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The Edinburgh United Industrial Schools.
- the Slough of Despond and started fairly in the world, there is,
of course, no saying to what height of fortune the redeemed outcast may arrive. But the accumulation of great fortunes is not a peculiarity of emigration. Certain coincidences of good luck, skilful management, and prudent forethought are ever, from time to time, creating fortunes almost out of nothing, in our dense cities, as well as in our emigration fields. The natural function of emigration is merely to give the poor man a start in life -- not to carry him over the ground.
Apart from any question respecting the merit of founding Ragged Schools as places of refuge for abandoned children, supported by private charity, we owe to them the application of industrial training, which, we believe, will in the end be found their most valuable feature. We look forward with confidence to the enlarged experience of the Norwood Taining School, established under the auspices of the Poor Law Commissioners. Among these schools supported by voluntary contributions, there is at least one in which the industrial training system has been systematically pursued - the United Industrial School of Edinburgh. Such efforts are not artificial interferences with the natural organisation of society; they are restorations of a balance which has been artificially disturbed, and their immediate wholesome influence cannot be better exemplified than in the following
statement of their experience reported by the managers of the - United Industrial School.
• Besides the prospect which it affords of bringing up useful members of society, the industrial system has proved of eminent advantage to the discipline, harmony, and effectiveness of the institution, as a mere place of education. It has been found eminently adapted to the nature of the children, and hence to their contentedness and good conduct. It is too often forgotten, that the mature outcast of society and the child of want or degradation are two totally distinct beings, both in their physical and mental nature, and demand as different a social treatment. The former becomes supine, inert, and hopeless, during his career of vice and misfortune-- the latter often shows an acuteness and energy beyond his years.
* It has been observed, that children early deprived of their natural guardians exhibit remarkable precocity, as if by a wise provision their natures were adapted to the difficulties of their position. Among those poor abandoned children whose daily ingenuity is taxed to supply their daily wants, the young human faculties are subjected to an artificial forcing system, which enlarges them to their utmost stretch, and the extent to which they are developed seems sometimes incredible. These qualities have an accompanying excitement, which demands a field of development. Employments which do not in some degree tax the ingenuity and the powers of body and mind, exhibiting results which increase with the energies bestowed on them, cannot fill the vacuum left by the exciting occupations of mendicancy, imposition, and plunder. When the hands are occupied in picking old ropes and sorting wool, the mind is at the old haunts, accompanying the pickpocket and the gambler, or revelling in the flash house.' On the other hand, skilled labour, inferring progress with effort, has served entirely to supersede these dangerous hankerings, while it keeps up a healthy energy of body and mind, visible in the zeal with which the children betake themselves, whether to their work or their tasks. The turning lathes are especially popular; and it is impossible to avoid feeling a sympathetic interest with the evidently keen and absorbing emotion with which the boy sees the evidence of his own enlarging skill there growing into tangible shape before him.'
We do not mean to insist that skilled training, or any other individual system, contains the one effective remedy for our social evils. The body social can, no more than the physical frame, be revolutionised, like mere chemical matter, by the introduction of some one new element; and social therapeutics can accomplish their object only by small degrees and partial amendments under the direction of earnest, thoughtful, patient industry. It is one of the great glories of our age,-a glory which will hereafter make it shine with a brightness such as no genius or lustre of great achievement could have conferred on it, that it is marked by diligent inquiry into the diseases which our forefathers have allowed to creep into society, and by an anxious desire to cure them. And though the first inquiries have opened a sad and disheartening picture, and have displayed sores too deep for immediate healing, yet when the present generation with its miseries shall have passed away, there is hope that all this earnest endeavour will not be lost, and that it may have prepared a brighter moral dawn for the generations that are to come.
ART. VIII.-Le Siècle. Le Pouvoir: Le Moniteur: Le Journal
des Debats :. 1849, 1850. MAN
ANY of the errors of political philosophers, and many of the
failures of practical statesmen, appear to us to have had their origin in the same oversight: both have too commonly ignored, or have not sufficiently studied, the fundamental characteristics, intellectual and moral, which distinguish different nations: they have too generally reasoned and acted as if they had to deal with an abstract or an average' man, instead of with populations impressed – whether by the hand of Nature or by the operation of long antecedent circumstances — with marked and distinctive features; endowed with special apti
1850. Different Nations differently gifted.
505 tudes, gifted with peculiar excellences, disqualified by peculiar deficiencies. In consequence of the omission of these considerations, which should form, not only an essential element in their calculations, but almost the foundation of them, their philosophy becomes inapplicable, and their statesmanship ends in disappointment. That nations are marked by such distinctive capacities and incapacities few observers of our species on a large scale will be found to doubt: any difference of opinion merely regards the inberent and ineradicable nature of these distinctions. While some conceive them to belong to the race, its pedigree, its physical conformation - others attribute them to the operation of external influences, as country, climate, government, surrounding accidents, or historical antecedents.
