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From that day the child has a separate account of its own in the Post Office Savings Bank, and keeps its own pass-book, which it brings to the manager of the school bank from time to time when further transfers are made from the school bank or withdrawals are required.
And here we have a striking example of the incalculable advantages of having school banks connected with the Post Office Savings Bank : when a child leaves school, wherever it may go, in whatever position it may be, boy or girl, it can continue without break or change through the same channel the habit of thrift acquired at school.
The machinery and process that I have described will be found to answer fully to the definition of a school bank, and to provide in every respect for its successful and continuous working: 1, in requiring the minimum expenditure of time and labour on the part of the teacher; 2, in securing the fullest educational advantages to the child ; 3, in protecting both teacher and child from the danger of fraud.
It has taken many words to describe it, but one experiment will prove that in half an hour sixty children can be taken through the weekly exercise of the school bank. So that even in a large Board School, its several hundred children would need no more time, since, as at Birmingham, each division would have its separate bank under the separate management of its own teachers, though the moneys of the several banks could be paid in one sum into the Post Office by the school manager or trustee.
Each child, standing by the teachers and watching them whilst the three separate entries are made, becomes more and more familiarised with the means of an orderly life, with the value of money and the importance of thrift; whilst on the occasion of a transfer of il. or 108. to the Post Office Bank or the withdrawal of a sum for some useful object--a hat, jacket, or boots, books, or other school requirement, or an outing in the summer—an opportunity is afforded the teacher of making the child's special lesson a general one of an impressive character for the whole school.
Nor does the lesson end with the children. It reaches far, far beyond. And the circles of hope that it forms in the deep sullen sea of poverty and misery widen and widen until, like the ever-spreading circles of the little stone that stirs the broad bosom of the lake into which it has been cast, the eye can no longer follow them.
Finally, it will have been observed that the simple plan of bookkeeping devised by the Post Office authorities constitutes a perfect safeguard against mistakes and fraud on either teacher or child. The parents and child can see each week whether its savings have been correctly entered, wbilst-a check as well as a protection to one another—the manager of the bank and assistant have their separate books to produce should the parents or children ever be tempted to tamper with the child's pass-book. Moreover the responsibility of the teachers is reduced to the minimum not only in their being required to receive the savings of the children solely, but also in their being obliged to pay over the deposits to the trustee on the day of the transaction.
I cannot conclude without pointing out that, necessary as school banks are to the boys of the working classes, they are even more useful to the girls. In saying this I am supported by authority such as that of M. de Malarce and Cardinal de Bonnechose. On the woman almost invariably devolves the management of the expenditure of the husband's earnings for the good of the humble household, and, therefore, it behoves her above all to know how to economise, to spend wisely and to save carefully. And when such economy becomes general, who can tell what will be its ultimate effects? Gambetta said that he believed that the strength of France was, to a great extent, due to the thrifty and industrious character of the Frenchwomen.
In this rapid review of thrift among the children, what I have said has had regard chiefly to the children of the poor; but, mutatis mutandis, it is applicable also to the children of the rich, and here again I am glad to say that the conclusions drawn from my own observations are confirmed by the first authority.
I should like to see the boys and girls of all our colleges and upper schools taught, as part of their educational training, to put regularly into the nearest Post Office Savings Bank some portion of their pocket-money. Above all should I rejoice to see this practical acquaintance with the meaning of money taught the girls of the well-to-do and upper classes. This, I am persuaded, would be a great step in the way of meeting the inexactitude, the instability and vagueness, the helpless dependence and extravagance, that pervade the lives of so many women, who thereby carry disorder into the households they were destined to rule, or become an easy prey to the first adventurer, unscrupulous speculator, or bubble company that chances to gain their attention.
But it will be much more difficult to convince people on this last point than on my first. The extravagance of wealth is less tractable than the waste of want. Nevertheless I do not despond. For I believe that the more the whole subject is discussed, the more evident will become the importance of inculcating, for the future well-being of our commonwealth, thrift among the children of the rich and the
2 Cardinal de Bonnechose was so convinced of the importance of this early economic training that in 1878 he caused over rine hundred school banks to be established in his diocese.
8 Since this article was in type I have been informed that school banks have already been introduced in colleges and other schools of the upper classes in France, Algeria, and Belgium.
It must often have occurred to the advocates of women's suffrage in England that one great reason why their cause has till now made slow progress, in proportion to the zeal and ability enlisted in it, is the indifference with which it is regarded by large numbers of Englishwomen. I dare say they are fully aware of that which they must esteem a deplorable apathy; but it seems to me worth while to inquire, from another point of view than theirs, whether this attitude of English women on the question is to be stigmatised as apathetic, or, indeed, to be deplored at all.
