Lancaster's Improvements


Bell's Experiment



Landmarks in the History of Education

Professor of Education in the University of London King's College
Professor of Education in the University College of Swansea

Lancaster's Improvements

AND Bell's Experiment

Cambridge University Press


TOKYO Maruzen Company Ltd
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Landmarks in the History of Education




Joseph Lancaster .... vii

Andrew Bell ...... xiv

Lancaster and Bell . . . . xxiii

Lancaster's Improvements .... xxviii

Bell's Experiment ..... xli


Lancaster's Improvements .... 1

Bell's Experiment . . . . . 57





Joseph Lancaster was born in Kent Street, Southwark, on November 25th, 1778. His father's pension as an old soldier added to his earnings as a sieve-maker gave the family a position "decent and comfortable but still not so far raised above the poor as to open the prospects of ambition." The school that he attended was probably humble but it gave him one thing which more pretentious institutions often fail to give — a love of reading. He says, "I soon learned to read, soon read with delight; my book became my meat, drink, and diversion.... At the early age of eight years I recollect the spot where I perused over the sacred pages [of the New Testament] in secret retirement and delight."

Joseph's reading of one of Clarkson's writings on the slave trade led him at the age of fourteen to run away from home in order that he might go to Jamaica to teach the negroes. Brought back, he "looked forward to the Dissenting ministry," for which his natural disposition, pious upbringing, and eagerness to convert seemed to fit him; but before he had undergone the necessary training he "became a frequenter of the religious meetings of the society of Christians called Quakers and ultimately a member of that society."2 Paid ministers being an abomination to that society he had to give up the idea of living by preaching, so he decided, as the next best thing, to live by teaching. He began by serving as usher in a boarding school and in a day school; then he resolved to be his own master.

1 Part of this Introduction is reprinted from the British and Foreign School Society's Educational Record with the permission of the Committee.

2 The minutes of the Horselydown Monthly Meeting show that he did not formally apply for admission till the end of the year 1799 and was not formally accepted till the beginning of the year 1801.

Lancaster opened his first school on New Year's Day 1798, in an outhouse on his father's premises. This soon proving too small, he rented three larger and larger and larger rooms in succession, and finally, in June 1801, moved into a room which he had had built to accommodate 350 boys1 in Belvedere Place, Borough Road.

Lancaster had many of the qualities of a great schoolmaster — enthusiasm, self-confidence, ingenuity in devising methods, insight into the nature of children, an ardent love for them, and rare power of managing them. But these qualities alone do not account for the wonderful rapidity of his success. For the benefit or the pleasure of his pupils no labour was too severe, no sacrifice too onerous. For them he spent mind, body, and estate; on holidays he took parties of them into the suburbs; on Sundays he had parties of them to tea; during the hard winter of 1799-1800 he fed and clothed scores of them. If it be asked how a youth dependent for his own living on the fees of a school claiming to be exceptionally cheap could afford such a "luxury of doing good" the answer is that he could not afford it; that no man ever ran into debt with a lighter heart; that he was a skilful, persistent, and unblushing beggar2; and that he had joined a sect which combined in a greater degree than any other the will and the ability to give.

1 The accommodation was doubled in 1805 and a room for 200 girls was soon afterwards added.

2 His success in raising subscriptions would be incredible if it were not so well attested. In the list of subscribers to the third edition of his Improvements, published before his interview with the King had brought him into general notice, will be found the names of three dukes, three duchesses, four marquises, nine earls, twelve countesses, two viscounts, fourteen "lords," twenty-three "ladies," fifteen "sirs," thirty-six members of parliament, two archbishops, and nine bishops, besides such foreigners as a prince, a baron, a baroness, an ambassador, and a general.

Lancaster's success in attracting pupils nearly overwhelmed him. They were too many for him to teach alone and he had not the means of paying assistants. The idea therefore occurred to him of making the boys who knew a little teach the boys who knew less, and he thought that he had made one of the most useful discoveries in the history of civilisation. He did not know that monitors were prescribed in the statutes of some of the Elizabethan grammar schools or that they had been employed sporadically down the ages at home and abroad — and always abandoned sooner or later. It was probably in 1800 that the idea occurred to him, and when he published the first and second editions of his Improvements in 1803 he had done little more than apply it in the obvious manner. But he really possessed a fertile invention, so that when he published the third edition of the Improvements in 1805 he had evolved not only a new kind of teacher but also a new kind of teaching and a new kind of school management.

Lancaster's success in gaining the patronage of the great had its climax in August 1805, when he obtained an interview with George III, then making one of his periodical stays at Weymouth. He presented the King with a copy of the new edition of the Improvements with a petition1 and also gave an oral account of his system. When he had finished, the King said, "I highly approve of your system and it is my wish that every poor child in my dominions should be taught to read the Bible; I will do anything you wish to promote this object." As a concrete expression of his approval the King became an annual subscriber of £100.

1 Both now in the British Museum.

The royal patronage confirmed Lancaster's belief in the importance of his discovery and encouraged him to spend money in promulgating it. His recklessness, his extravagance, and his ostentation almost pass belief. He had built two schools with a subscription of barely £600; he had made himself personally responsible for several others as well as for a kind of training college at Maiden Bradley in Somerset; to prepare his best monitors to become masters he took them to live with him free of cost; and he set up a printing press and a manufactory for slates — neither of which ever paid. Francis Place says that he "sometimes kept one and sometimes two carnages. He seldom went from home but in a carriage, and generally had some of his lads1 in one or two post-chaises following him, and, as if to waste his time, indulge his love of ostentation, and squander the money of other people, he used to take excursions,. . . dine sumptuously, and return in the evening. Sometimes these excursions occupied two or three days." When Lancaster drove to New Lanark to call on Robert Owen he had four horses to his post-chaise.

1 Chiefly on his lecturing tours.

Such a course could lead to only one end. That end was reached the last week of May 1807, when Lancaster was arrested and immured in the King's Bench Prison. By a piece of legal finesse which a layman cannot explain he was released without paying his debts. To avoid being arrested again he spent the next six months in the country, lecturing on his system and establishing schools. He returned to London on January 19th, 1808. Three days later he met two friends whom interest in the education of the poor had led to seek his acquaintance — a hatter named William Corston and a surgeon-dentist named Joseph Fox. The result of their meeting is set forth in the following minutes:

London, January 22nd, 1808.

At a meeting held at Mr. William Corston's, No. 30, Ludgate Street — Present: Messrs. William Corston, Joseph Fox, and Joseph Lancaster — it was unanimously resolved, "That, with a humble reliance upon the blessing of Lord God Almighty and with a single eye to His glory; and with a view to benefit the British Empire; the persons present do constitute themselves a Society for the purpose of affording education, procuring employment, and, as far as possible, to furnish clothing to the children of the poorer subjects of King George III.; and also to diffuse the providential discovery of the vaccine inoculation in order that at the same time they may be instrumental in the hands of Providence to preserve life from loathsome disease; and also, by furnishing objects for the exercise of industry, to render life useful1.

1 Fox was one of the founders of the Jenner Society, which awarded him its gold medal for his efforts to promote vaccination. Corston had established a school of industry at his native Fincham, where girls were taught to make straw-plait to supersede the Leghorn article. It may be well to add that we hear no more of vaccination or straw-plait.

"That in order to prevent any impediment to the prosecution of this grand design, the persons present do constitute themselves Managers of this Society, to plan, prepare, and direct all its future operations; and that no business shall be brought before any meeting of subscribers who may probably come forward in aid of this Society but what has been recommended by this Committee of Managers."

The Committee met again a week later, when "Mr. J. Lancaster presented a statement of his debts amounting to more than £5000, in liquidation of a part of which bills. . . amounting to £2698 13s. 4d. have been drawn by Mr. J. Fox and accepted by Mr. W. Corston."

While Lancaster spent much of the next three years lecturing and establishing schools the Committee was trying to reduce his finances to order, to increase the income and diminish the expenditure. The Maiden Bradley school was closed, the responsibility of maintaining other schools was thrown on the local managers, the printing office and the slate manufactory were wound up. Still the men who had found the money to pay the original debts had not been repaid, while the success of Lancaster's lectures caused a growing demand for teachers. The Committee (to which small additions had been made from time to time) resolved therefore (in July 1810) that it was "essentially necessary to procure a more extensive co-operation from benevolent persons whose situations in life give them influence in order. . .to place the establishment upon a permanent footing." In December forty-four "benevolent persons" were chosen, many of whom are still remembered as zealous advocates of popular education.

The institution which the enlarged Committee was to render permanent was in form public but in fact private. The school was Lancaster's own; the debts were his own, though other people were trying to pay them. This was a thoroughly unsatisfactory arrangement. The Committee realised that the money it collected was given to it for the promotion of education; Lancaster thought that it was given to him for his own use — that the Committee had the privilege of increasing his income but not the right of regulating his expenditure. The strain of the arrangement was great while his activities were centred around the institution: it reached breaking-point when (in July 1812) he opened a middle-class boarding school on his own account at Tooting. The failure of this enterprise (and the Committee, with its dearly bought experience of him, could predict its certain and speedy failure) would make him insolvent; hence, if the Borough Road property were still in his name, nothing could save it from the grasp of his creditors and nothing could prevent the ruin of the institution. Lancaster, anxious that the fortune which he was going to make in the new school should not be seized for the debts of the old, saw the advantage of separating them. The minutes record that on October 2nd, 1812,

Joseph Lancaster, on account of his private engagements at Tooting, having proposed to this Committee to undertake the sole management of the public concern, promising at the same time to use every exertion in his power to promote it, and also to make over all his right and interest in the properly and premises, with the furniture, stock, utensils, and all the articles at the Borough Road of every description, provided that this Committee will exonerate him from all claims on account of such advances for the public work as are recorded on their minutes, the same is agreed to.

Though the arrangement had been proposed by himself, Lancaster complained loudly to everyone who would listen that the Committee had usurped his glory and "chowsed" him out of his property. Among those to whom he complained was Francis Place, who had been a generous supporter of the Borough Road school and had sent his son to the Tooting school. Place tried to mediate between him and the Committee but found him so utterly unreasonable that he gave up the attempt.

Lancaster appealed to the Duke of Kent, who took a very active interest in the Society. The Duke commissioned Joseph Hume to enquire into the whole business. Hume's report was presented to a meeting held at Kensington Palace on August 13th, 1813, with the Duke in the chair. Lancaster then scouted "the handsome terms which were offered him" but when, soon afterwards, the Tooting venture ended in bankruptcy he accepted the Committee's proposal to pay him £365 a year for undertaking the office of superintendent of the Borough Road school. He never made any pretence of performing the duties and, in April 1814, formally resigned the office. Soon afterwards, having obtained money from a Spaniard sent to England to "learn the system," he advertised that he had "removed the institution under his superintendence to schoolrooms... in the Westminster Road."

He believed that when he separated himself from the Committee the subscribers would follow him. Never did vanity receive a ruder shock. The Society continued to grow from strength to strength; his rival school was stillborn; his undignified boasts and complaints, his bitter, baseless libels on the men who had so generously helped him, disgusted the public, and he sank into complete obscurity and deep poverty. Hoping to begin a new life in the New World he left England in August 1818. Of his few triumphs and many tribulations in North and South America this is not the place to speak; here it is enough to say that he "finished joy and moan" in New York on October 23rd, 1838.


Andrew Bell was born in the city of St Andrews on March 27th, 1753. His father was a barber of whose family nothing is recorded; the collaterals of his mother's family included a dean and a general. The father was famous for his mechanical skill and his proficiency at draughts, backgammon, and chess. The mother was eccentric till she became insane, and it is easy to trace in the son some of the features of both his parents.

We do not know what school Andrew Bell attended, but we do know that he was very unhappy in it. Learning then chiefly meant learning by heart, and though he was neither a dunce nor a drone, his verbal memory was weak and the master strove to strengthen it by frequent doses of the tawse. He says, "I never went to school without trembling. I could not tell whether I should be flogged or not." The senseless severity which he endured may have been one of the reasons which made him insist on a humaner discipline in his own schools.

In 1769 Bell entered the University of his native city, living partly on a small family bursary left by the collateral dean and partly on money made by "coaching." Mathematics and natural philosophy appear to have been his favourite studies.

When he left (presumably with a degree) he had no means of obtaining admission to any profession which needed training. It is true that teaching was supposed to need no training, but Bell resolved before becoming a poor dominie in Scotland to try his luck in America. Early in 1774 he sailed for Virginia. What he did during the first five years of his residence in that colony is not known, but his leaving no information respecting the period seems to show that his occupations were such as he thought beneath his later dignity. In 1779 he entered the family of a wealthy planter named Braxton as tutor at £200 a year. But "the political state of the province" prevented his enjoying this liberal salary long. In 1781 "he thought proper to return to his own country for a while."

Bell was one of those men who save out of the smallest income and are not satisfied with the largest. His American journal "is filled with memoranda of dealings in. . .currency and tobacco." When he left Virginia he had £30 in money and £232 7s. 7¾d. in bills, and the price of over 37,000 lb. of tobacco was owing to him.

He left Yorktown on March 15th. With him were two of Braxton's sons, whom he was to fix at some "genteel academy." "If a private tutor, a man of abilities and morality could be engaged at the college to attend and advise them, and read with them," the father would "wish such a one to be procured at an annual salary of £40," and if Bell "could sit down with them at the same college" he would be "both tutor, friend, and companion." They were fixed at St Andrews, where they remained till July 1784. Bell watched over them with the most devoted care, at the same time pursuing his own studies and conducting a class in mathematics.

When the youths had gone home he began seriously to consider the question of a career. He turned his eyes towards America again, and wrote to ask Braxton, "What prospects may I indulge from a revisitation to Virginia? Any academies erected? Any encouragement in the line of the Church? Shall I come out in holy orders?" Since he had gone out as a Presbyterian the Anglican Church had been disestablished in the United States. She could now scarcely support her native clergy and did not offer any encouragement to a foreign proselyte.

A son of the great Bishop Berkeley, who was staying at St Andrews, advised Bell to persevere in his intention of taking orders and sent him to that part of England where his friendship could be of most service. The convert was ordained on September 12th, 1784, by Barrington, Bishop of Salisbury, who was afterwards, as Bishop of Durham, to do so much for the Madras System. On December 12th he preached with such acceptance to the small congregation assembled in the Episcopal chapel at Leith that they chose him for their minister, with a stipend of fifty guineas, soon raised to £70.

As there was not more "encouragement in the line of the Church," Bell accepted the offer of a passage to India and the advice that he should go to that country "where there was every probability that he might turn his attainments and acquirements to account as a philosophical lecturer and in the way of tuition." That he might go out with proper dignity his University was asked to grant him a doctor's degree. The authorities made no difficulty about complying, but instead of the expected LL.D. or D.D. they gave him an utterly absurd M.D.!1

1 After he had attained wealth and fame the University granted him the desired LL.D., and the Archbishop a Lambeth D.D. Till then he used to write himself "the Reverend Doctor Andrew Bell."

He reached Madras on June 2nd, 1787, and wisdom was immediately justified of her child. In August he was appointed chaplain of one regiment and deputy chaplain of another; in October he was appointed deputy chaplain of two more; in 1789 he was appointed deputy chaplain of still another regiment, junior chaplain at Fort St George, chaplain at Vellore, superintendent of the undertaker's office, superintendent of the Military Male Asylum at Egmore, and "minister of St. Mary's Church at Madras"; and every course of philosophical lectures which he delivered brought in some hundreds of pounds.

The Asylum was a semi-official charity school for the orphan boys of soldiers. It was housed free in a redoubt at Egmore which had lost its military importance, and it was maintained partly by grants from the Company, partly by subscriptions, and partly by fines, unappropriated prize money, and other regimental waifs. It was originally intended for a hundred boys, but as the funds increased the number was gradually doubled. Bell charged nothing for superintending. As he loved managing and loved teaching, he threw far more energy into his work than the masters liked. They had taken to teaching because they could not find anything better to do, and their incapacity was equalled only by their obstinacy. Bell found both trying.

He was dissatisfied with the want of discipline, and the imperfect instruction in every part of the school; but more particularly with the slow progress of the younger boys, and the unreasonable length of time consumed in teaching them their letters. They were never able to proceed without the constant aid of an usher, and, with that aid, months were wasted before the difficulties of the alphabet were got over. Dr. Bell's temper led him to do all things quickly, and his habits of mind to do them thoroughly, and leave nothing incomplete. He tells us that from the beginning he looked upon perfect instruction as the main duty of the office with which he had charged himself; yet he was foiled for some time in all the means that he devised for attaining it. Many attempts he made to correct the evil in its earliest stages, and in all he met with more or less opposition from the master and ushers. Every alteration which he proposed they considered as implying some reflection on their own capacity or diligence; in proportion as he interfered, they , thought themselves disparaged, and were not less displeased than surprised that, instead of holding the office of superintendent as a sinecure, his intention was to devote himself earnestly to the concerns of the Asylum, and more especially to the school department. Things were in this state, when, happening on one of his morning rides to pass by a Malabar school, he observed the children seated on the ground, and writing with their fingers in sand, which had for that purpose been strewn before them. He hastened home, repeating to himself as he went "'Eurhka, I have discovered it"; and gave immediate orders to the ushers of the lowest classes to teach the alphabet in the same manner, with this difference only from the Malabar mode, that the sand was strewn upon a board. — Southey, Bell, i. 172.

Ushers who had no enthusiasm for teaching would resent being asked to try experiments, and unsympathetic Europeans would deeply resent being asked to try a device picked up from the natives. To the superintendent's eagerness the assistants offered a tacit resistance, but if Bell could not accomplish his purpose in one way he would in another — if he could not get what he wanted done by men he would get it done by boys. Thus (in 1791 or 1792) he was driven, as Lancaster some eight years later was driven, to employ monitors1, and in both cases the use of monitors led to various changes in the methods of discipline and instruction.

1 It must be remembered that in Bell's school the monitors were in addition to, and in Lancaster's instead of, assistants.

Bell was very happy in India. Both the civil and the military authorities were friendly; he liked his work; he was making money fast, and he thought the climate "delightful." But, delightful as it was, he found by 1794 that it was affecting his health and he began to turn his eyes towards England. On December 29th, 1795, the Government issued general orders stating that those officers "who from indisposition or from the urgency of their private concerns" were "compelled to return to Europe. . . should receive permission for that purpose without prejudice to their rank or loss of pay." Bell at once determined to avail himself of the permission, though he did not actually leave Madras till the next August.

He had been in Madras nine years and had saved £3000 a year, but he had no idea of retiring. He intended, after a recuperative holiday, to return and make a satisfying fortune. Soon after reaching London, however, he changed his mind and applied to the Directors for a pension, basing his application chiefly on the "disinterested conduct he had shown in refusing... to accept any salary or remuneration" as superintendent. In July 1797 the Directors granted him £200 a year.

Before leaving Madras, Bell had presented to the Directors of the Asylum an account of his work there. This, with the title An Experiment in Education,1 was published in October 1797.

In August 1799 he was offered and accepted the post of "supply" minister of the Episcopal Chapel in Edinburgh. In November 1801, through the influence of a Scotch friend with the patron, Bell was presented to the rectory of Swanage, worth over £6oo a year. Lancaster visited him there at Christmas 1804, and the relations between the two men were quite cordial till Mrs Trimmer, towards the end of 1805, persuaded Bell that the Quaker was stealing his glory. Bell then tried to exchange Swanage "for some other preferment more eligibly situated" that he might be in a better position to protect his interests. He also sent a circular to the members of the Government asking for "an official post whence I may be enabled to rear in Europe the fabric of which I laid the foundation in Asia." There was no immediate result, but zealous Churchmen were becoming alarmed by Lancaster's success, and Bell was more than once invited from his "insulated village" to organise schools on the Madras System, In May 1807 he was given two years' leave of absence from his benefice so that he might devote all his time to the good work.

To encourage and reward his labours, Barrington, the only bishop zealous for popular education, gave him, in May 1809, the mastership of Sherburn Hospital near Durham, a sinecure office worth about £1200 a year and a house, though, much to Bell's annoyance, the statutes Compelled him to resign his rectory. In January 1812, when the National Society was organised, he was appointed superintendent of the schools and soon after he was made an honorary member of the General Committee.

In the summer of 1816 Bell made a tour on the Continent, examining wherever he went any school considered exceptional and generally finding fault with what he saw. In Paris he visited a school established on the English model by the Duchesse de Duras, where he found "about seventy boys in bad order, noisy, with all the Lancasterian nonsense, loss of time, dreadful clattering of hands and slates." The Abbé Gaultier, who had invented a system of instruction through games, was "most bigoted and prejudiced. His devices are tedious and lengthened, they want simplicity and effect." At Geneva, de Roche, who had been educated at Edinburgh, was "deeply wedded to his own opinions and resolute in arguing and disputing every point." He wished to improve on all who had gone before him and would not budge till he felt conviction, and it was "an Herculanean labour.. .to convince an Edinburgh man." The school at Lausanne, though the master (Froissard) had been trained at the Borough Road, was "less noisy and disorderly than some others."

Bell was charmed with Pestalozzi. "He has much that is original, much that is excellent. If he had a course of study, if he were to dismiss four-fifths of his masters, and to adopt the monitorial system and the classification of a Madras school, with the emulation, he would be super-excellent." There was some hope for de Fellenberg also, but the reformers generally were very obstinate and unwilling to learn from the only man who could teach them. "Every one wants to remake a discovery which has only been made after the world had existed almost six thousand years." Only Père Girard of Fribourg showed the temper of a disciple. "This liberal father felt the true spirit of the Madras System and had introduced none of the fooleries, noise, and nonsense which are found in the other schools or in the [Lancasterian] models from which they are chiefly taken." In January 1818 the Archbishop of Canterbury offered Bell a stall "of good value" in Hereford Cathedral "as a testimony of the esteem in which" his "public services" were held. Bell was not a man to refuse anything "of good value." He accepted promptly, but when he found that "more than half the emoluments" of the stall were derived from benefices which the Sherburn regulations precluded him from holding he decided that Hereford was no abiding city for him. He thought the Crown might "make arrangements to obviate those mishaps" to which he had been subjected.

His wishes were granted. In March 1819 the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, arranged that he should exchange the Hereford stall for one in Westminster Abbey.

Of Bell's doings during the next nine years there is little to record. He performed his duties as canon of Westminster; according to certain persistent critics he neglected his duties as master of Sherburn; he revised his old books and wrote others; he visited schools; and he went from one health resort to another seeking to renew his youth. Apart from his official residence at the Hospital, which he seems to have seldom occupied, he had no fixed home, but, in 1828, after a somewhat serious illness, he bought a house in Cheltenham.

