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passage. "The country schoolmaster is independent of all system and control; he is the scribe as well as the chronicler and pedagogue of his little circle; he is the centre of the mystery of rustic iniquity; the cheap attorney of the neighbourhood; and furnished with his little book of precedents, the fabricator of false leases and surreptitious deeds and conveyances. Possessed of important secrets and of useful acquirements, he is courted and caressed; a cordial reception and the usual allowance of whiskey greet his approach; and he completes his character by adding inebriety to his other accomplishments." The question in Ireland is not whether the people are, or are not, to be educated; that, they have decided for themselves: it is, whether education is to be of a nature to bind them to the laws in virtue and happiness, or whether it is to be such as to render them enemies of social order, morality, and religion. This question the legislature and the higher classes must decide for them.
Under the present course of instruction, it is not wonderful that the national character should become degraded. "In what land can there be met so melancholy a combination of causes, all tending to excite every bad passion and impress every evil habit! a land from whence the marks and remembrances of its civil broils have not yet passed away-a people full of zeal indeed for religion, alive to every thing kind and generous, hospitable, good-humoured and warm-hearted;-but with what melancholy combinations do they possess these fine qualities! They can combine them with dissoluteness and depravity, with fraud and deceit; with an habitual disregard of truth, and frequent violations of the sanctity of an oath." The commitments for perjury in England during the years 1815, 1816, 1817 and 1818, have been 44, the convictions 11. In a similar proportion the commitments in Ireland should be 28, and the convictions 7. What is the fact? During the four years under consideration, 219 have been committed in Ireland under charges of perjury, and 76 have been convicted; exceeding in a tenfold degree the number which might have been expected.
It is a singular fact, that this dearth of proper establishments for the education of the young in Ireland, by no means proceeds from the want of good laws, nor from any deficiency of pecuniary liberality on the part of the legislature. But the laws which we allude to, are not properly acted on, and the liberal grants of parliament have been so misdirected as to produce mischief rather than good. By the statute law of Ireland, (12 Eliz. c. 1. 28 Hen. 8.) the charge and duties of national education are to a very considerable extent
* Thoughts on the Education of the Poor, p. 12.
intrusted to the established church. The protestant clergy are bound by law, as well as in conscience, to contribute to this great work of Christian love and charity. Schools are by law directed to be established in every diocese (12 Eliz.), one-third of the support of which ought to be supplied by the ordinary, and the remaining two-thirds are made a charge on the clergy at large. Yet it was stated by the Irish secretary in 1811 (Mr. Pole), that 10 only out of 22 dioceses were provided with such schools. In other words, it appeared that 12 out of 22 of the richly endowed bishops of Ireland have neglected one of the most important duties of their high station.
By the 11th Report of the Irish Commissioners of Education, (reprinted 10th July 1821), it also appears that every incumbent appointed to a living in Ireland takes a solemn oath to the following effect:
"I, A. B., do solemnly swear that I will teach, or cause to be taught, within the said vicarage or rectory of
one school, as the law in that case requires.'
It also appears, that a great proportion of the regular clergy have altogether omitted to perform this solemn engagement, ratified as it is by an oath. This is a most melancholy and awful fact; and the result unfortunately is, that the parish schools, which Mr. Pole considered in 1813 as calculated to educate 120,000 scholars, did not at that period contain above 23,000. Thus the richest church establishment in Europe is that which furnishes the most extraordinary and unpardonable instances of indifference to the obliga tions which its ministers are bound to fulfil. Ought not these errors to be corrected, if the church wishes to deserve public confi dence and esteem, and to be protected in the enjoyment of its im mense revenues?
To the work of education, the established clergy should be called on to contribute most liberally. A suggestion on this subject has already been made, and sanctioned by the highest ecclesiastical authority in Ireland. It is subjoined to the 14th Report of the Irish Commisioners of Education, and is contained in the following important words: "It might not, it is submitted, be unreasonable that the clergy should be rated at a sum not exceeding 2 per cent. of their respective incomes, to be ascertained by the bishops." This recommendation is entitled to the highest respect: it is invaluable; and was most properly made the foundation of the suggestions thrown out in parliament by Mr. Pole in 1811.
We have already stated that the public grants have been most liberal in support of Irish schools and charities. Three establishments, chiefly devoted to education, have, since the Union, swallowed up 1,242,5147. of the public money. Had this sum been wisely
appropriated, and prudently administered, but little would now have been wanting for the establishment of schools in Ireland. Till the administrations of the two last secretaries, (Mr. Peel and Mr. Grant,) the favoured objects of the public bounty were sought for among schools established on principles hostile to the catholics, and useless to the protestants. This selection of schools devoted to proselytism, or liable to suspicion, has contributed to increase religious jealousies, and has made every interference of government a cause of distrust and alarm, which the enlightened policy of one secretary, and the liberal benevolence of his successor, have scarcely been able to remove.
