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State at large, for it was the cause of spreading over the land mischievous disunion and religious animosity.
They tried to force on the poor what they dare not attempt on the rich, and failing in this, they formed themselves into a body "of a vindictive few," and continued to declaim against a system based upon principles of liberality and religious freedom.
If the tree is to be judged by its fruit, what greater testimony of the fairness and superiority of the National System can be desired than the following:
"It was stated, on the sworn testimony of several witnesses examined before the committee, that in five thousand schools, attended by upwards of half a million of children, in charge of about six thousand teachers of various religious denominations, not a single case of proselytism had ever been established on satisfactory evidence. The proselytising spirit by which so many religious persons of different creeds are actuated in their efforts to disseminate the blessings of instruction among the children of the Irish poor, renders this crowning triumph of the national system the more extraordinary. It may be fairly asked, has not its success been unexampled? has not it attained the first and most important object of the eminent statesman by whom it was founded? has it not realized the anticipations of the most honored and distinguished men of the present age, of all parties, who have given it their support? has it not gained the confidence of the great majority of the people ?"*
That it has succeeded in effecting all here stated, its most strenuous opponents must admit, and that it has been productive of feelings of affection among the rising generation of the lower classes of the country, there are none who can in honor or justice deny. The Rules issued by the Commissioners for the guidance of teachers of National Schools, are such as cannot fail if properly carried out to have a most salutary and lasting effect upon the minds of those children committed to their care. By the observance of those rules, besides attending to the mere literary instruction of his pupils, the teacher inculcates the principles of Morality, Honesty, and Truth, and teaches them to obey and respect their parents, and all those placed in authority over them. Their duties as Christians to each other, are read out to them by the teacher from the General Lesson, without interfering for a moment with the tenets of any religious persuasion.
It must be obvious to those who have at heart the amelio
We have taken the above extract from a review and compendium of the minutes of evidence taken before a select committee of the House of Lords, 1854.
ration of the condition of the poor of Ireland, that the most effectual step to its attainment has been the introduction of the National System. The success of the system is unparalleled, the good it has effected illimitable, it is admired and lauded by England's greatest statesmen, and appreciated by every true patriot of our own country. Protestants, Catholics, and Presbyterians, forget all religious differences in supporting the system, and justly prize it for its effects on their common country, and the most illustrious and noble peers of the realm have raised their voices in its behalf, seeing that it has done more to cicatrise the wounds inflicted by party and sectarian animosity, than any measure ever adopted by the British legislature, and whatever may be the objects contemplated by its opponents, we can only say that it is illiberal and calculated to revive the religious hatred that existed between creed and creed, before the blessings of united education were diffused amongst the Irish poor. Every body who has paid a serious attention to the working of the system, must be aware of its steady progress, in promoting harmony and goodwill amongst the rising generation. In the National Schools, but especially in those immediately under the Commissioners themselves, religious discord is never heard, and if united education has met some little opposition from a few, and so been retarded in some parts of the country, who can deny that it has succeeded, aye triumphed in the ModelSchools throughout Ireland? Who has ever visited the Commissioners' School in Marlborough Street, and taken the trouble to investigate the system in its real working, that has not come out satisfied that it is the one most suited to the country, and therefore entitled to the support of all good and impartial men. That the sytem is appreciated in the sister-country, the following extract from an address delivered by the Earl of Derby, (then Lord Stanley) to the members of a Mechanics' Institution in England, will clearly show :
"A rule should be adopted in all schools, somewhat analogous to that already adopted in Ireland, namely, that religious instructions, though given, should be optional, not compulsory, and that every school receiving aid from the public funds, whether National or local, should be bound to admit to its secular teaching, every child of whatever denomination,-that child not being compelled to attend the religious teacher."
It was our good fortune to be present at the examinations
held on the 25th July last in the four departments of the central institution in Marlborough-street, when our present Viceroy attended, and we shall here submit to our readers a few notes of our visit.
His Excellency first entered the Infant Department, accompanied by many of the most distinguished educationists of the age, of various religious denominations, and heard with the greatest delight the examination of some hundred of those little ones, who even in the years of infancy receive the blessings of an education adapted to their capacity. The cheerful and happy countenances of those young creatures most forcibly indicated the parent-like affection and care with which they are treated by the lady and gentleman presiding over this school. Both are what teachers ought to be; in them are combined every quality that could be desired in a thorough teacher and a prudent and affectionate parent. The enquiries of these young creatures, no matter how frequent, are attended to; the inquisitiveness and curiosity of the infant mind are not looked upon as troublesome and profitless, the greatest and almost incredible attention is bestowed upon the enlargement of their little sphere of knowledge. The infant asks a question, and that question is answered in words of kindness and love which tell on their little hearts. The infant is sure to ask again, for it has not been discouraged by a sullen look or sharp reply from the teacher. Thus it is that this department stands unrivalled by any other of a similar character in Great Britain. In Europe, perhaps, there is not an infant school more admirably conducted; and the appointment of the teachers to this important branch of the Institution is another proof of that wisdom and justice of the Commissioners that have ever characterised them in the selection of their officers.
A most eminent writer and thorough educationist, in his notes of a visit to this school, writes
"I wish that I could induce the citizens of Dublin to visit this most interesting establishment. There can be no more delightful spectacle than the faces of happy infancy: in the intelligent eye, modest demeanour, and orderly conduct of these infants, may be read the promise of a brighter future for Ireland. Habituated as I have been to school inspection, I never have seen anything like the same intelligence of eye, manifested in any school as in the infants' school, Marlborough-street; and I would almost undertake, from this evidence alone, to point out the children in the upper
school who have had the advantage of previous training in the infant school."
Would that the poor of Dublin were to form a proper estimate of the value of this establishment, and send their infants to this second home which, there can be no doubt, is far preferable in many instances to their own homes, which in too many cases are situated in confined and ill-ventilated back lanes of the city, where the growth of infancy is dwarfed, and the little minds contaminated by the contagion of the bad example too frequently shown them by those around.
The Wilderspin system, which is considered by educationists. to be the best that has been devised, is fully and effectually carried out in this school. By this system all free play is given for the developement of the young mind, and its effects upon those young creatures cannot fail to strike even the most casual visitor. During our visit in this and the other departments, we could not but observe from the appearance of the pupils that the seventh practical rule of the Commissioners, which relates to the cleanliness, &c. of the pupils, was strictly attended
We give a copy of the rule from the Report before us. "To promote, both by precept and example, Cleanliness, Neatness, and Decency. To effect this the Teachers should set an example of cleanliness and neatness in their own persons,and in the state and general appearance of their schools. They should also satisfy themselves, by personal inspection every morning, that the children have had their hands and faces washed, their hair 'combed, and clothes cleaned, and, when necessary, mended. The school apartments too should be swept and dusted every evening, and be whitewashed at least once a year."
We had every reason to feel pleased with our visit to the Infant School, and we could not but feel satisfied that the children there assembled were receiving an education in every way calculated to promote their happiness and well being in after-life. The master of the school is the author of an excellent work on Infant Education, entitled "Young's Infant School Teacher's Manual," from which we give the following:"We learn to know things through our senses; this is called perceiving. When we once know anything we can think of it again; this is called remembering. How do we know the difference between one object and another? By comparing them. Can you tell me which is the taller of these two children, the boy or the girl? The
How do you know?
boy. Which is the elder? The boy. cause he is so much bigger. Yes; you have observed that children increase in size as they get older, and so you judged of their ages by their difference of size. In this way we can judge of the differences of all things, and by reasoning on their qualities we learn to know their uses. We can judge of actions as well as of things. We all know that to get our food and clothes, some one must work. Little children cannot work, but their parents labor for them. Now, when we see people who are idle all day we say that they do wrong, and that they will soon come to want. Why do we say this? Because we know that much labor is needed to prepare food and clothing for our use; and if men are idle, others will not give them what they want. It is by our minds, then, that we are able to tell right from wrong, and God requires us to think on what we do, and to obey his laws. Does he require the animals to reason on what they do? No; for he has not given them speech and reason like man.
Let us think of another power in our minds. We said that by means of our senses we can perceive whatever is around us; but we can sometimes think of things we never saw; this is called imagining. Let us try to imagine a palm tree. I show you this picture to help you to imagine it. Now you must think of a tall, straight tree, growing upright, with no branches at the sides, and only one great bunch of leaves at the top. Now, look again at the picture; fancy the stem as tall as an elm tree; the leaves at the top each as long as this room is wide, and a great bunch of fruit in the middle of the leaves. Have you any idea of the palm tree, now? How did you get it? Yes; from the picture, and by what you know of other trees and by my description.
Let us now see how many mental powers we have found out. We can perceive; we use signs or language; remember, compare, judge, imagine. What a wonderful thing is the mind! It is said that God at first made man in his own image; that is, he gave him a thinking spirit or soul, and made him pure and good. Two things our mind can learn about God; how well He has made all things, and how merciful he has been to man who sinned against Him. When we think of these things it should make us love him more and more every day.
The feeling which we have of what is right or wrong in our actions is called conscience, and although no one may see us when doing a wrong act, conscience would tell us we were not doing as we ought. We should always listen to conscience. We should always do what we know to be right, not what we see others do. Children often try to excuse themselves when in fault, by saying that they only followed the example of some of their companions: is this right? No; for we should not join in any act without first thinking if it be right to do so. Do you know what you ought to do? The great thing is to love and serve God; the next, to love your fellow creatures, and to do them all the good you can. Do you know what it is wrong and wicked to do? Is it right to hate any one or to try to injure them? Is it right to give way to anger, greediness, and other passions? No; for we should try to govern our minds and to obey