« ForrigeFortsett »
Join, join in our chorus, and spurn all who wring
From the beggar his pittance-here's " God save the King!"
From defiance of law, and from Catholic rent,
On open sedition by demagogues spent,
And from Parliaments held without England's consent;
To all turbulent scoundrels-so “God save the King!”
Brave William, stand forth from your radical rout,
And if they cling fast, wrest them off like a winch,
And fear not, your people will thankfully sing
With true hearts and harmony-" God save the King!"
Printed by Ballantyne and Company, Paul's Work, Edinburgh,
THERE never was a period when the empire of Great Britain was beset by so many dangers; and they are all fearfully aggravated by the consideration that the attention of the public, which should be concentrated upon each singly, is so scattered amongst, or distracted by all collectively and simultaneously, that but little hope can be entertained of the application of the only remedies by which impending calamities might be averted. Our foreign policy implies a deliberate abandonment of the principles which have heretofore guaranteed the honour and maintained the interests of England, and a formal surrender of the advantages which were gained after twenty years of war, and by an unparalleled expenditure of treasure and effusion of blood. At home, our venerable constitution is about to be cut up piecemeal, and put into Medea's kettle by our radical regenerators,—only because it has been regulated by a principle of accommodation which has enabled it to keep pace with the improvement of the age, and ensured, notwithstanding the prodigious increase of democratic power, that wisdom rather than folly should predominate in the national councils. Ireland, which was to have been tranquillized by the Emancipation Bill, is in a state of fearful turbulence and excitement; and our Ministers are so harassed VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCI.
by their projects for the retention of office, that they find it more expedient to soothe and propitiate the demagogues, than to grapple with the refractory spirit which they have evoked, and which will be satisfied with nothing less than the dismemberment of the empire. The Roman Catholics, under the guidance of their prelates, have exhibited a determination to resist the payment of tithes, even to the shedding of blood. This is met by Government with an ostentatious exhibition of peculiar favour to the Roman Catholic Bishop, whose writings have more than any thing else produced this resistance; and with a declaration which amounts simply to this, that the property of the clergy must be invaded! An opposition is raised against scriptural education, on the part of those who have always preferred darkness to light, upon the ground of attempts at proselytism which were never made, and of which, upon enquiry, the parties implicated in the charge are acquitted; and this is made the excuse for bringing forward a project of education, which, if carried into effect, must supersede the functions of an Established Church, and render national education subservient to the purposes of a Popish priesthood! It is to this particular project that we would at present invite the earnest attention of our
readers; and concerning which we feel the more solicitous, because, in our present awful embarrassments, it is not likely to attract a due share of notice, and may pass through Parliament almost "sub silentio," before its import has been duly pondered, or its consequences have been fully understood.
To us the project itself is not so ominous, as the extraordinary conjuncture of circumstances under which it is proposed. If it were to be judged of by its own demerits, it could not stand for a single moment. But it is viewed, unfortunately, in comparison with another system, which has been equally disapproved of by the most bigoted of the superstitious, and by the wisest of the wise; and what Mr Stanley's new scheme wants in real worth, it makes up in contrasted and adventitious plausibility. With but little hope of averting the great calamity which impends, we shall bestow a few pages upon the progress of events, which appear almost inevitably to necessitate the re-establishment of Popery in Ireland.
In a country, the wealth, the activity, and the intelligence of which is Protestant, whilst the great mass of the population is Roman Catholic, that has taken place which might naturally be expected-the Protestant part of the community have, for a considerable time past, extended their benevolent anxiety to their more benighted neighbours, and at great expense, and with considerable labour, have carried into effect various plans by which the condition, both moral and religious, of their Roman Catholic countrymen might be improved. Whether these plans were the best that could be contrived, we will not at present stop to enquire; but it does not require more than the minimum of candour to admit, that they originated in motives the purest and the most single-minded.
Neither can it be doubted that, to a considerable degree, they were successful. The Irish are proverbially lovers of learning; and, left to themselves, would never have suspected the supporters of those schools, in which their children were gratuitously educated, of having established them with any sinister ob
ject. But the state of the country, agitated at that time by the Roman Catholic Association, predisposed a large body to regard the new institutions with not a little of angry jealousy; and certain untoward peculiarities in the institutions themselves, as well as in the conduct of some of their most active friends, rendered it easy for a wily priesthood (who, whatever may be their spiritual darkness, have never yet been accused of a want of this world's wisdom) to misrepresent them, as though, under the pretence of enlightening, they were in reality intended for the purpose of perverting the people.
Upon these it is not our purpose at present to enlarge; but we cannot help observing, that the regulation which made the Bible a schoolbook, and at the same time interdicted any authoritative exposition of its contents, was open to grave objections. We do not require to be told that the individuals compo sing the Kildare Place Institution were actuated by the best motives. We are assured they were. Neither is it necessary to inform us that they studiously avoided every thing which could give offence to the Roman Catholics, and have not furnished any ground for the charge which has been so industriously bruited abroad, that their schools were mere traps for converts. The charge has been investigated by prejudiced adversaries, and proved to be unfounded. The regulation to which we allude was objectionable upon a very different ground, viz. that it made no sufficient provision for the religious education of the children, and upon that ground it was objected to, even from the very commencement, by the most enlightened friends of scriptural religion.
The Bible is the best of all books. It is a revelation of the will of God to man as a moral creature, and a history of the dealings of God with man as a sinful creature, the use or the abuse of which must be attended by blessings the most ineffable, or consequences the most awful. Now, nothing but patient study, aided by divine grace, can enable those who read that blessed book so to read it as that they may well and truly "mark, learn, and inwardly digest
it," and be worthy of ranking with those scribes whom our blessed Lord describes as being instructed in the kingdom of God, and whom he likens "to the householder, who brings forth from his treasures things new and things old." Will any one say that this is likely to be the case with children, for whose edification a chapter of the Bible, chosen at the discretion of the master, is read in the public school-room? No, we will be told; but there is still much by which they might be profited. Granted. But for that much, extracts from the Bible would be sufficient. If the object of the Society be merely moral instruction, that object would be best attained by the compilation of a volume upon which all parties might agree. If their object be religious instruction, unless they are absurd enough to contend for something like abstract Christianity, that is, a system of religion without any corresponding system of doctrine, it would be idle to expect that those who conscientiously differ respecting matters of doctrine, could be brought to act with unity in a projeet which would involve either an opposition to, or a compromise of, their principles.
In therefore offering our most strenuous opposition to the new project, we would not by any means have it understood that the one which it is intended to supersede has had our unqualified approbation. No such thing. We are almost as much opposed to what involves an abuse, as to what stipulates an exclusion, of the Holy Scriptures; and we should be but little satisfied with any system of national instruction which did not provide, for all those for whose education the state might be fairly considered responsible, substantive instruction in the Word of God.
This was not done by the Kildare Place Society, and Mr Stanley was therefore right in condemning it for making no sufficient provision for the religious education of the children; but we scarcely believed our ears, when he almost immediately began to praise it as most liberal-as having by its extreme liberality gone beyond the spirit of the age, to a degree that provoked the indignation of the Orangemen, and the bigots of the Protestant communion! That that
should be most inefficient for any good purpose, which is, in the modern acceptation of the word, deemed most liberal, would not have surprised us; but that Mr Stanley should have, in any instance, recognised such a truth-that he should, in his place in Parliament, condemn a system as inefficient, and, in the same breath, eulogize it as most liberal, argues a more than ordinary degree either of simple candour or sarcastic severity in that right honourable gentleman, which must have come equally by surprise upon both his friends and his enemies.
