Public School Education
by Michael Mueller
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Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by PATRICK DONAHOE, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


































American fellow-citizens—America is my home! I have no other country. After my God and my religion, my country is the dearest object of my life! I love my country as dearly as any one else can. It is this love that makes my heart bleed when I call to mind the actual state of society in our country, and the principles that prevail everywhere. It is indeed but too true that we live in a most anti-Christian age; principles are disregarded, and iniquity is held in veneration. We see nothing but confusion in religion, in government, in the family circle. Sects spring up and swarm like locusts, destroying not only revealed religion, but rejecting even the law of nature. Fraud, theft, and robbery are practised almost as a common trade. The press justifies rebellion, secret societies, and plots for the overthrow of established governments. The civil law, by granting divorce, has broken the family tie. Children are allowed to grow up in ignorance of true religious principles, and thereby become regardless of their parents. The number of apostates from Christianity is on the increase, at least in the rising generation. Current literature is penetrated with the spirit of licentiousness, from the pretentious quarterly to the arrogant and flippant daily newspaper, and the weekly and monthly publications are mostly heathen or maudlin. They express and inculcate, on the one hand, stoical, cold, and polished pride of mere intellect, or on the other, empty and wretched sentimentality. Some employ the skill of the engraver to caricature the institutions and offices of the Christian religion, and others to exhibit the grossest forms of vice, and the most distressing scenes of crime and suffering. The illustrated press has become to us what the amphitheatre was to the Romans when men were slain, women were outraged, and Christians given to the lions to please a degenerate populace. The number of the most unnatural crimes is beyond computation. A wide-spread and deep-seated dishonesty and corruption has, like some poisonous virus, inoculated the great body of our public men in national, state, and municipal positions, so much so that rascality seems to be the rule, and honesty the exception. Real statesmanship has departed from amongst us; neither the men nor the principles of the olden time exist any longer.

The shameless cynicism with which the great public plunderers of our day brazen out their infamy, is only equalled by the apathy with which the public permits these robberies, and condone for them by lavishing place and power upon the offenders. "The way of the transgressor" has ceased to be "hard"—unless he be a transgressor of very low degree—and rascality rides rampant over the land, from the halls of Congress to the lowest department of public plunder.

The poet has well said that Vice, once grown familiar to the view, after first exciting our hate, next succeeded in gaining our pity, and finally was taken into our embrace.

The familiarity of the public mind with daily and almost hourly instances of public peculation and betrayal of high trusts has created this indulgent disposition, until at last the wholesome indignation, which is the best safeguard of honesty, has been diluted into a maudlin sympathy with the malefactors. And the rankness of the growth of this evil is not more startling than its rapidity. It is a new thing—a foul fungus, suddenly forced into fetid life, out of the corruptions engendered by the war. It is "a new departure" in a wrong direction—down that smooth, broad path to the devil.

We all remember the sensation which, before the war, was ever caused by the discovery of a public defaulter, and the indignation which drove him ever forth from place and country, on his detection. Punishment sure and swift was certain to seize upon him, if he dared linger after the facts were known.

A breach of trust was not then considered a joke, nor theft elevated into the dignity of a fine art, whose most eminent professors were to be regarded with envy and admiration.

Think of the clamor which was raised over the comparatively petty peculations of Swartwout, Schuyler, Fowler, and other small sinners like them, who even found the country too hot to hold them, and died in exile, as an expiation to the public sentiment they had outraged.

Yet their frauds were as molehills to the mountains which the busy hands of our public peculators have heaped up, and are daily piling higher. Within the last ten years, where they stole cents, their successors stole by thousands and tens of thousands; and, instead of flying from punishment, flaunt their crimes and their ill-gotten wealth in the face of the community, heedless either of the arm of the law, or the more potent hiss of public scorn.

And this financial dishonesty of the times is as true of commercial as of political circles, and as patent at Washington as at New York and other cities. "Think you that those eighteen men on whom the tower of Siloam fell, were sinners above all others in Jerusalem? I tell you nay!" Think you that those six or seven on whom the axe of the public press fell, are sinners above all in New York and elsewhere? If all men that have been guilty of fraud in New York and elsewhere were to have a tower fall on them, there would be funerals enough for fifty years.

One of the saddest symptoms of degeneracy in a people is evinced by a desperate levity—a scoffing spirit such as that which inspired the French people when they denied even God, and substituted a prostitute to be their "Goddess of Reason." Much of that spirit is unhappily manifesting itself in our country.

That most fearful picture of a corrupt community drawn by Curran in his description of the public pests of his day—"remaining at the bottom like drowned bodies while soundness remained in them, but rising only as they rotted, and floating only from the buoyancy of corruption"—seems, unhappily, destined to find its parallel here, unless public virtue and public indignation should awake to condemn and chastise the corruption which is tainting and poisoning the air around us.

The judgment which overtook the men of Siloam was visited on them for sins not unlike those which seem to invite a similar judgment from offended Heaven upon our modern Siloams, and is no jesting matter. Nay, in view of the many recent terrible visitations which have fallen upon different parts of our country, many voices have already been raised proclaiming them as marks of Divine wrath against national sins, perpetrated by a people who should, by their lives, testify their sense of the blessings showered upon them in more prodigal profusion than on any other nation in the annals of mankind.

That the great body of our people are corrupt, or that they at heart approve of corruption, no one will be mad enough to maintain. But they are responsible before Heaven and to posterity for the criminal apathy they manifest in their silent sanction of the corruption and crime which are fast making the American name a synonyme for theft, for brazen impudence and unblushing rascality.

In the life of a nation, as in that of an individual, there are periods which are critical; and a restoration to health, or the certainty of speedy death, depends on the way this malady is met. The crisis which now menaces the life and health of the United States cannot be far distant; for private virtue cannot long survive the death of public honor and honesty, nor private morality fail to catch the contagion of public profligacy. If the representative men of a country, those in whom its high trusts are reposed, be corrupt and shameless, they will drag down into the same mire the morals of the people they plunder and misrepresent. Indeed we want no prophet, nor one raised from the dead, to tell us the awfully fatal results. What can be done to stem the fearful torrent of evils that flood the land? We all know that when, in 1765, the famous Stamp Act was passed in the British Parliament, on the news reaching Boston the bells were muffled, and rang a funeral peal. In New York the "Act" was carried through the streets with a death's head bearing this inscription: "The Folly of England and the Ruin of America." So great was the opposition to the "Act," that it was repealed during the spring of 1766. This shows how quickly the evils of society can be put down if people set to work in earnest.

Now we cannot expect the people to set to work in earnest about stemming the torrent of the great evils of the land, unless they are well enlightened as to the source from which they flow. This source is principally that wrong system of education introduced into this country about fifty years ago. At that time very few, perhaps, could foresee what effects it was calculated to produce. After a long trial, we can now pronounce on it with certainty by its results. The tree, no longer a sapling, can be judged by its fruits. These fruits have been so bad that it is high time to call the attention of the public to the tree.

Now in calling attention to this tree, I wish it to be once for all distinctly understood, that whatever of a seemingly or even really harsh nature I may say in this discussion on the Public Schools, is intended and directed solely against the system. For those who manage or officiate in them, as teachers or otherwise, I have, I trust, all the courtesy, charity, and respect due from one citizen to another. If I offend the prejudices, convictions, or susceptibilities of any on this strangely misrepresented subject, no one can more regret it than myself; I can truly say it is not intended. All I ask of my fellow-citizens is a fair discussion on this great question of education, to look at it without prejudice, without bigotry; for if prejudice and bigotry stand in our way, they will stand in the way of the glory and stability of this country, whose future God only knows. It is the duty of all citizens to labor with a good heart, a clear mind, an earnest soul, to do all they can in building up, and strengthening, and making still more glorious this great American people.



The question of Education is, of all others, the most important. It has for some time back received a good deal of attention in public meetings, in newspapers, and in the pulpit. In fact it has become a question of the day. On this question, however, there is unfortunately such an amount of ignorance, prejudice, and confusion of ideas, that it is almost impossible to make the public understand it. The reason of this is, because so many follow the vague views expressed on this subject in newspapers. Many a paper is undoubtedly political, and so far partisan; and as such its editor will defend and advance what he believes to be the principles of his party. But the question of education rises above party politics; yet when you read many a paper you will find that the editor appeals to the prejudice and passions of party in a way quite unworthy of an independent journalist, and of the grave subject under consideration. He advances principles which, at first sight, seem to be quite true; for instance: "Public School Education is necessary for our republican form of government, for the very life of the Republic." "It is an admitted axiom, that our form of government, more than all others, depends on the intelligence of the people." "The framers of our Constitution firmly believed that a republic form of government could not endure without intelligence and education generally diffused among the people. The State must, therefore, take all means within its power to promote and encourage popular education, and furnish this intelligence of the people through her public schools."

