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JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
PARIS AND ITS SCHOOLS UNDER THE REPUBLIC.
BY AN EYE-WITNESS.
REV. SIR, I readily comply with your request that I should furnish you with some succinct account of my visit to Paris and its schools under the Republic. As soon as the great popular outbreak of February last had been announced, I determined to take an early opportunity of making a personal inquiry into the moral causes to which it might be referred. wished to learn from actual observation how far that admonitory movement was due to the pernicious influence of mere state education, carried on apart from all religious control, and often in direct antagonism to the church of the land; and how far the Church of Rome, by her despotical demands, had been the cause of the schism between church and state in education? Subordinately to this inquiry, I was anxious to learn what education (if any) the young men had received who enrolled themselves in such vast numbers in the "Garde Mobile," when that corps was first formed, and who seemed, at the most critical period of human life, to have so little regard for their own lives and the lives of others, and such an utter absence of all dread of blood-guiltiness; and what schools (if any) had received the strangely wicked, the almost diabolical, lads who are known by the name of "Gamins de Paris." This point I wanted to know, on account of its bearing upon the organization and extension of Ragged Schools in our own country. It seemed also desirable that one should make oneself acquainted with the works on Method and Pædagogy, recently published in France, and with the expedients of instruction adopted in primary and secondary schools, especially text-books, maps, diagrams, &c. In these it might be expected that the national ingenuity would find ample scope, and I hoped to derive many useful hints from them for the improvement of elementary education at home.
It appeared also important that the English public, at a time when their attention is so strongly directed to the whole subject of education, should receive some fresh information concerning
VOL. VII,-NO. I.
the normal colleges of their neighbours; and I proposed to myself questions on various subjects which I intended to propound to the managers of those institutions with whom I might come in contact, and of which the following queries relative to arithmetic and mathematics may be taken as a specimen :Upon what system is arithmetic taught?
Do you teach mental arithmetic ?
Are you acquainted with Pestalozzi's method of teaching mental arithmetic.
To what extent do you teach algebra? What is your textbook on this subject?
In your course of mechanics do you employ the principle of work?
What proof do you give of the parallelogram of forces?
What course of demonstrative geometry do you give? Do you adopt any part of Euclid's course?
Are any of your students taught the differential and integral calculus ?
What is your text-book on physical geography?
Does chemistry form a part of your course of instruction? What is the nature of your course on natural philosophy? Do you teach the principles of mathematical perspective, in connexion with your course of model drawing?
Do you give any instruction in descriptive geometry? If so, what is your text-book?
Do you teach isometrical perspective? If so, what is your text-book ?
What kind of instruction do you give on mechanism? Do you teach from models or drawings?
In what manner do you give your mathematical lessonswhether in the form of lectures or individual instruction?
According to this plan, I set out from London to Dover, by the mail train. On reaching that ancient town, the Brundusium of English travellers, I found that the mail steam-packet about to sail to Boulogne was lying in the roads, and that we could only reach her by going in a wherry boat from the shore. After a rapid run through the town, about twelve of us found ourselves in a strong boat which rested on the shingle, while four oarsmen and a steersman took their places "fore and aft." On a given signal a number of their companions pushed the boat into the surf, and after two or three plunges, which covered us with spray, we were rapidly moving towards the packet. I am not surprised that sailors are superstitious. The black night, the boiling waters, the phosphoric light that seemed to glance from the oars; the distant and spectral shape of the steam-boat-all roused the imagination. The crested waves looked every now and then like the countenances of friends in distress. We were soon safe on board the steamboat; and the
lights of Dover harbour were soon lost in the distance. On nearing, however, the French coast, we were often compelled to move at half-speed; the night was dark; the lights at Cape Gris-nez obscured by mist. When at last we reached Boulogne it was impossible to enter the harbour; the water was too low. Again the small boats were in requisition, and such was the inconvenience we suffered before we finally arrived at the towr, that we were not surprised to have it whispered that the Marquis of Clanricarde's Post-office mission to Paris would probably end in the selection of Calais as the chief point of embarkation for the mails from France to England.
