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home, their tender age requires a nurse; but nothing can be devised by their parents as a substitute for one, but sending them to an initiatory school, where they are taken care of at a small expence. This is, perhaps, the only opportunity that presents for their instruction during life. Their parents are of the lowest class, by conduct as well as poverty ; and would sooner send them to a packthread ground, or other nursery for vice, where their minds are in danger of ruin, for the sake of trifling present gain, than to school, where their morals might be formed aright, and they trained to future usefulness, to themselves and to the community. Being thus des titute of principle, at another period of their children's age, they would, most likely, spurn the offers of benevolence; but when so young, necessity dictates that they be sent to school. To those, therefore, who have no other opportunity of education, their proper management is of the greatest importance. At the early age at which such children are sent, their manners are particularly innocent and engaging, of course their parents'affection flows in fulltide streams, and a hope for the future good of their offspring, held out at such a seasonable time, might induce them to fix them at school, and thus preserve their morals and innocence. I conceive, the improvement children make in these schools would be greatly increased by their being placed under good regulations, and supplied with proper mistresses; to whom encouragement might be extended,
according to merit; also to the scholars, by the same rule. The system of tuition and rewards, which are described in the former part of this work, will be found well adapted to initiatory schools.
Nothing conduces so much to good order, or so effe&tually prevents the natural vivacity of children from becoming troublesome in school, as the active employment of every boy in it. This liveliness, combined with the usual waste of time, makes these schools disgusting scenes of noise and riot. When the attention of children is occupied, quietness unavoidably follows, and that without the aid of rigour to enforce it.
But I cannot close this account without calling the public attention to a distinct, and almost friendless
part of the community. I mean the poor children who are in parish workhouses, who are often friendless, and immured in those receptacles of poverty, depression and vice, without education and without hope; children, to whom curses and ill treatment are too often substitutes for
parental smiles or maternal care,
Is it not a shame that the enormous sum of five millions sterling should be the annual amount of our poors' rates, and yet the poor children be deprived (with some few exceptions) of even an initiatory share of education, and of almost any attention to their morals whatever?
When a poor man, having a numerous family, is cut off by accident or disease, his orphan children are proper objects of public care; and the consolation a dying parent would derive, from the certainty that the public would see that care properly taken, is indescribable; but now the name of a workhouse is too often an object of dread and disgust. The method of farming the labour of the poor to the highest bidder, who generally proves the hardest taskmaster; and sending the children to cotton mills, at distances very remote from all their connexions and friends, merely on the principle of saving expence to the parish, is pregnant with mischief to the morals of youth. Above all, one solemn duty is owing from the public to poor children under their care, whether educated in orphan schools, houses of industry, or workhouses—that every
child should be able to read his Bible.
A part of this neglect in the education of the poor in workhouses, probably arises from many of the overseers and others being men deeply engaged in business, and in the pursuit of riches. Wealth certainly renders its possessor more happy, whenever it makes him more useful; but when wealth alone occupies all the attention and energy of the mind, there is little room left for benevolent pursuits:--the use
of wealth is perverted; and, instead of being a benefit to the society; instead of making the possessor more useful; it shuts up his heart, and stops his ears to the cry of the poor; and the man who, but for it, would have been remarkable for tenderness of feeling, is callous to every emotion of pity: .
As a citizen of the world, and a friend of mankind, actuated by no sectarian motives in my conduct, but animated by the love of my country, I see, with regret, her noble-hearted sons madly pursuing wealth, and grasping at gain, almost to perdition's door. Are not virtue, integrity, and offices of brotherly kindness, the source of all the comforts we derive from social intercourse? Are not religion, knowledge, and good morals, the
bands of society ?-Why then so eager in the pursuit of riches ? and why not rather pay that attention to the infant poor, which their wants require? I wish the enormous wealth of our country, thus pursued, may neither prove a scourge to mankind, nor a cankerworm to destroy her own bowels.
Was the one thousandth part of that care, which is daily bestowed in attaining the fine gold, which may “become dim," or the garment that is liable to be moth-eaten, only given to improve the welfare of the rising generation, by giving them a guarded education, that would early form their minds to virtųe, how should we fpurish? how would the true ancient spirit of hospitality and mutual good revive amongst us, and our nation become as a nation of virtuous brethren !
« Full many a gem, of purest ray serene,
The hidden powers of genius and virtue, as well as the lives, that are lost to the country, by neglecting to give parish children a proper education, are an incalculable disadvantage to the nation.
It is inconceivable what a nation this might become, if a proper system of education was universally adopted; combining moral and religious instruction with habits of subordination; laying the foundation in a number of well regulated seminaries, not only in day schools, but also initiatory schools for children, in workhouses, and in similar establishments. The more pliable the tree, the easier it will bend; and children cannot be too soon trained in the way they should go. This might be done with double effect in workhouses, as in them the children are entirely at the disposal of their superiors; and there is not much danger of their showing refractory dispositions, as in the case of children who are spoiled by too much indulgence.