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Müller, Michael / Public School Education
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)




_Priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer._


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


































American fellow-citizens--America is my home! I have no other country.
After my God and my religion, my country is the dearest object of my
life! I love my country as dearly as any one else can. It is this love
that makes my heart bleed when I call to mind the actual state of
society in our country, and the principles that prevail everywhere. It
is indeed but too true that we live in a most anti-Christian age;
principles are disregarded, and iniquity is held in veneration. We see
nothing but confusion in religion, in government, in the family circle.
Sects spring up and swarm like locusts, destroying not only revealed
religion, but rejecting even the law of nature. Fraud, theft, and
robbery are practised almost as a common trade. The press justifies
rebellion, secret societies, and plots for the overthrow of established
governments. The civil law, by granting divorce, has broken the family
tie. Children are allowed to grow up in ignorance of true religious
principles, and thereby become regardless of their parents. The number
of apostates from Christianity is on the increase, at least in the
rising generation. Current literature is penetrated with the spirit of
licentiousness, from the pretentious quarterly to the arrogant and
flippant daily newspaper, and the weekly and monthly publications are
mostly heathen or maudlin. They express and inculcate, on the one hand,
stoical, cold, and polished pride of mere intellect, or on the other,
empty and wretched sentimentality. Some employ the skill of the engraver
to caricature the institutions and offices of the Christian religion,
and others to exhibit the grossest forms of vice, and the most
distressing scenes of crime and suffering. The illustrated press has
become to us what the amphitheatre was to the Romans when men were
slain, women were outraged, and Christians given to the lions to please
a degenerate populace. The number of the most unnatural crimes is beyond
computation. A wide-spread and deep-seated dishonesty and corruption
has, like some poisonous virus, inoculated the great body of our public
men in national, state, and municipal positions, so much so that
rascality seems to be the rule, and honesty the exception. Real
statesmanship has departed from amongst us; neither the men nor the
principles of the olden time exist any longer.

The shameless cynicism with which the great public plunderers of our day
brazen out their infamy, is only equalled by the apathy with which the
public permits these robberies, and condone for them by lavishing place
and power upon the offenders. "The way of the transgressor" has ceased
to be "hard"--unless he be a transgressor of very low degree--and
rascality rides rampant over the land, from the halls of Congress to the
lowest department of public plunder.

The poet has well said that Vice, once grown familiar to the view, after
first exciting our hate, next succeeded in gaining our pity, and
finally was taken into our embrace.

The familiarity of the public mind with daily and almost hourly
instances of public peculation and betrayal of high trusts has created
this indulgent disposition, until at last the wholesome indignation,
which is the best safeguard of honesty, has been diluted into a maudlin
sympathy with the malefactors. And the rankness of the growth of this
evil is not more startling than its rapidity. It is a new thing--a foul
fungus, suddenly forced into fetid life, out of the corruptions
engendered by the war. It is "a new departure" in a wrong
direction--down that smooth, broad path to the devil.

We all remember the sensation which, before the war, was ever caused by
the discovery of a public defaulter, and the indignation which drove him
ever forth from place and country, on his detection. Punishment sure and
swift was certain to seize upon him, if he dared linger after the facts
were known.

A breach of trust was not then considered a joke, nor theft elevated
into the dignity of a fine art, whose most eminent professors were to
be regarded with envy and admiration.

Think of the clamor which was raised over the comparatively petty
peculations of Swartwout, Schuyler, Fowler, and other small sinners like
them, who even found the country too hot to hold them, and died in
exile, as an expiation to the public sentiment they had outraged.

Yet their frauds were as molehills to the mountains which the busy hands
of our public peculators have heaped up, and are daily piling higher.
Within the last ten years, where they stole cents, their successors
stole by thousands and tens of thousands; and, instead of flying from
punishment, flaunt their crimes and their ill-gotten wealth in the face
of the community, heedless either of the arm of the law, or the more
potent hiss of public scorn.

And this financial dishonesty of the times is as true of commercial as
of political circles, and as patent at Washington as at New York and
other cities. "Think you that those eighteen men on whom the tower of
Siloam fell, were sinners above all others in Jerusalem? I tell you
nay!" Think you that those six or seven on whom the axe of the public
press fell, are sinners above all in New York and elsewhere? If all men
that have been guilty of fraud in New York and elsewhere were to have a
tower fall on them, there would be funerals enough for fifty years.

