Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/46

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Lancaster
Lancaster
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to Weymouth, promised his patronage and support, and added, besides his own name, that of the queen and the princesses to the list of annual subscribers. The king concluded the interview by saying, in words which became in one sense the charter of the Lancasterian institution, ‘It is my wish that every poor child in my dominions should be taught to read the Bible.’ The fame which followed this interview intoxicated Lancaster, who was thriftless, impulsive, extravagant, and sadly deficient in ordinary self-control. He had at the same time to encounter much opposition from members of the established church. Mrs. Trimmer, one of his opponents, published in 1805 ‘A Comparative View of the new Plan of Education, promulgated by Mr. Joseph Lancaster, and of the System of Christian Instruction founded by our Forefathers for the initiation of the Young Members of the Established Church in the Principles of the Reformed Religion.’ Her main objection to Lancaster, whom she denounced as the ‘Goliath of schismatics,’ was that his system was not to be controlled by the clergy, and was therefore calculated seriously to weaken the authority of the established church. The ‘Edinburgh Review’ in 1806 vindicated Lancaster in answer to this attack, and in October 1807 published a second article, reviewing Lancaster's first pamphlet with great favour.

Meanwhile Lancaster's money affairs became grievously embarrassed, and in 1808 two quakers, Joseph Fox and William Allen (1770–1843) [q. v.], with the co-operation of Whitbread and others, undertook to extricate him from his difficulties. They paid his debts, took over the responsibility of maintaining the model school, and constituted themselves a board of trustees for the administration of such funds as might be given to the institution, which they were permitted to designate the Royal Lancasterian Society. The public interest thus excited in Lancaster's system, the patronage of the royal family, and the announcement of a long list of influential supporters, combined to induce the friends of church education to show increased hostility. It was resolved to adopt Bell's name and system, and to establish a number of elementary schools, which should be taught by monitors, but in which the management and the instruction should be distinctly identified with the established church. The National Society was founded in 1811 to carry out these principles. Controversies soon arose, embittered rather by the zeal of the friends of the two men than by their personal rivalries. On the one side were ranged Brougham and the group of statesmen and writers who afterwards founded the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge and whose mouthpiece was the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ besides the Society of Friends, many liberal churchmen, and the great body of nonconformists. On the other were ranged nearly the whole of the clergy, the ‘Quarterly Review,’ and the tory party generally. The first article on the subject which appeared in the ‘Quarterly Review’ (October 1811) is generally attributed to Southey. He vindicated Bell's claims to originality, and ridiculed Lancaster's elaborate devices for maintaining discipline; and laid much stress on the importance of religious teaching. Between the two methods of procedure there were several important differences. Lancaster taught larger numbers, and had a more elaborate system for enlisting the agency of the pupils themselves in the maintenance of discipline. Moreover, his educational aims, though modest enough, were far higher than those of his rival. Bell had expressly declared his unwillingness to educate the poor too highly. Lancaster, on the other hand, not only taught the elements of writing and arithmetic, but avowed that he was precluded from offering a more generous education to his pupils by considerations of expense only. Lancaster certainly adopted, long before Bell, the practice of selecting and training the future teachers. But the substantial difference between the parties, which used for their own purposes the names of the two combatants, rested on religious grounds. The friends of Bell avowedly wished to bring the schools for the poor under the control of the church of England. Lancaster, on the other hand, always preached the doctrine that it was not the business of the public school to serve the denominational interests of any particular section of the Christian church, and that the true national education of the future should be Christian but not sectarian. His friends of the Royal Lancasterian Society were able to claim that this impartiality was not theoretical only, and to assert in their report of 1811 that, while more than seven thousand children had been brought up under his personal influence, not one of them had been induced to become, or had actually become, a quaker like himself.

In 1810 Lancaster had published his second pamphlet, ‘Report of Joseph Lancaster's Progress from 1798.’ In this report he speaks gratefully of the assistance of his friends and of the pecuniary sacrifices they had made on behalf of his system; and, summarising his own work for the past year, he records that he had travelled 3,775 miles, delivered sixty-seven lectures in the presence of 23,480