Hugh Miller: Leading Articles (2)

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Objections urged by the Free Church Presbytery of Glasgow against the Educational Movement—Equally suited to bear against the Scheme of Educational Grants—Great superiority of Territorial over Denominational Endowment—The Scottish People sound as a whole, but some of the Scottish Sects very unsound—State of the Free Church Educational Scheme.

'WHEREAS attempts are now being made to reform the parish schools of Scotland, on the principle of altogether excluding religion from national recognition as an element in the national system of education, and leaving it solely to private parties to determine in each locality whether any or what religious instruction will be introduced into the parochial schools,—it is humbly overtured to the Venerable the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, to declare that this Church can be no party to any plan of education based on the negation of religion in the general, or of the national faith in particular,' etc.

    Such is the gist of that 'Overture on Education' which was carried some three weeks ago by a majority of the Free Church Presbytery of Glasgow.  It has the merit of being a clear enunciation of meaning; of being also at least as well fitted to express the views of the Established as of the Free Church courts in Glasgow and elsewhere, and a great deal better suited to serve as a cloak to their policy; and, further, by a very slight adaptation, it could be made to bear as directly against State grants given for educational purposes, if dissociated from the religious certificate, as against State endowments given for the same purpose, when dissociated from statutory religious requirement.  It is the religious certificate—most anomalously demanded of denominations diametrically opposed to each other in their beliefs, and subversive of each other in their teachings—that constitutes in the affair of educational grants the recognition of religion on the part of the State.  Educational grants dissociated from the religious certificate are educational grants dissociated from the State recognition of religion.  The fact that the certificates demanded should be of so anomalous a character, is simply a reflection of the all-important fact that the British people are broken up into antagonistic Churches and hostile denominations, and that the British Government is representative.  And that men such as those members and office-bearers of our Church who hold the middle position between that occupied by Mr. Gibson of Glasgow on the one hand, and Dr. Begg of Edinburgh on the other, should see no other way of availing themselves of the educational grants, with a good conscience, than by getting rid of the religious recognition, only serves to show that they are quite as sensible as their opponents in the liberal section of the enormous difficulty of the case, and can bethink themselves of no better mode of unlocking it.  For it will not be contended, that if in the matter of grants there is to be no recognition of religion on the part of the State, the want of it could be more adequately supplied by sects, as such, denominationally divided, than by the people of Scotland, as such, territorially divided; seeing that sects, as such, include Papists, Puseyites Socinians, and Seceders,—Muggletonians, Juggletonians, New Jerusalemites, and United Presbyterians,—Free-thinking Christians, Free-Willers, and Free Churchmen.  Nor can we see either the wisdom or the advantage of any scheme of Government inquiry into the educational destitution of a locality, that, instead of supplying the want which it found, would merely placard the place by a sort of feuing ticket—destined, we are afraid, in many instances to be sadly weather-bleached—which would intimate to the sects in general, that were any one of them to come forward and enact the part of school-builder and pedagogue, the State would undertake for a portion of the expenses.  We suppose the advertisement on the ticket would run somewhat as follows:—'WANTED BY THE GOVERNMENT, A CHURCH TO ERECT A SCHOOL.  TERMS LIBERAL, AND NO CERTIFICATE OF RELIGIOUS TEACHING DEMANDED.  N.B.—PAPISTS, PUSEYITES, AND SOCINIANS PERFECTLY ELIGIBLE.' [8]

    Leaving, however, to profounder intellects than our own the adjustment of the nice principles involved in this matter, let us advert to what we deem the practical advantages of a territorial scheme of educational endowments over a denominational scheme of educational grants.  At present, all or any of the sects may come forward as such, whatever their character or teaching, and, on fulfilling certain conditions, receive assistance from the Government in the form of an educational grant; whereas, by the scheme which we would fain see set in its place, it would be only the more solid people of districts—let us suppose parishes—that would be qualified to come forward to choose for themselves their parochial State-endowed teachers.  And at least one of the advantages of this scheme over the other must be surely obvious and plain.  Denominationally, there is much unsoundness in Scotland; territorially, there is very little.  There exist, unhappily, differences among our Scottish Presbyterians; but not the less on that account has Presbyterianism, in its three great divisions—Voluntary, Establishment, and Free Church—possessed itself of the land in all its length and breadth.  The only other form of religion that has a territorial existence in Scotland at all is Popery, and Popery holds merely a few darkened districts of the outer Hebrides and of the Highlands.  It would fail, out of the one thousand one hundred parish schools of the country, to carry half-a-dozen; and no other form of religious error would succeed in carrying so much as one parish school.  There is no Socinian district in Scotland; old Scotch Episcopacy has not its single parish; and high Puseyism has not its half, or quarter, or even tithe of a parish.  That Church of Scotland which Knox founded, with its offshoots the Secession and Relief bodies, has not laboured in vain; and through the blessing of God on these labours, Scotland, as represented by its territorial majorities, is by far the soundest and most orthodox country in the world.  A wise and patriotic man—at once a good Scot and a judicious Churchman—would, we think, hesitate long ere he flung away so solid an advantage, won to us by the labours, the contendings, the sufferings of reformers, confessors, martyrs, and ministers of the truth, from the days of Melville and of Henderson, down to those of the Erskines and of Chalmers.  He would at least not fail to ask himself whether that to which what was so unequivocally substance was to be sacrificed, was in itself substance or shadow.

    Let us next remark, that the Scottish national schools, while they thus could not fail to be essentially sound on the territorial scheme—just because Scotland is itself essentially sound as a nation—might, and would in very many instances, be essentially unsound on a denominational one.  There is no form of religious error which may not, in the present state of things, have, as we have said, its schools supported in part by a Government grant, and which may not have its pupil-teachers trained up to disseminate deadly error at the public expense among the youthhead of the future.  Edinburgh, for instance, has its one Popish street—the Cowgate; but it has no Popish parish: it has got very little Popery in George Square and its neighbourhood,—very little at the Bristo Port,—very little in Broughton Street; and yet in all these localities, territorially Protestant, Papists have got their religion-teaching schools, in which pupil-teachers, paid by the State, are in the course of being duly qualified for carrying on the work of perversion and proselytism.  St. Patrick's school, in which, as our readers were so lately shown, boys may spend four years without acquiring even the simple accomplishment of reading, has no fewer than five of these embryo perverters supported by the Government.  Puseyism has, in the same way, no territorial standing on the northern shores of the Frith of Forth; and yet at least one Free Church minister, located in one of the towns which stud that coast, could tell of a well-equipped Puseyite school in his immediate neighbourhood, supported in part by the Government grant, that, by the superiority of the secular education which it supplies, is drawing away Presbyterian, nay, even Free Church children, from the other schools of the locality.  On the territorial principle, we repeat, schools such as these, which rest on the denominational basis alone, could not possibly receive the support and countenance of the Legislature.  And let the reader remark, that should the Free Church succeed in getting rid of the anomalous religious certificate, and yet continue to hold by the denominational basis, something worse than mere denomination would scarce fail to step in.  The Combeite might then freely come forward to teach at the public expense, that no other soul of man has yet been ascertained to exist than the human brain, and no other superintending Providence than the blind laws of insensate matter.  Nay, even Socialism, just a little disguised, might begin to build and teach for the benefit of the young, secure of being backed and assisted in its work by the civil magistrate.  Further, should the grant scheme be rendered more flexible, i.e. extended to a lower grade of qualification, and thus the public purse be applied to the maintenance and perpetuation of a hedge-school system of education,—or should it be rendered more liberal, i.e. should the Government be induced to do proportionally more, and the school-builders be required to do proportionally less,—superstition and infidelity would, in the carrying out of their schemes of perversion, have, in consequence, just all the less to sacrifice and to acquire.  According to the present arrangement, a schoolmaster must realize, from salary and fees united, the sum of forty-five annual pounds, and be, besides, furnished with a free house, ere he can receive from the Government a grant on its lowest scale, viz. fifteen pounds; [9] and whatever judgment may be formed of the proportion in which the State contributes, there can be no question that the general arrangement is a wise one.  Sermonizing dominies could be had, no doubt, at any price; and there can be as little doubt that, at any price, would the great bulk of them turn out to be 'doons hard bargains;' but it is wholly impossible that a country should have respectable and efficient teachers under from sixty to eighty pounds a year.  The thing, we repeat, is wholly impossible; and the State, in acting, as in this arrangement, on the conviction, does but its duty to its people.  The some sixty or seventy pounds, however, would be as certainly realized as under the present arrangement, were it Government that contributed the forty-five pounds, and the denomination or society the fifteen and the free house; and this, of course, would be eminently liberal.  But what would be the effects of so happy a change?  It might in some degree relieve the Free Church Scheme from financial difficulty; but would it do nothing more?  There are Puseyite ladies in Scotland, high in rank and influence, and possessed of much wealth and great zeal, who are already building their schools, in the hope of unprotestantizing their poor lapsed country, spiritually ruined by the Reformation.  The liberality that might in part enable the Free Church Education Committee to discharge its obligations at the rate of twenty shillings per pound, would be a wonderful godsend to them; seeing that they would have little else to do, under a scheme so liberal, than simply to erect schoolhouses on the widespread domains of their husbands or fathers, and immediately commence perverting the children of the nation at the national cost.  It would be no less advantageous to the Society of the Propaganda, and would enable it to spare its own purse, by opening to it that of the people.  The Socinian, the Combeite, the semi-Socialist—none of them very much disposed to liberality themselves—would all share in that of the Government; and their zeal, no longer tied down to inactivity by the dread of pecuniary sacrifice or obligation, would find wings and come abroad.  Surely, with such consequences in prospect, our Free Church readers would do well to ponder the nature and demands of the crisis at which they have now arrived.  Our country and our Church have in reality but one set of interests; and a man cannot be a bad Scot without being a bad Free Churchman too.  Let them decide in this matter, not under the guidance of an oblique eye, squinted on little temporary difficulties or hypothetical denominational advantages, but influenced by considerations of the permanent welfare of their country, and of their abiding obligations to their God.

