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merthyr AND d owl a is,


merthyr AND d owl a is, {Abridged from the Morning Chronicle.) EDUCATION.—PAUPERISM. As I wished to know what increased accommodation had of late years been provided, through the instrumentality of the Church, for this rapidly growing population, I inquired of the rector of Merthyr what was the state of things in this particular when he came here, and what had since been done. I give his reply:—"When I came here there were only two 'National Schools '—one for boys, and the other (that now licensed in the Cyfarthfa district) for girls. Between them, these were capable of containing about 350 children but they were neither of them well filled, and one (the boys' school) was in a bad state of repair. I am happy to say that, in more efficient hands, there has been a considerable improvement both in the attendance and in the progress of the children. As soon as the new church was completed, I began to solicit subscriptions for new schools, and for this purpose I obtained the necessary permission to convey to the National Society a piece of ground adjoining the new church, which also was built on glebe land. These schools contain accommodation for 300 children—150 ooys and 150 girls—and they have been well attended. Their cost was about LSOO, of which £ 300 was supplied by the Com- mittee of the Privy Council for Education, and E100 by the National Society; the remainder being made up by private subscriptions. Before they were used as day-schools, they were opened as night-schools for adults. The plan we adopted was one struck out by Lady Charlotte Guest, and already tried with success at Dowlais. The services of competent persons to superintend were retained at rr.oderate salaries but the greatest amouqt of work was done by voluntary teachers, who gave their services for one or more nights in the week. The female school was held in the new school-room, and that for men at the old school-room. The number of volunteer teachers amounted to about 120, and for a time the rooms were crowded to excess for instance, there were counted at one time 396 women in a school built for 300 children, and the men's school was not less crowded. This, however, did not last. In the long days of summer the attendance gradually decreased. The adult schools were, therefore, discontinued on the 1st of May, and it was intended to recommence them in September, but the cholera intervening, everything was disarranged, and the meeting of these schools was postponed to the second week of October. The attendance has since not been so full as formerly, .yet much good is done by them." There was no infant-school here attached to the Church, if indeed there was any other-at least I heard of none. But a club-room had been taken for the purpose of an infant-school in connexion with the Church, which, I was told, would shortly be opened, and would accommodate about 170 infants. There is no school whatever connected with the Church in the populous district of Pen-y-darran. About a year ago Mr. Alderman Thompson announced to Mr. Campbell his intention of establishing an infant school for the benefit of the children of persons employed in Pen-y-darran works, but this purpose has not yet been carried into effect. It is to be hoped that sympathy for the infant population of Merthyr will induce the public to assist in making provision for a school-house where they will be better accommodated than in the private room now hired for the purpose. The rate of infant mortality is higher here, I believe, than anywhere else in the kingdom. I have already given the local statistics on this point. It is above all things necessary that infants should have every provision for ventilation, Warmth, and com- fort made for them in the school-room. This cannot well be done in a private apartment not built for such a purpose. I visited the new schools and examined the children. The following is the substance of the notes I made. The exterior of the building is neat, and of the ancient almshouse" style, with slate roof and high gables. It struck me, however, as being low—an objection, the importance of which Mr. Wyatt, who is the architect, will, I hope, consider when he next designs an edifice of this kind. I first went to the boys' school. On examining the books I found that the average attendance was about -120 daily. The boys were mostly well- clothed and clean; only one of them was barefoot. The master, who is from the training school at Westminster, Qbserved that they were children who, but for the school, would have been running the streets." The course of instruc- tion at present comprises reading, writing, and arithmetic, geography, and the outlines of history. When the highest- class boys are sufficiently advanced, they will be taught gram- mar. I tried the second class, consisting of bovs from seven to nine years old, in the Gospel of St. Luke, and "they acquitted themselves very creditably, reading without hesitation, and correctly. One boy in the head class was working a sum in practice, another in reduction, a xhird in subtraction, and so on. As a body, the master informed me, the children show great acuteness and capacity. 