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A preliminary word as to the scope of this book may 
save misconception. It does not profess to be a history 
of education in any comprehensive sense. With the 
philosophy of education it has nothing to do. The most 
that has been attempted is to present an outline of the 
struggle, as far as it has gone, to obtain a legal recognition 
of the duty of the State to give elementary instruction 
to its children. 

Such a sketch necessarily fails to do justice to 
many who have taken part in the labour. From the 
nature of the materials to work upon, the Parliamentary 
contest occupies the most prominent place in the record. 
Yet the fight has not been always the thickest or hardest 
in Parliament. The work of creating and leading opinion 
in the country has been of even greater importance, but 
it has generally been performed by men of comparatively 
obscure position, the account of whose efforts is often inacces- 
sible, or has perished. There is another class to whom it 
may seem scant justice is done those, who following the 
duty lying nearest to them, have spent their energies and 
their means in the practical extension of education around 


them. When the complete history of education is written 
it may be expected to comprise some account of their 
noble efforts, but that is not within the design of these 

The Scotch and Irish systems, and such ancillary 
measures as the Factory and Workshop Laws, Eeformatory, 
Industrial, and Vagrant Schools, are touched only 
incidentally, and as they bear on the main lines of the 

It is proper I should also add, that although the 
views expressed may be presumed to be in general harmony 
with those of the members of the League, no one but 
myself is responsible for any statement, whether of fact 
or opinion, contained in the book. 


January, 1882. 






Introduction The Apprentice System ... ... ... 1 

Early Factory Bills 4 

Endowments for Apprenticeship .., 6 

Early Koman Catholic Education 6 

First Tax for Education 7 

Monastic and Cathedral Schools ... ... 7 

Provisions for, and Condition of Education, prior to the 

Eeformation ... ... ... ... ... 9 

Henry VIII. and Work of the Eeformation 13 

Edward VI. and Grammar Schools ... 17 

Mary and Elizabeth and Grammar Schools ... ... 18 

Impulse given by Translation of the Scriptures ... 19 

Church Direction of Education ... ... ... ... 20 

Enactments for Education ... .. ... ... 22 

Foundation of Eoman Catholic Colleges ... ... 23 

Persecution of Catholic Schoolmasters and Teachers ... 24 

Eevival of Knowledge in Elizabeth's Eeign 26 

Provisions for Education under James I. ... ... 28 

Practice of Catechising 29 

Hostilities of Charles I. and Laud against Puritans ... 30 

Act of Uniformity Conventicle Acts, &c. ... ... 31 

Necessity of Education gaining Eecognition ... ... 36 

Parochial and Sunday Schools 1680-90 37 

Mandeville's Essay on Charity Schools... 

Educational Movement of Eighteenth Century... ... 39 





Condition of Church Clergy Their Neglect of Education 44 

Neglect and Opposition of the Government ... ... 46 

Scotch, New England, and Continental Schools ... 47 

Adam Smith's Doctrine finding acceptance ... ... 48 

Lancaster and Bell Systems and Controversies Advan- 
tages and Defects ... ... ... ... ... 48 

British and Foreign School Society (Lancasterian) 

founded 1814 55 

Founders of National Society ... 61 

Incorporation by Royal Charter of National Society 63 

Its Influence and Power ... ... ... ... ... 63 

Sydney Smith on Education of the Poor ... ... 64 

Mr. Whithread's Parochial Schools Bill, 1807 65 

Lord Brougham takes Parliamentary Guidance of the 

Question (1815) His Efforts 67 

Effect of Enquiry into Management of Local Charities 79 
Influence on Education of first Era of Cheap Popular 

Literature ... ... ... ... ... ... 81 

London University Proposed ... ... 82 

Central Society of Education and Statistical Societies ... 82 

Influence of Cheap Postage System on Education ... 83 

King's College Established by the Church 84 

Effect of Reform Act of 1832 on Education 85 

Decline of Lord Brougham's Influence 86 

Parliamentary Efforts by Mr. Roebuck and Mr. Wyse ... 87 

First Government Grant ... 89 

Further Efforts in Parliament Their Effect 90 

Vll . 




Intervention of Government ... ... ... ... 92 

Statistics and Statistical Returns on Education ... 92 

General Condition of Education at this Period ... 97 

Relations of Parties ... ... ... ... ... 97 

The Comprehensive, Combined, and Denominational 

Systems 98 

The Position of the Church 99 

Illustrations of the Blending System ... ... ... 101 

The Position of Dissenters ... 103 

Opposition to Pretensions of National Society and Clergy 103 

Constitution of the Committee of Council Its Powers ... 105 

Government Educational Operations ... 108 

Opposition to the Government Proposals ... ... 110 

Abandonment of the Normal School ... ... ... Ill 

Action and Object of the Church ... ... ... 112 

The "Concordat" of 1839-40 113 

Principles of Action of the Department Their Effect ... 116 

Dissatisfaction in the Country and in Parliament ... 116 

Sir James Graham's Factory Bill ... ... ... 118 

Opposition of Dissenters ... ... ... ... ... 120 

The Voluntaryists and their Movement... ... ... 124 

Ministerial Proposals in regard to Education in 1847... 131 

Opposition in the Country and in Parliament ... ... 132 

Government Proposals Carried ... 135 

Continued Opposition and Failure of Voluntaryists .. 135 

Necessity of State Assistance Admitted ... ... 137 

The Management Clauses ... ... ... ... 138 

Pretensions of the High Church Party 142 

Historical Judgment of the Proceedings of the 

Department ... ... ... ... ... 145 





The Lancashire Public School Association Agitation .. 147 

Basis of the New Proposals ... ... ... ... 148 

Dr. Hook's Efforts 148 

Origin of the Lancashire Public School Association ... 151 

Mr. W. J. Fox's Bill in the Session of 1850 152 

The National Public School Association 155 

The Manchester and Salford Committee ... ... 160 

Parliamentary Conflicts 162 

Government Proposals in 1853 ... ... ... .., 165 

The Borough Bill and Capitation Grant ... ... 166 

The Manchester and Salford Bill, 1854 169 

Mr. Milner Gibson's and Sir John Pakington's Bills, 

1855 171 

Appointment of Vice-President 173 

Lord John Eussell's Resolutions, 1856 173 

Duke of Newcastle's Commission, 1858,.. ... ... 175 

Mr. Lowe's Accession to Office ... ... ... ... 176 

The Report of the Commission ... ... 178 

The Revised Code 184 

Attacks on Mr. Lowe ... ... ... ... ... 188 

New Movement on Death of Lord Palmerston ... 189 



Manchester Conference, 1868 192 

Manchester Bill Committee 195 

Formation of the League. Its objects and Means ... 197 

First Meeting of Members ... ... ... ... 199 

Early Work of the League ... 204 

Constitution of the League ... ... ... ... 206 


The Education Union 207 

Parliamentary Prospects ... ... 210 

The Government Bill, 1870 211 

Amendments Proposed by the League ... ... ... 214 

Deputation to Mr. Gladstone ... 216 

Mr. Dixon's Motion on Second Reading ... ... 217 

Opposition of Non-Conformists ... ... ... ... 223 

Government Amendments ... ... ... ... 225 

Further Amendments ... 226 

Progress through Committee ... .. ... ... 226 

Mr. Gladstone and the Non-Conformists ... ... 231 

Efforts of Denominationalists ... ... ... ... 233 

Mr. Eorster and his Constituents ... ... ... 234 


PLATFORM, 1872. 

Character of Education Act as Amended 235 

Action of the League in relation to the Act... ... 236 

Appointment of School Boards ... ... ... ... 287 

Resolutions of Executive Committee ... 237 

Nonconformist Policy ... ... ... ... ... 238 

Second Annual Meeting of the League ... ... 239 

Action of the Clergy 241 

Opposition to School Boards 242 

Position of National Society ... ... ... ... 244 

The Cumulative Vote 246 

School Boards and the Religious Question 252 

The Birmingham School Board and the 25th Clause 254 

Adminstration of the Act by the Department ... 259 

Relations between the Government and the Liberal Party 260 

Movements in Scotland and Ireland ... ... ... 261 

Demands of the Roman Catholic Bishops ... ... 263 

Parliamentary Action in 1871 ... ... ... ... 265 



Influence and Operations of the League ... ... 266 

The Third Annual Meeting, 1871 267 

The Autumn Agitation ... ... ... ... ... 275 



Recommendation by the League of the Separation 

between Religious and Secular Instruction ... 276 

The New Proposals , 277 

Nonconformist Conference .., ... ... ... 278 

The League General Meeting in 1872 ... ... 279 

Advantages of the proposed Scheme ... ... ... 280 

The Conscience Clause of the Education ACT 281 

Opposition to League Scheme ... ... ... ... 286 

Parliamentary Action in 1872 ... ... ... ... 287 

The Scotch Bill 288 

Dissensions in the Party... ... ... ... ... 289 

Preparation for Electoral Action 289 

Government Amendment Bill of 1873 , 290 

Dissatisfaction of Liberals ... ... ... ... 291 

Opposition to Government Candidates ... ... ... 292 

The Bath Election 292 

Prosecution of the " Bath Policy " in other Con- 
stituencies 294 

Attempts at Reconciliation 296 

Mr. Bright Re-joins the Ministry ... 296 

Liberal Disorganization ... ... 297 

The Dissolution of 1874 ... 299 




Effect of the Conservative Success on the Policy of the 

League 302 



State of Education at this Time 303 

Training Schools, Schoolmasters, Pupil Teachers ... 303 

Progress of Opinion ... ... ... 307 

School Boards and the Public 308 

Rumours of Reactionary Legislation ... ... ... 309 

Parliamentary Action, 1874 ... ... 310 

Mr. Gladstone's Retirement from Leadership of Liberals 310 
Mr. Dixon's Bill for Compulsion and School Boards, 

1875 311 

The New Code, 1875 312 

The Education Department and the Denominationalists 312 

Growing Feeling in Favour of Compulsion ... ... 314 

Parliamentary Action in 1876 ... ... ... ... 315 

Lord Sandon's Act .. ... ... ... ... 315 

Objections of the League... ... ... ... ... 316 

Deputation to Lord Hartington ... ... ... ... 319 

Passage of the Bill 320 

Summary of its Provisions ... ... ... ... 320 



Reasons for Dissolution of the League 321 

Review of its Work and the Results .., 322 

Defects of the Education Act 324 

Results up to 1876 325 

Result of the Controversy between 1870-1876 ... 326 

Final Meeting of the League ... ... ... ... 329 

Summary of Results ... ... ... ... ... 329 

Attendance at School 331 

Attendance in the United States 332 

Lord Sandon's Act a Complete Failure... ... ... 333 

Mr. Mundella's Act, 1880 334 

Failure of Boards of Guardians as Attendance Authorities 335 

Compulsion and Free Schools ... ... ... ... 338 

The 25th Clause as Amended 339 

School Boards 340 




Comparative Progress between 1870-1880 .. ... 343 

Attendance in United States ... ... 344 

Board Schools and Voluntary Schools ... ... ... 345 

Hates of Grant 348 

Cost of Maintenance ... ... ... ... ... 348 

School Board Rates, &c. ... ... 349 




BEFORE attempting any description of the struggle for 
National Education, which has been confined almost wholly 
within the present century, it will be well to state what 
previous efforts were made by Society or by the Government 
to provide instruction for the children of the poor, or to give 
them legislative protection. 

In examining the education controversies of the last 
eighty years, frequent references will be found to ancient 
systems existing in England, but even with the aid of an 
extensive knowledge of English History, one may be at a loss 
to know what is meant. 

When Mr. Fronde writes of the " Old English " educa- 
tion, he is careful to explain that he means the apprentice 
system, but others have not taken the same pains to make 
themselves intelligible. Mrs. Trimmer, who, towards the end 
of the last and in the beginning of the present century, wrote 
numberless educational pamphlets, essays, and lesson books 
for children, was enthusiastic for the ancient system founded 
by (C our pious forefathers," and it is only by much diligence 
that the reader finds she referred to the Act of Uniformity, 
and the Canons of the Church. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, 
who has been regarded as a conclusive authority on the subject, 
speaks of " the School " as having been " transferred by the 
Reformation from the Priesthood to the Congregation;" ( l ) 
which leads to the supposition that there was at that period 
something approaching to a system, and capable of being 
transferred. This, however, is true only in a limited sense. 

1 Preface to "Public Education." 

Of the apprentice system, as it existed in the time of 
Henry VIII., Mr. Froude speaks with high approval, and he 
appears to look with some regret on its decay. ( ! ) The best 
that can be said is, that it was better than nothing ; and how 
well-soever it may have answered the wants of an earlier 
period, it gradually became unsuited to the growing necessi- 
ties of the country. It neither was nor pretended to be a 
system of education, as we use the expression in these days ; 
and even as a system of industrial training, it was, outside 
London, where the apprentices very soon became organised 
and powerful, cruel in its application, irregular and 
barbarous in its method, and strongly partook of the character 
of slavery, which was hardly extinct when the early appren- 
ticeship laws were made. 

Industrial education was of very early date, beginning 
in the tenth century in the time of Dunstan, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, who directed the priests to instruct youth in 
trades. ( 2 ) The chief Apprentice Acts however date from the 
time of Henry VIII. Acts dealing with the system had been 
framed previously, some of which encouraged it, while others 
placed it under restrictions. 

Very early in history there were guilds of traders, 
members of religious orders, having powers which gradually 
increased, for the regulation of industry, and after the 
conquest these guilds became very powerful. Apprentice- 
ship was one of their regulations, and the condition of 
admittance to trade. ( 3 ) 

With great cunning Edward III. had, about 1337, 
enticed a large number of Dutch apprentices to England, and 
scattered them about the country to teach the people the 
manufacture of cloth. ( 4 ) This led to the extension and 

1 English History, 1, 44-76, and Short Studies, 263. 

2 Hook's Lives of Archbishops, 1, 419. 
8 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, 4. 4 Fuller's Church History, 2, 185. 

general adoption of the system, and was also the beginning 
of the cloth manufacture in England. 

It was not, however, until the period of the Eeformation 
that laws were passed making apprenticeship necessary. 
The injunctions of Henry VIII. to the clergy, commanded 
them to exhort the people to bring up all children to some 
trade or way of living. ( ! ) The pulpit, however, does not 
seem to have been effectual for the purpose, and therefore 
at a later period, justices of the peace, constables, and other 
authorities, were empowered to take up children between the 
ages of five and thirteen, who were found begging or idle, 
and appoint them to masters of husbandry or other crafts. ( 2 ) 

The Act was aimed at the prevailing vices of the times : 
idleness and vagabondage, evils which had been very 
prevalent before the dissolution of the monasteries, but 
which were suddenly and largely increased by that event. 
Some idea of the state of the country in this " merry " age 
may be gathered from the fact that in Henry VIII.'s reign 
72,000 people were executed for robbery and theft. ( 3 ) The 
policy was continued and extended by Edward VI. Children 
" idly wandering about " might be taken by any person before 
a justice of the peace and straightway apprenticed, and they 
might even be removed from their parents. A child who ran 
away from his master might be recaptured and punished in 
chains, and " used in all points as a slave," and masters were 
empowered to sell and bequeath the services of such 
" slave children." ( 4 ) In certain cases they became slaves 
for life. It was thus that the Ministers of Edward VI. 
undertook to give effect to his pious wish, that children when 
they came to man's estate might not " loiter " and " neglect," 
but "think their travail sweet and honest." ( 5 ) These 

1 Burnet's History of the Reformation, 1, part 1, 410. 2 27 Henry VIII., c. 5. 

3 Nicholls' History of the Poor Law, 1, 130. 
4 1 Edward VI., chapter 3. 5 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 2, 104. 

enactments more than justify Mr. Senior's opinion that the 
earlier poor laws were " an attempt substantially to restore 
the expiring system of slavery." ( J ) 

By two statutes of Elizabeth the system was further 
rivetted upon the country. Churchwardens and overseers 
had authority, with the assent of justices, to bind all 
children,- whose parents were not able to maintain them, 
"where they should see convenient." 

Persons were compelled by law to receive apprentices, 
and various Statutes of Labourers restricted the exercise of 
any manual labour to persons who had been apprenticed for 
seven years. ( 2 ) This latter provision, notwithstanding the 
attacks of Adam Smith and other political economists, 
continued in force down to 1814 ; and the compulsory 
reception of apprentices was not finally abolished until the 
reign of the present Queen. Whatsoever individual benefit 
may have been derived from the apprentice laws, which, 
under favourable conditions, must have been great, there is 
every reason to believe that they were generally made the 
instruments of rapacity and cruelty. There was no obligation 
upon the masters to give any instruction in letters to their 
apprentices, and though they formally undertook to teach 
them their business, they gave generally only as much 
technical training as enabled them to get from them the 
fullest amount of labour. The original object and principle of 
the system was industrial education, but its chief and 
practical effect soon became the restriction of labour. 

It was not until the present century that the health and 

I education of children were taken in any degree under the 

\careof the Government. About 1802, the first Sir Eobert 

tPeel, father of the Prime Minister, passed a bill restricting 

the hours of labour for apprentices in cotton and woollen 

1 Edinburgh Review, No. 149, p. 2.. 
9 5 Elizabeth, cap. 4. 39 Elizabeth and 43 Elizabeth, cap. 2. 

mills, and providing that during the first four years of 
service, instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic should 
be given at the expense of the master, in some part of each 
working clay. ( J ) The act, however, was easily evaded. The 
letter could be fulfilled by nominal performance, while in 
practice it was altogether powerless and ineffective. Some 
small measure of protection was subsequently given to young 
children by an Act passed in 1819, prohibiting their 
employment in factories under nine years of age. ( 2 ) 

In 1833, the exertions of Lord Ashley, the present Earl 
of Shaftesbury, secured a further reform, and the daily labour 
of children under thirteen was restricted to eight hours, 
and that of older children to twelve hours per day. ( 3 ) These 
concessions were regarded, and in the then existing circum- 
stances, actually were of great importance and value. ( 4 ) 

The debates on the early factory bills of this century will 
satisfy any one how urgently a strong legislative and adminis- 
trative control was needed. The growth of all branches of 
manufacturing industry had created a great demand for cheap 
labour, and as children's labour was the cheapest to be had, 
it was eagerly sought after. Almost as soon as they could 
walk, the little children were swept into cotton manufactories. 
Waggon loads of children were taken from the London streets 
and apprenticed to manufacturers in Lancashire. In defiance 
or in evasion of the law, they often began to work at the age 
of five or six, and the ordinary hours of labour were twelve 
hours per clay, often protracted to fifteen. Such laws as 
existed failed to guard their health, to provide for their 
education, to preserve their morals, or to protect their persons 
from abominable cruelties. Sir Samuel Eomilly wrote of 
them, " the poor children have not a human being in the 
world to whom they can look up for redress." Their 

1 Duke of Newcastle's Commission, Report, 202. 2 Ibid, 202. 
s 3 and 4, Wm. IV. c. 103. 4 Walpole's History of England, 3, 208. 

sufferings were often unendurable. For girls, apprenticeship 
was the beginning of a life of shame, and for boys, one of 
misery and vice. (*) Such is the history in outline of the 
apprentice system. Various circumstances combined to break 
it down altogether. The Act of Geo. III. repealing the 
restrictions on labour ( 2 ) hastened its destruction ; and the 
introduction of machinery, and the revolution in many 
departments of industry, completed the work. 

That the system had been deeply rooted in a past 
society is proved by the fact, that charities of the value of 
50,000 per annum had been left for providing apprentice 
premiums, ranging in amount generally from 5 to 25. ( 3 ) 
The charities were of themselves an evil, and the cause of 
much fraud and malversation. All that was good in the 
system of apprenticeship is still capable of preservation under 
a judicious scheme of technical education, and this it seems 
would be the most legitimate purpose to which the funds, 
which are still available, could be applied. 

We owe to the Eoman Catholic Church the first planting 
of Education in England, as well as in Scotland, ( 4 ) and that 
intimate connection of the subject with religion, which 
^ preserved in dark ages the desire for knowledge. But while 
this alliance has sometimes advanced education, it has often 
/ proved one of the most effective agencies for preventing its 
I spread amongst the masses ; and is wholly responsible for the 
acrimonious controversies of modern times. Theodore, Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury in 680, laid the foundation, by turning 
St. Augustine's monastery into a school of learning. Dean 
Hook tells us that Theodore " found the English people eager 
to be instructed and appetent of knowledge " and that he 
converted all the larger and better monasteries into schools, 

1 Walpole's History, 1, 187 ; 3, 200. 2 54, Geo. III., c. 94. 

3 Report of Newcastle Commission, p. 531. 

4 Lecky's Eighteenth Century, 2, 42. 

in which the laity as well as the clergy imbibed a respect, 
and sometimes a love for literature. (*) In them ancient 
manuscripts were transcribed, and the foundation of libraries 
was laid. The oldest grammar school now extant that of 
Carlisle, dates from about the period referred to. The present 
foundation was erected by William Eufus towards the close 
of the eleventh century, but tradition says that it was built on 
the ruins of an earlier school, established by St. Cuthbert 
in 686, but destroyed in 800. ( 2 ) 

The first English tax was a tax for education, and was 
raised in the eighth century to support a Saxon school a 
Eome. ( 3 ) 

The vicissitudes of education in those -early days were 
great. There was the same tendency in the monasteries, then 
as in later years, to relapse into idleness and dissipation. 
The monks had also frequently to fight for existence, and all 
traces of gentle culture were lost in the necessity for military 
training. Two centuries after the time of Theodore, when 
Alfred was king, and Plegmund was Archbishop of Canterbury, 
the country had fallen into a condition of great ignorance. 
There was, however, another revival. Alfred was anxious 
that all English youth of position should be put to learning 
until they could read English writing, ( 4 ) and he even 
attempted to found something like a system, by passing a law 
that all freeholders who possessed two hides of land should 
give their sons a liberal education. ( 5 ) These were schools 
for the nobility. During the same period we learn of a 
famous school at York. ( 6 ) 

A century later the work was carried on by Dunstan 
The monks again were the teachers of the people, in manual 

1 Hook's Lives of Archbishops, 1, 1 63. 

2 Schools Enquiry Commission, 37 app. 

3 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, table 2. 

4 Hook's Lives, 1, 337. 5 Carlisle's Grammar Schools, 1, xiii. 
c Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, table 2. 


arts as well as in learning, and the Canons of Dunstan 
ordered all priests diligently to instruct youth, and dispose 
them to trades, that they might have a support to the 
Church. O 

The ecclesiastics were skilful workers in metals. Every 
priest was a handicraftsman. Attached to every monastery 
were carpenters, smiths, shoe makers, millers, bakers, and 
farm servants, and they provided the industrial education of 
the period. ( 2 ) 

From the monasteries sprang the humanising and 
civilising influences of the age. In the Anglo-Norman era 
they were the popular institutions of the country, as well as 
the schools in which ecclesiastics and statesmen were trained. 
At this period the school room was open to all who chose to 
profit by it, though these were probably few in number. ( 3 ) 

After the Conquest, Cathedral schools were established 

where " fair and beautiful writing " was taught, and many 

persons of rank and fortune were educated. ( 4 ) Of those 

-7 which remain Hereford is the oldest. It was probably 

/ founded soon after the Conquest. ( 5 ) Many Jewish schools 

were also set up, which were open to Christian children. 

In the time of Eoger Bacon, and after the granting of 
the great Charter, we are told that schools were erected in 
every city, town, burgh, and castle. ( 6 ) So that historians 
have concluded that the ignorance of the laity was owing to 
taste rather than to the want of opportunity. 

Mr. Herbert Spencer holds the opinion that in the llth 
and 12th centuries, besides monastic schools, there were 
village elementary schools, and some city schools and 
academies for higher culture. In 1179 the Council of 
Lateran decreed a school in every cathedral, with head 

1 Hook's Lives, 1, 419. 

2 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, table 2. c Hook's Lives, 2, 21. 

* Carlisle's Grammar School, 1,19. 5 Schools Enquiry Commission, 37, App. 

6 Carlisle's Grammar Schools, xxi. 


masters having authority over all subordinate teachers in the 
house. About the same period lay teachers were first heard L 
of. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were founded 
about 1200. The only literature of the common people, at 
this time, were the unwritten songs. (*) Of the pre-reforma- 
tion schools, William of Wykeham's foundation, at Winchester, 
is one of the most famous. This was established about the year 
1373 or 1387, and from this time, Dean Hook tells us, the 
public mind became habituated to the idea of the ultimate 
confiscation of monastic property for the purpose of estab- 
lishing schools and colleges. ( 2 ) 

The respect and devotion of the people for the monasteries 
began to decline as early as the 12th century. The 
opportunities they offered for instruction were little used, and 
the 15th century found the people in the grossest possible 
ignorance. Parishes were neglected, the Universities were 
deserted, and no rewards were held out to learning. ( 3 ) This 
period, however, contemporaneous with the introduction of 
the printing press, the reformation of the Universities, and 
the revival of learning throughout Europe, was the dawn of 
a new era in education, and within thirty years before the I 
Eeformation, more Grammar schools were erected and I 
endowed in England than had been established in the three 
hundred years preceding. ( 4 ) 

There is no complete record of the provision for 
Education prior to the Eeformation. Much that passes for 
history, has no other basis than tradition. There are authori- 
ties which go to show that there were schools connected with 
every monastery and convent. In his life of Bishop Ken, 
Mr. Bowles says that before the Eeformation, there was a 
school in every church over the porch. ( 5 ) As some estimates 

1 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, table 3. 
2 Hook's Lives, N.S., 2, 3. 8 Hook's Lives, 5, 291. 
4 Tanner's Notitia Monastics, xx, iv. 5 Bowies' Life of Ken, 2, 98. 


place the number of cliurclies as high as 50,000 (*) this would 
account for an ample provision for the whole population. 
These estimates may however be dismissed as unreliable and 
unsustained by proof. Doubtless many foundations were lost 
in the wreck and waste of the Eeforniation. Only thirty-five I 
Grammar schools, established prior to the time of Henry VIII. \ 
have been inherited by this generation. ( 2 ) Of existing 
endowments for primary schools, only three or four are known 
to have been founded before the Eeformation, though there 
are about two hundred, of the foundation of which the dates 
are unknown, and which are doubtless the relics of a long 
past age. There are also several hundreds ( 3 ) of small 
unattached educational charities of unknown origin, some of 
which probably, protected by their insignificance, escaped 
from the fingers of Henry and his courtiers, and so have come 
down to our own day ; but the conclusion of the Schools 
Enquiry Commission, that it was not till after the Eeformatiom 
that numerous endowments were left for primary education \ 
alone, is probably the correct one. ( 4 ) The general conclusion 
derived from the authorities is, that the schools connected 
^vith the monasteries were intended chiefly as seminaries for 
the clergy. " They bred their novices to letters, and to this 
end every great monastery had a peculiar) college in each of 
the universities," and even to the time of their demolition " they 
[maintained a great number of children at school, for the service 
\of the Church." ( 5 ) Their primary purpose was to recruit the 
ranks of the clergy. It was the presumption in law and 
fact that if a man could read he was an ecclesiastic, and was 
entitled to his "benefit of clergy." In the reign of Henry VII. 

1 Dodd's Church History, 1, 420. 

2 Schools Enquiry Commission Report, 37 App. 

8 See Analytical Digest of Charity Commissioners Report, 1842. 

4 Schools Enquiry Commission Report, 119. 

5 Dodd's Church History, 1, 278. 


the law regulating benefit of clergy was amended, and 
from that time recognised a distinction between offences 
rather than persons, and admitted the title of some laymen 
to its advantages. But reading as a qualification for its 
benefits was not abolished till 1706. (*) 

This provision of the law which at one period entitled 
a criminal to be tried in an ecclesiastical court, and which 
down to the present century secured a mitigated penalty, 
had at one time given an impulse to learning. ( 2 ) Tn later 
times it became a mere fiction and was retained only to 
lighten the severity of a terrible criminal code. In its 
origin it was intended for the protection of the clergy alone, 
and is conclusive as to the main object and use of the 
monastic schools. It may, however, be readily granted that 
many of the laity were taught in the monasteries, and that 
numbers of children received instruction there who would 
otherwise have gone without it altogether. In the darkest 
period of our history, the monasteries were the nurseries of 
education. Many of their highest dignitaries were its chief 
promoters and protectors, and were the founders of libraries. 
It was in the Abbey at Westminster that Caxton on his 
return to England first used his printing press, ( 3 ) and he 
received his earliest encouragement from priests of the Eoman 
Church. This is the view taken by Eoman Catholics, ( 4 ) and 
it is in the main supported by impartial examination. ( 5 ) 

When we come to test the results of this net- work of 
educational establishments, they are found to be greatly 
disappointing, and we wonder how such vast means were 
employed to so little good purpose. At the period of the 
Reformation, the rank and file of the country clergy who 
had received their education at the monasteries could do 

1 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, Table 6, p. 9. 2 Hook's Lives, 3, 39. 

8 Tanner's Notitia Monasti'ea, xxvi. * Dodd's Church History, 1, 276. 

5 Strype's Memorials, 1, 532. 



little more than read. (*) Herein lay one of the difficulties 
of the Eeformation. The ignorance of many of the clergy 
was so great that they could not read the new offices. In 
the performance of their duties they reverted to memory, 
and preferred to say the old prayers which they knew by 
heart. ( 2 ) The poorer classes, except those destined for minor 
clerical offices, had never caught the infection of knowledge, 
or even got within the outer circle of its influence. In a 
disputation at Westminster during Elizabeth's reign, " whether 
it was against the Word of God to use a tongue unknown 
to the people," the Dean of St. Paul's, who argued on behalf 
of a section of the Bishops, said, " The people of England do 
not understand their own tongue better than Eunuchus did 
the Hebrew." ( 3 ) The people knew nothing of religion 
beyond its outward forms and pageantry. ( 4 ) Even the 
richer classes were almost wholly without elementary 
instruction. Henry VII. was illiterate. At the time of 
Henry VIII.'s accession, if Princes could read and write, 
more was not expected of them. ( 5 ) Latimer's sermons are 
sufficient to satisfy us how little the teaching of the 
monasteries had touched the higher classes, who were 
unfitted for any offices of state ; ( 6 ) while the poor had been 
lost sight of altogether. In the latter days of the monasteries 
they had almost given up the pretence of teaching. Burnet 
affirms that while they had in their hands the chief encourage- 
ments of learning, they did nothing for it, but decried and 
disparaged it, saying it would bring in heresy and a great 
deal of mischief. ( 7 ) Mr. Froude agrees that the people 
were taught only what they could teach themselves. ( 8 ) 
Nothing is more manifest, than that the desire for knowledge 
and the impetus given to learning for which the sixteenth 

1 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, 375. 2 Hook's Lives, N.S. 4, 125. 
3 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 2, 471. 4 Ibid. 2, part 1. 

5 Ibid. 1, part 1, 17. The Floughers, 28. 
7 Burnet's Reformation, 1, part 1, 39. s History of England, 1, 58. 

13 - 

century was remarkable, proceeded not from the teaching of 
the monasteries, but from the group of English scholars who 
derived their inspiration from the Greek teachers who had 
found in Florence a refuge from the persecutions of Constan- 
tinople. Amongst them the most remarkable were Colet, 
Dean of St. Paul's and founder of St. Paul's School, Lilly, 
the author of the grammar, Warham, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, Latimer, Sir Thomas More, Grocyn, the first 
English teacher of Greek, and Erasmus. (*) 

Before Henry's rule had become a settled law of tyranny 
and spoliation, the beginning of the Eeformation was full of 
promise for the spread of knowledge. Sir Thomas More had 
dreamed of an ideal state in which all in their childhood were 
instructed in learniDg. ( 2 ) Erasmus yearned for the time when 
all should be able to read the Scriptures for themselves. " I 
long for the day," he said, " when the husbandman shall sing 
portions of them to himself as he follows the plough, when 
the weaver shall hum them to the tune of his shuttle, when 
the traveller shall while away with their stories the weariness 
of his journey." ( 3 ) Henry VIII. was himself a fair scholar, 
and took the new learning under his own especial patronage. 
Cranmer had projected liberal designs for ecclesiastical and 
civil education. (*) Latimer was never weary of preaching 
the duty of teaching the young. " They that do somewhat 
for the furtherance of learning, for maintaining of schools and 
scholars, they sanctify God's holy name." ( 5 ) 

1 Green's Short History, 297, and Hook's Lives, 1, N.S. 267. 

2 Utopia, Arber's reprint, 2, 86, and Green, 312. 

3 Green's History, p. 308. 

4 Dean Hook discredits the intentions assigned to Cranmer (Lives of 
Archbishops, N.S., 2, 30), but Strype, Burnet, and older writers are 
unanimous on the other side, and his speeches prove that he was in favour of 
educating the children of the poor. That he shared in the spoils of the 
monasteries is true. That was the gross temptation and spirit of his time. 
6 Latimer's Sermons, Parker Society, 1, 349. 


The means were at hand for the establishment of a vast 
and comprehensive system in its various grades. A compara- 
tively small portion of the wealth of the dispossessed 
monasteries would have sufficed for the purpose, and the 
mind of the nation had been prepared for such an application 
of the funds. The clergy were docile and obedient and 
anxious to save what they could, while such a disposition 
would have preserved for their support, no inconsiderable 
share of the spoils. Even as it was, no obstinate opposition 
was offered to the changes introduced by Henry. In little 
more than twenty years, says Burnet, there were four great 
changes made in religion, and in all these the mainbody of 
the nation turned with the stream." (*) 

The people, except when driven by want, and goaded by 
oppression, were law abiding and peaceable. Nor was there 
such a jealousy between the clergy and laity as to prevent 
co-operation in the work of education. Colet committed his 
great foundation at St. Paul's to the management of a lay 
corporation, having found " many laymen as conscientious as 
clergymen in discharging their trust in this kind." ( 2 ) 
Cranmer, in discussing with Henry the re-establishment of 
ChrTst Church at Canterbury, had advocated the separation of 
the lectureships upon divinity and humanity. ( 3 ) Sir James 
Kay Shuttleworth goes the length of affirming that the schools 
at the Reformation "were not confided to the clergy, or 
subjected to the visitation of the bishop." (*) This, however, 
as will be seen is a mistake. There was no such transference 
of the control of education from the priesthood to the 
congregation as he contends for, either in theory or in practice ; 

1 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, preface xx. 

2 Fuller's Church History, 3, 19. 3 Burnet's Reformation, 3, part 3, 209. 
4 Public Education, 13, 242. It is a mere refinement to say that the 
power of visitation was not given by Statute or by common law. The 
accuracy of this statement may be doubted, but, at any rate, the schools were 
by the de facto law, placed under the control of the clergy. 


but considering the spirit of the time, a great opportunity was 
lost of laying a broad foundation for schools, in which clergy 
and laity might have worked together to promote instruction, 
and carry out the principles of the Eeformation. 

There is little doubt that it was comprehended within 
the first design of the Eeformation, to make substantial 
provision for education. It was one of the serious charges 
against the monasteries that their duties in this respect had 
been neglected, and the instructions for the first visitation, 
provided that enquiries should be made under this head. ( ! ) 
The same reasons for their suppression was given after- 
wards when experience had proved it to be a mere 
pretence. The preamble to the bill for the dissolution 
of the greater monasteries alleged as its object, " that / 
these houses might be converted to better uses ; God's \ 
word set forth, children brought up in learning " ( 2 ) and 
so forth. The King assured the people that there should 
be no detriment to piety or learning. ( 3 ) Out of this second 
conversion of church property, it was proposed to found 
eighteen bishoprics, and with them Cranmer designed to/ 
connect ecclesiastical and civil colleges, and grammar* 
schools. ( 4 ) 

He had hoped further to found Grammar schools in every 
shire in England " where children might have been brought 
up to learning freely, without great cost to their friends and 
kinsfolk." ( 5 ) But the scheme had to run the gauntlet of 
many perils, and it ended in the creation of six bishoprics, 
in which the educational features held a very subordinate place. 
Burnet says the popish party turned the King's foundation 
another way, ( 6 ) The more reasonable explanation is that 

1 Burnet's Reformation, 1, part 2, 212. 
2 Burnet's Reformation, 1, part 1, 475. 3 Dodd's Church History, 1, 287. 

4 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 32. 

5 Cranmer's Works, Parker Society, 2, 16. 

Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, 546. 


the designs, if they were ever serious on the King's part, 
were frustrated by the greed, and rapacious spirit of the time. 
All was scramble, wreck, and confusion. The cry of those in 
possession was sauve gui pent the aim of others, to get all 
they could. The Commissioners enriched themselves, and the 
ancestors of more than one of the rich families of later times, 
laid the foundation of their fortunes in this reign. They gave 
promises to the clergy, and bribes to Cromwell and the 
country gentry to conceal their depredations. (*) The 
liberality of the King's nature, especially in dealing with the 
goods of others, was not consistent with any well-ordered 
scheme of re-construction, civil or ecclesiastical. " Small 
merits of courtiers met with a prodigious recompense for their 
services ; not only the cooks, but the meanest turn-broach 
in the King's kitchen did lick his fingers," ( 2 ) and such gifts 
ias were made for education, often shrank in their passage 
/through the hands of a covetous steward. ( 3 ) The Universities 
were robbed of exhibitions and pensions, ( 4 ) and every 
ecclesiastical foundation was impoverished. The seizure of 
first the lesser, then the greater monasteries, and lastly the 
collegiate churches, hospitals, and chauntries, has been 
described as the three great mouth fuls made by Henry. He 
did not however live to swallow them all. He reduced into 
possession only the lesser and greater monasteries. Out of 
the spoils of these, this munificent patron of letters and 
learning, as he loved to be considered, founded six cathedrals 
and ten grammar schools, ( 5 ) during a reign which extended 
over thirty-five years ; which began with an immense treasure 
bequeathed by his father, and which was undisturbed by 
foreign wars or domestic broils. There were also during his 

1 Burnet's Reformation, 1, part 1, 39. 
2 Fuller's Church History, 3, 438. s Ibid 3, 444. 

4 Carlisle's Grammar Schools, xxv. 
5 Schools Enquiry Commission, 39 App. 

reign some fifty other grammar schools endowed by private 1 
individuals. Of the foundations for primary education, the 
dates of which are fixed, not more than six are known to I 
be the fruit of this period, though it is fair to assume 
that some of those of which the origin is lost in obscurity, 
may have had their beginning in this reign. 

The short and quiet reign of Edward VI. was more 
honorably distinguished. In six years fifty grammar schools 
were established, of which the King founded twenty-seven. 
Eoman Catholic historians comment, with bitter irony on the 
fact, that they were all that survived the spoliation of so many 
chauntries and collegiate churches. Between two and three 
thousand of these institutions fell to the hands of Edward's 
Ministers. The bill, which authorised their seizure and 
settlement on the Crown, declared that they should be 
employed for good and godly uses, the maintenance of 
grammar schools, the augmentation of the universities, the 
provision of additional curates, and the assistance of the 
poor and needy. (*) Only a small portion of this great wealth 
escaped through the hands of the Commissioners, and while 
many schools were destroyed and shut up, as Fuller says, 
" only for a smack of Popery," ( 2 ) very few were erected in 
their places. The bulk of the Church property was 
squandered amongst the parasites of the Court. ( 3 ) Even 
Burnet who is usually very tender of the reputation of the 
Reformers, cannot forbear to complain of the gross and 
insatiable scrambling after the goods of the Church, ( 4 ) 
which was the marked feature of the age, and was 
encouraged by the King's youth and weakness. Occasionally 
a bold preacher such as Lever, the master of St. John's, 
Cambridge, spoke openly to the King of the robbery of 
the schools " to the most miserable drowning of youth 

1 1 Edward VI., c. 14. 2 Fuller's History, 3, 475. 

3 Dodd's Church History, 2, 14. 4 Burnet's Reformation, 3, 215. 


in ignorance, and sore decay of the universities" ( ! ) or 
a wise adviser like Martin Bucer urged on him the duty 
of making education the care of the State. ( 2 ) To such men 
we probably owe even the small provision that was made. 

In Mary's troubled reign of five years, she established of 
her own bounty, a grammar school for each year, and some 
fifteen schools were also established by private citizens. ( 3 ) 

Elizabeth reigned forty-five years and founded twenty- 
five grammar schools. But the importance of knowledge was 
now beginning to make itself felt through society, and we owe 
a large number of foundations to the private benefactions 
of the time. Altogether there were founded in Elizabeth's 
reign 137 grammar schools, so that out of about 700 
foundations for secondary education, 250 owe their origin 
distinctly to the period of the Eeformation, (*) that is, to the 
almost complete century which elapsed between the death 
of Henry VII. and the accession of James I. Between 
forty and fifty non-classical schools, and about twenty 
unattached endowments for educational purposes had their 
rise in the same time, and probably some others, the 
origin of which has not been traced. But of the 4,300 charities 
for primary education reported on by the Commissioners 
between 1818 and 1842, by far the greater number were 
established long after the Eeformation, and most of them 
after the Eevolution and Eestoration. It would not be just, 
however, to measure the educational work of the Eeformation 
era by the narrow standard of the mere provisions of means. 
Amongst the leaders of the Eeformation were men who held 
much more comprehensive views on the subject of popular 
education, than any who preceded or followed them in high 
office, until the present century was well advanced. Cranmer 
eloquently advocated the rights of the poor to a place on the 

1 Dodd's Church History, 2, 14. 2 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, 289. 
8 Schools Enquiry Commission Report, App. 49. 4 Ibid, Report, 39, 57. App. 


foundations of the time, (*) an$i it is only by a technical 
definition of terms, and a narrow interpretation of founders' 
intentions, that the grammar schools have been confined to 
middle class education; and partly also because these 
schools, as schools for the poor, were in advance of the times, 
and of the desires of the people. Latimer made the 
instruction of the poor one of the chief burthens of his 
discourses, and bitterly complained of those who " withdraw 
the goods wherewith schools should be maintained and take it 
to themselves." ( 2 ) Eidley encouraged Edward VI. in his 
educational designs, ( 3 ) and even Bonner was induced by 
some paramount influence to issue injunctions to his clergy 
to teach the children of his parishioners to read English. ( 4 ) 

The long interval of three centuries had elapsed before 
we again find men of influence in the Councils of the State 
such men as Brougham, Eussell, and Melbourne, urging the 
duty and policy of universal education. Though Henry VIII. 
did not give much himself towards education he was urgent 
upon others, and especially on the clergy, to provide for it;, 
and he was the instrument by which a desire for instruction 
was awakened in the popular mind. Before the translation of 
the Scriptures into the vulgar tongue, popular education, 
connected as it was with a religious institution, and dependent 
on religious enthusiasm for its support, had but narrow 
ground to stand upon. Henry's warrant allowing all his 
subjects to read the Bible in their own language, and imposing 
penalties on those who hindered them, ( 5 ) was the charter 
of popular education. It is of comparatively small importance 
what his motives were, or whether he was actuated by spite 
against the clergy or otherwise. An impulse was given to 

1 Cranmer's Works, Parker Society, 2, 398. 2 Latimer's Works, Parker 
Society, 1, 349. 3 Ridley's Works, Parker Society, xiii, note. 
4 Bin-net's Reformation, 2, part 1, 571, and 1 part 2, 382. 
5 Burnet's Reformation, 1 part 1, 


the desire for knowledge which it had never received before, 
and which has never since been wholly spent. Many persons 
put their children to school that they might take them to 
St. Paul's to hear them read the Scriptures. (*) Even aged 
persons, eager to avail themselves of a new privilege, took 
lessons in the art of reading. ( 2 ) Henry, Edward, and 
Elizabeth, taxed the clergy to make provision for instruction, 
and compelled them to provide exhibitions at the Universities 
and Grammar Schools. Whoever among the clergy had an 
income of 100 a year was compelled to maintain a poor 
scholar at Oxford or Cambridge, ( 3 ) and Carlisle says that 
in Elizabeth's reign there was a tax of one-thirtieth on 
ecclesiastical benefices for maintaining schools. ( 4 ) 

As Church property was considered to be the proper 
/provision for education, so the education of the age was 
/ committed entirely to the direction of the clergy. Education 
was not a civil but an ecclesiastical matter, and its aim was 
religious, not political. The teachers were commanded to 
make the catechism the beginning and foundation of instruc- 
tion in their schools, ( 5 ) and all having cure of souls, and 
also chantry priests, were ordered to teach children to read 
English, " taking moderately of their parents that be able 
to pay, which shall so put them to learning." ( 6 ) 

So early as the seventh year of his reign Henry 
commanded the Bishops to make yearly visitation of all 
schools in their Dioceses. ( 7 ) At the beginning of Edward 
VI.'s reign, education was still further confined to a Church 
mould by the Act of Uniformity ( 8 ) the first of those 
exclusive acts, and the earliest statutory manifestation of the 
exclusive spirit which have done so much to hinder progress. 

1 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, 549. 2 Hook's Lives, N.S., 2, part 141. 

8 Hook's Lives, N.S., 2, 239. 4 Carlisle's Grammar Schools, xxxix. 

B Burnet's Reformation, 3, part 2, 269. Ibid, 3, part 2, 193. 

7 Ibid, p. 269, 8 2, and 3. Edward VI., c. 1. 


By this act it was ordained that the Book of Common Prayer, 
and none other, should be used ; and all curates were ordered 
to call on their parishioners every six weeks to teach their 
children the Catechism. ( 1 ) But there was a step in advance 
in this reign, as the priests were now ordered to teach 
writing as well as reading. ( 2 ) When Mary came to the 
throne similar injunctions were given to the clergy to take 
charge of education, ( 3 ) and the Bishops were required to 
examine the schoolmasters to see that they exercised their 
offices without corrupt teaching, and, if necessary, to remove 
them. ( 4 ) And strict orders were given them to examine 
whether the common schools were well kept, and the school- 
masters diligent in teaching. ( 5 ) 

The prospects of education at the commencement of 
Elizabeth's reign appeared somewhat brighter. It was 
expected that great care would be taken of the Universities 
and public schools, " that the next generation might be 
betimes seasoned with the love of knowledge and religion." ( 6 ) 
Such expectations, however, were disappointed. Beyond 
the grammar schools which she founded, Elizabeth did little 
to promote the spread of knowledge, and the impetus it had 
gained at an earlier time slackened rather than increased. 
More care was given to Ireland than to England. An Act 
was passed for erecting free schools in every diocese in 
Ireland. ( 7 ) In England the Queen's chief care was to 
preserve teaching on the right ground, as soon as she could 
determine in her mind what that ground was. When she 
had declared for the Protestant side, and was firmly seated 
on the throne, she took vigorous measures for rooting out 
heresy from Church and School. The Act of Uniformity, 

1 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 2, 288. 2 Dodd's Church History, 2, xlvi. 

3 Hook's Lives, N.S., 3, 429. 

4 Cardwell's Annals of Church, 1, 112, 114. 5 Ibid, 174. 
Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, 679. 7 Hallam's History, 3, 371. 


which had been repealed by Mary, was again restored, and 

all schoolmasters were required to have a license from the 

/ ordinary. (*) This license was strict in its conditions, was 

j held during the pleasure of the Bishop, was available only in 

\ the particular diocese for which it was granted, and was 

dependent on good .behaviour. ( 2 ) 

In a letter from the Council to Archbishop Grindal, 
directions were given that all schoolmasters should be 
examined by the Bishop, and that if any were found to 
be corrupt or unworthy they should be displaced. This 
matter was declared to be " of no small moment, arid 
chiefly to be looked into by every Bishop of his diocese." ( 3 ) 
A return was required of the names of all schoolmasters, 
whether they taught publicly or privately, and whether any 
were suspected. 

Churchwardens were directed to report whether any 
schoolmasters taught without a license, and the Act of 
Uniformity was ordered to be strictly enforced in regard to 
them. ( 4 ) The use of one grammar, as well as one prayer- 
book, was enforced. Lilly's celebrated grammar was the 
one authorised. A Bishop finding some scholars ignorant of 
its rules exclaimed, " what ! are there Puritans also in 
grammar?" ( 5 ) The memorable Convocation of 1562, from 
which the Church derived the thirty-nine articles, and the 
second book of Homilies, supplied also Dean NowelFs 
catechism, the use of which was now vigorously enforced. 
Parents and masters having children, servants, or apprentices, 
upwards of eight years old, who could not say the catechism, 
were fined ten shillings in respect of each child. ( 6 ) 

1 Cardwell's Annals, 1, 195. 
2 For form of License see Strype's Life of Whitgift, 1, 468. 

3 Cardwell's Annals, 1, 394. 

4 Cardwell's Annals, 1, 402. 5 Fuller's Church History, 3, 21. 
Cardwell's Synodalia, 2, 510. 


These enactments were aimed, in the first place, 
principally against those who clung to the ancient faith, but 
they were equally convenient as a weapon against the Puritans 
when they came to be troublesome. The Eonian Catholics 
were the first to feel their weight. At first the Queen 
had no great reason to dread a Koman Catholic opposition. 
Out of 9,400 beneficed men only 189 left their benefices on 
account of the change in religion at this time. (*) But it by no 
means followed, because the clergy ostensibly accepted the 
changes imposed by Elizabeth, that they were disposed to give 
them implicit assent, or even obedience. Many of them looked 
forward to the time when a Eoman Catholic Sovereign might 
succeed Elizabeth, as Mary had succeeded Edward VI. 
Also large numbers of the gentry remained Catholic at heart. 
The destruction of the monasteries deprived them of all means 
of education for their children, as they were not allowed to 
have private tutors. These circumstances gave rise to a new 
order of instructors for Eoman Catholic children the 
Seminary Priests. Colleges were founded at Douay, Lisbon, 
Eouen, Bruges, St. Omer, Brussels, and other places. The 
teachers these colleges sent forth were amongst the most 
celebrated the world has ever known. Many of them 
belonged to the Order of Jesuits, whose success in the 
education of youth is thus described by Macaulay : " The 
liberal education of youth passed almost entirely into their 
hands, and was conducted by them with conspicuous ability. 
They appear to have discovered the precise point to which 
intellectual culture can be carried without risk of intellectual 
emancipation. Enmity itself was compelled to own that in 
the art of managing and forming the tender mind they had 
no equals." ( 2 ) These were the teachers into whose arms 
the policy of Elizabeth drove large numbers of the youth of 
England. Catholic colleges and seminaries were filled with 

1 Burnet's Keformation, 2, part 1, 720. 2 Macaulay's History, 1, 344. 


English children belonging to the higher classes, and soon 
Catholic priests were found pursuing their calling under 
eveiy form of disguise. The aims of these teachers were not 
in the first instance civil or political, nor was it their chief 
object to supply English Koman Catholics with the means 
for the cultivation of letters. It was their business to educate 
for the Eoman Catholic priesthood, and, incidentally, to keep 
all secular education under their direction. It is said of them 
that while great attention was given to pupils destined for the 
Church, the abilities of such as were to be employed in 
secular affairs were neglected. ( x ) They had secondary 
political designs upon the throne of England, and, as it is 
alleged, upon the life of the Queen. ( 2 ) 

Whether Elizabeth was ever in personal danger, or 
whether such allegations were only a cover for the savage 
measures she took, will always be in dispute. She was 
equal to the emergency, whether a reality or a pretence. 
A severe law was passed against all who did not 
observe the regulations of the Church of England in their 
most minute detail, ( 3 ) and a proclamation was issued 

\ commanding all persons whose children, wards or relations 

!; were receiving their education abroad to recall them within 
four months. ( 4 ) It was forbidden to worship God in the 
Eoman Catholic manner in public and private. Seminary 
priests who came to England were hunted down. The 
prisons were filled with delinquents, and large sums of 
money were extorted from them. Eoman Catholics were not 

> allowed to have their children educated at the Universities 
unless they would conform. To send them abroad was held 

/to be criminal. ( 5 ) 

1 Buckle's History of Civilisation, 2, 336. 2 Hook's Lives, N.S., 4, 456. 

8 Hook's Lives, N.S., 5, 144. * Dodd's Church History, 3, 15. 

5 Ibid, 69. 


Five or six acts were passed in this reign against 
Catholic schoolmasters and teachers. Seminary Priests taken 
in England were executed. Two hundred of them perished 
in this way, and a larger number died of diseases contracted 
in the horrible prisons to which they were consigned. ( l ) 
Preaching and reading in private houses was forbidden. The 
Queen's power of wardship was used to compel the education 
of catholic youth in protestant tenets. ( 2 ) The Court of 
Star Chamber exercised a rigorous censorship over the 
press. ( 3 ) In the latter years of Elizabeth a savage act 
was passed against the Puritans. .All who refused to 
conform were required to abjure the kingdom under pain 
of death, and for some degrees of non-conformity they 
were adjudged to die. ( 4 ) The Court of High Commission 
assumed control over every expression of thought, and 
every religious office. Two hundred of the best ministers 
were driven from their parsonages. The conventicles were 
closed, and the congregations were compelled to seek 
refuge in Amsterdam. At a later time they became the 
colonists of New England. These persecutions tested the 
vitality and strengthened the conscience and determination 
of English non-conformity, and became powerful stimulants 
to the growth of the civil and religious freedom they were 
designed to crush. 

There are very scanty materials upon which to form any 
precise judgment of the actual progress of education amongst 
the poorer classes during the hundred years of the Eeformation 
struggle. The histories of that period are not histories of 
the poor, except as it is found in Poor Law Acts and in 
the wars of the times ; but of Kings and Queens, and courts 
of the struggles between the crown and the nobles 
between ecclesiastics and laymen, for power of the slow and 

1 Green's History, 402. 2 Ibid, 607. 3 Ibid, 460. 
4 Burnet's Owii Times, 2, 495, and Statute 35 Elizabeth, chap. 1. 



painful development of institutions which have been made 
native by adoption ; and in a measure of the middle class, 
which with the growth of trade and commerce was then 
pushing itself into a commanding position all of which 
forms a part of the education of the nation, but is withal an 
incomplete record of the efforts of the commonalty for 
existence and improvement. In the higher classes the first 
effect of the Eeformation was to discourage learning. 
When Edward VI. came to the throne the Grammar Schools 
had become disused, " parents choosing any other calling for 
their children rather than bring them up to letters." (*) 
With the destruction of the monasteries, the opportunities 
for study and leisure, and the rewards which they offered 
had disappeared, and those who had formerly followed literary 
callings now betook themselves to mechanical pursuits, or 
other illiberal employments. In a letter, dated 1550, Eoger 
Ascham lamented the ruin of the Grammar Schools; 
throughout the country ; and that the Universities and 
the public schools were neglected alike by professors and 
pupils. ( 2 ) Burnet says no care was taken for the education 
of youth except those who were bred for learning, and the 
commons saw the gentry were likely to reduce them to a 
very low condition. ( 3 ) The clergy were the only instructors 
of the lower classes. They were, especially in the country, 
grossly ignorant. ( 4 ) They were reluctant teachers, and 
often so poor that they had to follow some manual occupation 
for their living. ( 5 ) If they had at any time carried out 

'the injunctions of Henry and Edward to teach the children, 
the habit soon fell into entire disuse, and even the catechising 

\ was neglected. 

During the long reign of Elizabeth there was a partial 

1 Strype's Cranmer, 234. 

2 Spencer's Descriptive Soceology, 25. 8 Burnet's Reformation, 2 part 1, 211. 
4 Pepys' Diary, 4, 263. 5 Burnet's Reformation, 2, part 1, 375. 


revival of knowledge amongst the upper and middle classes. 
The grammar schools and Universities took up the work 
of the monasteries, and a new knowledge and mental energy 
were diffused amongst the middle classses and country 
gentry. (*) The burst of noble literature for which Elizabeth's 
reign is famous was an educating influence of the most lofty 
kind. Authorship, under court protection, began to be a 
regular profession. The clericy or learned body, as such, 
was disappearing, and literature was addressed to a wider 
circle of readers. " The abundance, indeed, of printers and 
printed books at the close of the Queen's reign, shows that 
the world of readers and writers had widened far beyond the 
small circle of scholars and courtiers with which it began." ( 2 ) 
The Eeformation moreover had given to the people a book 
which had the most intense charm and interest for them 
the Bible and had supplied them with what before was 
wanting a literature which they could comprehend. It was 
out of the study of this book that Puritanism rose and grew 
into a force, giving a new moral and religious impulse 
to society, and the conception of social equality which in 
time was to be productive of such great results. But towards 
the end of Elizabeth's reign all freedom of thought, spiritual 
and intellectual, had fallen under the despotism of the 
Ecclesiastical Commission, which even had powers to amend 
the statutes of colleges and schools. ( 3 ) A beginning however 
had been made, and the desire for knowledge was so far 
enkindled that neither the neglect nor tyranny of Govern- 
ments or of dynasties could extinguish it. 

The two hundred years following the death of Elizabeth 
are bare of records of Government attempts to extend 
instruction amongst the people. The Eestoration and 
Eevolution, and accession of the Brunswicks, occasioned 
no effort to raise the structure of political power on the 

1 Green's History, 399. 2 Ibid, 393. 3 Ibid, 457. 


education of the people. ( T ) Yet it was during this period 
that the great struggle for intellectual, political, and religious 
freedom was proceeding, the triumph of which could alone 
render a state system of education tolerable or desirable. 
In order to understand the claims to the control of education 
put forward in our own day it is necessary to review briefly 
these events so far as they bear on the subject. It is 
not the object of this work to consider them in their wider 
relations to the great subject of civil and religious freedom. 

One of the marked features in the reign of James I., is, 
that the foundation of grammar schools, (which was almost 
suspended as an object of the crown and court) proceeded at 
an increased ratio, at the cost of private individuals. The 
King in his reign founded four schools, whilst the private 
foundations were over eighty. During all the subsequent 
troubles, the foundation of grammar schools by private 
individuals went on steadily. Between the beginning of the 
reign of James I., and the flight of James II., 288 schools 
were established, but of these only seven owe their foundation 
to the rulers of the nation. ( 2 ) 

It was also during the same era that private foundations 
for distinctly primary education had their beginning. Before 
the year 1600 benefactions for this purpose, the origin of 
which have been traced, were exceedingly rare ; but during the 
century following there were nearly seven hundred endow- 
ments left for this purpose, of which about two thirds 
followed the Eestoration, ( 3 ) the period from which Mr. Green 
dates the forces of modern England. ( 4 ) Their distribu- 
tion however extends over the whole century, and 
marks the impulse which had been given by the 
Eeformation to the extension of knowledge. In the 

1 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 33. 
2 Schools Enquiry Commission Report, App. 
3 Analytical Digest of Charity Commissioners Report, 1842. 
4 Green's History, 603. 


time of James I., the " licensed " schoolmasters had grown 
into a class of sufficient number and wealth, to be included 
in the exaction of benevolences. ( l ) But all education was I 
confined in the one inflexible church groove. The Eoman 
Catholics were disappointed in their hopes of toleration. One 
of the first acts of James was to renew the proclamation, 
ordering all Jesuits and seminary priests to depart the realm, 
and a Canon of the Church ordered ministers to present 
recusants and schismatics. ( 2 ) A stricter conformity to the 
rubric was required, and three hundred Puritan clergy were 
driven from their parsonages. ( 3 ) The doctrine of the divine 
right of Bishops was added to that of the divine right of 
Kings. The Canons of 1604 renewed the requirements that 
the schoolmaster should be licensed by the ordinary, and 
should embrace the articles of religion. They added also a 
special proviso that curates should be licensed before others.( 4 ) 
The catechising of children on Sundays and holy days, and 
their instruction in the commandments, the Lord's prayer 
and the articles of religion, was made compulsory on the 
clergy, and attendance at church was required on pain of 
excommunication. Students of the universities were ordered 
to attend, to be thoroughly instructed in points of religion. 
The duties of schoolmasters were declared. 

It is noteworthy that the earlier injunctions of Edward \ 
and Elizabeth to teach the poor to read and write were now 
forgotten, and schoolmasters were enjoined only to teach the / 
catechism, to train their scholars with sentences of Holy 
Scripture, and to bring them to church. ( 5 ) 

In later contests between the Education department and 
the National society, the question has been raised as to how 
far these Canons, not having the sanction of Parliament, were 

1 Oardw ell's Annals of Church, 2, 144. 

2 Dodd's Church History, 4, 57, and Canon 110. 

3 Green's History, 470. 4 CardwelTs Syiiodalia, 291. 

5 Canons, 77, 78, 79. 


binding on the laity. The effect of the decisions of the courts 

is, that they are binding only so far as they declare the 

ancient law, and custom of the Church and realm. ( J ) But 

the point is of small significance since the subjection of the 

Ischoolmaster to the clergy was expressly declared by statutes 

'23 Elizabeth, cap. 1, and 1 James I., cap. 4, ( 2 ) which regulated 

the granting of licenses by the ordinary. 

The practice of catechising never seems to have been 
general, not so much on account of any resistance by the 
people, as from disinclination of the clergy. Within thirty 
years after the passing of the law, the Bishop of Norwich 
reported to Laud that he had " brought" his diocese into 
perfect order by requiring the practice of catechising. ( 3 ) 
At the same period Dean Hook says that the Puritan 
preachers regarded the order of catechising as beneath 
the dignity of their preachers, ( 4 ) and this was at a 
time when the mass of the clergy were steady Puritans. 

There can be no doubt that the practice of catechising 
was found difficult to enforce, since after the Eestoration 
the Attorney-General was desired to prepare a bill requiring 
the clergy to carry out the injunctions. ( 5 ) 

Charles I. had found in Laud a willing instrument 
to give effect to his hostility against the Puritans. The 
doctrine of passive obedience was added to the principles 
they were required to instil. They were compelled to 
take an oath of their approval of the doctrine, discipline, 
and government of the Church. Hundreds of clergymen 
were suspended or deprived. The lectureships which 
had been established in towns were suppressed. Church- 
wardens were ordered to present on oath the names 
of all schoolmasters, and to prosecute at the assizes 

1 Hook's Lives, N.S., 5, 219, and Lathbury's History of Convocation. 

2 Cardwell's Annals, 2, 274. 3 Ibid, 206. * Hook's Lives, N.S., 6, 190. 

5 Cardwell's Annals, 2, 287. 


those who had not submitted. ( l ) Thousands of the 
best classes of the nation were driven to America. ( 2 ) 
Neither did the Common-wealth bring any recognition of 
the principles of intellectual or of religious freedom. The 
Government asserted and enforced the right to provide forms 
of worship and of faith, and to compel all to come 
within its creed. The recognised religion was changed. 
The assembly at Westminster provided a new confession 
of faith, and directory of public worship. Conformity to 
Presbyterianism was required on all sides. Episcopalian 
clergy were driven out in their turn, and forbidden to act 
as ministers or as schoolmasters. The Barebones Parliament 
was charged with indifference to progress, and with enmity 
to knowledge. To deny the doctrine of the Trinity, the 
divinity of Christ, or that the Bible was the word of God 
was made punishable by death. A Court of Triers and 
a rigorous censorship of the press, provided an efficient 
means, by which an outward conformity to the opinions 
and regulations of the Government was secured. ( 3 ) 

Great hopes of some relaxation in the harshness and 
tyranny of the laws were entertained on the Eestoration. 
Charles II. in the famous declaration of Breda had 
declared " on the word of a King," a " liberty to tender 
consciences." These hopes were soon extinguished by the 
Corporation Act, the Act of Uniformity, and other measures 
which followed each other in rapid succession, the object 
of which was to root out the last semblance of religious 
freedom. If Charles was not the chief promoter of this 
policy, he was one of the most active conspirators. In 
1681 both Houses of Parliament had passed a bill 
repealing the cruel Act of Elizabeth against Non-conform- 
ists and the King refused to give it his assent. (*) The 

1 Cardwell's Synodalia, 1, 403. 2 Green's History, 495, 510. 
3 Green's History, 520, 570. 4 Burnet's Own Times, 2, 495. 


object of this persecution and of the Corporation Act and 
other Acts by which it was enforced, was to drive the Puri- 
tants out of the towns, which were their strongholds, and to 
disperse them and annihilate their influence. 

The Act of Uniformity, framed in 1662, on the strength 
of which the clergy of this century have based their right to 
the control of education, had a similar aim. It recites 
the Act of Uniformity of Elizabeth's reign, and that 
numbers " following their own sensuality, and living 
without knowledge and due fear of God, did wilfully 
and schismatically abstain and refuse to come to their parish 
churches," and required the use of the Book of Common 
Prayer, the observance of the rights and ceremonies of the 
established church, and unfeigned assent and consent to its 
doctrines and ordinances. For the first time school masters 
were required in express terms to subscribe a declaration of 
conformity to the Liturgy of the Church ; and teaching 
without the license of the ordinary subjected them to 
imprisonment. (*) The House of Lords remonstrated against 
the clause, and vainly endeavoured to secure more lenient 
provisions on behalf of school masters. The Bishops were re- 
quired particularly to certify the names of all school masters, 
and whether they were licensed and attended church. ( 2 ) 

The Act of Uniformity was followed by the Conventicle 
Act in 1664 the Five Mile Act in 1665, and another 
Conventicle Act in 1670. The object of all these measures 
was the suppressing of unconforming ministers and school | 
masters. The Test Act passed in 1673, requiring from all in! 
the civil and military employment of the State, the oaths of 
allegiance and supremacy, a declaration against transubstan- 
tiation and the reception of the sacrament according to the 
rites of the Church, was a blow at the Eoman Catholics, 

1 13 and 14 Charles II., c. 4. 2 Cardwell's Annals, 2, 273-4. 



when the King was secretly negociating with them ; and it 
was acquiesced in and supported by the Dissenters. 

The first effect of the Act of Uniformity, and other 
persecuting Acts was cruel in the extreme upon a large section 
of the clergy. Two thousand Church ministers the best and 
most learned of their order the leaders of the London clergy 
and the heads of the 'Universities were driven from 
their homes. ( J ) Their sufferings were extreme. They were 
hunted from the towns, prosecuted and imprisoned, and 
driven to seek shelter under humiliating disguises. The 
Acts were enforced with such unrelenting severity that upon 
the declaration of indulgence, twelve years later, 12,000 
Quakers were released from gaol. ( 2 ) 

The political and social bearings of these Acts in modern 
times have been unlimited for good. In the expulsion of 
one-fifth of the English clergy, and that the section most 
distinguished for high character and learning, a foundation 
for freedom of opinion was laid, which made religious 
toleration a question only of time. In the Church itself the 
immediate effect was to deaden all desire for change, and to 
stifle all effort for reform, or for social improvement. ( 3 ) 

As the severities against the Eoman Catholics under 
Elizabeth led to the establishment of Eoman Catholic 
seminaries, so the persecution of the Puritans under Charles 
gave rise to another class of Nonconformist schools, some 
of which attained to considerable celebrity. These were the 
academies for the education of Dissenting ministers. In 
their original design they were purely theological seminaries, 
but in practice they became something more than this ; and 
many sons of the gentry, and some of the nobility, were 
educated in them for civil employments. ( 4 ) They afforded 
the early generations of Dissenters of the middle class, better 

1 Green, 610. 2 Ibid, 613. 3 Green, 610. 
4 Bogue and Bennett's Dissenters, 2, 75. 



means for education than they enjoyed until in recent years 
the Universities were thrown open to them; and this, 
notwithstanding that the masters came under the penalty 
of the law, and were hunted by spies and informers, dragged 
before justices, and harassed in spiritual courts. 

For nearly thirty years this persecution continued, and 
while it lasted it was safer to be a malefactor than a Dissenter. 

The Toleration Act has been described as the Magna 
Charter of Dissenters ; but as Unitarians and Eoman 
Catholics were exempted from its provisions, it was far 
from conceding the right of complete freedom of opinion 
and worship. Neither did it repeal by express terms the 
provisions against schoolmasters. Dr. Calamy says that 
the clause inserted in the draft act in favour of 
Dissenting schools was clandestinely blotted out on two 
occasions. (*) It is certain that the Act did not prevent 
proceedings against Dissenting teachers, as Dr. Doddridge 
was persecuted for keeping a school in 1700, ( 2 ) and 
these prosecutions were not discontinued until King 
William intimated that he was not pleased with them. ( 3 ) 
The middle-class Dissenting schools then sprang into 
prominence. In the Tory reaction in the first year of 
Queen Anne's reign, the Lower House of Convocation 
passed a resolution in strong condemnation of them, as 
pusuring the place of the Universities, and praying for 
measures for their suppression. ( 4 ) Samuel Wesley, father 
of the revivalist, violently attacked the academies. ( 5 ) The 
Archbishop of York said in the House of Lords that he 
apprehended great danger from their increase, ( 6 ) and 
they were freely described by the High Church party as 
nurseries of sedition. 

