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Compulsory Attendance.


of course the manufacturer cannot afford to pay a whole week's wages for half a week's work. There is a typical widow, with a large family, always appealed to in discussions on compulsory education. She has one boy nearly twelve, whose earnings pay the baker, and another just ten, who earns half-a-crown a week, which exactly covers the rent. We are asked whether we can be cruel enough to throw her on the parish, by compelling the children to go to school. We are told that the habits of filial piety in which the boys are being trained are of greater value than reading, writing, and arithmetic. We are warned that, in our eagerness for mere intellectual culture, we are likely to ruin the noble spirit of independence which still survives among the English poor. But all this, though it requires an answer from the advocates of what is called indirect compulsion’compulsion applied to children who are at work—is simply without meaning, when urged against a general compulsory law. The poor widow's two children have nearly half their wages struck off by the Acts already in existence; her case may be a very hard one, but Parliament and the nation have determined that we must risk inflicting such evils as these on individuals for the sake of the general good. What we are contending for is, that the boys who are playing leap-frog or pitch-and-toss in the next street all day long, and earning nothing, should be put on ‘half-time' too. Who would be hurt by this?

Compulsion is said to be 'un-English ;' why it should be 'un-English' to enforce attendance at school upon children who are not at work—though it is perfectly • English' to interfere with the internal arrangements of mills and workshops, and to diminish the small income of poor parents, by enforcing attendance at school upon children who are at work—quite passes our comprehension.

Every extension of the principle of our factory legislation renders a direct and general compulsory law more urgent and imperative. Parents who know that their children will be obliged to go to school when they begin to earn wages, think it unnecessary to send them to school before; and hence in factory districts there are fewer children receiving instruction under eight years of age than in other parts of the country. If business happens to be dull, and the child cannot get work as soon as he reaches the legal age, there is a considerable probability that he will not see the inside of a day-school before he is nine. There is also very little doubt that the inconveniencies incident to having 'half-time' workers—inconveniencies which in some trades are alleged to be almost insuperable—will lead to the dismissal from workshops of very many of the children under thirteen who are now employed. In some parts of the country the effect of recent legislation will very probably be-not to send all the children who are now at work to school for half the day,--but to send a large number of them into the streets all day long.

It is infinitely fur from our intention to impeach the justice or the expediency of our factory legislation ; but we maintain that nearly every serious objection to a law rendering attendance at school compulsory, lies against the form of compulsion which Parliament has already sanctioned, and not against that new form of compulsion for which 'extreme' educational r formers are now contending.

Our true wisdom, perhaps, at present will be to develope still farther the principle already established in our Factory Acts, and to increase the efficiency of the Industrial Schools Act, which, notwithstanding recent improvements, is almost inoperative. But when we have travelled as far as we can on the lines already laid down, the country will recognise the extreme absurdity of refusing to go farther. It will insist upon protecting the right of every child to be taught, just as it insists upon protecting the right of every child to be fed.

We are convinced that those who suppose that a general compulsory law would provoke the violent resistance of the working classes altogether mistake the true temper of the common people. For once, even the sagacity of Mr. Bright is at fault. Working men have an inordinate faith in the power of legislation to promote social reform; and they are among the most enthusiastic supporters of the theory of compulsory education. So far as we know, whenever their opinion on this question has been fairly tested, they have pronounced most firmly in favour of compulsion.



We fear that nothing is likely to be done during the present session of Parliament. Mr. Bruce's bill will be vigorously opposed by the clergy, who have an instinctive dread of any measures which appear to threaten the denominational system;

we recommend Nonconformists to support it unless some of its principal clauses are expunged. The Government have too much on their hands to venture to introduce any bold scheme of educational reform, even if they were disposed to do it. They may propose the cancelling of the eighth clause of the Revised Code ; and to this, of course, we shall heartily consent. They may also attempt to make such changes in the Minutes as will bring the grants more within the reach of small rural schools; we must look to Mr. Lowe to resist any insidious

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tampering with the general principle of paying for results. It will be the wisdom of Liberals and Nonconformists to use the remaining months of the present year in drawing up a bill in which they can heartily unite, and which they can lay with confidence before the new constituencies. The simpler it is in its provisions the more likely it is to be carried. It should leave the denominational system untouched, but should provide for the establishment, under local authorities and by local rating, of new schools in destitute districts. The changes which are necessary in the present Minutes, and a law rendering schoolattendance compulsory, should be fought for separately.

In all these reforms we shall have against us the vast majority of the clergy, and nearly the whole strength of the Conservative party. The fight will be a severe one. But in the new electors there is a force which, if wisely and resolutely used, will enable us to defy all resistance. In relation to this great question the interests of the Nonconformists and the interests of the great mass of the English people are identical. We can, if we please, place ourselves at the head of a great popular movement, and render the country the most substantial and illustrious service.


