Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/48

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Lancaster
Lancaster
42

Israelites see it they will fall on their knees and exclaim, “The Lord, he is the God.”’ This was written in September 1838. In the following month he met with an accident in the streets of New York, and received injuries which proved fatal on 24 Oct. 1838.

It would not be justifiable to claim for either Lancaster or Bell personally a high rank among the founders of popular education in England. Lancaster's character was unstable; he led an irregular, undisciplined, and heavily burdened life, and died in poverty and obscurity. But he had a finer and more unselfish enthusiasm than Bell, a more intense love for children, more religious earnestness, and a stronger faith in the blessings which education might confer on the poor. It is very touching to see in his latest diaries and letters the picture of a broken-hearted and disappointed man, welcoming, nevertheless, such faint rays of hope as came occasionally to relieve the gloom of his solitude, and never wholly losing confidence in the mission with which he believed himself to have been divinely entrusted. After being disowned by the Friends on account of his financial irregularities, he yet continued to hold, instead of a meeting, his Sunday-morning silent services, and to sit alone, waiting for the visitation of the Divine Spirit.

The great expectations in which, at the beginning of the present century, both educational parties indulged with regard to the future of the ‘mutual’ or ‘monitorial system’ of public instruction have not been, and are not likely to be, realised. It was merely a system of drill and mechanism by which large bodies of children could be made orderly and obedient, and by which the scholars who knew a little were made to help those who knew less. Neither the writings nor the practice of Bell and Lancaster threw any light on the principles of teaching, or were of any value as permanent contributions to the literature of education. But relatively to the special needs and circumstances of the age, and to the wretched provision which then existed for the education of the poor, the work of these two men was of enormous value. They aroused public interest in the subject. They brought, at a very small cost (about 7s. per head per annum), thousands of children into admirable discipline, and gave them the rudiments of education, and some ambition to learn more. What is of still greater importance, they treated the school from the first as a place of ‘mutual’ instruction, as an organised community in which all the members were to be in helpful relations to each other; and all were brought to take a pride in the success and fame of the school to which they belonged. There can be little doubt that the sense of comradeship and corporate life was unusually strong in the old monitorial schools, and that it was scarcely inferior to that of the best public schools of our own time. But the inherent intellectual defects of an educational system dependent wholly on ignorant and immature agents, though not visible at first, revealed themselves before many years; and in 1846 the newly constituted education department took the important step of superseding monitors by pupil-teachers, all of whom were required before apprenticeship to pass through the elementary course, and afterwards to receive regular instruction and to be trained for the office of teacher. The pupil-teacher system itself has now been to a large extent displaced by the employment of adult teachers.

A portrait of Joseph Lancaster by John Hazlitt is in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

[Life of Joseph Lancaster, by William Corston, 1840; Sketches, by Henry Dunn, 1848; The Museum, 1863; Leitch's Practical Educationists, 1876; Edinburgh Review, vols. ix. xi. xvii. xix. xxi.; Quarterly Review, vol. vi.; Joseph Fox's Comparative Review of the Publications of Bell and Lancaster, 1809; The New School, by Sir T. Bernard, 1810; Donaldson's Lectures on Education; Southey's Life of Bell; Professor Meiklejohn's Life of Bell; American Journal of Education, 1861; Reports of the Royal Commissioners on Popular Education, that of the Duke of Newcastle, 1855, and of Lord Cross, 1886; Reports passim of the British and Foreign School Society.]

J. G. F-h.


LANCASTER, NATHANIEL (1701–1775), author, born in 1701 in Cheshire, was in early life a protégé of the Earl of Cholmondeley, who introduced him to polite society. He was appointed rector of St. Martin's, Chester, on 12 June 1725, and in January 1733 was made a chaplain to the Prince of Wales. In the following February he was created D.D. by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Gent. Mag. 1864, i. 637). On 17 Feb. 1733 he married the widow of Captain Brown, ‘a lady with a fortune of 20,000l.’ In September 1737 he obtained the rectory of Stanford Rivers, near Ongar, Essex. He died there on 20 June 1775. In his later years he acted as justice of the peace (see two letters of his describing his administration of justice, Gent. Mag. liv. 345). He was considered a brilliant conversationalist, but earned a reputation for extravagance and impecuniosity, ‘which urged him to indecent applications for the supply of his necessities.’

Lancaster wrote: 1. 'Public Virtue, or the