§ Lord Ashley
spoke as follows:*—Sir,—The question, that I have undertaken to submit to the deliberation of this House, is one so prodigiously vast, and so unspeakably important, that there may well be demanded an apology, if not an explanation, from any individual Member who presumes to handle so weighty and so difficult a matter. And, Sir, had any real difference of opinion existed, I should probably have refrained from the task; but late events have, I fear, proved that the moral condition of our people is unhealthy and even perilous—all are pretty nearly agreed that something further must be attempted for their welfare; and I now venture, therefore, to offer, for the discussion, both matter and opportunity. Surely, Sir, it will not be necessary as a preliminary to this motion to inquire on whom should rest the responsibility of our present condition—our duty is to examine the moral state of the country; to say whether it be safe, honourable, happy, and becoming the dignity of a Christian kingdom; and, if it be not so, to address ourselves to the cure of evils which, unlike most inveterate and deeply-rooted abuses, though they cannot be suffered to exist without danger, may be removed without the slightest grievance, real or imaginary, to any community or even any individual. The present time, too, is so far favourable to the propounding of this question, as that it finds us in a state of mind equally distant, I believe, from the two extremes of opinion; the one, that education is the direct, immediate, and lasting panacea for all our disorders; the other, that it will either do nothing at all, or even exasperate the mischief. That it will do everything is absurd; that it will do nothing is more so; every statesman, that is, every true statesman, of every age and nation has considered a moral, steady, obedient, and united people, indispensable to external greatness or internal peace. Wise men*From a corrected Report.48 have marked out the road whereby these desirable ends may be attained; I will not multiply authorities; I will quote two only, the one secular, the other sacred:—I think I may say," observes the famous John Locke, "that, of all the men we meet with, nine parts in ten are what they are, good or evil, useful or not, by their education. It is that which makes the great difference in mankind." "Train up a child," said Solomon, "in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.Now, has any man ever shewn by what other means we may arrive at this most necessary consummation? If it be required in small states and even in despotic monarchies; much more is it required in populous kingdoms and free governments; and such is our position—our lot is cast in a time when our numbers, already vast, are hourly increasing at an almost geometric ratio—our institutions receive, every day, a more liberal complexion, while the democratic principle, by the mere force of circumstances, is fostered and developed—the public safety demands, each year, a larger measure of enlightenment and self-control; of enlightenment that all may understand their real interests; of self-control that individual passion may be repressed to the advancement of public welfare. I know not where to search for these things but in the lessons and practice of the Gospel: true Christianity is essentially favourable to freedom of institutions in Church and State, because it imparts a judgment of your own and another's rights, a sense of public and private duty, an enlarged philanthropy and self-restraint, unknown to those democracies of former times, which are called, and only called, the polished nations of antiquity. Sir, I do not deny, very far from it, the vast and meritorious efforts of the National Society; nor will I speak disparagingly of the efforts of some of the dissenting bodies; but in spite of all that has been done, a tremendous waste still remains uncultivated, "a great and terrible wilderness," that I shall now endeavour to lay open before you. Sir, the population of England and Wales in the year 1801 was 8,872,980; in 1841 it had risen to 15,906,829, shewing an increase in less than half a century on the whole population of 7,033,849. If I here take one-fifth (which is understated, one-fourth being the ordinary calculation), as the number supposed to be capable of some 49 education, there will result a number of 3,181,365; deducting one-third as provided for at private expense, there will be left a number of 2,120,910; deducting also for children in union workhouses, 50,000; and lastly, deducting 10 per cent, for accidents and casualties, 212,091; there will then be the number of 1,858,819 to be provided for at the public expense. Now by the tables in the excellent pamphlet of the rev. Mr. Burgess, of Chelsea, it appears that the total number of daily scholars, in connection with the Established church, is 749,626. By the same tables, the total number of daily scholars, in connection with dissenting bodies, is stated at 95,000; making a sum total of daily scholars in England and Wales, 844,626: leaving, without any daily instruction the number of 1,014,193 persons, These tables are calculated upon the returns of 1833, with an estimate for the increase of the Church of England scholars since those returns, and with an allowance in the same proportion for the increase of the dissenting scholars. But if we look forward to the next ten years, there will be an increase of at least 2,500,000 in the population; and should nothing be done to supply our want, we shall then have in addition to our present arrears, a fearful multitude of untutored savages. Next, I find as a sample of the state of adult and juvenile delinquency, that the number of committals in the year 1841 was, of persons of all ages, 27,760; and of persons under the age of sixteen years, the proportion was 11½ per cent. I quote these tables in conformity with established usage and ancient prejudice; but they are, with a view to any accurate estimate of the moral condition of the kingdom, altogether fallacious—they do not explain to us whether the cases be those of distinct criminals, or in many instances, those of the same individuals reproduced; if the proportion be increased we have no clue to the discovery whether it be real or fictitious, permanent or casual; if diminished, we congratulate each other, but without examining how far the diminution must be ascribed to an increased morality, or a more effective police—it is very well to rely on an effective police for short and turbulent periods; it is ruinous to rely on it for the government of a generation—For after all, how much there must ever be perilous to the state, and perilous to society, which, whether it be manifested 50 or not, is far beyond the scope of magisterial power, and curable only by a widely different process! I will not, therefore, attempt a comparison of one period of crime with another; if the matters be worse, my case is established; if better, they can be so only through the greater diffusion of external morality. That morality, then, which is so effective even on the surface of the nation, it should be our earnest and constant endeavour to root deeply in their hearts. Having stated this much in a general way, I will now take a few of those details which form a part of the complement of this mass of wickedness and mischief—we shall thus learn the principal seats of the danger, its character and extent locally, and, in a great degree, the mode and nature of the remedy. Sir, there have been laid upon the Table within the last few days, a report by Mr. Horner, and Mr. Saunders, inspectors of factories; and also the second report of the Childrens' Employment Commission; from these documents I shall draw very largely; and I wish to take this opportunity, as their final report has now been presented, of expressing to the Commissioners, my sincere and heartfelt thanks for an exercise of talent and vigour, never before surpassed by any public servants. The first town that I shall refer to is Manchester—some of those details I shall now quote I sated in the last Session; but I shall venture to state them again as they bear immediately on the question before us. By the police returns of Manchester made up to December, 1841, we find the number of persons taken into custody during that year, was 13,345. Discharged by magistrates without punishment, 10,208; of these, under twenty years of age, there were males, 3,069; and females, 745. By the same returns to July, 1842, (six months), there were taken into custody, 8,341; (this would make in a whole year, were the same proportion observed, 16,682;) of these, males, 5,810; females, 2,531. Now as to their instruction; with a knowledge of reading only, or reading and writing imperfectly, males, 1,999; females, 863. Neither read nor write, males, 3,098; females, 1,519;—total of these last 4,617. At fifteen and under twenty, 2,360; of these, males, 1,639; females, 721. But take what may be called the "curable" portion, and there will be, at ten years and under fifteen, 665; males, 547, fe- 51 males, 118. Discharged by the magistrates in 1842, without punishment (six months), 6,307, or at the rate of 12,614 in a year. Can the House be surprised at this statement, when the means for supplying opportunities to crime and the practice of debauchery are so abundant? It appears that there are in Manchester—Pawnbrokers, 129; this may be a symptom of distress; beerhouses, 769; public houses, 498; brothels, 309; ditto, lately suppressed, 111; ditto, where prostitutes are kept, 163; ditto, where they resort, 223; street-walkers in borough, 763; thieves residing in the borough who do nothing but steal, 212; persons following some lawful occupation, but augmenting their gains by habitual violation of the law, 160; houses for receiving stolen goods, 63; ditto, suppressed lately, 32; houses for resort of thieves, 103; ditto, lately suppressed, 25; lodging-houses where sexes indiscriminately sleep together, 109. But there is another cause that aids the progress of crime which prevails in the town of Manchester. I will mention the fact, that a vast number of children of the tenderest years, either through absence or through neglect of their parents, I do not now say which, are suffered to roam at large through the streets of the town, contracting the most idle and profligate habits. I have here a return that I myself moved for in the year 1836, and I see that the number of children found wandering in the streets, and restored to their parents by the police in 1835, was no less than 8,650, in 1840 it was reduced to 5,500—having heard this table the House will not be surprised at the observations I am about to read from a gentleman of long and practical knowledge of the place:—What chance," says he, "have these children of becoming good members of society? These unfortunates gradually acquire vagrant habits, become beggars, vagrants, criminals. It does not appear unfair to calculate that in the borough of Manchester 1,500 children are added to 'les classes dangereuses' annually. "Besides," he adds, "the moral evil produced by these 1,500, let a calculation be made how much money per annum this criminal class costs the state.I will next take the town of Birmingham; and it will be seen by the police returns for 1841, that the number of persons who were taken into custody was 5,556, of these the males were 4,537, and the females, 1,018. Of these there could 52 neither read nor write, 2,711; who could read only and write imperfectly, 2,504; read and write well, 206; having superior instruction, 36. I feel that it is necessary to apologise to the House for troubling them with such minute details; nevertheless, details such as these are absolutely indispensable. Now from a report on the state of education in the town of Birmingham, made by the Birmingham Statistical Society—one of those useful bodies which have sprung up of late years, and which give to the public a great mass of information, that may be turned to the best purposes—I find that the total number of schools of all kinds in the town of Birmingham is 669; but then the society calls everything a school where a child receives any sort of instruction, perhaps in a place more fitted to be a sty or coal-hole. Now out of the whole mass of the entire population of Birmingham there were 27,659 scholars. A vast proportion of these schools are what are called "dame schools;" and what these are in truth, may be known by the surveyor's report, who says of them, "moral and religious instruction forms no part of the system in dame-schools. A mistress in one of this class of schools on being asked whether she gave moral instruction to her scholars, replied, 'No, I can't afford it at 3d. a-week.' Several did not know the meaning of the question. Very few appeared to think it was a part of their duty."—This, then, being the number of the schools for educating the young, and the character of the education imparted to them, I may now be allowed to state what are the means for the practice of vice. From the police returns for 1840, it appears that the number of these places is 998, and they are thus distributed:—Houses for reception of stolen goods, 81; ditto, for resort of thieves, 228; brothels where prostitutes are kept, 200; houses of ill-fame, where they resort, 110; number of houses where they lodge, 187; number of mendicants' lodging-houses, 122; houses where sexes sleep indiscriminately together, 47–998; add to this, public-houses, 577; beer shops, 573. I will close this part by reading to the House an extract from a report, made by a committee of medical gentlemen in Birmingham, who, in the most benevolent spirit, devoted themselves to an examination of the state of Birmingham; and who, looking to the removal of the growing evils 53 that threaten the population, assert, that—The first and most prominent suggestion is, the better education of the females in the arts of domestic economy. To the extreme ignorance of domestic management, on the part of the wives of the mechanics, is much of the misery and want of comfort to be traced. Numerous instances have occurred to us of the confirmed drunkard who attributes his habits of dissipation to a wretched home-I will next take the town of Leeds; and there it will be seen that the police details would be very similar in character, though differing in number, to those of Manchester and Birmingham—the report of the state of Leeds for 1838, is to this effect:—It appears that the early periods of life furnish the greatest portion of criminals. Children of seven, eight, and nine years of age are not unfreqnently brought before magistrates; a very large portion under fourteen years. The parents are, it is to be feared in many instances, the direct causes of their crime." "The spirit of lawless insubordination (says Mr. Symons, the sub-commissioner) which prevails at Leeds among the children is very manifest: it is matter for painful apprehension.James Child, an inspector of police, states that which is well worthy of the attention of the House. He says there is—A great deal of drunkenness, especially among the young people. I have seen children very little higher than the table at these shops. There are some beer-shops where there are rooms up stairs, and the boys and girls, old people, and married of both sexes, go up two by two, as they can agree, to have connection. … I am sure that sexual connection begins between boys and girls at fourteen or fifteen years old.John Stubbs, of the police force, con firms the above testimony.—We have (he says) a deal of girls on the town under fifteen, and boys who live by thieving. There are half a dozen beer shops where none but young ones go at all. They support these houses.I will now turn to Sheffield: The Rev. Mr. Livesey, the minister of St. Phillip's, having a population of 24,000, consisting almost exclusively of the labouring classes, gives in evidence,—Moral condition of children … in numerous instances most deplorable. … On Sunday afternoons it is impossible to pass along the highways, &c. beyond the police boundaries, without encountering numerous 54 groups of boys, from twelve years and upwards, gaming for copper coin… the boys are early initiated into habits of drinking. But the most revolting feature of juvenile depravity is early contamination from the association of the sexes. The outskirts of the town are absolutely polluted by this abomination; nor is the veil of darkness nor seclusion always sought by these degraded beings. Too often they are to be met in small parties, who appear to associate for the purpose of promiscuous intercourse, their ages being apparently about fourteen or fifteen.The Rev. Mr. Farish states,—There are beer houses attended by youths exclusively, for the men will not have them in the same houses with themselves.Hugh Parker, Esq. a justice of the peace, remarks,—A great proportion of the working classes are ignorant and profligate… the morals of their children exceedingly depraved and corrupt… given, at a very early age to petty theft, swearing, and lying; during minority to drunkenness, debauchery, idleness, profanation of the Sabbath; dog and prizefighting.
, the superintendent of police, deposes that,—Lads from twelve to fourteen years of age constantly frequent beer-houses, and have, even at that age, their girls with them, who often incite them to commit petty thefts … vices of every description at a very early age … great number of vagrant children prowling about the streets … these corrupt the working children … The habits of the adults confirm the children in their vices.George Messon, a police-officer, adds—There are many beer-shops which are frequented by boys only … as early as thirteen years of age. The girls are many of them loose in their conduct, and accompany the boys… I remember the Chartist attack on Sheffield last winter. I am certain that a great number of young lads were among them—some as young as fifteen. The generally act as men.All this was confirmed by Daniel Art-wood, also a police officer; by Mr. George Crossland, registrar and vestry clerk to the board of guardians; by Mr. Ashley, master of the Lancasterian school; by Dr. Knight, and by Mr. Carr, a surgeon. Mr. Abraham, the inventor of the magnetic guard, remarks,—There is most vice and levity and mischief in the class who are between sixteen and nineteen. You see more lads between seventeen 55 and nineteen with dogs at their heels and other evidences of dissolute habits,
Hall and others of the working people say, the—Morals of the children are tenfold worse than formerly… There are beer-shops frequented by boys from nine to fifteen years old, to play for money and liquor.Charlotte Kirkman, a poor woman of the operative class, aged sixty, observes; and I much wish here to draw the attention of the House, because it is extremely desirable that they should know in what light, the best and most decent of the working people regard these things,—I think morals are getting much worse, which I attribute in a great measure to the beer-shops… There were no such girls in my time as there are now. When I was four or five and twenty, my mother would have knocked me down if I had spoken improperly to her… Many have children at fifteen. I think bastard almost as common now as a woman being in the family-way by her husband… Now it's nothing thought about." The evidence (says the sub-commissioner) with very few exceptions, attests a melancholy amount of immorality, among the children of the working classes in Sheffield, and especially among young persons. Within a year of the time of my visit," he continues, "the town was preserved from an organised scheme to fire and plunder it, merely by the information of one man, and the consequent readiness of the troops. A large body of men and boys marched on it in the dead of the night; and a very large quantity of crowsfeet to lame horses, pikes, and combustibles were found on them, at their houses, and left on the road. Several were pledged to fire their own houses. I name this, as a further illustration of the perilous ignorance and vice prevailing among that young class between boys and full grown men, who were known to be among the chief actors in these scenes.