So now we were in the land of equality, liberty, and raternity. These high-sounding names did not appear to have given a dinner to the Boulogne "touters," as they are called. The poor fellows looked lean and hungry, and plied their office (ventre magistro) with the energy of desperation. The republic seems to have overtaken the bureau of the customs unawares. Our provisional passports yet bore the ill-concealed words "Royaume de France." Your old acquaintances at the Messageries Royales had hastily rubbed out Roy and with Nhad turned the word into N-ales; but the old Roy evidently had the best of it, and was quite ready to be rubbed in again. We have found, as yet, little sympathy with the new order of things. The bourgeois are evidently aristocrats in their views, and show no reluctance in avowing it.
Staying only a few hours at Boulogne, we set out for the ancient, dirty, Abbeville. The inhabitants were formerly rivals of Amiens. The prelates and nobles of the latter city built a sumptuous cathedral; so the merchants, if I am rightly informed, of the other, erected an overgrown nave to their collegiate church. The west front, in the gorgeous flamboyant style, is majestic and impressive, though in bad repair; the interior looks stilted and too high for its breadth. It was painful and humiliating to see the glorious Gothic of the mediaval builders bedizened with the tawdry trumpery of modern Romanism. Is not this part of the explanation of French infidelity? Is the sarcastic and gainsaying generation which now rules France to be made religious and reverential by penny candles and lace veils placed on images which consist only of a gilded head and arm, the parts concealed by drapery being sticks of rude wood? "Desinit in piscem." Is there any appeal in all this to the understanding and the conscience? there not rather something against which the common sense revolts, and do we find in the worship anything else to bring it back to obedience? Must not intelligent men think that all this is designed merely to charm the vulgar, and that, as they are not vulgar, they do not intend to be charmed?
While I was thus musing and hoping that at some future
time the taste, if not the religion, of the French clergy and people would lead them to restore their churches and improve their form of worship, the loud clatter of a hundred sabots, or wooden shoes, announced the arrival of a large elementary school at the church. In they poured, looking just "like other people's children"-bright-eyed, rude, and boisterous-dipping heir fingers in the holy water, without pronouncing a prayer or realizing a lustration, and marching by twos, threes, and fours, to the upper end of the northern aisle of the church, where a priest began to confess them one by one. I was deeply grieved to find them set, apparently to contemplate the altar of the Blessed Virgin while they awaited their turn, and to adore there THREE STATUES of her; one bearing the painful title of Notre Dame de Grace, and another that De Bon Secours. What was the idea presented to the minds of these poor children by the gaudy decorations and multiplied statues of this altar? What, by these fearful inscriptions? What is the
natural reaction of such superstition? Is it not Deism?
On leaving the collegiate church, we followed the sound of a deep-toned bell, and soon perceived a church still more ancient, which was dimly lighted. Entering, we found a considerable congregation, of women exclusively. I did not see a single man, except the officers of the church. A number of female children were present, and sang at the close of the service with much sweetness and devotion. One hoped that these were the mothers and daughters of the town, on whom so much depends the tone and character of childhood. The rare lamps, glimmering amidst the long aisles and lofty arches of the old edifice; the simple dresses of the country women at prayer, as the light fell on them; the reverential tones of the officiating clergyman; all combined to form a scene which will never be effaced from my memory. I offered an earnest prayer to God that he would in his mercy regenerate the Gallican Church for the salvation of the nation. O that the ultramontane novelties which now depress and dishonour it were thrown aside, and that it might assume again the beautiful garments which it wore in the days of Irenæus, Germanus, Hilary, and their venerable compeers.
On reaching Amiens, our first visit was to the Cathedral. When the DOM of Cologne is completed, it will be, in many respects, a large edition of this magnificent pile. It is saddening to observe how much it is disfigured by the wretched style of ornament which prevailed during the last century. The exquisite stalls, with their canopies and tracery, in the purest manner of the thirteenth century-the labour of love of some gifted carver-make the absurdity of the high altar and its appurtenances only the more glaring and ridiculous. Enormous rays of glory in wood and plaster-clouds in solid stucco,