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will yet give my reasons for considering, that his view of these advantages, and not mine of their counterbalancing defects, is liable to the charge of exaggeration.
1. No devotional act is allowed during school hours. When the Angelus bell of the church sounds, the children who used to act upon its invitation must now be mute. Which, to say the least, is a necessity not helping towards edification. In schools taught by nuns it was formerly the practice for the children to note the striking of the clock by some momentary devotional act. This too must be discontinued. 2. No religious hymn is allowed during school time; although singing is now encouraged as a part of education, and in infant schools is a necessary part of it. 3. Bible instruction is interdicted. 4. Indirect as well as direct doctrinal teaching is forbidden. The reviewer throws doubt upon this statement, but I will give my reason for making it. At the recent inspection of my own Poor Schools, her Majesty's Inspector (being, according to the present rule, a Protestant, and in this case a clergyman) lighted upon a book of historical sketches, in which a pious Austrian nobleman is described as baving met a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, and got off his horse to do honour to Our Lord therein present. The Inspector forbade the use of the passage, and impounded the book. 5. And now as to what are called sectarian views of history. The reviewer sees no reason why a book of history, in which the Reformation is condemned, may not be used in a Catholic school, or one in which it is eulogized, in a Protestant school. But he forgets that, since the conscience clause does not prevail* during school hours, Protestant children may conceivably be present during those hours in a Catholic school, or Catholics in a Protestant one ; and I greatly doubt whether the Government inspector would allow the ears of the possible minority to be offended by language adapted to the opinion of the majority. At least, if no interdict on this subject as yet exists, I have reason to believe that it is threatened. A distinguished Protestant Government Inspector, to whom I sent my pamphlet, and who pronounces its argument unanswerable from our point of view, adds, in reference to my remarks on history: “As to history, you have hit on one of our great difficulties; which, I think, will have to be got over by including that subject in the religious department, and so bringing it under the operation of the conscience clause.” 6. It is perfectly true, as the reviewer insists, and no doubt very important, that a certain time is allowed twice in the day for exclusive religious instruction. But then he has forgotten to add, that the times fixed are singularly inconvenient for the purpose ; the one being so early that it is very difficult to muster the children, and the other coming in at the end of their school work, when they are tired and impatient. It must also be borne in mind, that the period allowed in the morning comprehends the time for preparatory devotion; and that confession has occasionally to be included in the hour set apart for religious instruction. Moreover, should my correspondent's anticipation be realized, and other subjects besides those directly religious relegated to the religious hour, a still further deduction will be made from the present allowance for catechetical instruction. At best, however, I cannot consent to regard mere religious instruction as anything like an adequate substitute of religious education ; which I understand to imply the free power of introducing religion as a permeating element in the teaching of children. It is thus only that religion can be made interesting to children, and in this respect it is that we are so painfully crippled. Here I will take occasion to observe, that there is one remark of the reviewer which positively amazes me, and which I cannot but fear may be interpreted in a sense very wide of his intention. He says (p. 120), “ an atheist might imbue a child's mind with reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as the devoutest Catholic.” Will not persons be found to infer that, since these subjects form the staple of popular education, and since the religious department belongs, of course, not to the ordinary teacher, but to the clergy, it is immaterial whether such ordinary teacher be an atheist or a Christian? I well know that this is not what the reviewer means, but I neither like the remark, nor agree with it. Surely reading at all events is not perfectly open ground; to say nothing of the fact, that children sometiinės ask questions of their teacher, and are, moreover, very quick in disceruing his characteristics. To wind up my catalogue of gravamina, I will ask those who are better read in the Act of 1870 than myself, whether it be not one of the provisions of that Act, that whereas the Protestant inspector may enter the Catholic school at any time, the Bishop or priest can enter it only once a year? I ask this question hesitatingly, and do not wish to make more of the prohibition than it deserves. But, if real, it is certainly significant of an animus, and something little short of an insult.
* “Prevails " ?-ED. D. R.
In one respect, I think that the reviewer has been unfair to the Government. He regrets that for the future no building grants will be made to Catholic schools out of the public funds. This is true. But then it must be remembered that numerous and liberal grants have been and are being made, in answer to thousands of applications sent in on or before December 31st, 1870. It is also not so certain that the difficulty of obtaining such grants rests entirely on the side of the Government. Our own Bishops are far from regarding them as desirable; and I know of one instance in which a priest who had made application for a Government building grant, and was on the point of receiving it, was required by his diocesan to withdraw his claim, on the very reasonable ground that it is perilous to risk further Government complications.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, April 26th.
SIR,-As the Editor of the DUBLIN REVIEW has kindly promised to notice my letter to you of a fortnight ago, I feel it right to add to that letter some words of modification, explanation, and enlargement, in order that my reviewer may have the full case before him, and understand precisely the issue between us. I have reason to believe on enquiry that the different conclusions at which he and I have arrived, as to the practical operation of the new Act in our Government-aided schools, are owing in great part to the different interpretations put upon that Act by different Government inspectors. I am recording the results of one experience, and my reviewer probably of another; and thus it is possible that we may at once differ, and yet both of us be in the right. It is true that I have not formed my conclusions simply upon my actual experience of our own inspector's words or actions, and I will go on to state on what other grounds I have formed them. But it is certain that the several Protestant inspectors, with whom the clergy of London have to deal, do differ materially in the interpretation of the Act, or at least in their mode of carrying it into effect; and thus that books or practices which are allowed by some, are discountenanced by others. A good deal seems to depend on the personal opinions of the inspectors themselves. Thus I have heard within the last few days of one of them, who is an ultra-ritualist, having allowed and even commended the use of books in which Catholic doctrine is indirectly taught, and having listened without protest or objection to the recitation of the Angelus at the appointed hour, with other such practices of periodical devotion. I am also informed that the same inspector offered no objection to the singing of our religious hymns. But in our district we have an inspector of different views; who not only objected to the use of books elsewhere allowed, but told me expressly that although the Government is disposed to treat us very leniently, and not to interfere without necessity, yet that such is the pressure employed by the secularist party, that, if we should attempt to take advantage of their good will by straining the Act in our own favour, we must expect to draw down upon us a new code of regulations, in which practices heretofore tolerated would be absolutely forbidden.
Two courses appear to be open to us. The one of them is, to load the hours of secular teaching with as much religion as we can get into them according to the laxest possible interpretation of the Act, and thus to go on till we are stopped. The other is, to regard our compact with the Government as one which obliges us in honour, not certainly to interpret the Act in too stringent a sense, but on the other hand not to strain it beyond its legitimate meaning and the obvious end to which it is directed. For myself the latter of these modes of action seems to be at once the more honest and the more politic; but if the former be sanctioned by our authorities, and practically admitted by the Government, I shall be only too happy to adopt it. But as I read the Act, and as I believe the Government intends me to read it, the case stands thus. There is a time appointed for exclusively religious, and there is another time appointed for strictly secular instruction. The former, as all admit, is inconvenient; but it no doubt gives the opportunity for a certain amount of doctrinal teaching, though in a dry and technical way. From this instruction, all those children whose parents object to it are at liberty to withdraw. But from the secular instruction they are not at liberty to withdraw, if actually in attendance at the school. It seems to me obvious that the Act cannot intend any doctrinal instruction whatever, either direct or indirect, whether as conveyed by history or otherwise, or any specially Catholic practice, to be introduced during the time at which the Conscience Clause
does not operate*; and that, inasmuch as this Conscience Clause is our protection in Protestant schools, as well as our hindrance in our own, we have a certain interest in upholding the principle upon which it is founded. For if by any chance one of our Catholic children were to find its way into a Protestant school, the evil of such a mis-location would be greatly increased, by as lax an interpretation of the Act on the other side as we are tempted to apply to it on ours. I had intended to supplement this letter by some valuable observations on the whole subject, which I have received from an excellent Catholic friend, who cordially sympathizes with the general principles of the Dublin Review. But my letter has run out so unexpectedly, that I cannot further trespass on your kindness, and will venture to ask for a renewal of it in your impression of next week.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, May 15.
