صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

sentence from the same book; and (3), to work a sum in the four lowest compound rules of arithmetic, involving money calculations. Now, if seven-eighths of those who pass out of the elementary schools of England are unable to comply with these requirements, and if only about 50 per cent. of the children of 'the poorer classes, between the ages of five and ten, are at any • one time on the books of any school,' the inference is of course plain that 94 out of erery 100 of the people’ receive as their equipment for life-as their only preparation for their duties as citizens—an 'education' which is deficient in almost all that it should contain, and contains only the barest rudiments of instruction; so bare, indeed, as to be almost useless. Surely, when we clamour for education for the people,' we mean something more than this. Without, however, inquiring just now what such a demand ought to comprehend, or stopping to prove that the results just quoted satisfy no theoretical definition of education that we can frame, we pass on to show from another point of view the vagueness and narrowness of this popular cry. The.

people,' for whom 'education' is so importunately demanded, are by common consent the poorer classes of society. It is assumed-we are far from saying, wrongly—that they are, as a general rule, nurtured in ignorance and vice; that they especially need to be taught their duties to the commonwealth; and that society, instead of leaving the matter to their option, as in the case of the upper classes, has a stern right to demand a recognition both of the benefits and obligations of such a training as is suited to their social position. We believe society does well in making this demand, and in the case in which these classes are themselves unable to procure instruction for their children, in supplying it to them gratis; and we can only hope that in time to come the article supplied will be better worth their having. We think, however, that society takes a rather partial and contracted view of her rights over her members, manifesting extreme anxiety that the poorer classes should be properly educated, but treating the parallel case of the upper classes with considerable indifference. • The minimum • of education,' says Horace Mann, 'can never be less than such as is sufficient to qualify each citizen for the civil and social

duties he will have to discharge. We accept this categorical limitation, and maintain that it includes all classes of society, without any exception. Nor can we see any reason for thus educating the poor which is not equally binding on the rich. The one is as much the people as the other. We hold, then, that the upper classes of society are no more at liberty to neglect the education of their children altogether, or to be indifferent as

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Education for the Ruling Classes.

37

to its quality, than the poorer classes, whom we have hitherto invited, and are now talking of compelling, to have their children educated for their own benefit and that of the community. Education, according to the notions of the ruling classes,' is something very proper for the poor, to teach them to submit 'themselves to all their governors, teachers, spiritual pastors, and masters,' and 'to order themselves lowly and reverently to • all their betters. This is a legitimate, but not an adequate view of the case. Education for the people has something more to do than this. It has also to teach their correlative duties to those very ruling classes themselves, and to equip them properly for the special ministrations which they deem themselves born to discharge. Education, in fact, is quite as 'proper' a thing for the rulers themselves as for the ruled ; and since the hard necessity of circumstances, which requires that the latter should have their heads' turned into “hands' as soon as possible, even while the citizen' is in the crudest embryonic condition -does not thwart the arrangements of the former, we consider it self-evident that in the case of those who should have unlimited time and means at their disposal, society has a right to require that the noble idea of a complete and generous education,' indicated by Milton, viz., “that which fits a man to perform justly, * skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices, both public and private, of peace and war,' should be fully realized. The question, then, is whether our young nobility, landed aristocracy, church dignitaries, ministers of state, members of parliament, naval and military officers, judges and magistrates, are at this moment receiving such an education as society has a right to require of those who are to be entrusted, almost as a matter of course, with her most precious interests. Before, however, we proceed to show from the authorities in our hands what is the real character of the education with which the ruling classes are themselves contented, we must briefly deal with a preliminary objection which starts up in the well-known shape of May

not a man do what he will with his own ?' The classes in question, it is urged, are practically independent of the demands of society. They ask for no State aid in the training of their chil. dren, nor any advice as to the sort of education which they may provide for them. They hold themselves entirely exempt from interference in this matter; and if they choose to patronise a system, the results of which are—to use Mr. Gladstone's inode. rate language-scandalously small,' that is their business, and concerns no one besides, At this point, however, we join issue, and maintain, in the words of John Knox, that the rich and 'potent may not be permitted to suffer their children to spend

[ocr errors]

their youth in vain idleness ;' and that the studies of their children should be so conducted that the commonwealth may “have some comfort by them.' Yes, in opposition to the idea that every man may do what he will with his own, we maintain that the commonwealth is to have a voice in the matter of the education of those who are to be the heads as well as of those who are to be the hands of society; and that it is not exactly optional with the higher classes, whatever they may think about it, to be indifferent to the quality and quantity of the training of their children. Social position has its duties as well as its privileges; and the time is surely coming when every claimant of the latter will be compelled—yes, compelled-to admit the obligations of the former; when the highest offices of our home and colonial governments

, senate, church, civil service, army and navy, diplomatic corps, magistracy, &c., will be filled by those only whoin a complete and generous education' has qualified for justly, skilfully, and magnanimously' discharging them. Tried by such a standard—and it is no ideal one-we affirm fearlessly that the educational training of our high schools and colleges is lamentably inefficient, and that the ruling classes, if they are to remain such, must be called upon for a very different education–different both in kind and degree-from that which is furnished in the school-rooms, or even-what many consider a more valid guarantee-in the playing-fields of Eton.

