Education, pp.xlvii-l.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

The Universities of Scotland are, in most particulars, sufficiently noticed in our articles on ST. ANDREWS, GLASGOW, ABERDEEN, and EDINBURGH, the cities in which they are situated. All, except that of Edinburgh, existed before the Reformation; and that of St. Andrews is illustriously associated with the name of Melville, and makes an honourable figure in the history of the revival of literature. A Senatus Academicus, consisting of the several professors, wields, in each of the Universities, the power of conferring degrees, of determining or modifying the academical curriculum, of controlling all matters of academical interest, and of enforcing or correcting the disciplinarian proceedings of each individual professor. In Edinburgh, the patronage of nearly all the chairs is vested in the Town-council of the city; but in the other Universities, it is possessed by the Senatus Academicus. Power, in general exterior matters, is in Edinburgh wielded by the Town-council, either in their own name, or in that of a nominal Lord-rector of the University, who is always ex-officio the Lord-provost of the city; and, in St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, it is wielded chiefly and substantially by a Lord-rector annually chosen by the students, and subordinately or in an honorary way, by a chancellor chosen for life by the Senatus. The professors in all the Universities are required by law to be members of the Established church, and to subscribe her standards. The students, on the contrary, are admitted to the classes, carried through the curriculum, and held eligible for every academical honour, without reference to creeds or sects. Exclusive of some medical and other lectureships, so constituted as to be rather appendages than integral parts, the number of professorships in all Scotland is 71; and, exclusive of the attendance on the lectureships, the entire number of students may be estimated at about 4,000, – three-sevenths of the whole belonging to Edinburgh, seven-eighteenths to Glasgow, and the proportion of 23 in 126 jointly to St. Andrews and Aberdeen. – The parochial school system of Scotland theoretically requires that there should be at least one school in each parish. When, toward the close of the 17th century, the system was legislated by act of parliament, it became, except in the remote Highland parishes, very promptly and generally adopted; and from its general prevalence, and its apparently high adaptation to bring out results in every part of the kingdom, it long earned for Scotland’s population the fame of being the best educated people in the world. The system, however, was slowly and reluctantly discovered to possess many defects, both intrinsic and extrinsic; it has been eked out in the sequestered districts by many and vigorous ultraneous appliances, and superseded in the large towns by burgh-schools and association-academies; and though continuing to confer important advantages, has confessedly allowed other and younger countries silently to overtop Scotland in the laurel of her peculiar boast. At present, considerably the majority of the quoad civilia parishes have each one parochial school; some have two; a few have three; and those in the large towns, or in nearly all towns of more than 3,000 or 4,000 population, either have none, or impose upon burgh or subscription schools the misnomer of parochial. The schoolmasters of the bona fide parochial schools are appointed by the landholders and clergy; they require to be members of the Established church, and they are under the superintendence of the presbytery of their bounds. Their remuneration as a body is shamefully disproportioned to the required amount and value of their qualifications, to the high importance of their profession, or to the laboriousness and deeply influential nature of their duties; and, in consequence of the illiberality or blundering of the last act of parliament on the subject, and of the niggard rigidness with which the act’s provisions are for the most part executed, it, in many instances, fails, even with all aids from fees and from the emoluments of attached or superinduced offices, to raise the outward condition of a schoolmaster above that of a peasant. Exclusive of assistants, and of the teachers of all or most of the third, and a considerable proportion of those of the second schools, in parishes which have more schools than one, the schoolmasters have each a salary not exceeding £34 4s. 4½d., and not less than between £25 and £26, a free dwelling-house and a school-room, and fees per quarter which may be stated rather above than below the average for all Scotland, at from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. for English reading, from 2s. to 3s. 6d. for English reading and writing, from 2s. 6d. to 4s. for English reading, writing, and arithmetic, from 3s. to 10s. 6d. for mathematics, from 2s. to 7s. 6d. for Latin, from 5s. to 10s. 6d. for Latin and Greek, and from 5s. to 10s. 6d. for French. The average incomes, from salaries, fees, and additional emoluments, exclusive of house and garden, or money in lieu of them, of all the parochial teachers, not including assistants, was ascertained by a late return to be £52 17s.; a sum so small as to bring down the average for at least one-half of their number to probably not more than £30 or £35. Among the augments to the means of education which have been made to help out the utter inadequacy of the parochial system, are several classes of endowed or extraneously supported schools, noticed in our article on the HIGHLANDS, – the General Assembly’s subscription schools, commenced in 1824, and numbering 20 in the Lowlands, – the high-schools and grammar-schools of the larger burghs, generally under the patronage of the local magistrates, and, in the majority of instances, well provided with a plurality of teachers, and not scurvied over with the leprous touch of the niggard, – some proprietary, or public association-academies, erected in a style of literary splendour, conducted on expansive, liberal, and reforming principles, and exerting a powerful influence for the rapid demolition of antiquated mechanician modes of tuition, – a few schools supported by a munificent bequest of the late Dr. Bell of Madras, – and many well-appointed, and somewhat fairly supported, congregational schools, connected with individual congregations among the dissenters. A prodigious amount, however, or by far the greater part of the non-parochial schools, – an amount considerably greater than the aggregate one of even the parochial schools, themselves, – consists of schools begun and conducted wholly by the private, adventure of their teachers. Many of these are of highly creditable character, and bring, from mere fees, a much greater revenue than the average income of the parochial schoolmasters; many, also, are checked by the supervision, of a competent, though altogether voluntary and conventional sanction; but most are altogether pitiful imitations, some of them even hideous or farcical caricatures, of elementary schools, in all respects irresponsible, in many respects deleterious; and while, in a painful mass of instances, the schools are presided over only by pedantic ignorance, or industrious penury, they yield, often even when merit superintends them, so very scanty an income, that one wonders how it should tempt the labours of even the pedant or the enfeebled peasant. Non-parochial schools are to the parochial as 41 to 12; and if probably about one-tenth of their whole number be deducted, they almost certainly – though we have no precise data for a calculation – yield an average income at least one-third less than that of the parochial schoolmasters. When the exceedingly motley character, and the disgracefully low revenues of the schools of Scotland are duly adverted to, the most superficial fair thinker, while aware that multitudes of excellent or superior scholars must be produced, will be at no loss to see that the Scottish people as a whole are at the mercy of great blundering and incompetence, and possess in many instances few, and in some instances none, of the advantages which would result from some general, well-constructed, competent and liberal system of education. The proportions in which the higher departments of tuition are appreciated and patronized in Scotland, may probably be inferred from a return made to the General Assembly of the results of presbyterial examination of schools in 1839. The schools examined were in 237 instances non-parochial; and, including these, they were aggregately attended by 152,281 scholars, – of whom 524 were learning Greek, 1,053 French, 3,201 Latin, 2,301 mathematics, and 13,120 geography. The following table shows, from a parliamentary report published in 1837, and founded on returns made by the parochial clergy, the number and the county distribution of schools and teachers in Scotland, and the aggregate amount of the parish schoolmaster’s salaries. 