Note.—After the greater part of this article was in type, a report came into our hands on the educational condition of young people between the ages of thirteen and twenty-one, employed in the manufactories of Birmingham. This report strongly confirms our worst impressions concerning the lamentable failure of our present system. Twenty-six manufactories were visited, and 908 candidates were examined, of whom 529 were males and 379 females. Forty-five per cent. had been at school for four years or more; thirty-eight per cent. had been at school for less than four years; seventeen per cent had not been at school at all. Only twenty-seven per cent. could write fluently; twenty-one per cent. wrote with difficulty; nearly thirty per cent. could not write at all; twenty, two per cent. just managed to sign their names. • This is to my mind,' says tbe writer of the report, ' as bad as nothing at all. Unless a person can write well enough to set down his thoughts on paper—as in a letter, or to make notes of what he reads, or sees, or hears-his signature is only the old “mark" or cross,

" under another form, conventionally elaborated, in order to save appearances. Many of the passes in writing proved upon inquiry to be due, in great measure, to • the instruction given on Sundays in certain Nonconformist Sabbath 'schools. Thirty-six per cent. read well; twenty per cent. read without fluency or accuracy; forty-four per cent. were either unable to read at all, or read so badly that the power of reading was practically useless. From a cursory examination of some of the papers we are inclined to think that very many of those who read well owe it largeiy to the influence of Sunday-schools. Five per cent. were sufficiently familiar with the compound rules of arithmetic to work at least one example out of three accurately; six per cent., though not quite ignorant of these rules, failed to reach this standard; eighty-nine per cent. showed


themselves eithor incapable of doing more than add up two or three days' wages at a few shillings or pence a day, or absolutely ignorant of the most simple arithmetical processes. Of the girls, taken separately, only one in a hundred could work the compound rules with fair accuracy.

We happen to know that the inquiry was conducted with great fairness; that the manufactories selected were certainly not below the average of the manufactories in the town; and that allowance was made for the nervousness which

the young people were likely to feel when submitted to examination. The papers, so far as we have had an opportunity of looking through them, confirm our impression of the worthlessness of school instruction received before the age of six or seven, unless the child remains at school till eleven or twelve.

Mr. Mundella, of Nottingham, at whose suggestion this inquiry was made, is obtaining information of a similar kind from other parts of the country; we trust that he will soon be able to publish the results.

It should be remembered that the discouraging percentages we have quoted would be far lower, if the children of vagrants, out-door paupers, and criminals were not altogether excluded from the inquiry. These young ople very far from belonging to the lowest classes of the community.

ART. VI.-(1.) Erperimental Researches in Electricity. By MICHAEL

FARADAY, D.C.L., F.R.S. Vol. I. 1839. Vol. II. 1844. Vol.

III. 1858. London: Taylor and Francis. (2.) Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature, and the Arts, 1819

-1830. (3.) Philosophical Transactions, 1831-1855. (4.) The Life of Sir Humphry Davy, Bart. By J. A. PARIS,

M.D. 2 vols. London : Colburn and Bentley. 1831. (5.) The Subject Matter of a Course of Six Lectures on the Non

Metallic Elements. By Professor FARADAY. Arranged by J.

Scoffern, M.B. London: Longmans. 1853. Ir a great bell, capable of making itself audible over a whole kingdom were to toll whenever a remarkable spirit passed from earth, all England would assuredly have heard its melancholy boom on the 25th August, 1867. On that day Michael Faraday died. One of our intellectual giants laid down his head as meekly as the humblest of his feīlows, and all that was mortal at the man became dust. For half a century he had officiated of one of nature's interpreters, carrying a cluster of her golden keys at his girdle; and with these he had unlocked and explored some of her choicest treasure-chambers, going out and in before she people with privileged foot, and ever bringing forth new truths and magnificent facts for the instruction of mankind

Faraday's Boyhood.

435 That he held a commission for this purpose royally signed and sealed no one could well dispute, for when his knock was heard many a gate of mystery swung open, and secrets till then unknown, or at least unstudied, were drawn forth into the clear light of day. From such inquisitors darkness cannot hide its arcana, and, to such, difficulty cannot say 'nay. But this chosen priest of nature has gone his way, leaving the grand task of unveiling the phenomena of creation to those upon whom his mantle, not entire perhaps, but parted into many pieces, may in the good providence of God be permitted to alight.

It will ever be a deep problem for us why Heaven should select a child here and there in each generation in order to endow it with intellect or energy upon a princely scale—why one individual should be born to mental opulence, and another doomed to mental penury; one a splendid poet, for example, to whose singing a hundred ages will listen delightedly, the other a miserable poetaster, whose lays cannot attract a single auditor, or keep him for more than a minute, if found. In many countries trades were, and in some still are, hereditary. Offices have run in certain families from the highest—that of a sovereign, to the humblest—that of an executioner. Had genius been confined to particular classes, and had the duty of ministering at the high altar of nature, like the duties of the priesthood in the Levitical family, been transmissible from parents to children, the world would have been very much the worse for such an arrangement. Fortunately, when the insignia of office are to be bestowed, no one can tell upon whom they will devolve: there is not a peasant's hut where the messenger bearing the precious gifts of intellect may not stop and shower them down upon some smiling infant in its unrocked cradle, as the good old fairies used to do in the grand old times of romance.

Just such a beneficent fairy (if we may venture to pursue the fancy for a moment further) paused at the door of a blacksmith in Newington Butts, on the 24th of September, 1791. Silently she lifted the latch, softly she bent over the bed where a newborn infant slept. Unseen she bestowed upon it the mysterious baptism of genius, and straightway little Faraday was consecrated one of the brilliant brotherhood.

At first his prospects were by no means assuring. Judging from appearances, there was no reason why he should not pursue his father's occupation; for the old adage that genius will rise probably contains, like many other time-honoured aphorisms, quite as much error as truth. It does not follow that a strong man confined in a dungeon will escape from it simply because he is strong, nor that talent of a special description will shine

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