At first sight such principles seem to be true, and the people in general will accept them. Experience teaches that the public will accept, without question, almost any maxim or problem, provided it be formulated in such a manner as to convey some specific meaning that does not demand reflection or complex examination. For the same reason no small portion of the public will reject anything that at first sight seems to exceed the measure of their understanding. Knaves and charlatans, knowing this, impose on the public by flattering their intelligence, that they may accomplish their own ambitious and selfish ends. In this way a multitude of pernicious religious, social, and political maxims have come into vogue, especially in reference to the question of public instruction. Yet on the sound principles concerning this question of education, and on the right understanding of them, depend not only the temporal and eternal happiness of the people, but also the future maintenance and freedom, nay, even the material prosperity, of the Republic.

In the discussion of the system of education it will no longer do to use vague, unmeaning expressions, or to advance some general puzzling principles to keep the public in the dark on this important point. It is high time that the public should be thoroughly enlightened on the subject of education. Everybody is talking about education,—the advantages of education, the necessity of education; and yet almost all have come to use the word in its narrowest and most imperfect meaning, as implying mere cultivation of the intellectual faculties, and even this is done in the most superficial manner, by cramming the mind with facts, instead of making it reflect and reason. The great majority even of those who write upon the subject take no higher view.

The term education comprehends something more than mere instruction. One may be instructed without being educated; but he cannot be educated without being instructed. The one has a partial or limited, the other a complete or general, meaning. What, then, is the meaning of Education? Education comes from the Latin "educo," and means, according to Plato, "to give to the body and soul all the perfection of which they are susceptible"; in other words, the object of education is to render the youth of both sexes beautiful, healthful, strong, intelligent and virtuous. It is doubtless the will of the Creator that man—the masterpiece of the visible world—should be raised to that perfection of which he is capable, and for the acquisition of which he is offered the proper means. It is the soul of man which constitutes the dignity of his being, and makes him the king of the universe. Now the body is the dwelling of the soul—the palace of this noble king; the nobility of the soul must induce us to attend to its palace—to the health and strength and beauty of the body;—health, strength and beauty are the noble qualities of the body.

The noble qualities of the soul are virtue and learning. Virtue and learning are the two trees planted by God in Paradise; they are the two great luminaries created by God to give light to the world; they are the two Testaments, the Old and the New; they are the two sisters, Martha and Mary, living under one roof in great union and harmony, and mutually supporting each other.

Learning is, next to virtue, the most noble ornament and the highest improvement of the human mind. It is by learning that all the natural faculties of the mind obtain an eminent degree of perfection. The memory is exceedingly improved by appropriate exercise, and becomes, as it were, a storehouse of names, facts, entire discourses, etc., according to every one's exigency or purposes. The understanding—the light of the soul—is exceedingly improved by exercise, and by the acquisition of solid science and useful knowledge. Judgment, the most valuable of all the properties of the mind, and by which the other faculties are poised, governed and directed, is formed and perfected by experience, and regular well-digested studies and reflection; and by them it attains to true justness and taste. The mind, by the same means, acquires a steadiness, and conquers the aversion which sloth raises against the serious employments of its talents.

How much the perfection of the mind depends upon culture, appears in the difference of understanding between the savages (who, except in treachery, cunning and shape, scarce seem to differ from the apes which inhabit their forests) and the most elegant and civilized nations. A piece of ground left wild produces nothing but weeds and briers, which by culture would be covered with corn, flowers and fruit. The difference is not less between a rough mind and one that is well cultivated.

The same natural culture, indeed, suits not all persons. Geniuses must be explored, and the manner of instructing proportioned to them. But there is one thing which suits all persons, and without which knowledge is nothing but "a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal": this is the supernatural culture of the soul, or the habitual endeavor of man of rendering himself more pleasing in the sight of God by the acquisition of solid Christian virtues, in order thus to reach his last end—his eternal happiness. It is for this reason that our Saviour tells us: "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"—(Matt. xvi. 26.) It is, then, the supernatural culture, or the perfection of the soul, that is to be principally attended to in education.

Now what is the perfection of soul? The perfection of each being in general, is that which renders the being better and more perfect. It is clear that inferior beings cannot make superior ones better and more perfect. Now the soul, being immortal, is superior to all earthly or perishable things. These, then, cannot make the soul better and more perfect, but rather worse than she is; for he who seeks what is worse than himself, makes himself worse than he was before. Therefore the good of the soul can be only that which is better and more excellent than the soul herself is. Now God alone is this Good—He being Goodness Itself. He who possesses God may be said to possess the goodness of all other things; for whatever goodness they possess, they have from God. In the sun, for instance, you admire the light; in a flower, beauty; in bread, the savor; in the earth, its fertility; all these have their being from God. No doubt God has reserved to Himself far more than He has bestowed upon creatures; this truth admitted, it necessarily follows that he who enjoys God possesses in him all other things; and consequently the very same delight which he would have taken in other things, had he enjoyed them separately, he enjoys in God, in a far greater measure, and in a more elevated manner. For this reason, St. Francis of Assisium often used to exclaim: "My God and my All"—a saying to which he was so accustomed that he could scarcely think of anything else, and often spent whole nights in meditating on this truth.

Certainly true contentment is only that which is taken in the Creator, and not that which is taken in the creature; a contentment which no man can take from the soul, and in comparison with which all other joy is sadness, all pleasure sorrow, all sweetness bitter, all beauty ugliness, all delight affliction. It is most certain that "when face to face we shall see God as He is," we shall have most perfect joy and happiness. It follows, then, most clearly, that the nearer we approach to God in this life, the more contentment of mind and the greater happiness of soul we shall enjoy; and this contentment and joy is of the self-same nature as that which we shall have in heaven; the only difference is, that here our joy and happiness is in an incipient state, whilst there it will be brought to perfection. He, then, is a truly wise and learned, a truly well-educated, man, who here below has learned how to seek God, and to be united as much as possible with the Supreme Good of his soul. He therefore imparts a good education to the soul, who teaches her how to seek and to find her own Good.

Now what is it to teach the soul to find her own Supreme Good? It is to train, to teach, to lead the child in the way he should go, leading him in the paths of duty, first to God, and secondly to his neighbor. All not professed infidels, it appears to me, must admit this definition. But as very many believe in "Webster," or "Worcester," I give the former's definition of education: "Educate"—To instill into the mind principles of art, science, morals, religion, and behavior. According to this definition of education, morals and religion constitute essential parts of education. Indeed, the first and most important of all duties which the child must learn are his moral and religious duties; for it will, I hope, be universally admitted that man is not born into this world merely to "propagate his species, make money, enjoy the pleasures of this world, and die." If he is not born for that end, then it is most important that he be taught for what end he was born, and the way appointed by his Creator to attain that end.

Every child born into this world is given a body and soul. This soul, for which the body was created, and which will rise with it at the last day, be judged with it for the acts done in life, and be happy or unhappy with it for all eternity, is, in consequence of the "fall," turned away from God, and the body, no longer acting in obedience to right reason, seeks its own gratification, like any irrational animal. Religion (from religio) is the means provided by a merciful God to reunite the chain broken by the sin of our first parents, and bridge over the chasm opened between man and his divine destiny. To give this knowledge of religion is the principal purpose of education. Without this it is mere natural instruction, but no education at all. It would be worse than giving, as we say, "the play of Hamlet with the part of the Prince of Denmark left out."

Religion, then, forms the spirit and essence of all true education. As leaven must be diffused throughout the entire mass in order to produce its effects, so religion must be thoroughly diffused throughout the child's entire education, in order to be solid and effective. Not a moment of the hours of school should be left without religious influence. It is the constant breathing of the air that preserves our bodily life, and it is the constant dwelling in a religious atmosphere that preserves the life of the youthful soul. Here are laid the primitive principles of future character and conduct. These religious principles may be forgotten, or partially effaced, in the journey of life, but they will nevertheless endure, because they are engraved by the finger of God Himself. The poor wanderer, when the world has turned its back upon him, after having trusted to its promises only to be deceived, after having yielded to its temptations and blandishments only to be cruelly injured and mocked, may, at last, in the bitterness of his heart, "remember the days of his youth," and "return to his father's house." So long as faith remains, however great the vice or the crime, there is something to build on, and room to hope for repentance, for reformation, and final salvation. Faith or religion once gone, all is gone. Religion is the crystal vase in which education is contained, or rather the spirit which infuses and vitalizes it. Religion is the very life of society, the very soul of a Christian State.

All nations and governments know and understand that to exclude Christian education from the schools is to exclude it from their law, legislature, courts, and public and private manners. It should, then, ever be borne in mind that religion, though distinguishable, is never separable from true civil and political science and philosophy. Enlightened statesmanship will always accept and recognize religious education as a most valuable and powerful ally in the government of the State, or political society. The great Washington clearly asserts this in his farewell address to the American people: "Of the dispositions," he says, "which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. Where is the security for property or for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are administered in our courts of justice? And let it not be supposed that morality can be maintained without religion." Accordingly our legislatures are opened with prayer, the Bible is on the benches of our courts; it is put into the hands of jurymen, voters, and even tax-payers; indeed, from its late use and abuse, one might think that we were living under the Pentateuch, and that the whole moral law and Ten Commandments were bound to the brows of the public or State phylacteries.

Indeed, the politics of every tribe, nation, or people, will reflect in an exact degree their moral and religious convictions and education. If these are false, the political society will be violent, disorderly, and abnormal; if true, the State is calm, prosperous, strong and happy. If these propositions be true, and I claim they are as axiomatic and undeniable as any proposition in Euclid—yea more so, for they are the maxims of inspired wisdom—how immeasurably important is a true Christian education!

And if its influence is so great in determining even the political conduct of men, it is still more necessary and powerful in forming the character of true woman—the Christian wife, mother, and daughter. The influence of Christian woman on society is incalculable. Admitting it possible, for a moment, that irreligious men might construct or direct an atheistical State, yet it would be utterly vain to build up the family, the groundwork of all organized communities, without the aid of the Christian woman. She it is who, in the deep and silent recesses of the household, puts together those primitive and enduring materials, each in its place and order, on which will rest and grow, to full beauty and development, the fair proportion of every well-ordained State. This foundation is laid in the care and rearing of good and dutiful children. The task of the Christian mother may indeed be slow, and unobserved; but God makes use of the weak to confound the strong, and this is beautifully illustrated in the Christian woman, who is strong because she is weak, most influential when she is most retired, and most happy, honored, cherished and respected when she is doing the work assigned her by Divine Providence, in the bosom of her household.

It will be admitted, then, that the education of girls demands a special culture. Generally upon mothers the domestic instruction of the children, in their infancy, mainly depends. They ought, therefore, to be well instructed in the motives of religion, articles of faith, and all the practical duties and maxims of piety. Then history, geography, and some tincture of works of genius and spirit, may be joined with suitable arts and other accomplishments of their sex and condition, provided they be guided by and referred to religion, and provided books of piety and exercises of devotion always have the first place, both in their hearts and in their time.

They should, then, from their earliest years, if possible, be separated in their studies, their plays, and their going and returning from school, from children of the opposite sex. They should be placed under the surveillance and instruction of mature and pious women. Every possible occasion and influence should be used to instil into their young and plastic minds, by lesson and example, principles of religion and morality. Their studies should be grave and practical. Their nervous organization is naturally acute, and should be strengthened, but not stimulated, as it too often is, thereby laying the foundation for that terrible and tormenting train of neuralgic affections of after-life, debilitating mind and body.

A thorough Christian education, then, is the basis of all happiness and peace, for the family as well as for the State itself; for every State is but the union of several families. It is for this reason that we find good parents so willing to make every sacrifice for the Christian education of their children, and that all true statesmen, and all true lovers of their country, have always encouraged and advocated that kind of education which is based upon Christian principles.

Good, dutiful children are the greatest blessing for parents and for the State, whilst children without religion are the greatest misfortune, the greatest curse that can come upon parents and upon the State.

History informs us that Dion the philosopher gave a sharp reproof to Dionysius the tyrant, on account of his cruelty. Dionysius felt highly offended, and resolved to avenge himself on Dion; so he took the son of Dion prisoner, not, indeed, for the purpose of killing him, but of giving him up into the hands of a godless teacher. After the young man had been long enough under this teacher to learn from him everything that was bad and impious, Dionysius sent him back to his father. Now what object had the tyrant in acting thus? He foresaw that this corrupted son, by his impious conduct during his whole lifetime, would cause his father constant grief and sorrow, so much so that he would be for him a lifelong affliction and curse. This, the tyrant thought, was the longest and greatest revenge he could take on Dion for having censured his conduct.

Plato, a heathen philosopher, relates that when the sons of the Persian kings had reached the age of fourteen, they were given to four teachers. The first of these teachers had to instruct them in their duties towards God; the second, to be truthful under all circumstances; the third, to overcome their passions; and the fourth teacher taught them how to be valiant and intrepid men.

This truth, that good children are the greatest blessing and that bad children are the greatest affliction that can befall parents and the State, needs no further illustration. There is no father, there is no mother, there is no statesman, who is not thoroughly convinced of this truth. Can we, then, wonder that the Catholic Church has always encouraged a truly Christian education?

There is nothing in history better established than the fact that the Catholic Church has been at all times, and under the most trying circumstances, the generous fostering-mother of education. She has labored especially, with untiring care, to educate the poor, who are her favorite children. It was the Catholic Church that founded, and endowed liberally, almost all the great universities of Europe. Protestants and infidels are very apt to overlook the incalculable benefits which the Church has conferred on mankind, and yet without her agency civilization would have been simply impossible.

The Catholic Church was, moreover, the first to establish common schools for the free education of the people. As early as A.D. 529, we find the Council of Vaison recommending the establishment of public schools. In 800, a synod at Mentz ordered that the parochial priests should have schools in the towns and villages, that "the little children of all the faithful should learn letters from them. Let them receive and teach these with the utmost charity, that they themselves may shine as the stars forever. Let them receive no remuneration from their scholars, unless what the parents, through charity, may voluntarily offer." A Council at Rome, in 836, ordained that there should be three kinds of schools throughout Christendom: episcopal, parochial in towns and villages, and others wherever there could be found place and opportunity. The Council of Lateran, in 1179, ordained the establishment of a grammar school in every cathedral for the gratuitous instruction of the poor. This ordinance was enlarged and enforced by the Council of Lyons, in 1245. In a word, from the days of Charlemagne, in the ninth century, down to those of Leo X., in the sixteenth century, free schools sprang up in rapid succession over the greater part of Europe; and, mark well, it was almost always under the shadow of her churches and her monasteries! Throughout the entire period, called, by ignorant bigotry, the "dark ages," Roman Pontiffs and Catholic Bishops assembled in council and enacted laws requiring the establishment of free schools in connection with all the cathedral and parochial churches. This is a fact so clearly proven by Catholic and Protestant historians, that to deny it would be to betray a gross ignorance of history. Even at the present day, the Papal States, with a population of only about 2,000,000, contain seven universities, with an average attendance of 660 students, whilst Prussia, with a population of 14,000,000, and so renowned for her education, has only seven! Again, in every street in Rome there are, at short distances, public primary schools for the education of the children of the middle and lower classes. Rome, with a population of only about 158,000 souls, has 372 public primary schools, with 482 teachers, and over 14,000 children attending them, whilst Berlin, with a population more than double that of Rome, has only 264 schools. Thus originated the popular or common schools, or the free education of the people, as an outgrowth of the Catholic Church.

Every one knows that to the Catholic Church is due the preservation of literature after the downfall of the Roman Empire; and all those who are versed in history must admit that the Popes, the rulers of the Church, have been the greatest promoters and protectors of literature and learned men in every age. They collected and preserved the writings of the great historians, poets, and philosophers of Greece and Rome, and they encouraged and rewarded the learned men who, by their labors, made those fountains of classical literature easily accessible to all students. What shall I say of the patronage which they accorded to painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and the other arts which raise up and refine the human soul? Even the present glorious Pontiff, Pius IX., in the midst of troubles and persecutions, has done more for education than the richest and most powerful sovereigns of the world. You will unite with me, I am sure, in praying that he may soon recover the sovereignty of Rome and the Papal States, and that he may live many years to defend, as he has done in the past, the cause of religion, truth, Christian education, and civilization in the world. But it would take a whole day to refer even briefly to all that the Catholic Church and her Supreme Pontiffs have done to dissipate ignorance, and to improve and enlighten the mind of man. I shall merely add that a Protestant writer, and an open enemy of our religion, does not hesitate to state that, acting under the guidance and protection of the Holy See, some of our religious orders, which are so often assailed and calumniated, have done more for the promotion of philosophy, theology, history, archaeology, and learning in general, than all the great universities of the world, with all their wealth and patronage.

Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the Catholic Church has always fought for the liberty to educate her children not only in the necessary branches of science, but also, and above all, to teach them, at the same time, their religious duties towards God and their fellow-men. And who but an infidel can blame her for that?

Every one must know that by the united efforts of the Catholic clergy and laity, schools, colleges, seminaries, boarding-schools for ladies and boys, and other educational establishments, have been erected in almost every part of the world, and erected without a cent of public money, which was so plentifully lavished on Protestant institutions. But, without leaving this country, do we not find in the various States of the Union magnificent proofs of generous Catholic zeal in promoting everything connected with education? And have not the parochial and religious clergy in so many places made the noblest exertions to erect institutions for the instruction of their flocks? and have not the laity assisted them in a most munificent manner? All this shows their great desire to promote the growth of knowledge.

Man is born a believing creature, and cannot, if he would, destroy altogether this noble attribute of his nature. If he is not taught, or will not accept, a belief in the living and uncreated God, he will create and worship some other god in His stead. He cannot rest on pure negation. There never has been a real, absolute unbeliever. All the so-called unbelievers are either knaves or idiots. All the Gentile nations of the past have been religious people; all the Pagan powers of the present are also believers. There never has been a nation without faith, without an altar, without a sacrifice. Man can never, even for a single instant, escape the All-seeing Eye of God, or avoid the obligations of duty imposed on him by his Creator. The Pantheists of ancient as well as of modern times recognize this fact, although they do not discharge their religious obligations conformably to the Divine will, but make to themselves other gods instead.

As there has been a religion and a ritual among all nations, tribes and peoples, so has there been also a "hierarchy" to teach this religion, and make known its obligations. These religious obligations constituted then, and constitute even now, the basis of all popular education throughout the world—Christian, Gentile, or Pagan—there is no exception to this fact save in these United States of America.



Strange as it may seem, it is a certain undeniable fact that there is not, on the entire continent of Europe, or in the entire world, a single country, Protestant or Catholic, that upholds the Pagan system of education which has been adopted in this free country. In all of them Catholic and Protestant children receive religious instruction, during the school-hours, from their respective pastors. The present system of the Public Schools in the United States professes to exclude all religious exercises. We are often told that this is the American system, and that it is very impertinent for foreigners to wish to bring religion into schools against the American idea. Now the assertion that the exclusion of all religion from the schools is truly American, that it is an essential part of our national system, is utterly false. So far as any system of public schools can be said to have an American idea, the idea will be found to be "education based on religious instruction."

The first schools established in the Union were religious denominational schools. These schools were supported by the churches with which they were connected, and by their patrons. Religious exercises formed a part of the daily duties of the class-room. The early founders of this Republic were not able to understand how they could bring up their children in the knowledge, love, and service of God by banishing the Bible, prayer, and religious exercises of every kind from the school. Hence religion was reverenced, and its duties attended to in all institutions of learning in the country. The American system of education, in its incipiency, and for a long while, was one founded on Bible-teaching and religious exercises. The present system is un-American, anti-American.

Now how did it happen that the primitive Christian system of education became unchristian and anti-American? To make you understand more clearly the origin of the present system of the Public Schools, I must first show you how Secret Societies seek to spread Irreligious Education in Europe.

These societies profess the most irreligious and anti-social doctrines. Among the chief means employed by them for pushing forward their diabolical principles is Education without Religion. The "International," one of the most powerful of these organizations, has lately put forward a programme, in which the following points are laid down as most necessary to be insisted upon in the agitation conducted by the socialist democratic party in Switzerland:

"... Compulsory and gratuitous education up to the completion of the fourteenth year of each child's age.... Separation of the Church from the State, and also of the schools from the Church."

About three short years ago a pamphlet was published in which we find detailed the efforts made in France to spread irreligion by means of bad education. The letters of eighty of the Prelates of France are appended to the pamphlet. Alas! the sad forebodings of that noble episcopate have been too soon and too terribly fulfilled!

The following lengthy extracts are taken from the late Pastoral of the Bishops of Ireland on Christian Education:


"'I see,' says the most reverend author, 'that for some time past the most extraordinary efforts are made in France to spread impiety, immorality, the most anti-social theories, under the pretext of spreading education. No longer as formerly, it is in newspapers and books that religion, morality, and the eternal principles of good order are attacked with the most deceitful and formidable weapon of a corrupt system of education. Under cover of an excellent object—and here is the great danger, for we are deluded by this pretext—under the pretext of spreading education and waging war against ignorance, infidelity is spread, war is waged against religion; and thus, whether we will or no, we rush on to the ruin of all order, moral and social. And we, the Bishops, who are as desirous as others, and perhaps more desirous than others, to see spread far and wide the blessings of education, the education of children, female education, the education of our whole people, for this is by excellence a Christian work, we are accused of being enemies of education, because we oppose anti-Christian and anti-social education.'"

The first fact mentioned by the learned writer is the existence of schools, which are called "professional schools for females," into which young girls are received at twelve years of age and upwards, for the purpose of continuing their education and learning a profession. These schools have been founded by women, free-thinkers, who formally and expressly declare it to be their object to train the youth of their own sex in rationalism and infidelity. The following incident shows the impious end for which these schools have been founded: One of the principal teachers died, and over her grave her husband pronounced these words,—"I will tell you, for it is my duty to tell you, that if this funeral is that of a free-thinker" [unaccompanied by any religious ceremony], "it is so not only by my wish, but also and chiefly because such was the desire of my dear wife." He adds that she had devoted herself to "the great work of spreading education and morality without religion, because she had no faith except in learning and in justice; she was of those who, having once seen and comprehended these truths, can have no other beacon to guide them in life, or at the hour of death." Round that grave, whose occupant had rejected religion and its ministrations in life and in death, stood three hundred girls, pupils of those "professional schools," holding bouquets in their hands, and throwing flowers on the coffin of their mistress. The schools are of a piece with the teachers. Ten hours are spent in them, but all religious instruction is strictly forbidden, under the pretext that they are free schools, "open to children of all persuasions, without religious distinction." The founders of these schools propose to give to the girls intrusted to them a moral education without ever speaking to them of religion! And this is the system of education which people are anxious to spread throughout France, and even in this country also. But, though we hope they will not succeed, can we feel fully confident that we shall escape the contagion, when we remember that this system is no other than the "mixed system," and when we bear in mind the untiring efforts which are made to develop and consolidate that system in Ireland in every branch of education, from the university, through the model-school, down to the humblest village-school? Read the description of the schools in France, of which we are speaking, and say, does it not apply to every school, even in Ireland, where the mixed principle is thoroughly carried out?

"The printed prospectus of these schools" [continues the most reverend writer] "clearly explains the advantages of professional education, while it hides the religious danger under vague expressions of an apparent liberality, such as the following: 'The school is open to children of all persuasions, without religious distinction.' The meaning of which words is no other than that in these schools, where children are kept from the twelfth to the eighteenth year of their age, and for ten hours every day (from eight A.M. to six P.M.), God and the Gospel shall be treated as if they never existed; not only religion shall never be mentioned, but these girls shall be taught morality independent of any dogmatic faith, any religion....

"The second engine used by the enemies of religion in France for the maintenance and spread of infidelity, is the Educational League. This League has been introduced from Belgium into France by the Freemasons and the 'Solidaires'—the members of an impious association, the avowed object of which is to prevent persons from receiving the sacraments, or any of the sacred rites of the Church, in life or in death. The Educational League, with a wonderful spirit of propagandism, has established throughout France libraries and courses of instruction for men and for women, and even for girls and young children. On their banner is inscribed 'Spread of Education'; but under this device is hidden the scheme of propagating irreligion. The founder of the 'League' in France[A] was a Freemason, and both his declarations and those of the organs of Freemasonry leave no doubt of the Masonic origin of the scheme, and of the spirit which animates it. Now the third article of the statutes of the 'League' declares, when speaking of the education to be given by their association, that 'neither politics nor religion shall have any part in it.' And lest there should be any mistake as to the meaning of this article, one of the leading Masonic journals declares that religion is 'useless as an instrument for forming the minds of children, and that from a certain point of view it is capable of leading them to abandon all moral principles. It is incumbent on us, therefore,' concludes this journal, 'to exclude all religion. We will teach you its rights and duties in the name of liberty, of conscience, of reason, and, in fine, in the name of our society.'[B] And again: 'Freemasons must give in their adhesion en masse to the excellent Educational League, and the lodges must in the peace of their temples seek out the best means of making it effectual. Their influence in this way will be most useful. The principles we profess are precisely in accord with those which inspired that project.'[C] In April of the same year, the same organ of Freemasonry contained the following paragraph: 'We are happy to announce that the Educational League and the statue of our brother Voltaire meet with the greatest support in all the lodges. There could not be two subscription-lists more in harmony with each other: Voltaire, the representative of the destruction of prejudices and superstition; the Educational League, the engine for building up a new society based solely upon learning and instruction. Our brethren understood it so.' In fine, that there may not remain upon our minds the least doubt as to the identity of the principles of this League with those of Voltaire, we find its founder in France proposing, at a great Masonic dinner, a toast to the memory of that arch-infidel; while the newspaper from which we have quoted so largely, informs its readers that at one of the 'professional schools,' described above, the prize for good conduct (le prix de morale) was awarded to 'the daughters of a free-thinker, who have never attended any place of religious worship.'"

