Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the counties of Westmoreland and Cum

berland.

A law, providing for the instruction of the poor, was passed by the parliament of Ireland; but the fund has been diverted from its purpose, and the measure intirely frustrated.

The similarity of character between the Swiss and the Scotch, and between the Scotch and the people of New England, can scarcely be overlooked. That it arises in a great measure from the similarity of their institutions for instruction, cannot be questioned. It is no doubt increased by physical causes. With a superior degree of instruction each of these nations possesses a country that may be said to be sterile, in the neighbourhood of countries comparatively rich. Hence emigrations, and the other effects on conduct and character, which such circumstances naturally produce. This subject is in a high degree curious. The points of dissimilarity between these nations might be traced to

their causes also, and the whole investigation would perhaps admit of an approach to certainty in our conclusions, to which such inquiries seldom lead. How much superior in morals, in intellect, and in happiness, the peasantry of those parts of England are, who have opportunities of instruction, to the same class in other situations, those who inquire into the subject will speedily discover. The peasantry of Westmoreland, and of the other districts mentioned above, if their physical and moral qualities be taken together, appear to possess a considerable degree of superiority over the peasantry of any part of the island.

1st May, 1800.

No. CXXIX.

Extract from an Account of a Female Overseer of the Parish of Stoke. By George Brooks, Esq.

MRS. PARKER SEDDING, of Stoke Pogies, Bucks, widow, rents a farm of upwards of 400l. a year. Seeing that the state of the poor, especially in the workhouse, was in an ill condition, she consented to undertake the troublesome office of overseer; and is now, with the commendation of the justices, serving her third year in that office. The interior of the workhouse was irregular and dirty, and the poor inhabitants of it filthy and idle; and, as its distance from her own dwelling prevented her going to inspect the orderly and cleanly regulations she would establish, with that frequency which their necessity required, she voluntarily left the comforts of her own house,

and lived one whole month in the workhouse. She employed the poor to clean the house throughout, and compelled them to observe cleanliness in their own persons, to fumigate the clothes and bedding in the oven, to mend the ragged garments capable of being mended, and to make what new ones were necessary; and having taken proper measures that the poor should have sufficient and sound clothing and bedding, wholesome food, instruction and employment, she left them in a state of order, cleanliness and comfort, under the charge of a careful man and his wife, whom she had engaged to superintend the workhouse under her direction. This couple perform the offices of schoolmaster and mistress to the children, read the prayers daily with all the poor, and on Sundays read to them the Holy Scriptures. They also instruct the poor in spinning. Being unable to prevail upon the vestry to establish a parochial manufactory in the workhouse, on a scale adapted to their numbers, Mrs. Sedding has done it at her own charge, and has intro

duced a little manufactory of worsted. The poor have a portion of their earnings. One little boy in petticoats at the spinning wheel, earned twopence a day, and had it all for himself; and as he knew he was to be put into boys cloths when he had earned them, he was working very diligently indeed to obtain them. A little girl eight years old earned threepence a day for herself. Exclusively of these interior improvements, it should not be omitted to be stated, that, when Mrs. Sedding was named overseer, she found the poor were farmed. She took the care of them into her own hands, made them more comfortable, paid off the arrears of debt owing by the parish, and, notwithstanding this incumbrance, she has reduced the poors rates. Mrs. Sedding is universally allowed to be one of the best farmers, as well as best neighbours; she is a most active woman, and is continually doing good among the poor. I would submit to consideration, whether this valuable Female Overseer, in her sphere, is not forwarding the views of the society, and whether it would not help

« PreviousContinue »