—and I shall the more effectively quote his opinions, because he is most strongly opposed to the political views which I venture to hold—further says, and it is right that I should state it in justice to so excellent a body of men:If vice increases in Sheffield, the blame assuredly rests not on the clergy; few towns are blessed with so pious or active a ministry. It is not for want of exertion on their parts, if the churches and chapels are unfilled, and the schools scantily attended; and this remark applies also to part of the Wesleyan and some other religious denominations.I shall now proceed to another district, to Wolverhampton, and there I find Mr. Home giving the following description:— 56Among all the children and young persons I examined, I found, with very few exceptions, that their minds were as stunted as their bodies; their moral feelings stagnant. … The children and young persons possess but little sense of moral duty towards their parents and have little affection for them. … One child believed that Pontius Pilate and Goliath were apostles; another, fourteen or fifteen years of age, did not know how many two and two made. In my evidence taken in this town alone, as many as five children and young persons had never heard even the name of Jesus Christ… You will find boys who have never heard of such a place as London, and of Willenhall, (only three miles distant,) who have never heard of the name of the Queen, or of such names as Wellington, Nelson, Buonaparte, or King George. But, (adds the commissioner) while of Scripture names I could not, in general obtain any rational account, many of the most sacred names never having even been heard, there was a general knowledge of the lives of Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard, not to mention the preposterous epidemic of a hybrid negro song.This we may suppose is an elegant periphrasis for the popular song of "Jim Crow."—Mr. Home goes on to say—The master of the British School deposes, ' I have resided, as a teacher, for the last six years, during which I have observed that the character and habits of the numerous labouring poor are of the lowest order.' The master of the National School says, ' besotted to the last degree.Sir, there are many things of an extremely horrid description to be detailed concerning the physical condition of the children in these parts, but I forbear to touch them at present, being engaged only on their moral deficiency. I now go to Willenhall, and there it is said,—A lower condition of morals cannot, I think, be found—they sink some degrees, (if that be possible) below the worst classes of children and young persons in Wolverhampton; they do not display the remotest sign of comprehension as to what is meant by the term of morals.Next, of Wednesfield, it is said the population are—Much addicted to drinking; many besotted in the extreme; poor dejected men; with hardly a rag to their backs, are often seen drunk two or three days in the week, and even when they have large families.The same profligacy and ignorance at Darlaston, where we have the evidence of three parties, an overseer, a collector, and a relieving officer, to a very curious fact: I quote this to show the utter reckless- 57 ness and intellectual a pathy in which these people live, caring little but for existence, and the immediate physical wants of the passing hour; they state,That there are as many as 100 men in Darlaston who do not know their own names, only their nicknames.But it is said that in Bilston things are much better. It is remarked that theMoral condition of children and young persons on the whole was very superior to that in Wolverhampton.He excepts, however,The bank-girls, and those who work at the screw manufactories.Among them,'Great numbers of bastards;' the bank-girls drive coal-carts, ride astride upon horses, drink, swear, fight, smoke, whistle, sing, and care for nobody.Here I must observe, if things are better in Bilston, it is owing to the dawn of education,To the great exertions of the Rev. Mr. Fletcher, and the Rev. Mr. Owen, in the church; and Mr. Robert Bew (chemist), and Mr. Dimmock (iron merchant), among the Dissenters.Next as to Sedgeley,Children and young persons, (says the rector), grow up in irreligion, immorality, and ignorance. The number of girls at nailing considerably exceeds that of the boys; it may be termed the district of female blacksmiths; constantly associating with depraved adults, and young persons of the opposite sex, they naturally fall into all their ways; and drink, smoke, swear, &c. &c., and become as bad as men. The men and boys are usually naked, except a pair of trowsers; the women and girls have only a thin ragged petticoat, and an open shirt without sleeves.Look to Warrington; the hon. and rev. Horace Powys, the rector, says, and there is no man more capable from talent and character of giving an opinion,—My conviction is—and it is founded on the observation of some years—that the general condition of the children employed in labour in this town is alarmingly degraded, both religiously, morally, and intellectually.And here too is the evidence of the Rev. John Molyneux, a Roman Catholic priest, who began by stating his peculiar qualifications to give testimony, having a congregation of 3,000 persons, and chiefly among the poorer classes:—Children in pin-works, (he said), are 58 very immoral—they sit close together, and encourage each other in cursing and swearing, and loose conversation, which I grant you they do not understand, (a conclusion in which I cannot agree;)—but it renders them (he adds) prone to adopt the acts of immorality on which they converse. Those girls, who from very early labour at pins go to the factories, do not ever make good housekeepers—they have no idea of it; neither of economy, nor cooking, nor mending their clothes.Next, Sir, I will examine the Potteries. Mr. Scriven, the sub-commissioner, uses these expressions:—I almost tremble, however, when I contemplate the fearful deficiency of knowledge existing throughout the district, and the consequences likely to result to this increased and increasing population. … It will appear, (he adds), by the evidence from Cobridge and Burslem, that more than three-fourths of the persons therein named can neither read nor write. … It is not from my own knowledge, (he continues), that I proclaim their utter, their absolute ignorance. I would respectfully refer you to the evidence of their own pastors and masters, and it will appear that, as one man, they acknowledge and lament their low and degraded condition.
, clerk to the Board of Guardians of the Burslem Union, says—It is with pain that I have witnessed the demoralizing effects of the system, as it has hitherto existed It appears to me fraught with incalculable evils, both physical and moral.Mr. Grainger, a sub-commissioner, in his report respecting Nottingham, writes—All parties, clergy, police, manufacturers, workpeople, and parents, agree that the present system is a most fertile source of immorality … The natural results … have contributed in no slight degree, to the immorality, which, according to the opinion universally expressed, prevails to a most awful extent in Nottingham. Much of the existing evil is to be traced to the vicious habits of parents, many of whom are utterly indifferent to the moral and physical welfare of their off-spring. Education of the girls more neglected even than that of boys. … Vast majority of females utterly ignorant. … Impossible to overstate evils which result from this deplorable ignorance. … The medical practitioners of Birmingham forcibly point out the ' misery which ensues; improvidence, absence of all comfort, neglect of children, and alienation of all affection in families, and drunkenness on the part of the husband.'And here I have to call the attention of the House to the testimony of a most respectable person a simple mechanic; and I am very happy to put forward the views 59 of this individual, because his statements are the result of long and personal experience. I refer to the evidence of Joseph Corbett, a mechanic of Birmingham. I confess that I should like to read the whole of the report. I recommend it strongly to your attention; it will be found in the Appendix to Mr. Grainger's report. I cannot, however, refrain from quoting one or two passages of it:—I have seen, (he says), the entire ruin of many families from the waste of money and bad conduct of fathers and sons seeking amusement and pastime in an alehouse. From no other single cause alone does half so much demoralization and misery proceed.He then adds,From my own experience,And here he spoke with feeling on the subject; for he referred to what he had seen in his own home, and what he had witnessed with respect to his parents:—My own experience tells me that the instruction of the females in the work of a house, in teaching them to produce cheerfulness and comfort at the fireside, would prevent a great amount of misery and crime. There would be fewer drunken husbands and disobedient children. … As a working man, within my observation, female education is disgracefully neglected. I attach more importance to it than to anything else.I cannot think that any one will be displeased to hear such sentiments, coming from a man in the situation of Joseph Corbett. Take this as a proof of what the working people may be brought to, if they cease to be so utterly neglected. This is an instance, among many, to show how many thousands of right-hearted Englishmen, if you would but train them, you might raise up among the ranks of the operative classes. This, Sir, is pretty nearly the whole of the statements which I have to make as to these districts; but there are other opinions, by persons of great authority on this subject and which, with the permission of the House, I will read, although I have not permission to give the names of the writers. One gentleman, whose opportunities of observation are unequalled, speaks ofThe present existence of a highly demoralised middle-aged and rising generation, worse and more debased than, I believe, any previous generation for the last three hundred years.A clergyman, writing from one of the disturbed districts, says;— 60The moral condition of the people is as bad as it is possible to be. Vice is unrebuked, unabashed; moral character of no avail. A spirit of disaffection prevails almost universally—magistrates, masters, pastors, and all superiors, are regarded as enemies and oppressors.Another, in writing from the disturbed districts, states:—.I took down myself the following words, as they fell from the lips of a Chartist orator—'The prevalence of intemperence and other vicious habits was the fault of the aristocracy and the mill-owners, who had neglected to provide the people with sufficient means of moral improvement, and would form an item of that great account which they would one day be called upon to render to a people indignant at the discovery of their own debasement.Another remarked:—A working man's hall is opened on Sundays; and in this, 300 poor children are initiated into infidel and seditious principles.Another said:A wild and satanic spirit is infused into the hearers.An officer of great experience to whom I put the question—What are the consequences to be apprehended if the present state of things be suffered to continue?'' replies—'Unless a speedy alteration be made in the manufacturing districts, a fresh and more extensive outbreak will again occur, threatening loss to the whole nation.'Sir, I must now remark, that this condition of things prevails, more or less, throughout the whole of England, but particularly in the manufacturing and trading districts. The evil is not partial, it is almost universally diffused over the surface of the country. The time I might be allowed to occupy would be insufficient for me to travel through the whole of the details; but the House will find, in the second report of the Children's Employment Commission, which is devoted to the statement of their moral condition, the proof that it everywhere afflicts the country—it is nearly universal throughout the whole of the coal and iron-fields of Great Britain and Wales. Look to the east of Scotland—one clergyman says:—The condition of the lower classes is daily becoming worse in regard to education; and it is telling every day upon the moral and economic condition of the adult population.Another clergyman remarks:— 61The country will be inevitably ruined, un less some steps are taken by the Legislature to secure education to the children of the working classes.Of North Wales we see it stated:—Not one collier-boy in ten can read, so as to comprehend what he reads.While of South Wales it is observed:—Many are almost in a state of barbarism. Religious and moral training is out of the question. I should certainly be within bounds by saying that not one grown male or female in fifty can read.In the West of Scotland I find the same class of persons described as follows:—A large portion of the colliery and ironwork hands are living in an utterly depraved state, a moral degradation, which is entailing misery and disease on themselves, and disorder on the community.There is an equally lamentable state of things existing in Yorkshire, Durham, Lancashire, North Staffordshire and Cumberland. The replies of many of the children who were questioned by the commissioners, shew a state of things utterly disgraceful to the character of a Christian country. One of the children replied to a question put to him:I never heard of France; I never heard of Scotland or Ireland; I do not know what America is.James Taylor, a boy eleven years old, said that heHas never heard of Jesus Christ; has never heard of God, but has heard the men in the pit say 'God damn them;' never heard of London.A girl eighteen years old, said,I never heard of Christ at all.This, indeed, the commissioner adds, is very common among children and young persons. She proceeded to say,I never go to church or chapel; (again), I don't know who God is.The sub-commissioner who visited Halifax, has recorded this sentence:—You have expressed surprise, says an employer, at Thomas Mitchell not having heard of God; I judge there are very few colliers here about that have.Now can it be possible that such a state of things should exist without being attended with the most pernicious consequences? but, I will go further, and rejoice that it is not possible—an evil un- 62 felt is an evil unseen; nothing but an urgent and a biting necessity will rouse us to action from our fancied security. First, Sir, observe the effects that are produced by the drunken habits of the working-classes; you cannot have a more unanswerable proof of the moral degradation of a people. I know it is frequently asserted that inebriety has yielded, in many instances, to greater habits of temperance; but suppose it to be so; the abatement is merely fractional; and no guarantee is given, in an improved morality, that those persons will not return to their former vicious courses—the abatement, however, has not taken place, at least in those districts which were lately subjected to the inquiries of the commissioners. Will the House now listen to some statements on this subject, which, lamentable as is the condition they disclose, describe but a tenth part of the evils springing out of this sad propensity? In the year 1834 a committee was appointed on the motion of Mr. Buckingham, to investigate the causes and effects of drunkenness. That committee produced a report, which, by the by, has never received a tithe of the attention so valuable a document deserved; from that report we learn that the sum annually expended by the working-people in the consumption of ardent spirits is estimated at twenty-five millions! and "I have no doubt," says a witness of great experience,That it is, in fact, to a much larger extent.I wrote to the chaplain of a county gaol, a gentleman of considerable observation and judgment, and put to him the following question,How much of the crime that brings prisoners to the gaol can you trace to habits of intoxication?Now mark his reply;In order to arrive at a just conclusion, I devoted several nights to a careful examination of the entries in my journals for a series of years, and although I had been impressed previously with a very strong conviction, derived from my own personal experience in attendance on the sick poor, that the practice of drinking was the great moral pestilence of the kingdom, I was certainly not prepared for the frightful extent to which I find it chargeable with the production of crime; I am within the mark in saying that three-fourths of the crime committed is the result of intemperance.In corroboration of this, I will appeal to 63 the very valuable evidence given by Mr. J. Smith, the governor of the prison in Edinburgh. That witness states—Having been for a number of years a missionary among the poor in Edinburgh, and having for two years had the charge of the house of refuge for the destitute, I have had, perhaps, the best opportunities of observing how far drunkenness produced ignorance, destitution, and crime; and the result of my experience is a firm conviction that, but for the effects of intemperance, directly and indirectly, instead of having 500 prisoners, in this prison at this time, there would not have been 50.The next document to which I shall refer, I regard as of a most important nature, and as one which deserves the most serious attention of the House. It is a memorial drawn up by a body of working men at Paisley, and addressed to their employers. It bears, assuredly, a remarkable testimony as to the moral effects of intemperance. I entertain a strong opinion of the great value of this paper, not only from the opinions which it expresses, but because it developes the sentiments of that class who are the agents and victims of this disastrous habit, and who speak, therefore, from practical knowledge. It states that:—Drunkenness is most injurious to the interests of the weavers as a body; drunkards are always on the brink of destitution. There can be no doubt that whatever depresses the moral worth of any body of workmen, likewise depresses their wages; and whatever elevates that worth, enables them to obtain and procure higher wages.This, Sir, in my opinion, is as sound political economy as ever has been spoken, written, or published. Again, I find it stated in the report of Mr. Buckingham's committee, that the estimated value of the property lost or deteriorated by drunkenness, either by shipwreck or mischiefs of a similar character, was not less than 50,000,000l. a-year. These are the financial losses; and it may be easy to estimate, with sufficient accuracy, the pecuniary damage that society undergoes by these pernicious practices; but it is not so easy to estimate the moral and social waste, the intellectual suffering and de-gradation which follow in their train. To that end I must here invite the attention of the House to evidence of another description; I will lay before them the testimony of eminent medical men, who will shew what ruin of the intellect and the disposition attends the indulgence of 64 these vicious enjoyments—we shall see how large a proportion of the cases of lunacy is ascribable to intoxication; but we shall draw, moreover, this startling conclusion, that, if thousands from this cause are deprived of their reason and incarcerated in mad-houses, there must be many-fold more, who, though they fall short of the point of absolute insanity, are impaired in their understanding and moral perceptions. The first medical authority to which I shall refer, is a very eminent physician, well known to many Members of this House, I mean Dr. Corsellis, of the Wakefield Lunatic Asylum:—I am led (he says) to believe that intemperance is the exciting cause of insanity in about one-third of the cases of this institution.And he adds:—The proportion at Glasgow is about 26 per cent,, and at Aberdeen 18 per cent.Dr. Browne, of the Crichton Asylum, Dumfries, says:—The applications for the introduction of individuals who have lost reason from excessive drinking continue to be very numerous.At Northampton, the superintendent of the asylum says:—Amongst the causes of insanity, intemperance predominates.At Montrose, Dr. Poole, the head of the asylum, says:—Twenty-four per cent, of insane cases from intemperance.Dr. Pritchard, who is well known, not only in the medical, but also in the literary world, writes to me that—The medical writers of all countries reckon intemperance among the most influential exciting causes of insanity. Esquirol, who has been most celebrated on the continent for his researches into the statistics of madness, and who is well known to have extended his inquiries into all countries, was of opinion that 'this cause gives rise to one-half of the cases of insanity that occur in Great Britain.Dr. Prichard adds that:—This fact, although startling, is confirmed by many instances. It was found, that in an asylum at Liverpool, to which 495 patients had been admitted, not less than 257 had become