We cannot better conclude our remarks on the efforts made in France to destroy religion in the masses by means of education, than in the following words of warning, not less applicable to good and sincere Catholics in Ireland nowadays, than to those to whom they were specially addressed:

"Good and sincere Catholics (continues the author of the pamphlet already quoted), who, deceived by the motto of the association, have given their names to this Educational League, take part, without knowing it, in a Masonic institution, and in building up this new state of society, from which religion is to be banished. Well may the Bishop of Metz say: 'These persons forget that, like Proteus in the fable, Freemasonry knows how to multiply ad infinitum its transformations and its names. Yesterday it called itself 'Les Solidaires,' or 'morality independent of religion,' or 'freedom of thought'; to-day it takes the title of an 'Educational League'; to-morrow it will find some other name by which to deceive the simple."

The efforts to corrupt the youth of unhappy France by means of bad education in its higher branches, have been not less energetic and wide-spread. The lectures of the School of Medicine of Paris were inaugurated in 1865, amid shouts of "Materialism forever,"[D] and on the thirtieth of December a candidate for degrees was permitted by the Medical Faculty to advance the following revolutionary doctrine, grounded on the materialistic principles he had been taught: "Who still speaks to us of free-will? As the stone which falls to the ground obeys the laws of weight, man obeys the laws which are proper to him.... Responsibility is the same for all, that is to say, none." And again: "Physicians must not be accomplices of the magistrates and judges, who punish men for acts for which they are not responsible"—pp. 32, 33. Here we have a sample of the teaching of the School of Medicine of Paris, not only the first medical school of France, but among the first schools of Europe. And this sample is, unfortunately, not a solitary one. The Medical Faculty of the University of Paris gave medals in 1866 for two dissertations, in one of which we find a denial of the act of creation and of God the Creator, and a rejection of every metaphysical idea, as useless and dangerous; while human thought is set down as produced by heat! In the other we read the following propositions: "Matter is eternal." "The action of a First Cause is useless and irrational—it is chimerical!" Again: "It is absolutely impossible to explain the existence of a creative power"; and "an immaterial being is not necessary for the production of life." And, "to attribute the phenomena of life to an immaterial soul, is to substitute a chimerical being for the hypothesis of machinists." "Materialists have done good service to physiology by eliminating metaphysical entities from this study. The idea of the soul, as an immaterial power, is a mere abstraction; in fact, nothing of the kind exists."

Unhappily these principles, subversive of all morality, are not advanced by the aspirants only to academical distinctions; most certainly the students would not advance these theories had they not learned them from their masters. Hence we find one of the Professors of the University of France, in Bordeaux, asserting, that "even among civilized nations moral ideas are so relative, contradictory, and dependent on exterior and individual relations, that it is impossible, and will always be impossible, to find an absolute definition of goodness."—p. 38, note. And the "Medical Review" published the discourse pronounced by one of the physicians of the Faculty of Paris, M. Verneuil, over the grave of a member of their learned body, Dr. Foucher, in which we find the following:

"'We are reproached with believing with the sages of old, that Fate is blind, and as such presides over our lot. And why should we not believe it?... Humbling and sad as is this admission, still we must make it: imperceptible elements of the great social organization appearing upon this earth as living beings, fragments of matter agitated by a spirit, we are born, we live, and we die, unconscious of our destiny, playing our part without any precise notion of the end, and in the midst of the darkness which covers our origin and our end, having only one consolation—the love of our fellow-man.

"'This simple philosophy alone,' M. Verneuil continues, 'assuages our grief and ends by drying our tears. By the side of the half-open tomb we ask, whether he whom it contains served the good cause without deceit.... If, by his intelligence or his kindness of heart, he labored in the great work, we say he has paid his part of the common debt, and whether he returns to his original nothing or not, whether he is destroyed or merely changes his form, whether he hears our words or not, we thank him in the name of the past and of the future.'"

Another distinguished Professor published, in 1866, Lectures on the Physiology of the Nervous System, in which we find the following passage:

"We admit,' he says, 'without any restriction, that intellectual phenomena in animals are of the same order as in man....' 'As for free-will, we comprehend a certain kind of free-will in the more intelligent animals; and, on the other hand, we may add, that perhaps man is not so free as he would fain persuade himself he is.' And 'as to feeling the distinction between good and evil, it is a grave question, which we must first study in man himself!'"

Let it not be supposed that these principles are merely announced as abstractions; conclusions are drawn from them which must fill every thinking mind with horror. Eighty students of the Normal School, the great training institution of teachers for the North of France, applauded such conclusions in a public letter. Several of the infidel Professors of the Faculty of Medicine received ovations from crowded class-rooms; millions of immoral and irreligious books were scattered throughout the country. Thus Freemasonry, under the pretext of combating ignorance, wages a deceitful and implacable war against religion. "We too," says the organ of Freemasons,[E] "we too expect our Messiah, the true Messiah, of the mind and reason—universal education!"

"It is scarcely necessary for us to remind you, dearly beloved brethren, that the seeds of irreligion and anarchy thus sown broadcast over the fair face of France, have already produced a too abundant harvest of evils, perhaps the most disastrous recorded on the page of history. All Europe has been horrified by the atrocities perpetrated within the last few months in the name of liberty in that city, which was looked on as the centre of the civilization of the world. National monuments have been destroyed, peaceable citizens robbed and murdered, the venerable Archbishop, many of the clergy, and leading members of the civil and military authorities, massacred in cold blood. In other cities of France, too, we have seen anarchy and irreligion proclaimed—miscreants in arms against the property, and liberty, and lives of their fellow-citizens, often of the helpless and unprotected; and all this at a moment when the country was invaded, and a part of it occupied, by its enemies. The storm had been sown, and in very truth unfortunate France has reaped the whirlwind.


"And unhappily, dearly beloved brethren, the spread of infidel principles by means of bad education is not confined to France. A few years ago a congress of students was held in Liege, in Belgium, where infidel and anti-social principles in their worst form were proclaimed amidst the plaudits of the assembly. In England irreligion and socialism are publicly taught. Even in our own country it is a matter of notoriety, that a Chair in one of the Queen's Colleges has been occupied since their foundation by a gentleman, who, in a published work, extolled the first French revolution, and, in another place of the same book, compared our Saviour, whose name be praised forever, to Luther and to Mahomet! Again: In Trinity College one of the Fellows denies the fundamental truth of Christianity respecting the eternity of the punishment of sin; and others call in question the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, or of portions of them, and impugn many truths which constitute the foundation of all revealed religion. In the same University, too, the doctrines of Positivism, a late form of infidel philosophy, have a large number of followers. The nature of that philosophy may be gathered from the following passages in the 'Catechism of Positivism, or Summary Exposition of the Universal Religion,' translated from the French of Auguste Comte. The preface begins thus:

"'In the name of the past and of the future, the servants of humanity—both its philosophical and practical servants—come forward to claim, as their due, the general direction of this world. Their object is to constitute at length a real Providence in all departments—moral, intellectual, and material. Consequently they exclude, once for all, from political supremacy, all the different servants of God—Catholic, Protestant, or Deist—as being at once behind-hand and a cause of disturbance.'

"The work consists of 'Thirteen Systematic Conversations between a Woman and a Priest of Humanity,' and the doctrines contained in it are epitomized in the following blasphemous lines:

"'In a word, Humanity definitely occupies the place of God, but she does not forget the services which the idea of God provisionally rendered.'


