Imágenes de página

past controversy, whether God be better than sin, and glory than vanity? Why shouldst thou forsake thy own mercy, and sin against thy own life? When wilt thou shake off thy sloth, and lay by thine excuses? “Boast not thyself of to-morrow: thou knowest not” where this night may lodge thee.-Alleine.


A celebrated preacher of the seventeenth century, in a sermon to a crowded audience, described the terrors of the last judgment with such eloquence, pathos, and force of action, that some of his audience not only burst into tears, but sent forth piercing cries, as if the Judge himself had been present, and was about to pass upon them their final sentence. In the height of this commotion, the preacher called upon them to dry their tears and cease their cries, as he was about to add something still more awful and astonishing than anything he had yet brought before them.

Silence being obtained, he, with an agitated countenance and solemn voice, addressed them thus. “In one quarter of an hour from this time, the emotions which you have just now exhibited will be stified--the remembrance of the fearful truths which excited them will vanish--you will return to your carnal occupations, or sinful pleasures, with your usual avidity-and you will treat all you have heard “as a tale that is told.'”

EDUCATION IN ENGLAND. We are apt to think and speak of England as the Land of Education-the Land of Bibles the Land of Privileges. How far we are right in so doing may be judged from the following unvarnished statement of facts by the special correspondents of the Morning Chronicle.

Nothing is more difficult than to obtain an adequate idea of the educational machinery of an English county. This may sound odd, but there is a very obvious reason for it. Were education with us a matured and general system, extending on a uniform plan to every

* From “The Appeal, a Magazine for the People,” published in Leeds-a cheap and efficient antidote to the many worthless and demoralizing Tracts circulated in our own manufacturing towns.

corner of the land, its appliances in one municipal subdivision would be but the fac-simile of those in another, and indeed of those in all. Thus, in the state of New York, one has only to acquaint himself with the educational apparatus of any one school-district to become master of the whole plan of education throughout the state. Each district is, in this respect, but the repetition of its neighbour. But in England our whole system of public instruction is ragged and incomplete. In no particular district has the system pursued any necessary relation to that followed in adjoining districts. Schools which are common to one locality may or may not be found in another, but the machinery at work in each is not, as in the United States and in Prussia, part and parcel of one grand, comprehensive, and national scheme. The efforts made in this, that, or the other district, in behalf of popular instruction, are more or less isolated and independent, having no direct or necessary identity with any great educational operation homogeneous to this country.

The number of schools for which public provision has, to some extent, been made in Wiltshire, is only 68, being one school for every 3,800 of the population. In Oxford the number is only 33, being but one school for every 4,900 of the population. In Berks it is still lower, being only 25, which gives but one school for every 6,200 of the population. The precise number in Bucks is not given ; but giving that county as its proportion the average number of the other three counties, that proportion would be about 36 schools, or one for every 4,500 of the population. This will give us for the four counties but 162 schools, or one for every 4,420 of their aggregate population.

Let us compare this with what is being done elsewhere. The latest returns which we have in reference to education in Holland are those of 1846. In that year there were in Holland 3,214 schools for a population of about 3,857,000 souls, being one school for about every 950 of the population. But of this number 639 are returned as "private schools," and 165 as schools on “special foundation," leaving 2,410 as the number of the “public parish schools.” Now, taking these alone as the schools for which public provision is made, we have one school for every 1,600 of the population. In Prussia, during the same year, the number of elementary and other public schools amounted to upwards of 25,000, which, for a population of 16,000,000, gave one school for about every 650 people. The contrast to our own, presented by the educational system established on the other side of the Atlantic is still more striking. In New York, the population of which is about 3,000,000, the number of common

public schools is about 10,000, being one for every 300 of the population. In Connecticut, again, there is one school for about every 250 of the population. Of Canada I cannot speak with the same degree of exactness, having no returns from the province before me ; but this much I can say from personal knowledge, that in Canada West, an ample and a munificent provision has been made for popular instruction, as in most of the states of the Union. As compared, therefore, with the public provision made for education in the four counties in question, we find that that made in Holland is at least three times, that in Prussia nearly seven times, that in New York fourteen times, and that in Connecticut seventeen times as ample as it is in these counties..