    But why, it may be asked of the writer, if you be thus sensible of the immense superiority of a territorial scheme of educational endowments over a denominational scheme of educational grants,—why did you yourself urge, some three years ago, that the Free Church should avail herself of these very grants?  Our reply is sufficiently simple. The denominational scheme of grants was the only scheme before us at the time; these grants were, we saw, in danger of being rejected by the Free Church on what we deemed an unsound and perilous principle, which was in itself in no degree Free Church; and last, not least, we saw further, that if the Church did not avail herself of these grants, there awaited on her Educational Scheme—ominously devoid of that direct divine mandate which all her other schemes possessed—inevitable and disastrous bankruptcy.  But circumstances have greatly changed.  The Free Church is no longer in any danger from the principle which would have rejected Government assistance.  There is now a territorial scheme brought full before the view of the country; and, further, the Government grants have wholly failed to preserve our Educational Scheme from the state of extreme pecuniary embarrassment which we too surely anticipated.  Salaries of £15 and £20 per annum are greatly less than adequate for the support and remuneration of even the lower order of teachers, especially in thinly-peopled districts of country, where pupils are few and the fees inconsiderable.  But at these low rates it was determined, in the programme of the Free Church Educational Scheme, that about three-fourths of the Church's teachers should be paid; and there are scores and hundreds among them who regulated their expenditure on the arrangement.  For at least the last two years, however, the Education Committee has been paying its £15 salaries at the reduced rate of £10 and its £20 salaries at the rate of £13 13s. 4d.; and those embarrassments, of which the reduction was a consequence, have borne with distressful effect on the Committee's employees.  However orthodox their creed, their circumstances have in many instances become Antinomian; nor, while teaching religion to others, have they been able in every instance to conform to one of its simplest demands—'Owe no man anything.'

    There were several important items, let us remark, in which we over-estimated the amount of assistance which the Scheme was to receive from the Government; and this mainly from our looking at the matter in the gross, as a question of proportion—so much granted for so much raised—without taking into account certain conditions demanded by the Minutes of Council on the one hand, and a certain course of management adopted on the part of our Education Committee on the other.  The grant is given in proportion to salary of one to two (we at present set aside the element of fees): a salary of thirty pounds is supplemented by a grant of fifteen pounds,—a salary of forty pounds by a grant of twenty,—a salary of fifty by a grant of twenty five,—and so on; and we were sanguine enough to calculate, that an aggregate sum of some ten or twelve thousand pounds raised by the Church for salaries, would be supplemented by an aggregation of grants from the Government to the amount of some five or six thousand pounds more.  The minimum sum regarded as essentially necessary for carrying on the Free Church Educational Scheme had been estimated at twenty thousand pounds.  If the Free Church raise but twelve thousand of these, we said, Government will give her six thousand additional in the form of grants, and some two thousand additional, or so, for the training of her pupil-teachers; and the Church will thus be enabled to realize her minimum estimate.  We did not take the fact into account, that of our Free Church teachers a preponderating majority should fail successfully to compete for the Government money; nor yet that the educational funds should be so broken up into driblet salaries, attached to schools in which the fees were poor and the pupils few, that the schoolmaster, even though possessed of the necessary literary qualification, would in many cases be some twenty, or even thirty, pounds short of the necessary money qualification, i.e. the essential forty-five annual pounds.  We did not, we say, take these circumstances into account,—indeed, it was scarce possible that we could have done so; and so we immensely over-estimated the efficacy of the State grant in maintaining the solvency of our Educational Scheme.  We learn from Dr. Reid's recent Report to our metropolitan church court, that of the forty-two Free Church teachers connected with the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and in receipt of salaries from the Education Committee, only thirteen have been successful in obtaining Government certificates of merit.  And even this is a rather high average, compared with that of the other districts; for we have ascertained, that of the six hundred arid eighty-nine teachers of the Free Church scattered over the kingdom, not more than a hundred and twenty-nine have received the Government grant.  There are, however, among the others, teachers who have failed to attain to it, not from any want of the literary qualification—for some of them actually possess the parchment certificate bearing the signature of Lansdowne—but simply because they are unfortunate enough to lack the pecuniary one.

    That which we so much dreaded has come, we repeat, upon our Educational Scheme.  The subject is a painfully delicate one, and we have long kept aloof from it; but truth, and truth only, can now enable the Free Church and her people to act, in this emergency, as becomes the character which they bear, and the circumstances in which they are placed.  Let us not fall into the delusion of deeming the mere array of our Free Church schools and teachers—their numbers and formidable length of line—any matter of congratulation; nor forget, in our future calculations, that if the Free Church now realizes from £10,000 to £12,000 yearly for educational purposes, she would require to realize some £5000 or £6000 more in order to qualify her to meet her existing liabilities, estimated at the very moderate rates laid down in the programme.  The £5000 or £6000 additional, instead of enabling her to erect a single additional school, would only enable her to pay in full her teachers' salaries.  And so it is obviously a delusion to hold that our Free Church Educational Scheme supplies in reality two-thirds of our congregations with teachers, seeing that these teachers are only two-thirds paid.  We are still some £5000 or £6000 short of supplying the two-thirds, and some £6000 or £7000 more of supplying the whole.  And even were the whole of our own membership to be supplied, the grand query.  How is our country to be educated,—our parish schools to be restored to usefulness and the Scotch people,—and Scotland herself to resume and maintain her old place among the nations?—would come back upon us as emphatically as now.  Judging from what has been already done, and this after every nerve has been strained in the Sisyphisian work of rolling up-hill an ever-returning stone, it seems wholly impossible that we should ever succeed in educating the young of even our own congregations; and how, then, save on some great national scheme, is a sinking nation to be educated?

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Unskilled Labourers remunerated at a higher rate than many of our Free Church Teachers—The Teaching must be inferior it the Remuneration be low—Effect of inferior Teaching on the parties taught—Statutory Security; where are the parties to contend for it?—Necessity of a Government Inquiry—'O for an hour of Knox!'

