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few attempt to do so. And further, no man dares to predict confidently the immediate triumph of one or the other of the many remedies suggested by those who believe the situation needs remedy, or of the policies suggested by those satisfied with present conditions, but who view with apprehension the decreasing margin of distance between the England of to-daythe greatest trading nation of the worldand her active pushing rivals, hopefully following on apace.
There is no sign of decadence in England. By contrast with the rapid development of Germany and of the United States, she seems, however, to be progressing but slowly. It needs but a glance at her vast figures of foreign trade, encompassing as they do the world-wide field of human endeavor and industry, to gain some understanding of what has yet to be accomplished to retire her to second place. To British ports come vessels of every nation and to every seaport in the world are sent British-owned vessels on trading missions. Millions of tons of staples are bought by England in the country of their origin, loaded on British ships, and delivered to her customers elsewhere without touching British ports. In the warehouses along the Thames and elsewhere are concentrated the supplies of the world in many notable articles of commerce. The ivory of India and Africa are first brought here. The furs of the world are sold by auction in the London fur market. hogany logs lie on the London docks awaiting transshipment to countries much nearer to their native growth than England. In brief, this little island is the commercial
heart of the world, and the slowing or quickening of its pulses is reflected on the bourses of the nations of the earth. With all the internationalizing of finance which has come about in recent years, England still keeps tight hold upon the pursestrings. The London bank rate is a governing factor from New York to Peking. England has been for generations and still is the great creditor nation. More than £200,000,000 is scattered abroad annually. It is her money which builds the pioneer railroads, opens mines, dams the waters, and finances the lesser nations. From all these enterprises her people take their toll and seek new outlets for this increment. That too much money and too many men have been sent abroad attracted by promise of greater returns is probably true. She has bled herself too freely, and the heart now shows some signs of weakness. The rivalry of younger and more daring and strenuous peoples for the trade of the world is a severe test of her seasoned strength.
That she will yield in time may be true, and probably is, for history repeats itself. If the empire shall fall to pieces, it will be not in decay, but rather as the proud mother of many children reluctantly witnesses the departure of her sons and daughters into the battle of life, their inheritance one of courage, strength, self-confidence, and capacity for self-government; each with a notable share of the gold which has come to the parent purse from all quarters of the globe, and upon the investment of which is founded the prosperity and credit of these new nations, once upon a time England's dependent colonies.
THE TRAINING OF ENGLISH
BY LADY ST. HELIER
HE elementary education of children in England, of all classes, has changed so entirely in the last thirty or forty years that we of the older generation can hardly realize or understand the ease and facility with which instruction is now imparted. The dry, hard, unsympathetic course of lessons, which made the early days of childhood a very dreary memory, have altogether disappeared and a picturesque and fascinating curriculum has taken its place. Education is now carried out by observation on the part of the pupil, and demonstration by the teacher, and the process is an unconscious one, which entails no mental strain, no laborious attempt to grasp even the elementary difficulties of learning.
Education begins virtually in the nursery and there is no better teacher than a nurse who has all the affection of the child, whom she leads naturally and pleasantly step by step to the school-room where the first serious work of instruction begins.
The books of the nursery are numberless; they are of every kind and on every subject; and the child overcomes not only the elementary difficulties of learning to read, but from the beautifully illustrated nursery library he learns the elements of zoology, geography, science, astronomy, botany, and history. The picture-books of animals, flowers, the various countries of the world and their inhabitants, the armies and navies of the world, are shown to him. So that the amount of unconscious knowledge possessed by an intelligent child when it leaves the nursery at the age of five or six years is considerable.
In former years, when learning was more tedious and the methods of imparting it less agreeable, it was quite soon enough for a child to begin to read at
seven, but now he is able to do so before that age.
In England, among the upper classes, we do not send a boy to school, unless in exceptional cases, till after he is eight, or even older if he is delicate. On leaving the nursery, he goes to the school-room and receives his education under the supervision of a governess, who also teaches the other children of the family. He begins to learn arithmetic and the rudiments of Latin (which all English governesses teach). The kindergarten system is largely used in the school-room when, as is sometimes necessary, children are sent at an earlier age than five, to learn obedience and habits of discipline, which cannot be observed so strictly in the nursery. the well-to-do English home the schoolroom is a delightful spot. It is generally one of the best rooms in the house, chosen for its brightness, its pleasant aspect, and general convenience, and in the lives of most children it is a place of real happiness, and to the girls of the family full of delightful memories.
