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We should be wanting to truth and to our critical duty, if we attempted to disguise the small amount of zeal for amending the system of public instruction, which was manifested by the different administrations that succeeded each other, from the revolution of July to the accession of the present ministry. It is sufficient to run through the list of the five ministers who preceded M. Guizot, to be convinced that they had not even thought of submitting this all important branch of civil life to a serious reform, and that the interest of education was the last consideration which had determined Louis Philippe in his choice of a minister. Whether from culpable negligence, or pressure of other more immediate business, this indifference to the choice of a proper minister viewed with grief and disappointment by all the friends of France at home and abroad; and most honest men thought that they read in the aspect of affairs a sad proof that the new Government had inherited from its predecessors their monarchical exclusiveness, and their noble disdain for all real improvements. To men like these, without zeal or peculiar fitness, who only accepted the portfolio of public instruction as a stepping stone, we may oppose the example of M. Vatisménil, who, without having any special ability for the subject, but being strong in generous intentions, was able in a short time to infuse some degree of energy into the different branches of public instruction.
The effective results of this period of twenty-six months may be reduced to the foundation of several elementary normal schools, which are far from being in a satisfactory state even when compared with five or six similar establishments previously existing. The other improvements amount to nothing; they consisted chiefly in the imposition of restrictions on the influence of the clergy. The discussions which took place in the royal council of public instruction, on the project of law promised by the charter of 1830, ended in a conviction of the difficulties of the question, and the impossibility, at that time, of framing a legislative enactment. The mission of M. Cousin to Germany contributed not a little to diffuse some practical notions on this matter. Whatever may be the criticism (and it is often very just) that his letters have encountered from many truly philosophic individuals who had been led to hope from the name of M. Cousin, and the high office with which the Government had invested him, more profound and weighty observations, it is but right to avow that we find in them evidence of a sincere and pure mind, free from all theoretical prejudice, a generally correct appreciation of the advantages of the German system of
teaching, and an endeavour after practical utility, which is never sacrificed to a vain display of erudition. We wish we could give M. Marc-Girardin the same testimony of our approbation for his researches in the southern provinces of Germany. Still no step was taken towards introducing into the system of education the little number of reforms proposed by M. Cousin, which, though of little importance in themselves, would at least have indicated a disposition to make some advance.
The accession of M. Guizot to office put an end to this period of inactivity; and notwithstanding the customary eulogies, which he has on more than one occasion deemed himself obliged to pass on his predecessors, we believe that the use he has made of his power, since his accession to the office of Minister of Public Instruction, has already enabled all impartial men to make a marked distinction between him and those whom he succeeded.
Some reforms bave been already accomplished; others, more extensive, have been promised and prepared in a manner which announces serious intentions; principles have been proclaimed, which breathe the spirit of improvement; in short, the new law of public instruction is a real progress, and we
now proceed to examine it fairly and candidly. But first we will point out (since they may be useful as examples) the measures which M. Guizot took to inform himself as to the advantages likely to result from his project of law on public instruction. 1st. The letter addressed to the masters of the faculties of
sciences and belles-lettres, by which they are requested
to send the documents relative to public instruction. In this letter the minister declares himself favourable to a system of gradual and well-considered improvements, of which the first ought to be an increase in the number of normal elementary schools, and the institution of schools of industry, holding a middle place between the elementary and secondary schools. As to the higher branches of instruction of all kinds, he confines himself to a general declaration that he will endeavour to satisfy those intellectual wants of an elevated character, which the Government cannot force into existence, but which ought not to be neglected. 2d. The exposition of the motives which led to the ordon
nance, relative to the publication of a periodical selec
tion for the use of elementary schools. M. Guizot here expresses his opinion on the inefficiency of the local committees, who have at present the management of elementary instruction, and on the superintendence which the state ought to exercise over the schools. He also declares that it is wrong to separate instruction, properly speaking, froin moral education : the acquisition of good habits, which constitutes moral education, is an integral and essential part of instruction. The most flourishing and efficient schools of our time are in Holland, Germany, Switzerland; and in each of these countries moral is associated with elementary instruction, and becomes a most useful auxiliary. Other expressions in the exposition show very clearly that M. Guizot has acknowledged, like the Constituent Assembly, that public instruction is truly a subject of national interest, and that its end is to give to the rising generation profound convictions, with a rapidly increasing intelligence.' 3rd. The statement which preceded the ordonnance for the
restoration of the fifth class of the Institute*. The principles here laid down, on the application of moral and political science to the present epoch, are worthy of attentive consideration. At no time, and among no people,' says M. Guizot,' have the moral and political sciences attained that degree of importance, publicity, and authority, to which they have arrived in our time, and in our country. They have, for the first time, acquired that which they formerly wanted, a truly scientific character.'- Efforts have been made to ground them upon a stable foundation, to render them precise and definite; they have thus become more available; their utility, being more manifest, has been more real; every body recognizes their power.' Further on we find these remarkable words : France has profited by her long and costly experience. Healthy ideas are diffused; knowledge becomes daily one of the best guarantees of social order.' It would be unnecessary to insist on the importance of these principles, with a view to future progress, and on the influence which they must exercise on public instruction, and principally on the higher branches of education. 4th. The project of law on primary instruction, and the de
velopement of the reason for it, which precedes the law. Here also we still trace a system of gradual ameliorations, of sure and practical reforms. Considered as a legislative measure, as a definitive work, this law, which was supported by a chamber of very moderate capacity, is open to just criticism from those who contend that it has not provided sufficiently for the progress of elementary instruction ; but considered in its true light, i. e, as a work of transition, as a summary of the changes practicable at the present moment, it does honour to the minister who proposed it.
