Leading Articles on Various Subjects
by Hugh Miller
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{Transcriber's Note:

All square brackets [] are from the original text. Braces {} ("curly brackets") are supplied by the transcriber.

A caret character '^' indicates the following letters are superscript in the original.

More transcriber's notes are provided at the end of the text.}


{Illustration: W. H. McFarlane, Lith^r Edin^r HUGH MILLER Fac-simile of a Calotype by D. O. Hill, R. I. A. 1845. see page 184}












The present volume is issued in compliance with the strong solicitations of many, to whose desire deference was due. In selecting the articles, I have been guided mainly by two considerations,—namely, the necessity for reproducing the mature opinion of a great mind, upon great subjects; and for making the selection so varied, as to convey to the reader some idea of the wonderful versatility of the powers which could treat subjects so diverse in their nature with such uniform eloquence and discrimination. I trust that the chapters on Education will prove to be a valuable contribution to the speedy settlement of that question at the present crisis. Those on Sutherlandshire are inserted because they possess a permanent value, in connection with the social and economical history of our country. Some of the articles are of a personal character, and are introduced, not, certainly, for the purpose of recalling old animosities, but solely to illustrate the author's method of using some of the more formidable figures of speech; while over against these may be set some on purely literary subjects, which show the genial tenderness of his disposition towards those who aspired to serve God and their generation by giving to the world the fruit of their imagination, their labour, and their leisure.

I have not determined the selection without securing the counsel and approval of men on whose judgment I could rely. It only remains for me to thank them, and in an especial way to thank Mr. D. O. Hill for the portrait which forms the frontispiece. An impersonal reference to a similar portrait taken at the same time will be found at page 184, in the article on 'The Calotype.'


London, March 8, 1870.



































The following chapters on the Educational Question first appeared as a series of articles in the Witness newspaper. They present, in consequence, a certain amount of digression, and occasional re-statement and explanation, which, had they been published simultaneously, as parts of a whole, they would not have exhibited. The controversy was vital and active at every stage of their appearance. Statements made and principles laid down in the earlier articles had, from the circumstance that their truth had been questioned or their soundness challenged, to be re-asserted and maintained in those which followed; and hence some little derangement in the management of the question, for which, however, the interest which must always attach to a real conflict may be found to compensate. That portion of the controversy, however, which arose out of one of the articles of the series, and which some have deemed personal, has been struck out of the published edition of the pamphlet, and retained in but an inconsiderable number of copies, placed in the hands of a few friends. In omitting it where it has been omitted, the writer has acted on the advice of a gentleman for whose judgment he entertains the most thorough respect, and from a desire that the general argument should not be prejudiced by a matter naturally, but not necessarily, connected with it. And in retaining it where it has been retained, he has done so in the full expectation of a time not very distant, when it will be decided that he has neither outraged the ordinary courtesies of controversy, nor taken up a false line of inference or statement; and when the importance of the subject discussed will be regarded as quite considerable enough to make any one earnest, without the necessity of supposing that he had been previously angry.

It is all-important, that on the general question of National Education, the Free Church should take up her position wisely. Majorities in her courts, however overwhelming, will little avail her, if their findings fail to recommend themselves to the good sense of her people, or are palpably unsuited to the emergencies of the time. A powerful writer of the present age employs, in one of his illustrations, the bold figure of a ship's crew, that, with the difficulties of Cape Horn full before them, content themselves with instituting aboard their vessel a constitutional system of voting, and who find delight in contemplating the unanimity which prevails on matters in general, both above decks and below. 'But your ship,' says Carlyle, 'cannot double Cape Horn by its excellent plans of voting: the ship, to get round Cape Horn, will find a set of conditions already voted for, and fixed with adamantine rigour, by the ancient Elemental Powers, who are entirely careless how you vote. If you can by voting, or without voting, ascertain these conditions, and valiantly conform to them, you will get round the Cape: if you cannot, the ruffian Winds will blow you ever back again; the inexorable Icebergs, dumb privy councillors from Chaos, will nudge you with most chaotic admonition; you will be flung half-frozen on the Patagonian cliffs, or jostled into shivers by your iceberg councillors, and will never get round Cape Horn at all.' Now there is much meaning couched in this quaint figure, and meaning which the Free Church would do well to ponder. There are many questions on which she could perhaps secure a majority, which yet that majority would utterly fail to carry. On the question of College Extension, for instance, she might be able to vote, if she but selected her elders with some little care, that there should be full staffs of theological professors at Glasgow and Aberdeen. But what would her votes succeed in achieving? Not, assuredly, the doubling of the Cape; but the certainty of shivering her all-important Educational Institute on three inexorable icebergs. In the first place, her magnificent metropolitan College, like that huge long boat, famous in story, which Robinson Crusoe was able to build, but wholly unable to launch, would change from being what it now is—a trophy of her liberality and wisdom—into a magnificent monument of her folly. In the second place, she would have to break faith with her existing professors, and to argue, mayhap, when they were becoming thin and seedy, and getting into debt, that she was not morally bound to them for their salaries. And, in the third and last place, she would infallibly secure that, some twenty years hence at furthest, every theological professor of the Free Church should be a pluralist, and able to give to his lectures merely those fag-ends of his time which he could snatch from the duties of the pulpit and the care of his flock. And such, in doubling the Cape Horn of the College question, is all that unanimity of voting could secure to the Church; unless, indeed, according to Carlyle, she voted in accordance with the 'set of conditions already voted for and fixed by the adamantine powers.'

Nor does the question of Denominational Education, now that there is a national scheme in the field, furnish a more, but, on the contrary, a much less, hopeful subject for mere voting in our church courts, than the question of College Extension. It is not to be carried by ecclesiastical majorities. Some of the most important facts in the 'Ten Years' Conflict' have perhaps still to be recorded; and it is one of these, that long after the Non-Intrusion party possessed majorities in the General Assembly, the laity looked on with exceedingly little interest, much possessed by the suspicion that the clergy were battling, not on the popular behalf, but on their own. Even in 1839, after the Auchterarder case had been decided in the House of Lords, the apathy seemed little disturbed; and the writer of these chapters, when engaged in doing his little all to dissipate it, could address a friend in Edinburgh, to whom he forwarded the MS. of a pamphlet thrown into the form of a letter to Lord Brougham, in the following terms:—'The question which at present agitates the Church is a vital one; and unless the people can be roused to take part in it (and they seem strangely uninformed and wofully indifferent as yet), the worst cause must inevitably prevail. They may perhaps listen to one of their own body, who combines the principles of the old with the opinions of the modern Whig, and who, though he feels strongly on the question, has no secular interest involved in it.' It was about this time that Dr. George Cook said—and, we have no doubt, said truly—that he could scarce enter an inn or a stage-coach without finding respectable men inveighing against the utter folly of the Non-Intrusionists, and the worse than madness of the church courts. For the opponents of the party were all active and awake at the time, and its incipient friends still indifferent or mistrustful. The history of Church petitions in Edinburgh during the ten eventful years of the war brings out this fact very significantly in the statistical form. From 1833, the year of the Veto Act, to 1839, the year of the Auchterarder decision, petitions to Parliament from Edinburgh on behalf of the struggling Church were usually signed by not more than from four to five thousand persons. In 1839 the number rose to six thousand. The people began gradually to awaken, and to trust. Speeches in church courts were found to have comparatively little influence in creating opinion, or ecclesiastical votes in securing confidence; and so there were other means of appealing to the public mind resorted to, mayhap not wholly without effect: for in 1840 the annual Church petition from Edinburgh bore attached to it thirteen thousand signatures; and to that of the following year (1841) the very extraordinary number of twenty-five thousand was appended. And, save for the result, general over Scotland, which we find thus indicated by the Church petitions of Edinburgh, the Disruption, and especially the origination of a Free Church, would have been impossible events. How, we ask, was that result produced? Not, certainly, by the votes of ecclesiastical courts,—for mere votes would never have doubled the Cape Horn of the Church question; but simply through the conviction at length effectually wrought in the public mind, that our ministers were struggling and suffering, not for clerical privileges, but for popular rights,—not for themselves, but for others. And that conviction once firmly entertained, the movement waxed formidable; for elsewhere, as in the metropolis, popular support increased at least fivefold; and the question, previously narrow of base, and very much restricted to one order of men, became broad as the Scottish nation, and deep as the feelings of the Scottish people. But as certainly as the component strands of a cable that have been twisted into strength and coherency by one series of workings, may be untwisted into loose and feeble threads by another, so certainly may the majorities of our church courts, by a reversal of the charm which won for them the element of popular strength, render themselves of small account in the nation. They became strong by advocating, in the Patronage question, popular rights, in opposition to clerical interests: they may and will become weak, if in the Educational one they reverse the process, and advocate clerical interests in opposition to popular rights.

