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avail ourselves of the willingness of the government to provide that our own principles shall be respected in our own schoolsretaining our right as Englishmen to do our utmost to bring the practice of other communities, in common with our own, into the nearest possible agreement with the great principles of civil and religious freedom? Dr. Vaughan regards this more moderate course as the path of duty in the new condition of the question. This is the front of his offending. Circumstances which seemed to justify his hostility to the Minutes as a whole, six months since, have passed away; and very different circumstances, which, as he thinks, equally warrant his present conduct, have been called forth by the intervening time. Misconceptions, apart from which, the ground which he took from the first would not have been deserted, no, not for an hour, have been proved to be misconceptions; and he has returned substantially to the point from which he had been for awhile withdrawn, partly by false appearances, and partly by expectations which have not been realized.
As regards all schools not of the Church of England, the main thing which he has from the first sought, is, in his judgment, conceded. His chief complaint now is, that the schools connected with the established church have not been at once placed on a footing, as regards religious teaching, equally free and enlightened ; and the only point on which his view of the entire question has undergone the slightest change is, that he no longer insists on the correction of this still remaining error, in respect to schools of the Church of England, as the indispensable condition of accepting the overtures of the government in favour of other schools.
It may appear impossible to some persons, that further reflection, and change of circumstances, should contribute honestly to bring about even this degree of change in opinion. It may be the judgment of such persons, that when the manner of bringing forth these Minutes of Council ceased to bear the appearance of gross partiality, and was shown to have been strictly impartial, the opinion formed in regard to the council and its scheme under the former appearances, ought not to have been submitted to the slightest modification in obedience to this later evidence. When, also, the apparent purpose of the government to insist on an interference with religious teaching even in nonconformist schools is given up, and the council is content to limit its oversight of such schools purely to the general instruction, it may be said of this second change in the position of the government, that it ought not to lead to any degree of change on the part of those who had set themselves in opposition to it-no, not in the case of those who had become its opponents mainly because it had
taken that position as to religious teaching, which now, as regards nonconformist schools, it is prepared wholly to abandon. It may be, moreover, that the course which was deemed the path of wisdom when there was a prospect of inducing the government to give up this scheme altogether, must be no less wise when all such hope has proved vain; and that parties whose principles are in favour of a state-aided education, ought not to endeavour to render the system devised as little mischievous and as highly beneficial as possible, even when they see the introduction of it to be unavoidable. It may be, likewise, that when men of extreme opinions on this question tell you, partly in words, but still more by their conduct, that the only condition of your acting with them is, that you shall stand publicly committed to those opinions, and that no very patient hearing must be expected if you presume to express dissent from such opinions,—it may be, that men who have joined such a confederation, however much in the hope of more sober and considerate treatment, should be held as bound to continue their adhesion to it, or lay their account with being branded as changelings and traitors. All this may be said to be the strict casuistry and common sense of the case in these instances; but if so, we can only confess our utter inability to concur in any such judgment. We are old-fashioned enough to think, that there is more virtue in honesty than in obstinacy-in daring to be just, even at the cost of being charged by passionate or silly people with fickleness, or with worse things, than in adhering to the same course in altered circumstances, at the cost of ingenuousness, gratitude, selfrespect, and some other moral accompaniments which good men have generally been concerned not to dispense with.
II. But as regards the more conciliatory spirit on this question ascribed to the government–it will perhaps be said, that the supposed concession in the New Minute is a concession in appearance only, that in its operation, as explained by Lord Lansdowne and others, it removes no evil, but, in fact, even in respect to this affair of religious teaching, would place our schools in a worse position than before. Our own view as to the design of this Minute, and that which we doubt not will prove to be the view of the Committee of Privy Council respecting it is, that it is meant to remove the one point of interference with regard to religious teaching, in reference to schools not of the Church of England, which the former Minutes embraced, so as to leave all schools of that class, where the managers desire such exemption, strictly free in this particular. In other words, we regard it as intended to secure to all religious denominations not of the Church of England, who object on religious grounds to make any report concerning the religious instruction which may be given in their schools, precisely the same aid from the government without such reports, as is extended to Church of England schools where such reports are made. We believe that dissenters, or any considerable number of them, have only to say that this is the light in which they wish the Minute to be viewed, and in which alone they could avail themselves of it, and it will be thus interpreted and acted upon. Our authority for saying this arises irresistibly, to our own mind, from the facts of the case, seeing that it is only as thus viewed that the Minute could at all meet the difficulty intended to be met. That in the schools to which it is meant to apply, the general instruction will be ordinarily supplemented, in some mode or other, with religious instruction, and that the sacred Scriptures, in the authorized version, will be daily read in them, may be confidently expected; but as regards the cognizance of government, that will have respect to the general instruction, and