THAT higher order of farm-servants which are known technically in Mid-Lothian as 'sewers and stackers,' receive, as their yearly wages, in the immediate neighbourhood of the house of the writer, eighteen pounds in money, four bolls oatmeal, two cart-loads of potatoes, and about from twenty to thirty shillings worth of milk.  The money value of the whole amounts, at the present time, to something between twenty-three and twenty-four pounds sterling.  We are informed by a Fifeshire proprietor, that in his part of the country, a superior farm-servant, neither grieve nor foreman, receives eight pounds in money, six and a half bolls meal, three cart-loads of potatoes, and the use of a cow, generally estimated as worth from ten to twelve pounds annually.  His aggregate wages, therefore, average from about twenty-four to twenty-six pounds ten shillings a year.  And we are told by another proprietor of the south of Scotland, that each of the better hinds in his employment costs him every year about thirty pounds.  In fine, to the south of the Grampians, the emoluments of our more efficient class of farm-servants range from twenty-three to thirty pounds yearly.  We need not refer to the wages of railway navvies, nor yet to those of the superior classes of mechanics, such as printers, masons, jewellers, typefounders, etc.  There is not a printer in the Witness office who would be permitted by the rules of his profession, to make an arrangement with, his employers, were he to exchange piece-work for wages, that did not secure to him twenty-five shillings per week.  To expect that a country or Church can possibly have efficient schoolmasters at a lower rate of emolument than not only skilled mechanics, but than even unskilled railway labourers, or the 'stackers and sowers' of our large farms, is so palpably a delusion, that simply to name it is to expose it.  And yet of our Free Church schoolmasters, especially in thinly-peopled rural districts and the Highlands, there are scores remunerated at a lower rate than labourers and farm-servants, and hundreds at a rate at least as low; and if we except the fortunate hundred and twenty-nine who receive the Government grant, few indeed of the others rise to the level of the skilled mechanic.  Greatly more than two-thirds of our teachers were placed originally on the £15 and £20 scale of salaries: these are now paid with £10 and £13, 13s. 4d. respectively.  There are many localities in which these pittances are not more than doubled by the fees, and some localities in which they are even less than doubled; and so a preponderating majority of the schoolmasters of the Free Church are miserably poor men: for what might be a competency to a labourer or hind, must be utter poverty to them.  And not a few of their number are distressfully embarrassed and in debt.

    Now this will never do.  The Church may make herself very sure, that for her £10 or £13 she will receive ultimately only the worth of £10 or £13.  She may get windfalls of single teachers for a few months or years: superior young men may occasionally make a brief stay in her schools, in the course of their progress to something better,—as Pilgrim rested for a while in the half-way recess hollowed in the side of the Hill Difficulty; but only very mediocre men, devoid of energy enough of body or mind to make good masons or carpenters, will stick fast in them.  We have learned that, in one northern locality, no fewer than eight Free Church teachers have since Martinmas last either tendered their resignations, or are on the eve of doing so.  These, it will be found, are superior men, who rationally aspire to something better than mere ploughman's wages; but there will of course be no resignations tendered by the class who, in even the lowest depths of the Scheme, have found but their proper level.  These, as the more active spirits fly off, will flow in and fill up their places, till, wherever the £10 and £13 salaries prevail,—and in what rural district do they not prevail?—the general pedagogical acquirements of our teachers will present a surface as flat, dull, and unprofitable as ditch-water.  For what, we again ask, can be expected for £10 or £13?  And let the reader but mark the effect of such teaching.  We have seen placed side by side, in the same burgh town, an English school, in which what are deemed the branches suitable for mechanics and their children, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, were energetically taught, and a grammar school in which a university-bred schoolmaster laboured, with really not much energy, especially in those lower departments in which his rival excelled, but who was fitted to prepare his pupils for college, and not devoid of the classical enthusiasm.  And it struck us as a significant and instructive fact, that while the good English school, though it turned out smart readers and clever arithmeticians, failed to elevate a single man from the lower to the middle or higher walks of life, the grammar school was successful in elevating a great many.  The principle on which such a difference of result should have been obtained is so obvious, that it can scarce be necessary to point it out.  The teaching of the one school was a narrow lane, trim, 'tis true, and well kept, but which led to only workshops, brick-kilns, and quarries; whereas that of the other was a broad, partially-neglected avenue, which opened into the great professional highways, that lead everywhere.  And if the difference was one which could not be obviated by all the energy of a superior and well-paid English teacher, how, we ask, is it to be obviated by our Free Church £10 and £13 teachers?  Surely our Church would do well to ponder whether it can be either her interest or her duty to urge on any scheme, in opposition to a national one, which would have all too palpably the effect of degrading her poorer membership, so far as they availed themselves of it, into the Gibeonites of the community—its hewers of wood and drawers of water.  Never will Scotland possess an educational scheme truly national, and either worthy of her ancient fume or adequate to the demands and emergencies of an age like the present, until at least every parish shall possess among its other teachers its one university-bred schoolmaster, popularly chosen, and well paid, and suited to assist in transplanting to the higher places of society those select and vigorous scions that from time to time spring up from the stock of the commonalty.  The waking dream of running down the ignorance and misery of a sinking country by an array of starveling teachers in the train of any one denomination—itself, mayhap, sufficiently attenuated by the demands of purely ecclesiastical objects—must be likened to that other waking dream of the belated German peasant, who sees from some deep glade of his native forests a spectral hunt sweep through the clouds,—skeleton stags pursued by skeleton huntsmen, mounted on skeleton horses, and surrounded by skeleton beagles; and who hears, as the wild pageant recedes into the darkness, the hollow tantivy and the spectral horns echoing loud and wildly through the angry heavens.

    It is of paramount importance that the Free church should in the present crisis take up her position wisely.  We have heard of invaders of desperate courage, who, on landing upon some shore on which they had determined either to conquer or to perish, set fire to their ships, and thus shut out the possibility of retreat.  Now the Free Church—whether she land herself into an agitation for a scheme of Government grants rendered more liberal and flexible than now, and dissociated from the religious certificate, or whether she plant her foot on a scheme of national education based on a statutory recognition of the pedagogical teaching of religion—is certainly in no condition to burn her ships.  Let her not rashly commit herself against a third scheme, essentially one in principle with that which the sagacious Chalmers could regard, after long and profound reflection, as the only one truly eligible in the circumstances of the country, and which she herself, some two or three years hence, may be compelled to regard in a similar light.  The educational agitation is not to be settled in the course of a few brief months; nor yet by the votes of Presbyteries, Synods, or General Assemblies, whether they belong to the Free or to the Established Churches.  It rises direct out of the great social question of the time.  Scotland as such forms one of its battlefields, and Scotchmen as such are the parties who are to be engaged in the fight; and the issue, though ultimately secure, will long seem doubtful.  And so the Free Church may have quite time enough to fight her own battle, or rather her own two battles in succession, and, when both are over, find that the great general contest still remains undecided.

    For what we must deem by much the better and more important battle of the two—that for a statutory demand on the part of the State that the Bible and Shorter Catechism should be taught in the national schools—we are afraid the time is past; but most happy would we be to find ourselves mistaken.  The Church of Scotland, as represented by that majority which is now the Free Church, might have succeeded in carrying some such measure ten years ago, when the parish schools were yet in her custody; just as she might have succeeded seven years earlier in obviating the dire necessity which led to the Disruption, by acting upon the advice of the wise and far-seeing M'Crie. [10]  But she was not less prepared at the one date to agitate for the total abolition of patronage, than at the other to throw open the parish schools on the basis of a statutory security for the teaching of religion.  In both cases, the golden opportunity was suffered to pass by; and Old Time presents to her now but the bald retreating occiput, which her eager hand may in vain attempt to grasp.  Where, we ask, are we to look for the forces that are to assist us in fighting this battle of statutory security?  Has the Establishment become more liberal, or more disposed to open the parish schools, than we ourselves were when we composed the majority of that very Establishment?  Alas! in order to satisfy ourselves on that head, we have but to look at the decisions of her various ecclesiastical courts.  Or is it the old Scottish Dissenters that are to change their entire front, and to make common cause with us, in disregard, and even in defiance, of their own principles, as they themselves understand them?  Or are we to look to that evangelical portion of the Episcopacy of England, with whom Establishment means Church, and the 'good of the Establishment a synonyme for the 'good of the Church,' and who, to a certainty, will move no hand against the sister Esablishment in Scotland?  Or are we to be aided by that portion of English Independency that has so very strangely taken its stand equally against educational grants and educational endowments, on the ground that there is a sort of religion homoeopathically diffused in all education—especially, we suppose, in Lindley Murray's readings from the Spectator and Dr. Blair—and that, as the State must not provide relgious teaching for its people, it cannot, and must not, provide for them teaching of any kind?  Scientific Jews are they, of the straitest sect, who, wiser than their fathers, have ascertained by the microscope, that all meat, however nicely washed, continues to retain its molecules of blood, and that flesh therefore must on no account be eaten.  We cannot, we say, discern, within the wide horizon of existing realities, the troops with which this battle is to be fought.  They seem to be mere shadows of the past.  But if the Free Church see otherwise, let her by all means summon them up, and fight it.  Regarded simply as a matter of policy, we are afraid the contest would be at least imprudent.  'It were well,' said a Scotch officer to Wolfe, when Chatham first called out the Highlanders of Scotland to fight in the wars of Britain,—'It were well, General, that you should know the character of these Highland troops.  Do not attempt manoeuvring with them; Scotch Highlanders don't understand manoeuvre.  If you make a feint of charging, they will throw themselves sword in hand into the thick of the enemy, and you will in vain attempt calling them back; or if you make a show of retreating, they will run away in right earnest, and you will never see them more.  So do not employ them in feints and stratagems, but keep them for the hard, serious business of the fight, and you will find them the best troops in the world.'  Now, nearly the same character applies to the Free Church.  To set her a-fighting as a matter of policy, would be very bad policy indeed.  She would find out reasons, semi-theological at least, for all her positions, however hopeless, and would continue fixed in these long after the battle had been fought and lost, and when she ought to be engaged in retrieving her disasters on other ground, and in a fresh and more promising quarrel.  But if the Free Church does enter into this battle, let her in the meantime not forget, that after it has been fought, and at least possibly lost, another battle may have still to be begun; nor let her attempt damaging, by doubtful theology, the position which a preponderating majority of her own office-bearers and members may have yet to take up.  For, ultimately at least, the damage would be all her own.  Let her remark further, that should her people set their hearts pretty strongly on those national seminaries, which in many parts of the country would become, if opened up, wholly their own de facto, and which are already their own de jure, they might not be quite able to feel the cogency of the argument that, while it left Socinians and Papists in the enjoyment of at once very liberal and very flexible Government grants, challenged their right to choose, on their own responsibility, State-paid teachers for their children; and which virtually assured them, that if they did not contribute largely to the educational scheme of their own Church, she would be wholly unable to maintain it as a sort of mid-impediment between them and their just rights, the parish schools.  They would be exceedingly apt, too, to translate any very determined and general preference manifested by our church courts for the scheme of educational grants, into some such enunciation as the following:—'Give us to ourselves but a moiety of one-third of the Scottish young, and we will frankly give up the other two-thirds,—the one-half of them to be destroyed by gross ignorance, and the other half by deadly error."