1 Calamy's Life, 2, 13. 2 Bogue and Bennett, 3, 313. 3 Ibid, 2, 45. 

4 Cardwell's Synodalia, 2, 713-18. 5 Bogue and Bennett, 2, 90. 

Buckle's History, 1, 420. 


In 1711, when the Tory reaction was at its height, 
the Act against occasional conformity was passed, which 
prevented Dissenters from qualifying for municipal office. (*) 
This was followed in 1714 by the Schism Act, which 
was intended to crush their seminaries, and did indeed 
compel them to suspend operations. ( 2 ) The Act provided 
that no one might act as tutor or usher without the sanction 
of the Bishop, and without conforming to the Anglican 
liturgy. It was, however, aimed at higher rather than 
lower education, and permitted Dissenters to employ mistresses. 
It did not extend to the teaching of reading, writing, and 
arithmetic. ( 3 ) If the Tory ascendency had been prolonged 
there was danger that the Toleration Act would have been 
repealed. The Occasional Conformity Act and the Schism Act 
were of short duration, being repealed in 1718. ( 4 ) From 
this date the period of real toleration begins, though the 
battle for religious liberty was far from being won. 

During the administration of Walpole, the enforcement 
of the Test and Corporation Acts was gradually relaxed, 
and they became at last the mere shadow of law. For 
a hundred years, between 1727 and 1828 they remained 
upon the Statute Book unenforced, and it was the practice 
to pass annually a bill of indemnity in favour of those 
who had violated their provisions. ( 5 ) Many efforts were 
made in 1718, 36 and 39 for the alteration of these laws. 
In 1789 Lord Stanhope made an ineffectual attempt to 
repeal the Acts imposing penalties on those who absented 
themselves from church. In 1792, Fox tried in vain 
to repeal the Penal Statute against Unitarians. ( 6 ) The 
Five Mile Act and the Conventicle Act were continued 

1 Lecky's History of Eighteenth Century, 1, 95. 

2 Lecky's History of Eighteenth Century, 1, 95, and Bogue and Bennett, 2,24. 
8 Lecky's History of Eighteenth Century, 1, 96. * Lecky's History of 

Eighteenth Century, 1, 258. 
5 Lecky's Eighteenth Century, 1, 260. G Bogue and Bennett, 4, 187-8. 


until 1812, (*) and it was left to Lord John Eussell 
to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828. 
Catholic emancipation followed in 1829. 

The exclusion of the Unitarians from the benefits of the 
Toleration Acts was occasioned by the alarm which sprang 
from the rapid spread and increase of Socinianism in 1698 
led by Thomas Firmin, who had made himself famous by his 
efforts to found hospitals, schools, and charities of all des- 
criptions. ( 2 ) The provisions against the Unitarians were not 
repealed till 1813. ( 3 ) During the whole of the eighteenth 
century the Catholics also remained under severe restrictive 
and penal laws ; and up to 1847 were even denied a share in 
the education grants of the Government. During the reign 
of James II. they had enjoyed a short sunshine of prosperity, 
during which the Jesuits openly set up their schools in 
London, in defiance of laws which remained unrepealed. ( 4 ) 
But this was only a glimpse of freedom. They were refused 
a share in the toleration of William III., and laws still more 
severe were enacted against them. By an Act passed in 
1699 perpetual imprisonment was decreed against Catholics 
engaged in education ( 5 ) and this was followed by other 
Statutes of William III., and George L, the whole tendency 
and object of which were to prevent any open teaching of 
Catholic opinions. 

But notwithstanding the neglect of the clergy, and 
the stagnation within the Church, and the penal laws which 
kept other sects in subjection, and made self-preservation the 
paramount law of their existence, the necessity of education 
for the poor was gaining a gradual though certain recognition. 
Between the Eestoration and the death of Anne, nearly five 
hundred foundations were established, exclusively for the 

1 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, 24, English Division. 

2 Burnet's Own Times, 4, 377. 3 Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, 759. 

4 Green's History, 652. 5 Lecky's 18th century, 1, 275. 


education of the poor. Early in the Eighteenth Century they 
increased rapidly in number and in the value of their endow- 
ments; and in 1750 the charities for primary education /- 
reached two thousand in number. (*) They were often small 
in amount, and they have been in the main very pernicious 
in their influence on the progress and success of a system of 

They nevertheless were the most effectual protest of the 
time against the vice and ignorance which took a delight in 
flaunting itself before the public eye. It is noteworthy that 
the greatest activity in the foundation of charity schools 
prevailed at a time when painted boards invited the poor ta 
get drunk for a penny and dead drunk for twopence, with al 
promise of clean straw for nothing. ( 2 ) The bequests were 
frequently left in connection with the Church, or some 
religious establishment, and in many instances were coupled 
with the condition of exclusive religious teaching ; but of 
4,000 endowments for primary education fully one-fourthl 
were left for the purposes of secular instruction, wholly | 
unconnected with any religious body and unfettered by 
conditions. The Schools Enquiry Commission reported that 
the majority of endowed schools were not for exclusive 
education, and were under all descriptions of management. ( 3 ) 
In the early part of the Eighteenth Century many schools 
were founded by subscription, which proves the existence of 
a collective opinion and the partial recognition of a duty 
on the part of society. 

Mr. Bowles claims for Bishop Ken, as early as 1680-90, 
that he was the first and most earnest promoter of parochial 
schools, which he set up in all the parishes of his diocese, 

1 Analytical Digest of Charity Commissions, 1842. 

2 Bogue and Bennett's History of Dissenters, 4, 38. 

3 Schools Enquiry Commission Report, 111. 


and that he was the originater, or the most active instrument 
in the establishment of village and Sunday schools. (*) 

In Atterbury's Charge to the Clergy of Kochester, in 
1716, he refers with approval to the late encouragement 
of charity schools. ( 2 ) It was during the same period that 
Shenstone wrote his familiar description of village schools : 

" In every village, marked with little spire, 

Embowered in trees, and hardly known to fame, 
There dwells in lowly shed and mean attire, 
A matron old, whom we schoolmistress name." 

It is clear from one of the following couplets that the 
dame of that early period, like the one of our own day, 
usually combined other occupation with her teaching : 

\ " Where sits the dame, disguised in look profound, 

And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around." 

The marked increase in the number of these schools 
provoked Mandeville's Essay on Charity Schools, which, 
with the Fable of the Bees was presented at the Middlesex 
Sessions. He refers to the distraction the nation had 
laboured under for some time, and the " enthusiastic passion 
for charity schools." ( 3 ) The movement was most marked in 
the metropolis at this time, and, impressed by what was 
nearest to him, Dr. Mandeville over-estimated its energy 
and extent. It drew from him a vigorous protest, supported 
by much ingenious argument, which was thought worthy 
of a serious answer by Bishop Berkeley, and which was 
presented by the grand jury of Middlesex as mischievous 
and immoral. 

There is no doubt that the true reason for the 
presentation was, not that it was an attack on education, 
but on the doctrine of the Trinity. In regard to the 
former he defended amply and forcibly and with a wealth 
of reasoning which might have been devoted to a better 

1 Life of Ken, by Bowles, 2, 98. 2 Atterbury's Correspondence, 2, 259. 
8 Mandeville's Charity Schools, 


purpose, the terrible doctrine of the governing classes 
of the time, affirming the necessary subjection and 
ignorance of the lower classes. s' 

It has been customary to ascribe the origin of the ^ 
educational movement of the Eighteenth Century to the 
religious revival led by Wesley and Whitfield ; while 
some authorities have represented that agitation as 
altogether hostile to the spread of knowledge. Neither of 
these views is correct in a broad sense. Mere reference 
to the dates of the charitable foundations will show, 
that the greatest energy in the foundation of charity 
schools preceded rather than followed the Methodist revival. 
Wesley did not return from Georgia until 1737, (*) and 
years passed away before his labours wrought any 
perceptible influence on the currents of opinion. The 
educational movement in its religious and philanthropic 
aspect began much earlier. The Society for Promoting 
Christian Knowledge was established in 1699. ( 2 ) As its 
name implies, it was a religious rather than an educational 
association. Its object was to promote Christian knowledge, 
and to erect catechetical schools and to diffuse the 
Scriptures and the Liturgy. Its progress was slow, and 
after sixty years of labour it had only enrolled six 
hundred members. It was a strictly orthodox society. 
Its rules were approved by the .Archbishops and Bishops. 
Its standing orders provided that devotions should be held 
before proceeding to work, and that an anniversary 
meeting should be held to enable the committees to dine 
together. Its officers were required to be members of the 
Church of England, and its work was prosecuted on Church 
and State principles. We hear, also, in 1750, of the 
establishment of another Society for the Promotion of 
Christian Knowledge amongst the Poor. This had its 
1 "Wesley's Journal, 1, 13. 2 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology. 



origin in the serious alarm caused by two shocks of 
earthquake. (*) Its object was the distribution of the 
Scriptures and books of piety amongst the poor. Its 
founders were evangelical Dissenters, Presbyterians, and 
Independents, but it soon recommended itself to Christians 
of all denominations. ( 2 ) 

The catechising of children by the dissenting preachers, 
which had fallen altogether into disuse amongst the clergy, ( 3 ) 
now became a regular practice. ( 4 ) In the labours of this 
society, the religious work of the Methodists came in as a 
powerful aid. Whatever foundation there may be for the 
charge that Methodism has been hostile to research and to 
the higher forms of knowledge, there is ample proof that 
Wesley himself was deeply touched by the popular ignorance, 
and that he devoted a great portion of his life to remove it. 
One of the objects of the Society which he founded at 
Oxford, was to have the poor taught to read, ( 5 ) and amongst 
his many books there are educational works designed to 
encourage and facilitate the spread of knowledge. 

One direct and immediate result of the religious move- 
ment was the foundation of numerous schools in Wales. ( 6 ) 
The establishment of Sunday schools became a powerful lever 
in the same direction. The first Sunday school appears to 
have been established by the Eev. T. Lindsey, at Catterick, 
in 1763. ( 7 ) Another is heard of at Little Lever, near Bolton, 
in 1775, under the charge of James Hays ; but the movement 
gathered no force until 1781, when it was taken in hand by 
Mr. Eaikes, and the Rev. Thomas Stock of Gloucester. 
From this time it exercised a most potent influence on 
the spread of elementary knowledge, though its means 
were necessarily limited, and its methods imperfect. 

1 Bogue and Bennett's History, 3, 403. 2 Ibid, 40. 
a Baxter's Church History, 671. 4 Bogue and Bennett, 3, 327. 

5 Wesley's Journal, 1, 10, 
6 Lecky's Eighteenth Century, 2, 604. 7 Buckle's Civilisation, 1, 430. 


The Church clergy, as a body, with some notable 
exceptions, stood aloof from this movement at its origin. 
In the discussions of the last decade the Dean of Carlisle 
lays the irreligion of many to the injudicious character 
of the religious instruction given in the Sunday schools. 
Bishop Eraser, as a school Inspector, failed to find any 
which did not leave on his mind an impression of weariness 
and deadness, Sunday being made often the heaviest day 
of the seven to the children. ( J ) Making, however, all 
deductions, the Sunday schools have done a great work for 
education. Previous to the struggles for reform in 1832, they 
had produced many -working men of sufficient talent and 
knowledge to become readers, writers, and speakers in the 
village meetings, ( 2 ) and had supplied to numbers the 
beginning of a process of self-education admirable in its 
results. During the same period we first hear of the 
establishment of county and foreign school societies, of 
orphan asylums, of literary and scientific societies, and of 
boarding schools for higher education, all attesting the 
gradual advance of opinion throughout society. ( 3 ) 

The movement in its entirety and comprehensive 
character was neither wholly religious nor philanthropic. It 
was social, industrial, and political, and was in fact the 
forecoming of the great wave of advancement which later 
times have witnessed. It was stimulated by many and 
various influences and forces, which had been slowly, but for 
a long time, gathering strength, and which acted and re-acted 
on each other. One of the most influential of these was the 
growing power of the press. Upon the Eestoration a statute 
had been passed for the regulation of newspapers. This 
expired in 1679, and with it the hopes of the ruling powers 
of suppressing free discussion in England. ( 4 ) In 1695 the 

1 Newcastle Commission, 53. 2 Bamford's Passages in Life of a Kadical, 29. 
3 Spencer's Descriptive Sociology. 4 Green's History, 647. 


Commons refused to pass a bill for the re-establishment of 
the censorship of the press. This refusal was followed by 
the issue of a crowd of public prints, ( J ) which now began to 
appeal to a widening circle of readers. Learning and 
literature were addressed no longer to a group of scholars, 
but to the public, and letters were recognised as an 
honourable and independent profession. Also there arose an 
increasing boldness in religious discussion, a higher love for 
independent research, a disregard of mere dictative authority, 
and in the discussion of principles of government and matters 
of spiritual belief, the subjection of them to the test of 
reason. ( 2 ) 

In 1709 the first daily paper was established. Pamphlets 
increased in number, and periodicals and magazines became 
common. Circulating libraries were established. Printing 
was extended to country towns. Debating and reading clubs 
were founded for the trading and working classes. The 
people also obtained a fresh means of influencing and 
controlling Parliament, for in 1768-70 we first hear of public 
meetings being held ( 3 ) for instruction in political rights, 
and at the end of the century the right of publishing 
Parliamentary debates was confirmed. 

Some severe laws were passed prohibiting the holding of 
public meetings and the lending of books, but they were 
powerless to check the current. The period was also 
distinguished for great mechanical inventions, which neces- 
sarily exercised a stimulating and educating influence on the 
popular mind. 

The foundation of all that has been achieved since the 
social progress, the material comforts, the diffusion of wealth, 
the advancement of science and mechanics, the development 

1 Green's History, 683. 

2 Ibid, 603, and Spencer's Descriptive Sociology, Table 5. 
Spencer's Descriptive Sociology. 


of industry, the improvement in morals, and the in 
religious and political freedom was strengthened and firmly 
established in this early period ; and in the struggle between 
the democratic and aristocratic principle, the former took 
definite form and asserted itself with all the consciousness and 
confidence of ultimate triumph. 

The declaration of Hobbes that the origin of power is in 
the people, and the end of the power is the good of the 
people, was about to be supplemented by Bentham's 
better-known formula, that the true end of government is 
" the greatest happiness of the greatest number." The history 
of education is a part of this wider history of the progress of 
society, and in its completeness is only to be found in 
connection with the general advance which has taken place 
during the last two centuries. 




IT will be seen from the preceding chapter that the modern 
movement for popular education sprang from the people, 
and that in this, as in other great reforms, " society was the 
instigator." The work of the Statesmen of the Reformation 
era was not carried out by their successors. The clergy 
neglected to follow up even the partial efforts which had 
been made by the friars. At a later period they took credit 
for resisting the attempts of philosophical and political 
theorists, ( 1 ) and they have never as a class adopted 
education as a political and social force, apart from the 
religious aspect. They were often illiterate themselves, and, 
according to Macaulay, their own children followed the 
plough, or went out to service. At the beginning of the 
eighteenth century they had recovered their social position, 
and on occasion could command a great deal of political 
enthusiasm, but as a class they were still greatly impoverished, 
and were ignorant and coarse. ( 2 ) Indeed in all the changes 
of the last eighty years there is none greater than that 
which has been -effected in the character and conduct of the 
parochial clergy. Even so late as fifty or sixty years ago, 
a decent and regular performance of divine service on 
Sunday was all that the most exacting person expected 
from a clergyman. He might be non-resident, ignorant of 
books, careless of his parish and people, and be thought 
none the worse of. He was generally the keenest sportsman 

1 Life of Blomfield, 191. 2 Lecky's Eighteenth Century, 7679. 


in his neighbourhood, the hardest rider, the best shot, and 
the most expert fisherman. Crabbe's picture of the country 
clergyman is well known : 

" A sportsman keen, he shoots throughout the day, 
And skilled at whist, devotes the night to play." 

He was often devoted to worse practices, and it is related 
that when Bishop Blomfield rebuked one of his clergy for 
drunkenness, he naively pleaded that he had never been 
drunk on duty. ( J ) The duty of a parish priest to the poor 
was fulfilled when he preached to them, baptised them, and 
buried them. ( 2 ) " Nothing interfered with his sport except 
an occasional funeral ; and he left the field or the covert, and 
read the funeral service with his white surplice barely 
concealing his shooting or hunting dress." ( 3 ) From this 
neglect and lethargy the clergy were sharply aroused by the 
religious revival, the establishment of Sunday schools, and 
an increasing popular power amongst the Dissenters. The 
peasantry of the kingdom, wrote Clero Mastix, had been 
so neglected by the regular clergy, who had the control 
over all the charities, " as to render the interposition of lay 
preachers absolutely necessary to snatch the souls of men 
from ignorance and vice." ( 4 ) 

It was a necessary but a rude awakening. They resisted 
at first, and held back from the new movement. The 
Bishops denounced Methodists, Dissenters, Sunday-school 
teachers, and village preachers, as Jacobins in disguise 
and wolves in sheep's clothing, going about under the 
specious pretence of instructing youth. ( 5 ) It was not 
long, however, before the clergy saw both their duty and 
their advantage in obtaining the lead and control of the 
agitation ; and they have been so far successful as to delude 
some historians, including Mr. Froude, into the belief, that 

1 Bishop Blomfield's Life, 78. 2 Knight's Biography, 1, 200. 

3 Walpole's History of England, 176. 4 Bogue and Bennett's Dissent, 4, 216. 

5 Bogue and Bennett, 4, 217. 


when the cry for the schoolmaster arose, as the only cure 
for the evils of the time, they were the first to look for 
the remedy. ( J ) 

The Government recognised no duty to educate the 
poor, although it was the accepted opinion that Ministers 
ought to encourage the development of literary talent by 
the appointment to places, and the bestowal of pensions. 
In this way intellectual eminence was often made the 
instrument of degrading party purposes, as the history of 
the men of letters of Queen Anne's reign proves. But 
in regard to the poor, other maxims were in the ascendant, 
and their government was based on two fundamental 
principles. These were the application of force and the 
perpetuation of ignorance. ( 2 ) Every positive and negative 
means was taken to secure these ends, from coercion laws 
to taxes on knowledge and even such a detail as the 
refusal of the Lord Chamberlain's licence to plays which too 
much favoured the doctrine of popular liberty. ( 3 ) Public 
opinion was always an antagonist, never an ally. 

The words of Mandeville will sound brutal to modern 

ears, but they truly express the axioms of Government which 

f Statesmen were not ashamed to avow a century after they 

were written. " In a free nation, where slaves are not 

I allowed of, the surest wealth consists in a multitude of 

I laborious poor ; for, besides that they are the never-failing 

1 nursery of fleets and armies, without them there could be no 

I enjoyment, and no product of any country could be valuable. 

iTo make the society happy and people easy under the 

lineanest circumstances, it is requisite that great numbers of 

[them should be ignorant as well as poor. Knowledge both 

(enlarges and multiplies our desires, and the fewer things 

k man wishes for, the more easily his necessities may be 

1 Fronde's Short Studies, 264. 
2 Buckle, 1, 500. 8 Bell's Life of Canning, 76. 


supplied." ( J ) A century later it did not enter into the 
conception of Government policy, that the people had 
anything to do with the making of laws. In 1795 Bishop 
Horsley said in the House of Lords, that " he did not know 
what the mass of the people in any country had to do with 
the laws but to obey them." During the reform struggles in 
1832, Lady Harrowby asked Mr. Greville, "What did it 
signify what the people thought, or what they expressed, 
if the army was to be depended on ? " ( 2 ) Laws for the 
prevention of crime were outside the object of Government 
as it was then understood. Dr. Bell, who occupied a famous 
place in the early educational controversy, wrote : " Our 
code of laws is solely directed to the punishment of the 
offender ; and it has not come within their contemplation to 
prevent the offence." ( 3 ) The punishment of crime was 
indiscriminate and brutal. Hanging was awarded for murder, 
cutting and maiming, shooting at, rape, forgery, uttering 
bank notes, coining, arson, burglary, larceny in houses, 
horse and sheep stealing, and highway robbery. In 1805 
sixty- eight persons were executed for such offences. In 
the same year the State had actual charge of 200,000 
children of paupers, for whose education no provision was 
made, and who were subject to influences which were a 
training for crime and indolence, and which made it a moral 
certainty that they would become a perpetual charge to 
the nation in gaols or workhouses. 

As examples were not wanting of popular educational 
systems, it must be assumed that this pernicious neglect 
was the deliberate choice of English statesmen. In 1696, 
the Estates of Scotland had passed an Act ordaining \ 
that every parish should provide a schoolhouse, and pay ' 
a schoolmaster. The Pilgrim Fathers had organised in 

1 Mandeville, 1, 215. 2 Greville's Memoirs, 1, 37. 
3 Bell's Analysis of Experiment, 88. 




New England common schools which were bearing fruit, 
and in more than one Continental State, systems of 
compulsory and universal education had been planted. 
All these experiments appealed in vain to idle under- 
standings amongst English rulers. Probably the French 
J Kevolution, whether regarded as a warning or an example, 
jdid more than any other incident to arouse the desire 
for popular instruction. Thenceforward the diffusion of 
knowledge became a distinct and avowed article of 
political faith amongst large classes in this country. ( J ) 

The doctrine laid down by Adam Smith that the 
State should facilitate, should encourage, and even impose 
upon the body of the people the duty of acquiring the 
essentials of instruction, began to find acceptance at the 
beginning of the century. This great political economist 
was prepared for a small measure of compulsion, and 
would have made municipal privileges and trade rights 
dependent on examination. Later, his views were 
sustained by Bentham and Malthus. Even Blackstone, 
whose tendencies were more conservative, lamented the 
defects of the law, which left education wholly 
unprovided for. 

Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell were the founders 
of our modern voluntary system of education. They 
were very unlike in character and disposition and of 
widely different fortunes. Pursuing at first a common 
aim, they became bitter personal rivals and enemies, and 
the f leaders, nominally at least of two schools of 

It is not the purpose of this history to enter into 
the long forgotten controversy which divided and excited 
their followers seventy years ago ; but as they were 
the originators respectively of the British and Foreign 

1 Bogue and Bennett, 4, 191. 


School Society, and the National Society, and as such, 
were placed in the forefront of the agitation, no history 
of education would be complete without some sketch 
of their work, which however, only became effectual 
when it fell under stronger direction. Indeed without 
detracting from the merits of either of them, it may well 
be questioned whether the methods they introduced have 
not impeded the advance of education as well as dimi- 
nished its efficiency. The existence of voluntary schools 
has often prevented united efforts for the introduction 
of a general system, in the same manner that educational 
charities, wretchedly insufficient in amount, and inefficient 
in their administration, have obstructed a more complete 
provision. Lancaster and Bell both over-estimated the 
capabilities of the voluntary societies. The former 
believed that he could make provision for educating all 
the children of the nation, while the followers of the 
latter expressed their intention to alter the character of 
society, to christianise India, and to prevent revolutions 
in France. The only country Bell despaired of as 
irreclaimably depraved, and alike incapable and unworthy 
of improvement, was the United States of America. 
Both of them had extravagant ideas of the worth of 
their machinery, and they succeeded in infecting wiser 
heads with a confidence in its universal applicability, and 
its simplicity, economy, and efficiency. It was on the 
question as to which was the author of the machinery, 
variously called the Monitorial System, the Madras System, 
and the Lancastrian System, that their personal rivalries 
and disputes turned, in the heat of which the direct 
object was frequently lost sight of. The principle under- 
lying the system was tuition by the scholars themselves. 
Nearly the same method was followed in the schools of 
both. In the lack of proper teachers, it was, perhaps, 


the only available means, but it introduced that vice of 

spurious economy, which has always attended efforts to 

improve and extend education. A few millions more or 

less spent on a foreign war, or in reducing a rebellious 

colony, or on chastising some wretched horde of savages, 

I are never taken gravely into account in our method of 

I government, but every penny required for raising the 

\condition of the people has always been voted with 


The Monitorial system was condemned before the 
dispute as to its authorship had died away. It only 
concealed the defects of our school provision... It was 
rejected by Brougham's Select Committee in 1816. ( l ) 
Sir James ' Kay Shuttleworth said it had " not only 
utterly failed, but for the time ruined the confidence of 
the poor in elementary schools, exhausted the charity of 
the middle classes, and dragged into the mire of its own 
dishonour, the public estimate of what was practicable 
and desirable in the education of the poor." ( 2 ) 

" The religious formularies, and the Bible itself, suffered 
a painful desecration, as the horn-book of ignorant scholars, 
in charge of almost as ignorant teachers, who were, for the 
onost part, under twelve or thirteen years of age." ( 3 ) This 
was vigorous censure, but it has been justified whenever 
the system has been tested by results. 

The Eev. F. D. Maurice wrote " We have been 
worshipping our own nets, and burning incense to our own 
drag." ( 4 ) The Duke of Newcastle's Commission, which 
included men of wide experience and of all shades of 
opinion, reported that the first result of inspection had 
proved the inadequacy of the Monitorial system, the 

1 See Report, 388. 2 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 57. 8 Ibid, 68. 
* British and Foreign Review, January, 1840, 50. 


inefficiency of the teachers, and the deplorable condition of 
the schools. ( J ) 

It is self-evident that the system is based on the 
false assumption that the refined work of training the 
young intellect can be performed without preparation or 
methodical knowledge on the part of the teacher. Hence/ 
arose the deplorable result that any one was thought/ 
good enough for a schoolmaster, and was encouraged to/ 
undertake the pursuit, when all else had failed Not 
the least mischievous effect of the dispute as to the 
authorship of the plan was, that it became invested 
with a sacredness which made all attempts at improve- 
ment appear in the light of sacrilege, and thus added! 
another to the many forms of obstruction which werel 
already arrayed against the spread of education. 

The true honour which attaches to Lancaster's name is not , 
the doubtful one of inventing the Monitorial system, but that I 
he conceived and tried to realise the idea that all children 
should be taught the elements of knowledge. The British and 
Foreign School Society was formed to continue his work, and 
indirectly he called the National Society into existence, as a 
rival institution. He has also the high title to permanent 
respect, that he pursued education as a civil policy, and 
without bigoted aim, although he unwittingly provoked the 
sectarian jealousy which has so constantly retarded progress. 
He was himself an enthusiastic and original teacher. He 
belonged to a Quaker family living in London, and first 
began teaching in a shed on his father's premises in 1796 
or 1798. Many children were instructed free of expense, and 
subscriptions were raised for others. His success encouraged 
him, in 1800, to publish an account of his work, called 
" Improvements in Education." He upheld that education 

1 Report of Newcastle Commission, 99. 


ought to be a national concern, and that this had so long 
been the public opinion that it would have become so " had 
not a mere Pharisaical sect-making spirit intervened to 
prevent it, and that in every party." The state of the 
existing schools was pitiable. They were mostly taught by 
dames, and were so bad that only those children who were 
fit for nothing else were sent to them. Sometimes schools 
were under the charge of masters, who were generally the 
refuse of superior schools, and often of society. Their 
drunkenness was proverbial. This was the condition of 
affairs against which Lancaster began war, " as a citizen of 
the world and a friend of mankind, actuated by no sectarian 
motives." He proposed to found a society for supplying 
schools, providing teachers, and raising their condition and 
prospects. He objected to a compulsive law, which however, 
he admits that intelligent men were even then advocating. 
The object of the projected society was to be " the promotion 
of good morals, and the instruction of youth in useful 
learning." In regard to religion he wrote, " the grand basis 
of Christianity is broad enough for the whole of mankind to 
stand upon." He was not without misgivings as to success. 
The dread of sectarianism and intolerance already kept many 
persons aloof from educational work. One passage of his 
pamphlet was a history and a forecast of the struggle : 
" It has been generally conceived that if any particular 
sect obtained the principal care in any national system of 
education, that party would be likely to possess the greatest 
power and influence in the State. Fear that the clergy 
should aggrandise themselves too much has produced 
opposition from the Dissenters to any proposal of the kind. 
On the other hand the clergy have opposed anything of this 
kind which might originate with Dissenters, locally or 
generally, fearing an increasing interest in the dissenting 
interest might prove likely to prejudice the interests of the 

Establishment." (I) But whatever apprehensions Lancaster 
had he went manfully to work to test what could be done, 
and his energy in applying his system and in seeking for 
support was inexhaustible. In looking for help he discovered 
Dr. Bell, who had returned from Madras and had published 
an account of his work there, from which Lancaster had 
derived some useful hints, f 2 ) At first there seemed a 
probability that the two might work together in the common 
cause. Lancaster frankly acknowledged his obligation to 
Bell, and the latter in his early correspondence admitted 
Lancaster's "admirable temper, ingenuity, and ability." ( 3 ) 
They were, however, soon separated by the bitterness of 
the sectarian quarrel, and all the efforts of Whitbread and 
others to reconcile them failed. 

Lancaster's schools prospered exceedingly. He soon 
had a thousand children under his care. George III. 
sent for and patronized him, as he had previously sent 
for Mr. Eaikes. (*) His Majesty was a friend of education, 
and was tolerant of Dissenters so long as they were 
not Eoman Catholics. He subscribed 100 towards the 
schools, and made the Queen and the Eoyal Princes 
contribute. New schools were built by the Duke of 
Bedford and Lord Somerville, and they were visited by 
Princes, Ambassadors, Peers, and Bishops. ( 5 ) He was 
encouraged by the leading Liberals of the day, including 
Brougham, Eomilly, Whitbread, and for a time, Wilber- 
force. Subscriptions poured in upon him rapidly. His 
fame extended to America, and teachers were sent for 
to put his plan into operation. 

The Eoyal patronage of Lancaster, and the prospect 
of the establishment of a popular school system uncon- 
nected with the Church, raised an alarm amongst the 

1 Improvements in Education. 2 Ibid, 63. 3 Sonthey's Life of Bel], 2, 148. 
4 Life of George III., by Jesse, 10. 5 Life of William Allen, 54. 


Tories and the clergy. They saw in his operations 
nothing but an attack on their supremacy, and while he 
was flattered on the one hand, he was met on the 
other by unmeasured denunciation as an atheist, an 
impostor, and the fraudulent appropriator of another 
man's design. He was, however, his own worst enemy. 
He had been unaccustomed to the use of money, and 
was the very opposite of a man of business. He was 
enthusiastic, imaginative, benevolent, and extravagant. 
He lavished his whole means upon his schools. Everything 
he could earn or beg went for their support, and he 
often provided food as well as instruction for the scholars, 
running into debt when he had no money. As early 
as 1804, the school doors were thrown open to all 
children, free of payment. (*) Utterly incapable of adminis- 
tration, he was soon involved in ruinous difficulties. 
Friends came to his rescue time and again, but nothing 
could save him from eventual bankruptcy. There was 
a little group of men who were working for the 
abolition of slavery, for prison reform, and other Liberal 
measures, and who were nicknamed " The Saints." On 
one occasion Lancaster went to one of these, Joseph 
Fox, the surgeon. He owed 4,000. Fox instantly 
raised 2,000 to relieve the school from immediate 
embarassment, and he and William Carston became 
responsible for 4,000 more. A committee was formed 
in 1808, consisting of Thomas Sturge, William Carston, 
Joseph Fox, William Allen, John Jackson, and Joseph 
Forster, to whom were afterwards added, Romilly, 
Brougham, Whitbread, and others. This was known as 
the Committee of the Eoyal British or Lancastrian 
System of Education, and an attempt was made to put 
the schools on a business footing. Lancaster was 
1 Porter's Progress of the Nation, 690. 


grateful for assistance, although apprehensive of undue 
interference from the committee. (*) But his imprudence 
and thoughtlessness arising from his impulsive and 
visionary temperament, excited by the notice he had 
attracted, soon involved the committee in many 
troubles. It became necessary, therefore, to draw a 
strict line between his private enterprises and the public 
work. He was greatly exasperated with his friends and 
established a separate school at Tooting. Here again 
he was soon overwhelmed with difficulties and had to 
make another appeal for relief. The Dukes of Kent, 
Sussex, and Bedford, with Whitbread and Joseph Hume, 
came to his assistance ; but it was decided to separate 
the association wholly from his interference and manage- 
ment. In 1814 the committee assumed the title of the 
British and Foreign School Society, which it has ever 
since borne. From this time there was a complete 
severance between Lancaster and his former supporters, 
and he complained bitterly of their neglect and severity. 
He went to Scotland and afterwards to America. His 
life was a series of vicissitudes until in 1838 he was 
killed by a frightened horse, in New York. Before his 
death he had admitted the unbounded kindness and 
important services he had received from Fox, Allen, 
Carston, and others. Notwithstanding his errors and 
misfortunes, he will always be held in honour as the 
first of modern philanthropists, who made a practical 
effort to secure universal education for the poor. Whatever 
has been gained since, is owing to the strong public 
opinion which he created by his energy and devotion. 

The British and Foreign School Society soon became 
a powerful instrument in the field of voluntary education. 
It continued to receive the Koyal patronage, and the 
1 Life of William Allen, 57. 


Dukes of Kent and Sussex took an active share in its 
proceedings. The former, especially, was a zealous advocate 
of unrestricted education. Many famous men have been 
connected with it, and it has formed the rallying-ground of 
a large section of politicians, including those who have had 
the most influence on the development of national education. 
It has not escaped the charge of narrowness and sectarianism, 
but that, unfortunately, is a distinction to which no party 
can lay claim. 

Dr. Andrew Bell, the other central figure of the 
movement, in personal characteristics stands out in 
strong contrast to Lancaster. He was a Scotchman, born at 
St. Andrews, where his father was a barber. In early life 
he went to America, where he was engaged as a tutor, and 
occupied his leisure in speculating in tobacco. He returned 
to Scotland towards the close of the eighteenth century, 
and took degrees in divinity and medicine. He then went 
to India, where he obtained several chaplaincies ; and also 
became the director of a Government undertaking establish- 
ment. Throughout his life he was a most fortunate pluralist 
and sinecurist. He had a talent for making safe and profitable 
investments, for the wise administration of pecuniary affairs, 
and for pushing his own interests ; which however, he 
always made identical with the spread of education. He died 
about 1839, at an advanced age, was buried in Westminster 
Abbey, of which he was Prebendary, and received the 
posthumous honour of a biography at the hands of Mr. 
Southey. In India he had honorary charge of the Asylum 
for Children, at Madras, a position in which he made the 
important discovery that children can teach each other. In 
one of his letters home he speaks of the " pleasing sight of 
a youth of eleven years of age, with his little assistants under 
him, teaching upwards of fifty boys." ( J ) In this school 
1 Southey's Life of Bell. 


arrangement, nearly every boy was a master. " He teaches 
one boy, while another boy teaches him." 

On his return to England Dr. Bell published an 
account of his experiences. On his own showing, his 
aims, as an educationist, were not extensive. "It is 
not proposed" he wrote " that the children of the poor 
should be educated in an expensive manner, or even 
taught to write and cipher." " It may suffice to teach 
the generality on an economical plan, to read their 
Bible and understand the doctrines of our holy religion." 
To this curriculum he added manual labour and the 
useful arts. The schools he proposed to found were to 
be schools of industry. ' He had been appointed on 
coming home to the rectory of Swanage, where he 
opened schools on his own model, and it was here that 
he was visited by Lancaster. His pamphlet on educa- 
tion attracted little attention until it was made known 
by Lancaster's more widely circulated writings. Mrs. 
Trimmer, the editor of the School Guardian, also took 
pains to bring Dr. Bell prominently before the public. 
This was a lady of great and orthodox piety, who, as 
a Churchwoman, was very much alarmed at the growing 
influence and pretensions of Lancaster. She had com- 
piled many books "dear to mothers and aunts" for the 
Christian Knowledge Society, and had earned from the \ 
Edinburgh- Review the title of the " voluminous female." 
Sydney Smith had described her as "a lady of 
respectable opinions, and very moderate talents, defending 
what is right without judgment, and believing what is 
holy without charity." (*) In her eyes Lancaster was 
the " Goliath of Schismatics," and she was anxious that 
he should have a check. She had already published a 
reply to his pamphlet, in which she declaimed against 

1 Edinburgh Review, 1806. 


societies of " nominal Christians" and " Sectarists," and 
referred those who asked for a national system, to the 
Act of Uniformity. " The standard of Christian educa- 
tion was erected by our pious forefathers at the 
Keformation, and we have every one of us been 
enrolled as members of the National Church, and are 
solemnly engaged to support it ourselves, and to bring 
up our children according to its holy ordinances." Mrs. 
Trimmer found a useful ally in Dr. Bell, and it was 
chiefly by her persuasion that he was induced to come 
from his retirement and take an active part in the 
struggle. In 1805 he suggested " a scheme of Education 
patronised by Church and State, originating in the 
Government, and superintended by a member of the 
Establishment." (*) In 1806 he addressed a circular to 
the ministry offering his gratuitous services for establishing 
schools on his own model, under Government auspices. 
In the same year he opened schools in Whitechapel, 
and later, Diocesan Societies were formed for the same 
purpose. From this time Bell devoted his life to 
spreading the system, until, in Southey's words, it 
became " a perpetual torment to him." ( 2 ) Nevertheless 
he had his consolation under the patronage of the Church 
Clergy. His success in founding schools was rapid, and 
he was gratified by the attention bestowed on him. He 
became the friend and correspondent of eminent men, 
and his battles against Lancaster were fought by Cole- 
ridge and Southey with a surprising fervour. Coleridge, 
wrote De Quincey, found "celestial marvels both in the 
scheme and in the man," ( 3 ) and in his letters he told 
him that he was a great man. His discovery was 
raised to a level with that of printing. ( 4 ) Southey 

1 Life of Bell, 1, 150. 2 Life of Southey, by his son, 6, 179. 
3 De Quincey 's Works, 11, 2. * Bell's Life, 2, 479. 


called him the greatest benefactor since Luther. Miss 
Edgeworth introduced him as a character in one of her 
novels, and mothers amongst the higher classes sought 
him, in order that they might learn how to get rid of 
the trouble of their children, and the expense of their 

The Lancaster and Bell controversy at this remote 
distance, is not edifying. Notwithstanding that there 
were quick wits on both sides, it is dull reading. On the 
one hand Dr. Bell is described " as a foolish old 
gentleman, seized on eagerly by the Church of England 
to defraud Lancaster of his discovery." (*) On the other 
Lancaster was called liar, quack, and charlatan. ( 2 ) 

Much ingenuity was exercised to explain away Bell's 
limitation of his proposed system to industrial arts and 
the teaching of religion. Dr. Marsh, afterwards Bishop of 
Peterborough, wrote, " It is indeed lamentable that Dr. Bell 
was ever induced to insert the paragraph." ( 3 ) It became 
known as "the unfortunate paragraph." Its author set to 
work to provide " interpretations." There can be no doubt, 
however, that he meant what he had written. The schools 
established at Whitechapel were schools of industry for 
teaching shoemaking and printing. In discussing the matter 
with Whitbread he proposed to found schools of industry, 
and, referring to members of the House of Commons, he 
wrote, " I conceived that there were three for industry to 
one for education." (*) 

It is clear, however, that the question of real interest, 1 
underlying the surface of this controversy, was not who 
originated a particular form of mechanical teaching, but 
which party should have the control of education. The 
exaltation of Bell against Lancaster, was a mere device 

1 Sydney Smith's Works, 2, 99. 2 Bell's Life, 2, 283. 3 Ibid, 329. 
* Ibid, 203. 


to divert a current of opinion from one channel into another, 
and to show that the Church had plans of her own, and need 
not stoop to borrow methods from Dissent. Thenceforward 
Churchmen were exhorted to support their own schools. The 
artifice was successful, and many who had taken an interest 
in Lancastrian schools, including Wilberforce, deserted to 
the other camp. Southey explains what was in the minds 
of Churchmen. " They," meaning the children, " must be 
instructed according to the established religion fed with 
the milk of sound doctrine for States are secure in pro- 
portion as the great body of the people are attached to the 
institutions of their country." " Give us the great boon of 
parochial education, so connected with the Church as to 
form a part of the Establishment, and we shall find it a 
bulwark to the State as well as the Church." (*) Mr. John 
Bowles, one of the founders of the National Society, wrote 
that Lancaster's system " was incompatible with the safety 
of the Established Church, and subversive of Christianity 
itself." ( 2 ) "The strength and consequently the safety of 
every establishment must depend upon the numbers that 
are, upon principle, attached to it." ( 3 ) "If the youth of 
the country be not brought up in the Church, it cannot be 
expected that they will ever find their way into it." ( 4 ) The 
same writer lamented the evils of the Toleration Act, which 
compelled magistrates to license teachers and preachers 
the effect being the creation of itinerants and rhapsodists, 
whose " fanatical rant " drew numbers from the Church. 

In these controversies the Church party took credit for 
much amiability and forbearance in admitting into their schools 
the children of Dissenters to be taught the doctrines of the 
Church. The Church of England, wrote Mr. Bowles " breathes 
a most mild and pure spirit of universal toleration," and in 

1 Southey's Life, 4, 385. 2 Letter to Mr. Whitbread, 1. 
3 Ibid, 6. 4 Ibid 25. 


proof they threw open their schools to Dissenters, on condition 
that they were brought up as members of the Church. Mrs. 
Trimmer wrote " neither would I wish to have poor children, 
whatever might be the religious persuasion of their parents, 
excluded from our Church schools. They should be received 
in them with proper recommendation, on one condition, 
namely, that they must be taught with the rest.'^ 1 ) 

The familiar cries of "the Church in danger" and 
" religion in danger " were raised, and aroused all the dormant 
energies of bigotry. It was admitted that Lancaster allowed 
in his schools the use of the Apostles Creed, the Lord's 
Prayer, and the Commandments ; yet it was declared that 
his system favoured LTnitarianism, which was stigmatised as 
outside the law. The Church had not been alive to a suspicion 
that religion was in danger, when children were absolutely 
without instruction, either moral, religious or intellectual ; 
but on a Dissenter coming forward with a plan from which he 
did not exclude the admitted basis of nearly all sects, it was 
stigmatised as an attack on the authority of the Church ; and 
its author was denounced in sermons and charges as a deist 
and infidel. 

Dr. Bell has been generally regarded as one of the 
founders of the National Society, but that honour has been 
claimed exclusively for Archdeacon Churton, Mr. John 
Bowles, the Eev. A. H. Norris, and Mr. Joshua Watson. ( 2 ) 
Several years before the society was established, Bell had 
been organising schools, and assisting in the formation of 
Diocesan committees ; and there can be no doubt that his 
work led up to its formation. It was at first intended to 
connect his name with the society, ( 3 ) but this design was 
abandoned. The original prospectus in which his name 
was mentioned, was altered so as to take " a more distinctly 

1 Comparative Yiew by Mrs. Trimmer, 150. 
2 Churton's Life of Joshua Watson, 56. 3 Bell's Life, 2, 344. 


national ground, and to make Dr. Bell's system appear in 
its true place, as only the best means of working out the 
objects of the society." (*) For some reason, perhaps 
because of what Southey calls his restless vanity and self- 
importance, Bell was not recognised as an acceptable 
colleague by the originators of the .Society. In the first 
instance he was not on the Committee. This exclusion 
elicited some severe remonstrances from his more intimate 
friends, and after some protracted and delicate negotiations 
he was asked to act as superintendent of the society's 
schools, but his " proper position " was not recognised. ( 2 ) 
In 1813 he was elected an honorary member of the 
Committee, a position which he held during the remainder 
of his life. At his death he left 120,000 for founding 
" Madras " Schools at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, 
St. Andrew's, and other places. ( 3 ) 

The National Society takes a conspicuous place in the 
history of elementary education. It started under the most 
favourable conditions, having the support of the Archbishops, 
Bishops, the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker and the members 
of the Government. The Eoyal Patronage given -to 
Lancaster had always been a grave trouble to the clergy, and 
the Eadicals and Edinburgh reviewers had known how to 
make the best use of it. So greatly was the Church party 
dismayed and irritated by it, that some back stairs influence 
was employed to convey a caution to the King, and to 
prevent the establishment of Lancastrian schools at 
Windsor. ( 4 ) They saw, however, the advantage of starting 
their own Society under such auspices, and there was much 
delicate manceuvering to get the support of the "first 
gentleman of Europe," who was acting as Eegent. His 
approval was finally signified, and the prospectus of the 

1 Life of Watson, 59. 2 Bell's Life, 2, 396. 8 Life of Southey, 6. 
4 Bell's Life, by Southey, 2, 159. 


Society was issued. Its success, from the first, was assured. 
Four years after its establishment the Committee were 
able to report that " their resources were inexhaustible." (*) 

The Society was incorporated by Koyal Charter in 
1817. Six years later a Eoyal letter was issued sanctioning 
parochial collections on its behalf. This custom became 
triennial, and was equivalent to a guarantee of subscriptions 
amounting to 10,000 per annum. The title adopted by 
the society was that of "The National Society for Pro- 
moting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the 
Established Church." By the original terms of union, all 
children attending the Society's schools were required to 
learn the Liturgy and catechism, and to attend Church on 
Sunday." ( 2 ) From its earliest days the society has 
exercised great ascendancy over all topics relating to 
elementary schools. Not only has it consolidated that 
system of parish schools which was considered by its 
supporters to be the best outwork of the Church, but by 
means of its diocesan and parochial organisation, it has had 
the power of controlling and swaying public opinion to an 
extraordinary extent. So great has been the assurance of 
its members of the influence they could exercise, that 
frequently in the course of the debates and disputes to be 
described, they have assumed the authority to dictate the 
terms upon which the nation should be permitted to 
possess an elementary school system. 

For many years the two great voluntary societies 
mentioned occupied alone the field of education, and were 
the centres towards which all the educational forces of society 
turned. There was hardly a man, eminent as a statesman, 
politician, or writer, who did not take a side in the con- 
troversy between them. The contest has not always been 

1 Bell's Life, by Southey, 3, 28. 
2 Ibid, 2, 408. 


dignified, and too frequently the object towards which the 
nation was moving, has been lost sight of in the jealousies, 
rivalries, and contentions of the opposite schools of dogmatic 
belief. It is also too probable that the struggle for supremacy 
diverted the public mind from the main object, and postponed 
for many years the establishment of an adequate system. 
At the same time it would be unjust to undervalue the vast 
amount of educational work which has been done by both 
societies. The superior resources of the National Society 
have enabled it to take and to maintain the lead in the 
provision of schools ; but in the development and application 
of a state system of education, it has sustained a series of 
damaging defeats. Its pretentions to control and determine 
the character of education have been repeatedly negatived 
by Parliament, and it has only maintained its influence and 
position by recognising the advance of public opinion, and by 
accepting that instruction in circumstances which is one of 
the conditions of continued social and political existence. 
This explains why the National Society still administers a 
vast network of parochial schools, while at the same time 
the state regulations have been gradually approaching the 
standard set up by the British and Foreign School Society. 

Happily for education, a force more powerful than 
that wielded by the voluntary societies was coming into 
existence, and had begun to make itself felt even before 
their formation. It has been seen that there were writers, 
and statesmen, who not only disbelieved in the adequacy 
of voluntary means, but who maintained the political 
doctrine, that it was the duty of the State to provide 
elementary education for the poor. The case was one of 
urgency. Sydney Smith said that " there was no 
Protestant country in the world, where the education of 
the poor had been so grossly and infamously neglected as 
in England." Malthus declared that it was " a great 


national disgrace that the education of the lower classes 
of the people should be left merely to a few Sunday 

In the session of 1807, Mr. Whitbread, the member 
for Bedford, introduced into the House of Commons a 
Parochial Schools Bill, which was intended as part of a 
larger scheme of poor law reform. The Duke of Portland's 
Government had succeeded the Ministry of " all the talents." 
Mr. Perceval was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and leader 
of the Lower House. Mr. Canning was Foreign Secretary, 
and Lord Eldon held the Great Seal. Mr. Whitbread was 
a member of the Whig Opposition and was conspicuous 
for his ability and influence in his party. The object of 
his bill was to enable overseers, with the consent of the 
vestry, to raise a sum for the support of education. 

For the first time the question was raised in Parlia- 
ment "whether it was proper that education should be 
diffused amongst the lower classes," (*) a proposition by 
no means of general acceptance, and which, in the ensuing 
debate, was opposed by Mr. Windham, the most cultivated 
man of his day. The machinery of the bill was simple, 
and merely gave to magistrates the power to provide schools 
and schoolmasters where they were required. Mr. Whit- 
bread anticipated the usual objections made against 
education, that it would teach the poor to despise their 
lot, enable them to read seditious books, and make them 
insolent and refractory. He showed conclusively that there 
must be education of some sort, either of the schools, or 
of the street and gutter. Sir Samuel Eomilly spoke a 
few words in favour of the bill, but with .no hope that it 
would pass He notes in his diary " the bill will be lost. 
Many persons think the subject requires more consideration ; 
bat a much greater portion of the House think it expedient 

1 Hansard, F.S., 9, 802. 


that the people should be kept in a state of ignorance." ( J ) 
Mr. Perceval, on the part of the Government, assented to 
the bill going into Committee for fairness of consideration, 
though he feared it might destroy voluntary efforts, and 
he was in favour of a previous enquiry into charitable 
endowments. His speech is an illustration of the harm 
those charities were doing. For years afterwards attempts 
to introduce State aid were met by the answer, that there 
were abundant endowments for the purpose if only they 
were properly administered. Mr. Windham opposed the 
bill, because the mutineers at the Nore had read the 
newspapers. One orator exclaimed "What produced the 
French Kevolution ? Books." ( 2 ) There was a general 
alarm, noted by Komilly, founded on the supposition, that 
if discussion were left free, error would be likely to prevail 
over truth. The bill however passed the House of 
Commons with some modifications, but preserving the main 
principle, that vestries should be able to establish schools 
under proper teaching and direction. Still the hopes of 
its supporters were not high. It had to run the gauntlet 
of Lord Eldon's stern antagonism. He had returned to 
the woolsack, to oppose all the weight of his years, his 
official position, his abilities and character against what he 
considered " the rash delusions of his time," ( 3 ) and 
this was one of them. It was enough that the bill 
departed " from the great principle of instruction in this 
country, by taking it out of the superintendence and 
control of the clergy." ( 4 ) He avowed that he never 
would consent that such a matter should be left to the 
majority of the inhabitants. The Archbishop of Canterbury 
also appealed to the House "to guard against innovations 

1 Romilly's Diary, 2, 207. 2 Bell's Life of Canning, 218. 
3 Life of Eldon. Twiss. * Hansard, F.S., 9, 1176. 

P ' 


which might shake the foundations of their religion." ( x ) 
The bill was of course rejected. Eomilly wrote that it 
had been suffered to pass the Commons because it was 
known that it would be thrown out by the Lords. ( 2 ) 
Something, however, had been gained. The representative 
House had affirmed the principle, that the State ought 
to be responsible for the education of the people, under 
local administration. The subject did not come before 
Parliament again for nine years, but these essential 
requisites of an education system became fixed in the 
public mind. The throwing out of bills does not alter or 
stay the march of opinion, but acts rather as a powerful 
incentive to the progress of ideas. 

Upon the death of Mr. Whitbread, in 1815, the 
parliamentary guardianship of the question fell into the 
stronger hands of Brougham. The history of the subject 
between 1816, when he moved for the first Select Committee, 
up to 1839, when the Committee of Council was appointed, 
is mainly a record of efforts, in which he took a prominent 
and distinguished part. During this period he did more 
than any other man to keep the flame alive, and to prepare 
the basis upon which a system might be built. One of the 
class, for the elevation of which he was struggling, who 
wrote with discrimination and judgment, and who suffered 
for his opinions, said " Our educators are, after all, the 
best reformers, and are doing the best for their country, 
whether they intend so or not. In this respect Lord 
Brougham is the greatest man we have." ( 3 ) The light shed 
by his efforts for popular intelligence " will illumine his tomb 
when his errors and imperfections are forgotten." 

In his last days Brougham himself found pleasure in 
tl linking that what he had done in this department would 

1 Hansard, F.S. 9, 1177. 2 Romilly's Diary, 2, 217. 
3 Bamford's passages in the Life of a Radical, 12, 29. 


be his "most appropriate monument." ( ! ) Yet he was 
unsuccessful in trying to find a safe and practical basis for 
state elementary schools, and was obliged to confess sadly, 
in Bacon's phrase, that "propositions have wings, but 
operation and execution have leaden feet." 

The advantages, resulting from the enquiries he caused 
to be made, were obvious and great, but it is probable that 
his extra-parliamentary work was his best. It is impossible to 
over estimate the stimulus which his energy, his industry, 
his enthusiasm, and his splendid talents gave to the public 
agitation of the question. In Parliament he was often alone. 
In the Lords no man was more solitary ; but in the 
country he was sure of an enthusiastic and appreciative 
following. Often during his career, when defeated by the 
forces of obstruction and prejudice, he appealed from the 
decisions of the Legislature directly to the people, and found 
his reward in their generous confidence and approval. As 
an instance his celebrated letter to Sir Samuel Eomilly 
" on the Abuse of Charities " may be mentioned, when his 
Bill for the appointment of a Commission had been 
mutilated by the Ministry, and its execution entrusted 
to his enemies. This pamphlet ran through ten large 
editions, and produced an immense impression in the 
country. ( 2 ) This popularity had its disadvantages, and 
re-acted prejudicially on his parliamentary career. The 
people formed extravagant expectations of his capabilities 
to serve them the higher classes regarded him as a 
Greek, whose gifts they feared to accept. While his friends 
were hoping for too much, his enemies were 'dreading some 
drastic remedy from him ; and when he brought forward the 
expected bill, it too often satisfied nobody, whatsoever 
subject it might relate to. 

1 Autobiography, 3, 3. 2 Harwood's Memoir, 130. 


In regard to education he was particularly unfortunate 
in Parliament ; and he has been accused, not without some 
warrant, of a trick which has been resorted to in more 
modern times ; that of pressing forward his bills by making 
concessions of principle to his opponents. But it is not 
necessary to adopt this explanation, to account for his 
somewhat erratic course in regard to education. Above all 
things he was an " Educationist," and he was willing to make 
concessions and sacrifices to existing and opposing 
circumstances, and even to prejudice and intolerance, in 
order to obtain education. It was this pre-dominant feeling 
which animated his letter to the Duke of Bedford. " Let 
the people be taught say I. I care little in comparison 
who is to teach them. Let the grand machine of national 
education be framed and set to work ; and I should even 
view without alarm the tendency of its first movements 
towards giving help to the power of the clergy." It was this 
desire which led him to propose the Bill of 1820, which gave 
such great and just offence to Dissenters. It may also be 
admitted, with all due respect to his memory, that amongst 
the causes of his failure was a want of judgment 
and prudence, which his closest friends and warmest 
admirers were obliged to acknowledge. Meanwhile they 
maintained that it was impossible to over-rate his services 
to the extension of knowledge. ( x ) 

In the session of 1816 Brougham moved for a Select 
Committee to enquire into the education of the lower orders 
in the metropolis. The enquiry was intended to provide 
a measure for government education in London, which, if 
successful, might be extended to other towns. He promised 
that his scheme should admit nothing offensive to any 
religious opinion, while the " just prejudices " of the 
Establishment would be respected. He also suggested the 

1 Life of Eomilly, 3, 237. 


propriety of establishing a school for the training of 
schoolmasters. ( ] ) 

The report of the Committee was brought up in June, 
when he gave notice that he should bring the matter before 
the House in the following session. The abuses which had 
been discovered in the administration of endowments, 
together with their great value, had led him to the conclusion, 
that if they were properly applied, no grants for education 
would be required from Parliament. Grants should be made 
in the first instance only for building schools, care being 
taken to steer clear of religious differences which he said 
were " daily subsiding." The Government gave its approval 
to the object, and Canning said that he should contribute his 
utmost towards it, " being satisfied that the foundation of 
good order in society was good morals, and that the founda- 
tion of good morals was education." ( 2 ) This concurrence of 
opinion, and these happy anticipations were only the prelude 
to a storm of angry contention which agitated society for 
many years. In the following session Brougham briefly 
hinted at the enormous abuses attending the management 
and application of charitable funds. The Committee did not 
propose legislation, but advised a further enquiry. The 
powers of the Committee were renewed; the "vested interests" 
not yet having taken alarm, and Parliament being conciliated 
by the confident assertions of Brougham that " a very 
small part of the expense would ultimately rest with the 
public." ( 3 ) Sir S. Eomilly, Sir J. Mackintosh, Mr. Wilber- 
force, and Sir F. Burdett were amongst others on the 
Committee which reported. It was now recommended that 
a Parliamentary Commission should be appointed to enquire 
into the application of charitable funds for education in 
England and Wales, with the object of reforming their 
administration and extending their advantages to the whole 
1 Hansard, F. S., 34, 631. 2 Ibid, 1235. 3 Ibid, 37, 817. 


country. The difficulties did not appear to be insurmountable 
to the members of the Committee. The financial objection 
was partly removed by the amount of the charities which 
were available. In the large towns the voluntary societies 
were making rapid progress. They wished to avoid the 
danger of drying up the sources of private charity, and 
they advised that Parliamentary assistance should be confined 
to building grants. They did not anticipate opposition on 
account of religious differences from the large towns where 
there could be separate schools for Church and Dissent. In 
the country it was different, and " the progress of education 
had been materially checked by an unbending adherence to 
the system of the National Society." (*) In country districts 
Brougham supported the application of the parish school 
system which had worked successfully in Scotland. On May 
20, 1818, the Bill passed the House of Commons, Brougham 
promising that as soon as the report of the Commission was 
received he would found a bill upon it. At this period he 
was so deeply interested in the question that he offered 
to resign his seat in the House if necessary, in order that he 
might act as a Commissioner. ( 2 ) In the House of Lords a 
strenuous opposition was made to the Bill by the Lord 
Chancellor, and the contest was the most exciting of the 
session. " The Chancellor," writes Mr. Twiss, " who regarded 
it as being, in the shape it then bore, a vexatious measure, 
likely to deter men of honour and character from taking the 
responsibility of charitable trusts, took much pains to mitigate 
and amend it." ( 3 ) 

It is quite conceivable that Lord Eldon took a 
personal satisfaction in "amending" a bill of Mr. Brougham's, 
whose attacks on the Court of Chancery had begun to 
engage public attention. Brougham declared that the bill 
was defaced and mutilated, and would deprive the Com- 

1 Hansard, F. S, 38, 589. 2 Ibid, 835. 3 Twiss' Life of Eldon, 2, 315. 


mission of all vigour and efficiency. Its scope was limited ; 
many charities were exempted from its operation, and the 
Commissioners were deprived of the power of enforcing 
attendance, and of demanding the production of documents. 
In short, they could take only voluntary evidence. The 
Commissioners were nominated by the Ministry, and the 
execution of the design was committed to the opponents 
of the bill. In the Commons the Lords Amendments 
were agreed to and it became law. A vehement discussion 
now arose respecting the enquiries of the Select Committee, 
and the constitution of the Commission. Brougham 
published his letter to Sir Samuel Eomilly, in which he 
denounced the mangling of the bill, which completely 
suppressed the object of its authors. He was replied to in 
the " Quarterly" for July, 1818, in an article in which he 
was subjected to that " fieri e hell" -of criticism, which had 
been tried on Keats in the previous number with signal 
effect. Canning was suspected of having a hand in this 
article, (*) and the Tories hoped that Brougham would not be 
able "to lift up his head again." They had at last been 
thoroughly awakened and alarmed by the proceedings of 
the Select Committee, and Brougham was looked upon as 
the author and embodiment of all that was vicious and 
irregular in its proceedings. It was charged against the 
Committee, that whereas one enquiry was entrusted to 
them, they had raised five distinct issues. Their original 
instruction it was said, was to enquire into the condition 
of the lower orders of the Metropolis. To this they, or 
rather the Chairman, added motu proprio, the consideration 
of plans for promoting education amongst them and 
bettering their morals ; the propriety of connecting national 
education with national religion, the nature and state of 
all charitable endowments and trusts, and the circumstances 

1 Greville's Journal, 1, 16, 


and administration of the public schools and Universities. 
Under cover to enquire into the condition of the "lower 
orders," he had pushed his investigations into the circum- 
stances of Westminster, Charter House, and St. Paul's 
schools. It was sufficient offence and sacrilege that some 
of the closest, most exclusive, and most powerful corpora- 
tions in England should be thus invaded under any 
circumstances ; but it was an inconceivable insult and 
exasperation, that they should be included in an enquiry 
with the "lower orders." The Quarterly Review made it 
the subject of a grave complaint and rebuke, that the 
Head Master of Winchester was examined on the same 
day that the evidence of a benevolent surgeon was taken 
concerning the amount of ignorance in St. Giles's. But 
Brougham's offence was greater than this. He had 
ventured to receive and print evidence which conveyed 
charges of malversation and abuse against exalted person- 
ages. His " personalities " had excited disgust, and he had 
not treated venerable individuals with the deference they 
had been accustomed to receive. He had catechised 
the Dons of Oxford and the Masters from Eton about 
their antiquated processes. (*) His chief offence seems to 
have been the wearing of his hat as Chairman, and they 
said that the Committee resembled the Court 

" Where England's monarch, once uncovered sat, 
"While Bradshaw bullied in a broad-brimmed hat." 

Brougham was held convicted of disguising mis-represen- 
tation and prejudice under the mask of patriotism, of an 
inclination to every kind of innovation, and of an insuffer- 
able habit of disparaging the most revered institutions of 
the country. 

Even without the knowledge which has since been 
gained by an exhaustive enquiry into the administration 

1 Campbell's Life of Brougham, 338. 


of all endowments, a strong suspicion of the existence of 
secret abuses would have been raised by the temper and 
excitement caused by this enquiry. Mere rudeness would 
hardly have provoked the mingled hatred and fear with 
which Brougham came to be regarded amongst the 
privileged classes. Some of the diaries of that day which 
have since been given to the world, contained incontestable 
proofs of the intense personal dislike which he had aroused. 
"Base," "cowardly," "unprincipled," of "execrable judg- 
ment" and "perverted morality," are some of the epithets 
which he earned by his public course at this time. (*) 
Such a man the Tories declared they would not admit 
into their garden, even to weed it. 

The Tory answer to the popular agitation for education 
then, was much the same that has been given to all 
demands for improvement. When reform was asked for 
the people were accused of desiring revolution. In like 
manner they were charged with pursuing not education 
but infidelity. The French Eevolution furnished a ready 
argument. If any proposition could be brought within the 
general category of "French principles" it was enough to 
enlist a vast mass in society against it, and " the 
practical lessons of Europe for the last thirty years" were 
sure to be adduced as unanswerable and conclusive against 
all changes. The only important deduction the Tories 
could make from the reports of the Education Committee 
were, that grants for building Churches should be enlarged. 
Accordingly, when Brougham was compelled to bespeak 
favour for an education scheme on the ground that it 
might be had without any burthen to the State, the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed a grant of a million 
for providing additional places of worship in connection 
with the Established Church. ( 2 ) 

1 Greville's Journal, 2, 18. 2 Pamphleteer, 1818. 


The attack in the Quarterly was followed up in the 
House of Commons by Sir Eobert Peel in the next session. 
This, however, was a tactical mistake which exposed the 
Government to an immediate and telling reply from 
Brougham. ( x ) 

The practical benefits resulting from the Commission 
of which Brougham was the author, have been great, although 
not always admitted. Lord Campbell sneeringly said that 
his efforts had cost the nation several hundred thousand 
pounds distributed amongst Commissioners, but that no 
real benefit had been derived from their labours. ( 2 ) 
There can be no doiibt, however, that large sums were 
rescued from neglect and misapplication, and applied to 
charitable and educational purposes. The Endowed Schools 
Commissioners reported that they found little evidence of 
malversation in 1865 ; and they attributed the discontinuance 
of abuses to the enquiries of the Commissioners who reported 
to Parliament between 1819 and 1837, to the subsequent 
legal proceedings which have been taken by the Attorney 
General, and to the establishment of a permanent Charity 
Commission. ( 3 ) The credit of the initiation of these 
measures belongs to Brougham. It was a rich mine for 
investigation. There were four Commissions appointed 
between 181 5 and 1837, and their reports fill thirty-eight folio 
volumes. The annuual income of the charities upon which 
they reported amounted to 1,209,395. They possessed 
442,915 acres of land of the estimated value of forty-four 
millions, while their total wealth amounted to seventy-five 
millions. (*) The evil effect of these charities in their 
unreformed state in parishes were they were numerous, can 
hardly be exaggerated. Of one such parish it was reported : 

1 Brougham's Speeches, 2, 301. 2 Life of Brougham, 338. 

3 Report of the Endowed Schools Commission, 245. 

4 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 161. 


"Bastardy and felony have increased, beer houses have 
multiplied, and the population become so corrupt that the 
neighbouring clergy and respectable laity have declared the 
parish to be a public nuisance." (*) The proper and pure 
administration of these endowments, and their application in 
part to educational purposes has been of immense public 
service ; but Brougham and others have been disappointed in 
the expectation that they would afford a sufficient revenue 
for the support of elementary schools, or to supply even the 
amount of assistance which it was thought could be prudently 
afforded by the State. 

Brougham's next Parliamentary effort on behalf of 
education was in 1820. It was destined to disappoint his 
friends, and to stop progress for a long time. Miss Martineau 
refers to the Bill he introduced as the first comprehensive 
and definite plan for the education of the people. ( 2 ) This, 
however, is an injustice to Whitbread's proposal, which the 
bill followed in its main principle, relating to the local 
provision for schools. The management clauses were original, 
but to a great part of the nation, wholly unacceptable. The 
only explanation of such a bill, as coming from him was, 
that if he could get education he was comparatively indifferent 
. as to the means. On another subject he once said, " as a 
man of common sense I must wish to achieve some practical 
good in my time," and this is the probable key to his action 
at this time. He had guaged the strength of the Church, 
at any rate, for opposition. He was aware of the close, 
universal, and effective organisation which the clergy 
possessed ; and he knew that they were resolved to hold 
the control of the State system. His experience in intro- 
ducing the Bill for a Commission had taught him what 
to expect from the Tories. He knew also that the Whigs 
in the House did not care for education, and that they 
1 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 188. 2 History of the Peace, 1, 264. 


accepted innovations slowly and reluctantly, only as they 
were forced on them by the 'growth of opinion. They 
were ready to disturb the official comfort of their 
opponents when practicable, but that was the measure 
of their support. In Parliament he stood almost alone. 
Whitbread and Eomilly were dead, and although he had 
the qualified support of Mackintosh, he was the solitary 
conspicuous representative of the popular feeling which 
gave life to the movement. In these circumstances he 
concluded that he could only secure the main object of 
the measure by large concessions to the clergy. 

The bill was introduced on the 28th day of June, 
1820. It was explained to the House under four heads 
the foundation of schools, the appointment of masters, 
the admission and teaching of children, and the improve- 
ment of educational endowments. ( J ) The authority for 
taking proceedings was vested in Quarter Sessions, who 
were enabled to act on their own finding, or on the 
representation of two justices of the peace, the clergyman 
of the parish, or five resident householders. The magistrates 
were thus constituted a tribunal for adjudicating and 
proceeding in the matter. The cost of building schools 
was to be provided in the first place by the Treasurer 
of the County, but ultimately by the Receiver General 
of the land tax. All other expenses were to be levied 
by the parish officers half-yearly. The appointment of 
the master was placed in the Vestry. He was required 
to be a member of the Established Church, and a 
communicant, and to have a certificate of character from 
a clergyman. His appointment was also to be subject 
to the approval of the parish clergyman, who might reject 
him on examination, or remove him at any time. It is 
curious to reflect, and it proves the demoralising influence 

1 Hansard, S. S., 2, 67. 


of the monitorial system, that Brougham, who was an 
advanced educationist in his day, had no higher idea of the 
character of a schoolmaster than his bill reveals. His view 
was that the parish clerk would best fill the office, and that 
it would secure a better class of men for parish clerks. 

The clergy were to have the power of visitation and 
examination, and were to fix the course of teaching, and 
the scale of school pence. There is one remarkable clause in 
the bill. Brougham was always afraid of compulsory attend- 
ance at the day schools as being of the nature of a sumptuary 
law, and not justifiable either on the principle of utility or 
expediency. (*) But in this bill he provided for the compul- 
sory attendance of children at Church or Chapel on Sundays, 
according to the choice of their parents. A school meeting 
was also required on Sunday evenings for teaching the 
catechism and liturgy. 

