Page images


No. 31.]

FEBRUARY 28, 1911.

[Vol. 6.


For the Belfast Monthly Magazine.


THE board of education have been successful in detecting many of the jobs practised in our Irish endowed schools, and it is much to be wished, that the discovery of abuses may be followed up by effectual remedies: but too often the public spirit elicited by parliamentary and other inquiries evaporates, and no good effects are ultimately or permanently produced. As yet we perceive no measures taken to remedy the abuses so justly exposed.

In the account in the 8th report on the Foundling Hospital, it is to be feared that the representation given of the members of the old board of that establisment, may be found to be common to other boards managing charitable institutions, that except when offices of emolument were to be disposed of, it was difficult out of a board consisting of nearly, two hundred members to procure the attendance of five once a quarter, to transact the ordinary business of the society."


The board of education in their 7th report, notice some of the defects attendant on the system of making the Hibernian school in the Phenix Park, a nursery to raise up recruits for the army. More might have been said to point out the Burtful tendencies of such a scheme,


but alas! in this age of war and increasing military system, the voice of peace and her wise counsels are little attended to. Europe in ge neral, and these islands no less than

the continent are in danger of relapsing into all the horrors and barbarizing effects of a military conscription, and of first censuring, and afterwards adopting the French practice in this respect.

The large surplus of income over expenditure in the funds of Erasmus Smith's schools, might be turned to great public benefit to promote education in this country, if the spirit of liberality sufficiently prevailed in the future distribution of it. But the exclusive spirit arising from the connexion of church and state interferes to cramp the good that might be done. In the state of this country, no system of education can be extensively useful, which is confined by any connexion with religious opinions.

The catholics will take alarm at any attempt to combine instruction in school learning, and doctrinal points of religion. They indeed ought not to be connected. Instruct the youth in useful branches of learning adapte ed to his situation in life, and leave the subject of religion to be settled between him and his parents, or rather trust the discovery of truth to the energies of his own mind in future life, while those energies have been sharpened by a good previous education.

[ocr errors]

It is therefore unpleasant to observe,

that to receive any benefits from Erasmus Smith's funds, the masters, and ushers of all schools aided from them must subscribe to the two first canons of the church of Ireland; In the act of last session refer red to at page 17, of the last Belfast Magazine, the restriction is still further confirmed, by making it incumbent, to have the consent of the bishop of the diocese to any grant, under the circumstances of the act, for erecting the additional school-houses proposed to be built under the plan of extending the schools of Erasmus Smith. Such restrictions will essentially limit the benefits to be derived from this fund, and it is painful to observe that this act which was introduced into parliament under the auspices of the Primate, tends to continue restrictions, which are illiberal, and which are likely to defeat the full effects of a plan calculated in other respects to do so much good.

rican newspapers, I was struck with some statements in the following paper, which appeared to me to be just If they teach us duly to appreciate the advantages of a free government, and prove the absurdity of an overweening confidence in all which belong to ourselves, merely because they are our own, they may be of service in your pages. Two great errors are often combined, to think too highly of ourselves, and too meanly of our neighbours. It appears to be the prevailing fashion, unjustly and unreasonably, to despise America. In the following essay justice is done to their institutions, without misrepresenting the tendency of the manners, laws, and institutions of the old country. If we ever grow wiser, we must be willing to see our errors. Neither individuals nor nations advance in knowledge without cherishing a disposition to search out and acknowledge their defects."



(Extracted from the National Intel-
ligencer, published at Washington.)

WHAT then are the peculiar causes of this unrivalled felicity?

This circumstance with many CONTRAST BETWEEN BRITAIN AND others of a similar nature, confirms the sentiment, that the temper of the times as manifested in the present system of legislation will not permit us to hope at present for the establishment of a national system of education on liberal principles. To effect the important advantages of education, the exertions of individuals must be persevered in, unaided by assistance from the national purse, which would only be granted on a sacrifice of independence, by submitting to the dominancy of the church establishment, and by increasing the patronage and influence of the executive go



For the Belfast Monthy Magazine.

