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ART. IV. 1. Moral Statistics of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; compiled from Returns received by the Inverness Society for the Education of the Poor in the Highlands. Inverness, 1826.

2. Statement and Representation respecting the Parochial Schoolmasters of Scotland. Dumfries, 1825.

3. Considerations on the System of Parochial Schools in Scotland, and on the Advantage of establishing them in Large Towns. By THOS. CHALMERS, D.D. Glasgow, 1819.

4. Statement of the Experience of Scotland with regard to the Education of the People. Dumfries, 1825.

5. Returns-on Parochial Education in Scotland,-ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. 1826.


NEw things are more curious in the history of FEW rude nation, than the early and persevering efforts of the government of Scotland to promote the Education of the People. So far back as the fifteenth century, when the barbarism of the country might well be supposed to have extinguished all ambition of learning, there were statutes which made it imperative on the higher ranks to instruct their children in classical literature; and it was not long after this, that the first dawnings of the systematic education of the people at large began to appear. It was fortunate, that the attention of our Parliaments, instead of being dissipated in vague speculation or experiment, was directed from the first to the precise object of Parish schools. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, new measures were repeatedly devised for maturing these institutions, and for fixing them in the practice of the country; and as soon as men's minds were emancipated by the Reformation, the Ecclesiastical power co-operated vigorously with the political, in promoting the diffusion of that popular light which was fatal to the ancient faith. The poverty of the country, however, and the disorders of the times, constantly obstructed the views of both, and it was not till the Revolution that the system was established on a firm and general basis. In the year 1696, the memorable act of Parliament was passed, which declared, that there should be "a "school and a schoolmaster appointed in every parish," and provided salaries for the teachers.

This statute completed what had long been struggled for-the general establishment of Parish schools under the positive injunction and protection of Law. No sound opinion can be formed of the possible improvement or future condition of these invalu

able institutions, without being aware of the principles on which they have hitherto operated.


Of the three modes of providing for popular instruction,-that in which the scholars pay everything, and the public nothingthat in which the public pays everything, and the scholars nothing-and that in which the burden is shared by both-the exposition given by Dr Chalmers, in the "Considerations on the "System of Parochial Schools in Scotland," in favour of the last, appears to us to be unanswerable. When people know that they can get their instruction for nothing, they care very little about it, and are so apt to wait till the proper period for education be gone, without seeking it at all, that we perfectly agree with this most accurate observer of the habits of his countrymen, that one consequence of charity schools with us has been a dimi"nution in the quantity of education." On the other hand, when they have to pay for the whole of it, they generally find it too dear; and when part of it is defrayed by private bounty, the continuance of this assistance is always precarious, and is often felt as a degradation. All these effects were avoided in the original plan of the Scotch schools; where the expense was not altogether taken from those who were taught, but was only diminished by the salaries of the masters being paid out of a legal assessment upon the land,-where the existence of the school was not left to chance, but was permanently fixed upon the parish by law;-and where, instead of depending upon the casual or offensive generosity of individuals, its patronage proceeded from the state, and was thus connected with the other ecclesiastical and literary institutions of the country.

"There is more," says Dr Chalmers, "than may appear at "first sight, in the very circumstance of a marked and separate "edifice standing visibly out to the eye of the people, with its "familiar and oft-repeated designation. There is also much in "the constant residence of the teacher, moving through the "people of his locality, and of recognised office and distinction "amongst them;-and there is perhaps most of all in the tie "which binds the locality itself to the parochial seminary, that "has long stood as the place of repair for the successive young "belonging to the parish;-for it is thus that one family bor"rows its practice from another; and the example spreads "from house to house, till it embrace the whole of the assigned "neighbourhood; and the act of sending their children to the "school, passes at length into one of the tacit but well under"stood proprieties of the vicinage; and new families just fall, if by infection, into the habit of the old ones-so as, in "fact, to give a kind of firm mechanical certainty to the opera



❝tion of habit, from which it were violence and singularity to "depart."

The "Statement of the Experience of Scotland, with regard to "the Education of the People," contains a view of the past effect of this system. We understand that the author is a most respectable clergyman; and we must refer to his pamphlet for a detailed exposition of the very important matter which he unfolds. It is full of intelligence and sound views, and is everywhere marked by the right feeling of his subject. We shall only observe, that this country was very happily placed for exemplifying the influence of popular education, and that the success of the experiment has been as complete as the limited scale on which it has been tried admitted of. There probably never was a nation where a taste for education was less to have been expected than in Scotland at the time of the Revolution. Utter poverty, long persecution, and every species of internal disorder, seemed to make the country the natural abode of general and continued ignorance. Its disturbances, however, were no sooner settled, than the seed, which had been scattered abroad, began to spring, even on that stony soil. A process was set at work in every parish, which prepared all ranks for the coming harvest. There being few other objects of literary ambition at home, successive races of persons, distinguished by virtue and learning, were attracted to the profession of teaching, not so much by its emoluments, as by the honour in which it was held. Under the intellectual and moral tuition of those excellent men, the district in which each of them laboured was gradually reclaimed. Amidst the various outlets which opened to a poor but enterprising people, it was soon made evident that education was its own reward; and the success of every individual, who either raised up a name for himself in his own country, or returned to it enriched with foreign wealth or honour, increased that appetite of knowledge, which was not merely indulged in as a luxury, but valued as one of the most certain and cheapest means of worldly advancement. As the public establishment had never been complete, private schools arose to supply its deficiencies; but the excellence of the parochial seminaries-secured chiefly by the respectability of the men who found it their interest to devote themselves to their duties-enabled them in general to triumph over all competition. The example of a right school was thus kept up in every parish; and, each rival copying that visible model, the whole system of education throughout the country was maintained steadily and quietly. The result realised almost all that the reasonable philanthropist could wish. More good, we are verily persuaded,