"Again, during the last two sessions of Parliament, a Select Committee of the House of Lords sat to inquire into the condition of the English Universities. The Marquis of Salisbury was the chairman. The evidence taken before that committee reveals the appalling fact that infidelity, or doubt as to the first principles of the Christian religion, nay, of belief in God, is wide-spread in the Universities of England, and especially among the most intellectual of the students; and that this sad result is due in a great measure to the teaching and examinations. In the first report for the session 1871, pp. 67, 69, and 70, in the evidence of the Rev. Professor Liddon, D.D., Canon of St. Paul's, London, and Professor of Exegesis in the University of Oxford, we find the following passages:

"Quest. 695. Chairman.—'Very strong evidence has been given to us upon the influence of the Final School' (the examination for degrees with honors) 'upon Oxford thought, as tending to produce at least momentary disbelief.'

"Witness.—'I have no doubt whatever it is one of the main causes of our present embarrassments.'

"696.—'That, I suppose, is a comparatively new phenomenon?'

"'Yes; it dates from the last great modification in the system pursued in the Honors School of literae humaniores. It is mainly the one-sided system, as I should venture to call it, of modern philosophical writers.'

"697.—'Is there any special defect in the management which produces this state of things, or is it essential to the nature of the school?'

"'I fear it is to a great extent essential to the nature of the school, as its subjects are at present distributed.'

"Again, in answer to Question 706, the same witness says:

"'I ought to have stated to the noble Chairman just now that cases have come within my own experience of men who have come up from school as Christians, and have been earnest Christians up to the time of beginning to read philosophy for the Final School, but who, during the year and a half or two years employed in this study, have surrendered first their Christianity, and next their belief in God, and have left the University not believing in a Supreme Being.'"

Now what kind of a being is the infidel, or the man without religion? To have no religion is a crime, and to boast of having none is the height of folly. He that has no religion must necessarily lose the esteem and confidence of his friends. What confidence, I ask, can be placed in a man who has no religion, and, consequently, no knowledge of his duties? What confidence can you place in a man who never feels himself bound by any obligation of conscience, who has no higher motive to direct him than his self-love, his own interests? The pagan Roman, though enlightened only by reason, had yet virtue enough to say: "I live not for myself, but for the Republic"; but the infidel's motto is: "I live only for myself; I care for no one but myself." Oh, what a monster would such a man be in society were he really to think as he speaks, and to act as he thinks!

A man who has no religion, must first prove that he is honest before we can believe him to be so. It is said of kings and rulers, they must prove that they have a heart, and it may also be said of the man who has no religion, that he must prove that he has a conscience. And I fear he would not find it so easy a task.

A man without religion is a man without reason, a man without principle, a man sunk in the grossest ignorance of what religion is. He blasphemes what he does not understand. He rails at the doctrines of Christianity, without really knowing what these doctrines are. He sneers at the doctrines and practices of religion, because he cannot refute them. He speaks with the utmost gravity of the fine arts, the fashions, and even matters the most trivial, and he turns into ridicule the most sacred subjects. In the midst of his own circle of fops and silly women, he utters his shallow conceits with all the pompous assurance of a pedant.

The man without religion is a dishonest plagiarist, who copies from Christian writers all the objections made against the Church by the infidels of former and modern times; but he takes good care to omit all the excellent answers and complete refutations which are contained in these very same writings. His object is not to seek the truth, but to propagate falsehood.

The man without religion is a slave of the most degrading superstition. Instead of worshipping the true, free, living God, who governs all things by His Providence, he bows before the horrid phantom of blind chance or inexorable destiny. He is a man who obstinately refuses to believe the most solidly-established facts in favor of religion, and yet, with blind credulity, greedily swallows the most absurd falsehoods uttered against religion. He is a man whose reason has fled, and whose passions speak, object and decide in the name of reason.

The man without religion often pretends to be an infidel merely in order to appear fashionable. He is usually conceited, obstinate, puffed up with pride, a great talker, always shallow and fickle, skipping from one subject to another without even thoroughly examining a single one. At one moment he is a Deist, at another a Materialist, then he is a Sceptic, and again an Atheist; always changing his views, but always a slave of his passions, always an enemy of Christ.

The man without religion is a slave of the most shameful passions. He tries to prove to the world that man is a brute, in order that he might have the gratification of leading the life of a brute. I ask you, what virtue can that man have who believes that whatever he desires is lawful, who designates the most shameful crimes by the refined name of innocent pleasures? What virtue can that man have who knows no other law than his passions; who believes that God regards with equal eye truth and falsehood, vice and virtue? He may indeed practise some natural virtues, but these virtues are in general only exterior. They are practised merely out of human respect; they do not come from the heart. Now the seat of true virtue is in the heart, and not in the exterior. He that acts merely to please man and not to please God, has no real virtue.

The man without religion often praises all religions; he is a true knave. He says: "If I were to choose my religion, I would become a Catholic, for it is the most reasonable of all religions." But in his heart he despises all religion. He is a man who scrapes together all the wicked and absurd calumnies he can find against the Church. He falsely accuses her of teaching monstrous doctrines which she has always abhorred and condemned, and he displays his ingenuity by combating those monstrous doctrines which he himself has invented, or copied from authors as dishonest as himself. The infidel is a monster without faith, without law, without religion, without God.

There are many who call themselves "free-thinkers," many who reject all revealed religion, merely out of silly puerile vanity. They affect singularity in order to attract notice, in order to make people believe that they are strong-minded, that they are independent. Poor deluded slaves of human respect! They affect singularity in order to attract notice, and they forget that there is another class of people in the world also noted for singularity. In fact they are so singular that they have to be shut up for safe keeping in a mad-house.

What is the difference between an infidel and a madman? The only difference is, that the madness of the infidel is wilful, while the madness of the poor lunatic is entirely involuntary. The one arouses our compassion, while the other excites our contempt and just indignation.

Finally, the man without religion says: "There is no God." He says so "in his heart", says Holy Writ; he says not so in his head, because he knows better. Let him be in imminent danger of death, or of a considerable loss of fortune, and you will see how quick, on such occasions, he lays aside the mask of infidelity; he makes his profession of faith in an Almighty God; he cries out: "Lord save me, I am perishing! Lord have mercy on me!" and the like.

There is still another proof to show that the infidel does not believe what he says: why is it that he makes his impious doctrines the subject of conversation on every occasion? It is, of course, first to communicate his devilish principles to others, and make them as bad as he himself is; but this is not the only reason. The good Catholic seldom speaks of his religion; he feels assured, by the grace of God, that his religion is the only true one, and that he will be saved if he lives up to his religion. This, however, is not the case with the infidel. He is constantly tormented in his soul. "There is no peace, no happiness for the impious," says Holy Scripture.—(Isa. xlviii. 22.) He tries to quiet the fears of his soul, the remorse of his conscience. So he communicates to others, on every occasion, his perverse principles, hoping that he may meet with some of his fellow-men who may approve of his impious views, and that thus he may find some relief for his interior torments. He resembles a timid night-traveller. A timid man, who is obliged to travel during a dark night, begins to sing and to cry in order to keep away too great fear. The infidel is a sort of night-traveller; he certainly travels in the horrible darkness of his impiety. His interior conviction tells him that there is a God, who will certainly punish him in the most frightful manner. This fills him with great fear, and makes him extremely unhappy every moment of his life. He cannot bear the sight of a Catholic church, of a Catholic procession, of an image of our Lord, of a picture of a saint, of a prayer-book, of a good Catholic, of a priest; in a word, he cannot bear anything that reminds him of God, of religion, of his guilt, and of his impiety. So he cries, on every occasion, against faith in God, in all that God has revealed and proposes to us for our belief by the Holy Church. What is the object of his impious cries? It is to deafen, to keep down in some measure, the clamors of his bad conscience. Our hand will involuntarily touch that part of the body where we feel pain. So, in like manner, the tongue of the infidel touches, on all occasions, involuntarily as it were, upon all those truths of our holy religion which inspire him with fear of the judgments of Almighty God. He feels but too keenly that he cannot do away with God and His sacred religion, by denying His existence.

I have given you the true portrait—the true likeness—of the man without religion. Were you given to see a devil and the soul of an infidel at the same time, you would find the sight of the devil more bearable than that of the infidel. For St. James the Apostle tells us, that "the devil believes and trembles."—(Chap. ii. 19.) Now the Public School system was invented and introduced into this country to turn the rising generations into men of the above description.

Spread of Infidelity through Bad Education in America; or, The Object of the Public School System.

Mr. O. A. Brownson, in his book "The Convert," Chaps. VII. and VIII., gives us the following information on the origin of the Public Schools in this country:

"Frances Wright was born in Scotland, and inherited a considerable property. She had been highly educated, and was a woman of rare original powers, and extensive and varied information. She was brought up in the utilitarian principles of Jeremy Bentham. She visited this country in 1824. Returning to England in 1825, she wrote a book in a strain of almost unbounded eulogy of the American people and their institutions. She saw only one stain upon the American character, one thing in the condition of the American people to censure or to deplore—that was negro-slavery.