insane from intemperance.It is confirmed as a scientific fact by statements of American physicians almost without exception. Dr. Rensselaer, of the United States, says that— 65In his opinion, one-half of the cases of insanity which came under the care of medical men in that couutry arose more or less from the use of strong drink.These things, Sir, not only inflict misery and suffering on a very large class of the present community, but they entail a heavy loss on the country at large. It cannot be denied, that the State has an interest in the health and strength of her sons; but the effects of various diseases on one generation are transmitted with intensity to another! I may also mention, to support these opinions, that the number of admissions to the Somerset Hospital, Cape Town, in the course of a year and nine months, was 1,050, and of these not less than 763 were the result of intemperance. It was also found, by post mortem examinations, that in the same period the number of deaths in that hospital, which was caused by intemperance, was not less than eight out of ten. Now, look to the pauperism it produces; one instance shall suffice: Mr. Chadwick gave in evidence before the Committee on Drunkenness, in 1834:—The contractor for the management of the poor in Lambeth, and other parishes, stated to me that he once investigated the cause of pauperism in the cases of paupers then under his charge. The inquiry, he says, was conducted for some months, as I investigated every new case, and I found in nine cases out of ten the main cause was the ungovernable inclination for fermented liquors.Next, Sir, vice is expensive to the public; Mr. Collins, in his valuable statistics of Glasgow, observes:—The people will cost us much, whether we will or not; if we will not suffer ourselves to be taxed for their religious instruction, we must suffer to be taxed for the punishment and repression of crime.I will now just give a short estimate of the amount of the expense to which the country is subjected directly for the suppression of crime. I find that the expense of jails in 1841 was 137,449l.; during the same period, the expense of houses of correction was 129,163l.; making together a total of 256,612l. The expense of criminal prosecutions in 1841 was 170,521l.; the charge for the conveyance of prisoners was 23,242l.; the charge for the conveyance of transports to the hulks, &c, 8,195l.; and the expense for vagrants, 7,167l. These items make together the sum of 209,125l. The expense 66 of the rural police, and it should be remembered that this is only for a few counties, is 139,228l. Thus the charges under the three heads which I have mentioned, amount, in a single year, to 604,965l. But here, Sir, is a document well deserving, I think, of the attention of the House—a curious illustration of the facts we are asserting; I have not been able to verify it myself, but I will take it as stated. In the county of Lancaster, in 1832, the number of criminal cases tried at the assizes was 126, and the average charge for each of them 40l. The number of cases tried at the sessions was 2,587, and the average charge for each of these was 7l. 19s. The aggregate amount of charge was 25,656l. Now, in addition to this average charge, let us take the estimate cost for the transportation across the seas of each person convicted at 25l. This would be a gross sum for the cost of each prosecution of 65l.;—if the calculation, then, of Mr. Burgess be correct, that eleven shillings in the year will supply the education of one child for that term, we must confess that for the expense of a single convict, we might, during the space of twelve months, give moral and religious education to one hundred and seventeen children. Nevertheless, Sir, it is a melancholy fact, that while the country disburses the sums I have mentioned, and more too, for the punishment of crime, the State devotes but 30,000l. a-year to the infusion of virtue; and yet, I ask you, could you institute a happier and healthier economy in your finances, than to reduce your criminal, so to speak, and increase your moral expenditure? Difficulties may lie in your way; mortifications may follow your attempts, but you cannot fail of raising some to the dignity of virtuous men, and many to the rank of tranquil and governable citizens. I have not here included an estimate of the loss inflicted on society by plunder, violence, and neglect; nor can I arrive at it; it must, however, be necessarily very large. Let us use as an approximation a statement made by a late Member of this House (Mr. Slaney.) that, in one year, in the town of Liverpool alone, the loss by plunder was calculated at the enormous sum of 700,000l. Thus far, Sir, I have endeavoured to lay before you an outline of our present condition, and to collect, into one point of view, a few of the more prominent mischiefs. A partial remedy for these evils will be found in the 67 moral and religious culture of the infant mind; but this is not all: we must look further, and do more, if we desire to place the working-classes in such a condition that, the lessons they have learned as children, they may have freedom to practise as adults. Now, if it be true, as most undoubtedly it is, that the State has a deep interest in the moral and physical prosperity of all her children, she must not terminate her care with the years of infancy, but extend her control and providence over many other circumstanees that affect the working-man's life. Without entering here into the nature and variety of those practical details, which might be advantageously taught in addition to the first and indispensable elements, we shall readily perceive that many things are requisite, even to the adult, to secure to him, so far as is possible, the well-being of his moral and physical condition. I speak not now of laws and regulations to abridge, but to enlarge his freedom; not to limit his rights, but to multiply his opportunities of enjoying them; laws and regulations which shall give him what all confess to be his due; which shall relieve him from the danger of temptations he would willingly avoid, and under which he cannot but fall; and which shall place him, in many aspects of health, happiness, and possibilities of virtue, in that position of independence and security, from which, under the present state of things, be is too often excluded. Sir, there are many evils of this description which might be urged; but I shall name three only, as indications of what I mean, and as having a most injurious and most lasting effect on the moral and physical condition of an immense portion of our people. I will briefly state them; and there will then be no difficulty in shewing their connection with the present motion; and how deep and how immediate is their influence on the morals of infants and adults, of children and parents; and how utterly hopeless are all systems of education, so long as you suffer them extensively to prevail. The first I shall take is the truck system. Now hear what Mr. Horne, the sub-commissioner, says on this subject:The truck system encourages improvidence, by preventing the chance of a habit of saving, for nobody can save food. It prevents a family from obtaining a sufficient supply of clothes, and more comfortable furniture, in proportion to the possession of which it is always found that the working-man becomes more 68 steady, industrious, and careful. It therefore amounts to a prevention of good conduct.In another place, he saysThe poor working man never sees the colour of a coin, all his wages are consumed in food, and of the very worst quality; and to prevent the chance of his having a single penny in his possession, the reckonings were postponed from week to week, until sometimes two or three months had elapsed.Now, as to the corrupting effects of this system, Mr. Horne, in his report, emphatically says:—One final remark should, however, be made on the particular evil of the system, which principally relates to the moral condition of the children and young persons, nothing can be worse than the example set by the truck system—an example which is constantly before the eyes of the children, and in which they grow up, familiarised with the grossest frauds, the subtlest tricks, and the most dishonest evasions, habitually practised by their masters, parents, and other adults, in the very face of law and justice, and with perfect impunity.Such is the result of this part of the inquiry made by Mr. Horne. That gentleman uses the emphatic language that the truck system not only familiarises the mind, and the mind too of the child, with the grossest frauds, but that it tends to prevent the practice of any of the moral virtues. See, too, the effect as stated in the evidence produced before Parliament. It is notorious that the system has led to the most serious effect in several parts of the country. The whole man suffers; his experience; his thrifty habits; his resolutions of forethought; he is widely and justly discontented, becomes a bad subject, and ripe for mischief. In 1834 the existence of the truck system drove the mining districts of South Wales into open rebellion; it produced the disturbances that took place in Staffordshire in 1842; and no one can calculate the flood of the moral and physical mischiefs that devastated those counties as the result of their outbreak. I will take, in the second place, the payment of wages in public-houses, beer-shops and localities of that description. You have recognised the principle of interdicting such a practice in the Colliery-bill of last year; let me shew how necessary it is that a law of that kind should become universal:—"Payments of wages in cash," says Mr. Horne,Are made in a public-house (for the convenience, they pretend, of change), where 69 it is required that every man shall spend a shilling as a rule, which is to be spent in drink. Boys have also to spend proportionately to their wages (generally sixpence), and either they thus learn to drink by taking their share, or, if they cannot, some adult drinks it for them till they can, The keeper of this house generally delays the settling of accounts, so as to give more time for drinking previously.Now, Sir, I have frequently heard discredit thrown on the exertions that have been made to promote the improvement in the moral condition of the working-classes, in consequence of the criminal conduct of some who had received a moral and religious education. No doubt it is true that persons may be found in jails who have received their education in Sunday and other schools; but there is many a man who will trace his ruin to the practice I mention; whole families have been pauperized; and, by a perverted logic, moral teaching itself is declared to be useless, because the system we allow has made moral practice next to impossible. The third, is the state of the dwellings of the poor—I will at once put before the House a picture drawn by an able hand;—Captain Miller the valuable superintendent of the police at Glasgow, writes thus:In the very center of the city there is an accumulated mass of squalid wretchedness, which is probably unequalled in any other town in the British dominions. There is concentrated everything that is wretched, dissolute, loathsome and pestilential. These places are filled by a population of many thousands of miserable creatures. The houses in which they live are unfit even for sties; and every apartment is filled with a promiscuous crowd of men, women, and children; all in the most revolting state of filth and squalor. In many of the houses there is scarcely any ventilation; dunghills lie in the vicinity of the dwellings; and from the extremely defective sewerages, filth of every kind constantly accumulates. In these horrid dens the most abandoned characters of the city are collected; from whence they nightly issue to disseminate diseases, and to pour upon the town every species of crime and abomination.Will any man after this tell me that it is to any purpose to take children for the purposes of education during two hours a day, and then turn them back for twenty-two to such scenes of vice, and filth, and misery? I am quite certain this statement is not exaggerated, I have been on the spot and seen it myself; and not only there, but I have found a similar state of things existing at Leeds, at Manchester, 70 and in London. It is impossible for language to describe the horrid and disgraceful scenes that are exposed to the sight in these places, and I am sure that no one can recollect, without the most painful feelings, the thousands and hundreds of thousands, who ought to be the subjects of any system of education, that are hopelessly congregated in these dens of filth, of suffering, and infamy. Turn, then, to the invaluable report of Mr. Chadwick on the sanitary state of the population, which has just been presented to the House. He shows clearly how indispensable it is to establish some better regulations with regard to the residences of the people, if you wish to make them a moral and religious race, and that all your attempts at their reformation will be useless, if steps are not taken to promote their decency and comfort. He says, amongst the conclusions at which he arrives towards the end of his report:—That the formation of all habits of cleanliness is obstructed by defective supplies of water; that the annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation is greater than the loss from death or wounds in any wars in which the country has been engaged in modem times; that of the 43,000 cases of widowhood, and 112,000 cases of destitute orphanage, relieved from the poor's-rate in England alone, it appears that the greatest proportions of deaths of the heads of families occurred from the above specified and other removable causes; that their ages were under forty-five years—that is to say thirteen years below the natural probabilities of life, as shewn by the experience of the whole population of Sweden, that the younger population, bred up under noxious physical agencies, is inferior in physical organization and general health to a population preserved from the presence of such agencies; that the population, so exposed, is less susceptible of moral influences, and the effects of education are more transient, than with a healthy population; that these adverse circumstances tend to produce an adult population short-lived, improvident, reckless, and intemperate, and with habitual avidity for sensual gratification; that these habits lead to the abandonment of all the conveniences and the decencies of life, and especially lead to the over-crowding of their homes, which is destructive to the morality as well as to the health of large classes of both sexes; that defective town-cleansing fosters habits of the most abject degradation, lending to the demo, ralization of large numbers of human beings, who subsist by means of what they find amidst the various filth accumulated in neglected streets and by-places.Now, Sir, can any one gainsay the as- 71 sertion that this state of things is cruel, disgusting and perilous?—indifference, despair, neglect of every kind—of the household, the children, the moral and the physical part—must follow in the train of such evils; the contemplation of them distresses the standers by, it exasperates the sufferer and his whole class, it breeds discontent and every bad passion, and then when disaffection stalks abroad, we are alarmed, and cry out that we are fallen upon evil limes, and so we are; but it is not because poverty is always seditious, but because wealth is too frequently oppressive. This, Sir, completes the picture I desired to lay before the House; it has been imperfectly, and I fear tediously drawn. There is, however less risk in taxing the patience than in taxing the faith of indulgent hearers. I have not presumed to propose a scheme, because I have ever thought that such a mighty undertaking demands the collective deliberation and wisdom of the executive, backed by the authority and influence of the Crown. But what does this picture exhibit, Mark, Sir, first the utter inefficiency of our penal code—of our capital and secondary punishments. The country is wearied with pamphlets and speeches on gaol-discipline, model-prisons, and corrective processes; meanwhile crime advances at a rapid pace; many are discharged because they cannot be punished, and many become worse by the very punishment they undergo—punishment is disarmed of a large part of its terrors, because it no longer can appeal to any sense of shame—and all this, because we will obstinately persist in setting our own wilfulness against the experience of mankind and the wisdom of revelation, and believe that we can regenerate the hardened man while we utterly neglect his pliant childhood. You are right to punish those awful miscreants who make a trade of blasphemy, and pollute the very atmosphere by their foul exhibitions; but you will never subdue their disciples and admirers, except by the implements of another armoury. You must draw from the great depository of truth all that can create and refine a sound public opinion—all that can institute and diffuse among the people the feelings and practices of morality. I hope I am not dictatorial in repeating here, that criminal tables and criminal statistics furnish no estimate of a nation's disorder. Culprits, such as they exhibit, are but the repre- 72 sentatives of the mischief, spawned by the filth and corruption of the times. Were the crimes of these offenders the sum total of the crimes of England, although we should lament for the individuals, we might disregard the consequences; but the danger is wider, deeper, fiercer; and no one who has heard these statements and believes them, can hope that twenty years more will pass without some mighty convulsion, and displacement of the whole system of society. Next, Sir, observe that our very multitude oppresses us; and oppresses us, to, with all the fearful weight of a blessing converted into a curse. The King's strength ought to be in the multitude of his people; and so it is; not, however, such a people as we must shortly have; but in a people happy, healthy, and virtuous; "Sacra Deûm sanctique patres." Is that our condition of present comfort or prospective safety? You have seen in how many instances the intellect is impaired, and even destroyed by the opinions and practices of our moral world; honest industry will decline, energy will be blunted, and whatever shall remain of zeal be perverted to the worst and most perilous uses. An evil state of morals engenders and diffuses a ferocious spirit; the mind of man is as much affected by moral epidemics, as his body by disorders; thence arise murders, blasphemies, seditions, every thing that can tear prosperity from nations, and peace from individuals. See, Sir, the ferocity of disposition that your records disclose; look at the savage treatment of children and apprentices; and imagine the awful results, if such a spirit were let loose upon society. Is the character of your females nothing?