Their country is perishing for lack of a knowledge which they cannot supply. Every seven years—the brief term during which, if a generation fail to be educated, the opportunity of education for ever passes away—there are from a hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand of the youth of Scotland added to the adult community in an untaught, uninformed condition. Nor need we say in how frightful a ratio their numbers must increase. The ignorant children of the present will become the improvident and careless parents of the future; and how improvident and careless the corresponding class which already exists among us always approves itself to be, let our prisons and workhouses tell. Our country, with all its churches, must inevitably founder among the nations, like a water-logged vessel in a tempest, if this state of matters be permitted to continue. And why permit it to continue? Be it remembered that it is the national schools—those schools which are the people's own, and are yet withheld from them—and not the schools of the Free Church, which it is the object of the Educational movement to open up and extend. Nor is it proposed to open them up on a new principle. It is an unchallenged fact, that there exists no statutory provision for the teaching of religion in them. All that is really wanted is, to transfer them on their present statutory basis from the few to the many,—from Moderate ministers and Episcopalian heritors, to a people essentially sound in the faith—Presbyterian in the proportion of at least six to one, and Evangelical in the proportion of at least two to one. And at no distant day this transference must and will take place, if the ministers of the Free Church do not virtually join their forces to their brethren of the Establishment in behalf of an alleged ecclesiastical privilege nowhere sanctioned in the word of God.{1}

There is another important item in this question, over which, as already determined by inevitable laws, ecclesiastical votes, however unanimous, can exert no influence or control. They cannot ordain that inadequately paid schoolmasters can be other than inferior educators. If the remuneration be low, it is impossible by any mere force of majorities to render the teaching high. There is a law already 'voted for' in the case, which majorities can no more repeal than they can the law of gravitation. And here we must take the opportunity of stating—for there has been misrepresentation on the point—what our interest in the teachers of Scotland and of the Free Church really is. Certainly not indifferent to their comfort as men, or to the welfare of their profession, as one of the most important and yet worst remunerated in the community, we frankly confess that we look to something greatly higher than either their comfort or the professional welfare in general. They and their profession are but means; and it is to the end that we mainly look,—that end being the right education of the Scottish people, and their consequent elevation in the scale, moral and intellectual. We would deal by the teachers of the country in this matter as we would by the stone-cutters of Edinburgh, were we entrusted with the erection of some such exquisite piece of masonry as the Scott Monument, or that fine building recently completed in St. Andrew Square. Instead of pitching our scale of remuneration at the rate of labourers' wages, we would at once pitch it at the highest rate assigned to the skilled mechanic; and this not in order, primarily at least, that the masons engaged should be comfortable, but in order that they should be masters of their profession, and that their work should be of the completest and most finished kind. For labourers' wages would secure the services of only bungling workmen, and lead to the production of only inferior masonry. And such is the principle on which we would befriend our poor schoolmasters,—not so much for their own sakes, as for the sake of their work. Further, however, it is surely of importance that, when engaged in teaching religion, they themselves should be enabled, in conformity with one of its injunctions, to 'provide things honest in the sight of all men.' Nay, of nothing are we more certain, than that the Church has only to exert herself to the extent of the liabilities already incurred to her teachers, in order to be convinced of the absolute necessity which exists for a broad national scheme. Any doubts which she may at present entertain regarding the question of the necessity, are, in part at least, effects of her lax views respecting the question of the liability, and of her consequent belief that anything well divided is sufficient to discharge it. At the same time, however, it would be perhaps well that at least our better-paid schoolmasters should be made to reflect that the circumstances of their position are very peculiar; and that should they take a zealous part against what a preponderating majority of the laity of their Church must of necessity come to regard as the cause of their country, their opposition, though utterly uninfluential in the general struggle, may prove thoroughly effectual in injuring themselves. For virtually in the Free Church, as in the British Constitution, it is the 'Commons' who grant the supplies.

We subjoin the paper on the Educational Question, addressed by Dr. Chalmers to the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule, as it first appeared in the Witness. The reader will see that there is direct reference made to it in the following pages, and will find it better suited to repay careful study and frequent perusal than perhaps any other document on the subject ever written:—

'It were the best state of things, that we had a Parliament sufficiently theological to discriminate between the right and the wrong in religion, and to encourage or endow accordingly. But failing this, it seems to us the next best thing, that in any public measure for helping on the education of the people, Government were to abstain from introducing the element of religion at all into their part of the scheme; and this not because they held the matter to be insignificant,—the contrary might be strongly expressed in the preamble of their Act,—but on the ground that, in the present divided state of the Christian world, they would take no cognizance of, just because they would attempt no control over, the religion of applicants for aid,—leaving this matter entire to the parties who had to do with the erection and management of the schools which they had been called upon to assist. A grant by the State upon this footing might be regarded as being appropriately and exclusively the expression of their value for a good secular education.

'The confinement for the time being of any Government measure for schools to this object we hold to be an imputation, not so much on the present state of our Legislature, as on the present state of the Christian world, now broken up into sects and parties innumerable, and seemingly incapable of any effort for so healing these wretched divisions as to present the rulers of our country with aught like such a clear and unequivocal majority in favour of what is good and true, as might at once determine them to fix upon and to espouse it.

'It is this which has encompassed the Government with difficulties, from which we can see no other method of extrication than the one which we have ventured to suggest. And as there seems no reason why, because of these unresolved differences, a public measure for the health of all—for the recreation of all—for the economic advancement of all—should be held in abeyance, there seems as little reason why, because of these differences, a public measure for raising the general intelligence of all should be held in abeyance. Let the men therefore of all Churches and all denominations alike hail such a measure, whether as carried into effect by a good education in letters or in any of the sciences; and, meanwhile, in these very seminaries let that education in religion which the Legislature abstains from providing for, be provided for as freely and as amply as they will by those who have undertaken the charge of them.

'We should hope, as the result of such a scheme, for a most wholesome rivalship on the part of many in the great aim of rearing on the basis of their respective systems a moral and Christian population, well taught in the principles and doctrines of the gospel, along with being well taught in the lessons of ordinary scholarship. Although no attempt should be made to regulate or to enforce the lessons of religion in the inner hall of legislation, this will not prevent, but rather stimulate, to a greater earnestness in the contest between truth and falsehood—between light and darkness—in the outer field of society; nor will the result of such a contest in favour of what is right and good be at all the more unlikely, that the families of the land have been raised by the helping hand of the State to a higher platform than before, whether as respects their health, or their physical comfort, or their economic condition, or, last of all, their place in the scale of intelligence and learning.

'Religion would, under such a system, be the immediate product, not of legislation, but of the Christian philanthropic zeal which obtained throughout society at large. But it is well when what legislation does for the fulfilment of its object tends not to the impediment, but rather, we apprehend, to the furtherance, of those greater and higher objects which are in the contemplation of those whose desires are chiefly set on the immortal wellbeing of man.

'On the basis of these general views, I have two remarks to offer regarding the Government scheme of education.

'1. I should not require a certificate of satisfaction with the religious progress of the scholars from the managers of the schools, in order to their receiving the Government aid. Such a certificate from Unitarians or Catholics implies the direct sanction or countenance by Government to their respective creeds, and the responsibility, not of allowing, but, more than this, of requiring, that these shall be taught to the children who attend. A bare allowance is but a general toleration; but a requirement involves in it all the mischief, and, I would add, the guilt, of an indiscriminate endowment for truth and error.

