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in 1841. Houghton Regis (Endowment £50) 1661 An endowed school, attended on the
day of my visit by seven boys; the master attends to other
matters. Husborn Crawley
656 Lidlington (Endowment £2 138. 4d.) • 926 The clergyman states that the
Duke of Bedford would subscribe
liberally towards a school-room. Marston Moretayne
1147 Maulden (Endowment £8 10s. 6d.) 1330 Meppershall (Endowment £15) 500 A grant of £15 was made in 1841 by
the Bedford Board towards the
erection of a school-room. Northill (Endowment £21 14s.) 1280 Odell .
501 Old Warden
600 It is hoped that an infant-school will
soon be established here. The squire is represented to me as
anxious to do so. Pulloxhill.
611 A prospect of a school-room being
soon built here. Ridgmont
594 A school, not in connexion with the
Church, maintained in this parish
by the squire. Shitlington
656 Wilhampstead (Endowment £10 118.6à.) 763 The endowed school kept in a poor
room under an inefficient master. Hope of a new room being soon
1122 In Cambridgeshire there are more than 30 parishes joining each other (except where they are broken by the line of Sawston, Great Abington, Linton, Horseheath, Shudy Camps, and Castle Camps), that edge the south and south-eastern limits of the county, sadly deficient in daily schools of value for the poor.
In the six parishes excepted above, school-rooms have been built and teachers of more or less efficiency are at work, but the following parishes in the district marked as deficient, have a population exceeding 500. Population.
797 Guilden Morden
572 At Bassingbourne (population 1774) there is a school for girls and infants under a mistress, which was closed at the time of my visit, the school-room being under repair; and both at Bassingbourne and at Melbourne (population 1474) there are British schools which did not fall under my inspection.
At Dullingham (population 758), Duxforth (population 763), and Whittlesford (population 579), there are schoolmasters who have not been trained for their work; and at Balsham (population 1271), there is an infant school. It should be noticed also that at this place and at Brinkley (population 366), and Litlington (population 722), there is a prospect of school-rooms being soon built, and of a considerable improvement.
In the following parishes, also, in which the population at the last census reached 500 (although, as will be seen, there are in some cases considerable endowments devoted to the maintenance of nominal schools), there cannot, as I fear, be found a single intelligent or properly-trained teacher at work in the daily instruction
of the poor.
in Census of 1841.
Population in Census of
1820 Mepal (Endowment £15). Caxton
556 Newmarket (All Saints) 813 Chippenham (Endowment £20) 666 Parson Drove (Endowment £14) 828 Comberton
520 Waterbeach (Endowment £34) 1270 Downham
2140 Wicken* Fen Drayton
537 Willingham (Endowment £35) 1454 Isleham. 2127 Witcham
502 Leverington (Endowment £40) 1954 Witchford Littleport 3365 Wood Ditton
1016 In Huntingdonshire, north of St. Neots, and west of Graffham Leighton and Old Weston, there is a strip of land which, taking in the interlacing corners of Bedfordshire, contains from 14 to 16 parishes, and is without daily schools of worth for the poor. From this district, however, Kimbolton should be excepted, in which there is at present a school for little children, under a mistress, capable of improvement, and where the Duke of Manchester has recently built, and is about to open, schools for older children. + At Great Staughton, there is an endowment of 181. 10s., but the school has been closed temporarily for want of funds; similarly north-west of Steeple Gidding, Sawtry, and Conington, there are 18 parishes lying together, and forming a corner of the county, without, as I believe, a single teacher trained to the work, or fitted by natural gifts and intelligence to have charge of a school.
It is possible that I may have unconsciously overlooked some teachers whom I ought to have taken notice of, but I have felt the state of things as described to be very lamentable, and I have taken pains not to represent matters more unfavourably than they deserve.
* There is here an endowed school that was visited, as will be seen subsequently. The Curate is anxious for improvement, but I fear not much can be looked for as long as the present teachers last.
† A daily school has lately (Dec. 1844) been established at Thurning, and a daily school is in progress at Catworth. It'should be noticed also that two of these fourteen parishes are united with Old Weston, where the clergyman (recently appointed) has lately erected a commodious building, and opened a school
If my impressions, as stated above, be properly grounded, ought not every landed proprietor in these districts, especially every one enjoying the produce of tithes or other property originally left for the supplying of the spiritual necessities of a parish, to ask himself if he has done all in his power to meet the circumstances of those whom Providence has specially intrusted to his charge ?
Surely no one who is conversant with the habits, feelings, and vices of our agricultural population, will (if he seriously contemplate the matter) consider it to be of small importance whether or not the present generation be better brought up than the last Parts of these counties lie under peculiar disadvantages; there have been in the fen districts, and in some of the clay lands of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire few resident gentry, and, up to a recent period, few resident clergymen. Instances are mentioned of clergymen not many years back, living in towns seven miles or more distant from their cures; and habitually on the Sunday riding round to three churches to hurry through a single service in each, and scarcely to be seen in the parish during the interval that succeeded, until another Sunday brought with it the accustomed routine. And especially round Cambridge, until the last 10 or 15 years, most of the parishes (in some cases to a distance of 12 miles) were left to the care of fellows resident in the University, and who being engaged during the week in college duties, had rarely, the power to attempt much beyond the supply of the formal services of the church. It is true that this sad state of things no longer exists, but the country must for some years continue to reap the ill haryest sown during the past period of neglect.
