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whatever might be its value in itself, sunk into utter insignificance when placed in the scale with the great interest involved in the question which was thus basely make subservient to it. To offer as bribes to political hacks the interest of our common schools, to buy and sell votes with the priceless gold of national education! What pen can adequately describe the unutterable baseness of all the parties concerned in such an infamous traffic?
If then, sir, you did make that speech as reported in the Herald and Freeman's Journal, let the candid reader judge whether all the counter propositions I have just advanced are not strictly true, and whether those you have so solemnly made are not deceptive-yea, even as deceptive as warm professions of democracy in a man who is bound by an oath to the most devoted service of the most arbitrary spiritual and temporal despot, and the most determined foe of free institutions to be found in the world. You admit, and feel in a great degree the force of these positions, in your anxious attempt to repudiate that report, by associating it with the name of Bennett: thus indirectly confessing that, if correct, it deserves the epithets by which it has been characterized. I shall then proceed to give you my reason why I believe it a most faithful as well as graphic representation of words and scenes. Let me, however, in the first place, before forgetting it, advert to your extreme candor in the accidental association of my name with that of Bennett. There is such a want of all artifice here; such an absence of all Jesuitism; it was a proceeding so becoming the artlessness and simplicity of a pious Christian Bishop, that it cannot be too much admired for the exhibition of those admirable qualities to which you lay so great a claim throughout your first epistle, and of which this furnishes such abundant proof. I am not going to rail at Bennett, or to express any indignant fastidiousness at the association. I set it forth as a specimen of what some of your friends have styled “a most calm and dignified appeal to reason,
instead of the passions and prejudices of men." Your ruse in this respect, however, exhibits about as much refined taste, to say nothing of its argument, as if I should couple your name with that of the celebrated Monroe Edwards.
What, Rev. Sir, do you shrink from the association? Well, you may, and I will not make it. Byt Monroe Edwards is of
cannot be more offensive to you than you suppose would be to me the peculiar connection in which you presented my name to the public, or should I even represent the Carroll Hall orator and the tenant of Sing-Sing as respectively the head and tail of the Roman Antichrist.
But, for the reasons which I had then, and have now, for regarding that report as a faithful account of what was said and done at Carroll Hall. In the first place, it was in perfect keeping with your course for some years previous, and was precisely adapted to the exigencies of your favorite scheme, as it then stood before the public. And here I cannot help expressing, as concisely as may be, a few thoughts on a suliject, the importance of which might well require volumes. I allude to the principles on which a system of public education should be conducted. A brief statement of them is far from being foreign to my argument, although but indirectly connected with your l'arroll Hall speech. It belongs also to my present office, in respect to which you doubtless selected me as the object of your attack.
I can conceive of but three theories that in this country can be held in relation to this subject, and of but three modes suggested by them. The first, or secturian theory is, that although the funds may be provided by the State, it shall be left to each denomination of Christians (and I know not why on the same principle each sect in philosophy should not be included.) to apply those funds in ascertained proportions to the support of their respective schools.
The second theory, which may, by way of distinction, be styled the infidel, would be, utterly 10 banish all religious instruction, whether of a positive or negative kind; of course all moral teaching, as being necessarily founded upon religion, and on the same principle, if consistently carried out, all subjects about which there may be a dissenting voice in any, even the smallest portion. This scheme, as it could be shown, had I time and space to go into such a discussion, instead of being merely negative, would be a direct teaching of irreligion, in i mode which although operating silently, would be the most effectual by which it could be impressed and fixed in the youthful mind; for the highest authority has told us, that there is no neutrality in this warfare, no influence merely negative: “he that is not for us, is positively against us; and he that gathereth not with us; scattercth abroad.” This schene, then, although professing to be the antipodes of sectarianisoi, would in fact lavor the worst sect, and I hope the most insignificant portion of the community. It assumes that we have as a whole no1h.