11 Thp only diffcultv I have said he, is to get them to attend regularly; when they stav away for a few days of course they fall back. Mondays and Fridays are the worst days for attendance." He could give me no reason why these days the attendance was small. On turning suddenly from the master, I asked the boy nearest me {who might be about nine years old), What kindness did Mary Magdalen do for Christ?" He replied, without a moment's thought, "She washed his feet, and wiped them with the hair of her head." From the boys', I went to the girls' school. The room has a timber roof, and is in all respects similar to the other. The schoolmistress is also from the training -institution -at West- OTUistei. The books showed the average attendance to be about 150. The course of instruction is nearly the same as in the boys' school, with the addition of the feminine arts of sewing and knitting. The children were extremely well clad. neat in their appearance, and clean. Most of them were sewing when I entered. They may bring work of their own, but they are mostly occupied on work for a town charity for supplying the poor with clothes. They read for me the 21st chapter of C-enesis, which was in the course for the day. I examined them by questions on that chapter, and they answered with remark- able quickness and general accuracy. Two of them were strikingly superior in intelligence, and these answered ques- tions that were put to them on other than scriptural points. There were 491 children admitted in the course of the year. The worst of it," said the rector, who accompanied me, is that they come and go in so irregular a manner, This I think an evil that will in time abate. It must-be more the fault of the parents-than the children, for it is in their power to compel at- tendance. But in reality the people have not yet begun to feel the advantage of these schools, as they have only been opened a year. When they see the striking improvement in manners, language, and turn of thought which these schools eventually 9 1 must bring about, they will then properly estimate the value of such institutions and will be anxious to profit by them as largely as they can. The children sung a hymn, the clergyman read prayers, and we separated. The holidays at both schools are a fortnight and three days, at Midsummer and Christmas. I took an opportunity of visiting the Adult Schools. I could scarcely credit my senses when the governess told me that the girls I saw were those whom I have formerly described as stack- ing coal for coking, loading trams, and cleaning ore on the scopes of the mountain, black, coarsely clad, and repulsive. Here they were clean, orderly, and well dressed. The average- attendance at present is sixty; They meet five nights in the Week. The full season lasts from October to June. The governess, a very intelligent woman, of many years' experience, speaking of the aptness of these grown-up women for learning, said :—" You would be surprised to see how rapidly they get on. Even married women have learnt to read the Testament and to write well, in one season." They were mostly writing when I entered, using steel pens and copy-hooks-a far preferable system to the slate and pencil, which I think are too muclrused in some of these schools. A lady of the town—one of the voluntary teachers-was here engaged in her beneficent duties. The school for men being at a distance, in George Town, Cyfarthfa, I had not an opportunity of visiting it. The average attendance, I was told, is about ninety. The efforts made by the Church, assisted by Sir John and Lady Guest, for the extension of sound and useful education in Dowlais, have been very great, and are as praiseworthy as they have been successful. I need not give the particulars with the same minuteness as 1 have with respect to education in what is properly called Merthyr. An outline of the arrange- ments will here suffice. There is here a boys' school, under three masters from the training institution at Battersea. This school, unlike the boys' school in Merthyr, is not connected with-the National Society. In the upper school there are 40, in the second school 130 scholars. Those in the head class barn algebra, mechanics, and others of the useful sciences; tne^others learn reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and nstory. Ihe girls' school is nominally in connexion with the National Society, but I believe receives no aid from it. It is under the superintendence of three