Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

trinsic value, and am grieved at the long indifference about it; I am grieved that they have been suffered to remain as a rich metal in the mine, which no fashioning hand of an artist has hitherto attempted to polish into beauty, and upon which no stamp of instruction has been set to give it an acknowledged worth and currency. Nor let it be apprehended that a measure such as this has been formed in the design, or iş calculated to have the effect of depressing the spirit or subduing the fortitude of a people, whose manners it would urbanise, and whose temper it would regulatę. No, it would infuse divinity into their spirit, and make their cottage the preserver of general tranquility. Learning never get made man degenerate into servility, or enfeebled the vigour of his mind, while it foftened the feelings of his heart,

* Doctrina sed vim promovet infitam,
“ Rectivue cultus pectora roborant;
$ Utcunque defecere mores,

Pedeçorant bene nata culpæ." All ranks, all descriptions of seciety, are amended and enRobled by the leffons of virtue; and where morals are defective, the taint of vice corrupts and defiles the patrician still more than the peasant. Where has been the nation, to which learning has contributed no advantage? What people has not been rendered more formidable by knowledge as auxiliary to their bravery Has public liberty been injured by understanding its true meaning? Has freedom lost its exertion, because society has learned to comprehend and obey the laws? The bravest people, whose history we can trace, and who attained the highest rank among the nations, mixed with an undaunted courage the love and the cultivation of letters. Even Sparta, which claimed all her sons as soldiers, made their education in their learning as well as their disci., pline in arms the pubļic carę. No individual parent could idly deprive his children of that instruction, which tended to exalt them as men, and improve them as citizens. The

community

community could not afford the ignorance of any of their members, and they asserted their rights in that respect as fuperior to those of parental authority. The children were accounted the offspring of the public, and the nurture of their minds was secured by a public provision.

The best support of courage, Humanity, was by such means allowed to maintain her just influence over the actions of man, instances of which in days of old as well as of modern date, have reflected not more honour than benefit on mankind. The stern and rough form of war has been softened into finiles; the strides of defolation and ruin have been arrefted “ in the very imminent deadly breach."

But however little value feems at the present day to be fet upon the youth of your peasantry, the wisdom and humanity of our ancestors held them in much higher estimation; they knew that with these rough materials, great part of the fabric of the nation was to be composed, and therefore they endeavoured to form them in the first stage with some degree of attention; accordingly, they instituted fchools of various kinds, in doing which they could have had no motives but the pure love of their country, and the honest ambition of being remembered as the benefactors of mankind; they might indulge a virtuous hope that

66 their bones “ When they had run their course, and slept in blessings, * Should have a tomb of orphan's tears wept on them!

But alas! Their memory has not been thus revered. The voice of infant gratitude has rarely been instructed to sound the name of its benefactors. Instruction has not often met the eye or reached the ear of the parentless, or of those who bad none to teach them. The altars of instruction have been robbed of their incense, too frequently diffipated or consumed by the chosen ministers, who have scarcely deigned to chaunt

a

1

a fcanty requiem, or have made a farce of the service, which it was enjoined them to perform over the ashes, and in hon, our of their patrons. We have only now to hope that the child may not yet be unborn, who shall first have its lips inspired with the leftons of charity, and whofe mind shall be taught, although still too late, to restore the genuine tribute of glory to the author of their instruction. It would be a kind of facrilege to fuffer thefe rites to be longer neglected; and in vindicating from abufe the provision which was made for them, you will draw upon yourselves a share in the bleffings of an infant generation, who will venerate you as the common founders of their relief and improvement. And you will hereafter experience a still higher reward in the confequent increase of prosperity to your country,

[ocr errors]

Mr. Orde then proceeded to state the modes of support for the various degrees, claffes or divisions of this systein, beginping first with the children of the lowest orders of the people. By the act of 28th Hen. VIII. the minister of each parish is obliged to teach every child that presents himself for instruction in the Englich language; the English language at the time of enacling the law was as little known to the peafantry of Ireland, as the language of Athens or Rome, and therefore teaching children to read was not a very trivial duty: Yet though every parilh minister is bound by oath to comply with this act, the only thing done towards carrying it into effect is, a commutation of 4os. per annum paid by the minister in each parish. This sum therefore, he proposed to take as the lowest rate of contribution from all livings not exceeding 150l. per annum; from thence to 200l. per annum the contribution should be three pounds, and fixpence in the. pound after two hundred pounds. The same rate of contri. bution he proposed for the proprietors of rectorial and im.. propriate tithes, and whatever might be afterwards deficient towards the full support of the parish school, he proposed

to

to raife by affefsment, not on the parish at large, but at the difcretion of a vestry, on the more opulent proprietors of the lands in the parish,

The second division of this system, which was to consist of four great schools, one in each province, similar to the Blue Coat Hospital in Dublin, or Christ's Hospital in London, he proposed to support by a gradual change of the application of the funds now given to Charter Schools.

With the new fchools he intended to unite Erasmus Smith's charity; and as from these seminaries the mariner, the merchant, the tradesman, the manufacturer, the artificer, the farmer, the accountant, the mathematician; in a word, the most useful members of society might hereafter spring, he proposed to pay a very great degree of attention to them, and that navigarion, mercantile knowledge, modern languages, mathematies, geometry, agriculture, and drawing, should be there taught, and he mentioned that this being a part of his plan, which was ready for almost instant adoption, the buildings at New Geneva, which are already property, might be made fubfervient to it,

I will here, said he, take a short review of the proposed establishment, and of its several divisions, with some general calculation of the probable expence, and of the funds at prefent existing, which may be applied to this purpose, and of those which must be supplied by parliamentary aid or other ways and means.

I have mentioned one principal or resident guardian of this fociety, one head-master also.-The number of under masters and affiftants must depend upon the divisions of scholars and the number of children which it may be proposed to educate, in them. I conceive that the whole establishment may confift of eight or nine hundred boys, divided into two parts; the former of which might be about three hundred and twenty.

I take that number upon the idea of arranging them into eight wards, for their lodging, of forty each. For these there may be allotted seven schools, which I apprehend, will be a sufficient number to give ample opportunity for instruction in the several branches of learning and science, which I would arrange in this manner :

aft. Reading and Grammar, several divisions. 2d. Writing and Accounts, do. do. 3d. Mathematics and Navigation, with apparatus, &c. &c.

and space for experiment. 4th. Husbandry and Agriculture, with do. 5th. Mechanics, Geometry, and Manufacture, with do. 6th. Drawing, &c. &c. 7th. Foreign Languages and Geography.

There must of course be feven masters for these, and some of them will require afliftants, especially the readingand grammar schools, and that for writing and accounts. The second division will consist of either four hundred and eighty, or five hundred and eighty, according to what may be determined of the gross number. I should imagine that for these four schools might be sufficient; a reading and a writing-school, each of them consisting of several divisions, and two working schools for their instruction in different kinds of handicraft or other inferior occupations. There will of course be four masters wanting for these schools, and several affiftants. It is to be remembered that the principal will superintend the management of the whole, and the head-master will overlook the department of instruction in this division as well as the other. And I would here repeat another remark in favour of this establishment, for the reception of such children as are at present distributed in the feveral charter-schools, that it will admit of the means to provide, not indeed a greater number of masters, instructors, &c. &c. but men of much superior qualifications. Another advantage of infinite conse

quence

« ForrigeFortsæt »