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understood to be past and gone, and all the more offensive that it concerns an interest which lies nearest the heart of the people of Scotland; and that even the alternative proposal to place the parish schools, under certain conditions, in the hands of local parish committees, would render the management of them only seemingly, but not really, more open and popular, since the landowners, who at present have them in their hands, would still have preserved to them such a position in the proposed local committees as would almost invariably secure to them a preponderating power.
“2d. That while the education given in the schools of the Free Church is proved by the Government reports to place them at the head of all the schools in the empire, according to this bill, only such of them as the General Board adopt, are in future to receive any public aid whatever ; that, even those are to receive only a share of the Parliamentary grant, but no share of the local rates raised from the whole community for the maintenance of the new national schools around them; that no aid henceforth shall be allowed to us, either from the Parliamentary grant or from local rates, towards the erection of new schools, or the repairing or enlargement of adopted ones; and that a uumber of our existing schools will be suppressed for the sake of the parish schools, or superseded, by the erection in theireplace, of new national ones; and that the treatment thus given to our Free Church schools, especially when contrasted with that to be given to the parish schools, renders the injustice done to the former peculiarly oppressive and unjustifiable.
“3d. That the plan proposed for the management of national education most unwarrantably ignores such facts as the two following, viz., That the common school education of Scotland, which has done so much for our people, has for the three hundred years of its existence depended chiefly for its efficiency on the ministers of the Presbyterian population ; and that between two and three thousand of these Presbyterian ministers are planted chiefly in three great divisions over Scotland, whose whole life is devoted to the furtherance of divine and useful learning among old and young, and who are ex officio the guardians of education, as well as of Christianity; that the proposed measure would place at the head of our public education a board of fifteen men, of whom, probably, some would not have the knowledge, others would not have the time, others would not have the sympathy with the public mind, required for the management of this great interest; while the local committees would probably often be composed of such members as the best friends of education could not regard with respect and confidence, and such as neither exercised nor possessed the proper authority and influ. ence for successfully moulding the minds and morals of the young. That the central board, the court of examiners, and the local committees which the bill proposes to institute, are to have, respectively, the sole power of regulating the training, licensing, electing, and disposing of teachers; the power of determining the whole subjects, religious as well as secular, taught in the schools ; and the power of taxing the whole community, as they see cause, for the support of the system of education. That these agencies are all secular, their existence and powers being derived from civil government, and their qualifications being entirely civil and secular. That the common school, being one of the most important instrumentalities by which the character of each rising generation is determined, the civil government, through those who are its civil servants, thus claims and undertakes to mould the character of the whole youth of this kingdom. That the religious as well as secular instruction to be given to the young is thus determined and provided for at the public expense. That all of us must pay for this instruction, bowever much we are conscientiously opposed to it. That at the same time we are to be refused all public aid, and obliged to pay out of our own resources for such education of our young as we believe to be alone healthful; that there is thus a State tyranny exerted over us in regard to the most sacred of our interests; and that, in the name of religious as well as civil liberty, we are bound to resist this tyranny to the uttermost.
“ 4th, That while there is reason for thankfulness to find from the report of the commissioners, that the deficiency either in the extent or the quality of the education at present being given in Scotland, is not 50 great as was alleged, it is the duty of all Christian and patriotic Scotchmen to welcome any proper means for meeting the deficiency, in either respect, that still exists; that no general uniform system can be recognised by this Church as an extension of the old parochial school system, which does not place the parish schools, with all others that are supported by public funds, under a management that duly represents the Government, the Churches, and the parentage of the land ; and that as regards the religious as well as other interests involved in this question, while it is the duty of civil government to acknowledge and support only the truth, in the circumstances in which we are placed, and until a proper extension of the parochial system is provided, the least objectionable interim arrangement would be to amend the conditions that regulate the grants to schools in Scotland; to place the schools under undenominational inspectors, to drop the questions anent religion from the schedule, and, after allowing freedom for a limited time, for increased educational exertions on the part of those already in the field, or other similar agencies, to provide, by means of local rates and committees, or otherwise, additional schools wherever they are still required."
Mr SAWERS, Gargunnock, seconded the motion.