schoolmistresses, selected With great care, and who perform their duty very satisfactorily. Lefore the visit of the cholera, the 'average attendance was »o0 since then it has fallen off, and has been reduced to ftbout 110. There arc three infant-schools here. The first, gilder charge of a master and mistress, has at present an average ,IttL attendance of 170 the second, under a mistress and an assistant, has an attendance of 120 the third, which is governed by a distress, averages just now 40. It was here that the plan of adult schools was first tried in South W ales. There are in Dowlais as in Merthyr two adult schools-one for each religious denomination. The average attendance of men was for some time 170 it has been now re- duced to 110; this was accounted for to me by a statement that there had been a want of efficient teachers, but I was told that this would be obviated in future. It was cheering to learn that this falling off was not the fault of the workmen, but owing to a defect which attention can, and it is to be hoped will, remedy. The adult school for women has an average at- tendance of 100. There are two teachers—one paid and the other a volunteer-to each class. It was remarked to me of these adult schools by the incumbent, Mr. Jenkins, that he thought that they had done much good. "The shopkeepers," said he, "-have more than once in the course of conversation intimated that the effect of them has been greatly to improve the language and conduct of young men and women in the streets and everywhere." So much for the day-schools of Dowlais, which are mainly supported by the fund accumulated by deductions from the wages of the workmen. There are three Sunday-schools in Dowlais for adults, having an attendance of 311 in these the Welsh language is used. Further, there are two English Sun- day-schools, in which the average number of scholars is 120. Everywhere I found a great falling off in the attendance since the visitation of the neighbourhood with cholera, as compared with the numbers previously to the coming of that destroyer. This reduction was generally one-fourth, and sometimes nearly a half, of the former average attendance. The Rev. Mr. Jenkins observed of it, The cholera has unhinged and broken up everything." The Dissenters' schools in Merthyr and Dowlais are mostly Sunday schools. The English and Welsh Wesleyans educate 550 scholars. The Welsh Baprists have 1,554 Sunday scholars the English Baptists 180. The Welsh Independents have 2,067 (one school at Bethania Chapel" has 600 Sunday scholars) the English Independents 100. The Welsh Cal- vinistic Methodists educate 810 scholars; one chapel alone, Hermon Chapel," accommodates not less than 500, and has 105 teachers. The Primitive Methodists have 40 scholars, a d the Roman Catholics 60. The particulars I have here given on this most serious and interesting question show with tolerable accuracy the provision made for the education of the rising generation in Merthyr and Dowlais. For many years the workmen were almost entirely helpless with regard to the instruction of their children. The private schools were utterly incompetent and insufficient, and the wonder really is, how and where the labouring classes who were bred in this district obtained so much knowledge, not to say learning, as they possess. Great praise is due, of late years, to Sir John and Lady Guest, who, fortified by the assistance of the Legislature in giving a power to the employer to create an education fund out of the wages of the workmen, have rendered infinite service to the cause of social advancement in Dowlais. Neither must the exertions of the Rev. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Jenkins, and of the various ministers of the Dissenting chapels, be overlooked. I have been particular to give all their due. The benefit of this great movement, though it has been going forward only a very few years, is already visible, and it will from time to time enlarge. I have next to speak of pauperism in and around Merthyr. Considering that -the population is almost entirely dependent upon manual labour—that employment, fluctuating with the prosperity or depression of the iron, trade, is unsteady, and often insufficient—and that wages have been for a long time uilusually loiv-it is rather a matter of surprise than otherwise that pauperism is not more prevalent than I found it in the mining districts of South Wales. This speaks well for the provident habits of. the workman, and attests his aversion to receive parochial assistance, except in the last extremity—a feet I have heard mentioned with praise by more than one ob- servant person in Merthyr. The Sick fund" and Doctor's fund" at the iron works, with the Benefit societies," which are here very numerous, have been of essential service in this particular—at once limiting the burden of the rates, and pre- serving the self-respect of the workman, who, but for these provisions, would, in cases of severe sickness or accident, be reduced to the humiliating necessity of obtaining relief from the parish. The Poor-law Union of Merthyr comprises nine parishes— some purely agricultural, and others manufacturing. It was created in 1836. At that time Chartism had a stronghold here amongst the mountains, and it will be remembered that the New Poor-law was violently denounced by the leaders of that party as inhuman, monstrous, wicked, and detestable. This was not without its effect upon the classes who were most likely to be personally affected by the change. In addition to the in- fluence, of Chartist orators, the prejudices of the Welsh in favour of old-established institutions, and their distrust of no- velties, made them regard the new system with jealousy and disfavour; it was therefore thought unadvisable to erect a union-house for the district of Merthyr. There was, moreover. a desire on the part of the guardians to see how the new law would work where union-houses had been erected, previously to, committing themselves by building. Fourteen years have elapsed, and no union-house has been raised at Merthyr. The hostility of the working classes has dwindled to insignificance long agoj.so that we must look for other causes to account for this backwardness to give the New Poor-law full efficiency in the Merthyr Union. As I have been informed, the fault lay with the country guardians, who pertinaciously opposed the erection of a workhouse on the ground of expense. The folly of this obstinacy I shall show by a comparison of the expendi- ture of the adjoining union of Abergavenny with that of the Merthyr 6iiioii COMPARISON OF EXPENDITURE BETWEEN THE MERTHYR AND-ABERGAVENNY UNIONS. POPULATION IN 1841. Merthyr Union 52,861 Abergavenny Union 50,674 EXPENDITURE DURING- FOUR YEAUS ENDING WITH LADY-DAY, 1849, FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND RELIEF OF THE POOR, &C. 1816. 1847. 1848^ 1849. Merthyr £ 8,552 £ 8,882 £ 14,016 £ 19,365 Abergavenny (work- Abergavenny (work- house exnenses in- cluded 6,393 6,818 8,592 9,201 In-favour of Aberga- -—— —— vejiny £ 2,159 | £ 2,0S4 | E5,424 £ 10,164 I should here remark that it is quite fair to contrast these unions, their component elements being precisely similar; that is to say, they equally comprise manufacturing and agricultu- ral- districts—the Abergavenny union containing', at the time the above statement was drawn up, Rhymney, Tredegar, Beau- fort, Ebhw Vale, Nantyglo, and other iron works. By this table it will be seen that (the population of both unions being of the same classes, and nearly equal) the expen- diture of the Merthyr union, without a workhouse, exceeds that of Abergavenny union with a workhouse, by the enormous sum of £ 10,164; being actually more than double what it ought to have been, as compared with the latter union, if affairs had been as judiciously conducted at Merthyr as at Abergavenny. Struck with the sudden and large increase of expenditure in both unions in the year 1848, and curious to learn the occasion of it, I inquired, andw-as informed that this was mainly attri- butable to the Irremovable Act. Here again the advantage is on the side of the Abergavenny union, where the increase was only £ 1,774, whilst in Merthyrit was not less than: £ 5,134. Thus much for the folly, as regards the rate-payers, of not erecting a union-house, and giving the New Poor-law full ope- ration at Merthyr—I have now to show the social mischiefs of this purblind and mistaken policy. The privilege of personal freedom is nearly the only set-off that the poor can urge in favour of out-of-door relief as against provision in the work- house. We shall afterwards see, when visiting the dwellings of the poor, how the old system works in Merthyr; in the meantime I may remark, in general, that, left to themselves, the poor are half-starved, in rags, ill-housed, squalid, diseased, and tilthv whilst in a union-house their condition, if not en- tirely the reverse, is greatly ameliorated. But there is another and a more crying evil resulting from the present state of the poor-law regulations in Merthyr—and that Is, the neglect and ruin of the many children whom circumstances have thrown upon the parish. In the Merthyr union there are 150 orphan, deserted, and illegitimate children, "relieved without their parents." For many of these there are no means of education provided they are boarded and lodged in the worst quarters of the town, often in the filthy houses of the Irish, where the only society is that of thieves, prostitutes, and vagrants, so that their training is derived from the example of vice, recklessness, and infamy. The consequences are enough to-make one shud- der. Yet, with these perpetually before the public, a