In submitting these provisions to the House he said he 
knew he should have the " sectaries " against him, but his 
" object was to graft the new system on an old stock." The 
clergy were naturally the teachers of the poor. " The parson 
was a clerical schoolmaster, and the schoolmaster was a lay 
parson." He deprecated the anger of the Dissenters, but 
would not, to overcome the scruples of a few, turn his back 
on the clergy, " whom Providence had raised up to give 
strength and stability to the plan"( 2 ) a strange solecism in 
the mouth of Henry Brougham. There was one saving 
clause in the Bill ; it provided that in day schools the Bible 
alone should be taught, and no form of worship allowed 
except the Lord's prayer. 

The Bill was supported by Sir James Mackintosh, and 

assented to by Lord Castlereagh ; but before the second 

reading came on a great storm of indignation had arisen 

amongst Dissenters and Eoman Catholics, and Brougham's 

1 Quarterly Journal of Education, 1835, 239. 2 Hansard, S. S., 2, 75. 


old friends, " the Saints." They declared that it was a Bill 
for rooting out " the last remains of religious liberty in the 
country." William Allen wrote " such an innovation upon 
the principles of religious liberty, had, perhaps, never been 
attempted, except in the case of Lord Sidmouth's Bill, since 
the days of Queen Anne. (*) 

In truth the measure satisfied no party. The clergy 
who wished for a compulsory catechism, liturgy and creed, 
received it coldly. The Dissenters were outraged and alarmed 
at the overwhelming ascendancy it gave to the Church. It 
was contended that public opinion and popular influence 
would be extinguished if the machinery for education were 
thus placed entirely under the control of the Church. A 
" Committee for the protection of Keligious Liberty " was 
formed to watch its progress. To these strong manifestations 
of disapproval, Mr. Brougham reluctantly bowed, and did not 
proceed with the bill. The incident was unfortunate, both 
for himself and the cause of education. He weakened his 
own influence, alienated many of his supporters, and even 
caused distrust of his motives. His friends admitted sadly 
that he was more successful in detecting error than in 
devising remedies. His enemies were delighted at his failure 
and humiliation, and rejoiced to find, that with all his 
stupendous talents, he had so little efficiency and influence 
in practical legislation. 

There now followed a long interval before the question 
of English education was again raised in Parliament, except 
on occasional petitions for the amendment of particular 
abuses. The notice which had been called to the endow- 
ments, had stimulated enquiry into the management of local 
charities. They were almost without exception in the hands 

1 Life of Allen, 294. The Bill referred to was probably that introduced 
by Viscount Sidmouth in 1811, for restricting the licensing of Nonconformist 
ministers. '&^&-&.^ 


of Churchmen, and the masters were generally in Holy 
Orders. The regulations usually required attendance at 
Church, and instruction in the Church formularies. Where 
these were not expressly imposed, the effect of decisions and 
interpretations generally made them compulsory. Even down 
to the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, ( J ) where the terms 
of the trust did not require that the Boards should be 
composed of Churchmen only, the power of self-election 
frequently supplied the deficiency. ( 2 ) 

In 1830 the Dissenters of Birmingham petitioned 
Parliament to be allowed to have a share in the government 
of the Grammar School, ( 3 ) and similar requests proceeded 
from other towns ; but it was only in a fitful and incidental 
way that the Legislature was approached on the subject. 
Brougham's failure had made independent members cautious. 
The divisions between parties had been widened. The leaders 
on both sides hesitated to commit themselves to auy definite 
views, upon a question made of such explosive compounds, 
and possibly so destructive of the repose of parties. Yet 
it was during this period that Mr. Stanley matured and 
carried his scheme of Irish Education, on the basis of 
which Irish Elementary Schools have since remained. ( 4 ) 

But if Parliament was halting and timid the people were 
not idle. Out of doors the Education question was struggling 
forward in company with many other objects of reform, 
which engaged popular attention. This was the first great 
era of improvement directed and stimulated by public intel- 
ligence. Parliamentary and municipal reform, the thorough 
re-organisation of factory labour, the abolition of the slave 
trade, the repeal of the taxes on knowledge, the re-modelling 
of the Irish Church all these questions were exciting thought, 
and rapidly acquiring force. The demand for the repeal of 

1 Schools Enquiry Commission Report, 129. 
2 Ibid, 250. 3 Hansard, S. S., 24 4 Hansard, T. S., 6, 1249. 


the Corn Laws was also beginning to be heard, though it 
was not until some years later that it took great prominence 
in public discussion. 

It was between 1820 and 1835 that the first era of 
cheap, popular literature ran its course. It was a period 
of wonderful progress, and contributed in a greater measure 
than any other single event in national life to stimulate 
the desire for knowledge and to lead to the ultimate 
establishment of a State School System. Many great men 
took part in the movement, and looked to it to produce 
a revolution in morals and intelligence. The most con- 
spicuous and active of these was Brougham, and he was 
known as the leader and president of the "Education-mad 
set." A complete list of those who were associated with 
him would contain some of the most brilliant and illustrous 
names which have adorned modern English history. 
Amongst them were Dr. Birkbeck, the father of mechanics' 
institutes, Dr. Whately, Earl Russell, Sir Rowland Hill, 
M. D. Hill, Mr. Wyse, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Hallam, Mr. 
James Mill, Lord Auckland, Lord Althorp, Mr. Denman, 
Charles Knight, Sir Henry Parnell, Sir George C. Lewis, 
Thomas Campbell, Dr. Lushington, Dr. Thirlwall, and Dr. 
Arnold. It was the birth-time of labourers' and mechanics' 
institutes, reading rooms, penny magazines, cheap encyclo- 
paedias, education societies, and lectures on natural 
philosophy. Political science also was becoming a subject 
of popular exposition. 

In 1823-24 Birkbeck and Brougham were engaged in 
establishing mechanics' institutes and reading rooms through- 
out the country. In 1827, the Society for the Diffusion 
of Useful Knowledge was founded, and this led to the 
publication of the Library of Entertaining Knowledge, the 
Quarterly Journal of Education, the Penny Cyclopaedia, 
and many other useful works. There was at one time 


such a demand for books of this description, that when 
Constable began to issue his cheap volumes, about 1828, 
he looked for a million of buyers. (*) 

In 1826 the scheme for a London University was put 
before the public. A Society, which did a great work in 
distributing information, was the " Central Society of 
Education," of which Mr. Wyse, M.P., was President. This 
Society was credited with the authorship of the Government 
scheme in 1839, and especially that part of it which applied 
to Normal schools. The great towns were also now- taking 
up the question. Between 1833 and 1837 the Manchester 
Statistical Society was formed. The good resulting from the 
enquiries instituted by this Society was invaluable. 
Manchester has ever since occupied a most conspicuous and 
honourable place in the fight for education. On the 
Manchester model, similar societies were afterwards formed 
in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, and other places. Local 
Committees of the Society for the diffusion of useful 
knowledge were also established in large towns. The Trades 
Unions of London were combining to resist the taxes on 
newspapers. A constant kindred agitation in Scotland was 
led by George Combe, Professor Pillan, Dr. Drummond, and 
James Simpson, which acted powerfully on English opinion. 
In 1836 the Home and Colonial Society began training 
children, and founding infant schools. In 1837 many ragged 
schools were established, and, about the same time, a Society 
was founded in Manchester for promoting National Education, 
on the plan adopted by the British and Foreign School' 
Society. The press too was now taking up the question, and 
urging its necessity and importance. The Edinburgh Review 
had been reinforced by the Examiner and the Westminster. 
In the management of the latter the guiding mind was Mr. 
James Mill. The history of his opinions on this subject has 

1 Knight's Autobiography, 1, 252. 


been written by his distinguished son. " So complete was my 
father's reliance on the influence of reason over the mind of 
mankind, whenever it is allowed to reach them, that he felt 
as if all would be gained if the whole population were taught 
to read, if all sorts of opinions were allowed to be addressed 
to them by word and in writing, and, if by the means of the 
suffrage, they could nominate a legislature to give effect to 
the opinions they adopted." (*) 

These views were not, of course shared by all who took 
part in the struggle. Many were drawn into it by the danger 
which they thought threatened the social system by 
the immense extension of popular influence without 
commensurate knowledge ; but all recognised that education 
must come sooner or later. Dr. Whately wrote, " I wonder 
not much, considering what human nature is, that some 
should think the education of the poor an evil. I do 
wonder at their not perceiving it is inevitable. We can 
indeed a little retard or advance it ; but the main question 
is how they shall be educated, and by whom." 

Notwithstanding many hopeful signs of the times, the 
Educators had a hard up hill battle to fight. We, who are 
surrounded by so many instructive influences, the result 
of half a century of uninterrupted progress, can hardly 
appreciate the difficulties under which our predecessors 
laboured. The penny postage system, which has acted as 
a most powerful incident to education, was not introduced 
until 1840, and up to 1836 newspapers and periodicals 
were under a tax, which seriously limited their circulation 
amongst the middle classes, and kept them from the 
labouring classes altogether. The majority of the journals 
and periodicals which existed, were bitterly hostile to the 
new movement; the leaders of which were obliged to 
contend for the right of education, for its social and 

1 J. S. Mill's Auto-biography, 106. 


economical advantages, and to appease the jealousy and 
alarm which its extension caused amongst a large section 
of the upper classes. Knowledge was associated with 
irreligion and disloyalty ; with contempt of religious 
institutions, and hatred of Government. One of the maga- 
zines described the establishment of mechanics' institutes 
as a plan for forming the labouring casses into a disaffected 
and ungovernable faction. ( J ) As late as 1839 the same 
periodical opposed the education of the people on the ground 
that it would make them uneasy and restless, that ignorance 
is the parent of contentment, and that the only education 
which could be fitly and safely given to them was a religious 
education which " renders them patient, humble, and moral, 
and relieves the hardship of their present lot by the prospect 
of a bright eternity." ( 2 ) The establishment of the University 
of London was denounced as the " creation of a God-excluding 
seminary," and it was predicted that " the worst sentiments 
in politics and religion would pervade it." ( 3 ) Mr. Sou they 
wrote, " I am no friend to the London University, or to 
mechanics' institutes. There is a purpose in all these things 
of excluding religion, and preparing the way for the over- 
throw of the Church. But God will confound their 
devices." (*) 

The Church which had never before thought that a 
University was required in London, now established King's 
College, avowedly to protect the religious interests which 
the University was supposed to endanger. In the end 
these contests and divisions produced another disastrous 
effect. It was supposed that in time the conflict between 
party and sectarian interests would lead to the collection 
of all the children into schools under the control of different 
sects. This gave rise to the political maxim of the Volun- 

1 Blackwood, 1825, 534. 2 Combe, Education by Jolly, 532. 
3 Blackwood, 17, 545. * Southey's Life, 5, 297. 


taryists, that " education, like industry, would be better off 
if left to shift for itself." It has, however, been long 
since acknowledged, that these sectarian strifes did much 
to impede its progress, and to prevent combined action in 

After the passing- of the Eeform Act in 1832, great 
expectations were formed of Parliamentary assistance. It 
is noteworthy that on the two occasions when Parliament 
has taken serious action in regard to education, the 
movement has followed a reform in the system of repre- 
sentation. The grants which began in 1834, and the 
establishment of the Education Department, were the outcome 
of the Keform Bill of 1832, as the Education Act of 1870 
was one result of the Eeform of 1868. In each case two 
causes had been at work. The increased power of the 
democracy, and the determination to use it for their 
advantage was the most important; and this was seconded 
by the alarm of the upper classes at being in the hands 
of an uneducated people, and the recognition of the 
necessity expressed by Mr. Lowe, of " educating their 
masters." But the great hopes raised by the formation 
of Earl Grey's Ministry, in 1832, were doomed to 
disappointment. It was natural that extravagant expecta- 
tions should be formed. Brougham was a member of the new 
Ministry. Two other Cabinet Ministers, Lord Althorp arid 
Lord John Eussell were on the Committee of the Society for 
the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. " After the Eeform era," 
says Charles Knight, "I have sat at the monthly dinner 
with five Cabinet Ministers, to whom it appeared that their 
duty was to carry forward that advancing intelligence of 
the people which had carried them to power." (*) When 
several Sessions had passed away, and the Ministry had 
been partly reconstituted, the dissatisfaction became intense. 

1 Knight's Biography, 2, 131. 


The Eadicals who were represented by Koebuck, Grote, 
Buller, Molesworth, and Komilly, came in for a share of 
disapprobation. The Westminster Review referred bitterly 
to an Education Bill which had been postponed " on account 
of the influenza or some equally cogent reason." (*) The 
feeling as regards Brougham has been expressed by Miss 
Martineau in her " History of the Peace." ( 2 ) He was even 
suspected by his friends of having deserted the cause. 
The Parliament was described as a "do nothing Parliament, 
halting half-way between helplessness and mischief," which 
had expended its whole force on Keform, and had no policy, 
and no course of action. ( 3 ) Justice has since been done 
to Earl Grey's Ministry. " No previous administration 
had ever accomplished so many reforms as the Grey Cabinet 
had effected in a year." (*) " They accomplished in four 
years what would have done honour to any administration 
in fourteen, yet they did not move fast enough for their 
impatient supporters." ( 5 ) Mr. J. S. Mill has also now 
acknowledged that too much had been expected from the 
small band of Eadical members who had set up on their 
own account, and that their lot was cast in a period of 
inevitable reaction. ( 6 ) 

Brougham's position was understood more clearly by his 
enemies than his friends. They saw that by his elevation to 
the woolsack as a member of Lord Grey's Ministry in 1830, 
he had gone to his " political death-bed." He had lost 
power rather than obtained it. His power was that of a 
popular leader not that of a parliamentary adviser. In the 
House of Commons he had been the nominal leader of the 
Whig opposition, but the Whigs had never trusted him. He 
was not of their set. They were jealous of his superiority, 

1 Westminster Review, 1837, 27. 2 Martineau's History, 2, 76. 
3 Westminster Review, 33, 387. 4 Walpole's History, 3, 209. 
5 English Premiers, by Earle, 2. c Mill's Autobiography, 195. 


distrusted his energy, and were alarmed at his influence in 
the country. They adopted him for their own purposes, as 
they had adopted Eomilly and Homer, and were glad to be 
relieved of his presence from the House in which he spoke 
with authority. He saw too late that he had made the 
greatest error of his life. As the promoter of education, 
the leader of the anti-slavery movement, the chief Parlia- 
mentary representative of the Dissenting bodies, and the head 
of the reform party, his power and influence were immense. 
They were destroyed at a blow by his acceptance of the Great 
Seal, and he "ceased to be for ever the great popular chief." (*) 
From this time phrases which had been current amongst his 
enemies were passed about by his former friends. They began 
to accuse his vanity, and even to suspect his genuineness. 
He was " ungenerously deserted by his friends, while 
cruelly assaulted by his foes, he was maligned by those 
to whom he had been a benefactor, and all mankind 
seemed to be in a conspiracy against him." ( 2 ) 

In the House of Commons Brougham's place, as leader 
of the Education party was somewhat poorly filled by Mr. 
Eoebuck, and at times by Mr. Wyse. It is to the honour of 
the former that in the first year he came into Parliament he 
made an effort to re-open the question ; and that with so 
much success that the Government was induced to grant 
a small and wholly inadequate sum for education purposes. 
In 1833 he moved that in the next session the House would 
proceed to devise means for the universal education of the 
people. ( 3 ) He advocated compulsion to the extent of making 
it an offence to keep a child away from school between six 
and twelve years of age. Lord Althorp objected to bind the 
Government by the resolution, which was not pressed to 
a division ; but he intimated that the Government were not 

1 Roebuck's History of the Whig Administration, 1, 470. 
2 Campbell's Life of Brougham, 414. s Hansard, T. S., 20, 139. 


passive in the matter, and subsequently moved for a grant 
of 20,000 to be expended at the suggestion of the National 
Society and British and Foreign School Society, in aid of 
private subscriptions for the erection of schools. He correctly 
described this as the commencement of a new system, the 
extent of which they could not foresee. ( ! ) The grant was 
opposed by Mr. Hume on economical grounds, and by Mr. 
Cobbett for the reason that schoolmasters were " a new race 
of idlers," but it was carried in a House of seventy-six 
members. Modest as this beginning was, it was not viewed 
without alarm, it being foreseen that Government would now 
be pressed to make yearly grants. There Was abundant 
evidence of the willingness of the Government to spend money 
for objects which it approved. In the same session twenty 
millions were voted for the abolition of slavery; and one 
million was applied to pay arrears of tithes in Ireland. ( 2 ) 
It is perhaps also noteworthy that in the same year the 
education vote in Prussia amounted to 600,000. 

In 1834 Mr. Eoebuck re-opened the question, and 
moved for a Select Committee, condemning in a vigorous 
speech the " slavish bigotry and intolerance " that prevailed 
in National Schools. Again the Government showed a 
disposition to make concessions, and the motion was with- 
drawn in favour of one moved by Lord Althorp on behalf 
of the Government, for a Committee "to enquire into the 
state of education in England and Wales, and into the 
application and effect of the grant for the erection of 
schools, and to consider the expediency of further grants 
in aid of education." ( 3 ) The Committee was appointed 
and renewed, on the motion of Mr. Eoebuck, in the next 
session. Lord Melbourne's first Administration was dissolved 

1 Hansard, T. S., 20, 730. 2 Westminster Review, 19, 387. 
8 Hansard, T. S., 23, 127. 


in November, and after the general election Sir Eobert Peel 
became Premier. Early in 1835 Lord John Kussell brought 
forward a motion in regard to the Irish Church, in which 
he declared that the Anglican Establishment in Ireland was 
excessive, and that its surplus revenues should be applied 
to education. ( 1 ) Sir Eobert Peel would make no com- 
promise, and the Government was defeated by a majority 
of twenty-seven, and resigned. In a few days Lord Mel- 
bourne's second Administration came in. This year Lord 
Brougham, whose short term of office had expired, never to 
be renewed, submitted a series of resolutions to the House 
of Lords, affirming the insufficiency of the means for national 
education, and the necessity of supplementing them; of 
establishing training schools for teachers, and of appoint- 
ing a permanent Board of Commissioners for guarding and 
applying funds left for educational purposes. In a sub- 
sequent session he brought in another bill having the same 
object. No progress was made with it, and he complained 
that his bill was unfortunate at all times, since when their 
Lordships had nothing to do they could not proceed with 
it. A practical suggestion he afterwards made found accept- 
ance. This was the appointment of a Department of Public 
Instruction the idea of which he derived from France. ( 2 ) 
About the same time the Bishop of London attacked the 
Central Society of Education, which was doing the work of 
propagandism in the country. He said that he viewed with 
great alarm the attempt to establish a compulsory system 
of education, secular in character ; and he cautioned the 
Christian public against it. 

The grant of 20,000 yearly was continued after 1834, 
but its division was already causing great dissatisfaction. 
The first grant had been equally divided between the 
National, and the British and Foreign School Societies. 

1 Life of Melbourne, 2, 101. 2 Hansard, T. S. f 38, 16.18. 


The principle of the Government was to make grants 
where one half of the sum required was raised by local 
efforts. The British and Foreign School Society had 
exhausted their local funds in the first year, and were 
unable to make a proportionate advance. The result was 
that gradually two-thirds, three-fifths, or three-fourths of 
the grant went to the National Society, which had superior 
local resources. (*) It also became evident that the system 
was defective in a most essential feature, as no provision 
was made in poor localities where it was most required, 
and where education was at the lowest ebb. These defects 
and inequalities were gradually turning the public mind 
to a rate supported system, which, however, was yet far 
in the distance. 

The sessions of 1837 and 1838 passed without further 
substantial progress. Mr. Slaney moved for a Select 
Committee, but Lord John Eussell deprecated haste for 
fear of exciting resentment and opposition on account of 
religious differences ( 2 ) which continued to be the great 
stumbling block. Mr. Wyse followed up the attack in 
1838, by asking /or the appointment of a Commission to 
provide for the efficient application of the grant, and for 
the establishment of schools. ( 3 ) The Government opposed 
the motion ; Lord John Eussell, who was the Liberal leader 
in the Lower House, saying that he "was not prepared to 
state any manner in which Parliament could aid the work 
beyond what it had done." He expressed his own prefer- 
ence for the British and Foreign Society's System, but 
adhered to the principle of distribution adopted by the 
Treasury, that the largest share of the grant should be 
given to those who subscribed most towards it. The 
motion was defeated by seventy-four votes to seventy. 
The lessons of this division were not lost upon the 

1 Hansard, T. S., 37, 448. 2 Ibid, 39, 388. 8 Ibid, T. S>, 43, 710. 


Ministry. They began to see that public opinion would 
support them in more decisive action, and therefore 
prepared for an important step in the next session. 




THE direct intervention of the Government for the 
promotion and regulation of elementary education dates 
from 1839. In the assistance which the State had given 
previously to that period, it had merely stood in the position 
of a subscriber to the two great voluntary societies which 
occupied the ground ; having no connection with schools or 
their teachers, and exercising no authority over their 
regulations or management. The important changes which 
now took place, and the subsequent history of the question 
will be better understood, after a brief review of the condition 
of education and the relations of parties at this time. 

The new science of statistics has played an important 
part in the education controversy. From 1818, up to the 
present time, many sets of educational statistics have been 
published. They have been derived from all sources, and 
sent forth under all manner of auspices from the Government, 
from rival education societies, from the purely statistical 
societies, and from individuals for whom the peculiar investi- 
gation has had an attraction. They have been useful at times 
in fixing attention upon the subject, while on other occasions, 
they have tended to confuse the issue. For the ordinary 
reader, at any rate, they have not raised the question out of 
the depths of dulness to which it has often been condemned. 
They have been employed for all purposes to prove the value 
of instruction and the reverse, the want of education and its 
abundance, the necessity on the one hand for legislative 


action, and on the other the sufficiency of voluntary effort. 
The same tables have been quoted to support precisely 
opposite views. In the early discussions of the question 
they were sometimes used to make education responsible for 
crime. Blackwood wrote, " It is now established by decisive 
evidence that public instruction has not only no effect what- 
ever in diminishing the tendency to crime, but that it greatly 
increases it." ( J ) No useful purpose can now be served in 
disinterring from the reports and pamphlets in which they 
are buried, the voluminous figures which have been 
published on the question. The accuracy of the most 
authentic of them has been impeached, and even where this 
has been vindicated, they have been subject to deductions 
and qualifications which cannot be represented by figures. 
Until recent times there has never been a standard by which 
educational statistics could be tried, for the reason that there 
was no agreement as to what education meant. They failed to 
convey an adequate idea, alike of the depths and intensity of 
the exertions which have been made for the sake of education, 
and of the mass of ignorance which was left untouched' 

The several Government enquiries into the state of 
education have produced four sets of statistics, to which 
occasional reference may be necessary for the purposes of 
comparison. The first were those of 1818 the result 
of Brougham's Select Committee. The next are known as 
Lord Kerry's returns, and refer to 1833. An exhaustive 
enquiry in 1851 produced the elaborate figures contained in the 
census returns of the Eegistrar-General. A few years later the 
Duke of Newcastle's Commission of 1858, became responsible 
for the tables contained in their report. Since the formation 
of the Committee of Council the reports of the Government 
Inspectors have been illustrated by valuable and reliable 
statistics ; and the various statistical societies of London, 
1 Blackwood, 38, 393. 


Manchester, Birmingham, and other towns, have contributed 
to swell the proportions of this branch of the enquiry, and have 
often quickened and stimulated public opinion on the question. 
According to the returns of Brougham's Committee in 
1818, the number of scholars in day schools was 674,883, or 
one in 17'25 of the population. In 1833, as vouched by 
Lord Kerry's tables, they had increased to 1,276,947, or one 
in 11 '2 7 of the population. (*) It has been estimated 
that at the former period, for every child receiving education 
three were left entirely destitute. ( 2 ) Lord Kerry's returns 
contained no calculation of the numbers absent from school, 
but they were taken as proof that the voluntary societies, 
with the assistance they received from Government, were 
doing satisfactory work and making promising headway. 
Immediately, however, that these conclusions came to be 
tested by independent enquiry as to the locality and the 
character of the education provided, they were found to 
convey a most fallacious idea of the progress actually made. 
The earliest statistical society was formed at Manchester, and 
its principal object was to verify the returns of Lord Kerry, 
which were thought to do injustice to the work of the 
voluntary schools in Lancashire. ( 3 ) Some of the early 
papers were directed to correct this supposed unfairness ; but 
the officers of the society and those who conducted .its 
investigations, became at once convinced that it was utterly 
hopeless to rely upon the sufficiency of voluntary means. 
The enquiries made in Manchester, Liverpool, Salford, and 
Birmingham, dissipated the idea that satisfactory progress was 
being made. In Manchester a third, and in Liverpool half of 
the children of school age were receiving no instruction at 
all ; not even that of the Sunday-school. In most of the 
large towns it was found that only one in seventeen' of the 

1 Census Returns, 1851. 2 Walpole's History, 1, 212. 
8 Porter's Progress of the Nation, 695. 


population was being educated, and in some districts only 
one in thirty-five. In parts of Lancashire, towns of 25,000 
inhabitants were without a single school. The proportion of 
children who received no instruction of any kind in day or 
Sunday-schools was found to be in Manchester thirty per 
cent, Liverpool fifty per cent., York thirty-four per cent., 
Westminster sixty-five per cent., and Birmingham fifty-one 
per cent. (*) In 1837 the London Statistical Society 
reported, that the country did not afford the means of 
education for more than one half of those in a condition to 
receive it. ( 2 ) In other places one child in thirty-five was 
receiving " nominal " education. The reports from Liverpool 
stated that improvement was hopeless until assistance and 
direction came from a body vastly superior in means and 
intelligence to any in existence. ( 3 ) The quality of the 
education supplied was even more startling in its deficiency 
than the quantity. The best schools were doubtless those of 
the rich voluntary societies, but their results were wholly 
untested except by independent observation. In the evidence 
which Professor Pillans gave before the Select Committee of 
1834, he stated his belief that in a few years the children in 
the National Society's schools would have lost the power of 
reading. ( 4 ) They were trained to obtain an accurate know- 
ledge of every hard name in the Book of Kings, but no love 
of knowledge or of books was inculcated. The sole object of 
the society was to manufacture members of the Church, and 
not to impart information which would be useful in the 
pursuits of life. ( 5 ) " Nothing, or next to nothing, is learned, 
and the parents merely pay for having their children kept 
out of harm's way." ( 6 ) But the bulk of the children included 

1 Journal of Statistical Society, 3, 28. 2 Ibid, 1, 48. 

3 British and Foreign Review, 1836, 601. 4 Ibid, 564. 

5 Quarterly Journal of Education, 1834, 253. 

Memoirs of Sara Coleridge, 1, 194. 


in these imposing Government returns were taught in private 
adventure schools kept by dames and others. They were 
hived in dirty, unwholesome rooms, used for sleeping or 
working ; in garrets, and often in cellars. The qualification 
of their teachers was that they were unfit for anything else, 
though they generally united education with some other 
employment ; such as the keeping of small shops, or taking 
in washing or sewing. ( J ) In the mining districts most 
of those who went to school at all, were taught by miners 
or labourers who had lost health or met with accidents in the 
works. ( 2 ) In other places persons were keeping school on 
account of " old age " " to get a bit of bread/' because they 
could not weave, or had lost their arms, or lamed their feet, 
or were short of work, or " to keep off the town." It was the 
usual resource of widows left without means. ( 3 ) The 
Factory Act of 1833 required the Inspectors to enforce the 
attendance at school of children employed in factories, and to 
order vouchers of attendance to be kept. ( 4 ) The Act 
required education to be given, but made no provision for 
schools. To meet the requirements of the Act, all manner of 
school-houses were improvised, " from the coal-hole to the 
engine-house." "The engine-man, the slubber, the burler, the 
bookkeeper, the wife of any one of these, the small shop- 
keeper, or the next-door neighbour, with six or seven small 
children on the floor and in her lap, are by turns found 
teaching in and about their several places of occupation, for 
the two hours required by the law." ( 5 ) The certificates 
required were usually signed with the mark of the school-/- 
keeper. The Commissioners appointed to enquire into the 
working of the Poor Laws reported on the frightful forms in 

1 British and Foreign Review, 1836, 589. 

2 Report of Committee of Council, 1839-40, 178. 

8 Proceedings of Statistical Society, 2, 35. 

4 3 and 4, William IV., c. 103. 
5 Journal of Statistical Society, 2, 179. 


which ignorance revealed itself. There were 60,000 children 
in poor-houses under influences little less injurious than those 
of prisons. ( J ) "I know of nothing more pathetic than a 
workhouse school/' wrote Mr. Cumin, in one -of his reports. 
Dean Alford wrote, at the end of 1839 : " Prussia is before 
us ; Switzerland is before us ; France is before us ; there is 
no record of any people on earth so highly civilised, so 
abounding in arts and comforts, and so grossly, generally 
ignorant as the English." ( 2 ) 

The particulars and extracts which have been given 
represent the general condition of education at this period 
a condition which formed the humiliating topic of every 
assembly of Englishmen, and of every newspaper and publi- 
cation of ordinary intelligence. Under these circumstances 
it was a source of the greatest discouragement and perplexity 
to thousands of reflecting and benevolent men, that the wide 
divergences of opinion prevented any united and comprehen- 
sive action. The difficulty did not spring from the people 
themselves. It happened then, as it has always happened 
since, that the classes which stood most in need of education 
were those who presented the smallest obstacle to the 
acceptance of a general plan. In the evidence taken before 
the Select Committee of 1834 it was well established, that 
the parents of the scholars were, in the majority of cases, 
perfectly indifferent about the tone, colour, or management of 
the schools, so long as they could get good secular 
instruction. ( 3 ) "Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children of 
nonconformists were taught religion, by considering them 
what they were not, i.e., baptised according to the rites and 
ceremonies of the Church of England." ( 4 ) The Secretary 
of the National Society testified of their schools, that nine- 
tenths of the parents would remove their children if they could 

1 Quarterly Journal of Education, 9, 49. 2 Life of Alford, 121. 
a Quarterly Journal of Education, 8, 251. 4 Shuttleworth, Public 

Education, 246. 


get better instruction, without thinking at all about the relig- 
ious knowledge. The children of Jews, Unitarians, and Eoman 
Catholics, were often found in British and National Schools. 
It was not that the parents were always wholly ignorant or 
indifferent upon religious questions. The compulsory attend- 
ance at church and the imposition of the catechism were often 
keenly felt as a grievance and a violation of the liberty of 
conscience. But where no other schools were available, 
earnest Dissenters would send their children to Church schools 
with the feeling that home influence would counteract the 
teaching of the school and Church, and with the firm 
intention to keep them in the practice of Dissent. It was a 
strong proof of the value attached to education when such 
conditions were acceded to. Amongst the very poorest 
classes, and those outside all denominational influences, there 
has been since the beginning of the century, an increasing 
current of feeling in favour of school instruction, often testi- 
fied by exertion and self-sacrifice even in extreme poverty. 

The interdict against a united and national system came 
from the moral teachers of the people, and was pronounced 
necessary in the interests of religion. As new plans were 
developed and discussed, several phrases have been used to 
describe them. There were the exclusively denominational 
schools, in which the creeds and doctrines of a particular 
Church were imposed on all the children. The " comprehen- 
sive" system, and the " combined" system, are phrases which 
have been used to describe other plans. Most of the schemes 
which have been proposed and embodied in resolutions or 
bills during the last half-century, would come under one or 
the other of these three descriptions. The meaning and 
object of the denominational system requires no explanation. 
Under the " comprehensive" system, a school would generally 
be in connection with some religious body, and definite 
religious instruction would be given in the school ; but the 


parents of the children would be allowed to decide whether 
they should attend or be withdrawn from it. The 
" combined" system is that which was established in Ireland, 
the scholars receiving secular instruction from the school- 
master, and separate religious teaching from the ministers of 
the denominations. But no common ground was found upon 
which the sects could meet and agree and let education 
proceed although, at the outset of the struggle, there was 
no party which objected to State assistance. The Voluntary- 
ists who afterwards grew into an influential party, had 
not yet formulated their objections to State aid and control. 
When the Committee of Council was appointed, the great 
body of the Protestant Dissenters of all sects, sustained the 
Ministry and approved of public grants. Mr. Edward Baines, 
the founder of the Leeds Mercury, and father of the gentleman 
who afterwards became the leader of the Voluntaryists, 
supported and voted for the Government scheme of 1839. (*) 
It was not until the administration of the Committee of 
Council threatened to give undue advantages to the Church, 
that Dissenters discovered civil and political reasons against 
State education, and joined in a policy of opposition to its 

From the beginning of the struggle to its close, the 
Church, while doing its utmost to extend education of its 
own kind, by its own methods, and for its own purposes, has 
been the grand and chief obstructive to any national system. 
The National Society prescribed tests and methods, laid down 
terms of union, and from the Sanctuary at Westminster 
claimed the right to dictate the terms upon which the educa- 
tion of the people should be permitted to proceed. The 
charter of the National Society declared that it was founded 
to educate the children of the poor, "without any exception," 
in the doctrines of the Established Church. ( 2 ) The position 
1 Hansard, T. S., 42, 727. 2 Notes of my Life, Denkon, 137. 

100 . 

which the Church took up at that time is accurately stated by 
Archdeacon Denison, who has been supposed to represent an 
extreme and violent section of Churchmen, but who has 
merely stood up manfully for the integrity of early Church 
principles. " The Church can never, if it would be found 
faithful, have the ' comprehensive school/ in that sense of the 
word ' comprehensive/ in which the State employs the term. 
It may, indeed, ' comprehend' others than Church children in 
its schools, as it sees occasion, for missionary purposes ; but 
this exclusively upon its own terms only." ( J ) This was the 
exact position that was taken up by the National Society in 
the first instance, and which embodied its principle and 
practice down to the introduction of the conscience clause. 
In his evidence given before the Select Committee of 1834, 
Mr. Wigram, the Secretary of the National Society, said the 
doctrines of the Church were the appointed means of 
producing practical religion, and they were not at liberty to 
substitute anything else. The clerical superintendent of the 
Society, said he should not be justified according to the 
principles of the Society, in allowing their school-children to 
attend Dissenting places of worship. ( 2 ) The same view was 
taken by Churchmen who were remarkable for liberality 
towards Nonconformists. Bishop Blomfield has been instanced 
as a man of this character. ( 3 ) He had been an Edinburgh 
Eeviewer, though afterwards his services were transferred to 
the Quarterly. As a proof of his liberality, it is stated that 
his schools were attended even by the children of Jews. His 
biographer omits to mention that they were compelled to learn 
the catechism, but Bishop Blomfield himself had no hesitation 
in making the admission. He told Lord Althorp's Committee 
that any attempt to give common education to children whose 
parents were of different persuasions would fail, unless the 

1 Notes of my Life, Denison, 105. 
2 Quarterly Journal of Education, vols. 8 and 9. 3 Life of Blomfield, 53. 


parents were content to let their children receive religions 
instruction according to the doctrine of the Church of 
England, and that the Church could not come to any compro- 
mise that the catechism should not be taught on weekdays^ 1 ) 
He afterwards always "strenuously upheld the claims of 
the Established Church to be the educator of the people/' ( 2 ) 
and he was one of the skilful negotiators who framed the 
subsequent concordat between the National Society and the 
Education Department. The Eev. F. D. Maurice, was one 
of the last Churchmen whom his generation would accuse of 
bigotry or illiberality, yet he took the same view of the 
education question. " We have an education which assumes 
us to be members of one family, of one nation. If any 
persons like to be educated on that ground, we will educate 
them ; if they do not like it, they must educate themselves 
upon what other principle they may, for we know of no other 
and will admit no other." ( 3 ) The same author contended 
that the clergy were an order sent into the world for the 
express purpose of cultivating humanity. 

A curious illustration of the determination of the Church 
clergy to make their schools religious institutions, is afforded by 
what was called the " blending " system. This has now gone 
altogether, and would probably be illegal under the time 
table conscience clause, but for some years it was hotly 
contended for. The object was to interweave doctrinal and 
historical religious teaching with the ordinary school lessons 
throughout the day. The copy books were composed of 
scriptural texts ; the geography was scriptural ; the arithmetic 
was illustrated by scriptural facts, and all were taught by 
teachers trained in theological seminaries, in which all know- 
ledge was made secondary and subordinate to dogmatic 
learning. Mr. Milner Gibson quoted in the House of 

1 Quarterly Journal of Education, 9, 214. 2 Life of Blomfleld, 191. 
3 Maurice on Education, 172. 

Commons from the Eev. Francis Close, who said, " what they 
sought, was to interweave Church of England evangelical 
principles with all their instruction, and to diffuse them 
through the school room all day long." (') The Eev. J. C. 
Wig-ram, Secretary of the National Society, prepared a 
scriptural arithmetic for the purpose. Some of the examples 
are curious relics of a disused method. " The children of 
Israel were sadly given to idolatry, notwithstanding all they 
knew of God. Moses was obliged to have three thousand 
men put to death for this grievous sin. What digits would 
you use to express this number ? " 

" Of Jacob's four wives, Leah had six sons : Eachel had 
two ; Hillah had two ; and Zillah had also two. How many 
sons had Jacob ? " 

In this way it was thought to instil morals, and to give a 
high religious tone to the schools, purposes which would have 
been answered as well by teaching the children Bible conun- 
drums. Baden Powell exposed the frivolity of this "blending" 
system. " It seems difficult to imagine any plan better 
adapted for making religion an object of contempt and 
aversion, than thus perpetually associating it in the young 
mind with the drudgery of school tasks. Scripture spelling 
surely cannot lead the learner to think scripture any better 
than a spelling book, nor Bible arithmetic teach him otherwise 
than to place Christianity and ciphering on the same level. 
The most solemn truths mixed up with the puerile illustra- 
tion of the alphabet ; the words of divine instruction made 
vehicles for teaching orthography ; scripture language used 
for conveying instruction in grammar ; the sacred events 
of divine revelation employed to furnish examples for 
arithmetic, are methods of teaching which may indeed 
secure a familiarity with religion, but it is the kind of famili- 
arity which breeds disrespect."( ) Dr. Hook's proposal to have 

1 Hansard, T. S., vol. 116, 1242. 2 Pamphlet by Eev, Baden Powell. 


schools in which separate religious instruction was given, was a 
blow to the supporters of this system. They began to enquire 
whether history could be taught without enforcing the tone 
and principles of Socinianism or Trinitarianism. Whether " a 
man might teach reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic 
without letting it appear whether he was a Mahomedan or a 
Christian." But granting it might be so, they returned to their 
conviction that '*we who embrace with all our hearts the 
divinity of Christ should not allow a disbeliever even to teach 
our children to cipher." (*) 

There was, however, an eminent minority in the Church 
which dissented from the extreme pretensions of the National 
Society and the general body of the clergy. Distinguished 
amongst these was Dr. Whately, whose labours on the Irish 
Board of Education helped to give stability to the combined 
system in Ireland. Dean Hook advocated a similar plan for 
England, and Dr. Arnold declined to join in the proceedings 
of the National Society on account of the too great influence 
which the clergy would have o\>er the education machine. ( 2 ) 
Bishop Stanley, the father of Dean Stanley, in the discussions 
of 1839, vindicated the Government plan of combined educa- 
tion. In more recent years the list of liberal-minded clergymen 
has been supplemented by the names, amongst others, of 
Bishops Eraser and Temple, Archdeacon Sandford, Canon 
Kingsley, Dean Hamilton, Canon Gover, Dean Alford, Dr. 
Caldicott, Mr. J.C.Cox, Mr.E.F.M.MacCarthy and Mr. Zincke. 

In opposing the demands of the Church to the exclusive 
control of education, Protestant Dissenters took a reasonable 
and moderate position. They asked only for a proportionate 
share in school management, and that their children should 
not, as the condition of instruction, be compelled to learn 
hostile creeds. To have done less than this would have been 
a violation of their principles, and a step backward in the 

1 Memoirs of Sara Coleridge, 2, 31. 2 Memoirs of Sara Coleridge, 1, 213. 


political and religious freedom for which they had striven, 
and in a great measure obtained. They had a noble history, 
which gave them a title to be heard as a part of the people, 
on questions affecting popular welfare, which it would have 
been ignominious to surrender. They had by immense 
sacrifice, exertion, and courage, defeated the design of the 
ecclesiastical leaders of the Eeformation, that our Church 
government should be made to embrace the whole body of 
the people. From a despised and persecuted minority they 
had grown into a power. They had been especially the 
missionaries of religious and political instruction to the poor, 
and had defended the rights of minorities. They had 
obtained a paramount influence over the middle classes, 
and had shaken to its foundations the traditional authority 
which the Church claimed over the lower orders. In the 
Civil Courts and in the Legislature they had upheld the 
title of the people to equal participations and rights before 
the law. Their history had been one of continued progress 
towards religious emancipation, from the days of the Eevolu- 
tion to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. The 
Church had neglected the religious instruction of the nation. 
That was not denied. " There has been a heavy sin some- 
where granted ; let us not attempt to hide it. The clergy 
have had the heaviest share in that evil. Let this be 
confessed, too, both secretly and publicly." ( J ) " There was 
then, so to speak, no parish school the nursery of the 
parish church seventy or eighty years ago." ( 2 ) In this 
gross abnegation and neglect of duty the Dissenters had taken 
up the work, and they became naturally the instructors of 
the poor. Their constitution was democratic, and they had 
strengthened and consolidated their influence by the habits 
of self government which they had taught, and the political 
knowledge they had spread. Their life and discipline had 

1 Maurice's Lectures on Education, 238. 2 Notes of my Life, Denison, 115. 


become identified with the growth of liberal principles and 
the progress of all liberal measures. They felt, therefore, 
that the demand of the clergy for the exclusive control of 
education was opposed to the general spirit of the laws and 
the. current of feeling through society. If in later struggles 
they committed errors of judgment which for a time retarded 
education, they were made honestly, in defence of principles 
which were sacred, no less by reason of the travail which had 
secured their recognition, than on account of the benefits 
which had resulted from them to national life. The Church 
had failed to recognise the growth and effect of historical 
changes ; and her endeavour again to set up in education the 
rules of ecclesiastical instead of civil law, was justly felt to be 
an anachronism, and an attack on the hardly-won rights of 

Such were the condition of education and the relations 
of parties, when, in the Session of 1839, Lord John Eussell 
stated the views of Lord Melbourne's Ministry upon the 
question. The historical reasons for the formation of the 
Committee of Council vary as they are considered from 
different aspects. It had undoubtedly been led up to by the 
exertions of the Central Society of Education, which, by its 
agitation, had increased the pressure out of doors, and 
compelled the Government to take action. It was the 
motion of Mr. Wyse, the Chairman of the Society, in the former 
Session, which had forced the hand of the Ministry. It had 
been intimated to the Society that their zeal embarrassed the 
Government. (*) There were many Liberal Members of 
Parliament who supported it, including the Marquis of 
Lansdowne, Lord Melbourne, and Lord John Eussell, all 
members of the Government. It had incurred the dislike and 
dread of the Church party, as likely to disturb their claim to 
a monopoly in the control of education ; and when the 

1 Westminster Review, 51, 182. 


Government plans were found to correspond in a measure 
with its suggestions, the suspicion that the Ministry was 
acting under its influence ripened into conviction. Bishop 
Blomfield declared that Ministers were acting under the 
advice of an association whose object was the destruction of 
the Church, " knowing perfectly well that through the 
medium of the Church, the Monarchy might be most 
successfully assailed." (*) To Archdeacon Denison the 
formation of the Education Department was a Whig 
plot for revolutionising or destroying the parish school, 
concocted to please the Nonconformists. ( 2 ) Later, it became 
in the eyes of a section of Nonconformists, a monstrous 
machine for establishing a tyranny over literature, journals, 
the pulpit, and for destroying the vitality and independence 
of national life. From its origin, however, the Committee of 
Council had one able and adroit defender and apologist the 
first Secretary, Sir James Kay Shuttleworth. On all occasions 
when it was attacked, he was ready to take a brief on its 
behalf, and honestly could see nothing in the Department but 
the perfection of statesmanship and human wisdom. To him 
it was a grand inductive experiment. The Government 
recognised two principles that of separate (Church) educa- 
tion, and combined (British and Foreign) education, and then 
left them to work themselves out and see which would 
predominate. ( 3 ) He had qualities for his position which 
were invaluable for the extension of the influence of the 
Committee. His history was sometimes at fault, and capable 
of an easy adaptation to the necessities of his argument, but 
he never failed in his estimation of the wisdom and suffi- 
ciency of his Department. That which was acknowledged on 
all hands to be a mere expedient, a tentative scheme adopted 
in utter perplexity and confusion of counsel, he magnified 

1 Blomaeld's Life, 198. 2 Notes of my Life, 117. 
3 The School in its- Relations to State, Church, and Congregation. 


into a deliberate State policy, having a settled purpose and 
confident of its capacity to meet all emergencies. 

With such a permanent officer at its helm, it was almost 
inevitable that the power of the Committee should steadily 
grow : but the truth about its formation has been told by those 
who were the authors of its existence. It was neither plot nor 
policy. The arrangement was never intended to be ultimate or 
permanent. It was a compromise between the necessity of 
education, and the difficulty of devising a general system accept- 
able to the country. (*) Lord Althorp's Committee of 1834-35 
had been so fairly constituted of members of utterly opposite 
opinions that they came to a dead lock, and, after taking evi- 
dence for two years they shrank from pronouncing any opinion. 
The formation of the Committee of Council was an expedient 
to evade the difficulty of constituting a Board of Education. 

Lord John Russell explained that no confidence would 
have been felt in a Board of different persuasions, and they 
had therefore resolved on appointing a Board from the official 
servants of the Crown, who would be responsible to Parliament. 
It was practically a Board of one persuasion, notwithstanding 
which it never received the confidence of any party. The 
definite proposition was, that the President of the Council, 
and other Privy Councillors not exceeding five, should form 
a Board to consider in what manner grants should be distri- 
buted. ( 2 ) The constitution of the Board has remained much 
the same since its formation, with the addition in recent 
years of a Vice-President, who has sat in the House of 
Commons, and occupied the post of a financial Education 
Minister, The members of the Committee have consisted of 
the principal Ministers of the Crown and have changed with 
the Ministry. ( 3 ) Lord Lansdowne was the first President of 
the Council, and undertook to carry out the measures of the 

1 Newcastle Commission Report, 90. 
2 Hansard, T. S., 45, 273. 3 Newcastle Commission Report, 26. 


Government. They proposed that the grant for education 
should be increased to 30,000, and that as a first measure, a 
State Normal School for the training of teachers, on the com- 
bined .system, should be established. 

This was the beginning of the tinkering system in 
education. The difficulties of the Government were no doubt 
great. They found the ground partially occupied, and felt it 
was impossible to supersede the agencies in existence. Vested 
interests had been created by the previous grants to the 
voluntary societies, and when they came to be taken away 
and administered directly by the Department, the cry of 
invasion and aggression was raised, and no common basis of 
opinion between Church and dissent could be discovered 
upon which a general plan could be established. The earlier 
grants to the voluntary societies had produced an unfortunate 
effect. Instead of standing on the principle that national 
education should not be converted into a machinery for per- 
petuating sectarian distinctions, the grants had been so distri- 
buted as to widen the differences and strengthen the distinc- 
tions between denominations, and for a long series of years 
this was the practical effect of every attempt by Government to 
extend education. The Government also had difficulties pecu- 
liarly its own. It was a time. of party crises, and the Ministry 
felt that they were vulnerable on every side, and could not 
afford to lay themselves open to sectarian assaults a difficulty 
which they did not escape, as events will show. Their 
natural enemies in the Opposition were always on the alert 
to seize an advantage, whilst the feeling amongst the Liberals 
was one of painful and petulant disappointment. It resulted 
that their practice on important questions had become, 

' ' To promise, pause, prepare, postpone, 
And end by letting things alone." 

The Government were hardly open to attack on the 
ground of the extent of their educational operations. Thirty 


thousand pounds for the education of fifteen millions was not 
a large subsidy. It was, as Carlyle said, " a small fraction of 
the revenue of one day/' and Brougham did not forget to note 
that in the same year 70,000 was voted for building Eoyal 
stables. (*) The model school experiment was to be provided 
for, out of a fund for 10,000, apparently voted in 1835, 
but never applied. 

But small as the measure was in a financial sense, it 
undoubtedly involved important principles. The creation of 
a State Department of instruction meant the assertion of 
civil as opposed to ecclesiastical education, and that the State 
grants would be administered by the Department instead of 
being paid as heretofore to voluntary associations. In this 
sense it was a significant advance, and an assault upon 
the ecclesiastical position. Indeed there was but one safe 
course for the maintenance of the exclusive and high ground 
taken by the Church, and that was the refusal of all State aid. 
The acceptance of assistance from the Government, however 
carefully fenced by conditions, involved eventually Government 
supervision, as surely as the application of local rates involves 
local control. This point however did not strike the Church 
party, and they turned their opposition against the less 
significant scheme for a Normal school, in which secular 
teaching was to be given on the combined principle, while 
religious instruction was to be supplied to the students by 
ministers of their particular denomination. Against this 
proposal the whole force which the English Hierarchy could 
command was directed. 

The Dissenters received the plan with acquiescence if not 
with satisfaction. Macaulay credits Brougham with attempt- 
ing to get up an opposition amongst the Quakers, ( 2 ) but if 
he were in earnest it came to nothing, and he resisted the 
1 Walpole's History, 3, 487. 2 Macaulay 's Life, 2, 51. 


attacks of the Bishops in the House of Lords. (*) The repre- 
sentatives of the non-exclusive educationists in the House, 
Mr. Wyse and Mr. Ewart, gave their support to the proposal 
as' a forward step, not adequate and complete, but the pledge 
and guarantee of a national system in time. There was 
amongst the Church party some little division of opinion at 
the outset. Sir Eobert Inglis, the representative of Oxford 
University expressed his gratitude that the Government 
proposed to do so little mischief. But the suspicions of Sir 
Eobert Peel had been aroused by the ready assent given to 
the plan by Liberal members. He demanded distinct infor- 
mation of the principles by which the Board would be guided, 
challenged the foundation of the Normal school, and claimed 
the right of the Church to establish Schools and to insist that 
the children should be brought up in the doctrines of the 
Church. ( 2 ) 

In the Lords Bishop Blomfield attacked the plan as 
leading to latitudinarianism and irreligion and as the heaviest 
blow yet struck at the religion of the country. He 
repudiated the claim for religious equality, and said that if 
every sect was to have the same advantages as the 
Established Church, it might as well abdicate its functions. 
The State had delegated its functions in the matter of 
educating the poor to the Church, ( 3 ) and the duty of the 
Bishops, as rulers of the Church, was to protest against any 
system not connected with it, or which by implication might 
throw discredit on it, or raise Dissenting sects to a level 
with it. ( 4 ) 

A most perverse anxiety was shown to exclude the 
public from forming a correct idea of the Government plan 
in regard to the Normal School. Viscount Morpeth said the 
petitions against it were offensive and mendacious. ( 5 ) 

1 Hansard, T. S., 47, 756. 2 Ibid, 45, 305. 
3 Life of Blomfield, 200. 4 Hansard, T. S., 47, 756. 5 Ibid, 1383. 


Placards against popery and infidelity were paraded together, 
and it was stated that the Government was intent on 
converting Church children into Socinians and Papists. 
The misrepresentations have survived to our own day. 
Lord John Kussell explained, in the House of Commons, 
that the Government proposed the appointment of a chap- 
lain of the Established Church, but that the children of 
Dissenters should be instructed in the religious opinions 
of their parents. This proposal, as sketched in Bishop 
Blomfield's Life, was " the establishment of a model or 
Normal School, on a non-exclusive plan, with teachers of 
various persuasions, different versions of the Bible, and a 
' rector ' of no particular religion." (*) When after the lapse 
of a quarter of a century, such a distorted version 
could have passed current, the heat and passion of the 
time may be imagined. At any rate, they were so great 
that the Government determined to lighten their ship, and 
the proposal for the establishment of a Normal School was 
thrown overboard ; the money intended for its establishment 
being subsequently divided between the National Society and 
the British and Foreign School Society. 

This concession, however, did not satisfy the Opposition. 
Lord Stanley, who had himself introduced the Irish system, 
attacked the principle of civil education, and quoted some 
forgotten Statute of Henry IV., to prove that education was 
" chose spirituelle." To give control over such a matter to a 
lay body would sap the foundation of all faith, and lead to 
general scepticism and national infidelity. ( 2 ) He also 
attacked the Board as unconstitutional and irresponsible. 

The debate was several times adjourned. It may be 

interesting to note that both Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli 

opposed the Government. The latter in an ingenious speech 

said that he feared we were returning to the system of a 

1 Life of Blomfield, 194. 2 Hansard, T. S. 48, 259. 


barbarous age that of paternal Government. "It was 
always the State and never society ; it was always machinery 
and never sympathy." He expected to see under the new 
system the wildness of fanaticism rather than the rise of 
infidelity, and predicted that the Koman Catholic Church 
would rise predominant and supreme under the scheme of 
the Central Board. English character would become 
revolutionized and we could no longer expect English 
achievement. (*) 

The proposal of the Government was carried in the 
Lower House by the narrow majority of two, and the Ministry 
barely escaped destruction. The fight was renewed in the 
House of Lords, on the motion of Archbishop Howley, for an 
address to the Queen, praying that no steps might be taken 
to give effect to the plan until the Upper House had had an 
opportunity of considering it. The address was carried by 
a majority of one-hundred-and-eleven votes, and was taken 
by the Peers in procession to Buckingham Palace. ( 2 ) The 
Government, however, remained firm. 

The reply to the address stated that the Queen had 
appointed the Committee under a deep sense of duty, and 
that all proceedings would be laid before Parliament. The 
Queen had often urged Lord Melbourne to introduce some 
measure for primary education in England a work on which 
Her Majesty had set her heart on having her reign 
remembered. ( 3 ) 

The Church thus " took the responsibility of resisting 
by the utmost exercise of its authority and influence in the 
country, in both Houses of Parliament, and at the foot of the 
Throne, the first great plan ever proposed, by any Government, 
for the education of the humblest classes in Great Britain." ( 4 ) 

1 Hansard, T. S. 48, 580. 2 Memoir of Blomfield, 200. 

3 Life of Melbourne, 2, 309. 
4 Shuttleworth, Public Education, 4. 


At this distance of time, and in view of what has been 
done since, this language seems to exaggerate the importance 
of the occasion. It would be more correct to say that the 
Church opposed the smallest extension of education not under 
its own control. Deep offence was felt in the Church, and 
for a time the separation between the clergy and the Depart- 
ment was complete. It went to such a length that some of 
the clergy refused the grants for building. (*) But the 
estrangement was of short duration. The Church is never 
beaten out of the field, and its action in regard to education 
is an example of its tact in turning defeats into victories. 
The Normal school disposed of, and the Committee of Council 
fairly established, it next turned its attention to the right of 
inspection. The clergy were apprehensive that the Inspectors 
would be partial to secular teaching and would make religious 
knowledge secondary and subordinate. Their object, there- 
fore, was to obtain the control of inspection. In this they 
were so far successful, that in the next session of Parliament 
the Archbishop of Canterbury was able to express his satisfac- 
tion at the adjustment of the differences between the friends 
of Church education and the Committee of Council. ( 2 ) This 
arrangement was afterwards known as the Concordat of 
1839-40, and while the Church derived substantial advantage 
from it, the Dissenters and the public began henceforth to 
regard the Department with great suspicion, and all subse- 
quent attempts proceeding from it were looked upon as the 
result of a preceding agreement with the Church or the 
National Society. It became a current belief that the 

1 In the condensed account of these transactions contained in Miss 
Martineau's History of the Peace there are two important errors. She 
assumes that the 10,000 voted for a model school in 1835 was applied for 
that purpose. She also states that as the result of the appointment of the 
Committee of Council, the clergy afterwards, with few exceptions, refused to 
participate in the Government grants. She has evidently been misled by the 
statement in the Annual Register for the year. 

2 Hansard, T. S., 55, 753. 


Department was " managed " by Bishop Blomfield and Sir 
R Inglis. O 

The clergy had no intention of being permanently 
excluded from the benefits of the grant. Bishop Blomfield 
said " If the Government would grant us money, and be 
content, as they ought to be, with an inspection authorised 
by the Church, we should act very preposterously, I think, 
if we were to refuse their proffered assistance." ( 2 ) They had 
good reason to be satisfied with the terms which were made 
for them. In the next ten years (1839-50) 500,000 was 
spent on education. Of this 405,000 went to the Church 
schools, ( 3 ) from which all children were excluded whose 
parents objected to the catechism. The Committee of 
Council also undertook, before appointing Inspectors, to 
consult the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who were 
to be at liberty to suggest persons for the office. This was 
valuable State patronage, and has, in more than one instance, 
proved a step towards a Bishopric. The regulations 
respecting religious teaching were framed by the Archbishops, 
and the general regulations were submitted for their approval. 
The Inspectors held office during the concurrence of the 
Archbishops, and were required to report to them. They were 
directed to enquire, with special care, how far the doctrines 
and principles of the Church were instilled into the minds of 
children, whether Church accommodation was sufficient, and 
in a proper situation, and whether the attendance was regular, 
and how far the children profited by the public ordinances of 
religion; whether private prayers were taught for use at 
home, and on the daily practices of the schools with reference 
to divine worship, prayer, and psalmody, and instruction in the 
Bible, catechism, and liturgy. The Inspectors became, in fact, 
itinerant curates, paid by the State, and were used to 

1 Westminster Review, 1849, 182. 
2 Blomfield's Life, 202. 3 Census Returns, 1851, xviii. 


consolidate and strengthen the already powerful diocesan 
and parochial organisation of the Church. Under their 
direction the thirty-nine articles were taught in some schools, 
while in others the children were required to write down on 
Monday what they remembered of Sunday's sermon. 

As if this were not enough the Department passed a 
Minute that, " Their Lordships were of opinion that no plan 
of education ought to be encouraged in which intellectual 
instruction was not subordinate to the regulation of the thoughts 
and habits of children by the doctrines and precepts of revealed 
religion," (*) the result being that in a few years they had to 
report that the teachers were in the habit of resting satisfied 
with a lower standard of proficiency in reading, writing, and 
arithmetic, even with their best scholars, than would be 
tolerated in any handicraft or occupation by which children 
were to earn their living. ( 2 ) 

The inspection became also a fruitful source of jealousy 
and controversy. The obvious leaning of the Department to 
the Church, led the Committee of the British and Foreign 
School Society to complain, that the arrangements for inspec- 
tion were unequal and partial that the terms were violated, 
and that British schools were visited by gentlemen connected 
with the Church, who enquired into religious instruction and 
reported to the disadvantage of the Society. ( 3 ) The Govern- 
ment refused, however, to give to the British and Foreign 
School Society any similar control over the appointment of 
Inspectors to that enjoyed by the Church. 

The general result of the action of 1839 was, that the 
Church, " instructed by circumstances, succeeded in absorbing 
the greater portion of the grant, and in increasing its own 
influence ; and the Dissenters complained that a scheme 
which had been in the first instance introduced in their 

1 Minutes of Council, 1839-40, 24. - Report, 1857, 58, 25. 
3 Ibid, 1843, 4, 516. 


interests, and which had been resisted by Churchmen, was 
unduly favouring the cause of the Established Church." (*) 

The two fundamental principles of action laid down by 
the Department were, that aid should be limited (1) to cases 
of great deficiency and where vigorous efforts had been made 
to provide funds and (2) where the daily reading of the 
Scripture formed part of the instruction. Preference was given 
to schools in connection with the National and British and 
Foreign School Societies, and afterwards to those which did 
not enforce a rule by which children were compelled to learn 
a catechism or attend a place of worship, to which parents 
objected on religious grounds. 

The effect of the first requirement was to exclude the 
poorest districts where education was most required ; that of 
the second was to shut out many first-class schools such as 
the Birkbeck schools the Williams school at Edinburgh, and 
other schools of a similar character in Glasgow, Manchester, 
London, and other towns, and these remained under this 
exclusion up to the Act of 1870. 

It was not to be expected that the friends of national 
education would rest satisfied with these partial and insufti- 
cint means but for many years it was almost impossible to 
make progress. The Central Society of education was 
dissolved. Mr. Wyse the chairman was taken into the Treasury, 
and Mr. Duppa, the Secretary died. In the patronage of 
methods of education, the Committee of Council were careful 
to exclude all which originated with men of liberal opinions 
or who had been distinguished as educational reformers. ( 2 ) 
It was not until the Lancashire public school Association was 
formed in 1847, that men of this character were able to 
make their voice heard, or that an active educational 
propaganda was again undertaken in the country. 

1 Walpole's History, 3, 490. 2 Westminster Review, 1851, 402. 


In Parliament there was a small group of men, who were 
intensely dissatisfied with the state of education and the 
tardy pace at which the Government was proceeding, and 
who protested against its grants as paltry and discreditable. 
Amongst them were Mr. Ewart, Mr. Milner Gibson, Dr. 
Bowring, Mr. Childers, Mr. Slaney, and Mr. Eoebuck. In 
1841 Mr. Ewart moved for the appointment of a minister of 
public instruction. ( l ) This motion was frequently renewed 
in subsequent sessions, and it led finally to the appointment 
of the Vice-President of the Council, and the annual statement 
on the education vote. In the same year Mr. Slaney intro- 
duced a bill to enable rural parishes to levy a school rate and 
make their own arrangements as to schools, with powers to 
the magistrates to relieve those who dissented on the ground 
of religious scruples. ( 2 ) But it did not get beyond the first 

The Whigs were now in opposition. Lord Melbourne 
had been succeeded by Sir Kobert Peel, who had constructed 
the Ministry whose great achievement, a few years later, 
was the repeal of the Corn Laws. Sir James Graham, who, 
up to 1837, had been returned as a Liberal and professed 
follower of Lord Althorp, had gone over to the Conserva- 
tives, and was the Home Secretary in the new Ministry. 
Mr. Gladstone was also a member of the Government. The 
Ministry adhered to the Minutes of 1839, and carried out 
the policy in education of their predecessors, which had been 
avowedly based on a compromise dictated by the Tories and 
the Church. In the administration of the Department, the 
alliance between it and the Church was cemented by the 
change of Government. Sir R Peel was a statesman after 
the heart of the Church party. On all matters affecting their 
interests he consulted the heads of the Church, and with 
Bishop Blomfield, who has been called an " Ecclesiastical 
1 Hansard, T. S., 57, 936. 2 Ibid, 58, 799. 


Peel," he maintained the most intimate and confidential 
relations. (*) The Dissenters were disposed to look with 
suspicion on all measures proceeding from such a Govern- 
ment. Sir James Graham had earned their special distrust 
by his apostacy from Liberal principles. The way was thus 
prepared for the vehement opposition to the educational 
clauses of his Factory Bill, which was the prominent 
feature of the session of 1843. 

At the beginning of the session, a profound impression 
was created in the House by a motion of Lord Ashley in 
regard to educational deficiences. He relied on the reports 
of the Factory and School Inspectors, on that of the Children's 
Employment Commission, and those of the Statistical Societies 
of Manchester and Birmingham, to prove the failure of the 
Factory Acts, the vast educational destitution, and the 
frightful results of ignorance. 

Sir James Graham took the occasion to explain the views 
of the Government. He expressed their desire " to lay aside 
all party feelings, all religious differences, to endeavour to 
find some neutral ground on which they could build something 
approaching to a scheme of national education with a due 
regard to the just wishes of the Established Church on the 
one hand, and studious attention to the honest scruples of 
Dissenters on the other." ( 2 ) This was the preface to the 
famous factory education scheme, which aroused the utmost 
consternation and indignation amongst Dissenters, and which 
first taught them the extent of their power in opposing 
legislation hostile to their principles. 

The Government bill was not in any sense a large educa- 
tional measure. It provided for the compulsory education of 
children in workhouses, and those employed in woollen, flax, 
silk, and cotton manufactories. It reduced the hours of labour 
for children between eight and thirteen years of age, to 
1 Blomfield's Life, 218. 2 Hansard, T. S., 67, 47. 


six and a half hours per day, and required that they should 
attend school for at least three hours. For these purposes the 
Government offered to make loans for the erection of schools, 
which were to be maintained out of the poor rate. The trust 
clauses became the special point of attack. They confided 
the management to a body of seven trustees, composed of the 
clergyman and churchwardens ex-officio, and four others, of 
whom two, having a property qualification, were to be 
appointed by the magistrates, and two were to be mill 
owners. The appointment of the master, who was required 
to be a member of the Established Church, was placed 
in the hands of the trustees, subject to the approval 
of the Bishop. The right of inspection was reserved to the 
clerical trustees and to the Committee of Council. The 
constitution of the trust was humourously offered by the 
Government as a guarantee that no undue religious influence 
would be used, and there was a conscience clause for the 
children of parents who objected to the teaching of the 
catechism and attendance at Church. 

The plan, says Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, was 
" received with a simple and calm acquiesence by the 
Established Church." ( l ) But Sir Eobert Inglis said that it did 
not give enough to Churchmen, and would prevent them from 
teaching what they believed to be the truth. On the part 
of the Opposition, Lord John Bussell gave a qualified approval 
to the Bill on its introduction. Mr. Hawes, on behalf of the 
Dissenters, and Mr. Smith O'Brien, as representing the Eoman 
Catholics, opposed it. The Bill, however, passed the second 
reading without a division, Sir James Graham explaining that 
the constitution of the Boards was a matter of detail. But 
the true nature and effect of the measure were quickly 
perceived. " It must gradually subvert and supersede the 
independent schools, which had been established by the 
1 The School, &c., 67. 


spontaneous charity of individuals and congregations, and 
especially those which owed their origin and success to the 
working of the British and Foreign School Society. Sooner 
or later a uniform system of Anglican teaching would 
obviously be introduced, instead of that which prevailed, 
and which naturally reflected every diversity of creed. 
All sects of Nonconformists concurred in opposing the 
Bill." O Mr. Hume, Mr. Hawes, Mr. C. Wood (Lord 
Halifax), Mr. Stansfeld, Mr. M. Phillips, Lord John Eussell, 
Mr. Ewart, Sir George Grey, Mr. Milner Gibson, and 
Mr. Cobden united in opposing its progress, on the 
grounds that it rated all classes and gave the management 
to one that it imposed a rate for teaching Church 
doctrines, and that under the guise of education it was an 
attempt to recruit for the Church. Mr. Cobden ridiculed it 
as a proposal for national education. It would provide only 
for some 60,000 children, and imposed Church doctrines 
upon a population, the majority of which were Dissenters. ( 2 ) 
Great meetings were held in the large towns to oppose 
it, and resolutions pledging resistance to it were passed by 
all bodies of Dissenters. A mass of petitions, such as were 
never known in Parliament before, were presented against 
it. ( 3 ) The discussion was revived in the House of Commons 
on a series of resolutions proposed by Lord John Eussell, 
demanding the adequate representation of the ratepayers, the 
teaching of the Scriptures, the separate teaching of other 
religious books, the liberty to attend any Church or Sunday 
School, the support of training schools, grants for teaching and 
in aid of voluntary efforts, and opposing the disqualification 
of masters on religious grounds. As the result of the debates 
so raised the Home Secretary undertook to bring forward 

1 Life of Graham, by Torrens, 2, 234. 2 Hansard, T. S., 67, 1469. 
3 Annual Register, 1843, 196. 


The modifications proposed by the Government on going 
into Committee were considerable. They recognised the 
liberty of parents to send their children to any Sunday 
School, and they provided that instruction in the catechism 
and Church doctrines should be given at a separate hour 
and in a separate room, and that religious instruction might 
also be given separately by Dissenting ministers where it was 
desired. (*) The new plan, in this respect, closely resembled 
the Irish system. The only compulsory religious observances, 
were the reading of the Scriptures and the Lord's Prayer, and 
Catholics were at liberty to withdraw from this. New trust 
clauses were introduced. The clergyman was to be a trustee, 
ex-officio, and to have the power of nominating one other, the 
remaining five being elective one to be chosen by the sub- 
scribers, and four by ratepayers assessed at ten pounds. But 
one of those cunning "minority" clauses, which are in 
restriction of the franchise, was introduced, and prohibited 
ratepayers from voting for more than two trustees ; the effect 
being, as Lord John Eussell pointed out, to keep the majority 
of the Board always on the side of the Church. When the 
Dissenters were in a minority, they would be able to elect two 
trustees, who would stand alone ; when Churchmen were in a 
minority, they would send two members to co-operate with the 
ex-officio trustees. The head master was still to be subject 
to the veto of the Bishop, but in all matters of management 
any one trustee was to have liberty to appeal to the Committee 
of Council. 