The truth we believe to be, that neither Orangemen nor Protestants, nor bigots of any denomination of Protestants, ever objected to the Kildare Place Society. Nor were any objections ever started against it on the part of Protestants, but those of which Mr Stanley himself now fully admits the validity. He may not agree with them in the remedy which they would propose; but he has gone quite as far as they could wish him to go in recognising its defects; and farther, much farther, than he should have gone in his endeavours to supply them. Whether the new system which he patronises has in reality supplied them, or whether it is or is not liable to other and more serious imputations, we shall hereafter enquire. It is sufficient to say, at present, that an accusation by which Mr Stanley is himself identified with Orangemen and bigots, must either involve the former in disgrace, or protect the latter from condemnation. It must, to that right honourable gentleman, be sufficiently humiliating to acknowledge that, in condemning the Kildare Street institution, he was only copying the example of bigots whom he despised; and it may, to them, be consolatory to learn, that their opinions upon that subject are at present countenanced by one who is so much respected. This may, perhaps, encourage them to object, with what will no doubt be considered equal “ bigotry," to the system which appears, for the present, to be fashionable, and which, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter, has suddenly started, all perfect, from the ardent brain of the youthful Secretary for Ireland. But of these things it may be truly
said, "by their fruits," and by their fruits alone," shall ye know them." And Mr Stanley may live to see the day when time shall have given proof of the value of his present policy, and when the folly of " bigots" may again, by a lucky accident, be found coincident with the judgment of the more enlightened.
In order duly to estimate the plan at present proposed, it will be necessary to revert briefly to that of the commissioners of 1825, and to the difficulties which rendered it unavailing. The commissioners found the education of the country, such as it was, in the hands of the Protestants, and conducted upon principles not, as they conceived, sufficiently conciliatory towards individuals of the Romish persuasion. Their object was, therefore, to propitiate the prejudices of that class of persons, by such an accommodation to their feelings and principles as might win their assent to a system, under which children of all denominations might assemble for the purpose of receiving a united literary and religious education. In order to accomplish this it was proposed, that the new system was to be under the superintendence of a board of commissioners, who were to exercise a control over the public funds to be allocated for its support, and possess the power of appointing and removing the masters and mistresses of the respective schools. It was also provided that each school in which Protestant and Roman Catholic children assembled together for education, should be provided with a Protestant and Roman Catholic teacher, who were to be authorized to give literary instruction indifferently to all the children, but religious instruction only to those of their respective communions. The commissioners, however, deemed it indispensable to the completion of their system, that a book of common religious instruction should be provided, upon which both Roman Catholics and Protestants might agree; and it was the difficulty which they experienced in the adoption of such a book which caused their design to be abandoned.
The reader will perceive that, in what was already contemplated, the functions of the national Church were
completely superseded. The established clergy, the natural guardians of national education, possessing a common-law right to superintend any system having for its object to train up the rising generation in the way they should go, and especially enjoined, by two positive enactments-the one the 28th of Henry VIII., the other the 7th of William III.-to undertake and perform that important duty, and rendered liable to severe penalties if they should neglect it, are set aside, and their places are supplied by a body of commissioners, over whom they can have no control, and from whom, as far as they find it possible to co-operate with them, they must be content to receive instructions. This could not fail to be very highly gratifying to the Roman Catholic bishops, who saw very clearly the advantage that was gained. In fact, liberality towards a sect which had been previously regarded with a jealous caution, was now carried to such an extreme, as to amount to intolerance towards the Establishment. At first the Roman Catholic clergy seemed satisfied with this detrusion of the Church of Ireland from her proper station, and expressed their readiness to acquiesce in the views of the commissioners respecting that book of common religious instruction which they deemed indispensable to the completion of their scheme; Dr Murray, the titular archbishop of Dublin, declaring that "no objection would be made to an harmony of the Gospels being used in the general education which the children should receive in common, nor to a volume containing extracts from the Psalms, Proverbs, and Book of Ecclesiasticus, nor to a volume containing the history of the Creation— of the Deluge of the Patriarchs— of Joseph-and of the deliverance of the Israelites, extracted from the Old Testament; and that he was persuaded no difficulties in arranging the details of such works would arise on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy."
Difficulties, however, did arise, whether on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy or not, the reader shall judge.
The commissioners of education having, as they conceived, the sanc