'2. I would suffer parents or natural guardians to select what parts of the education they wanted for their children. I would not force arithmetic upon them, if all they wanted was reading and writing; and as little would I force the Catechism, or any part of the religious instruction that was given in the school, if all they wanted was a secular education. That the managers of the Church of England schools shall have the power to impose their own Catechism upon the children of Dissenters, and, still more, to compel their attendance on church, I regard as among the worst parts of the scheme.

'The above observations, it will be seen, meet any questions which might be put in regard to the applicability of the scheme to Scotland, or in regard to the use of the Douay version in Roman Catholic schools.

'I cannot conclude without expressing my despair of any great or general good being effected in the way of Christianizing our population, but through the medium of a Government themselves Christian, and endowing the true religion, which I hold to be their imperative duty, not because it is the religion of the many, but because it is true.

'The scheme on which I have now ventured to offer these few observations I should like to be adopted, not because it is absolutely the best, but only the best in existing circumstances.

'The endowment of the Catholic religion by the State I should deprecate, as being ruinous to the country in all its interests. Still I do not look for the general Christianity of the people, but through the medium of the Christianity of their rulers. This is a lesson taught historically in Scripture, by what we read there of the influence which the personal character of the Jewish monarchs had on the moral and religious state of their subjects; it is taught experimentally, by the impotence, now fully established, of the Voluntary principle; and last, and most decisive of all, it is taught prophetically in the book of Revelation, when told that then will the kingdoms of the earth (Basileiai, or governing powers) become the kingdoms of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the Governments of the earth become Christian Governments.



{1} Some of the reasonings of both the Established and Free Church courts on this matter would be amusing were they not so sad. 'Feed my lambs,' said our Saviour, after His resurrection, to Peter; and again twice over, 'Feed my sheep.' Now, let us suppose some zealous clergyman setting himself, on the strength of the latter injunction here, to institute a new order of preachers. As barbers frequently amuse their employers with gossip, when divesting them of their beards or trimming their heads, and have opportunities of addressing their fellow-men which are not possessed by the other mechanical professions, the zealous clergyman determines on converting them into preachers, and sets up a Normal School, in order that they may be taught the art of composing short sermons, which they are to deliver when shaving their customers, and longer ones, which they are to address to them when cutting their hair. And in course of time the expounding barbers are sent abroad to operate on the minds and chins of the community. 'There is no mention made of any such order of prelectors,' says a stubborn layman, 'in my New Testament;' 'Nor yet in mine,' says another. 'Sheer Atheism,—Deism at the very least!' exclaims the zealous clergyman. 'Until Christianity was fairly established in the world, there was no such thing as shaving at all; the Jews don't shave yet: besides, does not every decent Church member shave before going to church? And as for the authority, how read you the text, "Feed my sheep!'" 'Weighty argument that about the shaving,' say the laymen; 'but really the text seems to be stretched just a little too far. The commission is given to Peter; but it confers on Peter no authority whatever to commission the barbers. Nay, our grand objection to the pseudo-successors of Peter is, that they corrupted the Church after this very manner, by commissioning the non-commissioned, until they filled the groaning land with cardinals, bishops, and abbots, monks and nuns,—

"Eremites and friars, White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery.'"

Now, be it remembered that we are far from placing the Church-employed schoolmaster on the level of the parson-employed barber of our illustration. Rationally considered, they are very different orders indeed; but so far as direct Scripture is concerned, they stand, we contend, on exactly the same ground. The laity would do well in this controversy to arm themselves with the New Testament, and, if their opponents be very intolerant, to hand them the volume, and request them to turn up their authority. And, of course, if the intolerance be very great, the authority must be very direct. Mere arguings on the subject would but serve to show that it has no actual existence. When the commission of a captain or lieutenant is legitimately demanded, it is at once produced; but were one to demand the commission of a sergeant or boatswain's mate, the man could at best only reason about it.



Disputes regarding the meaning embodied by Chalmers in his Educational Document—Narrative suited to throw some light on the subject—Consideration of the Document itself—Testimony respecting it of the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule.

One of the most important controversies which has arisen within the pale of the Romish Church—that between the Jansenists and Jesuits—was made to hinge for many years on a case of disputed meaning in the writings of a certain deceased author. There were five doctrines of a well-defined character which, the Jesuits said, were to be found in the works of Cornelius Jansenius, umquhile Bishop of Ypres, but which, the Jansenists asserted, were not to be found in anything Jansenius had ever written. And in the attempt to decide this simple question of fact, as Pascal calls it, the School of the Sorbonne and the Court of the Inquisition were completely baffled; and zealous Roman Catholics heard without conviction the verdict of councils, and failed to acquiesce in the judgment of even the Pope.

We have been reminded oftener than once of this singular controversy, by the late discussions which have arisen in our church courts regarding the meaning embodied by Chalmers in that posthumous document on the Educational question, which is destined, we hold, to settle the whole controversy. At first we regarded it as matter of wonder that such discussions should have arisen; for we had held that there was really little room for difference respecting the meaning of Chalmers,—a man whose nature it was to deal with broad truths, not with little distinctions; and who had always the will, and certainly did not lack the ability, of making himself thoroughly understood. We have since thought, however, that as there is nothing which has once occurred that may not occur again, what happened to the writings of Jansenius might well happen to one of the writings of Chalmers; and further, that from certain conversations which we had held with the illustrious deceased a few months before his death, on the subject of his paper, and from certain facts in our possession regarding his views, we had spectacles through which to look at the document in question, and a key to his meaning, which most of the disputants wanted. The time has at length come when these helps to the right understanding of so great an authority should be no longer withheld from the public. We shall betray no confidence; and should we be compelled to speak somewhat more in the first person, and of ourselves, than may seem quite accordant with good taste, our readers will, we trust, suffer us to remind them that we do not commit the fault very often, or very offensively, and that the present employment of the personal pronoun, just a little modified by the editorial we, seems inevitably incident to the special line of statement on which we propose to enter.

During the greater part of the years 1845 and 1846, the Editor of the Witness was set aside from his professional labours by a protracted illness, in part at least an effect of the perhaps too assiduous prosecution of these labours at a previous period. He had to cease per force even from taking a very fixed view of what the Church was doing or purposing; and when, early in January 1847, he returned, after a long and dreary period of rustication, in improved health to Edinburgh, he at least possessed the advantage—much prized by artists and authors in their respective walks—of being able to look over the length and breadth of his subject with a fresh eye. And, in doing so, there was one special circumstance in the survey suited to excite some alarm. We found that in all the various schemes of the Free Church, with but one exception, its extensively spread membership and its more active leaders were thoroughly at one; but that in that exceptional scheme they were not at all at one. They were at one in their views respecting the ecclesiastical character of ministers, elders, and church courts, and of the absolute necessity which exists that these, and these only, should possess the spiritual key. Further, they were wholly at one in recognising the command of our adorable Saviour to preach the gospel to all nations, as of perpetual obligation on the Churches. But regarding what we shall term, without taking an undue liberty with the language, the pedagogical teaching of religion, they differed in toto. Practically, and to all intents and purposes, the schoolmaster, in the eye of the membership of our Church, and of the other Scottish Churches, was simply a layman, the proper business of whose profession was the communication of secular learning. And as in choosing their tailors and shoemakers the people selected for themselves the craftsmen who made the best and handsomest shoes and clothes, so, in selecting a schoolmaster for their children, they were sure always to select the teacher who was found to turn out the best scholars.{2} All other things equal, they would have preferred a serious, devout schoolmaster to one who was not serious nor devout, just as, coeteris paribus, they would have preferred a serious shoemaker or tailor to a non-religious maker of shoes or clothes; but religious character was not permitted to stand as a compensatory item for professional skill; nay, men who might be almost content to put up with a botched coat or a botched pair of shoes for the sake of the good man who spoiled them, were particularly careful not to botch, on any account whatever, the education of their children. In a country in which there was more importance attached than in perhaps any other in the world to the religious teaching of the minister, there was so little importance attached to the religious teaching of the schoolmaster, that, when weighed against even a slight modicum of secular qualification, it was found to have no sensible weight. And with this great practical fact some of our leading men seemed to be so little acquainted, that they were going on with the machinery of their educational scheme, on a scale at least co-extensive with the Free Church, as if, like that Church—all-potent in her spiritual character—it had a moving power in the affections of the people competent to speed it on. And it was the great discrepancy with regard to this scheme which existed between the feelings of the people and the anticipations of some of our leading men, clerical and lay, that excited our alarm. Unless that discrepancy be removed, we said—unless the anticipations of the men engaged in the laying down of this scheme be sobered to the level of the feelings of the lay membership of our Church, or, vice versa, the feelings of the lay membership of our Church be raised to the level of the anticipations of our leaders—bankruptcy will be the infallible result. From the contributions of our laymen can the scheme alone derive its support; and if our leaders lay it down on a large scale, and our laymen contribute on a small one, alas for its solvency! Such were our views, and such our inferences, on this occasion; and to Thomas Chalmers, at once our wisest and our humblest man—patient to hear, and sagacious to see—we determined on communicating them.

