ePub 版

with the view that their ultimate fate must be emigration. No father or mother of what are called the better classes, while patting the head of the rosy well-tended infant which is clinging round their knee, asking all kinds of questions about the future, and talking as if the house it was brought up in must be its home for ever, would admit into their mind the thought that the child is doomed to be expatriated - that it is raised for the foreign market. If we come back ten or twelve years afterwards, when the child has grown a youth, and when he knows that his future must be in a great measure of his own making, still, the judicious parent or parental counsellor would not do well to be in a hurry to tell him that there is likely to be no room for him at home, and that he must look to emigration. And so, as a rule, with the working classes. A population in the state which that of Ireland has got into at present, is, for the time, an exception. Otherwise, emigration should not be a profession for a class so much as an individual resource. Individuals, of any grade, may find, at a particular crisis of their fortunes, that a new country will give them a better prospect of success than the one they have lived in, and may consider it to be their interest and their duty to act upon such a view. Those who have it in their power to influence the fate of masses of the humbler portions of the community, or who are received by them as advisers, may wisely come to the like conclusion, in behalf of their unsuccessful clients, under similar circumstances. A grown-up man must go where he can preserve or recover his independence. Our means of subsistence, - to make life worth having, — ought to be independent means. But to educate any class systematically in the notion that there is not space for them among us, and that they must seek their fortunes on the fresh soil of some distant emigration field, would be generally equivalent to saying to them that, since other resources are avowedly provided for them, they need not be busy, careful, and virtuous, like their neighbours, who seek to live at home. Such a system must tend to train them in the belief that they have found the secret of relieving themselves from the universal curses of manhood-labour and anxiety; and that there is a table spread for them in the wilderness, where they have only to go and sit down. The predestined emigrant will thus dream that he has obtained an exemption from the cares, perplexities, and toils of his native country: though in reality he is only placed in a position where such energy, forbearance, patience, and industrious endurance as he may possess, will have an opportunity of being more fully developed and more sternly tested — where alone they will be more plentifully rewarded. Now if any delusion of this sort is a probable


Our Present Want of System.


consequence of special schools for emigration, what advantage is there to be set on the other side ? In our opinion, none at all.

There are not two kinds of industrial schools required: one for home, another for the colonies. The best way to train a youth for emigration is, to train him to get on at home. Wherever his lot is cast, we should wish him to be something better than a hewer of wood and drawer of water to his life's end: though wool-sorting or rope-picking are even a still poorer training for the Canadian forests, the Texian weed prairies, or the pasture plains of Australia. The destiny of the individual encumbrance on charity may be settled by his being shipped off to the most promising, or to any, settlement; but the diseases of a social system, infested by swarms of this description of pauper, are not to be so easily cured. The mere emptying out of human beings upon shores where they have a chance of life which they had not at home, though there may have been sound enough reasons for it during a dreadful famine and commercial panic, is not a practice to be systematically followed, with decency or humanity. When we take the starving Celt from Skibbreen or Skye, and land him on the sands of Canada or the mud of Australia, we are rid of him, to be sure; so are we of the discontented workman, who is carried from the crowded piers of Liverpool or Glasgow, to be set down on the equally crowded quay of New York, where, to his intense astonishment, he will find that he is as far as ever from an easy life, high pay, and cheap liquor. The other hemisphere shrinks from many of our emigrants almost as much as from our convicts. The individuals who are so disposed of may never come back again; but even if it were personally no subject of regret that they have been woefully disappointed and foully deceived, they waft over a miserable history, -one which surrounds emigration, especially as a resource to the humbler classes, with desolation and misery, instead of hope and progress.

Supposing that we are right in thinking that one and the same training will equally answer for both purposes, the question is reduced to this — What that training ought to be? To merely occupy their hands, without opening their capacities to skilled labour, is to give the inmates of Ragged Schools and Union Workhouses a very miserable chance of success in life, and to give society a very miserable chance of being rid of that burden which hereditary pauperism has imposed on it. We truly believe that the best thing that can be done with all children who are once brought within the circle of pauper or eleemosynary education is, to train them, as effectively as circumstances will permit, to some practical and useful line of life, so as to

ver from aphrinks from he individu

make them good home citizens. If emigration, after all, should turn out to be their future destiny, this training will be in every way of service to them, - fully as much so as any that could have been administered with a special view to their expatriation. If they are enabled to live by it at home, the system will have saved for the commonwealth, so many valuable members out of what was thought to be its very rottenness.

Now, what difficulties or dangers are in the way of this great national experiment? We know of no difficulties, but the cost: and of no dangers, but two visionary fears, — the fear of a glut of useful labour, and the fear of heartless parents abandoning their children, wholesale, to the public. The experiment of making pauper children useful members of the community has surely probability enough on the face of it, to justify whatever cost and risk it may involve. In case we can do nothing with their labour here, then colonisation comes in most opportunely : and will provide them with a satisfactory opening abroad, as a substitute for the place which their parents have lost for them in our own complex system. To give them the tedious minute training, equivalent to an apprenticeship to any of our old generic trades, - such as cabinet-making, tailoring, bootmaking, &c., -- is what neither compulsory nor voluntary eleemosynary institutions can afford to do, what perhaps they ought not to do, if they could. But in a well-trained industrial school, a boy learns a deal of coarse handiwork in various capacities, which may be of infinite service to himself and those about him, when he may be thousands of miles from regular tradesmen. His capacities may not have been accurately enough shaped and polished to adjust themselves to the studiously tesselated system of this country ; but for that very reason they may be the better suited for the rugged road of the colonist. He may not be able to turn a boot, or veneer a sideboard, or tool in the gilding of a russia-bound volume, - but with his general knowledge and his rude aptitudes, natural and acquired, he could perhaps do in his own person, for a new settlement in New Zealand, the equivalent of what it needs three highly-trained workmen to do at home; for he can make a pair of brogues, put together a deal bench, and bind all the literature of his brother settlers in hogskin. Such rough-handed miscellaneously trained beings may make better emigrants than your finished mechanics, whose pedantic adherence to the dogmatic methods in which they have been drilled, and whose firm belief in the impossibility of anything which is out of their taught track being sufficiently correct to answer its purpose, are the curse of all inventive geniuses, and of all eccentric gentlemen who wish to have the

yn personat it needs threrair of brogues, pur seitlers in hoga


Miscellaneous Training..


[ocr errors]

things about them made different from their neighbours'. We will not say that these finished mechanics would be less fit to adapt themselves to the wants of new colonies than the coarsely trained youth of the industrial schools ; but we believe it would give our hand workers, both mechanics and manufacturers, a better and firmer position, whether in their own country or in a new settlement, were they acquainted with more than one sort of business, and able to turn their hands to various constructive operations. It must be left to the enlightening influence of national education to accomplish this desirable end, as well as many others, which will serve to raise the working man to a greater share of independence and security than he can now attain to, — and this, simply by giving him access to a wider round of occupations.

Though Ragged Schools and Union Workhouses cannot train their youth to the thorough mastery of a trade, experience has shown that their miscellaneous industrial training prepares a boy for learning one, and makes him more valuable to a master, even in a different pursuit from that in which he may have been principally engaged. There is a mischievous superstition, which operates most banefully on the working classes, that the capacity to do one thing infers incapacity to do another. The number of objects which can be accomplished by any human being is doubtless limited; but the ability to do any one thing with the head or with the hand opens the faculties, and makes almost any other work to which they may in after life be exclusively devoted the more easy. There is no sound moral, except by way of warning, in the fable about a philosopher caught by the Algerines, who was found fit for nothing but to sit on eggs and hatch chickens.

As it would be injudicious to attempt to make finished workmen by this system of training, it would also be a very great mistake to endeavour to make such institutions self-supporting, by bringing fabrics into the market. The best and most instructive labour in which pauper children can be employed is, in ministering to their own wants: — making their clothes, food, and furniture, and fitting up their dwelling-places. It would not be just to the independent mechanic that the money of the charitable wealthy should be used as a means of competing with him; it would be still more unjust to tax him to support his rivals. But that he should ever really suffer from such a cause is an empty fear ; - any attempt to compete with him in such a quarter would be quite ineffectual.

A general glance at the economic advantages which emigration to a fresh soil confers on the poor but able-bodied 'surplus VOL. XCII. NO. CLXXXVIII.


inhabitant’ of the old country, may serve still further to show the value of skilled industrial training. The emigration field will not be a great almshouse for him ; far from enabling him to live idle on the bounties of nature, it simply restores him to that position of a capacity to earn his bread, which his parents, by degenerating from the ranks of prudent industry, had forfeited. He and his brethren in misfortune are redundant, not from the absolute number of people in the country, but because their parents, through vice or culpable indolence and carelessness, have failed to fulfil the conditions of a high social state; the very first of which requires that every man should preserve something of what he produces, under pain of sinking below the level of selfsupport. It has been well said that there never was a surplus population, where every head of a family has a hundred pounds in the savings' bank. But the saving out of past production does not necessarily embody itself in money or tangible property. It may be represented by education, or professional training, or whatever gives the human being opportunities for the future, by exemption from immediate daily necessity. The opportunity which the carpenter or the bookbinder has got of mastering a lucrative skilled profession, is the hereditary gift which his parents have bestowed on him through their caution and forbearance in not immediately consuming all they had produced. This is his capital. But the city savage, and the abandoned child of the social wilderness have no capital in any shape, and society cannot afford to invest them with so much as their neighbour the car: penter possesses ; it would be dangerous if it did so. Now the advantage of emigration to such a person, we repeat, is just this, it redresses the wrongs which his parents have committed in regard to him, and sets him off in life with a beginning, with a kind of capital. The untilled alluvial soil of the prairies or New Zealand, is another kind of capital lying waiting for any one who will go to it; in this country it requires an expenditure of from ten to twenty pounds an acre, in paring, trenching, and tile-draining to make its like. But the extent to which it is really available as capital will depend much on the capacities of the men who go to it. If they can only plough, and sow, and reap, they may have food in autumn, but they will have to wait long ere they obtain by the exchange of commodities other rewards for their labour. But if while his neighbour ploughs and reaps, one of them can, however roughly, make chairs, tables, and agricultural instruments, and another can perform tinker's work, while a third can turn out a pair of shoes, and a fourth a suit of clothes, they have among them the main primary elements of a social community, and the fixed capital — the land - is immediately available to supply all the wants of those who live on it. Once taken out of

« 上一頁繼續 »