    There is at least one point on which we think all Free Churchmen ought to agree. It is necessary that the truth should be known respecting the educational condition and resources of Scotland. It will, we understand, be moved to-day [February 27th], in the Free Church Presbytery of Edinburgh, as a thing good and desirable, that Government should 'institute an inquiry into the educational destitution confessedly existing in large towns, populous neighbourhoods, and remote districts, with a view to the marking out of places where elementary schools are particularly needed,' etc. Would it not be more satisfactory to move instead, the desirableness of a Government Commission of Inquiry, 1st, into the educational condition of all the youth of Scotland between the years of six and fifteen, on the scheme of that inquiry recently conducted by a Free Church Educational Association in the Tron parish of Glasgow; 2d, into the condition, character, and teaching of all the various schools of the country, whether parochial, Free Church, or adventure schools, with the actual amount of pupils in attendance at each ; and 3d, into the general standing, acquirements, and emoluments of all the teachers? Not only would the report of such a Commission be of much solid value in itself, from the amount of fact which it would furnish for the direction of educational exertion on the part of both the people and the State ; but it might also have the effect of preventing good men from taking up, in the coming contest, untenable and suspicious ground. It would lay open the true state of our parish schools, and not only show how utterly useless these institutions have become, from at least the shores of the Beauly to those of the Pentland Frith, and throughout the Highlands generally, but also expose the gross exaggeration of the estimate furnished by Mr. Macrae, and adopted by Dr Muir. [12]  Further, it would have the effect of preventing any member of either the Free Church or the Establishment from resorting to the detestable policy of those Dissenters of England, who, in order to secure certain petty advantages to their own miserable sects, set themselves to represent their poor country—perishing at the time for lack of knowledge—as comparatively little in need of educational assistance.  But we trust this at least is an enormity, at once criminal and mean, of which no Scotchman, whatever his Church, could possibly be guilty; and so we shall not do our country the injustice of holding that, though it produced its 'fause Sir Johns' in the past, it contains in the present one such traitor, until we at least see the man.  Further, a State Report of the kind would lay open to us, in the severe statistical form, the actual emoluments of our own Free Church teachers.  We trust, then, that this scheme of a searching Government inquiry may be regarded as a first great step towards the important work of educating the Scottish people, in which all ought to agree, however thoroughly at variance in matters of principle or on points of detail.

    It is of mighty importance that men should look at things as they really are.  Let us remember that it is not for the emergencies of yesterday that we are now called on to provide, but for the necessities of to-day,—not for Scotland in the year 1592, nor yet in the year 1700, but for Scotland in the year 1850.  What might be the best possible course in these bygone ages, may be, and is, wholly an impracticable course now.  Church at both these earlier dates meant not only an orthodox communion, but also that preponderating majority of the nation which reckoned up as its own the great bulk of both the rulers and the ruled, and at once owned the best and longest swords, and wore the strongest armour; whereas it now means, legally at least, merely two Erastianized Establishments, and politically, all the Christian denominations that possess votes and return members to Parliament.  The prism seizes on a single white ray, and decomposes it into a definitely proportioned spectrum, gorgeous with the primary colours.  The representative principle of a Government such as ours takes up, as if by a reverse process, those diverse hues of the denominational spectrum that vary the face of society, and compounds them in the Legislature into a blank.  Save for the existence of the two Establishments—strong on other than religious grounds—and the peculiar tinge which they cast on the institutions of the country, the blank would be still more perfect than it is; and this fact—a direct result of the strongly marked hues of the denominational spectrum, operated upon by the representative principle—we can no more change than we can the optical law.  Let there be but the colour of one religion in the national spectrum, and the Legislature will wear but one religious colour: let it consist of half-a-dozen colours, and the Legislature will be of none.  'O for an hour of Knox!' it has been said by a good and able man, from whom, however, in this question we greatly differ,—'O for an hour of Knox to defend the national religious education which he was raised up to institute!'  Knox, be it remembered, was wise, prudent, sagacious, in accordance with the demands of his time.  A Knox of the exact fashion of the sixteenth century, raised up in the middle of the nineteenth, would be but a slim, long-bearded effigy of a Knox, grotesquely attired in a Geneva cloak and cap, and with the straw and hay that stuffed him sticking out in tufts from his waistband.  'O for an hour of Knox!'  The Scottish Church of the present age has already had its Knox.  'Elias hath already come.'  The large-minded, wise-hearted Knox of the nineteenth century died at Morning side three years ago; and he has bequeathed, as a precious legacy to the Church, his judgment on this very question.  It were the best state of things,' he said, 'that we had a Parliament sufficiently theological to discriminate between the right and the wrong in religion, and to endow accordingly.  But failing this, it seems to us the next best thing, that in any public measure for helping on the education of the people, Government were to abstain from introducing the element of religion at all into their part of the scheme; and this not because they held the matter to be insignificant,—the contrary might be strongly expressed in the preamble of their Act, [13]—but on the ground that, in the present divided state of the Christian world, they would take no cognizance of, just because they would attempt no control over, the religion of applicants for aid,—leaving this matter entire to the parties who had to do with the erection and management of the schools which they had been called upon to assist.  A grant by the State on this footing might be regarded as being appropriately and exclusively the expression of their value for a good secular education.'

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Our previous Statement regarding the actual Condition of the Free Church Educational Scheme absolutely necessary—Voluntary Objections to a National Scheme, as stated by the Opponents of the Voluntaries; not particularly solid—Examination of the matter.

OUR episode regarding the Free Church Educational Scheme now fairly completed, let us return to the general question.  The reader may, however, do well to note the inevitable necessity which existed on our part, that our wholesome, though mayhap unpalatable, statements respecting it should have been submitted to the Church and the country.  The grand question which in the course of Providence had at length arisen was, 'How is our sinking country to be educated?'  We had taken our stand, as a Scotchman, in behalf of the Scottish people; and as the belief seemed widely to exist that our own Free Church scheme was adequate, or at least nearly so, to the education of the children of our own membership, and that our duty as Scotchmen could be fulfilled, somehow, by concentrating all our exertions upon it, it had become essentially necessary that the delusion should be dispelled.  And so we have showed, that while our scheme, in order fully to supply the educational wants of even our own people, would require to exist in the proportion of nine, it exists nominally in but the proportion of six, and in reality in but the proportion of four,—seeing that the six, i.e. our existing staff of teachers, amounting to but two-thirds of the number required, are but two-thirds paid—in short, that our educational speculation is exactly in the circumstances of a railway company who, having engaged to cut a line ninety miles in length, have succeeded in cutting forty miles of it at their own proper expense, and then having cut twenty miles more on preference shares, find their further progress arrested by a lack of funds.  And so it became necessary to show that the existence and circumstances of our Free Church schools, instead of furnishing, as had been urged in several of our presbyteries, any argument against the agitation of the general question, furnished, on the contrary, the best possible of all arguments for its agitation; and to show further, that the policy which brought a denominational scheme, that did not look beyond ourselves, into a great national engagement, in the character of a privateer virtually on the side of the enemy, was a most perilous policy, that exposed it to damaging broadsides, and telling shot right between wind and water.