One of the saddest symptoms of degeneracy in a people is evinced by a
desperate levity--a scoffing spirit such as that which inspired the
French people when they denied even God, and substituted a prostitute to
be their "Goddess of Reason." Much of that spirit is unhappily
manifesting itself in our country.

That most fearful picture of a corrupt community drawn by Curran in his
description of the public pests of his day--"remaining at the bottom
like drowned bodies while soundness remained in them, but rising only as
they rotted, and floating only from the buoyancy of corruption"--seems,
unhappily, destined to find its parallel here, unless public virtue and
public indignation should awake to condemn and chastise the corruption
which is tainting and poisoning the air around us.

The judgment which overtook the men of Siloam was visited on them for
sins not unlike those which seem to invite a similar judgment from
offended Heaven upon our modern Siloams, and is no jesting matter. Nay,
in view of the many recent terrible visitations which have fallen upon
different parts of our country, many voices have already been raised
proclaiming them as marks of Divine wrath against national sins,
perpetrated by a people who should, by their lives, testify their sense
of the blessings showered upon them in more prodigal profusion than on
any other nation in the annals of mankind.

That the great body of our people are corrupt, or that they at heart
approve of corruption, no one will be mad enough to maintain. But they
are responsible before Heaven and to posterity for the criminal apathy
they manifest in their silent sanction of the corruption and crime which
are fast making the American name a synonyme for theft, for brazen
impudence and unblushing rascality.

In the life of a nation, as in that of an individual, there are periods
which are critical; and a restoration to health, or the certainty of
speedy death, depends on the way this malady is met. The crisis which
now menaces the life and health of the United States cannot be far
distant; for private virtue cannot long survive the death of public
honor and honesty, nor private morality fail to catch the contagion of
public profligacy. If the representative men of a country, those in whom
its high trusts are reposed, be corrupt and shameless, they will drag
down into the same mire the morals of the people they plunder and
misrepresent. Indeed we want no prophet, nor one raised from the dead,
to tell us the awfully fatal results. What can be done to stem the
fearful torrent of evils that flood the land? We all know that when, in
1765, the famous Stamp Act was passed in the British Parliament, on the
news reaching Boston the bells were muffled, and rang a funeral peal. In
New York the "Act" was carried through the streets with a death's head
bearing this inscription: "The Folly of England and the Ruin of
America." So great was the opposition to the "Act," that it was repealed
during the spring of 1766. This shows how quickly the evils of society
can be put down if people set to work in earnest.

Now we cannot expect the people to set to work in earnest about stemming
the torrent of the great evils of the land, unless they are well
enlightened as to the source from which they flow. This source is
principally that wrong system of education introduced into this country
about fifty years ago. At that time very few, perhaps, could foresee
what effects it was calculated to produce. After a long trial, we can
now pronounce on it with certainty by its results. The tree, no longer a
sapling, can be judged by its fruits. These fruits have been so bad that
it is high time to call the attention of the public to the tree.

Now in calling attention to this tree, I wish it to be once for all
distinctly understood, that whatever of a seemingly or even really harsh
nature I may say in this discussion on the Public Schools, is intended
and directed _solely against the system_. For those who manage or
officiate in them, as teachers or otherwise, I have, I trust, all the
courtesy, charity, and respect due from one citizen to another. If I
offend the prejudices, convictions, or susceptibilities of any on this
strangely misrepresented subject, no one can more regret it than myself;
I can truly say it is not intended. All I ask of my fellow-citizens is a
fair discussion on this great question of education, to look at it
without prejudice, without bigotry; for if prejudice and bigotry stand
in our way, they will stand in the way of the glory and stability of
this country, whose future God only knows. It is the duty of all
citizens to labor with a good heart, a clear mind, an earnest soul, to
do all they can in building up, and strengthening, and making still more
glorious this great American people.