In the autumn of 1830 "a slight indistinctness and thickness" in Bell's voice was perceptible. Like the woman in the gospel, he suffered many things of many physicians and was nothing bettered but rather grew worse, though he did not, like her, spend all he had. He ultimately lost his speech entirely and had to communicate by writing or by signs. There was, however, no diminution in the vigour of his understanding; indeed, the thought of "so much to do, so little done" seems to have excited him to feverish energy. He kept his secretary working early and late preparing materials for a ponderous biography worthy of its hero; he summoned men from all parts of the kingdom to visit him in hot haste, and he changed his mind from hour to hour. He was obsessed by two ideas, his ducats and his daughter — his money and his system. He wanted to leave the one in the way which would best promote the other, but he could not decide which was the best way. Almost as soon as he had signed a will he would add a codicil; then he would revoke both and make another will, another codicil, and another revocation again and again. He dreaded that the "funds laid up" to educate the young "by a new and stupendous engine" might be "directed to different purposes," such as "charity schools, hospitals, asylums," and, worst of all, "colleges and universities," the "asylums for the maimed, the halt, the blind," nay more, "the receptacles for the dead who cannot hear the new word of life which I have spoken, and must sleep on."

Death relieved Bell from his money and all his other troubles on January 27th, 1832. He was buried, where he wished and where he thought he ought to be, in Westminster Abbey.


A copy of Bell's Experiment fell into the hands of Lancaster in the year 1800, and in the first edition of his Improvements he fully admits his indebtedness to it, saying, "I ought not to close my account without acknowledging the obligation I lie under to Dr. Bell of the Male Asylum at Madras, who so nobly gave up his time and liberal salary, that he might perfect that institution, which flourished greatly under his fostering care. He published a tract in 1798 [should be 1797]. . ..From this publication I have adopted several useful hints; I beg leave to recommend it to the attentive perusal of the friends of education and of youth.... I much regret that I was not acquainted with the beauty of his system till somewhat advanced in my plan; if I had known it, it would have saved me much trouble and some retrograde movements. As a confirmation of the goodness of Dr. Bell's plan, I have succeeded with one nearly similar in a school attended by more than 300 children."

On November 21st, 1804, Lancaster wrote to Bell, detailing the difficulties with which he had had to contend, asking for any original reports of the Orphan Asylum, and "for further information on the use of the sand, whether wet or dry, and how the boys were first taught their letters." On December 6th Bell replied in the most friendly spirit, saying, "I had before heard of your fame, and the progress which you had made in a new mode of tuition, and have long expected the pleasure of seeing you at Swanage." He was strongly urged to publish a "brief extract of" the Experiment and asked Lancaster to do him the favour of drawing his pen through every line which he thought might be spared, "taking care to efface whatever is not necessary to give an idea of the system of instruction." In the second edition Bell might have an opportunity of recommending Lancaster's institution, but, for this purpose, "I must see everything with my own eyes, and by hearing of your difficulties I shall best know what requisite information I omitted in the report of my system.... I am anxious to see your book, and still more to see yourself."

Lancaster accepted the invitation, and at Christmas went down to Swanage, where he spent some days. Whether anything occurred during these days to make Bell change his mind respecting the second edition of the Experiment it is impossible to say, but instead of condensing he nearly doubled its size. It was published at the end of April 1805, and soon afterwards, Bell, being in London, had fifty copies transmitted to Lancaster, who sent a deputation of his scholars to thank him. Bell then visited the school, where he spent an hour — and nothing else, for he emphatically refused to subscribe.

So far the relations between the two men had been most friendly, and Lancaster might have continued to praise Bell for inventing the monitorial system, and Bell might have continued to praise Lancaster for showing the possibilities of such a system, but for the intervention of Mrs Sarah Trimmer.

Mrs Trimmer (1741 — 1810) was the daughter of John Joshua Kirby, a friend of Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Hogarth, teacher of perspective to George III, and Clerk of the Works at Kew Palace. She married James Trimmer of Brentford, became the mother of six daughters, whom she educated entirely, and of six sons whom she helped to educate. In 1782, stimulated by the example of Mrs Barbauld, she published some of the lessons which she had been in the habit of giving her children. Their great success encouraged her to expand them into six volumes. In 1786 she opened Sunday schools at Brentford, and had an interview with the Queen, who wished to open similar schools at Windsor. The remainder of her life was devoted to promoting education, chiefly by her pen. Her industry was prodigious. She wrote for the nurseries of the wealthy; she wrote for the schools of the poor; she wrote for zealous clergymen, for benevolent ladies, for farmers, for cottagers, for servants. Her writings and her practical work gradually led the public to consider her what she had long considered herself — an authority on education. In course of time she also came to consider herself its heaven-appointed champion. If she did not actually call herself the "Guardian of Education" she gave that title to a magazine which she published. In the second edition of Bell's Experiment (probably sent to her for review) she saw the means of counteracting Lancaster's unsectarianism. Writing on September 24th, 1805, to tell Bell that a notice of his work would appear in the next number of her Guardian, she added — "From the time, sir, that I read Mr. Joseph Lancaster's 'Improvements in Education' in the first edition, I conceived an idea that there was something in his plan that was inimical to the interests of the Established Church, and, when I read your 'Experiment in Education,' to which Mr. L. referred, I plainly perceived that he had been building on your foundation.. . . Engaged as I have long been in striving to promote the interests of the Church by the exertion of my little talents for the instruction of the rising generation, and the prevention of the mischief that is aimed against them in various ways, I cannot see this 'Goliath of Schismatics' bearing down all before him, and engrossing the instruction of the common people, without attempting to give him a little check."

Bell replied on September 28th acknowledging her letter and describing Lancaster's visit to Swanage. He says, "I observed his consummate front, his importunate solicitation of subscriptions in any and every shape, his plausible and ostentatious guise, and in his third edition I think I can see something which indicates that he can now stand alone basking in the sunshine of royal countenance and popular applause." The monitorial plan "appears to me, who am an enthusiast, so simple, so natural, so beautiful, and so true, that it must, sooner or later, have obtained a footing; and all I ever expected by my humble Essay, printed rather than published, was that it might fall into hands which would bring the system forward sooner than might otherwise happen in the course of things. J. L. has certainly contributed to this consummation. How far he has directed it to the best purposes, and whether he has intermixed much quackery, conceit, and ignorance, is another question."

Mrs Trimmer replies on October 1st that "Of all the plans that have appeared in this kingdom likely to supplant the Church, Mr. Lancaster's seems to me the most formidable.. . . Mr. Joseph Lancaster's school is, in my estimation, a direct philanthropine," which must be something even worse than Swift's parallelopipedon. She states that she is about to write a book attacking the unsectarian system and explains her tactics. She will admit that the mechanical parts are good; will gently insinuate that they are stolen from Bell; and will prove that instruction which does not include the dogmas of the Church must be hostile to the Church.

Bell's reply is dated October 14th. He expresses the very sensible resolution of not entering "personally into any polemical discussion or controversial writings in defence" of his system, adding, with multitudinous metaphor, "It must rest on its own basis. I have cast my gauntlet: let them wield it who may. I know no one more equal to the task or better disposed to apply it to the useful and pious purposes to which it is fitted, than yourself. If founded, as I believe, on truth, it will last for ever."

Thus encouraged, Mrs Trimmer worked with ardour, and, before the end of November, published "A Comparative View of the New Plan of Education promulgated by Mr. Joseph Lancaster, in his tracts concerning the instruction of the children of the labouring part of the community; and of the system of Christian Education founded by our pious forefathers for the initiation of the young members of the Established Church in the principles of the Reformed Religion."

The publication of the Comparative View was the first overt act in a seven years' war. The Church party were the assailants; their weapons were books, pamphlets, sermons, review articles and newspaper letters; their tactics the flank attack suggested by Mrs Trimmer — admission that the "mechanical parts" of Lancaster's system were good but stolen from Bell, with assertion that the original parts were bad, especially the unsectarianism, which was fatal to true religion.

A contest about the merits of two systems, neither of which had any permanent value, seems now absurd:

Strange all this difference should be
'Twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.

It is certain that monitors had been used many times before Bell or Lancaster was born; it is certain that the idea of using them occurred independently to each. As for the methods of employing them in teaching and managing a school there is so little similarity between Bell's and Lancaster's that there can be little ground for a charge of plagiarism in either system. All they have in common is the sand-writing, the spelling lessons, the slates, and the ruling of copy-books by the pupils. Lancaster borrowed the first and second with full acknowledgment1; Bell probably borrowed the third, but without acknowledgment; the fourth necessarily followed from the fundamental principle of both systems.


Between the years 1803 and 1810 Lancaster published nine new works and half a dozen new editions. During those same years he was perfecting his system, conducting his school, travelling thousands of miles, delivering hundreds of lectures, calling on many possible patrons, collecting subscriptions, getting into debt, marrying, having domestic troubles, and breaking down in health; hence, though some of his works were only pamphlets and some only abridgments, and though several of the new editions were little more than reprints, the amount of his writing is remarkable. Still, it is easily explained. He wrote rapidly, never pausing to choose his words or polish his sentences; books were necessary for the diffusion of his system, and the energy to produce them was supplied by his inexhaustible belief in its merits.

The first book, which prepared the way for all the rest, is entitled: Improvements | in | Education, | as it respects the | Industrious Classes | of the | Community: | containing, | a short account of its present state, hints towards its improvement, | and a detail of | some practical experiments conducive to | that end. | By Joseph Lancaster. | London: | Printed and sold by Darton and Harvey, Grace- | church-street; J. Mathews, Strand; and | W. Hatchard, Piccadilly. | 1803. The size is extra crown 8vo; the Introduction contains three pages and the text 66.

1 See Improvements, 3rd ed., 46, 58, 60.

The Introduction begins with a statement that "ignorance and incapacity often prevent" a poor man's "having proper views on the important subject of education, and when he has, slender resources as often prevent their being reduced to practice." It had therefore "long been acknowledged that education, as it respects those who are unprovided with it, ought to become a national concern; and... it would have become so had not a mere pharasaical1 sectmaking spirit intervened to prevent it."

Thus, on his first public appearance, Lancaster, by accident or by design, placed in the very forefront that principle which was to bring him the warmest support and the bitterest opposition — the principle that common Christianity sufficed for common schools and that sectarian peculiarities should be left to parents or pastors2. When he views the "desolating effects" of ignorance he exclaims —

Alas! my brethren and fellow Christians, of every denomination, you have been contending whose influence should be greatest in society, while a national benefit has been lost, and the poor objects of it become a prey to vice, to an extent, that all your praiseworthy, but partial benevolence, can never repair. A national evil requires a national remedy; let not this any longer be delayed: let your minds expand, free from every narrow principle, and let the public good become the sole object of your united Christian efforts.

1 Any departure from the ordinary spelling or grammar is faithfully copied from the original. Pharasaical is repeated in the second edition, but corrected in the third. The text of the Improvements and of the Experiment is reprinted exactly.

2 But for the unsectarianism of Lancaster the development of English elementary education would have been different; but for it he would not have been helped by Corston or Fox, or Alien, and there would have been no British and Foreign School Society; but for it Bell would not have been drawn from his retreat to establish rival schools and there would have been no National Society; fewer schools would have been opened, government grants would probably have been later and legislation on other lines.

Education, he maintains, "ought not to be made subservient to the propagation of the peculiar tenets of any sect, beyond its own number." "Reverence for the sacred name of God and the Scriptures of Truth," a love of veracity and a detestation of vice may be inculcated "without violating the sanctuary of private religious opinion." When the fruits of Christianity were produced the number of Christians was increased, "which is far better than the increase of party," so he wished "as every friend to mankind must, that names" might "perish, but truth prosper." The book itself is divided into three parts. Part I is "An introductory Account of the State of those Schools in which the Children of Mechanics, etc., are generally educated." "Initiatory Schools" are first mentioned.

These.. .abound in every poor neighbourhood about London; they are frequented by boys and girls, indiscriminately, few of them above seven years of age; the mistress is frequently the wife of some mechanic.. . .The subjects of tuition are comprised in reading and needlework. The number of children that attend. . .is very fluctuating and seldom exceeds thirty; their pay very uncertain. Disorder, noise, etc., seem more the characteristic of these schools than the improvement of the little ones who attend them.

"From the disgusting1 scene — from these graves of early genius even in its cradle," Lancaster turns to "see what they would be under proper regulations." "By the excellent modes of preparatory education, frequent in the more respectable circles, much invaluable time is saved.. . . Why not realise this idea among the poor?" Lancaster was "an advocate for this class of schools" because women generally managed them and "the infancy of their pupils requires a combination of the school and nursery." "But it is of peculiar importance to the poor that these schools should be better regulated, as many children of that class have no education but what they obtain in them, and that at an early age when totally unfit for other employ." Under better regulations and "supplied with proper mistresses" the schools might teach, in addition to reading, "writing on slates and some small portion of arithmetic." The pupils being usefully occupied would not get into mischief, and the schools would no longer be "disgusting scenes of noise and riot."

1 Lancaster uses disgusting in its etymological sense of distasteful, unpleasing, as Dr Johnson and Miss Austen, who were both fond of the word, used it.

The next section of Part I is headed "Second Class of Schools." "The masters of these are often the refuse of superior schools, and too often of society at large. The pay and number of scholars are alike low and fluctuating; of course there is little encouragement for steady men either to engage or continue in this line; it being impossible to keep school, defray its expences, and do the children regular justice without a regular income." It was equally impossible to obtain a regular income from the large number of parents who could not and the smaller number who would not pay regular fees, so that many masters used "as much chicane to fill their pockets as the most despicable pettifogger." Children were encouraged to scribble through their copybooks "to hasten the demand for fresh" ones; "in some schools the pens are scarcely ever mended;... in general the poor children are much stinted in this article" and Lancaster is "credibly informed that some masters use pinions in their rough state, neither dutched1 nor clarified." When a man was perfectly honest his living was limited as well as precarious. He could not teach more than a certain number himself; in summer that number was exceeded so that an assistant became necessary till, at the approach of winter, the number decreased; the master's "income of course shrinks by their non attendance and perhaps poverty and misery stare him in the face. With these dreary prospects who would be a schoolmaster?"

1 Dutch, "to clarify and harden quills by plunging them in heated sand or rapidly passing them through a fire." — O.E.D.

In the second edition the passage about pens is printed in italics.

Part II of the book is headed "Hints respecting the Formation of a Society for improving the State, and facilitating the Means of Education among the industrious Classes of the Community." Lancaster was "sometimes sorry to hear sensible, intelligent men talk of reformation" in education "by a compulsive law." He would like to see a society or committee established for the purpose, but it would succeed only if the members "were inclined to meet the poor as men, as brethren, and as Christians." He hastens to "add that a society for this purpose should be established on general Christian principles and on them only." In support of his opinion he extends the argument of the preface, ending with a hope that the country "at large may no longer suffer loss" by the members of the various religious denominations, "a set of the most valuable and useful men our nation can boast, employing themselves to little better purpose than to declaim or make wry faces at one another."

After giving a catalogue of "the principal evils attendant on the usual mode of education among the poor" (which should more logically have been given in Part I) Lancaster proceeds to point out what should be the objects of the proposed society.

The first "should be to provide suitable masters and mistresses for any schools they might chuse to establish, and to encourage such persons who have schools of their own, to do their duty by the societies (respectable) patronage, which properly bestowed, and avowed publicly, would (with its attendant benefits,) be very valuable, and conduce much to the credit of the teachers possessing it; so, on the other hand, it would tend to expel immoral and wicked teachers from the profession, as such must ever remain destitute of its protection."

To encourage respectable and capable men to become teachers by holding out to them something better than "the cheerless expectation of ending" a laborious life "in a workhouse or [debtors'] prison" "a friendly society might be formed. . . and its funds might be formed into a very respectable stock by the addition of public donations. . . whereby a moderate capital would accumulate till the stock was sufficient to defray the expence of sickness and funerals, and, perhaps, a liberal and honourable support for old age."

"In addition to this a fund might be established for the occasional relief of deserving teachers in distress"; "for encouraging the commendable exertions of teachers. . . gold or silver medals" might be given; "Bibles, Testaments, slates, spelling, writing and other books" might be bought at wholesale prices by the society and sold without profit to teachers; "the institution of a public library containing books on education would be well adapted for the information of teachers, many of whom are not able to purchase expensive publications on those subjects."

"It most probably would not be thought proper" for the society "to insist upon or enforce any particular modes of tuition, religious systems, or creeds. If a teacher was honest, assiduous, and careful, it is as much as any society ought to expect from him."

"An additional object would be worthy the society's notice, — to enforce as much as possible the regular attendance of the children at school, and that as near the appointed time as can be."

Part III of the book is headed "Some Account of the Rise and Progress of an Institution for improving the Plan, and facilitating the Means, of attaining primary Education amongst the industrious Classes of the Community, established in the Borough Road, Southwark; wherein near Three Hundred Children are educated, and trained to habits conducive to the Welfare of Society."

This is both the most novel and the most important, and one would naturally expect it to be the longest part. The fact that it consists of only twenty-two pages, half of which would suffice for the necessary explanations and descriptions, proves fully that at the end of 1802 Lancaster had made few innovations. The section begins with a history of his school. "The institution which a benevolent Providence" had "been pleased to make" him "the happy instrument of bringing into usefulness" was opened in 1798. "It was well attended by scholars, whose number soon exceeded eighty." "During several years the number of scholars continued to vary with the circumstances of their parents, who severely felt the exigencies of the times." "In summer one hundred and twenty was common; in winter they would sink to fifty or sixty. In a trying season of recent scarcity many of them were provided with dinners gratis, chiefly at the expence of a noble and generous minded body of friends."1 "During several years" Lancaster had "essayed to introduce a better system of tuition into the school, and every attempt had failed." After the free dinners "the internal organisation of the school was gradually and materially altered for the better. The public reputation of it also increased to such a degree that more than two hundred scholars were admitted in about eight months."

1 This might have been printed "Friends," i.e. Quakers.

The school was "attended by near three hundred scholars. The whole system of tuition is almost entirely conducted by boys; the writing books are ruled with exactness and all the writers supplied with good pens by the same means. In the first instance the school is divided into classes, to each of these a lad is appointed as monitor [the first mention of the word]; he is responsible for the morals, improvement, good order, and cleanliness of the whole class."

As the monitors "leave school when their education is complete" they were "instructed to train other lads as assistants" and successors. "To be a monitor" was "coveted by the whole school, it being an office at once honourable and productive of emolument: 'Solid pudding as well as empty praise.'"

From the monitors, Lancaster proceeds "to give some account of" his "improved methods of tuition." "The method of spelling" seemed "to be the most excellent." It is not fully or very clearly described, but it seems to be nothing more than the dictation of detached words. Lancaster goes into raptures over its excellence, and prints in full the calculation which proves that a hundred boys, spelling a hundred words a day, would spell two millions in a school year of two hundred days.

He does not claim that he has accomplished much, or that what he has accomplished is very wonderful. He simply says —

The system of rewards and the new method of teaching to spell are, I believe, original. Some attempts have been made to introduce a more easy and better mode of teaching the first rules of arithmetic, which has been very successful, but is not yet sufficiently mature to meet the public eye; when it is, if of apparent utility, it will be cheerfully at their service. A method of teaching to write has also been invented, and carried into effect at considerable pains and expence.. .but it is attended with so much trouble in the execution that I consider it to be more local, and not of that importance to the public, with the method of spelling which has been detailed.

He adds that he had "adopted several useful hints" from Bell's Experiment and regrets that he "was not acquainted with the beauty of his system till somewhat advanced in" his "own plan." If he had "known it it would have saved" him much "trouble and some retrograde movements."

The first edition of the Improvements, published early in 1803, was soon sold out and the type had scarcely been distributed before it had to be reset. Except for the alteration of a few words, the omission of a few sentences, and the insertion of one footnote and an Appendix of twelve pages, the second edition is an exact reprint of the first.

The Appendix says that —

during the short time that has elapsed since the appearance of the first edition. .. the institution.. . has continued to make fresh advances to maturity and usefulness, under the blessing of Divine Providence, The children have continued very healthy, improving in morals and learning to the satisfaction of many respectable persons whom benevolence has induced to visit the school. A considerable addition has been made to the school-room, which is now seventy-five feet long, by thirty-three wide.

Lancaster takes "this opportunity to give some account of our improved method of instruction in the elementary parts of arithmetic." Since the publication of the first edition "a very considerable improvement has taken place in the minor classes, as respects spelling." Dictation was only possible with those who could write "but in all large day-schools there are always a number of children who have not acquired this art, who are sent to school solely to learn to read. These mostly repeat their lessons in classes, or singly in rotation, and as usual nineteen are waiting, employed or unemployed, as they please, till the turn comes to repeat their lessons to the teacher, after which they occupy their time as before.. . . Dr. Bell was fully sensible of this waste of time in schools, and his method to remedy the evil was crowned with complete success." Lancaster had adopted this method, the famous printing in sand.

In 1803 Lancaster's school had not begun to attract public attention. Even the Quakers, whose generosity promoted its success, did not visit it; "none of" them "regarded it in any other light than a well conducted school with some few improvements in the modes of instruction." By 1805 the "modes of instruction" had grown into a complete system, and the school had become one of the sights of London, the resort of "foreign princes, ambassadors, peers, commoners, ladies of distinction, bishops and archbishops, Jews and Turks." As they were all "desirous of carrying home a memorial of the interesting scenes they had witnessed" a manual was indispensable.

A reprint of the second edition would not suffice, because its descriptions had been rendered wholly inadequate and partly obsolete by the marvellous development of the System. Lancaster, therefore, wrote what was practically a new work. The pamphlet of eleven thousand words was extended into a book of fifty-five thousand on an entirely different plan. The change of perspective is indicated by the change of name, the title of the third edition being Improvements | in | Education, | as it respects the Industrious Classes | of the | Community, | containing, | among other important particulars, An Account of the Institution for the Education of | One Thousand Poor Children, | Borough Road, Southwark; and of the New System of Education on which it is conducted. In the first and second editions the "Detail of some practical experiments" comes after "a short account of" the "present state" of education and "hints towards its improvement"; in the third edition the "practical experiments" (transformed into "the New System") are "the first in glory as the first in place," while the "present state" and the "hints" limp on irrelevantly at the end, and appear at all only because the author was reluctant to sacrifice anything that he had written.

The book opens with a dedication "to John Duke of Bedford and John Lord Somerville, in testimony of the cheerful, generous, and important Assistance they have repeatedly given to the Institution and System of Instruction described in the ensuing Pages."

The "Introduction" reproduces, with a few verbal alterations, that of the first edition, but the three pages are extended to seven. The added matter is an earnest appeal to Christians to "cultivate a spirit of unity, brotherly love, and peace."

The first section of the book proper is "A short history of the Free-School, Borough Road, George's Fields, and some account of its funds." From this we learn incidentally that the fee was 4d. a week, that the first subscribers who enabled the master to remit it in the case of poor children were "Thomas Sturge of Newington Butts and Anthony Sterry of the High Street, Borough," and that "the only person who assisted" him "in raising subscriptions was Elizabeth Fry, wife of Joseph Fry, of the Poultry, London." "The Duke of Bedford and Lord Somerville were the first who visited" the school and "entered closely into its detail." "They began the subscription for buildings needful to enlarge the schoolroom," and in "Third Month, 1803" the world at large was invited to imitate "the generosity of those two noblemen." "In the spring, 1804," Lancaster "proposed. . . extending the school from three hundred and fifty to seven hundred boys." "The extension. . .was made at a very trifling expence above the estimate" of £180 and "the proposed extention to one thousand boys" could be made for about £300. "Another design supported by a subscription began by the Duke of Bedford and Lord Somerville is a plan for training lads and young men as schoolmasters by a practical knowledge of these improved modes of tuition to be obtained in" his "institution and under" his "own eye." "Eight lads and several men are now1 in a course of training."

