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“ inquire into the Education of the Lower “ Orders, and to report their observations

thereupon, together with the Minutes " of the Evidence taken before them, from “ time to time, to the House." 4

This motion was agreed to, and a Committee was appointed,-who, on the 3d of June, 1818, made the following Report

The Committee rejoiced in being able to state, that since their first appointment in 1816, when they examined the state of the Metropolis, there was every reason to believe, that the exertions of Charitable individuals and Public Bodies had increased, notwithstanding the severe pressure of the times,--and that a great augmentation had taken place in the means provided for the Instruction of the Poor in that Quarter;

They were happy in being able to add, that the discussion excited by the First Report, and the arguments urged in the Committee to various Patrons of Charities who were examined as Witnesses, had had the salutary effect of improving the administration of those Institutions and inculcating the Importance of rather bestowing their Funds in merely educating a larger number, than in giving both instruction and other assistance to a more confined number of children. As

* The Parliamentary Debates, vol. xxxvii. p.


the management of those excellent Establishments is necessarily placed beyond the control of the Legislature, it is only by the effects of such candid discussions that improvements in them can be effected ;

Since the Inquiries of The Committee had been extended to the whole Island, they had had reason to conclude that the means of educating the Poor were steadily increasing in all considerable Towns, as well as in the Metropolis. A Circular Letter had been addressed to all the Clergy in England, Scotland and Wales, requiring Answers to certain Queries, -and it was impossible to bestow too much commendation upon the alacrity shown by those Reverend persons in complying with that requisition, and the honest zeal which they displayed to promote the great object of Universal Education was truly worthy of the Pastors of the people, and the Teachers of that Gospel which was preached to the Poor ;

It appeared clearly from the Returns, as well as from other sources, that a very great deficiency existed in the means of educating the Poor, wherever the Population was thin and scattered over Country districts. The efforts of individuals combined in Societies were almost wholly confined to populous places ;

Another point to which it was material to direct the attention of Parliament, regarded the two opposite principles, of founding schools for children of all sorts, and for those only who belong to the Established Church. Where the means existed of erecting two Schools, one upon each principle, Education was not checked by the exclusive plan being adopted in one of them, because the other might comprehend the children of Sectaries. In places where only one School could be supported, it was manifest that any regulations which excluded Dissenters, deprived the Poor of that Body of all means of Education;

The Committee, however, had the greatest satisfaction in observing, that in many Schools where the National system was adopted, an increasing degree of Liberality prevailed, and that the Church Catechism only was taught, and attendance at the established place of Public Worship only required, of those whose Parents belonged to the Establishment,--due assurance being obtained, that the children of Sectaries should learn the Principles and attend the Ordinances of Religion, according to the doctrines and forms to which their Families were attached ;

It was with equal pleasure that The Committee had found reason to conclude, that the Roman Catholic Poor were anxious to avail themselves of those Protestant Schools established in their neighbourhood, in which no Catechism was taught,—and they indulged a hope, that the Clergy of that Persuasion might offer no discouragement to their attendance, more especially as they appeared, in one instance, to have contributed to the support of Schools, provided that no Catechism was taught, and no Religious observances exacted. It. is contrary to the doctrine as well as discipline of the Romish Church, to allow any Protestant to interfere with those matters, and consequently it is impossible

for Romanists to send their children to any School, where they form part of the plan;

The Committee were happy in being able to state, that in all the Returns, and in all the other information laid before them, there was the most unquestionable evidence that the anxiety of the Poor for Education continued not only unabated, but daily increasing, — that it extended to every part of the Country, and was to be found equally prevalent in those smaller Towns and Country districts, where no means of gratifying it were provided by the Charitable efforts of the richer classes;

In humbly suggesting what was fit to be done for promoting Universal Education, The Committee did not hesitate to state, that two different Plans were advisable, adapted to the opposite circumstances of the Town and Country districts. Wherever the efforts of individuals could support the requisite number of Schools, it would be unnecessary and injurious to interpose any Parliamentary assistance. But The Committee had clearly ascertained, that in many places Private Subscriptions could be raised to meet the yearly expenses of a School, while the original cost of the undertaking, occasioned chiefly by the erection and purchase of the Schoolhouse, prevented it from being attempted :

The Committee conceived, that a sum of money might be well employed in supplying this first want, leaving the Charity of individuals to furnish the annual


provision requisite for continuing the School, and possibly for repaying the advance;

Whether the money should be vested in Commissioners, empowered to make the fit terms with the private parties who might be desirous of establishing Schools, or whether a certain sum should be intrusted to the two great Institutions in London for promoting Education, The Committee left the choice to be determined by the wisdom of Parliament;

In the numerous Districts where no aid from Private exertions could be expected, and where the Poor were manifestly without adequate means of Instruction, The Committee were persuaded, that nothing could supply the deficiency but the adoption, under certain material modifications, of the Parish School System, so usefully established in the Northern Part of the Island, ever since the latter part of the Seventeenth Century, and upon which many important details were subjoined ;

The modifications would be dictated principally by the necessity of attending to the distinction, already pointed out, between Districts where Private Charity might be expected to furnish the means of Education, and those where no such resource could be looked to, --and the Tables subjoined to the Report, would afford important lights on this subject. It appeared further to The Committee, that it might be fair and


See, The Second Report of the Select Committee, p. 5.

6 Ibid.

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