The question of Education is, of all others, the most important. It has
for some time back received a good deal of attention in public meetings,
in newspapers, and in the pulpit. In fact it has become a question of
the day. On this question, however, there is unfortunately such an
amount of ignorance, prejudice, and confusion of ideas, that it is
almost impossible to make the public understand it. The reason of this
is, because so many follow the vague views expressed on this subject in
newspapers. Many a paper is undoubtedly political, and so far partisan;
and as such its editor will defend and advance what he believes to be
the principles of his party. But the question of education rises above
party politics; yet when you read many a paper you will find that the
editor appeals to the prejudice and passions of party in a way quite
unworthy of an independent journalist, and of the grave subject under
consideration. He advances principles which, at first sight, seem to be
quite true; for instance: "Public School Education is necessary for our
republican form of government, for the very life of the Republic." "It
is an admitted axiom, that our form of government, more than all others,
depends on the intelligence of the people." "The framers of our
Constitution firmly believed that a republic form of government could
not endure without intelligence and education generally diffused among
the people. The State must, therefore, take all means within its power
to promote and encourage popular education, and furnish this
intelligence of the people through her public schools."

At first sight such principles seem to be true, and the people in
general will accept them. Experience teaches that the public will
accept, without question, almost any maxim or problem, provided it be
formulated in such a manner as to convey some specific meaning that does
not demand reflection or complex examination. For the same reason no
small portion of the public will reject anything that at first sight
seems to exceed the measure of their understanding. Knaves and
charlatans, knowing this, impose on the public by flattering their
intelligence, that they may accomplish their own ambitious and selfish
ends. In this way a multitude of pernicious religious, social, and
political maxims have come into vogue, especially in reference to the
question of public instruction. Yet on the sound principles concerning
this question of education, and on the right understanding of them,
depend not only the temporal and eternal happiness of the people, but
also the future maintenance and freedom, nay, even the material
prosperity, of the Republic.

In the discussion of the system of education it will no longer do to use
vague, unmeaning expressions, or to advance some general puzzling
principles to keep the public in the dark on this important point. It is
high time that the public should be thoroughly enlightened on the
subject of education. Everybody is talking about education,--the
advantages of education, the necessity of education; and yet almost all
have come to use the word in its narrowest and most imperfect meaning,
as implying mere cultivation of the intellectual faculties, and even
this is done in the most superficial manner, by cramming the mind with
facts, instead of making it reflect and reason. The great majority even
of those who write upon the subject take no higher view.

The term _education_ comprehends something more than mere instruction.
One may be instructed without being educated; but he cannot be educated
without being instructed. The one has a partial or limited, the other a
complete or general, meaning. What, then, is the meaning of Education?
Education comes from the Latin "educo," and means, according to Plato,
"to give to the body and soul all the perfection of which they are
susceptible"; in other words, the object of education is to render the
youth of both sexes beautiful, healthful, strong, intelligent and
virtuous. It is doubtless the will of the Creator that man--the
masterpiece of the visible world--should be raised to that perfection of
which he is capable, and for the acquisition of which he is offered the
proper means. It is the soul of man which constitutes the dignity of his
being, and makes him the king of the universe. Now the body is the
dwelling of the soul--the palace of this noble king; the nobility of the
soul must induce us to attend to its palace--to the health and strength
and beauty of the body;--health, strength and beauty are the noble
qualities of the body.

The noble qualities of the soul are virtue and learning. Virtue and
learning are the two trees planted by God in Paradise; they are the two
great luminaries created by God to give light to the world; they are the
two Testaments, the Old and the New; they are the two sisters, Martha
and Mary, living under one roof in great union and harmony, and mutually
supporting each other.

Learning is, next to virtue, the most noble ornament and the highest
improvement of the human mind. It is by learning that all the natural
faculties of the mind obtain an eminent degree of perfection. The memory
is exceedingly improved by appropriate exercise, and becomes, as it
were, a storehouse of names, facts, entire discourses, etc., according
to every one's exigency or purposes. The understanding--the light of the
soul--is exceedingly improved by exercise, and by the acquisition of
solid science and useful knowledge. Judgment, the most valuable of all
the properties of the mind, and by which the other faculties are poised,
governed and directed, is formed and perfected by experience, and
regular well-digested studies and reflection; and by them it attains to
true justness and taste. The mind, by the same means, acquires a
steadiness, and conquers the aversion which sloth raises against the
serious employments of its talents.