1 "Now" apparently means the spring of 1805.

In professing to give "some" account of the funds Lancaster happens to have chosen the right word. The expenditure side of the accounts shows such items as 25,000 pinions to be made into pens and afterwards used as pencil-cases; "Expence of 6 excursions: to Wandsworth, Clapham, Sydenham, Norwood, and Blackheath with 50, 80, or 124 Boys at a time, as a recreation and reward of attention to their learning"; "Several excursions with 180 boys to Clapham; 450 to the Green Park; to Greenwich, Sydenham and Kew, with select parties"; "300 toys, etc. as premiums"; "Five thousand toys," and "Several thousand toys as bats, balls, kites, etc., etc."; "Sundries for the encouragement of the children as gingerbread-nuts, apples, oranges, cherries, etc., etc., for scrambles"; "1500 commendatory tickets"; "130 leather ditto, lettered 'A Reward for Merit,' etc.": purses, silver pens, engraved half-crowns, star medals and books for the School Circulating Library, which in the first year consisted of "above 300 vols. calculated to improve the morals of youth which they are permitted the use of gratis according to merit."

From the finances we proceed to the "Principles on which the Institution is conducted," and then to the practical part which is reprinted in this volume.

The next section of the Improvements is headed "On Female Education and Employment," but it is not a necessary part of the book. It says nothing about Lancaster or his school or his system, and most of it was written by William Corston. Lancaster feels that he ought to introduce his friend, so, though he confesses that he has "not been much in the habit of attending to female education" and has "not had much experience" he pronounces a few platitudes. Corston writes like a man of business, not to propound any theories, but to describe his own very successful efforts to start straw-plaiting as an occupation for girls, and to combine instruction in reading and writing with the new industry.

The next chapter is "On the Religious Instruction of Youth," and the next three are practically a reprint of Parts I and II of the first edition.

The third edition of the Improvements was published by subscription. The "proposals" state that the price had been fixed at 5s. "in order to avoid the risk and participate in the economy arising from a large impression."

As the 3500 copies, which compose the present edition of this work, are all subscribed for, many persons would probably be glad to have the work, but have omitted to subscribe for it; and as not a copy can be had of any bookseller in the United Kingdom, it is proposed to leave the subscription open for a fourth edition; and J. L. will be much obliged to his friends in distant parts to promote it. It will be merely a transcript of the present work, J. L. having no more improvements in a fit state for public view at present.

Having determined to publish a fourth edition which was "merely a transcript" of the third, a business man would have kept the type "standing." It is characteristic of Lancaster that he allowed it to be distributed, and that, instead of having it reset quickly in a large establishment, he had it reset slowly by the apprentices in his own small establishment. The dedication to the third edition is dated "8th of 7th month, 1805," and that to the fourth edition "8th of 8th month, 1806." A precious year therefore was wasted during which the popular enthusiasm might have cooled if the King had not fortunately helped to keep it warm.

I do not possess a copy of the fifth edition, and, in fact, have not seen one. The sixth edition has the same dates as the fourth on the title page and the dedication and I have discovered no difference whatever between them, although they were not printed from the same type. Did Lancaster publish three editions in 1806? Or is the edition called the sixth really the fifth? Or is it mis-dated? And why was there no further edition required, although Lancaster continued till 1812 to push his system with the old enthusiasm and more than the old success?

These are questions easier to ask than to answer.


Strictly speaking, Bell wrote only one book, though that appeared under several titles and, between 1797 and 1814, grew from a modest duodecimo of sixty pages to a portly octavo of over nine hundred. When in January 1796 he obtained permission to visit England, he fully intended returning to India, but he determined to leave behind him a record of his "labours and experiments" at the Male Asylum. He therefore presented to Lord Hobart1, the Governor of Madras and President of the Asylum, some extracts from the reports. With the extracts went a note stating that "Dr. Bell wishes to follow up these reports with some account of a system altogether new which he hopes. . .to see perpetuated under his Lordship's sanction and diffused abroad in the world under his Lordship's patronage." Encouraged by the opinion of the Governor that the promulgation of the system to the public "might be attended with the most beneficial effects," Bell proceeded with his account, which was laid before the directors of the Asylum on June 28th, 1796, printed soon after the author's arrival in England in February, 1797, and published in the following October. The title-page reads: An Experiment in | Education, | made at the | Male Asylum | of | Madras. Suggesting a System by which a School or Fa- | mily may teach itself under the Superintendance | of the Master or Parent. | By the Reverend | Dr. Andrew Bell, | late one of the Directors, and Superintendant of that | Establishment, Chaplain of Fort St. George, | A.M., F. As. Soc. London: 1797, demy 12mo, pp. xii + 48.

1 Afterwards Earl of Buckinghamshire. Hobart Town in Tasmania is named in honour of him.

After a dedication "to the Honourable the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman, and the Directors of the East India Company; the President in Council of Fort St. George; and to the Directors of the Male Asylum at Madras," comes the following preface:

In the education of youth three objects presented themselves to my mind: to prevent the waste of time in school; to render the condition of pupils pleasant to themselves; and to lead the attention to proper pursuits. In other words, my purpose was to make good scholars, good men, and good Christians.

In charge of a new institution, and, by situation, free from any bias or trammel that might warp the mind or shackle exertion, I tried every method, which a long and earnest attention to the nature and disposition of youth suggested, to accomplish these ends to my own satisfaction. After many attempts, with various success, I rested in a system, surpassing, in its effect, any expectation I had formed, and, "far exceeding the most sanguine hopes" of the directors of the institution, and others interested in the event.

The experiment, thus made at Madras, has appeared to those, who have witnessed the result, convincing and decisive in regard to charitable establishments; and the plan of education, there adopted, has, after the experience of several years, been, by those whose opinions are likely to have the greatest weight, recommended to similar establishments. How far such a system will apply to education in general, may be inferred from the tenour of the following report. That farther and similar trials may be made, and the success, in every instance, ascertained by experience, is the aim of this publication.

Nearly half the pamphlet consists of official letters and minutes, the Report proper occupying only 36 pages. Short as it is, it would be shorter still if the author had omitted every commonplace reflection, though it would be longer if he had described fully and clearly his innovations in the methods of instruction. Speaking of the circumstances which led him to employ monitors1 he says (p. 8):

1 Bell calls them "teachers."

The history of the school of the Male Asylum, from its first establishment, is a detail of difficulties. Among the teachers every thing was to be learnt relative to the conduct of a school. The boys were, in general, stubborn, perverse, and obstinate; much given to lying, and addicted to trick and duplicity. And those, who were somewhat advanced in age, or had made any progress in reading or writing, were, for the most part, trained in customs and habits incompatible with method and order. Among these, however, there were happily several who were industrious and attentive in a high degree; and would have taught themselves writing and arithmetic at any school at which they had happened to be placed.

I soon found that, if ever the school was to be brought into good order, taught according to that method and system which is essential to every public institution, it must be done either by instructing ushers in the economy of such a seminary, or by youths from among the pupils trained for the purpose. For a long time I kept both of these objects in view; but was in the end compelled, after the most painful efforts of perseverance, to abandon entirely the former, and adhere solely to the latter. I found it difficult beyond measure to new model the minds of men of full years; and that whenever an usher was instructed so far as to qualify him for discharging the office of a teacher of this school, I had formed a man who could earn a much higher salary than was allowed at this charity, and on far easier terms. My success, on the other hand, in training my young pupils in habits of strict discipline and prompt obedience exceeded my expectation; and every step of my progress has confirmed and rivetted in my mind the superiority of this new mode of conducting a school through the medium of scholars themselves.

One of my first essays, for I thought nothing beneath my attention that was to promote the welfare of the rising generation, and perhaps establish a seminary of public utility for ages to come, was to instruct beginners in the alphabet. I had, at first sight of a Malabar School, adopted the idea of teaching the letters in sand spread over a board or bench before the scholars, as on the ground in the schools of the natives of this country; a practice which, by the bye, will elucidate a passage in holy writ better than some commentators have done. But till I had trained boys whose minds I could command, and who only knew to do as they were bidden, and were not disposed to dispute or evade the orders given them, I could not fully establish this simple improvement, which has since recommended itself to every person who has seen it. The same obstacles I found in every attempt I made to give the shape and form of method to this school, to adopt such practices as were established in the best regulated seminaries, or to introduce, as I went along, such as appeared to me improvements in the usual mode of instruction.

After pointing out the advantages of teaching the alphabet by writing the letters with the finger in sand, Bell mentions but does not describe intelligently his method of teaching spelling. He does not even mention any other subject of instruction except writing, and of that he says only that "every scholar is made at the first to rule his own paper" and that "no teacher, or other person, is ever allowed, at any time or under any pretext, to write a single letter in the scholar's copy. . .book, but himself." From such scanty details no reader could learn and no plagiarist could convey much.

The fact that Bell had received no salary as superintendent of the Male Asylum was the foundation of his claim for a pension from the East India Company, and his original purpose in printing the Report was to strengthen that foundation by bringing his unpaid work to the notice of the directors. Only after some months of hesitation did he decide to offer for sale the copies left on his hands. In a letter to the printer he says:

Those 830 copies will, I apprehend, be a great deal more than sufficient for an edition; for I imagine that such an humble publication will produce little attention, less credit, and far less profit.

As a commercial transaction the pamphlet was a failure. The number sent with the author's compliments to men of position and influence must have exceeded the number sold, and the reason for the issue of a new edition was not the exhaustion of the old: there would have been no second edition of the Experiment if there had been no second edition of the Improvements.

That second edition (which appeared towards the end of April 1805) omitted those details and documents interesting to no one except the directors for whom the Report was originally written, while it contained a good deal of matter not included in the first.

The title-page reads: An | Experiment | in Education | made at the | Male Asylum at Egmore, near Madras. | Suggesting a System by which a School or Family may teach itself under the | Superintendence of the Master or Parent. | By the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, | A.M. F. As. Soc. F.R.S. Edin: | Rector of Swanage, Dorset; late one of the Directors and Superintendent [ of that Establishment, and Chaplain of Fort St. George. [ Second Edition; | To which is prefixed the Scheme of a School on the above Model, alike fitted | to reduce the Expense of Education, abridge the Labour of the Master, and | expedite the Progress of the Scholar. The Process of teaching the Alphabet | in Sand, of Reading, Spelling, and Writing, is explained; and a Board of | Education and Poor-Rates suggested. London: 1805, demy 8mo, pp. 84.

In an Advertisement, Bell says (p. 5):

Aware of the natural and often just prejudice entertained by men of sagacity and experience against every novel attempt, I was apprehensive that the report of what had been done in India might be regarded in Europe as a speculative doctrine rather than a practical fact. To guard against this imputation, it was thought advisable to publish the entire despatches of the Government of Madras relative to the success of this institution. In consequence of this resolution, documents were introduced for the sole purpose of establishing the reality of the details recorded.

In the second edition Bell, "leaving. . .the original documents where they may readily be found," intended to confine himself "to facts and to the details of the system."

After the preface, reprinted from the first edition, comes the most important section of the new matter, "The Scheme of a School on the Model of the Male Asylum at Madras." Then comes a reprint of the greater part of the Report which formed the body of the first edition. This is followed by a "Postscript" containing "a description of the mode of writing on sand," an argument in favour of the establishment of a State Board of Education, one of the letters from the appendix to the first edition, and a copy of the Regulations of the Male Asylum.

In this Postscript (p. 62) first occurred the passage which enabled Lancaster to accuse his rival of "advocating the universal limitation of knowledge":

It is not proposed that the children of the poor be educated in an expensive manner, or even taught to write and to cypher. Utopian schemes, for the universal diffusion of general knowledge, would soon realize the fable of the belly and the other members of the body, and confound that distinction of ranks and classes of society, on which the general welfare hinges, and the happiness of the lower orders, no less than that of the higher, depends. Parents will always be found to educate, at their own expense, children enow to fill the stations, which require higher qualifications; and there is a risk of elevating, by an indiscriminate education, the minds of those doomed to the drudgery of daily labour, above their condition, and thereby rendering them discontented and unhappy in their lot. It may suffice to teach the generality, on an economical plan, to read their bible and understand the doctrines of our holy religion.

Bell's defenders found this passage most embarrassing, because even if they agreed with the sentiment, they held it not policy to have it thus set down. The passage was repeated without alteration in the third edition (p. 90). In the fourth edition (p. 292) "all of them be" was substituted for "even" and "All however may be taught" for "It may suffice to teach the generality."

The third edition, which appeared in 1807, is almost a new book with almost a new title: An | Analysts | of | the Experiment | in | Education, | made at Egmore, near Madras. | Comprising a System, alike fitted to reduce the expense of Tuition, abridge the labour of the Master, and expedite the progress of | the Scholar; and suggesting a Scheme for the better admini- | stration of the Poor-laws, by converting Schools for the lower | orders of youth into Schools of Industry. | By the | Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, A.M.; F.A.S., F.R.S.E. | Rector of Swanage, Dorset; | Late Minister of St. Mary's, Madras; Chaplain of Fort St. George; and Director | and Superintendent of the Male Asylum at Egmore. London, demy 8VO, pp. xii +119.

This edition is inscribed not to Lord Hobart but to Manners Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury. In the dedication Bell says that his every wish in regard to his System is fulfilled. The boon, which he had "heretofore destined for general diffusion in future ages" seemed "already realized to the rising generation" — which means that it had obtained the patronage of two exalted Prelates and been more or less adopted by three or four charity schools.

In the Advertisement (p. ix) Bell explains why he calls the new edition An Analysis of the Experiment.

To provide against that confusion, which has arisen in the minds of some enquirers, from mingling tenets, derived from other sources, with the facts on the records of the Asylum, and from not discriminating between the system of the Asylum, and the detached practices there introduced; between the general principle, on which the School hinges, and the isolated expedients, which were contrived to forward individual steps in the process of teaching; it is now meant to analyze the system, to collect into one series, what relates to the scheme of the School, and the principles on which it is founded; and in a separate compartment to distinguish and detail the independent, subordinate, and auxiliary practices in teaching.

Part II contains a description of Bell's methods of instruction, which are more fully described in the fourth edition. Part III is a reprint of the greater part of the first edition. Part IV was intended to show that the system was "not less applicable to Schools of Industry, than to the charitable Institution in which it originated: and that by its means every School for the lower orders of youth" might, "without prejudice to their appropriate education, be rendered at the same time a School of Industry." Nor was "its intimate connection with the poor laws" overlooked "both as presenting a scheme not less adapted to their administration, than to the economy of a School; and as furnishing employment to the children of paupers, and supplying means for their education in religious principles, in habits of industry, and immediate usefulness."

In the fourth edition the name of the book is again changed. The label on the back calls it Elements of Tuition, but the full title is: The Madras School, | or | Elements of Tuition: comprising the | Analysis of an | Experiment in Education | made at the Male Asylum, Madras; | with its facts, proofs, and illustrations; | to which are added, Extracts of Sermons preached at Lambeth; a Sketch of a National Institution | for training up the Children of the Poor; and a Specimen of the mode of Religious Instruction | at the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea. | By the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell, | F. As. S.: F. R. S. Ed. Rector of Swanage, Dorset; | Late Minister of St. Mary's Madras; Chaplain of Fort St. George; and Director and Superintendent of the Male Asylum at Egmore. | London, 1808, demy 8VO, pp. xvi +348.

The dedication to the Archbishop of Canterbury is reprinted with an introductory paragraph:

I should be wanting in grateful duty to your GRACE, as well as in honest justice to my subject, if I were to alter a word in my address on a former occasion, bearing date 5th February 1807. What was then prophecy is now history.

Bell was an eager advocate and practitioner of vaccination1, but the merits of Jenner's discovery did not make him forget the greater merits of his own. Here is the comparison (p. vii):

Even in the mere point of the health of the body, and the preservation of the animal life of man, Vaccination, the most valuable discovery in the physical art, of which this country, or the world, can boast, falls short of this invention; which provides the means of supplying a remedy for the disorders of filth, idleness, ignorance, and vice, more fatal to children than the ravages of the Small-Pox.

But this is its least recommendation. It is the sanity of the mind, which is its glory — its moral, religious, and political tendency. . . and the greatest discoveries, heretofore made for the improvement of human life, sink into comparative insignificance.. ..

With such convictions on his mind, with such impressions on his heart, and with such an engine in his hands, — he fears not now to tell aloud, what eleven years ago he only whispered — when he put the original reports of the Male Asylum into the hands of his bookseller, and what he has never ceased to repeat to his friends, — "You will mark me for an enthusiast; but if you and I live a thousand years, we shall see this System of Tuition spread over the world." But it was from his ashes he then expected it to spring up. He did not expect to live, as he has done, to see it patronised, where he was most desirous of its being patronised; and established, where he was most desirous of its being established.

The System —

was transplanted into England in the year 1797, when it was partially adopted with good success in the oldest charity school in London, that of Aldgate, and in several parts of the kingdom, and is now established at the parochial schools of White Chapel and of Lambeth, and at the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea. (p. 1.)

Lancaster boasted that under his System one master could teach a thousand children, but Bell was not to be outdone in boasting. Under his System "a single master, ... if able and diligent, could, without difficulty, conduct, ten contiguous schools each consisting of a thousand scholars."

1 It is curious to note that one of the declared purposes of the Society formed on January 22nd, 1808 (which developed into the British and Foreign School Society), was "to diffuse the providential discovery of the vaccine inoculation in order that.. .they may be instrumental in the hands of Providence to preserve life from loathsome disease." — Joseph Lancaster, p. 38.

Part II, which deals with the Madras methods of instruction, is reprinted in this volume. Part III is headed "The fitness of the Madras System to the Education of the Poor and to the Diffusion of the Gospel." It consists of two chapters, the first an introduction to the second, which is a reprint of a pamphlet published the year before: Extract of a Sermon on the Education of the Poor under an appropriate System, preached at St. Mary's, Lambeth, 28th June 1807, for the benefit of the Boys' Chanty School at Lambeth, by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bell. The reader of this sermon is not without excuse if he is sometimes uncertain whether the glory of God or the glory of the Rev. Dr Andrew Bell was foremost in the preacher's mind.

Part IV also consists of a reprint with an introductory chapter, the work reprinted being the original edition of the Experiment. In the introductory chapter Bell speaks of the "extreme mortification that the manner in which" this edition "was received produced on a mind deeply impressed with a sense of its importance." "The cool and phlegmatic manner in which" his "humble and lowly essay was at first received" almost made him think "all that was done in India a dream."

Part V is headed "Objections considered." Only three of the objections seem to require mention. The first was "the economy of the rod and the commutation of corporal punishment which... is treated as equally chimerical and dangerous"; the second was the use of emulation as a motive for action; and the third the system of trial by jury. To the first and second Bell will make no concession, but with regard to the third, while believing the jury to be a most valuable instrument of discipline, he gives his readers "perfect liberty to dispense with" it "if they retain a predilection for a more summary mode of correction."

Part VI, "Application and Conclusion," contains little that is new except the "Sketch of a National Institution for Training up the Children of the Poor," and the "Specimen of the mode of religious instruction at the Royal Military Asylum, Chelsea." The first calls for no comment and the second offends against so many pedagogical principles that comment would be tedious.


(Third Edition. 1805)

On the Arrangement of the Institution, as connected with Improvements in Education

To promote emulation, and facilitate learning, the whole school is arranged into classes, and a monitor appointed to each class. A class consists of any number of boys whose proficiency is on a par: these may all be classed and taught together. If the class is small, one monitor may teach it; if large, it may still continue the same class, but with more or less assistant monitors, who, under the direction of the principal monitor, are to teach the subdivisions of the class. If only four or six boys should be found in a school, who are learning the same thing, as A, B, C, ab. &c. Addition, Subtraction, &c. I think it would be advantageous for them to pursue their studies after the manner of a class. If the number of boys studying the same lesson, in any school, should amount to six, their proficiency will be nearly doubled by being classed, and studying in conjunction. There are two descriptions of boys to be found in every school; those who are learning to read, and those who have learnt: to the last, reading is not a study, but a medium of religious or moral instruction. To the first, a progressive series of lessons, rising step by step, to that point, where children may begin to store their minds with knowledge for use in future life. This is the second object of instruction, and to which a series of reading lessons connected with those mechanical, or other pursuits in life, which they are likely to be engaged in, and with religious knowledge, is a valuable auxiliary.


1.............................. A, B, C,

2.............................. Two Letters, or ab, &c.

3.............................. Three Letters.

4.............................. Four Letters.

5.............................. Five and six Letters, &c.

The three succeeding Classes are Boys who may read for Instruction,

6.............................. Testament.

7.............................. Bible.

8.............................. A Selection of the best Readers.

With these last three classes I use a particular series of reading, which is annexed; not as the most excellent, but the one I have been able to find, well adapted to their moral and religious improvement.

I now proceed to describe the method of tuition used in the first class.

Of the Method of teaching to read


The first, or lowest class of scholars, are those who are yet unacquainted with their alphabet. This class may consist of ten, twenty, or a hundred; or any other number of children, who have not made so much progress as to know how to distinguish all their letters at first sight. If there are only ten or twenty of this description in the school, one boy can manage and teach them; if double the number, it will require two boys as teachers, and so in proportion for every additional twenty boys. The reader will observe, that, in this and in every other class, described in the succeeding plan and arrangement, the monitor has but one plain, simple object to teach, though in several ways; and the scholars the same to learn. This simplicity of system defines at once the province of each monitor in tuition. The very name of each class imports as much — and this is called the first A, B, C, class. The method of teaching is as follows: a bench is placed or fixed to the ground for the boys to sit on; another, about a foot higher, is placed before them. On the desk before them is placed deal ledges, (a pantile lath, nailed down to the desk, would answer the same purpose,) thus:


The letter A, shows the entire surface of the desk, which is supported by two, three, or more legs, as usual for such desks, and according to the size. B, is a vacant space, where the boys lean their left arms, while they write or print with the right hand. The sand is placed in the space C*. The double lines represent the ledges (or pantile laths) which confine the sand in its place: sand of any kind will do, but it must be dry. The boys print in the sand, with their fingers: they all print at the command given by their monitor. A boy who knows how to print, and distinguish some of his letters, is placed by one who knows few or none, with a view to assist him; and particularly, that he may copy the form of his letters, from seeing him make them. We find this copying one from another a great step towards proficiency. In teaching the boys to print the alphabet, the monitor first makes a letter on the sand, before any boy who knows nothing about it; the boy is then required to retrace over the same letter, which the monitor has made for him, with his fingers; and thus he is to continue employed, till he can make the letter himself, without the monitor's assistance. Then he may go on to learn another letter.

* The space C, is painted black; the sand mostly used, is whitish: when the children trace the letters in the white sand, the black ground shows them to more advantage.

The letters are taught in courses: they are arranged in three courses, according to their similarity of form. There are three simple examples, which regulate the formation of the whole alphabet. First, a line, as in the letters, I, H, T, L, E, F, i, 1: Second, depending upon the formation of an angle; as, A, V, W, M, N, Z, K, Y, X, — v, w, k, y, z, x: a circle or a curve; as, O, U, C, J, G, D, P, B, R, Q, S, — a, o, b, d, p, q, g, e, m, n, h, t, u, r, s, f, s, j. These courses of letters are soon acquired, on account of the similarity of form. The greatest difficulty in teaching the letters occur in those, the form of which are exactly alike, and are only distinguished by change of position; p, q, and p, d, are perpetually mistaken for each other; by making the two letters at the same time, the children readily learn to distinguish them. Then again, they are all employed printing at once; and it is both curious and diverting to see a number of little creatures, many not more than four or five years old, and some hardly that, stretching out their little fingers with one consent, to make the letters. When this is done they sit quietly till the sand is smoothed for them, by the monitor, with a flat-iron, as commonly used for ironing linen. The sand being dry, the iron meets no resistance, and thus, all the letters made in a very short time, by each boy, are, in as short a time, obliterated by the monitor; and the boys again apply their fingers to the sand, and proceed as before*.

Another method of teaching the alphabet is, by a large sheet of pasteboard suspended by a nail on the school wall; twelve boys, from the sand class, are formed info a circle round this alphabet, standing in their numbers, i, 2, 3, &c. to 12. These numbers are pasteboard tickets, with number 1, &c. inscribed, suspended by a string from the button of the bearer's coat, or round his neck. The best boy stands in the first place; he is also decorated with a leather ticket, gilt, and lettered merit, as a badge of honour. He is always the first boy questioned by the monitor, who points to a particular letter in the alphabet, "What letter is that?" If he tells readily, what letter it is, all is well, and he retains his place in the class; which he forfeits, together with his number and ticket, to the next boy who answers the question, if he cannot.

This promotes constant emulation. It employs the monitor's attention continually; he cannot look one way, while the boy is repeating his letters another; or at all neglect to attend to him, without being immediately discovered. It is not the monitor's business to teach, but to see the boys in his class or division teach each other. If a boy calls A, by the name of B, or O, he is not to say, it is not B, or O, but it is A; he is to require the next boy in succession to correct the mistakes of his senior. These two methods, of the sand and alphabet card, with their inferior arrangements detailed, are made use of daily in rotation, and serve as a mutual check and relief to each other.

* Having some old alphabets, which were of no use in the school else, they were nailed before each boy: this is not absolutely necessary, but contributes to expedite their progress. While the monitor is smoothing the sand, the employment of the class is unavoidably suspended: the time thus unoccupied is, indeed, but short; but the little printed alphabet often attracts the involuntary attention of the children, when waiting till the sand is ready for them. The example of one often spreads through the whole class; and they make quite a buzz, repeating their letters, till the monitor calls them again to make use of their fingers to shape in the sand.

The figures are taught in the same manner. Sand is a cheap substitute for books any where; but more so in those parts of the country where the soil is sandy, than in London. This method was taken in the outline from Dr. Bell, formerly of Madras; but he did not say, in his printed account of that institution, whether wet or dry sand was used. It for a long time involved our minor classes in much difficulty, having begun with the wet sand: we continued it some time. It required great care in wetting: if wetted either too much or too little, it was equally useless and inconvenient; it occasioned a deal of trouble to smoothe, and took double or treble the quantity of sand which it would have taken dry. All these difficulties my boys overcame in a short time; but every time we had a change of monitors in this class, we found it a troublesome qualification for him to attain the art of preparing it properly. All these difficulties were obviated by my hearing from Dr. Bell, that it was dry sand. This circumstance fully shows, how essential a minute detail is, to the ready practice of any experiment, and will be an apology for the length of this, on the art of teaching the A, B, C. We of course use no books for this class of children, nor indeed for several other classes, as will be seen in the sequel.


The second class are chiefly boys who, having learnt to print the alphabet and figures in sand, and readily to distinguish the same on paper, are then advanced to this second, and comparatively superior, class. Their business is to spell short words, by writing them with their fingers in the sand, as the monitor dictates to them: a method clearly described in the account of the new method of spelling in the sequel: the monitor pronouncing a word, as, to, &c.; or a syllable, as, ba, &c. and each boy printing it on the sand with his fingers, and thus spelling it. The order of the desks, and smoothing the sand with the irons, is the same as in the first class. They also make the figures in the sand, to a great number. Besides this they have small slates, the method of obtaining which will be described hereafter. On these slates they learn to make all the alphabet in writing: this is done that they may not, when in the preceding class, be perplexed with learning the printed and written alphabet at once. Care is also taken, that the series of words, and syllables of two letters, which this class print in the sand, is so arranged as to contain all the letters of the alphabet; which, otherwise, being recently learnt, would be easily forgotten, unless kept in memory by daily practice. This arrangement of words, and syllables of two letters, will be published on a sheet by itself, for the use of persons concerned in the education of youth. The words are arranged by themselves, and syllables by themselves: words of two letters, being most familiar to the juvenile mind, are placed first. Syllables are what they cannot attach any sense to; and, in fact, have no sense or meaning, unless compounded into words above the comprehensions of children in this class. They have a card, with words and syllables of two letters, round which the whole class successively assemble, in subdivisions of twelve boys each. The first boy is required to spell a word by the monitor, in the same manner as the first boy, in the a, b, c, was required to distinguish a single letter; and precedency is awarded according to excellence, as before. In short, this method is the same as with the a, b, c, card, only it is combining the letters, instead of distinguishing them. The succeeding classes have no sand allowed them, but they write on a slate. They are taught to read and spell on the same plan; and therefore, the management of them will be best described by detailing the methods of reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, emulation, competition, and reward. It is only to be observed, that the class which reads and spells in three letters, spells, by writing on the slate, words of three letters; the 4th, or four-letter class, writing words of four letters; and the 5th, or five-letter class, writing words of five letters on the slate; and the superior classes, words of three or four syllables; also, words with the meanings attached. Each class has cards, in the same manner as the first and second classes; all of which are made use of in a similar way, only varying as to the length of the words or syllables each class may be learning.

Improved Method of teaching Spelling by Writing

This method of spelling seems to be excellent: it being entirely an addition to the regular course of studies, without interfering with, or deranging them in the least. It commands attention, gratifies the active disposition of youth, and is an excellent introduction and auxiliary to writing. It supersedes, in a great measure, the use of books in tuition, while (to speak moderately) it doubles the actual improvement of the children. It is as simple an operation as can well be conceived. — Thus, supply twenty boys with slates and pencil, and pronounce any word for them to write, suppose it is the word "ab-so-lu-ti-on;" they are obliged to listen with attention, to catch the sound of every letter as it falls from their teacher's lips; again, they have to retrace the idea of every letter, and the pronunciation of the word, as they write it on the slates. If we examine ourselves when we write letters, we shall find, that writing is so much associated and connected with orthography, that we cannot write a word without spelling as we write, and involuntarily correcting any inaccuracy that may occur.

Now these twenty boys, if they were at a common school, would each have a book; and, one at a time, would read or spell to their teacher, while the other nineteen were looking at their books, or about them, as they pleased: or, if their eyes are rivetted on their books, by terror and coercion, can we be sure that the attention of their minds is engaged, as appearance seems to speak it is? On the contrary, when they have slates, the twentieth boy may read to the teacher *, while the other nineteen are spelling words on the slate, instead of sitting idle. The class, by this means, will spell, write, and read at the same instant of time. In addition to this, the same trouble which teaches twenty, will suffice to teach sixty or a hundred, by employing some of the senior boys to inspect the slates of the others, they not omitting to spell the word themselves; and, on a signal given by them to the principal teacher, that the word is finished by all the boys they overlook, he is informed when to dictate another to the class. This experiment has been tried with some hundreds of children, and it has been found, that they could all write, from one boy dictating the words to be written. The benefit of this mode of teaching, can only be limited by the want of hearing distinctly the monitor's voice; for, if seven hundred boys were all in one room, as one class, learning the same thing, they could all write and spell by this method, at the dictation of one monitor. I appeal to the candour and good sense of every reader, justly to appreciate the benefit and importance of this method of teaching. The repetition of one word by the monitor, serves to rivet it firmly on the minds of each one of the class, and also on his own memory; thus, he cannot possibly teach the class without improving himself at the same time. When we reflect, that by the advantage of this invention, a boy who is associated in a class of an hundred others, not only reads as much as if he was a solitary individual under the master's care, but he will also spell sixty or seventy words of four syllables, by writing them on the slate, in less than two hours: when this additional number of words, spelt by each boy daily, is taken into account, the aggregate will amount to repetitions of many thousands of words annually; when, not a word would be written or spelt, and nothing done by nineteen twentieths of the scholars in the same time. Thus, it is entirely an improvement and an introduction to their other studies, without the least additional trouble on the part of the teacher; without any extra time of attendance being requisite from the scholar; without deranging or impeding his attention to other studies, as is usually the case with the study of extra lessons; at least, more than doubling the advances of each individual towards a proficiency, at the same time; and, possessing all these advantages, it prevents idleness, and procures that great desideratum of schools, quietness, by commanding attention: for, as it requires much writing, but few boys can write and talk at the same time. In this, nothing is wholly committed to the pupil or monitor. Some Studies require a degree of mental exertion, that may or may not be made, and yet the ommission remain undetected; but this is so visible, that every boy's attention to his lesson may be seen on his slate; and detection immediately follows idleness, or an indifferent performance! That a thing, so simple in itself, should abound with so many advantages, is scarcely to be supposed, at a first glance; but, that it does, I am well convinced, by daily experience of its utility; particularly, the improvement it affords by so great a practice in writing.

* It will be seen in the article Reading, I do not approve of solitary reading, one by one: it has no emulation with it.

Boys who learn by the new mode, have six times the usual practice in writing; but, in the old way the expence is, at the first cost, 5½d. per month, for writing books, pens, and ink, each boy: this will be six times increased, if it is desired to give both classes of boys equal practice; the usual cost for sixty boys is 16l. 10s. per annum.


Six times the usual If they have not slates charge for writing paper, already provided, sixty

&c...................... £. 99 slates will cost .......... £. 1

Allow a hundred slate pencils per annum, each boy, at 8d. per hundred 2

£ 3 Balance in favour of the new mode £. 96.

The many hundreds of respectable characters, nobility, clergy, gentry, merchants, and others, who have visited the institution, can bear witness, that the progress of the boys in writing, by this method of writing all they spell, is astonishing! Not of one, or a few boys, but of the whole school. By this practice of writing on a slate, they learn to humour their pencils, so as to write just like a pen, in making the up and down strokes of the letters. About one hundred and fifty boys have writing books, and their writing on the slate, is a fac simile of their writing in books: which they seldom do, more than four times in a week, and then only a single copy, which covers but a quarto page, each time. Slates are an article so great in request, on this plan, that it is proper to procure the best sort: those of a reddish cast allow the pencil to play with more freedom; those of the black kind, though neater in appearance, are generally hard and brittle; and the pencil is more apt to scratch than write thereon: yet, there are some of the black kind which are an exception to this observation. If any gentleman, in a country town or village, should be pulling down an old building that has been slated, the damaged slates from it would be a valuable acquisition to village children: for, by the friction of a little Portland stone and water, on the surface of the slate, they will obtain a good polish, and serve as well for use, as slates of ten times their value. I hope to see the day, when slates and slate-pencils will be more resorted to than they have heretofore been, and thus afford to every poor child a cheap and ready medium of instruction, in spelling, writing, and arithmetic.

A Method of teaching to spell and read, whereby one Book will serve instead of Six Hundred Books

It will be remembered, that the usual mode of teaching requires every boy to have a book: yet, each boy can only read or spell one lesson at a time, in that book. Now, all the other parts of the book are in wear, and liable to be thumbed to pieces; and, whilst the boy is learning a lesson in one part of the book, the other parts are at that time useless. Whereas, if a spelling book contains twenty or thirty different lessons, and it were possible for thirty scholars to read the thirty lessons in that book, it would be equivalent to thirty books for its utility. To effect this, it is desirable the whole of the book should be printed three times larger than the common size type, which would make it equal in size and cost to three common spelling books, value from eight-pence to a shilling each. Again, it should be printed with only one page to a leaf, which would again double the price, and make it equivalent in bulk and cost to five or six common books; its different parts should then be pasted on pasteboard, and suspended by a string, to a nail in the wall, or other convenient place: one paste-board should contain the alphabet; others, words and syllables of from two to six letters. The reading lessons gradually rising from words of one syllable, in the same manner, till they come to words of five or six letters, or more, preparatory to the Testament lessons. There is a circumstance very seldom regarded enough, in the introductory lessons which youth usually have to perform before they are admitted to read in the Testament. A word of six letters or more, being di-vi-ded by hy-phens, reduces the syllables, which compose it to three, four, or five letters each; of course, it is as easy to read syllables, as words of five letters: and the child, who can read or spell the one, will find the other as easily attainable.

In the Testament, the words of two and three syllables are undivided, which makes this division of the lessons a more natural introduction to the Testament. In the preparatory lessons I have used, the words are thus di-vi-ded.

When the cards are provided, as before mentioned, from twelve to twenty boys may stand in a circle round each card, and clearly distinguish the print, to read or spell, as well or better than if they had a common spelling book in each of their hands. If one spelling book was divided into thirty different parts or lessons, and each lesson given to a different boy, it would only serve thirty boys, changing their lessons among themselves, as often as needful; and the various parts would be continually liable to be lost or torn. But, every lesson placed on a card, will serve for twelve or twenty boys at once: and, when that twelve or twenty have repeated the whole lesson, as many times over as there are boys in the circle, they are dismissed to their spelling on the slate, and another like number of boys may study the same lesson, in succession: indeed, two hundred boys may all repeat their lessons from one card, in the space of three hours. If the value and importance of this plan, for saving paper and books in teaching reading and spelling, will not recommend itself, all I can say in its praise, from experience, will be of no avail. When standing in circles, to read or spell, the boys wear their numbers, tickets, pictures, &c. as described under the head, Emulation and Reward; and give place to each other, according to merit, as mentioned in the account of the two first classes.

In reading, they read lines or sentences, and sometimes paragraphs, in rotation. They are required to read every word slowly and deliberately, pausing between each. They read long words in the same manner, only by syllables: thus, in reading the word, Composition, they would not read it at once, but by syllables: thus, Com-po-si-ti-on; making a pause at every syllable. This deliberate method is adapted to prevent those mistakes, which boys so often make in reading, by pronouncing words wrong: adding, or taking syllables at random, from the words in their lesson, so as to make nonsense of it. A boy may read the word, He-te-ro-dox, in haste, he may call it Heterodoxy; or vary it in any way that haste induces him to misapprehend: but if he read it deliberately, He-te-ro-dox, pronouncing every distinct syllable by itself, he cannot possibly read it amiss. This method, also, accustoms the eye at once to read the syllables in every word, before the word is pronounced. For those who are apt to make blunders in learning to read, this mode will be found the best remedy. We are daily in the habit of speaking to each other: in so doing, we combine syllables into words, and words into sentences; by which we make ourselves understood. This is combination; but those who combine syllables or words improperly, do well to look back to analysis. Syllables are the component parts of words; those who can read syllables distinctly, will soon learn to combine them into words. Every sentence we express, is a combination of syllables and words; under the influence of these daily habits, there is more danger of inattention in learners, to the leading principles of correct reading, than to any other circumstance. I am much indebted to Doctor Bell, late of Madras, for the preceding information on the subject: I have reduced it to practice, and find it does honour to its benevolent inventor; to which I have added several valuable improvements, particularly that of the reading and spelling cards.

Extempore Method of Spelling

In this method of spelling the card is used instead of a book — the monitor assembles his whole class, by successive circles, or rather semicircles, of twelves or twenties; calling each scholar by numbers; so as to begin at number 1, and go regularly through the whole class. This preserves a regularity in their reading, and prevents any one scholar omitting a lesson. At first this is troublesome, and occasions some noise; because, in the minor classes, the monitors are obliged to call the boys to read or spell, by the list of their names; but, as a number is affixed to each name, the monitors soon become familiar with the names and numbers of boys in their respective classes, and this obviates the difficulty.

When the circle is formed around their card or lesson, the monitor points, with his pencil or pen, to the columns of spelling which form the lesson for the day. The first boy reads six words, by syllables: he does not spell the words by repeating each letter, but, by repeating, in a distinct manner, each syllable in every word. If he commits any mistake, the next boy is required to rectify it, without being told what the mistake is; if the second boy cannot correct the first, the third or fourth may: in which case, the scholar who rectifies the mistake takes precedency of him that committed it, and receives his insignia of merit at the same time. In no case is a monitor suffered to teach or tell the boys in his circle what the error is, unless they should all be equally ignorant: then it becomes his duty to do it. This is, in fact, each boy teaching himself; and the principal duty of the monitor is not so much to teach them, as to see that they teach one another. When the boys in the circle, have thus studied their spelling by reading it, the monitor takes the card into his own hand, and requires them to spell and pronounce such words extempore, as he repeats to them. In doing this, they correct each other's faults, and take precedence as before described.

This method of spelling is commonly practised in schools; but, for the method of studying the spelling lessons, I am indebted to Dr. Bell, believing it was his peculiar invention. A great advantage derived from this method, is, that it forms an excellent practical counterpart to the method of spelling on the slate. The boys usually spell this way in rotation; but, if the monitor detects any boy looking about him instead of looking at the lesson, he immediately requires him to perform a part of the lesson which he was inattentive to: he usually performs it ill; and thus his negligence immediately punishes itself, by his losing precedency in his class. It is very important, that in all these modes of teaching, the monitor cannot do as the watermen do, look one way and row another. His business is before his eyes; and, if he omits the performance of the smallest part of his duty, the whole circle are idle or deranged: and detection, by the master, immediately follows his negligence. In society at large, few crimes are ever committed openly; because, immediate detection and apprehension of the offender would follow. On the contrary, many are committed in privacy and silence. It is the same, in performing the simple duties of monitors in my institution: their whole performances are so visible, that they dare not neglect them; and, consequently, attain the habit of performing the task easily and well. This effect is produced from this one cause: that every thing they do is brought to account, or rendered visible in some conspicuous way and manner. What applies to the monitors strictly applies to the boys. There is not a boy, who does not feel the benefits of this constant emulation, variety, and action; for, they insensibly acquire the habit of exercising their attention closely, on every subject that comes before them; and this, without straining it too much.


An Account of the improved Method of Instruction, in the elementary Parts of Arithmetic

It is necessary to premise a little respecting the usual mode of teaching arithmetic, which many of my readers will remember to be the method in practice at such schools as they frequented in early youth.

The sums are, in many instances, set in the boys' books, by the master or teacher, at the expence of much pains and labour; in other instances they are copied by the pupil, from Walkingame's, or some other arithmetic.

The boys are, or should be, instructed how to work their sums, in the first instance, by the master or teacher; they are then expected to do other sums of a like nature, by the example shown.

This is to be done by them, at their seats; and, when it is finished, the master or teacher should, and in most cases does, inspect it, to see if done correctly.

But this operation of adding or subtracting, for instance, is intellectual, not mechanical or audible; of course, we cannot ascertain how many times a boy repeats his sum before it is brought to his master for inspection: steady boys may do it five or six times, but the idle and careless seldom do it more than once; here is much time lost, and a remedy adapted to the case is not in the teacher's power.

Again, when sums are brought up to the master for inspection, each boy's must be individually attended to; here is another great loss of invaluable time. Perhaps, twenty boys have sums ready for inspection at once, and nineteen wait, sit, idle, or talk, while the twentieth is at his master's desk, with his sums. Nor is this all: if an incorrigible dunce happens to show up his sums first, and, as is often the case, adds new blunders to mistakes, he may easily delay his master, and the boys who are waiting to follow him in succession, for some time; and a few instances of this sort, arising from carelessness, inattention, or incapacity on the part of the scholars, will completely derange the business of a morning, and keep a number of their school-fellows unemployed.

Independent of this, it is disgusting to teachers of any description to be continually plodding over the same ground of elementary arithmetic. Sameness, in every instance, produces listlessness; and variety is ever productive of agreeable sensations, I have seen a respectable schoolmaster, well versed in the mathematics, have a dozen boys standing round his desk, waiting for him to attend to their sums, while he has been listening to a slow boy, repeating his sum, till he has bitten his lips with vexation.

To prevent this dulness, I have invented an entire new method of teaching arithmetic, that commences when children begin to make their figures. The following is the arrangement of the cyphering classes:

Class 1, Combination of figures.

2, Addition.

3, Compound ditto.

4, Subtraction.

5, Compound ditto.

6, Multiplication.

7, Compound ditto.

8, Division.

9, Compound ditto. 10, Reduction.

11, Rule of Three. 12, Practice.

The first object is to teach children to make their figures. In order to do this, the class learning to make figures are assembled under the monitor, in one part of the school, by themselves. It is to be observed, the same boys who are in one class, according to their proficiency in reading, are in another, according to their progress in arithmetic; that, when the school is cyphering, the classes are organized on the annexed plan of the cyphering classes; when they are reading, they are arranged on the plan of the reading classes, given in a preceding page. They always, on the commencement of school, come in, in their different reading classes; and, when cyphering, afterwards, separate to their several arithmetical classes: after having performed the cyphering, they return to their reading classes, before they go out of school. This changing about from class to class, in which three fourths of the whole school are concerned, is attended with but little bustle, and no confusion. It is usually done in less than five minutes; and the school-room is so large, it will take near that time to go round it. If there are any boys who cannot cypher, they remain under the monitor's care, for instruction in reading, while the others are cyphering.

The modes of teaching arithmetic are so simple and easy, that all the boys in the school, who can read and write text-hand in four letters, are put in the first cyphering class.

It is not uncommon to find boys thus instructed, who learn to write and cypher remarkably well, in six months, who never handled a pen, or were taught by any other method. Before boys go into arithmetic it is needful they should learn to make the figures: on my plan, they learn to make and combine them at the same time. The class of boys, who are learning to make their figures, form, in the institution,


In the tuition of this class, the boys who constitute it, are not limited to number: any boy, for whom it is requisite, is immediately placed in it. Instead of teaching them to make figures in the order of the nine digits, as is usually done, by writing occasionally in copy-books, they have each a slate. The monitor takes a long Addition table, which combines not only units with units, but tens with units: a thing in which the pupil's greatest difficulty, as to simple and compound Addition, occurs. The monitor reads from this table:

9 and 1 are 10, 9 and 2 are 11, &c. 25 and 1 are 26, 25 and 2 are 27, 25 and 3 are 28, 25 and 4 are 29, 25 and 5 are 30, 25 and 6 are 31, 25 and 7 are 32, 25 and 8 are 33, 25 and 9 are 34; or other variations of the same table.

When these are dictated, each boy writes them on his slate: the monitor and senior boys in the class, assisting in teaching the beginners, to make the figures, till they can make them themselves. The monitor also varies the tables:

Take 9 from 10, 1 remains; 9 from 11, 2 remain; 9 from 12, 3 remain, &c.

He also uses the Multiplication table, and reverses it in the same manner: 6 times 2 are 12, 2 in 12 6 times.

