6 JANUARY 1906, Page 21


Sru,—Referring to Canon Beecbing's letter, and your valuable article thereon, in last week's Spectator, it may not be out of place to put on record the impressions received in visits to two parts of the Empire which illustrate the extremes of opinion, and the practical working out of the different systems. In the Australasian Colonies I found that the mutual jealousies of Christian teachers had accomplished the result that all religious knowledge is excluded from the State schools. There class-books have to be written accordingly ; and these might afford some useful, if startling, grounds for reflection to our home advocates of purely secular instruction. Of course, the whole of that wonderful store of literature known as the Bible is a closed book. I desire to confine myself to what I observed of the results on the intellectual development of the people thus educated. I can only describe it as a "lop-sided" growth. It is difficult for any one who has not, come into contact with such conditions to imagine the difficulty of carrying on intelligent and intimate con- versation with men and women to whom an illustration from familiar Biblical history, or an unconscious quota- tion from the noble words of Scripture, conveyed no idea whatever. I never realised before how much of our mental training, and even of our daily language, comes from this source. An intelligent man totally ignorant of Shakespeare and Dickens would seem to have an imperfectly furnished mind, but this gives little idea of the hiatus left (even intellectually) when all religious knowledge is excluded. Some years later I visited Jamaica, and though my stay there was not long, I came into contact with many who are interested in education, from the Archbishop downwards, and I made careful observation of all classes of people whom I met. No one can deny that the material is vastly less hopeful to deal with than the bright-minded Anglo-Saxons of Australasia ; but I was convinced that in Jamaica they were advancing, whereas in Australasia (I write it with sorrow) they seemed to mete be going back. I have just received from the Archbishop the latest Report on Elementary Education in Jamaica, and I could wish that this pamphlet were in the hands of all interested in the subject. I conclude by quoting from it the words of a Nonconformist minister, who was at first opposed to the idea of the New Catechism :—" I think it is far better that in this friendly way representatives of various bodies of Christians should have met and tried to understand each other's views, and have produced a document acceptable to all as a basis of co-operation, than that the question should have been shelved until it is forced upon us in the battlefield of sectarian strife and acrimonious debate."—I am, Sir, &c.,