« ForrigeFortsæt »
not by teaching “any of the peculiar principles of any one denomination of Protestants, but to act as pioneers for all, teaching alone the simple truths of the Gospel."
Whatever may have been the effect of these schools in making converts to Protestantism, their influence in making converts to civilisation, and thus improving the social and economical condition of the female part of the population, has been immense. This is sufficiently manifested by the simple fact, stated in one of the late Reports of the Association, that no less a sum than 75001. has been received by the pupils of the Connaught schools as their earnings for a single year. This estimate is formed from the returns of all the schools, the General as well as the Association Schools.
This "sewed muslin manufacture" has of late years become a most important article of commerce in Ireland. It was stated in a paper by Mr. Holden, read before the meeting of the British Association at Belfast, in the first week of September, that a quarter of a million of persons (young women and girls chiefly) are now employed in this manufacture, in Ulster alone, at the weekly pay of from 4s. to 6s.; and that from 500,0001. to 600,0001. are annually paid for labour, exclusive of materials. A great advantage attending on this kind of work is its being carried on at the domestic fireside, and, as just stated, in schools.
Although the great staple of the work done in the schools consists of this "sewed muslin,” knitting, stitching, and all other kinds of needlework are also taught and exercised in them. It has been found, in numerous instances, that the children belonging to these schools, even those of tender age, have been able to assist, and have assisted very considerably, their parents in their difficulties.
The Union Workhouse in Ballina contained, at the time of my visit, only 750 persons of all ages, among whom there were between twenty and thirty Protestants. There were in the schools 324 boys and girls; and 150 were in the hospital, of whom fourteen were labouring under ophthalmia.?
Last year, the smallest number at any time in the house was 1375. According to the official reports, there were relieved in the Union in 1850, 5954 in the house, and 4169 out of the house; and in 1851, 3390 in-doors and 20 out-doors.
There is a farm of twenty-five acres attached to the workhouse, on which the boys that have not reached their fourteenth year are alone employed. At the period of my visit, indeed, all hands, of whatever age or sex, that were able to work, were so employed; but this was a mere temporary harvest labour. The true principle on which such works should be conducted are laid down in the last Report of the Commissioners as follows:
“In carrying out those provisions of the statute 1 In a communication received from the master, dated January 31, I find the numbers in the house were still further reduced at that date, there being then only 645 in the house, and only five cases of ophthalmia.
11 and 12 Vic., cap. 25, which permit farms to the extent of twenty-five acres to be taken for the instruction of children under sixteen years of age in an improved system of agriculture, we have endeavoured to guard as much as practicable against any evasion of the object of the statute by substituting adult labour for that of the young persons for whose employment and instruction these provisions were enacted. We have, therefore, usually stipulated that such farms should be held in connection with buildings wholly detached from the main workhouse, and fitted for the reception and maintenance of young persons to be instructed in agriculture; and in most instances this arrangement has been effected.
“ The desire of Boards of Guardians to take farms under this statute has often been connected with an intention to obtain profit from the labour of the adult male inmates, by employing them on the farm. To such employment of adult workhouse inmates we have objected, not only as going beyond the terms of the Act of Parliament, but as tending to make residence in the workhouse less irksome to persons able to work, than it is when employment is found for them within the enclosed yards of the building; and since the number of this class of paupers has decreased, there has been less anxiety shown to take additional land beyond the twentyfive acres authorised by the original Act. Unions, as in those of Galway, Ballina, Clogheen,
Dungarven, New Ross, Gorey, Kilrush, and Ennis, the Guardians have carried out the precise object of the Legislature in giving young persons under sixteen the benefit of instruction in improved modes of agriculture, and these exertions have been reported to us by some of our Inspectors as productive of very useful and beneficial results.”
It would appear that the Ballina farm, conducted on these principles, has answered its purposes admirably, as will be manifest from the following extracts, taken from Capt. Hamilton's Report, dated April, 1852 :
“ The Ballina Workhouse Farm consists of twentyfive statute acres. There is an Agriculturist, who is paid at the rate of 35l. per annum, with a house, but no rations, He resides in the Auxiliary Workhouse, and has entire charge of the Agricultural class, which at present numbers only 39 boys, between fourteen and sixteen years of age, and 14 boys under fourteen years of age. The latter have only been under instruction for one week, having been sent to fill vacancies.
There are sixteen acres prepared for crops, which will consist this year of oats, turnips, flax, parsnips, carrots, onions, &c. I cannot, perhaps, convey a better idea of the success of the system than by repeating what the Agriculturist complained to me of Why, Sir, I no sooner teach a boy anything, and make him useful, than I lose him.'
“ The farm may be said to have been only fairly in operation this year, and already 28
boys, most of whom were orphans, and who had been for years inmates of the house, have found employment out of the house, and have, I am led to believe, given satisfaction to their employers.
“ The greater number of boys who have been instructed, or are at present under instruction at the farm, are orphans; they look very healthy, and are well behaved. Indirectly the farm has hitherto paid. For, if the cost of maintenance and clothing the boys, who have through its means ceased to be a burden on the Rates of the Union, be taken into consideration, there is a present saving of at least 1201. per annum, not taking into account the difference of cost between turning out useful members of society, and those whose training entirely unfits them for anything but crime and misery,—in either of which courses, I need hardly remark, they would prove a heavy and constant burden on the industrious classes.
“I regard the system (slight as has been my experience of it), when commenced with caution and under favorable circumstances, as one of the chief means of remedying the lamentable effects of the last few years, which have made the workhouses of some Unions the only, at present, ostensible home of many hundreds of orphan children."
The boys employed on the farm receive a couple of hours' schooling before going to work.
The dietary in this house is the one ordinarily used. I only remember a little peculiarity in the bread. Instead of being made into loaves, it