He had kindly visited the writer, to congratulate him in his dwelling on his return to comparative health and strength; and after a long and serious conversation, in which he urged the importance of maintaining the Witness in honest independency, uninfluenced by cliques and parties, whether secular or ecclesiastical, the prospects of the Free Church educational scheme were briefly discussed. He was evidently struck by the view which we communicated, and received it in far other than that parliamentary style which can politely set aside, with some soothing half-compliment, the suggestions that run counter to a favourite course of policy already lined out and determined upon. In the discrepancy which we pointed out to him he recognised a fact of the practical kind, which rarely fail to influence the affairs upon which they bear; and in accordance with his character—for no man could be more thoroughly convinced that free discussion never hurts a good cause, and that second thoughts are always wiser than first ones—he expressed a wish to see the educational question brought at once to the columns of the Witness, and probed to its bottom. We could not, however, see at that time how the thing was to be introduced in a practical form, and preferred waiting on for an opportunity, which in the course of events soon occurred. The Government came forward with its proposal of educational grants, and the question was raised—certainly not by the writer of these chapters—whether or no the Free Church could conscientiously avail herself of these. It was promptly decided by some few of our leading men, clerical and lay, that she could not; and we saw in the decision, unless carried by appeal to our country ministers and the people, and by them reversed, the introduction of a further element of certain dissolution in our educational scheme.

The status of the schoolmaster had been made so exceedingly ecclesiastical, and his profession so very spiritual, that the money of that Government of the country whose right and duty it is to educate its people, was regarded as too vile and base a thing to be applied to his support. There were even rumours afloat that our schoolmasters were on the eve of being ordained. We trust, however, that the report was a false one, or, at worst, that the men who employed the word had made a slip in their English, and for the time at least had forgot its meaning. Ordination means that special act which gives status and standing within the ecclesiastical province. It implies the enjoined use of that spiritual key which is entrusted by Christ to His Church, that it may be employed just as He directs, and in no other way. The Presbyterian Church has as much right to institute prelates as to ordain pedagogues. 'Remember,' said an ancient Scottish worthy, in 'lifting up his protestation' in troublous times, 'that the Lord has fashioned His Kirk by the uncounterfeited work of His own new creation; or, as the prophet speaketh, "hath made us, and not we ourselves;" and that we must not presume to fashion a new portraiture of a Kirk, and a new form of divine service, which God in His word hath not before allowed; seeing that, were we to extend our authority further than the calling we have of God doth permit—as, namely, if we should (as God forbid!) authorize the authority of bishops—we should bring into the Kirk of God the ordinance of man.' If men are to depart from the 'law and the testimony,' we hold that the especial mode of their departure may be very much a matter of taste, and would, for our own part, prefer bishops and cardinals to poor dominies of the gospel, somewhat out at the elbows.{3} The fine linen and the purple, the cope and the stole, would at least have the effect of giving that sort of pleasant relief to the widespread sable of our Assemblies which they possessed of yore, ere they for ever lost the gay uniform of the Lord High Commissioner, the gold lace of his dragoon officers, and the glitter of his pages in silver and scarlet. 'We are two of the humblest servants of Mother Church,' said the Prior and his companion to Wamba, the jester of Rotherwood. 'Two of the humblest servants of Mother Church!' repeated Wamba; 'I should rather like to see her seneschals, her chief butlers, and her other principal domestics.'

We again saw Chalmers, and, in a corner apart from a social party, of which his kind and genial heart formed the attractive centre, we found he thoroughly agreed with us in holding that the time for the discussion of the educational question had fully come. It was a question, he said, on which he had not yet fully made up his mind: there was, however, one point on which he seemed clear—though, at this distance of time, we cannot definitively say whether the remark regarding it came spontaneously from himself, or was suggested by any query of ours—and that was the right and duty of a Government to instruct, and consequently of the governed to receive the instruction thus communicated, if in itself good. We remarked in turn, that there were various points on which we also had to 'grope our way' (a phrase to which the reader will find him referring in his note, which we subjoin); but that regarding the inherently secular character of the schoolmaster, and the right and duty of the Government to employ him in behalf of its people, we had no doubt whatever. And so, parting for the time, we commenced that series of articles which, as they were not wholly without influence in communicating juster views of the place and status of the schoolmaster than had formerly obtained in the Free Church, and as they had some little effect in leading the Church to take at least one step in averting the otherwise inevitable ruin which brooded over her educational scheme, the readers of the Witness may perhaps remember. We were met in controversy on the question by a man, the honesty of whose purpose in this, as in every other matter, and the warmth of whose zeal for the Church which he loved, and for which he laboured, no one has ever questioned, and no one ever will. And if, though possessed of solid, though perhaps not brilliant talent, he failed on this occasion 'in finding his hands,' we are to seek an explanation of his failure simply in the circumstance that truths of principle—such as those which establish the right and duty of every Government to educate its people, or which demonstrate the schoolmaster to possess a purely secular, not an ecclesiastical standing—or yet truths of fact, such as that for many years the national teaching of Scotland has not been religious, or that the better Scottish people will on no account or consideration sacrifice the secular education of their children to the dream of a spiritual pedagogy,—are truths which can neither be controverted nor set aside. He did on one occasion, during the course—what he no doubt afterwards regretted—raise against us the cry of infidelity,—a cry which, when employed respecting matters on which Christ or His apostles have not spoken, really means no more than that he who employs it, if truly a good man, is bilious, or has a bad stomach, or has lost the thread of his argument or the equanimity of his temper. Feeling somewhat annoyed, however, we wished to see Chalmers once more; but the matter had not escaped his quick eye, and his kind heart suggested the remedy. In the course of the day in which our views and reasonings were posted as infidel, we received the following note from Morningside:—

MORNINGSIDE, March 13, 1847.

MY DEAR SIR,—You are getting nobly on on education; not only groping your way, but making way, and that by a very sensible step in advance this day.

On my own mind the truth evolves itself very gradually; and I am yet a far way from the landing-place. Kindest respects to Mrs. Miller; and with earnest prayer for the comfort and happiness of both, I ever am, my dear Sir, yours very truly,


Hugh Miller, Esq.

In short, Thomas Chalmers, by his sympathy and his connivance, had become as great an infidel as ourselves; and we have submitted to our readers the evidence of the fact, fully certified under his own hand.{4} There is a sort of perfection in everything; and perfection once reached, deterioration usually begins. And when, in bandying the phrases infidel and infidelity—like the feathered missiles in the game of battledore and shuttlecock—they fell upon Chalmers, we think there was a droll felicity in the accident, which constitutes for it an irresistible claim of being the terminal one in the series. The climax reached its point of extremest elevation; for even should our infidel-dubbers do their best or worst now, it is not at all likely they will find out a second Chalmers to hit.