We trust that a comprehensive plan of national education may at length be carried into effect in Ireland. In other times, benevolence would have pointed out such a course; it is now prescribed to the legislature by necessity."A liberal system of education should grow out of the government of the country. Taught to respect the laws, the people would then be happy."-Nor should this system be founded on a cold exclusion of all religious instruction: liberality requires no such unnatural and indefensible sacrifice. Education, independent of religion, is but too liable to become education inconsistent with it. Religious instruction will be found the most powerful corrective to the violence and insubordination created by misgovernment and oppression. "Without this, there can be no safety. Acts of Parliament will become waste paper, should the great machine of the state receive but a momentary shock, or its powers be loosened for an instantt." It is not religious instruction which has alarmed the catholics; it is the spirit of proselytism they deprecate, and seek to avert. Their opponents have, it is true, imputed to them an enmity to education itself; but, fortunately, the facts of the case refute this calumny, and the efforts made by the catholic priesthood very generally, are notorious and praiseworthy. It so happens also, that the two most liberal and rational pamphlets which have ever appeared on the subject of Irish education, have proceeded from the pens of catholics. To these we most earnestly refer our readers who wish to pursue this interesting subject further.
It may be asked, whether the catholic clergy are not fully equal to the religious instruction of the flocks committed to their charge. Feeling a sincere respect for the ecclesiastical orders of the Roman catholic church, we doubt their powers, though we have every
Mr. Plunket's Speech in 1813.
+ Thoughts on the Education of the Irish Poor.
Thoughts on the Education of the Irish Poor. Cadell, 1821.—Address to the Catholic Clergy, on the Religious Instruction of the Poor. Dublin, 1221. confidence
confidence in their inclinations. The catholic clergy are not, at present, sufficiently numerous for the duties they are called upon to fulfil. A priesthood, applicable in point of numbers to a population of 3,500,000 in 1791, is insufficient for the religious instruction of 6,000,000 of catholics in 1822. The mere official duties of the catholic priesthood are so laborious and arduous, as very nearly to prevent the discharge of that personal and immediate superintendence essential to the moral and religious improvement of their flocks." The errors which have taken the deepest root require a more particular and patient agency for their destruction than the priest can bring to the task. He feels the utter impossibility-Day and night without rest and intermission, in the summer heats, in the cold and the storm, in the rains and snows of winter, he traverses the mountain and the bog, on foot and horseback, in the ordinary course of his ministration. He returns to his humble dwelling fatigued, exhausted; and finds perhaps one or more messengers from distant parts of his extensive parishes, requiring his immediate attendance on the sick :-If he hesitates, they entreat; if he is obstinate, they threaten, and he is forced to comply. In the morning, he fixes his station on the brow of some distant hill. Here multitudes on multitudes come crowding to be confessed, and night brings him home again, if he is permitted to sleep, only to renew with the morning in a more distant quarter the labours of the past day. On Sunday, mass is to be celebrated at two or more chapels, perhaps many miles asunder; no matter how bad the weather, the roaring torrent, or the broken way. The last mass and service are not finished till late in the day, and till then the priest is not permitted to touch food; no matter though he is sick, old, or infirm. Can such a life of labour and exhaustion afford means or opportunity for the improvement of the people *?" Such is the question asked by a most respectable catholic, and there can be no doubt as to the answer it demands; nor do we feel any doubt as to the necessity which exists of augmenting the number of the Romish clergy, and of providing for them sufficient and independent support. It is not by a miserable economy in the annual grant for Maynooth college; it is not by salaries of 251. to professors, and a daily stipend of Is. 4d. to 250 students, that the wants of the catholic church can be supplied. That church has already shown itself disposed to make every sacrifice which the interests of the public may require; and means should be taken to give to the priesthood such augmentation of numbers, as shall render it efficient in the cause of religious instruction. The ancient foundations on the continent of Europe, for the instruction of the Irish
Thoughts on the Education of the Poor.
clergy, were more liberal than the establishments supported by the Imperial parliament. Four hundred and seventy-eight Irish students were formerly educated in the catholic universities abroad, four hundred and twenty-six of whom were supported gratuitously. Are the interests of the public so slightly connected with this subject, that the generosity of foreigners will not produce a generous rivalry, leading to a more liberal support of the candidates for ferment in the Roman catholic church of Ireland? Looking back to the history of the last twenty years, we shall find that the exertions of the parish priests have been, at every risk and sacrifice, devoted to the support of the laws, and the maintenance of peace and good order. During the late fever in Ireland, the ra vages of which almost resembled a pestilence, no mention occurred in which the catholic clergy shrunk from the performance of their duty, though it brought them into immediate contact with the dead and the dying. One example of their excelling virtue was stated by Mr. Grant, in the house of commons:-" A Roman catholic priest was called upon to visit a small cabin, in which six individuals were lying, all violently affected with the typhus fever. The priest had no other means of receiving the dying man's communication, and of administering to him the consolations of religion, out by throwing himself on the wretched pallet on which the sick man lay, and thus inhaling contagion at its source*." Such have been the merits of the catholic clergy, such have been their exertions. That these exertions have not been more successful, may be traced to the counteraction of powerfully exciting causes, and to the inadequacy of the numbers of the clergy for the great task they have shown themselves ready to undertake.
If we could allow ourselves to complete our sketch, it would be necessary to point out the injustice and oppression resulting from the local taxation levied by the grand juries. It would also be necessary to explain to English readers, the perjuries and corrup tion, the moral, physical, and political evils originating in the fraudulent multiplication of freeholds, for the purpose of making the entire mass of the peasantry, the tools of political speculation. But we cannot allow ourselves to enter into further details, though perfectly aware that the subjects alluded to are most important, and that they would confirm our general argument.
Our object has been not only to call, as far as lies in our power, the attention of our readers to Irish affairs, and to give them whatever information we have been able to collect; but to persuade them that a calin and dispassionate consideration of this question is the duty both of individuals and of the legislature. It is impe
* Parliamentary Debates, 1819.