[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR:']
SIR,—Although the defects pointed out and the remedies pro- posed by Mr. Murphy have, to some extent, been anticipated by the Royal Commission, I hail it as a good omen that native Irishmen are prepared to take so bold and reasonable a view of the subject. If the Roman hierarchy could only be induced to con- cur in this opinion, the task of reform would be comparatively easy; the Gordian difficulty lies in framing an unsectarian scheme that shall meet the approval of determined Denominationalists.
They would doubtless be satisfied with a measure based on the leading recommendations of the Royal Commission, but even Mr. Gladstone shirked their public acceptance, and the Report there- fore, alas ! like so many others, remains a dead letter. Indeed, what statesman would be so foolhardy as to propose a Denomina- tional scheme for Ireland, whether at the expense of England or not, in the midst of movements tending everywhere in a precisely- ! opposite direction ?
However, there appears to be no reason why the more pro- minent of the existing grievances of the scholastic profession itself should not be remedied piecemeal by the National Board. I allude to the increased salaries of the teachers, their right of appeal to the Board, &c. But some of the other points broached by Mr. Murphy (while they are more worthy of admission into a new measure than many of those of the Royal Commissioners' Report) require the sanction of a regular Act of Parliament,—in short, a special Education code, remodelled on the existing basis, so far as principle is concerned. Local Boards and local rates, provided the areas of the districts were larger than those of England, would not, I believe, be so impossible in Ireland as Mr. Murphy seems to imagine.
Mr. Murphy takes occasion to point out the cardinal defect of the Irish system, the growth of which its original framers never contemplated, viz.,—the large proportion of non-vested, in com parison with vested schools. English readers may require the ex- planation that the former are in the hands of 1.).al patrons, by virtue of property ; the latter are under the dir.ct control of the:
Board of Commissioners. The former are often tumble-down cottages, and are taught by inferior, untrained teachers, or so-called " probationers," who, if not amenable to the behests of the patron, are forthwith turned adrift. A system of compulsory training is doubtless the desideratum, but on the one hand, the hierarchical prohibition with reference to the normal school is strictly enforced, and on the other, the establishment of a Denominational branch would mean the ultimate extinction of the Irish system.—I am, Sir, &c.,