[TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR] SIR,—May I express a
hope that your correspondent "A Liberal" does not reflect the opinions of many, when he sees more cause for "despair in the future of our race" if poor children are subject to the abuses of our present religious instruction, than if they are educated in the "barest infidelity," the "purest materialism " ? Whatever may be the faults of our present system, it in all cases necessitates the instruction of the fundamental principles of Reli- gion, and the children will not long remember much else. Many of them will receive no sort of -religious instruction, unless they are taught it at school as a matter of course. And if any one doubts that religion is specially needed in our national education, let him go into the poor thoroughfares of London, and read the want so painfully written in almost every face, and which is at the bottom of half the miseries of poverty,—the want of the soften- ing influences, the supporting faith, the providence, and self- control of religion. Until that is lessened, whatever else we give will continue to be generally wasted or misused.
I do not see how, by any system of instruction, children can be made to understand" the truths of God as revealed to us by science " or "in nature," without first possessing a somewhat firm basis of religion. It would require far more extensive knowledge and more intellectual power than they have any chance of acquiring during their brief school-days. If we would check or destroy the religious instruction which is the best that we as yet have,.at least let us first discover some better system to take its place.—