Were the schools thus established in the four counties more par ticularly referred to, as perfect and efficient as they might be, a great deal of good might be effected by 162 schools, in addition to private institutions, amongst a population of about three-quarters of a million, and extending over an area of from three to four thousand square miles. But, in a great many instances, they are wofully deficient as regards those appliances with which they should be liberally supplied. Taking a bird's-eye view of a county in its educational aspect, we find that the combined machinery at work consists of National schools, British schools, Diocesan schools, sometimes connected with the National Society, and at other times, not ; Endowed schools, Private schools, and the schools of Parochial Unions. Of these the British and private schools are, 'generally speaking in many cases, perfect in their organization, adequate in their machinery, and efficient in their operation. But both the National and the British schools, which are the chief recipients of the public money, and particularly the former, are, in too many instances, deplorably wanting in what is essential to constitute a good elemen tary school. Some of the National schools are but caricatures of a proper educational establishment. To say nothing of inadequate accommodation, or of their deficient supply of books, apparatus, &c they are in the character and attainments of their teachers lamentably behind what they should be. Many of them are able men, not only well educated, but also thoroughly instructed in the art of communicating their knowledge to others. But there is a large proportion of them who are rigid disciplinarians, and honest in their efforts to do their duty, but who are each, nevertheless, a species of intellectual fossil, far behind as regards the knowledge of the day, and utterly unprepared, either by education or antecedent habits, for the important and by no means easy task of imparting instruction to the

young. For these and for other reasons the education acquired in these schools is, for the most part, of the most imperfect kind.

The Bishop of Oxford, who has certainly done much to put the educational institutions of his diocese on a better footing than they formerly occupied, has issued a circular to the teachers of his diocese, stating what, in his judgment, should be the subjects on which the pupils in the National and Diocesan schools should be instructed. It is a large and liberal catalogue, but one which will not be properly embraced in the round of instruction in one school out of ten, until the whole system is remodelled and rendered more efficient. One of the inspectors, again, gives the following list of subjects on which he thinks the children should be taught more or less ;-Biography (of good men,) natural history, the preservation of health, domestic economy, horticulture, mechanism, agriculture, geography, history, grammar, natural and experimental philosophy, money matters, political economy, and popular astronomy. A stranger would think from scanning this list, that we were, throughout, the most erudite and philosophical people in the world. But we must not be misled by sounds or names. A lad who is taught the nature of wages and the names of the heavenly bodies, may be described as receiving instruction in political economy and popular astronomy.

It is true that most of the subjects mentioned are taught in the elementary schools of America ; but how many of them are taught with us the following fact may attest ;-In the county of Oxford, under the four heads of geography, grammar, etymology, and history of England, there is not one child returned as receiving instruction. Whether this is a defect in the return, or arises from the fact that no children in the county are receiving instruction at the inspected schools on these subjects, I cannot exactly say. The simple fact is, that none are returned as receiving such instruction. The columns are there to receive the numbers, if there were any, but they are all blank-whilst the columns beside them are more or less filled up. But however this may be, geography is not as thoroughly and universally taught as it should be. This is a great mistake ; for there is no greater drawback to the extensive emigration of the lower orders than that arising from their almost total ignorance of the capabilities, position, and even names of the places to which they should go. I have questioned them, old and young, on this subject, and have found their ignorance as universal as profound. Yet it is a subject on which they are most eager to acquire information. Many of them-men far advanced in life-were as much taken aback on my asking them what a colony was, as they could have been had I questioned them to unfold to me the mysteries of the Principia. They could give me no distinct notion of Canada, as to what or where it was. Their only idea seemed to be that it was somewhere across the sea, and very far off; whilst some of them entertained the most exaggerated notions of its climate. One man told me that he believed it was a country where it was winter all through the summer ; whilst very few of them could give me any reason why it was more competent for them to go and settle in Canada than in France. On my telling them that there were portions of Canada where melons, peaches, apricots, and grapes grew luxuriantly in the open air, and that the same toil, which here brought them a bare subsistence might, in a very few years, make them landed proprietors there, they pricked up their cars, and looked at me in mute astonishment. Some of them had heard of New Zealand, others had not ; but none of them had any practical knowledge of it. With the name of Australia they almost exclusively associated the idea of transportation.

It is this ignorance that keeps them at home wedded to their misery here, instead of transferring themselves and their only capital, their labor, to spheres in which the willing hand need never want work, and labor is sure of its reward. But wretched though they be here, they will not leave to encounter the undefined evils with which ige norance associates emigration in their minds. Not only should geography be sedulously taught to the young, but something might be done to atone for the ignorance in which the existing generation of laborers was allowed to grow up, by teaching even them that which might in its results be of much service, both to themselves and others. It is not in connection with this department alone that our system is deficient. A large proportion of those who attend these schools never learn to read or write well, and have but a slight knowledge of arithmetic beyond its most elementary rules. Grammar is a branch of which few acquire more than the merest smattering-many not even that.

The children in workhouses throughout the manufacturing districts commonly attend school from nine to twelve o'clock in the forenoon, and from two to half-past four or five in the evening. In some workhouses the school-room is in the building. In others the children go to school beyond the union walls. The species of education generally afforded in the workhouse schools is very low and unsatisfactory. In twenty-five workhouses in one district the teachers were paupers. Occasionally these men and women are neither precisely paupers nor independent persons. They live in the workhouses on the rates, but receive a small salary. Some of these teachers are.

« AnteriorContinuar »