« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
from his horse, his body was hot found till the next morning; till when, there was some hope he might have been a prisoner; though his nearest friends, who knew his temper, received small comfort from that imagination. Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the four and thirtieth year of his age; having so much dispatched the true business of life, that the eldest rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the youngest enter not into the world with more innocency whosoever leads such a life needs be the less anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.
ON NATIONAL EDUCATION.
THE duty of sharing Christian knowledge with those more iguorant than ourselves is so clearly taught in the Bible, that it is surprising any person sincerely attached to the principles of Christianity should contend against the progress of National Education.
The Israelites were commanded to teach the sacred precepts diligently to their children;' and our blessed Lord said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not. These commands alone are sufficient to establish the duty of Christian instruction, if they were not echoed and confirmed by abundant other passages of Scripture.
But many serious persons maintain, that, although religious knowledge is unquestionably designed for the poor as well as the rich, education is so dangerous a possession in humble life, it is better not to incur the risk of so much mischief in endeavouring to improve their understandings. Such mistaken persons are willing to leave the poor in total ignorance, rather than give them the power of reading the Scriptures, lest they should abuse the talent thus bestowed upon them. This is about as wise and just as to deny a man victuals, lest he should be choked; or reduce him to starvation, for fear his food might possibly disagree with him.
There is scarce a blessing bestowed by the bounteous hand of Providence, which weak and sinful man does not sometimes pervert; but no one was ever so absurd as to assert that these blessings should be withheld, because they are capable of such perversion. Proud and narrow-minded men would keep the poor ignorant, under a most mistaken notion, that they shall thus preserve their own superiority. We hear such people for ever maintaining that insubordination and discontent were scarce known in the nation, so long as the lower classes were uneducated; that it is only since they were taught in Sunday schools and National schools to read and write, that they have begun to meddle with polities, and to endeavour to turn the world upside down. Any one tolerably acquainted with history may shew this assertion to be entirely unfounded.
In looking back upon the history of England, we shall find abundant proofs that public commotions heretofore sprang with the wildest
luxuriance from totally different sources. We may convince ourselves, from the experience of our forefathers, that when the English people were most ignorant, they were not the most loyal or contented. If we examine the accounts of other countries, either in ancient or modern times, we shall find rebellion and public distractions agitating the ignorant subjects of the rudest nations, and vice and profligacy. pervading every order of mankind, while unrestrained by the control of education. We, who have visited the remote nations of Asia and Africa, can bear witness to the brutal profligacy which never fails to accompany ignorance wherever it be found: we have had occasion to remark, that those nations are always the most moral which are the most enlightened by the precepts of the Gospel. There is not a more striking testimony to the truth of our holy religion, than the extraordinary amendment in public morals which the doctrines of the Bible produced in those nations amongst which they spread in the early ages of Christianity. The natives of Greece and Rome,. though renowned for their extraordinary attainments, were plunged in the most shameless and odious vices, such as cannot now be named without a blush. Their most distinguished heroes and philosophers partook of these abominations, and avowed them with unreserved approbation. The people, so far from being loyal to their government, and obedient to their rulers, were for ever agitated by the most tremendous and sanguinary contests.
Let it not then continue to be repeated as often as it is refuted, that education is the source of national insubordination. It is not true of individuals; it therefore cannot be true of nations. We have seen in military service, as well in the army as the navy, that the men most to be depended on upon service are those who have been educated in the principles of the Gospel. They are the steadiest under fire-the most trusty on general duty; and if the natives of Scotland are peculiarly distinguished for their orderly behaviour under arms, it is simply because few Scotsmen are to be found who have not received a Bible education in their youth.
Our readers will observe, that, in asserting the advantages of National education, we have carefully defined it as the means of promoting Christian knowledge. We acknowledge no principles of instruction, public or private, but those of the Bible. Education, without regard to these, is indeed a dangerous and fatal experiment. To furnish those who occupy the humbler stations of life the means of acquiring unlimited knowledge, without the control of Religion, is to render them dissatisfied with the condition to which they are born; to delude them with hopes of raising themselves to stations beyond their reach, and to suggest to them schemes of advantage which are utterly impracticable.
