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3-281 (Raw)

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addressee author,male,Smith, G.V.,un
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Clark, 1957
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MR. G. V. SMITH. - Sir, in the remarks I am about to make, I shall endeavour to confine myself, as much as possible, to the principles of the measure under discussion, and shall, as far as I can, avoid details. The details of public instruction can be properly dealt with in committee only, and for committee I trust we shall reserve their consideration. The last speaker quoted Professor Blackie, a good old tory, and the honorable and learned member for Dalhousie alluded to the opinion of Sir Archibald Alison, another tory. As the tories have always been the ablest advocates of ignorance, I was very glad to hear those two high authorities quoted. [...] The Government Bill is a deliberate outrage of two rights, which for thousands of years - for nearly all time - have been held most sacred by all mankind: the sacred right to be ignorant, and the sacred right to be priest-ridden. Of course, these two venerable sanctities will loudly denounce this treason to their time-honoured rule; and, upon the present occasion, the curses of the Church will probably accompany the blessings of the State, just as a sprinkling of frogs occasionally accompanies a shower of rain, the frogs doing but little damage while the rain does incalculable good. Good and evil are-so mingled, so interfused in all earthly things, that we must be content to attain a maximum of the former with a minimum of the latter in such a struggle as this - a struggle of education against ignorance, of toleration against bigotry, of progress against priest-craft, of Christianity against superstition. Of Christianity against superstition, I say - for we Victorians have now to combat the three superstitions of the three Kingdoms - the English superstition of Church and State, the Scotch superstition of degrading the Bible to the level of Cocker of Colenso; and the Irish superstition, which prefers Rome rule to Home rule. It is a most unfortunate fact that our Churches are still more exotic than patriotic - remembering and regarding Geneva and Rome, which once supported them, much more than Victoria, which now supports them; and it is also unfortunate that these two religions of Rome and Geneva, in England, Ireland, and Scotland, have been persecuted and persecuting faiths, so that even here at the antipodes, embittering, bigot-making recollections are associated with them - as English Or Irish - from which, as Victorian beliefs, they are fortunately free. [361] Therefore it should be our constant aim to render our churches less English or Genevese, less Irish or Roman, and more Victorian: certainly they must thus become better and more Christian, purer and more patriotic faiths. More patriotic, especially, for what was it that gave to Catholicism in Ireland and to Protestantism in the Netherlands, their most vital, and their best, their highest, and holiest attributes; enabling them to conquer, as it were, the creeds of their far more powerful persecutors? It was this: the creed of the country became a patriotism - as well as. a faith, and thus, gathering strength from every source, attained an energy, a fervour, a fire, before which the creed of the conqueror withered into a -mere- dry and fruitless- formalism. In Ireland, where oppressing Protestantism was English, Catholicism became more Irish and more Roman, for Rome aided Ireland against England then - as previously she had aided, and as now again she aids, England against Ireland; but the moment the last link of the oppressor's chain is broken, by the disestablishment of the English Church - Catholicism becomes less Roman, and Cardinal Cullen, with his priesthood, who take both spiritual and temporal inspiration from Rome,- are openly defied and defeated in their efforts against Home rule. And so it will be here before many days, for Irishmen in Victoria will not be less free, less enlightened, or less patriotic, than their countrymen in Kerry. In Victoria, as in Ireland, Rome rule will be vanquished by Home rule, as the clergy and Mr. Dease were vanquished by the laity; and as Mr. Blannerhassett, a liberal Protestant, was preferred and elected by a liberal Catholic constituency over an illiberal Catholic chosen by the church, so it will be here. The Catholics of Victoria will do as the Catholics of Kerry have done, saying plainly to their priests, who would guide our actions as Rome may dictate - 'We Victorians know better than Romans how Victoria should be governed, and we will no longer tolerate Roman dictation in Victorian affairs, nor priestly control in political matters.' [362] The late elections sufficiently prove that, and day by day an increasing number of the laity will disregard and resent ecclesiastical intrusion, until here, as in America, the clergy will cease to intrude - the clergy will confine themselves to their legitimate spiritual province - the Church no longer encroaching upon the State, because the State has ceased to encroach upon the Church. In spite of all that is said and written about education, in spite of all the professions made in its behalf, the urgent necessities of the case are not yet understood or appreciated by the public - the fact that, as society is entitled to the protection which gaols afford, so it is still better entitled to the more economic and efficacious, the more praiseworthy and powerful, protection which schools afford; the fact that where universal suffrage is, there universal education must be, there it becomes the first and most important duty of the State, the mainspring of its government; and therefore the education of Victoria, like the government of other states, must be the very best the State can afford to give. We demand it as a right, and we claim both quality and quantity on such a scale as shall elevate the national character - and that of education - for we make the demand on a great national principle, not on the degrading pauper principle which in England doles out educational alms to the niggardly extent of the three R's. We want three very different R's, in conjunction with three S's, namely - self-reliance, self-respect, and self-restraint; for less than these in a nation means defective national education.