Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

:2

2.

tered, through the medium of the authorized version of the Scriptures, together with portions of the Liturgy, under the superintendence of the clergy of the Established Church, but with taresul provisions in favour of the thildren of Dissenters and to prerent proselytism. He proposed that these schools should be managed each by seven trustees—the tlergyman of the district, two churchwardens, and four elective trustees, two at least to be freeholders. Two bills were already prepared for carrying out the objects he had stated ; he hoped that they would not be viewed in aparty light; and if they were passed during the present session, a large advance would be made in favour of the moral and religious

* improvement of the rising gene

ration. Lord John Russell expressed in general terms his cordial approbation of the plan; but objotted to its being confined to the manufacturing districts, while the agricultural districts were not better off with respect to tducation than the towns, and he Morted his opinion as to the details. If the plan at all answered to Sir J. Graham's view, it would he not only folly, but wickedness to oppose it; the jealousies of opMsing parties in the question ould only be overcome by an exoutive supported without distinction of party. It would be desira*to provide as good an education *possible for the Roman Catholic Irishchildren in themanufa itricts. Lord Joh Pointed to the numer of boys who had bee

and yet had no real k

the importance ( ;ifthee

not educate the whole people, it might do much to elevate those who were to teach. And he thought that inducements might be devised to make working people willing to send their children to school. Wiscount Sandon heartily agreed with Lord John .# that when a fearful mass of ignorance existed in this country, it did not become men on either side of the House to stick too closely to their peculiar opinions. Mr. Ewart expressed his concurrence. Mr. Shaw hoped the measure would be eventually extended to Ireland. Mr. Charles Buller gave to the measure his entire concurrence, and pointed out a large sum available for education in existing charities; the gross amount of these charities was 1,200,000l. ; but by proper management it might be made 2,000,000l.; of that sum 312,000l was devoted to purposes of education; and much of the remainder, especially that now expended in the mischievous shape of small money gifts, might be devoted to the same purpose. Sir Robert Inglis objected to the tendency of some of Sir James Graham's views, and to Mr. Buller's proposal to divert charities from their original purposes. Sir Robert Peel trusted more to the moral effect of the demonstration made that night, in encouraging individual exertion, than he did to the direct interference of the Legislature. He expressed strong sense of Lord Ashley's racter and discretion, which or od the unanimity which debate. To Sir red that if they joint no schools in which they would not make converts to the Established Church, they would alienate a great amount of support: thousands of children would be left subject to the worst temptations, and the interests of true religion would be prejudiced, not advanced ; and to Mr. Buller he pointed out the prejudice which would accrue to the cause of education, by accompanying the measure with a diversion of former charitable bequests. Mr. Hawes objected to the constitution of the proposed school trusts, as likely to be thought too exclusive by the Dissenters. Mr. Acland threw out some cautions with respect to particular points; and particularly against prejudging the question, which system of education was the best. Mr. Smith O'Brien concurred with Mr. Hawes, and objected to the exclusion of Roman Catholics. Lord Ashley thanked the House for the attention which he had received; and the motion was agreed to. Another proposition having in view the relief of the industrious classes from their depressed condition was brought forward on a later occasion by Mr. Charles Buller, who on the 8th of April submitted to the House of Commons a plan for an extensive system of colonisation, as a method of diverting the superfluous labour of the country into more profitable channels than the home market could afford. The speech with which this motion was introduced was universally allowed to exhibit great ability, and it was remarkably free from the topics or spirit of partisanship. Mr. Buller began, after presenting several petitions in fayour of an improved system of co

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

lonisation, by remarking a characteristic of the present House of Commons, that more than any former one it discouraged party strifes; admonished no doubt by the warnings of the severe distress which prevailed. He guarded himself against being supposed to represent the difficulties of the country as unparalleled or desperate; but the discussion of Lord Howick's motion, for a Committee of the whole House on the manufacturing depression, elicited an universal agreement as to the existence and intensity of the distress, and an entire disagreement as to the remedies proposed. It could not be denied that the growth of the country in wealth was proceeding less rapidly than at a former period. The extent of the evil proved that it had no partial causes, peculiar to particular trades or classes; and temporary causes did not suffice to account for it. Over-production in manufactures, for instance, did not explain it, because simultaneously with that overproduction, not only was capital not withdrawn from other ordinary occupations, but never was there so much capital lying idle; and simultaneously with the employment of labour in that overproduction there had been a great emigration of labourers, the workhouses were crowded by able-bodied men, and numbers more failed to obtain employment. Had there not been that overproduction there would only have been less employment of labour and capital. The United States too shewed the working of the same temporary causes, but without producing the same result. Since 1836 the history of the trade of the United States had consisted of a series of crises with

[ocr errors]

intervals of stagnation. “I doubt,” said Mr. Everett, in the wise and feeling answer he recently made to a deputation of holders of stock, “I doubt if in the history of the world in so short a period such a transition had been made from a state of high prosperity to one of general distress as in the United States within the last six years.” And yet, what had been the effect on the condition of the masses in that country Had we heard of what we should call distress among the quiet traders and artizans of the United States? Of anyinability to employ capital with ordinary profit P Of any general want of employment for labourers? Of any great depression of wages : Or of anything which we should call the extreme of destitution ? Had ever the unscrupulous demagogues of their hustings or their press ventured to describe such sad scenes as those which official inspection had shown to have been but too frequent at Bolton and Stockport 2 Had they heard in that country of human beings living huddled together, in defiance of comforts, of shame, and of health, in garrets and in cellars, and in the same hovels with their pigs Had they heard of large and sudden calls on

[blocks in formation]

hundreds that were wealthy at sunrise had been beggars ere the same sun was set, and thousands had been suddenly deprived of the work and wages of the day before, —yet capital and labour had never failed to find immediate employment in that boundless field. There must then in this country be a deeper seated and permanent cause of suffering; and that was the constant accumulation of capital, and the constant increase of population within the same restricted field of employment. Every year added its profits to the amount of capital o accumulated, and certainly left the population considerably larger at its close than it was at its commencement. This fresh amount both of capital and population have to be employed ; and if no further space for their employment be provided, they must compete for a share of the previous amount of profit and wages. New discoveries in nature and art, even in agriculture, did not suffice to keep pace in extending the field of employment, with the extension of capital and population. Witness the overstocking of professions, the competition between tradesmen, farmers, and educated females, for whom fit employment was so limited; the deplorable state of the labouring classes, manufacturing and agricultural, depicted in the violent recriminations between the Anti-Corn-law lecturers and farmers' friends; 15,000 milliners in the metropolis killing themselves with overwork in close rooms; all consequences of one leading fact, that every year rolling over our heads adds 300,000 to the population. Contrast with this picture the 20,000 workpeople in which they would not make converts to the Established Church, they would alienate a great amount of support: thousands of children would be left subject to the worst temptations, and the interests of true religion would be prejudiced, not advanced ; and to Mr. Buller he pointed out the prejudice which would accrue to the cause of education, by accompanying the measure with a diversion of former charitable bequests. Mr. Hawes objected to the constitution of the proposed school trusts, as likely to be thought too exclusive by the Dissenters. Mr. Acland threw out some cautions with respect to particular points; and particularly against prejudging the question, which system of education was the best. Mr. Smith O'Brien concurred with Mr. Hawes, and objected to the exclusion of Roman Catholics. Lord Ashley thanked the House for the attention which he had received; and the motion was agreed to. Another proposition having in view the relief of the industrious classes from their depressed condition was brought forward on a later occasion by Mr. Charles Buller, who on the 8th of April submitted to the House of Commons a ". for an extensive system of colonisation, as a method of diverting the superfluous labour of the country into more profitable channels than the home market could afford. The speech with which this motion was introduced was universally allowed to exhibit great ability, and it was remarkably free from the topics or spirit of partisanship. Mr. Buller began, after presenting several petitions in fayour of an improved system of co

lonisation, by remarking a characteristic of the present House of Commons, that more than any former one it discouraged party strifes; admonished no doubt by the warnings of the severe distress which prevailed. He guarded himself against being supposed to represent the difficulties of the country as unparalleled or desperate; but the discussion of Lord Howick's motion, for a Committee of the whole House on the manufacturing depression, elicited an universal agreement as to the existence and intensity of the distress, and an entire disagreement as to the remedies proposed. It could not be denied that the growth of the country in wealth was proceeding less rapidly than at a former period. The extent of the evil proved that it had no partial causes, peculiar to particular trades or classes; and temporary causes did not suffice to account for it. Over-production in manufactures, for instance, did not explain it, because simultaneously with that overproduction, not only was capital not withdrawn from other ordinary occupations, but never was there so much capital lying idle; and simultaneously with the employment of labour in that overproduction there had been a great emigration of labourers, the workhouses were crowded by able-bodied men, and numbers more failed to obtain employment. Had there not been that overproduction there would only have been less employment of labour and capital. The United States too shewed the working of the same temporary causes, but without producing the same result. Since 1836 the history of the trade of the United States had consisted of a series of crises with

intervals of stagnation. “I doubt,” said Mr. Everett, in the wise and feeling answer he recently made to a deputation of holders of stock, “I doubt if in the history of the world in so short a period such a transition had been made from a state of high prosperity to one of general distress as in the United States within the last six years.” And yet, what had been the effect on the condition of the masses in that country Had we heard of what we should call distress among the quiet traders and artizans of the United States? Of anyinability to employ capital with ordinary profit P Of any general want of employment for labourers? Of any great depression of wages Or of anything which we should call the extreme of destitution ? Had ever the unscrupulous demagogues of their hustings or their press ventured to describe such sad scenes as those which official inspection had shown to have been but too frequent at Bolton and Stockport 2 Had they heard in that country of human beings living huddled together, in defiance of comforts, of shame, and of health, in garrets and in cellars, and in the same hovels with their pigs Had they heard of large and sudden calls on the bounty of individuals, of pa

rishes, or of the Government?—

of workhouses crowded ?—of even the gaol resorted to for shelter and maintenance P – of human beings prevented from actually dying of starvation in the open streets, or of others allowed to expire from inanition in the obscurity of their own dwelling places? The plain fact was, that though hundreds of enterprises had failed, and enormous amounts of capital had been sacrificed, and credit had been paralysed, and

hundreds that were wealthy at sunrise had been beggars ere the same sun was set, and thousands had been suddenly deprived of the work and wages of the day before, —yet capital and labour had never failed to find immediate employment in that boundless field. There must then in this country be a deeper seated and permanent cause of suffering; and that was the constant accumulation of capital, and the constant increase of population within the same restricted field of employment. Every year added its profits to the amount of capital previousl accumulated, and certainly left the population considerably larger at its close than it was at its commencement. This fresh amount both of capital and population have to be employed ; and if no further space for their employment be provided, they must compete for a share of the previous amount of profit and wages. New discoveries in nature and art, even in agriculture, did not suffice to keep pace in extending the field of employment, with the extension of capital and population. Witness the overstocking of professions, the competition between tradesmen, farmers, and educated females, for whom fit employment was so limited; the deplorable state of the labouring classes, manufacturing and agricultural, depicted in the violent recriminations between the Anti-Corn-law lecturers and farmers' friends; 15,000 milliners in the metropolis killing themselves with overwork in close rooms; all consequences of one leading fact, that every year rolling over our heads adds 300,000 to the population. Contrast with this picture the 20,000 workpeople

« ForrigeFortsett »