poorer classes, 
let us be encouraged by what has been gained by the foree of circum- 
stances in the providence of God. As travellers, the world has been 
benefited by a Columbus, the son of a poor wool-carder ; and by 
Cook, the son of a former's servant. Science has had Ferguson, the 
sou of a labourer ; Brindley the engineer of canal navigation, from 
the lowest depths of poverty ; and James "Watt, to whom the world 
owes vast obligations for the steam-engine, the son of a block- 
maker and ship-chandler. Richard Arkwright, the youngest of 
thirteen children of very poor parents, and put out to be a barber, 
altered the cotton and stocking-manufactures of the kingdom, and 
gave them an impetus, unparalleled in the annals of commerce : yet 
so sadly neglected was he as a child, that when he had attained fifty 
years of age, deeply lamenting the want of early education, he 
encroached upon his sleep one hour to learn English grammar, and 
another hour to improve his writing and spelling. Alexander Murray, 
formerly the Professor of Oriental languages in Edinburgh, was 
a shepherd-boy ; Dodsley, the great publisher, was a footman to the 
Hon. Mrs. Lowther ; Lackington, of undying fame as a bookseller, 
was the son of a journeyman shoemaker ; and the greatest European 
philanthropist, John Howard, on whom Burke pronounced a splen- 
did eulogy, was the son of an upholsterer, and himself an assistant 
in the warehouse of a wholesale grocer. We could go on for an hour 
with such illustrations from the annals of the dead and of the living. 
At this moment we have greater men in our free country, who have 
risen from the humblest classes, than at any former period, and 
universal education will multiply them a thousand-fold. 



The more we can cherish among the poorest class a nohle self- 
dependent spirit, paying what they are able for education, letting 
them feel that they are not paupers upon benevolence, nor upon the 
State, the greater will be our success, and the more certain will 
be the growth of correct and virtuous principle among all classes. 

We now have to consider the position of Nonconformists in rela- 
tion to the advancement of education. 

Some foreigner, unacquainted with British ecclesiastical history, 
or some Englishman equally ignorant, may ask the question, " Who 
are these Nonconformists? Are they ignorant persons, disloyal, 
unfriendly to liberty, enemies to the State, persecutors of other men, 
irreligious, patrons of ignorance, and anxious to prevent the spread 
of light, and of religion among mankind ?" Let us briefly refer to 
them. Strictly speaking, every person who dissents from the Church 
established by law, and on this ground declines membership, is a 
Nonconformist. Roman Catholics and Jews, in relation to the Church 
Establishment, are Nonconformists. So are the Members of the 
Society of Friends, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Baptists, Independ- 
ents, and other bodies of Dissenters. Members of the Estab- 
lished Church of Scotland are Nonconformists to the Established 
Church in England. In Rome, in Germany, in Scotland, English 
Churchmen would be Nonconformists. The conventional xise of 
the term, however, embraces Presbyterians, Baptists, and Inde- 
pendents. Our reference to-night will be partly, though not 
exclusively, to ourselves, as Congregational Independents, forming, 
as we do, one branch of the Enghsh Nonconformists. Our 
history, institutions, principles, and practices, prove that we are, and 
have always been, the friends of learning, of loyalty, of liberty, of 
religious freedom, and of the political and religious advancement of 
our race. This is the judgment and the testimony of men who 
belong not to us ; and these things have been to our honour, or dis- 
honour from the earliest period of our history. David Hume, the 
historian, says, " Of all Christian sects, this (the Independent) was 
the first which, during its pi'osperity as well as its adversity, always 
adopted the principle of toleration." But let us discriminately 
employ terms. Independents existed before the memorable Act of 
Uniformity, from which period, strictly speaking. Nonconformists date 
their existence. Dr. Hamilton says, " There were Independents when 
there were Lollards — when there were Puritans — when there were 
Nonconformists. They were not bound up with any of these, whether 


considered as sects of Christian communion or as indexes of current 
belief." Bartholomew-day, 1062, was the birtli-day of about 2,000 
Nonconformist clergymen, and from that period they have not only 
not become extinct, but have flourished and multiplied. They have 
in the aggregate propagated their sentiments, throughout the British 
islands, colonies, dependencies : the islands of the Southern Sea, in 
Africa, India, and China, and they believe that as education extends, 
Church Establishments by the civil power will become more and 
more unpopular, and finally be modified and conformed to something 
like the churches of the New Testament, and the exigencies of man- 

