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able circumstances, and how far the education which the children in these schools are receiving falls short of that which, under more favourable circumstances, they might receive, and taking into my view that 95 per cent. of them are actually under this age, I cannot disguise from myself that, notwithstanding all the zealous efforts and great personal sacrifices of their promoters, if all were equally good with these, and every locality were adequately provided with such schools, the impression made would be neither great nor permanent.
It is difficult by any stretch of imagination to conceive how that amount of learning shall be communicated to a child before he is 12 years of age which shall be too much learning for him to possess when he becomes a man; especially as he will have forgotten the greater portion of it in the interval. Certain I am that those persons who are beset by fears lest too much should be done for the education of those whose lot it is to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow (and in the discharge of my official duties I have met with many such) may console themselves with this fact.
The early age at which the children are taken away from school is the great discouragement of the friends of education ; it is the hopeless side of the question. No other obstacle appears to them altogether insurmountable but this.
True it is that the children remain longer in good schools than in bad ones; the parents thereby shewing that they are willing to make some sacrifice that their children may have the benefit of what they consider to be a good education ; but they cannot make a sufficient sacrifice. The smallness of the earnings of an agricultural labourer renders that sacrifice an impossibility to him. It is necessary to the child's being fed and clothed that it should, itself, contribute to the cost of these wants from the earliest period when it is able to do so. To the sum (from 6s. to 10s. per week) otherwise applicable to the maintenance of the family, it is necessary that the labourer should add the ls. 6d. or 28. per week which his child can earn.
To authenticate this fact, I have ascertained in what way in a small country parish in Surrey the children under the age of 15 are disposed of. The following are the particulars. The number of inhabitants at the last census was 333.
Statistics of a a small parish.
The ages of the children at work are as follows.
Of the nine boys employed in farmers' work, five earn 2s.
and only two above 10. Four girls above 12 attend, but none above 14.
I regret not to have been able to obtain these particulars in respect to a larger number of persons; they are, however, strictly accurate in respect to the little parish to which they refer. That it is a parish fortunate in the supervision of a zealous clergyman may be judged of from the fact, that there are only two children above the age of five years who, not being at work, do not attend the school. It is
, moreover, a parish in which wages are higher than in most others; ranging from 9s. to 11s. per week.
. . I have heard it alleged by parents as a reason for not sending Oljected by their children to school, when they are of an age to be useful to if the chilthem at home or to go to work, that they are fearful lest, having long term had too much learning, they should not take kindly to labour. school they
Some weight might be attached to this argument, if, in the kindly tu kind of labour to which the child was first put, any consideration were had as to its influence on his future well being as a labourer. To those persons who deny that the growth of a man's understanding lends any aid to the development of his religious character,* and who hold, that to make a labouring man sober, honest, industrious, and frugal, thews and sinews only are needed and not principles—a hardy constitution but not a sound mind-a body inured to labour but not an enterprising spirit, or a good understanding, or self-respect or forethought-it might seem a doubtful question, whether, in sacrificing the wages which the child would earn to send him to school, the labourer was in truth benefiting his child. If the child's pursuits when he left school were calculated to give him habits of industry and self-dependence, it might be considered
will not take
* It is not easy, nevertheless, to shut one's eyes to the fact, that the religious conwanity of tbis country identifies itself with the educated classes.
labour to which the
influence on his future
better, by persons holding these opinions, that he should be
taken as early as possible from school. The case is, however, of tabekind far otherwise. There is no consideration had, of the influence of
the sort of work to which he is first put, on the formation of put, no con- the character of the good labourer in him. His usefulness, sideration is and not his welfare, is the thing considered ; and a long and
dreary interval is allowed to intervene, between the time he well-being. leaves school and that when his industrial education can, in
any sense, be said to begin. He goes, it may be, into the fields at day-break, to drive away the birds from the growing crops, and continues there until sunset; or he is sent out to watch pigs or geese, or to keep cattle or sheep. Thus employed, he is conversant with the same horizon, contends with the same flock of sparrows, traverses the boundaries of the same field, leans daily against the same gate, or sits under the same hedge for months, and, perhaps, for years together. It is difficult to conceive what, under such" circumstances, is the state of the mind of a poor child, stored with nothing to reflect upon, and unaccustomed to reflect ; with nothing to undertake, and nothing to accomplish, beyond that one wearisome duty ; passing months and years of the most characteristic portion of its life in a state approaching as nearly as may be to one of sterile indolence.
The intellectual stagnation of an existence like this eats into the soul of the child. I have often been told by those who have taken the pains to ascertain it, of the marvellous inroads it makes in his character ; what a cloud it brings over his understanding, how in a few months scarce a trace remains of the knowledge he had acquired at school, except, perhaps, its most technical and mechanical elements, and how seldom his conduct gives any evidence of those religious influences to which it had been a principal object of the school to subject him. In truth, although his intellectual life has been stagnating, it has not been thus with the life of his senses. On the side of these lies all his danger. The school had established, indeed, some equipoise of the moral and intellectual elements of his being, and of the sensual; but the preponderance of the latter has begun; and the animal in him is destined to grow with his growth and strengthen with his strength, as the antagonist principle shrinks in its dimensions by disuse, until the one is wholly lost in the excess of the other.
