THE BELMONT FACTORY SCHOOLS.
" To buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest," has been enunciated as the principle of free trade ' • and it is the sound prin- ciple. But it has been too absolutely taken by publicists for the principle which should regulate industrial economy. It is not sufficient for the larger processes involved in that term, still less is it sufficient to control the relations of those who come together daily for purposes of industry. Man. cannot associate with man, habitually, without either moral improvement or contamination ; and if moral affections are excluded, vitiation of heart must ensue. The processes of industry cannot be well carried on without healthy moral influences ; and those who are concerned in developing the processes of industry must see that the healthy moral influences exist, or their objects will not be attained. The products of indus- try created, and only awaiting the process of trade or exchange, we may then rely upon the sound principle of trade to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest. The legislator, indeed, may fairly ask himself, whether, on certain occasions, it is well or not to trust the professional trader with the whole of the sub- ject for settlement at his own discretion, and may determine. the conditions of the trader's operations ; but as for the trader himself, there is no other principle to guide him save to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, as the mode by which he knows that he conveys goods from the place where to thein ex- cess the place where they are most valued, with the largest pro- fit to himself. The rule, however, suffices only for the trader, and only in his capacity as trader. As a politician, as a states- man, as a man engaged in any industrial work, it is insufficient for him ; he needs something else ; he needs to look after the welfare of those who are engaged with him—their physical comfort—their moral condition so far as it is affected by the joint pursuit. As a man—as a believer in his religion, whatever it may be—he is bound to do the best he can for his fellow creature ; but, as truth ()linnet be inconsistent with truth, he will find at the end of the process, that the result of the performance of his social duties perfectly accords with the commercial principle which regulates him in trad- ing. A moral community, =tens paribus, will best pursue the pro- cess of industry ; industrial processes carried on according to healthy physical tad moral laws will be most productive in the long run ; and the whole operation will in the result prove to be justified upon sound commercial principles.
One of the most striking illustrations of this relative principle is afforded by the schools in the factory of" Price's Patent Candle Company." I report on the subject lies before us ; a plain pamph- let of fifty pages. The schools appear to have originated a few years ago, (probably in 1847, but the date is not mentioned,) amongst the boys them- selves ; half a dozen of whom "began hiding themselves behind a bench, two or three times a week, after they had done their day's work and had their tea, to practise writing on scraps of paper, with worn-out pens begged from the countinghouse." Their fore- man encouraged. them ; other boys joined them ; a few rough deska were begged for them ; the brother of the manager gave them pre- sents of books ; the school increased to thirty ; and then, in the winter of 1848, the boys got into a school-room. Thus far there is nothing very new, although very commendable. But, mainly, we believe, by the instrumentality of the managing director, Mr. J. P. Wilson, the schools have not only been increased, and have been provided with sufficient buildings and appliances, but have been in- corporated as an essential part of the whole commercial establish- ment and undertaking. This is the new fact; and a very im- portant one it is.
The number of young persons has increased from the original half-dozen to 512. The annual expense is 510/. • but there are some further expenses. A cricket-ground has been provided for the boys ; an excursion is allowed to the whole children every year ; and aanent chaplain has been added to the establish- ment, at a salary of 2001. The chapel cost 2601. per annum. Thus the whole annual expense is about 1200/. Down to the 18th March 1852, Mr. Wilson had expended of his own money 32891.; and then it was that the directors adopted the school as a consti- tuent part of their factory.