—and yet hear the language of an eye-witness, and one long and deeply conversant with their character:—.They are becoming similar to the female followers of an army, wearing the garb of women, but actuated by the worst passions of men; in every riot or outbreak in the manufacturing districts the women are the leaders and exciters of the young men to violence. The language they indulge in is of the most horrid description—in short, while they are demoralised themselves, they demoralise all that come within their reach.People, Mr. Speaker, will oftentimes administer consolation by urging that a mob of Englishmen will never be disgraced by the atrocities of the Continent. Now, Sir, apart from the fact that one hundredth part of "the reign of terror" is sufficient 73 to annihiliate all virtue and all peace in society, we have never, except in 1780, and a few years ago at Bristol and Nottingham, seen a mob of our countrymen in triumphant possession. Conflagration then and plunder devastated the scene; nor were they forgotten in the riots of last year, when, during the short-lived anarchy of an hour, they fired I know not how many houses within the district of the Potteries. Consider, too, the rapid progress of time. In ten years from this hour—no long period in the history of a nation—all who are nine years of age will have reached the age of nineteen years; a period in which, with the few years that follow, there is the least sense of responsibility, the power of the liveliest action, and the greatest disregard of human suffering and human life. The early ages are of incalculable value; an idle reprobate of fourteen is almost irreclaimable; every year of delay abstracts from us thousands of useful fellow-citizens; nay, rather, it adds them to the ranks of viciousness, of misery, and of disorder. So long, Sir, as this plague-spot is festering among our people, all our labours will be in vain; our recent triumphs will avail us nothing—to no purpose, while we are rotten at heart, shall we toil to improve our finances, to expand our commerce, and explore the hidden sources of our difficulty and alarm. We feel that all is wrong, we grope at noonday as though it were night; disregarding the lessons of history and the Word of God, that there is neither hope, nor strength, nor comfort, nor peace, but in a virtuous, a "wise and an understanding people." But, if we will retrace our steps, and do the first works—if we will apply ourselves earnestly, in faith and fear, to this necessary service, there lie before us many paths of peace, many prospects of encouragement. Turn where you will; examine the agents of every honest calling, and you will find that the educated man is the safest and the best in every profession. I might quote the testimony of distinguished officers, both military and naval, and they will tell you that no discipline is so vigorous as morality. I have here the earnest declaration of various manufacturers, that trustworthiness and skill will ever follow on religious training. You have heard the opinions of the judges at the late special assizes, more particularly the charge of that eminent lawyer and good man, 74 Chief Justice Tindal. I have read correspondence of the clergy in the disturbed districts, and they boldly assert, that very few belonging to their congregations and none belonging to their schools, were found among the insurgents against the public peace; because such persons well know that, however grievous their wrongs, they owe obedience to the laws, not on a calculation of forces, but for conscience' sake. Nor let us, Sir, put out of mind this great and stirring consideration, that the moral condition of England seems destined by Providence to lead the moral condition of the world. Year after year we are sending forth thousands and hundreds of thousands of our citizens to people the vast solitudes and islands of another hemisphere; the Anglo-Saxon race will shortly overspread half the habitable globe. What a mighty and what a rapid addition to the happiness of mankind, if these thousands should carry with them, and plant in those distant regions, our freedom, our laws, our morality, and our religion! This, Sir, is the ground of my appeal to this House; the plan that I venture to propose, and the argument by which I sustain it. It is, I know, but a portion of what the country requires; and even here we shall have, no doubt, disappointments to undergo, and failures to deplore; it will, nevertheless, bear for us abundant fruit. We owe to the poor of our land a weighty debt. We call them improvident and immoral, and so many of them are; but that improvidence and that immorality are the results, in a great measure, of our neglect, and, in not a little, of our example. We owe them, too, the debt of kinder language, and more frequent intercourse. This is no fanciful obligation; our people are more alive than any other to honest zeal for their cause, and sympathy with their necessities, which, fall though it oftentimes may on unimpressible hearts, never fails to find some that it comforts, and many that it softens. Only let us declare, this night, that we will enter on a novel and a better course—that we will seek their temporal, through their eternal welfare—and the half of our work will then have been achieved. There are many hearts to be won, many minds to be instructed, and many souls to be saved: "Oh Patria! oh Divûm domus!"—the blessing of God will rest upon our endeavours; and the oldest among us may perhaps live to enjoy, 75 for himself and for his children, the opening day of the immortal, because the moral glories of the British empire. The noble Lord concluded by moving.*That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her instant and serious consideration the best means of diffusing the benefits and blessings of a moral and religious education among the working classes of her people.
§ Sir James Graham
Sir, my noble Friend has on this occasion spoken with that glowing fervour, with that elevated generosity of sentiment, with that fervent piety, which so eminently distinguish his character. For myself, I have been rebuked as seldom rising above the low level of party strife; it has been asserted that political hostility is the feeling which predominates in my mind, and which actuates my entire conduct. If the rebuke were a just one, I could only say that my example is one which it behoves all other men to avoid; but, without staying to vindicate myself from the charge, as applicable to other subjects, this let me say, most honestly and sincerely, that upon this occasion, and this subject, all party, all political considerations are utterly absent from my thoughts. The sole question here is a duty—an immense, an awful duty—which we owe to the mass of the people of this country. This is no question of party, nor*The following Table, showing the stale of parts of London, which it was intended to quote, was accidentally omitted.The London City Mission Report of two disricts just examined; 1842:—
In a small district immediately contiguous to Holborn Hill, found, families 103 Consisting of, persons 391 From six years and upwards, could not read 280 Of these, above twenty years of age 119
In five courts and alleys in the Cow-cross district:— Heads of families 158 Cannot read 102 Young persons, between seven and twenty-two 106 Cannot read 77Can we be surprised," says the report, "at the number of public criminals? Neighbourhoods such as these chiefly supply our gaols with inmates. So late as October last there were in the House of Correction alone, 973 prisoners, exclusive of children, and out of these 717 had no education at all.76 should it for a moment be considered or treated as a question of party; the matter is simply and assuredly this, that in a great crisis of public affairs, it now behoves us carefully, and calmly, and kindly to consider the present moral and religious condition of the working classes. It is not our business on the present occasion to enter into the physical condition of the people. That is a subject, no doubt, of vast and paramount importance. It is obviously our duty to take into consideration the poverty and distress of the people, and to do all in the power of legislation, though it is but little that legislation can do, to provide them with the means of securing for themselves an ample reward for their labour and industry. But this is not the occasion for entering into this subject. One or two remarks, however, I will offer on some topics bearing on this subject, which my noble Friend introduced towards the close of his speech. As to the truck system, I on a former occasion expressed my fear, that in times of distress, and when labour is redundant, the subtlety of interested employers will always find means to defeat the law, and that when profits are low, the demand for labour reduced, and labour superabundant, the truck system of paying wages will, somehow or other, be practically in force. At the same time I will say, that if anything can be pointed out in the shape of additional legislation, which promises to break down the vicious system of paying wages by truck, I am quite satisfied that her Majesty's Government, and the Legislature, would be quite willing to entertain the proposal. With respect to the payment of wages in public houses, I readily admit that the system is a pernicious one, and I rejoice that on the occasion of the measure introduced by my noble Friend last Session, with respect to the regulation of labour in mines and collieries, the sense of the Legislature was decidedly marked in reprobation of this system. I entirely concur in the observations of my noble Friend on the subject of the dwellings of the poor. This is a matter which touches immediately their moral condition; because the education of the children would fail to produce half its beneficial effect if the dwellings of their parents are polluted by a want of cleanliness, and they themselves are degraded by the contamination which that want of cleanliness begets. But this matter is not neglected by the Government, and a most useful servant of the public,
, has been employed in framing the outline of a measure on the subject. I have thought it desirable that this measure accompanied by Mr. Chad-wick's report, should be referred to a commission about to be appointed by her Majesty; and the whole subject, including regulations necessary for the drainage of large cities, and for the better construction hereafter of the dwellings of the poor, will be referred to that commission. I trust, that some well digested and practical measure will emanate from their labours. I will now pass from these topics to the one which is the immediate subject of debate, or, more correctly speaking, which is immediately before the House. The word debate I used inadvertently, for this is not a question which is to be treated in that tone of discussion which is understood by the term debate. The noble Lord's resolution runs thus:—That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her instant and serious consideration the best means of diffusing the benefits and blessings of a moral and religious education among the working classes of her people.So far from objecting to the address proposed by my noble Friend, I have anticipated it, and it will be my duty on the present occasion, to point out to the House, with their permission, the measures which, on the part of her Majesty's Government, independently of the address of my noble Friend, I am prepared to submit to Parliament for its consideration in reference to this subject. I quite agree with my noble Friend, that in the manufacturing districts of this country, every thought of the human mind, and every effort of the human body, have for a long period been almost entirely absorbed in the endeavour to add to the products of industry, and to accumulate wealth. All the material powers of this nation have been developed and improved in the most remarkable manner—the entire people individually and collectively, appear to have been engrossed with this grand object; and the moral condition of the multitude has, as it seems to me, been most lamentably neglected. It is with peculiar grief and mortification that I say this; but I cannot but bear in mind, that while all the other governments of Europe, warned by the melancholy events which darkened the latter years of the last century—warned by those sad lessons, directed their earnest, their unceasing 78 attention to the moral training and religious education of their people, England alone, Protestant Christian England, neglected this all-important duty of giving her people that training, that education, which so intimately concerns not only their temporal, but their eternal welfare. It may safely be asserted that this most important subject has been neglected in this country to a greater degree than in any other civilised nation. 1 must say that I think recent events in the manufacturing districts are pregnant with solemn warning. I quite agree with my noble Friend in what he has stated to the House on this topic. The law, it is true, has been triumphant, everything like violence has been subdued; and, in justice to the people of this country, 1 must add, that though their sufferings, their privations, their disappointments, have been great, yet even in those cases where there has been a breach of the law committed, that breach has not been accompanied by acts of cruelty or of remarkable outrage. The police and the soldiers have done their duty, the time is arrived when moral and religious instructors must go forth to reclaim the people from the errors of their ways. The harvest is abundant, but the labourers are few; it is time that the good work should be begun in earnest; it is time that a better seed, the seed of sound morality and Christian truth should be sown in the hearts of the people; and it must be the care of the nation—of the Government, with a view to the future peace, the future destinies of this country, to take this most serious subject into their anxious consideration. I can truly say that I have directed my thoughts to this question more anxiously than to any other. I know well the difficulties of it, and if I can but induce the House; in the temper which at this moment pervades it, on this one subject, to lay aside all party feelings, all religious differences, to endeavour to find out some neutral ground on which we can build something approaching to a scheme of national education, with a due regard to the just wishes of the established church on the one hand, and studious attention to the honest scruples of the dissenters on the other; in my judgment we shall be conferring a greater benefit on the people whom we represent than by any course of policy which can be adopted; and, for myself, I will say, that all party, all personal considerations will I gladly lay aside could I but hope that I might be made the 79 humble instrument of proposing to the House anything approaching to a scheme which should lead to the happy consummation I desire with the sanction of the Legislature. The subject, I repeat, is a most difficult one, and yet it is one on which I am sure that all feel so deep and combined an interest that I approach it without apprehension. Having thus prefaced what I have to say, I will shortly state to the House what has been done, and what, under the present circumstances, it is proposed to do. The past neglect has been so great, that I do not think it would be possible, dealing frankly with the question, to attempt a remedy for the entire evil at once; I conceive that to attempt too much would be to prevent the hope of effecting any good at all. I shall therefore propose, at present, to deal with two classes of the rising generation in the legislation which I shall bring under the notice of the House in the present Session; but, before I open my views to the House, I think it right to call their attention to what has been done in the course of the last few years. In the first place I will touch upon Scotland, as a country where, upon the whole, from particular circumstances, the advance of education has been the greatest. In that country, directly connected with the established church, there is a parochial system of education. In that country, it is to be observed, it is comparatively easy to found such a system, because, generally speaking, throughout that country, in matters of doctrine, there is no dissent, the dissent there being limited to questions of discipline. One of the greatest improvements of modern times, in reference to education, is that system of education which is known by the name of the Simultaneous System, and which experience has proved to be in the highest degree efficient. In Glasgow a normal school has been established, by an individual whom it is impossible to praise too highly—Mr. Stowe, and there this system of simultaneous education was first tried on any scale worthy of notice. That school, maintained at the cost of a few spirited individuals, fell into difficulties; and this having become known, the committee for education of the Privy Council advanced to it the sum of 4,500l., which relieved it at once from the pressure of incumbrances which would otherwise have overwhelmed it. The committee also granted to the General Assembly of the church of Scotland the sum of 5,000l. for a training school in Edinburgh, 80 and a further sum of 5,000l. for a training school in Glasgow, and for the maintenance of these two schools, pledged itself to advance annually the sum of 1,000l. I believe by this grant of the capital sum of 10,000l., and the annual grant of 1,000l., there will be provided for Scotland a number of schoolmasters trained in the best system of instruction, adequate to the supply of parochial schoolmasters throughout the whole of that country; and my conviction is, that under this arrangement, the education of Scotland will be placed on a complete and most satisfactory foundation. In addition to these grants, the Privy Council has granted to the National Society the sum of 5,000l. for the foundation and building of a training school in connection with that society. They have also granted to the British and Foreign School Society an equal sum of 5,000l. At Battersea, a training school has been founded by a small number of individuals, who take a great interest in the improved system of education; and this school having very largely contributed to meet the demands for schoolmasters to be sent to the colonies, a further sum of 1,000l. was granted to it by the Privy Council. Between the years 1833 and 1839, the Treasury has directly granted 160,000l. towards the building of schools, and 793 schools have been built, giving accommodation to 160,000 scholars. Since 1839, the grants of the Privy Council for the same purpose amount to 112,000l. and these sums being granted under limitations, which proportion the amount granted by the Privy Council to the amount of one-third subscribed by private persons, it will be seen that the total outlay for these purposes has been 336,000l. This, then, is what has been done in past years. It is not, by any means, all that ought to have been done. But it is a proof that the Legislature of this country has felt it necessary to make a beginning—that it is advancing in the right direction, that the education of the people is the care of the State. I now proceed to point out to the House that which I shall beg leave to submit to them in the course of the present Session. I have stated that I think it would not be wise, in the first instance, to attempt too much; it will be better to set out with dealing with that which is more immediately under our control, and which I will call compulsory education, as it exists under the present law. The first schools I shall refer to are those for the pauper children in the workhouses in this country. With the 81 permission of the House, I will state very shortly, as a proof that the attention of the Government need not be urged more pointedly on this particular subject, by the address of the noble Lord, what are the provisions of a bill which I am perfectly ready to lay on the Table of the House for our immediate discussion. As to the pauper children, I have to propose that parishes may be united, for the formation of district schools, within the distance of a given diameter, not to exceed fifteen miles. This will enable district schools to be formed, not only in the metropolis, but in all the large cities to which the noble Lord has referred, where the largest masses of people are congregated, where, unhappily, the poverty is the greatest, and where, consequently, the largest number of pauper children are assembled in the workhouses. I shall propose that the schools shall, in every case, be situated within the diameter I have mentioned, with an exception as to the metropolitan district, where it would be desirable that the schools should be in the suburbs, and here I shall propose that the schools may be erected within ten miles of the suburbs. The children to be educated in these schools will be, first, the infant poor, under sixteen years of age, chargeable to any parish or union within the district. I am now speaking of pauper children; illegitimate children, orphans, children deserted by their parents, the children of persons undergoing any sentence of the law, and children whose parents and guardians may voluntarily consent to their being so educated. I shall propose that in no case shall the poor-rate for the purpose of building these district schools, exceed one-fifth of the average amount of the rate for the last three years. I now approach that which is the real difficulty of the matter, which difficulty proceeds from our own honest differences of opinion on religious subjects. This is the real difficulty; for as to the rest, we agree in this, that a religious education is, after all, the only true and safe one—the great Christian principle we admit, but unfortunately we differ as to the mode in which this Christian principle may be safely imparted. I shall propose, on this point, that there should be a chaplain of the Established Church appointed by the bishop of the diocese, to superintend the religious instruction of such children in these schools as belong to the Established Church. With reference to those children who object to the ritual of the Established Church, or 82 whose parents object for them, I shall pro-pose that any licensed minister of the particular profession of faith of such Dissenters shall be at liberty to visit such children, under certain regulations, for the purpose of instructing them in their spiritual concerns. The rules and regulations for the secular instruction in these schools will be subject to the opinion and approval of the committee of the Privy Council for education, by whom the schoolmasters will be appointed, and an inspector will superintend and watch the whole; and every schoolmaster who shall be declared incompetent or unfit for his duties will be dismissed forthwith. I conceive that, under this arrangement, while, on the one hand, the utmost security is taken that the children of parents who are Members of the Established Church shall be educated in strict conformity with the creed of that church; on the other hand, full security is given on behalf of the Dissenters, that their children shall be brought up in the tenets of their own religious faith, free from all their attempts at proselytism, or from having respective creeds shaken or tampered with. I have thus pointed out to the House that which concerns one large class of children, the children now in the workhouses of the metropolis and of the large manufacturing towns; and I have reason to believe, if such a law as this should be passed in the course of the present Session, that in one of the large manufacturing towns alone, I mean the union of Manchester, schools will forthwith be built capable of accommodating 1,400 children; and similar willingness to meet the great object contemplated by the House, will also, I have reason to believe, be manifested in many of the large manufacturing towns; and thus immediate education of the best kind, on the soundest principles, imparted in the best manner, under masters properly trained in normal schools, will be freely given to many thousands of poor children. If we can give them nothing else, we shall thus, at least, be giving them sound knowledge; we shall bestow on them the means of securing not only temporal but eternal advantages; and we shall thus be discharging the great debt which we owe to that class of our brethren who are suffering the most, and who are most neglected. And let us be assured, that what we do towards the advancement of this great object will be returned us a hundred fold in the future attachment and good conduct of this important branch of the rising generation. 