While these pages are passing through the press, an additional document has reached us, in a thick volume, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, which contains the answers made by schoolmasters in Scotland to returns circulated in 1838, by order of the Select Committee on Education. Of parochial schools, the number which returned answers is 924; and the number which did not return answers is 129; being 1,053 in all. Of the 924 which returned answers, there are 231 privately endowed, and 693 unendowed; and the average number of scholars stood thus:- In 1836, 36,808 males, 20,524 females; total, 57,332. In 1837, 39,604 males, 22,317 females; total, 61,921. The number of teachers – of whom a few are only occasional assistants – is 1,054; and of these 206 have other occupation or employment. Of the 944 schools, there are 445 in which Greek is taught; Latin is taught in 664; and Mathematics in 689. Of schools not parochial, 2,329 returned answers, and 1,025 did not; making altogether 3,354 schools not parochial. Of the number which returned answers, 753 are stated to have endowments, and 1,318 are supported exclusively by school-fees. The number of scholars was:- In 1836, 68,771 males, 50,579 females; total, 119,350. In 1837, 78,867 males, 54,451 females; total, 128,318. Greek is taught in 191 of these schools; Latin in 501; and Mathematics in 683. The number of teachers is 2,940, of whom 703 are females. There are only 12 of the parochial schools which returned answers in which Gaelic is taught, but it is taught in 239 of the non-parochial. 

The attendance on these schools, exclusive of that on private boarding-schools, and of children under the care of domestic tutors, amounts, at the maximum rate, and on the average for all Scotland, to one-ninth of the population. The greatest number of scholars at the parochial schools, was between the 25th of March and the 29th of September, and, allowing a proportion for defective returns, was 71,426; and the least, at any period of the year, was 50,029. The greatest number at non-parochial schools was 189,427; and the least was 139,327. The entire community of parochial and burgh schoolmasters, was established, by act of parliament in 1807, into a sort of corporate body, and have a fund for the benefit of their widows and children, compulsorily supported by a small annual contribution from each of the members. – Sabbath-schools in Scotland are educational only in the highest or the purely religious sense, and are, in all instances, voluntary, or conducted without any reference to State influence or support. In 1825, they amounted throughout the country to 1,577 in number, and were attended by 80,190 scholars; and, though their statistics since that period have been imperfect and confused, they seem to have everywhere increased at least proportionately with the population, and to have been introduced or greatly multiplied in Highland or other sequestered districts. 

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