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Some of the modes by which Mr. W. combines exercise with instruction, seem to us objectionable, and rather whimsical than judicious. Indeed we are decidedly of opinion that no attempt ought to be made to combine them; but that the exercise or relaxation which is indispensable for all, especially young children, should be allowed them, unmixed and unfettered with any other object, and in their own way, provided there is no harm or mischief in it. We must again quote the author of "Hints," and we are always happy when we can support our opinions by such authority: "All unnecessary restraint is only so much unnecessary evil. In the short time devoted to lessons, we may gradually employ a stricter discipline; but in play hours, though it is a positive duty to oppose listlessness and idleness, yet, with healthy and well-trained children, we shall find little else necessary than to direct their activities, to encourage their projects, and to add to their pleasures."
Let us not, however, be misunderstood, as implying that in the hours of play and relaxation Mr. W. expects the children also to learn something. The plan of combining exercise with instruction is followed only while they are in school: it certainly would be better to allow them, if necessary, more time for exercise and play, and, as we have already observed, to keep play and teaching quite distinct, and to allow them to exercise and amuse themselves, when not in school, just as they please. We must also object to his principle of punishment: we are perhaps disposed to agree with him, that many children cannot be governed without punishment; that no school in England has ever been able to do completely without it; and that "the eyes of the public are beginning to be opened; that the many theories ushered into the world on this subject, have not been exactly acted upon." And we also agree with him, that the "first thing necessary is to find out, if possible, the real disposition and temper of the child, to be able to manage him with good effect;" this is necessary, not only to ascertain whether the child can be managed without punishment, but likewise if punishment is necessary; to find out the kind and degree of it, which will be sufficient, and best act, towards his amendment. But we decidedly object to the mode of punishment Mr. W. seems to regard as proper and effectual; that is, pinning a piece of green baize to the back of the child who has played the truant, and making him walk round the school, all the children crying out, "Green tail played the truant, Green tail.” “We are
tiles in the chimney of the room, where they usually sate; and accompanied her instructions with such wise and pious reflections, as made strong and lasting impressions upon his heart." Life of Dr. Doddridge prefixed to his Works.
to remember," observes the author of Hints, &c. "that shame will not effectually deter children from what is wrong; and that, in employing it too much as an instrument of education, we have reason to apprehend, we may lead them to act from the fear of man, rather than from that of God." But there is another ground of objection to this mode of punishment: children ought never to be the instruments of inflicting punishment on one another. This must produce ill-will among them. One of the effects of this mode, which Mr. W. considers as recommending it, we regard as a reason for doing it away: he says it will in some degree show the temper of the child; especially whether he is passionate or not; but a mode of punishment, the immediate and most likely effect of which is to produce an act that is bad, and consequently so far to confirm the temper or habit, from which that act proceeds, certainly ought to be abolished.
We do not perceive any thing else objectionable in the discipline of the school; that it is well managed, we have no doubt, from the circumstance mentioned by Mr. W. that the children, even the youngest, soon grow fond of it, and prefer being at school to remaining at home. Where this is accomplished, the first but by far the most difficult and important step is taken towards the improvement of the minds and morals of children. When they have become fond of school, especially at such an early age, they have surren dered themselves entirely to the moulding of their masters and mistresses; and it will be their fault, if they are not moulded to usefulness and virtue. Mr. W. also remarks that the children no longer loiter in the streets, but come directly to the school from their homes: this is another good sign; and if, when at home, they hear and see nothing that is wrong, that is, if their parents only do their negative duty (if the expression may be allowed), the character and happiness of their children are secure from all danger. We shall conclude this article with a brief history of the Infant School, and a statement of the expense at which it is conducted.
The first Infant School established in England was at Brewer's Green, Westminster, by Mr. Brougham and his friends. Mr Owen, however, was the first person with whom originated the idea of educating infant children upon an extensive scale. Mr Brougham's school has been lately removed to the corner of Vincent-square, Westminster, where a commodious building has been erected, capable of containing 200 children.
The Infant School in Quaker-street, Spitalfields, was opened on the 24th of July, 1820; at present there are 214 children in it. It is conducted by Mr. Wilderspin and his wife. The school was built by Joseph Wilson, esq.; and it is entirely supported by him: he pays the salary of the master and mistress, and all other inci
dental expenses; he also visits the school frequently, and affords Mr. W. the benefit of his advice.
"With regard to the expense," observes Mr. W., "I have ascertained beyond a doubt, that according to the plan adopted in Mr. Wilson's school, 300 children may be taken care of, from the age of 18 months to seven years, and instructed in every thing that such children are capable of learning, for 150l. per annum, which is ten shillings a year for each child. This includes the salary of the master and mistress, the salary of a third person to do the drudgery, coals, slates, cards, and every other requisite for the school, except the rent of the premises." Mr. W., in stating his opinion respecting the size of the plot of ground necessary for a school for 300 children, dwells strongly and very properly on the advantage of a large and commodious play-ground; remarking, that he verily believes the system would be quite defective without it; for it is there the children manifest their true tempers and dispositions.