It is to be observed that the several parts of what we may call this training establishment have grown up spontaneously : the boys themselves began the smaller school, the elder boys sponta- neously joined the schools after they were developed under Mr. Wilson's encouragement ; an accident, the drowning of some young men on a boating excursion, dictated the request for the means of permanent religious advice ; the cholera suggested the cricket- ground. This cricket-ground had a most happy effect during the cholera of 1849; the establishment lost only one boy. All last summer the men and the boys played on alternate evenings, and the school has turned out excellent cricketers. Besides the improve- ment in the health of the children it affords a valuable compensa- tion for the street-play to which London boys are accustomed, and evidently keeps up their heart and spirit. The mixing of boys,
* Special Report by the Directors to the Proprietors of Price's Patent Candle Company, respecting that part of the Proceedings of the Annual Ge- neral Meeting of the Company, 24th March 1852, which has reference to the educational, moral, and religious charge to be taken by the Company over persons (and especially the young persons) in its employment. men, and employers, in sport and gardening, has contributed to the same result. Eo have the excursions—to Guildford in June 1850, to Herne Bay in 1851; For this year, the report, which refers to the proceedings of the spring, only records the excursion in the form of an invitation, conveyed in a letter from the Bishop of Winchester to the Managing Director— "I observe you speak of a third excursion projected for the ensuing sum- mer. If it would comport with your views to bring your party hither—be they as numerous as they may—I would receive them with the greatest sa- tisfaction; and I think the castle, with its old keep, and somewhat curious gardens, with the park, and the hop-grounds and the surrounding country
generally, which s very beautiful, would afford them a day of much inter- est. All the refreshments necessary for them should be provided, under such regulations as you might think it desirable to suggest; and I think I may truly say, that if the day proved a happy one to any of the party, the happiest would be myself and my family.
"The railway is open to Farnham direct, so that the facilities for such an excursion are convenient, if it would be agreeable to you to accept my offer."
The progressive development, however, has not yet ceased; for it is evident that the establishment is still in process of growth. The existence of the schools has suggested the admission of chil- dren not belonging to the factory ; the school serving as a nursery for the factory, with advantage both to the child and to the ern- ployer. The history of this training-school is peculiarly in- -teresting.
• "Before we had this sort of nursery-ground to the factory, we were often obliged, as the calls of the work for new boys were made at an hour's notice, to take on the first that came to hand. Some of these would be quite care- less ; and, as the night-light work is very delicate, even a single thoroughly careless boy can do a good deal of mischief and give a good deal of trouble before the fact of his being so is sufficiently proved to cause his dismissaL This part of the day-school set us free from the necessity of taking in boys whom we do not know. Except in very particular cases, even boys old
enough to work are, on first coming on the IA ap , sent into the day-school, if only for a week or two, as, if they should happen to be incorrigibly careless, the discovery of this is made there at much less expense than that at which it would be made in the factory.
"For the sake of getting money to carry home, and partly on account of the supposed great advance in life, the poor boys are very eager to leave the school, to which they come at nine in the morning, to work for five hours, for the factory, to which they must come at six in the morning, to work for just twice as long. This eagerness is, I think, a rule quite without exception, even in severe winteiweather. The fact of his having at his disposal so great a prize for good conduct, as the sending a boy down to work, gives to the master much greater power over them than that possessed in an ordi- nary school. A friend, when looking into this one day, remarked that, with such power in our hands, we might, if we pleased, get up the finest school in England—that if we chose to start a school for 1000 boys, we could always keep it full. I think it possible that, if we get all things to work well in the factory, we may hereafter get up an entirely self-supporting school out- side, from which to promote the oldest and best of the boys into the factory free school."
The girls' school in connexion with the night-light factory has invited assistance from without. An excellent lady has under- taken the management, and offers to undertake also the cost : another lady has given 3001. for an organ. The girls' school was well begun, with good children, and it promises to be a very su- perior school of its kind; always in association with work. "I never could have imagined," said a manufacturer who visited the works, and who saw the healthy happy faces and tidy dresses of the children "that factory labour could present a scene so cheer- ful and so Pleasing." The employers find that the work done by these happy and healthy children is well done ; and they have come to the conclusion that the schools are profitable to them in a money sense. At the last general meeting, it was proposed to reimburse Mr. Wilson for the money which he had laid out down to the end of 1851 ; but he declined to accept such a vote ; and suggested that it should rather be applied to originate a fund for building a chapel with rooms for the young men's -United Improvement Society on one side and the schools on the other. By next winter Mr. Wil- son expects to have 800 children in the schools ; which seem des- tined to be the beginning of a great work.