Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

where many barter away their resources and their character for pleasures which are contemptible in themselves, and baneful to the working man's family.

In agricultural districts, these suggestions would not, perhaps, prove practicable without important modifications; but I am concerned with the education more particularly of our towns and manufacturing villages, and I cannot but think that the plan I have mentioned is easy of adoption, and would work most beneficially. Certainly it would avoid many causes of the jealousy that some working men may entertain against plans of education which put a new influence into the hands of the wealthy or aristocratic classes of society. Nor is it its least recommendation that it would evade altogether that ecclesiastical strife and distrust by which the churchman and dissenter have, in this kingdom, prevented the establishment of a general national system of popular education.

It may indeed be a fond conceit, but I must say that I am very desirous that this suggestion should be known, canvassed, and tried : and so anxious am I that the people should be led to look exclusively to themselves for the supply of their own wants, and be no further weakened in the very vitals of their strength, independence, and happiness, by the extension of the charity system, that I am somewhat unwilling to divert the mind of my reader from this to any other resource.

It may, however, be pleaded, that some pecuniary assistance would be indispensable. If so, let the operation of the charity system be kept away, and let the resources which shall be found of absolute necessity, be sought for in quarters where the plea of right may be preferred and sustained on the part of the people. Now millions of property exist in this kingdom designed by the donors for the furtherance of education, but which is either useless, or less useful than it might be made,who has so good a claim to this as the bulk of the nation ? Here are resources ample enough for all our wants. There is perhaps even more, more in amount, and more in annual income, than with my views of the value of independence, and of the people's furnishing the supply of their own wants, I should like them to make use of. However, there is enough to provide school houses and school apparatus, to establish normal or model schools, and to establish seminaries for the education and training of popular educators. More than this I do not ask. Let the people furnish the teacher's salary out of their own earnings. It is an effort which they ought to make, which it will do them good to make, which it will be for their children's advantage they should make. I may add, they will estimate more highly the education they pay for, and they will in time take effectual care that“ that for which they expend their money is the best of its kind. At least, if this supervision—the supervision of the parent, is not all that could be wished, it is not likely to be improved under a system of charity, or if our popular schools were subjected to the many defects of committeemanagement. Should it, however, be required that a part of the master's salary should come from some other source than the means of the parents-the whole of it I can by no means allow to proceed from any other source-should, however, a part be demanded, and should it be maintained that thus the independence of the master would be best upheld, and a judicious choice of masters be most effectually secured when there is a joint action of the richer and the poorer, the more and the less instructed classes, in providing the means of popular education, then let the required resources be furnished by a local tax, a tax assessed, and its expenditure directed, under popular control -a tax on all the members of each community, inasmuch as all are more or less, but all deeply, interested in the results of popular education.

I must mention one more requisiteit is time. Without time nothing can be done. As the custom is of sending children into our factories, there is not scope even for their physical education, much less their intellectual and moral culture. They are occupied too early, far too early in life, and too long each day, to allow of the requisite discipline. I cannot think without pain, of young children being enslaved to any severe bodily employment. It is a part of a system of intense and exhausting toil which prevails in this country, and which, undiversified as it is by suitable recreations, amusements, and refinements, threatens to undermine the strength, as it has already done something to undermine the virtue of our working population. And if the physical effects on the existing generation of adults have been less injurious than might be expected, it is probably attributable to the fact, that many of those who are engaged in these oppressive bodily pursuits, brought with them out of the country situations in which they were reared, the hale and robust constitutions which such situations, nor least, the outdoor labour incident to them, are calculated to form. May we not, however, be justified in looking with apprehension to the rising race, and to their offspring, when our children are brought up not in the pure air of heaven, but in the narrow limits, elevated temperature, and impure air of the factory and workshop? I fear for the result. I do not indeed profess to give implicit credit to the tales that are current as to the bane

ful effects of factories on the health of their inmates. I have no doubt but that party politics have chosen the factories as an advantageous field of battle. With efforts of this nature I have no fellow-feeling; but on general principles, principles which are based on the laws of human well-being, I am forced to believe that this early labour in these comparatively confined precincts, must be injurious to the body, dwarfing to the mind, and detrimental to the morals.