1 Mr. Skeats, in his History of Free Churches, gives a somewhat 
confused and incorrect account of these proposals. He says that Sir 
James Graham proposed "to attach to each school a chapel, with a clergy- 
man." This is hardly borne out by the facts. As amended, the proposition 
was to establish a system of combined secular and separate religious teaching, 
similar to plans which Dissenters have supported before and since. The 
account also does grave injustice to Lord John Russell's views and motives. 


" I am aware," said Sir James Graham, "that the waters 
of strife have overflowed, and now cover the land this is my 
olive branch." (*) 

But the concession came too late, the hour for compro- 
mise had gone by. The Dissenters had no confidence in the 
Government or the Church, and they were greatly excited 
and elated by their successful agitation against the bill. It 
had revealed resources of numbers, powers of combination, 
and ability for organized opposition which they had not 
known they possessed. Mr. Roebuck now took up the 
question and moved a resolution condemning all attempts on 
the part of the State to inculcate particular religious opinions, 
and advocating the entire separation of religious and secular 
teaching. The proposition was defeated by 156 votes to 
sixty. But the fate of the bill was sealed. Petitions were as 
numerous as ever. In the city of London 55,000 persons 
petitioned against it, and it has been represented that 25,000 
petitions containing four millions of signatures were presented 
against the bill. The Government confessed that they were 
beaten by Exeter Hall and withdrew the measure. Sir James 
Graham had now fairly established that ground for suspicion 
and distrust which afterwards secured for him the reputation 
of being one of the most unpopular ministers England ever 

The Dissenters have been greatly blamed for their action 
on this occasion, which exposed them to the charge that they 
also cared less for education than for the good of particular 
sects. ( 2 ) Miss Martineau writes that their position was 
lowered more by their policy than by anything they had done 
or suffered for a century before. It was a " call for magna- 
nimity all round." The Church was in a " genial and 
liberal mood," but the Dissenters were not equal to the 

1 Hansard, T. S., 68, 1,114. 2 Westminster Review, 1853, 121. 


occasion, and they erred widely and fatally. (*) It will be 
seen that their policy was unfortunate in its consequences 
on account of the graver defections and differences to which 
it led ; but it is impossible to concur in this indiscriminate 
censure as just, or to see where the Nonconformists failed in 
generosity in comparison with their opponents. The bill was 
a small educational measure. It was another petty adapta- 
tion of the tinkering system. Mr. Milner Gibson correctly 
described it as a pitiful proposal, and Mr. Cobden said it was 
not worth the controversy it would raise. But the principles 
were momentous for Dissenters. It was an attack on them 
on their own ground, and an attempt to arrest the growth of 
their influence over the manufacturing classes. Nor can it be 
assumed that it was an educational loss. If the bill had been 
passed it would have put off for an indefinite period any 
further efforts by the Government. The Ministers and Bishops 
with whom they were in alliance were the real obstructives. 
In this as in nearly every Government scheme proposed, the 
control of education was given to the hereditary foes of 
progress and of liberal ideas. There is reason to believe that 
all parties in the State might now have agreed upon a plan 
of National Education ; but for the opposition of the Bishops. 
Political economists, and men of great weight in Parliament 
and amongst all sections of the community were turning their 
attention to the " combined" system as it existed in Ireland. 
But the heads of the Church were resolved not to give their 
sanction to a scheme which did not leave the appointment of 
the schoolmasters in the hands of the clergy. ( 2 ) This was 
their ultimatum. In the debates on this bill Sir James 
Graham declared that it was a point on which he could make 
no concession. From this time the difficulties of compromise 
increased. New causes of difference sprang into existence. The 
Education Department was in constant opposition to sections 

1 Martineau's History of the Peace, 2 Westminster Review, 1840, 228. 


which were themselves bitterly opposed to each other, and 
the educationists and men of liberal opinions, saw the day of 
a national system postponed, and even the principle of State 
Education seriously imperilled. 

The errors of the Nonconformists began from this time. 
They had proved their power for opposition, and they too 
readily assumed that they were equally potential in construc- 
tion. The voluntary movement now began, and large bodies 
of Dissenters of various denominations combined to resist the 
intervention of Government in education. Henceforward for 
many years a large section of the Nonconfomist body was 
fighting for the integral principle of the English and Eoman 
Churches, that education must be kept under ecclesiastical, 
or congregational direction. They never avowed this in terms, 
and each party would have repudiated the alliance, but as a 
matter of fact Cardinal Manning and Archdeacon Denison on 
the one hand, and Mr. Baines, Mr. Miall, and Dr. Hamilton 
on the other were contending for the self same principle the 
freedom of education from all State control. Of the two 
parties the latter were the pure Voluntaryists and the most 
consistent since they repudiated State aid as well as State 
direction. The clergy with some notable exceptions who 
found a leader and representative in Archdeacon Denison, were 
willing to accept State grants, so long as their right to absolute 
control was not questioned. This movement, especially as 
proceeding from the Dissenters, became one of the most 
formidable obstructions to national education, although both 
amongst the Church and Nonconformists there was a powerful 
and distinguished minority which rejected the extreme 
pretensions of those who assumed to speak with authority 
for their respective sides. 

The discovery by the Nonconformists that State education 
was hostile to sound political and civil doctrine, and to the 
development of national life in its highest and purest forms, 


was made rather late, and forces the conclusion that the 
position was assumed rather in defence of sectional interests 
than on account of any fundamental objections in principle. 
The Dissenters were driven to this new ground by the partiality 
which the State system showed to the Church, and by the 
supreme influence which the clergy were suffered to exercise 
over the Department. In 1839 the Friends, Baptists, and 
Congregationalists were unanimous in asking for the agency 
of the State, and they usually joined in supporting the schools 
of the British and Foreign Society. The Wesley ans also often 
supported British schools, and it was not until the Education 
Committee was appointed in 1836, that they began to estab- 
lish separate schools where practicable. They never had 
refused the Government grant, and although they became 
very suspicious of the Committee of Council, they did not, as 
a body, embrace the new doctrines of educational free trade 
and the immorality of Government teaching. Up to the 
introduction of Sir James Graham's factory bill, the leaders of 
the Congregationalists, who supplied the energy for the new 
movement, were not opposed to State aid. In the debates of 
1847, Sir George Grey quoted the Leeds Mercury of March, 
1842, which advocated two schools in each district one for the 
Church and one for Dissent, each to be equally supported 
by the Government. The objections to Government teaching 
were first formulated at the meeting of the Congregational 
Union held at Leeds in 1843, when the excitement of the 
struggle against the " partial and arbitrary measure " of the 
Government had not subsided. At this meeting it was 
decided to support separate schools, and that their future 
efforts should be voluntary, and wholly independent of State 
aid. No decided final opinion was at first pronounced on 
the propriety of Government interference, but doubts were 
expressed whether it could be allowed " without establishing 
principles and precedents dangerous to civil and religious 


liberty, inconsistent with the rights of industry, and super- 
seding the duties of parents and of churches." From the 
differences acknowledged to exist between religious bodies, 
the meeting concluded, " without despondency or regret," that 
both general and religious education must be chiefly provided 
and conducted by various denominations of Christians. 

At a meeting held in London in December, 1843, it was 
declared that the education given by the Congregational 
churches must be religious, and it was recommended that 
no Government aid be received for schools established in 
their own connection, and that all funds subscribed should 
be granted to schools sustained entirely by voluntary 
contributions. (*) 

The Baptists, while they shared to a large extent the 
distrust of the Education Department, never went the length 
of the Independents in their opposition to State aid. They 
recommended co-operation with the friends of scriptural 
education at large that is, the British and Foreign School 
Society's plan, in preference to the establishment of denom- 
inational schools. They repudiated the idea which Sir James 
Kay Shuttleworth had put forward, that public education was 
the work of religious communions " an idea which, if 
practically carried out, would require the impossible result 
that every religious communion, however small, should have 
an establishment of schools spread over the whole country, 
at least co-extensive with the diffusion of its members." ( 2 ) A 
few years later, many Baptists and Congregationalists threw 
their weight into the secular movement, which appeared to 
provide the only safe, final, and permanent basis upon which 
the question could rest. 

The axioms laid down by the Voluntaryists, on which 
their propaganda was based, were : 1. It was not within the 
legitimate province of the State to educate the people. 2. State 

1 Education Tables. Census, 1851, Iviii. 2 Ibid. 


education would lead to unfortunate results, of a religious, 
social, and political character. 3. The people were quite able 
to provide instruction for themselves, and were doing so as 
fast as could be reasonably desired. 

This position was founded on reasons partly historical 
and religious, and partly social and political. The religious 
ground was old and strong, but it was not applicable to the 
circumstances of the case. They were opposed, as they 
always had been, to the acceptance of State aid for religious 
teaching, and rejected state interference with spiritual 
matters as a violation of religious liberty. The right of 
private judgment on religious questions the immorality of 
State endowments for supporting spiritual beliefs the entire 
separation of the civil from the spiritual powers, were 
fundamental principles of their Church policy. 

But in applying them to elementary education the 
teaching of reading, writing, and arithmetic they made a 
great mistake. There was a consistent ground which they 
might have taken the separation of religious and secular 
teaching. They had found no difficulty in supporting the 
Government plan for a Normal School in 1839, where the 
general instruction was to be given together, and special 
religious instruction separately. ( J ) [In maintaining this plan 
they would have found ample opportunity for the logical 
enforcement of their principles. No doubt education, as it 
was administered under the direction of the Department, was 
a constant violation of their most sacred opinions. While it 
was a constant attack on their religious efforts, and especially 
upon their Sunday schools, it threatened, as they thought, to 
prepare the way for universal endowment, and the pensioning 
of all denominations. It was a system too in which the 
bribes were mostly on one side that of the Church. The 
Church day school was becoming the most conspicuous 

1 Life of Baines, 256. 


feature in modern institutions, and it was the rule of the 
Church day school that its scholars should attend the Church 
Sunday school. These ohvious facts made splendid material 
for an attack upon the unjust and partial minutes by which 
these arrangements were carried out, and it does not speak well 
for the sagacity of the leaders of the voluntary movement, that 
instead of combining on this line of assault they should have 
asked the Government to do nothing at all, a request which 
every day made it more impossible for any English Ministry 
to comply with. 

The political and economical principles advanced in 
support of the voluntary movement had an air of plausibility, 
but when examined they failed to stand the tests of 
experience, or of any political philosophy which had been 
through the fire of proof. It was an attempt to set 
up a new political economy, combined with a sectarian 
agitation. In fact again, it rested on the false assumption, 
that the teaching of the rudiments of letters cannot be 
separated from religious instruction. State education was 
denounced as an invasion of civil rights an attempt to 
deprive parents of their responsibilities and duties a recog- 
nition of Communism. It was predicted that it would 
establish a despotism over thought, benumb the intellect, and 
undermine the manly independence and self-reliance of the 
English character. The stagnation of Government depart- 
ments was contrasted with the vigour and enthusiasm of 
private enterprises. The arguments of Mr. Disraeli in 1839 
in opposition to machinery and routine as compared with 
independent agencies were disinterred. It was also concluded 
that State instruction was an attack on voluntary charity, and 
on the principles of local self-government. The enormous 
amount of State patronage which the system placed at the 
disposal of the Government was regarded as a social danger. 
Lastly it was said, that voluntary agencies were sufficient to 


supply the utmost need of education, and that the natural 
laws of supply and demand if left to work unfettered and 
unrestricted were capable of covering the land with schools, 
and were actually doing it as fast as was desirable. Free 
trade in food was beginning to be the one engrossing cry of 
the people, and it was a natural and an easy assumption 
that free trade in all matters would be a national blessing. 

This controversy has been long since decided. It is now 
acknowledged that the extinction of indiscriminate individual 
charity would be a blessing rather than an evil. It is admitted, 
too, that the Voluntaryists were fighting not for the rights and 
duties of parents, but for the control of education by religious 
denominations not for self-government by the people, but 
for the government of churches, ministers, congregations, 
and benevolent societies. The law of supply and demand 
had been at liberty to work for hundreds of years, and had 
accomplished nothing. It was an inoperative law, and 
had conspicuously failed. " Education in its simplest form, 
which is one of the first and highest of all human interests, 
is a matter in which Government initiation and direction are 
imperatively required, for uninstructed people will never 
demand it, and to appreciate education is itself a consequence 
of education." (*) It was evident the Voluntaryists did not 
rely upon the law of supply and demand, but on sectarian 
and party rivalry *and zeal, which is quite a different thing. 

One unfortunate result of the ardour with which the 
Voluntaryists championed their opinions was, that they were 
led seriously to overrate the efficiency of existing voluntary 
means. While they depreciated the amount of education 
needed, they were too much disposed to overlook its quality 
altogether, and they magnified every paltry effort at progress 
made by the Government into a great and elaborate scheme. 
As an instance of the inevitable tendency to put the require- 

1 Lecky's History of 18th Century, I., 458. 

* 17 


ment as low as possible, Mr. Baines, in 1846, estimated that 
one in nine was the proper proportion of scholars to popula- 
tion. In 1854 Sir James K. Shuttleworth had raised the 
estimate to one in eight, (*) and at a later period one in six 
was the recognised proportion. 

The leaders of the voluntary movement advocated their 
views with an energy and ability worthy of a stronger cause. 
They published elaborate statistics to prove that there was no 
serious deficiency in educational means, and that the 
emulation of religious bodies, and the competition of private 
schools afforded the best guarantee for the required extension. 
They sent out lecturers, held meetings, and organised 
voluntary education societies and committees in many parts 
of the country. They pointed to the vast achievements of 
individual benevolence, the increase in churches and 
charitable institutions, and to the rich and half-developed 
energies of the people, as reasons why it was " not wise to 
depart from the old English system of free and independent 
education." ( 2 ) The argument was not a strong one. There 
was no " old English " system of education, and of the results 
which had been effected by such means as existed, a 
large proportion had been accomplished by Government 
assistance. The Church supplied the largest share of 
voluntary education, but it had been the policy of the 
Government, within a few years previous to this controversy, to 
make large and direct grants for building churches and for the 
augmentation of livings. But the Nonconformists were not to 
be daunted or denied. Galileo was not more convinced than 
they were, ( 3 ) and Mr. Baines exultingly nourished the Leeds 
Mercury before his audience, to prove the rapid advance in 
popular knowledge and intelligence. 

1 Census Returns, 1851, xxi. 2 Life of Baines, 330. 
3 Crosby Hall Lectures, 92. These Ie3tures contain the authoritative 
exposition of the views of the leaders of the movement. The lecturers were 
Mr. Baines, the Rev. A. Wells, Dr. Hamilton, the Rev. A. Reed, Mr. Miall, 
Mr. Henry Richards, and the Rev. R. Ainslie. A newspaper, called the 
Banner, was also devoted to the agitation. 


It is a pleasure to acknowledge that the Voluntaryists did 
not seek to spread their opinions by words alone. They were 
ready to tax themselves heavily in support of their 
consciences. The Congregational Board of Education under- 
took to raise 200,000 for the purpose of building schools, and 
up to 1859 had collected about 180,000. ( J ) The Voluntary 
Board of Education was established for the same purpose. 
Homerton Training College was also the result of their 
generosity and energy, and up to 1851 they had erected 364 
elementary schools, which were wholly supported by 
subscriptions and school pence. With all their efforts they 
were no match for the Church and the Government together. 
The inevitable consequence was that the clergy were 
acquiring a wider and a stronger grasp over the system of 
State schools. 

The year 1847 marks the third period of Ministerial 
proposals in regard to education. Lord John Eussell had 
succeeded Sir Eobert Peel as Prime Minister. The engrossing 
question of the Corn Laws had been settled, and it was 
understood that the new Government would give special 
attention to education, and would bring forward a compre- 
hensive national scheme. The proposals were introduced by 
Lord John Eussell with an earnestness and mass of detail 
which indicated that the Whig Cabinet attached great 
importance to the question. ( 2 ) But the measures hardly 
corresponded in grasp and comprehensiveness with the speech 
which introduced them. The Minutes were laid before the 
House in April, 1847. They authorised the President of the 
Council to frame regulations respecting the apprenticeship of 
the pupil teachers. They provided for exhibitions to Normal 
schools, to be held by " Queen's scholars ;" for payment to 
masters for training pupil teachers ; for increased grants to 
Normal schools ; for grants and pensions to masters trained in 
1 Newcastle Commission, 6, 273. 2 Life of Peel, by Guizot. 


Normal schools ; and for grants to schools of industry. The 
pupil teachers in Church schools were placed under the 
instruction of the clergy in religious matters, and were 
required to have a certificate of moral character from a 

The discussions upon this plan show how completely 
education had come to be looked at as a matter of sectional 
interest, rather than as a national concern. The Voluntaryists, 
who comprised the largest section of Protestant Dissenters, 
magnified it into a great and elaborate scheme, calculated to 
strengthen the hands of the Church, to which State Education 
was being rapidly abandoned by the Dissenters. It was 
received with grief and dread, and united the bulk of the 
Nonconformists in a firm opposition. The Unitarians were an 
exception. They supported this as they have done all 
measures, great or small, for the advancement of education. 
Meetings were held in London and in many provincial towns 
against the scheme. In Birmingham the Mayor called a 
town's meeting, at which the Eev. John Angell James pro- 
posed a resolution condemning the minutes, which was carried 
notwithstanding the opposition of a vigorous minority led by 
the Eev. G. S. Bull, and the recorder Mr. M. D. Hill. ( l ) 
In London between three and four hundred delegates from 
congregations met at Exeter Hall and tried to overcome 
the Ministry by threatening to withdraw their support at the 
elections. This menace drew a strong protest from Lord John 
Eussell in the House of Commons. 

The Church party in Parliament, and the Conservatives 
gave their approval to the scheme. The High Church party 
had not taken alarm as yet. The management clauses about 
which such stormy differences arose had not been brought 
under the notice of Parliament. Bishop Blomfield expressed 
his approval in the Lords, and thought it was exceedingly 

1 Langford's Modern Birmingham, 1, 127. 


wise and prudent not to interfere with the existing 
system. (*) Lord Brougham denounced it as no plan, but the 
imperfect substitute of a measure promised and expected, but 
withheld, and warmly complained of the Church and the sects 
that they loved controversy more than education. Sir Eobert 
Peel supported the Government in the Commons, and put 
forcibly before the House the condition of the Irish popula- 
tion of Manchester, on whose behalf he made an unanswerable 

Before the vote was moved there were some pertinent 
questions put to Ministers respecting the positions of the 
Wesleyans and Eoman Catholics. It was elicited that the 
Government were manoeuvering to secure the support of both 
parties. The existing Minutes provided that aid should only 
be given to schools in which the authorised version was used. 
The Wesleyans had been told, on authority which they regarded 
as sufficient, that the Catholics would not be allowed to share 
in the grant, and they had also been conciliated by being 
allowed to use their own catechisim and to nominate their 
own Inspectors. ( 2 ) But in the House of Commons, Lord 
John Eussell, without pledging the Government to a promise, 
said enough to satisfy the Eoman Catholics that a new Minute 
would be introduced which would admit them to a share of 
the grant. This was actually done at an early date. 

Lord John Eussell, in moving the vote of 100,000, 
anticipated some of the objections which would be urged 
against the Minutes, and admitted that it would have been 
better if at the beginning of the century a united system had 
been devised. But every step taken had made it more 
difficult to go back. He condemned the intolerance of the 
National Society in insisting that all children who attended 
its schools should learn the catechism and go to Church. It 
was weakly urged, on the part of the Government, that the 
1 Hansard, T. S., 89, 858. 2 Ibid, 91, 818. 


Minutes did not empower the conductors of schools to 
compel attendance at Church and Sunday schools they 
did it on their own responsibility. The Government did 
not think that the making the grant entitled them to impose 
terms on the National schools which they would not 
be willing to adopt, and the Minister expressed the fear, 
which all experience proves to have been unwarranted that 
the imposition of conditions protecting the children of 
Dissenters would prevent the National Society from accept- 
ing aid, and lead to the closing of its schools. 

The grant was strongly opposed on behalf of the Noncon- 
formists, and led to an animated discussion. The debate was 
remarkable, chiefly for the speeches of Mr. Macaulay and Mr. 
Bright. Mr. Macaulay, who was a member of the Committee 
of Council, supported the proposition of his colleagues in the 
Ministry. His speech, while not a strong defence of the 
particular Minutes, was a most able exposition of the reasons 
in favour of State education, and as such it gave great offence 
to the voluntaryists. Mr. Bright's speech was an attack on a 
system of education, conducted solely on Church and State 
principles. He showed that every step taken between 1839 
and 1847 had for its tendency the aggrandizement of the 
Church, and that the object and result of the Minutes proposed, 
would be to give enormous and increased powers to the Estab- 
lishment. But Mr. Bright it is clear did not share the extreme 
views of the voluntary party. His objections were based on 
the wider view of religious freedom and equality. He said, 

" Free us from the trammels of your Church set religion 
apart from the interference of the State. If you will make 
full provision for education, let it not depend upon the 
doctrines of a particular creed, and then you will find the 
various sects in this country will be as harmonious on the 
question of education as are the people of the United States 
of America." 


" Nothing tends more to impede the progress of liberty, 
nothing is more fatal to independence of spirit in the public, 
than to add to the powers of the priesthood in the matter of 
education. If you give them such increased power by 
legislative enactments, you do more than you could effect 
by any other means to enslave and degrade a people subject 
to their influence." ( J ) 

The Government proposals were carried by an enormous 
majority, and subsequent motions by Sir William Molesworth 
to admit Eoman Catholics ( 2 ) to the benefit of the grant, and 
by Mr. Ewart for a conscience clause to protect the children 
of the Dissenters, were lost. A small incident in the House 
of Lords increased the estrangement between the Noncon- 
formists and the Department. A Minute was laid on the 
table to relieve the managers of dissenting schools from 
certifying as to the religious knowledge of pupil teachers. 
In the explanations respecting it, the Bishop of London said 
that the Church was not prepared to acquiesce in modifica- 
tions and additions from time to time to suit the prejudices 
of Dissenters. " There was nothing in the compact between 
the Church and the Government on this subject which would 
allow the latter to infringe on the Minutes of the Privy 
Council, which were prepared with care, and which it was 
understood were to be fully and fairly carried out." ( 3 ) The 
suspicions of the Dissenters were confirmed, that all steps 
taken by the Government were made after consultation with, 
and with the approval of, the dominant sect. 

The Voluntaryists were now determined to put their 
strength to a crucial test. It was, however, abundantly clear 
that they did not command the numbers or the united 
enthusiasm which in 1843 had enabled the Dissenting body 

1 Bright's Speeches, 2, 509, 7. 
2 Roman Catholic schools were admitted to grants in 1848, and Jewish 

schools in 1852. 
3 Hansard, T. S., 94, 666. 


to defy the Ministry of Sir Eobert Peel. The petitions against 
Sir James Graham's bill had contained millions of signatures. 
Against the Minutes of 1847, there were 4,203 petitions 
presented, having only 559,977 signatures. Notwithstanding 
this indication of division and defection, the Voluntaryists 
were as good as their word in the threatened opposition to 
Ministers. At the general election, which took place in the 
summer of 1847, they opposed many Liberals who had voted 
for the Government Minutes. Mr. Hawes lost his seat for 
Lambeth on this account. At Leeds, the head quarters of the 
movement, Mr. Joseph Sturge, of Birmingham, stood as 
the representative of the Dissenters on this special ground. 
He was, however, badly beaten. They were reconciled, how- 
ever, by the defeat of Mr. Macaulay at Edinburgh, for which 
they took credit. (*) There were, however, many contributing 
causes to his defeat. The drinkers of cheap whiskey, and the 
opponents of the Maynooth grant, which he had supported, 
were offended with him. With these, and others, the 
Dissenters allied themselves, to humiliate a man whose 
whole life was a plea for enlightenment and freedom, and a 
protest against ignorance and its attendant superstition and 

The opposition of the Voluntaryists continued for several 
years, and for some time they continued to increase, and were 
conspicuous for their energy and earnestness. But within ten 
years the movement had spent itself. Some of the most 
eminent members of the Congregational and Baptist commu- 
nions, including Dr Yaughan and the Eev. Thomas Binney, 
while opposing the ecclesiastical tendency of the Government 
minutes, and the partiality shown to the Church, had refused 
to subscribe to the political doctrine that the State is not 
entitled to interfere for the education of the people. Such an 
abstract doctrine of the province of Government was never 
1 Life of Baines, 336. 


accepted by the wisest and strongest heads of the dissenting 
bodies. Their objections were limited to the State becoming 
a teacher of religion by means of the apparatus of the religious 
sects. (*) As new phases of the question were developed, 
there were many desertions from the voluntary ranks. Many 
Congregationalists were members of the National Public School 
Association, and others supported the Manchester and Salford 
Bill. The Newcastle Commission, of 1858, on which the 
voluntary party was represented, was able to report that the 
number of persons having conscientious objections to the 
acceptance of State aid was greatly diminished, and that all 
denominations were then in receipt of grants. 

Some modifications of the minutes were introduced 
relieving schools from reporting on religious instruction, and 
this paved the way for a reconciliation. But the failure of 
the voluntary movement was owing to the conviction, that the 
ignorance of the country could never be overtaken without 
assistance from the State. Lord John Eussell quoted from Dr. 
Vaughan's articles in the British Quarterly Review, to prove 
that in every ten years a million and a quarter of children 
were thrown on society without any education. Mr. Dunn, the 
Secretary of the British and Foreign School Society, confessed 
that an examination of British schools demonstrated the utter 
inadequacy of voluntary means to educate the country. Sir 
James Kay Shuttle worth estimated in 1855 that nearly 
3,000,000 was required for building schools. " There are no 
facts to support the hope, that unless the amount of aid from 
the public resources was greatly increased, and distributed 
upon principles applying the greatest stimulus to voluntary 
efforts, the existing agencies could provide for the education 
of the poorer classes." ( 2 ) In 1850 the Archbishop of 
Canterbury said the Church could never from its own funds 
provide accommodation for the increasing numbers of children. 

1 British Quarterly Review, 1847, 504. 2 Public Education, 260. 


In the same year Mr. Fox stated in the House of Commons, 
that the Congregationalists had suspended grants to poor 
schools. The balance sheet of the Congregational Board of 
Education, presented 10th of May, 1850, showed the receipts 
for 1849 to be 1,734 14s. 10d., or a little more than a pound 
a head for the members in union. The third report of the 
Voluntary School Association, in 1851, stated that there were 
six pupils in the Normal school, and that 84 was granted 
during the year to necessitous schools. (*) At the same time 
three school Inspectors reported officially that numerous 
national schools must be shut up from the falling off of sub- 
scriptions. The "illimitable" resources of the National Society 
were also failing. In 1839, the Committee reported that their 
machinery was working well, and promised before long to 
embrace in its operations the whole body of the peasantry. ( 2 ) 
Ten years later the report stated that its finances were 
embarrassed, that it was compelled to suspend operations for 
building schools, and that it apprehended the necessity of 
diminishing the supply of teachers. ( 3 ) 

The voluntary movement was beaten by the irresistible 
logic of facts, which no easy improvisation of first principles, 
no versatility in the arrangement of statistics, and indeed no 
generosity of purse and service could successfully encounter. 
While it was in its first vigour it effectually obstructed 
progress, and even after its early force was spent, it was a 
disturbing influence of sufficient magnitude to prevent the 
union of parties on a common basis. 

The years 1845-7 were memorable also for the beginning 
of a dispute between the Education Department and the 
High Church party which occasioned intense feeling, led to 
serious divisions in the Church and the National Society, and 
prepared the way for new arrangements and alliances of 

1 Westminster Review, 1851, 467. 2 British and Foreign Review, 1840-50. 
3 Dean Hamilton on the Privy Council and National Society, 52. 


parties in the country and Parliament. These differences are 
chiefly now interesting because of the extraordinary preten- 
sions put forward on behalf of the Church, and because many 
of the men engaged in them have been conspicuous and 
familiar forms in the public life of the time. The first reasons 
for the complete severance of Mr. Gladstone from the Con- 
servative party probably arose out of this dispute, since the 
opposition to him at Oxford, in 1852, was the direct conse- 
quence of the discussions. The story of this .controversy has 
been told by Archdeacon Denison from the Church point of 
view in his " Notes of my Life," in a manner which must win 
for him respect and regard, even by those who are irre- 
concilably hostile to the principles he contended for. The 
view which was taken at the Education Department has 
been described by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth in " Public 
Education." The briefest sketch of the movement and its 
consequences will suffice for the purpose of this history. 

The dispute ostensibly began over the management 
clauses, which were submitted to Church schools for insertion 
in their trust deeds by the Committee of Council, in cases where 
grants were made for erection out of the public funds. This was 
merely the formal laying of a venue where the dispute could 
be tried. The real issue involved the rights of the State and 
the Church respectively to the control of public education, 
and the object on the part of the Church was to check the 
growing power and influence of the State Department at 
Whitehall or, as Archdeacon Denison would put it, to 
defeat the Whig plot for crushing Church schools. 

The management clauses were not however the creation 
of a Whig Government. The correspondence respecting them 
began in 1845, when Sir Robert Peel was in power, and they 
were submitted to the National Society during his adminis- 
tration. Their object was to secure the preservation of 


schools for the purposes for which they were erected, and to 
define the authority by which they should be governed. 
There had been much looseness in regard to the trust deeds. 
Many school deeds were not enrolled in Chancery, and were 
found to be invalid. In others, conveyances were made to 
individual trustees, which involved great trouble and expense. 
In some deeds there were no management clauses while in 
others the provisions for management comprised every form 
of negligent or discordant arrangement. " Often there was no 
management clause ; in which case the government of the 
school devolved on the individual trustees and their heirs, 
who might be non-resident, minors, lunatics, or otherwise 
incapable." (*) The Committee of Council therefore resolved 
to make the adoption of the management clauses a condition 
precedent to the receipt of aid from the grant. There were 
several clauses adapted to the circumstances of towns and 
parishes. In substance, they placed the control of the school 
premises, and the superintendence of the moral and religious 
instruction, exclusively in the hands of the clergy. The 
government of the school, and the appointment and dismissal 
of teachers, were vested in a committee, consisting of the 
officiating minister and his curates, and a certain number of 
persons who were residents or contributors to the school. 
The latter were to be elected by subscribers, having votes in 
proportion to their contributions, and being members of the 
Church of England. The schoolmaster was to be, by the 
terms of the trust, a member of the Established Church, and 
the minister was ex-officio chairman of the committee. The 
Committee of Council also consented that a rigorous test of 
church membership should be imposed on the lay members 
of the committee, who were required to sign a declaration 
that they were members and communicants of the Church. 
A further demand made by the National Society for an appeal 
1 Newcastle Commission Report, 57. 


to the Bishop on matters not relating to moral or'religious 
instruction, was refused by the Department. 

It will be seen that these clauses did not encroach on the 
terms of union with the National Society. These terms were, 
that the children should be instructed in the liturgy and 
catechism of the Church of England, that the schools should 
be subject to the superintendence of the parochial clergyman, 
that the children should be regularly assembled for the 
purpose of attending divine service in the parish church, 
unless satisfactory reasons for non-attendance were given ; 
that the masters and mistresses should be members of the 
Church of England, and that reports should be made to 
the diocesan board by inspectors appointed by the Bishop 
or National Society. (*) 

These conditions were allowed to be observed in the 
schools of the powerful National Society at a time when 
Wesleyans and Jews were compelled to adopt a conscience 
clause for the protection of children whose parents objected 
to religious teaching. 

The Committee of the National Society was not satisfied, 
and at a meeting, presided over by the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, a resolution was passed that " no terms of 
co-operation with the State could be satisfactory which should 
not allow to the clergy and laity full freedom to constitute 
schools upon such principles and models as were sanctioned 
by order and practice of the Church, and that, in particular, 
they should desire to put the management of their schools 
solely in the hands of the clergy and Bishop of the 
diocese." ( 2 ) 

A determined effort was made by the National Society 

to constitute the Bishop the appellate tribunal in secular as 

well as religious matters. As a compromise the Committee of 

Council proposed that the Lord President should nominate 

1 Minutes of Council, 1847-8, Ixxiv. 2 Hansard, T. S., 105, 1079. 


one arbitrator and the Bishop another. The Committee of 
the National Society was not satisfied and refused to join in 
the recommendation of the management clauses. The 
consequence was a temporary suspension of grants for 
erecting Church schools. Petitions were presented to 
Parliament complaining of the decision of the Department^ 1 ) 

The pretensions of the High Church party at this time, 
in defiance of history, and of the forces of opinion which 
were set against them, are best illustrated by a few extracts 
from their speeches and writings. ( 2 ) 

" The case was this : a very simple one. So long as the 
civil power would help the spiritual power to do God's work 
in the world, on those terms of which alone the spiritual 
power could be the fitting judge, so long the help would be as 

it ought to be thankfully received." " They 

were fighting for great and sacred principles, for the 
upholding of the office of the ministry in God's Church, as 
charged by God with the responsibility of educating the 

people." "The parish school of the English 

parish is the nursery of catholic truth and apostolic 
discipline." Archdeacon Denison. 

" The true and perfect idea of Christendom is the consti- 
tution of all social order upon the basis of faith and within 

the unity of the Church." " Let it be plainly 

and finally made clear that the co-partnership between the 
Church and the State in the work of education, is in the fruits 

and not in the direction." " But that gives 

the State no claim, as joint founder, to intervene in the 
management of the schools." Archdeacon Manning. 

" We shall be obliged to go to Government and to 

Parliament, not to ask for a participation in the grants of 

money distributed on the present principles, but to tell them, 

backed by the voice of three-fourths of the empire, of all 

1 Hansard, T. S., 109, 259. 2 See Public Education, 8-10. 


denominations, that the State shall not, without a creed and 
without a sacrament, and without any ministerial authority 
from God, undertake to educate the people of the country." 
Rev. W. Sewell. 

11 What he contended for was nothing less than this 
the birthright of the children of God to be trained up in an 
atmosphere of truth, not an atmosphere of conflicting creeds 
and varities of opinion." . . . . " Under no circumstances 
whatever could I consent to admit a single child to a school 
of which I have the control and management, without insisting 
most positively and strictly on the learning of the catechism 
and attendance at Church on Sundays." Hon. J. C. Talbot. 

There was much more of the same description. The 
right of the Church to unconditional assistance was insisted 
on. The civil power was charged with forgetting God and 
dishonouring Christ, by proclaiming openly, that the ministers 
of Christ were no longer fit to be trusted solely and exclusively 
with the education of the people. The Divine commission 
of the Church to teach was reasserted. An outline of Church 
education was prepared by Archdeacon Denison, in which he 
set forth the respective provinces of Church and State. The 
supporters of schools were to make application through the 
Diocesan Board of Education to the Bishop, and the Bishop 
was to represent to the Government that certain schools were 
proposed that others were in want of annual assistance 
that certain amounts were required for training colleges and 
for maintaining Diocesan Inspectors. The business of the 
Education Department should be simply to meet the represen- 
tations of the Bishop, by annual grants of money. A return 
of the grants to Parliament with the certificates of the Diocesan 
Inspectors as to efficiency, would be the guarantees for the 
due application of the public money. 

There was a large party in the National Society and in the 
Church hostile to these contentions, and the annual meetings 


of the Society for several years were pitched battles between 
the High Church party on the one hand and the forces of 
Low Church and moderates or Liberals on the other. (*) The 
liberal clergy and laity were strongly opposed to the views of 
the mediaeval party, and presented a memorial to the Society 
asking to be allowed to nominate members of the com- 
mittee. ( 2 ) A deputation waited upon the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, at Lambeth, and stated that if the constitution 
of the National Society was not altered they would feel 
compelled to establish a new Society for promoting education 
according to the principles of the Church. The Low Church 
party accused the High Churchmen of preferring to keep 
children in ignorance rather than let them receive light not 
tinted by themselves. ( 3 ) The heat occasioned by this con- 
troversy lasted about five years. The " Church army," as 
Archdeacon Denison called his supporters, finally broke up 
in 1853, after the unsuccessful assault on the seat of Mr. 
Gladstone, at Oxford. 

Conflicting views have been held as to the part and 
position which the Committee of Council played in these 
various struggles. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, for whose 
affection for his Department due allowance will be made, 
claims that it was recognised as the protector of minorities, 
the champion of civil and religious liberty, and the opponent 
of exalted spiritual authority ; and that there was a gradual 
reconciliation towards it on the part of the Dissenters, as 
tending to place authority in the hands of the congregation 
rather than the priesthood. ( 4 ) Archdeacon Denison writes : 
" I do not know anything anywhere so clever and so triumphant 
as the policy of the Committee of Council on Education since 
1840, except it be a Russian diplomacy, which is undoubtedly 

1 Blomfield's Life, 204. 2 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 21. 

3 Memoirs of Sara Coleridge, 2, 360. 

4 Shuttleworth, pub. edn., 23. 


the first thing of its kind anywhere upon record." ( x ) He 
gives an amusing account of the weapons in the Downing 
Street armoury. It is strange that, with all his acuteness, 
and his steadfast courage to look facts in the face, Archdeacon 
Denison does not yet see that he was beaten, not by a com- 
mittee, or a secretary, or a department, or a policy but by 
the change in the spirit of the times, by the development of 
national life, and the growth of new forces, principles, and 

There is yet another view of the operations of the 
Department. " In placing funds, institutions, teachers, 
and pupils in the hands of irresponsible Corporations some 
of them governed by the bitterest opponents of secular 
instruction the Committee of Council have piled up obstruc- 
tion upon obstruction to the cause of progress," ( 2 ) and this 
was the view taken by men who were most anxious to see the 
establishment of a system on some definite basis adequate to 
the momentous interests concerned. 

A correct historical judgment of the earlier proceedings 
of the Department must embrace many circumstances in its 
consideration, and chief of all the inherent difficulties 
which arose out of its construction. It changed with every 
Administration, and drifted with every current of opinion. It 
had no definite principle or policy. It was an expedient 
adopted to evade a difficulty in the closing years of the 
Melbourne administration, which were marked by shifts and 
expedients. It was, of necessity, always on the look out for 
support and popularity, and inclined, therefore, to the 
strongest side. Its compact with the Church in 1840 was an 
instance of its subjection to political emergencies. It obtained 
the support of the Wesleyans by concessions in regard to 
inspection and the catechism. In the same way it bought off 
the opposition of Catholics by admitting their schools to 

1 Notes of my Life, 120. 2 Westminster Review, 1854, 409. 


grants. It could not be an originating department on 
account of its relations to different parties. The minutes 
adopted under one Government were subject to reversal under 
the next, and in more than one instance this actually 
occurred. Its power was immense, but it was only the power 
of a huge paymaster. It was popular with no party, unless 
it was the Low Church clergy, who were satisfied with the 
preponderating influence it placed in the hands of the 
Church. It was opposed by all who claimed the spiritual 
control of education by the Voluntaryists, who objected 
to any State intervention, by the Dissenters who were jealous 
of the Church and suspicious of its designs, and by earnest 
educationists who disbelieved in its methods and efficiency, 
and saw in it only a clog and hindrance to the cause they 
had at heart. But this very unpopularity kept the question 
alive, and gave an impetus to popular movements for the 
establishment of a system on definite lines, subject neither 
to the servilities nor partialities of office, nor to the 
fluctuations of party politics. 



THE LEAGUE, 1869. 

A NEW direction was given to the popular agitation for 
education by the formation of the Lancashire Public 
School Association, and by the advocacy which eminent 
Churchmen and Nonconformists were giving to a "combined" 
system. The apathy of the Government, the divisions amongst 
religious denominations, the distrust and suspicion caused 
by the policy of the Education Department, and above all 
the exclusiveness and narrowness of the voluntary societies, 
were leading educational reformers to look to independent 
sources for the solution of difficulties which had hitherto 
seemed to increase with every fresh effort to overcome them. 
The National Society clung with tenacity to its exclusive 
conditions, and the British and Foreign School Society was 
falling under the suspicion of being on its own lines, equally 
bigoted and sectarian. Eoman Catholics, Jews and Unitarians 
were excluded from its Normal school, and it was complained 
that its day schools had a creed of their own as much as 
those of the National Society. Confidence in a system so 
administered, and governed at every point by party and 
sectarian interests was incompatible with any comprehensive 
consideration of the subject. 

Local government and a larger measure of local support 
were the two fundamental principles of the new agitation. 
With these it was attempted to reconcile religious differences, 
by looking for a common ground of opinion and action. The 


new effort was, in the last respect, as fruitless for the time 
as any which had preceded it, but it was, nevertheless, an 
important step in a liberal direction. It was clear to the 
ablest men amongst all parties that a State system was 
inevitable the always harrassing and perplexing question 
was, what relations it should have to the religious opinions 
of the country. There were trusted leaders amongst the 
Church party who did not despair of finding a solution which 
would give to the Church every opportunity it required, 
without doing injustice to Dissenters, and many of the most 
distinguished of the Nonconformists were prepared to unite 
with the Church in support of such a scheme. 

The Irish system was taken as the basis. Dr. Hook, the 
vicar of Leeds, who was supposed to have the confidence of the 
High Church party, issued a pamphlet in 1846, in the form of 
a letter to the Bishop of St. David's, in which he put forward 
the plan of separating religious and secular teaching ; 
excluding the former from the School, and throwing the cost 
of secular instruction upon the rates, and placing it under 
local management. Provision was to be made for religious 
teaching by clergymen and ministers at separate hours. 
This plan was advanced by Dr. Hook, not in any way as a 
concession of the claims of the Church but rather as the 
only way in which they could be upheld, without doing 
injustice to other denominations, and at the same time 
securing education. His opinions were far in advance of 
those of his contemporaries in the Church he was pre- 
eminently a man of just and comprehensive views but 
he was an unbending and uncompromisiDg Churchman, and 
he had not the smallest idea of sacrificing religious education; 
or even Church education, so far as the last could be promoted 
on principles of justice. Sir James Kay Shuttleworth has 
described him as desiring to relinquish on the part of the 
Church any desire for predominance, as seeking to place 


it on the same level with Dissenting bodies, and as foregoing 
his preference for religious education. (*) Such however were 
not his own pleas. It was his ardent desire to preserve 
Church education intact in principle, which led him to 
the adoption of the Irish system. He foresaw that if 
education were given by the State, it must stand in one of 
two relations to religion ; either the education given must be 
purely secular, or the religious tone would become entirely 
colourless ; or as he expressed it " semi-religious." The key 
to all his action in the matter is found in the three principles 
which are expressed in his speeches and writings viz., 
Education must be had. The religious education given by the 
Church must be on strictly Church principles. The religious 
education given must be consistent with justice to Dissenters. 

From the earliest agitation of the question Dr. Hook 
took the greatest interest in it. Before the formation of the 
Committee of Council he had proposed an Education Board 
for Leeds, more liberal in its constitution than any subsequent 
proposal of either Whig or Conservative Governments. ( 2 ) 
His contention always was, secular education by the State 
religious education by the denominations, on fair terms for 
all. In a letter to Sir William Page Wood (the late Lord 
Hatherley) written in 1838, he said, " anything like a semi- 
religious education I deprecate, but I have no objection to let 
the State train children to receive the religious education we 
are prepared to give." ( 3 ) In a speech at Leeds about the 
same time he said " It must be obvious that when a State 
undertakes the education of the people, it cannot make 
religion its basis. It may pretend to do so at first, but the 
State religion will be found on investigation to be no 
religion." ( 4 ) During the acrid controversies aroused by Sir 
James Graham's factory bill Dr. Hook wrote to Mr. Gladstone, 

1 The School, &c., 69. 
2 Life of Dean Hook, 262. 3 Ibid, 263. 4 Ibid, 264. 


" I do really think that the Church might keep the whole of 
the education of the people, or nearly so, in her own hands." 
But this was to be done on just principles. " All that is 
wanted is money ; we require funds. If the thing is desirable 
why may not the Bishops with the Clergy of England tax 
themselves fifty per cent., aye if need should be, a hundred 
per cent, and become beggars, rather than permit the education 
of the people to pass out of their hands ? " "But there is not 
sufficient piety in the Church at present to act thus, or to 
make such a sacrifice as this : or rather there is the monstrous 
notion that our Bishops and clergy are to demand all the 
money they require, whether for education or Church 
extension, of the State. The State is to supply the funds, and 
the Bishops and clergy to expend those funds as they think 
fit. I call this a monstrous notion in a free State where there 
is full toleration, and where the taxes are paid by Dissenters 
as well as by Churchmen. (If the Church supplies the funds, 
let the education be an exclusively Church education ; if the 
State supplies the funds, the State is in duty bound to regard 
the just claims of Dissentersj (*) 

These expressions were the preliminary to his letter to 
the Bishop of St. David's, " How to render more efficient the 
education of the people." The scheme has been described as 
bold and original. ( 2 ) Bold it was and generous in principle 
as proceeding from a Church clergyman, but it had no title 
to originality. It was merely an adaptation of the Irish 
system. Secular instruction only was to be given by the 
State .Children were to be required to produce certificates of 
attendance at a Sunday school. Class rooms were to be 
attached to the schools, in which the clergy and the dissenting 
ministers were to be allowed to give religious instruction at 
separate hours. " I do not ask," he wrote, " whether such an 
arrangement would be preferred to any other by either party, 
1 Life of Dean Hook, 347. 2 Ibid, 262. 


for each party would prefer having everything its own way ; but 
I do ask whether there would be any violation of principle 
on either side ? I ask whether, for the sake of a great 
national object, there ought not to be a sacrifice, not of 
principle, but of prejudice, on either side." (*) 

The pamphlet caused a sensation for a time. The High 
Church party regarded it with amazement as a surrender and 
betrayal. The National Society took offence at the strictures 
upon its work. The clergy were angry at the contemptuous 
criticism of the religious instruction given in Church schools, 
and the Voluntaryists, whose agitation was then at its height, 
were of course hostile to the scheme. It was a great honour 
to Dr. Hook's just and liberal suggestions that all the prevail- 
ing and established, blind and narrow incompetencies should 
oppose them. 

A new combination in support of secular education had 
its rise about the same time in Manchester. Mr. Cobden had 
finished the task of the Anti-Corn Law League, and was 
already turning his thoughts in other directions. In August, 
1846, he wrote to Mr. Combe, that he was in hopes he should 
be able to co-operate efficiently with the best and most active 
spirits of the day in the work of moral and intellectual 
education. ( 2 ) In July, 1847, a Committee was formed in 
Manchester for the establishment of a national system. 
The first intention was to show how it might be worked out 
in Lancashire. An address was issued to the county called 
" A plan for the establishment of a general system of secular 
education in the county of Lancaster." The movement 
originated with Mr. Samuel Lucas, Mr. Jacob Bright, Professor 
Hodgson, Mr. Alexander Ireland, Mr. Geo. Wilson, and the 
Kev. W. McKerrow. The programme put forward by the Com- 
mittee led to the formation of the Lancashire Public School 
Association, which a year or two later was converted into 
1 Life of Dean Hook, 405. 2 Life of Combe, 219. 


" The National Public School Association." Its object was to 
" promote the establishment by law in England and Wales of 
a system of free schools ; which, supported by local rates 
and managed by local committees, specially elected for that 
purpose by the ratepayers, shall impart secular instruction 
only, leaving to parents, guardians, and religious teachers 
the inculcation of religion ; to afford opportunities for which 
it is proposed that the schools shall be closed at stated hours 
in each week." (*) This was the first comprehensive and 
elaborate scheme put forward for securing national education; 
based on the principle that the cost should be thrown 
on property, that the management should be confided 
to local representatives, and that the people should be taught 
to regard education, not as a bone of contention between 
churches and sects, but as the right of free citizens. 

This movement won the support of the best known 
Liberal politicians in the country. Mr. Cobden devoted a 
large part of his valuable life to secure its success. It had 
the benefit of the experience and machinery of the Anti- 
Corn Law League. The Liberal press advocated it almost 
unanimously. Many eminent Dissenters gave it their 
adhesion, including Dr. Vaughan, the editor of the British 
Quarterly Review. In Parliament it had the support of 
Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. Cobden, Mr. W. J. Fox, Sir Thomas 
Bazley, Sir John Potter, and Mr. Alexander Henry. Man- 
chester now became the centre from which, under various 
conditions, an agitation was maintained unceasingly until 
the passing of the Education Act of 1870. 

In the session of 1850, Mr. W. J. Fox, member for 
Oldham, who had formerly been a popular Unitarian preacher 
at the Eldon Street Chapel, Finsbury, and who in that 
capacity had provoked the energetic opposition of Bishop 
Blomfield and his clergy, moved for leave to bring in a bill 
1 Westminster Review, 54, 411. 


for the secular education of the people in England and 
Wales. ( J ) This bill was much upon the lines of the 
Lancashire Association scheme, but left religious instruction 
an open question for the ratepayers. In a speech displaying a 
perfect knowledge of the subject in all its bearings, Mr. Fox 
demonstrated the failure of the voluntary societies, combined 
with such aid as Government had afforded, and the absolute 
necessity for a more comprehensive measure. He denied that 
the movement for secular education aimed at abating or 
checking religious instruction its object was to ensure such 
secular knowledge as would make religious efforts more efficient 
and successful. The scheme he proposed was founded on 
the principles of local exertion and local superintendence. 
The deficiency in the parishes was to be ascertained by 
Inspectors, and the locality invited to supply it by 
means of a rate administered by their representatives. In 
order to conciliate the managers of existing schools, it was 
proposed that grants should be made to teachers according to 
the number of pupils efficiently instructed. No restraints 
were to be put on religious bodies, which would be able to 
erect and endow denominational schools, to be rewarded by 
the State for secular results. The new schools were to be free 
to the inhabitants of the district, without charge, without 
distinction in the treatment and training of their children, and 
without obligation to accept religious instruction; but with the 
right reserved and inalienable, to have at convenient times, 
fixed by the master, their children instructed in religion, 
where and by whom they pleased. 

Lord John Eussell, on the part of the Government, 
supported the introduction of the bill, but declined to 
pronounce any opinion on its merits. It was opposed by the 
Church party, and the familiar cry of " religion in danger" was 
heard again. Sir K. Inglis accused Mr. Fox of neglecting the 

1 Hansard, T. S., 109, 27. 


eternal destiny of children, and Lord Arundel passionately 
exclaimed " The two armies were drawing up their forces, 
and the battle was now between religion and irreligion, the 
Church and Infidelity, God and the Devil, and the reward for 
which they must contend was Heaven or Hell." 

Bishop Ullathorne expressed the views of the Roman 
Catholics to the same effect, but in more temperate language. 
" It involves a principle against which the Church of Christ 
is contending throughout Europe, and that for the most 
awful reasons. Awake and train out the dawning intellects 
of your children in this dry material way, and you will 
unchristianise the country. Leave the religious faculties to 
slumber, while the secular ones are being trained, and you 
leave no foundation for submission even to temporal 
Government." From the high priest point of view there was 
no good in the scheme but only visions of Democracy ! 
Socinianism ! Communism ! and Infidelity ! and all these because 
it was proposed to teach the alphabet ! 

Lord Ashley attacked the proposal as despotic in 
character, and likely to be prodigious in results. Its 
probable cost was exaggerated, and visions of immense rates 
were conjured up in opposition to it. The Premier (Lord 
John Eussell) opposed the bill on account of its secular 
character, and the gratuity of the instruction offered. On 
the other hand Mr. Roebuck, with all the energy which 
distinguished him at that portion of his career, denounced 
the intervention of " meddling priests," and the principle of 
charitable donations for education. "You make laws, you 
erect prisons, you have the gibbet, you circulate throughout 
the country an army of judges and barristers to enforce the 
law, but your religious bigotry precludes the chance or the 
hope of your being able to teach the people, so as to prevent 
the crime which you send round this army to punish." 
Mr. Fox received valuable assistance from Mr. Milner 


Gibson, Mr. Muntz, Mr. Anstey, and other members. The 
influence of the Church party, however, was supreme, and 
this, combined with the opposition of the Government, 
sufficed, after several nights' discussion, to reject the bill, on 
the second reading, by a large majority. 

The defeat demonstrated the necessity of combined 
action out of Parliament to secure that pressure of public 
opinion which is the only guarantee for useful legislation. 
It was determined to extend the Lancashire agitation, and 
to give it the force of a national movement. With this 
object a meeting was held in Manchester in the autumn of 
1850, when the Lancashire organisation changed its title to 
that of the " National Public School Association." Delegates 
attended from all parts of the country. The meeting was 
presided over by Mr. Hickson, who had been a prominent 
member of the Central Society of Education, and a resolution 
was proposed by Dr. Davidson, Professor of Theology in the 
Lancashire Independent College, in favour of free and secular 
instruction. It was seconded by the Eev. W. F. Walker, a 
Church clergyman from Oldham, and was supported by 
Mr. Cobdeii. Munificent donations, in aid of the object of the 
Society, were announced, including 500 from Mr. Edward 
Lumbe, 100 from Mr. Henry, M.P., 100 from Mr. Mark 
Phillips, 50 from Mr. Gardner, of Malvern, and 50 from 
Mr. W. Brown, M.P. 

Meetings were held in all parts of the country, which 
were organized by Dr. John Watts, of Manchester, who has 
been known for thirty years as one of the most untiring 
educationists of Lancashire. Mr. Cobden threw himself into 
the movement with all his energy and ability. It is interest- 
ing now to remember that Mr. W. E. Forster was one of the 
supporters of the association. (*) Branches were formed in 
all the large towns. In Birmingham Mr. William Harris, 
1 Combe, Education by Jolly, 239. 


subsequently one of the founders and officers of the League, 
Mr. H. B. S. Thompson, and others who have taken part in the 
recent agitation, had charge of a local branch. Statistics 
and pamphlets were published and circulated by the Society 
and a powerful influence was exerted in support of parliament- 
ary action. The agitation was taken up in Scotland by 
Mr. George Combe, Mr. James Simpson, and Mr. M. Williams. 
It was a part of the object of the Society to demonstrate the 
practicability of free secular instruction, and as the result of the 
movement, the famous free secular school of Manchester, con- 
ducted by Mr. Benjamin Templar, and afterwards by Mr. G. E. 
Mellor, was founded. The "Williams school at Edinburgh, Mr. 
Bastard's school at Blandford, and many other schools and insti- 
tutes on a broad platform were the outgrowth of this agitation. 

It was not to be expected that the scheme of the 
association would be suffered to pass without challenge. The 
first note of opposition came from Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, 
who, in response to an invitation to attend the conference, 
wrote "I cannot conscientiously concur with them (the 
founders of the association) in seeking to establish a 
system of daily schools separate from the superintendence of 
the great religious bodies of the country." ( l ) 

This opposition was consistently maintained during his 
life, by the former Secretary to the Committee of Council. 
He constantly resisted the tendency to a separation between 
sectarianism and national education, and contended against the 
influence of those who were pursuing that policy. The 
system established by the Education Act of 1870 was in his 
eyes the dream of impracticable enthusiasts. He could not 
conceive that men of parliamentary experience could make 
the serious proposition that local municipal boards should 
be invested with power to establish rate supported schools in 
parishes, with whatever constitution, to compete with those 

1 Westminster Review, 54, 411. 


of the religious communities ; much less that the constitu- 
tion of the new schools should exclude all distinctive religious 
instruction. ( ! ) 

The attack on the plan of the National School Association 
was nominally directed against its alleged irreligious character. 
The fear of a representative system which should make 
education national, rather than sectarian, was in fact the root 
of the hostility. The fight at this time was not so much 
respecting details, as upon the principle of management. On 
the one side the Church, the Wesleyans, the Voluntaryists, 
and the Koman Catholics were contending for the management 
by the church or congregation on the other hand, those who 
looked to education for political and social advantages were 
striving to secure local representation. The great service 
rendered by the National Public School Association was in 
popularising and extending the doctrine of Government by 
the people in matters of education. It was in no sense an 
Association hostile to religion. Almost without exception its 
members were connected with religious congregations. Nothing 
is wider from the truth, than that elementary education has 
ever been made the instrument of an attack on the religious 
institutions of the country. The men who have cared least 
about religion are those who have offered the fewest impedi- 
ments to the acceptance of any plan, denominational or 
otherwise, which promised to embrace the whole community 
and they have never been guilty of the selfishness of 
attempting to propagate even a negative creed at the expense 
of the community. The efforts for the separation of schools 
from the control of the religious communions, were partly 
owing no doubt to the growth of the municipal sentiment ; 
but they had their origin in the differences which arose 
amongst the sects, and which wholly prevented any advance. 
The resistance on the part of the Church, the Koman Catholics" 
1 Public Education, 36. 


and exclusive educationists to a rate supported and repre- 
sentative system, arose from their repugnance to allow the 
direction of education to pass out of their own hands. But 
they made religion their shibboleth and attacked the National 
Association as being animated by a spirit of direct antagonism 
to the spread of religious opinions. So far was this hostility 
carried that where their influence prevailed, books and 
magazines which advocated the scheme were excluded from 
public libraries. 

Several bills were introduced or supported under the 
auspices of the Association. They were not in all particulars 
alike, but in each of them a provision was made for moral 
teaching, and for affording the ministers of denominations 
opportunities of giving religious instruction to children of 
their own persuasion. The clauses required that there should 
be " sedulously inculcated a strict regard to truth, justice, 
kindness, and forbearance in our intercourse with our fellow- 
creatures; temperance, industry, frugality, and all other 
virtues conducive to the right ordering of practical conduct 
in the affairs of life." " Nothing shall be taught in any of the 
schools which favours the peculiar tenets of any sect of 
Christians. No minister of religion shall be capable of 
holding any salaried office in connection with the schools." 
" The school committee shall set apart hours in every week, 
during which the schools shall be closed, for the purpose of 
affording an opportunity to the scholars, to attend the 
instruction of the teachers of religion in the various churches 
or chapels or other suitable places. No compulsion shall be 
used to enforce attendance, nor shall any penalty or disability 
whatever be imposed for non-attendance on such religious 
instruction." ( J ) Provisions were also contained for converting 
existing schools into free schools, and admitting them 
to the benefit of the rates, without disturbing their man- 
1 Shuttleworth. Public Education, 39. 


agement, but on the condition of the acceptance of a time- 
table conscience clause. The terms of the clause were as 
follows : " And be it enacted, that the inculcation of doc- 
trinal religion, or sectarian opinions shall not take place in any 
such schools, at any time on any week day, between the hours 
of ... and ... in the morning, and . . . and ... in the afternoon ; 
and that no manager, trustee, or other person shall be deemed 
to have committed a breach of trust, or be in any way liable 
to any suit or proceeding, by reason of the omission to 
inculcate on the scholars, during the hours appointed, doctri- 
nal religion or sectarian opinions ; and no scholar who 
receives secular instruction at any such school, shall be com- 
pelled to attend the school at other times than those 
mentioned, or whilst doctrinal religion or sectarian opinions 
shall be inculcated ; and no part of the payment to be made 
to the managers of any such school shall be in any way applied, 
for the purpose of inculcating doctrinal religion or sectarian 
opinions." As a matter of fact therefore the National 
Association offered to the denominations the terms imposed 
by the Act of 1870 but so influential was the opposition 
to its plans that Sir James Kay Shuttleworth predicted 
that its advocates were destined to be absorbed in other parties 
or cease to exist. "No hope could be entertained of the 
acquiescence of the religious communions in the school rate, 
unless the constitution of the school, as respects its 
management, continue unchanged, and, whatever securities 
were given to the rights of conscience, unless the peculiarities 
of its religious discipline and instruction were left without 
interference." (*) 

In the results, and regarding these efforts and agitations 
from our present educational status, these predictions have 
been wholly falsified ; and the disingenuous and mischief- 
making war-cry " religion in danger " has wholly failed in 

1 Public Education, 43. 


its scare. National progress has left comparatively but a 
modicum of bigotry and superstition to work upon, and 
in natural and insvitable sequence, the prophet has been 
ignored, and the priest (of every sect) is being by degrees 
relegated to his proper position. 

The Manchester and Salford Committee on Education 
was formed to oppose the National Association, and was 
started under the auspices of Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, 
who set himself resolutely against education as a political 
object, resting on other than religious grounds. All the 
influence which he could exert over the Administrations 
under which he served was used to cement the union between 
education and the denominations. He wrote to the Secretary 
of the National Association " No evidence has transpired that, 
as a political object, the education, in daily schools, of the great 
masses of our fellow-countymen supported by manual labour, 
had received any important impulse from the efforts of any 
political class in this country ; whereas, the various religious 
bodies have made large sacrifices for the support of daily 
schools; the Church alone claiming to have provided the 
rudiments of instruction for about a million of children." 

It was useless to argue with the Secretary of the 
Committee of Council on this subject. He could not be 
made to see that it was the working out of the democratic 
principle which gave the impulse to education, and he could 
not, or would not acknowledge that the objects of the 
Church, in keeping its control of the question, were as much 
political as religious, aiming at the preservation of dignities 
and revenues depending on a political alliance. All that 
came before him were the Government returns. By these, 
his views, not constitutionally large, could hardly be 
developed. His Department insisted that religion should be 
the basis of the assistance it administered, and a certain 
number of schools was provided by each of the sects which 


was permitted to compete. Beyond this he did not see. 
He described the new scheme of the Manchester and 
Salford Committee as " one on a religious basis, under 
the guidance of ministers and communicants ; the elders, 
class leaders, and deacons of the Church and congrega- 
tions." The new association proposed to raise funds by 
means of local rates not to be applied exclusively for 
secular instruction. The management of the schools and 
the appointment and dismissal of teachers were confided to 
the Church or congregation, by which the school was 
erected. The foundation of the scheme in theory was, that all 
denominations should be treated impartially, though an 
attempt was made to impose the Protestant version of the 
Bible on the Eoman Catholics. It was a scheme of 
concurrent endowment, and was supposed, on good reason, 
to express the sentiments of the Government of the day. 
Though dealing with local rates, it was not founded on any 
representative principle. The ratepayers were offered no 
control over school management. The Town Council was to 
collect a rate and pay it to the managers of the denominational 
schools. Where a deficiency of accommodation existed, the 
religious bodies were to have the option of supplying it in 
the first place, and only upon their neglect was the municipality 
empowered to build schools. No provisions were made to 
secure responsibility for the administration of public funds. 
On the Committee there were members of all the religious 
denominations, including the Eoman Catholics. The harmony 
of this heterogeneous body was of short duration the Eoman 
Catholic members, who represented 100,000 of the population 
of the city, withdrawing on a dispute as to the use of the 
authorised version of the Bible. 

There was yet another society in the field, the " York- 
shire Society for Promoting National Education," the secretary 
of which addressed a letter to Mr. Cobden on the rise and 


progress of National Education. Its head quarters were 
at Leeds, and it took the secular ground, but its efforts were 
overshadowed by the superior energy of the Voluntaryists, 
who also made Yorkshire the centre of their operations. 

There was thus at this time a triangular contest in 
which the Secular or separatist party really supplied the 
momentum to progress. They were equally opposed by the 
Voluntaryists and the Denominationalists ; the former of 
whom would do nothing, and the latter nothing except 
on their own lines. The problem of the hour was how to 
bring national education under civil and popular control. 
If it took a long time to solve, and if indeed its solution is 
not yet complete, it is owing to the magnitude of the forces 
which were arrayed against it, and their traditional and 
historical authority, which was increased rather than dimin- 
ished by the early policy of the Government in dealing with 
the subject. 

The two schools of Manchester educationists came 
into conflict in Parliament in the Session of 1851. Mr. Fox, 
as representing the National Public School Association, moved 
a resolution in support of " the Establishment of Free Schools, 
for secular instruction, to be supported by local rates, and 
managed by committees elected specially for that purpose by 
the ratepayers." ( x ) Sir Geo. Grey, on the part of the Govern- 
ment, opposed the motion, the Ministry evidently leaning to 
the rival scheme, in the preparation of which the officials 
of the Committee of Council had taken an active share. 
The Home Secretary said he had been informed by the 
chairman of the Manchester and Salford Bill Committee 
that they were maturing a plan applicable to Manchester 
and Salford, which was in the nature of a private bill and 
would be introduced in the following Session ; that a 

1 Hansard, T. S., 116, 1255. 


similar attempt was being made in Leeds ; and that these 
plans held out some hope of a settlement. 

Mr. Milner Gibson supported the bill of Mr. Fox. Mr. 
Adderley (Lord Norton) ridiculed the idea that the separation 
of religious and secular instruction implied hostility to 
religion and Mr. Cobden showed that the local Manchester 
and Salford scheme had already got into difficulties. The 
whole body of the Eoman Catholics had seceded, because the 
Committee made it a fundamental principle that in all schools 
erected at the public expense, the authorised version of the 
Bible should be read. Mr. Fox's bill was lost upon the first 

In March, 1852, Lord Derby became Prime Minister and 
announced that if the question of parliamentary reform was 
disposed of during the session, the next great measure under- 
taken would be the establishment of a system of public 
education. The statement of the Government intention was 
not favourable to the prospects of the Manchester and Salford 
Education Bill the second reading of which was moved by 
Mr. Brotherton, who avowed his preference for a secular 
system, but which he was disposed to sink, rather than permit 
the continuance of street instruction. The bill was presented 
to the House as a private measure, and a postponement was 
asked for, to enable the Corporation to oppose it if they 
thought fit. It proposed a rate in aid of existing schools, the 
management of which was to be undisturbed but subject 
to a conscience clause for the protection of children whose 
parents objected to religious instruction. In new schools the 
authorised version of the Bible was required to be read. The 
bill was supported by the Bishops, the clergy, the Wesleyans, 
and many dissenting ministers. It was opposed by Jews, 
Roman Catholics, the Society of Friends, and the teachers and 
superintendents of the Sunday School Union. On the second 
reading it appeared that the Manchester Town Council had 


passed a resolution adverse to it, and that the Corporation of 
Salford had approved it. It was resisted in the House by 
Mr. Milner Gibson and Mr. Eoebuck on the ground that it was 
a public bill, and should be proceeded with as such ; and by 
Mr. Walpole, the Home Secretary, on the general principles 
it raised. It was eventually referred, together with the bill of 
the National Public School Association, to a Select Committee, 
on which with others, sat Mr. T. M. Gibson, Mr. Bright, Mr. 
Cobden, Mr. Fox, Lord John Eussell, and Mr. Gladstone. The 
Committee sat for two sessions. A large mass of evidence was 
taken, but there was no report on the merits of the plans, and 
the bills disappeared^ 1 ) In the same session the Congrega- 
tionalists and the Baptist Union opposed both of the 
Manchester bills. 

The session of 1852 was also signalised by a dispute re- 
specting the management clauses of the Church schools, the 
stringency of which had been relaxed by Lord Derby's Govern- 
ment ; giving increased powers over the schoolmaster to the 
Bishops and clergy, both in relation to religious and moral 
government. A strong opposition to this change proceeded 
from within the National Society itself, and a section of the 
members threatened an attempt to alter the charter, and to 
suspend the issue of the Queen's letter. A large secession from 
the Society seemed imminent, and was only averted by the 
Cancelling of the Minute by Lord Aberdeen's Government in 
the next session. 

