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FOREIGN AND COLONIAL. F

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THE SCHOOL GOARD AND THE !…

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THE SCHOOL GOARD AND THE THEATRES. Mr. William Wybrow Bobertson, manager of the Royal Aquarium Theatre, appeared at Westminster Police-court, to several summonses taken out under the provisions of the Elementary Education Act, 1876, for employing children under 10 years of age. There were also two summonses for employing children over the age of lOyears, they not hiving obtained certificates of competency as to rfading, writing, &c. In opening the cvse, Mr. D. Straight, who appeared for the School Board, said there were six summonses for employing children under 10 years of age, and two for over that age. The specific summonses related to the employ ment of children in the Christmas pantomime, and instead of their minds being improved by proper and judicious schooling they were employed twice a ctay skipping about, and got pantomime notions in their heads, which could be of no use to them, and it was not desirable that children should be so employed instead of being sent to school. In the case of one of the boys named Coles, under 10 years of age, the mother proved that he attended school in the morning, and in the afternoon and evening personified a Colorado beetle and a French soldier. He received 9a. a week. The f&ther of two boys named Body proved that his two children were employed at the Aquarium Theatre. Latterly there had been a school at the Aquarium for these boys, and they went through a course of instruction under a schoolmaster. They received payment for their work. Mr. Robert- son said a lot had been said about idleness, skipping- about, and pantomimic antics, but that had only been put forward to cast a slur upon the profession gene- rally. He begged to say that there was no idleness in a theatre, and, referring to the exceptions allowed by the Act, he contended that according to the terms of the Act of Parliament the children were educated, more educated, in fact, than they would be at a School Board school. They were drilled under the best masters, taught music and singing under the best masters, and were being taught a profession and earning an honest livelihood, and beyond that a competent schoolmaster was pro- vided for them. He ventured to say that next to god- liness, which, he presumed, was one of the maxims of the School Board, they had been taught cleanliness. There were many men now eminent in the theatrical profession/who had commenced life in quite as humble a manner as these children, and he took it that the Act of Parliament was not framed to meet such cases as these, which were of the most vital im- portance to the whole of the profession. He, however, had come unprepared with witnesses, and was not aware that an array of legal talent had been engaged to contest the matter, or else he would have taken care that the matter should be left to more able minds to argue. Mr. Straight ridiculed the idea that this could be called educating children. Mr. Robertson argued that if the intention to educate the children was bona fide he could not be convicted. Mr. D'Eyncourt was against Mr. Babertson, and adjourned the case at his request. I '1'1

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PA ULIAMENTARY INTELLIGENCE.

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