It is with me an unquestionable fact, that Nature designed no small period of early life to be spent in healthful play-in that exercise of the frame, that invigorating and joyous exercise which children so well know how to give themselves, when left to indulge their own impulses in the free breath and under the uncovered eye of day. Look at the child who enjoys what I may term natural air and exercise-who wanders at will over the earth-climbs its hills or its mountains, bathes in its rivers or seas, plucks its flowers, inhales its breezes—look at his ruddy cheeks, his bright glad eye, hear his hearty laugh, and notice his strong and well-proportioned frame :—then turn to the factory child, on a summer's morn, when every thing within and without him, conspires to call him abroad into the green fields, sauntering heavily on to his labour :-or in the depth of winter, chilled or wet with rain hurrying through the inclement weather, to the gas-lighted morning task, at which he will have to keep as long as nature furnishes her overplied energies—look at these two children, mark the contrast—the contrast of their circumstances, the contrast in their spirits and their prospects, and then say which of the two is likely to prove the more successful scholar; nay, whether there is any hope that he whose bodily frame is laden as heavily as its physical powers can bear, offers any prospect of satisfactory mental or moral improvement. Little can be done till the educator has the young under his charge, at least nearly all the time that can be spared from play and recreation. If we would have a robust and happy peasantry-a people possessed of both the ability and the will to fulfil the duties of mature life, we must take effectual measures to shield the young from the exhaustion consequent on premature bodily labour. Indeed, up to the age of twelve, if not fourteen, the time of a child should mainly be spent in education-in play the education of the body, and study the education of the mind. And here again I would remind the parent, that with him lies the determination of the question, with him almost exclusively, certainly far more than with the legislature. If only parents were made sensible of what the welfare of their children requires, and were so enlightened and self-denying as to resolve to make that welfare a consideration paramount to every other, I should have good hope, nay an assurance, that the time which is indispensably necessary for the education of their offspring, would be kept free from entrenchment. Either by their own act or by their influence on legislation, their children would be preserved from severe labour until their bodies were in some good measure prepared, and their mind informed, disciplined and strengthened.

J. R. B.

ART. IV.-AN INQUIRY INTO THE DOCTRINE OF THE

INNATE CORRUPTION OF HUMAN NATURE : · BEING AN EXAMINATION OF THOSE PARTS OF · SCRIPTURE ON WHICH IT HAS BEEN FOUNDED.

In the present times, it requires no small amount of moral courage to attempt openly to inquire into the truth of any doctrine, announced as infallible by those who have obtained the privilege of directing the religious concerns of Christians. Society is so deeply impressed by the belief that inquiry is not only unnecessary, but sinful, as to make it imperative on every one who dares to think for himself, and to make known opinions differing from such as have been promulgated, to reconcile himself to a kind of moral banishment from among his acquaintances, and sometimes even from among his connections and relations. It is lamentable to think that a man dare not attach his name to any discussion calling in question the doctrines of men, lest he should offend and estrange those with whom he is connected by the ties of friendship, or bonds yet more dear. Jesus Christ said truly, he came not to bring peace, but a sword; and described correctly what the condition of families would be. The accuracy of his judgment of human nature, unenlightened and misdirected, is proved abundantly by the present state of the Christian world. The contemplation of this is painful; but the cause of justice and truth must not be forsaken.

Whatever degree of confidence may be given to men, who make Christianity their especial study, when we find such men differing widely among themselves in reference to points of belief, it is certain there must be something in the object of their study that is not clearly defined, and consequently not suited to the comprehension of all. Were this not the case, there could be no difference of opinion. The fact, however, being that there is, it is surely more becoming the dignity of man's intellectual nature that each individual should inquire for himself, than to prostrate his reason, which God has given to him, before other men, without inquiry, or having any rational foundation for belief. As the Psalmist says, “ It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

There is no command more frequently issued from the pulpit than this,-Search the Scriptures. What is the meaning of this command ? Is it that wc should open the Bible, read it without reflection, and again shut it? Or does it mean that

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »