« PreviousContinue »
Cæsar, of Cæsar Brutus ; and who believes Tully and Cicero to be two distinct persons. Such are the remote and powerless mo. tives with which children have hitherto been stimulated. The bats, balls and kites of Mr Lancaster, we conceive to be admirable auxiliaries of education, and to afford that strong and prem sent stimulus which best overcomes the vis inertiæ, and establishes the difficult and unnatural habit of application. It is all very well to talk about studying from a sense of duty. Mature, bearded men, who fall into this cant, require the immediate stimulus of a guinea ; or, at least, a return for their labour in a month or a year; expecting, in the mean time, that the poor child for whom they cant, the miserable and inexperienced cantee, should exert himself for benefits which, it is very doubtful, whether or or not he will reap when half his life is elapsed. Nothing, in our opinion, can be so preposterous as the objections made to an order of merit in a school. In what way are such extraordinary services ever obtained from mankind at so cheap a rate ? Tie two guineas worth of gold to a red ribbon, and call it the order of the golden cannon, or the golden swivel, or what not;--and in every battle you will have a thousand young men of spirit performing the most daring actions to obtain it. A garter is vacantor, in other words, the privilege of telling the passer by, by means of a bit of gold at the knee, and a bit of silver on the belly, that you are a man of high birth and large fortune. The cabinet, however, sit in grave consultation on the distribution of this honour; the greatest men of the country are sleepless in their palaces, and the minister loses or gains the lord of a province by his gift ;-and yet we are half angry that a breechless boy should struggle day and night for a shining lump of tin, which tells the passer by that he is diligent and good. We do not mean, by these observations, to express the slightest degree of disrespect for the established honours of the country,--quite the contrary. We are convinced, that such institutions are thoroughly founded in good sense, and knowledge of human nature; and that they are eminently useful. We approve, in the most decided manner, the courage and originality of that man who has carried into education those institutions, which, in the business of the world, are the most powerful of all motives. Vanity is the word on which all these objections are founded ; and it unfortunately happens, that we have no word in our language to signify the i good and useful love of praise ; for, that the love of praise is, under certain regulations, one of the most beneficial passions to society, will not, it is presumed, be denied ; nor ought it to be characterized by the inculpative term of Vanity, excepi when its object is frivolous, or when it is the sole and absorbing passion.
It must not be forgotten, that in Mr Lancaster's school every boy is every moment employed. It is obvious, that in the class assembled round the suspended card for reading and spelling,
--the wand of the monitor pointing to the particular letter,-the 'taking places,- the hopes of obtaining a ticket;-must keep the children constantly on the alert: When they read, spel, and write at the same time, as in paragraph (A), or when the monitor dictates sums, as in (C), it is impossible for any individual to be inattentive. In common schools, the scholar is set to learn bis. spelling, or his cyphering, by himself; and, after a certain time, the master hears him his lesson, and judges of his attention by his readiness in performing it. The learning part of the business is left entirely to the boy himself, and his time often whild away in cvery species of idleness. The beauty of Mr Lancaster's system is, that nothing is trusted to the boy himself; he does not only repeat the lesson before a superior, but he learns it before a superior. When he listens to the dictating process in arithmetic, and adds up as he is commanded, he does that under the eye and command of a master, which,, in other schools, he would be trusted to do by himself. In short, in these troops the appointed officer sees, that the soldier shoulders his musket twenty times a day, who, by doing it often, cannot avoid doing it well. In other troops, the officer tells the soldiers how it is to be done, and leaves them to practise by themselves,—which they do, of course, very unwillingly, and very imperfectly, if they do it at all. Such are the principles upon which Mr Lancaster has planned his improvements in the education of the poor, and carried them into execution with such success, that one thousand boys 'may now be educated in reading, writing, and arithimetic, by one person, at an expense not exceeding 300l. per annum.. A more beautiful, a more orderly, and a more affecting scene, than the school of Mr Lancaster, it is not possible to behold. The progress of the children is rapid beyond all belief ;, and evinces, in the most gratifying manner, the extraordinary effects which are produced upon, the human mind by the arts of cultivation.
When a poor lad is educated, many valuable principles of religion, morals and politics, may be fixed on his mind, which could not be conveniently taught to him by any other means. At school he is under the influence of the master; for some years afterwards at home, under the influence of the parent. They have an interest in directing his newly acquired power aright, and in turning the bias of his mind to what is good; and this, at a per riod, which generally decides the character of the future man. It is very, trite to say, that reading multiplies the innocent resources and amusements of the poor ; but we cannot see why this is not
very true. We do not object either to boxing or bull-baiting; · but the history of Robinson Crusoe is compatible with them, or, if not, is at least a very fair and innocent rival to set up against them. Village sports are necessarily of rare occurrence. Reading is always accessible, and is permanently opposed to the permanent temptation of beer. The comforts and conveniences of life would be somewhat increased, if every person in the state were educated. In agriculture, in manufactures, and among domestic servants, every body has felt more or less of inconvenience, from the deficiencies of his dependants in reading, writing, and accounts. It is frequently found impossible to put very clever servants in the best situations, from their ignorance in these parti. Jars; and masters are forced to place superiors over them, in other respects not qualified. The sum of these inconveniences is worth attention. .
Nature scatters talents in a very capricious manner over the different ranks of society. It is not improbable but a general system of education would rescue some very extraordinary understandings from oblivion.