How much the perfection of the mind depends upon culture, appears in the
difference of understanding between the savages (who, except in
treachery, cunning and shape, scarce seem to differ from the apes which
inhabit their forests) and the most elegant and civilized nations. A
piece of ground left wild produces nothing but weeds and briers, which
by culture would be covered with corn, flowers and fruit. The difference
is not less between a rough mind and one that is well cultivated.

The same natural culture, indeed, suits not all persons. Geniuses must
be explored, and the manner of instructing proportioned to them. But
there is one thing which suits all persons, and without which knowledge
is nothing but "a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal": this is the
supernatural culture of the soul, or the habitual endeavor of man of
rendering himself more pleasing in the sight of God by the acquisition
of solid Christian virtues, in order thus to reach his last end--his
eternal happiness. It is for this reason that our Saviour tells us:
"What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own
soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"--(Matt. xvi.
26.) It is, then, the _supernatural culture_, or the perfection of the
soul, that is to be principally attended to in education.

Now what is the perfection of soul? The perfection of each being in
general, is that which renders the being better and more perfect. It is
clear that inferior beings cannot make superior ones better and more
perfect. Now the soul, being immortal, is superior to all earthly or
perishable things. These, then, cannot make the soul better and more
perfect, but rather worse than she is; for he who seeks what is worse
than himself, makes himself worse than he was before. Therefore the good
of the soul can be only that which is better and more excellent than the
soul herself is. Now God alone is this Good--He being Goodness Itself.
He who possesses God may be said to possess the goodness of all other
things; for whatever goodness they possess, they have from God. In the
sun, for instance, you admire the light; in a flower, beauty; in bread,
the savor; in the earth, its fertility; all these have their being from
God. No doubt God has reserved to Himself far more than He has bestowed
upon creatures; this truth admitted, it necessarily follows that he who
enjoys God possesses in him all other things; and consequently the very
same delight which he would have taken in other things, had he enjoyed
them separately, he enjoys in God, in a far greater measure, and in a
more elevated manner. For this reason, St. Francis of Assisium often
used to exclaim: "My God and my All"--a saying to which he was so
accustomed that he could scarcely think of anything else, and often
spent whole nights in meditating on this truth.

Certainly true contentment is only that which is taken in the Creator,
and not that which is taken in the creature; a contentment which no man
can take from the soul, and in comparison with which all other joy is
sadness, all pleasure sorrow, all sweetness bitter, all beauty ugliness,
all delight affliction. It is most certain that "when face to face we
shall see God as He is," we shall have most perfect joy and happiness.
It follows, then, most clearly, that the nearer we approach to God in
this life, the more contentment of mind and the greater happiness of
soul we shall enjoy; and this contentment and joy is of the self-same
nature as that which we shall have in heaven; the only difference is,
that here our joy and happiness is in an incipient state, whilst there
it will be brought to perfection. He, then, is a truly wise and learned,
a truly well-educated, man, who here below has learned how to seek God,
and to be united as much as possible with the Supreme Good of his soul.
He therefore imparts a good education to the soul, who teaches her how
to seek and to find her own Good.

Now what is it to teach the soul to find her own Supreme Good? It is to
train, to teach, to lead the child in the way he should go, leading him
in the paths of duty, first to God, and secondly to his neighbor. All
not professed infidels, it appears to me, must admit this definition.
But as very many believe in "Webster," or "Worcester," I give the
former's definition of education: "Educate"--To instill into the mind
principles of art, science, _morals_, _religion_, and behavior.
According to this definition of education, morals and religion
constitute essential parts of education. Indeed, the first and most
important of all duties which the child must learn are his moral and
religious duties; for it will, I hope, be universally admitted that man
is not born into this world merely to "propagate his species, make
money, enjoy the pleasures of this world, and die." If he is not born
for that end, then it is most important that he be taught for what end
he was born, and the way appointed by his Creator to attain that end.

Every child born into this world is given a body and soul. This soul,
for which the body was created, and which will rise with it at the last
day, be judged with it for the acts done in life, and be happy or
unhappy with it for all eternity, is, in consequence of the "fall,"
turned away from God, and the body, no longer acting in obedience to
right reason, seeks its own gratification, like any irrational animal.
Religion (from _religio_) is the means provided by a merciful God to
reunite the chain broken by the sin of our first parents, and bridge
over the chasm opened between man and his divine destiny. To give this
knowledge of religion is the principal purpose of education. Without
this it is mere natural _instruction_, but no education at all. It would
be worse than giving, as we say, "the play of Hamlet with the part of
the Prince of Denmark left out."

