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wealth and call to their aid the highest resources of experimental science and mechanical ingenuity; and the very State, under the guidance of political economy, diminishes the duty upon them that it may increase the consumption and protect the excise. By thus cutting down the duty one-third in 1826, it at once doubled the quantity of ardent spirits drunk in the country -increasing it from 4,132,263 gallons to 8,888,648 annually. Whilst knowledge is diffusing among the middle classes all the elements of moral and physical well-being in unparalleled abundance, it would be as impossible altogether to hinder their influence from reaching the lower classes, as it would be to hide entirely the sun which shines in Belgrave Square from the inhabitants of St. Giles's or Bethnal Green. But it reaches them through a polluted medium.
polluted medium. What school learning they have as yet got may be summed up in a mechanical ability to read, possessed, at the utmost, by half their number. It was given to them that they might read the Scriptures; but it appears to be largely employed in the reading of immoral publications. The total issue of such publications has been stated * at 29 millions -- being more than the total issue of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Religious Tract Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Scottish Bible Society, the Trinitarian Bible Society, and some seventy religious magazines.
• The condition of the “ lower classes” at the present moment,' says Dr. Channingt, is a mournful commentary on English institutions and civilisation. The multitude are depressed in that country to a degree of ignorance, want, and misery, which 'must touch every heart not made of stone. In the civilised - world there are few sadder spectacles than the contrast now presented in Great Britain, of unbounded wealth and luxury, with the starvation of thousands and tens of thousands crowded into cellars and dens without ventilation or light, compared with which the wigwam of an Indian is a palace. Misery, famine, brutal degradation, in the neighbourhood and presence of stately mansions, which ring with gaiety and dazzle with * pomp and unbounded profusion, shock us as no other wretch.edness does.' This cannot be the true regimen of society. Under the government of an all-wise and merciful Providence extreme degradation, immorality, and ignorance in the lower classes cannot be the inseparable accompaniments of morality, intelligence, and wealth in the upper. It is a state of things
• Lecture by Mr. M Cree on Juvenile Vice in Norwich, quoted by Mr. Worsley, p. 113. The number of publications circulated by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1848, was 4,154,428.
† Works, vol. vi. p. 258, third edition. Duty of Free States.'
Social Effects of Ignorance.
which must be destined to rectify itself somehow by either some gradual or some sudden change.
One great evil of the increased distance at which the lower classes are placed from the higher is, that it greatly obstructs all the efforts made by the higher for their welfare. There is no way in which improvement could reach them which does not seem to be barred by their ignorance. They are not educated up to the standard of the services of the Church, and therefore the churches are deserted by them. The clergyman, unable to span the space which education has interposed between him and them, turns them over to the extempore ministrations of the dissenting teacher. But the great mass of irreligion, ignorance, and vice lies stagnant far below the reach of either. The neglect of public worship among the working classes of the metropolis is described as almost universal. Of the men
(writes one of the city missionaries, located in a suburban dis• trict,) I only know twelve who are what may be termed regular 'attendants at the house of God.' Another gives twelve families out of a thousand.* The statistics of public worship confirm this view of the case. The churches and chapels in London are said to afford accommodation for not more than 600,000 persons, of which not more than 400,000 can be considered to be at any given time present; or more at the utmost than 800,000, to be attendants on them. But the population of London is probably two millions and a quarter. If this be the case there are a million and a half of persons in London who never publicly worship God.
If we shift our point of view from the side of the Church to that of the State, and look at the question of education in its connexion with crime, we find that crime advances to a sudden and precocious maturity between the ages of fifteen and twenty;
the average criminality of that period (measured by the probability of any given individual committing a crime) being three times as great as that of the rest of life.t
Report of London City Mission, 1819. † In the year 1846 one-tenth of the population was between those ages, while this tenth of the population yielded one-fourth of the criminals. Hence the above proportion of criminality. Assuming the average criminality of the whole of life to be represented by unity, the following numbers will, we believe, be found to represent the average criminality of different ages: the data are taken from the criminal tables of Mr. Redgrave, for 1846.
Under 15. 15–20. 20_25.
30-40. 40–50. / 50-60. Above 60.
0.1805 2.4747 2.4002 1.8250 1.2248 0.8750 0.53120-2500
The roots of criminality shoot, however, deep into childhood. They lie in the preceding period, from ten to fifteen - the school-life of the child. If then the influence which men have been accustomed to ascribe to education be not a dream, it offers the key to the whole position of crime.
The Education Question will not be evaded by turning from the side of penal to that of sanitary reform. Sanitary Commissioners may, indeed, provide that the dwellings of the poor are such as to render the observance of the rules of decency and morality practicable,; but if a sense of decency be not cultivated among them, and their notions of morality raised, all these precautions will be useless — more roomy cottages will be considered simply as affording facilities for taking more lodgers; ventilators which, while they let out the impure air and admit the pure, have the inconvenience of letting out the warm and admitting the cold, will be closed up; and drains, which require from time to time to be cleansed, will be choked.
As long as a great portion of our population is trained from childhood to a dependence on the rates, and continues to be disciplined to pauperism and vagrancy, the labours of Poor-law Commissioners will be fruitless. Nor will the apostles of temperance have any general success, until the same means operate to promote sobriety among the lower classes which have banished drunkenness from the upper.
