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Social Progress (continued)


Social Progress (continued) - The Family - German View of the English Home - Houseless Population - Division of Population in Town and Country - Civilising Influence of Cities - Popular Education - Sunday Schools - Raikes - Day Schools - Lancaster - The British and Foreign School Society - The Monitorial System - Dr. Bell - The National Society - Progress of Popular Education - The Agency of the Religious Bodies- Auxiliary Action of the Government - Committee of the Privy Council on Education - Parliamentary Grants - Proportion of the Population attending School - Number of Children not at School - Average Time at School - The Improvement of Teachers - Training Colleges: their Cost - Endowed Schools and their Funds - The Enterprise and Resources of the Religious Bodies in Popular Education: the Church of England; the Independents; the Wesleyans; the Baptists; the Roman Catholics - Evening Schools - Literary and Scientific Institutions - The Social Influence of Sunday Schools - Progress of Education in Scotland and in Ireland - Evils of Popular Ignorance - Effects of Popular Education on Crime - Mitigation of the Criminal Code - Paucity of Educated Criminals - Educated Females.
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In pursuance of the plan we have sketched, we now proceed to notice the intellectual, moral, and religious agencies by which the higher life of British society has been sustained. The basis of our social system is the family, the household, the domestic constitution - the little community that exists in the Englishman's home. This is not be considered merely as comprising the children of one parent, but the persons under one head, who is the occupier of the house, the householder, master, husband, or father; while the other members of the family are the wife, children, servants, relatives, visitors, and persons constantly or accidentally in the house. The head of the family "occupies" the house, supports and rules its inmates. "Family," in the sense which it has acquired in England, may be considered the social unit of which parishes, towns, counties, and the nation are composed. In the Act for taking the census of 1851, "occupier" is substituted for "family," and is described as a resident owner, or person who paid rent, whether as a tenant for the whole of the house, or as a lodger for any distinct floor or apartment. In Great Britain the number of families in 1801 was 2,260,802. At the close of the half-century, it had increased to 4,312,388; so that the number was nearly doubled in that time. In England and Wales it was still higher; the increase being from 1,896,723 to 3,712,290: consequently, 1,815,567 new lines of English families had been established in the country in fifty years. The increase in Scotland, too, has been very large - from 364,000 to 600,000, notwithstanding the alleged prone- ness of the Scotch to wander from the land of their birth, and to settle in southern latitudes. In the year 1844, Dr. Carus, the physician of the king of Saxony, in describing his master's journey through England and Scotland, makes the following remarks upon English dwellings, and the social effects of our domestic isolation: - " I cannot take leave of this subject without a remark on English dwelling-houses, which stand in close connection with that long-cherished principle of separation and retirement lying at the very foundation of the national character. It appears to me to be this principle which has given to the people that fixity of national character, and strict adherence to the historical usages of their country, by which they are so much distinguished; and up to the present moment, the Englishman still perseveres in striving after a certain individuality and personal independence - a certain separation of himself from others, which constitutes the foundation of his freedom. This, too, was completely an ancient German tendency, which led our remote ancestors to prefer the rudest and most inconvenient, but isolated homesteads, to the more convenient and refined method of life in aggregation; it is this that gives the Englishman that proud feeling of personal independence, which is stereotyped in the phrase, 'Every man's house is his castle.' This is a feeling which cannot be entertained, and an expression which cannot be used, in Germany or France, where ten or fifteen families often live together in the same large house. The expression, however, receives a true value when, by the mere closing of the house-door, the family is able, to a certain extent, to cut itself off from all communication with the outward world, even in the midst of great cities. In English towns or villages, therefore, one always meets either with small detached houses, merely suited to one family, or apparently large buildings, extending to the length of half a street, sometimes adorned like palaces on the exterior, but separated by partition walls internally, and thus divided into a great number of small, high houses, for the most part three windows broad, within which, and on the various storeys, the rooms are divided according to the wants or convenience of the family; in short, therefore, it may be properly said, that the English divide their edifices perpendicularly into houses, whilst we Germans divide them horizontally into floors. In England every man is master of his hall, stairs, and chambers; whilst we are obliged to use the two first in common with others, and are scarcely able to secure ourselves the privacy of our own chambers, if we are not fortunate enough to be able to obtain a secure and convenient house for ourselves alone."

