صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

supply. Alms may be asked; and therefore, there is far better ground for trusting to individual charity for supporting the poor. But how long would it take before individuals should bethink them of planting schools for the thousands of poor children who have now no means of instruction ? Let it be recollected, too, that private charity is not always very judiciously bestowed. A desire to do too much for a few children, is far more prevalent among the humane, than a wise disposition to do somewhat for a greater number; and the truth is undeniable, that many wellintentioned men have founded establishments of a kind really hurtful to society, at a great cost, when a tenth of the funds would, if well applied, have proved really beneficial.

But we are desired to look at the result; and the vast progress made of late years in Educating the poor, is cited as a convincing proof how much may be expected from this source. We join willingly in this appeal to facts; for we know that it must at once decide the whole question. From the Digest it appears, that there are about 145,000 children taught at the new Day schools, exclusive of those taught at Sunday schools,—which ought in this question to be kept apart, both because almost all of them attend Day schools also, and because the tuition at Sunday schools, without any other, is extremely imperfect. Now, from the numbers taught at these New schools, no one can doubt that a large deduction must be made for those educated before their esta blishment either at the same school previous to its being newmodelled, or at some neighbouring seminary, given up since the larger one was set on foot. Perhaps 100,000 is not too small a number for the whole addition made in the means of Education by those new schools during the last fifteen years; and at this rate, nearly forty years would be required to afford the means still wanting, even if we supposed private charity to make the same exertions during the next half century that it has during the last few years; whereas no man can pretend to expect such a thing; and, indeed, every one knows that those exertions are almost wholly confined to large towns.

But the Digest likewise shows how many institutions of this description are languishing for want of funds, and how many unendowed schools of all kinds have been discontinued everywhere from the same cause. The necessity of some less precarious supply being provided of an article of such primary necessity as elementary education, is, indeed, proved in almost every page of these volumes.

The result of the Tables may now be shortly referred to, as establishing beyond all controversy the want of education which now exists. The Endowed Schools in England teach about

Sundacing, thueluded in the attending of the 4597

165,000 children; the Unendowed Day schools 478,000. But this includes 53,000 taught at the Dame schools, where infants are generally sent before they are of an age to go to school, or learn almost any thing. It includes also the lace and straw schools of the midland counties, where we much fear little that is useful is in general learnt. If, then, we deduct for these schools, we shall have about 590,000 children taught at Day schools; and we must add about 10,000 for deficient returns, several parishes having made none. To this number of 600,000 are to be added the children belonging to persons in the upper and middle classes of society who educate their children, particularly daughters, at home or at boarding schools, not noticed in the Tables, though frequently in the Digest. Mr Brougham, from the population returns, considered 50,000 as a prr per allowance for this class, but, if any thing, too small; and the next addition made was incontestably much too large, except that he was desirous of rather understating than overstating the deficiency. He allowed, of the 452,000 taught at Sunday schools, 100,000 as attending those institutions beyond the numbers included in the column of Day schools; the known fact being, that a greater proportion than seven-ninths of the Sunday scholars attend Week-day schools. The grand total of children educated in any way, even in the scanty measure dealt out by Sunday schools, is thus only 750,000. Now, the lowest estimate of the means of education for any country, requires that there should be schools for one-tenth of the population ; but from the Digest it clearly appears that a larger proportion is requisite, especially if we include the means for all classes, high as well as low. Mr Brougham reckons rather more than one-ninth ; but, taking one-tenth as the scale, it thus appears that there are only the means of educating seven millions and a half of the people in England, leaving no less than two millions without any education, and three millions without the only effectual education, namely, that obtained at Day schools. Let us shortly compare this with the state of other countries, where popular education is supposed to be well attended to.

In Scotland, taking the average of twelve counties, the population of which is 636,000, and making no allowance for the education of the upper classes, or for private tuition at all, there are schools where between one-ninth and one-tenth of the population are taught. In Holland, by the Report of the Commission of 1812, at the head of which was Mr Cuvier, it appears that there were 4451 schools, where 190,000 children were instructed, or one-tenth of the population. In the Pays de Vaud, about one-eighth of the people attend the parish

schools; and riot one person in sixty is to be found who can't read. France presents a very different picture. The Report of the Commission in 1819 gave the numbers attending schools at 1,070,500, or 1-28th of the population. Yet the exertions making in that country may well excite our admiration. In two years, the numbers had increased from 866,000; the proportion in 1817 having been only 1-35th. During those well spent, and, let us say, truly glorious years of civil triumph, 7120 schools had been planted, capable of educating 204,500 children, and supplying the means of education to a population of two millions. The zeal of individuals being powerfully seconded by the Government, in a very few years France will be as well educated as Holland. Wales appears to be much worse off than England; there are not schools, even including Dame schools, for above one-twentieth-- that is, there are only the means of educating half the people of the principality.

The inequality with which the education of which we have been speaking is diffused through the different parts of England, is a very striking circumstance; and affords perhaps the strongest of all arguments against leaving matters to themselves, or relying entirely upon the charitable exertions of individuals. In the four northern counties of Westmoreland, Cumberland, Northumberland, and Durham, the average is about one-tenth; in Westmoreland it is as high as one-seventh or ove-eighth being superior to the Pays de Vaul, and consequently the best educated district in EuropeIn Wilts and Soinersetshire, the average is one-eighteenth, or one-nineteenth; in Lancaster and Middlesex one-twentyfourth. But before the establishment of he new schools in Middlesex, it was as low as one-fortysixth. This fact, respecting such a county, is truly deplorable. Calculating, as we before did, for the whole country, it thus appears, that at the present moment there are not the means of Education for one half the people in the metropolitan county; and that, but a few years ago, there were three-fourths of that population destitute of those means !

We cannot conclude this argument, without referring somewhat more particularly to the labrurs of the two most meritorious institutions which we have already mentioned. It is very far indeed from our intention to undervalue their usefulness, when we contend, that something is wanting both more powerful and more permanent, than their constitution and means enable them to accomplish, for educating the whole people of England. The Lancaster Society, or, as it is now called, the British and Foreign School Society, has long beon familiar to our readers, through the pages of this Journal. We, from the

peared urch, anation, aliks unite in Worship, ano secto ach the

earliest period of the controversy to which the opposite plans of the two Institutions gave rise, have expressed our decided opinion in favour of the system which professes to teach the poor reading and writing, without distinction of sects, and to open schools in which all forms of worship, and all shades of faith, may indiscriminately unite in bestowing the inestimable benefits of education, alike necessary to make good disciples of the Church, and good followers of the Sects. But it never appeared to us at all maintainable, as some professed to argue, that the National Society would not be productive of good in places where there was room for the exertions of both societies, that is to say, in all places of a certain size, where the exclusive plan might be adopted in one school for the education of churchmen, and the universal plan be pursued in another for sectaries as well as churchmen. And in places where there were no sectaries, it was obvious that as much good must be done if a school was founded on the exclusive as on the universal plan,—with this material difference, that the children attending it would be taught the religion of their families, as well as the common ele. ments of knowledge. The only harm to be apprehended from the exclusive plan, unquestionably was, that in places of a small size, which could not maintain two schools, it was likely to prevent the children of poor dissenting parents from receiving any instruction, unless they were prepared to give up their peculiar creed; that is, unless they were only dissenters in name. It is fair to add, that the experience of ten years has materially diIninished these apprehensions; and the praiseworthy liberality of the Directors of the National Society has been tending more and more towards opening their school-doors wide to all. The truth is, that the New System of Education is only adapted to great towns, as we have already observed; and in those there will always be abundant room for the execution of both the plans, without any risk of their interfering with each other, But the National Society have wisely and liberally been rendering their schools more and more accessible to conscientious dis- · senters from the Establishment; and the value of such conces, sions is not to be lightly spoken of by sectaries, when it is recollected how much more ample the means of the one Society are than those of the other,

Giving all praise to both those useful Bodies, let it be again remarked that their labours are necessarily subject to fluctua tion, and limited in extent. Thus, the British and Foreign Society has more than once depended for its existence upon the extraordinary exertions of two or three individuals like Joseph Fox and William Allen (if indeed, beside themselves, any such

are to be found), who have risked their fortunes, and pledged their credit for the .common good, with a generous enthusiasm of which there is perhaps no other example on record. The Society afterwards was in debt, and we believe has only been relieved by a number of persons coming forward with subscriptions of 500l. each. The National Society, too, has been obliged to call upon its members, of late, for an extraordinary contribution to relieve it, and enable it to pursue its laudable course. But such calls cannot be often repeated; they drain the source from which the supplies proceed; and they make even the best of us grow weary of well-doing. The zeal of leading members may not cool; but no system can be long depended on which must be supported by extraordinary efforts. A regular supply of means is wanted, which shall be subject to no ebbs and flows. The evidence before the Education Committee, who examined the leading members of both Societies, plainly shows how cramped their operations are, for want of funds. It is clearly proved, that the grand difficulty in founding schools, even where they are most wanted, is, the first expense, the cost of outfit, as it were. Local subscribers will be found who will support the school after it is once established; because, to raise 80l. or 1001. a year, is not so hard a task; but to raise 8001. or 10001. for building or buying a .commodious schoolhouse and dwelling for the master, is not so easy a task. Accordingly, the Committee reported, both in 1816 and 1818, in favour of grants being given by Government, to enable the local subscribers to overcome this difficulty :-for it was manifest, that both the Societies together could do little or nothing towards such purposes; the one having only 12001., and the other not, we believe, 3000l. a year to meet all demands. How the money should be distributed was another question, and of far more difficulty and delicacy. The obvious method of entrusting each Society with a certain suin, was liable to serious objections. To invest private and irresponsible individuals with large funds for a publick purpose, was, upon principle, extremely unadviseable; and to incorporate any bodies of men with this view, beside other objections, was open to this, that the State protecting a religious establishment, could hardly be said to act consistently, if it gave equal, or nearly equal, encouragement to the sectaries dissenting from that Establishment. That some such grants may be necessary for the service of large towns, in addition to the provisions of the general plan which we are about to describe, is highly probable; and in that case the distribution must unquestionably be made upon the principles of the plan itself, and through the Charity Commissioners, or some other body of re

« السابقةمتابعة »