The truth is, that the evils under which the labouring classes suffer are essentially moral evils; and that their cure is not to be effected except by the operation of moral causes. of labour were doubled to-morrow, — other things remaining the same, - these evils would not be diminished, but rather increased. We do not mean that there are not many labourers, whose material well-being is impossible on their present earnings; but we assert that the chief source of the misery of the class of labourers is in their demoralisation; and that, so long as this remains, whatever measures may be taken to better their condition, by increasing their wages or cheapening their food, they will defeat them by their vices and their improvidence, — bringing themselves again down to the living point, and reestablishing the level of their former misery. The following example is in point. A colliery district in the Midland counties was remarkable, in 1846, for the comfortlessness of the abodes of the people, the squalor of their wives and children, and their apparent poverty and social disorganisation. A resident magistrate, whose opportunities of information and whose personal character give the highest authority to his testimony, thus speaks of them :
• The leisure hours of these men are mainly spent in the
If the wages
Wages high: Education low.
* public houses; the women have no notion of domestic duty or • domestic comfort; the home is a scene of wretched untidiness • and filth ; no furniture, no bedding but the poorest and the
most comfortless — often straw or hay stuffed into a filthy ticking ' - and every thing in disorder and discomfort. A labourer in 'the agricultural districts is a far more respectable man; he has
a good bed, good furniture, and an air of comfort and respecta• bility about his household. Here there is nothing of the kind. • In the one there is uniformity and rule, in the other all is dis• order, irregularity, and misery. I go into the houses of each, and am constantly struck by the differences between them.'*
Now we have before us an authentic statement of the wages of the different classes of workmen in this district at the time to which these observations refer-- as the wages ruled, with constant employment, during five or six successive years. From this statement it appears that the income of a working collier and his wife and family, consisting of two sons and two daughters, one of each being grown up, would at that time have amounted, at constant work, to 2731. per annum.
But colliers are by no means the best paid class of workmen. The income of a rail or sheet-iron roller, or ball-furnace man, or puddler and his family, could not be less than from three to four hundred pounds a year. Assuming, then, that such a family had lived, as they might comfortably have done, on 21. a week, their savings would have amounted, in the five years of the flush of work, to not less than one thousand pounds, which, invested in house property, would have placed them above want for the rest of their lives, and been an inheritance for their children. Yet
* Mingtes of Committee of Council, 1846, p. 201.
All the members, male and female, who are able, go to work, At ten years of age, even as young as eight, children can get employment. In the Japan shops female children can get constant work at *ls. 6d. a-week, with a progressive rise of 6d. a-week each year up 'to 78. At the brick-yards a man will average 228. a-week, girls of twelve, 58., of fourteen, 78. ; and a steady, working family, consisting of a father, a grown-up son and daughter, and a daughter of four• teen, and one of sixteen, would average 31. 13s. a-week.
* At the pits a father and grown-up son can average 37s. 6d. each ' in the thick coal, and 31s. 6d. in the thin coal,—a son of fourteen, • 158.,—the wife and a grown-up daughter 10s. a-week each, and a daughter of fourteen, 78.; making an average of from 51. 178. to * 51. 58. a-week,'
# The average wages of rail-rollers were from 70s. to 80s. a-week, of sheet-iron rollers from 60s. to 70s., of ball-furnace men, after paying under-hands, from 40s. to 60s.
so little have these people beforehand in the world, that if the works were to stop (as the inspector was informed by the proprietor of one of the largest *), they would begin, within a fortnight, to pawn the little furniture of their cottages, and their clothes, for subsistence and for drink.
We give this as one illustration, of many which might be adduced, that the labours of statesmen for the material wellbeing of the labouring classes will be fruitless, and legislation nugatory, so long as the moral elements of the question continue to be ignored. These are the necessary results of high wages upon the happiness of an uneducated labouring community. They are emphatically the fruits of ignorance, as well of passive ignorance — ignorance in abeyance — as of ignorance carried out into action.
The line of demarcation,' says Mr. Worsley, 'which sepa6 rates those who have morally benefited by the altered con* dition of society from those who have sunk more deeply into • depravity and intemperance, is the educational boundary, which divides the well instructed from the ignorant.' (P. 122.)
Whilst popular education is thus the first of the great social questions in the order of solution, there is certainly no very encouraging prospect of its being the first to be solved. And whilst there is an extensive concurrence in accepting it as a necessity of the times in which we live, — so that, from whatever principles men start, they meet and concur on the general ground of education, - yet no sooner is the question raised, Who are to teach the people, and what are they to be taught ? than these advocates of education in the general separate and stand aloof.
It is the religious element in education which renders a union upon it apparently impossible. We live under a low dispensation in even spiritual things, — inferior motives lie hidden from us at the roots of our best actions; and there is nothing more obvious in the course of this world than that whatever of good is done, is educed from much evil. Meanwhile the only consolation we can find is in the thought that our unbappy divisions may be a means overruled to the promotion of Christian earnestness and steadfastness. For certainly there appears to be a heartiness and a reality in the religious convictions (whatever they may be) of the religious portion of our people— torn asunder as we are by discordant opinions --- which characterises no
* Minutes, 1846, vol. i. p. 178.
† It was lately found that of 14,937 deposit accounts in the Savings Bank of Manchester, only 4181 were those of working people. — Chambers' Miscel. vol. i.