페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

to be the almost exclusive attention unwisely and unjustly given to classical learning. This practice is unequally op- clude the meaner candidates. Stillingfleet remarks a somewhat similar operation in a curious account of the early Jewish institutions; "But it is no news to hear that societies instituted for good and pious ends, should degenerate from the first intention of the founders of them; and thus it is probable it was with the Levites, who finding the most of their benefit and advantage to come in by the ceremonial cases, might be more negligent of the moral part of divine service, which brought no secular emolument to them." Origines Sacrffi, vol. 1. p. 176. Ed. 1797. Oxon. At St. Alban's a like effect was early noticed. The following passage is taken from Mr Carlisle's extract from the books of the corporation, of the year 1635.

The Mayor and Aldermen having observed "that many parents upon hope to benefit their children more than the general, have secretly exceeded the rates aforesaid, being the ancient rates settled upon the foundation of the school; and finding by experience, that for that cause the said schoolmasters and ushers of the said school have applied themselves in their pains and affections much more to the children of such parents, than the general, whereby the general have been much neglected and hindered in their learning, (for the good of which general the school was chiefly formed)" they therefore, tor the prevention of the like inconvenience for the time to come, wisely ordained "that if any parent or friend of any schollar or schollars of the said school now being or hereafter to be admitted into the said school, shall directly or indirectly exceed the said ancient rates, to the intents before mentioned, and the same shall be well known or sufficiently proved to the said Maior and principal burgesses, or their successors in time to come, that then and from thenceforth the schollar and schollars of such parents and friends shall be excluded out of the said school, and not to be admitted thither again, but at the will and pleasure of the said Maior and principal burgesses and their successors; and at and upon the special instance and request of their parents or friends to be made to the said Maior and burgesses, and upon faithfull promise not so again to exceed the said ancient rates." Endowed Grammar Schools, vol. 1. p. 518.

There is reason to believe that even in Scotland similar causes operate to the disadvantage of the less opulent candidates for knowledge.

With us self-interest has lamented and preserved the system (which the rich are content with) where the original ordinances seem to prescribe it, and, what is worth attention, the same point has been successfully aimed at, when in the documents of later foundations not a shadow of pretence for it, as a hard necessity exists. What strange reasons for evils they produce who miss the right ones! Bishop Watson speaks of the desertion of Lilly for Cocker, and descants upon Lhe degeneracy of the times. Lord Eldon has talked of the passion of heiding in sixties and seventies in boarding schools; and so prejudiced are some persons to this latter notion, that in a Chancery suit now pending relative to a school in Sussex, in whish the founder permits the master to take six boarding pupils for his private emolument, a request has actually been made that the number of such scholars should in future be unlimited; inasmuch as since the year 1614, the feelings and character ef the people of England are changed. The same person who officiates as master during the suit, refuses the teaching of the rightful candidates in any thing but Latin, and having found a mechanic's son teaching himself figures and writing out of school hours, he increased pressive. "The richer sort," who make up for institutional deficiences by a residence at the Universities, or in their wealth feel them not, may be invited to public schools by would be most conducive towards the education of the poor, and most promote the views of founders. Their presence, therefore, does not insure the best courses, and gives an air of respectability to them, by which complaints of inadequacy to their real purposes are rendered apparently frivolous. In this point of view an unauthorised resort of stipendiary boys is injurious to their interests. Although they are generally connected with the Universities, and may justly be guided by the safe tour of,Improvements there, as well as by the more rapid advances in the world, yet in reality it never was intended that such courses should be pursued in them, as would require three years' tuition in a college, before the students should be fitted for activity. The mass of boys entitled to free admission in Grammar schools, may be expected to leave them for various businesses in middle life, under the age of seventeen. But the asserted theory and general practice seems to have in view, a class who are beginning a series of studies, to be closed only with their minority. Whatever discussion the propriety of the plan for such may admit, there cannot be two opinions on its singular unsuitableness to the wants of the great body of proper candidates. That it is not fairly attributable to the founders of these schools, will, it is presumed, be sufficiently apparent to justify the interference of the legislature to check its progress. The sense of the people of England has been plainly enough pronounced upon the subject; for the schools are, comparatively speaking, deserted. With all the hatred of abuses so observable among us, the rights of the people in these have rarely been thought worth contending for. There is not to be discovered, in the minds of the middle and poorer classes of society, an abstract dislike or disapprobation of the higher branches of knowledge. At the earliest periods, and particularly since the Reformation, the high road of advancement has been travelled by all sorts

his classical lessons, in order to occupy that time: and the trustee petitioned against, professes to think that a tenantry at rentals of upwards of 600/. per annum, cannot want a Grammar school education. It appears to be a system to fix marks of ruin upon the natural course of things, and drive men into new channels of protection, the existence of which is afterwards to account for the desertion of the former paths. This circular reasoning is not uncommon; but the readiness with which the Lord Chancellor adopted it in the late discussions in parliament, is much to be regretted.

