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DURING the last six months “ THE ENGLISI JOURNAL OF EDUCATION” has ceased to be under the control of the gentleman who commenced and for several years ably conducted it.
It will have been observed by the reader that the Journal has undergone certain modifications since that time. These we have adopted, not without hesitation, yet in the hope that the 'utility of the Magazine might be extended. It is satisfactory to be able to state that the sale has been gradually increasing, and that the number for January is nearly out of print.
We regard this success as an omen that the modifications to which reference has been made are not unpleasing to the great body of the subscribers.
We wish to render the periodical practically useful to elementary teachers, especially to that large host of youthful instructors whom the recent arrangements of Her Majesty's Government have summoned into action, and upon whose intellectual progress so much of the future fortunes of education in this country, under the Divine blessing, depends.
We openly avow that our desire is not so much to express strong opinions on the politics of the Educational Question, as to present to the reader useful papers on method, examples of lessons, histories of remarkable educational institutions, &c. ; in short, we are anxious to show how plain things should be taught in a plain, and therefore philosophical, way.
At the same time, we desire it to be implicitly understood,
that we yield to none in our cordial attachment to the Church of England, and our determination to uphold its just influence in the instruction of the poor.
While we are finally convinced that it is only by the union of Church and State in the work of improving the humbler classes, that the great interests of the country can be preserved; we, nevertheless, deem it inexpedient that the teachers themselves should be strongly mixed up with the controversies on the terms of that union which at present excite so much attention. Our object is rather to help the teacher in doing his proper work well.
We beg to record our grateful acknowledgments to our numerous correspondents for many valuable contributions, and trust that the patronage so largely extended to us will never be forfeited by our indifference.
It may be well to add, that it is intended to give considerable prominence in the “JOURNAL" to Female Education. Papers, Reviews, &c., especially adapted to governesses, will be from time to time introduced. And arrangements have been made with foreigners, distinguished for educational efforts in their respective countries, to lend their aid in furnishing contributions likely to interest and instruct both the professional and the general reader.
London, Jan. 1849.
JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND THEIR SCHOOLS.* (A PAPER READ AT A MEETING OF SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHERS.) At our first quarterly meeting, I attempted to trace the history of Sunday schools from their foundation by Mr. Simpson, of Macelesfield, in 1778, and Mr. Raikes, of Gloucester, in 1781. These gentlemen were originators of our present Sunday schools; but if we look beyond our own country, we find that the idea had been anticipated in France by M. De la Cheztardie, curè of St. Sulpice, in Paris, and M. De la Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers, a well known religious order for the gratuitous education of the poor.
The account of it is given in the life of the latter. “In 1709, M. De la Salle had the consolation to see attached to his novitiate (established in that parish) a Sunday school, which was an unequivocal proof of his zeal, and that of M. De la Cheztardie. That pastor, ingenious to devise means of sanctifying his flock, proposed to the founder to open a school on Sun. days and holydays for apprentices and others, whose occupations would not allow them to attend on working days. Sundays and festivals being the only days which they could devote to the duties of religion, they spent them rather in gambling and drinking. The design was worthy of the man whose exalted qualities had induced the being to nominate him to the see of Poitiers, but whose humility made him modestly decline its acceptance. It now only remained to attract the intended pupils. To effect this, it was agreed that they should be taught orthography, writing, arithmetic, geometry, and architectural drawing. Great numbers flocked to the schools ; pupils were received up to the age of 20; they were classed according to their proficiency or intended study, to which three hours were devoted; this was followed by catechism, and an exhortation from one of the brothers. It cannot be imagined, what good these schools produced ; a total change in the manners and morals of these young lads was the consequence.”+
They did not, however, continue long in operation. The secular character of the instruction given seems to have re-acted on the teachers. They tired of the self-denying devotion which their society required, and chose to abandon it for the care of independent private schools, where they might amass money, or gain distinction by their acquirements. M. De la Salle was not well able to supply their place; the schools insensibly declined,
[The writer of this paper has shown only the bright side of the picture, which is certainly very instructive. We suppose he thought it not necessary to speak of the “false doctrine, heresy, and schism ” of these schools, particularly in this country. Ed.] † Life of the venerable S. B. De la Salle, from the French of Pere Garreau.-Dúb. 1813 VOL. VINO, I.
and their ruin was completed by a prosecution from the schoolmasters of Paris, who charged the brothers with keeping, under the pretext of charity, schools not legally authorized, to the prejudice of those that were complaining, that children who could pay, were admitted without distinction, as well as the really poor. The cause was given against the brothers, with heavy damages; in liquidation of which the very seats and desks were carried away, and even the inscription over the door, “Brothers of the Christian Schools.” Thus terminated the earliest Sunday schools I am aware of, after producing incalculable good for the six years they lasted.
De la Salle, however, and his society, have other claims on our regard. They were men who gave themselves up, for Christ's sake, body and soul, for the gratuitous instruction of poor children; and while, of course, the sacrifices which our Sunday school teachers make are not to be compared to their sacrifice of a life, yet still the office they undertake involves selfdenial in the same way, and their motive is, or ought to be, the same; they give up their time, leisure, and rest, simply for the sake of what good they may do, in feeding the lambs of Christ's flock.
