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GLADSTONE ON THE EDUCATION OF NEGLECTED CHILDREN. 215 class between the ages of 10 and 14 who did | continually going on, not only contemporanenot attend any school whatever, addressed a ously with, but directly referable to and springletter to Lord John Russell, then president of ing from the wealth of the population of the the council, calling his attention to their wild west, and all the numerous demands which condition and the unmixed poverty of the that wealth created, fostered, and multiplied. district. The result was that the Committee They had sung, during the ceremony of that of Council on Education voted a grant of two- day, a psalm, in which it was said that “chilthirds of the expenses of erecting a new school dren and the fruit of the womb are an herifor the special benefit of the poorest children tage and gift that cometh of the Lord.” They in the district. In reliance upon this support knew those words were founded deep in the a freehold site in Golden Lane was procured,
truths of the Divine Word. But there was and plans were prepared for a building con- no man who walked through the streets of taining three school-rooms, and capable of London, and especially the more wretched accommodating 1000 children. To obtain the parts of it, who did not feel that those words remaining third part of the expense, viz. were a trial of his faith.
When they con£2817, an appeal was made to the various sidered what human nature was, and at what public bodies and the friends of education in cost it had been redeemed—when they reflected general. The stone of the building was laid what destinies were open to it-how many
and by Mr. Gladstone in May, 1856, and his ad- great were its vicissitudes—and how severe dress on the occasion was significant, as show- were its temptations and its trials, it was tering how the subject should be regarded. Ad- rible to think of the amount of labour that reverting to an observation made in the course mained undischarged.
“ children of the proceedings by the Rev. Mr. Rogers, and the fruit of the womb are an heritage and in reference to the relations between the gift that cometh of the Lord;” and, difficult west and east of London, he said he heartily though it might be, yet it was not impossible wished that the great mine which that to carry home to the hearts and minds of men, topic opened up was now, or ever had been, and into the houses of every class of the comthoroughly worked, and that those who in- munity, the blessed and comforting conscioushabited the western portion of the metro- ness of that truth, so that, instead of a trial of polis were alive to the immense responsibility faith, it should, on the contrary, become the which attached to them in reference to vast daily food and support of fathers and mothers, masses of the population of this city, who who, though it might be their lot to earn their were as completely unknown to the inhabi- bread-and perhaps scanty bread — by the tants of the magnificent squares and streets of labour of their hands and the sweat of their London as if they were not fellow-countrymen, brows, might see their offspring growing up or even fellow-Christians, and who might be in the faith, fear, and love of God. He bebetter known if they inhabited the remotest lieved those who, with him, adhered to the quarters of the globe. He did not think it principle that it was wise to draw payment was recollected, but he took it to be undeni- from the labouring classes, so called, for the ably true, that he who built a square or a education of their children, were yet prepared street of palaces at the west end of London, to go along with the founders of this school not only virtually brought a class into exist- when they were dealing with a class who were ence, and adjacent streets filled with the dwell- not called the labouring class,—by whom he ings of tradesmen, and other streets, more meant, independent of their vocation, persons remote and more humble, filled with the dwell- who had fixed abodes,—but with a floating sea ings of labourers, who waited upon those of human life, in which were tossed up and tradesmen, but likewise that the quarter of down a huge mass of less fortunate beings, not Belgravia filled the quarter of Bethnal Green; inaptly termed “the Arabs of modern civilizaand that in the east of don the constant tion”-great masses of energy and animal and growth and progress of the population were mental life, but untamed and unreclaimed ; and he did not for a moment question the wis- it had not been the privilege and the hope of dom of the principle with which they threw the poor to rise to eminence by meritorious open
the doors of their school to that class of labours in her service. He hoped that it the population, and bade them come and re- would never be otherwise, and that the path ceive freely the knowledge which they offered of the priesthood, adorned at that moment by them. Mr. Rogers had in a jocular way ob- so many conspicuous examples of piety and served that among other inducements to his learning, would ever be the path in which undertaking this work, was the belief that he man might gratify his natural tendency to was to some extent laying the foundation of expand his energies and bestow benefits on Christian eloquence in London, seeing that, his fellow-creatures. dealing, as he would do, chiefly with the chil- It may be mentioned here that the Rev. dren of costermongers, he might go far to put William Rogers, who afterwards became, and an end to that coarse clamour which in this while these words are being written is still, the metropolis distracted the minds of those who rector of Bishopsgate, made no mere fanciful had sermons to prepare, and prevented them allusion when he spoke of the connection of producing efforts worthy of their theme. He such schools with the higher educational in(Mr. Gladstone) ventured