[graphic]

of men, and bounded only with the throne. From the days of Latimer to those of Bishop Watson, great numbers of the sons of the inferior yeomanry and traders have risen to honor by means of their intellectual attainments. The degree in which this rightof advancement operated, was perhaps formany ages, that important characteristic of our commonwealth which distinguishes us from all the world. All the proofs of which such a fact is susceptible, show that the advantages of learning are held in sufficient respect. It is not true, in any rational sense of the phrase, that "Cocker has superseded Lilly." But the decayed and burthened gentleman, the shopkeeper, the mechanic, the yeoman, and the careful laborer, to whom these schools essentially belong, are wise enough to know, that at fifteen their sons ought to be assisting, at the least, with the compasses, and at the account book. They find, however, that the grammar master is but teaching them at that age to read Virgil, without having also supplied them in these necessary minor faculties. They are quite aware of the partial inferiority of the masters to whom they must resort, and lament that the advantage of the free school is so lost to their families.

The last effect of this which I shall trouble you with, is exceedingly grievous. A numerous body is deprived of the sound views of right and wrong, which the grammar master's precepts, and the mere approach to the class of men from which they are usually chosen, would undoubtedly afford. More versed in parities of contemplated good and the graces of literature, than stained with the experiences of the world, their guidance is invaluable. In this point of view, these schools, judiciously administered, cannot be too carefully cherished. Sanctioned by public opinion and the wills of their founders, in a strict connection with what appears to be the best course of religious life, they seem to be the only institutional bulwark which can unexceptionably be devoted to the Church of England.

I am, Sir,

With great respect,

Your faithful servant,

A MASTER OF ARTS,

Of Queen's College, Oxford.

*#* They who wish to see Grammar schools more efficient, are unfairly reproached with a disposition to depreciate the institutions of the country. It is matter of public notoriety that mam/ of them are in gross decay. The legislature has not been backward in anticipating such a state of things. Not to multiply quotations from the statute book, the 18th of Elizabeth may be cited as a proof of what her Parliament thought charitable trustees of the highest rank sometimes capable. "The same wheat, malt, or the money coming of the same, to be expended to the use of the relief of the commons and diet of the said colleges, cathedral church, halls, and houses only, and by no fraud or color let or sold away from the profit of the said colleges, cathedral church, halls, and houses, and the fellows and scholars in the same, and the use aforesaid, upon pain of deprivation of the Governor and Chief Rulers of the said colleges, cathedral church, halls, and houses, and all other thereunto consenting."

The spirit of many much earlier Acts of Parliament, and the practices of many "governors and chief rulers" fully justify this statute. The judicial methods of reform by Commission and Information have proved almost useless, nor can the new way by petition succeed. From time to time loud complaints have been made by private persons of the inefficiency of Grammar Schools, and numerous remedies proposed. The following passages, written at different times, may be considered illustrative at least of this:

"Yet this must be said for our ancestors, that their provision was very competent, and the endowment of schools was, in proportion to the estates of those times, very fair. When workmen wrought for one penny a day, when that land now worth forty or fifty shillings an acre, was then thought a dear bargain at ten groats; forty pounds per annum was a fair livelihood, and better than two hundred pounds now. But what do we add to our forefathers' stock 1 The trustees and governors in the several corporations share the improvements among themselves, take all above the salary for lawful prize, and leave the master to the bare old allowance, notwithstanding the vast increase of rents. So that by this means schools are become impropriations, and laymen, (ignorant fellows,) run away with the encouragement of learning. This abuse would deserve the parliament's notice, and a severe account to be taken of the revenue of schools, which ought to be done by requiring all masters and governors to give a perfect inventory of school lands, houses, &c. with their yearly value, and settling accordingly an honorable salary upon the master, with reasonable abatement for repairs, and the charges of the overseers. This course would invite men of eminent parts and abilities into school v ork; whereas now it is made the sanctuary of many idle insi fticient persons, who have no hopes elsewhere; or by those vi hich have any merit, designed a step to some church preferment. It cannot be expected, as things are, that the schools of this nation (excepting some few which are illustrious and of royal foundation) should be in any tolerable condition." p. 4.

In another page of this singular little production, Mr. Needham proposes that "when the stipends and methods are thus established he should further propose that there should be no allowance for any one whatsoever to keep a private school upon his own account, unless it be the clerk of the parish, whose office it should be (with an allowance for it) to teach all the children of the parish, at certain hours each day, to write and read, and that by the direction and under the inspection of the minister; and on Saturdays to prepare them for their public answering in the church to the Catechise question: and that when children are thus far instructed in their own parish, they should be then sent to some public school, unless the parent were of such estate as to keep a tutor (to be approved by the Bishop) in his house, or were of so low a fortune that he could not be at the charge of breeding his child a scholar." A Discourse on Schools and Schoolmasters, 1663, by M. N.

These initials are said to designate Marchamont Needham. He recommends a uniform Grammar, a fair increase of salaries to the schoolmaster, a parliamentary inquiry, and a further method of coercing improper teachers by a most extraordinarily severe extension of the absurd old principle of licensing.

In 1678, Christopher Ware published his "Considerations concerning Free Schools as settled in England;" and certainly bears no very high testimony to the administration of the revenues of these establishments. His book contains some remarks on the formation of libraries well worth attention. The collections he made are in the library of Corpus Christi College.

In 1748 another attempt was made to remedy a strongly asserted evil in a Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury: "Of late years a Grammar school has labored under great disgrace. Frequent and from every quarter are complaints of disappointment from this part of education. In conversation it is often a point of debate whether it be proper for youth in general. The gentlemen are no longer in doubt; these give it quite up as a thing of no service but to a few, whose profession shall require

« 이전계속 »