After all, every thing depends on the qualifications of a master and mistress. "Perhaps," Mr. W. candidly acknowledges, “no one has felt his own insufficiency more strongly than I have, since I took the charge of the Spitalfields School; and this induces me to make a few observations on the qualifications of a master and mistress. It is a very common idea, that almost any person can teach children the alphabet, and that it does not require any abilities to manage a set of young children. It will be found, however, that this is a great mistake; for, if it be the business of such a person to lay the foundation of religion and virtue, with every grace that can adorn the Christian, in the infant mind, why then, it will require much patience, gentleness, perseverance, self-possession, energy, knowledge of human nature, and, above all, piety, to accomplish such an end.”
We are convinced, that none of our readers will censure us for devoting these few pages to the consideration of Mr. Wilderspin's book; for they must be convinced, that the education of the mind, and more especially of the heart, cannot be begun at too early a period of life; that no children require such an education so much as those of poor and labouring parents; that none have hitherto been so destitute of it; and that Infant Schools, by affording it, hold out the animating prospect of a better informed, as well as a better principled generation among the lowest classes of the community, than this country has hitherto exhibited.
N the statement of the Dutch domestic colonies of Fredericksoord,
which we presented to our readers in the last number, we were obliged to break off abruptly with M. Van Bosch's calculation, that Holland would save 1,600,000 florins annually by planting her orphans and necessitous poor in those incomparable establishments. That account we shall now resume. A sum thus considerable, M. Van Bosch proceeds to remark, which is now expended without any thing to compensate the loss, will henceforth be applied to the general benefit of the nation, and augment its welfare in the same proportion as that in which it now contributes to the payment of this expense; and it is by an augmentation of territorial wealth equal to the wants to be supplied, that so great an amelioration in the actual state of things will be consolidated for ever.
It has been calculated, that the number of indigent persons capable of labour in the northern provinces amounts to 72,000*. Out of this number, 40 or 45,000 may readily find in our colonies at once an honest livelihood, and, what is as real an exigency as the other, both for them and society, a moral regeneration.
That portion of the destitute, which will not directly share in these advantages, will however gain by them indirectly; because the whole mass of labour disposable in favour of indigence, in which mass our colonists have hitherto shared along with them, will become their exclusive patrimony.
For realising these anticipations, no extraordinary efforts are required from the beneficence of our fellow-countrymen. The donations, which their liberality habitually consecrates to the relief of the miserable, will be amply sufficient, if directed concurrently to this particular object. Nothing will be easier than to convince themselves of the increasing success which their wise and well-bestowed charity will every year obtain; and nothing will bind them, if their hopes should even once be deceived.
Hitherto no invincible obstacle has opposed the operations of the society. The greatest difficulty which they have had to encounter has been to find persons qualified to direct and superintend the colonists and their labours. The manufactured cloths are consumed by the wants of the colony and its inhabitants.
The subscriptions for the purchase of cloths exceed the means of manufacturing them. We have well-founded hopes of being
* In this number are not comprehended about 50,000 vagrants, who may hereafter be placed in the establishment at Ommeschano.
assisted by the Government in this respect, especially by its committing to our establishments the manufacture of cloths for our East and West India colonies,-cloths, which are of a peculiar manufacture, and in which it will be easy to instruct the people intrusted to our care. The digging of canals, the conversion of bogs into a cultivable state, and other similar labours, will multiply the branches of productive activity, from which other advantages will accrue, for instance, that of procuring for the colonists the means of fuel. Resources will thus multiply for the maintenance of what has been already accomplished. To extend to the utmost, and to complete so great, so useful an undertaking, the enlightened benevolence of our generous fellow citizens, we believe, may be confidently reckoned on.
The bringing waste lands into a state of useful cultivation, presents much fewer difficulties than had been apprehended. Those difficulties, in particular, which the necessity of procuring and conveying manure seemed to oppose to the success of the enterprise, have entirely disappeared. It is now practically proved that the colonists can, by their own industry, provide the necessary manure. Regulations have been made for this purpose, which are strictly enforced. These regulations must of course vary with the change of soil and circumstances. A detail of them would here be superfluous.
Subsistence may thus be procured for a multitude of indigent persons by their own labour, without any serious expense to the Government or the public, and greatly to the advantage of the communes and charitable institutions.
We are far from entertaining any idle hopes of transforming forthwith into patterns of virtue, men, who have been demoralized by misery; but we have no doubt that, aided by the Government, we shall succeed in keeping our colonists, by means of proper discipline, in the line of duty; and we cherish a well-founded expectation of producing a decided improvement in their offspring. We shall one day present them to society, bred up under the vault of heaven, which will constitute their principal workshop, in the bosom of labour, well-fed, vigorous, sound in mind and body, and thus qualified to gain their livelihood; serve their country by sea and land, at home and abroad; and usefully displace those foreigners, who actually flock by thousands, every year, to reap our harvests, and cultivate our fields.
We do not delude ourselves with the belief, that we shall meet with no difficulties in our career; but we have found hitherto that our successes are greater, and less difficult to obtain, than we had dared to anticipate at the commencement of our undertaking.
It is this which inspires us with fresh ardour to persevere in