The year 1853 witnessed some important alterations 
by which the cost of education, as administered by the 
Department, was suddenly and largely increased. The 
capitation grant was a conspicuous feature in the new plans 
of the Government, and the way in which it was adopted is a 
curious illustration of the manner in which the power of the 
Education Department was capable of extension, almost 

1 Parliamentary Report, 1852, No. 499, 400. 


without the exercise of parliamentary authority and super- 
vision. Lord Aberdeen's Government, which was formed 
after the general election of 1852, had put the necessity of 
extensive changes in our education system in the van of their 
professions. Lord John Eussell was President of the Council 
in the new Ministry, and his devotion, for many years, to the 
details of the administration of the Education Department, 
and his well known interest in the question had raised great 
expectations. Mr. Gladstone, also, was a member of the 
Cabinet, and it was understood that he, with others, was 
pledged to bring forward a liberal measure on the " compre- 
hensive" system. Archdeacon Denison wrote, " It is their 
darling project ; the only idea of the method and manner of 
education, of which their minds appear to be capable." (*) 

It was on the ground of Mr. Gladstone's association 
with the Whig Cabinet, and especially on the suspicion of 
his heresy on this question, that his re-election at Oxford was 
opposed in the beginning of 1853. The resolution to oppose 
him was taken at a meeting of the National Society. Arch- 
deacon Denison wrote from Mr. Dudley Perceval's committee 
room, " it should, I think, have been sufficient to ascertain 
and fix a Churchman's vote, to see Mr. Gladstone in the same 
Committee of Council with Lord John Eussell and Lord 
Lansdowne ; who, as they sit in the Cabinet, nominally 
without office, but in effect as joint Ministers of public 
instruction, will have ample leisure, and be the better 
enabled to devise and mature a scheme for employing the 
power and influence of the Coalition Government to under- 
mine, and finally to destroy by law the parochial system of 
the Church of England." ( 2 ) 

Under the new scheme of the Government the school 
population was divided into two classes, urban and rural. To 
provide for the former the Borough Bill was introduced. The 
1 Notes of My Life, 101. 2 Ibid, 101. 


parishes were dealt with by a Minute of the Committee of 

In explaining the Borough Bill Lord John Eussell went 
over the well-worn history of the question, the long list 
of attempts and failures, and the controversies which had 
prevented union and effective action. The Government had 
concluded that they ought to strengthen and improve the 
voluntary system rather than set up anything in its place. 
Some returns of the National Society, collected in 1847, 
showed that the school pence in the Church schools amounted 
to 413,004 per annum. These figures were hardly consistent 
with those of the Eegistrar General in 1851, which gave the 
payments of scholars in connection with all the schools of the 
religious bodies as 259,134. But Lord John Eussell took the 
higher estimate, and expressed his gratification that the poor 
contributed half-a-million towards education. This was 
evidently a sum of money which, for financial reasons, the 
Coalition Ministry could not afford to dispense with, and it 
decided them against any attempt to introduce a large 
measure for free schools. A liberal plan was again made subor- 
dinate to the straits of office. The principle of free education 
was supported, at this time, by the most enlightened 
politicians of the day, and was becoming increasingly popular. 
It was a prominent feature of the bill of the Manchester and 
Salford Committee, which was prepared at the Education 
Department. But the Government dared not face the 
sacrifice of even a quarter of a million per year. Therefore, 
instead of the great measure which Lord Derby had promised 
in 1852, the Whigs and Peelites offered the country another 
instalment of the patchwork system. The definite proposal 
was that in incorporated towns the Town Council might, with 
the assent of two-thirds of their body, levy a rate, not to 
establish independent schools, but in aid of those in existence, 
and of further voluntary efforts. The rate was to be applied 


to pay twopence a week for each scholar, in respect of whom 
fourpence or fivepence was contributed from other sources. 
There was no provision for the erection of new schools. The 
Council was to have authority to appoint a Committee, partly 
of its own members, and partly of residents, to distribute 
sums raised by rate. 

The bill was coldly received in Parliament. It was not 
actively opposed, but it was regarded by the friends of 
education as a half measure. No enthusiasm for it was shown 
in the country, and the Government made no effort to pass 
it into law. So little encouragement did the Ministry 
receive, that another measure for the regulation of education 
endowments which was promised in the House of Lords was 
also abandoned. 

But while the Borough Bill collapsed, and the towns 
were left without provision, the rural districts were much 
surprised by an unexpected subsidy. This was effected by 
a Minute of the Committee of Council. Its operation was 
limited in the first instance to agricultural parishes and 
unincorporated towns, containing not more than 5,000 
inhabitants. It provided, that on certain conditions as to 
attendance and teaching, and contributions from other sources, 
a capitation grant of six shillings per scholar in boys schools, 
and five shillings in girls schools should be paid to the 
managers. The intention was to create a premium on 
regularity of attendance^ 1 ) and to a certain extent this was 
probably accomplished. A much more striking consequence 
was the encouragement of dishonest practices in the enumera- 
tion of attendances which later became a scandal to public 
administration. The education vote rose at a bound from 
160,000 to 260,000, and on the extension of the Minute 
in January, 1856, to the whole country, another 200,000 
was required. This was a great boon to the clergy, and did 
1 Shuttleworth's Public Education, 356. 


more than anything to reconcile them to the administration 
of the Department. It relieved them from writing begging 
letters, and getting up bazaars and engaging in other 
amateur speculations. Where districts were well supported, 
the managers had more money than they knew what to do 
with. The unbending principle of Archdeacon Denison, 
always true to his ideal of the Establishment and his 
Order, could make no headway against these State bribes. 
" As I go about now," he writes sadly, "and hear Churchmen 
talking about their schools as connected with the Council, I 
hear commonly, of little else, than the number of pounds 
they get by way of grant : this seems to be the test of a 
good school." f 1 ) 

In poor districts, where contributions could not be raised, 
and where of necessity there was the most need for education, 
nothing was effected. The perverse obstinacy with which 
successive Governments adhered to the vicious principle that 
assistance should be given not for education, but as an 
encouragement to sectarian zeal and rivalry, is an amazing 
example of the injury which may be effected by a bad 

But the manner in which the Minutes of 1853 became 
law is worthy of notice, as showing the almost irresponsible 
power, and the absolute independence of authority which 
the Committee of Council possessed. In introducing the 
Borough Bill Lord John Eussell briefly referred to a new 
Minute applicable to the country. He said, " this Minute, 
when its provisions shall have been fully matured, will be 
laid upon the table ; and the House before coming to any 
vote upon it will have ample opportunity for duly considering 
it." As a matter of history it was never considered in 
Parliament. The Municipal Bill was not really discussed. 
. The grant for education was hurried through among a crowd 

1 Notes of My Life, 109. 


of miscellaneous estimates, when it was not expected to come 
on, and the capitation grant was not discussed at all. That 
it was generally acceptable however in Parliament may be 
assumed from its subsequent extension in 1856. 

During the administration of Lord Aberdeen, Jewish 
schools were first admitted to grants but schools of a purely 
secular character were still refused participation. 

The Manchester and Salford Bill re-appeared in a some- 
what altered shape in 1854, under the charge of Mr. Adderley. 
The main principle of the bill was, to make the Corporation 
bankers for managers and school committees. Mr. Milner 
Gibson moved " that education to be supported by public 
rates is a subject which ought not to be dealt with by a private 
bill." (*) The Town Council of Manchester by a unanimous 
vote had requested the Members for the Borough to oppose 
the bill. The municipality naturally refused to accept the 
charge of a system when they had no control over its 
regulations, and the feeling of the people of Manchester at 
this time was strongly in favour of the disassociation of 
religious and secular teaching. The Committee to which it 
had been formerly referred had made no report because they 
could not agree on the evidence. The Corporation petitioned 
the House to defer legislation until some general measure 
was proposed by the Government. The opposition to the 
principle of this bill now took shape, and it was complained 
that it would cause the same bitterness as the church-rate 
controversy since it proposed to put schools of all denomina- 
tions upon public rates. It is clear that the bill involved 
the same principle as that which caused such a general 
feeling of hostility to the 25th section of the Act of 1870. 
Mr. Bright strongly opposed the measure and said it would 
necessarily import strife and retard education for many years. 
It was again and finally rejected. 

1 Hansard, 130, 1054. 


The discussion on supply was notable for a persuasive 
and powerful appeal made by Mr. Cobden. Lord John 
Kussell, on moving the education vote, had said it was useless 
to bring forward a general plan until there was a greater 
concurrence of opinion, and that Government must confine 
its efforts to improving the quality of instruction. Mr. 
Cobden warmly complained that the President of the Council 
was letting down the question, and going backward in 
regard to it. He maintained that they must make up their 
minds to local rates. They could not otherwise have a system 
worthy of the name. After sixteen years of trifling, they 
wanted something decisive. The country could not afford to 
have a " little national education." If they were to do any- 
thing adequate, they must raise at least three-and-a-half 
millions a year, and England was rich enough to do that. 
He suggested a permissive bill, giving power to different 
localities beginning with corporate towns. He said that 
many meetings were held amongst the advocates of secular 
and denominational education, and there was a tendency to 
toleration and compromise. There was no occasion to be 
afraid that people wanted to do anything irreligious. There 
could not be got together a hundred men into whose heads it 
would enter to do anything inimical to religion ; yet no sooner 
was secular education mentioned, than it was declared a plot 
was laid to undermine religion. So anxious was he for educa- 
tion, on secular principles or without them, that he was 
willing to join in efforts for denominational education, or for 
secular education, or separate education ; the only condition 
being that it should include the whole community. He 
condemned the languid tone and feeble hand with which 
Lord John Eussell had approached the question of late, and 
contended that an immature plan would result in a further 
postponement. (*) 

1 Hansard, 134, 962. 


The Crimean war necessarily diverted public attention 
from domestic questions ; but, nevertheless, there were in 1855 
four measures before Parliament proposing different means 
of dealing with education. One of these, Denison's Act, 
permitting Guardians to pay the fees for the education of 
children of out-door paupers, actually became law. The 
statute was practically inoperative, as shown by the evidence 
given before the Newcastle Commission. In nine counties 
only eleven children received the benefit of its provisions 
and only some- six or seven thousand throughout the 
country. ( J ) It remained ineffectual until its repeal in 
1876. Its author was an advanced educationist, and one 
of the early advocates of compulsion. 

The other bills of the session were, a Government 
measure, under the charge of Lord John Eussell ; another, 
introduced by Sir John Pakington ; and a secular bill, 
promoted by the National Public School Association, and under 
the care of Mr. Milner Gibson. The Government bill was never 
put fairly before Parliament, which was distracted by discus- 
sions upon the conduct of the war. Lord Palmerston suc- 
ceeded Lord Aberdeen as Prime Minister in February, 1855, 
and continued to hold the office until the beginning of 1868. 
Earl Granville was President of the Council during the whole 
of this time. During the early part of 1855, Lord John 
Eussell held the post of Colonial Secretary in Lord 
Palmerston's Ministry, and he was entrusted with the educa- 
tion measures of the Government. His absence at Vienna, 
on a mission connected with the war, prevented progress, 
and on his return to England he resigned his office. One 
result, however, of his visit to Vienna seems to have been to 
enlarge his views on education, and in the following session 
he was roundly charged by the Voluntaryists with bringing 
home "a new-fangled scheme of despotism." 
1 Newcastle Commission, 380. 


Sir John Pakington pressed forward his measure with 
much resolution and energy. The state of education as 
fostered by the voluntary societies was a scandal. An 
analysis of the imposing returns of the National Society 
showed that not more than 30 per cent, of their schools were 
legally secured for educational purposes ; 47 per cent, of the 
whole were neither legally nor virtually so secured, and of the 
47 per cent. 50 per cent, were kept in dame's cottages, 
corners of churches, belfries, kitchens, or other rooms of 
parsonage houses. Sir John's bill was permissive in character. 
It proposed to place education in the hands of Boards elected 
by the ratepayers. Magistrates were to be ex-officio members, 
and other members were to have a ratal qualification of 30. 
Powers were vested in the Boards for providing schools, 
superintending the education of the district, levying rates and 
expending them under the control of the Education Depart- 
ment. The rates were to be supplemented by Parliamentary 
grants, and the schools were to be free. Existing schools 
were to be assisted out of the rates. A conscience clause was 
to be imposed on all schools. In new schools the religious 
teaching was to be in accordance with the opinions of a 

Mr. Milner Gibson's bill was for secular education. It 
was not put forward in antagonism to that of Sir John 
Pakington. They were both agreed that schools should be 
free, and be supported by rates. Mr. Gibson aimed at entire 
local management and liberty of conscience. In the state of 
parties and the distractions of opinion there was no hope of 
progress. All the measures were opposed by the Voluntaryists, 
and by the advocates of the existing schools which were now 
satisfied with the money they received. The Wesleyan 
Committee passed resolutions affirming that their community 
would never consent that the teaching of religion in their 


schools should be subject to restriction. (*) Before the close 
of the session all the bills were withdrawn, 

In 1856, Lord Granville, the new President of the 
Council, brought in a bill in the House of Lords for 
the appointment of a Vice-President of the Council, who 
would be responsible to the House of Commons for the 
distribution of the grant, now enormously increased by 
the capitation grant, which had been extended by Minute 
to boroughs. The bill passed, with slight opposition, and 
Mr. Cowper, afterwards known as Mr. Cowper-Temple, and the 
author of the clause bearing his name in the act of 1870, ( 2 ) 
was the first Vice-President. The President of the Council 
also submitted a bill enabling towns and parishes to rate 
themselves for purposes of education, but no effort was made 
to pass it. 

The House of Commons was meanwhile the scene of 
some stirring debates. Lord John Eussell, no longer fettered 
by the responsibilities of office, moved a series of twelve 
resolutions, covering the whole field of the education con- 
troversy. They affirmed the necessity of the revision and 
consolidation of the Minutes of Council ; of an increase in the 
number of Inspectors ; the formation of school districts ; an 
enquiry into the available means of instruction ; the proper 
application of charitable trusts ; the power of rating ; the 
election of school committees, with powers of management ; 
the reading of the Scriptures ; and a scheme of indirect 
compulsion, to be carried out by employers. In regard to 
direct compulsion, Lord John said : " I do not think it 
would be possible, I should be glad if it were, to compel the 
parents of these children to send them to school. I do not 
think you could, by any enactment, reach the parents in such 
places as Birmingham, Sheffield, and others, in which, however, 

1 Newcastle Report, 312. 
2 Section 14, prohibiting the teaching of religious formularies. 


we have to lament the greatest evils arising from neglect of 
attendance at school.'^ 1 ) But at last something like an adequate 
view of the necessities of the case was being taken, since the 
estimated cost of the plan was placed at 3,240,000. 

A curious combination of parties made common cause 
against the resolutions. In the discussion and divisions 
which took place upon them, Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Disraeli, 
Sir James Graham and Mr. Baines, Mr. Henley and Mr. 
Milner Gibson, Lord Robert Cecil and Mr. Cardwell were 
found acting together. ( 2 ) On the other side Lord John Eussell 
was cordially supported by Sir John Pakington. At the 
outset of the discussion it was evident that a majority of the 
House had determined to subject the author of the motion 
to a humiliating defeat. The Government gave their late 
colleague only a half-hearted support, and would not assume 
the responsibility of founding a measure on his proposals. 
Mr. Henley moved on the discussion of the first resolution 
that the Chairman leave the chair. The debate was several 
times adjourned, and Lord John, in the hope of avoiding 
defeat, abandoned the greater part of the resolutions. The 
manoeuvre, however, did not avert the catastrophe. Sir James 
Graham, who had been converted to Mr. Baines's views, 
strongly opposed Lord John Eussell's plan. Mr. Gladstone 
spoke in favour of a system on the established basis. The 
Nonconformist leaders went to Mr. Henley and told him that 
they were going to vote for him on the ground that State 
education involved a danger to definite religious teaching. 
At this special time the Voluntaryists were making despairing 
efforts to sustain their failing cause, and Mr. Baines, Mr. 

1 Hansard, T. S., 140, 1955. 

2 Mrs. M. A. Baines, whose name is familiar in the educational discussions 
of this time, and who was one of the first advocates of compulsion, has sent the 
author a cartoon by "H. B.," which refers to the resolutions in question, and 
which reproduces the figures of the most prominent parliamentary advocates 
of education at this time. 


Hadfield, and Mr. Miall were indefatigable in urging their 
opinions on Parliament. Mr. Henley's motion was carried 
by the unexpected majority of 102. As a curious illustration 
of the prejudice which still existed against education in 
some quarters it may be noticed that in the course of these 
debates Mr. Drummond, a member of the House, instanced 
two celebrated criminals of the day, Palmer and Sadleir, as 
the results of education, and exclaimed, " It really seems as 
if God had withdrawn common-sense from this House." 

In the following year Sir John Pakington renewed his 
attempt to pass a bill for cities and boroughs, and was sup- 
ported by Mr. Cobden ; but the sudden dissolution of Parlia- 
ment on the question of the China war interrupted its 
progress, and the election which followed decimated its 
supporters. Out of doors public opinion was supplying 
constant pressure, and amongst the incidents of the year was 
the conference at Willis's rooms, at which the Prince Consort 
presided. About this time Mr. Keith Johnston, the geographer, 
published a diagram, giving a comparative view of the per- 
centage of the population of various countries in Europe 
receiving instruction. From this it appeared that England 
stood tenth on the list. 

Sir John Pakington was a member of Lord Derby's 
Ministry which went into office in February, 1858. It was 
on his motion that the Duke of Newcastle's Commission was 
appointed. Sir Charles Adderley was Vice-President of the 
Council, but his accession to office had materially moderated 
his views on the question. He said, " Any attempt to keep 
the children of the labouring classes under intellectual 
culture after the very earliest age at which they could earn 
their living, would be as arbitrary and improper as it would 
be to keep the boys at Eton and Harrow at spade labour." 
The expression did not point to progress, but happily that 
was not dependent on the favour of officialism. 


The appointment of Mr. Lowe as Vice-President of the 
Council in 1859, as a member of the Ministry over which 
Lord Palmerston presided until his death, and the acceptance 
of an inspectorship by Mr. Eraser, the present Bishop of 
Manchester, were guarantees, at any rate, for an intelligent 
investigation of the existing system. Their accession to 
office marks, not so much a new era in national education, as 
a revolution in the Government methods of management. In 
the many fierce conflicts which have raged around this 
question, there have been none more bitter than those which 
are associated with the name of Mr. Lowe. Of all our 
Ministers of education he has left the deepest impress of 
individuality upon the system, in its official character, and 
provoked a hostility more unmeasured than any other 
politician. For four years he was the object of the most 
implacable and envenomed attacks from all persons who 
had the smallest interest in the details of the Government 
administration ; including those who were anxious to extend 
and reform the powers of the Department, and those who 
wished to abolish it altogether. 

The reforms initiated by Mr. Lowe were wholly 
confined to amending the Privy Council system as it existed 
and in no degree to extending it, or substituting for it a more 
general and comprehensive plan. Judging from the vigour 
and fearlessness with which he executed his task it may 
perhaps be regretted that he did not undertake the larger 
achievement of laying down the lines of a complete system. 
But the Government of which he was a member was not 
disposed for any grand or heroic measures. Lord Derby had 
gone out on the question of reform, and on the accession of 
Lord Palmerston, there set in the easy, do nothing, " rest and 
be thankful " period, which lasted for five years. It extended 
to all branches of government, and was a constant wet 
blanket upon the agitation for domestic improvement. 


Mr. Lowe's course at the Education Department was 
determined by another active consideration and that was, 
Mr. Gladstone's resolve to cut down the cost of government. 
The education estimate of 1859, Mr. Lowe's first year at the 
Department, was 836,920. The vote had increased to that 
amount from 160,000 in the preceding six years. There 
was a strong and just presumption that the efficiency and 
the utility of the system were not advancing in proportion 
with the cost. 

Mr. Lowe, in moving the estimate, announced that the 
Ministry did not propose to take any new step until the Duke 
of Newcastle's Commission had made their report. He 
sketched the good and bad points of the system, though 
he hardly seems to have gauged the actual amount of friction 
and dissatisfaction which existed. The advantages, to his 
mind were, that it relied on an existing machinery, which 
was a stimulus to liberality, and had given proof of strength 
in tangible results. It was defective in that it did not reach 
districts most in need of assistance, but that could only be 
remedied by fundamental alterations. There was also a 
constant tendency to devour the Department. Another fault 
was, that public money was spent on schools founded on 
exclusive principles. The public was justified in asking that 
before grants were made to denominational schools, they 
should require in the trust deeds a conscience clause, pro- 
tecting the children of parents who objected to religious 
formularies. This was done in many instances. (*) The 
exclusive system was wasteful, and increased the labour and 
cost of inspectorship by at least a third. At the then rate 
of progress, Mr. Lowe estimated that the grants would 
eventually be two-and-a-half millions per annum. 

1 About 1850, it became the practice of the Department to require the 
insertion of a conscience clause where aid was given to new schools, but 
the custom was not general. 



Mr. Adderley, being relieved from the restraints of 
office, introduced in 1859 a bill for indirect compulsion, 
providing that children should not be employed in labour 
except it was certified that they had received a certain 
amount of instruction. The discussion was chiefly remarkable 
for an opinion expressed by Mr. Gladstone, who urged that 
the public mind was absolutely unprepared to deal with the 
question, which might with more advantage be the theme of 
speakers at statistical or social science associations. 

The estimate for 1860 was the first intimation of the 
alterations contemplated by the Department. For the first 
time since 1834 the vote for education was reduced. The 
Vice-President complained that the system had a tendency to 
grow more wasteful rather than more economical. Compre- 
hensive schools were the truest economy, so that one school 
sufficed instead of two but he said the country had been 
retrograding, and foundation deeds were more exclusive than 
thirty years before. The British and Foreign Schools which were 
open to all classes except Eoman Catholics, were replaced by 
denominational schools, chiefly Wesleyan, and the antagonism 
between the sects became sharper and more defined. The Com- 
mittee recognised the necessity for a strict appropriation of 
the grant. They reduced the building grant, and determined 
to withdraw further grants for the erection of Training Colleges. 
They had suspended the capitation grant in Scotland, and had 
resolved on a reduction of pupil teachers. The voluntary 
party alone, amongst the various sections of educationists, 
received these changes with great satisfaction. The re-action 
in favour of their principles, which they had so long predicted, 
had now, they thought fairly set in. 

The Duke of Newcastle's Commission, which was 
gazetted in 1858, presented their report in March, 1861. 
The result of their three years' enquiry is comprised in 
six bulky volumes, containing reports and evidence on all 


branches of the subject, and furnishing a most complete history 
of State education. The most important part of the enquiry 
was that which related to the education of the " independent 
poor." Other matters dealt with, were the education of 
paupers, vagrants and criminals, military and naval schools, 
and the application of endowments. The investigations 
extended also into the character and ability of teachers the 
instruction in Training Colleges, the quality of teaching, and 
the attendance. The enquiry was principally devoted to the 
labours and results of the Committee of Council ; but was also 
illustrated by valuable reports by the Eev. Mark Pattison, 
and Mr. Matthew Arnold on education in Europe; and by Dr. 
Eyerson on Canadian education. Taken with the reports of 
the Schools Enquiry Commission relating to higher education, 
and Mr. Eraser's report on the common schools of the United 
States, they form probably the most comprehensive account of 
education in all its branches, both at home and. abroad, which 
has yet been put before the public. The accuracy of the statis- 
tical details of the report oi the Newcastle Commission has 
often been disputed, and it has been made abundantly clear, that 
from some cause they greatly underrated the deficiency of 
education in the country. The report, perhaps on account of 
the endeavour to reconcile the conflicting views of the 
Commissioners, was characterised by considerable looseness 
of statement, and by wide differences of opinion between the 
Commissioners and the witnesses and school inspectors. 

The general conclusions of the Commissioners can only 
be indicated very briefly. The leading object of the schools 
was found to be, as a rule, the care of religious instruction 
on the part of the managers while they were sought by 
the parents principally for secular instruction. The evidence 
of the Assistant Commissioners was conclusive as to this. 
Jews and Eoman Catholics were commonly found in Church 
schools, and Church children in Unitarian schools. In 


Church schools the catechism was taught to all the scholars, 
and they were often compelled to attend Sunday School or 
Church. "There can be no doubt that this sort of inter- 
ference engenders the bitterest feeling of hostility to the 
Established Church." (*) The difficulty of introducing a 
comprehensive system lay with the founders of the schools, 
and not the people. In Sunday Schools, reading and writing 
were incidentally taught, but their primary object was religious 
instruction, and by this machinery religious denominations 
increased the number of their adherents. The gross amount 
of education was subject to large qualifications and deductions, 
on account of irregularity of attendance, and the quality of 
instruction. It was assumed that half the children between 
three and fifteen ought to have been on the books of some school 
in actual numbers, 2,655,767. The real numbers on the books 
were 2,535,462 leaving a deficiency of 120,305 who received 
no education. The children of the poorer classes receiving in- 
struction were estimated at 2,213,694. ( 2 ) Of this number 
917,255 were under inspection, the remainder being in private 
adventure schools, dame schools, and charity schools. With 
the exception of the children of out-door paupers or vicious 
parents, nearly all the children in the country capable of 
going to school received some instruction. The general con- 
clusion arrived at was, " There is no large district entirely 
destitute of schools, and requiring to be supplied with them 
on a large scale." ( 3 ) " The means of education were diffused 
pretty generally and equally over the whole face of the 
country, and the great mass of the population recognised its 
importance sufficiently to take advantage to some extent of 
the opportunities afforded to their children." ( 4 ) The 
attendance was distributed over about four years, as to 
most children, between six and twelve. About one-third 
attended less than 100 days, 43 per cent, attended 150 days, 
1 Report, 36. 2 Ibid, 79. 3 Ibid, 86. 4 Ibid, 86. 


and 41 per cent, attended 176 days, entitling them to the 
capitation grant. (*) Only 10 per cent, attended the same 
school between three and four years. " This state of things 
leaves great room for improvement, but we do not think 
that it warrants very gloomy views, or calls for extreme 
measures." ( 2 ) Compulsion was not recommended. The 
demands of labour could not, in the opinion of the Com- 
missioners, be resisted. There was an increasing tendency 
to the employment of children, and they were of opinion 
that independence was of more importance than educa- 
tion. ( 3 ) 

The inspected schools were found to be much superior to 
others, but there were great complaints of the mechanical 
character of the teaching. The inspection was not valuable 
as a criterion of results. The schools were judged by the 
first class. Three out of four left school with such a 
smattering as they picked up in the lower classes. " They 
leave school, they go to work, and, in the course of a year, 
they know nothing at all." " We are successfully educating 
one in eight of the class of children for which the schools were 
intended." " The mass of children get little more than a trick 
of mechanically pronouncing the letters, and the words which 
they read convey hardly any ideas to their minds." ( 4 ) 

The suggestions of the Commission amounted, in 
substance, to an effort to supplement the system which had 
grown up under the Privy Council, without having recourse 
to such a measure of local rating as would disturb the 
management, or give the general body of ratepayers any 
control over the schools. They advised that assistance should 
be given by means of two grants ; one out of general taxation, 
dependent on attendance, and one from the county rates, 
based on examination. For the rural districts it was advised 
that County Boards should be appointed. Quarter Sessions 

1 Report, 173. 2 Ibid, 173. 3 Ibid, 188. * Ibid, 250. 


were to elect six members, being in the Commission of the 
Peace, or Chairmen or Vice-Chairmen of Boards of Guardians, 
and these members were to elect six others. In towns 
containing more than 40,000 inhabitants the Town Council 
was to be authorised to appoint a Borough Board of 
Education. The Committee of Council was to appoint an 
Inspector as a member of each Board, and the Boards were to 
choose their own examiners. 

The Commissioners declined to recommend a compulsory 
conscience clause, which they thought would give a dangerous 
shock to the existing system. 

The suggestions of the Commissioners, being evidently 
the result of a compromise between conflicting opinions, gave 
very little satisfaction to any party. (*) The conclusions and 
recommendations were alike attacked. Lord Shaftesbury 
impugned the accuracy of their reports on ragged schools. 
Mr .Dillwyn complained of their injustice to Dissenters. The 
school Inspectors denied that the conclusions on the general 
results of the teaching were trustworthy. Grave doubts were 
also raised as to the accuracy of the enumeration of schools 
and scholars. For this purpose the Inspectors had chiefly 
relied on returns from voluntary societies and religious bodies, 
a method of enquiry which the statistical societies had 
previously condemned as untrustworthy. In a subsequent 
debate on the returns made to the Commissioners by the 
National Society, Mr. Lowe demonstrated their inaccuracy, 
and said, " It would be paying too great a compliment to 
those figures to base any calculation on them." ( 2 ) But they 
were a great consolation to those who objected to any change, 

1 The Commissioners were the Duke of Newcastle, Mr. Justice Coleridge, 
the Rev. W. C. Lake, the Rev. William Rogers, Mr. Goldwin Smith, 
Mr. Nassau W. Senior, and Mr. Edward Miall. The report was signed by 
all the Commissioners. Mr. Senior also presented a separate paper containing 
Heads of a Report. 

2 Hansard, 170, 1199. 


and ten years later they were circulated throughout the 
country to prove that the system of education, as it existed 
in 1860, was perfectly adequate to all needs. They have 
since been conclusively falsified by experience in the 
working of the Education Act. 

It at once became evident that the division of opinion 
which the Commissioners hoped to avoid by their report 
could not be averted. Sir John Pakington appealed to the 
Government to bring forward a measure, for which the 
circumstances appeared to be favourable. The Duke of 
Newcastle was a member of the Cabinet, as well as Earl 
Eussell. But the very moderate suggestions of the Com- 
missioners had already given rise to alarm. Mr. Henley said 
there was very much in the report which gave sanction to 
secular education. "The Committee appointed to watch 
proceedings in Parliament with reference to grants for national 
education," of which the Duke of Marlborough was Chair- 
man, and several Bishops were members, had met and declared 
their fears that the radical changes proposed would prepare 
the way for bringing schools at no distant period under the 
control of the ratepayers, and extinguishing the religious 
element altogether. The National Society also saw in many 
parts of the report a grave danger to the maintenance of 
religious teaching. 

The Ministry of Lord Palmerston was not inclined to 
face the dangers which threatened any attempt to solve the 
question. The Prime Minister with easy nonchalance post- 
poned all attempts at reform, and the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer did not exempt even the education vote from the 
rigorous economy he practised. In moving the estimates for 
1861, Mr. Lowe entered upon an exhaustive criticism of the 
report of the Commission and explained the views of the 
Government. He admitted that the system was expensive, 
that the instruction was deficient, and the machinery com- 


plicated. But he said it was not the intention of the Govern- 
ment to infringe on the organic principle of the system ; its 
denominational character, its foundation on a broad religious 
basis, and the practice of making grants in aid of local 
subscriptions. The Government were asked to propose a bill 
on the basis of the report, but they would rather some one 
else did it. Such reductions as would not impair efficiency 
would be effected by a Minute of Council, but it was 
promised that no innovations would be made until the end 
of the next financial year. The capitation grant was not 
given on sufficiently stringent conditions. They ought to be 
satisfied that the children had been properly taught. They 
did not propose to base payment simply on results. The 
capitation grant would still be paid on the number of attend- 
ances above a certain number, but the Government went a 
step further. They proposed that an Inspector should 
examine the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. 
If a child passed in all subjects the full capitation grant 
would be paid. Failure in one subject involved a reduction 
of the grant by a third, in two subjects by two thirds, and in 
case of complete failure the whole of the grant would be 

This was the foundation of the " Revised Code," and the 
system of " payment by results." The Minutes were sub- 
mitted to Parliament at the end of the session, and during 
the recess were the subject of animated discussion and 
agitation. The vested interests, which had been gradually 
entrenching themselves for a quarter of a century, took alarm, 
and raised the cry of invasion and confiscation. The system 
which professed to be doing so much, and to be capable of 
such vast expansion, and productive of such admirable 
results, shrank with the self-consciousness of inherent weak- 
ness and incapacity from any real test of its quality. Mr. 
Buxton quoted Spencer," They raised a most outrageous, 


dreadful, yelling cry." Pamphlets appeared, "not in 
single files, but in battalions." The arguments against the 
proposed changes are summed up in a letter from Sir James 
Kay Shuttleworth to Earl Granville. An attempt was made 
to show that the character of the education would deteriorate, 
but also and beyond, that the State had no moral right to 
make the changes without the consent of the other contracting 
parties the managers and the schoolmasters. " The character 
of a system of public education thus created ought not to be 
abruptly and harshly changed by the fiat of a Minister, with- 
out the consent of the great controlling bodies and com- 
munions, who have expended twice as much as the State. 
Even were Parliament to make such a change, it would be a 
national dishonour. It would be an act of repudiation ever 
to be remembered with shame." ( J ) 

In the session of 1862, Mr. Lowe brought up the projected 
amendments of the revised code the result of the labour of 
six months which he had spent in the perusal of pamphlets 
and papers. In fixing the limits of the controversy he 
said that the religious element underlay the whole system ; 
aid was only given to schools in connection with religious 
denominations. The Order in Council of 10th of May, 1840, 
which provided that the Inspectors should be approved by the 
Archbishops, was in full force, and no attempt was made to 
disturb it. 

Formerly there were three grants the capitation grant, 
the augmentation grant to teachers, and a grant to pupil 
teachers. The Commissioners had advised the abolition of 
these grants and the substitution of a capitation grant, part 
payable on attendance and part on examination. The 
Government had considered their report and stated their 
conclusions in the revised code. The existing system was 
tentative, provisional, and preliminary, and the grants were 

1 Letter to Earl Granyille, 72. 


established at a time when it was believed that the educational 
question would end in a system of rating. They had to 
consider how such a system could be made final and definite, 
on which the country could repose and find peace after so 
many stormy epochs. They did not attempt to renovate on its 
foundations. It had been introduced as an experiment, 
but had passed out of the experimental stage. It had struck 
roots into the country and they had no wish to disturb 
its fundamental principles. The great defect was its par- 
tiality that it did not permeate through the whole country 
it followed the lead of managers, and was regulated by wealth 
and public spirit rather than by the need of education. They 
must accept the situation they had no power of altering it. 

He admitted that the inefficiency of the system was 
not questioned, and the strong and startling evidence of in- 
capacity was not refuted. Inspection, as opposed to examina- 
tion, was not a test of a system. It dealt with abstract phases, 
general efficiency, average, moral atmosphere, tone, mental 
condition, and not the result of the labours of the teacher. 
The managers were afraid of this test, and said that the 
examination would be ruinous. They must choose between 
efficiency and a subsidy, There was a conflict between 
the Commissioners and Inspectors. The first said that 
one-eighth were properly educated the second, 90 per 
cent. The Government would examine the children, and 
see which was right. Then many persons thought they had 
acquired a continuity of interest. The Training Colleges 
thought that the system in all its integrity must be kept up 
for them for ever. There was a danger that the grant should 
become, not a grant for education, but to maintain so called 
vested interests. The Government could not agree with the 
Commissioners as to county rates. They decided that there 
should be one grant, and that it should rest on examination 
except in the case of infants, who would be entitled to the 


capitation grant on attendance. There was a strong case 
against the Training Colleges. They were established as 
voluntary institutions but the Government paid 90 per 
cent, of the cost. ( J ) It had been proposed that there 
should be a reduction of teachers, but as they were in a 
position of great difficulty, the Government were willing to 
let them stand as they were, with the alteration of slight 
details. There was no reason to suppose that a loss was 
impending over schools. They offered a spur to improve- 
mentnot a mere subsidy. They could not say that it 
would be effectual or economical, but it would be one or 
the other. "If it is not cheap, it shall be efficient ; if it 
is not efficient, it shall be cheap." The new principle was 
a searching one. It exposed the faults of the system, and 
had elicited confessions of bad attendance and inefficient 

In the House of Lords, Lord Derby objected to grouping 
by age. The Bishop of Oxford did not wish to see education 
committed to Government management entirely, or private or 
charitable exertion superseded, for the " direct blessings given 
to it from above depended upon the work being the direct work 
of charity." He objected that the code provided for mere 
inspection in the mechanical part of training; reading, writing, 
arithmetic. Every child was to be examined. " The examiner 
in a hurry, the pupil in a fuss." It was introduced suddenly, 
harshly, and without due appreciation of the system. The 
Bishop of London urged that two grants should be given, one 
for attendance, and one for examination. If this were con- 
ceded, public opinion would change in regard to the code. He 
asked for one third to be given for attendance and two thirds 
for examination. 

1 The Duke of Newcastle's Commission reported that out of 4,378,183 
contributed by Governments towards education, 2,544,280 had gone for 
training teachers. Report, 25. 


On the adjourned discussion in the Commons, Mr. 
Walpole moved a series of resolutions against making the whole 
of the aid depend on examination, against grouping by age, and 
the examination of children under seven. He referred to the 
length and breadth and strength and depth of feeling which 
agitated the country, and declared that religion would go to 
the wall. Mr. W. E. Forster opposed the code, which he said 
would destroy the system, and blamed the Government for 
forsaking the recommendations of the Eoyal Commission. 
After a long debate Mr. Lowe replied in a splendidly luminous 
argument, but expressed the desire of the Government to 
meet the wishes of the House. They were willing that a 
substantial part of the grant should depend on the general 
report of the Inspectors, and they gave up grouping by age. 
Mr. Walpole accepted the alterations proposed and withdrew 
his resolutions. 

After the acceptance of the revised code there was a 
general disposition to wait until its results could be tested. 
But for several sessions proof was afforded of the bitter 
personal hostility its author had raised against himself, by his 
interference with what had come to be regarded as proprietary 
rights. He was the object of attack from all quarters from 
school managers to monitors in the country, and from 
Inspectors to office boys in his own Department. It had been 
the practice of the Education Department, in certain cases, where 
extraneous matter was introduced in the reports of Inspectors, 
to send them back for revision. A difference arose between 
one of the Inspectors and the office in regard to this practice. 
Upon this Lord E. Cecil moved a resolution " that the 
mutilation of reports and the exclusion of matters adverse to 
the views of the Committee of Council, were violations of the 
understanding on which the Inspectors were appointed." 
The disappointed and angry faction of .Tories and Denomina- 
tionalists combined to make a personal attack on Mr, Lowe, 


in which they were joined by some professed Liberals. The 
subordinates of the education office were induced, in violation 
of discipline and trust, to communicate some official matters 
to the leaders of the Opposition. Mr. Lowe was weakly 
defended by his colleagues, and the Tories were allowed to 
snatch a division, in which the resolution was carried by a 
majority of eight. Mr. Lowe, who had made the question 
one of personal confidence, resigned his office. A Select 
Committee was afterwards appointed to enquire into the 
circumstances, and they entirely exonerated him. On 
the motion of Lord Palmerston the previous resolution was 
rescinded. The authors of the attack, however, had the 
personal gratification of driving from office the most able 
Minister who has yet held the post of Vice-President ; who, if 
he initiated no large measure for the establishment of educa- 
tion on a broad and liberal basis, brought the system which 
existed to a practical test of usefulness, and converted a 
pretentious, but delusive plan, into an actual educational 

Mr. Bruce succeeded Mr. Lowe at the Education 
Department, and in moving the estimates of 1864, insisted 
on the right of the Department to refuse grants for building 
where a conscience clause was not accepted. This now 
became the regular practice of the Department, and led to 
many differences between the office and the National Society. 
The first effect of the revised code was to lessen the money 
voted for education by Parliament. In 1865 the grant had 
fallen to 693,078 ; and in 1868 to 511,324. 

With the death of Lord Palmerston in 1865, a new 
movement for domestic reform began ; but for several 
sessions the question of the franchise occupied the first place. 
At the beginning of 1866 the liberal party was strong and 
united, Earl Eussell being at the head of the Government ; 


but before the end of the session its majority of seventy was 
scattered and disorganised. Lord Derby succeeded Earl 
Eussell. The Duke of Marlborough became Lord President, 
and Mr. Corry, Vice-President. The new Government on 
their accession brought forward no projects for the extension 
of education but they raised the grant on examination, from 
two shillings and eightpence to four shillings. Mr. Bruce 
introduced a permissive bill to enable boroughs to levy rates 
for education. It proposed to trust a school committee with 
the management of the funds. The Committee was to be 
chosen in corporate towns from the Town Council, and in 
other places from the general body of ratepayers. 

In 1867 the controversy was renewed in the House of 
Lords. The Queen's speech had said, " The general question 
of the education of the people requires your most serious 
attention, and I have no doubt you will approach the subject 
with a full appreciation both of its vital importance and 
its acknowledged difficulties." Parliament had been sum- 
moned in November, on account of the Abyssinian war. 
Earl Kussell took the occasion to move a series of resolu- 
tions on education, but the Lords declined to enter upon 
the consideration of the subject in the brief limit for which 
they sat. On the reassembling of Parliament, the Duke of 
Marlborough introduced a bill to regulate the distribution 
of sums granted by Parliament for education. It was pro- 
posed that Her Majesty should be empowered to appoint a 
Secretary of State, who should have the whole range of 
educational matters under his consideration and control ; 
should administer the grant, and propose to Parliament such 
schemes as he might think fit, to promote education. The 
terms of the revised code were to be put into an act of 
Parliament. The Government proposed to admit secular 
schools to a share of the grant, and to impose a conscience 
clause on all schools. Compulsory rating and compulsory 


attendance were avoided. The bill passed the second reading, 
but was afterwards withdrawn. 

Mr. Bruce also re-introduced his bill of the previous 
session, which was supported by Mr. Dixon. This measure 
emanated from the Manchester Bill Committee. Its pro- 
visions were extended to meet the case of local authorities 
who neglected their duties. It was made applicable to the 
whole country, and the important provision was added that 
all schools should be free. From the parliamentary discus- 
sions of the time, it would appear that Mr. Lowe had put 
forward during the recess a scheme for secular education by 
means of rates. The session was also memorable for the 
recantation of Mr. Baines, who brought up the deliberate 
and revised judgment of the Congregationalists, who had 
determined to place their schools under Government control 
and assistance. 

Through the exertions of Mr. Melly and Mr. Dixon in 
1869 an enquiry was obtained into the educational condition 
of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham, and 
resulted in the valuable reports of Mr. Fitch and Mr. Fearon. 
The Endowed Schools Act was also passed this year. In the 
same session the Marquis of Townshend brought forward a 
bill for compulsory attendance, and secular instruction in 
day schools. This was the last of the numerous abortive 
schemes which during the preceding half century were placed 
before Parliament. 




IN" the new political movement which began upon the death 
of Lord Palmerston, it became at once apparent that the 
education question would take a foremost place. In the 
discussions upon the reform of the representation, Mr. Bright 
had predicted that the inevitable consequence of an extension 
of the franchise would be, that the people would at once demand 
an education system worthy of the country, and adequate to 
its needs. The strong current of feeling in favour of a com- 
prehensive law was beginning to be manifested on all occasions 
throughout society. It was impossible to take up a newspaper 
or magazine, or to follow the public life of any large town, 
without discovering how deeply the attention of a part of the 
community was engaged upon the subject. It was evident 
also that public opinion was taking a much more intelligent 
and comprehensive grasp of the question. The people were 
tired of the tinkering process, and of half measures. Permis- 
sive legislation which was so fashionable in Parliament, was 
in disrepute in the country, and there was an earnest call for 
a measure based on the two principles of compulsory rating 
and compulsory attendance. 

At the conference held in Manchester on the 15th and 
16th of January, 1868, strong expression was given to these 
views. This meeting was called by the Manchester Education 
Bill Committee, and was attended not only by the group of 
Lancashire men who had led the way in all agitations of the 
subject for thirty years, but by educationists from many other 


districts, and by the Parliamentary leaders upon the question. 
The Manchester Education Bill Committee had grown out of 
the Education Aid Society, in the same city. The Committee 
had prepared the Bills introduced by Messrs. Bruce and Forster 
in 1867 and 1868, and they naturally exercised a considerable 
influence over the Government measure in 1870 ; though the 
ministerial proposals fell far short in important particulars of 
the resolutions passed at the Manchester conference The 
Government bill in short, as will be seen, was a compromise 
upon a compromise which had been already proposed. The Bill 
Committee had its origin in compromise. The Manchester 
Educationists were tired of the long conflict between 
rival schemes, barren of satisfactory results. They found 
they could do nothing and advance nothing apart. There 
was a great work to be done, ready to their hands, in 
getting the waifs and strays of Manchester into school. At 
a low estimate something like 20,000 children were without 
any instruction in this city, which in the matter of education, 
had the reputation of being the most advanced and intel- 
ligent in the United Kingdom. To accomplish this work 
the advocates of religious education, and those of secular 
education, came together ; and the result was the formation 
of the Manchester Education Aid Society in 1864. This 
Society undertook a double duty, to test the educational 
condition of the city, and to get children to school, either by 
paying their fees, or using other inducements and persuasion 
with their parents to send them. The result was that in two 
years only, 10,000 children were taken off the streets and sent 
to existing schools. But the investigations of the Society 
had elicited the painful fact that these were not half, perhaps 
not even a third or fourth part of those who were not receiving 
any regular instruction. The labours of the Society demon- 
strated conclusively to its members that voluntary means, how- 
ever generous and earnest, and however carefully organised, were 


powerless to combat effectually against the mass of ignorance. 
The consequence was that the Education Aid Society 
developed into the Bill Committee, under whose auspices the 
National Bill of Mr. Bruce was brought forward in 1867. 
The Bill Committee was a purely local body, and although 
it attracted much attention amongst educationists, it did not 
seek to extend its organisation or influence by combining 
with other kindred centres. The relation which it held to the 
League at a short time later, is explained in a letter addressed 
by Mr. Dixon to the Editor of the Manchester Examiner. A 
proposal had been made for joint action by the two bodies, 
and, in a circular issued by the Bill Committee, and signed 
by their Chairman, Mr. Erancis Taylor, an opinion had been 
expressed that it would be wiser for the League to join in 
urging upon the Government the adoption of the bill 
proposed by the Committee; rather than to waste valuable 
time in discussing a new one. To this Mr. Dixon replied, 
" that not only was the bill of the League a more complete 
measure than that of the Education Bill Committee, but, 
also, that the operations of the League extended far beyond 
the enforcement of certain views upon a Minister." He 
added, "The work we have set our hands to, is to arouse 
the whole country to a sense of the extent and dangers of our 
present educational destitution ; to create and guide a strong 
public opinion: and thus to make possible a bold and 
comprehensive measure. However desirous the five members 
of the present Government, alluded to by Mr. Taylor, may 
be to pass such a measure, they will be utterly unable to do 
so, unless they are backed by the determined attitude of an 
active, powerful, and growing party in the country. The 
Education Bill Committee is composed of gentlemen to 
whom the friends of education owe much, but their numbers 
are insignificant, and, as a body, they are scarcely known 
beyond their own locality. It was my desire that they 


should extend their organisation, so as to become national 
instead of local, but I was informed that this could not be 
done. Had my suggestions been favourably received by the 
gentlemen to whom they were made, Birmingham would 
not have originated the League, but would have followed 
Manchester, which in my opinion, ought to have headed, and 
was entitled to lead a national movement." 

It has been already explained that the first bill supported 
by the Bill Committee was for permissive rating, but such a 
measure was behind public opinion. This was made evident at 
the Conference of 1868, where a much more decisive course 
was advocated, and adopted in the new draft which was 
prepared. The Education Bill Committee was appointed at 
this Conference and was not dissolved until after the passing 
of the Act of 1870. ( J ) 

The movement in Birmingham, which led up to the 
formation of the League, began during the mayoralty of 
Mr. George Dixon. In the first instance it took the form, as 
in Manchester, of an effort to remedy a local evil. Mr. Dixon 
had long taken a great interest in the subject, and when on 
the death of Mr. Scholefield, Member for the Borough, he 
consented to become a candidate for the vacant seat, it was 
understood that he was largely influenced by the hope of 
being able to make some effectual effort for the establishment 
of a general system. During his mayoralty he had called 
several private meetings to consider the state of education 
in Birmingham. Eventually it was determined to form an 
Education Aid Society for the town, on the model of that at 

1 Amongst the Manchester men who took part in the movement were Sir 
Thomas Bazley, Mr. Jacob Bright, Mr. R. N. Philips, Mr. Cheetham, Pro- 
fessor Christie, Rev. Canon Richson, Rev. F. W. Davies, Mr. 0. Heywood, 
Mr. Alderman Bennett, Dr. John Watts, Mr. W. R. Callender, Professor 
Jack, Mr. Francis Taylor, Dr. Pankhurst, Mr. W. L. Blacklock, Mr. A. 
Aspland, Mr. A. Milne, Mr. B. Armitage, Professor Greenwood, Mr. R. 
Fowler, Mr. S. Robinson, Mr. E. R. Le Mare, Mr. Herbert Philips, Mr. John 
S. May son, and Mr. J. A. Bremner. 


Manchester. At a public meeting held in the Town Hall, on 
the 14th of March, 1867, a series of resolutions were passed 
with that object. Mr. Dixon was elected President of the 
new society, and Mr. Jesse Collings its Honorary Secretary. 
Its constitution was wholly independent of party politics or 
sectarian bias. On the Committee were the names of many 
who took part on opposite sides in the subsequent agitation. ( x ) 

The Society undertook, as a part of their duty, to 
thoroughly investigate the educational condition of the town, 
and to prepare statistics on the subject. A house to house 
canvass was undertaken for this purpose, and it brought out 
some remarkable results ; demonstrating the inability of many 
parents to pay school fees, the absence of proper provision, 
and the necesity of compulsion to secure attendance. 
The figures were compiled with great care and tested in a 
variety of ways. Their accuracy was impeached by Lord 
Eobert Montagu in the House of Commons, who suggested 
that they had been exaggerated by agents whose interests 
depended on making out a harrowing case in order to get 
subscriptions. When challenged, however, to support his 
accusations, he altogether failed to do so. The observation 
and experience of the members of the Society convinced the 
majority of them that only stringent legislation could put the 
education of the town upon a satisfactory basis. 

In the general election of 1868 the question was widely 
discussed. In Birmingham it was prominently put forward by 
Mr. Bright, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Collings, and by the Liberal press. 

1 The Hon. and Rev. Grantham Yorke and Mr. R. W. Dale were Vice- 
Presidents. The first committee consisted of Mr. J. Thackray Bunce, Rev. 
Dr. Burges, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, Mr. R. L. Chance, Rev. Charles Clarke, 
Mr. J. A. Cooper, Mr. George Dawson, Rev. Charles Evans, Mr. Sebastian 
Evans, Rev. Canon Gover, Mr. William Harris, Mr. Hawkes, Rev. Micaiah 
Hill, Mr. J. S. Hopkins, Mr. John Jaffray, Mr. T. C. S. Kynnersley, Mr. 
William Kenrick, Mr. Alderman Manton, Rev. Canon O'Sullivan, Mr. Alder- 
man Ryland, Mr. W. L. Sargant, Mr. Sam. Timmins, Rev. Charles Vince, 
Rev. A. Ward, .and Rev. Dr. Wilkinson. 


The League had its origin in a conversation between 
Mr. Dixon and Mr. Ceilings, when it was resolved to call a 
private meeting to consider the ad visibility of organising a 
National Association for the purpose of agitation. A 
meeting was held at Mr. Dixon's house early in 1869. 
There were present, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. 
Collings, Mr. Bunce, Mr. Harris, and many others, who after- 
wards joined the Provisional Committee. 

All these gentlemen took an active share in the struggle 
which followed, and many of them during the succeeding 
eight years devoted themselves, without reserve of time or 
energy, to secure the objects of the Society. 

A circular was shortly issued inviting adhesions to the 
League on the following basis : 


The establishment of a system which shall secure 
the education of every child in the country. 


1. Local authorities shall be compelled by law to 
see that sufficient school accommodation is provided 
for every child in their district. 

2. The cost of founding and maintaining such 
schools as may be required, shall be provided out of 
local rates, supplemented by Government grants. 

3. All schools aided by local rates shall be under 
the management of local authorities, and subject to 
Government inspection. 

4. All schools aided by local rates shall be 

5. To all schools aided by local rates admission 
shall be free. 

6. School accommodation being provided, the 
State, or the local authorities, shall have power to com- 
pel the attendance of children of suitable- a<je not 

* *^^Z i^ A TT"^!^. 

otherwise receiving education, ^ 




This was, with slight alteration, the basis which had 
been proposed by Mr. Collings in his review of the American 
common school system. 

The response to the circular proved that public opinion 
was ripe for the movement, and that there was a deep-seated 
conviction on the subject throughout society, which was only 
waiting to be led. In a few months, and before any public 
demonstration had been made, 2,500 persons, including many 
of the best known politicians, thinkers, and writers in 
England had joined the League. A provisional committee 
was appointed to make arrangements for a general conference 
of members, and to transact the preliminary business of 
the organisation. Mr. Dixon was elected chairman, Mr. 
Chamberlain, vice-chairman; Mr. Collings, honorary secretary; 
and Mr. Jaffray, treasurer. At a somewhat later period the 
author was appointed secretary, a post which he held until 
the dissolution of the League. ( J ) 

The movement was embraced with great avidity in all 
the large towns, and in the autumn local committees were 
formed in London, Manchester, Bradford, Bristol, Leicester, 
Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, Huddersfield, Exeter, Bath, 
Warrington, Devonport, Carlisle, Merthyr Tydvil, and 
Wednesbury. From this time the agitation rapidly increased 
in influence, and the first meeting was looked forward to 
with great interest and enthusiasm from all parts of the 

The programme for the general meeting included the 
formal constitution of the League ; the discussion of Parlia- 
mentary procedure, and of the general principles advocated 

1 The members of the first Committee were Henry Holland (Mayor) ; 
Aldermen Hawkes, Osborne, Ryland, and Wiggin ; Councillors George Baker 
and William Harris ; the Revs. Charles Clarke, Charles Vince, and H. W. 
Crosskey ; Messrs. W. J. Beale, J. Thackray Bunce, J. H. Chamberlain, R. L. 
Chance, George Dawson, A. Field, T. P. Heslop, W. Holliday, G. J. Johnson, 
T. Kenrick, J. A. Kenrick, G. B. Lloyd, C. E. Mathews, W. Middlemore, 
Follett Osier, Wm. Ryland, S. Timmins, a J- S. Wright. 


as the basis of the agitation ; a soiree to the members by 
the Mayor, and a demonstration in the Town Hall. 

Mr. Dixon took the chair at the Exchange Assembly 
Kooms on the 12th October. The report of the provisional 
committee, stating the origin and purpose of the League, 
was read by Mr. Collings. Archdeacon Sandford moved 
that the report should be adopted, and in doing so he 
warned the members that they must be prepared for opposi- 
tion. He said, " I am quite satisfied that very many severe 
things will be said of your platform. We shall be told no 
doubt that it is a godless scheme ; that it is a revolutionary 
scheme ; that it is a scheme utterly unsuited to the taste and 
feeling of the British people ; that it cannot succeed ; and 
that if carried out it will flood the land with atheists and 
infidels." He strongly opposed, as leading to perpetual 
divisions and dissensions, the scheme of concurrent denom- 
inational education, to support which a conference had been 
held at Willis's Kooms in the preceding year ; which was in 
fact the final effort of Archdeacon Denison. 

Mr. Dawson seconded the resolution in a speech which 
will be long remembered by those who heard it for its 
argument, its eloquence, and its humour. 

Mr. Edmund Potter, M.P. for Carlisle, moved the 
appointment of the Officers, Council, and Executive. This 
was seconded by Dr. Hodgson, who had been one of the 
founders of the National Public School Association, and an 
Assistant Commissioner in 1858. He said, " The President's 
reference to the Manchester Association leads me to say that 
although death has thinned the ranks of those who composed 
that Association for obtaining secular, rate-paid education, 
there still remain a large number, who, instead of looking 
upon the labours of the League with jealousy, will hail its 
co-operation with the greatest earnestness and enthusiasm, 


not even desiring to meet it in friendly rivalry." Mr. Dixon 
was chosen chairman of the Council, Mr. Jesse Collings hon. 
secretary, and Mr. Jaffray treasurer. The Council was a 
consultative body, consisting of all members of Parliament 
who joined the League, donors of 500 and upwards, repre- 
sentatives appointed by the branches, together with nearly 
300 ladies and gentlemen chosen from the general body of 
members. (*) 

During the eight years of the agitation there were many 
changes in the constitution of the Executive. Before the 
conclusion of their labours death had removed from the 
Committee some of their most trusted and able colleagues, 
including Mr. Dawson, Mr. Vince, and Alderman Kumney. 

1 The Executive Committee appointed at this meeting consisted of 
Messrs. J. T. Bunce, Joseph Chamberlain, J. H. Chamberlain, Charles Clarke, 
H." W. Crosskey, George Dawson, Alfred Field, William Harris, Henry 
Holland, William Kenrick, William Middlemore, E. C. Osborne, Follett 
Osier, Arthur Ryland, Charles Vince, and J. S. Wright, of Birmingham ; 
Mr. Charles Booth, Liverpool ; Rev. Dr. Caldicott, Bristol ; Major Ferguson, 
Carlisle ; Edward Huth, Huddersfield ; Canon Kingsley, Eversley ; Mr. 
Maxfield, Leicester ; Captain Maxse, Southampton ; William Simons, Merthyr 
Tydvil ; Rev. S. A. Steinthal, Manchester ; Rev. F. B. Zincke, Ipswich ; 
Angus Holden, Bradford ; and the Hon. Auberon Herbert, Dr. Hodgson, 
George Howell, and Herbert Fry, London. 

During the continuance of the organisation the following names were 
added to the Committee : R. Applegarth, London ; Rev. J. J. Brown, 
Birmingham; Professor' Fawcett and Mrs. Fawcett, Cambridge; G. B.Lloyd, 
Rev. M. Macfie, R. F. Martineau, S. Timmins, C. E. Mathews, Rev. J. 
Renshaw, Rev. J. M. McKerrow, Dr. Langford, Birmingham ; Thomas 
Webster, Q.C., Sir C. W. Dilke, F. Pennington, Edward Jenkins, R. Williams, 
London ; C. H. Bazley, William Cheetham, Alderman Ruinney, Harry 
Rawson, Manchester ; William Bragge, J. Taylor, Councillor Hibberd, 
H. J. Wilson, John Muscroft, Sheffield ; W. F. Collier and William Adams, 
Plymouth ; Joseph Cowen, Newcastle ; James Kitson, Rev. J. Haslam, 
Rev. H. W. Holland, Leeds ; S. S. Mander, Wolverhampton ; F. G. Prange, 
Liverpool ; G. B. Rothera, Nottingham ; Stephen Wihkworth, Bolton ; 
Bancroft Cooke, Birkenhead ; J. C. Cox, Belpec ; Alderman Hutchinson, 
Halifax ; Rev. R. Harley, Leicester ; Isaac Holden, Keighley ; Captain 
Sargeant, Bodmin ; Rev. J. Marsden, Taunton ; John Morlcv, Tunbridge 
Wells ; Thomas Nicholson, Forest of Dean ; James Hanson, Bradford ; 
S. C. Evans Williams, Rhayader ; and John Batchelor, Cardiff. 


There were a few secessions on questions of policy. Mr. Simons 
went over to the Welsh Committee, which decided in favour 
of purely secula,r teaching ; Canon Kingsley gave his support 
to the Education Act ; and Professor and Mrs. Fawcett 
withdrew on the ground of the opposition to the 25th section. 
But with few exceptions the members of the Committee 
remained loyal to the principles and policy of the League, 
and gave the Officers an undivided trust and support during 
the most trying years of the agitation, and notwithstanding 
the strain on party loyalty, which was caused by the 
opposition to the policy of a Liberal Government. 

It was determined to make parliamentary work a 
prominent feature in the League programme. Accordingly, 
at the meeting on the twelfth of October, Professor Fawcett 
moved, and Professor Thorold Kogers seconded a resolution 
that a bill, embodying the principles of the League, should be 
introduced during the next session. Papers were also read 
by Mr. Dixon on " The best system for National Schools, 
based upon local rates and government grants ;" by Professor 
Rogers on " Secular Education;" by the Rev. S. A. Steinthal 
on " Local Educational Rating ; " by Mr. Pentecost on 
"Compulsion; "by Dr. Rowland Williamson "The legislative 
enforcement of attendance ; " by Alderman Rumney on 
"Compulsory attendance;" by Mr. Alfred Field on "Free 
schools ;" by the Rev. F. B. Zincke on " Unsectarianism ;" by 
the Hon. Auberon Herbert and Mr. G. J. Holyoake on "Secular 
education ;" by Mr. H. J. Slack on " Denominational schools;" 
and by Captain Maxse on " Free and compulsory education." 
The following gentlemen took part in the discussion which 
followed. Mr. Simons, Merthyr ; Mr. Applegarth, Mr. Green, 
Sir C. Rawlinson, Sir William Guise, the Hon. George 
Brodrick, Mr. Follett Osier, the Rev. Septimus Hansard, the 
Rev. H. W. Crosskey, and the Rev. Dr. Caldicott. The 
Conference was brought to a conclusion by a great meeting in 


the Town Hall, not the least enthusiastic and striking of the 
many celebrated gatherings which it has witnessed. The 
speakers were Mr. Dixon, Professor Fawcett, Mr. Mundella, 
Mr. J. Chamberlain, Mr. Cremer, Mr. Carter, and Mr. Collings. 

It is necessary to notice one incident which took place 
at the first meeting, which while it did not disturb in an 
appreciable degree the harmony of the proceedings, and did 
not divert attention for a moment from the ultimate object, 
yet pointed to a difference of opinion within the League, and 
was prophetic of future difficulty. Then, as ever, it was the 
religious difficulty which raised its head to confront progress. 
The Chairman was challenged by the Eev. Mr. Dowson of Hyde, 
to say whether the League supported secular education or the 
British school system. Mr. Dixon replied, " We do not use the 
word ' secular ' ; but we exclude all theological parts of 
religion, and I am sure that what is left is what even Mr. 
Dowson himself would call secular." In answer to further 
questions on the same subject Mr. Dixon stated that the word 
"unsectarian," excluded all dogmatic and theological teaching, 
and all creeds and catechisms, and also that if the Bible were 
read it must be without note or comment. ( J ) Concisely 
stated the programme of the League as to religion in school, 
was Bible reading or not, at the option of the ratepayers. As 
events proved it might have been wiser to have gone at first 
for the absolute separation on all points, of religious and 
secular teaching. Bible reading was satisfactory to no 
considerable party ; and the permissive use of the Bible did 
not prevent the members of the League from being denounced 
on Church and Tory platforms as the enemies of religion, of 
government, and of morals. 

The financial prospects of the League were, from the 
outset, of a very encouraging character. It was thought 
probable by the founders of the League that the agitation 

1 Report First General Meeting, 187-194. 


might extend over a period of ten years, and a guarantee 
fund was therefore arranged, of which a tenth part was to be 
called up annually. ( ! ) 

Of this fund eight instalments were called up ; but as 
special funds were raised during the struggle for electoral 
purposes, to which the ordinary subscribers were contributors, 
the sums originally promised were, in many cases, 
actually exceeded. The total amount of the guarantee 
fund was 60,000, showing an annual income of 6,000 
which was occasionally raised by special donations to between 
7,000 and 8,000. These sums did not include sub- 
scriptions for purely local purposes, which were also large. 
On the day after the introduction of the Government Bill, a 
full list of the subscribers to the central offices was advertised 
in the Times, and covered a page of that newspaper. 

Immediately after the first meeting the business of the 
League began in earnest, and its progress was unexampled in 
the history of public organisations. The work of the central 
office was of a very absorbing and exacting nature. It is 
proper to record that by far the greatest share of the labour 
was wholly voluntary, and was undertaken by men who 
inevitably sacrificed their individual pursuits and private 
interests in its performance. Even when the magnitude of 

1 Theie were many generous subscriptions to the fund, including those 
of Mr. Dixon, M.P., 1,000 ; Mr. A. Brogden, M.P., 1,000; Mr. R. L. 
Chance, 1,000 ; Mr. J. Chamberlain (Moor Green), 1,000 ; Mr. Joseph 
Chamberlain, 1,000 ; Mr. G. B. Lloyd, 1,000 ; Mr. A. Field, ^1,000 ; 
Mr. Follett Osier, 1,000; Mr. William Middlemore, 1,000; Mr. A. 
Kenrick, 1,000 ; Mr. J. H. Nettlefold, 1,000 ; Mr. Alderman Phillips, 
1,000; Mr. F. S. Bolton, 1,000 ; Mr. Isaac Holden, 1,000; Sir Titus 
Salt, 1,000; Mr. C. Paget, 1,000; Mr. Thomas Thomasson, 1,000; 
Mr. Edmund Potter, M.P., 500 ; Mr. T. Kenrick, 500 ; Mr. J. A. Kenrick, 
500 ; Mr. John Jaffray, 500 ; Mr. Clarkson Osier, 500 ; Mr. F. 
Pennington, 500 ; Mr. William Kenrick, 500 ; Mr. Hugh Mason, 500 ; 
Mr. Edward Ashworth, 500 ; Mr. Joseph Cowen, 500 ; Mr. John Leech, 
500 ; Mr. William Leech, 500 ; Mr. Haslam {Bolton), 500 ; and 
Mr. Harold Lees, 400. Sir Charles Dilke was also an annual subscriber, 
for several years, of 100. 



the operations compelled the appointment of a large staff 
of stipendiary assistants, they were drawn from the ranks of 
men who were willing to make personal sacrifices for the 
success of principles which were dear to them, and in the 
performance of a public duty. 

It may be interesting to note the division of labour 
which was maintained as a rule, for eight years, amongst 
those who were chiefly responsible for the direction of the 
agitation. Mr. Dixon was Chairman of the Council and the 
parliamentary leader and adviser of the League until his 
retirement from Parliament in 1876. For eight years he de- 
voted himself without reserve to the service of the organisation. 
In the interval between the constitution of the League and 
the introduction of the Government Bill in 1870, over a 
hundred public meetings were held in different towns to 
advocate and explain the platform. Mr. Dixon's attendance 
at these meetings was always eagerly sought. After the 
Parliamentary struggle began, his attention was necessarily 
more confined to the proceedings of the House of Commons, 
but at all times, and wherever and whenever they could be 
best employed, his services were at the disposal of the 
Executive. The pains which he has since bestowed upon the 
local administration of the Education Act, and the 
development of the resources and powers of School 
Boards, are well known throughout England. It is perhaps 
the best refutation of the calumnies which were heaped 
upon the League, that the leader of those who were 
branded as sectarians, revolutionists, irreconcilables, sciolists, 
infidels and communists, has devoted himself unremittingly 
for fifteen years with many of his colleagues, in the first 
place to secure an efficient education law, and afterwards 
to derive the largest possible product which able adminis- 
tration is capable of yielding. 

Mr. Chamberlain was the head of the Executive Com- 


mittee, and the acting Chairman of the League, and as such 
was chiefly responsible in originating and conducting its 
policy in the country. In this department he was earnestly 
seconded by Mr. Collings, the honorary secretary. For the 
general policy, all the Officers were jointly responsible, under 
the direction of the Executive. As a matter of convenience 
and efficiency however, it was found advisable to place an . 
Officer at the head of each department of work. Mr. Bunce 
was Chairman of the Publishing Committee, and in that 
capacity he had not only the supervision of all the publica- 
tions, the variety and extent of which were great; but he 
drew up most of the important circulars which were issued to 
the members and branch committees, and to the parliamentary 
supporters of the League. Mr. Martineau, as chairman of 
the Branches Committee, undertook to overlook and direct the 
local organisations, a post involving a great amount of corres- 
pondence, investigation, and advice. Mr. Harris was chairman 
of the Parliamentary Committee and Mr. Clarke of the Finance 
Committee; positions which involved a large amount of admin- 
istrative labour, and often the decision of important matters 
of policy. Mr. Jaffray was treasurer for several years, and 
was succeeded in the post by Mr. Mathews. Meetings of the 
Officers' Committee were held always twice a week, often 
more frequently, and as a rule one or more of the Officers 
attended at the central office daily. At the beginning of the 
agitation an immense amount of public speaking was thrown 
upon the Officers. But in that branch of the work they were 
greatly relieved by the assistance of Mr. J. H. Chamberlain, 
Mr. Sam. Timmins, Mr. Dale, Mr. Dawson, Mr. Vince, Mr. 
Zincke, Mr. Herbert, and other members of the Executive. 
This notice of the personal services which were rendered 
to the League is necessarily most imperfect. There were at 
every local branch, members who were working in their 
districts with the same degree of earnestness and disinterested- 


ness the mere record of whose names would fill many pages. 
But in mentioning those who took a prominent share in the 
agitation, it is impossible to overlook the services of Mr. 
Steinthal, who undertook the organisation of the Manchester 
district, and who with the assistance of Mr. Winkworth of 
Bolton, Mr. Dowson of Hyde, and others, induced the 
people of Lancashire to take a part in the work worthy 
of the fame of the foremost educational county of England. 
An idea of the progress made by the League, and of the 
hold which its principles had taken on the public mind, may 
be obtained, if its position at the end of four months is 
considered. By the end of February the guarantee fund 
amounted to 60,000 : there were in connection with the 
central office 113 branch committees in different towns, and 
many of these had local auxiliary committees in corres- 
pondence with them. Trade societies, representing a large 
section of the working population, had joined the League and 
subscribed to its funds. Nearly two hundred public meetings 
had been arranged from the central office, and nearly all of 
them had been attended by one of the Officers or members 

of the Executive. A quarter of a million copies of different 
publications had been put in circulation, including 7,000 
copies of the Eeport of the general meeting, and 10,000 copies 
of Mr. Ceilings' Essay on American Common Schools. In 
December a monthly paper was started. This was continued 
during the existence of the League, and had an average 
circulation of about 20,000 copies. 

