The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 26
Summary — Of the Preceding Observations
Of the Preceding Observations.
Pulpits may preach what they please, but, after a careful perusal of my Bible, I assure the doubtful reader of these pages, that the Laws of Moses did not appoint Public Worship to be performed by the Hebrews on the Sabbath; and, what may be more startling still, Jesus never imposed any such duly on his followers, either by precept or example! In all the writings of Moses, you cannot find that he ever taught the Israelites anything concerning a future state; neither did he ever hold out to them as inducements to Obedience, any other than temporal rewards and punishments: but, Jesus brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospel; and, ere long, thousands of thousands shall discover that the 4th Commandment does not form any portion of the Laws of Jesus.
Therefore, as Scripture does not impose upon us the duty of observing a puritanical Sunday, of esteeming one day above another, of abstaining from rational recreation on the first, the seventh, or any other day in the week, let us shake off the superstitious shackles of our predecessors, and, like reasonable beings, enjoy our weekly holiday to our hearts content, conformably with the dictates of our understandings and with consciences void of offense before God and Man!
Should the authorities quoted for the abrogation be insufficient for any reader, I have scores and hundreds more, ready to produce, from the writings of distinguished men of many denominations.
All the Pulpits in Christendom cannot substantiate the silly assertion, that "the Decalogue remains in full force, in consequence of its having been endorsed by Jesus"; for, Jesus never did endorse it; but, on the contrary, He paid it signal disrespect.
As a matter of course, I can quote the testimonies of numerous recent Travelers in different countries, against the members of the calumnious "Sunday Observance Society," who are incessantly croaking forth their false accusations against those who are considerably less guilty of "Sabbath desecration" than themselves.
Having cleared the way towards introducing the grand object of this Pamphlet, I may now enter upon it without further prelude.
The bounden duty of the Government
Instruct every Individual in the Colony.
Professor Austin, in his celebrated work on Jurisprudence, maintains, One of the weightiest of the duties which God has laid upon Governments, is the Education of the People;"
It may be safely pronounced, that a State has no right to punish a man, to whom it has given no previous instruction:"
If you suffer your People to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their Infancy, and then punish them for those Crimes to which their first Education disposes them; what else is to be concluded from this, but that you make Thieves, and then punish them?"
All who have meditated on the Art of governing mankind, have been convinced, that the fate of Empires depends on the Education of Youth."
"In whatever light we view Education, it cannot fail to appear the most important subject that can engage the attention of mankind. When we contrast the ignorance, the rudeness, and the helplessness of the savage, with the knowledge, the refinement, and the resources of civilized man, the difference appears so wide, that they can hardly be regarded as of one and the same species. All the difference which is afterwards to distinguish them, depends upon their Education.
"If we may give credence to the records of remote antiquity, the Institutions of one ancient nation, in order to obviate the mischiefs produced by the ignorance or the inattention of Parents, provided, by compulsory laws, for the Public education, according to an established system of all children born within its precints; and there have not been wanting Philosophers, both of ancient and of modern times who, maintaining the principle that a State has a paramount interest in the welfare and good conduct of those who are born within its limits, have vindicated and applauded such Institutions.
Shepherd and Joyce's Systematic Education
And if our Legislature does not at once set about the Reformation of this Colony, by instituting compulsory instruction on all children between 5 and 14 years of age, it will be chargeable with gross dereliction of duty as a Government; and every inactive Member of Parliament will deserve to be hooted in the streets, as a driveler, by every Constituent who is a friend to Humanity!page 23
Without occupying 100 pages, in controverting the 1,000 Objections which have been raised against Compulsory Education, I shall assume, that all intelligent minds in the Colony allow of the propriety, and that all real friends of the rising generation admit of the necessity of Education, and that all legislaters who have examined the question will give their support to the most eligible measures which may be brought forward in our Houses of Parliament—and as not anything short of a compulsory measure can possibly reach Every Individual in the State, I shall assume, that
Compulsory Instruction will be instituted in Victoria:
how it is to be carried out, is a secondary consideration; nor will it be a thousandth part so difficult to arrange the performance, as conflicting Sects and Parties imagine. But, that I may not be misunderstood,
Secular, not Religious education, must be Compulsory.
Here, of course, a hue and cry will go forth, among the various denominations of the colony, shouting at the top of their voices, that
Secular instruction cannot he separated from Religious education!
but, I say it can, and ought, and must. For upwards of a quarter of a century, I have witnessed the combination and separation of Secular and Religious instruction carried out with unexceptionable propriety and admirable effect; and if our Statesmen be not too wise to learn, I shall show them how Secular instruction may be communicated to all the Children of the State, without obtruding sectarian principles on any recipients of the rudiments of education.
Some time ago, I furnished Messieurs Higinbotham and Fellows with a sketch of the Dutch mode of simplifying the intricacies of what is called National Education; and although I never received so much as an acknowledgement, from either of the gentlemen, of the receipt of the Pamphlet* handed to them (by a mutual acquaintance) I can perceive the effects in the turn which has been given to the Educational-question now before the Colony.
Chambers (in Tract 44) has related the result of his "Visit to Holland," undertaken for the express purpose of satisfying himself as to what he had heard of the practicability and expediency of the Dutch method of carrying out "united yet separate Instruction, under legal sanctions, in connection with National Education"; and if our legislaters, our sectists, and our writers for the press, would only be at the pains of reading the communications of Chambers, they would, not talk and write so much arrant nonsense, on a question they are but partially acquainted with. Chambers recounts his visits to various Schools in Holland, his conversations with the Teachers, his examination of the Pupils, and closes his interesting and valuable Tract in the following words—I came away with the impression, that a Problem, which has long vexed Statesmen in England, had, by our intelligent neighbors, Been Happily Solved!"
* "The Ago we Live in." Published at 35 Stephen Street. Price 6d.
The paramount duty of the State is, to effect what the enlightened Pius IX was prevented (by the machinations of Priestcraft) from carrying out at the commencement of his career—"not to have a Child in his dominions, that could not ready write, and cipher"; which is simply Secular instruction. This is the first and grand requisite; and this fairly established, all other concomitants must follow in due course. But, if you wait untill all obstacles be removed, and all exactions on theological grounds be satisfied, you may wait till doomsday; and the Children of the State will continue, age after age, defrauded of their legitimate right to rudimentary Education.
Christianity, as you are aware, has been split up into upwards of 500 different and contending Sects; and each Sect would gladly have the unrestricted controll of the Religious education of all the children in the Colony; fancying, that the most direct road to heaven, is through their own wicket; and that all other roads lead to inevitable destruction—very few of them being liberal enough to admit that whosoever feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him, and that all are the children of one beneficent Father.
If we are to credit all that our Newspapers report, the Roman Catholics* are at present highly incensed against the Bill expected shortly to occupy the attention of our Legislature; conceiving, that should the measure be carried, great injustice will be done to their particular denomination : other Sects are not less alarmed, fancying, that should Roman catholics succeed in monopolizing the instruction to be dealt out to the rising generation, incalculable injury to all other denominations would be the result.
In Holland, Presbyterians and Baptists and Lutherans and Hebrews and Moravians, etc. are promiscuously associated together in one and the same Class, all receiving the same Secular instruction, unmixed with sectarian dogmas, and free of all petty jealousies; the Teachers leaving to the Ministers the duty of inculcating the lessons of religion, agreeably with the particular beliefs of the parents: the children usually assembling at their respective Clergymen's houses, at stated times. The Schoolmaster's business is to attend to the head—the heart he leaves to the care of the Ecclesiastic; they never interfere with each other's department, and wrangling is never heard of!
* "Roman Catholics I have spoken with several intelligent Roman catholics on the subject of National Education, and I am bound, in common justice towards that numerous and highly respectable body to insert, in a Note, that I am of opinion, it is but a clique, calling themselves Members of the "Society of Jesus" who are making themselves so vexatiously busy and troublesome on the present occasion. Every well-read man knows, that the Jesuits are and always have been, the bane of every community wherein they got footing; and that, despite all their professions of good-will towards men, they have ever been the most a rant posts to society! I know them personally, and I know their history from Ignatius Loyola down to the present day; and I know that they have been spurned, cast out banished from every community, east and west, north and south; and I know that none have been more inveterate against them, than the Roman catholics themselves—bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes! Therefore, do not impute to the great body of respectable Roman catholics, the machinations of the clique called Jesuits; for, the better informed of our Roman catholic citizens, are perfectly ashamed to be thought of having any immediate association with such a pestilential race of "Corruptors of Youth," and "Disturbers of the public peace."
In addition to the Instruction of Youth, our Legislaters are bound to Educate the Adult; for, every Individual in the colony has an undoubted claim on the protection and assistance of the Government.
What though the tens of thousands of our Working classes cannot now be put to School, cannot now be taught to read, write, and cipher, under similar arrangements as those adapted for the Rising generations; still, much may yet be done towards develloping the minds of Adults, and raising them very considerably in the scale of Humanity. We have a variety of public schools in Melbourne, wherein adults might be taught numerous pleasing and useful lessons, without putting the State to any expense; but, unfortunately, the doors are closed against the Laboring-man on the only day in the week when he can conveniently visit those schools, with his wife and children; and as those schools are not private but public property, belonging to the poor as well as the rich, I cherish the hope that our New parliament may be induced, for the Public good, to open our