humane endeavour made by Mr. H. Bruce—supported by Mr. D. James, the chairman of the board of guardians, and a few others—to remedy this alarming evil by the establishment of an industrial school where these children would, in a great measure, support and educate themselves, was defeated at a meeting of the board of guardians in November last. No doubt an education in a workhouse would be vastly preferable to an education in crime, such as these neglected children at present receive—and that, prima facie, is a reason for a union-house comprising a school. But it has been found that the association of adult and iufant paupers in a workhouse has not been without, ill effects and we have the authority of the Poor-law Commissioners for the fact that all endeavours at separation within the house have failed. This being the case, and education apart from the union-home being desirable, perhaps 11J system has ever been proposed better calculated for bringing up children at a mode- rate expense, and at the same time in such a manner as to make them useful and exemplary members of society, than that of industrial schools. So nicely balanced were the supporters and opponents of an industrial school at Merthyr, that the motion in its favour was only lost by a minority of one. It is, however, to be hoped that the defeated party will not relax in their endeavours to overcome the prejudices of those who opposed them; and, whatever may be the ultimate result, they have the conscious- ness of knowing that the wishes of a majority of the intelligent classes of this neighbourhood are in their favour, as was un- mistakeably shown by the memorial to the guardians praying for the establishment of such a school. The following is a return of the pauperism in Merthyr union on the 1st of last July. An analysis of this table, which I shall afterwards nitke, ix ill throw some light on the social condition of the labouring classes iu and around ,Merthyr A STATEMENT OF PAUPERISM IN MERTIIYR ON JULY 1, 1849 J r3 a h 4 o 'a o rS fS +> Pj •»» -° FC Ci) I 1. Adult Males (married or single) relieved in cases of their own sickness, accident, or infirmity 178 6 184 2. Adult Males relieved oil account of sick- 5 ness, accident, or infirmity of any of the 2 family, or of a funeral 29 1 30 ° 3. Adult Males (married or single) relieved S oil account of want of work, or other causes. none | ,4. Wife Fan-iiiies of adult males, ) 171 7 178 h • 5. Children un-< in columns 1, 2, 3, re-> °3\ der 16 ( sident with the father) 469 27 496 0 6. Widows 207 9 216 7. Children under 16, dependent on widows 434 21 455 8. Single women without children 18 1 19 .o 9. Mothers. •. • (Illegitimate children and j 37 4 41 "g 10. Children I their mothers 43 4 47 •% 11. Wives ( families relieved on ac- } 6 g 3 12. Children., { ^1 &c g J 19 19 13 Wives. ( Resident' Families of) 45 111! Children.. } XTed^ j 2 114 r, ,15. Males ..154 11 165 JTS'( 16. Females.442 38 480 <5^/17. Children under 16, relieved with Parents 69 4 73 o 'o j 18. Orphans or other Children under 16, re- lievecl without their Parents 73f 3 76 T T> ( 19. Males 5 — 5 Lunatics, Insane Persons, I 2Q. Females 2 — 2 and idiots. | 2L Children under 16 none 22. Vagrants relieved out of the workhouse 29 — 29 2,579 2,579 Taking the population of the last census return as 52,864, the amount of pauperism in this union is not quite 5 per cent.; whereas I find that the average of paupers relieved throughout England and Wales, in proportion to the population, was, in 1847, as high as 10'8 per cent.. The first remarkable circumstance which strikes the reader of this table is that there are here no adult males chargeable on account of want of work." Applications of this kind are infrequent, and when made, the party is ordered to break stones, by which he earns his own and his family's subsistence. The reader must bear in mind that the population of this union was 52,864 at the last census in 1841, and that it has since very largely increased. Of the 184 males relieved in cases of their own sickness, accident, or infirmity, the greater portion are chargeable through accidents. Some, having exhausted their sick fund" or benefit society" allowance, become burden- some to the parish; others, again, have not the advantage of Z, any such provision for casualty or illness, and are therefore chargeable from the first. The 4th and 5th items show the number of women and children whose proper riieans of support have been cut off by sickness or accident to the father and hus- band, or by some heavy affliction in the family. As regards illegitimacy, the morals of Merthyr, if they are not above, are certainly not below, the average of towns of equal size. For instance, I find by the Ninth Annual Report of the Registrar- General that the number of illegitimate births in the district of Merthyr (a manufacturing