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honest man, I know' He surrendered him at the King's Bench and they took his security for the debt. About ten o'clock the next morning, he came jumping into my warehouse, Ludgate Hill, saying, ' Ah, friend William, did I not tell thee that thou wast not to assist me this time ?'—pp. 35, 36.
This arrest brought matters to a crisis. A friendly docket was struck against him, and his creditors were called together. The result was, that in 1808 his affairs were transferred to trustees,-a fixed sum was allowed for his private expenses- -a correct account of all receipts and expenditure was for the first time kept; and shortly after an association was formed, originally entitled “the Royal Lancasterian Institution for promoting the Education of the Children of the Poor,' and subsequently, for the sake of greater simplicity, comprehension, and brevity,—the BRITISH AND FOREIGN SCHOOL SOCIETY.
We now revert for a few moments to Dr. Bell. During the period to which we have been referring, the Doctor was by no means an idle or unconcerned spectator. In November 1805, Mrs. Trimmer had published her pamphlet entitled 'A comparative View of the new Plan of Education promulgated by Mr. Joseph Lancaster, and of the System of Christian Education founded by our pious Forefathers. In this work she considers, that a national system of education ought to be built on the Church Catechism ;' and expresses her opinion although without, or rather in spite of evidence, that under the name of the leading principles of christianity, Mr. Lancaster builds on the basis of morality alone. She regards the first as 'teaching duties,' the latter as 'creating habits: the one, (the Church Catechism) as 'calculated'—we are at a loss to conceive how'to regulate the passions and subdue the evil propensities of the youthful heart ;' the other,' (the leading principles of christianity) ‘in some things cherishing and indulging the passions beyond due bounds. The more she looks into Lancaster's works, 'the worse opinion' she has of his views and intentions. It is a great satisfaction' to her to find that he is attacked from another quarter.' Her 'fear' is, that 'the methodists will make great advantage by the plan.' She is told by a lady who visited the school last summer that there were thirteen of the principal methodist preachers of London there that day;' with much more in the same strain. Dr. Bell writes to her, observ. ing very sensibly, that there was but one way in which Lancaster's efforts could be effectually checked, and that was by doing something themselves. Every letter from Mrs. Trimmer now brings him some new information, and he urges her to write constantly and unreservedly to him. She responds, by rejoicing, that' through the well-directed zeal of an excellent friend,' the arrogant quaker' has been disappointed in his attempt to set up a school at Windsor, and she has every reason to think that all which he included under the term royal patronage will be in future discontinued.' The 'dignitaries of the church also,' she informs him, even the highest, are fully convinced of the danger of the plan of forming the children of the lower orders into one organized body, and have consulted together concerning the measures which it may be proper to employ to prevent its taking effect.'
Dr. Bell now turned his thoughts towards leaving Swanage, and accordingly wrote to Mr. Calcraft,' requesting his influence in favour of his either exchanging Swanage for some preferment more eligibly situated, or of some other arrangement whereby he might be enabled to render his services more available to the cause of education. He also addressed a circular to certain members of the government, stating his wish to have some 'official post,' whence he might be enabled to rear in Europe the fabric' of which he had laid the foundation in India.' ' It was my official situation of minister of St. Mary's, at Madras, and chaplain of Fort St. George, &c.,' he says, that gave weight and influence to my gratuitous services in the organization and superintendence of the male asylum; and I now make a tender of my gratuitous services in favour of any public institution where government may deem them useful.'
No notice appears to have been taken of this application, and from this time till the year 1811 the work dragged heavily. In vain did Dr. Bell write, it cannot be dissembled that thousands, in various parts of the kingdom, are drawn off from the church by the superior attention paid to education out of the church,'-in vain did he visit bishops and archbishops, giving on one occasion 2,000 copies of his . Experiment on Education' to the Archbishop of Canterbury for distribution among his clergy ;-with the exception of being called upon to re-organize the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea, and to introduce his system into a few other schools, nothing effectual was done. Prevailing distrust, if not absolute dread of education, paralyzed every effort, and effectually checked any well-organized movement in its favour. Southey boldly asserts, that the heads of the church did their duty at last, not because they were persuaded to it, but because they were frightened and shamed into it by the Dragon.'*
The extent to which this feeling prevailed, may be surmised from the fact, that Dr. Bell so far yielded to it, as to insert in the third edition of his “experiment,' the following paragraph :
Lancaster. An educational caricature was at this time exhibiting, called 'Bel and the Dragon.'
It is not proposed that the children of the poor be educated in an expensive manner, or even taught to write and to cypher. Parents will always be found to educate at their own expense, children enow to fill the stations which require higher qualifications, and there is a risk of elevating by an indiscriminate education the minds of those doomed to the drudgery of daily labour above their condition, and thereby rendering them discontented and unhappy in their lot.'
Thus far is given by the editor, who kindly does his best to deliver the Doctor out of the inconsistency into which he had fallen, and which had justly exposed him to the taunt of being an advocate for the universal limitation of knowledge. But Dr. Bell went further than this. He stooped to sneer at 'utopian schemes for the universal diffusion of general knowledge,' which, he said, 'would soon realize the fable of the belly and the other members of the body; and confound that distinction of ranks and classes in society on which the general welfare hinges, and the happiness of the lower orders, no less than that of the higher, depends. This was pitiful, from a man who at other times professed such zeal for education. What right had he afterwards to complain that the names of Mandeville and Bell were associated, when he had thus gravely argued that the children of the labouring classes were to have ignorance, which Shakspeare calls the curse of God,' rivetted upon them because their parents subsisted by daily labour? The following is from a letter to him by Mr. Coleridge, under date of the 15th of April, 1808, and apparently written with reference to the false position he had now assumed. It is worthy of that venerable man, and adds another proof to the many already extant, that those were right who always held him to be infinitely superior to the party with which he was associated.
