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the case.

For though this will lead us some little compass, yet I choose to do it; and the rather, because there are people who speak of charity-schools as a newinvented scheme, and therefore to be looked upon with I know not what suspicion : whereas it will appear that the scheme of charity-schools, even the part of it which is most looked upon in this light, teaching the children letters and accounts, is no otherwise new than as the occasion for it is so.

Formerly, not only the education of poor children, but also their maintenance, with that of the other poor, were left to voluntary charities. But great changes of different sorts happening over the nation, and charity becoming more cold, or the poor more numerous, it was found necessary to make some legal provision for them. This might, much more properly than charityschools, be called a new scheme. For, without question, the education of poor children was all along taken care of by voluntary charities, more or less; but obliging us by law to maintain the poor was new in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Yet because a change of circumstances made it necessary, its novelty was no reason against it. Now, in that legal provision for the maintenance of the poor, poor children must doubtless have had a part in common with grown people. But this could never be sufficient for children, because their case always requires more than mere maintenance; it requires that they be educated in some proper manner. Wherever there are poor who want to be maintained by charity, there must be poor children, who, besides this, want to be educated by charity. And whenever there began to be need of legal provision for the maintenance of the poor, there must immediately have been need also of some particular legal provision in behalf of poor children for their education; this not being included in what we call their maintenance. And many whose parents are able to maintain them, and do so, may yet be utterly neglected as to their education. But possibly it might not at first be attended to, that the case of poor children was thus a case by itself, which required its own particular provision. Certainly it would not appear to the generality so urgent a one as the want of food and raiment; and it might be necessary that a burden so entirely new, as that of a poor-tax was at the time I am speaking of, should be as light as possible. Thus the legal provision for the poor was first settled without any particular consideration of that additional want in the case of children; as it still remains with scarce any alteration in this respect. In the meantime, as the poor still increased, or charity still lessened, many poor children were left exposed, not to perish for want of food, but to grow up in society, and learn everything that is evil, and nothing that is good in it; and when they were grown up, greatly at a loss in what honest way to provide for themselves, if they could be supposed inclined to it. And larger numbers, whose case was not so bad as this, yet were very far from having due care taken of their education. And the evil went on increasing till it was grown to such a degree as to be quite out of the compass of separate charities to remedy. At length some excellent persons, who were united in a society* for carrying on almost every good work, took into consideration the neglected case I have been representing; and first of all, as I understand

set up

Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

charity-schools, or however promoted them as far as their abilities and influence could extend. Their design was not in any sort to remove poor children out of the rank in which they were born, but, keeping them in it, to give them the assistance which their circumstances plainly called for, by educating them in the principles of religion, as well as civil life; and likewise making some sort of provision for their maintenance: under which last I include clothing them, giving them such learning, if it is to be called by that name, as may qualify them for some common employment, and placing them out to it as they grow up.

These two general designs coincide in many respects, and cannot be separated. For teaching the children to read, though I have ranked it under the latter, equally belongs to both : and without some advantages of the latter sort poor people would not send their children to our charity-schools; nor could the poorest of all be admitted into any schools without some charitable provision of clothing. And care is taken that it be such as cannot but be a restraint upon the children. And if this, or any part of their education, gives them any little vanity, as hath been poorly objected, whilst they are children, it is scarce possible but that it will have even a quite contrary effect when they are grown up, and ever after remind them of their rank. Yet still we find it is apprehended that what they have been may set them above it.

But why should people be so extremely apprehensive of the danger that poor persons will make a perverse use of every the least advantage, even the being able to read, whilst they do not appear at all apprehensive of the like danger for themselves or their own children, in respect of riches or power, how much soever; though

the danger of perverting these advantages is surely as great, and the perversion itself of much greater and worse consequence ? And by what odd reverse of things has it happened, that such as pretend to be distinguished for the love of liberty should be the only persons who plead for keeping down the poor, as one may speak; for keeping them more inferior in this respect, and, which must be the consequence, in other respects, than they were in times past ? For, till within a century or two, all ranks were nearly upon a level as to the learning in question. The art of printing appears to have been providentially reserved till these latter ages, and then providentially brought into use, as what was to be instrumental for the future in carrying on the appointed course of things. The alterations which this art has even already made in the face of the world are not inconsiderable. By means of it, whether immediately or remotely, the means of carrying on business are in other respects improved; “ knowledge has been increased*,” and some sort of literature has become general. And if this be a blessing, we ought to let the poor, in their degree, share it with us. The present state of things and course of Providence plainly lead us to do so. And if we do not, it is certain, how little soever it be attended to, that they will be upon a greater disadvantage, on many accounts, especially in populous places, than they were in the dark ages : for they will be more ignorant, comparatively with the people about them, than they were then; and the ordinary affairs of the world are now put in a way which requires that they should have some knowledge of letters, which was not the case then. And, therefore, to bring up the poor in their former ignorance, now this knowledge is so much more common and wanted, would be, not to keep them in the same, but to put them into a lower condition of life than what they were in fornierly. Nor let people of rank flatter themselves that ignorance will keep their inferiors more dutiful, and in a greater subjection to them; for surely there must be danger that it will have a contrary effect under a free government such as ours, and in a dissolute age. Indeed the principles and manners of the poor, as to virtue and religion, will always be greatly influenced, as they always have been, by the example of their superiors, if that would mend the matter. And this influence will, I suppose, be greater, if they are kept more inferior than formerly in all knowledge and improvement. But unless their superiors of the present age,-superiors I mean of the middle as well as higher ranks in society,--are greater examples of public spirit, of dutiful submission to authority, human and divine, of moderation in diversions, and proper care of their families and domestic affairs,-unless, I say, superiors of the present age are greater examples of decency, virtue, and religion, than those of former times, for what reason in the world is it desirable that their example should have greater influence over the poor? On the contrary, why should not the poor, by being taught to read, be put into a capacity of making some improvement in moral and religious knowledge, and confirming themselves in those good principles, which will be a great security for their following the example of their superiors, if it be good, and some sort of preservative against their following it, if it be bad? And serious persons will further observe very singular reasons

* Daniel xii, 4.


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