83 The noble Lord has adverted to the report which has been presented on the state of education in the manufacturing districts. That report describes so accurately the defective state of instruction in these districts, that I hope the House will excuse me for reading one or two passages from it:—In the borough of Ashton, with a population of 25,000, there is no National school, no school of the British and Foreign School Society, nor any other public day-school for the children of the working classes. The same is the case in Staleybridge and in Dukinfield, with the slight exception I shall now make;" and "In a report on the state of elementary education in several towns of Lancashire, in 1840 by the Hon. and Rev. Baptist W. Noel, it is stated that Ashton had not one public infant or day-school; and but 1-19th part of the population are found in the dame and common schools only. A writer in the Manchester Sunday School Magazine asserts. That in Ashton, Staleybridge, and Dukinfield, only one child in forty-six attends daily instruction, and yet one in four ought always to be at school. A large proportion of the poor children of these populous places are destitute of efficient moral and religious training.Unless the case of this neglected district be taken up by the Government, and a large sum be expended in the establishment and support of schools, it must continue to be, what it is at present in this respect, a reproach to the nation. The working people themselves cannot supply the means. It cannot be reasonably expected that they will be raised by voluntary subscriptions among those who are above the working classes; nor could an adequate sum be assessed in the district with any justice, seeing that the proportion of those in easy circumstances is so small;" and "Setting aside all other considerations, and placing the necessity of adequate means of education being provided on no higher ground than as a question of public policy, it is obvious that something effective ought to be done without loss of time; and in the circumstances of the district, the most advisable thing appears to be, to establish National schools, and those conducted on the system of the British and Foreign School Society; and I have no doubt that excellent local committees could be formed for the management of both. Such institutions for the benefit of their children would be evidence to the humbler classes of friendly dispositions and kind sympathy in those above them; feelings of alienation between the employer and employed would be checked, and the just influence of property and education would be strengthened.In the report of the last month, on this very district of Ashton, the Inspector said:—Taking the population of the Ashton dis- 84 trict, within a circle of a mile and-a-half radius from the centre of Ashton, at 55,000 together with the above population of Oldham, and allowing 5,000 for the population of the space between the two districts, we have an area of about eight miles by four, containing a population of 105,000, of which, according to the most correct estimate I have been able to obtain, at least 90,000 earn their subsistence by weekly wages, and in which, at the date of my last quarterly report, there did not exist one public day-school for the children of the humbler ranks, and in which there is not at this moment one medical charity, for in this latter respect Oldham is as destitute as Ashton. There may be equally deplorable cases in other parts of Great Britain. I hope there are not; but in so far as schools are concerned, as education has been so much an object of attention for so long a period in Ireland, it is not probable such a one could be found in that country: and I question very much, whether in any part of the civilised world, out of Great Britain, a parallel case could be met with to that which I have now described. I cannot help wishing, that while vast sums have been of late years sent out of the country to convert the heathen in distant lands, more consideration had been given to the conversion of the heathen in this portion of our own land.Nothing can be more impressive than this description of one manufacturing district; but I can assure the House, that it is only a specimen of the whole. The evil perhaps may not exist to the same extent in other parts, but the description in its general outline, is applicable to all the manufacturing districts. Parliament has dealt with the subject of education as regards factory children, but in so imperfect and unsatisfactory a manner, as almost to render nugatory the measures which have been adopted. The Legislature has imposed upon manufacturers the necessity of giving the children in their employment some education, but it has omitted to make any provision with regard to the quality or the degree of that education. This brings me to the second branch of the subject, to which I invite the attention of the House. No children under eight years of age are allowed to work in a factory; children between the ages of eight and thirteen may work in factories for eight hours a-day; but it is a condition of their so working, that they shall attend school for at least two hours each day. It must have been owing to negligence, for I cannot believe it to have been the intention of the Legislature, that no proper regulations were framed for the purpose of carrying into effect the proposed object of the 85 act. Be that as it may, I will state what is the practical working of the act as it stands. A Roman Catholic master of a factory may have attached to his factory a school, with a Roman Catholic for schoolmaster, and may impose it as a condition on the children of Protestant parents, that to obtain work in his factory, they shall attend his school where the Roman Catholic version of the Scriptures is taught, and where they shall be trained in the Roman Catholic religion. I mention this as a proof of the little care and attention which has been bestowed upon the details of the enactment for the compulsory education of factory children. I do not think it right that the quality of the education should be thus neglected. I, therefore, purpose to deal with the quality of the education as well as other essential particulars. It appears to me that if children of this tender age, after being worked eight hours a-day, are sent to school, worn out with toil, without the opportunity of obtaining refreshment and relaxation, it is unlikely they will derive much benefit from any system of education, even the best, which may be administered to them. It is my intention to propose that children between the ages of eight and thirteen, employed in factories, shall not work more than six hours and a half in any one day; that if they work in the forenoon they shall not work in the afternoon, or if they work in the afternoon, they shall not work in the forenoon; but that day by day, either in the forenoon or the afternoon, they shall attend school for at least three hours. I have no reason to believe that the master manufacturers will be opposed to any such regulation. It certainly will be necessary for them, under such an arrangement, to have two sets of children to carry on their work; but I am satisfied that the humane feclings of the manufacturers, and the earnest desire, which I have every reason to believe they entertain to co-operate cordially with Parliament in improving the education of the rising youth of this nation, will induce them to acquiesce cheerfully in any measures which are necessary for effecting this paramount object. Having obtained three hours in each working day for the education of the children, the question next arises—how shall we provide for them a better education than they can obtain at present? Under the law, as it now stands, no master manufacturer can employ a child between the ages specified, unless the child can produce a certificate of its attending a 86 school. I propose that, in every district, with respect to factory schools, certificates shall be granted, as at present, by any school in connexion with the National Society, or the British and Foreign School Society, and by any Roman Catholic school, on condition, however, that such school be open to the visits of the inspector appointed by the Privy Council on education; the inspector, of course, not being at liberty to interfere with the scheme of religious instruction given to Roman Catholic children; but taking care that no children of Protestant parents are educated in the tenets of the Roman Catholics. Thus, then, I provide for certificates being granted by schools in connexion with the National Society, and by the British and Foreign School Society, and also by Roman Catholic schools under the inspection I have stated. But the House will observe, that as might have been anticipated, the greatest want of education exists in the poorest districts. Now, the principle hitherto enforced by the Committee of Education in distributing the sum annually placed at their disposal by Parliament, has been to make no advance of money for the building of a school, unless two-thirds of the whole sum required for that purpose should previously have been raised by private subscription. In some cases, I believe, the rule has been relaxed, and grants have been made when half the whole sum required has been raised by subscription; but, beyond that, the Committee on Education have in no instance gone. I think it is most desirable to call forth local exertions for founding and maintaining schools, and that, it would be far from advantageous to throw the whole burden upon the public purse. It, therefore, appears to me indisputably necessary to adhere to the principle of making advances from the public fund only in proportion to some given amount raised by private subscription; but, at the same time, I am bound to declare, that as regards the poorer districts, some relaxation of the existing rule of proportion is imperatively called for. I propose, therefore, that in any districts where the regulations with respect to the education of factory children shall be in force, and in which local subscriptions, aided by public grants, may be inadequate to the erection of schools, the inhabitants shall be enabled to procure a loan, to the extent of one-third of the cost of the building, on the following conditions:—First, that one-third of the cost of the school-house shall be raised 87 on the principle of local efforts; secondly, that a memorial shall be presented by certain of the inhabitants to the Committee of Council, praying for a grant of one-third of the expense of the building from the public fund, and for the loan of one-third. The Committee of Council will make inquiry as to the representation contained in the memorial, and refer the memorial and statement to the justices of the division, who will examine into the facts, and declare whether a school is necessary. If the justices declare a school-building necessary, the Committee of Council will make a grant of one-third of the cost of the building, and may empower commissioners to issue Exchequer-bills for one-third of the amount, repayment of which is to be obtained out of the poor-rates in a period of ten years. That is the mode in which I provide for the erection of the school. Then comes a matter of equal importance; namely, the support of the school. I propose to deal with it in this way:—I shall propose that trustees shall be appointed, who shall make quarterly examinations into the accounts and into the education given in the school. I shall have it provided, that out of the wages of the child shall be kept back by his master for his education a sum never exceeding 3d. per week, or more than a twelfth of the child's earnings. This will be in the nature of quarter pence paid by the child, and will provide a certain fund. The committee of council will enable the trustees to procure from the poor-rate of their district a sufficiency for the maintenance of the school, provided that the cost of maintenance shall in no case exceed 3d. in the pound on the existing poor-rate. This I anticipate will provide an ample fund. Then comes a matter of great importance, which is the formation of districts for these schools, and these must be varied in reference to the different localities. I propose that these districts shall be formed in one of four ways—either of one entire parish or township, or of an ecclesiastical district, or of two or more parishes or townships, or of two or more ecclesiastical districts or parts of them. I propose to give the formation of these districts to the Committee of Council on Education. Then comes the question, "How are these district schools to be managed?" I propose that they shall be managed by trusts; and the composition of these trusts I will now state to the House. I propose that the trust shall contain seven individuals, and that an officiating clergyman 88 of the district shall be one; if the district contains only one officiating clergyman, then such clergyman shall be a trustee ex officio. If the district contain more than one clergyman, or where the school shall be intended for two or more, or parts of two or more ecclesiastical, districts, I then propose to give the bishop of the diocese the power of selecting a clergyman to be such trustee. I propose that two of the churchwardens for the year shall be chosen by the clerical trustee, and added as trustees. I then propose a property qualification for all who are not thus ex officio trustees, and that the remaining four shall be appointed by the magistrates in a special session assembled for that purpose out of persons assessed to the poor-rate at a certain rate; and I further propose that two out of the four chosen trustees shall be mill-owners. I am unwilling to weary the House by entering into details, but considering the importance of the motion of my noble Friend, I am anxious to explain the views which the Government now seek to carry into effect with respect to this subject. I have provided in the manner pointed out for the erection and maintenance of schools, for the districts in which they are to be established, and for the trusts by which they are to be managed; and, now, I will state shortly the plan for the government of the schools. The general management of the schools will be under the control of the trustees; they will have the power of appointing the master, subject to the approval of the bishop of the diocese as to his competency to give religious instruction to members of the Established Church. The Holy Scriptures are to be taught daily, but no child will be required to receive instruction in the Catechism of the Church of England or to attend the Established Church whose parents object on religious grounds. The children of parents belonging to the Church of England are to be instructed in the Catechism and Liturgy of the Church of England separate from the other children, and that daily. The schools are to be inspected by the clerical trustees. This being a most important branch of the subject I will take the liberty of reading to the House two clauses of the bill I am about to introduce on this point—And be it enacted, that every master of a school to be provided for the education of children as aforesaid, shall be required to teach the Holy Scriptures, in the version appointed by law to be used in churches, to such scholars 89 as shall be of proper age to learn the same, and shall teach from no other book of religion whatever (except as hereinafter provided); but nothing herein contained shall prevent the use of any part of the Liturgy of the Church of England in divine worship in the said school by the clerical trustee, or by any person whom he may appoint, on Sunday, or on Christmas-day, and Good Friday, or any of the usual fasts and festivals of the Church which may be school holydays, provided that no scholar shall be required to attend at such divine worship whose parent, guardian, or other person, having the legal custody of him, shall object to such attendance.And be it enacted, that the Catechism of the Church of England, as by law established, together with such portions of the Liturgy thereof as such clerical trustee may appoint, shall be taught at such periods, not exceeding one hour at the same day for each scholar, and at such times as the clerical trustee may select. Provided, however, that if such scholars be not instructed in a room apart from the scholars whose parents desire that they should not be present at such instruction, the whole period to be appropriated to such religious instruction shall not exceed one hour during the morning school, and one hour during the afternoon school, on days in each week: and such clerical trustee may direct the said master to teach such Catechism and portions of the Liturgy as aforesaid, at such times and during such periods, not exceeding three hours in the whole, as the said trustee may appoint, on every Sunday; and during all such periods as aforesaid the said master shall give such other religious instruction to the said scholars as such clerical trustee shall direct, the mode in which such religious instruction shall be given being determined, and, the selection of the books for that purpose being made, by the clerical trustee alone; and it shall be lawful for such clerical trustee, or for such other per. son as he may appoint, at such periods, to instruct, catechise and examine such children as he may deem advisable, except as hereinafter provided in the principles of their religion.Then, as to the children of Dissenters, if the parents desire it, they need not be present at the periods at which the Church catechism or any portion of the Liturgy is taught. The clause bearing upon this point is the following:—And be it enacted, that if any parent shall notify to the master or trustees, that he desires that such scholar, on the ground of religious objection, may not be present at the periods when such catechism or portions of the Liturgy are taught as aforesaid, it shall not be lawful for any person to compel such child to be present at such periods, nor to punish or otherwise molest such child for not being present; and it shall not be lawful for the trustees or master of the said school, or any other person to give or permit to be given in the said school 90 any religious instruction to such scholar except the reading of the Holy Scriptures, as hereinbefore appointed. Provided that such child shall at such periods be instructed in some other branch of knowledge taught in the school.The House will perceive that I provide only, that in all schools the authorised version of the Scriptures shall be read; no special religious instruction will be given to the children of Dissenters if their parents object. The constitution of the trust, in itself, is a sufficient security that no undue influence in religious matters will be resorted to, but, beyond that, the trustees will be subject to the control of the inspectors of the committee of the Privy Council. I have dealt specially with the case of Roman Catholic children. They may have schools of their own, and those schools will have the power of granting certificates. I have endeavoured to produce security to the churchman by giving the bishop of the diocese a veto in the appointment of the schoolmaster, if he be not satisfied of his competency to give instruction in the catechism and the doctrines of the Established Church. There is likewise for the churchman the additional security of a clergyman of the Established Church being a trustee, ex officio, and of provision being made for the religious instruction of children of members of the Establishment in the manner prescribed in the clauses which I have read. As regards Dissenters I have followed the general outline of Lord Brougham's bill, introduced in 1820, and in some instances I have almost adopted his words, and I have reason to believe, that on the whole, Dissenters will be satisfied when they see that we have provided their children with instruction by the best masters, who will be subject to constant inspection—that they are only required to read the authorized version of the Scriptures, and that all attempts at proselytism are prevented by the strongest guards. I do not consider it necessary to go further on the present occasion. Perhaps, I have stated enough to satisfy the House that this important subject has been a matter of anxious and daily thought to the Government. I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to meet conflicting objections from opposite quarters; I know not whether I have succeeded in effecting that object, but, at all events, it will be my duty to submit to the House, with the least possible delay, the result of the deliberations of the Government on this subject. Two bills are already prepared, and shall be laid on the Table 91 after the shortest notice. If her Majesty's Government should succeed in prevailing upon the House to adopt these measures, we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we have, in the course of a single Session, made a greater advance towards giving a sound education to the great mass of the community than has been made in the accumulated Sessions of past centuries. It is my firm conviction, that as regards policy, as regards true wisdom, as regards the comfort, happiness, and well-being of the rising generation, it would be impossible to adopt a measure more salutary in its tendencies or more important in its results than that of which I have described the outline. I trust we shall overcome the difficulties which have hitherto defeated any attempt to deal with this question. I hope that no word has fallen from me which can have given offence to any one. It has been my earnest desire to frame the regulations to which I have referred on the fairest principles, and by no means in a sectarian spirit, and if there should, happily, exist a disposition on the other side of the House to adopt them, I have the strongest reason to believe that from my hon. Friends on this side of the House, and in the highest quarters, not only no obstruction can be anticipated, but that cordial co-operation will be given to the Government in an honest attempt to settle this most irritating, but vital question.
§ Lord John Russell
thought the House would express without any hesitation its satisfaction at the motion which his noble Friend had brought before the House. He heartily wished he could say, that the statements made by his noble Friend had less truth in them than he believed they had. He wished that the melancholy statements of the noble Lord were a fiction, or that the noble Lord had only brought them forward to show how dark were the shades in some parts of a bright picture; but he was afraid that they were not selected with such a view, that they were only specimens of the general condition of the people, and not fictions which examination would disprove. The two reports of the commissioners referred to by his noble Friend, the reports of the inspection of gaols, collieries, and mines, the numerous statistical records which his noble Friend had quoted, to which he would not refer, all showed that the same kind of facts which his noble Friend mentioned were general, and they proved that the most 92 melancholy ignorance and the most deplorable vice prevailed in the manufacturing districts. On the present occasion he had no wish to enter into party or religious considerations which were at all likely to disturb the general harmony, and therefore he had listened with much pleasure to the plan, and to the general description of the right hon. Gentleman. He was glad to learn that the Government had applied itself to devise plans for the improvement of the education of the people. With respect to that plan he wished to say, as well as with respect to the motion of the noble Lord as to the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman, that they both seemed confined to the promotion of education amongst the manufacturing classes. The motion of his noble Friend was a very general one—That her Majesty will be graciously pleased to take into her instant and serious consideration the best means of diffusing the benefits and blessings of a moral and religious education among the working classes of her people.It was his belief that, in addition to those evils which had been recited to the House by his noble Friend—if he had gone into details with respect to the state of the agricultural portions of the country—his noble Friend would have found, as regards many of them at least, a lamentable state of destitution—that parents are wholly unable, in many parts of the country, to send their children to school at all—that they are incapable of paying the small pittance necessary for that important purpose—and that the rising generation in the rural districts is growing up in as great ignorance as in some of those localities to which his noble Friend's speech more particularly referred. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the grouts which had been made by votes of that House to promote education, which were first suggested by Lord Brougham, afterwards adopted by Lord Anthrop, and carried out by his successors. At the me time the sums which had been granted to the committee of Privy Council for the promotion of education, were exceedingly small, and indeed very insignificant, when compared to the large sums which were voted for other important services. The sums of 20,000l., 30,000l., and 40,000l., which had been voted for education, were trifling compared to the large vote by the House for the essential 93 purposes of national defence or national security. In comparison to them the grants for education sunk into absolute nothingness. The right hon. Gentleman's scheme for the education of the pauper children in district schools seemed to be very like the plan that was introduced into the poor-law bill which was brought into Parliament two years ago. There was some difference as to the regulations, but so far as they went to establish schools for the children of paupers in workhouses, and not for the children of those who received out-door relief, they were alike. With respect to the schools for children in factories, the proposed regulations were not so detailed that he, having no other knowledge of them than he had gathered from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, could be prepared to give any opinion as to whether those details were founded on the best practical system. It was proposed, he saw with satisfaction, to place those schools under the inspection of the Government inspectors, as appointed by the Privy Council. With respect to what the right hon. Gentleman truly said, as to this not being a party question, nor calculated to excite strong feelings between churchmen and dissenters, without considering very closely the regulations proposed, he should say that the plan ought not to be and could not be opposed by those who had seriously at heart the business of educating the people. The balance on either side was so inconsiderable that he would not for his own part permit that to weigh against the importance of the whole. If it could be shown that not one child of a dissenter need be excluded from these schools by the strictness of the rules imposed upon them—that there was no occasion for any parents to be alarmed for the religion of their children—then he should say that it would be far better to accept the regulations and not caval at the parts of a scheme which they could not object to as a whole. He would further say, that he was now only acting in conformity with a declaration of his made at a former period, when he proposed another scheme to which the Government wished to give effect. When it was objected to such schemes that they had a tendency to make the children at the schools indifferent as to the authorised version of the Holy Scriptures, as taught by the church, or to make them Unitarians, or Infidels, he pointed out at all 94 times that he considered those fears about the increase of dissent, the errors of Unitarianism, and the spread of Roman Catholic doctrines, as so many grains of sand in comparison with the importance of disseminating a moral and religious education among the people. He would in illustration of this view, just read a few passages from the report of the Inspector of Mines and Collieries in the West Riding of Yorkshire, a sort of second metropolitan district of a county eminent for its zeal in sending the Bible to heathen lands, and missionaries to China, Bombay, Hindoostan, Otaheite, and other benighted countries where the people had never heard of the blessings of the gospel—a country eminent for the plentifulness of the Scriptures, where not only religious toleration prevailed, but where there was nothing to excite reproach in regard to religious persecutions. The noble Lord read, from the second report of the commissioners for inquiry into the employment of children, the following extract:—Of the state of ignorance of the colliery children in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Mr. Symons gives, among many others, the following examples:—'Three girls (all employed in the pits), of the ages of sixteen, fifteen, and eleven, were examined, not one of whom could read easy words without constant spelling, and two of whom knew their letters imperfectly. I found two of these girls perfectly ignorant. They had no knowledge even of the existence of a Saviour, and assured both the curate and myself that they had not heard about Christ at all.'A girl eighteen years old:—I never learnt nought. I never go to church or chapel. I have never heard that a good man came into the world, who was God's Son, to save sinners. I never heard of Christ at all. Nobody has ever told me about him, nor have my father and mother taught me to pray. I know no prayer; I never pray. I have been taught nothing about such things. The Lord sent Adam and Eve on earth to save sinners. I don't know who made the world; I never heard about God. Jesus Christ was a shepherd; he came a hundred years ago to receive sin. I don't know who the Apostles were. Jesus Christ was born in heaven, but I don't know what happened to him; he came on earth to commit sin; yes, to commit sin. Scotland is a country, but I don't know where it is. I never heard of France. I don't know who Jesus Christ was; I never saw him, but I've seen Foster, who prays about him. I have been three years at a Sunday-school. I don't know who the Apostles were. Jesus Christ died for his son to be saved,95 Similar are the answers given by the colliery children examined in the neighbourhood of Halifax:—'I don't know who God is. I have heard of God and Jesus Christ, but I cannot tell who that was. If I died a good girl I should go to heaven, &c. They told me that at the school yesterday. I did not know it before.' 'I don't know if he (the man for whom he hurried, who was his uncle) is related to me; I don't know what you mean by uncle or cousin. I never went to day-school or Sunday-school, I cannot read or write. I never heard of Jesus Christ. I don't know what you mean by God. I never heard of Adam, or know what you mean by Scriptures. I have heard of a bible, but don't know what 'tis all about. I do not know what would become of me hereafter if I am wicked; 1 have never been told. If I tell a falsehood or lie, I tell a lie; it may be good or bad, but I don't know the difference.'Such, the noble Lord continued, was the total ignorance of these people, which the right hon. Gentleman proposed a plan to remedy. The right hon. Gentleman said he had framed his plan with a view to meet the scruples of dissenters, while at the same time the regulations for the children of churchmen were framed with the object of meeting the views of that party. When such were the objects of the right hon. Gentleman, if they found his plan at all answer those ends, while such as had been described was the ignorance of the children, if that plan would admit one child to the benefits of education, or at length put an end to that condition which was a reproach to the country, it would not only be folly, it would be wickedness to oppose it. Therefore his conviction was, that with respect to any plan to be proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, that the objections would be not to the principles he had announced, but that the scheme fell short of the objects and views of his noble Friend the Member for Dorsetshire. As regarded the plans for the education of pauper children and factory children, there was one point, though he did not wish to raise difficulties, necessary to advert to. It was this—that owing to the immigration of Irish labourers, there were a great many Roman Catholic children in the manufacturing districts, and we ought to endeavour by every means to give those children as good an education as possible. It might not be possible to educate them with the others, but they ought, if possible, to receive the same advantages. 96 There were, as his noble Friend truly stated, many difficulties in the question of education, and they could only be dealt with by an executive government receiving general support. There was a great fear on the part of many members of the church that it was intended to sap and undermine the foundations of the church; and, on the other hand, a great fear on the part of Protestant dissenters that it was intended to entrench upon religious liberty, and give the church exclusive dominion, and difficulties of this kind he (Lord J. Russell) thought could only be overcome by an executive government, supported without distinction of party. There was another point, the most important of all, connected with education, respecting which something had been done by the late Government, in giving grants to the National Society, the British and Foreign School Society, and the educational establishment of Glasgow. He meant a provision for securing a supply of properly qualified teachers, and he did not think enough had been done for this purpose, because, if they came to examine into particulars—if they looked into those statistical details by which one is so often deceived—if, on hearing of 500,000, or 900,000, or 1,500,000 children receiving education, they asked particularly from any one who had examined the children, they would often find that those who had learned to repeat certain words by rote, so far from having really instilled into them any religious or moral principle, or any real intellectual knowledge, were, in fact, entirely destitute of such acquirements, and attached no ideas at all to the words they had learned to repeat. He might adduce on this point the opinions, amongst others, of a very excellent and intelligent man with whom the right hon. Gentleman had no doubt become acquainted—namely, the chaplain of the prison for young offenders at Parkhurst. That gentleman had found, that of those young offenders, many had been at National Schools, at British and Foreign Schools, and at Dissenters' schools, but yet were really without knowledge of scripture, and still more completely destitute of the knowledge of those principles which should be learned from the scriptures. Why was this? The real fault was in the school-master. All those who were concerned in education, or had paid much attention to it, said, "If you tell me the character of the 97 schoolmaster, I shall know the character of the school." This was the fact. If there was a good schoolmaster—one who understood what education was—who was familiar with the minds of young people—who would look after every child he had to teach, and, in short, whose heart was in his work—such a man would be really successful, and his pupils would go forth with minds really instructed and improved. But a schoolmaster who only knew his business by rote—who was acquainted with mere forms—who could simply hear children read, and see that certain sums in arithmetic were got through in some way or other—would communicate to children only the appearance of education, and no real good would be obtained from his instructions. Therefore, he said, it was of the utmost importance to have good establishments for the training of schoolmasters. It was not only desirable to have good establishments for that purpose, but, most desirable, also, that means should be taken for securing the future welfare and respectability of young men going out to take charge of schools. The British and Foreign Central School, in the Borough-road, had brought up many young men who had shown considerable talent; but many of those who had shown much talent, found the occupation of a schoolmaster so thriftless and undesirable, and found other pursuits so much more advantageous, that they left teaching, in order to obtain a higher reward for the exercise of their talents in other occupations. It might not be in the power of the State to educate the whole people of the country, but with respect to those who were to be the school masters of the people, it might do much to elevate them in character, to give them some degree of honour and reputation, and to make provision that they should not, in their old age, be left entirely destitute. There was another point of great difficulty, with respect to which he had hardly anything to suggest, but which, as the Government were disposed to pay attention to the subject, they ought to consider, with a view to finding some way of obviating the difficulties. The difficulty was with respect to parents sending their children to school. One cause, perhaps, was the want of efficient schoolmasters. If parents found that their children were little improved at school, and spent much time there, during which they might have 98 been earning wages, they were very likely to take them away. His noble Friend, in examining this subject, must have been very much struck with the unwillingness of parents to allow their children to go to school. Both in country districts and agricultural districts, where parents found themselves ill off, and wages low, they were apt to send their children to work instead of to school, in order to eke out the means of earning a livelihood. It appeared, also, from the blue book on the Table, and many others of the same kind, that children nine or ten years old, or of a much younger age, could earn very considerable wages, and this was, of course, a powerful temptation to withdraw children from school, especially when the education given at school, was of a very inferior kind. We could not attempt in this country any plan of compulsory education—no good would be attained by any of those plans for forcing education, which were adopted in some countries on the continent. But it was certainly an object for consideration, whether some means could not be found to make the reward of sending children to school, as attractive as that of going out to labour. He did not think the difficulties in the way insuperable. He thought you might hold out certain advantages which would induce the working people to send their children to school. Another important subject was the provision of better means of education for the class immediately above the working class. At present this class, both in towns and the country, were apt to look with some jealousy on the possibility of the children of the labouring classes getting better education than their own. This was a subject on which more might be done by unions of country gentlemen in the country, and of master manufacturers in town, establishing or encouraging schools of a superior character, in which some of the most useful arts of life might be taught in conjunction with scriptural instruction. If they could improve the education of the classes immediately above the working classes, they would do much towards the improvement of the working classes themselves. A generation growing up with better education, would take a greater interest in its working, and would not allow that entire absorption of the time of children in harassing and almost degrading occupations, which now took placc, He repeated, 99 that he was glad to hear the plan of the right hon. Gentleman, so far as he proposed to go. He trusted the Government would consider the question still further, and that such larger and more matured measures would be brought forward as would enable Parliament hereafter to say, that they had improved the religious and moral, as well as the physical condition of the people.