SIR,–I can assure my critic in the Dublin Review with the greatest sincerity, that unlike most arguers I desire to find myself in the wrong in the little amicable controversy towards which I trust that the present letter will form my final contribution. My natural love of peace and quietness, the respect I feel for the intentions, and the allowance we must all be disposed to make for the difficulties of those who are chiefly responsible for the new Education Act, and above all my interest as a priest and schoolmanager in the maintenance of our connection with the Government, all incline me to hope that my misgivings as to our educational condition and prospects are groundless or exaggerated ; and dispose me to receive with gratitude and sympathy the suggestions of those who are at once thoroughly agreed with me in principle, and more hopeful than myself on the subject which causes me anxiety. It was therefore with pleasure that I received and read the able report of the excellent secretary of the Poor School Committee, and that I have since heard of the favourable reception which this report has met at the hands of the authorities who preside over the Education Department. I will say also that, had my own experience as to the practical operation of the new Act corresponded with that of some of my reverend brethren, I should ha agreed with my critic in considering that so far, if we had not gained, at all events we had not lost by the changes which the Act has made in the constitution and conduct of our schools. But when I find that, as I stated in my last letter, the construction put upon the Act by various inspectors is materially different, I cannot help coming to the conclusion that the favourable operation of it is a mere accident; and that since it is so vaguely worded as to admit of almost contradictory interpretations, it is not only an occasion of great inconvenience and embarrassment to us at present, but it may become an instrument of serious mischief in the hands of an executive less tolerantly disposed towards us than those who have now the administration of it.
* “ Operates” ?- Ed. D. R.
For instance my critic tells me, if I remember right (for I have not his words before me) that indirect religious teaching is still permitted during the hours of secular instruction; and that, as to history, I may be entirely satisfied that, in a Catholic school, Catholic views might be inculcated through its medium. But I must remind him that in the first place the Act does not recognize any school as specifically Catholic, or otherwise denominational, but employs the general term “public elementary schools ” to describe all institutions designed for primary teaching; and presumes in theory that excepting during the hour of religious instruction, children of any religion may resort to them. Moreover, I have just received practical evidence that indirect religious teaching by means of history is, in the judgment of one inspector at least, forbidden by the Act ; though whether or not his objection will be adopted by the Government, I am not as yet in a position to state.
But if the Act in some of its provisions be ambiguous, it is in others only too plain. For example ; it provides in the seventh section that “it shall not be required as a condition of any child being admitted into or continuing in the school that he shall attend or abstain from attending any Sunday school or any place of religious worship, or that he shall attend any religious observance, or any instruction in religious subjects in the school or elsewhere from which observance or instruction he may be withdrawn by his parent.” Now let us observe the effect of this provision, the salient points of which I have italicized. The description is general, “any child, &c.,” and consequently any Catholic child who should habitually abstain froin Mass or catechism, or whom his parents should choose to withdraw from all Catholic instruction, or send to the Protestant Church, could neither be dismissed from the Catholic school, or punished, or placed under any disadvantage whatever in comparison with the children who might be observant of all their religious duties. He may play outside the church in the face of the people on a Sunday during the time when Mass is being said, or catechetical instruction given, and if bidden to come in, he may defy the priest, even though he be a manager of the school, and take shelter under the Act of Parliament. This, as I know from experience, is no imaginary ease. Nothing but unwillingness to trespass on your space prevents my following up this subject more at length. As it is, I will content myself with leaving the exposition of the difficulties under which the new Act places us in the hands of an able and thoughtful correspondent. I do not say that I make his views without exception, my own, but I think that they are, at all events, sufficiently important to deserve a special treatment from the pen of the Dublin reviewer.
“ The Dublin omits one very serious consideration, i.e. the schools are not under the control of even the managers. You cannot refuse admission, if you have room, to a heretic, and in small places the heretic boys and girls might outnumber the Catholic. You cannot expel a Catholic boy for neglecting his Easter duties, or even Mass on the holy days of precept. All your school may be outside the church, and you are without redress. .... I cannot believe that the children, knowing this, will be none the worse for it. If you admit the Bishop into your school (which is at your