Page:The Martyrdom of Ferrer.djvu/53

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47
THE MODERN SCHOOLS

mined to use his funds for his single aim. He refused to spend money on his children, beyond a modest allowance to his struggling elder daughter. He refused to live in the comfort which his new circumstances would have justified. He regarded the money left to him by Mlle. Meunier as a moral trust, and scrupulously expended it in the cause of education and philanthropy; though the money was bequeathed absolutely to him.[1]

Instead of calling to his aid the violent revolutionaries of popular legend, Ferrer invited the co-operation of some of the best known scholars of France and Spain, such as Dr. Odon de Buen, member of the Spanish Senate and a distinguished scientist; Dr. Martinez Vargas, Professor of Medicine at Barcelona; Professor Ramon y Cajal, one of the finest physiologists in America; and Professors Reclus and Letourneau of Paris. Other scientific men were invited to co-operate as time went on, with the result that these schools, which "literally taught the young idea to shoot," had a series of scientific text-books which have no parallel in any elementary school system in the world. Five of them are from the pen of Dr. Odon de Buen of European repute. They include manuals of reading, grammar, history, all branches of natural philosophy, psychology, and sociology. The reader who would know Ferrer's schools should glance at this fine series of thirty manuals, a set of which has, I understand, been deposited at the British Museum.

It has been stated all over Europe by the anonymous defenders of Spanish corruption, with the aid of simple-

  1. A scurrilous letter was contributed on the subject to the Manchester Guardian by a responsible priest, Canon Lynch. He says:—

    "The facts are these. Ferrer was teacher of Spanish in Paris. One of his pupils was a very wealthy Catholic old lady. She fell sick, and in her will wished to leave all her wealth to works of Catholic piety. Ferrer induced her to leave him personally the money, and promised that he would conscientiously carry out her wish."

    I have already pointed out the stupidity of such a suggestion, but the letter deserves quoting as an example of "Catholic truth." Mlle. Meunier was only fifty years old; she knew Ferrer and his views intimately for three years; she did not leave him all her money (Canon Lynch will find it interesting to discover how the rest is being employed), and she had the keenest sympathy with Ferrer's ideal. The rest of this priest's letter is of a similar character. Happily, the editor of the Manchester Guardian has a sense of truth and justice, and in publishing Canon Lynch's letter he appended a note that effectively exposed its reckless statements.