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COUNSELS, CIVIL AND MORAL,
WITH A TABLE OF THE
VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN.
REVISED FBOM THE EARLY COPIES, WITH THE REFERENCES NOW
BY THOMAS MAKKBY, M.A.
By the same Editor,
BACON'S ADVANCEMENT OP LEAENING, 2s.
HOOKEE'S ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY. Part I. Is. 6tf.
PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
rpHE ready sale which the edition of the Advancement J- of Learning issued last year has met with, encourages the publishers to reprint the Essays of Bacon on a similar plan. I wish I could hope that the Advancementhad been introduced into the class of schools for the benefit of which the edition was more particularly intended, but I fear there is no reason for thinking this to have been the case.
While those to whom is committed the education of the youth, who will hereafter occupy the highest and lowest positions in the social scale, have been called upon by the Government to render a strict account of their stewardship, no opportunity has hitherto been taken of ascertaining how the teachers of the children of the middle classes fulfil their task. On the one hand, a royal commission makes a searching inquiry into the revenues, discipline, and teaching of our Universities, and returns have been demanded from all 4he great endowed schools; on the other, inspectors are constantly travelling through the length and breadth of the land, to see that the parish schools are efficiently managed, with results though mixed, yet on the whole, as I believe, useful and valuable; but no commissioners or inspectors have yet found their way into the numerous body of private
schools for the sons of farmers and tradesmen which exist throughout the kingdom.1 Yet it would be easy to show that it is of the highest importance to the commonwealth to take heed that these schools be no less than any others 'seminaries of sound learning and religious education.' Their scholars will hereafter occupy the relation of employers to the great bulk of the labouring classes, and it will be a bad business, if, as seems likely to happen in many country parishes, the ploughman should one day prove a better educated man than his master. Nor does the want of permanent endowment furnish any reason why private schools should be exempt from all inspection. The right of the nation to interfere with bodies possessing endowments is grounded, I apprehend, not upon the mere fact of their possessing property, but upon their having public duties to perform; and it will scarcely be denied that all schoolmasters discharge a high duty to the State. The imperative need of a measure which would compel the masters of private schools to undergo some trial of their ability to discharge the task they take upon themselves, is shown by simply describing the present state of things. Any man having a little capital at his command to take and furnish a house and grounds of moderate size, may forthwith set up a school and place
1 It would be very useful, with a view to ascertaining the present state of education among the classes indicated, if a member of the House of Commons would procure a return from all private schools of the number of teachers, scholars, subjects of study, books read, &c. A regular inquiry into their condition could hardly be considered an undue interference with the rights of the subject. The legislators of Queen Elizabeth's reign clearly went on the principle that all kinds of schools and colleges were responsible to the State.
himself at the head of it; no testimony, no proof whatever of his fitness for the task is demanded. It may be said that he will not succeed unless he has the energy and skill to fulfil his duties properly. But this is very doubtful. The persons whose sons he hopes to have under his care, are for the most part but indifferent judges of literary attainments; and being often grossly ignorant themselves, are likely to care less about the mental progress than the physical comforts of their children. That this is actually the case, may be seen by casting one's eye down a column of scholastic advertisements in the Times. The same authority will likewise show, what indeed is notorious enough, that many owners of private schools are not only deplorably wanting in good taste and scholarship, but wholly blind to the tremendous moral responsibility of their calling. To good teachers in private schools, of whom there are many, no greater boon can be conceived than an opportunity of proving their capacity. At present they labour under a very great disadvantage. They have no status, they belong to no recognised body.2 They cannot, in general, like the masters in the great public schools, point to university distinctions as a proof
2 An effort has been made of late by some gentlemen who prefer the title of preceptor to the good old English schoolmaster to establish a corporate body. It may be noticed, by-the-bye, that a letter was addressed by the authorities of the college in question to the Cambridge University Commission. Although the learned persons from whom the document proceeded do not appear to have perceived all the bearings of the question they raise, yet the letter in some points of view <ptava avverolaiv, and will therefore repay perusal. It may be found in the appendix to the report of the Commissioners.