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deal more than even those of our own country who are able to read. It is a general custom in Germany and Switzerland, for four or five families of laborers to club together, and to subscribe among themselves for one or two of the newspapers, which come out once or twice a week. These papers are passed from family to family, or are interchanged.” “In the towns,” as he further says, “where the poorer classes are even still more intelligent than in the country, it is not difficult for the poor to obtain books as well as papers. In the towns, therefore, of Germany and Switzerland, the poor read a great deal. Indeed, it will be hardly credible to English ears, when I inform them how the poor of these towns amuse and instruct themselves in their leisure hours, and during the long winter evenings. I was assured by Dr. Bruggeman, the Roman Catholic Counsellor in the Educational Office in Berlin, and by several teachers and other persons, that not only were the interesting works of German literature perused by the poorest people of the towns, but that translations of the works of Sir Walter Scott, and of many other foreign novelists and writers, were generally read by the poor. “I remember one day, when walking near Berlin in the company of Herr Hintz, a professor in Dr. Diesterweg's Normal College, and of another teacher, we saw a poor woman cutting up, in the road, logs of wood for winter use. My companions pointed her out to me, and said: ‘Perhaps you will scarcely believe it, but in the neighborhood of Berlin, poor women, like that one, read translations of Sir Walter Scott's novels, and of many of the interesting works of your language, besides those of the principal writers of Germany.’ This account was afterwards confirmed by the testimony of several other persons. “Often and often have I seen the poor cab-drivers of Berlin, while waiting for a fare, amusing themselves by reading German books, which they had brought with them in the morning, expressly for the purpose of supplying amusement and occupation for their leisure hours. “In many parts of these countries, the peasants and the workmen of the towns, attend regular weekly lectures or weekly classes, where they practise singing or chanting, or learn mechanical drawing, history, or science.
“As will be seen hereafter, women as well as men, girls as well as boys, enjoy in these countries the same advantages, and go through the same school education. The women of the poorer classes of these countries, in point of intelligence and knowledge, are almost equal to the men.”
Half a century since, the total number of pupils in the schools of Spain was but 30,000; whereas, seven years since, it had increased to no less than 700,000—being 1 in 17 of the total population. — Russia advances slowly, but steadily, in the same direction, but the step necessarily preliminary to any general diffusion of education, is only now being made.
§ 3. Looking next to the countries that follow in the lead of England, we find that from India, schools have almost disappeared; * while Portugal and Turkey, exhibit nothing that deserves the name of general education. In Jamaica, and the other British islands, the children generally perished. f Ireland, before the Union, as has been already shown, furnished so large a market for books, as to warrant the republication of the principal works produced in England. With the Union, that market wholly disappeared. Recently, an extensive system of instruction has been organized, and its results are highly spoken of; but of what avail is the education of the schools, where there exists no demand for the faculties thereby developed ? Ireland having no manufactures, and consequently no agriculture that deserves the name, society must continue to present to view but two great classes—the very rich and the very poor. —Such being the case, there can be no power of combination; the faculties of the people must remain undeveloped; the societary circulation must remain more sluggish than that of any other country claiming to be civilized; and the great disease of over-population must continue to exist.
Arriving at the centre of this system, and the home of the overpopulation doctrine, it becomes essential to observe, that, while France has been the seat of civil and religious wars, followed by repeated invasions of her soil by foreign armies—while Belgium has been the almost constant theatre of war for assembled Europe —and while Germany has been, for centuries, ravaged by contending armies—England has scarcely, since the Conquest, wit.
* See ante, p. 281. f See ante, vol. i., p. 801.