one) in 1846 was 127-whilst in the city of York (ivhich has no manufactures of any consequence), with a population less by several thousands than Merthyr, the number was 128, a contrast obviously in favour of morals in the latter town. Neither is the number of children chargeable through the imprisonment of the parent by any means large. Looking at items 13 and 14, where is shown the number of women and children destitute through non-residence of males," it appears large. These, I am told, are all cases where the husband has run away, leaving his wife and family to the care of the parish. There are many of such instances but when the fact is called to mind, that numbers of men of bad character flock to the iron works from the surrounding coun- ties (when by misconduct they have need to fly), where they are followed by their families, our surprise is lessened; and it is nearly always men of bad reputation, who have to fear the law, that thus abscond. The number of infirm old men (165) and women (480) is not great, considering that this is a manu- facturing population; the women are -mostly widows past work. Lastly, with reference to the number of orphans and other children under sixteen years of age, relieved without their parents, I should observe that this statement is considerably below the actual number at present chargeable—the ehotera, having intervened since the date of the above return, has largely extended the ranks of these fatherless and unfortunate sufferers. The number of lunatics is small. They are provided for at a private establishment near Briton Ferry, this county having no public asylum. I may mention that I one day saw in the streets of Merthyr, under charge of the police, on his way to the magistrates for an order for confinement as a pauper lunatic, a fine old man, who, lifting up his hands and turning round like an Eastern dervish, kept crying out in Welsh, I am the son of the great God!" I learnt on inquiry that his was a religious madness, and that he belonged to the sect of Mormonites, which, as I have already stated, number a not inconsiderable congregation in this town. The following is an account of the amount of money expended in the relief of the poor in the Merthyr Union during seven years ending with the 29th September last, as obligingly furnished me by the assistant overseer, Mr. Edward Lewis: — Year ending 28th September, 1843 LS,599 18 4 1844 8,371 1 2 1845 8,432 7 1 „ 18-16 7,081 3 5 1817 8,727 5 4 ,,18i8 12,487 11 0 1849 10,034 2 5 Total of 7 years E63,733 8 9 This, it should be observed, is only the expenditure in the actualrelief of the poor, and does not include the disburse- ments for low charges, magisterial and medical expenses, pay- ments to the county or borough rates, &c., all of which are included in the table contrasting the Merthyr and Aber- gavenny Unions above given. How large a portion of the rates is borne by the proprietors of the iron works will be seen by the following statement:— POOR-RATES PAID BY THE MERTHYR IRON-MASTERS FOR THE QUARTER ENDING 25TH DECMEBER LAST. Dowlais Iron Company. £ 697 11 0 Pen-y-Darran British Iron Company 345 10 0 Cyfarthfa I 559 16 0 Plymouth Works 381 11 6 Total of the quarter £ 1,984 8 6 To conclude this subject, and substantiate my remark that pauperism is not more prevalent in the Merthyr district than elsewhere, I will extract, from the fourteenth report of the Poor-law Commissioners a statement of the receipts and expen- diture of West Bromwich Union—the population of which is engaged in manufactures, like that of Merthyr, and is nearly equal in point of numbers, the first being 52,596, and the last 52,864 Total amount of money received Total amount of parochial for the relief of the poor in rates, &c., expended in the the year ending oth March, relief of the poor, &c., in the 1847. year endiuff 5th March. 1847 West Bromwich.. £ 15,497 1 0 £ 15,085 11 0 Merthyr Tydfil 14,630 3 6 12,843 3 0 zCS36 17 6 £ 2.212 8 0 By this it appears that pauperism is more expensive—and it, is fair to presume, more abundant—in West Bromwich than in Merthyr though the population of the former is actually less than that of the latter town. The difference in the total Where husbands riii-i iway. There are here many of these cases. t This is the total of orphans deserted and illegitimate children. sum expended, amounting to upwards of £ 2,200, is very remarkable and as I have shown, if Merthyr had a union- house, and the parochial affairs were conducted there as economically as they are in Abergavenny, the charges in Merthyr being proportionably reduced, the contrast between, the cost of pauperism in that town, as compared with that of West Bromwich, would yet be more striking. With this zl. I close my remarks on the statistics of pauperism in and around Merthyr.


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