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ings towards those who differ from us, there could, he thought, be no doubt as to the rapid diffusion of an interest in the cause of education. Ipfant schools were, amongst us, of very recent origin. It had been too much the custom to neglect the infant mind, to suppose that the impressions which infancy receives are of slight importance in reference to the conduct and character of after-life ; but the institution of infant schools showed that more correct notions were beginning to prevailthat men were beginning to be convinced that education could not commence too early, and that in proportion as the elements of instruction are early communicated, will be the virtue and the intelligence of the man. With all the attention which had been bestowed upon educationwith all the zeal which was exhibited for the communication of knowledge to mankind,-he knew not whether we had not too much neglected the communication of those moral feelings and principles which would alone render the possession of knowledge truly valuable. The possession of knowledge, if its direction were not aided by the purity of the moral feelings, might be a power to do evil instead of good. He trusted, therefore, that those who were engaged as teachers in Sunday and in infant schools, would feel the importance of their trust, not merely as trainers of the mind, but also as implanters of good feelings and principles in the hearts of those under their instruction. It might seem, perhaps, a comparatively easy task to train children in the ways of virtue and religion, and we might regard those employed in it as engaged in a very humble work; but he would appeal to any engaged in that work in a proper spirit, whether the imbuing of useful feelings and principles was not a work which demanded their greatest exertions and most upremitting attention ; and he was sure that those present would not refuse their sympathy and encouragement to those who, whether in schools for infancy, or for children of older years, were endeavouring to enforce those principles and feelings. It had been objected to infant schools that they took children away from the care of those who were their natural guardians and protectors; but, from the peculiar circumstances of many families, particularly in this manufacturing district, it was well known parents had not their time at their own disposal, and they could not pay that attention to their children which naturally came best from parents themselves. The teachers of infant schools stand, then, in the place of parents to the children placed under their care. The responsibility which they incurred who took upon them the responsible charge of so numerous a family was by no means slight; and their claims were, therefore, great to our sympathy and encouragement. But education must not stop here. Those seeds of morality and religion which may have been implanted in the infant mind and heart must be fostered in their further growth, or we might look in vain for the fruits we might naturally expect them to bring. And it was in Sunday Schools, that we might, at present at least, look for the best promotion of the growth of those principles, It had been objected to Sunday Schools that the instruction there communicated made Sunday too much like other days,- that it was a sort of desecration of the Sabbath to make it a day of tasks and lessons. And so it would be if those tasks and lessons were not inculcated with a view to the promotion of morality and religion, and if the children, instead of deriving pleasure as well as instruction from the hours they spent in school, found them only seasons of irksomeness and restraint. He would, therefore, strongly impress upon the attention of all engaged in such institutions the importance of adapting the instruction they communicate to the particular minds and feelings of those who come under their care ; that they should not make instruction a burthen instead of a pleasure. Sunday Schools more particularly required and called for the religious instruction of those who attended them, and though in most of them attendance upon religious services in the chapels with which they were connected was required, yet those services were often far from calculated to interest or to profit them; and there was, therefore, need in the school of a sort of introductory service, by the explanations of the teachers, by which the children would be better prepared to understand and profit by the instruction of the house of God.
Mr. EDWARD Shawcross adverted to the objections against education drawn from the present moral condition of the labouring classes in this kingdom; and observed that the present want of success was not owing to education, but to the insufficiency of it, as hitherto supplied, both in extent and in efficiency. Even here, where the experiment of education had been tried more extensively, perhaps, than in any other part of the kingdom, the supply had been far from co-extensive with the wants of the labouring population. He should not infer, then, from the prevalence of vice and misery, that education had been inoperative; but that its scale had not been, as hitherto tried, sufficiently extensive, or its plans efficient. Why was this the case ? Had the middle and wealthier classes been wholly inattentive to the mental and moral wants of their poorer brethren? No. Money was subscribed and exertions made for the acoomplishment of this great end; but these efforts were not seconded as they ought to be in a quarter whence aid would be most efficacious. He blushed for his country when he had to acknowledge, that while we excelled in almost every other respect, that in that of national education we stood far behind many European states which could not boast of institutions free as our own. What then was our duty? As individuals, to do what we could to remedy this deficiency, and to take every reasonable and fair opportunity of impressing upon the legislature of this country the necessity of its devoting its attention, at as early a period as possible, to this important subject; and he trusted that before long the matter would be taken up in a way affording fair promise of those results which all present would desire to see accomplished.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. The request contained in the enclosures under the Birmingham post-mark wou'd have been complied with, had it not appeared that the time had passed away for the appeal' to have the wished for effect.-S. P. is thanked for the zeal he manifests.-Our best acknowledgments to the several American friends for their favours.—The continuation of the article on Providence in the next number.
N. B. Should any of our subscribers have failed to receive their copies, they are begged to order them of their booksellers.-We much regret that delay, arising out of a disappointment, prevented us from sending slips of the Salford Anniversary Report to our esteemed friend at Belfast.
7. Forrest, Printer, Manchester.
PUBLIC OPINION. Power is an attribute, the good of which depends on the principle by which its movements are actuated. Look on the organized thousands of an invading army bringing devastation and wretchedness over the plains and through the homes of a once free and smiling country; look at the lightning of the corsair, darting with terror and destruction on the bark which was freighted homeward with a cargo of yearning affections and fond hopes; look at the Athenian populace, deliberately voting into exile one who had earned the surname of Just,' and that not because he had forfeited his honourable distinction, but because he was just still; look at the Jewish populace demanding, with fury and insult, the life of him whom a short time before they had hailed as the wished-for Saviour of the nation, and destined Prince of the world; look either at the barbarities of the savage horde, gloating over the reeking frame of a vanquished foe, or at a city lighted up with the flames which feed on its power and pride; look at these things, and you see that power, when under the influence of passion, is a raging despotism.