It will not be uninteresting then, or inappropriate, if we spend our time to-night on the history and features of this institution. De la Salle was born at Rheims, in France, of a good family, in 1651, and by his merits (we are told,) no less than the influence of his friends, was appointed canon of that cathedral at the early age of 17, and ordained priest at 20. His attention was first drawn to the subject of education, by a charity school for girls (Filles de l'Enfant Jesus), of which he had the supervision, and in 1679 he formed the like school for boys in the town; the masters he procured, living together religiously with him in his canonry house. As, however, his plans matured, he became sensible that he could never expect the masters to give up all their prospects in this life, while he retained his position in it; while he possessed resources against misfortune, he could not preach to them an entire confidence in Providence. Accordingly, after advice taken, and deliberation and prayer, he resolved to secure the stability of his institute, by reducing himself to the position of his labourers. He resigned his canonry, and gave his personal property to the poor. His private memoranda show the thoughts that were in his mind; be poor—we shall want every thing; well, the worst will be, to ask alms; we shall do so, if necessary. The men with whom I am to associate are difficult to be borne with : they will find it hard to conform themselves to the most perfect revealed maxims of christianity. But it is not on my own strength I rely—all my confidence is in God. He will succour me with His grace, and He well knows how, if it be for His glory, to give intelligence to those whom I shall form for his service. I shall have much to suffer, and shall suffer without pity, but before God my sufferings will be accepted. I should not desire to have them lessened. My constitution is delicate; we can often do more than we think. Under all circumstances, the Lord will sustain me; and if it be His wish that I should fall, shall I not be too happy to die in His service?"
This temper of self-devotion was soon echoed by his masters. They were anxious to bind themselves in their work by perpetual vows. wish," they said "to follow Jesus Christ, poor, and stripped of every thing, upon Calvary. We know what voluntary poverty is; why not oblige ourselves to it continually? Why not bind ourselves in such a manner that we can no longer think of retracing our steps? Why not place ourselves under the happy necessity of being always united to the Lord ?" By his advice, they adopted a peculiar dress, and took a formal title, that
of “ Brothers of the Christian Schools;" but he did not allow any engagement for longer than three years at a time, and the event justified his prudence; for the greater part of his difficulties, in the establishment of his school, arose from the inconstancy of his masters, many of whom, at different times, found the yoke they had undertaken too hard for them, and so returned into the world. Another hindrance was the want of competency, in character and attainments, of those who pressed into his service. This he endeavoured to remedy, by the establishment of a Novitiate, or Training School, near Paris, upon which he spent great attention.
At other times, his masters had to struggle with extreme poverty; and on several occasions of scarcity they were almost starved from their posts. A more continual source of annoyance was the jealousy of the schoolmasters and writing-masters, which I mentioned before, who, of course, would naturally oppose any extended system of gratuitous instruction. Another means of vexation we may allow ourselves to be amused at, though his biographer introduces the narration of it very solemnly :-" The world is a theatre upon which the elect of God are to combat. M. De la Salle felt for some time a calm, but it was deceitful, and followed by a furious tempest. Notwithstanding the zeal and vigilance of the brothers, the great majority of their scholars were yet without any settled principles of religion or decorum ; they behaved at church with levity and irreverence. M. De la Salle recommended correction to be used towards these young profaners of the holy place, though always with prudence and moderation. Upon this recommendation being carried into effect, the parents of the children excited the whole populace to insult the brothers and their superior. The women in particular, like so many furies, were unwearied in their outrages.' (P. 66.)
Such opposition, however, as we may imagine, did not prove quite fatal to the designs of the good man. The reputation of his society daily increased. The curès sent lads from their parishes for instruction in the system. The bishops applied for establishments in their dioceses. The king, Louis XIV, gave them his support and patronage, and honoured some of their houses by the title of “ Royal Schools.” James II, it is interesting for us to learn, then in exile in France, procured their services to educate the children of his Irish followers, and paid a visit to M. De la Salle, in token of his approbation. When, in short, their founder died in 1719, aged 68, he had the satisfaction of knowing that his society had firmly rooted itself in all the important places of the country ; letters patent from the crown (1724), and the papal bull, which were shortly after received, merely confirming to the brethren a legal and ecclesiastical status, which they had virtually gained by their own exertions. After his death they continued to increase in numbers and influence. In the last thirty years preceding the revolution, they had gained a very high degree of prosperity, having 121 houses, and 1,000 members in them. They then shared the fate of Christianity in France, and, in spite of remonstrance, their society too was suppressed. Bonaparte, after the battle of Marengo, in 1806, concluding a concordat with the Pope, opened a door for their return, of which they took advantage. The general assemblies of many departments solicited their re-establishment, and, after a commission of inquiry, the schools were accordingly restored. In 1808, Napoleon more formally recalled them; the brothers were to be encouraged, he decreed, by the grand master of the university ; funds were apportioned for several new novitiates ; the novices were exempted from the conscription ; and the communes authorized to