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HARVARD UNIVERSITY 




UBRARY OF THE 



GRADUATE SCHOOL 
OF EDUCATION 



«^* 



' ADXTLT SCHOOLS. 



a Cttter 
THE LORD BISHOP OF NORWICH 



ADULT SCHOOLS 
AGEICULTUEAL DISTRICTS. 

BY A COUNTKY CUKATE. 

ilonlroit : . ', 

LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS. 

CHARLES MUSKETT, NORITICH. 

1850. 



Ptice Sixpence. 



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WA« SCHOOL OF fouCATIOIt 
«MOE C GUTMAN UBRARt 




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LETTER. 



My Lord, 

To extend the advantages of Education in 
agrictiltoral districts, to improTe the moral, and as a con- 
sequence, the physical condition of the labouring classes, 
and to combat a popular fallacy, is the object of this letter. 
It vould be iiitile to prove that the advancement of 
education has been most rapid of late years. And no- 
vhere, my Lord, has that advancement been more striking 
than la this Diocese. Nobly and successfully did your 
Lordship's predecessor " ride on the crest of that great 
wave of social improvement, which during the last thir^ 
or forty years has been spreading over our land." * Ani- 
mated by him, the education of the poor remained no 
longer a mere form, carried on in dames* schools, ot in a 
few National Schools conducted on antiquated systems; 
but it received an impetus, and imbibed a spirit which is 
sensibly apparent. School-houses hare sprung up in all 
* Funeral Sermon, by the Seui of Norwich. 



quarters, and the instruction aflforded at them is now, ge- 
nerally speaking, of a superior character. The Training 
Institution, called into existence by Bishop Stanley, has 
sent out teachers well qualified for their task, and it offers 
opportunities and incentives which are every day more 
and more appreciated. From this, as from other Diocesan 
Institutions of a similar character, will now radiate the 
most approved theory of popular education combined with 
the most successful practice. 

Thus far all is well. The provision made to secure ef- 
fectiveness in teachers will greatly enhance the efforts of 
the clergy, in introducing a sounder system of education 
into their parishes. And, without being too sanguine, we 
may hope, that the time is not far distant when, in every 
parish where it is possible, we shall see not only a National 
School, but that school conducted by an efficient teacher. 

But a question arises — Excellent as may be the edu- 
cation imparted at National Schools, and however well 
adapted for the training of early youth, is it sufficient 
to qualify the man for his sphere of duty in after life ? 
Granting that for the girl, who remains until a later age 
than the boy, and who after leaving schooj is generally 
under supervision and control, this education may be suf- 
ficient; surely it is not enough for the boy. I am al- 
most afraid to say how long the education of the boy 
really lasts. Considering the many interruptions he meets 
with, by being taken from school at certain seasons for 
petty agricultural employments, the time consumed in re- 



gaining what he has forgotten on these occasions — the 
early period at which he leaves school entirely^ that he 
may add his mite, however small, to the famUy income— 
his time of education is indeed sadly limited. He leaves 
school with little of learning but the letter ; his acquire- 
ments are Uttle more than mechanical, and, in consequence 
of his youth, they have as yet had but little influence 
either upon his understanding or his heart. 

This being the state of a boy's education on leaving the 
National School, how defective must it be in those dis- 
tricts where, from the smallness of the population or from 
the poverty of the neighbourhood. National Schools can- 
not be planted, and where the only opportunities afforded 
for instruction are those of the seldom-recurring Sunday 
School, and the inefficient teaching of the dame ! 

The career of the boy, after leaving school, may be 
briefly traced. As time advances his liberty of action is 
less constrained. Disengaged hours are at first spent in 
idle gossip with older and less reputable characters than 
himself. The most vicious form which this evil presents 
to the eye of society, is that group which is seen in some 
corner of almost every parish on the Lord's-day ; and it 
were painful to paint the picture which that Sabbath-de- 
secrating group presents. Time goes on, wages increase, 
and the youth &ncies himself a man. Disengaged hours 
now fly for excitement to the public-house; and years pass 
away, with nothing to show for them but bad habits, for- 
gotten knowledge, and an empty purse. But this does not 



last for ever. Marriage is the next step in the career: 
a marriage generally contracted too early for prudence — 
oftentimes, alas! too late for morality. And now com- 
mences a new scene, — the man for the most part generally 
reformed, indeed, but struggling hard against the ills of 
life. Now his former prodigality and his present igno- 
rance press heavily upon him. His wife and children 
must be fed ; but he and poverty are inseparable compan- 
ions. These real troubles touch his heart. Religion and 
prudence present themselves to his thoughts ; but how are 
they manifested in his actions ? His ignorance is now his 
bane. The comprehensive and beautiful Prayers of the 
Church, and the calm and pure exposition of the Gospel 
by her ministers, have no attraction for him ; and simply 
because he cannot understand them. And what is the re- 
sult ? He seeks more stimulating food, and of that, in 
this Diocese at least, there is no lack. To enumerate and 
compare the attractions which the different denominations 
present to the poor woiJd be invidious and useless. We 
must in common honesty admit that some have effected 
great reformations ; but too often is the spiritual charge 
of their souls surrendered by these ignorant ones to no 
other cure than that of the ranting preacher. 

I spoke of prudence also, but how is this manifested ? 
Here a very virtue is through ignorance made a cause of 
misery and sin. The club, with all its temptations and all 
its fallacies, offers its allurements in the shape of benefits— 
those of medical attendance and pecuniary assistance during 



sickness ; allowance for burial ; and, in some cases^ of pro- 
vision for old age : but how dearly is all this paid for^ and 
how much misery does it entail ! To say nothing of the 
improvidence and the fallacy of joining institutions^ the very 
rules of which compel the disbtursement of an exorbitant 
per-centage of the monthly subscription for another pur- 
pose than that of the provident object in view^ what a 
grievous temptation is presented 1 But^ my Lord^ I will 
not myself enlarge upon this matter. I submit to your 
Lordship extracts from the '^ Articles and Orders " of a 
local club^ (a fair specimen of its genus^ because taken 
from others) which will speak for themselves. 

*' Every member of this society shall pay, or cause to be 
paid, one shilling every meeting night into the box, and 
spend fourpence for beer to be drunk by the members 
present, and twopence each meeting for the feast." 

"Every member attending the deceased to the grave 
shall spend sixpence at the house where the stock is kept, 
to be paid out of the common stock." 

" Every member that is summoned on a general meeting 
shall spend fourpence, whether absent or present, to be 
drunk by the members present ; that fourpence to be paid 
the next meeting, besides their usual pay." 

But, my Lord, the mischief does not end with this forced 
expenditure. At these monthly meetings, and on these 
funereal occasions, far more is spent than the club compels, 
and the last Saturday night, or rather Sabbath mom of 
each month, is made the periodical occasion of disgusting 



8 

drunkenness and disturbance in the locality^ of misery to 

each individual transgressor^ and also to his wife and family 
at home. The yearly feast^ again^ in many cases^ extends 

its pernicious influence not only over the appointed day^ 
but entails idleness and dissipation for some time after- 
wards. 

But^ with all this so-called prudence^ what is the end of 
the labouring man ? After a certain age his labour is of 
less and less yalue^ and his wages proportionally diminish. 
At last two alternatives present themselves — ^in the case of 
the respectable and industrious, an out-door allowance ; in 
that of the profligate, the Union. What, I would ask is 
the average per-centage of agricultural labourers who die 
without having received parochial relief in the one or the 
other shape ? 

My Lord, the above sketch is not exaggerated. There 
may be a few exceptional cases where the description does 
not to the full extent hold true. There may be parishes 
with zealous incumbents, backed by earnest landlords and 
the co-operation of tenant-farmers, where a diflferent aspect 
presents itself. But take the agricultural districts in the 
main, and my sketch will be found accurate. 

And now to provide a remedy for this state of society 
amongst the labouring classes ; and I propose the general 
adoption of one, simple in its machinery, successful in its 
working, and inexpensive in its cost, because entirely or 
nearly self-supporting ; and, above all, a remedy the adop- 
tion of which is in the power of every village pastor in the 



kingdom. I mean the establishment of Evening Adult 
Schools in Agricultural Districts. 

And this brings me to a popular fallacy I propose to 
combat : viz., " that there is little or no hope of being 
able to make an impression on the present generation ; and 
that the only prospect of elevating the lower classes, is by 
the education of the young." How often do we hear this 
sentiment from the lips of hard-working and pious clergy- 
men! and the more extensive and destitute their charge, the 
more mournfully and frequently is it uttered. There is 
indeed the proviso, that in cases of illness or deep distress 
reformations are sometimes effected, but that these are often 
only temporary. To show how this fallacy prevails, even 
with the most intelligent and experienced, I quote two 
passages from a work by, perhaps, the most sangidne, 
able, and successful educationist of the day : ^' Suggestive 
Hints on Secular Education," by the Rev. Bichard Dawes. 
'' Increased experience has confirmed what I then stated : 
that the better the labouring classes are educated, the 
better they will become in all the moral relations of life ; 
and that no great improvement can be effected in the manners 
of the peoplcy hut by the education of the rising generation.** 
Again : *' It is diffcult, if not impossible, to change the 
habits of men whose characters are formed and settled. 
The prejudice and ignorance that have grovm up with them 
unll not yield to new impressions, whilst youth and inno- 
cence may be moulded to any form you may choose to 
give them." 