ing predominant. No national character, no national language, no predominant national religion, as distinguished from an Established Church; that we have no homogeneity, no nativeism in opposition to the ever varying character which the perpetual influx of most kindly indulged foreigners would impress upon our institutions; that, in other words, we are simply a mass of men and women, a hotch potch gathering of all tribes and tongues, without its being possible, or even desirable that we should possess that homogeneity which is essential not only to national charaeter, but also to national existence; which is absolutely necessary to constitute us a genus, or one of the families of the earth. It consistently assumes, therefore, that one of the smallest fragments of this heterogeneous mass, thus) refusing to coalesce with the predominant national influences, is not simply entitled to toleration and protection, but has a rightful veto upon any thing in a course of instruction which may be offensive to themselves, however acceptable, however much desired and valuable it may be, not merely to a majority, but to the predominating spirit of the great national body. However easy and simple it may appear to some superficial minds, who cannot see how closely intertwined are the roots of moral, political and religious truth, this scheme has ever been regarded by the profoundest thinkers as fraught with the utmost peril to our political existence,
The third, and for this country, the only plan of public education, which had any prospect of being successfully carried out was the plan for years adopted in the public schools of this city. It proceeds upon the theory that merely scientific education, to the exclusion of morals, is not simply negatively deficient, but positively pernicious, - that morals is a word found only in the fool's calendar, unless regarded as founded on some principles of religion,--that as we have a distinct national character, (or should aim at having one) and also a national language, so also have we a national religion,--that this religion, though not established in any particular form or made the mere creature of the law, does exist, as matter of fact, in a mode higher than the laws-that it is the head, the informing spirit of our laws, the very soul of the nation,- that this religion is the Christian, or in other words, that we are a Christian nation, in distinction from an Infidel, Mahometan, or Pagan,--that therefore all moral education should be built upon Christianity, and that the infidel or the foreign religionist, supposing him to be discontented, must yield to the predominant religious character of the country; and finally, that the SACRED BOOKS, in which
this religion is contained, should be the standard of moral or religious instruction, to be taught in the most liberal and tolerant manner which may be at all
consistent with the preservation of the great and valuable principles therein involved. So far, sir, you yourself might perhaps go theoretically, if not practically; and yet in your second letter, which you directed by mistake, I suppose to me, instead of your real antagonist, you use language very much like that which I have supposed to be employed by the infidel, when you say "that there is no such thing in the country as a predominunt religion;" although I can hardly believe that you meant that we were no more christian than a Pagan, Mahometan or Infidel nation, or that this fact should not be taken into the account in a system of national education.
There is, however, another point in this third theory, having reference to another national characteristic, which had to be maintained, or all the previous principles sacrificed. A version of the Holy Scriptures is to be employed, and here it becomes necessary to consider that as we were a Christian, in distinction from an Infidel or Mahometan, so likewise were we, as matter of fact, a Protestant, in distinction from a Popish nation.This country had almost without exception been settled by Protestants, and from Protestant countries.
Our Dutch and Anglo-Saxon ancestors were Protestants. Nine-tenths of our people, notwithstanding our annual inundations of foreigners, are yet Protestants. We are as justly and as properly entitled to the name Protestant, as Rome, or Spain, or Austria, or Naples, to that of Roman Catholic, notwithstanding the presence in each case of a few naturalized or un naturalized foreigners of a different opinion. Our extreme liberality, so far beyond that of the other nations above mentioned, furnished no reason why we should lose the pame in which our fathers gloried, and for which many of them had suffered persecution and death.
In this view of the case there had been used in our schools, since the first settlement of the country, that version of the Scriptures so well known as the English Bible, the Protestant English Bible ;-Not as a class-book, but as the foundation of all religious worship, and all religious principle, as recognized in the most liberal scheme of education the world had ever seen ; which scheme, in accommodation to scrupulous and unscrupulous consciences, had been stretched to the limits beyond which it was utterly unsafe to go.
Of these three systems, the merits of which I cannot now
minutely discuss, the second had been 'universally condemned, as utterly subversive of all the ends of education, and as perilous to the stability of any government by which it might bé patronized. The first had been partially tried and found utterly defective, as productive of a waste of the public funds, encountering insuperable difficulties in the adjustment of the due proportions, and as engendering a fierce spirit of sectarian strife and bigotry, I would remark by the way, however, when the question lay between contending Protestant sects, how very different was the course of some of our liberal sentimentalists, from what it has been since Popish demands became the order of the day.
And here, sir, let us for a moment see where we are. We plant ourselves upon this third theory. You may take your choice, We will drive you to the wall, and compel you to adopt one or the other of the remaining positions. Will you take the infidel scheme, and follow it out in all its consequences ? It is a scheme which few of our noisy superficial politicians have probed, and they have perhaps little conception how far, when logically maintained, the pruning knife of its radical, innovating advocates would cut into the interwoven roots of all our political, moral and religious institutions. Or if you reject this, you must, notwithstanding your oft and vehemently repeated denial, adopt that impracticable sectarian plan, under which each sect may claim, with equal justice, that the public funds shall be applied to the teaching of its peculiar religious views,-a plan which, even if experience had not partially tested it, no experience would be required to prove rife with all the elements of the most un hallowed strife. You must, I say, choose one or the other of these, or else admit, in direct opposition to a portion of your Carroll Hall speech, which you so emphatically italicise, that there is and must be something predom inant in this, as well as every other nation-something which, from the very necessities of the case, must be made the basis of any scheme of public education,-to which discontented fragments must conform, and toward which they can exercise no veto power. We have, or ought to have, a predominant national lineage, a predominant national language, a predominant national character, and, (as that without which no nation ever yet has existed, and I think never can exist, any more than a body without a soul, ) a predominant national religion, although God forbid we should ever have an established national Church. Last, though not least in importance, and as & necessary consequence of the preceding, should we have our