In the same way he teaches them the Shillings' and Pence tables. The knowledge of figures which the children acquire by this method is great; and the improvement of this class in making the figures, does much credit to the class and teachers. It is true, the class are told all they are to do: but, in doing what they are bidden, they acquire a ready knowledge of the figures; whilst they are insensibly led into the habit of giving attention to all they do, and taking pains in doing it. By making their figures so many times over, they unavoidably attain freedom in making them; and this is the best step that can possibly be taken to facilitate their improvement in the next stage of their progress in arithmetic.

The same variation and tables, without the total, or answer to the monitor's question, applies to Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and the Pence and Shillings' tables. This method of instruction has also a counterpart: an arithmetical table of this kind, applied to the first four rules, without the amount of each combination annexed, is placed on the wall, or other convenient place. In the former instance, the monitor told the class, 9 and 9 are 18, and they wrote it. He now subdivides the class; and they assemble, successively, in circles of twelve boys, around the tables of figures on the wall. They have their numbers, insignia of merit, prizes, &c. as in other divisions of classes. The monitor then puts the question to the first boy — How much are 9 and 4? and the boy is expected to tell the amount — 13. If he cannot answer correctly, the monitor puts the question to another boy, till he finds one who can: and he takes precedence and the badge of merit from the boy who is

unable to answer the question. The boys in this class are called out, in successive companies of twelve each, to answer questions of this nature, applicatory to the similar lesson they have that day been performing on the slate; and he varies the questions, as, How much are 9 and 9? — take 9 from 18 — what remains? — How much are 9 times 9? — How many times 9 in 81?

Whilst one company of twelve boys (the number need not be restricted to twelve, but it can hardly be more than twenty, with propriety) are performing this task, the remainder of the class continue at their seats, writing what the monitor dictates, till the first division of twelve have finished their lesson. Then another division goes out, to the same lesson on the card; and they return to write on the slate. This is done every day, till the whole class has performed their lesson both ways. This method serves as an introduction to Numeration, which, it will be seen in the sequel, is only taught in a practical way.

The next is the Simple Addition class. Each boy in every cyphering class, has a slate and pencil; and we may consider, that the subject now before us relates to the best method of conveying the knowledge of arithmetic to those who are unacquainted with it. They usually begin with small sums, and gradually advance to larger; but, boys who have been well instructed in the preceding class, are not only qualified for this, but have a foundation laid for their future proficiency in every branch of arithmetic. As the reader will observe, the whole of this method of teaching is closely connected with writing: it not only unites a mental exertion with itself, but always renders that mental exertion, however great or small, visible to the teacher; and enables him to say, with certainty, that his pupils have performed their business. The monitor, or subordinate teacher of the class, has a written book of sums, which his class are to do; and he has another written book, containing a key to those sums, on a peculiar plan, which will be described, and which fully shows how they are to be done *.

In the first place, when his class are seated, he takes the book of sums — suppose the first sum is as follows:

Ibs. (No. 1.) 27935

3963 8679

14327 54904

He repeats audibly the figures 27,935, and each boy in the class writes them; they are then inspected, and if done correct, he dictates the figures 3,963, which are written and inspected in like manner: and thus he proceeds till every boy in the class has the sum finished on his slate.

He then takes the key, and reads as follows:


7 and 9 are 16, and 3 are 19, and 5 are 24. Set down 4† under the 7, and carry 2 to the next.

This is written by every boy in the class, inspected as before, and then he proceeds.


2 and 7 are 9, and 6 are 15, and 3 are 18, and 2 I carried are 20. Set down 0 and carry 2 to the next.

* Any boy who can read and numerate a little, is able to perform this duty as well as the principal monitor. The boy who reads the sum cannot be idle: if he is, the whole class must be so too; and, whilst teaching others, he is rapidly improving himself.

† When the teacher reads, set down 4 under the 7 and carry 2 to the next, the lads who are inspecting the manner in which the boys in this class perform their sums, see that each boy writes down the 7 under the 4, and that they do the same with the amount; to be set down in every succeeding column.


3 and 6 are 9, and 9 are 18, and 9 are 27, and 2 1 carried are 29. — Set down 9 and carry 2.


4 and 8 are 12, and 3 are 15, and 7 are 22, and 2 I carried are 24. — Set down 4 and carry 2.


1 and 2 are 3, and 2 I carried are 5.

Total, in figures, 54,904 lbs. Total, in words, fifty-four thousand, nine hundred and four pounds.

The whole of a sum is written in this manner, by each boy in the class: it is afterwards inspected by the monitor, and frequently by the master; and it is a method, in particular, well adapted to facilitate the progress of the scholars in the elementary parts of arithmetic.

Its good effects are deducible from principle, as well as practice. For youth to be conversant in arithmetic, it is needful that the most frequent combinations of figures which occur in the first four rules, should be familiar to their memory. Now, the frequent recurring of one idea, if simple and definite, is alone sufficient to impress it on the memory, without sitting down to learn it as a task; and, in the method of tuition just described, every boy is obliged to repeat it at least twice. First, the impression it makes on his mind, when listening to his monitor's voice, and the repetition of that impression when writing it on the slate. When a certain quota of sums are done, the class begins anew: and thus repetitions gradually succeed each other, till practice secures improvement, and removes boys individually into other classes and superior rules, when each boy has a suitable prize, which our established plan appropriates to the occasion.

Multiplication is easily attained by this method: and the use which is made of the Multiplication table in general, as an auxiliary to the memory in acquiring this rule, is a cogent reason in favour of the method I suggest to public notice.

In the instance of dictating the figures 27,935, and any other variations after the same example, the scholars, by writing, acquire a thorough knowledge of Numeration, expressed both in words and figures, without paying any attention to it as a separate rule. In fact, Numeration is most effectually learned by the scholars in my institution, not from the study, but by the practice of it; and I may add, almost every other branch of knowledge, taught in the different classes, is acquired in the same easy and expeditious way.

The boys vie with each other in writing their sums neatly on the slate, and their practice and improvement in writing is greatly increased by this means.

Before the introduction of this method, I had found it needful to employ the senior boys as teachers of arithmetic: and, when their improvement in the lower rules was desirable, a more honourable and efficacious mode could not be adopted; but when proficiency was such as rendered it needless, it was time not so usefully employed as it might be. This I saw with regret, and have the pleasure of seeing the difficulty removed by this improvement.

It must be obvious, that if a boy had studied and attained a quickness in addition, and was to repeat it before me, in the usual way, to show his improvement, the key to the preceding sum comprises the substance of what he would express; and if I were to take a scholar, unacquainted with arithmetic, and show him minutely how he was to work the sum, the key contains not only the substance of what I should express, but also the same of any other teacher in like case.

By this means, any boy of eight years old, who can barely read writing, and numerate well, is, by means of the guide containing the sums, and the key thereto, qualified to teach the first four rules of arithmetic, simple and compound, if the key is correct, with as much accuracy as mathematicians who may have kept school for twenty years.

Perhaps it is not reasonable to expect much invention and intellectual exertion from boys, whose talents are yet in embryo; but, when the line is drawn, they can abide by it. Boys in general are excellent agents, in whatever they are equal to; and, in this case, nothing is left to their discretion, and they cannot err, without they go to sleep, or do it for the purpose.

Here is a positive certainty to the teacher, that every boy in the class is employed, and detection follows a disposition to idleness as soon as it exists; that none sit idle while others are waiting the master's partial instructions; and that three times the usual quota of sums are done and repeated by every boy.

Some examples of sums, in the succeeding classes, are added. — I propose soon to publish a collection of sums, with appropriate keys, for the use of schools.
















¼ and ½ make ¾, and ¼ makes 1d. and ¾ make 1¾, and ½ make 2¼. — set down ¼ under the farthings and carry 2 to the next.


7 and 8 make 15, and 9 make 24, and 1 makes 25, and 10 make 35, and 2 I carry make 37. 37 pence are 3 shillings and 1 penny. — Set down 1 under the pence, and carry 3 to the next.


7 and 9 make 16, and 6 make 22, and 1 makes 23, and 10 make 33, and 10 make 43, and 10 make 53, and 10 make 63, and 3 I carry make 66. 66 shillings are 3 pounds 6 shillings. — Set down 6 under the shillings, and carry 3 to the next.


8 and 8 make 16, and 2 make 18, and 7 make 25, and 9 make 34, and 3 I carry make 37. — Set down 7 under the 8, and carry 3 to the next.


3 and 1 make 4, and 8 make 12, and 3 make 15, and 3 make 18, and 3 I carry make 21. — Set down 1 under the 3 and carry 2 to the next.


6 and 1 make 7, and 4 make 11, and 2 make 13, and 6 make 19, and 2 I carry make 21. — Set down 21.

Total, in figures, 2117 6 1¼

Total, in words, two thousand one hundred and seventeen pounds, six shillings, and one penny farthing.





Take 9 from 9, 0 remains — 9 from 8 I cannot; borrow 10 and say, 9 from 18 and 9 remain — carry 1 to the 8 is 9 — 9 from 7 I cannot; borrow 10 and say, 9 from 17 and 8 remain — carry 1 to the 4 is 5 — 5 from 3 I cannot; borrow 10 and say, 5 from 13 and 8 remain — carry 1 to the

5 is 6 — 6 from 4 I cannot; borrow 10 and say 6 from 14 and 8 remain — carry 1 to the 7 is 8 — 8 from 8 and 0 remains —

6 from 7 and 1 remains — 1 from 6 and 5 remains.

Remainder, in figures, 51088890.

Remainder, in words, fifty-one million, eighty-eight thousand, eight hundred and ninety.










Take ¾ from ¼ I cannot; borrow 1d. and say, ¾ from 1¼ and ½ remains — carry 1 to the pence.


1, I carry to the 9 is 10 — 10 from 1 I cannot; borrow 12 and say, 10 from 13 and 3 remain. — carry 1 to the shillings.


1, I carry to the 17 is 18 — 18 from 13 I cannot;

borrow 20 and say, 18 from 33 and 15 remains — carry 1 to the pounds.


1, I carry to the 9 is 10 — 10 from 7 I cannot; borrow 10 and say,10 from 17 and 7 remain — carry 1 to the 3 is 4 — 4 from 6 and 2 remain — Bring down the 1.

Remainder, in figures, 127 15 3½. Remainder, in words, one hundred and twenty-seven pounds, fifteen shillings, and threepence halfpenny.





12 times 8 are 96. — Set down 6 and carry 9. 12 times 4 are 48, and 9 I carried make 57 — 7 and carry 5. 12 times 7 are 84, and 5 I carried make 89 — 9 and carry 8. 12 times 9 are 108, and 8 I carried make 116 — 6 and carry 11. 12 times 8 are 96, and 11 I carried make 107 — 7 and carry 10. 12 times 7 are 84, and 10 I carried make 94 — 4 and carry 9. 12 times 6 are 72, and 9 I carried make 81 — Set down 81.

Total, in figures, 81476976.

Total, in words, eighty-one million, four hundred and seventy-six thousand, nine hundred and seventy-six.












12 times 1 are 12 — 12 farthings are 3d. Carry 3 to the pence.


12 times 11 are 132, and 3 I carried make 135 — 135d. are us. 3d. — Set down 3 under the pence and carry 11 to the shillings.


12 times 16 are 192, and 11 I carried make 203 — 203s. are 10l. 3s. — Set down 3 under the shillings and carry 10 to the pounds.


12 times 2 are 24, and 10 I carried make 34 — 4 and carry 3 to the next. 12 times 3 are 36, and 3 I carried make 39 — 9 and carry 3. 12 times 7 are 84, and 3 I carried make 87 — 7 and carry 8. 12 times 6 are 72, and 8 I carried make 80. Set down 80.

Total, in figures, 80794l. 3s. 3d.

Total, in words, eighty thousand, seven hundred and ninety-four pounds, three shillings and threepence.

DIVISION 12)87832468

7319372 — 4

12 in 87, 7 times, and 3 over I carry to the 8 make 38. 12 in 38, 3 times, and 2 over I carry to the 3 make 23. 12 in 23, once, and 11 over I carry to the 2 make 112. 12 in 112, 9 times, and 4 over I carry to the 4 make 44. 12 in 44, 3 times, and 8 over I carry to the 6 make 86. 12 in 86, 7 times, and 2 over I carry to the 8 make 28. 12 in 28, twice, and 4 over.

Product, in figures, 7319372 — and 4 over.

Product, in words, seven million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, three hundred and seventy-two — and four over.

L. s. D. 12)637 14 1¼

53 2 10 — 1¼ over.


12 in 6 I cannot; but 12 in 63 — 5 times and 3 over. 12 in 37 — 3 times, and I over I carry to the shillings.


1l. over I carried to the 143. makes 343. 12 in 34 twice, and10s. over I carry to the pence.


10s. over I carried to the 1d. makes 121 pence. 12 in 121, 10 times, and 1d. over I carry to the farthings.


1d. over I carried to the ¼ makes 5 farthings. 12 in 5, I cannot. — 1¼ over.

Product, in figures, 53l. 2s.10d. — 1¼ over.

Product, in words, fifty-three pounds, two shillings and tenpence. — five farthings over.

Every rule in arithmetic is usually considered as a study appointed for a separate class. (See table of classes mentioned page 19.) The object of the boys in each class is to study only that rule or lesson appointed for them; and, whatever number of boys there may be in any one class, whether ten, fifty, or five hundred, the trouble of tuition is not at all increased by the addition of numbers. The inspection of the sums or spelling written on the slate is more, and the number of inspecting boys is greater in proportion. By the method of arithmetic just described, every boy in each class is told by the teacher all he is to do; and his sole business is to do it, so often as to become quite familiar with it. In the succeeding method, the boy's business is to do every thing without instruction.

Each arithmetical class is called out according to the list, in companies of twelve. To each class is allotted a proper sum, according to the rule they are in. This sum is written on a card, with ink; or on a board, with chalk. The twelve boys stand round the sum they are to work; and the board, on which the sum is, is suspended from the wall. The teacher is provided with a key to the sum, similar to those before described. Each semicircle have their insignia of merit, &c. and each boy gives precedence to any other boy who excels him in performing his lesson. The teacher then requires the first boy to add the first column, if in Addition; or to multiply the first figure, if in Multiplication. He is to do this aloud, extempore, without any previous knowledge of the sum, or assistance from his teacher in performing it. If he mistakes, it is not the monitor's business to rectify the mistake, but the next boy is to try if he can do it: and if none of the twelve can answer right, it must be done by the monitor. When many mistakes in a whole class occur, such boys must practise more in the methods first described, before they are tried this way. The former method affords an easy introduction to this. The same advantage is possessed by both, that neither teacher nor learner can be idle. Our system of emulation enables me to combine encouragement and reward with it, in a manner more than usual in schools where this is practised. The last method being such as is usually taught in some schools, it requires a boy of superior abilities, to teach those who are inferior to himself in proficiency. The improvement I have made is by introducing the key, which reduces it to a mere system of reading on the monitor's part. If the boys repeat the sum, extempore, naming the total, according to the key in the teacher's hand, they are correct; if their account differs, the monitor immediately detects the error, when it becomes the business of the next boy in the class to correct it. On this plan, any boy who can read, can teach; and the inferior boys may do the work usually done by the teachers, in the common mode: for a boy who can read, can teach, ALTHOUGH HE KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT IT; and, in teaching, will imperceptibly acquire the knowledge he is destitute of, when he begins to teach, by reading.

There is yet another way of trying the proficiency of the scholars, after they have been used to both the preceding methods of tuition: the teacher places each boy in a situation where he cannot copy from, or be assisted by, any other, who has the same task to perform. He gives him a sum, according to the rule he is in, and requires him to make a key to the sum, in a correct manner. If he can do this readily, a number of times, it is a proof that he is conversant with the rule he is in; and, when practice has deeply impressed it on his memory, he may advance to another rule. The first class, or combination of figures, is examined the same way. The tables in Addition are written on the slate, without the amount, thus: 6 and 6 are — the boy who is examined, is required to add the amount — 12. If he can do this, with every combination of figures, in the Addition and other tables, he is then fit for cyphering. By the old method of teaching arithmetic, there is usually a great consumption of printed books of arithmetic; the new method almost entirely supersedes them. The same economy applies to another expensive article of consumption in schools, cyphering books; in which the scholars usually write down all the sums they do. The expeditious progress they make, both in writing and accounts, is so great, they need only commit to writing a very short specimen of their sums, for the satisfaction of their parents; and even that is not absolutely needful. By using their pencils well, they acquire an equal facility in the use of their pens.


Having detailed a method of tuition for the several classes, it will be obvious, that, on the admission of boys into the school, they should be classed according to their proficiency. Those who have not learnt their letters, will be placed in the A, B, C, class; those who know all their letters, but do not know how to combine them, are placed in the two-letter class. Such as can spell in two letters, but not in three, are placed in the three-letter class; the four and five-letter classes are organized, and receive additions, on the same principle. After this it is considered, boys should read for the improvement of their minds; and are classed accordingly, in the Testament or Bible. The arithmetic classes are constituted in the same manner. Each boy should be examined before he is classed. The lessons for every class being determined on, and the name of each class, descriptive of the lessons, learnt by it; no other lessons can be taught to each class than those appointed for it. Boys should be removed from one class to another, as soon as they are proficient in that to which they belong. Thus, a boy in the A, B, C, having learnt to distinguish all his letters, should be removed to the next, or mono-syllable class of two letters; and, when he is proficient in that he should be removed higher, and so on. As the scholars are all arranged in different classes, many of them will soon make a proficiency, by these expeditious modes of teaching; and, as they cannot learn more than what is appointed for the class — cannot remove themselves — nor can their monitor remove them — they must remain where they are, losing time, and making no progress, unless the system of inspection I am about to describe, prevented the evil. A monitor is appointed as inspector-general of reading: he keeps a list of every class of reading in the school. Whenever a new scholar enters, another monitor, whose business it is, examines what progress in learning the pupil has made, and appoints him to a class accordingly. The first duty of the inspector of reading, is to see, that each scholar's name is duly entered on the list of the class to which he is sent on commencing school. This is a matter of consequence. If any omission be made in the entry of each boy's name, it is possible the inspection may be conducted well, and yet the boy, whose name is omitted, be passed by; and, whatever his improvement may be, he may remain stationary.

The monitor of each class keeps a list thereof. It is also his duty to see the inspection conducted, so that no boy is passed by who is in his class. But the inspector of reading keeps a list of every class of reading in the school; and, when his lists are correct, he proceeds to duty, but not before. — He begins his inspection, by desiring the monitor of the first class to bring up six boys, according to the list. He then compares their names with his own list, and examines them, to see if they can tell all their letters, and make them in the sand. If so, they are fit for the next class, and the inspector orders them to be removed accordingly. Then he proceeds with every other class in the same way: and, when he has examined the whole, he begins anew. Thus, by diligence and attention on his part, some hundreds of boys may be examined in a few days. When a boy is removed from one class to another, he has permission to choose a prize, of a stated value, for himself, as a reward for his diligence; and the monitor is entitled to one of the same value, for his care in improving his scholars. The date of examination, class removed to, prize chosen, &c. are all entered in a book at the time of inspection.

It is no unusual thing with me to deliver one or two hundred prizes at the same time. And at such times the countenances of the whole school exhibit a most pleasing scene of delight: as the boys who obtain prizes, commonly walk round the school in procession, holding the prizes in their hands, and an herald proclaiming before them, "These good boys have obtained prizes for going into another class." The honour of this has effect as powerful, if not more so, than the prizes themselves.


In spelling by writing on the slate, the performances of the scholars are inspected, sometimes by the monitor of their class, often by an inspecting monitor, and occasionally by the master.

Printing in the sand is inspected in the same manner as in the new method of teaching arithmetic. Every boy is placed next to one who can do as well or better than himself: his business is to excel him, in which case he takes precedence of him. In reading, every reading division has the numbers, I, 2, 3, &c. to 12, suspended from their buttons. If the boy who wears number 12, excels the boy who wears number 11, he takes his place and number; in exchange for which the other goes down to the place and number 12. Thus, the boy who is number 12, at the beginning of the lesson, may be number 1, at the conclusion of it, and vice versa. The boy who has number 1, has also a single leather ticket, lettered variously, as, 'Merit,' — 'Merit in Reading,' — 'Merit in Spelling,' — 'Merit in Writing,' &c. this badge of honour he also forfeits, if he loses his place by suffering another to excel him. He has also a picture pasted on pasteboard, and suspended to his breast; this he forfeits to any boy who can excel him. Whoever is in the first place at the conclusion of the lesson, delivers the ticket and picture to a monitor appointed for that purpose. The honour of wearing the ticket and number, as marks of precedency, is all the reward attached to them; but the picture which has been worn entitles the bearer to receive another picture in exchange for it; which becomes his own. This prize is much valued by the minor boys, and regarded by all. Pictures can be made a fund of entertainment and instruction, combined with infinite variety. When a boy has a waggon, a whip-top, or ball, one thing of the kind satisfies him, till it is worn out; but he may have a continual variety of pictures, and receive fresh instruction as well as pleasure from every additional prize. I lament that there is not a series of cheap, regular pictures, that would be fit to put into the hands of children. Nothing can be better adapted to allure their minds into a love of learning. Yet, many of the common pictures, of which tens of thousands are printed annually, and sold among the children of the poor, are mere catchpenny rubbish; so badly designed and executed, and on such silly subjects, as to be fit only to debase the minds of youth. A regular series of instructive prints might be published at the same expence; but they should be selected or designed by a person acquainted with the minds and manners of youth. The advantage of some prints, as rewards for children, is their cheapness; and others, is their utility: those are printed for sale, at one halfpenny or a penny each; and are sold, wholesale, at a much cheaper rate. Many such prints can be cut into four or six parts. Every part will be a complete subject itself, and fit for a prize: thus, less than a shilling per day will afford prizes, morning and afternoon, for a hundred and twenty children or more, and raise emulation among the whole school. I hope all ladies, who are patrons of schools, will adopt these articles for prizes.

By the foregoing observations it will appear, that emulation and reward are closely united with continual inspection and application to learning. Another method of rewarding deserving boys is by paper tickets, which are numbered, one, two, three, &c. they are given to such boys as distinguish themselves in writing with the pen; which is done about four times a week, by part of the school only, in order to accustom them a little to the use of the pen. Each number is to be obtained several times, before the bearer can obtain the prize appropriated to it: as,

Number 1, three times, to receive ½d.

2, six times, ......... 1d.

3, eight times, ......... 2d.

4, nine times, .........3d.

5, twelve times, .........6d.

Every time a ticket is obtained, it is booked by a monitor, whose office it is to record tickets, prizes, &c. The tickets are given, according to the evident and various degree of pains the scholar may have taken with his performance. They are given by the monitor or teacher who inspects the written copies, according to his judgment of the performances submitted to his inspection. It requires some discretion in the master to choose a lad for this office, whose eye is capable of at once discriminating between one performance and another, and of discerning where exertions have been made by the learner to improve. In small institutions the master may perform this office; in large ones he can only do it occasionally. I have several lads who are capable of this office, and perform it well. The best way to qualify a boy for such a duty, is to accustom him to inspect and compare the performances of boys in writing on the slate, one with another; he may decide improperly in some instances, at first, but practice will soon make him perfect in discriminating and deciding; and then he will be found a very useful auxiliary in a school. It is as easy to form a number of boys, as one or two, on this plan; and they may be qualified sooner than usual, if required, provided the master renews the same inspection and decision in their presence, after they have done; and shows them every prominent case in which they may have decided wrong, and why they have done so. When boys have obtained their tickets for writing the stipulated number of times, they are permitted to choose any prize of the value appropriated to the number on their tickets: and there is a choice variety of prizes, consisting of toys, bats, balls, kites, &c. but the books with prints or pictures are more in request among the children, and generally more useful than any other prizes whatever.