§ Viscount Sandon
had taken a deep interest in the discussion. He thought there were indications of feelings, on both sides of the House, which would tend to remove this great question from the field of political and theological discussion, to a position in which it might be satisfactorily settled. He hoped the plan proposed would remove apprehension on all sides, since, without doing violence to the principles of one class, it insured the offer of education in the tenets of the established Church, all who would take it. It was impossible for him to give an opinion on the details of this plan on hearing them for the first time, but so far as he could judge at the moment, it appeared to him that there was nothing in them to which a member of the Church of England had any right to object. He agreed heartily in the observation of the noble Lord who spoke last, that when a fearful mass of ignorance existed in the country among our very mixed population, it did not behove men on either side of the House to stick too closely to their peculiar opinions. They were about to embark in a new and a great undertaking. They ought not to take any step without caution; and his right hon. Friend, therefore, had acted wisely in seizing upon those two great branches of education which would point out the line which should be taken with a view to the adoption of a general system of national education. With respect to the formation of union or district schools, he was inclined to think that such schools would be too large, and that it would be better, in the first instance at least, to confine the schools to those children whom they were bound to educate, and for whom it would ultimately be incumbent on the unions to provide. The plan propounded by his right hon. Friend would seem to leave no ground for jealousy on the part of either churchmen or dissenters; but in the case of Roman Catholic children there was some difficulty to be overcome. The number of Roman Catholic children 100 was not however Very great; they did not, he believed, exceed a quarter of a million, and he had no doubt that for their moral and religious education, the wealthier and charitable portion of their own communion would amply provide. He trusted that on this subject the House would be unanimous, and that they would at length be able to remove that growing canker on the vitals of the country, the evil effects of which could not be too early arrested. The reports on the subject proved beyond all question that the want of proper instruction was severely felt by the poorer classes of the community, and his belief was, that the Government plan was not only a sound but a safe one, with a view to even a more extended system of national education. He agreed with the noble Lord the Member for London, that the radical difficulty was to get good teachers in schools, and to keep them there. A good schoolmaster might earn more in any other employment. A good teacher might get, perhaps 70l. or 80l. a year; but a man qualified to earn such a salary as a teacher, might earn much more as a merchant's clerk, or in some one of the numerous employments which were well rewarded. He would be very glad if the position of the teacher could be so improved as to present advantages in some degree proportionate to those of other employments; but there were very great difficulties in the way of such a consummation. He was glad this important subject had received the attention of Government, and he hoped the plan to be adopted would be productive of unmixed good.
§ Mr. Ewart
was led to hope that the measure proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department would lead to the happiest results. It could not be doubted, from the reports which had been laid before the House, that great ignorance prevailed among the lower classes in this country, and this, too, although there were ample funds, which if devoted to the purposes of education, would go far in removing it. This was established by the reports of the charity commissioners. He agreed that it was most important to elevate the character and condition of the schoolmasters, and of that fact all who had read the letter of M. Guizot to the schoolmasters of France must be convinced. He thought it desirable that all parties should combine 101 and suppress their discords, for the purpose of effecting by one common effort the great reformation of which the plan about to be adopted by the Government was the commencement, and he could only say that if that plan succeeded, no greater blessing could be conferred on the country at large. He viewed a system of general education as being likely to be attended with the very best moral results; for he was of the opinion that whatever social advantages might be for the time produced, the education of the human mind must, under any circumstances, eventually lead to the dissemination of the blessed truths of religion. He believed that there was no hon. Gentleman on either side of the House, but would most cordially concur in the motion of the noble Lord, and in the measure of the right hon. Baronet.
§ Sir C, Burrell
said, that in the agricultural districts of the south of England the clergy were making the most strenuous exertions for the education of the children of the poor, and in their efforts the clergy were greatly assisted by the gentry, their wives, and daughters, as well as by the wives and daughters of the yeomen. This was he knew the case in his own part of the country, and he should be ungrateful if he had not mentioned it to the House. There was but one opinion as to the utility of imparting useful knowledge to the poor, and he sincerely hoped that from the present proposal on the part of the Government the children of the humbler classes would obtain good moral and religious instruction.
§ Mr. Shaw
expressed his deep regret that in the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, and in that of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of Slate for the Home Department, no allusion had been made to the present condition of Ireland. He was sure that as regarded that country, the deepest regret would universally prevail at this apparent neglect of the right hon. Baronet. He did not wish to introduce into this debate any discussion upon the particular question to which he had referred; but he could not help expressing his anxious desire that the principles which had been enunciated by the right hon. Baronet, with respect to England, would be eventually extended to Ireland, and he alluded, in making this remark, more particularly to that part of the right hon. Baronet's speech where he conceded that where 102 there was an established religion, the maintenance of that religion should be the chief object of the education which was conferred. He had thought it right to make these observations, and he hoped that in doing so he had introduced no new topic of angry discussion. The present time, perhaps, was the fitting period to discuss this question; but he hoped that when the proper time came the application of the principle which had been advanced could not be denied.
§ Mr. C. Buller
begged to congratulate the hon. Baronet, the Member for Shoreham (Sir C. Burrell), at the improved condition of the poorer classes of the southern districts. The time had not long passed when, he must say, that the most lamentable ignorance had been displayed in those districts, and he alluded more especially to the transactions which occurred in the county of Kent. He begged to express his entire concurrence in the views of the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of the Home Department; but he felt some difficulty in understanding what was the exact extent of the proposition of the right hon. Baronet, whether it extended to towns only, or to country districts. [Sir James Graham: To towns only.] Though the present application of the plan extended to towns only, he thought that it was obvious that the principle must eventually be extended to the rural districts of the country—that this was but the first step towards the development of a large and general plan of education. He thought that they must now accept with thankfulness the plan which had been offered by the right hon. Baronet, and that they would do well in leaving to the Government the time for carrying out that plan to a more extended field. His present object in addressing the House was particularly to call the attention of the Government to an important practical point to which the hon. Member for Dumfries had alluded, he meant the enormous amount of money at present applicable to the purposes of charity in the country, a large portion of which might be made applicable to promote the education of the people. When he had heard the proposition made that there should be an addition to the amount of the existing rates, for the purpose of carrying out the proposed system, he had felt convinced that to that part of the scheme there would be some opposition offered, 103 an opposition from which the Government ought not to shrink, and which every man would aid the Government in removing. And it was with this view that he alluded to the large amount of money now available for charitable purposes in this country. Three or four years ago, the charity commissioners had presented to that House a report of unusual length upon this subject. As it had taken seventy gentlemen two years to prepare those reports it would probably take an individual 140 years to read them through. From an analysis, however, that had recently been made it appeared that the charity property of this country produced 1,200,000l. a year, and if that property were properly managed he had no doubt it would realise 2,000,000l. Of this 1,200,000l. the amount employed for the purpose of education was 312,000l. No less than 151,000l. were devoted to schools in which the classics were taught, and 141,000l. to schools in which no classical instruction was given, while the remaining 19,000l. was expended on schools of an elementary character. These schools were scattered all over the country, and contributed little to general education, and what he desired was, that the larger fund which might be obtained from this source should be applied in providing proper moral and religious instruction for the mass of the people. It was to be remembered that from this calculation the universities were excluded, and he was satisfied, if the House inquired into the subject, it would be announced that much of the residue might be well applied towards the general purposes of education. In making this observation, he alluded more particularly to the distribution of small sums in the way of charitable donations, putting out of the question gifts of clothes and medical relief, and everything in the nature of specific charities; but there were large sums doled out in the shape of small money gifts to the poor of the country, which were really of very small essential benefit—if, indeed, they did not produce positive harm. If one could describe these gifts by any short term, and if any one adjective would describe them more forcibly than another, he thought that they might well be described as being gifts of a "mischievous" character. They were not merely useless, they were extremely mischievous—more mischievous than could well be described. He would mention a case: in St. Luke's 104 he found that there was a custom of distributing gifts of this sort, in what was called 1s. 6d. tickets, which were given away just before Christmas. The sum of 200l. was given away in this manner according to a report made in 1828. The effect of these gifts was, not to produce any beneficial effects, for the money was almost universally spent in drinking—so much so, that on the days of distribution, the gin-shop keepers in the neighbourhood were compelled to hire extra hands to serve the additional customers who came to them. Therefore it was that he was of opinion that these gifts were mischievous rather than advantageous. Now, what was the total amount of money frittered away in this manner, per annum? It was 170,000l.—a sum which, if properly applied, would do much towards establishing a good and proper plan of education for the people. He thought that it would be improper had he suffered the subject before the House to pass without the observations upon a topic so nearly connected with it, which he had made, and he trusted that the subject of the hints he had thrown out would not be over-looked by Government, in any future consideration which they might think it necessary to bestow upon the matter in question.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
said, that although he had the misfortune to miss the greater part of the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, yet that naturally and almost necessarily he felt such an interest in the subject before the House, that he trusted for the indulgence of the House while he stated his view—no, he could not say his general view, upon the plan proposed by Government; but while he intimated his dissent from much of the little which he had heard. He should he sorry to disturb, by any remarks of his, the general unanimity which had prevailed during the discussion, but there was something of more value and importance than even unanimity—there was truth—and he could not sacrifice his convictions of the one for the sake of the other. His right hon. Friend, at the conclusion of his speech, had stated that all attempts to proselytise would be, by the Government plan, rigidly guarded against. Now, to proselytise, as he understood the word, was to endeavour, as a Christian, to bring his neighbour to those views which he sincerely believed to be founded on truth; and he 105 could not support any system of national and extended education—he could not conceive that any such system was entitled to commendation, which, in the very first instance, would guard against the promotion of truth, and keep individuals from inculcating that which they sincerely believed to be the truth. In reference to observations which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, he would beg to guard himself from any imputation that he favoured the opinions advocated by that hon. Gentleman. He, for one, could be no party to diverting from the purpose of their original testators any portion of funds left by them to be distributed in the shape of education in village schools or doles of village bread. [Mr. Buller only spoke of doles of money.] He understood the hon. Member to have referred to doles of clothes. [Mr. Buller: No, no; neither clothing nor medical relief.] He thought that 172,000l. was the sum according to the synopsis used by the hon. Member, which appeared to be collected throughout England for the distribution of charity in the three forms of clothing, money, and food. Now, he did not concur with the hon. Gentleman in what he had said with respect to the diversion of charity left to be applied in forms other than that of distribution in money doles; but with respect even to money, he thought that before meddling with the subject, persons should attempt to place themselves as nearly as possible in the physical condition—a difficult task for Members of that House—of those who really stood in need of an eighteen penny distribution. They should try to do this before they could be able properly to judge of the true value to such persons of such donations—donations which they received by the will of the testator, just as Members of that House received their rich inheritances. Unless the application of the charity was productive of effects clearly immoral, the House, he conceived, should not legislate upon the subject. Let them first prove the immorality, before they stepped in to divert the funds from the use the testator intended that they should be applied to. Guarding himself from being held bound to the adoption of those principles which the Government had given their sanction to, he would conclude by expressing his regret that the discussion upon so important a subject as education should have been brought forward at 106 a time when nine-tenths of the Members of the House, and himself among the number, had certainly not expected that any such subject would have been introduced.