10 

This wholesale conclusion about the hopelessness of ele- 
vating the present generation is altogether fallacious. A 
brief note, appended to this letter, wiU show how readily 
and eagerly even the most ignorant will embrace an op- 
portunity of receiving instruction if offered — how perse- 
veringly they will pursue it, and how rapidly they are 
improved by it 

But the ease with which such institutions can be started 
and carried on is a most powerful argument in their £ivour. 
It is not every parish that can build a National School- 
house, and support a teacher. In some districts, many 
parishes combined would be unable to do so. Most cler- 
gymen are aware too of the anxiety, unpleasantness, and 
difficulty attending a laboured annual subscription. But in 
the Adult School no such hindrances exist. The Clergy- 
man should be his own schoolmaster. In every parish one 
good-sized room could be secured, at a trifling rent, for 
three evenings in the week. In every parish, also, some 
well-intentioned inhabitant may be found to aid the Cler- 
gyman in his labour ; and also some more advanced pupil, 
who, for a trifling remuneration, will, by acting as monitor, 
take the elementary drudgery off his hands. And is it 
asking too much of the Parish Priest to give up a small 
portion of three evenings of the week, during one half 
of the year, to the welfare of his flock ? And this is quite 
sufficient ; for the rapidity of the adult's progress is sur- 
prising. However considerable may be the personal in- 
convenience caused by this surrender of time, it will be 



J 



11 

amply repaid by the satisfaction arising from duty per- 
formed and from the good effected. 

Again^ what a benefit would be conferred, not only on 
the flock, but also on the pastor, by these constant meet- 
ings. The difficulty of obtaining intercourse with the 
men of an agricultural parish is very great, and not to 
be met by ordinary pastoral visitation. When the Minis- 
ter calls, they are at work or at meals. But in the Evening 
School what an opportunity presents itself for the kind 
inquiry, the gentle admonition, the individual or collective 
exhortation ! 

The course of instruction which these institutions should 
embrace, must mainly depend upon the existing state of 
knowledge in the particular locality, and on certain other 
circumstances. But I fear, my Lord, that in most districts 
where National Schools are of recent growth, popular 
ignorance is most alarming, and that the very elements 
of knowledge must be first imparted. This foundation 
once laid, in religious progress, much will depend, under 
God*s blessing, upon the efforts and piety of the teacher, 
whether, having imparted " the principles of the doctrine 
of Christ,'* he will be able to carry them *'on unto per- 
fection." Again, in secular knowledge, all will depend 
upon his ability, enthusiasm, and perseverance. Surely 
he should not be satisfied with the mere power of reading, 
writing, and figuring. Some taste for elevating literature 
should be cultivated — some knowledge of elementary sci- 
ence conveyed — some principles of art instilled. Might 



12 

not the labourer go forth to his daily toil with more in- 
terest, if made acquainted with those leading properties 
of the soil he cultivates and of the atmosphere he breathes, 
which a Davy has enunciated and experimentalized upon, 
a Liebig proved, and a Johnson made intelligible? Might 
not the man, where labour is a drug and where population 
is excessive, be taught that there are other fair though dis- 
tant lands where labour is wealth, where children would not 
be to him an anxiety and a bane, but blessings to be prayed 
for ; and where, under the same strict laws which govern 
his own coimtry, but under a less rigorous competition, he 
might find that happiness and competency he vainly fights 
for at home ? Surely all these things might be taught to 
his soul's advantage, and to his temporal happiness and 
prosperity. 

And, my Lord, how is the introduction of such institu- 
tions, where such advantages are ofiered, to be eflfected ? 