can never flow from the education of the people than what flowed from it in Scotland during the 18th century. The great advances of the kingdom in its mercantile and political condition would no doubt have secured the increased happiness of the inhabitants to a certain extent. But nothing except the general prevalence of early education, could have given this happiness the peculiar and gratifying character which has long distinguished it. We might have had agriculture with rustic stupidity-manufactures with turbulence-and animal comfort without intellectual elevation. But we have enjoyed what is good in progressive wealth and prosperity, with as little alloy of what is bad, as generally falls to the lot of men. Our peasants have been intelligent-our artisans orderly; there has been diffused over the whole lower and middle regions of the community a remarkably steady air of piety, thoughtfulness, and virtuous pride; and the mere talent and industry of the people have given them an importance in the world, which they could neither have acquired from their wealth nor numbers, nor from any of the ordinary sources of national influence. For all this, we are mainly indebted to those schools; which have owed their success to their being erected upon a permanent and conspicuous foundation, and to that particular constitution which made the teaching of them worth the notice of persons of ability. The best and greatest men whom Scotland produced during the last century, received their education at parish schools; and nothing, for a long time, was associated with stronger feelings of gratitude and reverence in the minds of the people, than those village academies, from which so much of their own happiness, and of the worth and genius of the nation, proceeded.

From the year 1696, down to 1803, being a period of 107 years, nothing farther was done by law to improve the condition of these institutions; and, therefore, it is needless to add, that they greatly declined. In 1803, however, Parliament again interfered; and, after some opposition on the part of a few of those on whom the maintenance of the teachers has always been chiefly laid, a pittance was added to their salary, and some new regulations were introduced for the government of schools and schoolmasters. Things have continued in this condition ever since. So that, while the provisions of all other public officers have been advanced, to enable them to keep pace with the general progress of society, our parochial teachers, and their establishments, have only felt the bounty of the legislature once, and that to a very small extent, in the long period of one hundred and thirty years.

In this situation, especially as the demand for education is now rising so rapidly that, unless it be met by an adequate sup

ply, there is considerable risk of its falling altogether out of the hands of the established teachers,-some new measure has become unavoidable;-and, accordingly, about a year ago, the Lord Advocate, with great propriety, began to stir the matter in Parliament. This has excited the utmost anxiety, not only. among the school-masters, but among all the friends of the institutions over which they preside; who see that if this opportunity be lost, another may not speedily occur, and that the time, at all events, is come, in which the system ought to be revised in a spirit becoming the age. For the sake of information, Mr Kennedy moved for some Returns; and the result is the very large volume, showing the state of the Establishments for Parochial Education in Scotland. Certain questions, intended to bring out the exact condition of that education, were transmitted to every parish; and the answers to these, form this volume. If the answers had been more precise, and better methodized, so that the results might have been exhibited in tables, it would have formed an invaluable record of curious facts. As they stand, however, these Returns,-which are not digested, and where the answers are sometimes obscure from misapprehension, and often from necessity,-are nearly useless as to general conclusions, except to those who, like us, have minutely examined the details. It is only by this painful analysis, and by correcting defects by other documents, that anything like just results can be obtained.

These other documents consist chiefly of a " Digest of the Pa"rochial Returns made to the Select Committee, appointed to "enquire into the Education of the Poor," in the year 1818; and of a mass of very valuable returns which have been since obtained by the committee appointed by the General Assembly "for en"creasing the means of education and religious instruction in "Scotland." This committee has obtained answers to various queries, we believe, from almost every parish in the kingdom, and the originals are preserved in four large volumes. When these sources of information are examined, it is impossible to resist the conclusion, that our ancient system of popular instruction is in an alarming condition, and that, if we really wish to make our parish schools continue to accomplish the purposes for which they were originally designed, we must cease to slumber over them with the half patriarchal half poetical dream, which is apt to come over us when we think of those rural seminaries, -and must do something effectual to revive them.

There is abundance of historical evidence to show that it was never understood, even anciently, that a single school was sufficient for each parish. But no more could be got. One, how

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