On this the editor of the census returns for 1851 makes the following remarks: - "The possession of an entire house is, it is true, strongly desired by every Englishman; for it throws a sharp, well-defined circle round his family and hearth - the shrine of his sorrows, joys, and meditations. This feeling, as it is natural, is universal; but it is stronger in England than it is on the Continent; for although there the great bulk of the population in the country is in separate dwellings, while in many English towns several families are in the same house, the crowding to which Dr. Carus refers, of the middle and higher classes, who sleep on flats, stratum over stratum, is carried to an inconceivably greater excess in capitals and the other cities of the Continent than it is in England. The department of the Seine, for instance, in 1835-6, contained 50,467 houses, and 1,106,891 persons, or twenty-two persons to a house; so that there must be four or five families in Paris to a house; whilst London, in 1851, contained 2,362,236 persons, 533,580 occupiers, in 305,933 houses; and consequently, nearly eight persons to one house; or, more exactly, seventy-seven persons, forming seventeen families, to ten houses. It will be shown that, in a certain number of English towns, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-four families are in ten houses on an average; but these cases are exceptional, and the general rule is, that each family in England has a house."

But there was a population sleeping in barns, in tents, and in the open air, comprising, with some honest but unfortunate people out of employment, or temporarily employed, gipsies, beggars, strollers, vagabonds, vagrants, outcasts, and criminals. The actual number of houseless population was estimated in 1841 at more than 22,000, of whom about half slept in barns. If we include the occupants of barges, vessels in the ports engaged in inland navigation, and sea-going vessels in port, we shall have 83,000 persons not living in houses, of whom about 8,000 were females.

At the census of 1851, the most complete ever taken, it was found that the number of towns in England and Wales was 580, with a population, including London, of nearly 9,000,000, while the population of villages and detached dwellings in the country was about the same amount. Scotland had 225 towns, which contained considerably more than half her population - that is, 1,497,000. The average population to each town in England was 15,500; and in Scotland, 6,600. London extends over an area of 78,029 acres on the sides of the Thames, into Kent, Surrey, and Middlesex; and the number of its inhabitants, continually increasing, was 2,362,236. The collection of so large a portion of the population in towns, combined with facility of communication, while it has its disadvantages, no doubt, in point of health and morals, greatly favours social progress and civilisation, by enabling the people to take advantage of various institutions for their education and improvement. It is owing to the peculiar advantages of urban life, that the increase of population in the half of this century nearly equalled the increase in all preceding ages, and that the increase in the ten years of 1841 to 1851 exceeded the increase of the last fifty years of the eighteenth century, notwithstanding the constant flow of contemporaneous emigration. The poet speaks regretfully of the time when population was so dense that "every rood maintained its man;" but that is a poetical fiction. Instead of diminishing in proportion to the territory, the population has been gaining; so that in the last half-century the number of acres to each person living has fallen from about five to two in Great Britain, and in England and Wales from four to two. But it has been justly remarked by the editor of the census returns, that there are countervailing advantages in this diminution of territory, in the facts that the people have been brought into each other's neighbourhood, their average distance from each other has been reduced in the ratio of three to two, labour has been divided, industry has been organised in towns, and the quantity of produce, either consisting of, or exchangeable for, the conveniences, elegancies, and necessaries of life, has in the mass largely increased, and is increasing at a more rapid rate than the population. The effects of association and collision in town populations are increased mental activity, intelligence, and refinement. This improved state of things reacts upon the country; for the walls, gates, and castles which were destroyed in the civil wars have never been rebuilt, and the population has outgrown the ancient limits, while stone lines of demarcation have not been drawn round the new centres. Our people have never been pestered with the continental system of octroi, involving the examination by customs' officers of every article entering the town. By the Municipal Reform Act, all exclusive privileges were abolished, and every town was thrown open to settlers from every quarter. Whilst the respective populations of the town and country have been equally balanced - ten millions against ten millions - the predominance of the civilising urban influences has been maintained by the innumerable relationships of commerce, by constant intercourse, and by a thousand ties of kindred and affection, arising chiefly from the fact that a large proportion of the population in the market towns, the county towns, the manufacturing towns, and the metropolis, were born in the country. The town and country populations are now so intimately commingled, that the same administrative arrangements are easily applied to the whole kingdom. The activity, the intelligence, and the growing religious feeling of the people has led to an increased demand for instruction, both secular and religious, and we now proceed to show how far this demand has been met in the United Kingdom.