"When, in the next year, Mr. Owen came, with his friends, to commence his experiment of creating a new moral world at New Harmony, Frances Wright came with him, not as a full believer in his crotchets, but to try an experiment, devised with Jefferson, Lafayette, and others, for the emancipation of the negro-slave.

"Fanny Wright, however, failed in her negro experiment. She soon discovered that the American people were not, as yet, prepared to engage in earnest for the abolition of slavery. On more mature reflection she came to the conclusion that slavery must be abolished only as the result of a general emancipation, and a radical reform of the American people themselves.

"The first step to be taken for this purpose was to rouse the American mind to a sense of its rights and dignity, to emancipate it from superstition, from its subjection to the clergy, and its fear of unseen powers, to withdraw it from the contemplation of the stars or an imaginary heaven after death, and fix it on the great and glorious work of promoting man's earthly well-being.

"The second step was, by political action, to get adopted, at the earliest practical moment, a system of State schools, in which all the children from two years old and upward should be fed, clothed, in a word, maintained, instructed, and educated at the public expense.

"In furtherance of the first object, Fanny prepared a course of Lectures on Knowledge, which she delivered in the principal cities of the Union. She thought that she possessed advantages in the fact that she was a woman; for there would, for that reason, be a greater curiosity to hear her, and she would be permitted to speak with greater boldness and directness against the clergy and superstition than would be one of the other sex.

"The great measure, however, on which Fanny and her friends relied for ultimate success, was the system of public schools. These schools were intended to deprive, as well as to relieve, parents of all care and responsibility of their children after a year or two years of age. It was assumed that parents were, in general, incompetent to train up their children, provide proper establishments, teachers and governors for them, till they should reach the age of majority.

"The aim was, on the one hand, to relieve marriage of its burdens, and to remove the principal reasons for making it indissoluble; and, on the other hand, to provide for bringing up all children, in a rational manner, to be reasonable men and women, that is, free from superstition, free from all belief in God and immortality, free from all regard for the invisible, and make them look upon this life as their only life, this earth as their only home, and the promotion of their earthly interests and enjoyments as their only end. The three great enemies to earthly happiness were held to be religion, marriage, or family and private property. Once get rid of these three institutions, and we may hope soon to realize our earthly paradise. For religion is to be substituted science, that is, science of the world, of the five senses only; for private property, a community of goods; and for private families, a community of wives.

"Fanny Wright and her school saw clearly that their principles could not be carried into practice in the present state of society. So they proposed them to be adopted only by a future generation, trained and prepared in a system of schools founded and sustained by the Public. They placed their dependence on education in a system of Public Schools, managed after a plan of William Phiquepal, a Frenchman, and subsequently the husband of Fanny Wright.

"In order to get their system of schools adopted, they proposed to organize the whole Union, secretly, very much on the plan of the Carbonari of Europe. The members of this secret society were to avail themselves of all the means in their power, each in his own locality, to form public opinion in favor of education by the State at the public expense, and to get such men elected to the Legislatures as would be likely to favor their purposes. This secret organization commenced in the State of New York, and was to extend over the whole Union. Mr. O. A. Brownson was one of the agents for organizing the State of New York. He, however, became tired of the work, and abandoned it after a few months."

* * * * *

"The attention of so-called philanthropic men in all parts of the country, was directed to the subject. In 1817, and the following years, commenced what has been improperly termed a revival of education. To form public opinion in favor of Public Schools, the following means were employed: Public School societies and organizations were established in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Worcester, Hartford, Lowell, Providence, Cincinnati, etc.; Thomas H. Gallaudet, James G. Carter, and Walter R. Johnson, made great efforts through the press; there were established the 'American Journal of Education,' in January, 1826, and the 'American Annals of Education.' Conventions were held throughout New England from 1826 to 1830, in behalf of Public Schools; lectures were delivered in every precinct in the States, on the subject of education; there were also established local school periodicals, as well as others of a more general character, to contribute towards forming public opinion in favor of Public Schools, in every corner of the country. All these means, and the zealous and unwearied efforts of Horace Mann, Henry Barnard, and others, have contributed towards the success in establishing the Public Schools in our country."—American Encyclopaedia.

This is a brief history of the Public Schools. It tells, in clear terms, all that they are, and all that they are to bring about, namely: a generation without belief in God and immortality, free from all regard for the invisible—a generation that looks upon this life as their only life, this earth as their only home, and the promotion of their earthly interests and enjoyments as their only end—a generation that looks upon religion, marriage, or family and private property as the greatest enemies to worldly happiness—a generation that substitutes science of this world for religion, a community of goods for private property, a community of wives for private family; in other words, a generation that substitutes the devil for God, hell for heaven, sin and vice for virtue and holiness of life.

We may, then, confidently assert that the defenders and upholders of Public Schools without religion seek in America, as well as in Europe, to turn the people into refined Pagans. They recently betrayed themselves. They wish, as Dr. Wehrenphennig and Dr. Wirgow openly said, for an equalization of religious contradictories, a religion and an education which stands above creeds, and knows nothing about dogmas; in other words, they wish for a religion of which a certain poet says: "My religion is to have no religion." The object, then, of these godless, irreligious Public Schools is to spread among the people the worst of religions, the no religion, the religion which pleases most hardened adulterers and criminals—the religion of irrational animals. How far this diabolical scheme has succeeded is well known, for there are at present from twenty to twenty-five millions of people in the United States who profess no distinct religious belief. Everywhere the same effects have been observed. Licentiousness, cruelty, and vice—"Positivism," or the substitution of the harlotry of the passions for the calm and elevating influences of reason and religion. How can it be otherwise?


[A] Jean Mace.

[B] "La Solidarite." (Le Monde Maconnique, October, 5866 [1866], p. 472.)

[C] "La Solidarite." (Le Monde Maconnique, February, 5867 [1867].)

[D] Vive le Materialisme.

[E] Le Monde Maconnique, June, 1866.



It is a fundamental principle of Christianity, admitted even by Protestants, that man cannot reach his destiny without a knowledge of the religion which Jesus Christ taught, and which He sealed with His precious Blood. Now this fundamental principle is virtually ignored in our present school system, which proposes to educate without religion. The whole course of instruction is imparted without any reference to religion, without any of those occasional observations that are so necessary in our days, and especially in this country, in order to explain the seeming inconsistencies between scientific facts and the doctrines of faith. Instruction, to be useful, must show that the discoveries of science are, as is really the case, evidences of religion. It must show the harmony that exists between history and philosophy and the truths of faith. Secular knowledge should be the handmaid of religion; but no religion, no knowledge of God, is permitted to be taught in these schools.

Let a stranger, say an educated Pagan, enter one of our public schools; will he discover sign, symbol or token of any kind to indicate that either the teacher or children are Christians? Or suppose this Pagan, or a Turk, or Atheist sends children there to be educated, they can do so with perfect safety to their Pagan, Mohammedan, or infidel superstitions or opinions. They will not, through the whole course of instruction, hear a prayer, a lecture, or a single advice, lesson, or precept of the Church; they will, as far as the State plan of teaching extends, remain ignorant of the "holy name of God," or the Blessed Trinity, or the Lord's Prayer, or the Ten Commandments, or the Gospels, or the death and sufferings of our Lord, or the resurrection of the body, or a future state of reward and punishment. No prayer is offered up or even permitted to be taught to those little ones whom our Lord loves so tenderly. The teacher is not even permitted by law to explain what is meant by the term "our Saviour," "our Redeemer"!

Should a child ask, in a reading-lesson, what "our Lord and Saviour" meant, the teacher must tell him: "Hush! if you want to know that you must ask somebody out of school! We don't teach anything about religion here! We have no Lord, or God, or Saviour here!"

In reference to this manner of educating the youth of America, the Protestant Bishop of Tennessee said some time ago:

"The secular system took no notice of God or of Christ, or of the Church of the Living God, or, except in the most incidental way, of God's Holy Word. The intellect was stimulated to the highest degree, but the heart and the affections were left uncultivated. It was a system which trained for the business of life, not for the duties of life. As there were differences of opinion about Christianity, it was not allowed to be spoken of, and a knowledge of it was not one of the qualifications for a teacher. A man might be a Mohammedan or a Hindoo if he were only a proficient in geography, arithmetic, or the exact sciences. The teachers in the normal schools might be infidels provided they did not openly inculcate their scepticism; and, in point of fact, in the schools which were designed to train teachers only, a vast majority were not Christians."

