Page images
PDF
EPUB

but that they have been forced upon returning in a state of intoxication, only practical men, in various parts of the increases their misery, and further viticountry, at the same time, by a per. ates their morals. Such is the condition ception of the evils with which the of nine-tenths of the national school boys. existing system is fraught, we shall Poverty compels the labourer to perform subjoin a few extracts from the most that duty which is essential to the well esteemed of our contemporaries, and being of the whole nation. Poverty, a few tables illustrative of its work- therefore, is not the evil, but indigence ing in Great Britain and Ireland.

and debasement which leads to crime. The first authority we shall refer

refor in the Lancasterian schools not the slightto on this head is the well-known

est effort is made to excite, or exercise

the mind; not one moral axiom is inculauthor of Old Bailey Experience.

cated; no precepts of principle are in- The national schools,” says this ex- stilled into the mind; all is mere rote perienced writer, " have taught their and mechanism : their scholars offer to scholars immorality, hence the demoraliza- the world the most extraordinary collection of the rising generation. The very tion of tyros in crime ever seen or heard calling togetber so many low-born chil- of in the history of it." * dren daily, without some plan being first T he next witness, to the same eflaid down for a moral guardianship over fect, is from the Dorset County Chrothem, justifies the assertion, that they are nicle of December 12. 1833. taught immorality, and I will add (for I

nicle of December 12, 1833. know it) crime, at these establishments.

“ For some twenty or thirty years, There is nothing of a mental nature per

er the Edinburgh Review, and its kindred formed in them: a hundred boys at one journals, inculcated little other doctrine time are taught to bawl out Lon-lon

than the benefit of farming upon a large don-don. London, with a few more scale—the benefit of educating upon a words, which leads them in the end to large scale--the benefit of legislating for learn just enough of reading to enable the poor upon comprehensive principles, them to peruse a twopenny Life of Tur- and such stuff. This doctrine has unpin, or Jonathan Wild, proceeding to the fortunately been too successful. Cottages lives of the bandits in regular course,

and farm houses have been desolated, in when, with this, and they have taught

order to give full sweep to the influence each other such matter as they all gather

of capital. Children have been gathered from their honest and virtuous parents,

into schools as capacious and almost as their education is completed, they being

densely crowded as criminal prisons, there fully qualified to figure on the pavé as

to acquire some knowledge of reading and pickpockets. It needed not inspiration, writing, possibly, but certainly much of nor prophetic powers, to see that the the morals of the gaol. Beer-shops hare Lancasterian schools must necessarily be

been opened under every hedge, lest accicome participes criminis in disorganizing

dent and locality should interrupt the the relations of society, the very locale of easy course of vice; and the working of the plan does it.”

the whole system is found to be a miser

able degradation of the state, and a more Again

melancholy depravation of the morals of “ From the national schools, I never the labouring class. In every sense of yet met with a lad who had the least tbe word, man has decayed as wealth has notion of any self-exercise of the mind. accumulated. All this ought to have A good and rigid system of moral educa- been foreseen. There is, in form, but tion is the more needed for the children one education which can fit a man in the of the poor, as the habits of their parents humble ranks of life for the industrious are generally opposed to good example. and contented discharge of all his duties, At an early age they are carried to a and that is domestic education. It has public-house, filled with low company; been said, and wisely said, that children swearing and drunkenness is always be- are the worst possible company for each fore them; no babits of frugality are other. We, however, could suggest, we taught them; and when money is obtained, think, a worse accumulation, and that is luxuries and drink swallow up all in one the exclusive society of adults, more day, reckless of to-morrow. Often with particularly of male adults, unrefined by out any home but the tap-room, or, if a high---we will say by very high-intelhome, no fire or parent to share it with lectual discipline. The great Author of them till the middle of the night, who, our being, who has adapted all things

• Old Bailey Experience, p. 17.

with consummate wisdom, appoints that Another vigorous intelligent prono such separation shall exist in the great vincial paper, the Bath Herald, mass of mankind—appoints that parents makes the following observations:-* and children sball live in constant asso. ciation, presenting a reciprocal censorship

“ The system of education, without inupon the morals of both; for, let it not

dustry and without labour, has assuredly be supposed that such censorship is wanted

been tried long enough, and we would only for the child, or that, in domestic

fearlessly appeal to the honest observer life, it is exercised only by the parent.

