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necessarily to be selected out of the less opulent orders of the community.
The first object appears to have been, to supply the means of instruction to certain individuals, who could not afford the cost of masters and other expenses; a second was, to permit the resort of others, who, at one period of our literary history, could not readily gain access to competent tuition, whatever ability of payment they might possess. From time to time, when these two objects have proved repugnant, the latter has yielded in seminaries in which regard has been had to the most important purpose of their institution. Some arrangement of this sort took place at Christ's Hospital prior to the year 1724, as mentioned in Strype's edition of Stowe, when“ foreigners” to the establishment were excluded; probably they were found to interfere injuriously with the attentions due from the masters to the free boys. That the contrary general practice is unjustifiable, which has so much excluded the poorer candidates, will scarcely be doubted, after a short discussion of its causes and operation. How to restore or enforce the wisest system cannot be difficult; whether it can be quickly accomplished, may be of more slow decision. The opinion of many respectable individuals, that the present state of the matter is precisely right; the arguments of all the interested to the same effect, and the known risks in some changes, may, however, be fairly called its only support.
There are many instances, however, of absolute decay; and many schools where the advantages imparted to any description of scholars, are utterly inadequate to the just expectations of founders; so that an extensive inquiry into the occasions of the disappointment might be made without noticing respectable seminaries. But the same vices in different degrees appear to affect almost all; and an entire view of the means of eleemosynary education in the country would be useful. In some schools they will be found predominant, in whatever light examined. The instances of decay are too numerous to be fairly attributed to unavoidable weaknesses in men. The best account to be given, even of such as florish in a resort of the richer part of the community, is that their foundations have been the occasion of clever men devoting themselves to the tuition of youth; that they have constituted a capital, without which such persons must have occupied themselves in other pursuits. This inducement may certainly have been effectual; and if all so circumstanced had in any considerable degree prospered, the tendency of that provision would have been undeniable. This, however, has not been the fact; and
many private schools which we are accustomed to think of with too little respect, show by their celebrity that a demand for instruction exists, which the deserted state of Free Grammar schools, left to the full play of a system so much vaunted, equally shows they have not capacity to meet.
A late publication by Mr. Carlisle, is an authority on this subject, of which they only can estimate the value who, before its appearance, were necessitated to search for similar information; and the commissioners under the late act will find it a convenient index to the most unpleasant scenes of their inquiry. With its assistance I have been able to ascertain the total number of scholars in 120 of the 500 schools above mentioned. The amount is 10428; and they pursue every variety of study now in use in England. But the materials Í could procure are not sufficiently accurate to show the entire state of a greater number.
Whoever has been accustomed in the courts of law and in conversation to hear the term “ Grammar School,” considered as characteristic of a peculiar exclusive establishment devoted to the dead languages, and venerable in supposed errors from its known antiquity and partial use, will be surprised to learn that in 56 of the 120 the minor branches of English learning alone are taught to 4236; and that in 80 at least of the 500, it is now, and beyond the time of memory has been, optional with the parents, whether the courses of study shall be classical or not; whilst nothing appears to show that such is not the specific intention in a greater number: so little does the real nature of things sometimes constitute the ground of our opinions. So far from a classical course being universally indispensable, in some instruction is gratuitous in English only, the founders having adapted their benefactions to the more pressing wants of the people, and the higher branches having been subsequently ingrafted upon their stock. The numerous ordinances still preserved vary in many particulars; and a better general description cannot perhaps be made, than that they are establishments for an education of such persons, as may otherwise be incapable of acquiring instruction, extending to the highest branches of learning, and meant to be pursued upon the wisest plans, and which sometimes admit stipendiary pupils;' and instances may not be wanting in which such views are fully acted upon.
The meaning affixed by Dr. Johnson to the term “ Grammar School,” has considerably influenced public opinion on this subject; and, strange as it may appear, a curt of justice has relied upon this authority: see 2 Vesey, Attorney General v. Whiteley. Yet, without detracting from the just re
The funds of ten schools in which the studies depend upon the wishes of parents, and in which there are 191 Latin boys, and 950 in the lower elements, amount to 27411. per annum; 1002 of these boys are also on the foundation, or those primarily interested in the respective seminaries. In one of them, St. Olave's in Southwark, the very model of an eleemosynary Grammar school seems to be presented to us : 260 boys are educated there, of whom 60 are more or less advanced under the three Latin masters, some few going off occasionally with handsome exhibitions to the Universities, and a moderate endowment furnishes the entire expense, without so much cost to parents as the supply of books. Such a Latin school only, is not to be found in ten other instances in the whole kingdom, upon funds equal to what here maintains the double establishment; and the 200 in the lower forms are, as to some of them, a perpetual supply of promising students for the upper school, whilst the others “ more fitted for trades,” acquire in those lower forms alone the information necessary for their expected modes of life; and the chief master of the Latin school is head of all.' This system, too, produces that union of domestic and
putation of a great name, we may be permitted to question his accuracy, if he meant that the learned languages alone were to be taught in these schools. Of imperfections he has feelingly confessed himself conscious, and this may be one of his examples of human infirmity. If he merely adduced one principal feature of his subject, it is an unfortunate error to consider him as having exhausted its characteristics. It is not a little remarkable, that the passage which Dr. Johnson cites from Shakspeare, should contain an allusion to the new method of teaching arithmetic with figures instead of counters: and yet that definition, so exemplified, has been taken for the ground of a judicial decision, declaratory of the exclusion of all mathematical science from the Grammar school. It may be further asked, for what purpose Buckley's Treatise, intitled “ Arithmetica Memorativa," &c. was written? Mr. Leslie says, that " it appears at one period to have gained possession of the schools and colleges of England." The Philosophy of Arithmetic, Edinburgh, 1817. That, however, which should have been considered their chief ornament only, has for many years passed for their
In 1815, the writer of this letter begun to assist in restoring an ancient grammar school in the south of England. He thought he could discover, in such of the documents as he gained access to, that an exclusive devotion to the classics was not intended by the founder. It had been many years in decay, as the whole neighborhood thought; and their sons were from time to time to be found in almost every simular school of reputation within forty miles. Part of the defensive evidence, however, states it to have been during the same period creditably Horishung; but the sole acting trustee accounted for the decay (which he admitted,) by calling it à Latin school, and it has been material in the suit tu ascertain its true character. Many sin establishments were examined in the years 1815 and 1816, and frequent proofs were met with ,showing that the exclusion pretended was not universally directed
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public discipline, which seems to ensure all the advantages and none of the evils of each separately.
In seven other schools, in which instruction in the classics is compulsory on all who resort to them, and is particularly insisted upon as the necessary occupation of the free boys, the total numbers are 861; the annual funds are 14,9261,; and upwards of 700 of the 861 pay the usual sums as boarding pupils, which in some instances amount to more than 2001. per annum; a sum never reached by the most extravagant nurture at home of the children of the former class. The first class were founded and increased respectively in the years 1495, 1584 and 1716; 1632, 1570 and 1675; 1558, 1500 and 1696; 1571, 1636, 1546 and 1550. The second in the years 1509 and 1708; 1590, 1560, 1528 and 1571; 1567 and 1556; the periods of time being almost identical. The documents of foundation are very similar in all I have had access to, and the difference in the effects seems hardly attributable to them. Now, if the principles which at present unhappily govern the latter were enforced throughout, it is clear that the 1002 free boys of the former class would be reduced to 200. But if the latter were conducted according to the rules of the former, as it appears to me they should be, upwards of 4000 fresh boys would at once be freely taught in them, of whom more would be classical students than the present ruinous expense to parents alone supports. Besides which great advantage, every boy now taught there for absolute payments, would be educated elsewhere, if removed. The demand for classical instruction on their parts would continue; and the abundance of teachers which England is at this day capable of producing could not be exhausted.
These instances of indirect decay have been favorably selected from florishing seminaries, and they probably owe their actual celebrity to the ability of their several masters. That more are not produced, arises from the difficulty of gaining information on all the requisite points. Where the state of the funds can be accurately learned, the original document will perhaps be deficient; and where the expense of tuition is
by original papers; but it was not until the writer became acquainted with St. Olave's, in Southwark, that he could rely upon his own opinion. The total absence of examples differing from the common practice, seemed so remarkable, that whatever might be thought of its wisdom, at least it appeared attributable to some ancient authorities. In St. Olave's he found a system clearly sprung from an original source, and at the same time, one under which he has been tempted to think that the greatest good is produced at the least possible expense.
ascertained, the modes of instruction are not disclosed. The defect is the less important, since an universal collection is not necessary for the elucidation of principles. The cases in which full justice seems to be done to the wisdom and intention of founders, have been sought with great care; and the few above-mentioned are all yet found to exist in which the total number of scholars could be learned.
Without further inquiry, the just practical inference seems irresistibly to be, that the well regulated should not be suffered to vary from their course; and the most florishing of those which now so clearly exclude their fittest objects, should be newly but cautiously directed, and this a slight change will frequently effect. With regard to the remainder, ranging through all the various degrees of decline, and in some instances the scenes of absolute inutility and the most barefaced plunder, it cannot be doubted that the right course should be commenced under the immediate operation of a declaratory law. They who have the power of ultimate decision will attempt what is probably practicable: they will weigh the full influence both of sinister interests and well intentioned prepossessions against the cause, and be content to secure some clear improvement, tending to a more perfect model than at present prevails. It will at the same time be just that private men should judge of public measures by the same rules. If my views can be supported with the slightest success, the present condition of these endowments must excite infinite astonishment. But abuse has assuredly been a very natural consequence of several circumstances attending them. Ample means of concealing information on the rules for the disposal of property, were till lately in the power of the holders of it. Trustees were thus greatly tempted. The masters have rarely been paid in the double proportion of the depreciation of the value of money, and of the increase of that of the funds: they have consequently been interested to encourage stipendiary pupils at the expense of the foundation boys. This lucrative co pensation would make them averse to enforce their own rights; and the trustees would not be anxious to put down practices which precluded demands upon the estates they were devouring. The masters too could only derive protection from a ruinous contest at law, with the individuals in the midst of whom probably it would be their lot to spend their whole lives; and the enjoyment of the most complete success could not be calculated upon for many years. With still greater force does this cause of decay operate in regard to the objects of charities. The share of particular poor parents is infinitely below the