By no one, my Lord, could this object be undertaken with 
a higher prospect of success than by yourself. Called to 
preside over a Diocese where so much has been done, but 
still more is left undone, every word which falls from 
your Lordship will be listened to with intense eagerness. 
The time is not far distant when you will oflGlcially su- 
pervise your Diocese and exhort and counsel your Clergy. 
On that occasion, a high reputation for learning and theolo- 
gical acquirement will give weight to all you may advance 
on the particular controversies which at present agitate the 
public mind. But in your Lordship, high as your repu- 



IS 

tation for eradition may be, we recognize far more than 
the learning of the cloister. From whom would an ap- 
peal to the Clergy to extend the blessing of an enlightened 
education to the poorer classes by their own personal 
labours be listened to more respectfully, and by whom 
could it be made more gracefully than by one who has 
himself been a bright example of laborious and successful 
exertion, not only in his own country, but in foreign 
lands? My Lord, that you may, under God's blessing, 
be equally instrumental in dispeUing darkness, ignorance, 
and ungodliness at home, is the earnest hope and prayer 
of. 

Your faithful Servant, 

A COUNTRY CURATE. 

To the Right Reverend 

The Lord Bishop of Norwich. 



Noit. — The Author of these pages entered upon &ie Curacy 
of two parishes in this Diocese in October. Thoug*- ''"■ *!"■ 
education of the rising generation of the poor of both 
ample pTovision has been made for some years past, 
inhabitants, as in most parts of this Diocese, are la 
ignorant. To remedy this, Adult Evening Schools, 
three times a week, were established in both parishes, 
agement of which was confided to the Author. The 
the Gist time on the 3id and 4th of December. At 1 
the number on the first night was 11 ; at Parish B, 1' 



14 

the third week, the numbers greatly increased ; and the aver- 
age attendance for some time has been nearly 27 at Parish A, 
and nearly 40 at Parish B. The extent of knowledge at these 
Schools is of a most elementary nature. At Parish A, not more 
than 3 or 4 can read with fluency. At B, the first class, con- 
taining 14 or 15, read fairly ; the second class, imperfectly ; and 
some in the third class cannot read at all. Writing and arith- 
metic are in the same elementary state. 

But a gratifying feature presents itself, in the high promise 
which these schools afford. The payments, for which no credit 
is allowed, are willingly made ; the desire to improve is most 
eager ; and the advancement is most rapid. Men who could not 
read a word, can now read and spell ; some who had never 
formed a letter, can now write neatly on paper. In the first 
class at Parish B, men who could read on after a fashion, but 
not spell, nor bear to be questioned, can now spell well, and 
answer questions arising from the subject, readily and with 
gusto. They are, indeed, most eager to obtain knowledge, and 
in most cases they endeavour on off nights to improve them- 
selves at home. The interest too, comparatively unfelt before^ 
which they take in the progress of their children or relations at 
the National Schools, is most pleasing and valuable. 

I might here state my firm conviction, that had the study of 
vocal music been introduced (which a local circumstance forbad) 
the numbers would have been far greater. As it is, I have good 
reason for expecting that the following winter will witness a 
more numerous attendance, even without such a popular in- 
ducement. 

At Parish B, almost all of those who are not necessarily en- 
gaged, meet between services on the Sunday : though no one is 
then present but themselves, they are most orderly and assiduous 
under the conduct of the monitors. They afterwards proceed to 
Church. Attendance on the Sunday is quite optional. 

The following is an analysis of the ages of the Adults at 
Parish B : 

1 above 40 4 above 25 

8 „ 30 11 ,, 20 

15 above 16 



15 

Bat how is all this acting towards improTuig the phTaical 
condition of the Ubonring classes ? 

At the same time were commenced a UorticultuTal Society for 
the encouragement of cottage gardening, and also a. Lending 
Library. Both of the»e now bid fair to prosper. Many of the 
adults are already members of the lending library, and many 
more will join when theic acquiretnenta will warrant the step. 
Thus sound instruction and rational amusement are provided at 
their own homes. Arithmetical knowledge is also conveyed, 
with the definitive object of advancing the economical disburse- 
ment of limited means. 

Above all, that curse of the agricultural districts, the club, 
will now be gradually abolished by means of these schools. 
One sound Friendly Society will soon rise up out of the ruins of 
various public-house clubs, which are established one year to 
break up and divide assets the nest; then to start afresh to ba 
broken up again. 

The above is no trifle to advance for the operations of an 
adult school during one brief season. If following winters 
effect as much, may we not expect great things from the general 
establishment of such institutions in agricultural districts ? 

Lastly, much might I say respecting individual reformations, 
which are gradually working their way; but as many belonging 
to these schools may read this letter, it would be invidious to 
enter into specific details. 

May many Adult Schools spring up in this Diocese, and 
throughout the kingdom ; and may all efiect the improvement 
which these have, by Qod's blessing, already effected, and will I 
am persuaded continue to effect, if carried on with a view to His 
glory and man's welfare. 

HsTch 12th, ISSO. 



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