Images de page
PDF
ePub

from objection, I confess I have very little idea that our Government would take one step towards putting it in practice. It never has been its habit to take an interest in advancing the instruction of the grown population. Hume, the historian, tells us, “ The only encouragement which the Sovereign in England has ever given to any thing that has the appearance of science, was a short-lived establishment of James the First, to teach controversial divinity at Chelsea ;" and Lord Bacon wished for the foundation of a lecture on natural philosophy, and could not accomplish it. We cannot wonder, then, at our mechanic institutions coming into existence, and that the people should have been led to undertake providing for themselves what they could not hope for from any other quarter. And if the State takes no interest in this matter in the present times, while we are governed by a Sovereign so enlightened and beneficent, and who has himself so high an estimate for the public blessing of education, we may, I think, for ever despair of its being attempted at all.

But, after all that has been said, I am persuaded that no more impression is likely to be made on a stickler for the mechanics' institution than upon the hide of Leviathan. Though an admirable institution, it is a hobby which has been ridden more unmercifully than any

other in the present day, with the exception of joint stock companies. On the contrary, I should be fully prepared to hear it contended, if these institutions languished or fell to the ground, that the accident ought by no means to affect the validity of the plan, or the sage reasonings by which it was supported; just as the famous doctor was so wedded to a particular theory he was pursuing with his patient, that even after he saw him dead as Hercules, nothing could induce him to believe the fact; at least he pos sitively maintained, that he ought not to have died against the evidence of so many good reasons to the contrary.

That these mechanic institutions, imperfect as they are in the principle of vitality, may yet do a great deal of good in drawing forth the talent of some of the lower classes, and per.

[ocr errors]

haps in stimulating the higher, no one, I think, can fairly doubt. That a different plan might be both more permanent, and do more extensive good, especially to the classes which are doomed to hard labour for subsistence, I conceive to be equally obvious, and I think it no less practicable.

CHAP. III.

15th. — EVERY wellwisher to his species must regret that the French Government have taken the education of the rising generation wholly from under lay-direction, and placed it under a set of men so proverbially the enemies of all liberal knowledge, as the Jesuits. In the primary schools there is hardly any thing taught but catechisms or abridgments of the Bible or Testament, children's stories, and different kinds of frivolous reading. The grand object appears to be to lay so firm and complete a substratum of catholicism as to be immovable through after life, and that may render the subjects of his Majesty and the priesthood sufficiently tractable for their future uses.

In the army, too, the same innovation has been

PRIMARY SCHOOLS UNDER THE JESUITS. 79

introduced, and the sous-officier who hitherto had taught the schools of mutual instruction, is now replaced by a confounded curé, and the teachers reduced to one half the number. The humblest of these schools in any part of France, must have the sanction of Government before they can be opened. But the Government may assure themselves the period is long past for indulging any feasible hope of extinguishing the light which has been diffused, unless they discover some means by which the hand of time may be put back. The impulse already given must go on irresistibly, nay, the more irresistibly for any opposition that may be thrown in

In this conflict between light and darkness, the elements of opinion are already put in motion; and let their rulers beware how they force them into collision.

From all I can gather, nothing is more certain, than that these people are still labouring under a very incurable dissatisfaction with the results of the peace. The present project of M. Peyronnet to restrain the liberty of the press,

the way.

« PrécédentContinuer »