to go one step be- stitutions of the country. He has lived not yond that, and say that he knew not why only to see scholarships for the higher instituthose schools should not lay the foundation of tions become a recognized distinction for the a great deal of other eloquence. He knew not poorest class of children who receive primary why those ragged boys whom they caught in instruction in board schools, but has assisted, the street and sought to educate, should not by his personal influence and indefatigable themselves, under the hands of skilful work- exertions, in the cause of popular education, men, become contributors to that Christian both to extend the advantages of Dulwich eloquence the extension of which they all College, and to establish several schools of desired. Mr. Rogers, in a pamphlet he had a high character for the value of their teachwritten, had referred to a day when it might ing, perhaps the most important being that of fairly be proposed to connect this school with the Middle Class Schools Corporation, occupythe hierarchy of schools above it, and had well ing a large building in Cowper Street, City remarked that “a child of this district would Road (near his old district), where from 1000 have an opportunity of acquiring a good sound to 1200 boys receive a sound and complete practical education, without being a burden education under the direction of competent to his parents; and, if found worthy to be masters. draughted off to Dulwich College, in accord- In all the efforts which were made for the ance with the will and intentions of Alleyn, improvement of the condition of the people the universities would be open to him; and Prince Albert took an earnest and active part. who knows whether, at some future time, a Not only was he occupied in the endeavour to denizen of this poor, despised, and degraded establish schools and museums of science and district of St. Thomas Charterhouse might art, that the mechanic and the labourer might not mount the woolsack or fill the see of Can- acquirea knowledge both of things outside their terbury?" Such things had happened before daily occupation and of the principles and connow, and might occur again. In this free struction of the machinery amidst which so country the paths of preferment were open to much of their time was passed; but he took a all. It might be said that every man had “a genuine interest in the humble efforts of his clear stage and no favour.” Many of those Windsor labourers to master the art of writing, who had filled the see of Canterbury had been and himself examined their copy-books. He enabled to point to the lowliness of their origin. early saw that the rapid overgrowth of our The church, even in the worst possible times, great cities, where the want of home comforts had been ever ready to befriend the virtuous and of wholesome recreation for the labouring and the learned. There was no period when classes was rapidly developing vice, disease, PRINCE ALBERT ON RECREATION AND EDUCATION.
and discontent to an alarming extent, was a too often of a debasing kind is obviously less problem which, if not effectively dealt withi, the fault of the people themselves than of the must in the end become fatal to the habits fact that they are driven to seek in the publicand physical development of the people, and house and the tavern the light, the warmth, even dangerous to the state. The magnitude the companionship, and the recreation which of the difficulties which surrounded this sub- are not readily to be found elsewhere. How ject was not with him, as it is with many, å to enable the labourer to dispose of his leisure reason for doing nothing. He was among the pleasantly and rationally is a problem of which first to show what could be effected in the even now people generally are little more way of improving the dwellings of the work- than beginning to seek the solution. Mechanics' ing-classes, not only by the cottages built upon institutes, reading-roonis, and public libraries the royal estates at Osborne and Balmoral, go but a small way to meet the exigencies of but by model lodging-houses erected in the the
and these indeed are only possible in metropolis itself. It was his conviction that, the great centres of population. Something under a proper system, these would pay, and of a much simpler kind the prince felt to be indeed that they must be made to pay, other required; some place where the cheerfulness wise no permanent improvement could be of the public-house could be provided without established anywhere, and still less could any its drawbacks. The idea has recently been wide measure of progressive amelioration be developed into those working-men's clubs and hoped for. On mere philanthropy the prince coffee palaces which have been established in was not disposed to lean; but he believed that many quarters with excellent effect. But so a mighty change would be initiated if men of far back as 1857 the idea had been started, kind hearts and sound business heads could and advocated by several philanthropicallybe persuaded to invest their capital in pro- minded men,
and it was then designed to pro. viding on reasonable terms homes for the sons vide places in which the labouring classes of labour, in which the decencies, at least, and might spend their leisure, men and women the main comforts of domestic life might be meeting together for sober social enjoyment. within their reach. His views on this sub- In discussing the possible establishment of ject, regarded at first as somewhat Utopian, such a place the prince said it should be a rehave since become accepted truisms. Many of formed public-house. He quite agreed that the great employers of labour throughout the there should be smoking, but did not agree country have proved to their own satisfaction that it need be in a separate room. He said that the prince's favourite axiom, that the capital it was most important that the wife and family sunk in good houses for those who work for should come there, as well as the labourer himthem would prove an excellent investment in self. The women of England were excellent itself, while at the same time it secured them wives and mothers. Now they had to do better workmen and better work. And the their best to keep their husbands from the success which has attended the building of public-houses; with such an institution they some of the “model dwellings” and houses might encourage them to go there and go
