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When, that separation making, Sheep from goats Thou shalt be
taking, Shepherd good, be I preserved With them for Thy flock reserved! Doom me not to reprobation ! At Thy right hand be my station !
When proud sinners meet
Seeking me, the journey dreary
O just Judge, dread vengeance taking
Guilty am I: hear my groaning,
See me suppliant hands extending!
ART. VIII.-1. Report of Education Commission. London: 1860. 2. Reports of Poor Law Inspectors. London: 1858-1860. The general question of workhouse management has been so abundantly discussed of late, its abuses so unsparingly exposed, that for the present, at all events, the subject may be allowed to rest, in the hope that enough has been said to ensure the application of remedial measures where most urgently needed; if not by the boards of guardians to whom the administration of the law is intrusted, stimulated, as we would fain hope they will be, by the efforts of the more humane and enlightened among them, then by the intervention of higher authority. We do not profess implicit faith in the wisdom of what is called 'public opinion,' repose
much confidence in it as a moving power, even when manifestly directed to a wholesome end: the existence of the Board of Admiralty, of the hopeless confusion which is dignified by the name of self-government in London, and of one or two other institutions which have been for years the objects of unceasing vituperation in the press, in Parliament, and everywhere else, must be sufficient, one would think, to convince the most sanguine believers in the efficacy of 'public opinion,' that gross abuses may possess a vitality far too vigorous to yield to the assaults of so fitful and shadowy a power. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the outcry raised by what are called the recent revelations' as to work house abuses—though all that was ‘ revealed' had long been perfectly well known to all who have taken much interest in the matter-has not been wholly ineffectual; the sick and infirm will hardly again be treated with the inhumanity which has so disgraced so many of the London and some few of the country workhouses ; 1 even the 'casual' will probably henceforth be recognised as having at least equal claim to consideration with a dog.
It will probably be long before we have learnt how to deal effectually with the great scandal and danger of pauperism; it is a question, no doubt, of the utmost difficulty in a country like this, and it is one by no means of modern growth : possibly the day may never come, though we are unwilling to despair. But even while the system continues essentially the same, its deficiencies may in great measure be supplemented—the working of it
may be improved to an indefinite extent. It is only fair to 1 While we write, come statements have appeared in the papers which have conferred an unenviable notoriety on some Unions in Yorkshire and Hampshire, and appear to indicate some negligence on the part of the Poor Law Inspectors.
allow that considerable improvements have already been effected, and these we gladly accept as a beginning, as a pledge of further progress in the same direction. It is also fair to admit that, apart from legislation, and without compulsion from the Poor Law Board, many boards of guardians have become more alive to their own responsibilities, and have taken effectual measures for the improvement of the workhouses under their control; while in others, where less readiness has been shown, the endeavours of the few who have aimed at initiating such reforms have been much aided by the exertions and pressing representations of the Poor Law Inspectors. And although no doubt there is often to be found among these local bodies abundance of ignorance and prejudice, not seldom of grinding parsimony -a fault which is greatly fostered by the present absurd and iniquitous system of rating, by which the maintenance of the poor is thrown exclusively on one kind of property, to the exemption of other kinds, which are at least as well able, and in justice equally liable to bear the burden-yet it would be extremely unjust to hold the existing boards wholly, or even perhaps mainly responsible for the evils and abuses which have grown up. The workhouses were originally constructed chiefly with a view to the effectual application of what was called the workhouse test to able-bodied applicants for parochial relief, and they were built at a time when far less attention was paid to sanitary requirements, especially as regards the amount of space for each inmate, than such details now receive. The consequence is, that houses which were designed to hold, say 250, are now considered crowded with three-fifths of that number. And instead of being strictly workhouses, they now contain what in fact are, or ought to be, four or five separate establishments under one roof—a hospital for the sick, a school for the young, an asylum for the aged, a house of correction for the idle, a temporary refuge for the profligate. Of course it would not be possible to separate all these classes into different buildings, unless by the consolidation of five or six unions, and the appropriation of the several existing houses to these several purposes ; and we do not see any good reason why this system should not by degrees be generally adopted, thus carrying into effect on a larger scale the plan recommended some years ago by the Poor Law Inquiry Commissioners, that instead of one large workhouse for a union under one roof, four smaller workhouses should be erected, for the aged, the children, the able-bodied males, and the able-bodied females. We have not the report at hand, and do not remember how they proposed to deal with the sick and lying-in women. Few unions could bear the expense of so many separate buildings and the staff for each; the plan could only be adopted by combination, as suggested
above. In London and in one or two country districts a step has been made in this direction, and it would not be difficult, under judicious and skilful management, to carry it still further to the full extent, indeed, of the Commissioners' recommendation. Mr. Hardy's act for the establishment of a combined or general hospital for the London unions is, in fact, only the extension to the pauper sick of a system already in operation as regards the pauper children; we cannot see why it should not be made to embrace the other classes as well. The adoption of Mr. Mill's or some other scheme for consolidating the government of the metropolis would facilitate this, among other improvements in the local administration; and if the scheme were found to answer in London, of which no reasonable doubt can be entertained, it might easily be made compulsory, if not voluntarily adopted, in other large towns and eventually in the country unions as well. But putting aside for the present this wider question, an immense advantage would be gained by the general adoption of the school system above referred to as already in partial operation. There are three large district schools established in the neighbourhood of London, that is to say, schools for the children of five, six, or more unions combined for this purpose; and there are as many more in different parts of the country. The success of the plan, wherever it has been tried, admits of no manner of question; it has in its favour the concurrent testimony of all who have devoted any attention to the subject. In truth, the advantages, as we shall endeavour to show, have been so great as fully to justify the legislature in enforcing it where the boards of guardians are not sufficiently alive to the interests of the children, or sufficiently clear-sighted to perceive the benefit which must ultimately accrue to the pockets of the ratepayers, to do so of their own accord. For, even as regards the matter of expense, one great bar to all improvements, there is no need for alarm. The cost of maintaining and educating the children in district schools is not found materially, if at all, to exceed that of bringing them up in the ordinary workhouse schools; in fact, the difference is so small as to be scarcely appreciable in the accounts of a union of average area and population. Were it however greater than
1 These are the Reading and Wokingham; Farnbam and Hartley Wintney; and South-east Shropshire.
2 We have before us statistics which fully substantiate the assertion in the text. We do not print the details, as those who are interested in the subject can easily procure for themselves the printed half-yearly accounts of the different district schools. A careful inspection of them has satisfied us that the additional cost per head in servants' wages and such parts of officers' salaries as are not repaid by Government (for of course the food and clothing can cost no more in a district school than in a workhouse) is so small, in a school of from 200 to 300 children, as to be quite unworthy of consideration, We have compared the expense per head at Farnham, salaries included, with the average of three Lincolnshire unions, and find it considerably less; at Quatt, S.E. Shropshire, it is rather more: the average of the two is slightly in favour of the district schools.
it is, it would soon be repaid, as experience has proved, by diminished pressure upon the poor-rates in after years. By keeping the children free from workhouse associations you strike directly at one, at all events, of the roots of pauperism; for it is allowed on all hands, that with certain classes of paupers the habit of looking to the workhouse as a refuge in every emergency becomes hereditary.
The report of the Education Commission and those of the Committee of Council teem with evidence as to the evils of the present system; its deteriorating influence on the health and morals of the children and the great improvement effected in these respects by removing them from the workhouses, as well as the increased facilities thereby afforded for giving them a good education, for reasons to which we shall presently have to advert more particularly. Indeed so little is this last point contested, that one of the objections urged against the district schools is, that pauper children receive in them a better education than the children of the independent poor in the ordinary village and national schools. That they receive a more useful one, as being mainly industrial, we are not prepared to deny, and as to mental cultivation, we are quite contented that it should not go much beyond the three R's,' the limits within which my Lords of the Privy Council appear just now inclined to restrict their educational ambition—though there are some indications of a tendency to soar again a little in the direction of geography, and one or two other subjects. Occasionally, no doubt, it does occur that children of quick perception, profiting by the opportunities afforded them and aided by the pains bestowed on the endeavour to foster in them habits of industry, have succeeded in raising themselves into a grade of society far above that from which they were drawn. We have heard of two or three clergymen who were educated in the metropolitan district schools: and it cannot be denied that the regular attendance and constant supervision does give these children some advantage over the children of labourers and, perhaps, of artisans and small tradesmen. If this is regarded as an objection, it is easy to set bounds to the amount of book-learning imparted in these schools, and in the vast majority of cases the mental calibre of the recipients imposes of itself a limit sufficiently narrow to calm any reasonable fears as to the possible consequences of over-education. As to the
1 See on this point the evidence of Mr. Tufnell, Mr. Senior, and Mr. Lake: Report of Education Commission, p. 376.