w not at all to the religious. However much Lord Lansdowne or others may deem it expedient to fence this Minute about, so as to save it from being too great a shock to the jealousy of high churchmen on the one hand, and so as not to be pledged by it to assist schools which might teach irreligion and dissoluteness on the other, we cannot bring ourselves to think, that, as applied to the religious denominations of this country, it is designed to bear any other interpretation than we have now given to it. To exact from these parties any formal or virtual pledge that the teaching in their schools shall be religious, or even that the Scriptures shall be daily read in them, would be a more direct and a much larger interference with religious instruction in such schools than was attempted in the former Minutes. It is difficult to bring statesmen to understand our great principle—the principle which requires that our religious acts should be acts of obedience to the immediate authority of God, and not acts performed in any case at the bidding of the civil power—difficult to bring them to see, that to admit the right of the magistrate to command even so simple a piece of service as the daily reading of the Scriptures, would be to admit magistracy as a religious authority, and as an authority which might then be consistently extended to other religious services literally without number. We think, however, that before the next parliamentary vote for education shall be taken, this principle will be sufficiently understood to secure for the New Minute the liberal construction we have ventured to put upon it; and if thus interpreted, it will be, in our honest judgment, a valuable concession, honourable to the men from whom it proceeds, and such as should be received with gratitude by the parties for whose benefit it is intended. If, this, however,
be not its purport, and if, after all, it is to be so clogged as to throw us back upon our old dilemma-viz., to take the money and lose our consistency, or to reject it and lose our schools, then, we say, the government which could persist—as in very wantonness
- in the infliction of so mighty a grievance upon dissenters, would richly deserve, not merely their hostility, but their execration. It is true, Lord John Russell has described the objection which this Minute is intended to obviate, as a refined' objection; and, no doubt, the objections which make any of us nonconformists, are all, in his lordship's view, refined objections. This, in our humble judgment, is the weak point in his lordship’s statesmanship--the want of a distinct and sufficient apprehension of the ground on which protestant nonconformity rests. His lordship knows, however, that the drift of this Minute is special, intended to meet a special case, and that it is far enough from settling the education question, considered in its proper relation-its relation, not to religious bodies, but to the general community as such. We see nothing in any of these Minutes but preliminaries to that coming issue.*
III. Great complaint has been made about certain real or supposed communications with the government, relative to the obtaining of this Minute. It is within our knowledge, that soon after the close of the conference at Crosby Hall and of the debates in parliament on this question, some half-dozen public-spirited men, in different parts of the country, became possessed with the idea that something to the effect of this Minute would do much towards removing what was with them, and, as they had reason to know, with many besides, the chief difficulty. These persons gave expression to their vicws, independently of each other, some of them through the press, and others in communications to influential persons. But to what could such.communications amount, even supposing them to have been made to members of the committee of the Privy Council, or to the Prime Minister himself? To just so much as we find stated in the Manchester Resolutions
**I am disposed to think, if the state comes forward where there is manifest need, and where corresponding exertion is made to meet it--if it supplies the most useful methods and the best apparatus at its command, then, in addition to what it does itself, it is more likely to arouse and to guide voluntary effort-more likely to act in the way of stimulus and suggestion-ihan if it left voluntary agency to its uoassisted and uncontrasted energies. I am assuming that we cannot attain that which I should myself prefer,—that is, schools to which all should resort, and by which all should be benefited in common, without distinction of sect or worship; to attain which desirable end I am ready, as I have stated to all the audiences I have addressed on the subject, to forego the giving of any special religious instruction in connexion with the routine business of the school, ani tú leure that to their own pastors, to their own parents, to the Sunday school, to their own sanctuaries, and to the no less precious altar of the family hearthi'--Speech of Lord Morperb, at Wakefield, in August last.
-viz., the expression of an opinion, that while there were
many' dissenters to whom even such an arrangement' would not 'be acceptable, there were also many to whom it would be the removal
of a conscientious difficulty.' The man who should have gone beyond this-who should have stated anything more definite than this, would not only have proceeded without warrant, but in the very attempt must have rendered his opinion valueless. We feel confident that whatever communications may have been made on this subject, they were not only made as the mere expressions of opinion, but that they never passed beyond these limits. And we must now ask-Has the time of day indeed arrived, in which it must cease to be the right of an Englishman to give expression to his personal opinion, on any public question, in any quarter where he may have reason to think the public interest would be served by his so doing? Must he not dare to give utterance to his thought about such matters, leaving that thought to pass for just as much or as little as it may be worth, except in such mode and such connexions as this new censorship over private speech and private communication may choose to take under its sanction? Do these gentlemen really mean to give confirmation to the most bitter charge ever urged against those popular principles which they profess to hold in such high esteem—the charge, that of all tyrants your tyrant democrat is in his nature the most essentially tyrannical-a fanatic in the school of oppression, and therefore of all oppressors the most pitiless and unsparing? But for the germ of the most thorough inquisitorial régime which is involved in it, the attempt to set up this sort of proscription would be simply ridiculous. To protest against it in limine is the duty of every inan who knows what freedom really means.
Of the meeting in Manchester in the Law Rooms, in May last, concerning which so much has been said among dissenters, the government had not any knowledge, could not have had any knowledge, either of the meeting or of the resolutions which were passed there, until both were made public through the newspapers ; and if a single line was written to give to that meeting a grain of importance beyond what might be seen upon its surface, such writing is no matter of our knowledge. What the influence of that ineering may have been as regards the subsequent appearance of this New Minute we do not know; but of this we feel assured, that if among the several parties who concerned themselves, and, for the most part, independently of each other, to procure that Minute, there be any one man to whom a larger share of the result attaches than to the rest, that man will be found quite ready to take this special responsibility upon him. That