We borrow the following statements on this important subject from Mr. Macgregor's valuable work, entitled Austria and the Austrians. “The foundation of elementary instruction in Austria was first laid in the early part of last century; and soon after, about one in twenty-five of the inhabitants were taught to read. Joseph II. directed his energies to the instruction of youth; but the clergy, high and low, opposed him, and after his death succeeded in establishing generally their own plan of educating children. The government has, however, taken special care that the priests should not have the control over the public instruction, and the law of 1821, consequent to that of 1819, in Prussia, directs that no village in the hereditary dominions shall be without an elementary school; that no make shall enter the marriage state who is not able to read, write and understand casting up accounts; that no master of any trade shall, without paying a heavy penalty, employ workmen who are not able to read and write, and that small books of moral tendency shall be published and distributed, as the lowest possible price, to all the emperor's subjects.
“The provisions of this law appear to me to have been very generally put in force; for I have nowhere in Austria met with any one under thirty years of age who was not able to read and write; and I have found cheap publications, chiefly religious and moral tracts, almanacs, very much like 'Poor Richard's,' containing, with tables of the month, moon's age, sun's rising and setting, the fasts, feast, holydays, markets, and fairs in the empire; and, opposite to the page of each month, appropriate advice relative to husbandry and rural economy, with moral sayings and suitable maxims.
“Besides these and several small elementary books and periodicals, the Penny Magazine is now very generally circulated in Austria. M. Fleischer, the intelligent and spiritized bookseller of Leipzig, having manage to procure stereotypes of the wooden cuts of the London edition, republishes the work in German, and strikes off about 38,000 copies for Austria only. A Heller magazine, published also at Leipzig, is likewise very generally circulated. The spirit of the elementary instruction, if not the most enlightened, inculcates, at every step, morality, the advantage and happiness of a virtuous life, the evils of vice, and the misery consequent on crime.
Colleges and Schools Edit
“I have found no difficulty in procuring statistical returns of the colleges and schools of the empire. From these it appears that, in the eight universities established in the archduchy of Austria, Bohemia, Galicia, Moravia, Tyrol, Styria, and the Italian provinces, viz., Vienna; Prague, in Bohemia; Lemberg, in Galicia; Olmutz in Moravia; Insbruck, in the Tyrol; Gratz, in Styria; and Pavia and Padua, in the Italian states; there are 54 philosophical foundations, with 334 professors, and attended by 7680 students; 55 theological (Catholic), 328 professors, 6120 students; 16 medicine, 150 professors, with assistants; and 8 jurisprudence, 57 professors, 3228 pupils.
“Taking the population of the Austrian dominions, exclusive of Hungary and Transylvania, at 22,500,000, I find that there are 25,121 national elementary schools, divided into first and second classes of primary schools, with 10,280 ecclesiastical, and 22,082 lay teachers. In these schools 2,313,420 children are instructed in reading, writing and accounts; that is, rather, more than one in ten of the whole population. Besides these, there are numerous private schools and institutions. Cannabich gives, for 1835, the following statement: 'Exclusive of nine universities (including Pesth), there are 23 Catholic lyceums and colleges, 7 reformed colleges, 1 Unitarian college, 20 Catholic theological, 1 Protestant theological, and 15 high philosophical foundations; 230 preparatory (vorberertendend) gymnasia (of which 6 are high gymnasia in Hungary), besides special common schools (volkschulen) in the classes of primary, secondary, and practical schools; also burgher schools, and the military and forest institutions; blind, and deaf and dumb institutes at Vienna, Prague, Linz, Waltzen, etc; schools of hydrography and trades; the polytechnic institutes at Vienna and Prague; the medical and chirugical academy at Vienna; to which has been added the optical museum of M. Reichenbach, 14 normal high schools, 57 special institutions for female education, and 4 communities of instruction; besides numerous scientific societies at Vienna, Pesth, Prague, Milan,' etc.
“The inhabitants of Lombardo-Venetia and Lower Austria are the most generally educated. Among them, I think, one in eight must be receiving instruction.
“The universities of Vienna and Padua rank first among those of the empire. The salaries of the professors are, at the former, and I believe at all the universities, paid by the government, and the professors are not allowed to take fees on their own account, nor to deliver lectures, except in their respective colleges. The theological, surgical, and veterinary courses are free to the students; but a fee is exacted for attending lectures on philosophy, medicine, and jurisprudence. These fees are appropriated towards the maintenance of indigent students. The whole course of lectures are read in the German language, excepting some deviations in respect to theology and physic.”
Education in Hungary is not so flourishing a condition as is the German provinces of the monarchy; but even there it is in a much more advanced stated than is generally supposed in this country. A statement, published in the Vienna Gazette, shows that, at an average of ten years, ending with 1834, 20,527 pupils have annually attended the universities and gymnasiums of that kingdom. The university of Pest is by far the wealthiest institution of the kind in Europe. It has a host of professors; and is open to pupils of all religious persuasions. In 1835 it was attended by 1172 Catholics, 253 Protestants, 261 Jews, and 84 Greeks, in all 1770. Besides maintaining a great number of indigent scholars, and a preparatory ecclesiastical seminary, it aids or supports an archi-gymnasium of six classes, and about 3600 district grammar and elementary schoolmasters.
The great defect of Austrian education does not consist in the want of elementary instruction, for that is very widely diffused, but in the jealousy entertained by the government of everything like freedom of inquiry or discussion as to matters connected with the principles of politics, public law, political economy, and even philosophy. These important branches are not taught, at least so as to be made available or useful, and are but little studied in Austria. The board of education (Studienhofcommission) has the appointment of all professors at universities and colleges, and of all teachers at schools. It prescribes the course and distribution of the hours of study, from which not the slightest deviation is permitted; and the scholars of the few private schools are forced to attend the examinations of the public Institutions, to ensure their being taught according to the prescribed system. The effects of this jealous plan of education on political and moral studies are no less perceptible, and but little less injurious than those of the censorship already alluded to.