It requires, moreover, but little knowledge of a labouring population to feel assured, that the persons with whom the boy associates in these idle hours may contribute, not less than his occupation, to form in him an indolent, a dishonest, and a profligate character. Nor is he likely to experience any useful moral supervision, or prudent guidance and support at the
hands of his master, if the following character drawn of the relation of the agricultural labourer to his employer by an acute and impartial observer be true:
“ The farmer," says Mr. Dawes, “has no notion of worth in the labourer as a man or as a fellow-creature; but only values him as a machine or instrument by which a certain quantity of work is performed, and does not think that, although he professes to be a Christian, it is any part of his duty, as such, to endeavour to improve the moral condition of the labourers under him, by making them more intelligent.'
Such being the industrial training of the agricultural la- The creation bourer at that period of his life, the impression of which is the bodiel most durable, it is scarcely to be considered strange that in necessary every parish there should be so large a portion of labourers result of this
training. trained up to be paupers-men without the intelligence or the energy, or the moral courage, or the spirit of independence necessary to pursue with success the humblest calling.
Having made many inquiries on this subject, I have learned with surprise how large a class, that is, of men who burden the rates, not by reason of inability to labour, or of profligacy, or dishonesty, but for the want of aptitude, a spirit of independence, thriftiness, and industry. It is difficult to explain this, except by supposing that at some early period of their lives indolence and apathy, and a sense of moral bondage, had been allowed to grow upon them.†
As the demand for labour in the parish increases, these are the last men in respect to whom it is taken up; and when it diminishes, they are the first who are thrown out of employ, whilst the intelligent, enterprising, and industrious labourer, so long as he is in health, is rarely or ever unemployed.
The resources of education, taken in its widest sense as a The rereligious, a moral, and an industrial education, must be education strangely mismanaged if they do not diminish this great army of able-bodied paupers, which, considered with reference to its if they do dependence upon the rates and to the recruits which it sends diminish the to the criminal population of the country, is among the great-able-bodied est evils with which it is burdened.
In speaking of the unfavourable influence on the children of agricultural labourers, of the kind of work to which they are first put, when they leave school, I have referred only to the boys.
The case is, however, no better with the girls. It is true The case of that they do not leave school so early as the boys, because work better than cannot be found for them so soon. Few of them remain, how
mist te mismawaged
that of the boys.
*" Hints on a Self-paying System of Education," p. 19.
' † As an illustration of this remark, I may state that, in a union workhouse in which were assembled from 400 to 500 paupers, I was informed by the master that there were only a very small number from whom he could obtain any useful labour, and that these were persons who had been brought to poverty by drunkemiess or unchastity.
The attention of the toients of education much diTected for these reasons
of industrial training.
ever, after the age of 12 or 13. When they have left, an interval is generally passed at home, occupied, perhaps, in assisting in household work or in nursing. Meanwhile a place is sought
' for them, to which they are considered eligible at 14. Their first service is commonly at the house of a little tradesman or small farmer; and but a small portion of them ever advance, I am informed, to any higher grade of service, the majority returning home, after a few years, to work in the fields.
The occupations of children of both sexes in town districts, and in rural districts which have some staple manufacture, are, of course, different, but in all I have found the opinion to pre
vail, that the period when they first leave school is fraught with to the subject danger; that the seeds of profligacy are then sown, and the
foundations of pauperism laid; and that nothing is more to be desired than that some educational supervision should be exercised over them during the period which intervenes before they enter upon a life of active labour; associated with some well. considered course of industrial training. With this view the attention of the friends of education has been much directed to
industrial schools. Several such schools have been established The Royal in my district, and among them the Royal Schools in the Great
Park at Windsor. Fifty boys and 50 girls are there instructed Greut Park in various branches of useful knowledge, and trained to habits
The school-buildings, which are most conveniently arranged, include a kitchen and a washhouse; and two and a-half acres of ground adjacent to them are set apart for a school-garden. The children are clothed by Her Majesty, and dine at the school.
It being understood to be Her Majesty's wish that the girls should be so traiñed in the school as to fit them for service, and to enable thein to discharge in after-life the duties of wives and mothers, to the usual instruction in religious and secular knowledge a good deal of useful teaching in domestic economy is added. Besides making their own clothes and those of the boys, they do (assisted by one maid-servant) all the householdwork of the schools—the cleaning, cooking, washing, and baking
The schools are placed under the care of a master and a mistress, each of whom is assisted by two apprenticed pupilteachers, and whose residences form part of the school-buildings. The mistress, besides her duties in the school, is charged with the industrial training of the girls, and with the entire management of the household department.
The children are assembled at 8 o'clock. The boys continue at their lessons until 12 o'clock. From 107to 12 the girls work in the kitchen.
At 12 o'clock they dine. From 124 to 2 o'clock the girls