whether it has not completely failed Whoever considers the subject will see

whether the criminal courts will not dethat the presence of a child is the best

monstrate that crime has extended in a possible monitor for the conduct of a pa

fearful degree to that portion of society in rept-a better monitor even than the

which the want of knowledge cannot be presence of a parent is for the conduct of

adduced as the origin of the evil-whether, a child. This has particular reference to

after the multiplication of schools and the wbat is commonly understood to be purity

myriads of tracts which have been disseof morals and conversation. It is scarcely minated;

minated, we have not, at this present monecessary to advert to the constant re

ment, three millions of paupers, beggars, membrance of the duties of evergy and

thieves, and prostitutes, to attest the failure assiduity presented by the company of a of this national scheme, however plausible dependent offspring. 'I was,' said the and however well-intentioned--whether late Lord Erskine, constitutionally an

we have not frightful instances of the unindolent and bashful man; but when I

feeling indifference of our educated chilput on my gown, I habituated myself to

dren to any moral responsibility, even in think that my little children were pluck.

that moment of awful import, when the ing at the skirts ; and this taught me to

terror of approaching judgment ought to overcome the love of ease and the fears to

be supposed to affect the most hardened wbich a diffident man is subject.' There

insensibility–whether, even according to is notbing like domestic life to sharpen

the admission of the most strenuous adindustry; otherwise, indeed, the human

vocates of education, irreligion and infirace would become extinct, for the men

delity have not recently spread their conwithout families would soon starve those tagion so widely as to make them shud. encumbered with a wife and children. der at the results of their own intended Now the system of the philosophers and benefil-whether, until the present day, economists has been, if we may coin a they had ever heard, in this country, of word, to undomesticate the labouring

two men professing, in an open court of classes. The parents are hurried to the justice, their utter disbelief in the existfield, or to the mill, in droves like cattle ence of a Deity-whether a vast propor--the children driven to the factory or to

tion of the disciples of Hetherington, the Lancasterian school, there to learn all

Call Carlile, and Robert Taylor, are not the that is bad in morals, with little that can actual élèves of National Schools-and, be even for their temporal benefit-' to finally, whether, in the present temper engender by compression.' as Mr Burke and demoralized condition of the labourhas said, the gaol-fever of the mind.' ing classes, the doctrines of these men are In the evening, the adults, male and fe- not fatally working into the very vitals of male, retire to the beer-shop, leaving the Christianity: children, if so early let loose, still to their

“ For ourselves, we can positively as. own fatally exclusive society. This is to sert that, attending punctually as reportTeverse the natural social state-to puters at public meetings, we have, of late asunder' those whom the Creator has, for years, not been present at one, connected the wisest purposes, united in domestic with sacred subjects, at which this spread association. A recurrence to the Cottage of infidelity has not been at once the subSystem, which we are delighted to seeject

ject of reproach, lamentation, and dismay. becoming fashionable, will, as far as it And, we should be glad to know among shall proceed, do much : but even to give what classes do these infamous publicathe recurrence to the Cottage System fair tions find a vent and a circulation ? Is it play, A GREAT CHANGE MUST BE MADE IN among the higher or the middling classes ? THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION. It is notorious

We answer unhesitatingly-No-It is that the gigantic schools provided for the among the poorer and the working classes, hambler classes have done nothing but to whose worst passions and feelings they EVIL."

are especially addressed. And where have

* Bath Herald, December 21, 1833,

these classes attained the capability of face of that Provilence who supplies them reading them ? Has it been at schools with food at an easier rate than even their where education has been paid for? With great-grandfathers can remember, and by equal promptness and certainty we an- even rejecting the very means of growing swer-No! These classes having the facili their own subsistence on land offered ties of gratuitous education, not merely gratuitously, (as in some parish in Sussex held out to them for the benefit of their a short time ago,) because they did not children, but invitingly and pressingly choose to undergo the labour of preparing urged upon them, would be acting con the ground! And can any man stand up trary to the influence of their own neces- and pretend that the major part of these sities—the hourly claims for their utmost people cannot read and have not been eduearnings, if they paid for that which was cated at gratuitous schools? Some one may offered gratis ! Let any man read the re- do so—but he will obtain but little belief, ports of the various meetings held by Car- when it is well known that these are lile or Robert Taylor, as described in the mostly members of organized societies, as public prints, and will he find that their regularly provided with rules and enactaudiences have ever been made up of any ments as the National Schools themselves but the poorest and most desperate cha- —and far better acquainted with the racters in the mass, with the few excep- doctrines of Carlile, Robt. Taylor, and tions of some half dozen persons who have the Journeyman Bootmaker,'than with perhaps attended from curiosity, or for their moral and religious obligations. the purpose of combating their doc “ The last branch regards their duties trines ?

to themselves ; and here we would ask We come now to the results of this whether riotous excess and sensual degratuitous education upon SOCIETY, and bauchery, in both sexes, were ever, in the here we are actually overwbelmed with memory of man, carried to such a pitch the appalling mass of deep-dyed crime, as at the present day? Whether the Gin ferocious outrage, and violation of pro. Palaces' of London, Birmingham, and perty, open disregard of the laws, and Manchester do not speak volumes for the black ingratitude towards those who are truth of our reproaches against the preusing gradually every means in their sent system of National Education? Whepower and under Providence to amelio ther the dishonesty in situations where rate the condition of the labouring classes, servants have every want supplied to and hold out profitable advantage to in them, without any care or forethought dustry and good conduct. And here we on their part, does not tell against a sysmay be allowed to ask, as we have had tem which gives education without incul. frequent occasion to do before, when in- cating the necessity and without supplyvestigating the causes of the present de- ing the practice of labour ? Whether the moralization, at what period within the shameless and menacing applications for memory of man, the poor labourer was parish relief do not finally indicate a total ever better, off, either as regarded the disregard and loss of all those feelings price of the necessaries and comforts of which distinguish the honest and induslife, or the succour of the wealthy in the trious from the profligate and the repro. hour of need ? Low as the present rate of bate ?” wages may be, and is, we confess, in some poor agricultural districts-we answer, These striking and emphatic tegupon the authority of the most competent timonies from many other parts of the and experienced- Never. The propor country, to which, if we had room, tion of wages to the prices of food, firing, a host of others might be added, may and clothing, was never more in the la

be considered as sufficient evidence bourer's favour than at the present day.-Wheaten bread 5 d. the quartern loaf,

of the perception of the truth for

which we are contending, among bacon 4}d. per lb., malt 6s. 6d. per bushel, women's apparel 300 per cent

practical men of all descriptions. lower than some few years since, and

But we come now to an overwhelmmen's at an immense reduction—to say

ing authority on the same subject, nothing of the countless charities which

that furnished by the Parliamentary have started up in every district for the

Returns, of the progress of crime relief of want under every exigency of

during the period that the schoolchildbed, severe weather, and innumer

master has been in operation in Great able other casualties. And how are these

Britain. The Parliamentary Return, boons met ? We will tell the reader-by 29th March, 1833, gives the following lawless combinations in every direction appalling increase of criminal comagainst their employers and benefactors— mittals in England and Wales, during by incendiarisms, by flying in the very the last ope-and-twenty years,

1812– 6,576 1823–12,263 for the Circuit, even at Glasgow, to 1813- 7,161 1824-13,699 have only three or four cases to dis1814 6,390 1825-14,437 pose of; and within the memory of 1815 - 7,818 18:26-16,137

man, it met and separated, even in 1816- 9,091 1827-17,924

the great western metropolis, after 1817--13,932 1828_16,564

one case only, which was that of 1818_-13,567 1829-18,675

an unhappy young woman for con1819_14,254 1830-18,107

cealment of pregnancy. Since that 1820_13,710 1831-19,647 1821_13,115

time, however, the progress of

1832_20,829. 1822–12,201

crime has been so rapid, that not

a Circuit now elapses without from Thus it appears that crime has one hundred to a hundred and more than tripled in the last twenty fifty persons being brought to the years, during which time more has bar in that city; and notwithbeen done for the education of the standing all this, the inferior judges poor, than in the whole previous are equally overwhelmed by the inperiods of English history; and that crease of their criminal laboure. the increase has gone on at an accele. Four years ago, a winter circuit was, rated ratio during the last seven or from the vast accumulation of prieight; when the children upon whom soners, established at Glasgow : but the great experiment was made, may already the drain which it opened be supposed to have been growing has become imperceptible, and the up to manhood, and engaged in the Spring Circuit has its array of a business of life. Nor can it be said hundred and twenty criminals as bethat this extraordinary increase has fore. Mr Alison has stated in the been owing to any greater vigilance Preface to his Treatise on the Scotch in the prosecution of crimes, or any Criminal Law, that “ probably as greater laxity in the committal of many prisoners have been tried in prisoners, for every practical man in Scotland from 1814 to 1832, as from England knows, that the unwilling the institution of the Court of Justiness to give information concerning ciary in 1532 to that time;" and offences, has greatly increased of late every one practically acquainted with years, from the apprehension of being these matters, must be convinced involved in expense; and the propor- that the remark, how startling soever, tion of convictions to committals, as is too well founded. But it is needshewn in the same Parliamentary less to accumulate authorities; a paper, is pretty uniform through the recent Parliamentary Return estawhole period, being throughout about blishes the fact beyond dispute. two-thirds of the committals.

It appears from a Return, 4th In Scotland the same accurate data March, 1833, that, in 1832, there were do not exist for ån estimate of the committed for trial in Scotland, progress of popular corruption, be no less than

2431 cause Parliamentary Returns of all Convicted,

1577 committals and convictions have Acquitted,

164 only recently been commenced; but Liberated shortly after committal, 539 enough is to be found to shew that Now, the population of England it has been still more rapid. In 1803, and Wales by the Census of 1833, the Lord Advocate Hope stated in was . . 13,894,000* his place in Parliament, that there The committals,

19,647 were more persons convicted in one Population of Scotland, 2,365,000 Quarter Sessions at Manchester, than Its committals,

2,431 in Scotland in a whole twelvemonth; Thus the population of England and the experience of every person and Wales is to its committals as wbo recollects those days of com- 14,000 to 19}, or as 1 to 700 nearly, parative innocence, must bear out while that of Scotland is to its comthe assertion. It was not unusual mittals as 2,350 is to 2!, or as 1 to

[blocks in formation]

940 nearly. This of itself demon- last twenty years, and with the most strates how rapidly Scotland within general success, to educate the the last thirty years has gained on its people. Between the rivalry of the more opulent neighbour in this un- two contending religions to obtain enviable distinction. But, in truth, proselytes, and the benevolent efforts this difference in favour of Scotland of the clergy and landholders of is apparent only, not real; for it arises both persuasions, more has been chiefly from the greater care be- done during that time to teach the stowed by the committing magis- poor to read than in any former petrates in Scotland, who are all pro- riod of Irish history. Arthur Young fessional lawyers, than in England, and Mr Wakefield long ago observed where many of them serve gratui: that the ignorance of the Irish was tously, and are private gentlemen. by no means the greatest evil, for

It may safely be concluded, there that a large proportion of them could fore, that the proportion of crime to read; but that they were almost the population is as high in Scotland totally destitute of any books that as England ; an astounding and al- could do them good, and that the most incomprehensible fact, consi- adventures of Molí Flanders, or some dering how large a proportion of such edifying history of a prostitute Caledonia is in a simple agricultural or robber, was generally the only inor pastoral state, where crime is ex- tellectual food which they received. tremely rare, and clearly demon- Since that time the efforts made to strating that the depravity of its educate the Irish have been unintergreat towns, to make up the average, rupted and incessant; and so far must be even greater than in the have they penetrated, that Mr Weld Great Babylon of the Southern Em- tells us, in his interesting account of pire.

Killarney, that it is not unusual to There is another deplorable fact see little schools in the wilds of which illustrates the same change. Kerry, in which the fern forms the In London, the number of public roof, and the rocks the seats and table houses is one fifty-sixth of the whole of the humble establishment, a fact houses : In Glasgow, it appears from which the author himself witnessed Mr Cleland's late invaluable publica- in that county twenty years ago. tion, it is now one-twelfth.* In Eng. How have these prodigious efforts land crime has more than tripled for the education of the poor been during the last twenty years; in rewarded by their results upon the Scotland, it has during the same moral and political condition of the period, at an average, increased at people? We will not appeal to the least five-in the great towns probably Coercion Act; we will not appeal to eight fold. Whatever the School the admission in the late ministerial master may have done for our ma pamphlet, that "the only question nufacturing population, he has at was, whether the whole of Ireland least proved but a feeble safeguard was to relapse into the sanguinary against the temptations of vice and barbarism of Abyssinia ;"+ we would the passion for whisky.

only request our readers to cast their In Ireland the greatest possible eyes on the stupendous catalogue exertions have been made during the quoted below, # taken from the Par

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »