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option) you must give notice first to all who would like to absent themselves; then the Bishop, when he comes, is your delegate and servant, for be is there by virtue of leave given by you. Then you cannot admit him more than twice in the year. The schools are not under the Bishop at all, for he cannot visit then when he pleases. ... On the whole, and in theory, we have given up the children to the State, and are acting, not as the Church, but as the servants of the civil power. . ... The indifferentism that must come out of the new scheme will be very visible in the course of ten years, and in twenty the mischief may be irreparable. If we could have the Pope's sanction we should be safe, even in the furnace; but without it I am afraid, and the more so because of the Fribourg Brief, which distinctly says that schools out of which the authority of the Church has been thrust cannot be frequented. The Dublin puts the Brief on one side by calling it an ideal, whereas it is distinctly practical, and was issued to meet a real fact. There is no more of the ideal about it than about a sentence in a court of law.” The compensation which the Act gives us for all which it takes from us is the gracious permission to use schools built at the expense of Catholics, and maintained principally by their contributions, for the instruction of the school children, at a stated and very inconvenient time, in the rudiments of their religion. But it neither obliges the teachers to give the instruction nor the children to attend it, nor places either of the parties under any disadvantage for their neglect of duty.
I will now briefly call to mind in conclusion the circumstances out of which this little amicable controversy arose. The operation of the new Act in Government-aided schools upon which, contrary to my desire, the question between the reviewer and myself has turned, was but one of several illustrations, which I gave in my pamphlet of what I there called the undenominational system of education, and by far the least conspicuous of those illustrations. The object of my pamphlet was to show, not specially that this particular illustration of the system, but that the system itself, is shallow and unphilosophical. I waived the question of its religious bearings because I was concerned merely with an arguinent ad hominem. I have been led by the force of circumstances to speak exclusively of that which is decidedly the most harmless of the examples of the sort of education with which this nation is to be flooded. I cannot help thinking, though I am of course a partial judge, that enough has been elicited in the progress of the discussion to prove that the new theory of national education is superficial and something worse.—With sincere thanks for your kind insertion of my letters,
I am, Sir, your obedient servant, May 25.
FREDERICK OAKELEY. P.S.—The above extract from my correspondent's letter will explain and rectify an impression which I hesitatingly conveyed in my first letter as to the restriction which I had supposed to be placed by the Act upon the visits of the priest or Bishop. My correspondent describes more correctly than I did the nature and extent of this restriction.
We have profound respect and regard for Canon Oakeley ; as has every one who enjoys the pleasure of his acquaintance. Further, we cannot but feel most grateful to him, both for the admirable exposition of (what we hold to be) the one true educational doctrine, which he has given in his pamphlet, and also for some excellent remarks in the same strain interspersed through these letters. Nevertheless we must begin on this occasion with a friendly remonstrance. The question he has raised is indeed of urgent practical importance; it is one on which the unanimity of good Catholics is an object especially to be desired; and one, nevertheless, on which the most loyal and zealous sons of the Church differ from each other (it may almost be said) fundamentally. We heartily feel with him therefore, that excellent service will be done by the most careful and frank criticism of conflicting arguments. But then in order that such service may be done, it is necessary that whoever engages in the discussion shall take pains to apprehend rightly, first, the precise position of his opponents, and secondly, the precise drift and bearing of his own words. We cannot but think that in both these respects Canon Oakeley has been somewhat deficient.
We will begin with the second of our two complaints. We think that, in one or two particulars, he has not sufficiently apprehended the drift and bearing of his own words.
The strongest instance of this appears in his third letter. His anonymous correspondent does not hesitate to declare, that, in the Holy Father's judgment, those English Catholic schools which are now receiving Government help, “cannot be frequented."* Yet it is simply undeniable, that all the Catholic bishops in England, without exception, earnestly exhort the faithful to send their children to Catholic schools, and that the large majority of these schools receive Government help. Canon Oakeley then publishes the opinion of an anonymous friend, that all the English Catholic bishops earnestly exhort the faithful to do that which, in the Holy Father's judgment, may not be done. Canon Oakeley does not even give the weight of his own name, as a guarantee for this allegation ; but, on the contrary, adds, “I do not say that I make his views without exception my own.” And he leaves this anonymous statement to produce what effect it may-however injurious to the reputation and due influence of Catholic bishops — on those
* “The Fribourg Brief,” he declares, " distinctly says that schools out of which the authority of the Church has been excluded cannot be frequented." And the very purpose of his argument is to show, that the English Catholic schools which now receive Government help are incontestably in this category.
readers of the “ Tablet,” who may be unguarded enough to credit it. We well know that Canon Oakeley will be quite as much shocked as we could be, at the notion of so acting; and yet (as it seems to us) he has so acted. This is the very thing which we so much regret; that he has taken no sufficient pains to understand the drift and bearing of his own words.