In these counties (with the assistance that is afforded by your Lordships, the National Society and the Archidiaconal Boards), it is difficult to understand why any parish, such as those which I have noted where the population exceeds 500, should be in want of a proper schoolroom; provided only moderate exertions were made by the clergyman and the landowners. The Huntingdon Board has not recently published a balance-sheet showing the state of its finances; but from the printed reports of the Cambridge Board, it appears that the Committee have invested money each year
since the formation of the Board in December 1839, and that out of a gross receipt of more than 23001., about two-thirds have been deposited in the public funds. Similarly in Bedfordshire, money has been subscribed and is waiting for claimants. The Board would doubtless feel that the erection of school-rooms (if only the aid given called out a proportional amount of local exertion), was a far more profitable investment of their resources.
One thing that caused me considerable pain during my tour in these counties, was the avowal in conversation from persons, who were themselves blessed with every advantage of early training and the soundest education, of the opinion that schools were but of doubtful good ; so that even where pains were taken towards
their maintenance, I found instances of persons speaking as if they chose the establishment of a school as the least of two evils, under the impression that if a teacher were not set to work subject to their influences, others subject to worse would find employment in the district. Until I went into this part of England, I think I never had official intercourse with any that maintained such a position, and judging from the apathy exhibited in some cases as to how little really valuable instruction was supplied in a school, I certainly have never elsewhere met with such practical evidence of the sincerily with which these opinions may be held.
It is acknowledged by all, that intellectual light is essentially distinct from moral strength; and yet in the case of two persons, one illiterate the other not so, but who had both been equally careless about the great ends for which we are sent into this world, I suppose every clergyman would feel, in visiting such at the close of life, that the case of the one whose intelligence had been previously exercised, was not, humanly speaking, so hopeless as that of the other, the gratification of whose animal appetites could never have been postponed for the enjoyment found in the exercise of the rational faculties of the mind, all whose perceptions have been blunted by a long habitude of insensibility, while every avenue to the soul is clogged by the accumulated obstructions of a life spent if not in sensuality, at least in the engagements and cares of the passing hour without any thought about futurity. All our faculties are liable to misuse, and will, unless there be watchfulness on our part and strength given from above, be more and more deteriorated; yet we cannot believe that any power that is given to man is in its nature evil; and therefore if a child were born with cataracts on its eyes one would earnestly desire their removal, although the organ so purged might proye hereafter the inlet to lust, and thus become not a blessing but a curse ; so much more as it seems to me should we all, in steadfast belief of the truth of that teaching which assures us that the soul be without knowledge it is not good, labour earnestly for the instruction of those around us, and cultivate their faculties to the uttermost. Every sober-minded person would desire that right things should be kept in their right places, but we do not add strength to what is most important, by designedly crippling that which is less important, and I could not but strongly feel, after visiting some of the parishes in this district, that it is not enough to have nominal schools, but that schools to be really valuable must, according to their measure and degree, be really efficient.
It may seem a truism to make such a statement, but there is occasion for it. I met with instances of persons truly benevolent who spent considerable sums on the comfort and improvement of those about them, who yet in the matter of education were contented with that which was the mere shadow of a school, which in no sense deserved the name. For example, an instance occurred of payments being made by a wealthy person to maintain children at a dame-school, and on being taken to visit that school by the maker of those payments, we found not a single child able perfectly to tell all its letters. In this case the person making the payments was, until the period of my visit, in some degree ignorant of the character of the school supported; but more specific instances of satisfaction with a state of things scarcely less deplorable might easily be adduced. A school which I visited, which was in connexion with the Diocesan Board, and which, with another of the same character, costs its benevolent supporter 301.
per annum, is held in a cottage under a woman of excellent character and of great exactness and diligence, but who is so incapable of anything beyond the merest rote teaching that she forces the children, after they have read a parable, to learn by heart all the answers published in Mr. Iremonger's Book of Questions on the Parables. I found the children perfectly prepared with these, but the lesson had been so taught that I was not able to vary the questions, either in words or in the order in which they had been printed to succeed each other, without bringing the children into a hopeless puzzle, and getting, in the case of the order of the questions being changed, the wrong
answer to fit my question. In this case, a curate who had recently come to the parish had considerably mended matters with regard to two or three children that were in the first class of the Sunday-school, but apart from these the most anxious inquirer could, as I believe, have hardly detected a glimmering of intelligence; for the conscientious precision with which the dame had done her work had laid fetters upon the children's minds, binding them down to a literal accuracy which seemed more pertinaciously obstructive of growth in intelligence than the freer discipline of even a more negligent teacher. I would not undervalue the good derived to the children from being constantly in the company of one who faithfully did her work according to her ability, and who, possessing excellent qualifications of temper and character, had she been herself educated, might have proved a most efficient teacher; but I could not help feeling that much was thrown away, and especially (if need were that the children should be confined to rote work) that it would have been unspeakably more profitable, as well as more delightful, for the children to have learned by heart with the same pains some passages of Scripture directly inculcating practical principles, in the place of the questions and answers of Mr. Iremonger's work.
Let me give an example or two more. I visited a parish where the clergyman informed me that he had a school, where also there was a small endowment, a wealthy landed proprietor disposed to do whatever might appear desirable for the poor of the place, and a clergyman who, from all I heard of him, seemed both able and willing to supply the temporal wants of the flock intrusted to his charge, Here, however, under the name of the school, I