    Let us now pass on to the consideration of a matter on which we but touched before,—the perfect compatibility of a consistent Voluntaryism with religious teaching in a school endowed by the State, on the principle of Dr. Chalmers.  The Witness is as little Voluntary now as it ever was.  It seems but fair, however, that a principle should be saddled with only the consequences that legitimately arise from it; and that Voluntaryism should not be exposed, in this contest, to a species of witchcraft, that first caricatures it in an ill-modelled image, and then sticks the ugly thing over with pins.

    The revenues of the State-endowed schools of this country—and, we suppose, of every other—are derived from two distinct sources; from Government, who furnishes the schoolmaster's salary, and erects the building in which he teaches; and from the parents or guardians, who remunerate him according to certain graduated rates for the kind of instruction which he communicates to their children or wards.  And the rationale of this State assistance seems very obvious.  It is of importance to the State, both on economic and judicial grounds, that all its people should be taught; but, on the adventure-school principle, it is impossible that they should all be taught, seeing that adventure schools can thrive in only densely peopled localities, or where supported by wealthy families, that pay largely for their children's education.  And so, in order that education may be brought down to the humblest of the people, the State supplements, in its own and its people's behalf, the schoolmaster's income, and builds him a school.  Such seems to be the principle of educational endowments.  Now, if the State, in endowing national schoolmasters, were to signify that it endowed them in order that, among other things, they should teach religion, we can well see how a Voluntary who conscientiously holds, as such, that religion ought not to be State-endowed, might be unable to avail himself, on his children's behalf, of the State-enjoined religious teaching of any such functionaries; just as we can also see, that if the State forbade its schoolmasters on any account to teach religion, a conscientious holder of the Establishment principle might be perhaps equally unable to avail himself of services so restricted.  We can at least see how each, in turn, might lodge an alternate protest,—the one against the positive exclusion of religion by the State, the other against its positive introduction.  But if, according to Chalmers, the State, aware of the difficulty, tenders its endowment and builds its schools 'simply as an expression of its value for a good secular education,' and avowedly leaves the religious part of the school training to be determined by the parties who furnish that moiety of the schoolmaster's support derived from fees—i.e. the parents or guardians—we find in the arrangement ground on which the Voluntary and the Establishment man can meet and agree.  For the State virtually wills by such a settlement—and both by what it demands, and by what it does not demand, but permits—that its salaried functionary should stand to his employers, the people, simply in the relation of an adventure schoolmaster.  The State says virtually to its teacher in such circumstances:  'I, as the general guardian of your pupils, do not pay you for their religious education; but their particular and special guardians, the parents, are quite at liberty to make with you on that head whatever bargain they please.  Fully aware of the vast importance of religious teaching, and yet wholly unable, from the denominational differences of the time, at once to provide for it in the national seminaries, and to render these equal to the wants of the country, I throw the whole responsibility in this matter on the divided people, whom I cannot unite in their religion, but whose general education I am not on that account at liberty to neglect.'  On grounds such as these, we repeat, Voluntaryism and the Establishment principle may meet and agree.

    There can be little doubt, however, that there are men on both sides sparingly gifted with common sense: for never yet was there a great question widely and popularly agitated, that did not divide not only the wise men, but also the fools of the community; and we have heard it urged by some of the representatives of the weaker class, that a Voluntary could not permit his children to be taught religion under a roof provided by the State.  Really, with all respect for the cap and bells, this is driving the matter a little too far.  We have been told by a relative, now deceased, who served on shipboard during the first revolutionary war, and saw some hard fighting, that at the close of a hot engagement, in which victory remained with the British, the captain of the vessel in which he sailed—a devout and brave man—called his crew together upon the quarterdeck, and offered up thanks to God in an impressive prayer.  The noble ship in which he sailed was the property of the State, and he himself a State-paid official; but was there anything in either circumstance to justify a protest from even the most rabid Voluntary against the part which he acted on this interesting occasion, simply as a Christian hero?  Nay, had he sought to employ and pay out of his private purse in behalf of his crew an evangelical missionary, as decidedly Voluntary in his views as John Foster or Robert Hall, would the man have once thought of objecting to the work because it was to be prosecuted under the shelter of beams and planks, every one of which belonged to the Government?  Would a pious Voluntary soldier keep aloof from a prayer-meeting on no other ground than that it was held in a barrack?—or did the first Voluntaries of Great Britain, the high-toned Independents that fought under Cromwell, abstain from their preachings and their prayers when cooped up by the enemy in a garrison?  Where is the religious Voluntary who would not exhort in a prison, or offer up an unbought prayer on a public, State-provided scaffold, for some wretched criminal shivering on the verge of the grave?

    Now the schoolmaster, in the circumstances laid down by Chalmers, we hold to be in at least as favourable a position with respect to the State and the State-erected edifice in which he teaches, as the ship-captain or the non-commissioned missionary—the devout Voluntary soldier, or the pious Independents of Cromwell's Ironsides.  He is, in his secular character, a State-paid official, sheltered by an erection the property of the State; but the State permits him to bear in that erection another character, in relation to another certain employer, whom it recognises as quite as legitimately in the field as itself, and permits him also— though it does not enjoin—to perform his duties there as a Christian man.  Though, however, the objection to religious teaching under the State-erected roof may be suffered to drop, there may be an objection raised—and there has been an objection raised—against the teaching of religion in certain periods of time during the day, for which it is somehow taken for granted the State pays.  Hence the argument for teaching religion in certain other periods of time not paid for by the State—or in other words, during separate hours.  Now the entire difference here seems to originate in a vicious begging of the question.  It is not the State that specifies the hours during each day in which State-endowed and State-erected schools are taught; on the contrary, varying as these hours do, and must, in various parts of the town and country—for a thinly-peopled district demands one set of hours, and a densely-peopled locality another—they are fixed, as mere matters of mutual arrangement, to suit the convenience of the teachers and the taught.  It is enough that the State satisfy itself, through its inspectors, that the secular instruction for which it pays is effectually imparted to its people: it neither does nor will lay claim to any one hour of the day as its own, whether before noon or after it.  It will leave to the English Establishment its canonical hours, sacred to organ music and the Liturgy; but it will set apart by enactment no pedagogical hours, sacred to arithmetic or algebra, the construing of verbs, or the drawing of figures.  If separate hours merely mean that the master is not to have all his classes up at once—here gabbling Latin or Greek, there discussing the primer or reciting from Scott's Collection, yonder repeating the multiplication table or running over the rules of Lindley Murray—we at once say religion must have its separate hour, just as English, the dead tongues, figuring, writing, and the mathematics, have their separate hours; but if it be meant that the religious teaching of the school must be restricted to some hour not paid for by the State, then we reply with equal readiness that we know of no hour specially paid for by the State, and so utterly fail to recognise any principle in the proposed arrangement, or rather in the objection that would suggest it.

    As to the question of a separate fee for religious tuition, let us consider how it is usually solved in the adventure schools of the country.  The day is, in most eases, opened by the master with prayer, and then there is a portion of Scripture read by the pupils.  And neither the Scripture read nor the prayer offered up fall, we are disposed to think, under the head of religious tuition, but under a greatly better head—that of religion itself.  It is a proper devotional beginning of the business of the day.  The committal of the Shorter Catechism—which with most children is altogether an exercise of memory, but which, accomplished in youth, while the intellect yet sleeps, produces effects in after years almost always beneficial to the understanding, and not unfrequently ameliorative of the heart—we place in a different category.  It is not religion, but the teaching of religion; not food for the present, but store laid up for the future.  With the committal to memory of the Catechism we class that species of Scripture dissection now so common in schools, which so often mangles what it carves. [14]  And religion taught in this way is and ought to be represented in the fee paid to the teacher, and is and ought to be taught in a class as separate from all the others as the geography or the grammar class.  Such is, we understand, a common arrangement in Scottish adventure schools; nor does there exist a single good reason for preventing it from also obtaining in the Scottish national schools.  If the parentage of Scotland, whether Voluntary or Establishment, were to be vested with the power of determining that it should be so, and of selecting their schoolmasters, the schools would open with prayer and the reading of the Word—not because they were State-endowed, but because, the State leaving the point entirely open, they were the schools those of a Christian land, to which Christian parents had sent their children, and for which, on their own proper responsibility, they had chosen, so far as they could determine the point, Christian teachers. And for this religious part of the services of the day we would deem it derogatory to the character of a schoolmaster to suppose that he could receive any remuneration from the parents of his pupils, or from any one else.  For the proper devotional services of the school we would place on exactly the same high disinterested level as the devotional exercises of the family, or as those of the gallant officer and his crew, who, paid for but the defence of their country, gave God thanks on the blood-stained quarter-deck, in their character as Christians, that He had sheltered their heads in one of their country's battles, and then cast themselves in faith upon His further care.  We would, we say, deem it an insult to the profession to speak of a monetary remuneration for the read word or the prayer offered up.  Nay, if either was rated at but a single penny as its price, or if there was a single penny expected for either, where is there the man, Voluntary or Free Church, that would deem it worth the money?  The story of the footman, who, upon being told, on entering on his new place, that he would have to attend family prayers, expressed a hope that the duty would be considered in his wages, has become one of the standard jokes of our jest-books.  We would, however, place the religious teaching of the school on an entirely different footing from its religious services.  We would assign to it its separate class and its separate time, just as we would assign a separate class and time to the teaching of English grammar, or history, or the dead languages.  And whether the remuneration was specified or merely understood, we would deem it but reasonable that this branch of teaching, like all the other branches which occupied the time and tasked the exertions of the teacher, should be remunerated by a fee: in this department of tuition, as in the others, we would deem the labourer worthy of his hire.  We need scarce add, however, that we would recognise no power in the majority of any locality, or in the schoolmaster whom they had chosen, to render attendance at even the devotional services of the seminary compulsory on the children of parents who, on religious or other grounds, willed that they should not join in the general worship.  And, of course, attendance on the religion-teaching class would be altogether as much a matter of arrangement between the parent and the schoolmaster, as attendance on the Latin or English classes, or on arithmetic, algebra, or the mathematics.

    While, however, we can see no proper grounds for difference between Voluntaries and Free Churchmen, on even these details of school management, and see, further, that they never differ regarding the way in which the adventure schools of the country are conducted, we must remind the reader that all on which they have really to agree on this question, as Scotchmen and franchise-holders, is simply whether their country ought not, in the first place, to possess an efficient system of national schools, open to all the Christian denominations; whether, in the second, the parents ought not to be permitted to exercise, on their own responsibility, the natural right of determining what their children should be taught; and whether, in the third, the householders of a district ought not to be vested in the, power, now possessed by the heritors and parish minister, of choosing the teacher.  Agreement on these heads is really all that is necessary towards either the preliminary agitation of the question, or in order to secure its ultimate success. The minor points would all come to be settled, not on the legislative platform, but in the parishes, by the householders.  Voluntaryism, wise and foolish, does not reckon up more than a third of the population of Scotland; and foolish, i.e. extreme Voluntaries—for the sensible ones would be all with us—would find themselves, when they came to record their votes, a very small minority indeed.  And so, though their extreme views may now be represented as lions in the path, it would be found ultimately that, like the lions which affrighted Pilgrim in the avenue, and made the poor man run back, they are lions well chained up—lions, in short, in a minority, like the agricultural lion in Punch.  Let us remark, further, that if some of our friends deem the scheme proposed for Scotland too little religious, it is as certain that the assertors of the scheme now proposed for England, and advocated in Parliament by Mr. Fox, very decidedly object to it on the opposite score.  Like the grace said by the Rev. Reuben Butler, which was censured by the Captain of Knockdunder as too long, and by douce Davie Deans as too short, it is condemned for faults so decidedly antagonistic in their character, that they cannot co-exist together.  One class of persons look exclusively at that lack of a statutory recognition of religion which the scheme involves, and denounce it as infidel; another, at the religious character of the people of Scotland, and at the consequent certainty, also involved in the scheme, that they will render their schools transcripts of themselves, and so they condemn it as orthodox.  And hence the opposite views entertained by Mr. Combe of Edinburgh on the one hand, and Mr. Gibson of Glasgow on the other. [15]

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General Outline of an Educational Scheme adequate to the demands of the Age—Remuneration of Teachers—Mode of their Election—Responsibility—Influence of the Church in such a Scheme—Apparent Errors of the Church—The Circumstances of Scotland very different now from what they were in the days of Knox.

SCOTLAND will never have an efficient educational system at once worthy of her ancient fame, and adequate to the demands of the age, until in every parish there be at least one central school, known emphatically as the Parish or Grammar School, and taught by a superior university-bred teacher, qualified to instruct his pupils in the higher departments of learning, and fit them for college.  And with this central institute every parish must also possess its supplementary English schools, efficient of their kind, though of a lower standing, and sufficiently numerous to receive all the youthful population of the district which fails to be accommodated in the other.  In these, the child of the labourer or mechanic—if, possessed of but ordinary powers, he looked no higher than the profession of his father—could be taught to read, write, and figure.  If, however, there awakened within him during the process, the stirrings of those impulses which characterize the superior mind, he could remove to his proper place—the central school—mayhap, in country districts, some two or three miles away; but when the intellectual impulses are genuine, two or three miles in such cases are easily got over.

    We would fix for the teachers, in the first instance, on no very extravagant rate of remuneration; for it might prove bad policy in this, as in other departments, to set a man above his work.  The salaries attached at present to our parish schools vary from a minimum of £25 to a maximum of about £34.  Let us suppose that they varied, instead, from a minimum of £60 to a maximum of £80—not large sums, certainly, but which, with the fees and a free house; would render every parochial schoolmaster in Scotland worth about from £80 to £100 per annum, and in some cases—dependent, of course, on professional efficiency and the population of the locality—worth considerably more.  The supplementary English schools we would place on the average level maintained at present by our parish schools, by providing the teachers with free houses, and yearly salaries of a minimum of £30 and a maximum of £40.  And as it is of great importance that men should not fall asleep at their posts, and as tutors never teach more efficiently than when straining to keep ahead of their pupils, we would fain have provision made that, by a permitted use of occasional substitutes, this lower order of schoolmasters should be enabled to prepare themselves, by attendance at college, for competing, as vacancies occurred, for the higher schools.  It would be an arrangement worth £20 additional salary to every school in Scotland, that the channels of preferment should be ever kept open to useful talent and honest diligence, so that the humblest English teacher in the land might rise, in the course of years, to be at the head of its highest school; nay, that, like that James Beattie who taught at one time the parish school of Fordoun, he might, if native faculty had been given and wisely improved, become one of the country's most distinguished professors.  In fixing our permanent castes of schools, Grammar and English, we would strongly urge that there should be no permanent castes of teachers fixed—no men condemned to the humbler walks of the profession if qualified for the higher.  The life-giving sap would thus have free course, from the earth's level to the topmost boughs of our national scheme; and low as an Englishman might deem our proposed rates of remuneration for university-taught men, we have no fear that they would prove insufficient, coupled with such a provision, for the right education of the country.

    We are not sure that we quite comprehend the sort of machinery meant to be included under the term Local or Parochial Boards.  It seems necessary that there should exist Local Committees of the educational franchise-holders, chosen by themselves, from among their own number, for terms either definite or indefinite, and recognised by statute as vested in certain powers of examination and inquiry.  But though a mere name be but a small matter, we are inclined to regard the term Board as somewhat too formidable and stiff.  Let us, at least for the present, substitute the term Committee; and as large committees are apt to degenerate into little mobs, and, as such, to conduct their business noisily and ill, let us suppose educational committees to consist, in at least country districts or the smaller towns, of some eight or ten individuals, selected by the householders for their intelligence, integrity, and business habits, and with a chairman at their head, chosen from among their number by themselves.  A vacancy occurs, let us suppose, in either the Grammar or one of the English schools of the place: the committee, through their chairman, put themselves in communication with some of the Normal schoolmasters of the south, and receive from them a few names of deserving and qualified teachers, possessed of diplomas indicating their professional standing, and furnished, besides, with trustworthy certificates of character.  Or, if the emoluments of the vacant school be considerable, and some of the neighbouring teachers, placed on a lower rate of income, have distinguished themselves by their professional merits, and so rendered themselves known in the district, let us suppose that they select their names, and to the number of some two, three, four, or more, submit them, with the necessary credentials, to their constituents the householders.  And these assemble on some fixed day, and, from the number placed on the list, select their men.  Such, in the business of electing a schoolmaster, would, we hold, be the proper work of a committee.  In all other seasons, the committee might be recognised as vested in some of the functions now exercised by the Established presbyteries, such as that of presiding, in behalf of the parentage of the locality, at yearly or half-yearly examinations of the schools, and of watching over the general morals and official conduct of the teacher.  But the power of trial and dismission, which, of course, would need to exist somewhere, we would vest in other hands.  Let us remark, in the passing, that much might come to depend ultimately on the portioning out of the localities into electoral districts of a proper size, and that it would be perhaps well, as a general rule, that there should be no subdivisions made of the old parishes.  There are few parishes in Scotland in which the materials of a good committee might not be found; but there are perhaps many half, and third, and quarter parishes in which no such materials exist.  Further, the householders of some country hamlet or degraded town-suburb, populous enough to require its school, might be yet very unfit of themselves to choose for it a schoolmaster.  And hence the necessity for maintaining a local breadth of representation sufficient to do justice to the principle of the scheme, and to prevent it, if we may so speak, from sinking in the less solid parts of the kingdom.  A parochial breadth of base would serve as if to plank over the unsounder portions of the general surface, and give footing to a system of schools and teachers worthy, as a whole, of the character and the necessities of a country wise and enlightened in the main, but that totters on the brink of a bottomless abyss.

    The power of trying, and, if necessary, of dismissing from his charge, an offending teacher, would, however, as we have said, require to exist somewhere. Every official, whether of the State or Church, or whether dependent on a single employer or on a corporation or company, bears always a twofold character. He is a subject of the realm, and, as such, amenable to its laws; he has also an official responsibility, and may be reprimanded or dismissed for offences against the requirements and duties of his office. A tradesman or mechanic may go on tippling for years, wasting his means and neglecting his business, untouched by any law save that great economic law of Providence which dooms the waster to ultimate want; but for the excise officer, or bank accountant, or railway clerk, who pursues a similar course, there exists a court of official responsibility, which anticipates the slow operation of the natural law, by at once divesting the offender of his office.  And the State-paid schoolmaster must have also his official responsibility.  But it would serve neither the ends of justice nor the interests of a sound policy to erect his immediate employers into a court competent to try and condemn: their proper place would be rather that of parties than of judges; and as parties, we would permit them simply to conduct against him any case for which they might hold there existed proper grounds.  A schoolmaster chosen by a not large majority, might find in a few years that his supporters had dwindled into a positive minority: parents whose boys were careless, or naturally thick-headed, would of course arrive at the opinion that it was the teacher who was in fault; nay, a parent who had fallen into arrears with his fees might come to entertain the design of discharging the account simply by discharging the schoolmaster; and thus great injustice might be done to worthy and efficient men, and one of the most important classes of the community placed in circumstances of a shackled dependency, which no right-minded teacher could submit to occupy.  What we would propose, then, is, that the power of trial, and of dismission if necessary, should be vested in a central national board, furnished with one or more salaried functionaries to record its sentences and do its drudgery, but consisting mainly of unpaid members of high character and standing,—some of them, mayhap, members ex officio; the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, let us suppose—the Principal and some of the Professors of the Edinburgh University—the Rector, shall we say, of the High School—the Lord Advocate, and mayhap the Dean of Faculty.  And as it would be of importance that there should be as little new machinery created as possible, the evidence, criminatory or exculpatory, on which such a board would have to decide could be taken before the Sheriff Courts of the provinces, and then, after being carefully sifted by the Sheriffs or their Substitutes, forwarded in a documentary form to Edinburgh.  It would scarce be wise to attempt extemporizing an official code in a newspaper article; but the laws of such a code might, we think, be ranged under three heads,—immorality, incompetency, and breach of trust to the parents.  We would urge the dismissal, as wholly unqualified to stand in the relation of teacher to the youthhead, of the tippling, licentious, or dishonest schoolmaster; further, we would urge the dismissal (and in cases of this kind the corroborative evidence of the Government inspector might be regarded as indispensable) of an incompetent teacher who did not serve the purpose of his appointment; and, in the third and last place, we would urge that a teacher who made an improper use of his professional influence over his pupils, and of the opportunities necessarily afforded him, and who taught them to entertain beliefs, ecclesiastical or semi-ecclesiastical, which their parents regarded as erroneous, should be severely reprimanded for such an offence in the first instance, and dismissed if he persevered in it.  We would confer upon the board, in cases of this last kind, no power of deciding regarding the absolute right or wrong of the dogmas taught.  The teacher might be a zealous Voluntary, who assured the children of men such as the writer of these articles that their fathers, in asserting the Establishment principle, approved themselves limbs of that mystic Babylon which was first founded by Constantine; or he might be a conscientious Establishment-man, who dutifully pressed upon the Voluntary pupils under his care, that their parents, though they perhaps did not know it, were atheistical in their views.  And we would permit no board to determine in such cases, whether Voluntaryism was in any respect or degree tantamount to atheism, or the Establishment principle to Popery.  But we would ask them to declare, as wise and honest men, that no schoolmaster, under the pretext of a zeal for truth, should with impunity break faith with the parents of his pupils, or prejudice the unformed and ductile minds entrusted to his care against their hereditary beliefs.  Should we, however, do no violence by such a provision, we have heard it asked, to the conscientious convictions of the schoolmaster?  No, not in the least.  If he was in reality the conscientious man that he professed to be, he would quit his equivocal position as a teacher, in which, without being dishonest, he could not fulfil what he deemed his religious duty, and become a minister; a character in which he would find Churches within which he could affirm with impunity that Dr. Chalmers was, in virtue of his Establishment views, little better than a Papist, or that Robert Hall, seeing he was a Voluntary, must have been an unconscious atheist at bottom.

    Let us next consider what the influence of the ministers of our Church would be under a national scheme such as that which we desiderate, and what the probability that the national teaching would be religious.  The minister, as such, would possess, nominally at least, but a single vote; and if he were what an ordained minister may in some cases be—merely a suit of black clothes surmounted by a white neckcloth—the vote, nominally one, would be also really but one; nor ought it, we at once say, to weigh in such cases an iota more than it counted.   Mere black coats and white neckcloths, though called by congregations, and licensed and ordained by presbyteries, never yet carried on the proper business of either Church or school.  But if the minister was no mere suit of clothes, but a Christian man, ordained and called not merely by congregations and presbyteries, but by God Himself, his one vote in the case would outweigh hundreds, simply because it would represent the votes of hundreds.  Let us suppose that, with the national schools thrown open, a vacancy had occurred in the parish school of Cromarty during the incumbency of the lamented Mr. Stewart.  The people of the town and parish, possessing the educational franchise, would meet; their committee would deliberate; there would be a teacher chosen,—in all probability, the present excellent Free Church teacher of the town; and every man would feel that he had exercised in the election his own judgment on his own proper responsibility.  And yet it would assuredly be the teacher whom the minister had deemed on the whole most eligible for the office, that would find himself settled, in virtue of the transaction, in the parish school.  How?  Not, certainly, through any exercise of clerical domination, nor through any employment of what is still more hateful—clerical manoeuvre—but in virtue of a widespread confidence reposed by the people in the wisdom and the integrity of the minister sent them by God Himself to preach to them the everlasting gospel.  In almost all the surrounding parishes—in Resolis, Rosskeen, Urquhart under the late Dr. M'Donald, Alness, Kiltearn, Kincardine, Kilmuir, etc. etc. etc.—in similar cases similar results would follow; and if there are preachers in that vast northern or northwestern tract—which, with the three northern counties, includes also almost the entire Highlands—in which such results would not follow, it would be found that in most cases the fault lay rather with the ordained suits of black, topped by the white neckcloths, than with the people whom they failed to influence.