* This Class was suppressed by Napoleon under the Empire.
5th. The circulars addressed by the minister to the various
religious and charitable societies, strongly directing their attention to the propagation and improvement of ele
mentary instruction. These circulars are stamped with a philosophic spirit; they define with clearness the connexion, the relation and the boundaries, between religious and intellectual education. Whether addressing the managers of Catholic or Protestant schools, or those of charitable institutions, the minister preserves a firm, calm, and dignified tone. He shows himself ready to second the efforts of all those institutions which have in view the good of the country, and the intellectual and moral progress of the nation. As to their peculiar opinions, without identifying himself with any, he shows towards all every kind of forbearance and respect. We believe this to be the proper tone which all governments should assume in their correspondence with religious or charitable institutions.
Good-will and encouragement to religious associations, when their efforts harmonize with the national interest; a respectful indifference to their peculiar opinions, so long as their manifestation leads to nothing criminal,—such are, we conceive, the principles suitable to the present government of France, and, we may add, to all governments of the present day.
We now pass on to a critical examination of the system involved in the various elements which we have analysed. The general principles upon which it is based are, we are happy to acknowledge, in harmony with the progress which the practical sciences have for some time made in France.
The system of M. Guizot is, in fact, equally removed from monarchical prejudice, which only sees in popular instruction a benevolent concession on the part of the government, granted for the purpose of answering its particular views; and from the liberal or economistical prejudice, which, denying to the state all influence over the education of youth, has established an impassable line between intellectual and moral or religious teaching, and admits here, as elsewhere, of no other ruling principle than competition.
National education, as M. Guizot happily expresses it, has a high and important office. It belongs to it to enable France to unite profound convictions with a rapidly-increasing intelligence, and a state of manners, framed by a social condition found among no other people, with free institutions.' The men to whom the furtherance of this noble purpose is entrusted will no longer, under the new law, be hirelings wandering from gate to gate, to receive, like beggars, small donations for their scholastic labours; but they will be functionaries of the state, whose reward, though moderate, will at least assure them against that indigence which cramps the character of man, and against that humiliation which degrades him.
In venturing to recur to the noble and enlarged principles of the Constituent Assembly and the Convention, who viewed national education as a moral obligation of the state towards the youth of all classes, and assumed, without restriction, the right and the duty to contribute to its diffusion and improvement, M. Guizot has not disguised the difficulties of reducing, at the present time, these principles to practice, nor has he overlooked the obstacles opposed by that feeling of indifference, with wbich the constitutional struggle of the fifteen
years of restoration has imbued a great number of individuals, who are really sincere friends of liberty and social progress. Thus it is in the most guarded way that the minister determines the limits of the action of public will on the improvement of public instruction.
This ministerial timidity, for which we have already offered an excuse, drawn from the present aspect of political affairs, is evident from the words of the Minister of Public Instruction in regard to university education, and from his silence on the important question of reforming the royal colleges.
M. Guizot has committed a great error, if he thinks that the duty of the state in regard to the higher branches of education ought to be limited to merely not neglecting the intellectual demands of a higher class, when once they have manifested themselves. (See his Circular to the Headmasters.) What !-are the sciences of morals and politics, that fair conquest purchased by forty years' experience of misfortunes,-those studies of which M. Guizot has so well appreciated the importance,-to be excluded from the faculties of law ? Those schools, which ought to be the nurseries of legislation and social philosophy, are now servilely dragging on in an obscure routine, and really prevent youth from prosecuting serious studies. We believe that the teaching of law, as well as the other branches of high instruction, should be submitted to the vivifying and regenerating influence of the government, which, as we have said before, is, in our opinion, the real guardian of the interests of instruction. As to the abuses which may result from government interference, they appear to us likely to become more and more rare under the influence of improved public morals and free institutions, which daily tend to place the reins of administration in the hands of the most worthy and enlightened men, and to make