Religion, then, forms the spirit and essence of all true education. As
leaven must be diffused throughout the entire mass in order to produce
its effects, so religion must be thoroughly diffused throughout the
child's entire education, in order to be solid and effective. Not a
moment of the hours of school should be left without religious
influence. It is the constant breathing of the air that preserves our
bodily life, and it is the constant dwelling in a religious atmosphere
that preserves the life of the youthful soul. Here are laid the
primitive principles of future character and conduct. These religious
principles may be forgotten, or partially effaced, in the journey of
life, but they will nevertheless endure, because they are engraved by
the finger of God Himself. The poor wanderer, when the world has turned
its back upon him, after having trusted to its promises only to be
deceived, after having yielded to its temptations and blandishments only
to be cruelly injured and mocked, may, at last, in the bitterness of his
heart, "remember the days of his youth," and "return to his father's
house." So long as faith remains, however great the vice or the crime,
there is something to build on, and room to hope for repentance, for
reformation, and final salvation. Faith or religion once gone, all is
gone. Religion is the crystal vase in which education is contained, or
rather the spirit which infuses and vitalizes it. Religion is the very
life of society, the very soul of a Christian State.

All nations and governments know and understand that to exclude
Christian education from the schools is to exclude it from their law,
legislature, courts, and public and private manners. It should, then,
ever be borne in mind that religion, though distinguishable, is never
separable from true civil and political science and philosophy.
Enlightened statesmanship will always accept and recognize religious
education as a most valuable and powerful ally in the government of the
State, or political society. The great Washington clearly asserts this
in his farewell address to the American people: "Of the dispositions,"
he says, "which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports. Where is the security for property or for life,
if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are
administered in our courts of justice? And let it not be supposed that
morality can be maintained without religion." Accordingly our
legislatures are opened with prayer, the Bible is on the benches of our
courts; it is put into the hands of jurymen, voters, and even
tax-payers; indeed, from its late use and abuse, one might think that we
were living under the Pentateuch, and that the whole moral law and Ten
Commandments were bound to the brows of the public or State

Indeed, the politics of every tribe, nation, or people, will reflect in
an exact degree their moral and religious convictions and education. If
these are false, the political society will be violent, disorderly, and
abnormal; if true, the State is calm, prosperous, strong and happy. If
these propositions be true, and I claim they are as axiomatic and
undeniable as any proposition in Euclid--yea more so, for they are the
maxims of inspired wisdom--how immeasurably important is a true
Christian education!

And if its influence is so great in determining even the political
conduct of men, it is still more necessary and powerful in forming the
character of true woman--the Christian wife, mother, and daughter. The
influence of Christian woman on society is incalculable. Admitting it
possible, for a moment, that irreligious men might construct or direct
an atheistical State, yet it would be utterly vain to build up the
family, the groundwork of all organized communities, without the aid of
the Christian woman. She it is who, in the deep and silent recesses of
the household, puts together those primitive and enduring materials,
each in its place and order, on which will rest and grow, to full beauty
and development, the fair proportion of every well-ordained State. This
foundation is laid in the care and rearing of good and dutiful children.
The task of the Christian mother may indeed be slow, and unobserved;
but God makes use of the weak to confound the strong, and this is
beautifully illustrated in the Christian woman, who is strong because
she is weak, most influential when she is most retired, and most happy,
honored, cherished and respected when she is doing the work assigned her
by Divine Providence, in the bosom of her household.

It will be admitted, then, that the education of girls demands a special
culture. Generally upon mothers the domestic instruction of the
children, in their infancy, mainly depends. They ought, therefore, to be
well instructed in the motives of religion, articles of faith, and all
the practical duties and maxims of piety. Then history, geography, and
some tincture of works of genius and spirit, may be joined with suitable
arts and other accomplishments of their sex and condition, provided they
be guided by and referred to religion, and provided books of piety and
exercises of devotion always have the first place, both in their hearts
and in their time.