Sir HENRY MONCREIFF moved the following amendmeut—" That the General Assembly, looking to the great and critical importance of the question as to the bearing and tendency of the report of her Majesty's Commissioners with reference to education, resolve to appoint a special committee for the purpose of considering what course should be taken as to that question by the present Assembly, with instructions to report to a future diet.” (Applause.) There are various reasons, he said, which induce me to make this proposal. I think, speaking generally, we are not yet sufficiently conversant, perhaps, with all the particulars of this report to come to any such enlarged and specific deliverance as is contained in Mr Nixon's motion, even if we were to agree to it. I think we ought to look very carefully at so important a matter before we come to a distinct and specific conclusion about it. But I have another observation of great consequence to which I would draw Mr Nixon's attention. When I looked at his motion I received the impression, which has been confirmed by his speech, that we have here mixed up with objections to the report, in which we might agree, objections taken against the views of those in this Church and elsewbere who have parıly been instrumental in inducing Government to appoint a commission, and in leading the Commissioners to consider the subject. We are mixing up objections to their views with objections to the particular report that the Commissioners have now issued. Now, surely these subjects ought not in this Assembly to be mixed up together. If we have a controversy among ourselves—a controversy on which Mr Nixon bas a strong opinion in common with many others, and which would give rise to a vote among ourselves—we ought to have that clearly set apart from the questions of objections to this report of the Commissioners in which we must all agree. There may be objections to this report ia wbich we
all agree. I say nothing about what the character of these objections may be.
may be there are some of those proposals not exactly in harmony with all the views of each of the Commissioners himself. We may suppose they have come to a conclusion on this report as the best conclusion they can come to, looking at all the differences of opinion, and have endeavoured to adjust the matter in the best way practicable. There may be objections entertained by us to particular parts of this report, and it would be right for us specifically to condescend upon them, and to endeavour to remove them by amendments upon tbis bill, if it should be introduced ; and there may be objections of such a character as would render the whole measure one that it would not be advisable to introduce at all. But, then, we require to look very carefully at the question how far particular oljections that we may take to what is proposed by the Commissioners are objections that might be removed by amendments on the bill, and how far they are objections that go to destroy the value of the whole proposals ? Now, I give no opinion on this, because, first of all, I do not think it suitable at present to do so, and, in the next place, I confess I have not had time to give such attention to the recommendations of the Commissioners and to the bill as to be able fully to make up my mind upon every point respecting it. But I think Mr Nixon, in speaking of his own peculiar views and talking in such very strong language as he bas used, did apparently forget at one stage of bis argument two things. First of all, be forgot that the continuance of the system which he himself was advocating depends, in part, on the continuance of Government grants, at least under existing circumstances. I do not know wbat be can mean unless he means that he desires the continuance of the grants to the denominational schools as such. If we are to have the denominational system continued, I suppose Mr Nixon means the Government, in order to avoid the tyranny of which he speaks, ought to continue denominational grants. Well, then, of course he differs from a number of very excellent persons on that point. I conclude he thinks so, because in other parts of bis argument he complained of the great bardship and tyranny which would result from an arrangement whereby certain grants which he alludes to, and which are given now, would be given no more. It may be all very well to talk of tyranny, and to speak of this matter in connexion with other objections that have been taken to tyranny by the State over men's consciences, if wbat you were advocating were simply a system that the Church was to carry on without aid from the Government; but you cannot speak exactly in the same tone when your own system is one that is to depend upon aid from the Government. Further, there is another thing Mr Nixon forgetsnamely, that the motives he has spoken of are not the only motives that have induced men to desire an alteration of the present system, and that the present system is unsatisfactory-nay offensive—to the consciences of many, because you canvot go on to get your denominational grants, except under a system which endows both truth and error. (Hear, hear.) The one great difficulty in tbis whole subject is, that the present system of the Privy Council grants endows both truth and error.
The only motive, therefore, for having a change, and looking to a national system, is not a desire to get free from Church influence, but a desire to make the best of the present state of things—to get the best system you can consistently with any sort of principle; and to the mind of many it would be better that the Government system were one that implied Government having nothing to do with religious instruction, than that it should endow both truth and error, as they were now doing. (Applause.) I am not going to press one side or other, but I say Mr Nixon ought to have kept this in view throughout his argument. I think his argument proceeded on a basis which would not have stood had he kept that promiDently before him while he was speaking. But I have one or two things further to urge why we should not immediately give any specific deliverance. For example, to show you should pause before you come to a conclusion, Mr Nixon has dwelt strongly upon the fact that the whole scope and tendency of the proposals made by this Education Commission is tv keep up and uphold-and this is one of the unclean spirits to which he refer:-(laughter)—the aristocratical power of the landowners over tbese schools. I shall not dwell here upon the fact that it might be quite possible to meet this objection by having the word “heriturs" explained in the interpretation clause of the bill, in a larger sense than that in which it is now understood ; but I wish to inform Mr Nixon of what I have some reason to be aware of. In another place, not far from this, I have the strongest reason to believe that there will be another educational report brought forward from another committee—a report that speaks about as strongly and as vehemently against the Commissioners' proposal as Mr Nixon, but which takes exactly opposite grounds, and says that the whole scope and tendency of this measure is to destroy the existing arrangements of the parish schools—to take it out of the hands of the existing management, and to expose the whole system to the dangers of popular management. I have reason to believe that before a day or two is over, you will see this is the fact. Now, I cannot but thiuk that a report which meets with such very opposite attacks in one place and in anoi her—which calls forth Mr Nixon's opposition on the ground that it is going to perpetuate the close system of management, and which calls forth as strong opposition on the other side on the ground that it is going to destroy the close system-I cannot but think that such a report requires very careful consideration before you come to a definite conclusion about it. I have another thing to say. I wish you to notice the last sentence of Mr Nixon's own motion, under No. 4, where he speaks of an "interim arrangement.” Observe the particulars he gives of bis interim arrangement as stated in the terms of his motion. Now, I am not going to give any distinct opinion of my own upon the point to which I now refer. I can only assure Mr Nixon and this House that there are other persons well acquainted and versant with the whole scope of this report by the Royal Commissioners who would tell you
and I do not think they can be far wrong, from what I have seen of it-that they almost in every particular have provided the very things that Mr Nixon has suggested as an interim arrangement. (Hear, hear.) If you ask some of the supporters of that report as to those arrangements about the parish and other denominational schools, I must say it is their honest persuasion of that report that the Commissioners are dealing equally with the parish and other denominational schools in the arrangement that is proposed as an interim one—though how long it may last is another question. Now, when it can with plausibility be said that Mr Nixon's own suggestion as to what should be ad interim comes very near what is proposed in the report, that surely gives a good reason why we should pause, examine, and consider, before you
all at once into such a voluminous and specific motion as Mr Nixon has laid on your table. (Hear, hear.) A great deal has been said by Mr Nixon about enmity to our schools, which, he says, seems to exist in some quarters—and he says it in very strong language. This enmity appears to apply sometimes to people among ourselves apparently who differ from Mr Nixon, sometimes to people who are hostile to spiritual religion, and sometimes to the Royal Commissioners. He speaks of the enmity in this Commission to our schools, but I do not think there is one particle of proof, or a single indication of any such enmity from beginning to end of the report. (Hear, and applause.) Again, there is another gratuitous suggestion which Mr Nixon makes, of which he can find no proof. He says that in all likelihood, in the application of the scheme, undue favour would be given to Episcopalians and others. Now, I am sure it is proposed to put all our schools exactly on the same footing, yet it is said that in all likelihood they will give all the favour to the Episcopalians. There is not the slightest ground for this allegation. There is another thing as to which Mr Nixon seems to object unreasonably-it is proposed that the Board shall be a thoroughly Scotch Board at any rate, including, no doubt, members of all denominations in Scotland; and from this fact alone it is difficult to see where there can be room for the enmity of which Mr Nixon speaks, or of the favour to Episcopalians, of which, he says, there is the likelihood. Considering the state of things in this country, I think we should have some provosts on our side. (Hear, hear.) We have had gentlemen who are provosts representing us in this Court, and we bave had gentlemen who are professors in our universities. (Hear, hear.) No doubt the very idea of a national system, as sought for by this Church, did imply that you would run the risk under it of parties becoming hostile to your system, or doing it an injury; no doubt it was thought better to trust to the mind of the people of Scotland than to go on with a system for endowing both truth and
Therefore we must keep these things in view when we are listening to Mr Nixon's eloquence. I have only one further observation to make. I wish to point out one thing connected with a recommendation in this report which commends it to the attention of this Assembly; to all who understand the state of things in Scotland, one mendation included in this report is of the greatest importance, and may be of the most serious consequence to us. You know the Revised Code, which Mr Nixon has in some degree spoken of favourably. It is at present suspended, on the ground that it was not altogether adapted to Scotland-that, if possible, a special measure for Scotland