When a boy goes to a preparatory school, he may have to specialize: if he is going into the Navy, he is generally sent to some school where he is trained mainly for that profession, and prepares for the examination which he must pass before he can be admitted to the Naval School at Osborne. Thence, after four years, if he works well and passes, he is sent to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth. The examination for admittance to Osborne is not a severe one for boys of that age. It is held before a board of Naval Officers and its object is to select those boys who are not only above the average in mental attainments, but who are physically and generally qualified for this strenuous ca
reer. They are not subjected to an examination on any particular subject and are often nonplussed by the questions which are asked them, many not bearing on their chosen profession, but all intended to show whether they are quick in perception, are ready in reply, and have a general sense of observation.
Amusing stories are told of the curious answers made to the Board's questions which, while not showing a great intellectual standard, prove that the youngsters are quick and resourceful. One nervous lad who was asked by an Admiral on the Board to tell him the names of the three greatest admirals of modern times replied, "Lord Nelson, Lord Charles Beresford," and being at a loss for the name of the third-"and yourself, my Lord."
The life of these lads at the Naval Schools is a hardy one and the training is excellent for their career, which is a very trying one in many ways, when one considers the youth of the boys, and the change often from luxurious homes, but it produces good stuff, and our young naval officers are among the best products of our education.
When the sailor boy leaves his home, his future is settled, but for other boys who choose their career at a more advanced age, the home instruction is carried on so as to fit them for a preparatory school, usually chosen with a view to the public school to which they are to be sent. There are some schools which prepare for Eton, Harrow, and Winchester, as well as other public schools. There is no examination for admittance to preparatory schools but some are more popular than others, and unless a boy's application is entered early in his life, he may have to go elsewhere. The preparatory schools of England are ideal as to arrangement and comfort while the standard of instruction is very good and many boys pass from them having won scholarships at the great public schools. The greatest attention is paid to health, food, sleeping accommodations, physical training, gymnastics, athletics, and games. Many of the schools have excellent swimming-baths where swimming is taught and have as well many other luxuries, while one or two have been nicknamed the "House of Lords," in consequence of the exalted rank of most of the boys. The charge is correspondingly high,
and including extras, such as music, drawing, and dancing, amounts to nearly £300 a year; in fact some are as costly as a public school.
Outdoor life is a distinctive characteristic of all English schools, and many people complain that unnecessary attention and time are given to games and that the tendency of to-day is to sacrifice intellectual training to physical development. The love of sport and games is one of the strongest characteristics of an English boy, and the hero of every school is not the greatest scholar, but the best man at cricket and foot-ball, and the captain of the Eton or Harrow eleven is the finest fellow in the world. The saying that "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton" is true in a sense. The love of cricket and foot-ball, with its accompaniments and the healthy life which athletics entails, has helped more than any other influence to keep the tone of our great public schools pure and high, and has trained the men who for generations past have laid and cemented the foundations of our Empire. The defects and shortcomings of a wealthy society are influencing our public schools and the stern simplicity and rigor of English school life is suffering from that cause. The temptation for the people to send their boys where they will meet with lads in a higher position than their own is becoming a very distinct evil in making public schools extravagant and lowering their tone.
The increasing facilities for diminishing. the drudgery of education and making every subject, however abstruse, less difficult, is overcrowding the curricula of all schools to an alarming extent. It is almost impossible to find time for the extra subjects which are now so numerous and varied in preparatory schools, where boys who have developed a taste for some subject not generally taught, are expected by their parents to carry it on at a public school on the expectation that it may be of use to them in their future career.
The length of the holidays at all schools is one which causes great perturbation to the paternal mind; six weeks or more in the summer, a month at Easter, and a month at Christmas, make, altogether, a large gap in the school year, as parents are compelled to engage a holiday tutor or governess at home; and though the holiday