In regard to the political constitution of the League, it 
was composed, without exception, so far as the author's 
knowledge goes, of members of the Liberal party. But all 
shades of religious opinion, except Eoman Catholicism, were 
represented on the Committee and amongst the members. 
The first list of members comprises the names of four hundred 
clergymen and dissenting ministers, including many eminent 


Liberal Churchmen, and the best known and most trusted 

The prophecy of Archdeacon Sandford, at the first 
meeting, was speedily fulfilled. Notwithstanding the strong 
religious element in the personal constitution of the League, 
it did not escape the charge of being animated by hostility 
to religion. If the authors of the accusation had contented 
themselves with saying that every liberal movement in the 
way of education must necessarily come into conflict, not so 
much with religion, as with the pretensions of the directors, 
professors, and exponents of theology, there might have been 
room for an admission, that the League came under the 
common indictment. It is hardly necessary to say that 
there was no foundation whatever for the charges that 
the Officers, the Executive, or the members of the 
League were thinking of anything but the best way of 
getting children into school. But the success of the early 
operations gave alarm to the Church and the Conser- 
vatives. They saw, in fancy, their cherished preserves 
invaded, and their vested interests in danger. Two " Unions " 
were immediately started in opposition. One had its head 
quarters in Birmingham, the other in Manchester, the 
latter being the most prominent and representative. The 
avowed object, as expressed in authentic documents, was 
stated to be " To counteract the efforts of the Birmingham 
League, and others advocating secular training only, and the 
secularisation of our national institutions." 

The new programmes were put forth under the sanction 
of a long array of Archbishops and Bishops, Dukes, Earls, 
and Tory Members of Parliament. While the League could 
hardly boast a Coronet, the " Unions " had very little else 
to boast of. Their lists were wholly uncontaminated by any 
association with popular institutions, or their representatives. 
They were Conservative organisations, as much as the League 


was a Liberal and Democratic organisation. A feeble effort 
was made to relieve the aspect of Toryism by parading the 
names of Mr. Cowper-Temple, Mr. Baines and some more 
doubtful Liberals, but it was not very successful. What is 
essentially to be noticed in regard to these Unions is that they 
were called into existence to obstruct and not to construct. But 
for the League they would never have been heard of, and edu- 
cation might have languished for another half century. The 
Bishop of Manchester, at one of the Union meetings, after 
referring to 'the educational destitution of the country, said, 
' "Now to this educational destitution, without meaning to ignore 
the labours of the Manchester Education Aid Society, or of 
those gentlemen who have prepared the Manchester Committee 
Bill I wish to give them all credit for what they have 
done, I think the Education League was the first to call, 
prominently, national attention ; and I suppose if it had not 
been for the existence of the Education League, and the 
programme they put forth, this Education Union, which has 
assembled us here to-night, would have had no existence." ( J ) 

It was into the arms of a Society thus constituted and 
originated, that Mr. Forster the Eadical and Puritan 
precipitated himself, and attempted to drag after him the 
Liberal party. 

The contest between the rival societies was conducted 
with much animation, and before the assembling of Parlia- 
ment there was not a town of any importance in England 
where meetings or conferences had not been held. In Wales, 
also, the excitement was intense. These discussions had their 
natural effect upon the Government, and in January Mr. 
Forster, the Vice-President, announced their intention to 
bring in a bill. 

Acting upon the resolution passed at the first meeting of 
members, the Executive Committee had prepared instructions 

1 Report of Meeting, Free Trade Hall, 1870, 6. 


for a League bill, and the draftsman had nearly completed 
his work. Early in the session, Mr. Dixon had expressed his 
intention to proceed with this measure, but on the announce- 
ment of the Government bill he consented to suspend action 
until the proposals of Ministers were made known. Great 
expectations had been raised amongst the people and the 
Nonconformists by the committal of the education question to 
the care of Mr. Forster/ He was regarded as the Radical repre- 
sentative in the Ministry. He had been used to pride himself 
on his ultra-liberalism, and his alliance with the extreme section 
of the popular party. He had given for many years con- 
siderable attention to the subject, and had taken an active 
share in the agitation of the National Public School Associa- 
tion. He had also backed Mr. Bruce's bill in 1868, which was 
a Free School bill the feature of an education programme 
dearest to Radicalism. There was another circumstance 
upon which the popular party founded their hopes Mr. 
Bright was a member of the Cabinet. But, most unfor- 
tunately, before the education question came under the 
notice of Parliament, he had been attacked by the distressing 
illness which robbed the country of his services during 
this critical period. 

The Government measure was submitted to the House 
on the 17th of February, 1870. Its author bespoke for it the 
favour of the House, divested from considerations of party. 
It was a bold request to make, remembering that this had 
been a critical question with all Ministers for forty years , and 
had kept alive the most intense and acrimonious divisions in 
the country. The demand that it should be suddenly raised 
above the region of passion, and feeling, and self interest, 
suggested to practical minds a political impossibility, and 
awakened amongst earnest Liberals a corresponding feeling 
of distrust. But although Mr. Forster was courageous, he 


was not original. A greater Minister, when about to sur- 
render the traditions and principles of his party on a 
crucial question, had suggested that the time had come when 
it ought no longer to decide the fate of parties. But the 
Kadical's imitation of the Conservative was inappropriate 
and infelicitous, because there was the important distinction 
that Mr. Disraeli was struggling in a hopeless minority, while 
Mr. Forster was member of a Cabinet supported by a great 
parliamentary majority, and backed by a nation enthusiastic 
for searching legislation. There was all the difference between 
resignation to unavoidable surrender, and the desertion of 
principle when its triumph might have been won. It will 
no doubt be pleaded that the difficulties of the Government 
were great, and had been piled up year by year since the 
formation of the Committee of Council. They had to inter- 
weave a new and efficient system with one which was 
inherently defective, and had been discredited by results. 
No doubt this was the case ; but if Mr. Forster had possessed 
the courage of Mr. Lowe, there was no insuperable difficulty. 
The opportunities of 1870 were such as few Ministers 
enjoy. The people had been sickened by living for six 
years in an atmosphere of unworthy compromises and of 
tinkering legislation, and they would have gladly supported 
the Government in passing a thorough measure on distinctly 
Liberal lines. No one asked at this stage of the agitation 
that the existing system should be destroyed, but the 
people had a right to ask that a system which had proved 
itself incapable, should not be riveted upon the nation, 
and entrenched behind new privileges and larger sub- 
sidies. They had a right to expect a Liberal measure 
from a Liberal Government. As a matter of fact, the 
clergy aul tha Tories had never ventured to hops 
from any Ministry such concessions as thosa which were 
off are 1 to them by Mr. Forster. Thsra ware two courses 


open to the Government to make old and admittedly 
imperfect plans bend to the necessities of modern life, or 
to sacrifice efficiency in favour of custom and authority. 
They chose the latter. The bill was studiously framed to 
secure the support of the existing managers, and through 
them, of the Conservative party. 

As explained by Mr. Forster, the provisions of the bill he 
introduced were : 

The Country to be divided into School districts 
(Municipal Boroughs and civil parishes). 

The Government to take powers for ascertaining 
the deficiency of school accommodation. 

The abolition of denominational inspection. 
The imposition of a conscience clause (the benefit 
to be claimed by the parent in writing). 

The removal of restrictions against secular schools. 

The denominations to have a year's grace to supply 
the deficiency of accommodation. 

On the failure of the denominations, School Boards 
to be elected, with powers of rating to establish schools. 

School Boards to be elected by the Town Council 
in Boroughs, and by select vestries in parishes. 

School Boards to have power to remit school fees on 
the ground of poverty, and in special cases to establish 
free schools, the consent of the Education Department 
being first obtained. 

School Boards to have power to assist existing 
schools out of the rates. 

No restrictions to be placed on School Boards in 
regard to religious instruction, except the observance 
of the conscience clause. 


The School Boards to have powers to frame bye- 
laws for compelling the attendance of children between 
five and twelve years of age. 

The precise effect of the bill was hardly perceived upon 
its introduction, and it was received with a chorus of satisfac- 
tion from the Liberal benches, which reflection greatly modified. 
Mr. Dixon while giving a general assent to the principles 
enunciated, criticised its provisions. He condemned the year 
of grace allowed to denominational effort, and complained that 
instead of meeting the religious difficulty by the separation 
of religious and secular instruction, the bill threw it upon the 
School Boards to decide. He also strongly opposed as weak 
and inefficient, the permissive compulsion on which the 
Government relied. 

A circular was at once issued by the Officers of the 
League to the branches and members, pointing out the 
particulars in which the bill appeared to be defective, and 
inviting the expression of local opinion. Eeplies were 
received from sixty-eight branches, and were laid before a 
meeting of the Executive Committee on the 24th of February. 
Great disappointment was experienced at the incomplete 
character of the Government proposals. It was resolved to 
withhold the bill which had been drafted, and to use the 
whole force of the League in pressing for amendments in the 
ministerial bill which was held to be inefficient in the 
following points. 

The only means proposed for enforcing attendance was 
through the agency of School Boards. Therefore unless 
such Boards were generally established, great irregularities 
and inequalities would exist. There would be the anomaly of 
abundant provision, and imperfect attendance. The bill was 
wasteful, to the extent that it required school provision, and 
took no security that it should be used, 


Great and unnecessary delay was encouraged by the bill. 
It was estimated that three years, or even half a generation 
of school life might be lost before it came into operation. 
There was first of all to be an enquiry to ascertain the 
deficiency then a year's grace was to be allowed to the 
denominations and upon the formation of a School Board, 
another year might elapse before operations were begun. 

The proposal to extend the denominational system was 
in itself objectionable. The country had a right to ask that 
the new system should be of a public character, under public 
management, and conducted on unsectarian principles. The 
extension of the denominational system was a direct 
restraint on the establishment of a national system. 

The election of School Boards by select vestries was 
strongly opposed, as an attempt to restrict the free 
exercise of the ratepayers rights, by confiding the election to 
bodies consisting of self-chosen, and ex-officio members, 
usually representing two interests the land and the Church. 
The ballot was also demanded as a security against coercion. 

The illusory provisions in regard to compulsion were 
objected to, it being evident that " permissive compulsion " 
was wholly inadequate. The uselessness of such legislation 
had been recently demonstrated by the failure of the 
Workshops Act. It was clear also, that influences and 
interests which were opposed to education might seek 
representation on School Boards with the object of preventing 
the exercise of their powers. 

On the subject of free schools, the Committee pointed 
out the injustice of taxing the working classes to provide for 
schools partly free, and imposing an additional tax in the 
shape of school fees. They were also opposed to the 
pauperising influence of the Government provisions, and to 
the obstruction to attendance which would be created, 


The provisions in regard to religious instruction were 
condemned. The bill threw the question of religion to the 
constituencies, to be fought out in every borough and parish, 
In order to avoid a parliamentary conflict it was to be 
transferred to electoral platforms throughout the country. 
The League demanded the time table conscience clause, 
and the exclusion from state-aided schools of catechisms, 
formularies, and doctrinal teaching. 

The proposals for granting aid out of the rates to existing 
denominational schools were opposed, as creating a scheme 
of concurrent endowment, the chief effect of which would be 
to enrich Church schools. 

The amendments resolved upon were : 

1. School Boards to be established in all districts, 
instead of only in those districts in which education is 
declared to be unsatisfactory after enquiry by the Privy 

2. Such Boards to be elected immediately on the 
passing of the Act, and to be required to provide without 
delay for the educational necessities of their districts. 

3. In districts not included in boroughs, School 
Boards to be elected by the ratepayers generally, voting 
by ballot. 

4. Compulsory attendance of children at school to 
be made imperative, instead of being left to the discretion 
of School Boards. 

5. Admission to schools established or maintained 
by School Boards to be free. 

6. No creed, catechism, or tenet peculiar to any 
sect to be taught in schools under the management of 
School Boards, or receiving grants from local rates. In 
all other schools receiving Government aid the religious 
teaching to be at distinct times, either before or after 


ordinary school business, and provision to be made that 
attendance at such religious teaching should not be com- 
pulsory, and that there should be no disability for non- 

In a statement of the provisions and amendments, they 
were thus summed up : " The bill provides, in a feeble, 
hesitating, tentative way, for the application of certain 
principles local rating, local management, direct compul- 
sion, free schools, and unsectarian teaching. The amendments 
of the League propose to carry these principles into full 
operation, by dealing firmly with them, and providing that 
their application shall be rendered certain, instead of being 
left to accident or caprice. In a word, the League proposes 
that Parliament shall legislate, giving to local bodies only 
administrative powers." 

Mr. Forster's idea of raising the question above party 
considerations was to throw himself into the arms of the 
Opposition, and to rivet an intensely sectarian and party 
system upon the country. He had approached a subject 
which had baffled Ministers for half a century with too light 
a heart, and too easy a conviction of his ability to " canter 
over " the religious difficulty. He ended by over-riding 
some of the most cherished convictions and principles of the 
party to which he belonged. From the beginning of the par- 
liamentary discussion he was adopted as the protegt and 
instrument of the Tories and the clergy, a position which 
ought not to have been a comfortable one for a strong Liberal 
statesman. The Executive Committee of the League therefore 
determined to make a direct appeal to the Prime Minister. 
On the 9th of March, a deputation waited on Mr. Glad- 
stone at his official residence. Mr. Dixon introduced the 
deputation probably the most numerous and representative 
which had ever visited Downing Street. It comprised 46 
members of Parliament, and 400 members of the League, 


representing 96 branches. Mr. Chamberlain, as Chairman 
of the Executive, stated the views of the League. He 
described its origin, its rapid growth in numbers and 
influence, and its claims to fairly represent Liberal opinion 
throughout the country. In stating the objections of the 
Committee to the bill, he said they were opposed to the year's 
delay, which would give to the denominations opportunities 
to run a race of wasteful expenditure, and to increase sectarian 
bitterness. They objected, also, to the permissive recognition 
of great principles, to permissive compulsion and permissive 
sectarianism, and also to the retention of school fees. The 
conscience clause proposed was entirely unsatisfactory : no 
parents would dare to make use of it, or to place themselves 
under the ban of the parson and the squire by signing such 
a document. If the Government entertained any doubt as to 
the opinion of the country, and would give them a little 
longer time, they would make that opinion sufficiently mani- 
fest. In conclusion, he asked that the Government which 
secured the support of Liberal Churchmen, and of the leading 
Dissenting bodies, in their efforts to carry out the principles of 
religious freedom and equality in Ireland, should not reject 
their petition for the application of those principles in 
England, and that they would remove from what was 
otherwise a noble measure, clauses which would inflict 
intolerable hardship and oppression upon a large class of 
the community. 

Sir Charles Dilke spoke on the conflict between the 
principle of permissive, and of direct and general compulsion : 
Mr. Mundella described the application of compulsory laws 
in foreign State* : Mr. Applegarth represented the views of 
the working classes : The Kev. S. A. Steinthal advocated the 
abolition of school fees : Mr. Illingworth, the Eev. F. Barham 
Zincke, and the Kev. Charles Vince explained the views of 
the deputation on the treatment of religion. 


Mr. Gladstone expressed a hope that a basis was 
afforded upon which, by united efforts, they would be able to 
work out a satisfactory result. On the same day the Premier 
also received a deputation from the Welsh Educational 
Alliance a body working in sympathy with the League. 

On the second reading of the Government Bill, 
Mr. Dixon, at the request of the Executive Committee, 
moved " That this House is of opinion that no measure for 
the elementary education of the people will afford a 
permanent or satisfactory settlement, which leaves the 
question of religious instruction in schools supported by the 
public funds and rates, to be determined by local authorities." 
Mr. Dixon explained that his amendment did not cover the 
ground of his objections to the bill, which might be improved 
in many respects. He could have wished to show reasons 
for the general establishment of School Boards, and for their 
free election by the ratepayers ; also for the immediate and 
general application of compulsion, and for the abolition of school 
fees. He was also 'opposed to the granting of a year's grace 
for the establishment of new denominational schools. But he 
confined himself to a review of what was called the religious 
difficulty, which would be greatly aggravated by the bill. 
In the course of time School Boards would become universal, 
rates would be levied everywhere, compulsory attendance 
would be generally enforced, and members of different sects 
would have to pay for, and to send their children to schools 
of other denominations. The minority would have to pay 
for the religious teaching of the majority. Denominationalism 
would thus be increased, rather than lessened, as he held it 
ought to be. If the Irish system had been adopted there 
would have been no opposition to the bill. He believed they 
could not reach a solid foundation short of separate religious 
teaching. If the agitation should be continued there would 
arise in th3 country, a party who would ask for exclusively 


secular education. The Vice-President of the Council had 
misunderstood the nature and extent of public feeling 
on the question. A contest between the Church and Non- 
conformists already seemed inevitable. Looking at the 
lessons of history he had no doubt which would prevail. If 
the bill should pass, at future elections of Town Councillors, 
to be a Dissenter would be a qualification for office, to be a 
Churchman a disqualification, amongst Liberals. The con- 
science clause had been tried and found wanting. Parents 
would not avail themselves of it. The time-table conscience 
clause was the only one that would work. There ought to be 
separate religious instruction apart from secular teaching. He 
hoped that the Government would modify the clauses, and 
that it would not be left to School Boards to decide this 
question after a conflict involving much strife and religious 
animosity. He had taken the unusual and grave step of 
moving an amendment to the second reading, because it was 
the only way in which he could gain for the subject the 
importance it deserved. There would have been a deep 
feeling of disappointment in the country unless the first 
opportunity had been taken for giving expression to the 
strong and decided feeling which existed. If the Government 
should not think it right to make any declaration of opinion 
in compliance with these views, it would remain for the 
constituencies to express their opinion in a manner which 
would leave no doubt as to public sentiment. 

Mr. Illingworth seconded the resolution. 

Mr. Forster complained that an amendment had been 
proposed on the second reading a course generally taken by 
members hostile to the Government and the measure. He 
quoted from proceedings of the League, the "Welsh Alliance, 
and the Congregational Union, to show that they were not 
agreed on the question of religious instruction. Eemarking 
on his Puritan blood, and his connection with the Kadical 


school, he asked, with a strangely distorted sense of Puritan 
and Eadical principles, that religious questions should be 
submitted to the decision of municipal bodies ; the inevitable 
effect of which would have been to introduce into their 
discussions, subjects of dispute and contest which had been 
excluded since the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 
and to restore the tyranny of majorities in matters of religion. 
He gave great praise to the Opposition for the concessions 
they had made in the acceptance of a conscience clause and 
the abolition of denominational inspection. He asked that 
the House should go into Committee, his speech containing 
no indication that the Government were prepared to make 
any concessions. 

The debate was continued on the following evening 
by Mr. Winterbotham in a speech of marked ability. Mr. 
Auberon Herbert, Mr. Vernon Harcourt, Sir Henry Hoare, 
Mr. Jacob Bright, Mr. James Howard, Professor Fawcett, 
Mr. H. Eichard, and Sir Charles Dilke also supported the 
amendment. The Liberals who opposed it were Sir Eoundell 
Palmer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Lowe), Mr. 
Mundella, Mr. Cowper-Ternple, and Mr. U. Kay-Shuttleworth. 
A number of Conservatives also gave their support to the 
Government; being determined apparently by the general agree- 
ment which existed below the gangway on the Liberal benches. 

As the result of three nights discussion, Mr. Gladstone 
indicated that certain modifications would be considered by 
the Government such as those referring to the popular 
election of School Boards, and the separation, in time, of 
religious and secular instruction, with other provisions to give 
to the minority equal privileges with the majority. Under 
these circumstances Mr. Dixon said he felt it his duty to 
withdraw the amendment. 

The alterations proposed by the Government were not 
laid on the table of the House until the 26th of May. 


During the interval, although, much uncertainty was caused 
by the delay there being many rumours that the measure 
would be withdrawn the country was not idle in giving 
expression to its views. The opinion that nothing but a 
thorough measure would be of use was strengthened and 
confirmed by the publications of the reports of Mr. Fitch and 
Mr. Fearon on the elementary schools of Birmingham, Leeds, 
Liverpool, and Manchester verifying, as they did, the conclu- 
sions of the Education Aid Societies. In March a large number 
of petitions were presented, praying for more decisive and 
perfect provisions in the bill. As an illustration of public 
feeling, though perhaps not the most conclusive one, it may 
be noticed that the signatures to the League petitions 
amounted to 277,651, while those on the opposite side were 
only 18,822. 

A meeting of the Executive was held on the 
24th of March, when the following resolution was passed : 
" That the Executive Committee regards with satisfaction the 
spirit of concession manifested by Mr. Gladstone in his 
speech on the second reading of the bill, but desires to 
reiterate its unshaken conviction that no amendments can 
be satisfactory in reference to the religious difficulty which 
do not provide that no creed, catechism, or tenet peculiar to 
any sect shall be taught in schools under the management of 
School Boards, or receiving grants from local rates, and that 
in all other schools receiving Government aid the religious 
teaching shall be at a distinct time, either before or after 
ordinary school business, provision being made that attendance 
at such religious teaching shall not be compulsory, and that 
there shall be no disability for non-attendance. That this 
Committee is further of opinion that the whole of the League 
amendments should be moved in Committee." 

Amongst Nonconformists the bill had created feelings of 
.mingled surprise, anger, and dismay. They were startled to 


receive such a blow against their most cherished principles 
from a Government to which they had rendered such loyal 
service. Almost for the first time since 1839, all sections of 
Protestant Dissenters were found closely united in support of 
common views. There were individual exceptions, amongst 
whom Mr. Baines was the most prominent ; but such men 
admittedly did not represent the opinions of any considerable 
or important section of the Nonconformist body, either in 
respect of numbers or authority. 

The Central Nonconformist Committee, which was 
formed in Birmingham, and was in connection with Dissenting 
Committees throughout the kingdom, took an active and 
important share in the agitation against the objectionable 
provisions of the bill. The Chairman of the Committee was 
Mr. Middlemore. Mr. E. W. Dale and the Eev. H. W. 
Crosskey were the Honorary Secretaries, and Mr. Schnadhorst, 
who has since acquired a national reputation, was the 
Secretary. The Committee at once called meetings of 
Dissenters in every part of the country to consider the 
religious clauses. Petitions were presented to the House of 
Commons praying for a reconsideration of the proposal to 
give local boards unrestricted power to determine the religious 
character of schools supported by local rates. This petition 
was signed, in a few days, by over two thirds of all the 
Nonconformist ministers in England and Wales, of all 
denominations. On the llth of April a deputation waited on 
Mr. Gladstone and presented to him personally a protest in 
the same language and representing the same bodies. The 
deputation comprised Mr. Dale and Mr. Crosskey, the Eev. 
J. G. Eogers, of the Congregational Union Committee ; 
Eev. W. Brock, President of the Baptist Union; Eev. J. 
Hargreaves, of the Wesleyan Methodists ; Eev. G. Lamb, of 
the Primitive Methodists; Eev. J. S. Withington, of the 
United Methodist Free Churches ; Dr. Cooke v President of 


the New Connexion Methodists ; and the Eev. W. Gaskell, 
President of the Provincial Association of Lancashire and 
Cheshire Unitarian Churches. 

But perhaps the most earnest, formidable, and unanimous 
opposition to the bill proceeded from Mr. Forster's own 
borough and from his own constituents and friends. At ten 
open public meetings convened in the town in the month of 
May, resolutions were passed in favour of a compulsory, 
unsectarian, and free system. Petitions were forwarded to 
Mr. Miall for presentation to the House, and a memorial was 
addressed to Mr. Forster, begging him to reconsider his course. 
This agitation was, perhaps, stimulated by the strong support 
which the clergy and Conservatives gave to Mr. Forster, and 
it was encouraged and promoted by the great majority of the 
Liberal party. 

The Manchester Corporation also appointed a deputation 
to wait on the Premier to advocate more stringent provisions 
for procuring attendance, to protest against assistance out of 
the rates to denominational schools, and to urge the Govern- 
ment to settle the religious question at once by deciding what 
should be taught, instead of leaving it to be contended for 
amongst municipal bodies. 

In the course of the discussions on the bill, the Man- 
chester Bill Committee, which had been in favour of leaving 
the religious instruction to local decision, and under whose 
advice Mr. Forster had acted in drawing up his clauses, 
became convinced that public opinion would not tolerate 
such a method of dealing with the question, and advised that 
it should once for all be settled by the Legislature. 

Earl Kussell also wrote to Mr. Forster confessing that 
he had changed his views, and thought it would be 
impolitic to remit religious questions for local decision. He 
also strongly advocated the time-table conscience clause, and 
the prohibition of catechisms and distinctive religious teaching 


in rate-aided schools. He added, " such men as Mr. Miall 
and Mr. Winterbotham ought surely to be conciliated by 
justice and not overpowered." 

There was during the same period, a steady growth of 
the League branches, of the number of members, and of the 
funds placed at its disposal. Eepeated warnings were 
addressed to Ministers from all sources, that persistent 
adherence to the objectionable features of the bill would 
result in a formidable breach in the ranks of the party. In 
several Parliamentary contests which had occurred, the 
League had made its power felt; and this feature of 
the agitation promised to become much more prominent. 

The first batch of Government amendments those 
indicated by Mr. Gladstone on the second reading were laid 
on the table, on the 26th of May. They provided, 1. That 
where select vestries were not popularly chosen, the School 
Boards should be elected by the ratepayers generally, voting 
by ballot. 2. That a time-table conscience clause should be 
imposed on all schools receiving Government aid, or assistance 
from local rates : and 3. That Government Inspectors should 
not examine the religious teaching in any school. 

Great disappointment was felt at the imperfect character 
of these alterations. At a meeting of the Executive 
Committee, held on the 3rd of June, resolutions were 
passed declaring the Government amendments inadequate 
and unsatisfactory, and expressing the view that if no further 
amendments could be secured it would be desirable to 
postpone legislation until the next session. It was determined 
to raise a special fund of 10,000 for the purpose of con- 
tinuing and extending the agitation, which had grown to 
dimensions making a heavy strain upon the resources of the 
central office. 

The Central Nonconformist Committee also adopted 
resolutions complaining of the unsatisfactory character of the 


ministerial proposals, and advocating an organised opposition 
to the passage of the bill in the form which it presented. 

The critical position of affairs induced the officers to 
summon the Council of the League a body which by the 
constitution was entitled to be called together only on special 
occasions the object being to make the most formal and 
impressive protest which they could put on record. The 
meeting was held at Willis's Eooms on the 16th of June, Mr. 
Dixon presiding, when there were present members of the 
Council and representatives from all parts of England. This 
body sustained the action of the Executive and resolved that 
the amendments proposed to be introduced by the Govern- 
ment were wholly insufficient to meet the requirements of 
the country, as expressed in public meetings and petitions. 

Mr. Yernon Harcourt had given notice of an amendment 
on going into committee, to the effect that provision should 
be made to secure that in all schools deriving assistance from 
the public rates, the religious teaching given should be 
undenominational in character, and confined to unsectarian 
instruction in the Bible : and that no measure of National 
Education would be effectual which did not provide for the 
compulsory attendance of all children of school age, to be 
enforced by School Boards established in every district. As 
an amendment to this resolution Mr. Cowper-Temple intended 
to move, " that in all schools established by means of local 
rates, no catechism or religious formulary which was distinc- 
tive of any particular denomination should be taught." (*) 

1 Mr. Cowper-Temple was Chairman of the Education Union. He 
explained, however, during the debates in Parliament that he did not put his 
amendment on paper at the request, or as the representative of the Union. 
The wording of the clause is somewhat ambiguous, and might be interpreted 
to admit catechisms and formularies which are distinctive of more than one 
sect. Mr. Cowper-Temple is said to have stated that he intended it to allow 
the use of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and Apostles Creed. 
But I believe that in practice the interpretation of its author has been 
considerably narrowed. 


But on the order of the day for going into committee 
Mr. Gladstone rose to make a further statement. From this 
it appeared that the Government had decided on adopting 
Mr. Cowper-Temple's amendment and on the time-table con- 
science clause. They had also resolved to strike out clause 
23, which authorised School Boards to give assistance out of 
the rates to voluntary schools. In lieu of this clause they 
proposed to raise the grant to denominational schools out of 
the consolidated fund, so that it would be equivalent to fifty 
per cent, of their expenditure. They also proposed to 
discontinue the building grant after the period of grace 
allowed to the denominations to establish new schools, 

These proposals could hardly be satisfactory to the 
League or to Nonconformists. The Ministry, in fact, threw 
themselves into the arms of their enemies. They adopted 
the clause proposed by the Chairman of the Union, and the 
suggestion made by Lord Eobert Montagu that they should 
return to the former liberal scale of grants. The building grant 
was discontinued in such a manner as to give a stimulus to 
the foundation of denominational schools. The grants which 
were applied for before the end of the year would, at the 
normal rate of application, have extended over from fifteen to 
twenty years. In the schools thus established and endowed, any 
kind of religious instruction might be given at the pleasure of 
the schoolmaster excepting the use of catechisms and formu- 
laries. Mr. Disraeli charged the Government with creating a 
" new sacerdotal class." They also refused to concede the 
principle of direct and general compulsion, upon which 
public opinion chiefly relied to secure an efficient system. 

Mr. Henry Eichard gave notice of a motion " That 
grants to existing denominational schools should not be 
increased, and that in any national system of elementary 
education the attendance should be everywhere compulsory, 
and the religious instruction should be supplied by voluntary 


efforts, and not out of the public funds." It was resolved 
by the Executive to support this amendment. The most 
representative Nonconformist bodies also passed resolutions 
in its favour. The debate upon it occupied four nights, 
and extends to 250 pages of Hansard. Sixty-two Liberals, 
representing many of the largest constituencies in the 
kingdom, went into the lobby against the Government 
upon this motion. 

A still larger defection occurred on the discussion of 
clause 17, providing for the regulation of public elementary 
schools. To the Government clause (that adopted from Mr. 
Cowper-Temple) Mr. Jacob Bright moved a further amend- 
ment that in rate-supported schools in which the Scriptures 
were taught, the teaching should not be used or directed in 
favour of, or against the distinctive tenets of any religious 
denomination. The division upon this amendment ought 
to have conveyed a sufficient warning to any Ministry not 
absolutely blind, or bent upon rushing on its own destruction. 
One hundred and thirty-three Liberals walked out of the 
House without voting, while 132 Liberals, representing 
1,063,579 electors, voted against the Government. The 
clause proposed by the Government was carried by the 
union of 121 Liberals (including 25 Government officials) 
and 132 Conservatives. The Liberal minority included 
members of every section of the party, representing con- 
stituencies of all diversities of character, from the city of 
London to the West Biding. 

From this time, although the League did not relax its 
efforts, it was felt that the struggle in Parliament was nearly 
a hopeless one. In the progress of the bill through Com- 
mittee the Government steadily resisted all amendments, 
whether proceeding from the League or the Church party. 
Where attempts were made to give a more reactionary 
character to the measure the adherents of the League gave a 


cordial support to the Ministry, but only in their turn to be 
crushed by an alliance between the Ministerialists and the 

Mr. Walter's amendment for the establishment of 
School Boards in all districts was defeated, but as an evidence 
of the importance which the country attached to the repre- 
sentative principle in educational management, it is worthy of 
notice that 112 Liberals voted against the Ministry. As a 
partial concession to the strong feeling which existed 
Mr. Forster consented to introduce a provision for the creation 
of School Boards on the application of the inhabitants. 

Sir Stafford Northcote made an effort to omit the words 
prohibiting the use of catechisms and formularies in rate- 
supported schools, and Sir John Pakington moved to make 
the reading of the Bible compulsory. Both proposals were 

Mr. Dixon's motion to secure free admission into rate- 
supported schools was equally ineffectual. 

Sir Charles Dilke moved that the School Boards should 
be elected by the ratepayers instead of by Town Councils 
and Vestries. The amendment was opposed by the Govern- 
ment and rejected by the narrow majority of 150 against 
145. The lesson of this division, however, was not lost, 
since at a later stage the Government accepted the proposal. 

Lord Frederick Cavendish is responsible for the cumula- 
tive vote, which Mr. Gladstone, with some impetuosity, 
accepted on the part of the Government. 

One of the most remarkable circumstances in the 
progress of the bill is, that clause 25 permitting the payment 
by School Boards of fees in denominational schools, was 
agreed to without discussion or division. The explanation 
however is obvious. The clause was grouped with clause 23 
of the original bill, which provided for assistance out of the 
rates to existing schools. The greater clause over-shadowed 


the lesser, and it was not discovered that the latter involved 
a similar principle. It was therefore overlooked. Consider- 
ing the feeling which was afterwards aroused by the attempt 
to enforce the 25th section, it is worth while to reflect what 
would have happened if clause 23 had been allowed to pass. 

A further effort was made by Sir Thomas Bazley to 
insert clauses providing for direct and general compulsion, 
but it was defeated. 

On the motion of Mr. Candlish that the parliamentary 
grant should not be extended to schools not then in existence, 
unless they were provided by School Boards, Mr. Dixon 
entered a formal protest against the course pursued by the 
Government, which he predicted would end in creating religious 
dissensions, disastrous both to religion and education. With a 
fine sense of casuistry, Mr. Forster replied that the money 
offered by the Government was intended for secular and not 
for religious teaching ; and this notwithstanding the admission 
of the voluntary managers, that their schools could not 
continue to exist without aid from the Government. In 
considering the conduct of the measure by the Vice-President, 
one of the least satisfactory features is, that while professing 
to change the principle upon which grants were made, 
allocating them for secular instead of religious instruction, he 
did it in such a manner as to strengthen and encourage the 
foundation of schools, whose chief object was, by their own 
admission, to foster denominational interests. In 1839 Lord 
Melbourne and Lord Eussell, in the name of the Queen, 
declared that education must have a religious basis, and they 
consistently refused aid to schools in which religion was not 
taught. In 1870 Mr. Forster professed that the sole object of 
the Ministry was to provide secular education, yet he was 
careful to carry it out in such a way that sectarian schools 
would receive the largest share of the advantages offered by 
the Government. 


On the discussion of the parliamentary grant Mr. 
Trevelyan, who had resigned his post in the Ministry, 
addressed the House. He said that private members stood 
in a happier position than members of the Government, for 
they were justified in voting for the bill under protest, at a 
future time opposing the increased grant ; but it would be 
the duty of the Government to press forward the increased 
grants, for which every member of the Government would 
be bound to vote, however much it might be against the 
Liberal creed. He was not prepared to incur such an 
obligation. Politicians of his standing had formed their 
beliefs and aspirations during the Irish Church Agitation 
of 1868, and during that period, Scotland and Wales and 
many of the large towns of England, pronounced against 
denominational education. That election was, in large 
portions of the country, a crusade in favour of religious 
equality. Very great was the responsibility of confusing 
ideas of right and wrong by repudiating denominational 
ascendancy in Ireland, and then pouring out the public 
money like water in favour of denominational education 
in England. He felt bound to oppose the increased grant, 
and this was why he had taken the painful step of leaving 
the Government. 

In the House of Commons, the ballot in School Board 
elections was stoutly contested by the Conservatives, but was 
carried by the Government after an all-night sitting. The 
House of Lords subsequently expunged the clause, to which 
the Government assented. 

On the third reading of the bill, Mr. Dixon said that he 
had not offered to it a factious opposition, or attempted to 
delay its progress, but it must not be concluded that he 
was satisfied. It was his intention to give notice that early 
next session he should move for leave to bring in a bill to 
amend the act, It owed its success in the House mainly 


to two causes, which would not be forgotten in the country. 
The first was the constant and earnest support given to it by 
the Opposition, and the other was the statement, made over 
and over again by the Government, amounting almost to a 
threat, that unless their usual supporters went into the same 
lobby with them, they would run the risk of losing the bill, 
and incur the condemnation of the country. He regretted 
that the success of the bill had been purchased at such a 
heavy price, for he could not hide from himself that it had 
roused the suspicion, the distrust, and the antagonism of 
some of the most earnest supporters of the Government. 
He thought it was a great disadvantage, if not a positive 
evil, that those who had done so much to place the Govern- 
ment in the position it occupied, should be accustomed to 
an attitude of opposition, and to make appeals that would be 
repeated to the Liberal party outside the House, against the 
action of a Ministry which had hitherto received from them 
the most unvarying, loyal, and enthusiastic support. 

The concluding debate was also marked by a passage of 
arms between the Prime Minister and Mr. Miall, who 
spoke as the Nonconformist representative in the House. 
The latter complained that he and his supporters had been 
made to pass through the Valley of Humiliation. The 
Administration was in power mainly in consequence of the 
support given by the Nonconformist body to the policy 
announced by the first Minister of the Crown two years 
before. They gave whatever new impulse was given to the 
Liberal cause, then and for years to come. When this question 
was brought forward they did not expect anything immoderate, 
or demand anything that was selfish ; but they thought that 
some consideration would have been paid to their objections 
which, however, had been increased and aggravated by the 
remedies applied. He suggested that there would in future 
be a diminution of the confidence which they had formerly 


reposed in the Ministry, and greatly incensed the official 
Liberals by using the expiession, " once bit, twice shy." 

Mr. Gladstone made an impetuous reply, in which he 
justified the course which had been taken by the Government. 
He said, " my honourable friend thinks it worthy of him to 
resort to a proverb, and to say that the time has come when 
he is entitled to use the significant language, ' once bit, twice 
shy.' But if my hon. friend has been bitten, by whom is it ? 
If he has been bitten, it is only in consequence of expectations 
which he has himself chosen to entertain, and which were not 
justified by the facts. We have been thankful to have the 
independent and honourable support of my hon. friend, but 
that support ceases to be of value when ; accompanied by such 
reproaches as these. I hope my hon. friend will not continue 
that support to the Government one moment longer than he 
deems it consistent with his sense of duty and right. For 
God's sake, sir, let him withdraw it the moment he thinks it 
better for the cause he has at heart that he should do so." 
The language used on both sides proves how intense was the 
exasperation which existed between Ministers and a large 
section of their supporters ; and the subsequent history of the 
Administration shows how ready the Nonconformists were to 
take the Prime Minister at his word. A subsequent portion 
of his speech may be adduced in proof of the political honesty 
of his character, but at the same time it exhibits the wide 
gulf which existed in. feeling between himself and the mass 
of those who had 'returned him to power. He made no 
pretence that the Education Act was a measure for secular 
education only, or even that it was impartial in character. 
He said, " it was with us an absolute necessity a necessity 
of honour and a necessity of policy -to respect and to favour 
the educational establishments and machinery we found 
existing in the country. It was impossible for us to join in the 
language, or to adopt the tone which was conscientiously and 


consistently taken by some members of the House, who look 
upon these voluntary schools, having generally a denomina- 
tional character, as admirable passing expedients, fit indeed 
to be tolerated for a time, deserving all credit on account of 
the motives which led to their foundation, but wholly 
unsatisfactory as to their main purpose, and therefore to be 
supplanted by something they think better." These expres- 
sions were consistent at any rate with the course which Mr. 
Gladstone had always pursued in relation to education, 
though they did not exhibit great sagacity in estimating the 
weight and direction of public opinion. 

In the concluding stages Mr. Forster made light of the 
threat of an agitation' against the act but this did not deter 
Mr. Dixon from giving notice of his intention to move in the 
next session for its amendment. 

The act received the Royal assent on the ninth of 
August, 1870. 

The Denominationalists were allowed up to the 31st of 
December to make application for building grants. The 
Church papers demanded immediate and energetic action on 
the part of Churchmen. Not a moment, they declared, 
was to be lost. They were advised to ascertain the 
educational need in every district, and to report " schools in 
progress " to the Department. The Roman Catholics took the 
same course, the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Howard leading 
the movement. These appeals to purely sectarian interests 
resulted in 3,111 applications (*) to the Department for 
building grants in less than five months the normal rate 
of application being about one hundred and fifty per annum. 

If any doubt had been felt as to the effect of the act in 

stirring up sectarian feuds, it was soon dissipated by the action 

of the country. Everywhere the introduction of the law was 

the signal for the revival of disputes of the most painful 

1 Of these applications 1,332 were afterwards withdrawn. 


character, which previously had slumbered, and which it was 
hoped were gradually dying out. Mr. Forster's reward for 
passing the act, which he accomplished by means of an 
ability and persistency which are not denied, was a seat in the 
Cabinet. But his relations with his constituents, or more 
correctly with the Liberal party in Bradford, were embittered 
for the next ten years. In January, 1871, he went to 
Bradford to deliver an account of his stewardship. He was 
met by a vote amounting to one of want of confidence. 

Mr. Alderman West moved, and Mr. Alderman Scott 
seconded, a resolution, 

"That this meeting tenders its congratulations to the 
Eight Hon. W. E. Forster, M.P., on his having obtained the 
high and honourable position of a member of Her Majesty's 
Cabinet, and begs, at the same time, to thank him for the full 
and clear account of his parliamentary experience during the 
past year, which he has given this evening." 

Mr. Charles Turner moved as an amendment, 

" That this meeting having heard Mr. Forster's account 
of his parliamentary experience during the past session, and 
fully recognising his previous services to the Liberal cause, 
regrets its inability to approve of the educational measure 
passed mainly by his exertions, and deplores deeply the 
means resorted to, to secure its adoption in a Liberal 
House of Commons." 

Mr. Elias Thomas seconded the amendment, which was 
carried. The Vice-President, however, had his consolations 
in the confidence and praise of the clergy, the Tories 
and their press. On a rumour of his removal from the 
Education Department, the Guardian remarked, " We should 
be glad to see his advancement to any post of greater dignity, 
but certainly it will illustrate very unhappily the necessities 
of parliamentary government if, just as he has shown himself 
master of the situation in one most important Department, he 


should be transferred to another in which he has everything 
to learn. The work of the education bill is not done ; on the 
next two or three years everything will depend. We doubt 
whether Parliament would have given such unexampled 
autocracy to the Department if they had not fancied that 
Mr. Forster was to preside over the inauguration of the new 

With these ill omens, the Education Act of 1870 
entered upon its work. 



PLATFORM, 1872. 

NOTWITHSTANDING its defects in important particulars, the 
Education Bill, as it was sent up to the House of Lords, 
was a very different measure from the draft which Mr. Forster 
had introduced. The separation of religious and secular 
instruction effected by the time-table conscience clause was 
only partial it was as Mr. Gladstone said, a separation in 
time alone. Yet it was the acceptance of a principle, which, 
step by step, with a persistency which never yields, has been 
gradually asserting itself in the practice of our legislature 
and government for a century past. Ten years before the 
passing of the Act the justice and practicability of any 
conscience clause was denied by nine-tenths of the school 
managers ; and the general imposition of a time-table 
conscience clause would have been felt to be the most complete 
and disastrous defeat which Denominationalism could sustain. 
It is not desirable to over-estimate the value of the conces- 
sion. The time will probably come when such a badge of 
toleration will not be required. It is very doubtful indeed 
whether in the existing state of society, any conscience clause 
which ingenuity could devise would prove effectual. The 
actual experience under the existing clause has not been 
satisfactory ; but still something was gained. Mr. J. S. Mill 
said, " I should be glad to forget as soon as possible what the 
bill would have been without it. Though brought in by a 
Government which lias earned such high distinction as the 


destroyer of religious inequality in Ireland, a more effectual 
plan could have scarcely been devised by the strongest 
champion of ecclesiastical ascendancy, for enabling the clergy 
of the Church of England to educate the children of the 
greater part of England and Wales in their own religion at 
the expense of the public." ( J ) The integrity of the denomi- 
national teaching was broken by the clause. The principle of 
the division in time between the two branches of instruction 
once admitted, the complete separation in other respects has 
become a question of patience. 

In some other points the denominational character of the 
bill had been successfully attacked. The proposed year of 
grace was reduced to about five months ; the direct power to 
subsidize denominational schools out of the rates had been 
negatived; and the teaching of catechisms and formularies 
in rate-aided schools had been prohibited. 

The amendments in the civil clauses of the bill, striking 
also against denominational influence, were even of greater 
value. These provided chiefly for the free election of School 
Boards by the ratepayers, and the power of localities to 
acquire School Boards on application to the Department. 
These amendments brought more freely into play the 
principles of local rating and local management. The 
permissive power to establish Boards by the vote of the 
School district, became in practice of the highest value, for 
it was by this means that the best results of the Act were 

As soon as the bill became law, the Executive Com- 
mittee decided on a double line of policy. It was 
resolved in the first place to make the most of the 
Act as an educational measure, by encouraging the appli- 
cation of the representative principle, in the formation of 
School Boards, the provision of schools, and the adoption of 

1 Speech at St. James's Hall, March 25, 1870. 


compulsory bye-laws. While the Act was yet passing 
through its final stages, the Town Council of Birmingham, at 
the instigation of Mr. Dixon, took steps for acquiring a School 
Board. This example was immediately followed in Leeds 
and Sheffield, and at a short time later by the Corpora- 
tions of Manchester, Liverpool, Middlesborough, Leicester, 
Nottingham, Oxford, Bolton, Coventry, Canterbury, Black- 
burn, and other important boroughs. 

It was also determined to agitate against the proposed 
increase of grants to denominational Schools, and to strive 
for other amendments calculated to make the educational 
operation of the Act more universal and efficient. 

A circular was issued by the Officers to the local 
branches, explaining how the Act might be put into opera- 
tion without waiting for the formal notices and enquiries, 
and urging the adoption of this course in all districts where 
there was an obvious deficiency of accommodation. With the 
same object, a letter by the Chairman of the Executive on 
the advantages of School Boards was circulated, and a 
legal hand-book containing an Analysis of the act, for the 
use of members, was distributed. 

At a meeting of the Executive Committee, held on the 
7th of September, it was resolved to maintain and extend 
the organisation of the League for the following purposes : 
" 1. To assist in putting the Education Act in operation, 
so as to secure, as far as possible, the establishment of 
unsectarian, compulsory, and free schools. 2. To promote 
amendments in the Act by converting the permissive into 
obligatory clauses, and securing the recognition of the 
principle of religious equality in rate-aided schools. 3. To 
resist the increase of parliamentary grants to sectarian 
schools. 4. To watch the progress of educational legisla- 
tion in reference to the Irish system. 5. To influence 


public and parliamentary opinion by meetings, publications, 
petitions, and all other available means, in favour of a 
national, unsectarian, and free system of education ; and 
with this view to secure the return of members to the 
House of Commons pledged to support the principles of 
the League." 

With these objects, renewed efforts were made to extend 
and re-invigorate the organisation. A large number of 
travelling and local agents were appointed, and an active 
canvass of the constituencies was undertaken, with the 
result that in a short time the branches and adherents of 
the League were doubled. 

The electoral policy of the League was as yet undeveloped, 
but in the action taken at Shrewsbury, Newark, and other 
towns, there were distinct indications that principle would 
not be sacrificed for the sake of party cohesion. Speaking at 
Shrewsbury, Mr. Dale had called upon the constituencies not 
to vote for candidates who were unprepared to resist a 
denominational system, and the increase of grants to 
sectarian schools. " Nonconformists must make it clearly 
understood that there were certain terms by which their 
allegiance to the Liberal party stood or fell, and that they 
meant to take some part in Liberal counsels." 

The deep-seated distrust which the policy of the Govern- 
ment had created amongst Dissenters, was illustrated by the 
action of the Central Nonconformist Committee. This body 
had been appointed to watch the progress of the Education 
Bill in Parliament, but it was not dissolved on the passing of 
the Act. At a meeting held at Can's Lane, on the 19th 
of October, Mr. Chamberlain in the chair, it was decided 
to continue the existence of the Committee, to obtain the 
amendment of those provisions which violated the principles 
of religious liberty, to secure the refusal of national aid to 


new denominational schools, and its gradual withdrawal from 
schools under sectarian management to prevent the develop- 
ment of the denominational system in Ireland and Scotland, 
and to resist legislative encroachments on the rights of 

A new departure in the movement was now taken. The 
Chairman said that the Committee were of opinion that they 
had previously been a little too moderate, and whereas 
they had formerly asked that there should be no increase 
of aid to denominational schools, they now asked that all 
grants of national money for denominational purposes should 
gradually be withdrawn. The Committee proposed to assist 
in a movement which had already obtained many supporters 
in Scotland, and still more in Ireland, to resist any alteration 
of what was called the mixed system of education. 

The second annual meeting of the League was held at 
the Queen's Hotel, Birmingham, on the 25th of October, 1870. 
In moving the adoption of the report presented by the 
Executive, Mr. Dixon sketched the progress which had been 
made. Since last year they had gained an Education Act, 
which, notwithstanding its defects, would set the country in 
motion. It depended greatly upon the League that the 
movement should not cease until every child in the country 
was efficiently educated, and he trusted they would be 
animated to still greater exertions. They had not worked 
in vain in the past, but it was to the future that they must 
look for results. They had merely prepared the ground on 
which they might hope to labour successfully. He referred 
to some of the defects of the Act which they might hope to 
amend. One of the greatest was the sanction of an increase 
of grants to existing denominational schools. He felt it to 
be a bitter thing to swallow, that they should have to listen 
to the leader of the Liberal party a man to whom they 


owed the Irish Church Bill and to accept from him a 
clause which was a deviation from the principles of religious 
liberty and equality. He urged the members earnestly to 
promote the establishment of School Boards, and the enforce- 
ment of compulsion. 

Mr. Vernon Harcourt in seconding the motion, strongly 
condemned permissive legislation, which he described as a 
complimentary phrase for parliamentary cowardice. The 
word " efficient," crept in, in only an obscure manner in the 
clauses of the Education Act. The foundation of the Act 
was School accommodation, which many people understood 
to mean a question of bricks and mortar. The party opposed 
to the League seemed to think that National Education 
consisted in eighty cubical feet of space ; whether it con- 
tained a child, and whether the child could read and write, 
did not seem to be considered. It was argued that schools 
being provided there was to be no School Board. He trusted 
this was not the true interpretation of the Act, but a 
grejat many people held that opinion, he might almost 
say, cherished that hope. The consequence was that 
there was a great rush on the building grants, quite irrespec- 
tive of what was to be done with the schools when they 
were built. 

A motion was made at this meeting to substitute the 
word " secular " for " unsectarian " in the programme of the 
League. The proposition received considerable support, but it 
was withdrawn on its being explained by Mr. Chamberlain 
that the general body of subscribers were not prepared for it, 
and that it would impair the efficiency of the organisation. 

Sir Charles Dilke proposed a resolution advocating the 
establishment of School Boards, and the execution of 
the permissive powers of the Act, which was seconded by 
the Rev. Mr. Steinthal. 


The Eev. J. W. Caldicott proposed and Mr. E. W. Dale 
seconded a resolution, recommending resistance to the increase 
of grants to voluntary schools. 

On the motion of Mi\ Vince, seconded by Mr. Wilkinson, 
the following resolution was carried, definitely pledging the 
League to assist in maintaining intact the Irish system : 
" That this meeting has heard with satisfaction that an 
Education League has been formed for Ireland, on a basis 
similar to that of the National Education League, and 
strongly sympathises with its promoters in their efforts to 
prevent the overthrow of the present system in Ireland, 
and the substitution of the denominational system in 
its stead." 

During the autumn and winter the agitation of all 
public questions was in a measure suspended, so completely 
was attention engrossed by the Continental war then raging. 
But in many boroughs preparations for a struggle were 
beginning; while in nearly all the parishes the clergy and 
Tories were making superhuman efforts to provide school 
accommodation, and thus prevent the formation of Boards. 
The most nattering, exaggerated, and fallacious estimates of 
existing accommodation were prepared for the Department. 
The National Society's paper said the clergy were doing in 
one year " what, in the ordinary course of things, would have 
been done in twenty years." Begging letters were sent out 
on a scale never practised before; visitors at holiday 
resorts were hunted down by collectors ; and every sort of 
misrepresentation was used to exaggerate the cost and 
the inconvenience of School Boards. These efforts were 
so far successful that it was estimated by the officials 
of the National Society, that some six thousand applications 
for building grants had been sent in, four-fifths of which 
were on behalf of Church Schools. On no previous occasion 


had the clergy ever shown a greater fear and distrust of 
popular control. They had not forgotten the warning of 
Bishop Wilberforce, " Immediately you introduce the rate- 
payer, you must give him the real direction of the instruc- 
tion furnished by the rate." 

The opposition to School Boards was led by the Bishops. 
The Bishop of Salisbury publicly returned thanks that there 
was only one School Board in an important part of his 
diocese. The Bishop of Chester headed the attempt to 
prevent the formation of a Board in his Cathedral Town. 
When the regulations were issued by the Department for the 
formation of Boards in rural districts, there were some 
populous parishes in which steps were taken at once to secure 
a poll of the ratepayers. These contests were marked by 
every kind of intimidation, misrepresentation, unscrupulous 
influence, and false cries, employed to maintain sectarian 
supremacy, and prevent popular representation. (*) The 
clergy were suddenly and newly inspired with a great horror 
of rates, which, to say the least of it, was suspicious. The 
Bishop of Hereford, with sly humour, told his clergy that 
although the farmers might fear God, it could be taken for 
granted that they feared a rate more. The ratepayers were 
urged to vote against a Board unless they wanted their rates 
raised and their wages reduced. Pressure was put on tenants 
to secure their votes ; they were taken by their landlords to 
the poll ; and in some instances they were evicted where they 
voted for a School Board. The terrors of compulsion, threats 
of the prison, and the cat-o'-nine-tails were put before the 
labourers. These tactics were in many cases successful, and 
the much dreaded institution was often rejected ; a result 
frequently secured by the votes of illiterates. The parish 

1 For details see the Monthly Paper of the League ; also papers by 
Mr. Bunce, Mr. J. C. Cox, and Mr. Sonley Jolmstone, read at the third 
Annual Meeting, 1871. 


having decided against a School Board it was sometimes found 
an easy matter to collect what was called a " voluntary " 
rate ; or more frequently to throw an extra charge .upon the 
parents by raising the School fees. 

The attitude of the clergy towards School Boards, where 
they were found to be inevitable, was characteristic and 
consistent. There had been much talk, when the bill was 
before Parliament, about the liberality of the Church, and her 
willingness to accept and work the measure in an undenomi- 
national sense. In the discussion on Mr. Jacob Blight's 
amendment, which sought to prohibit the teaching of dis- 
tinctive tenets in rate-aided schools, Mr. Forster had said, 
that " it mattered little how the clause was worded, because, 
whatever its precise terms might be, undenominational 
religious teaching would be given (in Board Schools). The 
Government had already given the strongest indication, in a 
general way, that the religious instruction was not to be 
sectarian or dogmatic." The Church, however, had no 
intention of accepting Mr. Forster's interpretation of the 
clause. The object the clergy set before themselves was to 
get the largest amount of distinctive Church teaching which 
was possible under the conditions of the Act. At a meeting 
of the Saltley Training College, held after the Act was 
passed, Bishop Selwyn said, " The foundation of all teaching 
was the gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism. All school 
teachers should be communicants, and by their example lead 
their scholars to the Holy altar. In fine, let all schoolmasters 
first learn, and then teach all others they could, the grand 
truths of that Catholic faith once for all delivered to the 

On the same occasion, Lord Lyttleton, in advising 
schoolmasters to do the best that was possible under the 
fetters imposed upon them, said, "The Act of Parliament 
put no restriction upon schoolmasters in teaching from the 


Bible, and, though he did not say they would be able to teach 
the full amount of distinctive doctrine, he defied any one to 
say how much they would be limited to teaching." 

The Bishop of Winchester told his clergy that although 
creeds and catechisms were excluded, it would be easy for the 
schoolmaster to teach all the distinctive doctrines of the 
Church without the use of those standards. 

The Bishop of Ely said, " he would rather see Mahomet- 
anism taught in the country than have that undogmatic 
Christianity, which really meant Christianity with no doctrine 
at all." 

The Bishop of Peterborough said, " the position of the 
Church in relation to rate-aided schools was, that an attempt 
was about to be made to solve the problem, which he believed 
to be impossible, of teaching an indefinite Christianity." 

Mr. Disraeli advised that Churchmen " should omit no 
opportunity and no occasion to maintain and increase the 
legitimate and holy influence of the Church." 

The National Society declared that it was more necessary 
than ever that pupil teachers should be taught dogmatically, 
in order that they might give the religious lessons in schools 
which had been built, principally for that object. The 
Monthly Paper of the Society said : " If by a time-table, 
religious instruction be limited to a single hour a day, the 
more need is there, that the teaching given in that hour 
should be pointed, dogmatic, and unmistakable. All that is 
happening in the matter of education, is a call to the Church 
to put out her strength, and to do valiant battle for her 
principles in her schools." 

" Our work is to teach children the facts of our religion, 
the doctrines of our religion, the duties of our religion. We 
must teach them the facts of our religion, that they may be 
intelligent Christians, not ignorant as Heathens ; the doctrines. 


that they may not be Christians only, but Churchmen ; the 
duties, that they may not be Churchmen only, but communi- 
cants. This last, in fact, is the object at which we are 
uniformly to aim, the training of the young Christian for full 
communion with the Church ; and, as preliminary to that, a 
training for confirmation. The whole school time of a child 
should gradually lead up to this." 

" They (the children) ought to know why they should be 
Churchmen, and not Dissenters ; why they should go to 
church, and not to meeting ; why they should be Anglicans, 
and not Komanists." 

" The time has come when probably the whole fate of 
the Church of England, humanly speaking, will turn upon the 
hold she may have upon the rising generation. Political 
changes are giving more and more power to the people. If 
the Church have the people with her, she will be beyond all 
danger from adverse legislation. Let her, then, educate the 
children of the people in her principles." (*) 

A Church clergyman, Mr. Gace, the vicar of Great Barling, 
improved upon these instructions and put them into the 
practical shape of a catechism for use in parochial schools. 
A specimen will suffice. 

" Question. We have amongst us various sects and 
denominations who go by the general name of Dissenters. 
In what light are we to consider them ? " 

" Answer. As heretics, and in our litany we expressly 
pray to be delivered from the sins of false doctrine, heresy, 
and schism." 

" Q: Is, then, their worship a laudable service ? 

" A. No, because they worship God according to their 
own evil and corrupt imaginations," &c. 

" Q. Is Dissent a great sin ? " 

1 Monthly Paper of National Society, August, 1871. 


"A. Yes, it is in direct opposition to our duty towards 

" Q. Is it wicked then to enter a meeting house at 
all ? " 

"A. Most assuredly; because as was said above, it is 
a house where God is worshipped otherwise than he has 
commanded, and therefore it is not consecrated to his honour 
and glory." 

This was the kind of teaching which might be given 
in substance, if not in form, in Board Schools, and the precise 
words of which might be taught in schools receiving aid 
from the rates, under section 25. There were doubtless 
many clergymen of sufficient liberality to shrink from 
putting the Act to the purposes suggested ; but as ninety 
per cent, of all Church Schools were in union with the 
National Society the extracts given may be taken as fairly 
representative of the intentions and views of the great body 
of the clergy. 

At the second stage of the conflict caused by the opera- 
tion of the Act the election of School Boards the divisions 
and hostilities of parties were more strongly marked than 
ever. The disappointment, the confusion, and the bitterness 
of feeling were greatly intensified by the working of the 
cumulative vote, with its curious and anomalous results. 
Whatever may be the ultimate decision upon the advantages 
of this method of election, about which there was much 
difference of opinion, even amongst the members of the 
League ; it must be admitted that the choice of the education 
question as the subject of the first experiment was 
unfortunate. The Goverment of Sir Eobert Peel had 
introduced into the Factory Bill of 1843, clauses based on a 
somewhat similar principle, having the like object of 
fettering the majority ; but Lord John Eussell at once 
exposed the insidious nature of the device. If any 


expectation was now entertained that election by the cumula- 
tive vote would smooth the working of the Act, and lead 
to compromise and harmony, it was speedily negatived. The 
immediate result was to exasperate the majority, to widen 
the breach, to encourage the spirit of sectarianism, and to 
make the Act the most unpopular measure of modern times. 
The avowed principle of the Act was to leave the decision of 
important questions of policy and administration to the 
judgment of localities. The effect of the cumulative vote 
was, in the greatest number of instances, to deprive the 
majority of the power of laying down any broad principles 
of action. Worse than this, in many cases, it enabled the 
minority, brought together by the combination of sectarian 
interests, to impose a policy and conditions absolutely 
repugnant to the views of the majority. In the working 
of the vote everything depends upon accurate knowledge of 
proportionate strength, upon the nice manipulation of 
numbers, upon the absolute obedience of the voters, and 
upon skilful electioneering. Under such circumstances, it 
was an easy matter for a drilled, compact, organised minority, 
or a combination of sects, amenable to discipline, to obtain a 
victory over an undisciplined and independent majority, who 
were practically disfranchised by the difficulty of securing an 
equal distribution of votes. In execution the new franchise 
became a Church and Chapel franchise, giving power to a 
number of discordant sects, which had the resources of 
electioneering at their command, and whose last thought 
was the promotion of general education. In the first 
elections the Tories and the Church party, reinforced by 
the narrowest and most exclusive sects, achieved greater 
successes than they had done for generations in parliamentary 
and municipal contests. 

To add to the embarrassments of the cumulative vote, 
the early elections were taken under a system of voting 


papers, which was unintelligible to the great mass of the rate- 
payers. The result was that in the large boroughs, one-half 
of the electors took no part in the struggle. This happened 
in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Notting- 
ham. While the denominationalists, Churchmen, Eoman 
Catholics, and the representatives of cliques and interests 
were polled to a man, the majority of the community who 
care little about isms, were virtually disfranchised. 

To show how a minority may thus secure a triumph 
over the majority, the case of Birmingham may be taken. 
There was never any doubt that Birmingham was liberal, and 
was with the League. There was not an assured Liberal of 
reputation in the town who publicly dissented from the 
League scheme. The party was absolutely united and was 
in a vast majority. At the parliamentary election in 1868, 
the Borough had refused to be fettered by the minority 
vote, and by means of an able organisation had broken 
through its restrictions. The Liberal leaders now refused to 
acknowledge the principle of the cumulative vote, and 
determined to nominate fifteen candidates that is the whole 
Board. This has been generally regarded as a tactical error, 
but if the Liberals had been able to poll their full strength, 
there was good reason to believe that they could have carried 
fifteen candidates against eight Conservatives. If it was a 
mistake for the Liberals to run fifteen candidates, it was a 
greater mistake, considering the proportion of parties, for 
the Conservatives to run eight candidates. In the result eight 
Churchmen and Tories were returned, with one Koman 
Catholic and six Liberals. A careful examination of all the 
circumstances leads to the conclusion that the Liberals were 
beaten, not because they attempted too much, but because 
the party was not sufficiently organised, and because the 
managers had not mastered the difficulties and intricacies of 
the new method of voting. It is a matter of notoriety that 


the Liberal party at this time, though united on the question 
of principle, was not as highly organised as it had been before 
and has been since. Too much confidence was placed in the 
known superiority of numbers, and too much reliance on the 
prestige of 1868. 

Although the fifteen Liberal candidates secured a majority 
of 4,462 voters, and of 66,934 votes, they were defeated and 
a Church majority was returned. As a curious result of the 
first election under the cumulative vote the figures deserve to 
be recorded but in estimating their significance it must be 
remembered that a large portion of the Liberal strength was 
left unpolled a fact which could be easily demonstrated by 
a reference to the statistics of previous and subsequent 

The voting was as follows: 

For the Fifteen Liberals, 

Voters. Votes. 

Chamberlain, Joseph (Unitarian) ... 13,861 ... 15,090 

Dale, R W. (Independent Minister) ... 14,394 ... 16,387 

Dawson, George (Dissenting Minister)... 14,238 ... 17,103 

Dixon, George (Churchman) 14,435 ... 16,897 

Vince, Eev. C. (Baptist) 14,138 ... 15,943 

Wright, J. S. (Baptist) 13,567 ... 15,007 

Baker, George (Friend) 13,399 ... 14,101 

Collings, Jesse (Unitarian) 13,432 ... 13,873 

Crosskey, Eev. H. W. (Unitarian) ... 12,917 ... 13,314 

Holland, Eev. H. W. (Wesleyan) ... 12,955 ... 14,359 

Lloyd, G. B. (Friend) 13,461 ... 14,642 

Middlemore, William (Baptist) 13,446 ... 14,332 

Eadford, William (Baptist) 12,284 ... 12,515 

Archdeacon Sandford (Churchman) ... 12,790 ... 13,202 

The first six were successful. 


For the Eight Conservatives and Churchmen. 

Burges, Eev. Dr. ..." 10,065 ... 21,925 

Dale, Eev. F. S 8,807 ... 17,465 

Elkington, A. J 8,010 ... 14,925 

Gough, J. 8,461 ... 17,481 

Hopkins, J. S 8,344 ... 15,696 

Lloyd, S. S 11,134 ... 30,799 

Sargant, W. L 8,520 ... 15,683 

Wilkinson, Eev. Dr 9,601 ... 19,829 

The whole eight were returned. 

The Eev. Canon O'Sullivan, the Eoman Catholic 
representative, headed the poll with the smallest number of 
voters, and the largest number of votes voters 3,171; 
votes 35,120, 

Numerical Result. 

Votes for the " Fifteen " 220,637 

Votes for the "Eight" 158,703 

Majority of votes for the " Fifteen " 66,934 

Voters for the "Fifteen" 14,709 

Voters for the "Eight" 10,247 

Majority of voters for the " Fifteen " 4,462 

These figures sufficiently demonstrate that the cumula- 
tive vote gives the control, not to numbers, but to organisation. 
In other towns the anomalies were quite as glaring, and the 
general result of the first elections was, that in most Liberal 
boroughs in England the Tories and the Church secured the 
control of the School Boards for the first three years, with 
the power of taxing the majority to teach the religion of the 

Much has been said in disparagement of the " Caucus/' 
but the caucus, which is simply another name for electoral 


organisation, was the offspring of the cumulative vote and 
the minority vote. 

The system of voting papers adopted in the first School 
Board elections has, happily, been abolished. While it 
existed, it was the parent of every description of trickery, 
deception, and fraud. Mr. Swinglehurst wrote from Kendal : 
" I have seen something of voting in half civilised States, 
but Mr. Forster's School Board voting has no equal in 
fostering falsehood and trickery." 

This electoral chicanery was accompanied by a revival 
of sectarian quarrels in their most objectionable form. 
Accusations of bigotry and intolerance on the one side, 
and of infidelity and irreligion on the other, were freely 
exchanged amongst candidates. The Bible was brought into 
the fray, to serve as an election rallying ground. The Church 
party in Birmingham declared that the question was one of 
" Bible or no Bible," notwithstanding that their opponents 
advocated the reading of the Bible ; and this hustings' cry 
was advertised by huge placards, on posting stations, from 
the windows of gin palaces and beer houses, and on the 
backs of cabs. The Church rate controversy was renewed 
under another semblance, and with more intense passion 
and irreconcilable hostility. No parliamentary or local 
contests had for generations previously been known to pro- 
voke the same amount of bitterness and division between 

Protests against the cumulative vote were sent to the 
Government from the Birmingham Liberal Association, and 
other Liberal centres. An exhaustive analysis of the results 
of the early elections, with an able essay on the subject, was 
prepared for the League by Dr. James Freeman, of Birming- 
ham, and was widely circulated. In the next session of 
Parliament, Mr. Dixon introduced a bill for the alteration 


of the law. He met, however, with little support, and the 
bill, which was opposed by some members of the League, 
who belonged to the school of philosophic Badicals, and who 
were anxious to experiment in forms of proportionate 
representation, was withdrawn without a division. The 
working of the system has since been greatly improved by 
the abolition of voting papers, and the application of the 
ballot ; but it still depends upon nice calculations of 
strength, upon perfect organisation, and upon implicit sub- 
mission to discipline. The natural tendency of such artificial 
forms of voting is to make electioneering a science, and to 
reduce political arrangements to machinery. By the practice 
of these means a more equitable balance of parties on the 
School Boards has been secured at recent elections. If 
evidence were wanted to prove how completely the majority 
were baffled and misrepresented in the first contests, it is 
only necessary to compare the results with those of single 
elections to supply the vacancies which arose. In many 
places Liberals were returned without effort, and by large 
majorities, where Tories had obtained the control of the 

The effect of remitting religious questions to the decision 
of School Boards was exhibited the moment they began 
operations. The choice of chairmen, clerks, school visitors, 
and other officers, was determined by theological qualifica- 
tions, and on sectarian grounds. The system of proportionate 
representation had no influence in restraining sectarian 
majorities from administering the Act, in matters alike of 
principle and detail, to their own advantage. The School 
Boards were the arenas in which solemn questions of religion 
and delicate matters of doctrine were made the shuttlecock 
of debate. No better device could have been imagined for 
encouraging a spirit of irreverence. Candidates for the post 
of schoolmaster were publicly examined respecting their 


interpretation of selected passages of Scripture. The 
doctrines of the Trinity, the Atonement, the Inspiration of 
Scripture, of Eternal Punishment, of the Actual Presence, 
became subjects of dispute. Extracts were read from the 
lesson books of the Catholic Church, to the cry of " ISTo 
Popery," and sometimes a Jew would possess himself of 
Watts's hymns from which to quote "specimens of Christian 
charity." There was no cohesion upon the majority of the 
Boards, except that of sectarianism. Acrimonious personal 
disputes were frequent. It was not an uncommon thing for 
a minority to leave the room in a body, or to refuse to serve 
on committees with members of opposite opinions. The first 
meeting of the London Board was marked by a long and 
heated discussion as to the propriety of having private 
prayers before the opening of business. It was eventually 
decided that a room should be set apart for the purpose for 
the use of those members who desired it. But at the next 
meeting the whole of the requisitionists were absent, and the 
chairman, Lord Lawrence, was left to his solitary devotions. 
The first chairman of the Birmingham School Board published 
a pamphlet, in which he indulged in personal reflections and 
criticisms upon the characters, abilities, and conduct of his 
colleagues in the minority. 