The institutions founded by Mr. Lancaster and Mr. Owen, in Britain, and by M. Fellenberg, in Switzerland, under the plea of leaving every one to his own peculiar opinions, exclude religious instruction from their plan, and thus abandon the youthful scholar to the designs of the infidel, or the temptations of the profligate. The distinguishing feature in
the system of National Education, established in London, and now rapidly extending throughout his Majesty's dominions, is Christianity. So long as this is made the basis of all which is taught; so long as Christian motives are carefully inculcated as the guide of human conduct, and salvation through Christ is carefully kept in view, as the object of all our hopes, education must prove the greatest blessing we are able to bestow,-the great means of reformation--the true source of contentment. The National Society of London was founded with the sincere desire of spreading Christian knowledge throughout the land. If their instruments sometimes fail; if the instructor is occasionally found more eager to teach the system of Dr. Bell than the knowledge of the Bible, let us not impute the blame to the institution, but endeavour to provide the remedy by our own watchfulness and exertion.
The patrons of National Schools, established in almost every considerable town in England, will confer a curse instead of a blessing on their poorer neighbours, unless they carefully select the master and mistress who is to convey instruction to the children. These persons must be deeply impressed with the solemn truths they teach, or it will be worse than lost labour, whatever zeal or activity they may exhibit in their office. The patrons and guardians of these institutions must assist the pious exertions of the instructor, by frequent visits to the school, cheering them by their presence and support, and encouraging good behaviour among the children, by well-timed approbation and reward. The parents of such children will observé with delight these marks of affectionate interest displayed by persons of a higher condition. These benevolent visits will promote mutual kindness between the rich and poor. The humble man will be raised and comforted by the protection of his patron; who, on his part, will acquire more scriptural views of the relative duties of Christians, by perceiving how closely the happiness and welfare of each class of society are linked together.
ON THE MEANS OF PREVENTING OFFENCES.
(From Sir W. Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England.)
[Sir W. Blackstone, Knight, was the son of a silkman in Cheapside, and was born in 1723. Having received his education at the Charter House, he was removed to Pembroke College, Oxford. His earliest years were marked by a strong taste for classical learning, which he quitted with reluctance for the severer study of the law in 1741, and took leave of his favourite pursuit, in a small poem of considerable merit, called, The Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse He was appointed in 1758 Vinerian Professor of Law in the University of Oxford, in which station he delivered his celebrated Lectures, which were published a few years afterwards, under the title of Commentaries on the Laws of England;' a work which raised his reputation to high honour, and rendered the knowledge of the law, for the first time, an attractive study. In 1769 he was appointed Solicitor-general to the Queen; and in 1768 he was returned to parliament for Westbury. He was finally raised to the dignity of one of his Majesty's Judges in the Court of Common Pleas in 1770, which he held till his death in 1780, at the age of 56.
This learned lawyer was not more distinguished for his professional abilities, than by the exact and devont performance of his Christian duties; he attended public worship with great punctuality, and in private life shewed forth the practical advantages which spring from a firm belief in revelation.]
I PROPOSE to consider the means of preventing the commission of crimes and misdemeanors. And really it is an honour, and almost a singular one, to our English laws, that they furnish a title of this sort; since preventive justice is, upon every principle of reason, of humanity, and of sound policy, preferable in all respects to punishing justice; the execution of which, though necessary, and in its consequences a species of mercy to the commonwealth, is always attended with many barsh and disagreeable circumstances.