The school-books must be made unchristian lest they give offence to the countless sects of Protestantism. Voltaire, Paine, or Renan may be read in the Public Schools, but nothing of God.

If our Public Schools differ in any degree from the ancient heathen, it is to our greater shame and confusion, and to their advantage. They taught piety to "their gods;" we ignore the true God altogether, and bring the false gods of the heathens down to earth to be made the slaves and instruments of our sensual gratifications. Thus the mind of the child is, and remains, a religious void; at least, there is but a religious mist in his intellect. The child even unlearns, in the society of the school, whatever principles of religion he may have learned from his parents.

The present common school system of education necessarily begets contempt of religion. Men trained under such a system learn to look upon religion as a dress which is to be worn only on Sunday, and to be laid aside during the rest of the week; they look upon religion as something which may do very well in the church, or in the meeting-house, but which is entirely out of place in business, in society, and in the daily transactions of life. The child has logic enough to think that he is taught whatever is necessary for his future career, and that religion must not be necessary, otherwise it would be taught in school.

And what will the child learn, in this Pagan system of education, to press down his rising passions? What precept of positive virtue does he learn? What principle of self-restraint? What does he learn in such a school to make him obedient, honest, chaste, a good citizen, a good Christian? The common school system proceeds on the principle of suffering the passions of youth to take any development which fallen nature may bring about, and then trusting to a riper age for a change for the better, just as if it were possible "to gather grapes of briars, or figs of thorns."

In these Public Schools the whole education of children is directed to the cultivation of their heads or intellectual faculties alone. The heart, with all its moral and mysterious emotions, is entirely neglected. Every mental power and acquirement is intended and directed to promote their prosperity, success, and happiness in this life; at least this is what is sought and promised as the reward of study and application. They are constantly presented with the bright side of the world. Scientific knowledge, they are taught, will do away with the old drudgery of labor, and bring the acquirement of wealth and honor within the reach of all, no matter how poor or humble the condition of their fathers or mothers. They have all, no doubt, read the Declaration of Independence, and learned that all men are created free and equal. They have shared the equal bounty of the State in the way of education, and have, in the language of the day, "an equal right on the world for a living."

I ask if this is not a pretty fair and not overdrawn statement of the case? You will bear in mind that all this time the free-and-easy social intercourse of the sexes is going on; that while their studies and exercises are strictly confined to dry, secular knowledge, or such other pursuits as might excite their vanity, pride, or imagination, not one line or lesson, caution or command, as stated before, is used or administered to curb or control the natural, I might say inevitable, cry of the youthful passions clamoring for their gratification.



Let us now suppose the young men educated under the present Public School system fairly launched into the world, and, for the first time, thrown on their own resources. They are all well, indeed over-educated. The greater part of their families are necessarily in poor or moderate circumstances. Will their learned and accomplished sons take the humble and laborious trades or occupations of their fathers? I fear not. We should not expect more from human nature than there is in it. All these fine young public school graduates cannot get nice situations as clerks, professors, editors, teachers, etc., etc., and the professions are all full to overflowing.

You must remember that, as I have said, not one of the boys have ever been taught the first principle, prayer, or moral duty. They are, as far as the Public School-training went, perfectly ignorant of the Divine law as rule of our life; they are, in fact, but educated apes or animals. How can this young man reconcile "poverty and wealth," "labor and ease," "sickness and health," "adversity and prosperity," "rich and poor," "obedience and authority," "liberty and law," etc., etc. All these are enigmas to him, or, if he affects to understand them at all, he thinks they arise from bad management or bad government, and can and ought to be remedied by repression or sumptuary legislation. He will be a tyrant or slave, a glutton or miser, a fanatic or libertine, a sneak-thief or highway robber, as circumstances may influence him. Think you that the common "fall back" on principle of self-interest—well or ill understood—will ever restrain such a one from doing any act of impulse or indulgence, provided he thinks it can be safely done? He will look on life as a game of address or force, in which the best man is he who carries off the prize.

He will look upon power as belonging of right to the strongest; the weak, or those who differ from him in opinion, he will treat with contempt and cruelty, and will think they have no rights he is bound to respect. In power, such a man will be arbitrary and cruel; out of power, he will be faithless, hypocritical and subservient. Trust him with authority, he will abuse it; trust him with money, he will steal it; trust him with your confidence, and he will betray it. Such a man—Pagan and unprincipled as he is—may nevertheless affect, when it suits his purpose, great religious zeal and purity. He will talk of "Philanthropy" and the "Humanities," have great compassion, perhaps, for "a dray-horse," and give the cold shoulder to the houseless pauper or orphan.

The heart of such a man is cold, insincere, destitute of every tender chord for a tender vibration, of every particle of right or just feeling or principle that can be touched; on the contrary, it is roused to rage, revenge and falsehood if interfered with. How is such a heart to be touched or moved, or placed under such influences as could move it? Indeed, it would require a miracle! Nay, even a miracle would fail to make a salutary impression upon such a heart. A French infidel declared that, should he be told that the most remarkable miracle was occurring close by his house, he would not take a step out of his way to see it. Pride never surrenders; it prefers rather to take an illogical position than to bow even to the authority of reason. Furious, beside itself, and absurd, it revolts against evidence. To all reasoning, to undeniable evidence, the infidel—the man without religion—opposes his own will: "Such is my determination." It is sweet to him to be stronger, single-handed, than common sense, stronger than miracles, than even the God who manifests Himself by them.

Such a man is always in favor of strong government, provided he can get to run it. He will talk loudly of loyalty and the "life of the nation." He worships the State, because, to his gross animal understanding, it represents power, and makes money his God, because it gives him this power. Such a man may be called civilized, but he is only an accomplished barbarian. His head and hands are instructed, his heart, and low passions and appetites, unbridled and untamed. Such a man can never be made to understand the beautiful and benign principles of our republican form of government. Like all brutes, he relies on force, and tries and judges every issue by success. What he calls "the final arbitrament of arms" is to such a one a righteous decision, provided always it be in his favor. He may affect the demagogue, and talk loudly about the power of the people, but you will observe that this refers to them en masse, in the whole or concrete. He cannot understand the individual man as entitled to any consideration or rights (unless he happened to be made rich) independently of the State. Indeed, he looks upon poor men as made for the State, and it can be only on this ground that he claims the children as its property—"children of the State"!! He insists on educating them by the State, and for the State, and not for the comfort and support of their fathers and mothers, nor that they should thereby fulfil the immortal destiny for which they were created. He holds the life, the dignity, the comfort or happiness of the family or individual as nought in the balance against "the life, the power, the wealth and glory of the nation." "Perish the People—live the State"; this is his motto, and such have ever been the principles and motto of all Pagans from the beginning.



What I have said in the preceding chapter is but a faint picture of the bad effects of what is called polite education, as given in the Public Schools, on the male portion of society. It is with some reluctance that I am now going to trace the same evil influence in its still more injurious consequences on the female portion. It is very difficult to treat this part of the subject with the necessary freedom, not only on account of its intrinsic delicacy, but also because of that false (and indeed to themselves injurious) idea that there is nothing wanting to the absolute perfection of our women.

Let it not be said, that in calling public attention to these evil consequences on the female portion of the community, we are overstepping the boundaries of propriety or decency. There is a license for the poet; a license for the stage; a license for the bar; a license for the writer of fiction; a license for the press, and why should there not be a license for a Christian writer? It is high time for true modesty to take the place of that false modesty which has driven virtue, like an exile, out of the land, and peopled it largely with Fourrierites, Owenites, and other socialists and free-lovers.

Now, whatever success a "godless system of education" may have on boys, I think all must admit that it must prove not only a failure, but a positive injury, to girls. It is not that moral and religious education is not equally required by both, in a spiritual sense, but that women, in an especial manner, have certain duties assigned them, in the Order of Providence, of so high and holy a character, that it requires, in some sense, a special education to fit them for the faithful discharge of these duties.

Let us remember that the Public School-girls of to-day will be the mothers of to-morrow. Mothers are called by God to take particular care of the bodily and spiritual life of their children. This care is a heavy, a very heavy burden indeed, and mothers cannot carry this burden without a tender love for their children. Now God has made the love of mothers for their children a necessary love. It is for this reason that there is no command in the Divine Law for parents to love their children, whilst, on the contrary, children are commanded to love their parents. Love towards one's own offspring is a love so deeply planted in the heart by Nature herself, that the wild beasts never fail to love their young. It is said that even tigers, hearing the cry of their whelps when they are taken by the hunters, will plunge into the sea to swim after the vessels where they are confined.

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