Imágenes de páginas

physics, ethics, and political philosophy; to which histories of science, of nations, and individuals, are to be added. The treatises, hitherto published, have been principally on subjects of physical science; probably from the difficulty of fixing the precise standard of utility in the dissemination of the truths of moral and political philosophy. The example of the Society's almanac led to considerable improvements in that class of publications; and the Penny: Magazine of the Society evinces great tact in the getting up of a popular miscellany of amusing matter for the general reader.

A. D. 1827. The inquiries of the Emigration Committee of the House of Commons indicate a great deterioration in the circumstances of the people of the united kingdom, more particularly in agricultural districts, where wages have been so depressed by competition for employment, that the labourer is compelled to live chiefly on bread and potatoes, seldom tasting meat and beer. Symptoms of an approaching servile war are clearly discernible, which can only be averted by measures tending to relieve the overstocked market of labour. From the evidence laid before the Emigration Committee, it felt justified in reporting,

"That there are extensive districts in England and Scotland where the population is at the present moment redundant: in other words, where there exists a considerable proportion of able-bodied and active labourers beyond the number to which any existing demand for labour can afford employment.

That the effect of this redundancy is not only to reduce a part of this population to a great degree of destitution and misery, but also to deteriorate the general condition of the labouring classes. That by its producing a supply of labour in excess, as compared with the demand, the wages of labour are necessarily reduced to a minimum, which is utterly insufficient to supply that population with those means of support and subsistence, which are necessary to secure a healthy and satisfactory condition of the community.

"That in England this redundant population has been in part supported by a parochial rate, which, according to the reports of former committees, threatens, in its extreme tendency, to absorb the entire rental of the country. And that in Ireland, where no such parochial rate exists in law, and where the redundancy is found in a still greater degree, a considerable part of the population is dependant for the means of support on the precarious source of charity, or is compelled to resort to habits of plunder and spoliation for the actual means of support."

As a remedy for this state of misery and peril, the Committee proposed a national system of colonization in the British settlements of North America, the Cape of Good Hope, New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land-countries, it is alleged, abounding in extensive tracts of unappropriated territory, of the most fertile quality, and capable of receiving and subsisting in health and independence any portion of the redundant population of the empire.

Between emigration in the ordinary sense, and the plan of colonization projected by the Committee, is a material distinction. The former has been in progress for years, at the instance of individuals, and might be encouraged by the state, on the same principle, were the object merely to get rid of the people; but the plan of the Committee not only embraces the mere transport of a redundant population, but their full location and establishment in secure and independent circumstances in the country of their adoption.

The funds for this undertaking it is proposed to raise either by an advance out of the public taxes, to be hereafter repaid by the emigrants, or by raising a sum on security of the poor-rates, to be paid in discharge of all future claims for parochial relief.

In the opinion of Sir Wilmot Horton, who evinced great zeal and ability in maturing this plan of emigration, the annual expenditure of 240,000l. would have been sufficient to carry off the yearly accumulating surplus of labour that had been mainly instrumental in the depression of the labouring classes.

A. D. 1828. Mr. Brougham, in the steady pursuit of the great object of universal education, which he began in 1816 (see p. 103), in the spring of the year, resumed his inquiries by addressing a circular to the ministers of parishes of each county in England (excepting Middlesex), and received answers in the highest degree satisfactory. An impulse had evidently been given to the great social obligation of popular instruction. The number of unendowed

schools in the whole kingdom was computed to have increased from 14,000 in 1818, to 32,000 in 1828. The number of scholars had not increased in quite so great a proportion as the number of schools; but it was computed that the number of scholars had increased from 478,000, in 1818, to 1,003,800. The number of Sunday scholars, it was thought, had augmented in a similar ratio, namely, from 452,817 to 905,634. This gives a total of 1,909,434 of Sunday and day scholars; but as many children attend both Sunday and day schools, a deduction from the total number ought to be made, leaving, it is conjectured, about a million and a half as the total number of children of the humbler classes in England receiving the benefits of education. As the children of both sexes, between the ages of five and twelve, amount to two millions, when the number of those taught in the higher schools is deducted, it is concluded that no large portion of the children of the working population are now entirely without in


In Ireland the number of schools in 1827 was 11,823; of teachers 12,530; of scholars 568,904.

A. D. 1831. The waste and mismanagement of select vestries originates an act (1 and 2 Wm. IV.c.60) for improving their constitution, and appointing auditors of parish accounts. The act is not compulsory, but may be adopted by a majority of the ratepayers in any parish in England and Wales, where the number of rate-payers exceeds 800; and it may be adopted where the number of rate-payers is less

than 800, provided such parishes are within or part of a city or town. A salutary clause in the act requires the vestry to make out, at least once a year, a list, open to the inspection of rate-payers, of all charity estates and bequests under the control of the parish; specifying where the estate is situate, its rental, and the security on which any bequest is invested, its appropriation, and the names of trustees. The provisions of this statute were chiefly directed against the abuses of self-elected vestries, deriving their powers from ancient usage or local acts, not against those established under Mr. Stourges Bourne's act,the 59th Geo. III. c. 12.

During the same session an effort was made by 1 and 2 Wm. IV. c. 37, to put an end to what are termed tommy shops, and the practice so general in various counties of paying wages in goods, in lieu of coin and bank-notes; employers entering into contracts, or paying wages otherwise than in money, are made liable to penalties, varying from 51. to 1007.; ́and wages paid in goods are void, and may be recovered a second time by workmen.

The shocking barbarities perpetrated in manufacturing districts gave rise to a new act for the regulation of factories; and, by 1 and 2 Wm. IV. c. 39, it is provided, that in no cotton mill, where steam or water power is used to work machinery, shall any person under twenty-one years of age be allowed to work at night; that is, between the hours of half-past eight in the evening and half-past five in the morning; and that no person under eighteen


« AnteriorContinuar »