nessed the presence of a hostile foot, and never, since the Scottish outbreak of 1745, heard the explosion of a hostile gun. Such having been the case, there exist the strongest reasons for expecting to find her far in advance of Continental Europe in the manifestation of a feeling of responsibility for the proper training of her youth, and in the power to carry into effect all the measures by it suggested.— So far, however, is it the reverse of this, that here it is we find a growing consolidation of the land, and growing centralization, accompanied by a total failure on the part of the government to establish any system of education, similar to those of Northern and Central Europe. As a consequence of this it is, says Mr. Kay, that, “ of the children of the poor, who are yearly born in England, vast numbers never receive any education at all, while many others never enter any thing better than a dame or a Sunday-school. In the towns they are left in crowds until about eight or nine years of age, to amuse themselves in the dirt of the streets, while their parents pursue their daily toil. In these public thoroughfares, during the part of their lives which is most susceptible of impressions and most retentive of them, they acquire dirty, immoral, and disorderly habits; they become accustomed to wear filthy and ragged clothes; they learn to pilfer and to steal; they associate with boys who have been in prison, and who have there been hardened in crime by evil associates; they learn how to curse one another, how to fight, how to gamble, and how to fill up idle hours by vicious pastimes; they acquire no knowledge except the knowledge of vice; they never come in contact with their betters; and they are not taught either the truths of religion, or the way by which to improve their condition in life. Their amusements are as low as their habits. The excitements of low debauchery too horrible to be named, of spirituous liquors, which they begin to drink as early as they can collect pence wherewith to buy them, of the commission and concealments of thefts, and of rude and disgusting sports, are the pleasures of their life. The idea of going to musical meetings, such as those of the German poor, would be scoffed at, even if there were any such meetings for them to attend. Innocent dancing is unknown to them. Country sports they cannot have. Read they cannot. So they hurry for amusement and excitement to the gratification of sensual desires and appetites. In this manner, filthy, lewd, sensual, boisterous, and skilful in the commission of crime, a great part of the populations of our towns grow up to manhood. Of the truth or falsehood of this description any one can convince himself, who will examine our criminal records, or who will visit the back streets of any English town, when the schools are full, and count the children upon the doorsteps and pavements, and note their condition, manners, and appearance, and their degraded and disgusting practices. “Many town parishes,” he continues, “are without any schools at all ; the instruction given in most of the schools, which are established, is miserable in its character; infant schools are terribly needed in almost every town in England. Efficient teachers are needed every where. Every child in Germany and Switzerland remains in school, or continues to receive education, from the age of six to that of fourteen, and often to that of sixteen or seventeen; while in England, even of those children who do go to school, few remain there beyond the age of nine or ten. If all this be true, is it to be wondered at, that the dress of our peasants, their manners, their appearance, their amusements, their manner of speaking, their cleanliness, the character of their houses, the condition of their children, and their intelligence, should be all miserably inferior to those of the peasants of Germany, Holland, and of some parts of Switzerland and France 7” Looking to London, we learn from the same writer, that “careful inquiries by Lord Ashley, and by the excellent men connected with that admirable society, the City Mission, have shown, that in the midst of London, there is a large and continually-increasing number of lawless persons, forming a separate class, having pursuits, interests, manners, and customs of their own, and that the filthy, deserted, roaming, and lawless children, who may be called the source of nineteen-twentieths of the crime, which desolates the metropolis, are not fewer in number than thirty thousand! “These 30,000 are quite independent of the number of mere pauper children, who crowd the streets of London, and who never enter a school; but of these latter nothing will be said here. “Now, what are the pursuits, the dwelling-houses, and the habits of these poor wretches 7 Of 1600 who were examined, 162 confessed that they had been in prison, not merely once, or even twice, but some of them several times; 116 had run away from their homes; 170 slept in the ‘lodging-houses;’ 253 had lived altogether by beggary; 216 had neither shoes nor stockings; 280 had no hat or cap, or covering for the head; 101 had no linen; 249 had never slept in a bed; many had no recollection of ever having been in a bed; 68 were the children of convicts.”* The effect of a system under which land is daily becoming more consolidated, while its people are being forced to seek an asylum in towns and cities, is well exhibited in a report upon the parish of St. Giles, of which the following is a passage: “Your Committee have thus given a picture in detail of human wretchedness, filth, and brutal degradation, the chief features of which are a disgrace to a civilized country, and which your Committee have reason to fear, from letters which have appeared in the public journals, is but the type of the miserable condition of masses of the community, whether located in the small, ill-ventilated rooms of manufacturing towns, or in many of the cottages of the agricultural peasantry. In these wretched dwellings, all ages and all sexes—fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, grown-up brothers and sisters, stranger adult males and females, and swarms of children — the sick, the dying, and the dead — are herded together with a proacimity and mutual pressure which brutes would resist; where it is physically impossible to preserve the ordinary decencies of life; where all sense of propriety and self
* “Whitechapel and Spitalfields,” says the Quarterly Review, “teem with them like an ant’s nest; but it is in Lambeth and Westminster, that we find the most flagrant traces of their swarming activity. There the foul and dismal passages are thronged with children of both sexes, and of every age from three to thirteen. Though wan and haggard, they are singularly vivacious, and engaged in every sort of occupation but that which would be beneficial to themselves and creditable to the neighborhood. Their appearance is wild; the matted hair, the disgusting filth, that renders necessary a closer inspection, before the flesh can be discerned between the rags which hang about it, and the barbarian freedom from all superintendence and restraint, fill the mind of a novice in these things with perplexity and dismay. Visit these regions in the summer, and you are overwhelmed by the exhalations; visit them in the winter, and you are shocked by the spectacle of hundreds shivering in apparel that would be scanty in the tropics; many are all but naked; those that are clothed are grotesque; the trousers, where they have them, seldom pass the knee; the tail-coats very frequently trail below the heels. In this guise, they run about the streets, and line the banks of the river at low water, seeking coals, sticks, corks, for nothing comes amiss as treasure trove. Screams of delight burst occasionally from the crowds, and leave the passer-by, if he be in a contemplative mood, to wonder and rejoice that moral and physical degradation has not yet broken every spring of their youthful energies.”—Quoted by KAY, vol. i., p.409.