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Numberless instances occur in this nation, and particularly in the metropolis, where benevolent individuals are employed in administering relief to distress under every shape which it assumes.
But the higher and noble aim of preventing those calamities which lead to idleness and crimes, and
produce poverty and misery, by guiding and properly directing the early conduct of the lower orders of the community, and by giving a right bias to their minds, has not, as yet, generally attracted the notice of those who move in the more elevated walks of life; nor has its importance been sufficiently estimated, as it regards society at large, considering the changes in manners and habits which are rapidly taking place, although, perhaps, not obvious to the mass of the community, whose attention is seldom directed to the retrograde progress of the moral habits of the poor; but the fact is no less true, that there never existed a period in our history, where an attention to the rising generation among the
in time of war, and of these upwards of 16,000 require education. The Military Asylum at Chelsea, can therefore only compass a very small part of the whole, and even the children of the soldiers of the Guards cannot all get admission.---At present there are 131 soldiers' children in Westminster School, taught free of expense.
lower classes of society, became an object of greater importance to the nation at large. The prosperity of every state depends on the good habits, and the religious and moral instruction of the labouring people. By shielding the minds of youth against the vices that are most likely to beset them, much is gained to society in the prevention of crimes, and in lessening the demand for punishments. The laws have done much to punish offences : It remains yet to do much for prevention. This desideratum, of such incalculable importance to the great interests of society, is best attained by giving proper instruction to the inferior classes in early life.
It is not, however, proposed by this institution, that the children of the poor should be educated in a manner to elevate their minds above the rank they are destined to fill in society, or that an expense should be incurred beyond the lowest rate ever paid for instruction. Utopian schemes for an extensive diffusion of knowledge would be injurious and absurd. A right bias to their minds, and a sufficient education to enable them to preserve, and to estimate properly, the religious and moral instruction they receive, is all that
is, or ought ever 'to be, in contemplation. то go beyond this point would be to confound the ranks of society upon which the general happiness of the lower orders, no less than those that are more elevated, depends; since by indiscriminate education those destined for laborious occupations would become discontented and unhappy in an inferior situation of life, which, however, when fortified by virtue, and stimulated by industry, is not less happy than what is experienced by those who move in a higher sphere, of whose cares they are ignorant, and with many of whose anxieties and distresses they are never assailed.
In this point of view the education contemplated, and which has for some years been put in practice with respect to the children admitted into the Free School, in Orchard Street, Westminster, is of the highest importance; and its general diffusion throughout the whole kingdom would perhaps be the greatest boon which could be conferred on the community at large.
But in order to compass this object, even on a limited scale, and at an expense which is practicable, and within the reach of local benevolence, the old mode of educating the youth of the poor inust be totally abandoned, and the whole design conducted upon one system.
The nation is indebted to the genius, the ability, and persevering industry, of the Rev. Dr. Bell, late Superintendant and Director of the Male Asylum, at Madras, in the East Indies, and now Rector of Swanage, in Dor-, setshire, for a most enlightened plan of education for the poor, which he some time since disclosed to the public; and for which he deserves a statue to his memory. It is upon this plan chiefly that the Free School, in Orchard Street, will be conducted. The school house has lately undergone several improvements, so as to afford accommodation to about 230 boys, and 170 girls; making in the whole 400 pupils, to be taught under the superintendance of one master for the boys, and one mistress for the girls, in schools under the same roof; but totally unconnected with each other.
EXPLANATION OF THE SYSTEM, AS
RELATES TO THE TEACHERS.
According to the system which has been adopted, the pupils who have discovered talents are selected by the master and mistress, as tụtors to those in the same class, who are yet to be taught what these tutors already know, and so on from the lowest to the highest class in the school; the best informed and the most capable of the boys and girls are to be employed in teaching the others; and in the progress of this employment, by which they are raised in their own estimation to consequence in the school, they are at the same time instructing themselves in a manner rapid beyond conception. Emulation is excited between one tutor and another; the minds of the whole are constantly employed in the task assigned to each; and their zeal is increased by the confidence reposed in them by the master and mistress.
In addition to the tutors, each class should as soon as possible be furnished with a monitor or usher, selected from the most capable of the boys or girls who are farthest advanced in their education, and to whom should be assigned the