I believe, the emulation I have described as united with my methods of teaching, will be found most useful as a stimulus to the exertions of those scholars who possess no more than common abilities; indeed, it is for this class of learners, who, in general, give the most trouble, that such methods of teaching and encouragement are most wanting. The drudgery of teachers is always greater or less, in proportion to the quickness or dullness of their scholars; but, in these modes of teaching all must exert themselves according to their abilities, or be idle. If they exert themselves as well as they can, they will improve accordingly — if they are idle, it is immediately detected, and as rapidly punished; of the method of doing which I shall treat presently. However, where lads of genius and quickness of intellect are found, they will soon show themselves. Indeed, I believe, that many lads of genius are unknown in the schools they attend, even to the masters themselves, because they have no stimulus to exertion, no opportunity of distinguishing themselves — or, that nothing happens to develope their latent powers. Similar to this was the case of the Portuguese in Brazil, who frequently passed diamonds, when in the rough, through their hands, and despised them as pebbles; but, when the mines were discovered, they regretted their ignorance. Whenever superior merit shows itself in schools, it should always be honoured, rewarded, and distinguished: one or two lads of this description influence a whole school by their beneficial example. I generally reward such by gifts of some of the most valuable books and other prizes: silver pens, and sometimes silver medals. The medals are engraved with the name of the youth who obtains them, and for what given. To some of my senior lads I have given silver watches, at my own expence; and think the encouragement so given has had its good effect.

Another method of encouraging deserving youth, who distinguish themselves by their attention to study, is equally honourable but less expensive. I have established in my institution an order of merit. Every member of this order is distinguished by a silver medal, suspended from his neck by a plated chain. No boys are admitted to this order, but those who distinguish themselves by proficiency in their own studies, or in the improvement of others, and for their endeavours to check vice.

It is certainly a distinction founded on the principle of nobility. In a community, those who, from the nobler motives that animate the human mind, render important services to the nation to which they belong, are its nobles; and it is impossible that the son of such a man should not inherit his father's distinction, if his own conduct does not disgrace it. It is morally impossible, that the splendour of actions which are of real benefit to society, or of another class of actions, which are of no real good to, but only dazzle mankind, should not shed a kind of true or false lustre over the descendants of such distinguished men. I believe this is the original principle of true and of hereditary nobility. Hereditary nobility cannot possibly exist in schools, but it may in the first instance. In every case the distinctions of nobility that exist in society at large, are only civil distinctions, that imply the possessors have rendered a real service to the state. Nobility may possibly be abused, as other institutions are; but I think it in itself one of the most beneficial distinctions that ever existed in society at large. A distinction that has existed, and will exist in all societies, because it is natural. The distinctions and titles which are attached to nobility, are only a civil description and definition of what existed before. Those distinctions may be proper or improper, as they are connected with truth or flattery; but the foundation of nobility still continues pure, uncontaminated, and beneficial to society. In the community at large it is more distinguished, because the cause of it is more beneficial and extensive. In small and select societies, of any description, the advantage of civil distinctions for those who are privileged by them, is, that they are known, in a good degree, at first sight, to strangers and foreigners. They do not stand in the back ground, as they would if their merit was unknown and undistinguished. Every boy of merit in my school, who has a silver medal, is distinguished at first sight, by those benevolent characters who often visit it. No question is more common from a stranger, than, 'Why does that boy wear a medal; and for what?' Every individual so honoured, is conscious that he stands in a conspicuous situation; and, that his medal proclaims his merit to all who see him. He also knows, that it was only obtained in consequence of his diligence, either in teaching others, or improving in his own learning; and, that no indifferent or bad boy can obtain this reward — also,

that if he becomes such, he will forfeit his distinctions. This makes him anxious, by a perseverance in good conduct, to merit the continuance of distinction. This is a stimulus to order and improvement, which children, taught only under the influence of the cane and the rod, never can enjoy. Those medals are not often given away, but remain in the school, and are distributed, to those who are privileged to wear them, morning and afternoon; and are returned, before the boys leave school, to the monitor who is appointed to take care of them. No instance has occurred of losing a medal by theft — a singular thing among so many hundred children.

Another method of rewards is for those boys who are first in their classes: these have not only a badge of merit, of leather gilt and lettered, but a similar badge lettered 'Prize Book,' 'Prize Cup and Ball,' 'Prize Kite,' &c. The boy who continues first in his class, for three or four successive times, is entitled to the prize lettered on the ticket he has worn. If any boy excels him, he forfeits his ticket and place in the division, to that boy. The boy who obtains the ticket once, must retain it three or four times successively — if he once forfeits his place and ticket, he forfeits his chance of the prize, although he may have obtained it three times out of four. These prizes are very much limited to the arithmetical classes.

There is also a similar method of encouraging the monitors to diligence. The object for them to pursue is to improve their classes as much as possible. Each monitor of a class or division, is to teach that class a specific object or lesson. When the boys have individually acquired the object of their studies, it will be perceived, by the system of inspection before described, that they are removed to another class. The monitors who improve their boys, so as to get them to another class, are permitted to wear a ticket, 'Commendable Monitor;' and, whoever gets this six times

in succession, is entitled to any prize, which may have been previously promised by the master, according to his discretion. — This applies chiefly to the monitors of reading and arithmetic.

It frequently happens, that boys distinguish themselves much in their learning at school; and occasional letters, sent by the master to their parents, to inform them of this, is encouragement for the child to continue a regular attendance at school.

It is a common practice for one class to try to excel another. The highest class, as to proficiency in learning, occupies the most honourable place in the school: a place no otherwise distinguished from the rest, than that it is the customary seat of that class. When an inferior excels a superior class, the superior class quits its station, and goes down to the seats of the inferior. When this happens, the superior class finding itself excelled, and not liking the disgrace, usually works very hard to regain its former seats. These contests are decided by writing on the slate, or in a book. — The performance of every boy in an inferior class, is compared impartially with that of a boy in the superior. The umpire decides which is the best of the two. On which side the decision is given, a number 1, is minuted down on a slate, in favour of that class; then the umpire, or monitor appointed to decide, proceeds making comparisons between two boys of each class, till both classes are entirely examined. When the examination, which may be compared with polling at elections, is finished, the number of ones in favour of each class is cast up, and decided in favour of that which has the majority. The industry and exertion this creates is surprising; and the exultation which takes place among the boys, when they find the majority in favour of their own class, and the manner in which the monitors spur on their classes, by reproaches, when boys are remiss; and by commendations, when they strive to excel, affords much pleasure. When a contest of this kind occurs, which frequently happens, the whole school, and, above all, the monitors of the classes, are so interested, that, if permitted, they would attend to no other business while the decision is carrying on. The contest is speedily terminated, mostly in less than ten minutes. A striking advantage accrues from this emulation: each monitor and scholar is interested in such a degree, in the contest, that he exerts his utmost abilities — and, having once discovered what they are able to do, the master knows what to require of them to do in future, according to the specimen they have shown of their abilities. It is a contest much in the nature and spirit common in elections; but controlled and directed, without excess, in a peaceful way, to a very useful purpose.


The chief offences committed by youth at school, arise from the liveliness of their active dispositions. Few youth do wrong for the sake of doing so. If precedence and pleasure be united with learning, they will soon find a delight in attending at school. Youth naturally seek whatever is pleasant to them, with avidity; and, from ample experience have I found, that they do so with learning, when innocent pleasure is associated therewith. If any misconduct should be punished by severity, vice and immorality are the chief subjects; and, I am convinced that it is not always indispensable in those cases, having known many a sensible boy reformed without, and that, from practices as bad as almost any that usually occur in schools.

That children should idle away their time, or talk in school, is very improper — they cannot talk and learn at the same time. In my school talking is considered as an offence; and yet it occurs very seldom, in proportion to the number of children: whenever this happens to be the case, an appropriate punishment succeeds.

Each monitor of a class is responsible for the cleanliness, order, and quietness of those under him. He is also a lad of unimpeachable veracity — a qualification on which much depends. He should have a continual eye over every one in the class under his care, and notice when a boy is loitering away his time in talking or idleness. Having thus seen, he is bound in duty to lodge an accusation against him for misdemeanor. In order to do this silently, he has a number of cards, written on differently: as,'I have seen this boy idle,' — 'I have seen this boy talking,' &c. &c. This rule applies to every class, and each card has the name of the particular class written thereon: so that, by seeing a card written on as above, belonging to the first or sixth, or any other reading class, it is immediately known who is the monitor that is the accuser. This card is given to the defaulter, and he is required to present it at the head of the school — a regulation that must be complied with. On a repeated or frequent offence, after admonition has failed, the lad to whom he presents the card has liberty to put a wooden log round his neck, which serves him as a pillory, and with this he is sent to his seat. This machine may weigh from four to six pounds, some more and some less. The neck is not pinched or closely confined — it is chiefly burthensome by the manner in which it encumbers the neck, when the delinquent turns to the right or left. While it rests on his shoulders, the equilibrium is preserved; but, on the least motion one way or the other, it is lost, and the logs operate as a dead weight upon the neck. Thus, he is confined to sit in his proper position. If this is unavailing, it is common to fasten the legs of offenders together with wooden shackles: one or more, according to the offence. The shackle is a piece of wood about a foot, sometimes six or eight inches long, and tied to each leg. When shackled, he cannot walk but in a very slow, measured pace: being obliged to take six steps, when confined, for two when at liberty. Thus accoutred, he is ordered to walk round the school-room, till tired out — he is glad to sue for liberty, and promise his endeavour to behave more steadily in future. Should not this punishment have the desired effect, the left hand is tied behind the back, or wooden shackles fastened from elbow to elbow, behind the back. Sometimes the legs are tied together. Occasionally boys are put in a sack, or in a basket, suspended to the roof of the school, in the sight of all the pupils, who frequently smile at the birds in the cage. This punishment is one of the most terrible that can be inflicted on boys of sense and abilities. Above all, it is dreaded by the monitors: the name of it is sufficient, and therefore it is but seldom resorted to on their account. Frequent or old offenders are yoked together sometimes, by a piece of wood that fastens round all their necks: and, thus confined, they parade the school, walking backwards — being obliged to pay very great attention to their footsteps, for fear of running against any object that might cause the yoke to hurt their necks, or to keep from falling down. Four or six can be yoked together this way.

When a boy is disobedient to his parents, profane in his language, or has committed any offence against morality, or is remarkable for slovenliness, it is usual for him to be dressed up with labels, describing his offence, and a tin or paper crown on his head. In that manner he walks round the school, two boys preceding him, and proclaiming his fault; varying the proclamation according to the different offences. When a boy comes to school with dirty face or hands, and it seems to be more the effect of habit than of accident, a girl is appointed to wash his face in the sight of the whole school. This usually creates much diversion, especially when (as previously directed) she gives his cheeks a few gentle strokes of correction with her hand. The same event takes place as to girls, when in habits of slothfulness. Occasionally, such offenders against cleanliness walk round the school, preceded by a boy proclaiming her fault — and the same as to the boys. A proceeding that usually turns the public spirit of the whole school against the culprit.

Few punishments are so effectual as confinement after school hours. It is, however, attended with one unpleasant circumstance. In order to confine the bad boys in the school-room, after school-hours, it is often needful the master, or some proper substitute for him, should confine himself in school, to keep them in order. This inconvenience may be avoided, by tying them to the desks, in such a manner that they cannot untie themselves. These variations in the modes of unavoidable punishment give it the continual force of novelty, whatever shape it may assume. Any single kind of punishment, continued constantly in use, becomes familiar, and loses its effect. Nothing but variety can continue the power of novelty. Happily, in my institution, there are few occasions of punishment; and this conduces much to the pleasure it affords me. The advantages of these modes of correction, are, that they can be inflicted, so as to give much uneasiness to the delinquents, without disturbing the mind or temper of the master. The advantage of coolness in correcting of children for misbehaviour, is of so much importance, that it can have no salutary effect on the youthful mind without it. It is in a calm state of mind a master may do real good, by reasoning with his scholars, and convincing them, that, for their good and the order of the institution, such painful regulations are needful. The object of these different modes of procedure is to weary the culprit with a log; or, by placing him in confinement of one kind or another, till he is humbled, and likely to remove the cause by better behaviour in future. When he finds how easily his punishments are repeated — that he himself is made the instrument — and no respite or comfort for him, but by behaving well, it is more than probable he will change for the better. Lively, active-tempered boys, are the most frequent transgressors of good order, and the most difficult to reduce to reason; the best way to reform them, is, by making monitors of them. I have experienced correction of any kind to be only needful, in proportion as boys were under the influence of bad example at home. Nothing is unhappily more common, than for parents to undo, by their bad example at home, all the good their children get at school. This occasions the first trouble to be renewed many times; and many punishments fall to the lot of that child, who, however well regulated at school, is spoiled at home. But, certain it is, that, if punishments must exist, such as those mentioned in the preceding detail, are preferable to others more severe, and in common practice. I wish they were never in sole practice, without any thing of a more generous nature existing in schools where they are made use of.

When a boy gets into a singing tone in reading, the best mode of cure that I have hitherto found effectual, is by force of ridicule. — Decorate the offender with matches, ballads; (dying-speeches, if needful;) and, in this garb send him round the school, with some boys before him, crying matches, &c. exactly imitating the dismal tones with which such things are hawked about the streets in London, as will readily recur to the reader's memory. I believe many boys behave rudely to Jews, more on account of the manner in which they cry, 'Old Clothes,' than because they are Jews. I have always found excellent effects from treating boys, who sing or tone in their reading, in the manner described. It is sure to turn the laugh of the whole school upon the delinquent — it provokes risibility, in spite of every endeavour to check it, in all but the offender. I have seldom known a boy, thus punished once, for whom it was needful a second time. It is also very seldom that a boy deserves both a log and shackle at the same time. Most boys are wise enough, when under one punishment, not to transgress again immediately, lest it should be doubled. They are mostly prudent enough to behave quiet and well, in hopes of being set at liberty from the one they already suffer.


It is unavoidable, on a large scale of education, to do without giving many commands, and some of a very trivial nature. On my plan, many of the commands, which would be given by the master, are given by the monitors. As it is not proper that commands without number, and perhaps of a nature opposite to each other, should be given at random by the monitors, it becomes needful to limit the number that are to be given, as much as may be. It is an important object to secure implicit obedience to those commands, on the part of the scholars; and, for the monitors to acquire as prompt a manner in giving them, as will secure the attention of the scholars, and lead them to a ready compliance. The first of these objects is easily attained. It is only to write down on paper the commands most necessary to be given by the monitor to his whole class; and, it is essentially needful, that he should not vary from the rule once laid down.

The practice of giving short commands aloud, and seeing them instantly obeyed by the whole class, will effectually train the monitor in the habit of giving them with dignity and propriety. It is not a desirable thing to raise the love of war and false glory in the youthful mind. The reasonable part of mankind have already seen enough of its dreadful and desolating effects, to deter them from encouraging such a spirit. It is on this ground I am careful to avoid all commands which are strictly military. Even when the monitor has occasion to order the class to go to the right or the left, it is done by a sign, in order to avoid the command, 'To the right,' — 'Go on,' instead of 'March,' — and, 'Stop,' in lieu of 'Halt.' The classes are permitted occasionally to measure their steps, when going round the school in close order, to prevent, what else would often occur from their numbers, treading on each other's heels, or pushing each other down. In this case, measuring their steps commands their attention to one object, and prevents their being unruly or disorderly. It is not required that the measure should be exact, or be a regular step; but, that each scholar shall attempt to walk at a regular distance from the one who precedes him. A number of commands, trifling in appearance, but conducive to good order, are given by the monitors. When a new scholar is first admitted, he is pleased with the uniformity, novelty, and simplicity of the motions made by the class he is in. Under the influence of this pleasure he readily obeys, the same as the other boys do. None of these commands are, in themselves, a hardship; and are well supported by the force of example. I never knew a boy object to obey them; yet, I have been sure, some boys, if they had been individually told to do such a thing by the monitor, would have said, 'You are only a boy like myself; do you think I shall be such a fool as to be commanded by you?' but, in the above instance, such a boy gets into habits of obedience before he is aware what he has been allured into; and then, when the monitor gives him a command of an unpleasant nature to execute, he does it from the power of example, and the force of habit — and, however reluctant he may feel, that reluctance does not show itself.

The commands that a monitor usually gives to his class, are of a simple nature: as, to go in or out of their seats: 'In' — 'Out.' The whole class do this at one motion — they learn to front, or go to the right or left, either single or double. They 'show slates,' at the word of command; take them up, or lay them gently down on the desk, in the same manner. Instead of hanging the slates to nails on the wall, every boy has a slate numbered according to his number in the class, and fastened to a nail on the desk at which he sits. By this means all going in and out for slates is avoided. But, if slates are suspended to nails on the walls, the class must go from their seats to fetch them; and the same to replace them, when they have done work. When boys write in a book, which is only done by part of the scholars four times in the week, merely to accustom them to the use of the pen, they sling their slates; that is, let them hang suspended from the nails on the desks, by the slate-strings. When slates are suspended in this manner, if the strings are good, there is little danger of their being thrown down or broken; so that, when boys are writing, there are very few who have any occasion to get off their seats: and, if they should have, there is ample passage-room between the desks for them to pass. If the slates are accidentally stricken against by a boy passing, they hang loose, and of course give way when pressed against; which greatly preserves them.

Another command is, to 'sling hats,' which is always done on coming into school; and, 'unsling hats,' which is always done on leaving it. This alludes to a very convenient arrangement, which prevents all the loss of hats, mistakes, and confusion in finding them, which would naturally occur among so large a number of boys. It saves all shelves, nails, or places where they are usually put in schools. It prevents them all going to put hats on the nails or shelves, and all going to get them thence, before they leave school. These are great advantages — as, with eight hundred boys in school, they save sixteen hundred motions, unavoidable on the usual plan, both morning or afternoon — motions that, before this arrangement was made, produced much inconvenience in the school; and complaints were made, almost daily, of boys losing their hats, which have ceased since this arrangement. All these advantages are gained, and inconveniences are avoided, by every boy slinging his hat across his shoulders, as a soldier would sling his knapsack: by which means he carries it always about him, and cannot lose it without immediately missing it.

It is usual in most schools to have a muster or roll-call, at a particular hour, varied at the discretion of the masters. The list of the scholars contains the name of every boy that attends it. In calling over the list every name is repeated, although three-fourths or more of the boys, whose names are called over, are present. It was needful in my institution to make a strict enquiry after absentees; but, the method above described was so tiresome and noisy, that I devised another more eligible. As the number of absentees bear but a small proportion to the numbers that attend, I conceived the design of taking an account of the lesser number, without the repetition of names. To effect this, the classes are numbered — each beginning at number 1, and ending its series of numbers at 30, 70, 130, or any other number of which the class may consist. The list of each class is kept by the monitor of it, nearly in this shape. Number 1, Jones.

2, Thomas.

3, Brown.

4, Williams.

5, Peach.

6, Hall.

These few names will show the manner in which the list of the whole class, perhaps a hundred and twenty, is kept. Answering to this is another series of numbers, printed on the school wall, thus,

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

The monitor calls his boys to muster — the class go out of the seats in due order — go round the school-room; and, in going, each boy stops, and ranges himself against the wall, under that number which belongs to his name in the class-list. By this means the absentees are pointed out at once — every boy who is absent will leave a number vacant. The monitor of the class then passes silently round the schoolroom, and writes on the slate the numbers which are vacant. Take a specimen of six boys mustered according to the foregoing list,

No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Jones. Thomas. Peach.

The boys, Jones, Thomas, and Peach, are supposed to be present — they are ranged under their numbers. The boys, Brown, Williams, and Hall, are absent — their numbers 3, 4, 6, are vacant. In taking the account of absentees, the monitor writes the numbers 3, 4, 6, on his slate; and the same as to any numbers vacant by absentees, in his whole class. He then makes a list of absentees, by referring to names in the class-list. This list he gives to a monitor, whose business it is to see that the absentees are enquired after. The monitor of absentees has under his charge an alphabetical list of the whole school: he refers to this list — and there he finds the name, dwelling, and parents' trade of each boy who is absent. He writes a number of notes, one for each absentee; varying the name on each: as, "J. Brown, absent from school this morning" "Thomas Williams, absent from school this afternoon," &c. Such notes as these are directed to the parents of each individual absentee; and delivered by trusty boys, who are required to bring an answer. The report of the monitor of absentees stands thus:








Wanted by his



parents. Truant.




In case of truants being reported: when they are brought to school, either by their friends, or by a number of boys sent on purpose to bring them, the monitor of absentees ties a large card round his neck, lettered in capital letters, TRUANT; and he is then tied up to a post. When any boy repeats the crime, or is incorrigible, he is sometimes tied up in a blanket, and left to sleep at night on the floor, in the school-house. When boys are frequently in the habit of playing truant, we may conclude that they have formed some bad connections; and, that nothing but keeping them apart can effect a reform. When bad habits and connections are once formed in youth, they often become an easy prey to various temptations, in spite of all their good resolutions to the contrary.

In the smaller classes of readers it is well to subdivide the boys into twenties — the children being mostly young, learn to distinguish such numbers with greater facility: it is on this account the minor classes muster in twenties. One series of numbers on the school-room walls, serve for all the classes in the school to muster at in succession. The time taken by a class of a hundred and twenty boys to muster in, is seldom so much as ten minutes. The numbers attached to boys' names in the class-list, are all estimated alike. These numbers are never changed by precedence and improvement in learning. They remain fixed for the sake of order, and have not the slightest connection with the system of rewards and encouragement adopted in the school.


(Fourth Edition. 1808)


Scheme of a School on the Model of the Madras Asylum

"The best way to learn any science is to begin with a regular system,
or a short and plain scheme of that science, well drawn up into a narrow compass." — Watts .

1st. The Asylum, like every well-regulated school, is arranged into Forms or Classes, each composed of as many scholars as having made similar progress unite together. The scholar ever finds his own level, not only in his class, but in the ranks of the school, being promoted or degraded from place to place, or class to class, according to his proficiency.

This of schools in general, now more particularly of the Asylum.

"Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens." Exod. xviii. 25.

2d. Each class is paired off into tutors and pupils. The tutor sits by the side of his pupil, and assists him in getting their common lesson.

3d. To each class is attached an assistant teacher, whose sole business it is to attend his class, to prevent idleness, to instruct and help the tutors in learning their lesson, and teaching their pupils; and to hear the class, as soon as prepared, say their lesson, under,

4th. The teacher, who has charge of the class, directs and guides his assistant, intends him in hearing the class, or himself hears both the assistant and scholars say their lesson, and is responsible for the order, behaviour, diligence, and improvement of the class.

