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MINUTES OF COMMITTEE OF COUNCIL ON EDUCATION. 1853-4.
THE Government Annual Blue Book on Education has now swelled to the extent of 1,400 pages, and increases yearly in interest as well as in bulk. We have thus presented to our attention a vidimus of the efforts made, under the best auspices, for advancing the cause of popular instruction.
We cannot peruse these volumes from year to year without being struck with the high ability of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools. No class of Government officials have more work to do, and none do it better. Their time is fully occupied, and their minds are energetically engaged in their work. Their remarks, both of a general and of a special character, bear the impress of keen observation, enlarged views, and thorough honesty of purpose. That there should be, on incidental points, differences of opinion -some, for instance, preferring mixed schools, others preferring separate schools for boys and girls-is only what might be expected; and, as showing the absence of mere concert or stereotypedness of view, gives additional influence to their general conclusions.
Nor can these volumes be studied without our being impressed with the great amount of expenditure on education which now takes place. New schools are starting up in dozens or scores in every Inspectorial district; old ones are being re-formed, enlarged, or otherwise altered; Government frequently bearing a part of the charge. A good deal of this expenditure, however, is merely for show. We have money thrown away upon useless external decorations, some of them positively injurious-as the mullioned Elizabethan windows, which give far less light than other ordinary, plain windows would do.* On the other hand, too much attention cannot be given to ventilation, and other provisions for the comfort of teachers and scholars.
A great deal has been said of late about the educational diligence of the Church of England clergy. To a considerable extent the Reports of the Inspectors bear out this; their diligence, however, seems greatly to depend upon the character of the Bishop. If he be zealous for Church education, so are they; if he slumbers, they seem to think it disrespectful to present too open a contrast to their diocesan. It will also be found that in a considerable proportion of cases, where the clergyman really does a good deal, by pecuniary contribution or otherwise, for his school, no really high standard of education is aimed at. The object sought is, to turn out welldrilled, respectful, docile sons and daughters of the Church. The schoolmasters also have reason to complain, as several of the Inspectors tell us they are doing. They are too often looked on and treated as disciplined serfs, to do whatever the parson bids them-whom he may patronise, but to whom he extends no really brotherly sympathy. We fear that the monastic system adopted at the Church Training Schools has too much the intention and the result of stifling really independent modes of thinking and acting. But if the teacher does not feel himself a free agent, he never can have the proper professional feeling or interest.
We know one case of a school, built by a country gentleman, which has mullioned windows and an earthen floor.
No. 82.-New Series.
From the Blue-book before us we, of course, gain no information as to the Voluntary schools. The census of 1851 gave to the Independents (the largest body of voluntaries) upwards of 400 schools; and probably the three subsequent years have added to that number. The Wesleyans have, to a very considerable degree, taken advantage of the Privy Council grants, and their Training Institution in Westminster is this year, for the first time, reported on by an Inspector. A good deal of the Glasgow system is, there, and in their schools generally, carried into operation. It cannot but give a more intellectual and nineteenth-century air to Wesleyanism, thus to be engrossed with day-school instruction. About ninety Wesleyan schools are this year reported as under inspection.
The two Roman Catholic Inspectors, as was to be expected, embrace every opportunity of insinuating the excellences of the “Christian Brothers," and other monastic fraternities, that busy themselves with the work of education. They pretend that no others in this country are so well fitted to at once communicate industrious habits, and impart spiritual instruction, in an attractive form to the young.
In proportion to their numbers the Scotch Episcopal body have far more schools under inspection than any other denomination. Choral music seems to be one of the chief things attended to in their schools, which, we need not add, are thoroughly Tractarian in character.
It is to be regretted that so few of our Presbyterian schools are receiving Government aid. Some, which appeared in former years, have this year ceased to be inspected—we know not from what cause. One or two, we have reason to know, have this year, for the first time, been placed under inspection.
We subjoin a few remarks from the Reports of the different Inspectors :"Good fittings," says Mr. Mitchell (Eastern Counties), "are remarked to have a most favourable influence upon the children. They are ashamed to come to a well-kept school-room with dirty hands or clothes; and their whole morale improves accordingly." "It is sometimes stated (Mr. Cook, Middlesex,) that the visit of an Inspector is equally dreaded by teachers and by the children. An experience of many years has confirmed me in the very opposite opinion. Excepting in cases where incompetent or dishonest teachers have communicated their own tremors to their children, cr where a similar effect has resulted from over-excitement in teachers of a nervous temperament, the children as well as their parents, and the managers and supporters of the school, uniformly receive the Inspector with an alacrity and friendly welcome, that prove the value attached by them to his visit. They regard him as the representative of a system which, so far as it has extended, is producing results of incalculable importance." "Unless the parents look upon the school apprenticeship as the best thing, they will never allow their most promising children to be entangled in it. But just as it was in the time now happily passing away, when the cripple or the pauper was elected schoolmaster, lest he should be a burden to the parish; so, unless some great change take place, it will fare now with school apprenticeship. The child, too delicate for manual labour, or too slow for the bustling intercourse of the trading world, will be offered as a pupil-teacher to your Lordship's Committee, and be deemed worthy to instruct future generations. . . . The tender age of school children is the real educational evil—the giant mischief to which all others are mere dwarfs." (Mr. Watkins, Yorkshire.) "A character is mentioned in Proverbs, whose 'eyes are in the ends of the earth.' It would be cruel
to apply the harsh monosyllable to the very pleasing children whom I often see. But I observe that a very fluent familiarity with the peaks of the Himalaya, and the latitude of Nekahwa, is not incompatible with considerable ignorance of things at home. They learn to read and remember, without learning to see and think." (Mr. Brookfield, Kent, &c.) "The money for building is voted expressly for the purpose of a daily school, and to that purpose it should be honestly applied. It is not right, under such circumstances, to be hearty and energetic in all that affects the Sundayschool, and to be fully satisfied with letting the daily school drag on a nominal existence. I protest against that unwise spirit of the age, which would sacrifice the more humble but not less important work of the daily school to the éclat which, in many parts, attends a large Sunday-schoolwith its occasional speechifying, and its smart array of neatly-dressed scholars, and of young-lady teachers. The daily school is the place in which the young must be taught to understand, and trained to appreciate, the teaching of the Sunday-school." (Mr. Kennedy, Lancashire.) "Throughout this part of England the education of the children of the poor has been so long in the hands of mere adventurers, that it requires time to familiarise people's minds with the existence of a far higher and more efficient class of teachers, by whom the venture schoolmaster is gradually but surely being displaced. From similar causes many of the schools are imperfectly supplied with books and desks: in some cases there are no offices; and in too many instances, where they do exist, they are in such a condition of neglect as to have become fertile sources of pollution to the school locality... The wants of our working classes are very great; but it is vain to deny that they are, on the whole, an ignorant class, acting far more for the present than the future. Education, at present, has no mercantile value." (Mr. Stuart, Northumberland.) The last-mentioned Inspector states that nearly a hundred schools are required in Newcastle and its immediate vicinity, to overtake the educational deficiency; and he allows for all existing schools, Church and Dissenting.
Some entertain fears that Dissent will be arrested by the educational efforts of the English Church. We entertain no such fears. Let us get, in connexion with our congregations, properly-built and suitably-adapted edifices; let us get adequately-trained men from the Scotch Normal Schools; let our congregations do their local and their general duty to the School Scheme, and nothing will do more to procure vantage-ground for our Presbyterian Church. The vanity of having a training-school for almost every diocese, has led Churchmen to multiply second and third-rate normal seminaries; and the lads yearly issuing from them are not to be put for a moment in comparison with our trained teachers from the great Institutions of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Where they are fairly brought into intellectual comparison, the more sensible people even of the Church itself will gradually see the great superiority of our men to their own, and give us the countenance which rightly is our due. Let us not imagine that any proper and scripturally-based national system of education is at all probable to be obtained. It is now, and for long in England will be, either a scriptural-denominational system, or a Bible-banishing, secularist system; and which of the two is the preferable, we leave all Christian minds to determine. Besides, no one can justly term our system of instruction, with the Bible and the State catechism, a sectarian or a bigoted one. The youth who is trained in our schools does not emerge from them a sour and
narrow partisan, but one qualified to act with others of different views, and likely to be as good a citizen as any of them. No scheme of our Church, it seems to us, is more deserving of our support, on patriotic as well as Christian grounds, than the school scheme; and it is a matter of heartfelt gratification to know that the number of our schools is yearly increasing, and the character of the instruction given in them such as to procure the confidence of the parents belonging to our Church, and of many others beyond our denominational pale.*
THE EARNEST STUDENT.†
We know of no books which are at once so interesting and so valuable as the biographies of good men. There are some even of our cotemporaries into whose inner life we long to have a peep, that we may see the secret of their superiority and the springs of their excellence. And we feel very grateful to the author of the interesting memoir lately published under the above title, as we think he has succeeded in giving a faithful portrait of one whose life, though short, was eminently earnest, and has left an indelible impression on many who shared the love of his warm heart, and on others who, like ourselves, could only admire at a distance. The lapse of five-and-twenty years has not effaced one line of his countenance, as then, a class-fellow at an English school in Edinburgh, John Macintosh was ever found at the head of the form, giving an example of seriousness and sobriety of demeanour more often associated with riper years. Our several paths in life separated at that early period, and beyond one brief interview it was not the lot of the writer of this notice to be favoured by further intercourse with him. At the Edinburgh academy he carried off in seven successive years the first medal of his class-a success unrivalled in the history of that Institution. And at Glasgow College he was equally distinguished, gaining the first prizes in Greek, Latin, and Logic, besides other honours.
A diary very regularly kept, and familiar letters to his family and friends, have afforded much assistance to the author in preparing the memoir, and have enabled him to bring the characteristic features of his beloved friend very vividly before the reader. And we cannot refrain from noticing the marked impartiality and candour with which he, a minister of the Establishment, has allowed the subject of the memoir to speak for himself on topics where they were not at one, without making any attempt to weaken the force of his statements, or the generosity which has led him to devote the profits of the publication to "those missionary objects of the Free Church, the welfare of which John Macintosh had so much at heart."
With the blessed advantage of a pious education, our friend was early impressed by religious principle; and we find that on his death-bed he
The Vicar of Newcastle, as our north-country readers are aware, has lately set agoing a scheme for ten new Church of England schools. Should not this energetic proposal stir up our friends there to do their part?
The Earnest Student: being Memorials of John Macintosh." By the Rev. NORMAN MACLEOD. Edinburgh: T. Constable and Co.
made the following allusion to his early spiritual history :-"I used when in the academy to try and satisfy my heart and find rest in scholarship and classical honours; but it would not do; Christ alone could give me peace. Halley became my tutor, and gave me Baxter's Saints' Rest,' and that first made me think. When I went to Glasgow, William Burns, then my tutor, gave me a great hitch. But Denniston first showed me the freeness of the Gospel."
The ever-memorable disruption of the Scottish Church in 1843 found him a student at Cambridge, and led him to a careful and prayerful consideration of the several churches, which resulted in his declaring for the Free Church, if God should spare him to become a minister.
Entering, accordingly, as a student at the New College, Edinburgh, he united to the most ardent scholarship, the earnest cultivation of his spiritual affections, and the most active efforts to do good. He became one of the band of fellow-workers with the late Dr. Chalmers in the well-known territorial Mission of the West Port, visiting from house to house, opening and maintaining a weekly District Prayer-Meeting, and conducting, besides, a Sabbath evening class of young men. At this distance of time, Mr. Tasker says of him, in connexion with these labours,
"To this day his memory is blessed in the district. All who remain in it that knew him are awed, subdued, softened at the mention of his name. They have been made sure of this, that a servant of the Lord has been among them, and that by Mr. Macintosh's Christian example, by his holy life, as well as by his lips, the kingdom of God has come nigh unto them. As for us, when we think of the Christian freshness and fervid enthusiasm of those youthful West Port days, with Dr. Chalmers at our head, and Mr. Macintosh and others at our side (now no more here), we are constrained to say,—
Of joys departed never to return,
until the day break and the shadows flee away."
We confess that with all this preparation we had hoped to see Macintosh entering on the work of the ministry at the close of his College course, and to the view of his friends few were ever better furnished. But he aimed at high attainments, and was led to resolve on drinking at some of the fountains of learning on the Continent, beginning with Geneva. We shall not follow him further, or do more than allude to the fresh and deeply-interesting pictures of Italy and other lands which he drew for his various correspondents, but where he never forgot his beloved Scotland or the great work to which he had put his hand. In the providence of God, it was not permitted him to return, and one who seemed so remarkably fitted for the service of God in the ministry on earth was being disciplined and matured for the higher service of the upper sanctuary. Never have we met with a more touching account of life's closing scenes than is described by the biographer, whose love for his friend drew him from Scotland to Tubingen, in the south of Germany, and qualified him for filling an important place beside his dying couch. During a period of deep and painful depression the sound of his beloved Norman's voice giving out the 103d Psalm, and singing it to Coleshill, reading the line, as on Scottish communion Sabbaths, was the means of opening the fountains of his heart, which had been for a brief space strangely sealed, and was the commence