We concluded our course of educational articles; and though we afterwards saw the distinguished man to whom our eye so frequently turned, as, under God, the wise pilot of the Free Church, and were honoured by a communication from him, dictated to his secretary, we did not again touch on the subject of education. We were, however, gratified to learn, from men much in his confidence and company—we hope we do not betray trust in referring to the Rev. Mr. Tasker of the West Port as one of these—that he regarded our entire course with a feeling of general approval akin to that to which he had given expression in his note. It further gratifies us to reflect that our course had the effect of setting his eminently practical mind a-working on the whole subject, and led to the production of the inestimably valuable document, long and carefully pondered, which will do more to settle the question of national education in Scotland than all the many volumes which have been written regarding it. As in a well-known instance in Scottish story, it is the 'dead Douglas' who is to 'win the field.'

But we lag in our narrative. That melancholy event took place which cast a shade of sadness over Christendom; and in a few weeks after, the posthumous document, kindly communicated to us by the family of the deceased, appeared in the columns of the Witness. We perused it with intense interest; and what we saw in the first perusal was, that Chalmers had gone far beyond us; and in the second, that, in laying down his first principles, he had looked at the subject, as was his nature, in a broader and more general aspect, and had unlocked the difficulty which it presented in a more practical and statesmanlike manner. We had, indeed, considered in the abstract the right and duty of the civil magistrate to educate his people; but our main object being to ward off otherwise inevitable bankruptcy from a scheme of our Church, and having to deal with a sort of vicious Cameronianism, that would not accept of the magistrate's money, even though he gave the Bible and the Shorter Catechism along with it, we had merely contended that money given in connection with the Bible and Shorter Catechism is a very excellent thing, and especially so to men who cannot fulfil their obligations or pay their debts without it. But Chalmers had looked beyond the difficulties of a scheme, to the emergencies of a nation.

At the request of many of our readers, we have reprinted his document in full, as it originally appeared.{5} First, let it be remarked that, after briefly stating what he deemed the optimity of the question, he passes on to what he considered the only mode of settling it practically, in the present divided state of the Church and country. And in doing so he lays down, as a preliminary step, the absolute right and duty of the Government to educate, altogether independently of the theological differences or divisions which may obtain among the people or in the Churches. 'As there seems no reason,' he says, 'why, because of these unresolved differences, a public measure for the health of all, for the recreation of all, for the economic advancement of all, should be held in abeyance, there seems as little reason why, because of these differences, a public measure for raising the general intelligence of all should be held in abeyance.' Such is the principle which he enunciates regarding the party possessing the right to educate. Let the reader next mark in what terms he speaks of the party to be educated, or under whose immediate superintendence the education is to be conducted. Those who most widely misunderstand the Doctor's meaning—from the circumstance, perhaps, that their views are most essentially at variance with those which he entertained—seem to hold that this absolute right on the part of Government is somehow conditional on the parties to be educated, or to superintend the education, coming forward to them in the character of Churches. They deem it necessary to the integrity of his meaning, that Presbyterians should come forward as Presbyterians, Puseyites as Puseyites, Papists as Papists, and Socinians as Socinians; in which case, of course, all could be set right so far as the Free Church conscience was concerned in the matter, by taking the State's grant with the one hand, and holding out an indignant protest against its extension to the erroneous sects in the other. But that Chalmers could have contemplated anything so monstrous as that Scotchmen should think of coming forward simply as Scotchmen, they cannot believe. He must have regarded the State's unconditional right to educate as conditional after all, and dependent on the form assumed by the party on which or through which it was to be exercised. Let the reader examine for himself, and see whether there exists in the document a single expression suited to favour such a view. Nothing can be plainer than the words 'Parliament,' 'Government,' 'State,' 'Legislature,' employed to designate the educating party on the one hand; and surely nothing plainer than the words 'people,' 'men of all Churches and denominations,' 'families of the land,' and 'society at large,' made use of in designating the party to be educated, or entrusted with the educational means or machinery, on the other. There is a well-grounded confidence expressed in the Christian and philanthropic zeal which obtain throughout society; but the only bodies ecclesiastical which we find specially named—if, indeed, one of these can be regarded as at all ecclesiastical—are the 'Unitarians and the Catholics.' It was with the broad question of national education in its relation to two great parties placed in happy opposition, as the 'inner hall of legislation' and the 'outer field of society,' that we find Dr. Chalmers mainly dealing. And yet the document does contain palpable reference to the Government scheme. There is one clause in which it urges the propriety of 'leaving [the matter of religion] to the parties who had to do with the erection and management of the schools which [the rulers of the country] had been called on to assist.' But the greater includes the less, and the much that is general in the paper is in no degree neutralized by the little in it that is particular. The Hon. Mr. Fox Maule could perhaps throw some additional light on this matter. It was at his special desire, and in consequence of a conversation on the subject which he held with Chalmers, that the document was drawn up. The nature of the request could not, of course, alter whatever is absolutely present in what it was the means of producing; but it would be something to know whether what the statesman asked was a decision on a special educational scheme, or—what any statesman might well desire to possess—the judgment of so wise and great a man on the all-important subject of national education.

It will be found that the following valuable letters from Dr. Guthrie and the Hon. Mr. Fox Maule determine the meaning of Dr. Chalmers on his own authority:—

2, LAURISTON LANE, March 5, 1850.

MY DEAR MR. MILLER,—When such conflicting statements were advanced as to the bearing of Dr. Chalmers' celebrated paper on education, although I had no doubt in my own mind that the view you had taken of that valuable document was the correct one, and had that view confirmed by a conversation I had with his son-in-law, Mr. M'Kenzie, who heard Dr Chalmers discuss the matter in London, and acted, indeed, as his amanuensis in writing that paper; yet I thought it were well also to see whether Mr. Maule could throw any light on the subject. I wrote him with that object in view; and while we must regret that we are called to differ from some most eminent and excellent friends on this important question, it both comforts and confirms us to find another most important testimony in the letter which I now send to you, in favour of our opinion, that Dr. Chalmers, had God spared him to this day, would have lifted up his mighty voice to advocate the views in which we are agreed.

Into the fermenting mind of the public it is the duty of every one to cast in whatever may, by God's blessing, lead to a happy termination of this great question; and with this view I send you the letter which I have had the honour to receive from Mr. Maule.—Believe me, yours ever,


GROSVENOR STREET, March 4, 1850.

MY DEAR DR. GUTHRIE,—When you wrote me some time since upon the subject of the communication made to me by the late Dr. Chalmers upon the all-important question of education, I could not take upon myself to say positively (though I had very little doubt in my mind) whether that document took its origin in a desire expressed by me to have Dr. Chalmers' opinion on the general question of education, or merely upon the scheme laid down and pursued by the Committee of Privy Council. My impression has always been, that Dr. Chalmers addressed himself to the question as a whole; and on looking over my papers a few days since, I find that impression quite confirmed by the following sentence, in a note in Dr. Chalmers' handwriting, bearing date 21st May 1847:—'I hope that by to-morrow night I shall have prepared a few brief sentences on the subject of education.'

None of us thought how inestimable these brief sentences were to become, forming, as they do, the last written evidence of the tone of his great mind on this subject.

Should you address yourself to this question, you are, in my opinion, fully justified in dealing with the memorandum as referring to general and national arrangements, and not to those which are essentially of a temporary and varying character.—Believe me, with great esteem, yours sincerely,



{2} This passage has been referred to in several Free Church presbyteries, as if the writer had affirmed that the schoolmaster stands on no higher level than the shoemaker or tailor. We need scarce say, however, that the passage conveys no such meaning. By affirming that in matters of chimney-sweeping men choose for themselves the best chimney-sweeps, and in matters of indisposition or disease the best physicians, we do not at all level the physician with the chimney-sweep: we merely intimate that there is a best in both professions, and that men select that best, as preferable to what is inferior or worse, on every occasion they can.

{3} We have learned that what was actually intended at this time was, not to ordain, but only to induct our schoolmasters. And their induction would have made, we doubt not, what Foigard in the play calls a 'very pretty sheremony.' But no mere ceremony, however imposing, can communicate to a secular profession a spiritual status or character.

{4} A fac-simile of this letter was reproduced in the columns of the Witness.—ED.

{5} See Introduction.


Right and Duty of the Civil Magistrate to educate the People—Founded on two distinct Principles, the one economic, the other judicial—Right and Duty of the Parent—Natural, not Ecclesiastical—Examination of the purely Ecclesiastical Claim—The real Rights in the case those of the State, the Parent, and the Ratepayer—The terms Parent and Ratepayer convertible into the one term Householder.

Wherever mind is employed, thought will be evolved; and in all questions of a practical character, truth, when honestly sought, is ultimately found. And so we deem it a happy circumstance, that there should be more minds honestly engaged at the present time on the educational problem than at perhaps any former period. To the upright light will arise. The question cannot be too profoundly pondered, nor too carefully discussed; and at the urgent request of not a few of our better readers, we purpose examining it anew in a course of occasional articles, convinced that its crisis has at length come, just as the crisis of the Church question had in reality come when the late Dr. M'Crie published his extraordinary pamphlet;{6} and that it must depend on the part now taken by the Free Church in this matter, whether some ten years hence she is to posses any share, even the slightest, in the education of the country. We ask our readers severely to test all our statements, whether of principle or of fact, and to suffer nothing in the least to influence them which is not rational, or which is not true.

In the first place, then, we hold with Chalmers, that it is unquestionably the right and duty of the civil magistrate to educate his people, altogether independently of the religion which he himself holds, or of the religious differences which may unhappily obtain among them. Even should there be as many sects in a country as there are families or individuals, the right and duty still remain. Religion, in such circumstances, can palpably form no part of a Government scheme of tuition; but there is nothing in the element of religious difference to furnish even a pretext for excluding those important secular branches which bear reference to the principles of trade, the qualities of matter, the relations of numbers, the properties of figured space, the philosophy of grammar, or the form and body which in various countries and ages literature and the belles lettres have assumed. And this right and duty of a Government to instruct, rest, we hold, on two distinct principles,—the one economic, the other judicial. Education adds immensely to the economic value of the subjects of a State. The professional and mercantile men who in this country live by their own exertions, and pay the income tax, and all the other direct taxes, are educated men; whereas its uneducated men do not pay the direct taxes, and, save in the article of intoxicating drink, very little of the indirect ones; and a large proportion of their number, so far from contributing to the national wealth, are positive burdens on the community. And on the class of facts to which this important fact belongs rests the economic right and duty of the civil magistrate to educate.

His judicial right and duty are founded on the circumstance, that the laws which he promulgates are written laws, and that what he writes for the guidance of the people, the people ought to be enabled to read; seeing that to punish for the breach of a law, of the existence of which he who breaks it has been left in ignorance, is not man-law, but what Jeremy Bentham well designates dog-law, and altogether unjust. We are, of course, far from supposing that every British subject who can read is to peruse the vast library which the British Acts of themselves compose; but we hold that education forms the only direct means through which written law, as a regulator of conduct, can be known, and that, in consequence, in its practical breadth and average aspect, it is only educated men who know it, and only uneducated men who are ignorant of it. And hence the derivation of the magistrate's judicial right and duty. But on this part of our subject, with Free Churchmen for our readers, we need not surely insist. Our Church has homologated at least the general principle of the civil magistrate's right and duty, by becoming the recipient of his educational grant. If he has no right to give, she can have no right to receive. If he, instead of performing a duty, has perpetrated a wrong, she, to all intents and purposes, being guilty of receipt, is a participator in the crime. Nay, further, let it be remarked that, as indicated by the speeches of some of our abler and more influential men, there seems to exist a decided wish on the part of the Free Church, that the State, in its educational grants, should assume a purely secular character, and dispense with the certificate of religious training which it at present demands,—a certificate which, though anomalously required of sects of the most opposite tenets, constitutes notwithstanding, in this business of grants, the sole recognition of religion on the part of the Government. Now this, if a fact at all, is essentially a noticeable and pregnant one, and shows how much opposite parties are in reality at one on a principle regarding which they at least seem to dispute.

The right and duty of the civil magistrate thus established, let us next consider another main element in the question,—the right and duty of the parent. It is, we assert, imperative on every parent in Scotland and elsewhere to educate his children; and on the principle that he is a joint contributor with the Government to the support of every national teacher—the Government giving salary, and the parent fees—we assert further, that should the Government give its salary 'exclusively as the expression of its value for a good secular education,' he may, notwithstanding, demand that his fees should be received as the representative of his value for a good religious education. Whether his principles be those of the Voluntary or of the Establishment-man, the same schoolmaster who is a secular teacher in relation to the Government, may be a religious teacher in relation to him. For unless the State positively forbid its schoolmaster to communicate religious instruction, he exists to the parent, in virtue of the fees given and received, in exactly the circumstances of the teacher of any adventure school.

Let us further remark, that the rights of the parent in the matter of education are not ecclesiastical, but natural rights. The writer of this article is one of the parents of Scotland; and, simply as such, he claims for himself the right of choosing his children's teacher on his own responsibility, and of determining what his children are to be taught. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Guthrie is his minister; and he also is one of the parents of Scotland, and enjoys, as such, a right identical in all respects with that of his parishioner and hearer. But it is only an identical and co-equal right. Should the writer send his boy to a Socialist or Popish school, to be taught either gross superstition or gross infidelity, the minister would have a right to interfere, and, if entreaty and remonstrance failed, to bring him to discipline for so palpable a breach of his baptismal engagement. If, on the other hand, it was the minister who had sent his boy to the Socialist or Popish school, the parishioner would have a right to interfere, and, were entreaty and remonstrance disregarded, to bring him to discipline. Minister and parishioner stand, we repeat, in this matter, on exactly the same level. Nor have ten, twenty, a hundred, a thousand, twenty thousand, or a hundred thousand lay parents, or yet ten, twenty, a hundred, or a thousand clerical parents, whether existing as a congregation or hundreds of congregations on the one hand, or as a Presbytery, Synod, or General Assembly on the other, rights in this matter that in the least differ in their nature from the rights possessed by the single clergyman, Dr. Guthrie, or by the single layman, the Editor of the Witness. The sole right which exists in the case—that of the parent—is a natural right, not an ecclesiastical one; and the sole modification which it can receive from the superadded element of Church membership is simply that modification to which we refer as founded on the religious duty of both member and minister, in its relation to ecclesiastical law and the baptismal vow.

Nor, be it observed, does this our recognition, in our character as a Church member, of ecclesiastical rule and authority, give our minister any true grounds for urging that it is our bounden duty, in virtue of our parental engagements, and from the existence of such general texts as the often quoted one, 'Train up a child,' etc., to send our children to some school in which religion is expressly taught. Far less does it give him a right to demand any such thing. We are Free Church in our principles; and the grand distinctive principle for which, during the protracted Church controversy, we never ceased to contend, was simply the right of choosing our own religious teacher, on the strength of our own convictions, and on our own exclusive responsibility. We laughed to scorn the idea that the three items of Dr. George Cook's ceaseless iterations—life, literature, and doctrine—formed the full tale of ministerial qualification: there was yet a fourth item, infinitely more important than all the others put together, viz. godliness, or religion proper, or, in yet other words, the regeneration of the whole man by the Spirit of God. And on this last item we held that it was the right and duty of the people who Chose for themselves, and for their children, a religious teacher, and of none others, clerical or lay, solemnly to decide. And while we still hold by this sacred principle on the one hand, we see clearly, on the other, that the sole qualifications of our Free Church teachers, as prepared in our Normal Schools, correspond to but Dr. Cook's three items; nay, that instead of exceeding, they fall greatly short of these. The certificate of character which the young candidates bring to the institution answers but lamely to the item 'life;' the amount of secular instruction imparted to them within its walls answers but inadequately to the item 'literature;' while the modicum of theological training received, most certainly not equal to a four years' course of theology at a Divinity Hall, answers but indifferently to the crowning item of the three—'doctrine.' That paramount item, conversion on the part of the teacher to God, is still unaccounted for; and we contend that, respecting that item, the parent, and the parent only, has a right to decide, all difficult and doubtful as the decision may be: for be it remembered, that there exist no such data on which to arrive at a judgment in cases of this nature, as exist in the choosing of a minister. And though we would deem it eminently right and proper that our child should read his daily Scripture lesson to some respectable schoolmaster, a believer in the divine authority of revelation, and should repeat to him his weekly tale of questions from the National Catechism, yet to the extempore religious teaching of no merely respectable schoolmaster would we subject our child's heart and conscience. For we hold that the religious lessons of the unregenerate lack regenerating life; and that whatever in this all-important department does not intenerate and soften, rarely fails to harden and to sear. Religious preachments from a secular heart are the droppings of a petrifying spring, which convert all that they fall upon into stone. Further, we hold that a mistake regarding the character of a schoolmaster authorized to teach religion extempore might be greatly more serious, and might involve an immensely deeper responsibility, than a similar mistake regarding a minister. The minister preaches to grown men—a large proportion of them members of the Church—not a few of them office-bearers in its service, and competent, in consequence, to judge respecting both the doctrine which he exhibits and the mode of its exhibition; but it is children, immature of judgment, and extremely limited in their knowledge, whom the religion-teaching schoolmaster has to address. Nay, more: in choosing a minister, we may mistake the character of the man; but there can be no mistake made regarding the character of the office, seeing that it is an office appointed by God Himself; whereas in choosing a religion-teaching schoolmaster, we may mistake the character of both the man and the office too. We are responsible in the one case for only the man; we are responsible in the other for both the man and the office.