We will not conclude our article without carefully considering this Fribourg Brief, and showing how completely Canon Oakeley's friend has misunderstood it. For the present however, we pass to a second instance of that carelessness on Canon Oakeley's part, which we deprecate. In our April article we incidentally made a remark, which is next door to a truism; viz. that "An atheist might imbue Catholic children with their 'three Rs' as effectively as the devoutest Catholic" could do (p. 420). Canon Oakeley has really no more doubt of this proposition, than we have. However grievous he might account the calamity that Catholic children should be instructed by an atheist,—and he could not possibly account it more grievous than we do,-he would never dream of alleging, that such children might not be most effectively imbued with their “three Rs.” Such children, he justly thinks, would receive an injury incalculably graver than this; but they need not receive this particular injury. Yet, in his first letter, he says that our proposition "positively amazes” him.* He must understand us then as meaning, -so our readers will at once say,that it is immaterial, whether a Catholic or an atheist imparts secular instruction in a Catholic school. But he does not understand us so; for he says in so many words, “I well know that this is not what the Reviewer means,' What then is it which he understands us to mean, against which his arguments are relevant? He does not give the faintest hint, and we cannot form the faintest conjecture.
Perhaps, however, what he intended to say was, that our article, taken by itself, would imply a certain opinion, which, on other grounds, he was confident we did not hold: that opinion being, that secular instruction could be as beneficially imparted to Catholic children by an atheist, as by the devoutest Catholic. If he really meant this, he does but illustrate our other criticism of his letters; viz. that he has not taken sufficient pains to apprehend our various statements.
We reply then firstly, that the very clause he quotes, taken by itself, cannot be fairly understood in the sense he gives it. To teach a child his “ three Rs ” "effectively," does not
* He does not even take the trouble to quote our words correctly. For the word "effectively” he substitutes the more ambiguous word "well.”
mean to teach them “in such a manner as shall conduce to piety and Catholic docility”; but to teach them “so that they shall be really learned and acquired.” This is the one legitimate sense of the adverb in such a connection; and it is the sense in which we employed it.
But if our article is looked at as a whole, Canon Oakeley's allegation,-if it really be bis allegation,-is far more surprising. In p. 413 we had said :—“We quite agree with Canon Oakeley, that Catholic children will suffer grievous spiritual evil by learning even the three Rs' from nonCatholic teachers, and among non-Catholic companions." In p. 422 we gave an opinion, that “the question of securing thoroughly accomplished Catholic teachers, assumes under existing circumstances quite exceptional importance.” In the paragraph immediately preceding that from which Canon Oakeley quotes, we call it “the most important part of all,”
discipline be enforced from first to last on Catholic motives” (p. 420). Could he understand us as contemplating two different officials in each school, one to teach, and the other to enforce discipline? Or, on the other hand, could he suppose us to think, that an atheist will enforce discipline on Catholic motives?
But now take the paragraph itself, from which Canon Oakeley isolated one single half-sentence :
Then consider further. The main—the almost exclusive-staple of primary secular instruction must ever be those matters which we have mentioned ; reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and the like. Now the character of these studies should be observed. Of course the act of study, like all other human acts, may and ought to be animated by religious motives; but religion is simply irrelevant to the study itself. There is no strictly religious method, we say, of imbuing a child's mind with his “three Rs”; and an atheist might imbue Catholic children therewith, as effectively as the devoutest Catholic. Doubtless it would be somewhat more conducive to their spiritual well-being, if the two-hour study were occasionally interrupted by some religious act: nevertheless at best this would be simply an interruption (p. 420).
If Canon Oakeley will but patiently read through this not very long paragraph, he will find it impossible to mistake our meaning We drew a distinction between such studies as reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, on the one hand,—and such as history, e.g., on the other. It would be intolerable tyranny, if Catholic teachers were commanded to teach history, without reference to the characteristic doctrines of their religion; because, in the judgment of all Catholics, the matter so imparted would be a perversion of facts, and not history at
all. But there is no corresponding hardship in reference to the “three Rs"; because, as we expressed it, “religion is simply irrelevant to the study."
As we have been led to say so much on this particular question,--the question of Catholic children receiving secular instruction from non-Catholic teachers,-it will be more convenient to proceed at once with our few remaining remarks on this particular theme. It seems to us then, that several excellent Catholics are by no means sufficiently alive to the disastrous results of such an arrangement. Children in general are very far from being the voluntary or even passive recipients of instruction : on the contrary, in order that they may give requisite attention, it is necessary to ply them with motives of every kind; to visit them with exhortations, threats, promises, punishments, rewards. In our view, there is no one more important part of religious education, than the administering such addresses on sound Catholic principles; while, on the other hand, nothing more injures their Christian growth, than irreligious and capricious discipline. So long as they are under the direction of a well-principled and well-educated Catholic teacher, that blessing is secured to them, which Canon Oakeley so much desiderates ; for religion is a “permeating element” of their whole training. On the other hand, it afflicts one with the keenest grief to think that, as time goes on, so large and increasing a number of Catholic children are likely to be placed under the instruction of non-Catholics. We will heartily allow everything which can be alleged, on the importance that the Catholic poor should not fall behind their fellow-countrymen in secular knowledge. Yet such an evil is to our mind hardly more than dust in the balance, when compared with the calamity of their breathing, in the tender years of childhood, a non-Catholic atmosphere for so many hours of every day.
Having spoken on this particular part of our subject, we will now enter on a more general course of remark. Canon Oakeley said in his original pamphlet (p. 12) that “true education” had been “rendered utterly impracticable by that which is now required by our Government in all schools receiving support from the State." These were very strong words of his; and they were calculated, in our humble judgment, seriously to mislead Catholic opinion: the more so, because of the very high place which he justly holds in Catholic estimation. It was for this reason that we thought it important to point out, what we considered the exaggeration of his statement. It now appears however, that he himself accepts Government assistance for his schools; and doubtless he