Изображения страниц

as the probable charge against the evil influence of the manufacturing system. But the same holds true, --the commitments have, during this period of seven years, doubled,-in Rutland and Westmoreland. Such contrary evidence is not, therefore, availing on either side. Yet, as it applies to Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Shropshire, as well as to Monmouth, which, as a great mining county, points another way, it is clear that it might be given a preponderance.

There is, notwithstanding, proof of greater demoralization in the agricultural districts. The number of illegitimate children in 1839, 1840, 1841, was double in Norfolk of those of the West Riding of Yorkshire : they were very nearly double in Herefordshire of those of Lancashire. This is peculiarly the sign and test of low gross ignorance: and he who would make light of it, by appealing to the licentiousness of other ranks of life, fails to understand,—that, in the humbler classes, this vice can scarcely obtain very widely among the scattered population, in which homestead virtues were once supposed to find their favourite abode, without a weight of prevailing ignorance that destroys the honour of intercourse and the sense of shame.

It is no wish on our part to disparage any labouring class. We would be the champion of all. We seek the good of all. But when certain criminations are made of one, when at its expense every other is flattered, it becomes a question of truth; and until it be determined, no healing measure can be applied. There

is a yolume which is entitled “Reports of Special Poor Law Commissioners on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture.” It abounds with disgusting facts. Lord Ashley and Sir James Graham cannot have read it, though sitting in the Parliament to which it is addressed, One Reverend and beneficed Clergyman, the Rev. T. A. Maberley, of Cuckfield, Sussex, represents the farmers as opposed to the education of the young: he says, that he "remarks a particular deficiency in the feelings of the women as to chastity: in many instances, they seem hardly to comprehend or value it as a virtue." P. 201. Mr. Gee, of Brothertoft, near Boston, in Lincolnshire, says, “Field-work is a very bad thing for girls : forty-nine out of the fifty are seduced by it." P. 252.

These pectures may be overcharged; these numbers may be exaggerated. We own ourselves incredulous. But for incomparably less flagrant corruptions, for corruptions incomparably less confirmed, have millions been denounced. Why should not the descriptions of both the forms of labouring life be considered as the exception rather than the rule ?

The inhabitant of a manufacturing town has frequent proof of the intellectual difference between the rural, and the technic, labourer. In consequence of the higher wages and increased comforts of the town, many workmen are allured from the country. If they cannot acquire the art themselves, they may obtain some employment kindred to their own; the temptation is to provide for their children. They are seen,

side by side, with the native artizan. It is not invidious remark, it is overpowering fact, that they are very inferior in mental quickness and general knowledge. The great probability is that they are wholly uneducated. The contrast is almost in daily view. The question may be always arbitrated.

Innumerable examples are multiplied, throughout the breadth of our land, of the good which the more privileged classes love to do. Where is the estate of the nobleman on which abuts not the school, where is the school which he disdains to inspect, or in which his children shrink to take their part? Where is the clergyman who does not feel that his school is only less sacred than his altar? Yet this is precarious support. The system cannot overtake the range of the wide-spread population. But in our manufacturing resorts the foundation of instruction is more sure. Voluntary and generous as are those forms which we describe, it has a deeper hold. The intellectual pledge is in the community of minds. The employment and character of that population must cease when ingenuity finds nothing to sharpen it, and improvement nothing to extend it. Education, therefore, is more systematic and information more diffused.

A few of the agricultural counties may be surveyed in their population and in the number of their children under instruction. The date is the year 1836. The result is against the boasted superiority of these districts.

Cambridgeshire. Population, 143,955. Children, in Infant Schools, 704,-in Day, 14,565,--in Sabbath, 14,051.

Buckinghamshire. Population, 146,529. Children, in Infant Schools, 769,-in Day, 10,065, --in Sabbath, 20,728.

Dorsetshire. Population, 159,252. Children, in Infant Schools, 2201,--in Day, 15,957,-in Sabbath, 19,830.

Norfolk. Population, 390,054. Children, in Infant Schools, 2751,- in Day, 32,377, — in Sabbath, 30,420.

Oxfordshire. Population, 152,126. Children, in Infant Schools, 1381,-in Day, 14,558,- in Sabbath, 16,738.

Wiltshire. Population, 240,156. Children, in Infant Schools, 1684, -in Day, 18,691,-in Sabbath, 31,155.

Worcestershire. Population, 211,565. Children, in Infant Schools, 2335,-in Day, 15,523,-in Sabbath, 20,705.

The census of 1841 gives a large increase upon this population, which was taken in 1831. Twenty thousand may, on the average, be added, to that of each county

The ratio of education has not been equalised to this increase.

The extent of education in England and Wales can only be guessed. The Established Church plies a large parochial system, in every ramification of which

we might expect some attempt to instruct the young. Though this be general, we fear that it is far from universal. In the National Schools there are 590,000 children. The British and Foreign School Society, nobly standing aloof from all sectarianism, but as practically antagonised to all spurious latitude, cannot anticipate that numerical success which partizanship brings. Perhaps it reckons not the sixth of that amount which its rival, and later born, agency can boast. The Wesleyan community, that immense organization of zeal and influence, is only just putting forth its promised strength. It claims even now (1845), according to the returns made to the Conference held at Leeds, 332 Day Schools, with 30,686 scholars. Its Sabbath Schools are 4013, with 417,903 scholars. True to itself, the educatory effort of this community lives in increase and progress. The Congregationalist and the Antipædobaptist Denominations may safely reckon their Sabbath Schools by their churches, many of both sustaining others in the hamlets of their neighbourhood. Their Home Mission Reports would show that religious education is the favourite object of their labour, and the rigid criterion of their success. In the manufacturing district aforesaid the efforts of these bodies have been greatly extended. The Sabbath Schools of the former comprehend 57,308 scholars taught by 9014 teachers; and though the other includes far fewer churches, and perhaps less wealth, it exists not without an equal energy and a proportionate result.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »