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tended to satisfy me that the scheme of industrial and general instruction thus sketched out, is capableof being easily applied at this establishment. I do not feel called upon to go further into detail regarding it; but as respects the special training applicable to boys destined for a sea life, of which Yarmouth necessarily furnishes many in the course of every year, I may be allowed simply to refer to my Report to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty on the Greenwich Hospital Schools, the recommendations contained in which form the basis of the arrangements now in course of being introduced, under the sanction of their Lordships, into those schools.
The population of Lynn Regis is 16,000. The only school of any importance for the children of the labouring classes is the national school containing 300 boys and 50 girls. This school had been open to the children of dissenting parents from its commencement about 40 years ago, until a recent period ; the arrangement is altered, and the members of the dissenting denominations are en. deavouring to establish a school on the British and Foreign system. An infant-school contains 120, and a girls'-school, connected with the congregation of the Independents, 40 children: these schools were separated for their vacations at the period of my visit. According to the information I was able to obtain in the course of a short inquiry, it would appear that about 650 children attended Sundayschools, in addition to those who attend the day-schools also, making, with the latter, a total of about 1500 frequenting both day and Sunday-schools. In this, however, are included the children attending the infant-school. The condition of the working classes, and their occupations, are very similar to those of Yarmouth. The exigencies of the town as regards any adequate provision for elementary education, appeared to be the same; without, however, the opportunities of valuable aid afforded by the endowments which are enjoyed by the former place.
The direction I took in pursuing my inquiries in the Rural Districts of Norfolk may be described as following an irregular line from Yarmouth on the south-east of the county to Burnham on the north-west ; and again from Lynn Regis on the west, to East Harling on the south. The parishes which I visited in the course of this tour, in number 51, were some of those comprised in circles round the towns of Yarmouth, Norwich, Dereham, Lynn Regis, Fakenham, Wells, Burnham, Litcham, Swaffham, Wation, and East Harling, together with others at intermediate points. The information collected was derived from personal observation of the schools in those 51 parishes; and as regards the educational and general state of the population, from close and extensive inquiry among all classes of the community; by all of whom, whether parochial clergy or the ministers of dissenting congregations, whether landowners, farmers, persons in professions and trades, or the cottagers themselves and their families, every assistance was readily afforded in furtherance of my object. I also endeavoured to extend my knowledge by inquiries from persons well conversant with the state of the country surrounding the districts actually visited; but I have relied on such evidence no further than I found it to correspond with what fell under my own observation.
The remarks I have to offer on the position and prospects of elementary education for the working classes in those districts, will be more clear and precise if a brief account be first given of their general condition, their pecuniary means, and their present state of intelligence.
The circumstances which have most materially affected the labouring population of Norfolk during the last half century, have been the consolidation of farms, the enclosure of commons, and the mal-administration of the old poor law.
When the agriculture of the country was carried on by small capitalists, the labour of the farm was chiefly performed by servants in husbandry, male and female, living in the farmer's house, usually taking their meals at their master's table, and not much removed from him in manners or intelligence. The labourer was attached to his master and to the farm by habits of friendly and familiar association : he became acquainted by experience with all the processes and details of farming, and he might hope, by care and industry, to become some day a small occupier himself
. When he married, in addition to his wages and certain privileges, such as an occasional supply of milk, fuel, &c., he had the resource of the common, by the aid of which he was able still further to encourage the prospect of rising in time above the condition of the mere daily labourer. He probably could not read or write; but those in the grade next above him could not do much more. His mind was not stimulated either by exciting topics, or by such as tended to its improvement; bad roads and infrequent communications obstructed the access of both. Labour was not superabundant: or if at any time he was out of work, he had probably some little stock
the common on which he could fall back as a temporary support. The common also afforded him a field for cheerful recreation. Manners and morals were perhaps alike rude and low; but the structure of society was composed of easy gradations; the labourer possessed something of his own, had some object of attachment and interest, and was not without the hope of placing his children in a better condition than that in which he had himself toiled.
The high prices of the war brought with them the consolidation of farms, and the enclosure of commons. For this process men were required who could command larger capitals--a race of farmers differing in manners and habits from their predecessors. The farm-house was no longer the home of the farm-labourer, the school of the agricultural and domestic servant. The labourer was placed apart, to be hired when he was wanted, and to depend entirely on weekly wages. Into the economical questions connected with this change this is not the opportunity to enter. It is probable that the sum of the general wealth has been more rapidly increased by this process than it otherwise would have been. It will not be disputed that there was much connected with the use of common lands, and with the general prevalence of small farmis in this country, that was not conducive to the benefit either of individuals or of society. But by the manner in which the change has been worked out, it has placed vast intervals between classes which were formerly in easy juxtaposition, it has interrupted to a great extent the social sympathies, and made it more difficult for ihe labourer, by his honest exertions, to win for himself a position which will secure his declining years from want. If the former state of things is neither to be brought back, nor, in some respects, to be regretted, there is yet wanting in the new that attention to the moral and physical condition of the labourer which shall reconcile him to the change. Uninstructed, and mixing only with those of his own class, he is now left to the natural development of character which takes place under such circumstances, without any adequate guidance or control, either through the means of schools or otherwise. The distance between himself and his employer is greatly increased, and their relations greatly altered, without perhaps either receiving the corresponding benefits which such alteration might confer. The remuneration in the shape of fuel for the loss of the common is partial, and insufficient to make up for the feeling of possession and local attachment which accompanied it. With it also disappeared its sports and recreations. His chance of rising into a state of independence by patient daily labour has been further reduced by the almost total absorption of the small holdings in the larger occupations. In the western division of the county especially, where large tracts have been taken into cultivation, and a population created, the business of farming has assuined the feature of a large mercantile speculation, requiring a capital of from 10,0001. to 30,0001. The farmhouse or mansion stands in the centre of from 800 to 2000 acres. Near it are usually two or three cottages for the labourers who are required to be more frequently present in superintending the stock. The rest are at a distance, scattered here and there, or in the neighbouring villages. If the master is inclined to take advantage of the competiton for labour; if he seldom "puts out"
“ work to be done by the piece; if his labourers are frequently dis. missed for a time; if they are treated with harshness and without consideration for their wants and circumstances, they in turn consider that their engagement also partakes of a speculation, in which their part is to work when employed as little, and to defraud their master as often as possible. Discontent and ill-humour are the natural accompaniments of this state of the relations between employer and servant. With inadequate earnings are often coupled inadequate garden ground, and the absence of other advantages. With diminished means come the evils of a small or crowded cottage, and the necessity of sending the children to field labour at the earliest possible age. And the scale on which this field labour is now performed, and the arrangements to which it has given rise, are amongst the present fertile sources of evil. On the large farms it is necessary that from 200 to 400 acres of turnips or mangel wurzel should be hoed and singled, and twice the quantity of corn weeded (perhaps also dibbled), with expedition, and at the proper periods. The plan now becoming common is to contract with a labouring man for this purpose. He accordingly hires the requisite number of young men, women, and children, called his gang, whom he superintends while executing the work. These gangs consist of from twenty to fifty individuals, collected together from neighbouring villages or small towns, without reference to character, and therefore among
very often some of the worst. The farmer considers that he has no further concern with them than that they should perform his work and get off his land without doing mischief. The employment of these loose fluctuating bodies of labourers of all ages and both sexes, going and returning early and late, collected into public-houses to be paid, without any moral ties that bind them to their employer, and not many that operate in the way of control among themselves, must go far to spread among an agricultural, the corruptions too generally belonging to a manufacturing population. To these causes, dissociating alike and demoralizing, may be added the still visible results of the mal-administration of the Old Poor Law; the increase of a population set loose from ancient ties and habits, without any adequate increase of spiritual or other care and superintendence; temptations to the indulgence of sense and appetite indefinitely multiplied, and no temptations or opportunities for the cultivation of intellectual pleasures, or the enjoyment of innocent recreations placed in their way.
If from that sowing has come this harvest; if it may be truly said as the ruling characteristic, that the bond which attached the agricultural labourers of Norfolk to their superiors in station is weakened or gone; that the interest of the master is but little thought of by his labourers; that they are discontented and depressed ; that dishonesty and immorality are but imperfectly reproved by the public opinion prevailing among them; if this may be justly said to be the leading tone and temper of this population, it cannot be considered otherwise than as the natural result of the causes enumerated. Many instances fell under my observation deviating both on the one side and on the other from this line. On the one hand where the pastoral duties of the clergyman had been performed with zeal, benevolence, and intelligence; where in his landlord or employer the cottager had found a considerate master, a guide, and a friend; the lot of the labouring man approached to that condition of substantial comfort, following honourable and well-requited toil, and to that aspect of well-being
and peace, which perhaps English rural life alone can best illustrate. On the other hand, where the population was the most ignorant, was neglected, or had been mis-managed, there invariably was, as might be anticipated, the worst feeling, the worst conduct, and the worst pecuniary condition. Parishes lying in juxtaposition would not unfrequently afford these opposite examples. On the unfavourable side, the picture would be that of a parish with a surplus population ; every branch of industry overstocked; no effort to go elsewhere in search of work; neighbouring parishes in want of hands, yet no attempt to get employment there; emigration to other parts of this country and to the colonies encouraged, and individuals from the parish sent away under favourable circumstances, yet returning after a few days' absence. Another example may be referred to; it is one of a large class, but in some of its features it is favourably distinguished. It is given in substance from the statement of an occupier of 1500 acres, who had been engaged in farming upwards of 40 years. “ In that period, he had seen a great alteration in the character of the labouring class. There is not such affection towards the master as there was formerly. His father's labourers would have fought for him. The landlord now sees little of the tenant, and the tenant often knows little of his labourers. He held the plough himself when he was young, and did all kinds of farm work; he therefore knows it practically, and can tell what is the worth of a man's work, or whether it is well or ill done, or quickly enough. Knows also their wants, and won't allow them to beat down each other in taking work. Urges and helps away all that are not wanted in the parish. Helps those who have large families, or who are ill and temporarily distressed; keeps good “seconds” flour and other stores for the purpose ; gives all his labourers milk and other indulgences; endeavours to make them understand that in promoting his interest they are promoting their own; that by doing justice to their work, and making their master's capital more profitable, they are enabling him to give better wages, and to employ more people: they are incredulous, though he expends a large sum yearly in improvements, and gives a higher than the usual rate of wages. Does not think, notwithstanding all he does for them, that they treat him better for it. Believes that he is frequently defrauded by them.”
The want of adequate pecuniary means prevents many, the very common state of ignorant disregard for its benefits deters others, from giving their children the advantage of such instruction as may be offered in their neighbourhood. It was stated to me by the individual above quoted (and in substance also by numerous other persons
well conversant with the resources of the poor), “ that he had often tried to make out on paper how a man and his wife and four young children could live on Ils. or 12s. a-week, with flour at 2.s, or 2s. 4d. a stone, and never could find out: either they must get into debt, or must be assisted by private charity, or