AVING lately had an opportu-
nity of seeing a parcel of Ame-

suit of a political course in most reWe confidently answer, the purspects directly the reverse of that pursued by the nations of the old world.

In those nations governments are usurpations on public opinion; here they are direct emanations from it.

With them the great end of government is to controul the public will; here its great end is to carry it

into effect.

In the old world government is the monopoly of a few, by means of which corruption and fraud riot in extravagance, on the blood and la

bour of the people; here it is the common property of all, deriving its existence from the will of the whole nation, and dispensing its blessings impartially among all.

In the old world government is the great source of crime; here it is its most effectual restraint.

In the old world government is maintained by force; here it is supported by affection.

Hence, in the oid world gigantic navies and vast standing armies are indispensable; while here they are almost entirely unnecessary, and injurious, instead of beneficial to the popularity and energy of those in

[blocks in formation]


In the old world, the pursuits of individuals are restrained by unjust and pernicious regulations, and iniquitous monopolies; here every man is permitted to employ his time, his talents and his money in the occupation most congenial to his own mind.

After this rapid view of the discordancy between our principles and conduct, and those of the nations of Europe, it is natural to enquire into the points of resemblance.

This may enable us to decide whether the system which we have adopted is merely a modification in its details of the systems practised in the old world, or whether it is not a system fundamently different.

This is an important enquiry. It is not merely a speculation amusing to the philosopher in his closet; its

decision necessarily leads to prac-. tical effects of the utmost importance. On it will depend the propriety, even safety, of consulting foreign precedents, and of being, guided, in doubtful cases, by the, experience of foreign nations.

If our system be in a higher de-, gree homogeneous with, than discordant from the systems of foreign pow ers, we may perhaps safely be guided by the course they have pursued;; but if, on the contrary, for one point of resemblance there be ten. of hostility, our great duty must be, in doubtful cases, to avoid an example so pregnant with ruin.

We have shown that in the poli-, tical structure of our governments,; there is scarcely any coincidence; that, in fact, the fundamental principles of the one are in absolute and, direct hostility to the other.

We have likewise shown that our condition is equally different from: the condition of the nations of Eu-, rope.

So far, then, as these two important considerations go, the inference is irresistible, and we must pronounce the experience of the old, world only worthy of our attention as a beacon to guard us against error. and misery.

The only branch of enquiry that remains for consideration, is how far our system resembles the foreign system in the security it establi shes for the maintenance of civil rights.

These, we are told, are the great ends of government, and that the government that secures them must be good; and here we are referred to England. Of that country it is the boast, that the life, personal liberty, property, and good name of her citizens are defended with unThe common impeachable justice. law is vaunted as their great guardian; and, inasmuch as we have

[ocr errors]

naturalised it, we are said to have adopted a system similar to that of Britain.

Let us examine this subject concisely in detail. That the jurispru dence of England has deservedly ranked her high among her sister nations of Europe, is indisputable. That it cherishes fewer seeds of slavery, and that it pays more respect to the natural rights of man than any other system of cotemporaneous origin will not be denied. When, therefore, we look back upon the lot of the old world, we behold with des light the comparatively bright displays of justice, liberty, and humanity, made in that distinguished is land; and we see her towering infìnitely above her neighbours.

But let us not be infatuated by this contrast. The present enquiry is not into the relative condition of the British and French nations, or into the relative advantages of their systems of government. It is confined entirely to Great Britain and the United States. It may be, that Britain will, on this comparison, sink as low, as in the other she rose high.

It is true that we have na'uralised the common law of England; but it is equally true that this common law has been so modified by our own statutory law, that a marked difference exists between the two sys


In England the life of the subject is said to be secure against unjust in vasion. It is secured by independent judges, and an impartial ju ry. Let this be granted, for the sake of argument; still the existing laws may be, and in fact are devised in such a way as awfully to jeopardize human life. How many crimes in the British code, compared to the American, are capital; and what a prodigal forfeiture of life constantly takes place for light and trivial

offences! Besides, can the lives of subjects be secure when it is in the power of an irresponsible government, whenever it pleases, to hurry the nation into war, and to consign its subjects to distant and dangerous expeditions, where the chance of surviving is very inconsiderable? And where is the difference to the wretched victim, whether he dies in the field of battle, or in an hospital, at the call of an ambitious government, or on a scaffold in expiation of his offences? When too we consider that these offences are, for the greater part, the offspring of bad government, and the wretched penury to which thousands are therebyreduced, the government becomes the criminal instead of the nominal offender, and the murder or theft for which the latter forfeits his life, is in fact the act of the former.

Hog opposite to this is our situations? Capital punishments are rare; atrocious offences almost equally so; and war, with all its horrors, ovn only as a theme of execration.

If we view the influence of the common law of England on personal liberty, we shall find it equally dif ferent from our system. There a sentiment of avarice appears to have gained so complete an ascendant, that the least invasion of property produces a sacrifice of liberty, if not life. Allusion is not here meant exclusively to frauds which ought in every well regulated society to be severely punished; but to those misfortunes in business which often make an honest man the debtor of another. In England, a jail is his lot-there he languishes for years— perhaps he dics. How different the lot of misfortune in the United States. The law, on a surrender of his effects, screens the person of the debtor from confinement--Ile begins a new career-The smiles of

[ocr errors]

prosperity again irradiate his path. He soon retrieves the errors of indiscretion or confidence, and rises to respectability, perhaps distinc


But, the advocates of the British system, driven from those strong holds, fly to their fortress. Property, say they, is in England better protected than in any other country on earth. Whatever guards you have formed around it, you have borrowed from us. But in this vivid eulogium we behold the illusion of days that are past! There are two circumstances that most strikingly contrast the situation of the United States and England in this respect. The first relates to the relative expenses of conducting law suits, the second to the relative taxes imposed on property, whose value, it is evident, must materially depend on these circumstances. Now under the boasted common law of England a debt cannot be recovered, without a previous delay of several years, or without the payment of extravagant fees to lawyers; and if the conToversy relate to landed property, a life may be spent before the decision of the suit. Can that property be said to be secure, which is exposed to such invasions, whereby its tightful owner may be kept out of its enjoyment for his whole life? Is it not the inevitable tendency of such a system to place the scales of justice exclusively in the hands of the rich, who if they are not invested with the power of turning the beam, are cloathed with the equally dan gerous prerogative of keeping it in equilibrio as long as they please; thereby unjustly preserving in their own hands the property of others.

With regard to taxes, it may be safely affirmed, that the assessment in England is ten times as high as in the United States.

For the Belfast Monthly Magazine.


TF not partial to my religion and

country, I would be inclined to think that in the British dominions, the learned languages are taught on plans the most rational, and withal by persons having a greater regard to the cause of christianity and truth, and of instilling into the nind the principles of true philo sophy, than in most other places in Europe. But even here the views of the community are not combined, nor are they willing they should be established by the same common laws, as those of individuals. For example, in the case now before us, some are disposed to admit and encourage the constant use of translations as a help for making proficiency in the language to which the attention of their pupils is directed; others, again, wish to discard such a practice, or at the farthest, to use it only on certain occasions. Hence a sort of extravagance clearly prevails on both sides, which it is my intention to exhibit. But the only satisfactory method I can have recourse to in performing this is, by examining the sentiments of a translator, and endeavouring to point out their conformity or non-conformity to the promotion of classical learning. The individual, then, whom I chose for this purpose is Mr. John Clarke,* (once master of the public grammar school at Hull) who has been of infinite service in

The reason which induced me to select Mr. Clarke is, that he has written a professed treatise on the advantages of translations. Wherefore, the observations made on their use in the Latin tongue, may also apply to those in the Greek, &c.

« PreviousContinue »