We have yet another objection to any authoritative interference on the part of ecclesiastical courts with the natural rights and enjoined duties of the parent in the matter of education. Even though we fully recognised some conscientious teacher as himself in possession of the divine life, we might regard him as very unfitted, from some natural harshness of temper, or some coldness of heart, or some infirmity of judgment, for being a missionary of religion to the children under his care. At one period early in life we spent many a leisure hour in drawing up a gossiping little history of our native town, and found, in tracing out the memorabilia of its parish school, that the Rev. John Russell, afterwards of Kilmarnock and Stirling, and somewhat famous in Scottish literature as one of the clerical antagonists of Burns, had taught in it for twelve years, and that several of his pupils (now long since departed) still lived. We sought them out one by one, and succeeded in rescuing several curious passages in his history, and in finding that, though not one among them doubted the sincerity of his religion, nor yet his conscientiousness as a schoolmaster, they all equally regarded him as a harsh-tempered, irascible man, who succeeded in inspiring all his pupils with fear, but not one of them with love. Now, to no such type of schoolmaster, however strong our conviction of his personal piety, would we entrust the religious teaching of our child. If necessitated to place our boy under his pedagogical rule and superintendence, we would address him thus: Lacking time, and mayhap ability, ourselves to instruct our son, we entrust him to you, and this simply on the same division of labour principle on which we give the making of our shoes to a shoemaker, and the making of our clothes to a tailor. And in order that you may not lack the power necessary to the accomplishment of your task—for we hold that 'folly is bound up in the heart of a child'—we make over to you our authority to admonish and correct. But though we can put into your hands the parental rod—with an advice, however, to use it discreetly and with temper—there are things which we cannot communicate to you. We cannot make over to you our child's affection for us, nor yet our affection for our child: with these joys 'a stranger intermeddleth not.' And as religious teaching without love, and conducted under the exclusive influence of fear, may and must be barren—nay, worse than barren—we ask you to leave this part of our duty as a parent entirely to ourselves. Our duty it is, and to you we delegate no part of it; and this, not because we deem it unimportant, but because we deem it important in the highest degree, and are solicitous that no unkindly element should mar it in its effects. Now where, we ask, is the ecclesiastical office-bearer who, in his official character, or in any character or capacity whatever, has a right authoritatively to challenge our rejection, on our own parental responsibility, of the religious teaching of even a converted schoolmaster, on purely reasonable grounds such as these? Or where is the ecclesiastical office-bearer who has an authoritative right to challenge our yet weightier Free Church objection to the religious teaching of a schoolmaster whom we cannot avoid regarding as an unregenerate man, or whom we at least do not know to be a regenerate one? Or yet further, where is the ecclesiastical office-bearer who has a right authoritatively to bear down or set aside our purely Protestant caveat against a teacher of religion who, in his professional capacity, has no place or standing in the word of God? The right and duty of the civil magistrate in all circumstances to educate his people, and of parents to choose their children's teacher, and to determine what they are to be taught, we are compelled to recognise; and there seems to be a harmony between the two rights—the parental and the magisterial, with the salary of the one and the fees of the other—suited, we think, to unlock many a difficulty; but the authoritative standing, in this question, of the ecclesiastic as such, we have hitherto failed to see. The parent, as a Church member or minister, is amenable to discipline; but his natural rights in the matter are simply those of the parent, and his political rights simply those of the subject and the ratepayer.

And in this educational question certain political rights are involved. In the present state of things, the parish schoolmasters of the kingdom are chosen by the parish ministers and parish heritors: the two elements involved are the ecclesiastical and the political. But while we see the parish minister as but the mere idle image of a state of things passed away for ever, and possessed in his ministerial capacity of merely a statutory right, which, though it exists to-day, may be justly swept away to-morrow, we recognise the heritor as possessed of a real right; and what we challenge is merely its engrossing extent, not its nature. We regard it as just in kind, but exorbitant in degree; and on the simple principle that the money of the State is the money of the people, and that the people have a right to determine that it be not misapplied or misdirected, we would, with certain limitations, extend to the ratepayers as a body the privileges, in this educational department, now exclusively exercised by the heritors. In that educational franchise which we would fain see extended to the Scottish people, we recognise two great elements, and but two only,—the natural, or that of the parent; and the political, or that of the ratepayer. These form the two opposite sides of the pyramid; and, though diverse in their nature, let the reader mark how nicely for all practical purposes they converge into the point, householder. The householders of Scotland include all the ratepayers of Scotland. The householders of Scotland include also all the parents of Scotland. We would therefore fix on the householders of a parish as the class in whom the right of nominating the parish schoolmaster should be vested. But on the same principle of high expediency on which we exclude householders of a certain standing from exercising the political franchise in the election of a member of Parliament, would we exclude certain other householders, of, however, a much lower standing, from voting in the election of a parish schoolmaster. We are not prepared to be Chartists in either department,—the educational or the political; and this simply on the ground that Chartism in either would be prejudicial to the general good. On this part of the subject, however, we shall enter at full length in our next.

Meanwhile we again urge our readers carefully to examine for themselves all our statements and propositions,—to take nothing on trust,—to set no store by any man's ipse dixit, be he editor or elder, minister or layman. In this question, as in a thousand others, 'truth lies at the bottom of the well;' and if she be not now found and consulted, to the exclusion of every prejudice, and the disregard of every petty little interest and sinister motive, it will be ill ten years hence with the Free Church of Scotland in her character as an educator. Her safety rests, in the present crisis, in the just and the true, and in the just and the true only.


{6} What ought the General Assembly to do at the present Crisis? (1833.)


Parties to whom the Educational Franchise might be safely extended—House Proprietors, House Tenants of a certain standing, Farmers, Crofters—Scheme of an Educational Faculty—Effects of the desired Extension—It would restore the National Schools to the People of the Nation.

It is the right and duty of every Government to educate its people, whatever the kinds or varieties of religion which may obtain among them;—it is the right and duty of every parent to select, on his own responsibility, his children's teacher, and to determine what his children are to be taught;—it is the right and duty of every member of the commonwealth to see that the commonwealth's money, devoted to educational purposes, be not squandered on incompetent men, and, in virtue of his contributions as a ratepayer, to possess a voice with the parents of a country in the selection of its salaried schoolmasters. There exist, on the one hand, the right and duty of the State; there exist, on the other, the rights and duties of the parents and ratepayers; and we find both parents and ratepayers presenting themselves in the aggregate, and for all practical purposes in this matter, as a single class, viz. the householders of the kingdom. But as, in dealing with these in purely political questions, we exclude a certain portion of them from the exercise of the political franchise, and that simply because, as classes, they are uninformed or dangerous, and might employ power, if they possessed it, to the public prejudice, so would we exclude a certain proportion of them, on similar grounds, from the educational franchise. In selecting, however, the safe classes of householders, we would employ tests somewhat dissimilar in their character from those to which the Reform Act extends its exclusive sanction, and establish a somewhat different order of qualifications from those which it erects.