They should, then, from their earliest years, if possible, be separated
in their studies, their plays, and their going and returning from
school, from children of the opposite sex. They should be placed under
the _surveillance and instruction_ of mature and pious women. Every
possible occasion and influence should be used to instil into their
young and plastic minds, by lesson and example, principles of religion
and morality. Their studies should be grave and practical. Their nervous
organization is naturally acute, and should be strengthened, but not
stimulated, as it too often is, thereby laying the foundation for that
terrible and tormenting train of neuralgic affections of after-life,
debilitating mind and body.

A thorough Christian education, then, is the basis of all happiness and
peace, for the family as well as for the State itself; for every State
is but the union of several families. It is for this reason that we find
good parents so willing to make every sacrifice for the Christian
education of their children, and that all true statesmen, and all true
lovers of their country, have always encouraged and advocated that kind
of education which is based upon Christian principles.

Good, dutiful children are the greatest blessing for parents and for the
State, whilst children without religion are the greatest misfortune,
the greatest curse that can come upon parents and upon the State.

History informs us that Dion the philosopher gave a sharp reproof to
Dionysius the tyrant, on account of his cruelty. Dionysius felt highly
offended, and resolved to avenge himself on Dion; so he took the son of
Dion prisoner, not, indeed, for the purpose of killing him, but of
giving him up into the hands of a godless teacher. After the young man
had been long enough under this teacher to learn from him everything
that was bad and impious, Dionysius sent him back to his father. Now
what object had the tyrant in acting thus? He foresaw that this
corrupted son, by his impious conduct during his whole lifetime, would
cause his father constant grief and sorrow, so much so that he would be
for him a lifelong affliction and curse. This, the tyrant thought, was
the longest and greatest revenge he could take on Dion for having
censured his conduct.

Plato, a heathen philosopher, relates that when the sons of the Persian
kings had reached the age of fourteen, they were given to four teachers.
The first of these teachers had to instruct them in their duties towards
God; the second, to be truthful under all circumstances; the third, to
overcome their passions; and the fourth teacher taught them how to be
valiant and intrepid men.

This truth, that good children are the greatest blessing and that bad
children are the greatest affliction that can befall parents and the
State, needs no further illustration. There is no father, there is no
mother, there is no statesman, who is not thoroughly convinced of this
truth. Can we, then, wonder that the Catholic Church has always
encouraged a truly Christian education?

There is nothing in history better established than the fact that the
Catholic Church has been at all times, and under the most trying
circumstances, the generous fostering-mother of education. She has
labored especially, with untiring care, to educate the poor, who are her
favorite children. It was the Catholic Church that founded, and endowed
liberally, almost all the great universities of Europe. Protestants and
infidels are very apt to overlook the incalculable benefits which the
Church has conferred on mankind, and yet without her agency civilization
would have been simply impossible.

The Catholic Church was, moreover, the first to establish common
schools for the free education of the people. As early as A.D. 529, we
find the Council of Vaison recommending the establishment of public
schools. In 800, a synod at Mentz ordered that the parochial priests
should have schools in the towns and villages, that "the little children
of all the faithful should learn letters from them. Let them receive and
teach these with the utmost charity, that they themselves may shine as
the stars forever. Let them receive no remuneration from their scholars,
unless what the parents, through charity, may voluntarily offer." A
Council at Rome, in 836, ordained that there should be three kinds of
schools throughout Christendom: episcopal, parochial in towns and
villages, and others wherever there could be found place and
opportunity. The Council of Lateran, in 1179, ordained the establishment
of a grammar school in every cathedral for the gratuitous instruction of
the poor. This ordinance was enlarged and enforced by the Council of
Lyons, in 1245. In a word, from the days of Charlemagne, in the ninth
century, down to those of Leo X., in the sixteenth century, free schools
sprang up in rapid succession over the greater part of Europe; and,
mark well, it was almost always under the shadow of her churches and her
monasteries! Throughout the entire period, called, by ignorant bigotry,
the "dark ages," Roman Pontiffs and Catholic Bishops assembled in
council and enacted laws requiring the establishment of free schools in
connection with all the cathedral and parochial churches. This is a fact
so clearly proven by Catholic and Protestant historians, that to deny it
would be to betray a gross ignorance of history. Even at the present
day, the Papal States, with a population of only about 2,000,000,
contain seven universities, with an average attendance of 660 students,
whilst Prussia, with a population of 14,000,000, and so renowned for her
education, has only seven! Again, in every street in Rome there are, at
short distances, public primary schools for the education of the
children of the middle and lower classes. Rome, with a population of
only about 158,000 souls, has 372 public primary schools, with 482
teachers, and over 14,000 children attending them, whilst Berlin, with a
population more than double that of Rome, has only 264 schools. Thus
originated the popular or common schools, or the free education of the
people, as an outgrowth of the Catholic Church.