Probably, although many women have thought on the subject, and drawn a conclusion adverse to female suffrage, there are a greater number who are opposed to it instinctively rather than deliberately. They have not the time, nor perhaps often the materials, for forming a definite opinion. But one thing is clear-viz. that neither among educated nor uneducated women, among those who think most nor those who work most, among rich women nor among poor, is there any great and pressing and genuine desire for the suffrage. The evidence of petitions to Parliament will not alone count for much with any one who has witnessed the ease with which signatures can be obtained, by mere importunity, from the great multitude of unthinking persons in which category must be included the numbers who “think’in strict obedience to the last person who has addressed them. But if there were a genuine, wide, and pressing desire for the Parliamentary franchise among women, the large female population would assuredly make itself heard in very different fashion from those reports of meetings for women's suffrage which are from time to time to be seen in the newspapers, and seem to interest principally those who attend and address the meetings. The subject would be frequently and eagerly discussed amongst women by themselves, the prospects of the measure in Parliament would be eagerly scanned, and constant efforts would be made by women in their families to press the claim for female suffrage on their male relatives. Now, whatever may be the case in the large towns among certain coteries, things are not thus in the country at large.
This attitude of the female sex in England is not, I think, to be explained, as our female reformers would perhaps have it, as mere ignorance resulting in apathy. Women, no doubt, are still as a rule less instructed than men. But they have as much mother-wit as men; they are as conversant, in their own way, with the practical needs and difficulties of life; and in judging les questions intimes, the questions of what is likely to be good or bad for their daughters and sisters, they are probably in the main just as competent as men in judging for their sons and brothers. Indeed, the absolute.equality' of the sexes in mental ability is strongly insisted on by the advocates of women's rights' as a main ground for the concession of the franchise to women. It behoves them, then, seriously to consider the fact that large numbers of these competent female persons have no wish for political equality with men. Especially is it to be noted that married women are for the most part indifferent if not opposed to it.
I now wish (so far as an obscure person like myself can argue for my sex) to show why women are to be reckoned wise and prudent in declining to grasp at direct political power. I hope it will appear that this by no means involves their having no interest in the affairs of their country, but that their interest and also their influence in those affairs will be best exercised by other means than by voting at parliamentary elections.
I will begin by admitting that which I should have thought too clear to be ever in dispute, but which seems to be thought by many contenders for women's rights' necessary to be insisted upon-viz. that if this question is to be decided by (1) mere intellectual capacity, or (2) the qualifications of property-holding, labour-employing, taxpaying, the case for admitting women to the parliamentary franchise is plain. As to the first, it is certain that there are numbers of women far more competent intellectually to exercise the franchise than are very many of the present electorate. And though (pace the contenders aforesaid) the mental power of the average woman is probably distinctly below that of the average man, the difference could not be made out so great as to justify the withholding of the franchise from one sex while it is granted to the other. As to the second test, it is undeniable that women do (and probably will in an increasing number of cases) exercise functions which are held to be 'notes' of the capable citizen in the case of men. Why, it is asked, should they be debarred from benefiting by the natural corollary of public rights to public duties, capacities, responsibilities ? Surely it is an artificial, anomalous arrangement which debars them.
An artificial arrangement, I suppose, is one bearing on a given set of conditions from without, and for reasons foreign to the natural demands of those conditions. Now in this sense any human arrangement must seem artificial, if regard be had only to one set of facts out of the various and complicated sum-total of life. Actually, all our arrangements are in the nature of compromises between the exigencies of this consideration and that; for it is impossible to pick out any one set of facts, and then draw a conclusion on the merits without coming into conflict with equally legitimate conclusions from other picked-out facts. But these compromises are mostly made unconsciously, though our sense of them is witnessed to by the distrust which all practical people feel for paper theories untested in the wear and tear of life. The actual position of women is the result of such a compromise, between the demands that might logically be made for them as intellectual, property-holding, wage- and tax-paying persons, and certain other considerations; and the compromise has been arrived at unconsciously and gradually. If by calling that position artificial people mean that it is the result of a deliberate scheme, planned by men for the exclusion of women from power, they can be contradicted with absolute security. All the evidence of mankind's history goes to show that the relative position of the sexes as we know it has slowly worked itself out in obedience to deep underlying laws, which, unawares to us, have shaped its main outlines. That there ever was a time when men as a sex said of the other sex, * These women may become too powerful; we must see to it and keep them down,' there is no evidence whatever. No, the insistence has always been on what is fitting and beneficial to women in themselves, and as mothers, wives, and daughters of men; and the ideas of what is so have slowly shaped themselves according to the great unalterable facts of human nature.
Now (though it may appear to some people pompous to say so) it is by appeal once more to these great unalterable facts, underlying all our arrangements, that the question of conceding the parliamentary franchise to women ought to be decided. A human being is, so to speak, 'all of a piece’; and it is really impossible to separate warp from woof—to draw distinct lines dividing its living organism into sections, however for convenience' sake we may distinguish things mental from things physical, things moral from things intellectual, and so on. And though in spite of popular science numbers of us still think and speak as if the mind and soul made up a kind of separate machine, fitted into the body like a travelling-clock in a box, yet we are more and more aware that the attempt to deal with any so-called part' of human nature without reference to other parts always results in disaster. We are familiar with warnings against cultivating the mind at the expense of the body, or indulging the body to the clogging
This is said advisedly, spite of the instances to be cited of the opposition by male workers to the intrusion of women upon their trade or profession. These seem to me not the opposition of sex to sex, but mere cases of a class and trade exclusiveness which has the sole purpose of maintaining a certain rate of wages, and is exercised quite as often by men against men as by men against women. Again, the often-quoted absorption by the male sex of educational endowments intended for both sexes cannot be shown to have resulted from any plan to oust girls from schools : it resulted rather from the fact that there was no demand for female education,