« FöregåendeFortsätt »
hints for consideration, as to the mode of existence in a charity school being radically objectionable. I may be allowed to observe, all charity to the poor labours under the disadvantage of having a tendency, either in a greater or a less degree, to lessen that independence of mind, in the recipient and prudent care for the future, which are the great stimulus to exertion in the successfully industrious of all classes. But I would not on that account condemn charity to the poor in the general, or think lightly of the good produced by it. I see nothing like unmired good in this world.
We are told that the funds which might extend the benefits of education to some hundreds of children, are upon the plan of charity schools expended upon twenty. True; but supposing the twenty turned adrift, and the noble buildings and other accommodations intended for their use to be appropriated to some other purpose, or suffered to go into decay, is it at all certain that the money which has been applied by the generosity of the public to their support would be applied to this new object? Besides, instruction in the arts of reading and writing is not every thing. I exceedingly rejoice in what has been done of late, and is doing, towards the instruction of the children of the poor in these very useful acquirements. But are we, in the excess of our zeal, to throw a damp upon institutions, which not only in their degree promote this object, but at the same time answer many other purposes of an enlightened benevolence ?
Ainongst the important uses to the community of well regulated charity schools, I may enumerate the following:
1. They are in many cases a great relief to poor families. Where, perhaps, there is only one parent surviving, and a numerous progeny, food, clothing and instruction, obtained in this way for one or two children, are a valuable assistance and encouragement.
2. In the case of orphans, and especially of orphans whose parents have not been of the lowest rank of life, charity schools are a preservative from the workhouse. I need not dwell on the dangers of a workhouse to children, after all that THE PHILANTHROPIST has said with so much feeling on that subject. Indeed, notwithstanding the unqualified language held in the passage I have quoted, it seems to be admitted that charity schools may be useful as they apply to orphans.
3. Establishments for the maintenance of destitute children supply them with a sufficiency of wholesome food, without which they are often weakly, and more likely to be burdensome to the community than useful to it.
4. In some charity schools, I hope in many, children are
taught to work, as for instance, in shoemaking, netting, &c.
5. Charity schools which take the whole charge, are ofter
6. Moral and religious principles and habits being justly considered as the most important part of a good education, those benevolent institutions which take up a child from the age
of six or seven, and by a system of vigilant care and active exertion provide in a manner which a mere day school cannot do) for these important objects, ought to be allowed a high degree of praise.
To these advantages I would wish to add one which is itself of no small account—the benefit which these institutions are of to the rich themselves, who giving their time and talents to the superintendence of them are often conscious of à noble pleasure. If I were asked to point out a charity of which it might be fairly said, that it has been found in no inconsiderable degree to answer all those valuable purposes which have been enumerated, I should not scruple to mention as an instance, the Orphan Working School in the City Road.
Second Annual Repori of the National Society, for promoting
the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established
Tuis report, vhich has been for some months before the public, contains an account of what was accomplished, during the preceding year, in the dissemination of schools, by the party who have taken up the great schooling cause, as a measure of defence for the 66 established church.” We and our readers are interested in the progress of education, by whomsoever promoted, and as a mean to whatsoever ends. When the avenues of instruc-. tion are opened to a larger portion of the species, the cause of truth and 'huinanity is aided; those institutions, whether political or religious, which deserve to be preserved, stand a better chance of being seen to deserve it; those institutions, whether civil or religious, which deserve not to be preserved, stand a better chance
of being seen not to deserve it; after which their evil will not long be endured. The feverish anxiety betrayed by the clergy of the established church, to give to their establishment that sort of security which arises from mechanical impressions applied to the minds of children-impressions altogether independent of their reason-those impressions which make children Catholics at Rome, Mahometans at Constantinople, and Vishnavites at Benares, as it is not very honourable to their system, so it is not very useful to it. The force of those iinpressions which are made upon the minds of children by the mechanical observance of certain forms, and the mechanical repetilion of certain phrases, is strong only so long as the understanding is weak. If the minds of the children, now taught in the schools erected for the very purpose of making these mechanical impressions, are only taught to make use of books, and have their curiosity awakened by the taste of knowledge; can any body imagine, that they will be less disposed to compare one set of notions with another, because they are mechanically familiar with the distinguishing and peculiar observances and phrases of the church of England ? If the weak and sluggish are more likely to remain in the track in which they have been accustomed to move, the animated and vigorous are more likely to be captivated with novelty; and to derive a prejudice, rather than a partiality, from the pains which they discover to have been taken to forestall and to preclude the exercise of their reason,
It is high time for men of all descriptions to perceive that the age of mechanical impressions is passing rapidly away. The force of mechanical impressions, and the force of education, are opposite forces. The up-rising of the one, must be the downfall of the other. It is upon this ground, and upon this exclue sively, that we look to the progress of education for the extinction of error in the most distant and benighted quarters of the globe. Those things which stand upon the foundation of reason, are those alone which can stand before the progress of education. And those things which stand upon that foundation, have no occasion for mechanical impressions to be anxiously made use of in their support. The progress of education is their infallible support. It is only when a good education is wanting, that they can ever have a rival.
On this account we cannot help observing, that the dissenters have, in this business, exhibited much better proof that they really believe their system to be well founded, than churchmen have done. The dissenters have shown a readiness to commit themselves freely to the growing strength of the human mind, Their conduct has spoken the following honest language :--Give but education to the people; provide them minds qualified for judging, and we desire no more. Every thing which we value, is then secure; because truth is then secure. Not so the churchman. The language uttered by his conduct seems to be: That education, that the multiplication of minds capable of judging, unless the effect is counteracted by mechanical impressions, will be the ruin of his system, --Teach the children to read and write, say the dissenters, without enuring them to the mechanical use of any particular acts, or any particular phrases, belonging to any systems of ours, and we stand in no apprehension for those systems. If tireir minds are clear and intelligent, the excellence of those systems will, when arrived at the years of rationality, be seen by thein and acknowledged. Very different is the language which the churchman's conduct pronounces.
Make their minds, says Le, clear and intelligent, by means of education ; and the exceller.ce of my system has no chance to be seen. Unless it have the support of mechanical impressions, it cannot survive.-Could the greatest enemies of the church say more in its disparagement ?
With these impressions of the mistake which churchmen have committed, in their zeal for mechanical impressions, we acknowļedge joyfully the rapid and important progress which they are inaking, in raising schools throughout the land. The business of education is flourishing in their hands; and the faculty of deriving instruction from books, with all the happy consequences which follow in its train, is already, by the exertions which they have been excited to make, communicated to thousands who otherwise must have remained deprived of that unspeakable advantage.
We own that we have been disappointed. But the disappointment is of the most exhilarating description. The good effected in this important field by the exertions of the churchmen is much greater than we expected ; and though it would have been a good much more pure, much freer from alloy, and perhaps greater even in bulk, had their exertions riot been dehased by a sectarian spirit refusing their aid to give the faculty of drawing instruction from books, to all who will not take their religion also at their hands—the faculty itself so much more readily diffused than any other means which existed rendered it possible to diffuse it, is a benefit on which too high a value cannot easily be set.
In one thing the National Society appear to us not to do themselves justice. Their reports are very meagre and unsatis factory accounts of their proceedings. They give us not information on
a sufficient number of points; and not sufficiently full on most of those to which ther advert. Their own statement consists of a few pages; and then they make up a considerable volume, by printing all the reports which they have received from all the societies, and schools, and active individuals who send them statements from the various parts of the country. These are printed, without any regard to order. "No digest of them is presented. The material points of information are not collected from them, and exhibited in one view. If you would know the general results, you must wade through all the sub-reports, and extract the results for yourself. This is a tedious and a difficult operation, which the society should save to their readers, by doing it once for all. In fact, their report is as careless and slovenly a production as you will often meet with.
In the 7th page of their report, the amount of their progress, and the rate at which they have been making progress, are stated as follows : In 1812 the schools which were in connection with the society were 52, and the numher of children taught in thein was 8,620. It is necessary, however, to explain a little what is mcant by “schools in connection with the society.” It means not schools of the erection of which the society have been the cause ;--but along with such schools as they have been the cause of erecting, such also as existed previously, but have chosen to adopt their discipline and conform to their principles. We have some complaint to make, that they have not pointed out very distinctly, how many there are of the one sort, and how many of the other ;-because then we should know more accurately, what their progress in adding to the number of educated children really is. Those schools which would have existed, and those children who would have been taught, if the National Society had never been formed, cannot justly be reckoned among the fruits of that society.
From 52, the number of schools in connection with the society in 1812, the number at the time of publication (1814) of the report now under review was no less than 230, which is an increase of nearly 100 schools
The number of children taught in these 230 schools was 40,484, which is an increase of more than 16,000 children per annum. How many of these, however, are old schools, and how many are new, we are again left in a great measure in the dark. They tell us that in the course of the preceding year, four diocesan societies, nine district societies, and twenty schools, had come into their union. Of these they set down the names. But these, they say, were only “among” those received into that union, in the course of the