Without, however, pursuing these preliminary remarks, we will now proceed to ascertain how far the highest school education of England answers to the type of that which is to fit the citizen of the upper classes for performing his duties “justly,

skilfully, and magnanimously.' After sifting the pretensions of Eton to assume this noble position, we shall perhaps be disposed to take up the cry of Education for the people’ in a higher key, and to invest it with a deeper significance than before.

The object of the commissioners was to inquire not only into the education carried on at Eton and the other public schools, but also into the nature and application of the endowments, • funds, and revenues belonging to or received' by them. The investigation into this branch of the subject they pursued with great assiduity, and in a style of fearless determination to know the truth, which considerably tried the fencing' powers of the registrar-Mr. Batcheldor—as well as those of the provost and bursar-Dr. Goodford and the Rev. Mr. Dupuis. It seems to us that the conduct and bearing of those gentlemen under examination did little to recommend the high morality of which it is pretended that the entire Eton system is an exponent.

6

Violation of the Eton Statutes.

39

They had the option of either frankly expressing their disapprobation of the system of managing the funds

adopted by their predecessors, or as frankly defending it. No one, of course, thought of making them responsible for it, whatever it was, nor of depriving them personally of the advantages for which, it seems pretty clear, some of their predecessors had sold their consciences; but it surely was scarcely becoming in them to play fast and loose with the subject, as they did. Sometimes we find them actually apologising for wrong-doing, sometimes pleading ignorance of what was clearly on the surface, sometimes taking credit for amending what they had just before justified, as needing no amendment-at one time professing the strictest regard to the letter of the statutes, as enjoined upon them by the solemnity of an oath,' at another, pleading as earnestly for the substance, on the ground of a spiritual dispensation from the bondage of the letter. Why, as honourable men, attempt any justification of the unrighteous deeds of their predecessors, even although those predecessors, as to some of their actiolis, were only removed twenty years from themselves ? They were removed—and that was enough. These witnesses could not suppose, because they'declined to give any opinion' on the cases of conscience repeatedly set before them by Lord Clarendon or Mr. Vaughan, that their demur settled these cases, and made the worse really appear the better reason. If, to use the expressions of the Report 'until within a very ' recent period, the King's Scholars derived little, if any, benefit ' from the vastly increased wealth of the Foundation, the ad 'vantages of which were enjoyed, and in reality monopolized,

by the provost and fellows ;' if there can be no doubt that if 'the letter of the statutes was adhered to, their substance was ' systematically violated;' if 'a large proportion of the actual income of the college is diverted from the purposes to which that income is, by the statutes, directed to be applied ;' if the real increase in the value of the property of the college is by 'the system established at Eton, subtracted from the corporate

revenue for the private and personal advantage of individual 'members of the Foundation ;' if these statements are true--and they are amply borne out by the evidence-surely they amount to an arraignment of a system which no honourable man, however much he may be personally interested in maintaining it, ought to compromise himself by defending. The moral character of Eton is worth even more than the £6,385 a year which goes into the private purse of the provost and fellows, instead of into the public chest of the college, and we see no reasons, except such as are personal and petty, for attempting to defend what is so explicitly condemned on the unimpeachable authority of the commissioners. At the same time, we repeat that the present authorities, however much they may benefit by the enjoyment of the plunder, ought not to be called on to disgorge it, nor even to justify their own possession and usufruct; but decency does require that they should place no obstacle in the way of those who would set these matters on a better footing for the time to come, and re-establish the violated principles of public justice. We do not profess in this article to give a complete account of the Eton system, either of husbandry or education, and are, therefore, debarred from furnishing full proofs of the charges brought against it by the commissioners in the words already cited. Still, it is essential to our purpose to give a few samples. It appears to have been the custom, from time immemorial, to grant long leases of the college property, not at the actual value, but at a small reserved rent, with heavy fines on renewal, so that the annual rent, plus the fine, made up the revenue derived from the estate. It will scarcely be believed, that by a most extraordinary interpretation of the word “ revenue,' the small rent was made to represent the total value in the books of the college, while the big fine was considered 'plunder' for the administrators; or, as Mr. Dupuis delicately phrased it, the fines were never audited. The registrar, it is true, lays great stress on the fact that this was the custom of “all religious houses,' of' every religious body,' and of deans and chapters,' although he squeamishly holds back at the moment that we are expecting the sanctimonious sequitur. The old lawyers—to do them justice-who framed the original statutes, seem to have taken great pains to provide for the natural absorption of the minds of the directors of * religious houses’ in their pious duties, and to have presumed that everything ought to be most minutely defined ; and they therefore laid it down with the utmost explicitness, that all the ' receipts, payments, and expenses, from whatever quarter • derived,' should be constantly and completely audited and entered in the books, and that this was to be done with the view of ascertaining the true annual value of the property.' Having thus stipulated for the exercise of truth and honesty, the statutes went even further, and bound the provost and fellows, ' by the most solemn oaths,' to appropriate the whole of the funds faithfully. In an evil hour some ignorant, but of course well-meaning enthusiast, dead to Latin, but alive to religion, took it into his head to interpret the word 'omnia' 'some, and all his brethren, in a pious trance or fantasy-not knowing what they did-accepted the misinterpretation-and the pelf which it

« السابقةمتابعة »