Another view of power-power, when enlightened by wisdom, and impelled by benignity, and hallowed by devotionpresents to the mind the real patriot, who, having fought his country's fight, and won the victory, lays down his sword on the altar of peace, and retires into the privacy of domestic life; the heroic philanthropist, who, urged by the pressure of his wounded humanity, goes forth in quest of woes to mitigated sin to cure, and travelling up and down the world on his errand of love, forfeits at last his own life in the god-like effort to save the lives of others; the high-minded philosopher, whose nights and days are spent in sublime communings with the stars of heaven and his own spirit, and who, drawing from his labours accumulated stores of knowledge, constructs therefrom a temple sacred at once to truth, to God, to man.
The world we dwell in is full of power. There is power in the heavens and the great wide sea, and even in the zephyr; but no where such power-power combining equal elements of good and ill—as in the congregated masses of human society. The agents of external nature are under the immediate control of God, and can excite no alarm in the mind which is poised on the conviction of God's essential goodness. In their case,
benignity mingles with and tempers their wildest raging as much as their softest impulses. The human breast, however, is open to the unrestrained license of passion. Its good may be sunk in the tempestuous surgings of unmitigated evil. And, therefore, no power should be regarded with more vigilance, or directed
with more care. It is power for incalculable good or harm. It is a power which may bless humanity—it is a power which may equally shiver into ruins the whole fabric of civilised society. The destructive principle are the passions. The conservative principle is intelligence. And just in the proportion in which these principles predominate the one over the other is the safety of society perilled or secured, and its advantages augmented or abated. Thus broadly does the conclusion come out, that an enlightened public opinion is the great safeguard of social life. It is this which unnerves the up-lifted arm of brute force; it is this which widens continually the sphere of a growing civilization; it is this which has made the false terrors of ages of darkness, and the foul practices of superstition, and the prejudices of bigotry, and the arts of the fraudulent politician, retire gradually from the eye of day into the recesses which border on barbarism; it is this which harmonises the workings of what is termed civilized society, where, alas ! how often there meet the extremes of goodness and vice, knowledge and ignorance, the love of God and man, and the love of depravity and confusion; and where, therefore, one might fear that the brutal and the sinful would, in their reckless force, break in upon and waste the fair provinces of virtue. But there is a restraining power. Mind lifts a loftier barrier than ever hands threw up against an invading horde. Meek in the consciousness of its strength, it stands before the agitated mass, and breathes a tranquilizing influence through its members. What, indeed, would avail all the bars and bolts which ingenuity has invented for the security of the peaceable against the lawless—what would avail all our means and appliances for safety against the power of those who know no interest but that of the moment, and follow no impulse but that of the passions-whom vice has depraved, and want made desperate—what would avail all our protective machinery, but for the single influence of public opinion? The power that would devastate, slumbers, hushed into repose by the whisperings of mind; the power is powerless by reason of ignorance of its strength and the predominance of a higher and resistless force.
And how often have those whose position requires them to be the ministers of God for good to man, been made, when bent on the prosecution of evil purposes, to quail before the power of the public mind. It was the fear of the people' which more than once frustrated the guilty designs of the enemies of Jesus. Frequently, since, the fear of the people has stayed the oppressor, and defeated the trading politician. It has been equally powerful in producing good as in averting evil. It has shaped the determinations of rulers to its will, and brought many a healing influence from the halls of legislation over and through the mass of society. It may, however, be a detrimental as well as an advantageous power. The fear of the people is the fear of good, when the people are friends of injustice rather than equity; and the same fear which may be the means of communicating social emancipation to myriads, may also, when exerted by bad men for bad purposes, hurry a nation into a conflict as ruinous to themselves as to their enemies. It is, therefore, only an enlightened public opinion whose action is to be desired. The public will is the voice of God, when prompted by the will of God; in other words, when under the direction of the wisdom from above—a wisdom which both embraces and harmonises all the great interests of the great human family.
We are not sure that an over-estimate has not been formed of the extent to which an enlightened public opinion prevails. We cannot honour with the name of enlightened public opinion all that wears its guise. Opinion is essentially a private and individual matter, formed on deliberation within the precincts of a man's own mind, and can become public, not by transmission, but by multiplication; not by the minds of the few acting on the minds of the many, but by the minds of the many becoming themselves instinct with thought. We do not say that the seed of opinion may not be sown by the hand of the stranger; but the production of the fruit, from the first germ to the corn in the ear, must be our own work. If an enlightened public opinion is individual conviction growing up over a wide surface of society, then much of what passes under the name is counterfeit; for with how many are opinions adopted, not formed-assumed, not bred. There is a fashion in opinion as well as in dress, and sentiments, like modes, descend from the higher to the lower ranks of society with a gradation as rapid as it is regular. Society, in some of its aspects, is not unlike a series of signal posts. The head station gives the sign, and quickly it passes through the country. Or, as in an army drawn out in line of battle, the word of command passes from man to man, and from rank to rank. Thus, at any remarkable crisis, multitudes crowd around a banner, whose devotion is not to it, nor the cause which it symbolises, but to themselves, to their vanity, their love of being in the fashion, of enjoying the genial warmth of rejoicing thousands, rather than being left behind by the congregating masses in the (to them) cold solitariness of their own individuality. And what ensues ? The current changes, and straightway bears these waifs of social life down to the ocean of the new fashion. It matters but little that the direction of the current is the very opposite of that in which it flowed before. Principle offers no resistance, and onward they go as the impulse bears. What else could be