IN the course of this last summer of 1833, I had the pleasure of a visit from an old and valued friend, one of the most respectable merchants in the city of Bristol (and this, in my opinion, is no small praise).

We were discussing one day the subject of National Schools, their merits and demerits. He was pleading strenuously for them; and to confirm his arguments, “I will mention,” said he, “a circumstance which happened to me when I was in this part of the world about eleven or twelve years ago I was travelling on a coach somewhere between Sheffield and Leeds, when we took up a lad of fourteen or fifteen years of age; a rough country-looking boy, but well mannered, and of an intelligent countenance.

“I found, upon conversation with him, that he belonged to a National School in the neighbourhood which he was, he said, on the point of leaving. This gave me occasion to ask him various questions, which he answered with so much readiness and vivacity, yet without any self-conceit in his manner, that when the coach stopped (I think it was at Barnsley) for a short time, I took him with me into a bookseller’s shop, and desired him to select some book which I might give him as a testimony of my approbation. After looking at a few which the bookseller recommended, he fixed on a ‘Selection from Bishop Wilson’s Works,’ whose name, he said, he had often heard. He begged me to write his name in it, which I did, and we parted with mutual expressions of good-will; and I will be bold to prophesy that that boy (or young man as he must now be, if he is still alive) is giving, by his conduct, stronger testimony in favour of the National School System, than a thousand of your speculating philosophers can bring against it.”  CONTINUE READING