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Extract from the Criminal Returns for the County of Cornwall, for the Years following :
The great increase in the last three years, particularly in those under 16 years of age, compared with those convicted in the three previous years, is worthy of consideration.
The statistics of education among criminals are thus given in the recent Report of the Registrar-General :
For the law they entertain respect in all cases, except those few in which the uprightness of their judgment is unhappily perverted by ancient and ignorant prejudice. It may be added that they are a loyal people. In regard to religion, the general and characteristic feeling is strongly devotional. Nevertheless, it is affirmed by those most capable of forming an opinion, that in many points of morality there is much laxity. In the seven parishes visited there are 12 churches and chapels belonging to the Establishment, and 56 chapels belonging to the different branches of the Wesleyan
denomination. The members of the Baptist, or other Dissenting communities, are not numerous, although few adults would be found to confess that they did not frequent either church or chapel, without at the same time offering some excuse ; yet it is asserted that by many the public ordinances of religion are neglected. In addition to the Public Prayer Meetings held at the chapels, usually twice or three times in the course of the week, there are private meetings in the cottages for singing and prayer, attended by miners and their families during the hours when they are absent from the mine. The result of inquiries in many cottages that were visited was that comparatively few were without either a Bible or a Testament, or a portion of one or the other. The prevalent religious feeling is exhibited, perhaps, in no circumstance more strongly than in their manner of performing the last offices for the dead. A procession, consisting of from 50 to 200 or 300 persons, decently attired, advances, singing appropriate hymns, at intervals, especially as they approach the church, and while the coffin rests at the entrance to the churchyard. General testimony seems to be borne to the correctness and sincerity of the feeling which sanctions and maintains this ancient custom. Nevertheless it is to be feared that the solemnity of the occasion is too often forgotten in subsequent excesses. Superstitions, though on the decline, are still common; many, such as the belief in the power of charms, of an injurious tendency. Other similar notions maintain their hold, more harmless, perhaps, but not less belonging to the simplicity of an uninstructed age.
The terms in which the disposition and habits of the mining population were generally spoken of by those most conversant with them showed a cordial appreciation of their favourable characteristics, and at the same time a desire to see their deficiencies supplied and their faults corrected.*
If this is to be attempted, it must be to a great extent through the instrumentality of elementary schools.
To all the places of worship of the Establishment, and to most of those of the other denominations, Sunday-schools are attached, and appeared, as far as my observation could extend, to be well frequented. Various causes prevented any accurate estimate being formed of the numbers attending the Sundayschools, relatively to the whole number of children of these respective parishes. But the impression seemed to be general that a very large proportion of the children of the labouring class do, at some tinie or other, attend these schools, and have from time to time received some part of their instruction from them. Inability to provide shoes or proper clothing was said to be the excuse commonly urged by parents for omitting to send their
* The general characteristics of the agricultural are in many respects very similar to those of the mining population.
children. The exertions of the numerous teachers, belonging chiefly to the labouring class, are very considerable, in endeavouring to increase the number of attendants at these schools, and in imparting, to the extent of their ability, the rudiments of religious knowledge. Many instances of great and persevering devotion to this duty fell under my observation, But it seemed to be allowed that the results of the attention thus applied, though not without great value, often fell far short of the objects proposed to be obtained. These objects may be said to be to implant in the mind of the young the principles of the Christian Faith, to inspire a sense of its sacred duties and obligations, to impart some general acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, and to secure an attachment to the particular religious profession in which the child is brought up.
In very many cases it may be believed that these important results follow the teaching in these schools; but in many others it is to be feared that they are used simply as a means of learning to read; that the repetition of a catechism, or even the fluent reading of the words of Holy Writ, imply very little comprehension of the principles to be conveyed or the lessons taught; and that no lasting impression is made in favour of the particular doctrines inculcated, or the mode of worship for a time pursued. It is readily confessed that of the number of children who in these parishes receive their early instruction at the Sunday-schools of the Establishment, comparatively few continue to frequent the church after the age of attending the school is past. The books generally observed in these schools were, with few exceptions, of the most elementary kind, and the Bible and Testament. It was evident that many more were wanted for the purposes of the illustration and explanation both of the Scriptures and of the services of the church, especially for the use of those who acted as teachers. In one Sunday-school only were maps occasionally used, together with prints that threw light on the Sacred History, and imparted an additional interest by giving a fuller knowledge of the subject. In many of the schools, especially in those of the Wesleyans, some of the children learnt, in the course of the week, many well-selected passages of Scripture. The teachers met together at stated times to study the portion fixed upon as the lesson for the ensuing Sunday. It was a part also of their duty to encourage the attendance of the children within a district assigned to each. A doubt may, perhaps, be expressed whether the attendance would not, after a time, be more regular, if the common plan of rewarding children for regularity, by giving tickets, or otherwise, were discontinued. It would seem that the tendency of such a practice can be no other than to weaken the sense of duty in the mind both of the child and parent. A greater appreciation of the value of these opportunities of instruction might also, perhaps, be awakened by requiring some payment, however small. In one or two schools the assistance of a paid
teacher, of skill and ability, has raised the character and value of the instruction much above the ordinary level.