5th. A sub-usher and usher are appointed to inspect the school, watch over the whole, and give their instructions and assistance wherever wanted, as the agents and ministers of,

6th. The schoolmaster, whose province it is to direct and conduct the system in all its ramifications, and see the various offices of usher, sub-usher, teachers, assistants, tutors, and pupils carried into effect.

7th. Last of all comes the superintendent, or trustee, or visitor, or chaplain, or parochial minister, whose scrutinizing eye must pervade the whole machine, whose active mind must give it energy, and whose unbiassed judgment must inspire confidence, and maintain the general order and harmony.

For this purpose, there is kept by the ushers, teachers or others equal to the office,

8th. A register of the daily tasks performed; and, by the schoolmaster,

9th. A register of daily offences, or black book, to be expurgated weekly by,

10th. A jury of twelve or more boys, selected for the purpose.

This in brief is the scheme of the Madras School in its most multiplied form, and yet abundantly simple.

Let us now enter into the exposition of this scheme, and assay its character by the principles on which it has been shewn that Education should be founded, the means by which it should be conducted, and the end which it has in contemplation.


Of the peculiar Features, which mark the Character of the Madras System

"Ut illi (pueri) efferuntur lætitia cum vicerint? Ut pudet victos?
Ut se accusari nolunt? quam cupiunt laudari? quos illi labores non perferunt, ut æqualium principes sint?" Cic.

Having in the foregoing chapters given a brief summary of the Madras system, I am now to refer this system to the principles premised above, on which it was said to be built, and to the end to which it was proposed that it should be directed, in order to ascertain the peculiar features of this school, and mark its characteristic advantages.

For this purpose I retrace the scheme through all its regulations in order.

1st. "The school is arranged into classes." By this classification, which, though not new nor peculiar to the Madras School, is yet carried to a greater length there than in any other school I have seen, a teacher or master has no more trouble, nay has less trouble, in the tuition of a whole class than of a single scholar. Nor does it require more time for him to instruct a class of thirty-six scholars, or hear them say a lesson each a portion by rotation, than it does to instruct a single boy, or hear him say the same lesson by himself. And that emulation or desire of excellence, which the Creator has implanted in the human breast for the wisest and noblest purposes, is thus elicited (or called forth), and proves a powerful and unceasing excitement to laudable exertion — a mild, yet effectual instrument of discipline. The scholar is continually stimulated to obtain pre-eminence in his class, and even to rise above it, and be promoted to a superior; and especially not to sink below it, and be degraded to an inferior class.

When a boy has held a high rank in his class for some time, he has an option of being advanced to a superior class, where he is placed at the foot; and if, in a few days, he rises near the middle, he maintains a permanent footing in this class; if not, he must revert to his original class, as a scholar is far more profitably employed in learning easy and short lessons, which he gets well, than difficult or long ones, of which he does not make himself master.

Also a boy who fails, for some time, in saying his daily lessons well, is degraded to an inferior class, where he is placed at the head; and if he sink to its level, he is doomed to permanent degradation: but if he maintain a high rank, he is allowed to resume his original class on a new trial; when it often happens that, by redoubled exertion, he can now keep pace with them.

By these means, no class is ever retarded in its progress by idle or dull boys; and every boy in every class is fully and profitably employed; and, by thus finding his own level, his improvement is most effectually promoted, and rendered a maximum. By these means, too, the classes naturally form themselves in point of numbers as well as proficiency: and if any become numerous and unwieldly, or the reverse, a subdivision or consolidation takes place, by uniting the higher boys of an inferior class with the lower of a superior, or otherwise combining them according to their proficiency.

So much for the general formation of a school.

Now more particularly of the asylum:

2d. "Each class is paired off into tutors and pupils."

Thus in a class of twenty-four boys, the twelve superior are tutors respectively to the twelve inferior. Of course in their seats the boys take their places in different order from that in which they stand in their class: as each pupil sits by the side of his tutor.

Mark, at the outset, how many advantages grow out of this simple arrangement.

First, The sociable disposition, both in the tutor and pupil, is indulged by the reciprocal offices assigned to them.

Next, The very moment you have nominated a boy a tutor, you have exalted him in his own eyes, and given him a character to support, the effect of which is well known.

Next, The tutors enable their pupils to keep pace with their classes, which otherwise some of them would fall behind, and be degraded to a lower class, or else continuing attached to their class, forfeit almost every chance of improvement, by never learning any one lesson as it ought to be learned.

This is the reason why so many boys in every school are declared incapable of learning. As often as this was said to me of any of our pupils, in the beginning of my essay, by such ushers as I then had, my reply was, "It is you, who do not know how to teach, how to arrest and fix the attention of your pupil: it is not that he cannot learn, but that he does not give the degree of attention requisite for his share of capacity." I then gave an experimental proof, that by just exertion on the part of the teacher, and fixing the attention of the pupil, this imaginary impossibility, like most others created by ignorance and indolence, might be surmounted. This I did by teaching the boy, who was pronounced incapable, the very lesson which, it was declared, he could not learn.

When, by such means, I had, in course of time, capacitated all the heretofore inefficient boys, and brought the school into such shape that every boy, in his place, was equal to the task assigned him, and learnt his daily lessons as they ought to be learnt, I was wont to say before all the school to those who honoured them with a visit, "You have often heard that there are boys in every school, who cannot learn their lessons distinctly and accurately. Examine every class in this school, and shew me a boy of this description." Or if in a hurry, "Lay your hand upon any class, and any boy in that class; let him say how far he is advanced: open his book at any prior place, and hear him read and spell," &c. Another advantage, attending this arrangement, is that the tutor far more effectually learns his lesson than if he had not to teach it to another. By teaching he is best taught. Qui docet indoctos, docet se." Still another advantage is, that here is a grand stimulus to emulation; for what disgrace attaches to the boy who, by his negligence, is degraded into a pupil, and falls perhaps to be tutored by his late pupil, promoted to be a tutor!

3d. "Each class has an assistant-teacher, whose sole employment it is to instruct that class; to see that the tutors do their part, that they not only get their own lesson, but assist and forward their pupils; and, under the teacher, hear the whole class — tutors and pupils — say the lessons, which he has assisted them in preparing."

The assistant sees, at every instant, how every boy in his class is employed, and hears every word uttered.

This is a station of great emulation; for distinctions*, fitted to take a strong hold of the youthful mind, are conferred upon such as perform their tasks with diligence, fidelity, and success: and the degradation, consequent upon ill conduct or ill success, is deeply felt. This observation applies, with still greater force, to the next link of the chain,

4th. "The teachers, who have each charge of one or more classes."

* What were these distinctions? Some of them were local, and regarded their daily food and dress; some pecuniary; some honorary. Silver medals, of different numbers and size, were distributed at the annual examination by the president.

Their business is to direct and guide their assistants, inspect their respective classes — the tutors and the pupils, —and see that all is maintained in good order, strict attention, and rigid discipline. It is also the province of the teacher either to hear the class say their lessons, or intend his assistant, while he hears them. And, when he has more than one class under his care, he occasionally leaves this task to his assistant, if himself happen to be engaged with another class at the same time.

"The introduction of monitors, an extremely important part of the whole scheme, is as great an improvement in schools, as the introduction of non-commissioned officers would be in an army which had before been governed only by captains, majors, and colonels: they add that constant and minute attention to the operations of the mass, without which, the general and occasional superintendance of superiors is wholly useless. An usher hates his task, and is often ashamed of it; a monitor is honoured by it, and therefore loves it: he is placed over those who, if their exertions had been superior, would have been placed over him; his office is the proof of his excellence. Power is new to him; and trust makes him trustworthy, — a very common effect of confidence.————————The extraordinary discipline, progress, and economy of this school, are, therefore, in a great measure, produced by an extraordinary number of noncommissioned officers, serving without pay, and learning while they teach." — Edinb. Review.

If this scheme of teachers and assistants presented no other advantage than enabling the scholars to be heard a lesson every quarter or half hour, or oftener, it were an invaluable acquisition. It is not so much the time that is saved in waiting the conveniency of the master, as the promptitude produced by short and easy lessons, which are instantly to be prepared, and said as soon as prepared. In schools, where children learn one lesson a day, it often happens that even the same lesson is not so well learnt, as if it were to be prepared and said in a prompt manner, admitting of no delay in the commencement of that preparation, which otherwise is frequently not only postponed, but neglected altogether.

It often happens that the assistant-teacher proves himself fully equal to the entire charge of his class, in which case he is promoted to the rank of a teacher, and performs the double office of teacher and assistant. It oftener happens that a teacher, instead of one class, is set over several classes with their respective assistants.

There were fourteen in all of these teachers and assistants, for two hundred boys, at the Asylum, none of them less than seven, or more than fourteen years of age.

5th. "An usher and sub-usher are appointed, when necessary, to act under,

6th. "The schoolmaster, whose province it is to watch over and to conduct this machine in all its parts and operations, and see the various offices, which I have described, carried into effect."

From his place (chair or desk) he overlooks the whole school, and gives life and motion to every member of it. He inspects the classes, one by one, and is occupied wherever there is most occasion for his services, and where they will best tell. He is to encourage the diffident, the timid, and the backward; to check and repress the forward and presumptuous: to bestow just and ample commendation upon the diligent, attentive, and orderly, however dull their capacity, or slow their progress; to stimulate the ambitious, rouse the indolent, and make the idle bestir themselves: in short, to deal out praise and displeasure, encouragement and threatening, according to the temper, disposition, and genius of the scholar. He is occasionally to hear and instruct the classes, or rather overlook and direct the teachers and assistants, while they do so.

The advantage is, that not being perpetually occupied, as at most schools, in hearing and instructing one or other of the classes, which necessarily withdraws his attention for the time from the rest of the school, he has leisure to see that all are employed as they ought. The great advantage is, that it is his chief business to see that others work, rather than work himself; and that he is most usefully employed in doing what men in general are most ready to do.

7th. "Last of all comes the superintendant (who may be the chaplain of the seminary, the parochial minister, trustee, or visitor, or any gentleman who delights in such pious offices) whose scrutinising eye must pervade the whole machine, whose active mind must give it energy, and whose unbiassed judgment must maintain the general order and harmony." For this purpose there is kept,

8th. "A register of the daily tasks" performed by each class, and by each boy, when he happens to be individually engaged in writing, arithmetic, or any solitary exercise, which are added up weekly and monthly, and compared with each other, and with former performances. This simple contrivance is admirably fitted to correct idleness, and detect negligence in their origin, and to bear permanent testimony to merit and demerit, even if overlooked in passing.

For these important purposes, too, there is lodged in the hands of the schoolmaster (to whom, lest there should be no superintendant, I have attributed some of the offices peculiar to the latter) a most powerful operator,

9th. "The black book, as the boys call it, or register of continued idleness, negligence, ill-behaviour, and every offence, which requires serious investigation and animadversion."

To this simple instrument I attach immense importance in preserving order, diligence, good conduct, and the most rigid discipline, at the least expense of punishment, of which it is a great object to be frugal and a good economist. The manner, in which this instrument is employed, may appear to some despotic, partial, and unjust. To me, who tried it on a preconceived opinion of its utility, and witnessed, on trial, its wonderful operation in producing diligence, truth, contentment, and happiness, it wears a widely different aspect. Suppose an offence committed by a pupil, deserving a place in the black book, and known at the time of commission to his tutor, who yet failed to mark it to the assistant; the schoolmaster, on discovery, puts down the tutor for neglect of duty. In like manner, if the tutor gave notice to the assistant, and the assistant did not to the teacher, the assistant is noted on the book: and so of the teacher. Also if the assistant be guilty of misbehaviour, the teacher who witnessed, and did not report it, is made responsible, and so on. Nay, there was no obstacle to prevent any of the inferior orders from doing what often happened, noting, in their turn, the offences of their superiors, as these last had no other means of punishing the former, than by registering their offence in the black book, when the accused is generally tried by his peers, as will be seen in the sequel, and is sure of a candid hearing and an impartial award.

In every instance, every serious offence is either noted by, or carried to, the schoolmaster, who is to judge whether it deserves a place in the register, or whether an immediate reprimand, or threat, may suffice.

Our language, when enforcing his duty on the tutor, is, that it is the business of the pupil to be idle, if the tutor will allow it; and so on.

This register is solemnly inspected and scrutinised, once a week, in presence of the whole school, drawn up in a circle for that purpose; when the nature* and consequence of every omission or commission is explained in the language of the school; and the fact tried and sentence pronounced on the culprit by,

10th. "A jury of their peers," which sentence is inflicted, mitigated, or remitted, at the discretion of the superintendant, visitor, or school-master.

* Abstract lectures, which my schoolmaster tried for a while, are little attended to, and still less understood, by children. To reach their minds and touch their hearts, you must give a visible shape and tangible form to your doctrine. When a meritorious conduct is displayed, or a crime perpetrated, and you can thus give a body to your lecture, it is listened to, understood, and felt. My lectures were all of this sort, with the subject under my hands, and before the eyes of all his schoolfellows, assembled on the occasion. "Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said," &c. Mat. xviii. 1 — 6; See also Mat. xii. 48 — 50; xxii. 15 — 22; xxiv. 1, 2; Mark, xii. 41 — 44; Luke, x. 40 — 42; John, iv. 9 — 26; and gospels passim. How much might we learn, if we read our Bibles as we ought to do?

Mark the advantage of this process. An offence is committed, the punishment of which, if the superior officer does his duty, cannot reach beyond the culprit; but, if he fail, he becomes himself involved, not for the offence of another, but for his own omission of the task assigned to him. The facility, which this process affords to the detection of every crime, and consequent prevention, must be obvious at first sight. Mark, also, that no one in this link is called upon to do more than to report what he sees and knows to be done, contrary to the rules of the school, in the department committed to his charge, and for which he stands responsible.

But what are all these advantages compared with the next I have to mention? It is the grand boast of this system, not that it thus detects, convicts, and corrects the offender, but that, by the perpetual presence and intervention, as well at play as in school, of our teachers and assistants (not to say tutors) who are tried and approved boys, aided by their (emeriti) predecessors, who acquitted themselves, while in office, with credit and applause, it prevents the offence, and establishes such habits of industry, morality, and religion, as have a tendency to form good scholars, good men, good subjects, and good Christians.

In a word, it gives, as it were, to the master the hundred hands of Briareus, the hundred eyes of Argus, and the wings of Mercury.

But this scheme lays claim to still higher praise. It is the superlative glory of the system, that, when duly administered, it applies itself to every principle of humanity. It engages the attention, interests the mind, and wins the affection of youth. Their natural love of activity is gratified by the occupation which it furnishes them. They are delighted with being, to every wise and good purpose, their own masters. They are charmed that they see the reason, feel the justice, and perceive the utility of all that is done to them, for them, and by them.

And, still further, this system is to be estimated by the civility, the decorum, the subordination, the regard to good order and good government, which it inculcates and exemplifies; while, by the various offices performed in the different departments of the school, it prepares the disciples for business, and instructs them to act their part and perform their duty in future life with punctuality, diligence, impartiality, and justice; and also cultivates the best dispositions of the heart, by teaching the children to take an early and well-directed interest in the welfare of one another.

Every boy, not totally corrupted and depraved, sees in this system a friend, to whom he is sure to attach himself in the closest bands of amity, and will himself, whenever it is conducted with no interested view, but with impartiality and ability, for the general good, come forward and exert himself in every emergency, for its due support and administration. The policy of your scholars is on your side as well as their heart. Not to forfeit such high privileges, as the system confers on them, they take a deep interest in its support, preservation, and advancement. For should they, by falsehood, perverseness, or ill conduct, disturb its order and harmony, they must expect to revert to other jurisdiction, than that of themselves and their peers; an immunity of which they are no less jealous than every Englishman is of his invaluable privilege, the trial by jury.

By these means, a few good boys selected for the purpose (and changed as often as occasion requires) who have not begun their career of pleasure, ambition, or interest; who have no other occupation, no other pursuit, nothing to call forth their attention, but this single object; and whose minds you can lead and command at pleasure, form the whole school; teach the scholars to think rightly, and, mixing in all their little amusements and diversions, secure them against the contagion of ill example, and, by seeing that they treat one another kindly, render them contented and happy in their condition.. . .

In a word, the advantages of this system, in its political, moral, and religious tendency; in its economy of labour, time, expense, and punishment; in the facilities and satisfaction which it affords to the master and the scholar; can only be ascertained by trial and experience, and can scarcely be comprehended or credited by those, who have not witnessed its productive powers and marvellous effects.

Like the steam engine, or spinning machinery, it diminishes labour and multiplies work, but in a degree which does not admit of the same limits, and scarcely of the same calculations as they dp. For, unlike the mechanical powers, this intellectual and moral engine, the more work it has to perform, the greater is the facility and expedition with which it is performed, and the greater is the degree of perfection to which it is carried.

Such are the advantages of conducting a school on the scheme of the Asylum at Madras.

It is almost unnecessary to add, that all the facilities of this system apply as well to the first elements of moral and religious instruction, as to the rudiments of letters. The teacher, by instructing the scholars by classes in the catechism and other religious exercises, leaves only to the master or superintendent the easy charge of solemn examination, and of explaining to the teachers what they are to explain to the rest of the school.. . .

Such is the general outline of the system. How far it is fitted to produce undiverted and uninterrupted application and proportionate progress, with close habits of diligence and obedience, the attentive reader may now form a judgment. He has before him the scheme, and the principles on which it is founded. On this ground its claim might perhaps be rested. And even if, from any cause whatever, it had failed of producing an adequate effect, still it may not be thought unworthy of another and better trial. But then too it might, perhaps, be ranked with those visionary projects, with which the press teems, and which, however plausible in theory, do not admit of being reduced to practice. Far remote from the lofty tone, which these assume, of deep investigation and profound speculation, the humble claim of this humble essay is, that of being founded on obvious principles, and even suggested by the occasion and the circumstances, in which I was placed. Its claim is, that it has been reduced to practice; nay, was suggested by, and arose out of, practice. The experiment has been made, and facts must now speak for themselves. The facts, recorded in the official documents in Part IVth, will enable the reader to ascertain how far the effect corresponds with the judgment he has formed. And if he seek for further proofs, and inquire how far it is adapted to schools in this country, he will find abundance of corresponding facts in the several schools, where this system has been successfully introduced and established, some of which have been submitted to the public in the reports of these establishments.


Instructions for modelling a School on the above Scheme

"Ludos literarum strepere discentium vocibus," — Liv.

Having gone through the system of the Male Asylum, explained the principles on which it is founded, and set forth some of the manifold advantages, with which this mode of conducting a school is attended, I am now to comply with a requisition frequently made to me, by giving minute and particular instructions for reducing this scheme to practice.

Begin with arranging the school into classes. In large schools, where great numbers have made an equal progress, each class may consist of from 24 to 36 scholars. But when your school does not exceed 200, it should be studied not to have more than six or eight classes. In general, the fewer the classes the better. As these are formed according to the proficiency of the scholars, the size, more than the number of the classes, will vary with the magnitude of the school. In the higher classes the gradation of proficiency is not so defined as in the lower, and by consequence in small schools there will more scholars fall together in the former than in the latter.

Your next step is to select your ushers and teachers from among your senior and best scholars, chiefly out of the two or three higher classes. This is best done, if you yourself are not acquainted with the dispositions, characters, and attainments of your scholars, by the elective voice of the higher classes and best boys in the school, and afterwards by means of those teachers, who seldom fail to find for you the boy best fitted for your purpose. Their intimate knowledge of their school fellows, and their being responsible to you for their recommendation, are pledges of their faithful discharge of this duty. The assistant of a class may often be a trusty boy of the superior class, and may be left, when it is deemed advisable, to the option of each trusty teacher: and, in large schools, and even in your early arrangements in small schools, when much is to be done, and in some hands the simplest operations, if never before practised, appear difficult and operose, an usher and sub-usher may, in the first instance, be nominated of the most capable boys. It is better to begin with a full share of teachers and assistants. Their numbers, where the classes fall short of twenty-four scholars, may be diminished as the school gets into regularity, and the task of teaching becomes facile and familiar, and the work of teachers and scholars goes on with satisfaction and delight.

New arrangements of teachers is a powerful instrument of discipline, as well as a sure mean of obtaining willing and able help-mates in the office of tuition. These are to be made as often as convenient.

Next, each class is to be paired off into tutors and pupils: the head, or rather the most trusty and best boy tutors the worst; next best next worst, and so on. The pupil takes his seat, of course, next to his tutor. But the rank each scholar holds in his class, depends on his daily exertions and proficiency; and, by prompting or correcting one another, varies every lesson with his comparative diligence and attainment: and the tutor often falls below his pupil, where, if he remain for any length of time, he becomes in turn pupil, and his pupil, tutor. In those lessons of writing, arithmetic, &c. where the tasks are performed individually, each inferior boy or pupil in the class sits by a superior or tutor, who sees that he is busy, and assists him when necessary; while himself is instructed by his teacher or assistant.

Of this allotment of tutors and pupils, by no means the most important and necessary to the system, a new arrangement will be requisite, as often as the Pupils gain upon their Tutors, and every change operates as a stimulus.

In each class, the teacher's book is marked with the day of the month, where the lesson begins in the morning; and each lesson for that day with a score, by a pencil, or otherwise. No lesson should, with the lower classes, occupy more than a quarter of an hour, and with the higher more than half an hour both in learning and saying. This material rule yields only in importance to another, that no lesson must, on any account, be dismissed till it be well said. If a master overlooks a class in getting their lesson, and sees all busy and attentive, what the best moiety of the class can learn in ten minutes, and say in five, is a proper task for the half-hour, and in same proportion for the quarter, if that class is thus employed all day long: but if for a shorter period, stricter attention will be required, and a longer task assigned for the half hour. The assistant teacher often, and the teacher occasionally, says his lesson with his class to the teacher, master, or usher. In the respective classes, the tutors learn their own lessons, while they teach their pupils, letter by letter, syllable by syllable, word by word, line by line, verse by verse, or sentence by sentence, as the classes ascend; that is, one letter, or syllable, or word, or line, or verse, or sentence, is respectively learnt before the next is looked at: and, when all is gone over in this way, the lesson is revised as often as necessary, and, on every revisal, is divided into larger portions, which are first learnt one by one, till the whole is well gotten at a single rehearsal. Difficult words, and words which have not occurred before, are to be particularly attended to, and first learnt, and after awhile they only need be learnt, as the great bulk of the lesson will be already familiar from the frequent recurrence of the same words.

When the lesson has been thus prepared or learnt, it is said by the scholars to the teacher in portions by rotation: and if well said, they proceed to the next; if not, they must repeat the same lesson, even shortened, if need be, till it be well learnt. In saying the lesson, the scholar, who prompts another, or tells him what he mistakes, takes precedence, or the place in the class above him he prompted, and all those between them; and any of the scholars, who are found inferior, and deficient, and not able to keep pace with their class-fellows, are degraded to a lower class; and, in like manner, the boys, who excel their class-fellows, are promoted to a higher class. The same division, as above, of each lesson into parts, and learning, portion by portion, is observed in committing to memory the catechism, religious exercises, addition, and multiplication tables, and throughout every branch of education. The rule of the school is — short, easy, and frequent lessons — divided into short parts, gotten one by one, and well said.

