ePub 版


Numbers attending School: and Ages.


to do by charity,- it becomes rather a matter of sentiment and of impulse, than of deliberation. We do not make this kind of expenditure with the same forethought and cautious thriftiness as we do others, nor with the same reference to a profitable result. How far any of the efforts which we have hitherto made fall short of their aim will appear from the following considerations.

The total number of children of an age to go to school in England and Wales — from 3 to 13 or from 5 to 15-is not less than four millions.* The number of those which the Church claims to have under daily education in her schools (including dames' schools) is less than one million.t If we allow, therefore, another million to be under education in the daily schools of different dissenting bodies and in the private schools of all classes of society (exclusive of Church dames' schools), there will remain two millions of children who are receiving no education at all; being half the number who are of an age to go to school.

This conclusion is in some degree confirmed by a report made to the City Mission in respect to the parish of St. Pancras, where 15,693 children were found of an age to go to school (from 2 to 12) in the houses visitable by their missionaries, of whom only 7229 were attending school. (C. M. Mag. Feb. 1847.) It is further confirmed by the fact that the Church schools erected by the aid of public grants appear, by the returns made to the Committee of Council (Minutes, 1848-49-50), to be less than half full. Unless we suppose that they were originally built to contain a greater number of children than were unprovided with the means of education in their respective districts, only half of the number will have availed themselves of them. I

Remarkable as is this deficiency as it regards the number of children under instruction, it is yet more remarkable with reference to the quality of the instruction they are receiving. The average time during which they remain in town schools does not

• According to the census of 1841, the number of children between these ages was 4-17ths of the population. The present population does not probably fall far short of eighteen millions. + National Society's Monthly Paper, March, 1850.

In respect to 2171 schools built in England to contain 539,202 children, the average numbers attending them is stated to be only 246,979. The same proportion obtains in the Welsh schools, which were built for 24,579, and whose daily attendance is 12,540. But in the Scotch schools, as might be expected, things are better: 24,065 there attend schools built for 39,239. The Scotch schools are 8-13ths, - while the English are only 5-11ths full.

appear to exceed two years and a half* ; or in village schools three years and a half.f In the former, one half of the children are under nine, and in the latter under ten, years of age. I The greater number appear to leave before they are eleven years old, and before they have reached the first class of the school; and since it is in that class only that the children read with tolerable Auency, it is certain that the greater number leave school without such a knowledge of reading as would encourage them to take up an ordinary book with the prospect of being able to derive pleasure or instruction from it.

The average age of the children attending these schools is stated, moreover, to be steadily sinking $; so that although we are educating more, they are younger children, and stay at school a less time. It is quite possible, indeed, that all the efforts making in behalf of education may, as concerns their result, be neutralised by this cause. The very goodness of the school has that tendency; the parents persuading themselves that the children get to know enough to be taken away and put to work earlier, now that the schools are good, than they used to do when they were bad.

In accordance with this view of the really uneducated state of the people, we find none of those consequences accomplished, in their improved moral condition, which education might have been expected to accomplish. The maintenance of our police, gaols, and penitentiaries costs one million and a half annually. Criminality is rapidly on the increase, there being in every hundred persons more criminals, every year, subject to a little oscillation, than there were the year before. It has increased in a proportion four-fold greater than the population. Our amended poor laws cannot keep down pauperism. Every eighth person among us was, in 1848, a pauper; and the cost of pauperism was in that year, over and above the tax levied by it on private benevolence, five and a half millions.

Nevertheless, it is melancholy to see with what pertinacity of party-spirit the Government — roused, at last, to a sense of its responsibility in the matter, and conscious that no means which may be taken for forcing civilisation downwards in society will be effectual so long as the aid of the schoolmaster is withheld — has been baffled in its efforts to obtain that co-operation. All men

- influenced by one motive or another — agree that education must go on. Some, indeed, from no love for it or faith in it. If they could have their way, the labouring man would have none

* Minutes of Council, 1845, vol. i. p. 228. † Ibid. 1846, vol. i. p. 151.

$ Ibid. 1847, p. 2. § Ibid. 1846, vol. i. p. 150.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

of it. And in this they are probably influenced by no selfish desire to enhance their own social position, but believe it to be for his happiness, he being condemned to a life of labour, that he should be without knowledge. Seeing, however, that the general opinion does not go along with them, and that if they do not provide education for their poor neighbours others will*, they are moved to undertake the task, — considering it better to educate on the principle that education is a bad thing rather than a good one, and that nothing will so effectually prevent a good school from being established in a parish as the maintenance of a bad one.

Happily this is a small class: a much larger seek to promote education from a higher motive, but still in a limited sense. They entirely concur with their neighbours in thinking knowledge an evil, so far as the temporal well-being of those below them in the social scale is concerned; but with reference to their Eternal interests, they admit that for the soul

to be without knowledge is not good.' To instruct the poor in religious knowledge, they accept, therefore, as a Christian duty; and they make sacrifices for it, in this sense, as a work of charity. But whilst they admit it to enter into the designs of Providence that labouring men should reason and understand where the subject is religious knowledge, they deny it as to secular things. These, again, educate on the principle of education being a bad thing, of which we should give as little as possible, except in as far as religious knowledge is concerned.