Popular education may be said to be almost entirely the work of the present century; and the transformation it has effected in society is so great, that if we could behold it in contrast with the state of things at the close of the last century, it would appear little short of miraculous. " Comparison is scarcely possible between the groups of gambling, swearing children (no unfavourable example of young England then), when Raikes, of Gloucester, in 1781, with difficulty collected the 'first Sunday school,' and any single class of the 2,400,000 scholars who now gather with alacrity, and even with affection, round their 318,000 teachers. In contemplating the various agencies by which, throughout the intervening period, the habits of the people have been so conspicuously improved, it is of course impossible to assign to each its positive share of influence in accomplishing this change; but it may very safely be affirmed that no small portion of the happy transformation is attributable to the vast accession which has been effected in the number of our daily and Sunday schools."

Sunday schools were first in the educational race. The work which the Gloucester publisher originated rapidly advanced; religious bodies, more especially Dissenters, heartily embraced the plan; and the present century has seen the principle so extended, that scarcely any regular place of worship now existing is without its Sunday school. " The same awakened sense of neighbourly responsibility, which thus produced the Sunday school, soon after gave a mighty impulse to the work of daily education." The founder of the popular day school system was a youthful Quaker, Joseph Lancaster, who opened a school in his father's house, in Southwark, to instruct the children of the poor, in the year 1796. He made but a small charge, which he remitted to those who were unable to pay, and often furnished food to the most destitute. His pupils numbered ninety before he was eighteen years old, and afterwards they came pouring in upon him " like flocks of sheep," till in two years they reached 1,000. In order to meet the difficulty about teachers for so many, he divided them into classes, and adopted the monitorial system, which succeeded so well that he went through the country lecturing on the subject, establishing schools for the poor, raising funds for their support, and ultimately obtaining the patronage of royalty. But he was not the man to guide the movement he had so successfully originated. Ardent, enthusiastic, visionary - possessing the most needful qualities for a pioneer and a missionary - he was destitute of the prudence, steadiness, business habits, and administrative ability necessary for the management of an established system. He accordingly became embarrassed, and was " tossed about through varied troubles, passing from a prison to prosperity, and then again to bankruptcy, until, in 1818, he departed for America, where, after twenty years of suffering, brightened by- some intervals of popularity, but none of prudence, his life was terminated by an accident, in 1838, in the streets of New York." A society was formed in 1808, called " The Royal Lancasterian Institution, for Promoting the Education of the Children of the Poor." A few years after the name was altered, and it was called " The British and Foreign School Society."

It has been a matter of dispute whether Lancaster invented the monitorial system, or borrowed it from Dr. Bell, who had made an experiment in the employment of juvenile instructors six years before, in the military orphan school at Madras. Bell, the son of a Scotchman, a barber, of St. Andrew's, was as remarkable for prudence as Lancaster was for improvidence. Having returned from India, he became successively rector of Swanage, master of Sherborne Hospital, and prebendary of Hereford and Westminster. He died in 1832, bequeathing his large fortune of 120,000 principally to the educational institutions of his native country. His name as an educationist has always been associated with the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the principles of the Established Church, which was founded in 1811. Fro; n that time the work of popular education made considerable progress, chiefly through the agency of these two societies; several liberal statesmen, among whom the name of Henry Brougham always shone conspicuous, lending their zealous advocacy to the support of the cause. The earliest statistics by which the progress of popular education may be measured are contained in the parliamentary returns of 1813, when there were in England and Wales nearly 20,000 day schools, with about 675,000 scholars, which were in the proportion of 1 in 17 of the population. There were also 5,463 Sunday schools, with 477,000 scholars, or 1 in 24 of the population. Lord Kerry's parliamentary returns for 1833 showed the number of day schools and scholars to be nearly doubled, and the proportion to be 1 in 11 of the population. The Sunday schools, during the same period, were trebled in number, and also in the aggregate of children attending; while their proportion to the population was 1 in 9 - the population having in the interval increased 24 per cent., the day scholars 89 per cent., and the Sunday scholars 225 per cent.

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Pictures for Social Progress (continued)

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