Education raises up in the poor an admiration for something else besides brute strength and brute courage; and probably Tenders them more tractable and less ferocious. A mob might issue forth to murder a man,-all of whom could read, write, and work sums in compound multiplication and the rule of three. 'This certainly might be; but it is not quite so probable an occurrence, as if they had employed their youth in scampering through the streets of London, and in small pilfering. The education of the poor is as waluable for what it prevents, as for what it teaches. A boy remains two years at Lancaster's school. What would he have been doing, if he had not been there? What sort of habits and principles would he have contracted ? Apply this to St Giles, to Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. In villages, the question, perhaps, is, whether a boy is to be a stupid animal, or an intelligent animal ? There, temptations are so tew, that his moral and religious character will remain the same; but, in towns, the alternatives are, intelligence and virtue, or ignorance and vice. In such scenes of activity, a child will do, and learn soviething. If you do not take care that it is good, he will take care that it is evil. A THOUSAND boys educated in the heart of the metropolis! How is it possible to doubt if such a thing be useful? It is the fashion now to say, that a mode of education is provided by the State, and that children may listen to the oral instructions of clergymen in the pulpit. A clergyman preaches fifteen minutes in a week. Has he the very unusual and valuable talent of commanding attention ? Will the church hold the thirtieth or for
tieth part of his parish? If it will hold them, do they come ? in the short period dedicated to instruction, can he instruct children of six years old, and grown up people at the same time? Is this possible? Will he do it, if it is possible?-We really have not the slightest intention of sneering at the exertions of the clergy; it is quite clear, that if their exertions in the pulpit were ten times as great as they are, that no oral instruction, delivered under such circumstantes, could possibly supply the place of other education. And when such things are talked of in London, and in large cities, it is really too absurd to merit an answer, When we are availing ourselves of the most recent inventions in every thing else, why are we to revert to the rudest machines in education ?
It is said that the poor, proud of their attainments in learning, will no longer submit to the drudgery to which they have been accustomed in their state of ignorance. In the first place, if every body can read, no one will be more proud of reading than they are of walking now, when every body can walk. But if every poor man in England were as proud as Lucifer, he must either work or starve. Labour depends not upon opinion, but upon the necessity of eating and drinking. Truly miserable indeed would the condition of mankind be, if society were such a papier maché machine as these sort of reasoners make it to be; if, by any change of fashions, men were to cease to resent, or to fear, or to love, or to tvil, or to govern. The great passions and appetites are interwoven in our very being; and all the important and indispensable operations of life rest upon the great pasbions, and are as eternal as the foundations on which they are placed.
Reading multiplies the power of getting at the opinions and arguments of others. In the end, the good opinion, and the sound argument, prevail. The standard books among the poor would not encourage disaffectio:1, but the contrary. Seditious pamphlets would sometimes get among the poors but they would mect with a firmier body of opinion than they do now; and the rommon average books would be of a very different description. What is read by the classes immediately above the poor, is nei. ther treason nor impiety. With them, the notions in ordinary circulation, about government and religion, though trite, are, in general, useful, just, and respectable. In the ferment of political opinion, through which we have recently passed, the Scorch, and the people of London and Westminster, were sot endangered by their education, nor the Irish protected by their ignorance. The English, rank for rank, are governed ' with greater justice, and live with greater happiness, than any niher people in the world. If this is as true as we believe it to
be, be, why will not such a welcome and important truth be at length diffused by the diffufion of knowledge? What is the dreadiul secret the poor are to find out when they have leurned to read and write? We have often seen guzzling, semi-in-briat d coun'ry gentlemen, nod and wink with a very pregnant wisdom, when the education of the poor was mentioned. We bear them no malice for their stupid prejudices, but with, on the contrary, with the utnost sincerity, that the accomplishments of reading, writing, and cyphering, were more generally diffused among iicfe gentlemen ; and that they were taught, by enjoying thele biçiliigs themselves, to appreciate them more juftly for others.
There are now, perhaps, one million more of persons who can read and write, than there were before the revolution. Tas this increase of knowledge produced any increase of difusfection? If ignorance is us·ful to a state, to what degree is it ufcful ? Oi, where has the argument any limit?
The expense of education is not to be mentioned. A boy learns reading, writing and accounts, for fourteen shillings, who would, in hedge-breaking, or picking pockets, cost the county double the money in the same time.
The investigation might be pushed on to a great length. These are a few of the principal advantages which appear to us to result from education; from which we do not expect miracles, or believe that it would put an end to mendicity, and render the executioner's place a finecure. But we do most firmly believe, that it inay be made the means of rescuing thousands of human beings from vice and mis ry, of teaching the blessings of rational religio!, of improving the character, and increasing the happiness of the lower orders of mankind. And for these reasons, the cause of education shall never want our feeble aid, nor the friends of it our good word, from the poor Quaker whose syitem we have defcrib. ed, to the King who has conducted himself towards this defcrving man with so much goodness and feeling; and for which thouinds of ragged children will pray for him and remember him, long after his Majesty is forgotten by every Lord of the Chamber, and by every Clerk of the Closet.
Thus much for education itself. The manner of introclucing it into, and encouraging it in a country, are totally I parite quelcions. How far it may be exp dient to providie nationally for the education of the poor, against the prejudices of the upper cills, and without any cordial with to that purpofe on the part of the poor themselves, is doubtful, if it be pofliok. At all events, we must express our most fincere regret, that the late plan was ever connected with so many doubtful, and so many compicati d mcdCures; and that its worthy auther speared to be so nosierlit]; i).