I confess that I seem to perceive some little of an effect produced by talking with objectors, with men who, to a man like you, are far, far more pernicious than avowed antagonists. Men who are actuated by fear and perpetual suspicion of human nature, and who regard their poor brethren as possible highwaymen, burglarists, or Parisian revolutionists, (which includes all evil in one,) and who, if God
gave them grace to know their own hearts, would find that even the little good they are willing to assist proceeds from fear, from a momentary variation of the balance of probabilities, which happened to be in favour of letting their brethren know, just enough to keep them from the gallows. O, dear Dr. Bell, you are a great man! Never, never permit minds so inferior to your own, however high their artificial rank may be, to induce you to pare away an atom of what you know to be right. The sin that besets a truly good man is, that, naturally desiring to see instantly done what he knows will be eminently useful to his fellow-beings, he sometimes will consent to sacrifice a part, in order to realize in a given spot, (to con
struct, as the mathematicians say,) his idea in a given diagram. But yours is for the world—for all mankind; and all your opposers might, with as good chance of success, stop the half moon from becoming full; all they can do is, a little to retard it. Pardon, dear sir, a great liberty taken with you, but one which my heart and sincere reverence for you impelled. As the apostle said, Rejoice ! so I say to you, hope! From hope,-faith, and love, all that is good, all that is great, all lovely and 'honourable things' proceed. From fear,—distrust, and the spirit of compromise—all that that is evil.'
During this year (1808) Dr. Bell succeeded in exchanging the living of Swanage for the mastership of Sherburn Hospital, valued at about £1200 a-year, and, as residence was not required, he took a house in London. Here he remained in tolerable quiet until the year 1811, when the formation of the Diocesan Societies, and soon after of the National Society, took place.
The immediate cause of this latter and more important movement was, a sermon preached in St. Pauls', at the yearly meeting of the children educated in the charity schools of London, by the Rev. Dr. Marsh; in which, after maintaining that all national education ought to be conducted on the principle of the religion by law established,' he attacks Lancaster's method as a dissenting plan, and urges the association of churchmen with churchmen, in order to retain the faithful band' who are still disposed to 'rally' round the church.
On the 16th of October (1811), THE NATIONAL SOCIETY was constituted, and, after some opposition on the part of the Bishop of London, Dr. Bell was elected an honorary member of the general committee, and thus in fact installed as director general of the institution. Whether Dr. Bell's liberality of sentiment on some points was, or was not the cause of this opposition does not appear, but it is gratifying to find him in a letter to Mr. Southey saying, 'I am free to confess that I think we should draw the children to church by cords of love, and not drag them by chains of iron. But in this opinion I differ from many of the wisest and best men.' Southey, too, has some admirable observations on this subject. The children should be allowed,' he says, 'to accompany the master to church, not required to do it; and this not merely for the sake of the orthodox dissenters (to whom, however, it ought to be allowed) but because it is better that they should go with their parents, than with their schoolfellows and their master. In the one case, example is as likely to be mischievous, as it is sure to be beneficial in the other. Everyone will understand this who recollects with what different feelings the church service impressed him, when he attended in his own parish church by his mother's side, and when he went among a drove of school-boys.' Intolerance, however, gained the day, and ‘chains of iron' were judged to be more efficacious in promoting church going, than 'cords of love.'
From this time until his decease, a period of above twenty years, the life of Dr. Bell blends with the progress of the National Society and of its schools. To the service of that society he devoted himself with unwearied zeal and assiduity, travelling extensively on its behalf, and labouring for the diffusion of his system with untiring energy. The crowded meetings of the British and Foreign School Society appear occasionally to have carried both astonishment and dismay into the more orthodox camp, but on the whole, things went on quietly. In the month of January (1818) the Doctor was presented to a stall, of good value,' in Hereford Cathedral, which he subsequently exchanged for one in Westminster abbey, valued at £1100 a year; "the rich preferments,' he says, 'which all my brethren enjoy, being shut against me,' at Hereford. In soliciting this exchange through the interest of the Bishop of Durham, he modestly says,— If unexampled and disinterested services to the crown, to the church, and to the state, entitle a man to the notice and the favour of the minister, I shall not be afraid to put my claim in competition with that of any other man. If sacrifices made, odium incurred, and successful struggles encountered in their behalf, and without their support or protection, give pretensions, mine have not been wanting to a degree that few will believe.' This letter displeased the bishop, as well it might, and he returned no answer. But Dr. Bell was not to be so easily put aside. At no period of his life had he ever lost any thing for want of solicitation, nor did he now withdraw his claim because others might imagine that he took too high a view of his own merits. He steadily persevered, and his wishes were ultimately acceded to.
The same year that brought Dr. Bell “the stall of good value,' saw his less favoured rival an exile, never to return, on the shores of America.
Lancaster's affairs were indeed transferred to trustees, but the man remained unchanged. He was still the victim of his impulses. The excitement of his mind never subsided. The repression of his extravagance was to him an intolerable interference. One by one he quarrelled with his friends; then separated himself from the institution he had founded; commenced a private boarding school at Tooting; became still more deeply involved; went through the Gazette ; and finally, wearied with strife and sorrow, sailed in the year 1818 for the new world.