§ Sir George Grey
expressed his satisfaction that the subject before the House had been taken up by the Government, and that, a plan had been proposed which he could cordially support. He sincerely agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, that this great subject should be withdrawn from the circle of party warfare—that they should all of them co-operate cordially in discharging that which had been so well proved by the documents upon the Table to be an imperative duty, and in attempting to abate an evil which was destroying the morality of the country. He might add the expression of his satisfaction at the spirit in which the subject had been taken up by the Government. He was sure that for his own part he could promise them his cordial assistance in carrying out any measures constructed on liberal and comprehensive, but not latitudinarian principles, for the improvement of the condition of the people of this country. The evidence laid on the Table of the House he had read so far as time had permitted, and though it contained nothing very new, yet it furnished ample corroborative evidence of the truth of previous reports, setting forth the great destitution with respect to the means of providing sound education, unfortunately existing. There was a great numerical deficiency in schools for the education of the poor, and he agreed with his noble Friend in thinking that it had been sufficiently proved that where schools did exist they were frequently of the most inefficient description owing to, the very defective education of schoolmasters—a class of persons of the greatest importance to society, and who should be looked upon in a very different light from that in which they were usually considered. Hitherto little or nothing had been done for them. True, normal schools had been erected, but nothing had been done to raise the character of teachers by increasing the emoluments of de serving masters and thus maintaining them in that condition which should appertain to a profession the highest in its moral end which any profession could aim at, but which had been overlooked and unencouraged, owing to the small temporal 107 inducements which it held out to men of high talent and great attainments. Some portion of the funds at the disposal of Government might be apportioned to this object. He hoped that they would be found ample for raising in some degree the status of the schoolmaster, and so induce men of talent and character to undertake his duties, With respect to some observations made by his hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, he wished to observe that there was a very large sum applicable to educational purposes at present entirely lost by being distributed over very large tracts in very small amounts—in amounts which, from their very small-ness, could not be useful in the district, and entirely incapable of being applied to educational purposes, as it was impossible that they could be diverted from the trust in consequence of the expenses of a chancery suit necessary for the process. He had been in communication with Lord Cottenham, and be was glad to say that a bill was in preparation by which funds intended originally for education, but which had become incapable of being so applied, would be rendered available for useful educational purposes. He believed that the Government would give their willing assistance to the object of such a measure, should their own system not make such provisions as to render its introduction unnecessary. He certainly thought that every effort should be made to render funds now dormant available, in order to supply the existing educational deficiency. With reference to the information laid upon the Table, it was, he thought, of great importance that it should be made as public as possible. No difference existed in the House as to the deficiency in the means of education, and the necessity for supplying that deficiency, and it was therefore of the utmost importance that the evidence before the House should be circulated as widely as possible. He would beg to suggest to Ministers, that steps should be taken for publishing the evidence before the House in a shape which would render it as accessible as possible.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, that he quite agreed with the right hon. Baronet, that it was of the utmost importance that all possible publicity should be given to the melancholy details contained in these reports, and to the opinions given on the authority of the gentlemen who had col- 108 lected the evidence with respect to the existing deficiency in education, as to the best means for applying a remedy. But, after all, he was afraid that the interference of the Legislature would be of little effect, unless among the educated and wealthy classes the conviction could be begotten that they were all to blame, unless they felt, and were all convinced—manufacturers, as well as landowners—those possessed of wealth, and the responsibility for the use of wealth—that they had been all individually neglectful of the education of the poor; and he trusted more to the moral effect of the demonstration of to night encouraging individual exertion than he did to the interference of the Legislature. In expressing his gratitude to his noble Friend for the time and attention which he had devoted to the subject, and the manner in which he had introduced it to the House, he could not but feel that it was greatly owing to his noble Friend, to his character and discretion, that they might attribute the general unanimity which had prevailed in the House during the debate. He apprehended that that unanimity would be productive of the best effect throughout the country in convincing the public that when all party feelings were forgotten in a sense of public duty—there must be in this arena—so continually, and, from the very nature of things, so necessarily devoted to party warfare—a strong and overpowering sense of the necessity of the case which could produce such general unanimity. The same effect would be assisted by the dispersion through the country of the evidence before the House, and he would undertake on the part of the Government, that the recommendation made by the right hon. Gentleman would not be lost sight of. The general publication to be thus given to that evidence, he repeated, would, as he trusted, produce the best effect in encouraging individual exertion, without which the interference of the Legislature must be useless. With respect to the observations made by his hon. Friend near him (Sir R. H. Inglis), he should be sorry that schools were established in which no attempt should be made to inculcate the religion which he believed was founded upon truth; but he would ask his hon. Friend to remember, that if they did rigidly abide by an exclusive system, the consequences must be, not a gain of con- 109 verts to their faith, but that all must be left in the hopeless state in which they existed at present, and the unhappy result must be an increase of infidelity, not a progress in converting the people to truth and goodness. If they said that they would establish no schools, in which they did not attempt to gain converts to the Established Church, they would make a declaration which would utterly alienate from their side many whose support, under other circumstances, they might hope ultimately to gain. In this case, as in many others, it was a comparison of advantages and of disadvantages, as it was in many matters of political importance, and if the arguments of his hon. Friend were to avail, and things were to be allowed to remain as they were—that no effort was to be made to reclaim from profligacy and misery tens of thousands of children at present subjected to the worst of temptations—he must say, that the result would be, that the cause of true religion would be prejudiced, and not advanced. With respect to some observations made upon the policy of diverting charitable bequests, he must say, that in some cases he thought that the interference of legislation might be necessary for the purpose of securing the advantages of endowment for education. He was aware of many instances in which they were lost in consequence of the object of trusts being no longer attainable. The trustees could not legally transfer the funds in their charge to any other purpose than that mentioned by the testator without an application to Chancery, which would cost at least from 60l. to 70l.—an expense which the funds were insufficient to meet. And if the application should be contested, the cost, of course, would be very much increased; and a person with the very best intentions might find himself involved in a Chancery suit to which he could see no end. He, therefore, thought that much good would be effected by establishing some cheap and summary remedy for the purpose of enabling trustees to appropriate the funds which could no longer be applied according to the testator's direction, to useful objects. There were instances in which the funds were paid to a schoolmaster who taught no school, on account of some legal defect in the trust; and he, therefore, repeated, that there should be some immediate, cheap, and summary remedy for the purpose, in such cases, of making the trust valid, 110 and applicable to the purposes for which it was created. There were also cases in which it could be shown, that by insisting upon the maintenance of grammar schools in districts unsuitable for them, they were preventing any real benefit arising from the trust. In all cases wherein they could make available the intentions of the founder by maintaining such as grammar schools, his intentions should be as closely as possible adhered to, unless it could be shown that the founder himself would, probably, under the circumstances, have advised a departure from his trust. With respect to diverting charitable bequests to educational purposes, if they asked him whether he thought that 150,000l. annually spent in charity would produce such real and lasting benefit as 150,000l. annually spent in education, he would at once say, that the disposal of the money in the latter way would be infinitely the most consistent with sound policy, and the most likely to produce great advantages, but he should prejudice the cause of education if he were to accompany the foundation of a new system with a diversion of former charitable bequests. In cases, such as that which had been quoted, where 200l. was applied, not to the purposes of the poor, but in the encouragement of profligacy—he did not say there were no grounds for making a change. Such cases formed gross abuses of the trusts under which they existed; but there were many trusts intended for the benefit of the poor, whether they were given by way of clothing, food, or even money, which, provided they were wisely and well administered, he should caution the House against interfering with. Nothing could tend so much to prejudice a system of education, not only in the eyes of the poor, but generally in the public mind, as the allowing of any such diversion of funds benevolently left for the purposes of charity. Let them control the administration of those funds if they pleased, but although they might have very grave doubts as to the effect of distributions of money—although they might doubt whether a bequest was one attended with real advantage to its objects, yet he should, on the general ground of adhering as strictly as possible to the will of the testator, question the policy of meddling with it. He could suppose a case in which 20l. was left to forty poor widows, to be distributed in pittances of 10s. each, and he was sure that the hon. Gentleman op- 111 posite would not attempt to divert the money from that application. He might doubt whether such a bequest were founded upon wise policy, yet, if they found it existing he was sure hon. Members would concur with him in thinking that nothing could be more unwise than taking away the 20l. for the purpose of adding to a fund for the promotion of education. He trusted that the House would see the danger of coupling the promotion of education with propositions of that kind; although it would be difficult to conceive that there could be many cases in which small money bequests could confer much real benefit, even in strict fulfilment of the intentions of the testator. It was stated by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that the scheme brought forward was not sufficiently, extensive, but he would observe that it was not intended at first to have a universal system, but the system would apply to all workhouses, and would be so far of general application. It would also be uniformly acted upon in cotton, silk, linen, and, he believed, in flax manufactories. Depend upon it that the moment the conscientious scruples and religious principles of the Dissenters were satisfied as to the mode of conducting the schools in the manufacturing districts, a ground would be laid for facilitating the application of the system in other quarters. With respect to children working in mines, there could not be a doubt of the necessity of education to those so circumstanced; but a compulsory system was not so easily adopted in that case as with regard to the children in the manufacturing districts. He thought it was wiser not to attempt to apply this system in the first instance to the agricultural population. His own impression was, that there were many of those districts in which the education of the poor was greatly neglected. At the same time, while he admitted that the greatest attention should be applied in devising a remedy for that evil, he thought they might rely very much on the exertions of resident clergymen and resident proprietors, to facilitate the establishment of a sound system of general education. He apprehended, however, that where the public could interfere with greatest effect, was in increasing the supply of schools. He was afraid it would be found exceedingly difficult to provide salaries to the schoolmasters at the public expense, though he was not at all inclined 112 to underrate the importance of elevating their position by the improvement of their remuneration. He thought there was a great danger with low salaries, of school masters embracing other professions, if not sufficiently remunerated in their own. At the same time, he was afraid, that any legislative attempt to improve their circumstances would be exceedingly difficult. But even if the State could interfere in all cases, its assistance would be of little use, without the hearty co-operation of those which this plan was meant to stimulate and promote, who, by their circumstances and their position, had the best right to exert themselves for the amelioration of the condition of the working classes.
§ Mr. Hawes
thought much gratitude was due to the noble Lord (Lord Ashley), for the manner in which he had brought the subject before the House, He must say, however, that he objected to the great principle of the proposal of the Government—the constitution of the trust. Unless parties submitted to this trust, and came under the provisions which regulated it, they could derive none of the benefits resulting from the trust. The right hon. Gentleman expected that the Protestant Dissenters would cordially avail themselves of that provision. He was afraid they would not. He looked upon it as of an exclusive tendency, and, at all events, requiring much more sifting before it was sanctioned by Parliament. The trust consisted of the clergyman and churchwardens ex officio, and four other persons elected. It struck him, that the clergyman would thus have the whole superintendence and regulation of the schools. The right hon. Gentleman must know how jealously such a power would be watched. For his own part, he was anxious to promote peace and charity amongst all religionists; but, he must urge on the Government the necessity of some modification of the present plan. Would it not be possible to make the dissenting clergyman also a member of the trust I He was quite ready to admit that the Government plan was a step in the right direction. It was only the other day that he read of the circulation of certain periodicals in a manufacturing town which he should not name, and when he considered the injurious if not immoral tendency of such publications, his mind was filled with feelings of deep 113 shame at the little exertion made to counteract their effects. What was the antidote? No penal laws could possibly grapple with the evil; it must be met by the spread of a moral and religious education. He hoped the noble Lord would consider that if his plan were adopted, it would call for a good deal of concession, and that it ought not to be confined in its working solely to the management of the Established Church, but that the dissenting body ought to be consulted and embraced, if possible, in the constitution of the trust.
hoped that general principles would not be carried too far in their application to particular cases. Where individuals connected with the Church were willing to set up schools, he thought the great object would be to encourage them, and if the schools were well conducted, they might rest assured they would be well attended. He owned that schools set up by Baptists and Methodists were often more likely to be good schools than combined schools. He was astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham) say that the simultaneous system of instruction was the best. He could not credit any man who would get up and say that any one system was better than another; for no one had been as yet sufficiently tested. So far as the influence of the Government could be exerted through the Privy Council committee of education, he hoped they would see that the country was not sickened by pushing forward any particular system. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) put this proposal on its proper footing, as a means of stimulating individual efforts, and in this way the Government would effect more than any Government which had preceded it. He knew from a particular friend, who lived in the neighbourhood of the right hon. Baronet, that the right hon. Baronet did not preach without practising, for he was a most zealous promoter of the education of the poor in his own neighbourhood. He warned the Government against converting the grammar schools into something else. There was the greatest zeal manifested by those connected with those schools. He knew one hundred or more masters who received instruction in Latin from a clergyman, who came every week from a distance to London for that laudable purpose. He trusted, that, by not encroaching on the principles 114 of each other, the great cause of education might be promoted by all, and taking as the foundation of the system the union of Church and State, by God's blessing, good might be worked by persons of all persuasions.
Mr. Stafford O'Brien
complimented Lord Ashley on the great ability and truly benevolent spirit which his speech manifested. He feared, however, that the proposal of the Government would be looked on with great distrust by the dissenters, who were not apparently entitled to nominate a schoolmaster though paying their share of the rates. With respect to the Roman Catholics, he thought a most invidious distinction was set up; and this was a proceeding which could not be defended, when they were said to number in England two millions. That might be an exaggeration—at any rate, they far exceeded the quarter of a million at which they had been reckoned that night. He thought that a periodical statement ought to be made in that House of the state of education. Meantime, he viewed with much pleasure the movement that had been made to-night towards making up the long arrear that had been incurred with the country.
§ Lord Ashley
said, it had been his good fortune to bring forward two motions during the present Session, which had met with such attention from the House—however undeserved so far as he himself was concerned—that he felt it unnecessary to say a word on the present occasion in reply. He could only express his thanks to the House for the attention they had awarded to him. He assured his right hon. Friend that he would make every possible concession which could increase the possibility of carrying out the object he had in view; and it appeared to him that the unanimity which had prevailed that night was the beginning of a new order of things, which would conduce to the happiness, honour, and prosperity of their common country.
§ Motion agreed to.