This preventive justice consists in obliging those persons, whom there is a probable ground to suspect of future misbehaviour, to stipulate with, and to give full assurance to, the public, that such offence as is apprehended shall not happen; by finding pledges or securities for keeping the peace, or for their good behaviour. This requisition of sureties has been several times mentioned before, as part of the penalty inflicted upon such as have been guilty of certain gross misdemeanors: but there also it must be understood rather as a Caution against the repetition of the offence, than any immediate pain or punishment. And indeed, if we consider all human punishments in a large and extended view, we shall find them all rather calculated to prevent future crimes, than to expiate the past; since all punishments inflicted by temporal laws may be classed under three heads; such as tend to the amendment of the offender himself, or to deprive him of any power to do future mischief, or to deter others by his example; all of which conduce to one and the same end, of preventing future crimes, whether that can be effected by amendment, disability, or example. But the caution, which we speak of at present, is such as is intended merely for prevention, without any crime actually committed by the party, but arising only from a probable suspicion, that some crime is intended or likely to happen; and consequently it is not meant as any degree of punishment, unless perhaps for a man's imprudence in giving just ground of apprehension.
By the Saxon constitution these sureties were always at hand, by means of King Alfred's wise institutions of decennaries, or frankpledges; wherein the whole neighbourhood or tithing of freemen were mutually pledges for each other's good behaviour. But this great and general security being now fallen into disuse and neglected, there hath succeeded to it the method of making suspected persons find particular and special securities for their future conduct: of which we find mention in the laws of King Edward the Confessor. Let us therefore consider, first, what this security is; next, who may take or demand it; and lastly, how it may be discharged.
1. This security consists in being bound, with one or more sureties, in a recognizance or obligation to the King, entered on record, and taken in some court, or by some judicial officer; whereby the parties acknowledge themselves to be indebted to the crown in the sum required, (for instance 100%.) with condition to be void and of none effect, if the party shall appear in court on such a day, and in the mean time shall keep the peace; either generally, towards the King, and all his liege people; or particularly also, with regard to
the person who craves the security. Or, if it be for the good beha viour, then on condition that he shall demean and behave himself well, (or be of good behaviour,) either generally or specially, for the time therein limited, as for one or more years, or for life. This recognizance, if taken by a justice of the peace, must be certified to the next sessions, in pursuance of the statute 3 Hen. VII. c. 1. and if the condition of such recognizauce be broken by any breach of the peace in the one case, or any misbehaviour in the other, the recognizance becomes forfeited or absolute; and being estreated or extracted (taken out from among the other records) and sent up to the Exchequer, the party and his sureties, having now become the King's absolute debtors, are sued for the several sums in which they are respectively bound,
2. Any justices of the peace, by virtue of their commission, or those who are ex officio conservators of the peace, may demand such security according to their own discretion; or it may be granted, at the request of any subject, upon, due cause shewn, provided such demandant be under the King's protection. Or, if the justice is averse to act, it may granted by a mandatory writ, issuing out of the Court of King's Bench or Chancery; which will compel the justice to act, as a ministerial and not as a judicial officer: and he must make a return to such writ, specifying his compliance, under his hand and seal. But this writ is seldom used; for, when application is made to the superior courts, they usually take the recogni zances there, under the direction of the statute 21 Jac. 1. c. 8. And indeed a peer or peeress cannot be bound over in any other place, than the Courts of King's Bench or Chancery: though a justice of the peace has a power to require sureties of any other person, being compos mentis and under the degree of nobility, whether he be a fellow-justice, or other magistrate, or whether he be merely a private man. Wives may demand it against their husbands; or husbands, if necessary, against their wives: but feme coverts, (wives,) and infants under age, ought to find security by their friends only, and not to be bound themselves: for they are incapable of engaging themselves to answer any debt; which, as we observed, is the nature of these recognizances or acknowledgments.
3. A recognizance may be discharged, either by the demise of the King, to whom the recognizance is made, or by the death of the principal party bound thereby, if not before forfeited; or by order of the court to which such recognizance is certified by the justices, (as the quarter sessions, assizes, or King's Bench,) if they see sufficient cause; or in case he at whose request it was granted, if granted upon a private account, will release it, or does not make his appearance to pray that it may be continued.
Thus far what has been said is applicable to both species of recognizances, for the peace, and for the good behaviour. But as these two species of securities are in some respects different, especially as to the cause of granting, or the means of forfeiting them, I shall now consider them separately; and first, shall shew for what cause