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THE SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES SIMULTANEOUSLY; AND THE
MEANS WHEREBY THIS MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED.
IN TWO LETTERS
TO THE LORD VISCOUNT MELGUND, M.P.
REV. R. J. BRYCE, LL.D.,
PRINCIPAL OF THE BELFAST ACADEMY.
GLASGOW: D. ROBERTSON. LONDON: HAMILTON & CO.
REPRINTED, WITH CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS, FROM THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE,
MURRAY AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGII.
It is as a question of Political Economy, not of Politics, that I have treated the subject of the following Letters. Others have very effectively denounced the injustice done by the existing laws to the many meritorious individuals who are excluded from offices of honour and emolument in one quarter, and in another, from the means of obtaining a livelihood. If I have been silent on this point, it is not that I feel indifferent to the wrongs of injured talent and worth, but that I have deemed it better to confine myself to the task of showing, on the acknowledged principles of Economic Science, that the sectarian character of our Educational Institutions inflicts the deepest injury on the community at large.
As I have made the practical mischiefs of the existing system the chief ground of my pleadings for a change, so in inquiring into the amount of change we ought to demand, and the mode of effecting it, I have sought after a measure which should be practical and practicable. I wish to move as far in the right direction now, as we can manage to go. I wish the present move to be such that it shall be taken with perfect unanimity and harmony by all christian men, and such that it shall expose the selfishness and hypocrisy of those who will resist it, by taking away all pretext for representing the removal of sectarian restriction, as an unchristianising of our Educational Institutions.
I have taken advantage of this republication in a separate form, to soften the unnecessarily severe language of one passage in the first letter; to introduce a few paragraphs into the second, which seemed important to my argument, though in my anxiety to condense they were originally left out; and to rectify a few obscurities or inaccuracies of diction, and a few typographical errors.
I cannot conclude without expressing my acknowledgments for the kindness and courtesy of the patriotic and amiable young Nobleman to whom the Letters are addressed, and my admiration of the candour and singleminded anxiety for his country's best interests, which, as those who most widely differ with him acknowledge, I believe unanimously, have regulated his whole conduct with regard to Popular Education.
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS, ETC.
TO THE VISCOUNT MELGUND, M.P., ETC., ETC.
IMPORTANCE OF DESECTARIANISING THE SCHOOLS AND UNI
VERSITIES SIMULTANEOUSLY AND BEFORE ATTEMPTING FURTHER REFORMS.
MY LORD,–Having resolved to offer to the Scottish public, through your Lordship, my views on the best mode of reforming the educational institutions of our country, I will not waste time by an exposition of my motives: to those who know me, it would be superfluous; to those who do not, it would be useless. Besides, with all sensible and intelligent readers, the question will be—“ What force is there in his arguments?”—rather than—“What has induced him to bring them forward ?” And if any one should think me intrusive, because, living in Ireland, I write on a Scotch question, this is my defence,-I am a Scotchman, born of Scottish parents, and on Scottish soil ; and although residing in another part of the United Kingdom, I am still bound to Scotland by many ties, stretching not only into the past, but into the future ; these ties have become of late much closer, so that my dearest interests of every kind are as much identified with my native land, as if I had never left her shores.
Your Lordship’s attention, and that of the benevolent and public spirited men who have supported you “out of doors,” has been directed exclusively to schoolreform. I have always thought this unfortunate. The universities are so thoroughly interwoven with the schools, and the reforms needed in both are so identical in principle, that we can neither arrive at a sound basis for a measure of school-reform, nor at a sensible and business-like arrangement of its details, without surveying the whole educational edifice,
“From turret to foundation stone." For the schools and universities of Scotland form one structure, whose parts are beautifully adapted to one another, and here lies the great beauty and excellence of her educational system,—the vital principle which, despite the incubus of sectarian exclusiveness, makes it at this moment the best in the world; and which, if that incubus were removed, would make it all that the heart of the patriot and philanthropist could wish.
Your Lordship is too true a Scot not to wish me success in my attempt to prove this. Permit me, then, to try ;-and let us imagine for a moment that we are speaking of institutions really national, as they originally were—not sectarian, as recent events have made thein.
In England and Ireland, the men who teach the children of the poor are a totally distinct caste from those who teach the children of the upper and middle