It is notable that these discussions arose in towns which 
had been remarkable for liberality of thought and toleration 
upon religious questions. If the occasion sometimes seemed 
trivial, and if the personal feeling evoked was at times little 
short of scandalous, it was the more evident that nothing but 
very ingrained convictions could provoke divisions of such 
extent, in a society where different denominations had worked 
harmoniously together for many years for the promotion of 
social happiness and improvement. The conflict, though 
fought out on matters of detail, was throughout one of 
principle. On the one side it was an attempt to revive and 


re-enact religious privilege and prerogative, and on the other 
to preserve and advance the fullest measure of religious 
liberty and equality. 

The signal for the conflict was given at the Birmingham 
School Board, and for the following three years the proceed- 
ings of the Board were watched with intense interest through- 
out the country. The Eev. F. S. Dale, the most able and 
persistent member of the Church majority, gave notice of two 
resolutions, one for the enforcement of the powers of com- 
pulsion, and the other for the payment of fees in existing 
schools. The motion was brought forward before there was 
any school under the control of the Board, and its object, as 
generally received, was to fill and to assist the denominational 
schools at the cost of the ratepayers. The resolution took 
the form of empowering the remission of fees under Sec. 17. 
It was shown that this could not be done, as the Board had 
no Schools ; but it was discovered that fees could be paid at 
existing Schools under Sec. 25, and it was to the powers 
of this section that the subsequent debates had special 

Mr. Chamberlain led the country agitation against the 
25th section. At the School Board he moved an amendment 
to Mr. Dale's resolution declaring that the payment of money 
out of the rates to the denominational schools would be an 
infringement of the rights of conscience, and would delay the 
establishment of free schools. At a later stage of the discus- 
sion the special reason advanced in support of the 25th 
section, was the alleged " right of choice " which it gave to 
the parents. But, as Mr. Dixon pointed out, the clause was 
introduced when there was no right of choice the only 
schools being those of a denominational character. The party 
which opposed compulsion as un-English and unconstitutional 
was now trying to use the law to force children into sectarian 


schools. In some parts of England the law was administered 
in this manner. For several years the Manchester School 
Board had no schools under its control. The Board did 
precisely the same work, and occupied the same position which 
the Education Aid Society had done, with this difference that 
instead of voluntary subscriptions the rates were used, and 
instead of persuasion a compulsory bye-law was enforced. 
It was not until several years had passed that the Board 
asked for any right of inspection in the schools which were 
assisted. The Board was in fact merely a relief agency for 
the denominational managers. 

A similar course would have been followed in 
Birmingham if it had not been opposed by every device of 
controversy which the Liberal leaders, backed by three- 
fourths of the ratepayers, could employ. The six Liberals on 
the Board Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Dale, Mr. Dawson, 
Mr. Dixon, Mr. Vince, and Mr. Wright were the acknow- 
leged leaders of the Liberal party in the borough, and the 
ablest speakers and debaters which the town could produce 
when it was celebrated for a wealth of talent amongst public 
men. The fortnightly meetings of the Board were looked 
forward to with the greatest interest and zest, partly because 
of the principles at stake, though no doubt also because 
of the intellectual enjoyment they afforded. They were 
always inconveniently crowded by the public. The successful 
resistance which the minority offered to the enforcement of 
of the 25th section, against a united and resolute majority, is 
unique in the proceedings of public bodies. Eor nearly three 
years the question was fought resolutely, step by step ; at 
the Board, in Parliament, in the Town Council, at the 
Education Department, in the Queen's Bench, and at every 
election and public gathering of Liberals in every ward 
of the borough. When at last the majority, by Mandamus 
from the Queen's Bench, compelled the Town Council to 


honour the precept of the Board, they did not venture to 
enforce the bye-law they had made ; since it was well under- 
stood that the levies would have been resisted in the homes 
of the ratepayers, and distraints, on a scale wholesale and 
unparalleled, would have been necessary to collect the rate. 

It must not however be understood that the first 
Birmingham School Board did nothing but wrangle about 
first principles. At the Committees of the Board much 
solid work was done, in estimating the school requirements 
of the borough and in arranging for its supply. In the 
first three years the foundation was laid for the system of 
splendid schools which are now conducted under the 
administration of the Board. 

It has been sometimes objected that the 25th clause 
was a small matter to cause such an unusual amount of 
feeling. The total payments made by virtue of the clause 
in 1872 were a little over 5,000, of which about two thirds 
was voted in Manchester and Salford. This sufficiently 
indicates the extent to which the subsidy might have 
grown if it had not been checked by public agitation. 
If the example of Manchester and Salford had been generally 
followed in parishes having a complement of school accom- 
modation, the country might have had imposed upon it a free 
and compulsory system in denominational schools alone, 
with School Boards established for the single purpose of 
paying fees out of the rates and enforcing compulsion. 
It has always been surprising how easily the objections of 
denominational managers to free education disappear, when 
the school fees can be provided with advantage to, or 
without embarrassing their financial arrangements. 

But the 25th clause was merely the key of a position, 
chosen upon which to fight the issue, whether the country 
was prepared to accept in perpetuity the system of sectarian 


schools supported by public rates. Mr. Disraeli saw the 
position. He said, "The 25th clause may be called the 
symbol of the question ; those who are in favour of the 
25th clause are in favour of religious education, and those 
who are against it are in favour of secular education." 
Mr. Chamberlain accepted the situation. He wrote, " It is 
futile to allege that the practical results are small, and that 
the grievance is sentimental, for Dissenters are almost 
unanimous in their conviction, that a grave principle 
is involved, and that now or never they must take 
their stand against what they affirm to be a retrograde 

Outside the School Board the agitation was conducted 
by the League, reinforced by Liberal associations and by 
the various combinations of Nonconformists, and of Working- 
men. The movement amongst the Dissenters was strikingly 
active and earnest. A conference of the Nonconformist 
Committees of Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham was 
held at Manchester in April, 1871, at which it was arranged 
to call a general conference, and also to appoint a deputation 
to represent to the Prime Minister their insuperable objection 
to the 25th clause. This deputation represented all sections 
of Protestant Nonconformists, and comprised representatives 
from various parts of the country. At Mr. Gladstone's 
request, their case was stated in writing and submitted for 
his consideration. A part of their contention was that he 
had undertaken, in striking out clause 23 of the original 
bill, that a distinct and definite line should be drawn 
between School Boards and voluntary schools that the tie 
between them should be altogether severed. Instead of the 
direct subsidy contemplated by clause 23, the grants had 
been increased to them by fifty per cent., but the payments 
under the 25th section, though nominally for fees, were in 
the nature of a subsidy. 


The managers and supporters of the Nonconformist day 
schools in Birmingham declined to receive the fees, and in a 
memorial to the Board protested against their payment to 
other schools. At an immense gathering of Dissenters in the 
Town Hall, an appeal was made from the School Board to 
the constituency. At meetings of the Congregational and 
Baptist Unions it was declared to be a new form of the old 
Church-rate, to be resisted more resolutely than ever. A 
representative gathering of the London Nonconformists was 
held at the Cannon Street Hotel, at which a most emphatic 
protest was adopted. At every meeting of Dissenters 
throughout the country, and at the annual meetings of the 
Associations of Nonconformist churches, resolutions were 
adopted, encouraging the League in the continuance of the 
agitation. There was no division or disunion amongst the 
Dissenters on the question ; and the meetings at which the 
subject was to be discussed were as remarkable for their 
numbers as for their unanimity. 

The feeling was intensified by the partiality shown at 
the Education Department, and the pressure put upon School 
Boards to make them adopt bye-laws under section 25. In 
cases where a power was taken to remit fees under section 17, 
Mr. Forster said " it would not be just " for the Boards not 
to avail themselves of section 25. Thus, the Liberals had to 
contend not only against the Tories, the Church, and the 
disadvantages of the cumulative vote, but against a Liberal 
Government, an adverse administration of the Act, and 
against the moral weight of the Education Department. The 
Department had often been unpopular in the country, but 
never so much out of favour as now. The feeling which Mr. 
Lowe's action upon the revised code had aroused, was of a 
very different character to that inspired by Mr. Forster. The 
former had provoked the personal hostility of a few thousand 
school managers, teachers, and monitors, upon whose vested 

interests he was supposed to have encroached. There was 
a large admixture of personal spite in the antagonism, which 
was based upon no principle, but upon selfish considerations. 
But the opposition to Mr. Forster had nothing personal in its 
nature. It arose from the conviction that he had betrayed 
the principles which had been entrusted to him, and had 
thrown back the cause of progress. The respect which he 
had professed for municipal opinion was in strange contrast 
with his attempt to make localities accept a forced interpreta- 
tion of the Act. The usefulness of the Education Department 
was greatly undermined. It is desirable that a State Depart- 
ment having such extensive and various ramifications should 
be able to command the respect of the country. This could 
not be the case when the School Boards flatly refused to obey 
the instructions of "my Lords." A conflict between a central 
board and the local governing bodies, backed by the people, 
could have but one issue. The School Boards at Southamp- 
ton, Portsmouth, Wednesbury, and other towns refused to be 
dictated to by the Department. Opinion was still further 
outraged by the partiality with which the Endowed Schools 
Act was administered, the tendency of which was to throw 
the secondary education of the country entirely into the 
hands of the clergy. 

The result was that very early in the course of the 
agitation, the relations between the Government and their 
Eadical and Dissenting supporters were seriously imperilled. 
Some attempts were made to check the disintegration ; but 
no concessions were offered on the part of the Government, 
who held with obstinacy rather than with firmness to the 
policy they had laid down. Appeals were made to the leaders 
of the country movement not to endanger the union of the 
party. Mr. Winterbotham and Mr. Melly were both strongly 
opposed on principle to the payments in question, but they 
held that the matter was settled by the Act of 1870, and 


that the position must be accepted. This idea was repudiated 
by the leaders of the agitation, and by the rank and file of 
the party, and open revolt from the first was only restrained 
by the strong sentiments of affection and esteem which the 
Prime Minister had inspired amongst all sections of the 

The plea of the " right of choice," supposed to be 
guaranteed by the 25th section, whether put forward by the 
clergy or the Department it was never put forward by the 
parents was disingenuous. The clause was enforced where 
there were only denominational schools, and where there 
could be no right of choice. The very men who set up the 
cry of the right of choice were those who had made it 
impossible that there should be any choice in three-fourths 
of the school districts. Mr. Bright said " I suppose there 
are probably thousands of parishes in which there will 
scarcely be any schools but Church schools." This was the 
state of things which the Act was aimed to produce. The 
"right of choice" was a pretence and was advanced in the 
interests of the denominational schools. But if the cry had been 
ever so genuine it was one which the temper of the country 
would not have acquiesced in. If it meant anything it 
meant that parents should have the right to have the religion 
of their choice taught out of the public rates a claim 
wholly opposed to the tendencies and principles of modern 

The Act had hardly been a year in operation scarcely a 
Board school had been opened, when distraints were being 
made for the recovery of rates, upon the goods of persons 
who refused to contribute to the support of denominational 

New complications were introduced by the movements 
in Scotland and Ireland. The Scotch Bill of the Government, 


introduced in 18*71, was more sectarian in character than the 
English Act, as it had been amended. The conscience clause, 
if not a sham in purpose, would have been in practice the 
merest delusion. The time table was given up. Creeds and 
formularies were permitted throughout the daily instruction. 
The universal formation of School Boards, with powers of 
compulsion, became, under these circumstances, a concession 
to the Denominationalists, and made it a certainty that 
wherever compulsion was carried out, sectarian instruction 
might be forced on every child. 

From Scotland attention naturally turned to Ireland. In 
any case this was inevitable, but it was quickened by the 
appeals which came to the English Nonconformists from 
the Protestants of Ireland. The members of the disestab- 
lished Church, with those Protestant sects who had helped to 
procure disestablishment, were already fearful of seeing 
another religion established in its place. The agitation of 
the Roman Catholic hierarchy for the overthrow of the 
combined or mixed system had been stimulated by the 
definite extension of the sectarian system in England, and 
there was a growing distrust amongst Protestants in all parts 
of the kingdom as to the intentions of the Government. In 
a debate on a Bill of Mr. Fawcett for the abolition of tests 
in Trinity College, Dublin, Mr. Yernon Harcourt called 
attention to the reserve and mystery with which the 
Government shrouded their opinions on the question, and, 
with great sagacity, predicted that it was the subject which 
would probably cause the shipwreck of the Liberal party. 
The uneasiness which was felt had led to the formation 
of the Education League for Ireland, which was in union 
with the English League. The objects were, to maintain 
non-sectarian education in Ireland, to oppose changes in the 
national system, and to raise the status of teachers and 
improve the quality of education. If it had not^been for 


the agitation against the English Act, there would have been 
great danger of an anarchy of opinion on this subject, caused 
by the want of candour on the part of Ministers, and their 
demoralising concessions to Denominationalism in England. 
While the Times supported denominational education in 
England, it thought it was high time the Government 
informed the Eoman Catholic prelates that their demands 
could not be complied with. The Spectator, with more 
even-handed justice, thought that what was fair for England 
was fair for Ireland. There was probably some doubt and 
division in the Cabinet, and it was well known to be a 
ticklish question. Some Ministers were openly advocating 
State supported denominational colleges. Mr. Goschen, and 
Mr. Chichester Eortescue, the then Chief Secretary, proclaimed 
their desire to extend the denominational system. Mr. Glad- 
stone's speeches left his opinions in doubt, and this very 
uncertainty was the cause of much anxiety. 

The changes demanded by the Eoman Catholic heirarchy, 
as put before the Irish Eoyal Commission which reported in 
1871, were great, startling, and aggressive. The manifesto 
of the Bishops required " all restriction upon religious 
teaching to be removed " " the fulness of distinctive religious 
teaching to be permitted to enter into tbe course of secular 
instruction " " full liberty to be given to the performance of 
religious exercises, and the use of religious emblems." (*) 
The intention to push their demands to the extremity by 
means of religious and political organisation soon received 
confirmation. At a meeting of Eoman Catholic Bishops held 
in October, 1871, a series of resolutions were drawn up and 
ordered to be read at public masses of the Eoman Catholic 
Church throughout Ireland. Amongst other things the 
Bishops " declared their unalterable conviction that Catholic 
education was indispensably necessary for the preservaiton of 

1 Report of Mr. Laurie, Assistant Commissioner, par. 40, 3. 


the faith and morals of the Catholic people." " In union 
with the Holy See and the Bishops of the Catholic world 
they renewed their often-repeated condemnation of mixed 
education as intrinsically and grievously dangerous to faith 
and morals." They drew from Irish history evidence that 
" godless education was subversive of religion and morality, 
of domestic peace, of the rights of property, and social 
order." In f ~all future elections of Members of Parliament 
they pledged themselves to oppose the return of candidates 
who would not uphold the principle of denominational 
education for Catholic children. Cardinal Cullen said, 
" they pronounced for Catholic schools, Catholic teachers, 
Catholic books, everything Catholic in the education of their 
children ; " and they claimed " an adequate share " of patron- 
age and endowment. 

No one will deny to the Koman Catholic Bishops the 
merit of candour and honesty. They did not cloak their 
design under the pretence that the subsidies they demanded 
were for secular instruction. In the plainest language they 
asked for the endowment of the Eoman Catholic religion 
out of the public funds. They required that the Eoman 
Catholic Church in Ireland should be placed in the same 
position of paramount authority towards other sects which 
the Church of England occupied in regard to English and 
Welsh Dissenters. The religion of the minority had been 
disestablished, and they now asked that the religion of the 
majority should be put in its place. 

These were demands which, if there was any principle 
or stability in the professions of English and Scotch 
liberalism, could not be conceded. Here began a new step 
in the disintegration of the Liberal party. The Liberals had 
given to the Koman Catholics religious equality ; and they 
now asked for religious preference. Most Liberals had looked 


forward to a time when the alliance between the Roman 
Catholics and the Liberal party would be severed by a 
natural divergence of policy and feeling, and the hour 
appeared to have arrived. The Dissenters of Great Britain 
had not lent their aid to the disestablishment of one religion, 
with the view of elevating another, to which they were more 
hostile, in its stead. The appeal therefore from the Irish 
Protestants of all sects for assistance in resisting these 
threatened encroachments, was taken up with much cordiality, 
and was supported and encouraged by the Eadicals and 
Nonconformists of England, in numbers and weight, which 
left no doubt that, with the exception of a few Ministerialists 
and the Eoman Catholics, all but a fraction of the Liberal 
party was opposed to any tampering with the existing 
Irish system. 

The Parliamentary action this year was confined to an 
attempt to amend the new revised Code which was issued in 
February, and which gratified the Denomiriationalists by the 
large increase of grant. In the discussion of its provisions 
in the House of Commons on the 10th of March, Mr. Dixon 
moved " That an address be presented to Her Majesty praying 
that she would be graciously pleased to direct that such 
alterations be made in the new Code of Eegulations issued by 
the Committee of the Privy Council on Education, and now 
lying upon the table of this House, as shall prevent any 
increased scale of grants of public money to denominational 
schools." There was much fluttering and indignation amongst 
the Tories and the clergy when the intention to move this reso- 
lution^was made public, and they denounced in no measured 
terms the " unblushing and unprincipled persistence " in 
opposition to the grant, There was, however, no cause for 
their alarm, for in spite of the efforts which were concentrated 
against the proposal, it was carried by the now familiar 
combination of Ministerialists and Tories. Sixty-six Liberals, 


representing the most influential and populous constituencies 
in the Kingdom, voted against the Government, while a much 
larger number absented themselves from the division. 

A joint deputation from the League and the Central 
Nonconformist Committee waited on the Vice-President to 
protest against the increased grant, and to suggest some 
additions to the Code for securing more effectual teaching, 
and a more economical administration of public funds. The 
chief suggestions were that there should be a graduated 
system of grants, with larger payments for passes in the 
higher standards ; that a certain proportion of subscriptions 
should be required in voluntary or denominational schools ; 
that the balance sheets of the latter schools, as well as those 
of the Board schools, should be published ; with other 
provisions to prevent so-called voluntary schools from 
being conducted wholly at the public cost a result easily 
attainable by the combined action of the Education Act 
and the new Code. The extreme tenderness felt at the 
Education Department for the views and interests of 
the Denominationalists prevented the adoption of these 

In other respects the code was a small step towards 
proficiency. The number of attendances required to obtain 
a grant was increased, and the standards of examination were 
raised. All amendments intended to improve the quality of 
instruction were heartily supported by the League. 

The events which have been noticed made 1871 a busy 
year for the League, which was the head quarters and centre 
of advice, instruction, and encouragement for all who* were 
striving for an efficient national system based on unsectarian 
lines. The promotion and election of School Boards ; 
administrative work upon the Boards ; resistance to the 
sectarian tendencies of the act, and agitation for its extension 
and amendment so as to secure higher educational results, 


fully occupied the members of the branches, acting under the 
direction of the Executive. 

The influence and operations of the League in the 
country were of a more extended character than in the 
previous year. At the Annual Meeting in 1871, the 
Committee reported that the branches had increased to 315. 
Agents, resident and travelling, had been appointed for each 
division of the country. A great number of publications 
were issued, designed to show the deficiencies of the Act, 
and to promote the formation of School Boards, and the 
enforcement of compulsion. Papers on Normal schools, the 
Scotch bill, the cumulative vote, the defects of the Act, the 
cost and results of denominationalism, the revised code, and 
the 25th clause, were widely distributed during the year. 
The special work undertaken in the constituencies with a 
view to parliamentary elections, was also of a very important 
and suggestive character. The breach was not so wide as it 
afterwards became, but the League had no intention to 
decline the challenge of Ministers to appeal to the country, 
and action was being taken in many boroughs which 
was much to the discomfort of the Whig supporters 
of the Government, and laid the foundation for that 
unpopularity at St. Stephens' which the organisation 
afterwards acquired. 

The serious nature of the disruption in the party, and 
the intense dissatisfaction caused by the persistence of the 
Government in their policy of retrogression, were manifested 
at the third annual meeting of the League, held at Birmingham 
on the 17th and 18th of October, 1871. The meeting was 
attended by specially appointed delegates from various sections 
of the party, representing especially the Labour organisations 
and the Nonconformist associations. Probably no gathering 
of Liberals, so numerous and representative, coming from every 
part of the kingdom, had ever met together to protest against 


the action of a Liberal administration. There were present in 
large numbers earnest Liberals who felt that Liberal principles 
were endangered, and Educationists of note who remonstrated 
against a policy which had obstructed education by mixing it 
up with the question of religious establishments. 

Mr. Dixon presided, and in his opening address exposed 
the defects of the Act as an educational measure, and the 
danger of the sectarian struggle which it had aroused. He 
said that the Government had been warned against their 
policy, but the warning had been unheeded. Kef erring to the 
future he said, "in the Scotch Education Bill which the 
Government are to introduce next session, the Denomi- 
nationalists may be again triumphant ; and when the Irish 
Education question is dealt with, the Ultramontane Eoman 
Catholics may be equally successful in gaining a victory over 
the champions of united secular and separate religious instruc- 
tion ; but the pages of history tell us that the spirit of 
religious freedom and equality in this country is unquench- 
able, and rises more vigorous from defeat. And the reports 
which the Officers of the League receive from all parts of 
the country induce me to believe that forces are now silently 
gathering which will undermine the power of the strongest 
Government, and overthrow the political fabric of the most 
time-honoured of Churches." 

Sir Charles Dilke moved the adoption of the report of 
the Executive. In the course of his speech he said, " such a 
pass have things come to that every gathering of Liberals in 
the kingdom is a meeting for the denunciation of the Liberal 
Ministry, except in Scotland, in which happy country the 
effect of this bill has not been felt." " I think the only men 
who can look with confidence to the future are those who 
take the view that these difficulties will never cease until the 
Government confines itself to giving facilities for teaching 
that which can harm the conscience of no man, and leaves the 


religious teaching to be given, at their own time, by religions 
men. If we can look with confidence to the future, we 
cannot look with any feelings but those of horror, and almost 
of despair at the present, because compulsion is being very 
nearly forgotten during the sectarian strife ; and, whilst the 
bigots are endeavouring, not only to preserve but to extend 
their stronghold, the children go untaught." 

Mr. Alfred Illingworth seconded the resolution and 
described the sectarian struggle in the Borough of Bradford. 
He touched a subject which was very prominent in the minds 
of those present. " I am glad to see we have gentlemen 
present from Scotland and Ireland. I am watching with a 
great deal of interest and somewhat of a mischievous feeling, 
to find out how the supporters of Denominationalism will act, 
when asked to apply the principle to Ireland." 

Mr. Colefax of Bradford' moved the appointment of the 
Council, the Officers, and the Executive Committee. He 
contended that the Act created a new Church-rate. If he 
were asked to pay a shilling rate in some of the districts 
of Lancashire, he would be paying something like sixpence 
towards the maintenance of the Church of England, and 
fourpence or fourpence halfpenny towards the Church 
of Eome. 

Mr. William Middlemore, Chairman of the Central Non- 
conformist Committee, seconded the motion. 

Mr. Chamberlain, then moved on behalf of the Executive 
Committee, " That Mr. Dixon be requested to give notice of a 
motion to the following effect, at an early period of the next 
session ' that, in the opinion of this House, the provisions 
of the Elementary Education Act are defective, and its 
working unsatisfactory, inasmuch, as it fails to secure the 
general election of School Boards in towns and rural districts ; 
it does not render obligatory the attendance of children at 


school ; it deals in a partial and irregular manner with the 
remission and payment of school fees by School Boards ; it 
allows School Boards to pay fees out of the rates levied upon 
the community to denominational schools, over which the 
ratepayers have no control ; it permits School Boards to use 
the public money of the ratepayers for the purpose of 
imparting dogmatic religious instruction in Schools 
established by those Boards, and by the concession of these 
permissive powers, it provokes religious discord throughout 
the country, and by the exercise of them it violates the 
rights of conscience.' " 

Mr. Chamberlain proceeded to justify this early attempt 
to amend the Act, and accepted the onus of proof that 
parliamentary action was opportune and desirable. In a 
convincing argument he showed that when the Education Act 
was introduced, the condition of the country was disgraceful 
and dangerous, perilous to morality, and the welfare of the State. 
The semi-public, semi-private system, after a trial of thirty years 
had failed, and for a great national want, a complete national 
system was the only remedy. So much was admitted by 
Mr. Forster. The bill had been in operation fourteen months 
and what had been its results ? More than half the boroughs, 
and 98 per cent, of the parishes, had not taken the first step 
towards the provision of a national system the formation of 
a School Board. Under the conditions of the act a national 
system was rendered impossible, when a single sect was 
allowed to provide accommodation in excess of its numbers 
and importance. Education had become the monopoly of one 
denomination. The major part of the act was a dead letter. 
In a bill of a hundred clauses the working of two or three 
operated against all the rest. Vast sums of public money were 
pledged for denominational objects. Three thousand new 
vested interests were created, which were three thousand fresh 
stumbling blocks in the way of a national system. The bill 


had revived sectarian animosities and religious feuds in their 
worst form. The School Board election in Birmingham had 
caused more ill feeling than all the political contests for a 
quarter of a century. Under the partial operation of 
compulsory bye-laws a new crime had been created, so subtle 
in character that it evaporated with a parochial boundary. 
What was a penal offence in Birmingham, might be 
committed at Smethwick with impunity. What was a 
misdemeanor at Liverpool was none at Birkenhead. The last 
anomaly was that " voluntary " schools might be supported 
solely by enforced contributions, levied upon persons who 
dissented from the doctrines which those institutions were 
primarily established to maintain. The principle of municipal 
government was violated, and the money of the ratepayers 
was applied in support of institutions over which they had 
no control. Not a school had been built, and not a child 
owed its education to the Act. Time had been wasted and 
temper tried in disputing principles which ought to have 
been settled by the legislature. Money had been squandered 
in contests which might have been rendered unnecessary. 
The call for their action was the more urgent because of the 
animus with which the act was administered. It was 
perfectly intolerable that they should have a denominational 
act, denominationally administered. The Education Depart- 
ment had gone out of its way to admonish and advise School 
Boards, and make them conform their decisions to denomina- 
tional interests. The League had never ceased to protest 
against the measure. They had not been a party to the 
so-called compromise, and would not be bound by compromises 
which violated principle. Great principles were at stake and 
endangered. The cause of National Education was gaining 
very little but the cause of religious equality was losing 
much. There was another consideration. To-morrow they 
would discuss the questions of Scotch and Irish Education, 


The system adopted in those countries would depend on the 
decision of England. If they acquiesced in a denominational 
system for this country, they could not in justice and 
consistency refuse a similar system to Ireland and Scotland. 
They were not influenced by sectarian motives. The League 
was an educational organisation. Compulsion and free 
schools were their key stones with unsectarianism as a 
necessary condition precedent, in a country situated as 
theirs was. In seeking these things they believed they were 
seeking the true happiness and welfare of the land in which 
they lived. 

Mr. Joseph Cowen seconded the resolution. He advised 
Nonconformists not to pay the school rates. He said he had 
no hope of gaining anything from Mr. Forster, but he had 
hopes of the Prime Minister. Mr. Gladstone was a sincere 
and earnest man, and when he was once satisfied that his 
principles were correct, he had courage and ability to 
carry them out. 

The resolution was supported by the Eev. H. C. Leonard, 
Mr. George Howell, the Eev. H. W. Crosskey, Mr. Giles, 
Mr. P. W. Claydon, the Eev. J. J. Brown, Eev. Mr. Tilly, 
Mr. Snowdon, and the Eev. W. W. Jubb. 

Mr. Bunce, chairman of the Publishing Committee, read 
a paper on the " Working and defects of the Education Act." 
Mr. Bunce's paper was founded on statistical information 
supplied to Parliament, and facts collected and collated for 
the purpose by the agents and secretaries of the League. 
It was an exhaustive enquiry and comparison, demonstrat- 
ing the operation of the Act during the fourteen months of its 
existence, and exposing its patchwork character, its delays, 
and the embarrassment caused by the bitter controversy 
it had aroused. In summing up, Mr. Bunce wrote, " As to 
its working the Act is imperfectly applied ; large portions of 
the country being left without a single School Board, and 


the Boards already established are few in number and most 
unequally distributed. Though the Act has been more than 
a year in operation it has not produced a school ; but it has 
evoked a storm of religious bitterness, and developed incessant 
conflict ; it has inflicted great injustice upon the opponents 
of sectarian teaching at the public expense, by taking their 
money and giving it to the maintenance of denominational 
schools ; and thus it has precipitated ecclesiastical and 
political questions of incalculable magnitude, and pregnant 
with vital issues. As to the defects of the Act, these are 
described in the original objections of the League, which 
experience has confirmed to demonstration^ namely, that it 
is defective in leaving to decision by localities, essential 
points which should have been settled by Parliament for the 
whole country ; and that it suffers from the influence, at 
once enfeebling and irritating, of permissive adoption, permis- 
sive compulsion, permissive freedom, and permissive 

Mr. E. W. Dale read a paper on " the payment of School 
Fees." After describing the effect of section 25, Mr. Dale 
said, " How this invasion of the religious rights of the com- 
munity, under the pretext of guarding the religious rights 
of the individual, is to be resisted, I will not now discuss. 
Seizures for church-rates are too recent for some of us to 
forget that it was only by a persistent refusal on the part of 
Nonconformists to pay the rate that the sentiment of public 
justice was aroused to the inequality of the law under which 
church-rates were levied. But there is yet another course 
which I trust every member of the League will adopt. 
Every representative now sitting in Parliament for a Liberal 
constituency, every new candidate for Liberal suffrages, 
should be asked whether he is prepared to vote for the repeal 
of clause 25 of the Elementary Education Act, and the 
amendment of clause 74. A refusal, or an ambiguous 


promise, should be met with a clear and definite declara- 
tion that he cannot have our vote." 

" This may lead to the breaking up of the Liberal party : 
When the Liberal party is false to its noblest principles, it is 
time that it should be broken up. The ( Liberal party/ which 
carried the most objectionable clauses of this Bill by Conser- 
vative votes in the House of Commons, must either be willing 
to retrace its steps, or else must depend for continuance of 
power upon Conservative votes in the country." 

Mr. J. Charles Cox, of Belper, read a paper called " Blots 
in the Bill." In the course of his paper, Mr. Cox said, 
" Though an ardent supporter of the Government at the last 
election, I refuse to see the slightest difference between this 
present injustice, and the old Church-rate question, which we 
thought had been finally stifled. The matter is beyond argu- 
ment, and I for one, though a magistrate of my county, have 
made up my mind to refuse to pay one farthing of any such 
rate, in the same way that I refused to pay the old Church- 
rate, and I believe that the truest policy of the League would 
be to advise all its adherents to do the same." 

The Eev. Sonley Johnstone described the working of the 
Act in Wales, and the excessive rancour and virulence which 
its introduction had caused. 

The Eev. J. W. Caldicott, Head Master of the Bristol 
Grammar School, characterised the Act as a bundle of com- 
promises, combining the utmost possible magnificence of 
promise, with the utmost possible shabbiness of performance. 
The Act said, " every child ought to be educated ; but if the 
majority in any place so pleased, they might allow the 
children to remain ignorant. The Act said the parent who 
was proved to have neglected the education of his child ought 
to be punished ; but it left the proof of the offence in the 
parents hands. The Act said inefficient schools ought not to 
be allowed to exist, but they might have as many as they 


chose, and they might cram them full of children. The Act 
said the State ought not to intermeddle in matters of religion; 
but yet every ratepayer might be taxed to pay for the teaching 
of his neighbour's creed." 

The second day of the meeting was devoted chiefly to 
the discussion of the Irish and Scotch systems. The Rev. 
David Wilson, D.D., of Limerick, a member of the Commis- 
sion appointed in 1868 to enquire into the condition of 
primary education in Ireland, described in an elaborate paper 
the working of the mixed system in Ireland. He impugned 
the fairness and impartiality of the report presented by the 
Commissioners. The Rev. John Scott Porter of Belfast, a 
member of the deputation from the Irish League, pleaded for 
the maintenance in its integrity of the Irish system, as the 
only guarantee for the religious freedom of the minority. 

Mr. Miall, Mr. Walter Morrison, and Mr. J. H. Burges 
took part in the discussion. Mr. Morrison cautioned the 
meeting against the well-known proclivities of some of the 
Cabinet in favour of a denominational system for Ireland. 

Papers were also read by the Eev. Robert Craig, of 
Glasgow, and by Professor Mchol, from the Scotch Education 
League, on Education in Scotland; and by Sir Charles Dilke 
and Mr. Collings on Free Schools. The Rev. William Binns, 
Birkenhead, Rev. Mr. Gould, Norwich, Mr. Cremer, London, 
the Rev. J. Haslam, Leeds, Dr. Lunge, South Shields, and the 
Rev. S. A. Steinthal, continued the discussion. The Chairman 
announced, at the close of the meeting, a large increase of 
subscriptions. The proceedings were closed by a Soiree in the 
Town Hall, given by the Mayor, Mr. G. B, Lloyd, to the 
members of the League. 

A full report of the meeting was widely circulated. 
The papers and speeches contain an admirable exposition of 
the lines of the controversy at the period. 


The agitation was immediately followed up in all the 
large towns, and within the next three months a hundred 
and twenty meetings were held in England and "Wales, which 
were attended by the Officers or deputations from the 
Executive. These meetings were almost without exception, 
free and open to the public, and though they were often 
scenes of great excitement, and sometimes of disorder, they 
convinced the leaders of the movement that the great 
preponderance of public feeling was on their side. Amongst 
the new adherents was Earl Enssell, who wrote to Mr. Dixon 
publicly joining the League, and strongly condemning the 
Government policy. 

The beginning of 1872 marks a new period in the 
growth and direction of the agitation, which may be more 
conveniently described in a separate chapter. 




THE Government, in bringing in the Education Bill had 
professed a desire to supplement the denominational system. 
But the controversies of 1870-71, and a year's administration 
of the Act, had convinced the most sceptical that their real 
purpose was to perpetuate, strengthen and extend it. The 
large increase of annual grants, the thousands of new 
denominational schools endowed with building grants, the 
undisguised administration of the Act in the interests 
of Church schools, admitted of no other interpretation. 
There was also, in the background, a suspicion, always on 
the alert, that a similar system would be extended to 
Scotland and Ireland. These new conditions threw upon 
the Executive the responsibility of considering how the 
original scheme of the League could be adapted to the 
altered circumstances, in such a manner as to secure efficient 
local control over the public schools, to promote the observ- 
ance of sound principles in public expenditure, and at the 
same time to afford to all denominations the fullest opportu- 
nity of giving religious instruction to their own scholars, 
at their own labour and cost. 

The step now taken by the League was the sequence of 
the aggressive coalition between the Ministry, the Clergy, and 
the Tories. Until the Denominational system had been 
encouraged to claim fresh privileges, and to usurp new 
ground, the League had been content that it should be left 
pretty much alone, to merge by degrees, and as experience 
should suggest, in a national system. The idea of gradual 


extinction was now abandoned for that of active conversion, 
having regard, of course for just privileges, and the interests 
of religion. 

At a meeting of the Executive Committee held on the 
18th of January, 1872, it was resolved to submit the following 
recommendations for the approval of the members. 

"1. The compulsory Election of School Boards in all 

" 2. No schools to be recognised as public elementary 
schools but those under the control of elected 
School Boards. 

" 3. Existing School buildings to be placed by consent 
under the control of such Boards, for use during the 
hours of secular instruction, to be given under the 
direction of School Boards; the buildings to be 
retained for all other purposes by the denominations 
with which they are connected. 

" 4. Any school in respect to which such control is declined, 
to be excluded from participation in the annual 
Government Grant. 

" 5. In all schools provided by School Boards out of local 
rates, periods entirely separate and distinct from the 
time allotted to ordinary school teaching may be set 
apart for instruction on week days. Such religious 
instruction to be given by denominations at their own 
cost, and by their own teachers appointed for that 
purpose, but no privilege to be given to one denomina- 
tion over another. In cases of dispute appeal to be 
made to the Education Department." 

Thus by the logic of facts, and in pursuit of elementary 
principles of justice, the " combined " system was once more 
placed before the nation. The old accusation of following 
"godless" and "irreligious" education was raised more 


vehemently than ever ; but the people were getting a little 
used to this cry of " wolf." The League had been denounced 
as godless and irreligious when it advocated Bible reading ; 
and it was now condemned as infidel and atheistic in 
upholding a system which the Primate and Bishops of the 
Established Church in Ireland had supported, and which 
Irish Protestants, without exception, regarded as the chief 
safeguard of their religious freedom. That which on one 
side of the Channel was preached as the palladium of liberty, 
was denounced on the other as an intolerable tyranny, and 
this by members of the same sect. 

The members of the League, almost without exception, 
adopted the proposals of the Committee, and there was a 
considerable increase in numbers and subscriptions. The 
only member of' note whose decided views they contravened, 
was Earl Kussell, who had joined on the express ground of 
his warm approval of Bible reading as part of the ordinary 
school work. The change, however, did not lessen his 
interest in the question, or his disposition to advance the 
work of education ; and he became, before his death, a 
convert to the doctrine of free schools, which twenty years 
before he had stifled in Parliament. 

The great Conference of Nonconformists, held at 
Manchester early in the year, comprising delegates from 
nearly two thousand churches, accepted the principle ; and 
it was widely advocated by the liberal press, as the only 
means by which a complete and efficient system could be 
brought into general use. The educationists of the old 
Manchester school especially, felt that they were standing on 
firm ground again. 

At the annual meeting in the autumn, Mr. Collings 
moved the adoption of the suggestions, and explained the 
reasons which had led the Executive to recommend them 
as the only practical solution of the difficulties created by 


the new Act. Mr. Charles Vince seconded the resolution. 
His argument was a forcible illustration, not only of his 
strong common sense and power of persuasive reasoning, but 
of the absolute impartiality, justice, brightness, and purity 
which were the distinctive features of his mind. He upheld 
the scheme as one of equal justice to all creeds and classes, 
and asserted that having regard to the divisions and 
differences in English Christendom, strictly unsectarian 
religious teaching was impossible. 

Mr. Chamberlain in speaking upon the proposed change, 
said that Bible reading without note or comment, offered as a 
compromise in 1869, had not given satisfaction. It did not 
please the religious bodies or conciliate the Eoman Catholics 
or Secularists, towards whom it was certainly sectarian. 
Moreover the Act of 1870 had altogether altered the circum- 
stances under which it was put forward. It had stimulated 
denominational schools, and made their existence easy at a 
minimum of cost to their supporters. In considering the 
increase of these schools, their " suitability " was an element 
in the discussion. The Act provided that schools must be 
" suitable " as well as efficient. It had been held by the 
Department that Eoman Catholic Schools were not suitable 
for the children of Protestants. On what principle then was 
it considered that a Protestant school was suitable for the 
children of Eoman Catholics, or a Church school for the 
children of Nonconformists ? Under such arrangements com- 
pulsion was only possible at the sacrifice of every principle of 
justice. The League put forward this scheme as the proper 
solution of the educational difficulty. 

It is a matter for surprise that the advantages which 
this scheme offered, in educational, religious and social aspects, 
were not more accurately appreciated outside the ranks of the 
Dissenters. There were guarantees for efficient education, 
under wiser management and with larger means and better 


appliances, which should have made it welcome to education- 
ists of whatever party. There were opportunities given for 
religious teaching, which religious men of all sects ought 
ardently to have embraced. It was a protection for conscience 
which would have satisfied every principle of justice, and it 
was a social peace offering which the country, and especially 
the interests of the children stood sadly in need of. 

There were certain direct and obvious benefits offered to 
the Church, as the denomination in possession of the vast 
majority of schools and buildings, which it was folly for 
Churchmen to overlook. While preserving the use of their 
buildings, and an active and in most instances preponderating 
share in the school management, they could have thrown the 
entire cost of secular instruction on the rates. The clergy at 
once and for ever would have been relieved from writing 
begging letters. Some of the secular papers which usually 
advocated Church interests, cautioned the clergy not to reject 
the scheme, while they were in a position to make terms, 
without considering whether the difference between them and 
their opponents was fundamental or superficial. The Bishop 
of Manchester, whose services to education throughout these 
discussions were of inestimable value, told Convocation that, 
under the scheme, " if they were only faithful to their own 
convictions, if all they had been saying about religious 
education in their different parishes had any meaning at all, 
and was not merely talk, they certainly had still, as managers 
and teachers of schools, ample scope and opportunity for 
indoctrinating their children with that sound religious 
teaching they thought most conducive to their welfare." 
The clergy however, with some conspicuous exceptions, were 
blind and deaf to any merits of the proposal, apparently on 
no other ground than their jealousy of the intervention of a 
School Board, in matters where by custom they were invested 
with supreme rule. 


To Dissenters, as such, the advantages of the plan would 
have been great. New avenues for social and educational 
work would have been opened to them, and a more real and 
effective guarantee for the free exercise of opinion would have 
been established. The time-table conscience clause was 
defective in essential qualities. In its very nature it was 
but a half-provision. It professed to guard the conscientious 
convictions of parents ; but it did not recognise the conscience 
of the ratepayer. As a matter of fact the agitation against 
the Act proceeded from citizens rather than from the parents 
of scholars. But even in its express design, as a defence for 
parents and children, it was illusory. Its terms enabled 
children to be withdrawn from religious instruction without 
forfeiting any benefits of the school. When religious instruc- 
tion was given it required that it should take place at certain 
hours, specified in the time-table, either before or after the 
secular business. It also contained a provision that no 
scholar should be obliged to attend, or to abstain from attend- 
ing any particular Sunday School or place of religious 
worship, as a condition of admittance to a day school. Mr. 
Forster said that the advantage of the clause was that it 
was self-working, and required neither notice on one side nor 
claim on the other. It was certainly an improvement on the 
first draft which required a claim to be made in writing. 
Perhaps a more stringent clause might have been devised, but 
the fault did not lie so much with the clause as with 
the circumstances. From the nature of the case it was 
impossible that general advantage should be taken of the 
clause. There was the same difficulty about it, as there was 
about voting before the ballot was introduced. Of necessity 
there could be no secresy in withdrawing children from 
religious instruction, and without secresy the clause was 
practically worthless. 


It may be urged that men, who, having objections based 
on conscience, fail to avow them on account of some social 
disadvantage they may entail, are not entitled to very much 
sympathy. That is an insidious view ; especially for the 
large class who have no great faith in conscientious objections. 
But it must also be acknowledged that there are persons, even 
amongst the humblest classes, who while they might be 
willing to suffer themselves for opinion, would naturally 
hesitate before they would subject their children to the same 
kind of endurance. 

However, the fact remains, that the Dissenters did not 
avail themselves of the clause. The general testimony of 
the Inspectors was, that practically the whole of the 
children attended the religious instruction. In the few 
instances in which the parents took advantage of the 
clause its working was not satisfactory. We put aside 
the cases of actual violation of the time-table. In regard 
to its observance, the public, without the supervision of 
School Boards, was absolutely in the hands of managers 
and teachers. That the law is frequently broken is well 
understood. One Inspector reported that he found upon 
his visits of surprise, that the time-table was unobserved 
in ten per cent, of the schools. But assuming that the 
letter of the law is generally obeyed, it is still pertinent 
to enquire how far the spirit is fulfilled, when the legal 
right of withdrawal is insisted on. A few out of many 
cases reported to the officers of the League will serve as 

It was a custom in some Church schools to assemble 
the children at holy days or festivals, and to march them to 
service in hours which, according to the time-table should 
have been devoted to secular instruction. The Department 
held that this was allowable, so long as the day was not 
reckoned for attendance in the computation of the grant, and 


notice was given to the parents. The consequence was that 
any school able to earn an excess grant, might, without being 
fined at all, devote a number of spare days to religious 
exercises. A verbal message to the children to come to 
school clean and tidy on the morrow, as they were going to 
church, was held to be sufficient notice ; and the notice was 
equivalent to a command. 

Down to the formation of the League, the National 
Society enforced its rule in many parishes, that children attend- 
ing its schools should also attend Church and the Church 
Sunday-school. When the conscience-clause came into force 
there were many parents, who, while they did not withdraw 
their children from religious instruction on week days, were 
glad to avail themselves of the privilege of taking them to 
their own Chapels on Sundays. In such cases, without 
infringing the actual letter of the law, there was room for the 
exercise of a petty social tyranny; which in the rural 
districts especially could be practiced with impunity. 

In one village notice was given to the parents that the 
clay scholars must also attend the Church Sunday-schools, or 
they would be excluded from the benefits of the clothing 
club. It was also stated that if the parents did not wish the 
children to attend Church the reasons must be fully explained 
to the minister. 

A Dissenter, whose children attended a National School, 
sent them to a Dissenting Sunday-school. Their school fees 
were at once raised from 5d. to Is. 6d. per week. 

In another town notice was given that attendance on 
Sunday would be a special qualification for prizes. The vicar 
wrote, " You must bear in mind that these schools were 
founded and partly endowed for the express intention of 
teaching the principles of the Established Church." He had 
no difficulty in satisfying " my Lords " that he was within 
the law in confining his prizes to Sunday scholars. 


The following seductive advertisement, designed to fill 
the Church schools of a country town, was issued at the 
beginning of the cold weather : " Coal, shoes, bread and 
beef charities. Persons with families will take notice that 
they will receive nothing from any of these charities unless 
their children are sent regularly to the National or infant 
school on week days, and to the Church Sunday-school on 

It is a favourite copybook text that example is better 
than precept. The children attending the National school of 
a Wiltshire village were invited by the vicar to the school- 
room on Christmas-eve. Being assembled they were grouped 
as Churchmen and Dissenters. The prizes were then distri- 
buted amongst the Church children only. This seemed to 
the spectators a strange proceeding, but was intelligible on 
the ground that the Church children might be the best 
scholars. But when the awards were over, the little dis- 
senters were dismissed, while the more fortunate orthodox 
ones were rewarded for their virtue with tea and buns. The 
sequel is almost as sad. A huge Christmas tree was 
subscribed for in the town, the Dissenting children were 
mustered, marched round with a band of music, and taken 
to enjoy themselves, while the small upholders of the 
Establishment were left out in the cold. In this way 
Christianity was taught. 

In another instance the anniversary of a Baptist chapel 
was celebrated. The Sunday-school children were invited 
to tea. Some of them attended the Church day-school. To 
the parents of these the vicar sent notice that he had made 
up his mind that "those parents who could afford to send their 
children to the tea party could not want help, and that the 
children could not come to the school treat in August." 

Many other examples might be quoted to show the 
partiality with which the law worked, and which could only 


be redressed by the extension of the representative system, 
and by drawing a strict line of demarcation between the 
business of the State and that of the Churches. In consider- 
ing the suitability of schools, no account was taken of the 
character of the population where it would have told against 
the pretensions of the Church to control education. In 
parishes where three-fourths of the inhabitants were Dissenters 
Church schools were enlarged to prevent the formation of 
School Boards. Even when Boards were established they 
were frequently made subsidiary to denominational purposes. 
Masters were advertised for and elected to Board Schools, on 
the ground that they were Churchmen or communicants, or 
"of thorough Church principles." In addition to their 
school duties, they were often required to assist in the 
Church service to play the organ or to instruct the choir. 
The master of one Board School was dismissed for not 
attending Church, the vicar writing to him that they intended 
to have a schoolmaster "who would be helpful in Church 
matters." Another was discharged for attending a lecture on 
Oliver Cromwell in a Methodist chapel. In several instances 
the Catechism was taught in Board Schools in open defiance 
of section 14. 

It is difficult to convince the members of dominant 
Churches that more is gained by toleration than by 
persecution. It was the hereditary tendency of the clergy 
to grasp at every morsel of power, and to entrench 
themselves behind walls of prescription and privilege which 
drove the Dissenters to the conviction that their only 
safeguard was in the final separation of religious and secular 
teaching. But all the advantages in the struggle were on the 
side of the Church. They were in possession. They were backed 
by the whole Conservative force, and they had succeeded in 
disuniting the Liberals. They aimed, also, at dividing the 
Dissenters, and in this move they were partially successful. 




In the matter of tactics the Dissenters might wisely take a 
lesson from the Church. Whatever their secret differences 
may be, and however much they may enjoy abusing each 
other privately, the clergy present a firm and united front to the 
common enemy. On the other hand it is never difficult for 
a Minister or a Bishop to find Dissenters who will assist in 
pulling the nuts out of the fire for the Church. 

It was so in 1870, and because of the secession of a 
few, the Nonconformists were twitted with not knowing their 
own minds. The same device was resorted to in 1872. 
Not long after the Manchester Conference had declared for the 
League recommendations, a declaration appeared called " The 
School and the Bible," protesting against the exclusion of the 
Bible from the school. It was signed by nearly six hundred 
laymen and ministers, unconnected with the Established 
Church. Most of them were unknown, but there were a few 
representative names, including those of Mr. Samuel Morley, 
Mr. Charles Reed, Mr. Spurgeon, Mr. Newman Hall, and 
Dr. Stoughton. The protest was speciously drawn to catch 
signatures. As a matter of fact there was no party which 
was striving to exclude the Bible from national education. 
It was already excluded by Act of Parliament from the 
ordinary work of the day. Under the plan of the League 
it might have been taught more freely, fully, and 
explicitly but at the cost of the denominations. In 
reference to this declaration, Mr. Dale wrote, "A careful 
examination of the names that are known to us, shows that 
in nearly every instance they belong to men who, from the 
first, have upheld the Government policy, and opposed the 
Nonconformist agitation. They do not represent any secession 
from the great and growing party, which, for the last two years, 
has been contending for religious equality in education." (*) 

1 The Report of the Manchester Conference, and the debates on 
religious instruction at the Birmingham School Board, contain the most 
authentic accounts of the position taken by the Dissenters at this time. 


However the declaration answered its design, by making 
it appear that the Nonconformists were divided, and thus 
playing into the hands of the National Society. 

The Parliamentary session of 1872, was a dismal one for 
the Liberals, who were passing through a creeping process of 
disintegration which was anxiously watched, and carefully 
promoted by the Tories. Tumultuous cheers from the Oppo- 
sition benches greeted the appearance of Mr. Forster, espe- 
cially when he could be drawn on to snub a Leaguer or a 
Eadical, the temptation to which was great, and the oppor- 
tunity frequent. Mr. Dixon's motion, 1 which covered the 
whole ground of the League exceptions to the Act of 1870, 
was met by a skilfully conceived amendment, to the effect 
that the time which had elapsed and the progress made were 
not such as to enable the House to enter with advantage on 
a review of the operation of the Act. 

The amendment was a harbour of refuge for both positive 
and doubtful politicians. It was supported by all who were 
opposed to further change, including the phalanx of Whigs 
and Tories ; by those who shrank from pronouncing a definite 
opinion on the League scheme : by those who placed party 
loyalty above principle and by the numerous section who 
prefer delay to action. The speech in which Mr. Forster 
moved it was also calculated to propitiate Liberals who were 
strongly opposed to his policy. He did not deny that the 
Act needed revision, and he prompted the belief that in the 
next session the Government would be prepared for alterations. 
It was gathered that they had under consideration the forma- 
tion of Boards in all districts, the universal enforcement of 
attendance, and a modification of the 25th clause. These 
assurances detached a number of votes from Mr. Dixon's 
following, but nevertheless over a hundred liberals voted 
against the Ministry, while an equal number refused them 
1 See page 268. 


their support. Comparing the division with that of the 
preceding year, it showed that the League strength in the 
House had exactly doubled. 

In the same session Mr. Candlish brought in a bill to 
repeal the 25th section. The straits to which the Govern- 
ment were now reduced, were exemplified by the voting on 
this occasion. One hundred and thirty-two Liberals sup- 
ported the bill. The Ministerial majority was composed of 123 
Liberals and 195 Tories. Eleven members of the Govern- 
ment, including three Cabinet Ministers, took no part in the 
division. In the meantime the irritation in the country 
was intensified. The Nonconformists were exasperated by 
the policy of the Ministry, and were preparing for electoral 
action. Eefusals to pay rates, followed by distraints, were 
common, while School Boards and Town Councils were at 
open war. 

As an educational measure the Scotch Bill of this year 
was an improvement on the English Act, since it provided for 
universal School Boards and compulsory attendance. It was, 
however, intensely sectarian. The time-table conscience 
clause was given up. Denominational instruction might be 
given at the cost of the ratepayers without restriction or 
limitation. The payment of fees in voluntary schools was 
made obligatory. These provisions were taken to foreshadow 
the views of the Government in regard to Ireland, and 
the suspicion daily gained ground that a coalition of 
Ministerialsts and Tories had resolved to enforce a compulsory 
system of denominational education throughout the United 

The Government was now (1872) in its fourth session, 
and had therefore reached more than the average age of 
Parliaments. The serious divisions of the party rendered it 
the more probable that a dissolution might come abruptly. 
For these reasons much attention was given to electoral 


organization. The details of this department are not of a 
character to make public. Many public meetings were held, 
and conferences between members and their constituents 
were promoted. In some places the League was strong 
enough openly to assert the right to take part in the counsels 
of the party, and to make its own terms. In others the 
work was of a more delicate nature ; but in the end the 
organization contrived to make its influence respected, often 
where its presence was least suspected. A large electoral 
fund was subscribed to meet the special expenditure which 
these operations demanded. 

In view of the expected amendments of the Govern- 
ment it was determined that the whole strength of the 
League should be devoted to assist in carrying them. There- 
fore at the annual meeting of 1872 it was resolved that the 
Parliamentary action should be confined to three points 
universal School Boards, compulsory attendance, and the 
unconditional repeal of section 25. 

There was some ambiguity in the utterances of 
Ministers respecting this clause. That there might be no 
mistake on the part of the League, the Executive took 
pains to make it clear that nothing but unconditional 
repeal would satisfy them. Mr. W. H. Smith had given 
notice that he should move that the power to pay fees should 
be transferred from School Boards to Guardians of the 
Poor. Whether the motion was a trap for the Ministry, 
or was sincerely designed to help Mr. Forster in his perplexity 
may be a little doubtful. It led, however, to more formid- 
able differences between the Government and their natural 
adherents. Mr. Hebbert, the Parliamentary secretary to the 
Poor Law Board, took up the idea, and during the recess 
expressed his approval of it. This was in time for the 
League to make it clearly known that no such solution of 
the difficulty would appease the quarrel. Mr. Chamberlain, 


representing the Executive, characterised the idea as a proof 
of the incompetency of its authors to understand the scruples 
of Dissenters. While it would not remove a single ground of 
their hostility, it would create evils fatal to the spread of 
education and the independence of the people. It was a 
pretended concession, ignoring principle, and would carry 
sectarian conflict into the election of another group of public 
bodies, placing Magistrates, Guardians, and School Boards in 
constant antagonism. Where it secured the education of a 
child, it would be at the price of the degradation of the 
parent. Eather than any such shifting of the cards, 
Mr. Chamberlain advised that the question should be left 

It may be objected to the action of the Dissenters that 
they had never opposed Denison's Act, which enabled 
Guardians to pay the fees of the children of out-door paupers 
in denominational schools, and which involved the principle 
of the 25th clause. But, although Denison's Act had been 
on the statute book for fifteen years, it was inoperative and 
unknown. The new proposal was that it should be enforced, 
and should be widely extended in its application. The 
Boards of Guardians had never liked the Act, and the 
Manchester Board on the motion of Mr. J. A. Bremner, now 
passed a strong resolution against its extension. 

In opening the fifth session of Parliament the Queen's 
speech announced an amending bill. Mr. Dixon also gave 
notice of his bill for School boards, compulsion and the repeal 
of section 25. In March Mr. Gladstone asked that the 
League bill should be postponed until the Government 
measure was introduced, and as there was a general expecta- 
tion that the latter would follow the same lines, this was 
readily conceded. In the meantime there was a ministerial 
crisis on the question of Irish University education, and a 
dissolution seemed to be imminent. But the difficulty was 


bridged across, and after repeated delays the Government 
brought forward their Bill in June. 

A bitter sense of betrayal was produced amongst 
Educationists and Nonconformists by the statement of 
the Vice-President. The Act of 1870 had been three 
years in operation, and the Education Department had not 
yet sent out the whole of the notices to provide the deficiency 
of accommodation. While education languished the sectarian 
conflict was incessant. Energy which might have been 
employed in execution, was occupied in the struggle over first 
principles. In these circumstances the Government made 
no proposal calculated to advance education a step, or to give 
peace to the distracted country. They made no provision for 
School Boards, or attendance ; and in regard to the religious 
question they precipitated themselves into the arms of their 
enemies. The authority to pay fees was transferred from 
School Boards to Guardians, with this difference, that where 
it had been permissive, it was now to be made compulsory. 
Where a hundred pounds had been spent before, thousands 
might now be applied for precisely the same purpose. 

The Opposition were in ecstacies ; but Mr. Dixon and 
Mr. Eichard warned the Government of the feeling which 
would be aroused in the country. The Executive declared the 
Bill to be an aggravation of the evils complained of. It was 
a further concession to denominationalism, and its pauperising 
influence would be a national calamity. The Guardians of 
Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and many large towns 
condemned it in the strongest terms. The Nonconformists 
refused to accept it as any alleviation of their grievances. 

Just before the bill was introduced a vacancy had 
occurred in the representation of Bath. Captain Hayter, the 
Liberal candidate, had stated in his address that the Act 
required amendment, and had expressed the hope that 
Mr. Forster's promised bill would prove satisfactory. But 


when it appeared he carefully avoided any reference to its 
provisions ; and the local wire pullers, who were anxious to 
secure every vote, were cautious not to introduce any element 
of discord. But while the disappointment was fresh and 
keen, Mr. Paynter Allen, who was one of the confidential 
agents of the League, was instructed to visit Bath, to 
ascertain Captain Hayter's views, and to obtain his support 
for Mr. Dixon's bill. This was not an isolated proceeding 
on the part of the League. It had been the habit of the 
Committee to " interview " Liberal candidates ; and, on 
several occasions, active support or opposition had been given 
to particular nominations. In some of the bye elections, 
which had recently occurred, the League had made its power 
respected by the Whig element of the party. 

The Liberal candidate for Bath, acting probably under 
the advice of his Committee, excused himself from seeing the 
agent of the League. The local leaders of the party took 
very high ground ; though one which, under ordinary 
circumstances, would have been reasonable enough. They 
were committed to Captain Hayter, whatever his opinions 
might be; they were in the thick of the fight; and they 
were indisposed to allow, if they could prevent it, any side 
influences to come into operation. Most of them were 
Nonconformists and were wholly at one with the League in 
principle. But it is noticeable that while Dissenters will 
go to a Conference and pass resolutions with acclamation 
not to support candidates opposed to their views ; yet when 
the practical issue has to be tried, and the party has to be 
transfixed for its own good, they generally find local reasons 
why their own particular constituency should not be selected 
as the worthless object for the experiment. In this instance 
they denied the right of the League to make any requisition 
on the subject of their candidate's opinions. 

In this conjunction the officers invited Mr. J. C. Cox, 


a member of the Executive, to come forward as the 
representative of the League. At much personal incon- 
venience, and with great moral courage, Mr. Cox accepted 
the invitation. But it was felt to be highly undesirable to 
intervene in the contest if any ground of accommodation 
could be found. With this view, the author, with 
Mr. Thompson. Mr. Cox's agent, went to Bath to make a 
further effort to ascertain Captain Hayter's opinions, which, 
at this period, were of abnormal importance. His Committee 
peremptorily declined to make any statement on the subject, 
or to allow their candidate to be approached. The represen- 
tatives of the League then offered to withdraw, without 
exacting any public statement which would jeopardise his 
success if they had the private assurance that Captain 
Hayter was generally favourable to the principles of 
Mr. Dixon's bill. But this also was denied. 

Mr. Cox then issued his address to the electors. For a 
few days the city was in a state of great excitement. On 
making an attempt to hold a meeting Mr. Cox and his 
friends were assaulted and temporarily blinded by the free 
use of cayenne pepper. The Liberal leaders, in an interview 
which they sought with Mr. Cox, refused to make any 
concession, and denied his right to interfere in the contest. 
On the part of the League it was contended that Mr. Cox 
stood on the same footing as Captain Hayter, and was 
equally entitled to solicit the suffrages of the electors. The 
commotion increased when it was known that Mr. Cox was 
nominated. There had been some difficulty in securing the 
nomination. The Ballot Act was newly in operation and 
required the names of ten electors. So great was the 
pressure put upon Liberals that the names were not easily 
procured. When the nomination paper was sent in, it was 
discovered that some of the assenting electors were on the 
Committee of the Conservative candidate. The mistake was 


owing to the ignorance of Mr. Cox's agents of local politics , 
but in any case it was only following the example of the 
Liberal Ministry, which relied on Tory votes to carry its 
policy. Mr. Cox and his friends were now loudly denounced 
as emissaries of the Carlton. 

Terms of compromise were at last arranged through the 
intervention of Dr. Caldicott, of Bristol. Captain Hayter 
publicly declared himself in favour of School Boards and 
compulsion, and against the payment of fees by Guardians ; 
thus making, in the end, larger concessions than were asked 
at the outset. The Liberal Committee had, throughout the 
contest, played the game of the League. Mr. Cox now 
withdrew, but the split in the party had gone too far to avert 
the defeat of the Liberals. 

This election was the cause of much excitement in 
political circles, and especially in the clubs and the lobby 
of the House. The political Committee of the Eeform Club 
was set in motion, and other important agencies were 
invoked to reconcile the quarrel. The managers at the 
Treasury began to suspect that the country was in earnest. 
The election was followed by a Conference of Liberals at 
the Westminster Palace Hotel. The announcement that the 
League intended to pursue the same policy in other 
constituencies was received with acclamation. Mr. Bright 
made his first public appearance, after his long illness, at 
this meeting, and while deprecating the division of the party, 
he characterised the Education Act, as in some respects, " the 
worst measure passed by a Liberal Government since 1832." 

The Bath policy was followed up at Shaftesbury, 
Greenwich, and Dundee ; and, in prospect of a general 
election, League candidates issued addresses in other towns 
where the sitting members were hostile to the League 
platform. In this action we incurred much odium for 
dividing the party. The accusation was ably rebutted by 


Mr. Harris in an article called " Who divides the Liberals ? " 
The elections in which we took part demonstrated that the 
League was in a great majority in the party. In Parliament 
the Government had only been able to go on by means of 
the Tory vote. The Treasury candidate at Dundee, 
Mr. Fitzjames Stephen, was the strongest to be found ; yet 
Mr. Edward Jenkins, a member of the League Executive, 
polled three times his number of votes. The same results 
happened elsewhere. Mr. Harris wrote, " If concession is to 
precede union, it must be clear from which side it ought to 
come. It may be doubtful if a tardy recognition of this 
truth would save the present Ministry, or preserve the 
prestige and power of the Liberal party ; it is absolutely 
certain that without it further defeats and humiliation are 
inevitable." Mr. Chamberlain said, " The majority will not 
always yield to the minority, and the principle of religious 
equality must be accepted as part of the programme of any 
party which in future seeks our support and alliance. 
Therefore you may expect to see the lesson of the Bath 
election again and again repeated." 

The session which had been looked forward to with hope 
was barren of results. The hostility provoked by the 
Government bill led to its withdrawal. But Denison's Act 
was made obligatory, and it was estimated that about 100,000 
children of paupers would receive some sort of education 
under its provisions. An Act for indirect compulsion in the 
agricultural districts was also pushed through Parliament by 
a private member. It provided that no child under 
eight should be employed in agriculture, and no child under 
twelve who had not made in the preceding year a certain 
number of attendances at school. But no securities were 
taken for carrying it into effect, and it remained on the 
statute book a dead letter. The 25th section continued in 
force, and distraints were constantly levied on the goods of 


Magistrates, Town Councillors, Members of School Boards, 
and ministers of religion who refused to comply with the 
law. In Parliament the Government still adhered to its 
Palmerstonian policy of playing off Conservative votes against 
those of its own adherents. This course was pursued both 
upon the Education Bill, and the Endowed Schools Act 
Amendment Bill ; and the Tories were only too pleased to 
assist in widening the breach. 

Towards the end of the year the Eadicals enjoyed a brief 
hour of triumph, and much consternation was produced in the 
Tory and Whig confederacy by Mr. Bright's re-entrance into 
the Ministry. His acceptance of office after his severe judg- 
ment upon the Education Act, was received as an assurance that 
the ministerial policy would undergo important modifications. 
The Executive of the League at once suspended their electoral 
action, and prepared to sustain the Ministry in any 
measures they might take for the redress of the grievances 
complained of. Mr. Blight's address to his constituents 
confirmed the opinion that some substantial alterations were 
under consideration. He wrote " I hold the principles when 
in office that I have constantly professed since you gave me 
your confidence sixteen years ago. When I find myself 
unable to advance those principles, and to serve you honestly 
as a minister, I shall abandon a position which demands of me 
sacrifices that I cannot make." In speaking to the vast 
meeting in Bingley Hall which welcomed his return to public 
life, he declared decisively for a national in preference to a 
denominational system. He said the fault of the Education 
Act was " that it extended and confirmed the- system, which 
it ought, in point of fact, to have superseded." The 25th 
clause contained an evil principle, " and one that should not 
be continued." " With regard to this question of educating 
through the sects, I believe it is not possible to make it truly 
national or truly good. The fact is, I think we all feel, that the 


public do not take great interest in Denominational schools. 
The Church cares nothing for Dissenters : and in regard 
to this question, Dissenters care just as little for the Church. 
The people regard these schools as Church schools, as Chapel 
schools. They do not regard them as public and national, and 
general schools, and as part of a great system, in which the 
whole people unite for a great and worthy national object. 
Then again, the School Board! I do not know that the 
Government of that day were responsible for the mode of 
electing School Boards. It was not certainly in the original 
memorandum of the Bill, which I was permitted to see ; but 
the mode of electing appears to me about the very worst for 
purposes of general and national education which could 
possibly have been devised. When a contest for a School 
Board arises, the question of real education seems hardly 
thought of. It is a squabble between Church and Chapel 
and Secularists, and I know not how many other ' ists ' ; and 
when the School Board meets there is priest and parson and 
minister and other partisans. There is no free breeze of 
public opinion passing through the room, but rather an 
unwholesome atmosphere of what I call sectarian exclusive- 
ness, and sometimes of bigotry, in which no good can thrive." 
In conclusion he said, " I apprehend, I cannot but believe 
that further experience, and something like failure, will before 
long force on Parliament and the country a general recon- 
sideration of the question." 

But notwithstanding these strong expressions and the 
expectations they created, it was soon made abundantly clear 
that no real unity or harmony upon the question existed in 
the Cabinet. In taking a new pilot on board they had not 
dismissed the old one. While Mr. Bright was denouncing 
the 25th section, as containing an evil principle, Mr. Forster 
was still using all the moral pressure of his department to 
compel School Boards to adopt bye-laws for its execution 


In October Mr. Bright came to Birmingham to censure the 
Act, and in November Mr. Forster went to Liverpool to 
defend it. In this hopeless muddle and confusion of counsel 
there could be nothing but discouragement before the party, 
and no wonder the Tories won the elections. How greatly 
the Liberals were broken and disheartened was shown when 
the dissolution came. 