In the first place, we would fain extend the educational franchise to all those householders of Scotland who inhabit houses of their own, however humble in kind, or however low the valuation of their rental. We know not a safer or more solid, or, in the main, more intelligent class, than those working men of the country who, with the savings of half a lifetime, build or purchase a dwelling for themselves, and then sit down rent-free for the rest of their lives, each 'the monarch of a shed.' With these men we are intimately acquainted, for we have lived and laboured among them; and very rarely have we failed to find the thatched domicile, of mayhap two little rooms and a closet, with a patch of garden-ground behind, of which some hard-handed country mechanic or labourer had, through his own exertions, become the proud possessor, forming a higher certificate of character than masters the most conscientious and discerning could bestow upon their employes, or even Churches themselves upon their members. Nor is this house-owning qualification much less valuable when it has been derived by inheritance—not wrought for; seeing that the man who retains his little patrimony unsquandered must be at least a steady, industrious man, the slave of no expensive or disreputable vice. Let us remark, however, that we would not attach the educational franchise to property as such: the proprietor of the house, whether a small house or a large one, would require to be the bona fide inhabitant of the dwelling which he occupied, for at least a considerable portion of every year. The second class to which we would fain see the educational franchise extended are all those householders of the kingdom who tenant houses of five pounds annual rent and upwards, who settle with their landlords not oftener than twice every twelvemonth, and who are at least a year entered on possession. By fixing the qualification thus high, and rejecting the monthly or weekly rent-payer, the country would get rid of at least nineteen-twentieths of the dangerous classes,—the agricultural labourers, who wander about from parish to parish, some six or eight months in one locality, and some ten or twelve in another; the ignorant immigrant Irish, who tenant the poorer hovels of so many of our western coast parishes; and last, not least, all the migratory population of our larger towns, who rarely reside half a year in the same dwelling, and who, though they may in some instances pay at more than the rate of the yearly five pounds, pay it weekly, or by the fortnight or month. We regret, however, that there is a really worthy class which such a qualification would exclude,—ploughmen, labourers, and country mechanics, who reside permanently in humble cottages, the property of the owner of the soil, and who, though their course through life lies on the bleak edge of poverty, are God-fearing, worthy men, at least morally qualified to give, in the election of a teacher, an honest and not unintelligent voice. And yet, hitherto at least, we have failed to see any principle which a British statesman would recognise as legitimate, on which this class could be included in the educational franchise, and their dangerous neighbours of the same political status kept out. There is yet a third very important class whom we would fain see in possession of the educational franchise,—those householders of Scotland who till the soil as tenants, whether with or without leases, or whether the annual rent which they pay amounts to three or to three thousand pounds. The tillers of the soil are a fixed class, greatly more permanent, even where there exists no lease, than the mere tenant householders; and they include, especially in the Highlands of Scotland, and the poorer districts of the low country, a large proportion of the country's parentage. They are in the main, too, an eminently safe class, and not less so where the farms are small and the dwellings upon them mere cottages—to which, save for the surrounding croft or farm, no franchise could attach—than where they live in elegant houses, and are the lessees of hundreds of acres. And such are the three great classes to which, as composing the solid body of the Scottish nation—to the exclusion of little more than the mere rags that hang loosely on its vestments—would we extend, did we possess the power, the educational franchise.

In order, however, to render a franchise thus liberally restricted more safe and salutary still, we would demand not only certain qualifications on the part of the parents and ratepayers of the country, without which they could not be permitted to vote, but also certain other qualifications on the part of the country's schoolmasters, without which they could not be voted for. We would thus impart to the scheme such a twofold aspect of security as that for which in a purely ecclesiastical matter we contended, when we urged that none but Church members should be permitted to choose their own ministers; and that none but ministers pronounced duly qualified in life, literature, and doctrine, by a competent ecclesiastical court, should they be permitted to choose. There ought to exist a teaching Faculty as certainly as there exists a medical or legal Faculty, or as there exists in the Church what is essentially a preacher-licensing Faculty. The membership of a Church are unfitted in their aggregate character to judge respecting at least the literature of the young licentiate whom, in their own and their children's behalf, they call to the pastoral charge;—the people of a district, however shrewd and solid, are equally unqualified to determine whether the young practitioner of medicine or of law who settles among them is competently acquainted with his profession, and so a fit person to be entrusted with the care of their health or the protection of their property. And hence the necessity which exists in all these cases for testing, licensing, diploma-giving courts or boards, composed of men qualified to decide regarding those special points of ability or acquirement which the people, as such, cannot try for themselves. In no case, however, are courts of this nature more imperatively required than in the case of the schoolmaster. Neither the amount of literature which he possesses, nor yet his mastery over the most approved modes of communicating it, can be tested by the people, who, as parents and ratepayers, possess the exclusive right to make choice of him for their parish or district school; and hence the necessity that what they cannot do for themselves should be previously done for them by some competent court or board, and that no teacher who did not possess a licence or diploma should be eligible to at least an endowed seminary supported by the public money. With, of course, the qualifications of the mere adventure-teacher, whether supported by Churches or individuals, we would permit no board to interfere. As to the composition of the board itself, that, we hold, might be determined on very simple principles. Let the College-bred teachers of Scotland, associated with its University professors, select for themselves, out of their own number, a dean or chairman, and a court or committee, legally qualified by Act of Parliament stringently to try all teachers who may present themselves before them, in order to be rendered eligible for a national school, and to grant them licences or diplomas, legally representative of professional qualification. Whether a teacher, on his election by the people, might not be a second time tried, especially on behalf of the State and the ratepayers, by a Government inspectorship, and thus a check on the board be instituted, we are not at present called on to determine; but on this we are clear, that the certificate of no Normal School, in behalf of its own pupils, ought to be received otherwise than as a mere makeweight in the general item of professional character; seeing that any such document would be as much a certificate of the Normal School's own ability in rearing efficient teachers, as of the pedagogical skill of the teachers which it reared. The vitiating element of self-interest would scarce fail to induce, ultimately at least, a suspicious habit of self-recommendation.

Such, then, in this matter, is our full tale of qualification, pedagogical and popular, of the educators of the country on the one hand, and of the educational franchise-holders of the country on the other. And now we request the reader to mark one mighty result of the arrangement, which no other yet set in opposition to it could possibly produce. There are in Scotland about one thousand one hundred national schools, supported by national resources; and, of consequence, though fallen into the hands of a mere sect, which in some localities does not include a tithe of the population, they of right belong to the Scottish people. And these schools of the people that extension of the educational franchise which we desiderate would not fail to restore to the people. It would put them once more in possession of what was their own property de facto at the Revolution (for at that period, when, with a few inconsiderable exceptions, they were all of one creed, the ministry of the Established Church virtually represented them), and of what has been de jure their property ever since. But by the ministry of no one Church can the people be represented now. The long rule of Moderatism,—the consequent formation of the Secession and Relief Churches,—the growth of Independency and Episcopacy,—and last, but not least in the series, the Disruption, and the instantaneous creation of the Free Church, have put an end to that state of things for ever. The time has in the course of Providence fairly come, when the people must be permitted in this matter to represent themselves; and there is one thing sure,—the struggle may be protracted, but the issue is certain. Important, however, as are our parish schools, and rich in associations so intimately linked to the intellectual glory of the nation, that, were they but mere relics of the past, the custodiership of them might well be most desirable to the Scottish people, they represent but a small part of the stake involved in the present all-engrossing movement. It seeks also to provide from the coffers of the State—on a broad basis of popular representation, and with the reservation of a right on the part of the people to supplement whatever instruction the State may not or cannot supply—that fearful educational destitution of the nation which is sinking its tens and hundreds of thousands into abject pauperism and barbarous ignorance, and which neither Churches nor Societies can of themselves supply. It is the first hopeful movement of the age; for our own Free Church educational movement, though perhaps second in point of importance, only serves irrefragably to demonstrate its necessity.

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