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plishing, still more effectually, the laudable and important purposes for which they are destined. On this subject, much information is to be found in the scattered suggestions of different writers of the present age; nor does the field of speculation seem to be by any means exhausted, when the subject is considered in its relation to the general principles of Morals, or to the particular purposes of Political Economy. The facts and observations collected on this subject by Mr. Howard and others, are more particularly deserving of attention. And some very ingenious and original hints on this subject are to be found in the Panopticon of Mr. Bentham. I shall not, however, at present enter into any discussion of this branch of inquiry, as I am anxious, before closing these lectures, to make a few observations on the Education of the people.
[BOOK FOURT H.]
[OF THE EDUCATION OF THE LOWER ORDERS.)
It is remarked by Mr. Smith in his Wealth of Nations, that “ the education of the common people requires, perhaps, in a civilized and commercial society, the attention of the public more than that of people of rank and fortune. People of some rank or fortune are generally eighteen or nineteen years of age before they enter upon their particular business, profession, or trade. They have before that full time to acquire, or, at least, to fit themselves for afterwards acquiring, every accomplishment which can recommend them to the public esteem, or render them worthy of it. ... It is otherwise with the common people. They have little time to spare for education. Their parents can scarce afford to maintain them even in infancy. As soon as they are able to work, they must apply to some trade by which they can earn their subsistence. That trade, too, is generally so simple and uniform, as to give little exercise to the understanding; while, at the same time, their labour is both so constant and so severe, that it leaves them little leisure and less inclination, to apply to, or even to think of, anything else."*
With respect to the objects to which the instruction of the lower orders should be chiefly directed, different opinions have been formed. Mr. Smith thinks, that if, in our parish schools, instead of the little smattering of Latin which is sometimes taught there, and which is scarce ever of any use to the people, they were instructed in the elementary parts of geometry and mechanics, the literary education of the lower classes would, perhaps, be as complete as it well could.* Some useful additions might be suggested to the plan he recommends; but, supposing even this plan to be carried into execution, what an accession would be gained to national character, and what a security would be added to public tranquillity and order !
* [Book V. chap. i.; Vol. III. pp. 185, 186, tenth edition.)
The nature of our Scottish parochial schools is so well known to all the inhabitants of this part of the island, that any information concerning it must to them be, in a great measure, superfluous. As the facts, howerer, may not be equally familiar to all my readers, I shall be pardoned for trespassing a very little on your time, by entering into a short detail with respect to this interesting article of our national history.
As early as the reign of James IV., the Legislature of Scotland discovered an anxiety about the education of the youth, by an Act in the year 1496, “obliging all barons and freeholders that are of substance, to put their eldest sons to the grammar schools at eight or nine years of age, to remain there till they were competently founded, and had perfect Latin." Dr. Henry, in bis History of Great Britain, observes, that in consequence of this Statute, “a competency at least of learning became gradually more general among the gentlemen, and even among the common people of Scotland, than in any other country of Europe, and several ingenious men in this period became eminent for their classical erudition.” † And the introduction of the art of printing into this city, which took place a very few years afterwards, affords evidence of the increasing demand for books, and consequently of the increased diffusion of knowledge.
In consequence of the Statute already mentioned, schools came to be gradually established through the kingdom. An Act of the Privy Council of Scotland, “anent the planting of schooles," was passed in the year 1616, and was afterwards ratified in the first Parliament of King Charles I., with this addition, --“ that the Bishops in their several visitations shall have power, with consent of the heritors and most part of the parishioners, and if the heritors, being lawfully warned refuse to
* [Ibid. p. 187.]
appear, then, with consent of the most part of the parishioners, to set down and stent upon every plough or husbandland, according to the worth, for maintenance and establishing of the saide schooles." This Act supposed that there ought to be a school in every parish; and it went so far to accomplish this, as to provide, that the establishment of parish schools should become legal whenever a majority of the parish had consented to the measure. That it did produce this effect, in a considerable degree, in the low country of Scotland, may be inferred from the number of regulations with regard to the trial and qualifications of schoolmasters which were made about that time.
At the Revolution in 1688, however, so many schools were still wanting, that it was necessary to make a more certain and more effectual provision for their general establishment over the kingdom; and accordingly, it was enacted, in the first Parliament of William and Mary, “that there be a school settled and established, and a schoolmaster appointed in every paroch, not already provided, by advice of the heritors and minister of the paroch; and for that effect, that the heritors in every paroch meet, and provide a commodious house for a school, and settle and modifie a sallary to a schoolmaster, which shall not be under one hundred merks, nor above two hundred merks, to be payed yearly at two terms, Whitsunday and Martinmas, by equal portions, and that they stent and lay on the said sallary conform to every heritor's valued rent within the paroch, allowing each heritor relief from his tennents of the half of his proportion, for settling and maintaining of a school, and payment of the schoolmaster's sallary.” On this Act depends to the present day, the legal establishment of schoolmasters in every parish, and their right to a salary from the heritors. The practice under it has been almost universal ; the heritors of every parish have been obliged to find a schoolmaster, and to provide for him, in terms of the Statute. As the burden of his salary is laid on them by the Act, they are understood to have the power of electing him, the minister of the parish being allowed to vote along with them. But if the heritors shall either neglect or refuse to elect a schoolmaster, after regular notice from the pulpit, they can be compelled to do so by a process before the civil courts, at the instance of the Presbytery, or, perhaps, of a moderate number of the parishioners.
The provision made for a salary appears, at first sight, to be altogether inadequate for the purposes in view. But at the end of the seventeenth century, indeed at a much later period, the provision made by the Act, when joined to the fees of teaching, which, although small, made a considerable addition to the living, afforded a decent competency. The amount of the salary and of the whole emoluments of the situation, does not, on an average, exceed perhaps £25 a year, or even less. In very populous parishes, it may rise to £40 a year, or even £60; but it very seldom exceeds the last of these sums. In some small parishes, it inay fall as low as £16. But moderate as the provision was, it seems to have been nearly sufficient, so long as the price of labour was in proportion, which, not many years ago, did not, on an average, exceed four or five pounds yearly. The fact is, that at this very trifling expense to the public, every parish within the kingdom has been supplied with a schoolmaster, able to teach Reading, Writing, Latin, and Arithmetic. Many learned and respectable men, no doubt, are induced to enter into the profession, less on account of the income it yields, than in the hope of rising, by their industry and ability, to the situation of clergymen. To secure the qualifications of the schoolmasters, the Act provides, that though the heritors have the sole right to appoint them, the ministers of the Presbytery have the exclusive right to judge of their qualifications.
In consequence of this national establishment, the means of a literary education, and of religious instruction, were in Scotland placed within the reach of the lowest orders of the people, in a greater degree than in any other country of Europe ; and the consequences have been everywhere favourable to their morals and industry, while the opportunity which has thus been afforded to gentlemen of moderate fortune, and to the clergy, to give an education to their children, at so easy a rate, in the elements of literary knowledge, has bestowed on this