Thus, a broad line of demarcation distinguishes the Oriental from the European nations. Progress distinguishes the one; a stereotyped stationariness the other. The former rest unambitiously in the blind worship of the past; the latter draw all their inspiration from hope, and lay the scenes of their dreams of happiness in the times that are to come. The golden age of the one is the primeval Eden of their ancestors; the Paradise of the other is the future dwelling-place of their children's children. Passive and unmurmuring resignation under the evils of life is the religion of the East; indomitable and untiring energy in conflict with those evils is the virtue of the West. The Oriental acquiesces in all that is ordained; the European acquiesces in nothing that can be amended. Neither character presents a complete and perfect whole: and the philosopher may be tempted to speculate on the splendid results which would signalise the union of the two, if such an event be among the future possibilities of human destiny :
In dreaming of each mighty birth,
That shall one day be born
With nations of the Morn.' Nor can we shut our eyes to the fact that differences, less marked indeed, but quite as real, distinguish the several European races from each other. Each has its peculiar gift—its special line of excellence, in which it is unapproachable - its special incapacity, which no experience and no effort seem able to cure. The spirit of patient, unwearying, and minute research, of profound and far-reaching speculation - the perfection of the abstract intellect--are the dowry of the Germans. But the faculty of managing successfully the rougher and homelier affairs of social life seems to have been granted to them in far scantier
measure. They are glorious musicians — very common-place administrators. On the theoretical science of government they think profoundly in the actual art of it they have been as yet children. To the Italians, again, is assigned that fervid imagination that keen susceptibility to all the finer influences that intense homage to the Beautiful — that pursuit of the Ideal as a reality, out of which springs the perfection of the fine arts. But for some centuries back they have seemed to purchase this brilliant pre-eminence at the expense of incompetence for the practical duties and business of political life. With the most singular combination of intellectual powers among European nations, they have suffered themselves to be more misgoverned than any people except the Spaniards; and with the finest soil and climate in the world, they have long remained nearly at a stand-still in all the material elements of civilisation. Perhaps it may be this very sacrifice to the Ideal which incapacitates them for the achievements of common life, where modifications and adaptations rather than creations are wanted—improvements of what is, rather than the removal of it, to make room for what ought to be. Probably also the pursuit and overweening appreciation of the merely beautiful are unfavourable to a certain hardness and sternness of mind which may be essential to success in the rough work of the political arena.
The French, too, unrivalled in scientific precision, are stricken with impotence when they approach the higher regions of poetical or spiritual thought. Pre-eminent as a military people, they have signally failed in all attempts to add naval success to their other achievements. And with the thoughts of the whole people, occupied for sixty years in the search after that • abstract perfection in government' (which, as Canning remarked, is not an object of reasonable pursuit, because it is not one of possible attainment); and with as fair a field, and as unimpeded a career, as was ever vouchsafed to any nation in Europe
they are actually at the present time no nearer than at the beginning, to the realisation of their ideal. While the English, on the other hand - loathing abstract thought, looking with suspicion or contempt on all endeavours after scientific accuracy in moral or political questions, empiric, tentative, often blundering, always unsystematic, alternately sleeping in smiling apathy, and awakening with a panic start — now straining at the smallest hardship, now swallowing the most monstrous oppression ; now neglecting the growth of the most frightful evils, now arousing themselves to the most microscopic vigilance; now wretched, frantic, and remorseful, if a criminal is harshly treated, or a pauper inadequately fed; now contemplating with serene in1850. National Requirements for Self-government. 507 difference the grinding misery of thousands ; — nevertheless have contrived to advance with magical rapidity in the material arts of life; and to proceed, though at a far slower rate, with the remedy of public ills and the diffusion of social welfare. Surrounded by difficulties, they succeed in maintaining their freedom unimpaired, and even confirmed; and in making almost yearly some steps - halting, and uncertain as they are -towards a better and wiser government,
If we are right in these views — if no national character is complete and perfect, and equipped in an adequate measure with all capacities — it follows that, to expect from all nations success and excellence in all lines, or in the same lines, is an unreasonable demand; and to imagine that the same political garments will fit all alike, is a practical mistake of the most dangerous description. Yet recent events have shown that it is about the most widely diffused of all misapprehensions; and it is the one, of all others, into which Englishmen are most apt to fall. We have been too much like the enthusiastic convalescent who would force upon every invalid the invaluable medicine which has cured his own malady and agreed with his own system. To our representative institutions - to our glorious British constitution we gratefully ascribe (whether altogether justly we need not here discuss) our long career of prosperity, our wide empire, our high position, our unequalled amount of personal freedom, the buoyancy with which we ride out the fiercest storms, the elastic energy which carries us triumphantly through the darkest disasters. Our neighbours draw the same inference, and clamour for institutions similar to ours; and they are backed in their demand by the most ardent sympathy which the flattered vanity and the genuine benevolence of England can afford. They seize eagerly upon the magic spell; and find - alas! too late — alike to their astonishment and ours, that the magic resides, not in the spell, but in its special adaptation to the practised hand that wields it. God forbid that we should undervalue our national institutions ! May we ever be assiduous, not only to preserve, but to improve them, and keep them perpetually bright and young. But close observation, both of ourselves and of our imitators, may convince us that the real merit and effect of these institutions belong far less to the forms themselves than to those national qualities — for the most part virtues, but not always as amiable as respectable -- which enable us to use them so skilfully, to supply their deficiencies, and correct their incongruities.
We think that a little reflection will show reason for believing that, if we have succeeded in the great object of a people's