with for the working-classes in London and other them. As to the mingling of class with class, large cities has at all events kept the subject he doubted whether it could be carried out. alive, and still calls attention to the necessity The lower classes would always feel a restraint for finding remedies for the want of sanitary in the presence of the higher classes. arrangements in overcrowded neighbourhoods, The part taken by Prince Albert in the and the necessity for providing for tenants opening ceremony of the Manchester Exhievicted in order to carry on what are called bition in 1857 was another opportunity for metropolitan improvements.
expressing his deep interest in everything Another subject of the greatest interest calculated to raise and elevate the nation, to the prince was the everyday amusements and the same desire was manifested by the of the people. That in this country these are part he took in an educational conference held
at Willis Rooms, over the deliberations of multiplied fourteen times. In 1801 there were which he presided, and by doing so obtained in England and Wales of public schools, 2876; for the important subject which the confer- of private schools, 487; total, 3363. In 1851, ence assembled to discuss, a degree of attention the
year of the census, there were in England that it would not otherwise have secured. and Wales of public schools, 15,518; of private
“We find,” said the prince, on the one schools, 30,524; total, 46,042. Giving instruchand the wish to see secular and religious tion in all to 2,144,378 scholars, of whom instruction separated, and the former recog- | 1,422,982 belong to public schools. The rate nized as an intimate and inherent right to of progress is farther illustrated by statistics, which each member of society has a claim, which show that in 1818 the proportion of and which ought not to be denied to him if day-scholars to the population was one in he refuses to take along with it the inculcation seventeen, in 1833 one in eleven, and in of a particular dogma, to which he objects as 1851 one in eight. These are great results, unsound; while we see on the other hand the although I hope that they may be received as doctrine asserted that no education can be instalments of what has yet to be done. But sound which does not rest on religious instruc- what must be your feelings when you reflect tion, and that religious truth is too sacred to on the fact, the inquiry into which has brought be modified and tampered with, even in its us together, that this great boon thus obtained minutest deductions, for the sake of procuring for the mass of the people, and which is freely a general agreement.”
offered to them, should have been only parA burst of loud assenting cheers here tially accepted, and upon the whole so insuffishowed that the latter part of this statement ciently applied as to render it almost valueless? expressed the views and opinions of the great We are told that the total population in majority of those present.
England and Wales of children between the “ “Gentlemen,” proceeded the prince, “if ages of three and fifteen being estimated at these differences were to have been discussed 4,908,696, only 2,046,818 attend school at all, here to-day I should not have been able to while 2,861,848 receive no instruction whatrespond to your invitation to take the chair, At the same time, an analysis of the as I should have thought it inconsistent with scholars with reference to the length of time the position which I occupy, and with the allowed for their school tuition shows that duty I owe to the queen and the country at 45 per cent of them have been at school less large. I see those here before me who have than one year, 22 per cent during one year, taken a leading part in these important dis- 15 per cent during two years, 9 per cent cussions; and I am happy to meet them on a during three years, 5 per cent during four neutral ground, happy to find that there is a years, and 4 per cent during five years. neutral ground on which their varied talents Therefore out of the 2,046,848 scholars aland abilities can be brought to bear in com- luded to, about 1,500,000 remain only two munion upon the common object, and proud and years at school. I leave it to you to judge grateful to them that they should have allowed what the results of such an education can be. me to preside over them, for the purpose of I find farther, that of these 2,000,000 children working together in the common vineyard. who attend school, only about 600,000 are of I feel that the greatest benefit must arise to the
age of nine. Gentlemen, these are startling the cause we have all so much at heart by the facts, which render it evident that no extension mere free exchange of your thoughts and of the means of education will be of any avail various experience. You may well be proud, unless this evil, which lies at the root of the gentlemen, of the results achieved by your whole question, be removed, and that it is high rival efforts, and may point to the fact that time that the country should become thoroughly since the beginning of the century, while the awake to its existence, and prepared to meet it population has doubled itself, the number of energetically. To impress this upon the public schools, both public and private, has been mind is the object of our conference. Public
REMISSION OF TAXATION.
opinion is the powerful lever which in these absent from school, but known to be employed, days moves a people for good and for evil; no less than 2,200,000 are not at school whose and to public opinion we must therefore ap- absence cannot be traced to any ascertained peal if we would achieve any lasting or bene- employment or other legitimate cause. You ficial result. You, gentlemen, will greatly will have to work, then, on the minds and add to the services which you have already hearts of the parents; to place before them rendered to this noble cause if you will pre- the irreparable mischief which they inflict on pare public opinion by your inquiry into this those who are intrusted to their care by keepstate of things, and by your discussing in your ing them from the light of knowledge; to sections the causes of it as well as the remedies bring home to their convictions that it is their that
may lie within your reach. This will be duty to exert themselves for their children's no easy matter; but even if your labours education; bearing in mind, at the same time should not result in the adoption of any im- that it is not only their most sacred duty, but mediate practical steps, you will have done also their highest privilege. Unless they work great good in preparing for them. It will with you, your work, our work, will be vain ; probably happen that in this instance, as in but you will not fail, I feel sure, in obtaining most others, the cause that produces the evil their co-operation if you remind them of their will be more easily detected than its remedy; duty to their God and Creator." and yet a just appreciation of the former must The business of the meeting having been ever be the first and essential condition of the thus inaugurated was distributed amongst five discovery of the latter. You will probably sections, by which different departments of the trace the cause of our social condition to a general subject of education were discussed. state of ignorance and lethargic indifference on the subject among the parents generally; Cobden's warnings were not altogether realbut the root of the evil will, I suspect, also be ized, for peace was proclaimed before the disfound to extend into that field upon which tress which had begun to spread through the the political economist exercises his activity- | country had become unendurable; but at the I mean the labour market, demand and sup- same time there was much want, and trade ply. To dissipate that ignorance and rouse in general was in a very depressed condifrom that lethargy may be difficult; but with tion. The budget had, it is true, made imthe united and earnest efforts of all who are mediate provision for the reduction of the the friends of the working-classes it ought, income tax from 16d. to 7d., the amount at after all, to be only a question of time. What which it had first been placed by Sir Robert measures can be brought to bear on the other Peel, and at which it was now intended that root of the evil is a more delicate question, it should remain for only three years, in an and will require the nicest care in handling; for effort to carry out Mr. Gladstone's policy, there you cut into the very quick of the work- when he was chancellor of the exchequer and ing-man's condition. His children are not only had decreed its abolition by the end of 1860. his offspring, to be reared for a future inde- The total revenue was estimated at £66,365,000, pendent position, but they constitute a part leaving a surplus overexpenditure of £891,000; of his productive power, and work with him the total amount of remission of taxation was for the staff of life. The daughters especially £11,971,000, and it was calculated that the are the handmaids of the house, the assistants entire debt of £40,000,000, arising out of the of the mother, the nurses of the younger
chil- Crimean war, would be extinguished in twenty dren, the aged, the sick. To deprive the years. This was the budget which had been labouring family of their help would be al- brought forward by Sir G. C. Lewis before most to paralyse its domestic existence. On the dissolution on the Chinese question, and the other hand, carefully collected statistics on the whole it was a proof of the increasing reveal to us the fact, that while 600,000 chil- prosperity of the country in spite of periods dren between the ages of three and fifteen are of depression and the distress and gnawing