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your hands. In the villages the dames' schools, as they were called, were able to a very great extent to give something like an elementary, or, if you prefer it, a rudimentary education to the children of the labourers.3 They would be, and they were, utterly unable to afford even rudimentary education to the masses.
There is only one more question which I have to ask, but as to which I have only a guess or two to offer as a substitute for the answer; for my weakness is to leave many questions unsolved in theology, in ethics, in economic and social history, for when a question is allowed to be an open question (in these matters) there is some hope of fruitful discussion and stimulating inquiry. When any science approaches the stage of dogma-dogma which is to be received as settled once for all-it has got to the stage where it is ceasing to be a living science at all.
Were the country folk in our English villages at the beginning of this century more, or less, content with their lot than they are today? Were they happier, or the reverse? To begin with, this is pretty certain, that they had very little thought of a higher life than that which they were living, but, such as it was, they made the most out of it-the most and the best of it.
The agricultural labourers of to-day are certainly better clad, more luxuriously fed, have far more leisure, are better educated, and are rapidly becoming better housed than their forefathers a century ago. And if these are the main constituents of happiness, then they are happier.
On the other hand, their grandfathers and great-grandfathers were much more gay and light-hearted than the moderns; they enjoyed their lives much more than their descendants do; they had incomparably more laughter, more amusement, more real delight in the labour of their hands; there was more love among them and less hate. The agricultural labourer had a bad drunken time between twenty or thirty years ago, and he has been growing out of that. A village sot is now a very rare bird, as rare as he was a hundred years ago. Then the labourer could not afford a drunken debauch-he had not the wherewithal. His master, the farmer, did drink, and sometimes deeply in the days when he was prospering. And for a few years after the rise of the labourer's wages, some twenty-five years ago, the labourer was the publican's friend. But hard-drinking has been steadily declining, and the habitual drunkard is looked upon as a coarse brute to be avoided. As to other vices, things are pretty much as they were; I am afraid rather worse than better.
Perhaps the saddest characteristic of the men of the present, as compared with the men of the past, is that the men of the past were certainly more self-dependent-I do not mean independent, in the
3 See Note, p. 28.
sense in which that word is used now- -more resourceful, more kindly, courteous, and contented with their lot than their descendants are.
As for the outlook, that is not for me to deal with; a man should never prophesy unless he is sure that is, unless he knows.
Each age has something to learn from the past. And most of us have something to unlearn before we are qualified to teach.
As to forecasting the future, that is becoming more and more difficult, living at the ever-accelerating pace which we are compelled to keep up in our time.
I think I know something about the English peasantry of a century or two gone by.
I think I know just a little about the agricultural labourer nowadays. I bear him a genuine love, and feel with him a cordial sympathy; and there is no knowing any men or any class of men whom we do not love and sympathise with.
But as to the agricultural labourer of the future, I am sometimes inclined to doubt seriously whether before another century has ended there will be any such thing as an agricultural labourer to know.
While these pages are passing through the press a volume of Notes on the History of the Church and Parish of Rattlesden, in the County of Suffolk, by the Rev. J. R. Olorenshaw, assistant curate of the parish, comes into my hands. The following notes on the schools in this village of about 1,000 inhabitants during the first forty years of the nineteenth century are very suggestive. They illustrate the remarks in the text. It would be well if others would collect similar traditions of the way in which elementary education was carried on in our rural parishes long before anyone had begun to dream of 'National Education: '
'Private schools were carried on in the parish in the earlier part of this century by different persons.
'A lame man, named Martin Wells, had a school in the Rectory, then otherwise unoccupied, about 1816-20, or later, and was succeeded by John Sadler.
The art of writing was taught in those days by means of a sand table.
'John Ready also had a school about the same time or a little later, in one of the old cottages . . . adjoining the Rectory Paddock.
'Two brothers named Cooper kept a school . . . somewhere about
'Mrs. Dickerson, wife of the Baptist minister, had a private school about 1821 . . . .
