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ON THE STATISTICS OF DOMESTIC EDUCATION.
It is very necessary that, in our endeavour to estimate the condition of our population as to the means of culture and improvement, we should adopt proper rules for enquiring into its sections and proportions. In the absence of sound information, and in the neglect of rigid proof, we may soon bewilder ourselves, -as the slightest deviation from a right line leads to every divergence.
The common computation gives us, on an average, the one-fourth of our population as children between five and fifteen years of age. About one-fourth part of the population of the American United States is between the ages of four and sixteen. In Massachusetts it is so, almost without a fraction. Says the eloquent Horace Mann, in his Oration before the Authorities of the City of Boston, July 4th, 1842,—“Although there may be slight variations from this ratio in other States, yet undoubtedly the number four is an integer, by far nearer than any other that could be taken, which, when compared with unity or one, would show the ratio between the whole population, and the number of children within them, between the ages of four and sixteen years." The variation is not sufficiently great between the Old and the New Country to affect the argument. But this cannot be the general period for education among the industrious classes. The latter age is too late, and the former is not sufficiently early. The youth, who is fifteen years old, is wanted for labour, and long before. The child of five ought to have been under instruction at least two years before. From three to thirteen years the amount is a little greater than from five to fifteen, and it somewhat exceeds the fourth. But that fourth, though of the educable age, cannot be seen in the general teaching institutions of any country, much less in schools of a partly gratuitous character. It includes not only the offspring of the poor, but likewise of the wealthy and middle orders.
The common computation of statesmen, in their schemes of legislated instruction, has given the eighth of the population as the proper figure for its scope. This, doubtless, anticipates the absorption of many present schools in such a national system. It would seem that it must supersede almost all of a humbler character.
Perfect estimates are not to be obtained. The following are founded upon the best documentary evidence. Parliament has stamped its sanction upon it. It comes to us in the shape of its corrected and authorised reports.
The horrors of the last war being terminated, our struggle for existence as well as place among the nations being crowned with victory, the Imperial Senate was summoned to a new course of investigation. A champion of right and liberty,--profoundly versed in the great question of education, illuminating it with a potent eloquence, rose among his fellows, the advocate of the poor and the scorpion scourge of their oppressors.* He flashed conviction, at least he invoked vengeance, on those who had not only neglected the instruction of the labouring ranks, but embezzled the revenues devoted to it. Malversation could not be more flagrant. The business of the orator was, however, the general education of the people. From 1816 to 1819 a committee sat of which he was chairman. Out of their respective Reports we gather the facts which we now exhibit, public schools being the only subjects of the enquiry. There were 4167 endowed schools. Of unendowed schools there were 14,282. Sunday schools were rated, with manifest injustice, at 5162. The amount of children supposed at that time to be educated in England, was said to be 644,282. Of these 166,000 were at endowed schools, and at the unendowed 478,282. Though the population of England and Wales in 1821 was not quite 12,000,000, here is a discouraging deficiency. But we may now pass from 1821 to 1835. We find the same zealous apologist for education pursuing his cherished theme
* Henry Brougham, Esq., now Lord Brougham.
in a higher assembly. He speaks now as a peer of the realm. According to papers which he produced, he showed, that in ten years the number of children in unendowed schools had considerably more than doubled. The Returns made to the Commons, on the motion of Lord Kerry, showed that this estimate, framed upon a partial account from certain parishes, was borne out by all the parishes of thirty-three counties, from Bedfordshire to Suffolk, alphabetically, inclusive. The list comprehended Lancashire and Middlesex, those densely peopled districts: but the whole consisted of 10,110,000 souls. The result was, that instead of the 478,282 attending the unendowed schools, the scholars had increased to 1,144,000, and the number of schools from a little more than 14,000 to 31,000. The children of the endowed schools were then about 150,000. There was every presumptive proof that all other parts of the kingdom corresponded. Here was good augury. The youth under instruction amounted to 1,300,000. It was as one-eleventh to the population. But that population increased much faster than the means of instruction. It is now at 18,526,925. The consequence, it is to be feared, is an increased disparity. The evil is aggravated, in consequence of the partial distribution of the means. The quantity may be favourable to one portion of the country, and most disastrous for another. There is no general balance. It may be in different districts as one in ten, or one in forty. It is, therefore, manifest, that if not in respect
of the whole, yet, in many parts, of the proper means there is deplorable destitution.
It is a subject of debate, Whether the provisions of education are more ample in municipal, or in rural, districts ? The data are very limited and insufficient. It need not have been inflamed with any party animosity. But the needless assaults made upon the character of the manufacturing districts has awakened a reprisal of argument, and, perhaps, of invective, very prejudicial to cool discussion. We would endeavour to poise the scales. We seek but even-handed award.
Now there are towns and cities which cannot be called manufacturing. They are ports, and either higher or lower capitals. Bristol and Westminster and York, may be adduced for examples. In the first there are 512 day and evening schools, and 86 Sunday schools, making a total of 598 schools. The number of scholas is 21,865. The population is 130,000. This but returns seventeen per cent. of the inhabitants as under instruction. But in some of its suburbs, it is not as four to the hundred. — Westminster is a royal, a legislative, an ecclesiastical, a martial, metropolis. There sleeps the dust of our most illustrious dead. There are all the great Officers of State and Departments of Government. In five of its most extensive parishes, daily instruction, including that which is most inferior and perfunctory down to the common dame-schools, is only given to about one in fourteen. In the largest parishes of London, such as Spitalfields, (which, how