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It is not,
Railway Company, at their works at Inchicore. strictly considered, and regarded as we must regard those noble institutions founded by Mr. Wilson, and by the Messrs Bagnall, worthy to be ranked as a factory school; but such as it is, we have the following account of it, in the first volume of The Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, for the year 1853 :—
"During the present year we have undertaken to erect a Model School at Inchicore, near Dublin, in connexion with the Great Southern and Western Railway.' The Directors have contributed £500 towards the building and fitting-up of the Institution (which is to be under our exclusive control), and granted an eligible site for the purpose upon a lease for ever. The day schools will be attended, principally, by the children of the persons in their service, and in the evenings instruction will be given to the mechanics, artisans, and labourers employed by the Company. We deem it of great importance that a Model School of this character should be established in connexion with every principal railway in Ireland; and we shall be prepared to give our favourable consideration to applications for grants towards the promotion of an object which cannot fail to open a wide field of improvement to a useful and increasing class of our working population."
If this school be successful, and if other Companies adopt the plan of connecting their schools-yet to be formed, alas! that we should write yet to be formed, with the Irish Board of National Education, we may, in time, produce schools. worthy of the country. Let it be remembered too, that there is no compulsion of learning in factory schools; no proselytism in religion: "the morning meetings," writes Mr. Wilson, in a letter, dated Good Friday, 18th April, 1851, and addressed "To the Men Employed in the Belmont Factory," not a place for religious controversy. I shall carefully avoid, when dissenters are present, anything in which they could not agree, and if any of the Roman Catholics of the factory should come, I should for the morning, when they were present, confine the reading to the subject upon which, happily, earnest Christians of whatever name are agreed, the worship, service, and love of our one Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
What factory schools are, and the good to be derived from them, not alone by the Company, but equally by society, is now within the judgment of the reader. It will have been observed that Mr. Wilson, from his salary of £1,000 per annum, was enabled to originate and support the Belmont Schools for about five years, upon his own sole responsibility;
and was enabled to expend upon them no less a sum than £3,289. It has been said that Mr Wilson is a man of peculiar and extraordinary ability, of indomitable zeal and of never-flagging industry. Doubtless Mr Wilson is all this; but he himself has written of Factory Schools what our honored friend Miss Carpenter has of Reformatory Schools,that all can be done by foresight, patience, and, above all, by Faith-Faith by which all great deeds are accomplished; and is there a nobler deed than that which James P. Wilson has achieved. The Alma and Inkermann are glorious victories of chivalry to which the historian will, in older days, refer; but many a man who charged upon these bloody fields, many a man who fell undaunted, giving his last word to country, his last prayer for victory, his last sigh to regret that he had not fallen amongst the thickest of the combat, would, with all his bravery of soul, all his boldness of heart, have turned despairing from the encounter with such difficulties as James Wilson has opposed, and battled against, and at length triumphed over-and now he stands a hero to all, to every mind save his own. How beautifully he has exemplified the thought expressed by Charles Mackay, in that poem in which he asks, and so nobly answers,
It is not in any spirit of absurd or maudlin philanthropy that we have written thus in support of Factory Schools. We have long believed in the wisdom, and in the forethought of those who have urged upon the nation the
necessity of educating up to the age, but not beyond it, the laboring and working classes. It was, whilst fully impressed with such sentiments as these, that the late Sir Robert Peel, in the inaugural address, delivered by him as President of the Tamworth Library and Reading Room, in January, 1841, urged these points upon the members, and said:
"I beseech you to reflect upon these things; and to enter upon the path that leads to knowledge. There may be difficulties at first, there may be habits of listlessness and inattention to be overcome; but as you advance, new prospects will expand, new beauties will beguile the way, and you will be cheered onward by a voice from within, of self-confidence, and self-respect.
That path must lead to improvement, it may lead to eminence and honourable fame. The aspirings of a pure ambition may be indulged by those of a lowly estate, and you will not now be able to say, that chill penury' has frozen the genial current' of your aspirations for knowledge and distinction. Review the names of many men conspicuous in our own time, in the annals of art and science. Enquire into their origin. Mark the first steps in life of the late Mr. Rennie-Sir Humphrey Davy-Sir Francis Chantrey -Mr. Dalton-Professor Farrady-Mr. Wheatstone, who by means of Electricity, is speeding the intercourse of thought and expression, with the velocity of light. Look around you. If y f you go to Lichfield, you see the monument of Dr. Johnson. If you go to Handsworth, the monument of Mr. Watt. Nay, without leaving the narrow precincts of your own town, you have the confirmation of these truths. Who is constructing here the wharfs from which new supplies of lime and coal are to be poured into the midland districts? Mr. Stephenson, the civil engineer. Had he any advantages over you in early life? What has raised him from the bottom of the colliery in which he worked as a boy, but the elastic force of natural acuteness and industry, combined with that economy of time, which enabled him to save one hundred pounds by mending the watches of his fellow workmen, after the hours of daily labour; and with those pious feelings, that prompted him to sanctify this first accumulation of capital, by applying it to the support of his indigent parents? In him you have a daily example of the methods by which, from the lowest origin, merit has been enabled to raise itself to high eminence and great respect.
I was making enquiry the other day, of a valued friend of mine, himself among the very first in scientific knowledge, as to the early history of men who have worked their way to distinction, and Ĭ received a letter from him which I will read to you.
I forgot to mention yesterday, that Mr. Grainger, the great architect, who has, within the last five years, rebuilt the town of Newcastle-in a style infinitely superior to Regent-street, and whom I met at the Duke of Northumberland's two years ago-began his career as a poor mason's boy, carrying a hod. In the interval between 1834 and 1838, he converted Newcastle from a black and filthy cluster of narrow streets of brick, to a condition exceeding
anything I have ever seen-excepting in the best parts of the New town of Edinburgh. The late Mr. Harvey, who died at an early age, three years ago, a professor at Woolwich, who published an excellent treatise on Meteorology in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana, had worked for many years as a carpenter in the Dockyard at Plymouth, where he afterwards became a teacher of mathematics, and whence removed to the professorship above mentioned. will send you his treatise, as I am sure it will interest you; and as there is in the first page, a private letter from the author; which if to your purpose you are welcome to quote.'
I cannot believe that by assuming the office of such a friend, by facilitating the access to such knowledge as we hope to dispense, that we shall be defeating any legitimate object of human policy, or counteracting the purposes of that Almighty Being, who gave us faculties to distinguish us from the beasts that perish, and will demand from us a severe account of the manner in which we have employed them.
I cannot believe that we shall inake men dissatisfied with their lot, by proving to them that a humble condition is no obstruction to the gaining of those distinctions which learning and science confer that there is a field of competition in which nothing but merit can secure the prize.
It seems to me, that by bringing into immediate contact, the intelligent minds of various classes and various conditions in life, by uniting (as we have united) in the Committee of Management of this Institution, the Gentleman of ancient family and great landed possessions, with the most skilful and intelligent of our Mechanics, that we are harmonizing the gradations of society, and establishing a bond of connection which will derive no common strength from the motives that influence us, and the cause in which we are engaged.
I can hardly conceive a mind so constituted, that being familiarized with the wonderful discoveries which have been made in every department of experimental Science-that seeing the proofs of Divine intelligence in every object of contemplation, from the organization of the meanest weed that we trample on, or the insect invisible to our eyes, up to the magnificent structure of the heavens, or the still more wonderful phenomena of the soul and reason of man-can retire from such contemplations, without more enlarged conceptions of God's providence and a higher reverence for His name. It seems to me that we must feel the dignity of our own nature exalted, when we hold communion with such thoughts and speculations as these; and that struck with awe, at the contemplation of infinite power, and infinite wisdom, w must yield the silent assent of our heart and reason, to the pious exclamation-'Oh Lord, how glorious are thy works, thy thoughts are very deep.' unwise man doeth not well consider this, and a fool doth not under
Yes! it is ignorance and folly that form unworthy conceptions of God's providence. Far different are the impressions of those who have the most considered this-and have made the greatest, how
ever imperfect, advances towards understanding it. Let me read to you the thoughts with which Sir Isaac Newton concludes his profound investigations into the mechanical causes which produce, and the laws which govern, the motions of the Universe.
This beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could have its origin in no other way, than by the purpose and command of an intelligent and powerful Being. He governs all things-not as the soul of the world, but as the Lord of the Universe. He is not only God, but Lord or Governor. We know Him only by His properties and attributes-by the wise and admirable structure of things around us, and by their final causes; we admire Him on account of His perfections, we venerate and worship Him on account of His government.'
These again, are the reflections from which Sir Humphrey Davy, in his last illness, derived according to his own expression, 'some pleasure and some consolation, when most other sources of consolation and pleasure were closed to him.' Speaking of the intellectual and moral qualities which are required in his opinion to form the character of a true philosophical inquirer, he observes, His mind should always be awake to devotional feeling; and in contemplating the variety and the beauty of the external world, and developing its scientific wonders, he will always refer to that infinite wisdom, through whose beneficence he is permitted to enjoy knowledge; in becoming wiser, he will become better; he will rise at once in the scale of intellectual and moral existence-his increased sagacity will be subservient to a more exalted faith, and in proportion as the veil becomes thinner, through which he sees the causes of things, he will admire more the brightness of the Divine light, by which they are rendered visible.'"
There is nothing of the dreamer in this; nothing of the utopian world creator, making all the earth a joint plan of spoliation for schemers, who call themselves the friends of the working classes. It is sound, common sense, worthy the son of an English manufacturer, worthy an English statesman, above all, worthy an English, patriotic gentleman.
We have, in the course of this paper, told the history of Factory Schools, in the words of Mr James P. Wilson, and have referred to him as the chief authority-we have done so. as we believe that he who works a principle, and succeeds, in a matter requiring a sound head and a christian heart, is best adapted to explain his own hopes, his own fears, and his own noble triumphs. Such a man as this we find James Wilson to be; in all that he has accomplished, his brother, Mr. G. F. Wilson, has heartily aided him; and if, from the reading of this paper, one practical friend can be secured to the cause, our labor will not be vain-the only reward a man like Mr Wilson can desire will have been gained.