'A public school was held about 1837, or earlier, in a cottage on the Butts. . . . The boys attended school three days in the week and the girls three days.
'The Rev. S. F. Page was curate in charge of the parish, and was instrumental in getting the school removed from the Butts to the old workhouse buildings.'
[The return, made in 1839 by Mr. Page, gave a total of 132 children with 160 at the Sunday school.]
THE ADMIRALTY AND SUBMARINE
IN an article which I had the privilege of contributing to this Review last year, I attempted to put together the facts available for the consideration of the question whether some provision for submarine boats ought to form part of our naval policy. I had, of course, no access to official documents, and I had not, nor have I now, the technical knowledge which would justify me in expressing an independent or personal opinion. In this last respect I am in the same position as members of the Board of Admiralty who have to decide the question in the first instance, and members of the House of Commons who have to settle it-if only by acquiescence-in the last result.
Both tribunals have been subjected to a 'sea change' since I wrote in the month of May. Of the changes in Parliament there is no need, and not much available material, for much to be said. The points worth noting, so far as the present subject is concerned, are these: With no apparent difference worth mentioning in the balance of parties, there has been an enormous change in the personnel of the House. The members on both sides, whether new or old, have been elected on an issue so narrow and so definite that they have a 'free hand' to an extent unparalleled in former Parliaments. The short session, just over, was long enough to convince some old hands that the new House is not disinclined to use its freedom-with results that may upset many orthodox calculations. And, finally, our international relations are such that more than ever the efficiency of the Navy has become our supreme national concern. With or without reason, the peoples of foreign countries have condemned our South African policy. The Governments have indeed observed a strict neutrality as between ourselves and our enemies in the field, but which of them abstains from making profit for itself out of our embarrassments? In a situation so serious, and so likely to become more serious, the new House of Commons may insist on knowing more than the last was able to learn about our policy as to many matters, submarine boats included.
The personal changes at the Admiralty are of more immediate importance. They have excited a good deal of surprised comment, and as yet they stand unexplained and inexplicable. A new Government, coming into office after years of opposition, must necessarily place many of its members in positions for which they have had no previous qualifying experience. This is one of the necessary evils of our Parliamentary system. But why should a Government, carrying over after a victory at the polls, make a clean sweep of such a department as the Admiralty? All the Parliamentary members of the Board have been removed, after five years' experience, to make room for entirely new men. It is not for me to suggest any comparison between the members of the old Board and their successors. One may, however, on general grounds, regret that it was not found convenient to retain for a Department so certain to be severely tested in the immediate future the long administrative experience of Mr. Goschen. On the other hand, it may be that the new Board will be conscious of having a free hand in matters as to which Mr. Goschen had laid down the lines of a decided policy. Two questions, both in the first instance questions for technical experts, but both of immense significance to the efficiency of the Navy, have come to the front in recent months. The controversy about water-tube boilers has for the time been postponed by the appointment of a Commission of experts on a scale leaving nothing to be desired. The other question, about submarine vessels, is in a less satisfactory condition.
In the article above referred to, I attempted to put together from the limited means at my disposal the facts relating to the policy of foreign navies, the opinions of the experts, and the attitude of our own Admiralty; and I suggested that the time had come when some definite declaration of our position ought to be made. I hoped that the next debate on the Navy Estimates would produce such a declaration.
On the 3rd of May the First Lord said that no experiments in submarine boats had yet been made by our own authorities, but 'the most careful and consecutive watch is being kept on such experiments as are being made by foreign Powers.' Six weeks later, in the debate on the Shipbuilding Vote, several members pressed the Admiralty to define its position. The First Lord's reply was:
The importance of submarine boats had been pointed out, and it had been said that it was their duty to make experiments. The nations which were likely
to have the greatest use for these boats might gain from these experiments more than others. He did not propose to make publicly any declaration as to these boats. Of course he did not wish to encourage or discourage other nations, but he must ask the Committee to excuse him going into the question.
This somewhat cryptic utterance was the last word of the Admiralty in the old Parliament. But in the same debate a speech