    As for the religion or the religious teaching of the schools, we hold it to be one of the advantages of the proposed scheme, that it would really stir up both ministers and people to think seriously of the matter, and to secure for the country truly religious teaching, so far as it was found to be at once practicable and good.  Previous to the year 1843, when the parish schools lay fully within our power, there was really nothing done to introduce religious teaching into them: we had it all secure on written sheepskin, that their teaching should and might be religious, for we had them all fast bound to the Establishment; and, as if that were enough of itself, ministers, backed by heritors and their factors, went on filling these parish schools with men who stood the test of the Disruption worse, in the proportion of at least five to one, than any other class in the country, and who, if their religious teaching had but taken effect on the people by bringing them to their own level, would have rendered that Disruption wholly an impossibility. [16]  And then, when that great event occurred, we flung ourselves into an opposite extreme,—eulogized our Educational Scheme as the best and most important of all the Schemes of our Church, on, we suppose, the principle so well understood by the old divines, that whereas the other schemes were of God, and God-enjoined, this scheme was of ourselves,—introduced, further, the design of 'inducting' our teachers, as if an idle ceremony could be any substitute for the indispensable commission signed by the Sovereign, and could make the non-commissioned by Him at least half ecclesiastics. [17]  And then, after teaching our schoolmasters to teach religion, we sent them abroad in shoals—some of them, no doubt, converted men, hundreds of them unconverted, and religious but by certificate—to make the children of the Free Church as good Christians as themselves.  And by attempting to make them half ecclesiastics, we have but succeeded in making them half mendicants, and somewhat more,—a character which assuredly no efficient schoolmaster ought to bear; for while his profession holds in Scripture no higher place than the two secular branches of the learned professions, physic and the law, he is as certainly worthy of his reward, and of maintaining an independent position in society, as either the lawyer or the physician.  In schools truly national—with no sheepskin authority to sleep over on the one hand, and no idle dream of semi-ecclesiastical 'induction' to beguile on the other—the item of religious teaching, brought into prominence by both the Free and the Established Churches in the preliminary struggle, would assert and receive its due place.  Scotland would possess what it never yet possessed,—not even some twenty years or so after the death of Knox,—a system of schools worthy, in the main, of a Christian country.  We are told by old Robert Blair, in his Autobiography, that when first brought under religious impressions (in the year 1600), 'he durst never play on the Lord's day, though the schoolmaster, after taking an account of the Catechism, dismissed the children with that express direction, "Go not to the town, but to the fields, and play."  I obeyed him,' adds the worthy man, 'in going to the fields, but refused to play with my companions, as against the commandment of God.'  Now it is not at all strange that there should have been such a schoolmaster, in any age of the Presbyterian Church, in one of the parish schools of our country; but somewhat strange, mayhap, considering the impression so generally received regarding the Scottish schools of that period, that Blair should have given us no reason whatever to regard the case as an extreme or exceptional one.  Certainly, with such a central board in existence as that which we desiderate, no such type of schoolmaster would continue to hold office in a national seminary.

    Further, it really seems difficult to determine whether the difference between the old educational scheme of Knox and that proposed at the present time by the Free Church, or the difference between the circumstances of Scotland in his days and of Scotland in the present day, be in truth the wider difference of the two.  Knox judged it of 'necessitie that every several kirk should have one schoolmaster appointed,'—'such a one at least as was able to teach grammar and the Latine tongue;' 'that there should be erected in every notable town,' a 'colledge, in which the arts, logic, and rhethorick, together with the tongues, should be read by masters, for whom honest stipends should be appointed;' and further, 'that fair provision should be made for the [support of the] poor [pupils], in especial those who came from landward,' and were 'not able, by their friends nor by themselves, to be sustained at letters.'  We know that the notable towns referred to here as of importance enough to possess colleges were, many of them, what we would now deem far from notable.  Kirkwall, the Chanonry of Ross, Brechin, St. Andrews, Inverary, Jedburgh, and Dumfries, are specially named in the list; and we know further, that what Knox deemed an 'honest stipend' for a schoolmaster, amounted on the average to about two-thirds the stipend of a minister.  Such, in the sixteenth century, was the wise scheme of the liberal and scholarly Knox, the friend of Calvin, Beza, and Buchanan.  Are we to recognise its counterpart in the middle of the nineteenth century, in a scheme at least three-fourths of whose teachers are paid with yearly salaries of from £10 to £13, 13s. 4d.—about half ploughman's wages—and of whom not a fourth have passed the ordeal of a Government examination, pitched at the scale of the lowest rate of attainment?  The scheme of the noble Knox!  Say rather a many-ringed film-spinning grub, that has come creeping out of the old crackling parchment, in which the sagacious Reformer approved himself as much in advance of his own age, as many of those who profess to walk most closely in his steps demonstrate themselves to be in the rear of theirs.

    Let us next mark how entirely the circumstances of the country have changed since the days of the First Book of Discipline.  With the exception of the clergy, a few lay proprietors, and a sprinkling of the inhabitants of the larger towns, Scotland was altogether, in the earlier period, an uneducated nation.  Even for more than a century after, there were landed gentlemen of the northern counties unable, as shown by old deeds, to sign their names.  If the Church had not taken upon herself the education of the people in those ages, who else was there to teach them?  Not one.  Save for her exertions, the divine command, 'Search the Scriptures,' would have remained to at least nine-tenths of the nation a dead letter.  But how entirely different the circumstances of Scotland in the present time!  The country has its lapsed masses,—men in very much the circumstances, educationally, of the great bulk of the population in the age of Knox; and we at once grant that, unless the Churches of the country deal with these as Knox dealt with the whole, there is but little chance of their ever being restored to society or the humanizing influences of religion, let Government make for them what provision it may.'  But such is not the condition of the membership of at least the evangelical Churches.  Such is palpably not the condition of the membership of the Free Church, consisting as it does of parents taken solemnly bound, in their baptismal engagements, to bring up their children in the 'nurture and admonition of the Lord,' and of the children for whom they have been thus taken bound.  Save in a few exceptional cases, their education is secure, let the Church exert herself as little as she may.  She is but exhausting herself in vain efforts to do what would be done better without her.  She has all along contemplated, we are told, merely the education of her own members; and these form exactly that portion of the people which—unless, indeed, the solemn engagements which she has deliberately laid upon them mean as little an excise affidavits or Bow Street oaths—may be safely left to a broad national scheme, wisely based on a principle of parental responsibility.

    'If thou altogether boldest thy peace at this time,' said Mordecai to Esther, 'then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed.'  Scotland will have ultimately her Educational Scheme adequate to the demands of the age; but if the Free Church stand aloof, and suffer the battle to be fought by others, her part or lot in it may be a very small matter indeed.  What, we ask, would be her share, especially in the Highlands, in a scheme that rendered the basis of the educational franchise merely co-extensive with the basis of the political one?  Nay, what, save perhaps in the northern burghs, would be her share in such a scheme over Scotland generally?  A mere makeweight at best.  But at least the lay membership of the Free Church will, we are assured, not long stand aloof; and this great question of national education being in no degree an ecclesiastical one, nor lying within the jurisdiction of presbyteries or assemblies, true lovers of their country and of their species, whether of the Established or of the Free Churches, will come forward and do their duty as Scotchmen on the political platform.  In neither body does the attitude assumed by the ecclesiastical element in this question, so far as has yet been indicated, appear of a kind which plain, simple-minded laymen will delight to contemplate.  The Established Church courts are taking up the ground that the teaching in their parish schools has been all along religious, and at least one great source from which has sprung the vitalities of the country's faith.  And who does not know that to be a poor, unsolid fiction,—a weak and hollow sham?  And, on the other hand, some of our Free Churchmen are asserting that they are not morally bound to their forlorn teachers for the meagre and altogether inadequate salaries held out to them in prospect, when they were set down in their humble schools, divorced from all other means of support, to regulate their very limited expenditure by the specified incomes.  Further, they virtually tell us that we cannot possibly take our stand as Scotchmen on this matter, in the only practical position, without being untrue to our common Christianity, and enemies to our Church.  It has been urged against our educational articles, that we have failed to take into account the fall of man: he would surely be an incorrigible sceptic, we reply, who could look upon statements such as these, and yet doggedly persist in doubting that man has fallen.  But, alas! it is not a matter on which to congratulate ourselves, that when the Established Church is coming forward to arrest the progress of national education with her strange equivocal caveat, the Free Church—the Church of the Disruption—should be also coming forward with a caveat which at least seems scarce less equivocal; and that, like the twin giants of Guildhall—huge, monstrous, unreal—both alike should be turning deaf and wooden ears to the great clock of destiny, as it strikes the hours of doom to their distracted and sinking country.  O for an hour of the great, the noble-minded Chalmers!  Ultimately, however, the good cause is secure.  It is a cause worth struggling and suffering for.  We know a little boy, not yet much of a reader, who has learned to bring a copy of Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, which now opens of itself at the battle of Bannockburn, to a little girl, his sister, somewhat more in advance, that she may read to him, for the hundredth time, of Wallace and the Black Douglas, and how the good King Robert struck down Sir Henry Bohun with a single blow, full in the sight of both armies.  And after drinking in the narrative, he tells that, when grown to be a big man, he too is to be a soldier like Robert the Bruce, and to 'fight in the battle of Scotland.'  And then he asks his father when the battle of Scotland is to begin!  Laymen of the Free Church, the battle of Scotland has already begun; and 'tis a battle better worth fighting than any other which has arisen within the political arena since the times of the Reform Bill.  Your country has still claims upon you: the Disruption may have dissolved the tie which bound you to party; but that which binds you to Scotland still remains entire.  The parental right is not dissolved by any traditionary requirements of the altar; nor can we urge with impunity to our country, —'It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me.'

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