I am able to say that, in those parts of the mining district where additional day-schools are required, a disposition exists to encourage their formation.
There are many circumstances in the condition of this population on which the instruction and the example derivable from good elementary schools would be likely to bear with beneficial effect. The daily oral* lecture, as given in the most improved day-schools, tested by questions,or by writing its substance on the slate, could not fail of its usual result in awakening intelligence and a taste for knowledge. Directed in this manner by a competent master, the child is led to embrace in a clear and comprehensive view the leading facts of Scripture history, their relation to each other, and the position they occupy in the gradual develop. ment of the great scheme of Revelation. When thus unfolded, the doctrines of the Christian faith, as conveyed by catechetical instruction, find a readier entrance to the understanding and the heart. Appropriate illustration of manners, customs, localities, give to the study of the Bible thus conducted a more vivid and enduring interest. The elements of general history, and of that of our own country, conveyed in this manner—the facts of physical geography, and their effects on the occupations of men and the general condition of society—compendious accounts of various objects of natural history—a short investigation into the principles on which society is founded, and those which govern the distribution and remuneration of labour, and the state of trade and commerce—these and other similar subjects of universal interest, and of which no man can be left in entire ignorance without the risk of injury to himself or to society from the adoption of false impressions, would, when presented in the manner indicated, probably find a reception in many other minds than those of the children to whom they would be primarily addressed. The active-minded and intelligent, but yet very partially instructed, mining population of this country, would not be backward in participating in the ideas and tastes thus imparted to their children. The great opportunities of leisure—the best and greatest opportunities of self-culture possessed by any portion of the population of Great Britain—would be rightly estimated, duly prized as the great blessing of their existence, and earnestly and diligently turned to account. By the guidance of stricter principles, by the resources of purer and more elevated tastes, how many of their present temptations to vice and improvidence would be combated, how much occasional distress and permanent suffering avoided, how much useful direction received !-ihat especially which makes it one of the leading objects of moral and intellectual improvement, not to raise the individual from his own sphere, but to
* The Gallery Lesson.
enable him to do his duty in that to which he belongs. Also, in addition to the consolations of religion, the miner would find, in intellectual resources, a relief which would lighten the pressure of lingering disease, hitherto apparently the almost inevitable lot that awaits him.
In matters of calculation, arising out of their work underground, the near approximations to accuracy with which the labouring miners, very few of whom have any knowledge of figures, arrive at the required results, is remarkable. In the more simple instances of measurement, which for the tutworkman are the most common, a process of mental calculation, rendered tolerably correct by long habit, sufficiently serves his purpose. But where the space cut through is broader or higher than usual, or consists of irregular quantities of fathoms, feet, and inches, he is rarely able to calculate the sum due to him for his work, and must either depend on one of his comrades, or on some person employed for the purpose. The calculations which the tributer is required to make in ascertaining the value of his portion of the ore raised are still more complicated; particularly that of the allotment of the sum produced by the sales of many parcels differing in value. The nature of these calculations may be seen from the following example:
TUTWORK Pax for SEPTEMBER, 1840.
£. S. d. £. s. d. 8. d. £. $. d. s. d. s. d. £. s. d. 6 2 32 0 4 8 4 8 1 6 23 14 2 11 6 1 6 23 1 2 12 | 2 52 14 8 5 15 9 3 0 | 46 15 11 23 0 3 0 45 911 41 14 6 8 4 5 810 9 17 0 4 61 0 911 6 6 2 29 9 9 6 10 6 1 6 22 17 9 11 0 1 6 22 5 3 41 18 18 3 5 2 4 1 0 13 14 1l 6 6 10 13 7 5
£. s. d. £. s. d. £. s. d. £. s. d. s.d. £. s. d. s. d. £. s. d. 42 39 12 9 9 1 86 5 012 1 02 012 3 1 12 011 11 1 5 2 49 16 9 15 1 36 8 012 802 6 15 7 0 14 0 15 30 22 20 10 9 2 19 112 7 6 4 10 01 010 12 2 7 610 4 8 41 15 8 9 3 7 21 14 6 4 0 0 1 0 6 6 1 5 0 6 1 1 41 19 6 9 3 16 32 14 6 5 0 0 1 0 7 15 0 6 3 1 8 0