Imágenes de páginas
PDF

272

EDUCATION.

Mn. CAREY, in his statistical work, falls into the great error of most American writers—that of lauding his own country and countrymen, and inducing them to believe that they are superior to all nations under heaven. This is very ' injudicious, and highly injurious to the national character: it upholds that self-conceit to which the Americans are already so prone, and checks that improvement so necessary to place them on a level with the English nation. The Americans have gained more by their faults having been pointed out by travellers than they will choose to allow; and, from his moral courage in fearlessly pointing out the truth, the best friend to America, among their own countrymen, has been Dr. Charming. I certainly was under the

impression, previous to my visit to the United States, that education was much more universal there than in England; but every step I took, and every mile I travelled, lowered my estimate on that point. To substantiate my opinion by statistical tables would be diflie cult; as, after much diligent search, I find that I can only obtain a correct return of a portion of our own establishments ; but, even were I able to obtain a general return, it would not avail me much, as Mr. Carey has no general return to oppose to it. He gives us, as usual, Massachusetts and one or two other States, but no more; and, as I have before observed, Massachusetts is not America. His remarks and quotations from English authors are not fair; they are loose and partial observations, made by those who have a case to substantiate. Not that I blame Mr. Carey for making use of those authorities, such as they are; but I wish to shew that they have misled him.

I must first observe that Mr. Carey’s estimate of education in England is much lower than it ought to be; and I may afterwards prove that his estimate of education in the United States is equally erroneous on the other side.

To estimate the amount of education in England by the number of national schools must ever be wrong. In America, by so doing, a fair approximation may he arrived at, as the education of all classes is chiefly confined to them ; but in England the case is different ; not only the rich and those in the middling classes of life, but a large proportion of the poor, sending their children to private schools. Could I have obtained a return of the private seminaries in the United Kingdom, it would have astonished Mr. Carey. The small parish of Kensington and its vicinity has only two national schools, but it contains 292* private establishments for education ; and I might produce fifty others, in which the proportion would be almost as remarkable. I have said that a large portion of the poorer classes in England send their children to private teachers. This arises from a feeling of pride; they prefer paying for the tuition of their children rather than having their children educated by the parish, as they term the national schools. The consequence is, that in every town, or village, or hamlet, you will find that there are “ dame schools,” as they are termed, at which about one-half of the children are educated. '

* I believe this estimate is below the mark.

[graphic]

The subject of national education has not been warmly taken up in England until within these last twenty-five years, and has made great progress during that period. The Church of England Society for National Education was established in 1818. Two years after its formation there were only 230 schools, containing 40,481 children. By the Twenty-seventh Report of this Society, ending the year 1838, these schools had increased to 17,311, and the number of scholars to 1,003,087. But this, it must be recollected, is but a small proportion of the public education in England; the Dis— senters having been equally diligent, and their

schools being quite as numerous in proportion to their numbers. We have, moreover, the workhouse schools, and the dame schools before mentioned, for the poorer classes; and for the rich and middling classes, establishments for private tuition, which, could the returns of them and of the scholars be made, would, I am convinced, amount to more than five times the number of the national and public establishments. But as Mr. Carey does not bring forward his statistical proofs, and I cannot produce mine, all that I can do is to venture my opinion from what I learnt and saw during my sojourn in the United States, or have obtained from American and other authorities. I

The State of Massachusetts is a school; it may be said that all there are educated. Mr. Reid states in his work :— Lg“ It was lately ascertained by returns from 181 towns in Massachusetts, that the number of scholars was 12,393; that the number of persons in the towns between the ages of four

teen and twenty-one who are unable to write

« AnteriorContinuar »