Every one knows that to the Catholic Church is due the preservation of
literature after the downfall of the Roman Empire; and all those who are
versed in history must admit that the Popes, the rulers of the Church,
have been the greatest promoters and protectors of literature and
learned men in every age. They collected and preserved the writings of
the great historians, poets, and philosophers of Greece and Rome, and
they encouraged and rewarded the learned men who, by their labors, made
those fountains of classical literature easily accessible to all
students. What shall I say of the patronage which they accorded to
painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and the other arts which raise
up and refine the human soul? Even the present glorious Pontiff, Pius
IX., in the midst of troubles and persecutions, has done more for
education than the richest and most powerful sovereigns of the world.
You will unite with me, I am sure, in praying that he may soon recover
the sovereignty of Rome and the Papal States, and that he may live many
years to defend, as he has done in the past, the cause of religion,
truth, Christian education, and civilization in the world. But it would
take a whole day to refer even briefly to all that the Catholic Church
and her Supreme Pontiffs have done to dissipate ignorance, and to
improve and enlighten the mind of man. I shall merely add that a
Protestant writer, and an open enemy of our religion, does not hesitate
to state that, acting under the guidance and protection of the Holy See,
some of our religious orders, which are so often assailed and
calumniated, have done more for the promotion of philosophy, theology,
history, archology, and learning in general, than all the great
universities of the world, with all their wealth and patronage.

Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the Catholic Church has always
fought for the liberty to educate her children not only in the necessary
branches of science, but also, and above all, to teach them, at the same
time, their religious duties towards God and their fellow-men. And who
but an infidel can blame her for that?

Every one must know that by the united efforts of the Catholic clergy
and laity, schools, colleges, seminaries, boarding-schools for ladies
and boys, and other educational establishments, have been erected in
almost every part of the world, and erected without a cent of public
money, which was so plentifully lavished on Protestant institutions.
But, without leaving this country, do we not find in the various States
of the Union magnificent proofs of generous Catholic zeal in promoting
everything connected with education? And have not the parochial and
religious clergy in so many places made the noblest exertions to erect
institutions for the instruction of their flocks? and have not the laity
assisted them in a most munificent manner? All this shows their great
desire to promote the growth of knowledge.

Man is born a believing creature, and cannot, if he would, destroy
altogether this noble attribute of his nature. If he is not taught, or
will not accept, a belief in the living and uncreated God, he will
create and worship some other god in His stead. He cannot rest on _pure
negation_. There never has been a real, absolute unbeliever. All the
so-called unbelievers are either knaves or idiots. All the Gentile
nations of the past have been religious people; all the Pagan powers of
the present are also believers. There never has been a nation without
faith, without an altar, without a sacrifice. Man can never, even for a
single instant, escape the All-seeing Eye of God, or avoid the
obligations of duty imposed on him by his Creator. The Pantheists of
ancient as well as of modern times recognize this fact, although they do
not discharge their religious obligations conformably to the Divine
will, but make to themselves other gods instead.

As there has been a religion and a ritual among all nations, tribes and
peoples, so has there been also a "hierarchy" to teach this religion,
and make known its obligations. These religious obligations constituted
then, and constitute even now, the basis of all popular education
throughout the world--Christian, Gentile, or Pagan--there is no
exception to this fact save in these _United States_ of America.



Strange as it may seem, it is a certain undeniable fact that there is
not, on the entire continent of Europe, or in the entire world, a single
country, Protestant or Catholic, that upholds the Pagan system of
education which has been adopted in this free country. In all of them
Catholic and Protestant children receive religious instruction, during
the school-hours, from their respective pastors. The present system of
the Public Schools in the United States professes to exclude all
religious exercises.

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