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under the ken of the Post Office authorities,
and we may venture to assert, that such
specimens of penmanship and orthography are
not to be matched in any other country in
Europe. A housewife in humble life need only
turn to the file of her tradesmen's bills to
discover hieroglyphics which render them
so many arithmetical puzzles. In short, the
practical evidences of the low ebb to which
the plainest rudiments of education in this
country has fallen, are too common to bear
repetition. We cannot pass through the
streets, we cannot enter a place of public
assembly, or ramble in the fields, without the
gloomy shadow of Ignorance sweeping over us.
The rural population is indeed in a worse
plight than the other classes. We quote
with the attestation of our own experience
the following passage from one of a series
of articles which have recently appeared
in a morning newspaper:—'Taking the
adult class of agricultural labourers, it is
almost impossible to exaggerate the
ignorance in which they live and move and
have their being. As they work in the
fields, the external world has some hold upon
them through the medium of their senses;
but to all the higher exercises of intellect,
they are perfect strangers. You cannot
address one of them without being at once
painfully struck with the intellectual
darkness which enshrouds him. There is in
general neither speculation in his eyes, nor
intelligence in his countenance. The whole
expression is more that of an animal than of
a man. He is wanting, too, in the erect and
independent bearing of a man. When you
accost him, if he is not insolentwhich he
seldom ishe is timid and shrinking, his
whole manner showing that he feels himself
at a distance from you, greater than should
separate any two classes of men. He is often
doubtful when you address, and suspicious
when you question him; he is seemingly
oppressed with the interview, while it lasts,
and obviously relieved when it is over. These
are the traits which I can affirm them to
possess as a class, after having come in
contact with many hundreds of farm labourers.
They belong to a generation for whose
intellectual culture little or nothing was done.
As a class, they have no amusements beyond
the indulgence of sense. In nine cases out of
ten, recreation is associated in their minds
with nothing higher than sensuality. I have
frequently asked clergymen and others, if
they often find the adult peasant reading for
his own or others' amusement? The invariable
answer is, that such a sight is seldom
or never witnessed. In the first place, the great
bulk of them cannot read. In the next, a large
proportion of those who can, do so with too
much difficulty to admit of the exercise being
an amusement to them. Again, few of those
who can read with comparative ease, have the
taste for doing so. It is but justice to them to
say, that many of those who cannot read, have
bitterly regretted, in my hearing, their inability
to do so. I shall never forget the tone in which
an old woman in Cornwall intimated to me
what a comfort it would now be to her, could
she only read her Bible in her lonely hours.'

We now turn to the high lights of the
picture as presented abroad, and which, from
their very brightness, throw our own
intellectual gloom into deeper shade. Mr. Kay
observes in the work we have already cited

'It is a great fact, however much we may
be inclined to doubt it, that throughout
Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria, Bohemia, Wirtemberg,
Baden, Hesse Darmstadt, Hesse Cassel,
Gotha, Nassau, Hanover, Denmark, Switzerland,
Norway, and the Austrian Empire, ALL
the children are actually at this present time
attending school, and are receiving a careful,
religious, moral, and intellectual education,
from highly educated and efficient teachers.
Over the vast tract of country which I have
mentioned, as well as in Holland, and the
greater part of France, all the children above
six years of age are daily acquiring useful
knowledge and good habits under the influence
of moral, religious, and learned teachers. ALL
the youth of the greater part of these
countries, below the age of twenty-one years,
can read, write, and cypher, and know the Bible
History, and the history of their own country.
No children are left idle and dirty in the
streets of the townsthere is no class of
children to be compared in any respect to the
children who frequent our "ragged schools"
all the children, even of the poorest parents,
are, in a great part of these countries, in
dress, appearance, cleanliness, and manners, as
polished and civilised as the children of our
middle classes; the children of the poor in
Germany are so civilised that the rich often
send their children to the schools intended
for the poor; and, lastly, in a great part of
Germany and Switzerland, the children of
the poor are receiving a better education than
that given in England to  the children of the
greater part of our middle classes.'

'I remember one day,' says Mr. Kay in
another page, 'when walking near Berlin in
the company of Herr Hintz, a professor in
Dr. Diesterweg's Normal College, and of
another teacher, we saw a poor woman
cutting up, in the road, logs of wood for winter
use. My companions pointed her out to me
and said, "Perhaps you will scarcely believe
it, but in the neighbourhood of Berlin, poor
women, like that one, read translations of
Sir Walter Scott's Novels, and many of the
interesting works of your language, besides
those of the principal writers of Germany."
This account was afterwards confirmed by
the testimony of several other persons. Often
and often have I seen the poor cab-drivers of
Berlin, while waiting for a fare, amusing
themselves by reading German books, which
they had brought with them in the morning,
expressly for the purpose of supplying amusement
and occupation for their leisure hours.