Page images

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

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

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

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

Wiltshire. Pop. 240,156. Children, in Infant Schools, 1684, - in Day, 18,691, --- in Sabbath,


[ocr errors]


Worcestershire. Pop. 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,

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 141 Boys' Day Schools; 121 Girls' Day Schools; 28 Infant Schools ; making a total of 290 Day Schools, with 20,804 scholars. Its Sabbath Schools are 3797, with 401,383 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.

The English counties widely differ from each other in their civilization and knowledge. Though their pursuits be the same, the natives do not seem of the

Something of the old national character which belonged to those counties, or junctions of counties, seems unobliterated. In Dorsetshire and Wiltshire are the strongholds of ignorance. The peasantry is in a state of rapid and grievous deterioration. In Northumberland there are few who are not able to read. The Sabbath school in that fine county seldom reckons any children who have to learn this humble attainment. It is generally held as a Bible class.

Yet will it not be found a question of geographical degrees There is some truth in the doctrine of races. But why is Cornwall so intelligent, but by its means of religious education ?

same race.

Why is Kent so lost in ignorance, but for that very want ?

The system of Scottish Instruction has found both hearty defenders and opponents. It is strictly parochial. Its schools are 1005 in number. The ground of objection to these schools has appeared to us, very mainly, a dislike of their religious and catechetical character. But while these features are reasons with us for admiring them, we fear that their boasted efficiency is ill-proved. The literary quality is poor. Many of them are ambulatory, and in the thinly peopled parts are held only during four or five months in farm houses. Among coasts so wild, in regions intersected with loch and frith, stretching into headland, broken into islet, serious disadvantages must be felt. These, in all blame, should be allowed. But it is a mistake that the people are educated in these schools. Only one in thirty-eight was so trained, as recently as the year 1818. There is, subsequently to that date, an increase of sixty-two schools. But they come too late. As national they have lost their influence. They were never gratuitous. Each child pays his fee. The endowed stipend would not yield the master the most meagre support.

The General Assembly enquired into the state of Education in the year 1824. It was supposed that elementary training was within reach of all, save the inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands, and these amounted to about 50,000. In 1833 eighty-six additional schools were

« PreviousContinue »