From the year 1662, (a period of 186 years,) Congregational 
Independents have ranked and been incorporated with Noncon- 
formists. What has been, and what is their relation to the spread 
of education in England ? We are taunted with having done but 
little. The Voluntary Principle which we advocate is pronounced 
to have been a failure. I suppose that no one imprisoned in 
Newgate is present in this hall, listening to this lecture. No one 
confined in the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum is expected to be of sound 
mind, and able to conduct his affairs, and fit. to be at large. No 
American slave is expected to be at liberty in the streets of New 
York, and at his pleasure, taking his passage for England. No poor 
man in the Union workhouse has a demand made upon him for 
Income-tax. But any of these things would be just as reasonable as 
to have expected Nonconformists, until very lately, to take any part in 
the education of the children and people of England : or even to have 
done much to spread their principles, erect chapels, and educate their 
ministers. Let me refer you to a few facts in our history, to prove 
that, for a time, we were prohibited from doing anything, — that the 
Church, and the State, singly and together, persecuted and oppressed 
us — every degradation that could be devised, was inflicted— tyranny, 
with her rod of iron drove us from place to place, forbad us approach 
to a corporate town, shut up our schools, and threatened us that if 
we opened one, we should be fined and imprisoned, and if more than 
five persons met for religious worship, they should be transported. Is 
it just, is it manly, to taunt us with having done nothing — after hav- 
ing for many years bound us hand and foot, and it was hoj)ed, had 
crippled, if not destroyed us ? But to the facts : 

From the year 1660 until 16/2 (twelve years,) no less than six 
Acts of Parliament were passed to crush, and if possible, to cxtermi- 


nate us from the British soil. The first was the Corporation Act ; 
the second, the Act of Uniformity ; the third, an " Act to suppress 
seditious conventicles," declaring it a transportable offence for more 
than five persons to unite in religious worship, except according to 
the forms of the Church of England. The fourth, was the Oxford, 
or Five-mile Act, by which it was enacted that no dissenting teacher 
who took not the non-resistance oath, should come (except upon the 
road,) within five miles of any corporation, or of any place where he 
had preached, under a penalty of 50?. and six months' imprisonment. 
The fifth was a revival of the Conventicle Act, with increased severi- 
ties ; and the sixth was the Test Act, which was not repealed until 
the year 1828, — only twenty years since. Two years afterwards 
(14 Car. II.) it was enacted. That if any schoolmaster or other person 
instructing or teaching youth in any private house or family, as a 
tutor or schoolmaster, before license obtained from his respective 
archbishop, bishop, or ordinary of the diocese, according to the laws 
and statutes of the realm (for which he shall pay I2d. only), and 
before such subscription and acknowledgment made as aforesaid, then 
every such schoolmaster, and other, instructing and teaching as afore- 
said, shall, for the first oifence suffer three months' imprisonment, 
without bail or mainprise ; and for every second, and other such of- 
fence shall suffer three months imprisonment without bail or main- 
prise, and also forfeit to his Majesty the sum of five pounds." This 
was the work of the Clergy ; this the toleration and liberty of the 
English Church ; this the eagerness of an established priesthood to en- 
lighten and elevate England ; and this the interference of the Govern- 
ment with private and public education. Notwithstanding this Act, 
the Dissenters, in the beginning of the 1 8th century, did all that they 
could to promote education. At length their efforts in instructing 
the people aroused the jealousy of the Church ; and in the year 1714, 
the infamous Schism Bill was introduced into the House of Com- 
mons, and on the 1st of June was passed by a majority of 237 
against 126. Lord Bolingbroke introduced it into the House of 
Lords. The activity of Dissenters in the work of education was 
alleged to be the cause of its origin. An effort was made to introduce 
a clause to allow them schools in which they might instruct their 
own children ; but it was rejected by 62 votes to 48 ; and at length 
the bill itself was carried by a majority of 1 77 against 72. Now 
what was its enactment ? " That no person in England or Wales 
shall keep any public or private school, or seminary, or instruct 


youth as tutor or schoolmaster, that has not first superscribed the 
declaration to conform to the Church of England, and has obtained 
license from the respective diocesan or ordinary of the place ; or, 
upon failure of so doing, may be committed to prison without bail or 
mainprise. And that no such license shall be granted before the 
party produces a certificate of his having received the sacrament, 
according to the communion of the Church of England, in some 
parish church, -within a year before obtaining such license. And if 
any person teaches am/other catechism than wliat is set forth in the 
Common Prayer, his license shall be thenceforth void, and he be 
liable to the penalties of this Act." This was Government interfe- 
rence with education ! And this the guilty conduct of men calHng 
themselves the successors of the Apostles ! Mercifully for Britain, 
God interposed. The bill was to have come into operation on the 
1st of August; but on that day the Queen died, and the prospects 
of its promoters were clouded and blackened by the advent of the 
house of Hanover. It remained on the statute-book until the 5th of 
Geo. I., when it was repealed. It was about the time of the passing 
of this bill, that the populace was excited to commit acts of violence 
upon the Dissenters. Five of their chapels in London were greatly 
injured ; and, among them, New-court Chapel, in which the Rev. 
Daniel Burgess preached. The pulpit and pews were torn out, the 
roof demolished, and everything that was combustible publicly 
burnt in Lincoln' s-inn Fields. 

In the beginning of the reign of Geo. II., the spirit of many of 
the clergy was of the worst kind. The celebrated Dr. Doddridge 
distinguished by his moderation, and by a most peaceful spirit, no 
sooner opened an academy at Northampton, than a prosecution was 
commenced against him in the Ecclesiastical Court, by some digni- 
taries of the Established Church. Yes, these men thought it a crime 
(and the state of the law sanctioned them) for such a man as 
Doddridge to instruct youth in knowledge, virtue, and piety, and 
for doing it he was cited into the Ecclesiastical Court — a 
Court which, to the dishonour of our country, the disgrace of the 
Established Church, and the injury of liberty, still exists, but must 
be swept away by the swelhng tide of knowledge, of justice, of com- 
mon sense, and of Christian liberty, which shall, ere long, carry with 
it Church Courts, and some other things, to their " own place." 
The clergy were determined to inflict upon Dr. Doddridge the full 
penalties of the law ; but the facts of the case being fully stated to 
the king and especially the representation that was made of the 


high and amiable character of the Doctor, George the Second, to 
his honour, ordered the prosecution to be stopped; and by the 
Royal interference the clergy were disappointed, and the Doctor 

It is now about twenty years since we succeeded in gaining the 
repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. So lately as the 25th of 
April, 1828, the Bishop of Bristol of that day made a remarkable 
speech in the House of Lords. He was alarmed at the petitions 
sent to both Houses of Parliament, from all parts of the kingdom. 
He did not like the repeal of the offensive Test Act, and, in speak- 
ing upon it, made the following extraordinary remarks about our 
schools. He said : — " The Dissenters are a powerful body ; they 
have a great control in many places ; they have established schools 
in various parts of the country ; and it is not unworthy of remark, 
that they frequently keep the children at those schools on the 
Sunday, when the service of the church is going on, by which they 
are deprived of religious instruction. If your Lordships will permit 
me, I will mention one circumstance connected with this point 
which is worthy of attention. If your Lordships look at the Report 
of the Committee of the House of Commons, on Education, you will 
find it stated, in the evidence of Dr. Hunt, that, in his opinion, one 
great cause of the increase of crime is the detention of the children 
at these schools [Sunday-schools], by which they are deprived of 
regular religious instruction," This is an extract from a speech, 
not twenty years old, by a Bishop, in the House of Lords ! The 
Nonconformists were then clearly doing too much for his Lordship ; 
and what they did in their Sunday-schools accounted for the increase 
of crime ; and now, the Government offers its patronage to do some- 
what of the same kind of thing, even in Day-schools-, in order to 
suppress crime ! 

Nothing is more certain and notorious at the present hour, to 
those who know the working of the Established Church in rural 
districts, and small towns, than that the zeal of the Dissenters, and 
their efforts to instruct the young, are very offensive to many of the 
clergy, and the most shameful practices are resorted to, to thin our 
Day-schools, break up our Sunda3'-schools, and^ if possible, drive 
the Missionary from the district, the humble Pastor from the village, 
and his flock into an alien fold. Bribery, parish alms, school-bounty, 
and Society-relief, in the form of apparel and food, are employed to 
allure or to intimidate ; while anything but fraternity is cherished 
on the part of the clergyman with the Dissenting minister. But 


these things must have an end, and a sound religious education will 
rapidly and blessedly accelerate it. 

The latter part of the last century, and the beginning of the pre- 
sent, the education of the people began to attract attention. Look 
at the two parties of Conformists and Nonconformists at that time. 
The former in possession of vast wealth annually, for the religious 
education of adults and children ; in possession of the funds of the 
endowed schools, at that time grossly abused, and the education for 
which they were founded shamefully neglected ; their churches built, 
and the influence, power, and learning of the kingdom in their favour, 
with grants from the treasury for new churches, unopposed. Look 
at the Nonconformists ! — Poor, not freed from civil disabilities, 
oppressed, persecuted, despised. See what they had to do. Out of 
their poverty they had to build their chapels, support their ministers, 
and keep their edifices in repair ; build colleges, educate their mini- 
sters, found Sunday-schools, attend to the claims of the local poor of 
every district, and build Day-schools. The extent to which they did 
these things, the statistics of various denominations amply illustrate : 
and in addition they attended to the claims of the slave, and of the 
civilised and uncivilised heathen. 

A Baptist Minister was the founder of the Bible Society, and also 
of the Religious Tract Society ; an Independent Minister was the 
founder of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum. Dissenters founded the 
Orphan Asylum at Clapton — since taken from them by Churchmen. 
An Independent Minister founded the Infant Orphan Asylum, 
also taken from them by the wicked test of the Church Catechism ; 
and then he founded the Infant Orphan Establishment, where there 
is no test, and where there is given to the child of the Churchman in 
a Christian spirit what the Churchman denies to the child of a 
Dissenter in a sectarian spirit. Dissenters founded the Orphan 
Working School, now on Haverstock Hill. A Dissenter founded 
the London City Mission. A Dissenter was the origin of the 
British and Foreign School Society. Dissenters have, with 
Churchmen, aided in building and supporting British schools 
over the whole kingdom. The magnitude of Voluntary support 
is triumphantly but libellously stated to be the annual amount 
of about 362,000 contributed to the British and Foreign School 
Society. This is utterly untrue. Local subscriptions have built all 
the local schools in the kingdom, and sustained them until the recent 
operation of Government grants. But, besides these, the unselfish 


Voluntary Principle sent a Baptist missionary to India, before a Church 
missionary or a Bishop had planted foot on that soil ; and when, to 
the disgrace of England and English law, he was obliged to take re- 
fuge in a Dutch settlement : and a Congregationalist was the first Pro- 
testant missionary to China : — he translated the Scriptures into the 
Chinese language ; compiled a Lexicon ; and both of these men, 
— Carey and Morrison, — rose to the highest distinction in India 
and China. The South Seas, Africa, Greenland, and every part of the 
world, have been visited and blessed by men of God, sent forth and 
sustained by the Voluntary Principle. They have reduced spoken, to 
written languages, translated the Scriptures, founded schools and 
colleges, made large contributions to literature and science, and have 
conferred on Britain immortal honour. And the Established Church, 
as an Establishment, has done nothing in other lands, but what she 
has done on the same principle. She is now, however, by her emissaries 
and friends, wherever she can get a footing, trying to exist by tax- 
ation ; and is already in our Colonies oppressing the people with 
some of her worst laws. South Australia, where it was understood 
none of these evils were to be visited upon the emigrants and settlers, 
has recently memorialized the Queen to withhold her sanction from 
the scheme of paying for religion out of the public taxes ; but to 
their dismay and indignation. Lord Grey, the Liberal Whig, has 
sent them back his decree in these words : — " It has been my duty 
humbly to submit to Her Majesty my opinion, that the course pur- 
sued by the local Legislature, in applying some part of the local 
revenue towards the promotion of religion, knowledge, and education 
in the Colony, merits Her Majesty's entire approbation." A man 
with these sentiments, having rule in the Colonial-office, cannot be 
removed too soon, if we wish to preserve British connection with the 
Colonies, and to build them up in peace and prosperity. 

Let the history of the Voluntary Principle for the last sixty years 
be written and read, as it has been illustrated by Roman Catholics, 
by Presbyterians before and since the Free- Church rupture, by 
Independents, Moravians, the Society of Friends, Baptists, Wesleyans, 
and other bodies, and even by Churchmen : and then let the history 
of the compulsory principle be written and read with its oppressions, 
cruelties, injustice, dishonour to Christ and Christianity, and its 
injury to the spread of religion ; and let any impartial jury, even of 
Churchmen, pronounce a verdict on the usefulness of the two sys- 
tems in enlightening and benefiting mankind. We want a concise. 


well-written, popular history of the Deeds of Voluntaryism for the 
spread of knowledge, education, liberty, commerce, Christianity; and 
for the support of ;benevolent and philanthropic institutions, mclud- 
ing our asylums and hospitals. Such a book ought to be presented 
to Lord Grey by the Colonists of Australia, and by the Voluntaries 
of England to every Member of the House Commons, the House of 
Lords, and the bench of Bishops. 

As to the advancement of popular education in Great Britain and 
the world, we are pledged to it. We must have, and encourage 
others to have, the best Normal schools they can command. Edu- 
cate the teachers, and you do much to educate the people. We 
admire the proportions, the orders, the decorations of architecture ; 
but our mission at present is not to gratify taste, but to build up 
and adorn the human soul. Too much money has been either igno- 
rantly or wilfully spent upon some of our school buildings, and our 
colleges. We must have the best books, and the best apparatus we 
can command. Among Catholics, Churchmen, and Dissenters, we 
must know what is doing ; and if they are in advance of us we 
must at least equal them, if we can, — overtake them. The quality 
and extent of education must not be ruled by prejudice, nor by 
narrow and sectarian views. Let us do what we can to adopt the 
best system— work out the most judicious and practical plans — use 
the best books — and confer the greatest amount of good in our 
power upon teachers and children. We are free to advance. Let 
our progress be marked by kindness, wisdom, discretion, sobriety, 
and zeal, and then we may hope for success. 

There is one point on which a few words may be expected from 
me, as the Secretary of the Board of Education : it is that of 
acting denominationally. We would not have done it, could we have 
avoided it. There are two causes of denominational action. First ; 
Churchmen, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and the Free-Church of 
Scotland, have determined to act singly, and if they can get Govern- 
ment money on their own terms to accept it. But from the Church 
downwards, they will meet with more disappointments than they 
expect. The State will have its quid pro g^Mo— and so it ought. Such 
Churchmen and Dissenters as can unitedly take Government money 
will do it on the floor of the British and Foreign School Society. 

The other materials of union, are some of the Congregationalists, 
— some of the Baptists, — some of the Society of Friends, — and some 
of the Unitarians. With the last of these, we have no sympathy. 

252 Tiii: POSITION of nonconformists 

We think it dishonest and immoral, professedly to unite with Uni- 
tarians upon an equal platform, and teach nothing but Orthodox 
doctrine. We should not like to be served so ; and we would not 
therefore like to serve others so. We sincerely respect and admire 
many of the Baptist body, and many of the Society of Friends ; but 
the former have been represented to us as being willing to coalesce in 
school operations -with Unitarians, more closely than we can feel 
ourselves justified in doing ; and the latter we have thought have 
required, that on some points there should be too much that is nega- 
tive, especially in respect to the religious management of Normal 
schools. Personally, we should prefer a union of all true-hearted 
Christian Voluntaries. The denominationalism of the Congregational 
Board consists, in the management of the Board, and its connection 
with the Congregational Union of England and Wales. In every- 
thing else it is perfectly undenominational. The education is to be 
religious, but it is left to the Committee of every school to direct it 
as it pleases. There is no creed, nor Catechism imposed upon any 
school, nor upon any child. Local schools may be sustained, 
directed, managed, by Churchmen, Baptists, Wesleyans, or by 
Friends : the teaching and management are under the control of 
the Local Committee. What we want, is to secure a religious educa- 
tion, resist temptations to bribery and Government grants, and to 
raise up schools that, for sound instruction, religious feeling, and 
Catholic government, shall be a blessing to our country. With all 
will we co-operate as far as in us lies, and with none will we have any 
strife, if we can avoid it. We are brethren, for the common good 
of our country, and of the world ! 

And now, in conclusion, let me ask the friends of Voluntary Edu- 
cation and of freedom — men who desire to be consistent — who scorn 
a bribe — who court not a smile at the cost of principle — who are 
lowers of their country, and would not entail upon posterity, for a 
temporary advantage, a permanent, ever-increasing, and intolerable 
burden of clerical power, Government patronage, annnual taxation, 
and of State scholastic appointments, — let me ask you to co-operate 
with one another locally and nationally, to educate as far as lies in 
your power such as are neglected, to improve and advance education, 
to sow in British minds and in British hearts seeds of loyalty and 
liberty, of justice, independence, charity, freedom of thought, speech, 
and conscience, freedom of worship, both as to the mode and support 
of it, not sanctioning the_ tyranny and oppression of Ecclesiastical or 


State exactions, either in our colonies or at home, for the support 
and spread of education by Catholics, by Churchmen, by Dissenters ; 
nor for the support of Catholic^worship or Protestant worship. Ca- 
tholic doctrines or Protestant doctrines, whether we behove them or 
not. The education that we and others have given to British chil- 
dren and adults, and even to British statesmen, encourages us ; for 
although this may be but the hour of twilight, we know that the 
midnight of mind in Britain has passed away. Streaks of light 
appear in the horizon, the atmosphere is brightening, and, although 
we may have some storms, liberty, knowledge, and religion, like the 
rising sun, shall break forth, and illumine, and bless our land ! Men 
gather not grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles. But that the 
fig-tree should never more yield its fruit, required a miracle. There 
are those among us, by the help of Heaven, capable of working out a 
regeneration of our working classes, and of our statesmen, which 
promises the happiest results. On all points we may not be 
agreed, while we would fain hope that our differences are not 
insurmountable. Our great objects should be exalted before us, 
and nothing should be permitted to intercept our view of them, 
nor cool nor quench our desire and determination to realize 
them. The course is clear before us— the race is glorious to 
run. Nonconformists ! Voluntaries ! Friends of Education ! Friends 
of Freedom ! your deeds are already registered in the annals of 
your country, and in the records of the Church of the living God ! 
Kings and queens ; Charles', James', Elizabeths', and Anns', who 
have tried to exterminate you, are dead and buried. The British 
nation has decreed that the principles they professed, shall be gradu- 
ally, but decently interred in one common mausoleum, large enough 
to contain all tyrannous ecclesiastical and political enactments — all 
social. Church and State injustice and oppression — all tamperings 
with freedom, and all exactions to uphold error, and provoke to 
unkindness and strife. Your principles have lived and flourished. 
England, their native soil, suits them ; let us act the part of faithful 
husbandmen. America — the soil to which they were carried 
when some of our number were driven away from our shores — 
also suits them. There religion spreads ; but there is no State- 
Church. Our Colonies will suit them ; they will flourish in their 
virgin soil ; but if the enemy, occupying the place of power, com- 
mands that among our wheat his emissaries should, in early dawn, 
sow the poppy, the thistle, the nettle, the dock, and other weeds. 


then we must prefer a fallow to bad farming ; we must deep-drain in 
the neighbourhood of the House of Commons ; and we must ask for 
the dismissal of a steward, who, in his ignorance or self-will, is deter- 
mined so to cultivate our colonies, that instead of making them 
integral parts of the British empire, appears determined to goad them 
to anger, isolation, and independence. 

It was the boast of Augustus, that he found Rome of brick, and 
left it marble. But for free Christian men, in the present state of 
the world's population, there are nobler deeds to do than this, and 
more glorious and lasting monuments to leave of our existence and 
power. To do the will of God, with respect to an orphan child ; 
giving him shelter, clothes, food, instruction, and religion, and to 
train him for the happiness of heaven, is a nobler work than found- 
ing a city. To be devoted to the well-being of our country, — 
the instruction, social and domestic happiness, just liberty, and 
training of the millions, by the school, by the pulpit, by the 
press, — is indeed a noble mission. Thus we deepen the foun- 
dations of social and national happiness ; we equalize our claims, 
duties, and responsibiUties ; we raise the poor from the dung-hill ; 
lower the pride of him who holds his inferiors in contempt ; teach 
the tyrant, that he has neither example nor authority from heaven to 
rule in any other way, but in justice, equity, and mercy, and prac- 
tically inculcate the brotherhood of mankind, and the beauty and 
blessedness of peace, virtue and love ! Of a truth, wealth and station 
are chiefly to be envied, because they bestow, to a larger extent, 
the power of thus benefiting and blessing mankind. But after all, 
the will and the power may dwell in the heart of a man who has 
not a shilling in his pocket, and God can make him successful. 
Remember Joseph Lancaster. That man has done more for the 
children of Britain, and of the world, than any prince that ever 
occupied a throne. He has left a legacy to his country, and his 
race, more valuable than had he endowed the Committee of Council 
on Education, with property as large as that possessed by the 
Established Church. And remember David Nasmith, — a man of 
pure and intense love for his fellow-creatures, and burning zeal to 
elevate them and make them happy. His race was swift, his course 
was short, his work was quickly done ; but we fearlessly affirm, that 
by his establishment of City and Town Missions, he has directly and 
indirectly spread more religion and knowledge among the poor ; he 
has diffused greater happiness in the social life of the lowest classes 


of society, than any bishop of the Established Church, or the whole 
bench of bishops together. We go further, and affirm, that the 
State-Church, as an Establishment, has done nothing like the 
amount of good among the poor in our cities and towns, with her 
immense revenue, during the present century, that David Nasmith, 
by God's blessing, was honoured to accomplish. It is worthy of us, 
wherever we find ignorance — to supply instruction ; divisions and 
strifes — to endeavour to heal them ; oppressions and injustice — to 
exert ourselves to afford relief; irreligion and vice — to supplant 
them with godliness and virtue ; and thus to leave children and men 
better than we found them : and should God honour us in con- 
verting but one sinner from the error of his way, we shall have 
saved a soul from death, and have covered a multitude of sins ! To 
me, much reflecting on the rapid flight of time, — the vanity of human 
greatness, power, .wealth, and glory, — the uncertainty of fame, 
whether by the favour of a prince, or of the people, — the shortness 
of our existence, and the days that must come upon us, when we 
shall say we have no pleasure in them, — it seems a worthier and 
nobler honour to be building up, polishing, and furnishing living 
temples, as the habitations of virtue and of God, than to dwell in 
idleness, accumulate wealth, and cherish the pride of caste and of 
selfishness. Our great Model is a holy, just, benevolent, and merciful 
being, full of goodness and love, who, when upon earth, continually 
went about doing good. To follow in his footsteps, is to be his 
disciple — is, to do the will of God — is to acquire for ourselves the 
largest amount of happiness we can enjoy ; and to confer upon others 
whatever can do them the most good for this state, "and for inmior- 
talitv ! 

Tyler and Reed, Bolt-court, Fleet-street. 



A brief Record of the principal facts and incidents in the contest. By the 
Congregational Board of Education. 8vo., pp. 54. Price Is. 


A Letter to the Protestant Dissenters of England and Wales. By the Rev. 
Robert Ainslte, Secretary of the Congregational Board of Education, 
pp. 55. Priqe Is. 

John Snow, 35, Paternoster-row. 


By Edward Baines, Jun. 8vo., pp. 164. 
SiMPKiN, Marshall, and Co. 




By Edward Baines, Jan, Ward and Co., 12mo., pp. 24. Price 2d. 



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