But while the Liberals were losing the Parliamentary 
contests, they were winning all round in the School Board 
elections, which came on again in the autumn of this year. 
However disunited and demoralised in regard to Parliament- 
ary policy, they were compact enough for other purposes, 
and having mastered the intricacies of the cumulative vote, 
they were in most cases able to reverse the decisions of three 
years back. In Birmingham a liberal majority was returned 
by a vast preponderance of votes. The candidates stood on 
the League platform of separate and voluntary religious 
teaching, and this plan was carried out in the Board Schools 
of the town during the next six years. A Eeligious 
Education Society was formed to give religious instruction. 
The teachers were volunteers and were admitted to the 
Board schools at certain hours in accordance with the time- 
table, to instruct the children whose parents wished them 
to attend. ( ! ) 

The annual meeting this year was of a formal character, 
owing to the uncertainty respecting ministerial intentions. 
At an Executive meeting held at the close of the year it was 
decided to draw a more distinct line between the polemical 
and educational work of the League. "With this object 

1 The clergy, with a few exceptions, refused to take any share in this 
work, and owing to the insufficiency of teachers amongst the Dissenters it 
was but a partial success. The religious communities were forced to admit 
their inability or their disinclination to teach religion without state assist- 
ance. To avoid a contest in 1879, it was agreed that the Bible should be 
read in the schools by the ordinary teachers without note or comment. 


Mr. Dixon was asked to confine his bill to School Boards 
and compulsion only, while Mr. Candlish undertook the 
repeal of section 25. 

During the two years under review a vast amount of 
educational work was done by the members of the League, 
in connection with School Boards and the enforcement of 
attendance. Although this department of the work was not 
so prominently before the public, it was never lost sight of 
by the officers, and it constantly engaged the close attention 
of the staff. Amongst the publications of the year may 
be noticed "The Struggle for National Education," by 
Mr. John Morley, and Mr. Dale's articles in the Contem- 
porary Review. 

Although a dissolution of Parliament had not been 
unexpected, its precise hour took everyone by surprise. 
Members and candidates were scattered abroad ; constituen- 
cies were unprepared ; plans were not matured, and 
differences were unreconciled. For a fortnight all was con- 
fusion and scramble, out of which came the Liberal party, 
a shattered wreck. It went into the contest, weakened, 
distracted, and divided. The main wing, composed of 
Dissenters, was suspicious and sullen. The Prime Minister's 
manifesto offered them no rallying ground. In regard to 
education he thought that " no main provision of the measure 
could advantageously be reconsidered without the aid of 
an experience such as we had not yet acquired." He also 
suggested that the uneasiness caused by one or two points 
was out of proportion to their importance or difficulty. He 
did not fairly estimate the temper of the Dissenters, and 
offered them, instead of principle the abolition of a tax. 

The chief issue in the election was the school or the 
publichouse. The Tories went for restricted education 
and unlimited drinking. With the latter they coupled 


religion, as a matter of course, and " Beer and Bible " made 
a telling election cry. 

The League took immediate action in the election. The 
address of the Prime Minister was taken as indicating a 
serious misapprehension of the gravity of the situation. 
The Executive asked that a national system of education 
should be made a distinct feature of the Liberal programme. 
The Branches were advised to press candidates for definite 
pledges on this head. The result was so far satisfactory that 
out of 425 English, Welsh, and Scotch candidates, 300 were 
pledged to the repeal of the 25th section, which was 
accepted by Liberals and Conservatives as the " symbol " of 
the controversy. In the new Parliament there was a large 
gain of members in favour of League principles. 

The results in particular constituencies were curious. 
Mr. Gladstone was again returned for Greenwich, but this 
time "as junior colleague to a gin distiller." He would 
have been invited to stand for Manchester, but for the 
threatening attitude of the Nonconformists. 

The prominent members of the League had various 
fortunes. Mr. Dixon's seat was of course assured. But the 
Chairman of the Executive was defeated at Sheffield. In the 
selection of candidates there had been a test ballot between 
Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Allott, a popular local politician. 
It was decided in favour of the former, but Mr. Allott's 
supporters were disappointed at the result, and did not 
accept it with loyalty. This, coupled with the dissertion of 
the Whigs and Moderates, who looked upon Mr. Chamberlain 
as a firebrand, led to his defeat. This was the most serious 
blow which the League had sustained. Several other mem- 
bers of the Executive were unsuccessful, including Mr. Cox, 
Admiral Maxse, and Captain Sargeant. On the other hand 
Mr. Cowen, Sir Charles Dilke, Mr. Jenkins, and Mr. 
Pennington were returned. 


Mr. Candlish retired from the representation of Sunder- 
land on account of failing health, and the charge of the 25th 
clause passed to Mr. Henry Eichard. 

Mr. Forster was opposed by the Liberal Committee in 
Bradford. He was however ostentatiously and avowedly 
supported by the Conservatives, and with the aid of the 
Catholic vote, and a small proportion of Liberal votes, was 
returned at the head of the poll. 

Mr. Baines lost his seat for Leeds on account of his 
views on the Education question. In some twenty other 
constituences Liberal upholders of the 25th clause were beaten, 
owing mainly to the defection of the Nonconformists. It 
must be said however, that generally the Dissenters had the 
greatest difficulty in breaking away from their traditionary 
support of the Liberal party, and many obstinate adherents of 
the Government policy were sent back to Parliament from 
constituencies where the absence of the Dissenting vote could 
easily have turned the scale. 

The defeat of the Liberal party, calamitous as it proved 
in some respects, was not an unmixed evil. It has taught the 
country that no Government will be allowed to juggle with 
great principles with impunity. It also prepared the way for 
the re-union of the party on a more liberal basis, with more 
assured purposes, and with infinitely superior organisation. 
It is impossible also not to believe that the events recorded 
will have a marked influence on the educational and eccle- 
siastical legislation of the future. 




THE political revolution which has been described threw upon 
the Executive the duty of reviewing their policy. The 
change of Government found their work but half done. The 
object they had placed before themselves " the establish- 
ment of a system which should secure the education of every 
child in the country " was far from being realized. The 
provisions made by the Liberal Government were incomplete, 
inefficient, and illusory. Securities were wanting for the 
instruction of half the children of the nation. Under such 
circumstances there could be no thought of relinquishing the 
purpose for which the League was instituted. 

There were, by common confession, great difficulties before 
the Committee, but they had to ask themselves in what man- 
ner and degree these had been increased by the defeat of the 
Whig party. During the election struggle the Tory leaders 
had accepted the defence of the denominational system as an 
integral part of the Conservative creed. But in this respect 
they did not differ from the Liberal Government which they 
followed. The League could be under no greater disadvantages 
now, than when it had had to contend against a coalition of 
Whigs and Tories. In one respect the committee were relieved 
from great embarrassment. They could no longer be accused 
of endangering the existence of a Liberal administration ; and 
as a matter of choice it was far preferable to them to contend 
against avowed enemies rather than professed friends. They 


did not accept the late ballot as a verdict of the country 
against the proposals of the League, but rather as a vote of 
no confidence in the Whig policy, and they believed that in 
the reconstruction of the party their principles would assume 
greater prominence, and take a firmer hold upon the attach- 
ment of the nation. 

The immediate objects aimed at were resistance to any 
further extension of the denominational system, and the 
acceptance by the party of a national system, as a distinct 
and leading feature of the Liberal programme of the future. 
The means proposed were the continued propagation of 
opinion as to the necessity of School Boards and compulsion, 
the ultimate absorption of the denominational system under 
representative management, and the completion of the 
structure by universal free schools. It was also determined 
to pay increased attention to the non-political details of the 
system, such as greater efficiency of instruction, the extension 
of school age, the encouragement of the higher standards by 
a graduated scale of grants, and the elevation of the status 
and qualifications of teachers. 

The actual state of education was defective and humili- 
ating to a degree very imperfectly realized, not withstanding the 
efforts which the League had made to enlighten opinion. 

Beginning with the Training schools, the fountain-head 
of the system, it was throughout wasteful, unproductive, and 
inefficient. One of the primary requisites of a fruitful 
system is a staff of trained and skilful teachers. The Normal 
schools afforded no guarantee for an adequate supply. The 
case against them, both in point of cost and efficiency, was 
a strong one. Starting as voluntary institutions under exclu- 
sive management, and with sectarian aims, they had in course 
of time, contrived to throw 75 per cent, of their expense, on 
the public ; and this without investing Parliament or the 
EducationDepartment with any powers of effective supervision. 


At thebeginning of the League agitation the voluntary subscrip- 
tions to the Normal schools amounted to about two per cent, 
of their cost, the remainder being made up of Government 
grants, students' fees, endowments, and the sale of books ; 
and the managers were still appealing for larger subsidies. 
Of the total accommodation which they afforded three- 
fourths was in the hands of the Established Church ; and 
Dissenters were then, and are still being taxed out of all 
just proportion to pay for the theological training of Church 
teachers, with the prospect of being afterwards compelled to 
send their children to them for instruction in Church doctrines. 
Neither was this grave injustice counter-balanced by any 
reasonable anticipation that the scholars would be made to 
receive sound and lasting secular knowledge. For national 
purposes, and as national institutions, the Normal schools 
were an imposition and a delusion. The chief object of their 
managers was to qualify the students to teach dogma. The 
catechism and the liturgy were the corner-stones of the 
system, and attention was devoted to them to the neglect of 
mental exercise, and effectual training in the science of 
teaching. Their tendency also was to grow more extravagant 
and more exclusively sectarian. 

It is not a matter for surprise that under such con- 
ditions the general status and attainments of the teachers 
were of an inferior order. The only wonder is that any 
good teachers were produced under a system not calculated 
to stimulate independence of character, or to raise intel- 
ligence into prominence. The social position of the Church 
teacher in the country districts was that of a menial Church 
officer. A Church schoolmaster wrote that many teachers 
of his class were subjected to a worse slavery than the most 
dependent labourer in the parish. Eest and relaxation, 
except for brief periods of the year, were almost unknown 
to them. After an exacting week's work in the school, they were 


generally compelled to undergo a similar drudgery on the Sun- 
day. Fifty per cent, of the advertisements for Church teachers 
stipulated that they should assist in Church offices. From 
quasi-curate to beadle and gravedigger, there was no employ- 
ment which the schoolmaster was not expected to undertake. 
Some of the inducements offered to them may be gathered 
from the advertisements in the National Society's Paper. 
" To officiate as parish clerk ;" as " collector of charity and 
Church funds," as " choirmaster and precentor." " To attend 
Sunday school and take charge of the children at Church, 
and to and from Church." " An organist, willing to assist in 
Church matters." " Parish clerkship, with liberty to take 
private pupils." " Clerkship and sexton." " Ability to 
manage and train a surpliced choir indispensable." Situations 
were offered to certificated mistresses whose husbands or 
brothers " followed agricultural pursuits," or could undertake, 
" at stipulated wages, the management of a kitchen garden 
and two or three cows." The social standing of the 
rural schoolmaster was little above that of the agricultural 
labourer, and the only ambition he was encouraged to 
entertain was that of "the charity boy who longs to be a 

And even of their kind the staff of trained adult 
teachers was wholly insufficient for national requirements, 
so that the mass of scholars were left under the care of 
mere boys and girls. The pupil teachers of 1870 were 
little better qualified than the monitors of Lancaster's and 
Bell's day. The method was an off-shoot of the discredited 
monitorial system, which had the one recommendation of 
cheapness, for the sake of which true economy was sacrificed. 
The pupil teachers were generally badly instructed, often of low 
intelligence, and the common standard of their attainments 
was below a decent average. Far from being efficient 
teachers and helpers, the Inspectors found their attempts 


to express their own knowledge, such as it was, were 
lamentably poor, meagre, and childish. 

If anyone thinks that this picture is overdrawn let him 
study the education blue books. The reports of the Inspectors 
are a standing record of the humiliating but inevitable 
results of teaching so conducted. In the upper classes of a 
very few of the best schools there might be found a fair 
amount of intelligence and information. But such schools 
were rare exceptions. The ordinary condition of the scholars 
in the higher standards was that of comparative ignorance, 
and they were, as a rule, incapable of expressing by word 
or writing any minimum of knowledge they might possess. 
The sixth standard does not stand for a large amount of 
knowledge for a child to take out into the world as a 
weapon in the battle of life ; yet there was not one scholar 
annually to every other school who passed this standard. 
And if this was the plight of the children in the highest 
classes, what was to be expected of those who never got 
beyond the lower standards. The Committee of Council 
reported in 1869, that of " four-fifths of the children about to 
leave school, either no account or an unsatisfactory one, was 
given by an examination of the most strictly elementary 
kind." In the overwhelming majority of cases the children 
took away from school no knowledge which they were likely 
to retain. The largest percentage of passes was in reading, but 
it was seldom indeed that the scholars understood what they 
read, or that the words which they pronounced mechanically 
and by rote, conveyed any meaning to their minds. The 
Bishop of Manchester, an old Inspector, having an intimate 
knowlege of every detail of the system, applied to the 
results produced, the terms " inconceivable," " disgraceful," 
" discreditable," and "miserable," and said "it filled him with 
great shame when he realised it." Mr. Kennedy, another 
Inspector of great experience, wrote " We are contented with 


little more than a pitiful counting of heads, and that we 
call education." 

It would be a grave injustice to the schoolmaster to hold 
him responsible for the whole of this lamentable failure. By 
general admission, irregular attendance and migration from 
school to school were concomitant causes. Keasonable 
progress, under such conditions, was impossible. The regular 
scholars were thrown back and discouraged by the irregular 
ones ; the masters were disheartened and perplexed and made 
to despair of any excellent standard. It is difficult to 
convey in figures an adequate idea of the extent of this evil. 
In 1873-74 the Committee of Council estimated that there 
were two-and-a-half millions of children who ought to have 
made the 250 attendances which might have been com- 
pleted in half a year required to qualify them for examina- 
tion. But only 752,268 were presented to the Inspectors. 
Of the rest no account was given. A third of those who were 
examined in the lower standards ought to have been in the 
higher. And in all cases the percentage of passes was 
lamentably low. 

For seven years the League strove without relaxation to 
put the actual state of the school system fully and fairly 
before the public, and to rouse the nation to a sense of the 
danger and discredit which were involved. With the same 
object the systems of foreign countries were carefully 
examined, and their methods and results stated and tabulated 
for comparison. The energy and persistency with which 
these views were urged produced their inevitable effect upon the 
public mind. In all meetings of workmen the free school 
platform was received with enthusiasm, (*) and notwith- 

1 On the Free School system, see papers and addresses by Mr. 
Chamberlain, Sir Charles Dilke, and Mr. Collings, published by the League. 
Also a series of articles in the Monthly Paper of the League by Mr. Allen. 
On American Free Schools, Bishop Fraser's Report, and the author's "Free 
Schools of the United States" may be consulted. Later contributions to 
the same branch of the subject are contained in the speeches of Dr. Cameron, 
M.P., and in papers by Dr. Watts, of Manchester. 


standing the temporary disadvantages to which it subjected 
them, compulsion was not only acquiesced in, but demanded. 
The natural and the most earnest allies of the League were 
amongst the class who were most affected by the changes 
proposed. But the desire for compulsion grew amongst all 
parties, and the chief difference of opinion was as to how it 
should be carried into effect. The early working of the 
compulsory bye-laws of School Boards had demonstrated that 
so far from injuring the voluntary schools, the enforcement of 
attendance was of great advantage to them. This experience 
reconciled the clergy of the towns to compulsion, but in the 
parishes progress was greatly retarded by the clerical 
distrust and jealousy of School Boards, and the farmers' 
dislike of rates. The idea of a possible system of compul- 
sion in connection with denominational schools had not 
taken shape during the existence of the Liberal Govern- 
ment, or if it had, there was no one with sufficient 
hardihood to give expression to it. 

The School Boards increased in number from 344 in 18*72, 
to 1769 in 1876. The first Boards were formed in the Boroughs 
and were with few exceptions granted on the requisition of 
the locality. Many of the large parishes' also made appli- 
cation for Boards. But the great proportion of the rural 
Boards were formed by order of the Department to supply 
deficiencies of accommodation. In all cases however they 
might have been prevented by local exertion ; ample oppor- 
tunity for which was always given by the Education Office. 
On the subject of School Boards there was a marked difference 
of feeling during the latter years of the League agitation. 
The section of the public which holds itself independent of 
party, had been partially awakened to the truth about educa- 
tional results, and was revolting against the illiberality of the 
clergy, who having proved themselves unable properly to 
educate the people, were unwilling to let any other agency 


into the field. That portion of the press too, which acts as a 
barometer of public feeling amongst certain classes was 
gradually coming round. The Bishop of Manchester warned 
the clergy to prepare for a universal system of School Boards, 
within a quarter of a century, whether they liked it or not. 
Other leaders of the Church party concurred in this view; 
but the rank and file of the country clergy held fast to their 
objections. Lord Francis Hervey called the dissenters 
"unclubbable" people; but in this matter the clergy better 
deserved the description. They would permit no association 
on the part of the community in this sphere of their 
work. Had they not fought for years against the co- 
operation of Church laymen in the management of their 
schools ; and was it likely they would now permit the forma- 
tion of a School Board, upon which by chance, there might 
be an inquisitive or cantankerous Dissenter ? They had one 
tremendous weapon ready to their hands, and they wielded it 
with great energy and effect. It was the no-rate cry. The 
impost was not so very terrible in reality. The average rate 
for 1874-75 did not exceed threepence. But it was capable 
of expansion. Some amusing examples of exaggeration came 
under the notice of the Officers. The Government returns 
gave the rate for each district, stating its amount in pence and 
decimals. In this manner a rate of three halfpence would be 
given as l*5d. This was easily convertible into Is. 5d., and 
in this form was placed before the dismayed agriculturists. 
Even small farmers were made to understand that a School 
Board would cost them from 20 to 50 a year. No wonder 
they threatened to reduce wages if the labourers voted for a 

Upon the formation of the new Ministry it was not 
seriously anticipated that any attempt would be made to 
confer new advantages upon sectarian schools. It was 
whispered that compulsory powers might be given to niagis- 


trates or guardians, or even to voluntary managers, but no 
great attention was paid to suggestions which were generally 
acknowledged to be opposed to the spirit of modern legislation. 
The Church party seemed to be thinking more of repeal of the 
Cowper-Temple clause, which restricted the use of their 
catechism. It seemed possible also that Ministers might 
think themselves justified in extending the operation of the 
25th clause which had been made a test question in the 

The issue between parties was first raised in the new 
Parliament on Mr. Dixon's Bill for compulsion and School 
Boards. Mr. Talbot, the member for West Kent, gave notice 
of an amendment supposed to embody the views of the 
denominationalists, which declared that the House could not 
entertain the universal establishment of School Boards, until 
perfect liberty of religious teaching was secured, and unless 
the Boards were empowered to contribute to the support of 
voluntary Schools. No overt action was taken in this session 
by the leaders of the party to give effect to the amendment, 
but the voting on the main question was of a character which 
made all sections of Conservatives desire that it should be 
taken out of Mr. Dixon's hands, and settled by their own 
Government, on their own lines. 

The beginning of 1875 was emphasised by Mr. Gladstone's 
formal retirement from the leadership of the Liberal party, 
and for several sessions he only appeared in the House on 
special occasions. The disorganisation of the party was 
now more than ever complete. But the incident gave to the 
Executive Committee an opportunity of restating the terms 
on which alone reconstruction was possible. They declared 
their conviction that there could be no union under any leader 
who was pledged to the continuance of a policy which en- 
couraged denominational interests in opposition to national 
education, and which was objected to by the majority of the 


Liberal electors. Similar resolutions were passed by the 
representative Nonconformist bodies, and by important 
Liberal Associations, including that of Bradford. For a time 
the Liberal leadership was put into commission, under the 
immediate direction of Earl Granville and Lord Hartington. 

Mr. Dixon's bill appeared again before Parliament in 
the session of 1875. It had become the more urgent 
because of the admitted failure of the Agricultural Children's 
Act. The Conservatives were more generally recognising 
the necessity of compulsion, and Mr. Salt, the member 
for Stafford, had prepared a bill to give leave to municipal 
and urban authorities in towns where no School Boards 
existed, to exercise the power of Boards for enforcing 

An earnest appeal was made to the country to support 
Mr. Dixon's bill, which, in spite of the foreshadowing gloom 
of foreign, politics and the hopeless discomfiture of Liberals 
in Parliament, was advocated by crowded meetings convened 
by the League. A special enquiry had been made by 
Mr. Allen into the education of the rural districts, 
and Mr. Dixon was able to adduce on behalf of its 
principle a mass of new and striking evidence, which 
appealed in the strongest way to the sympathy and 
intelligence of the House. The result of the divisions in 
this and ths preceding session was that over two hundred 
Liberals, including all the members of the former Govern- 
ment, except Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Lowe, had now 
voted for the bill, and the Officers had the satisfaction of 
feeling that its ultimate fortunes were bound up with those 
of the Liberal party, whatever they might be. The Marquis 
of Hartington, the titular head of the party said, " I think 
there is a disposition on the part of the Liberal party, to 
sink their differences whether great or small, in consideration 
of the great object which all are beginning to recognise 

namely, that there is a paramount necessity that a secular 
system of education may exist and extend throughout the 
country at large." 

Another feature of the year was Lord Sandon's new code. 
This was an educational surprise. The conditions of the 
grant were made more stringent, and greater encouragement 
was offered for better results in the higher standards. There 
was a loud protest from the voluntary managers against 
this process of " stringing up." The question with them was 
the old one, and yet one which is ever new to them 
not what was desirable in the interests of educa- 
tion generally, but what would suit their schools. The 
stringency of the code had to be relaxed in response to their 
piteous appeals, but it still recognised in its amended form 
a principle for which the League had hitherto vainly con- 
tended, the graduation of the scale of grants, dependent on 
results and efficiency. 

In other respects, however, Lord Sandon was very 
gracious where denominational interests were concerned. 
Under Mr. Forster's administration there had been grievous 
complaints of the partiality shown to the Church. On Lord 
Sandon's succession the evil was aggravated. Whitehall was 
crowded by clerical wire-pullers and friars of all colours, and 
the Department was interviewed and memorialized without 
cessation. A clerical minority unable to carry its policy on a 
School Board had nothing to do in order to frustrate the 
majority but to hold a private meeting, and pass resolutions 
and forward them to the Department. The wishes of the repre- 
sentatives of the ratepayers were coolly ignored. Many flagrant 
instances of centralized dictation occurred, and under the 
adminstration of Mr. Disraeli, the country was treated to the 
system of paternal Government, which Mr. Disraeli himself 
had prophesied and denounced in 1839. School Boards were 
not allowed to fix the fees desirable in the interests of schools 


and scholars, for fear they might unduly compete with sectarian 
schools. The Birmingham Board were ordered to double 
their fees. They were strong enough, however, to resist, 
and ultimately established a number of penny schools. 
In the selection of sites, the wants and conveniences 
of localites were made subordinate to the interests of 
denominational schools. In the provision of accommoda- 
tion the opinions of the School Boards were ignored. The 
Department consulted the Inspector, the Inspector consulted 
the Clergyman, and between them they settled the matter. 
Eenewed opportunities were given to the voluntaryists to 
take possession of the ground. Grants were made to new 
Church schools when there was ample accommodation under 
School Boards. The formation of Boards was obstructed on 
every pretext. The Town Council of Winchester applied in 
the usual way for a Board for the city. The clergy got up a 
petition against it, and on an exparte statement, the Depart- 
ment refused a Board to the locality. In another case, " My 
Lords " ordered a School Board to confine the instruction in 
their schools to infants, leaving the elder children to the de- 
nominational schools. The Board flatly refused to obey, and the 
Department was obliged to retire from an untenable position. 
The Manchester Board passed a reasonable resolution refusing 
to pay fees to schools which refused to admit the Inspector of 
the Board. The Department interfered and addressed a 
strong remonstrance to the Board. A most unwarrantable 
interference was attempted in regard to elections. A regula- 
tion was made that in borough elections there should be only 
one polling station for each ward. It had been found by 
experience that it was not possible to poll a thousand electors 
at one station during the seven hours allowed for polling, 
But the electors in the wards of large boroughs ranged from 
five hundred, to five, ten, fifteen, and twenty thousand. The 
average in Birmingham was four thousand voters to each 


ward. If this regulation had been submitted to, it would 
have disfranchised three-fourths of the borough electors. 
The spirit of dictation in these matters was carried to such 
an extreme, that Mr. Dixon was asked to bring the subject 
under the notice of Parliament. 

The question of attendance continued to press with 
irresistible force on public judgment, and it became clear that 
it could not be left long in abeyance. The League Bill in- 
troduced for the third time in 1876, was supported by the 
powerful advocacy of Mr. Bright, which brought a fresh 
accession of Liberal strength. The process of conversion to 
compulsion amongst Conservatives was rapid, and was accele- 
rated by the desire to secure it on their own terms, while they 
had the opportunity. As the Ministry settled into harness 
there were many speculations current as to their intentions. 
Great pressure was put upon them to take some decisive step 
in the interests of Church Schools. On the change of 
Government the National Society had threatened a reactionary 
agitation, the objects of which were fuller liberty of sectarian 
teaching in Board Schools, and fresh subsidies to denomina- 
tional Schools. The modest request was that the Church 
Catechism should be taught in the schools of the ratepayers, 
that payments out of the rates should be made to denomina- 
tional schools, and that powers of compulsion should be vested 
in voluntary managers. These proposals were supported by 
convincing arguments, for those Churchmen, who are first 
Churchmen and then citizens. " For the Church to cease to 
contend for the Education of her own children in her own 
faith, would be a betrayal of a religious trust which must 
eventuate in the loss of temporal privileges." (*) 

Other proposals were to allow ratepayers to allocate their 
rates to particular schools, on the Canadian plan, or to relieve 
subscribers to voluntary schools from the payment of rates. 

1 Monthly Paper of National Society. 


Many alternatives were put before the Government by 
interested advisers, and immediate action was urged from all 
quarters. The pretext that it was not a party question, 
which had answered their purpose admirably at one time, 
was now roughly put aside. " If a Conservative Govern- 
ment will not listen to the voice of Churchmen, what is it fit 
for ?" was not unnaturally asked by the clergy. The Guardian 
wrote, " The opportunity before Lord Sandon is a great one, 
it can hardly recur, and advantage should be taken of it to the 
utmost." There were many other indications that the Church 
party and the Tories finding they could not baffle a state system 
of education were bent upon getting it into their own hands. 
Lord Sandon's bill in its earliest shape raised no great 
expectations in any party. It was not a vigorous measure, cal- 
culated to reconcile educationists, nor did it satisfy those who 
had been clamouring for greater freedom to teach dogma at 
the public cost. So far as its provisions went it promised to 
benefit denominational schools by forcing children into them 
and securing a more regular attendance. It gave leave to 
Town Councils and Boards of Guardians in non-School Board 
districts to make bye-laws for attendance. The power to pay 
fees was transferred from School Boards to Guardians. There 
were also provisions for indirect compulsion, similar to those 
which had been so often tried with such imperfect success. 
No child of a fixed age was to be employed in labour who 
was not furnished with a labour pass that is, a certificate of 
having passed a certain standard, or made a stated number of 
attendances at school. But while children were to be 
prevented from working, there was no security taken that 
they should be instructed. Canon Girdlestone said that in 
rural districts the bill would prove a mere sham and dead 
letter, and the feeling grew that its provisions were illusory, 
and were intended as a sop to the public conscience, to 
appease the agitation. 


The position of the Liberal party did not encourage the 
hope that they would be able to carry any thorough amend- 
ments, but it was necessary to find a rallying ground. The 
Executive Committee therefore restated the principles on 
which they conceived a satisfactory solution could be based. 

In the first place it was declared that no measure could 
be permanently acceptable which did not provide for direct 
compulsion in all cases. 

It was also held desirable that local authorities entrusted 
with the administration of compulsion should have powers 
for the provision and management of schools. 

The strong objections to the payment of school fees by 
Guardians, which was equally unsatisfactory on social and 
religious grounds, were recapitulated. The Committee 
advocated a large extension of the free school principle, as the 
proper means of meeting the case of parents unable to pay fees. 

An extraordinary provision was contained in the bill 
enabling the local authority to delegate their powers to 
Committees, not of their own body. This was strongly 
opposed as a violation of representative principles, the effect 
of which would be to place compulsory powers in the hands 
of irresponsible persons. It was suspected that this was an 
indirect way of vesting such powers in the managers of 
voluntary schools. 

The Committee also criticised the financial clauses 
which lessened the proportion of voluntary subscriptions 
needed for maintenance, and rendered it probable that many 
schools under private management would be conducted 
wholly at the cost of the parents and the public. 

They also protested against the large exemptions from 
attendance, and the low standard of proficiency set up. 

On the second reading Mr. Mundella moved a resolution 
in favour of direct compulsion, and this being lost, Sir Charles 
Dilke moved the rejection of the bill, which was now 


regarded as a measure for increasing the powers and 
privileges of the Establishment. 

At this stage the League lost the parliamentary services 
of Mr. Dixon, who, for domestic reasons, was compelled to 
retire from the post which he had occupied from the 
formation of the League. Mr. Chamberlain, who succeeded 
him in the representation of Birmingham, strongly censured 
the principle of the bill, which he regarded as a long 
concession to denominational interests, and which, had 
the Liberal party been united, would not have been suffered 
to pass the House of Commons. 

Mr. Henry Eichard gave notice that, on going into 
Committee, he should move " That the principle of universal 
compulsion in education cannot be applied without great 
injustice, unless provision be made for placing public 
elementary schools under public management." A large 
meeting of Dissenters was held at the Westminster Palace 
Hotel to back up the motion, and many meetings of Liberals 
throughout the country also supported it ; but, in the state of 
parties, its defeat was a foregone conclusion. 

When the bill got into Committee its progress was 
attended by surprises. The Tories, on the second reading, 
had rejected the principle of direct compulsion when moved 
by a Liberal, yet when the bill emerged from Committee it 
embodied a more vigorous compulsory law than any Liberal 
had ventured to propose to Parliament. It was a bill for 
magisterial compulsion, under which proceedings might be 
initiated by any person. The conversion of the Conservatives 
had been rapid. They had originally opposed compulsion on 
the ostensible ground that it was a violation of the liberty of 
the subject ; but in reality, as had been strongly suspected, 
and was now demonstrated, because they did not believe that 
their own schools could continue to exist under such a law. 
As soon as it was found that the popular desire for education 


was greater than the fear of sectarianism, their opinions 
developed at a wonderful rate. By virtue of the bill before 
the House the country was to be placed under a compulsory 
law without the safeguard of public representation, and 
without the co-operation of the class affected by it ; a law 
which might be set in motion by informers, and enforced by 
magistrates in one class of denominational schools where 
there was but the flimsiest protection for the rights of 
conscience. This law was passed by the party which had 
refused compulsory powers under School Boards in the name 
of liberty, and which had taken for its motto, " the right of 
the parent to choose the school." 

A clause moved by Mr. Pell, enabling School Boards to 
be dissolved on certain conditions, was strongly opposed by 
Mr. Bright, but was carried. ( J ) 

In regard to school grants Lord Sandon avowed that the 
effect of the Bill would be to enable schools to be maintained 
by the childrens' pence, combined with the money received 
from Government.( 2 ) The necessity for local subscriptions was 
thus dispensed with, and with it the last guarantee for the 
influence of public opinion upon the management. 

1 The Tories, backed by the clergy, made a strong fight for this 
clause, and evidently looked to important results from it. But not more 
than two or three Boards have been dissolved under it during six years. 

2 There are no means of ascertaining the number of schools which, 
under these clauses, have been able wholly to dispense with voluntary 
subscriptions. As the general result of the clauses the subscriptions fell 
from 8s. 8|d. per child in average attendance in 1876 to 7s. 3|d. in 1880. 
Dr. Watts estimates that a good school should earn 17s. 6d. per head on the 
average attendance, when the cost of elementary instruction would stand 
thus: Government 17s. 6d., school fees at 3d. per week 11s. 6d., plus 
2s. 6d. for those who do not count in average attendance, 14s., or a total, 
without any voluntary contributions, of 31s. 6d. per head. (Transactions of 
Manchester Statistical Society, 1879, p. 64.) The total expenditure per 
scholar in average attendance in voluntary schools in 1880 was 34s. 7|d. 
The tendency of recent legislation has been to give the Denominationalists a 
stronger hold upon the school system, and at the same time to make their 
schools a heavier charge on the national exchequer. 


A motion of Lord Eobert Montagu, making the pay- 
ment of fees by Guardians compulsory and universal, was 
carried with the assistance of Mr. Forster. 

It may be doubted whether in their fondest dreams, the 
National Society had ever looked for success like this. The 
prospect held out to them by Lord Sandon's Act was this. In 
the rural districts they were given supreme control over the 
school system. They were relieved from the harassing 
necessity of canvassing for funds. The pence of the children 
always an uncertain source of income, were secured by the 
rates. The Government grants in good schools were sufficient 
for the rest. They had no competition to fear now, and 
lastly they had powers for compulsory attendance. The title 
of the Act should have been ".An Act for compelling 
attendance in denominational schools, under private manage- 
ment, supported out of the rates and taxes." In brief, it was 
in the parishes a new Act of Appropriation and a new Act 
of Uniformity. 

A final effort was made by the Liberals to rally their weak- 
ened and disordered forces against the principle of this legis- 
lation. A representative deputation had an interview with the 
Marquis of Hartington at Devonshire House, who consented to 
move the following resolution upon the Keport, " That in the 
opinion of this House principles have been introduced into 
this bill which were neither mentioned nor contemplated on 
the second reading, and which have a tendency to disturb the 
basis on which education now rests, to impede the formation 
of new schools, to introduce discord and confusion, and to 
place the management of schools in the hands of persons 
who neither contribute to their support nor are elected by the 
ratepayers." The resolution was rejected by a strictly party 
majority, but it reserved the right, and marked the determina- 
tion of the Liberal party to re open, when occasion should 


serve, the whole question of education by means of schools 
under private management. 

The effect of this act was to destroy the raison d'etre of 
the League as an Educational Organisation. It put all 
parents under a legal obligation to have their children 
instructed, and subjected them to a penalty in default. It 
threw upon local authorities the duty of seeing that parents 
obeyed the law. It was not obligatory upon the School 
Attendance Committees to make bye laws for attendance, 
but the ancillary clauses declared their duty to see that the 
law was enforced; while a final power was reserved to the 
Education Department to supervise the work of the local 
authorities, and to compel the observance of their duty. 
Much of the strength of the measure was frittered away by the 
saving clauses and exceptions; but, nevertheless, it professed 
to provide for the object which the League was founded to 
secure, " the education of every child in England and Wales;" 
and only on the treble default of the parent, the local 
authority, and the Education Department could it fail in its 

I propose, in conclusion, briefly to state the reasons 
which led the Executive to advise the dissolution of the 
League, and to review the operation of the law since 
that event. 




IT was not without mature deliberation that the Officers 
took the decisive step of advising the dissolution of the 
League. They felt that it was not a course to be taken 
lightly. Whether judged by the following it had secured, or 
the resistance it had provoked, the Organization had occupied 
a conspicuous place in public attention for eight years. Its 
object had been earnestly taken up in the country, and the 
leaders of the movement had received a generous support and 
allegiance through an exacting conflict, in which it became 
necessary to sacrifice party loyalty for the preservation of 
principle. The influence and prestige which it had acquired 
were not denied by its opponents, and the eagerness with 
which the Conservatives seized the first opportunity to 
fasten the education system on their own lines was sufficient 
proof of the apprehension with which they looked upon any 
further development of a national scheme. Their avowed 
object was to take the question out of the hands of the 
League, and this accounted for the seemingly drastic nature 
of the measure which they passed. 

The Executive Committee could not fail to perceive 
that while the functions of the League, as an Educational 
Assocation, were materially affected by the legislation of 
1876, the course of the previous agitation had also altered its 
political relations towards the Whig or official element of the 
Liberal party. If Lord Sandon's act were carried out with 
integrity, and zealously enforced in the country, it promised 
to secure universal schooling. If on the other hand it should 


fail, the entire Liberal party was pledged to carry the work 
forward to a fitting conclusion. The Committee had there- 
fore to consider what had been the result of the movement, 
and what remained to be done which required the continued 
existence of a distinct organization. 

When the League was established the public mind 
was comparatively uninformed, both as to the extent of 
educational destitution, and the principles upon which 
a national system should be based. Notwithstanding the 
efforts of many thoughtful and earnest men who had 
exerted themselves to create an enlightened opinion, 
ignorance, apathy, and indifference in regard to the 
question prevailed through a large portion of the country. 
The previous societies which had been formed to promote 
education, after brief periods of agitation, had either 
yielded to the discouragements and opposition they en- 
countered, or had been silenced by some trifling concession 
from Governments whose convenience or existence were 
endangered by the controversy. There had been a political 
bias upon the question, but no section of politicians having 
control of the legislative machinery, had ever adopted it as 
a distinct feature of a party programme. The Whigs, with 
some honourable exceptions, of whom Lord John Eussell 
was the most distinguished, had distrusted the advance of 
popular intelligence almost as much as the Tories, and the 
Radicals were too weak to prevail against the combined 
forces of inertion. Many Governments had taken up the 
question to quiet a troublesome demand or subdue a sectional 
opposition, and had patched it here and there, but none 
had undertaken the establishment of a general system. The 
subject had been played and coquetted with by sects, and 
interests and cliques, but it had never got down to the people, 
and the men who were really in earnest and were pursuing 
education for its own sake, had not been able to gather the 


impetus which was requisite to carry the movement to a 
successful conclusion. 

Looking back on half a century of procrastination and 
trifling, it may seem paradoxical to hold that the Act of 1870 
was introduced prematurely, yet there are grounds for the 
belief that a stronger and more liberal measure, and one 
which, in an educational sense would have been economy 
of time, could have been passed if legislation had been 
delayed for another year. The time was no doubt opportune 
for a compromise with the Church; but compromise with 
ignorance, inefficiency, and sectarianism, which were the 
characteristics of the existing system, was not desirable. Nor 
was it necessary. The Church party would have accepted 
any settlement which did not make a direct attack on the 
institutions in existence. They had been alarmed by the 
resources which the Nonconformists had shown in 1868, and 
they certainly did not look to the Liberal Government for 
reinforcement and indulgence. Then followed the League 
agitation which created the popular enthusiasm for education. 
These were the circumstances which enabled the Government 
to approach the question with a prospect of success; but 
it was not necessary that they should turn the weapons 
which had been forged by their own supporters against 

The Act of 1870 was thorough in one particular. It 
promised, sooner or later, to place efficient schools within 
reach of the entire population. The process has been 
needlessly slow. Canon Warburton, one of the Inspectors, 
writing in 1880 enumerates twenty-six parishes or hamlets in 
the fragment of a county, which are still " outside our national 
system of elementary education." (*) But the supply of 
schools has kept far ahead of the arrangements for their use. 
In other respects the Act was pretentious and illusory, and 
1 Blue Book, 1880-81, 409. 


was speciously drawn to catch votes, to reconcile conflicting 
interests, and to smother opposition. The Church was 
conciliated by large concessions to a sectional interest, and 
an attempt was made to propitiate the popular party by 
embodying in a perfunctory way the principles of the League. 
The sects were offered the first chance, and the Nation was 
invited to follow and pick up the crumbs. Overlooking all 
the lessons of history, the Government relied on the power 
of sectarian competition as the principal factor in the construc- 
tion of a system which by courtesy was called national. 

The very opposite principle was the foundation of the 
League scheme. Instead of relying on sectarian jealousy and 
rivalry, on denominational patronage and private charity, the 
members of the League appealed to public spirit, to local 
Government, and National resources, and to the co-operation 
of the parents and people. The scholars of the preceding era 
had been mainly those who came under denominational 
influences. It was now proposed to bring a much larger class 
under instruction, and to introduce new and stringent experi- 
ments in execution. The laws of compulsion and of local 
rating were of this character, and it was insisted that they 
could only be successfully worked by recognising Liberal 
methods of administration. These were the extension of local 
government and the direct representation of the class affected 
by the law ; the removal of all taxes on attendance, and 
perfect freedom and security for opinion and conscience. A 
law based on these principles would not have been felt as the 
imposition of harsh conditions by a superior authority, but as 
a Liberal contract between the Government and the people. 
The experience of eleven years has demonstrated that the 
Education Acts have been successful in proportion only as 
these principles were adopted. 

The best justification of the objections taken by the 
League to the Act of 1870 is to be. found in its results. Even 


since it has been supplemented by the peremptory clauses of 
Lord Sandon's Act, and after the school life of more than a 
generation of children has elapsed, the law has failed to embrace 
the school population of the country. In estimating a measure 
of such pretensions and magnitude it must be judged by what 
it has left undone, as well as by what it has done. After five 
years of permissive compulsion there were children to be 
counted by the million, who might and ought to have been 
at school, and who were not there. In 1876 the Committee 
of Council estimated that there were two-and-a-half-millions 
of children above seven years of age who might reasonably 
have been expected to make 250 attendances in the year, 
to do which they would have only been required to attend 
regularly for 25 weeks. The actual numbers who accomplished 
this feat were 1,141,892. At the same period the children of 
school age (between 3 and 13) were estimated at 4,606,544. 
Of these 1,862,244 were not even on the school registers, and 
did not see the inside of a school from year's end to year's 
end. The average attendance, which is the best test of 
success, fell short of the school population by 2,769,364. 
Taking the low^r and inadequate estimate of seven years 
(from 3 to 10) as the proper school life, there were still 
1,387,400 children practically outside the system. ( l ) 

Of the results which have hitherto been obtained, the 
largest are due to concessions made to the League in 1870, 
which strengthened the educational features, and moderated 
in some degree the virus of sectarianism. The most important 
amendment was the power to acquire School Boards by the 
vote of the district. This gave scope for the greatest activity 
in putting the Act into operation, and it was taken advantage 
of by the League to the utmost extent. Out of 2,051 School 
Boards established in ten years, 967 have been formed under 
this provision, bringing a third of the population voluntarily 
1 Blue Book, 1875-76. 


under compulsory bye-laws. This indicates also where the 
Act was weak. It failed in the same manner and for the 
same reasons that the Privy Council system failed. In 
districts where public spirit and intelligence abounded it 
succeeded, but elsewhere neglect and apathy were left to take 
their course. Notwithstanding the improvements which were 
secured, it remained an Act for bolstering up a discredited 
and unproductive system, which has never attained any high 
standard of excellence. If the amendments suggested by the 
League had been adopted years of slow transition might have 
been years of active construction. 

The evil of such partial measures is that they deaden 
public movements, smother the inclination for improvement, 
and become the obstructives they are designed to remove. 
Interests which feign to be harrassed appeal for rest, and 
there is the invariable demand that the " experiment " shall 
have a fair trial. This disposition exists to such an extent, 
that Ministers who pass mere stop-gap measures are generally 
in a position to deride, for a time, all further agitation for 
reform. If the League had been dissolved in 1870, there was 
every likelihood that the question would have slept for 
another generation, with the result, that at the end of that 
time the country would still have found itself without a 
system adequate to national requirements. 

The controversy of the next five years was productive of 
great good in several ways. The whole country was at last 
awakened to the glaring deficiencies and contemptible results 
of the system which had been jointly administered by the 
Education Department and the denominations. On the 
showing of the Inspectors themselves, a vast number of the 
schools which they visited produced results little better than 
those of the dame schools. The conviction grew that 
education needed improvement in quality quite as much as 
in quantity. Both parties in the State were converted to 


compulsion as the first necessity of the situation. But 
beyond this the Liberal party became united upon the 
desirability of placing education under public administration, 
and enforcing attendance through the machinery of School 

The rapid growth of these opinions, and the influence 
which they exercised on Parliament, were manifested in the 
Session of 1876. The new Code introduced by Lord Sandon 
was the first indication that the Conservative Government 
had been penetrated by the imperfection and inadequacy of 
the system they were called upon to administer ; but their 
well-meant attempt to raise the standard of acquirement was 
frustrated, in a large degree, by the resistance of the voluntary 
managers, who came forward again as the champions and 
apologists of weak methods and poor results. The Code, 
however, was, in some respects, an improvement, and 
considered in connection with the Act which Lord Sandon 
subsequently passed, it promised to effect important changes 
in the educational condition of the country. At the end 
of 1876 a law for universal compulsory education had been 
embodied in the statute books. 

The aspect which the question had now assumed placed 
the Officers and Executive Committee in a position of 
considerable responsibility and difficulty. In advising as to 
the future of the organisation they had to take several 
circumstances into consideration. The object for which the 
League was established was now guaranteed by legislation. 
On the other hand, the means by which it was to be secured 
fell so far short in efficiency, simplicity, and liberal qualities 
of those proposed by the League, that serious doubts were 
raised as to the easy and successful working of the law. 
While an amount of school attendance might be obtained 
which would satisfy the statutory requirement, the Officers 
were unable to see how the steady and regular attendance, 


on which efficiency so much depends, could be secured as 
long as the payment of fees was enforced. They also 
doubted whether education could be raised to a proper 
standard under other than public management. It was 
evident, moreover, that in the administration of the new Act 
the principles of religious liberty and equality, for which 
they had contended, would be subject to constant violation. 
But the League was founded as, and had remained 
throughout the struggle, an educational organisation. While 
there was entire unanimity as to the object, much latitude 
had been allowed to the members in the advocacy of 
means. The position, in this respect, was put clearly by 
Mr. Chamberlain at the annual meeting in 1872. He then 
said " Our one object, as stated in our programme, is to 
secure the education of every child in the kingdom, and in 
seeking to solve that problem, our experience, and the 
evidence we receive from other countries, lead us to the 
conclusion that the only possible way is by universal 
and efficient compulsion. That is the great point in our 
scheme. The other things are mere corollaries, and part of 
the necessary machinery for carrying compulsion into effect." 
By virtue of the new legislation an attempt was now to be 
made to carry out the same object by different machinery. To 
a considerable number of members, who cared comparatively 
little for the side issues of the controversy, this was a sufficient 
satisfaction of the motives with which they had joined the 
League. The polemical aspect which the discussions had 
sometimes assumed was owing to the attempt made by a 
Liberal G-overnment to impose reactionary principles upon 
the country ; but the Liberal party was now pledged to a 
review of the whole subject. So far as the legislation of 1870-76 
was an attack upon Liberal principles its amendment passed 
naturally and legitimately to the Liberal party, and to have 
maintained a separate organisation for the purpose would 


have been to preserve an appearance of divisions, where none 
in reality existed. It was felt, besides, that after the 
experience of 1870 and 1873, no strong Liberal Government 
could be again formed in which the principles of the League 
did not find representation. 

The subject was fully discussed at a meeting of the 
Executive Committee held on the llth January, 1877, at 
which it was resolved to recommend to a special meeting of 
the subscribers that arrangements should be made for the 
gradual closing of the organization and the transfer of its 
remaining work to the Liberal associations as part of the 
general policy of the party. 

The final meeting of the League was held on the 28th 
day of March, 1877. 

It may be useful to those who have followed the pre- 
ceding pages to have before them the outcome of the last ten 
years of labour in the field of education. The writer has not 
space at his disposal to enter upon an exhaustive enquiry, 
but it is hoped that the tables in the Appendix will indicate 
with sufficient clearness the general result, and supply 
materials for the most interesting points of comparison. A 
brief explanation of the provisions of the Act passed in 1880, 
under the Vice-Presidency of Mr. Mundella, will complete 
the story of educational legislation down to the present time. 

The public hears too much of the vast progress and 
magnificent results which have followed the legislation of 
1870 and 1876, and too little of the region which remains 
unreclaimed. It is the interest of the partisans of one part 
of our composite system to prevent any further disturbance 
of its main principles, and therefore to make the most of its 
capabilities. The " amiable philosophy of optimism " which 


prevails largely in society comes to their support. Since the 
dissolution of the League only one side of the shield has 
been on exhibition. There can be no object, especially on 
their part who originated the movement, in disparaging the 
substantial gain which has been obtained, but nothing so 
surely threatens the future of education as the public disposi- 
tion to rest satisfied in the conceit of a presumed success. 
Without doubt some remarkable changes were produced by 
the Act of 1870. The mental energy and intelligence infused 
by the establishment of School Boards has acted like a new 
inspiration. If the returns made to the Government were put 
before the public in a shape which admitted of complete analy- 
sis, it would probably be seen that of real educational results, the 
vast proportion, almost the gross quantity of those of a high 
order, have been produced by the action and influence of 
School Boards. Yet the members of the School Boards, 
except those who are elected mainly as a drag on the machine, 
will be the first to acknowledge that their work is still in an 
embryotic state, and that neither in regard to methods of 
instruction or principles of administration, can the education 
controversy be considered as a closed chapter. If this is true 
of the great towns where education is under the constant 
stimulus of public energy and criticism, how much more is it 
true of the country districts, where every breath of independ- 
ent opinion and every shred of local influence are, as far as 
possible, carefully excluded. 

The Eeports of the Committee of Council are a stereo- 
typed admission of very partial success. The Blue Book for 
1873-74 referred to"the large number of children who were not 
attending efficient schools, the small number even of those who 
attended such schools who did so with anything approaching 
to regularity, the large proportion of these last who were not 
presented to the Inspector to give proof of the results of 
their instruction, and the meagre nature of the results attained 


by many of those who were examined." The Eeport for 
1880-81 repeats the same story in almost identically the 
same words, omitting only the sentence which relates to the 
proportion presented for examination. Any one who will 
take the trouble to go into the vast array of figures contained 
in these Blue Books and carefully balance and weigh their 
meaning will come to the same conclusion that non-attend- 
ance, irregular attendance, and meagre results are the most 
striking characteristics of the system. 

Perhaps the best test of the merits of a school system 
is the average daily attendance compared with the population 
of school age. It is not a perfect test, but it is the best 
measure we have of the amount of irregularity and absentee- 
ism combined. Applying it to the Government returns 
it will be found that in 1871 the population of 
school age (between three and thirteen) was 4,606,544, 
and the average attendance was 1,231,434, the percent- 
age being 26*73. To give an idea of the status which 
these figures represent it may be mentioned that at the same 
time a dozen of the American States had in average attend- 
ance from 54 to 40 per cent, of scholars, calculated on a 
school age of sixteen years, or between five and twenty-one. Yet 
there were Englishmen in numbers who denied that our case 
was bad, or that there was urgent necessity for improvement. 
In 1880 the school population had risen to 5,151,781, and the 
average attendance to 2,750,916, the percentage being 53'39. 
That is to say, in ten years the average attendance has been 
doubled. There is much reason to be thankful for this 
measure of progress, but in judging of its value two things 
have to be kept in view first, what was the previous con- 
dition, and secondly, how the advance compares with what 
the nation has a right to expect, and with what is possible 
under a system subject to less friction. What is left undone is 
as important to our judgment of the results as what has been 


done. It is a good thing to congratulate ourselves on the 
1,519,482 more children brought into school, only so long as we 
do not overlook the 2,400,865 who are still outside. Estimat- 
ing on the basis of the present school population the average 
attendance in 1871 amounted to 23*90 per cent. The percent- 
age of gain is 29*49 ; the percentage of non-success is 46*60. 
There is another light in which the figures can be put which 
appeals strongly to people of economic instincts. Our present 
school accommodation is for 4,240,753 scholars, but on the 
average there are 1,489,837 places vacant throughout the 
year. Counting the cost of the schools alone at 8 per 
scholar and without including the expense of other machinery, 
about twelve millions sterling is lying absolutely unproductive. 
And this happens in a country in which one of the principal 
obstructives to the adoption of a national system of educa- 
tion is the question of cost. 

In the United States the school age extends over later and 
longer years ; from 10 to 15,. 6 to 16, or even to 20, which is in 
itself an enormous advantage. In some of the most important 
and populous States of the Union, the average attendance of 
children between 5 and 15 ranges from 56 to 77 per cent. 
in others the proportion of the school population between 6 
and 16 in average attendance varies from 57 to 87 per cent. 
In some States an average attendance of 60 and 85 per cent, 
is obtained on the population between 4 and 20. These 
results it must be observed are produced where there is no 
compulsion or at the most the mere show of compulsion, but 
where the schools are absolutely free, where they belong to 
the people and are administered by the people, where educa- 
tion is not a matter of patronage and charity, but of right. 
The experience of America taken with our own is conclusive 
that free admission as a means of attendance is more pro- 
ductive than compulsion. But the American people are not 
satisfied with the results they have obtained, and are con- 


tinually pressing for better attendance, and for compulsion 
as the complement of the law. 

Is it not a fair deduction that if the means which were 
proposed by the League had been tried, something approach- 
ing to these higher results might have been obtained, the 
school life of hundreds of thousands of children have been 
turned to fair account, and the heavy charges for machinery 
which has remained idle have borne a fruitful interest? 

The exact product of Lord Sandon's Act in the shape of 
additional attendance is not known. The increase in the 
average attendance between 1876 and 1880 was 753,139, 
but the returns do not distinguish between the numbers 
brought in by School Boards and the Attendance Committees. 
But quite enough is known of the Act to justify the judg- 
ment that it has been a dismal failure. The authorities 
to whom its execution was in the main entrusted had not 
been remarkable for large ideas upon education, and they 
justified their reputation by doing just as much as they 
were compelled to do and no more. The Act required 
that each local authority (Town Council or Board of 
Guardians) outside the jurisdiction of a School Board 
should appoint a School Attendance Committee. This 
was very much a formal matter, and was performed with 
an alacrity that raised great hopes at the Education Depart- 
ment. In about one-half the Unions, bye-laws were adopted 
on the requisition of some of the parishes, but only in fifteen 
Unions did the bye-laws extend over all the parishes. But 
this proved to be a matter of comparatively small con- 
sequence, since when the bye-laws were made they were 
very rarely efficiently enforced. In short this seemingly 
stringent Act, which Sir Charles Dilke described as the 
most tyrannic measure that had ever become law in any 
country, was laughed at and disobeyed by parents, 
employers, and local authorities alike. And the Education 


Department stood in the background and saw the law defied 
and neglected with unruffled equanimity. 

Where the Act was operative its effect was unfortunate. 
It set up a low standard of education, and has habituated 
the rural classes to that idea. The labour certificates enabled 
children who passed the second standard in 1877 or 1878, 
or the third standard in 1879 or 80, or the fourth standard 
in any subsequent year to finish their schooling and go to 
work, the certificate being good for all time. When the law 
was obeyed at all, the object was to obtain the lowest quali- 
fication for work. It was an encouragement to get as little 
education as possible as quickly as possible. More than half 
the children above ten are presented in standards suitable for 
a lower age. Forty per cent, of all the scholars leave school 
as soon as they have passed the fourth standard. 

One of the first tasks of the new Liberal Ministry was to 
bring in a bill to compel the adoption of bye-laws throughout 
the country. This was accomplished by the short and 
vigorous Act of 1880. (*) By the end of that year there were 
only a few defaulting authorities, and for these the 
Department at once proceeded to make bye-laws, thus 
bringing the whole population under local compulsion. 

The vigour with which the new Education Ministers are 
conducting the work of their Department, and Mr. Mundella's 
well-known views upon compulsion, afford the hope that 
some improvement in attendance may be secured, but the 
serious failure of Boards of Guardians as education authorities 
must suggest grave doubts as to the propriety of pushing the 
experiment any further. The powers of the Department for 
dealing with defaulting authorities are great, but their 
exercise on a wholesale scale has never been contemplated. 
Yet if every defaulting authority under the Act of 1876 is to 
become subject to these powers, it will require the permanent 
1 43 and 44 Viet., c. 23, 


location of a branch of the Education Department in the 
largest number of parishes. 

The testimony of the Inspectors, which is practically 
unanimous, and which is the stronger because their bias 
would probably be in favour of the machinery created 
by the Act of 1876, affords no hope that education in rural 
districts can be effectually carried out under the present 
arrangements. The law, worked under pressure, may 
produce, for a short time, a fluctuating and spasmodic 
attendance, but it will never secure regularity. Indeed its 
penalties are aimed not against irregularity, but habitual 
neglect. But every one understands that irregular attendance 
is almost as bad as complete non-attendance. 

The general conclusions to be gathered from the fifty or 
sixty reports upon the rural districts contained in the Blue 
Books of 1878, 1879, and 1880, are as follows : 

1. Eegularity has been very little improved since 1870. 
Irregular, convulsive attendance is still the great evil which 
managers, teachers, inspectors, and all who are engaged in 
the work have to struggle against. 

2. Illegal employment is common. It is the rule and 
not the exception. Employers do not ask for certificates. 
The law is often unknown, or, when known, it is disregarded 
by employers, parents, and the local authorities. Members 
of school attendance committees frequently employ children 
who have not complied with the requirements of the Act. 

3. The regulations as to certified efficient schools are 
inoperative. Dame schools and private adventure schools 
exist in large numbers, and are encouraged by the local 
authorities. Where attempts are made to enforce the law, 
these schools often enable parents and employers to baffle it. 
Cottages are opened to receive children, who are badly housed 
and worse taught. 


4. The attendance officers are of the worst description. 
They are ill-paid for this special work, and are generally 
fully employed with other duties. In most cases the 
relieving officer is appointed to the post, and a small 
addition is made to his salary. As a rule his compliance 
with his duty is nominal. If he is energetic at the outset 
he soon discovers that his superiors are not in favour of too 
great a display of vigour, and he takes his cue accordingly. 

5. There is a general disinclination on the part of 
magistrates to convict. Sometimes they are afraid of 
unpopularity, often they are indifferent, they are generally 
disposed to accept frivolous excuses, and they inflict 
fines at which the parents laugh, while the ratepayers 
grumble at having to pay the heavy costs. Their adminis- 
tration of the law has brought it into contempt. 

6. But the chief obstacle lies with the School Attend- 
ance Committees. They make a show of enforcing the Act, 
and having adopted bye-laws and appointed a nominal 
attendance officer, they leave the rest to chance. They are 
always slow to prosecute and very often they employ children 
in contravention of their own bye-laws. Sometimes they 
instruct the attendance officers to do as little as possible. 
They are the largest employers of juvenile labour and their 
duties and interests are in antagonism. They do not meet 
for months at a time, and owing to the wide area over which 
their jurisdiction extends, a great part of the district is 
unknown to the majority of them. 

This picture is relieved by occasional lights, which only 
serve to make the shadows more conspicuous. Taken 
altogether the reports of the Inspectors are one long indict- 
ment against the rural local authorities of apathy, indifference, 
neglect or open violation of duty. 

This is the state of affairs in regard to rural school 
attendance, which Mr. Mundella has to face. If he can 


succeed in improving it, as well as in raising the standard of 
instruction, and placing the administration of the Government 
grant on a sounder basis, his career at the Education Depart- 
ment will be fortunate for the country, and in the highest 
degree honourable to himself. But with the material he has 
to work upon the difficulties before him are obviously great. 

It is manifest indeed that whatever temporary modifica- 
tions and adaptations the system may undergo, the battle of 
National Education will have to be fought over again before 
a durable basis is found. The so-called compromise of 1870 was 
never accepted by the popular party, while the Act of 1876 
was passed in the teeth of the strongest resistance which the 
Liberal opposition could offer, and under the express reserva- 
tion of their right and intention to re-open the question at 
the first fitting opportunity. While the hands of the Govern- 
ment are full and overflowing, there is no disposition to press 
them, but if there was any sincerity in the agitation of 
1870-1876, the present conditions cannot continue to exist 

The struggle of the immediate future will be over the 
" Proposals " of the Education Department for a New Code, the 
objects of which are to raise the standard of instruction, to 
make the principle of payment for results more favourable 
to intelligent methods of teaching, and to eliminate the 
wasteful provisions by which the Government grant is given 
away on the average attendance of scholars in infant schools, 
who are not efficiently taught. The " special merit " grant 
which is a prominent feature of the " proposals " is a great 
step forward. The absence of some such money payment 
for methods as opposed to mere mechanical results was 
strongly animadverted upon by the Rev. E. F. M. MacCarthy 
in a paper published by the League in 1876. (*) In 

1 Analysis of Elementary Education Statistics, by the 
Rev. E. F. M. MacCarthy, 11 



In carrying out these reforms Mr. Mundella will be supported 
against the outcry of the vested interests, and the inefficient 
schools, by all who are earnest in the pursuit of a better 

But more searching alterations are demanded in the 
interests of thorough efficiency. The points on which 
educationists chiefly rest their hopes for the future are ( 1 ) the 
readjustment of cost and the entire remission of school fees, 
and (2) the placing of education under the direct control 
and administration of the representatives of the ratepayers. 

Compulsion, attended by the exaction of school fees, has 
broken down, except in regard to a select class, and in large 
towns such as Birmingham, where the school fees are low. 
The requirement of fees is the parent of irregularity, which in 
its turn is the fruitful source of unsuccessful teaching. With 
short sighted wisdom the Legislature insists on attendance 
on the one hand, and then raises obstructions on the other. 
Expensive machinery is created to enforce attendance, and 
then a direct tax is placed on every week's schooling ; and 
this additional impost was placed on parents in originating an 
experiment which compelled them to make severe sacrifices in 
another direction. The difficulties of the parents have been 
increased. They were obliged to lose the services of their 
children, and their school fees were raised at the same instant. 
The children's pence have risen from 8s. 6d. per child in 
average attendance in 1870, to 10s. 4d. in 1880. And while 
this burden was thrown on the class least able to bear it, the 
tax on comfortable benevolence has declined. The voluntary 
subscriptions have decreased in about the same proportion 
that the school fees have been raised. The parents are directly 
taxed to bolster up a system of proved inefficiency, and one 
for which its advocates are increasingly unwilling to tax 
themselves. There is a meanness about these arrangements 
of which a wealthy country ought to be ashamed. If the 


clergy are excepted, the subscribers to voluntary schools 
generally contribute because the system costs them least. A 
small subscription saves a larger rate, the tax on parents 
is raised, and then the subscribers come before the public 
and pose in an attitude of benevolence. 

But the free school question has assumed a more serious 
aspect than this. The tendency of recent legislation has been 
to bring the school into conjunction with the workhouse, and 
for a large class of parents to make the one a stepping stone 
to the other. This is no longer theory. The Boards of 
Guardians have had to pay school fees for five years. It is a 
duty which the Boards in the large towns dislike, and which 
they have protested against as tending to the degradation and 
pauperization of a large class of the community, but it is a 
duty which they have to perform, and the payments go on 
increasing from year to year. To complete the unnatural 
alliance the rural Guardians have made the relieving officer 
the school attendance officer. 

There is another reason why the incidence of cost will 
have to be reconsidered. The 25th clause was repealed to 
quiet the Dissenters. But it was re-enacted in another form 
and with a wider application. Where hundreds of pounds 
were paid by School Boards for fees in denominational schools 
thousands are now paid by Guardians. The tax upon the 
rates has risen from about 5,000 in 1873 to 16,000 in 
1878, 23,000 in 1879, and 32,000 ( l ) in 1880. The 
amount is not large at present, but it bids fair to become 
large, and to afford the denominational schools a fruitful 
and a certain source of revenue. But it was not the amount 
that the Nonconformists were concerned about; it was 
the principle. The principle of section 25 of Mr. Forster's 

1 Of this amount about 5,500 is paid to Board Schools. It is difficult 
to understand why the School Boards do not remit the fees in their own 
schools, and thus save the necessity, so far as they are concerned, of applica- 
tion to the Guardians. 


Act, and of section 10 of Lord Sandon's Act, are one and the 
same, and even the language of the two sections is almost 
identical. The Nonconformists are no doubt indisposed to 
add to the present embarrassments of the Government, but it 
is idle to suppose that these payments will be permitted 
to go on for ever. 

The necessity for universal School Boards is pushed again 
to the front by the failure of the Guardians as an attendance 
authority, and by the increasing efficiency, intelligence, and 
thoroughness of board-school work. Making all deductions 
for the sectarian squabbles they have witnessed, which were 
owing to the method of their election and the questions 
remitted to them for settlement, Mr. Forster's Act has 
reached its highest point of success in the administration of 
the Boards. They have brought a new energy and capacity 
into the field of education, they are sustained by the inspiriting 
influence of public representation, and they have enlisted a 
class of workers who pursue education for its own sake, 
and who had little sympathy with the narrow aims and 
antiquated methods of the voluntary schools. They have 
borne the heat and burden of the day for the last ten 
years, and have helped to fill the voluntary schools as 
well as their own. They have elevated the status, the 
emoluments, and the prospects of elementary school teachers. 
They have raised the ideal of national education. The 
tables in the Appendix will show how rapidly they have 
overtaken the voluntary schools. Notwithstanding the social 
tendency which has made the voluntary schools the select 
schools, and filled the Board Schools with the refuse 
of the streets and courts, they supply a better 
education, obtained through higher methods and superior 
teachers. But they cost more, it will be said. That is true. 
The time may come, however, when the common sense of 
the Nation will teach it that the cheapest article is not always 


the truest economy. If this is true of anything it is pre- 
eminently true of education. Mr. Cobden's wise words will 
be recalled that " England cannot afford to have a little 
National Education." The motto of the School Boards is 
" Excelsior," and their work alone lightens the dejection 
with which otherwise our attempts after National Education 
would be regarded. 

There is one final consideration which cannot be too 
often insisted on. Bishop Temple, in giving evidence before 
the Newcastle Commission said, " Everything I think which 
would tend to encourage local interest would improve the 
school," (*) and he advocated giving to parents votes in the 
election of managers of the voluntary schools. It is only by 
direct representation that you can enlist the interest of the 
people and secure their co-operation in the work of their own 
instruction and elevation, in the absence of which no system 
of education can be a great or a permanent success. 

1 Newcastle Commission Report, 6, 331. 


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Average attendance on School Population between 5 and 15. 

Massachusetts 77 per cent. Maine 76 per cent. 

New York ... 56 Illinois 61 

Pennsylvania. 66 Michigan ... 66 

On School Population between 6 and 16. 

Connecticut... 66 per cent. Indiana ... 57 per cent. 

Ohio 59 Kansas ... 87 

Iowa . 69 Columbia . 56 

On Population between 4 
New Hampshire ... ... 65 per cent. 

Oregon ... ... ... 60 per cent. 








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APPENDIX 3 .continued. 

In 1875 the Board Schools had the highest percentage of 
complete passes (i.e., in Eeading, Writing, and Arithmetic) in 
Standards II., III., IV., and V., and were second only to 
Eoman Catholic Schools in Standard I., and to British 
Schools in Standard VI. In 1880 they were first in all 
Standards except I., and in this were second only to 
Koman Catholic Schools. In Eeading they were second to 
Eoman Catholic, British, and Wesley an Schools. 














The Board Schools were in 1875 : 

92 below the average in reading. 
2 '6 above the average in writing, 
and 3 '03 above the average in arithmetic. 

And in 1880: 

11 above the average in reading. 

2 '3 9 above the average in writing. 

and 3-39 above the average in arithmetic. 

APPENDIX 3 continued. 



(100 scholars may make 200 passes.) 

In Denominational Schools. 

1875 105-5 

1880 86-29 

In Board Schools. 

1875 112-08 

1880 97-61 

NOTE. The requirements for a pass have been somewhat raided. 

Deductions from grant for higher subjects under Code 
Article 21 c (that is for Schools in which 75 per cent, of 
the passes attainable in the Standard Examination are not 
made) : 

In Denominational Schools. 

1875 11-31 per cent. 

1880 5-52 

In Board Schools. 

1875 971 

1880 2-87 

Denominational Schools. 

1875 Mulcted in 145 per cent of total grant. 
1880 Ditto 0-81 ditto 

Board Schools. 

1875 Mulcted in 0*88 per cent, of total grant. 
1880 Ditto 040 ditto 


APPENDIX 3 continued. 

Denominational Schools. 

1875 20 per cent, more infants taught in separate Depart- 
ments under specially qualified teachers than 
in classes attached to upper Departments. 

1880 37*2 ditto ditto dttto 

Board Schools. 

1875 130 per cent, ditto ditto ditto 

1880 276 per cent, ditto ditto ditto 


Denominational Schools. 
1880 One Adult Assistant to 3*03 Pupil-Teachers. 

Board Schools. 
1880 One Adult Assistant to 1-77 Pupil-Teachers. 



Denominational Schools. 

1875 ... 12s. lOJd. 

1880 ... ,; 15s. 5d. 

Board Schools. 

1875 11s. 5Jd. 

. 1880 ... * 15s. 7Jd. 


1880 Board Schools 1 17 5f 

Voluntary Schools 1 14 2 

APPENDIX 4 continued. 


1880 Total average rate in England ... 51d. 
Ditto ditto in Wales 57d. 


1880 Under School Boards 13,318,492 

Ditto School Attendance Committees 9,393,774 



1880 To Voluntary Schools ... 1,681,684 3 10 
To Board Schools 627,081 3 3 

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