Another and, we believe, an increasing class, hold education to be a good thing in itself, but they despair, by reason of the diversities of religious opinion among us, of its ever succeeding on an extensive scale under any form which unites religious with secular instruction. They propose therefore a system of national education which shall exclude the direct agency of religious bodies and be exclusively secular. A society called the Lancashire Public School Association has been established for this object. They thus recapitulate the qualities of their systemt:- 1. Unsectarian and comprehensive; 2. Independent of the Government; 3. Supported by local rates; 4. Managed by local authorities; 5. Based on the national will.

In Scotland a similar movement has taken place; and we have before us an address bearing the signatures of many persons in that country, no less eminent in science and literature, than by their social position and public spirit. It declares, that in • regard to a legislative measure, the subscribers are of opinion,

* If any man wishes to arrest the education of his poor neighbours, let him build a school, it will thus be placed entirely in his hands. If he wishes to perpetuate their ignorance after his decease, — the trust-deed is before him.

t • Address of the Lancashire Public School Association to the People of England and Wales.'

with the late lamented Dr. Chalmers, that “there is no other 6" method of extrication” from the difficulties with which the • question of Education in connexion with religion is encom

passed in this country, than the plan suggested by him as the * only practicable one; namely, “ That in any public measure «« for helping on the education of the people, Government « « [should] abstain from introducing the element of religion at 6"all into their part of the scheme; and this not because they • " held the matter to be insignificant- the contrary might be " " strongly expressed in the preamble of their Act--but on the 56 ground that, in the present divided state of the Christian «« world, they would take no cognisance of, just because they " " would attempt no control over, the religion of applicants for « « aid - leaving this matter entire to the parties who had to «“ do with the erection and management of the schools which 6“ they had been called upon to assist. A grant by the State "“ upon this footing might be regarded as being appropriately ""and exclusively the expression of their value for a good "“ secular education.”

There remains, however, a fourth class of persons, who, we believe, still constitute the great majority, and carry with them the public mind. These also hold instruction to be a good thing in itself; but they insist on the union of religious with secular instruction. A firm foundation of religious knowledge being first laid, they are of opinion that education will admit of being developed with infinite advantage in a secular sense, so as practically to adapt itself to the condition of the labourer, and to promote his temporal, not less than his eternal welfare; and they do not yet despair of this union.

" "aid With the erection upon to assistir as being appropa

ART. IV.- The History of Peter the Cruel. By M. MÉRIMÉE.

From the French, with Notes. London: 1850. Histoire de Don Pédre Ter, Roi de Castille. Par PROSPER

MÉRIMÉE. Paris : 1848. No periods of history are so intricate, or so difficult to relate

W with clearness, as those of civil war. Other conflicts may be perplexing to the historian; the causes which gave rise to them may be involved in obscurity, and their very results may remain


Difficulty of narrating Civil Wars.


Christian as startlink Warwick line of dem

doubtful; but, at least, there is no confusion among the dramatis persona. From the siege of Troy down to the last campaign in the Punjaub or Algeria, all the actors in a foreign war can be distributed into groups, and are to be found standing on their own ground. Hector and the Trojans are within, Achilles and the Greeks without the walls. Nor are we at a later day puzzled by reading unexpectedly that Abdel-Kader had been promoted to the command of a French province, or that Generals Bedeau or Lamoricière had revolted to the Arabs, and defeated their Christian comrades of the day before. Yet kaleidoscopic changes as startling as these were frequent in the changeful career of an Earl Warwick or of a Connétable de St. Pol. There is no natural visible line of demarcation between York and Lancaster, Bourguignon and Armagnac, Guelf and Ghibelline; and the ideal boundary between the opposite camps was so often overstepped, that the bewildered reader frequently finds some eminent character suddenly appearing on the side where he was least looked for.

The stratagems of war and politics have been often (a great deal too often compared to the tactics of the chess-board. Admitting the comparison,-out of deference for its antiquity,we would add, that the difficulty of tracing the course of a civil war, with its varying armies and shifting battle-grounds, can only be compared to that of following a game in which all the chessmen should be of the same colour. The remark applies with double force to the civil wars of Spain at the time which M. Mérimée has here undertaken to describe. The Peninsula was then divided into five distinct kingdoms : all of which, with the exception of Portugal, are now merged into one monarchy;-Aragon, Grenada, and Navarre having successively either joined or been conquered by Castile. More than three hundred and fifty years have elapsed since Castile and Aragon were indissolubly united. The consequence is, that a recital of the wars, which divided the two kingdoms during the fourteenth century, oppresses the reader to a singular degree with that feeling of perplexity and confusion which, as we have remarked, is conveyed by almost all histories of civil dissensions. It is, therefore, no small praise to say, that M. Mérimée has related the revolutions and wars which distracted Spain during the reign of Pedro I., and finally deprived him of his crown and life, with such clearness and method, as to render them not only intelligible but interesting to every class of readers. It may, perhaps, be thought puerile to add, that the obscurity so often produced in Spanish histories from the national habit of designating the actors merely by their christian names, and from the frequent recurrence

« 上一頁繼續 »