Every class in the school, or (where for the sake of room, the classes are arranged two and two, as at the Royal Military Asylum, and say their lessons alternately, the one occupying the ground which the other has quitted) every other class may be saying their lessons at the same time; and the master or usher, passing along, may, in some measure, at once observe how the respective classes acquit themselves. But this is done effectually by over-hearing the classes by rotation, when saying their lessons: and when the master gives orders or instructions, requiring attention and comprehension, it should be to the ushers and teachers, and assistants, and they to the tutors, and the tutors to their pupils, recollecting always that one capable boy made by you to comprehend any thing, in which there is the least difficulty, can bring it down to the level of his schoolfellows' capacities, and explain it to them, far better than you can. He knows where his difficulty lay in comprehending you: and his time is only employed in explaining to them, in their own language, what they do not know, while you are often employed in telling them only what they do know, and frequently in a language which they do not understand. Another rule of the school is, that no boy ever knows any thing you tell him, or is improved by any thing you do for him: it is what he tells you, and what he does for himself which is alone useful.

In the evening at dismissing, for the day, the progress for each class is registered by the teacher or assistant in a book; — number of lessons read; pages or lines gone over in these lessons; and hours thus employed, in three adjoining columns; and so with catechism, religious instruction, writing, ciphering, and all the tasks of the day. These are added weekly and monthly, and compared, by the master and teacher, with what was done the preceding day, week, and month. In like manner, each boy, employed in writing, ciphering, or such tasks as, though simultaneous as to the class, are performed individually, and not collectively, registers of himself all his daily operations in the last page of his copy, or ciphering book; which are compared, by his teacher, with what he did the day before, and what other boys of his class and standing do: — and so weekly, and monthly. The page, in which these registers are kept, is ruled into thirty-one parallel lines, so as to last a month, and into as many columns as there are daily entries to be made. In the beginning of each month the book, and page of the book, &c. where the class begin to read, are entered.

The examination of the black book should regularly take place once a week, on Saturdays for example, and a jury of good boys be selected among the teachers and scholars, to try the culprits. It is essential to the wellbeing of the school that its rewards and punishments, which are left to discretion and circumstances, be administered with equal and distributive justice. It is not to be forgotten that temperate and judicious correction is more effectual than that which is intemperate and severe; that praise, encouragement, and favour, are to be tried before dispraise, shame, and disgrace; confinement between school hours, and on holidays and play-days, which your teachers enable you to inflict, is to be preferred to corporal punishment; and even solitary confinement to severe flagellation. But at all events, the authority of the master must be maintained by discipline, in one shape or other. I cannot, however, forbear repeating my opinion, founded on experience in this country, that with equal justice (the great prop of discipline and contentment), confinement with a task in charity schools, between school-hours, or on holidays, may supersede corporal punishment. It deserves to be particularly remarked, that this system hinges on the teachers of each class; and that their station must, in one shape or other, be rendered desirable, and an object of emulation. And also that, if circumstances required it, almost every other regulation may be dispensed with.

To sum up all, never prescribe a lesson or task which can require more than a quarter, or at most half an hour for the learner to be completely master of it: never quit a letter, a word, a line, or a verse, or a sentence, or a page, or a chapter, or a book, or a task of any kind, till it is familiar to the scholar.




— Pudeatne me in ipsis statim elementis etiam brevia docendi monstrare compendia?

In the former part of this essay, I have stated the system of the Male Asylum, and the plan on which it is conducted; and I have endeavoured to unite theory to practice, by elucidating the principles on which this system rests. It is the mode of tuition by the scholars themselves, which constitutes the system: and this plan of conducting the school is essentially requisite to the success of the institution. Wherever this scheme is followed, there is the Madras System; and wherever a school is conducted independently of the agency of the scholars, there another system is followed. But beside this system, there are isolated practices, which were also contrived at the asylum, to abridge labour in the art of teaching and learning in their different elementary steps. Such are the processes of alphabetical writing on sand or slate, reading by syllables, spelling without tedious and useless repetitions, &c. But these form no part of the above system, and do not arrange themselves under the general law of tuition, which has been explained. These detached, subsidiary, and auxiliary practices, may go along with any other system, and be introduced into any school, conducted in the common, or any other mode.

They differ from the system, as art does from science. The system, consisting of a series of consecutive laws, linked together in the closest union, and depending on a common principle, assimilates itself to a science, however humble that science may be. Its general laws apply alike to every stage and branch of elementary Education. The practices which follow are of a widely different description. Circumscribed in their operation, each of them applies solely to the peculiar step in the progress of elementary Education for which it is framed. Consisting of a set of subordinate devices or helps in tuition, and not depending on the general principle of conducting Education through the agency of the scholars themselves, they may be said to constitute an art, as that word is used, in contradistinction to science, to denote a bare collection of rules or instructions. But this will be better understood when we have explained the nature, the use, and the peculiar advantages of these alphabetical, syllabic, and other initiatory processes, by means of which the art of reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic is facilitated and expedited.


Of Teaching the Alphabet by writing its Characters on Sand

"Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground."
JOHN viii. 6.

It will not be deemed a wide departure from my subject, if I preface this chapter with a recommendation to parents, who would wish to prevent their children from acquiring a vitiated pronunciation, and to enable them, soon and readily, to speak distinctly, that they begin at an early period, to teach them the elementary sounds. This is an ancient practice, which may be revived with advantage at table, at play, &c. Begin with the letter A, repeating the lesson at intervals, till the child pronounces it distinctly and readily; and so with the other vowels, or perfect sounds, E,

I, O, U; then the consonants, or imperfect sounds. It is obvious what a help this must be to the child, to articulate distinctly and speak early. And having thus acquired the names of the letters, he will afterwards have only to learn to trace with his finger, and distinguish by his eye, the forms or characters corresponding to these sounds. Those parents, who wish their children to learn French, or any other language, may also instruct them in the elementary sounds peculiar to that language, at an early age, when the organs of speech are pliant, and readily formed to any mould.

In writing on sand, a tray or board (thirty-six inches by ten), with a ledge (of ½ an inch deep) on every side, may be prepared for a school. A little dry sand is put into it, so that with a shake it will become level, and spread itself thinly over the bottom. The teacher, who is sometimes the boy who last learned the alphabet himself, often an expert boy selected for the purpose, traces in the sand with his forefinger the letter A, of which there is a prototype before him. The scholar retraces the impression again and again, the teacher guiding his finger at first, if necessary; the sand is then smoothed with a shake. Next the scholar, looking at the letter before him, tries to copy it, and is assisted as before, and directed till he can do it with facility and precision. The prototype is then withdrawn, and the scholar must now copy it from memory. This first and very difficult task achieved, a pause or interval of rest or play is allowed, and as often as is requisite, to unbend the stretched bow, and to ensure uniform and uninterrupted attention while at work. These interludes become every day less and less necessary, as a habit of greater and greater application is superinduced.

In like manner the second letter, B, is taught. When he returns to A, and makes A and B till he can form both with readiness and exactness. Thus ends the first lesson, which, at an average of capacity and age, may require an hour or two hours. But I must warn those, who have not teachers that have been taught in this way, much more if they have not the same rigid discipline, for commanding the exertion of the teacher and the attention of the scholar, from expecting this result. The same observation the reader must apply throughout. Without the same discipline, and the same skill in the teacher, the same result cannot be obtained.

This done, the two next letters are taught in the same manner, which does not require the same length of time, as the great difficulty of forming an image of a letter in the mind's eye, and copying it, was conquered, in the first lesson. And thus the capital letters are taught two by two, till the alphabet is gone through in this manner, when the scholar returns to his first letters, which by this time have escaped his memory, but are easily revived, and goes over his alphabet anew, at four letters to a lesson, and again at eight; and afterwards at sixteen; last of all, the whole, till he is perfectly master of his capital letters.

The same process is followed in regard to the small letters; particular attention is shewn to the letters b, d, p, and q, which the pupil is taught to distinguish, by telling him that each is formed of an o, and a straight line; that the o in b and p is on the right, and d and q on the left hand, or by such like device, which will readily occur to the earnest teacher. In like manner the double letters, monosyllables of two letters, the digits, and numbers are taught by writing them on sand.

The superiority, which writing on sand possesses over every other mode, as an initiatory process, consists in its being performed with the simplest and most manageable instrument, the (fore) finger (of the right hand) which the child can guide more readily than he can a piece of chalk, a pencil, or pen. The simplicity of this process, and its fitness for children of four years, at which age they were admitted into the asylum, entitle it to the notice of all schools in a similar predicament. But with children further advanced, slates and pencils may be used after the sand, as is done in various schools in the metropolis, &c. To simplify the teaching of the alphabet the letters are sometimes, when found expedient for the scholar, arranged according to the simplicity of their form, and not their alphabetic order.

This mode of teaching the alphabet in sand not only recommends itself by the simplicity of the device and facility of the execution; but it also prevents all learning by rote, and gives at the first operation a distinct and accurate idea of the form of each letter. It also gratifies the love of action and of imitation inherent in the young mind. As much as drawing commands the attention of children more than reading, so much does tracing letters obtain over barely reading them.

Instead of one pupil, our little teacher has often one or more on each hand, according to the number who may have entered the school at the same time.

I have been thus particular in regard to teaching every lesson perfectly, as you go along, and repeating it as often as is necessary, to leave a permanent impression, because it applies to practical education in all its branches, in every language, art, and science.

In teaching the alphabet, the letters (for the prototype) both capital and small, may be printed on a card, paper, or board; and also the monosyllables of two letters, with the digits and numbers. Why the horn-book of our ancestors is thrown aside, there can be but one reason, and this reason has, in many ways, retarded and defeated education. The first card, or board (the old horn-book), put into the hands of children, should never go beyond the alphabet, digits, and syllables of two letters; but of these, a division of two or more may be made, if chosen, for the sake of economy and brevity; but especially, that the scholar may see the stages of his journey, and mark his own progress: and still more, that no one of his books be ever parted with, till he be perfectly master of its contents, which will enable him to go through the next, with a precision and despatch, not otherwise attainable. In the absence of a horn-book, these alphabets may be readily and cheaply obtained, by cutting out of the spelling books the first and second leaves, and pasting down the alternate pages on strong brown paper or pasteboard, that they may endure the thumbing to which they are subjected, and save the remainder of the spelling-books, which is sometimes worn out in common schools before the child has learnt his A, B, C.

When familiar with his alphabet, and able, without the smallest hesitation, both to tell every letter in any book, and write it on sand, then, and not before, he proceeds to his next stage.


Of Monosyllables and previous Spelling

mega biblion mega kakon

Having laid the foundation well in a perfect acquaintance with the alphabets in every way in which the scholar can be examined in them, you have made the best provision for rendering his future progress rapid, pleasant, and satisfactory. Then, and not till then, you enter upon the first process of reading monosyllables — the groundwork of all that follows. This branch of tuition commences in the usual way, by first spelling the word on book, and then pronouncing or reading it by combining the separate sounds into one articulation. But the practice of the Madras school does not stop here. As soon as the lesson is thus said in a retrograde as well as a progressive order, the book is shut, and the scholar is asked to spell every word in a desultory order, or dodgingly, as the boys call it.

It is proper here to observe, that whenever I use the word spell by itself, I always mean spelling off book after the lesson has been said and the book is shut. In this spelling the Madras scholar is exercised after every lesson (see Chapter Vth); and in these his initiatory lessons every word is thus spelt. When, on the other hand, I speak of spelling (in the spelling-book), previous to the reading of the word, as is usually practised throughout long spelling-books, &c. and termed simply spelling, as when it is said, "the scholar is in spelling," this I always denominate previous spelling, or spelling on book; and, in the Madras school, monosyllables only are taught in this way. To this distinction it is necessary to attend, as it is proposed to restrict this practice, of previous spelling, to words of one syllable, and entirely to abolish it in words of more than one syllable, as not only not requisite or expedient, but as slovenly, tedious, tiresome, and fatiguing. It is not a little remarkable, that a practice so barbarous and unmeaning, and fitted only to waste the time of the master, and retard the progress of the scholar, should be suffered to go on from generation to generation without notice or consideration.

The fittest book for a beginner, as consisting solely of monosyllables and easy stories (one edition for boys, another for girls) of words of one syllable, is Mrs. Trimmer's Charity-school Spelling-book, Part First.

In perusing this initiatory book, the scholar spells the syllables on and off book: thus on book, b-1-u-n-t, blunt; off book, blunt, b-l-u-n-t.

Here the utmost pains must be taken that every word, as you go along, be made perfectly familiar to the scholar, considering always that as four lessons are at this stage said every hour, it is only necessary that these lessons be well learnt, and, how short soever they be, your progress will be rapid beyond example; but if the lessons, even in the first perusal, are passed over, as often happens in the general run of schools, in a slovenly and careless manner, a load of toil and tedium is laid up; and the scholar, conscious of his imperfect and slow progress, and puzzled and embarrassed by every lesson, every where feels dissatisfied with the irksomeness of his daily tasks, and alike disgusted with his master, his school, and his book. Let it also be considered, that this is not only the groundwork, but also the main part of your future edifice, that the whole of the art of reading in the Madras school is reduced to its first elements — letters and their combination into single syllables — and that, in teaching and learning these constituent parts, all the labour of the master, and difficulty of the scholar, consist. It is not enough, then, that you go through this spelling-book a first time in the most perfect manner. The impression of a first perusal, however strong and correct at the time, wears off, and to be permanent it must be renewed by revision as often as shall be found necessary. A second or third perusal in due form will, in general, suffice; and for these very little time is required, if, on the first perusal, a just attention was paid to the foregoing instructions. It is not, however, till on examination the scholar (by which it will be noticed I mean every boy or girl qualified to remain in his or her respective class) can on examination of the master or superintendant spell readily on and off book every word in it, that he goes through it once more, reading the words without previous spelling thus, "blunt," continuing to be exercised as before in spelling off book, a practice which is followed up throughout. This reading without previous spelling will be found to cost no trouble or time; you have only to give leave, and it is done. It is the contrivance of the Madras tuition in reading, that every step of its progress not only prepares for, but actually anticipates, as it were, the following step.

In order that this fundamental branch of tuition may receive that attention which its essential importance requires, Mrs. Trimmer has prepared a spelling-book contrived to instruct, rivet, and confirm the scholar in this elementary process, which I have said is not only the groundwork, but the actual anticipation of all that follows.

This "Monosyllabic Spelling-book" consists of all the syllables which most usually occur in the English language, in a regulated succession from short and simple to long and difficult. It contains no reading which the child can either comprehend or readily learn by memory, or repeat by rote. While children are thought to be engaged in learning to read, they are often merely exercising their memories. This second book is taught by spelling on and off book, and afterwards reading on book without previous spelling; and spelling off book in the same precise and perfect manner as the Charity-school Spelling-book. And here, in reality, ends the chief labour in teaching and learning to read, for by the devices which follow it is contrived that little more remains to be done, and what does remain, consists almost solely in repeating and practising what has been already taught and learnt.

Observe, that from this time forward there is no more previous spelling, in which so much time is wasted, except indeed the scholar happens to meet with a syllable which, after all has been done, puzzles him, when he resolves that syllable, and that only, into letters by previous spelling, to enable him to read it.


Of Syllabic and other Reading

"Let that which he learns next be nearly conjoined with that which he knows already." — Locke.

As spelling monosyllables on book consists in resolving a syllable into the letters of which it is composed, in order to reunite and combine their separate sounds into a single articulation; so syllabic reading consists in resolving dissyllables and polysyllables into the respective syllables of which they are composed, to prepare for their future reunion and composition.

In the first instance the scholar pronounces and reads these syllables, one by one, as if they were monosyllables, pausing an instant between each syllable, and double that time at the end of each word There is no other difference between his reading now and in monosyllables, than that he is taught to pause somewhat longer at the end of a word, than between the syllables of which the word is composed.

Thus — he — pro-ceeds — through — the — child's — book — part — first — and — se-cond — Mis-tress — Trim-mer's — spel-ling — book — part — se-cond — and — is — ne-ver — al-low-ed — to — pro-nounce — two — syl-la-bles — to-ge-ther — till — he — can — thus — read — syl-la-ble — by — syl-la-ble — and — spell — e-ve-ry — word — dis-tinct-ly.

The object of all tuition is to simplify. What else was the invention of an alphabet, if I may call it by this name, of syllables, which is said to have preceded the alphabet of letters? And what else is the invention of the alphabet of letters? Yet in the common mode of teaching we begin to read words before we can read syllables, and syllables before we know our letters, defeating, in a great measure, the facilities, which these improvements afford. The Chinese have no alphabet, and their language is said to consist of 70,000 written characters. With them it is the labour of the life of man to learn to read. In some African and Eastern Countries, there is said to exist an alphabet of syllables, which, compared with the Chinese language, where there is a specific sign for every word, or rather for every object or idea, greatly abbreviates the number of written characters, and abridges the task of reading. But the last improvement reduces these signs into a far narrower compass by an alphabet of letters.

The history of these improvements naturally points out to us our process in teaching to read. Let us avail ourselves of these invaluable discoveries in their full extent, by teaching every letter perfectly in the first instance, then each syllable perfectly. The facility, which this gives to teaching, is beyond the belief of those, who never tried it and experienced its effect. For how many fewer letters are there than syllables? And how many fewer syllables than words? And how much easier is it to read a syllable than a word? Suppose we have no more than the letters to learn, and we could read; how soon were it accomplished? Now in this way we have only syllables to learn: the rest, the reading of a word at once, &c. always follows of its own accord, and often in despite of your efforts to prevent it. Be-sides — the — very — act — of — read-ing — thus — may — be — con-si-der-ed — as — in — some — mea-sure — the — act-u-al — prac-tice — of — spel-ling.

The difference of teaching to read by syllables instead of words, may be illustrated by the difference between teaching numeration in the common way, and dividing the numbers into periods and half periods. In the one way how tedious and difficult the process, and how few, taught in this way, can read a number consisting of twenty or thirty places! In the other way how easy is the process, where you have only to teach the scholar to read a number of three places, or one syllable, if I may so speak, of numeration: the rest is merely repetition of this single syllable, with the thousands of the half periods, and the characteristics of the periods, which being a regular series is readily acquired. In this way the scholar can, in a few minutes, be taught to read any number, however long, which otherwise is scarce ever learnt through life: and yet, whether through obstinacy, inveterate custom, or ignorance, how many more are still taught in the one way rather than the other! Let those, who read this, and have never learnt to divide a sum in numeration and notation, look into any book of arithmetic, where this is taught, or ask the instruction of a friend, and they will perceive the difference between one mode of teaching and another; and comprehend how it must have fared with all the branches of education. See Chap. VII. on Arithmetic.

Though this reading syllabically is nothing more than practising the reading of monosyllables before learnt, yet it completely prepares the scholar for his next process, viz. reading word by word.

Having gone through his spelling-book syllabically he now revises it, reading word by word (which he will be found to have learnt insensibly), making a pause between each word as he before did between each syllable. He next begins his Psalter, which he also reads word by word: and now again let it be observed, that he is, on no account, allowed to join two words together, but is made to pause at the end of each word, as if there was a comma, thus, "Blessed — is — the — man — that — hath — not — walked — in — the — counsel — of — the — ungodly," &c.. . .

As before, when reading by syllables, if at a loss, he resolves the syllable into letters; so now, if he be puzzled with a word, he resolves that word, but that word only, into syllables, thus, "com-men-da-ble." And, when once he can read readily and accurately word by word, it will be found that he can already, and without further instructions than a very little practice, read in the usual way, which these progressive practices enable him to do distinctly and with precision. The rule is to read slowly, audibly, distinctly, pronouncing aloud the last syllable of every word, and last words of every sentence.. . .

Particular attention is now paid to the points or stops, which were before learnt in the Child's Book, Part II.; and their use is rendered habitually familiar to the scholar by his being taught while reading to repeat the word one for a comma; one, two, for a semi-colon, &c. and question, for a point of interrogation; and so of exclamation.

Let it also be observed, that the first word (in the school language) which the scholar reads in every page is the number of that page. By never passing a verse, or chapter, or lesson, or page, without reading and learning its number, till it be well known he is taught by degrees, and almost insensibly, to turn up to any place in his book.


Of unreiterated Spelling

"Parva docemus"

The same attention which has been found to simplify and facilitate every step in the process of reading is observed in abbreviating the tedious and wearisome process of spelling as it has been heretofore practised. Having before entirely abolished the previous spelling of words of more than one syllable, and by consequence the useless reiteration, with which it was accompanied, and which consists solely in repeating what the scholar has just before shewn that he knew and need not to repeat, so now in spelling off book the same useless repetitions are laid aside.

At the end of every lesson read, each class is required to spell off book every word with which they can be supposed not familiar. But this is not done in the common tedious mode, calculated to waste the time of both master and scholar. Not thus, m-i-s — mis, — r-e — re — misre, — p-r-e — pre, — misrepre, — s-e-n — sen, — misrepresen, — t-a-— ta, — misrepresenta, — t-i — ti, — misrepresentati, — o-n — on, — misrepresentation; but briefly thus, m-i-s — r-e — p-r-e — s-e-n — t-a — t-i — o-n; here are 102 letters repeated instead of 17, or 6 for 1.

But to be more particular: the scholar is desired to spell a word; for example, "faith." He repeats the word after you in the first instance, and before he spells it, that you may be sure he does not mistake it, which otherwise often happens; but he does not repeat it after he has spelt it, as it never, I believe, happens that having spelt the word, he fails in pronouncing it. So far nothing is gained by this inversion of the common practice but precision. The teacher says "faith;" the scholar repeats "faith," and spells "f-a-i-t-h," pausing an instant between each letter, for the sake of distinctness. It is when the scholar comes to spell words of more syllables than one that this precision turns to account; while he reads syllabically, he is also asked syllabically to spell his word, thus, faith-ful-ness, which he repeats, faith-ful-ness, and then spells, f-a-i-t-h-f-u-1-n-e-s-s, pausing an instant between each letter, and double that time at the end of each syllable, but without repeating the syllables as he goes along, or the word after he has done; neither of which serve any other purpose than to create delay and impede progress. After he is expert in this mode of spelling, the word is asked in the common way, "faithfulness;" but he always repeats by syllables, "faith-fulness," and spells as before.

It is only words which have not occurred frequently, or that may be supposed not to be well remembered, that the scholar is required to spell, of which the number diminishes daily.

The manner of hearing a class spell will serve to give a general idea of the mode of examining them in their tasks, whether in reading, or morality, or religion.

Each boy in rotation, beginning with the head boy, or as many as may be thought to suffice, beginning at any part of the class, spells a word the most difficult in the lesson which has been read. When he mistakes a letter, the boy next in order, who corrects him, must only name the single letter, where the mistake was committed, when he takes his place; the same boy (the first) goes on spelling the rest of the word, subject to the same correction as before, from the boys below him; and he must spell his word over and over again, if necessary, till he make no mistake: then all, who have risen above him, have each his own word in order, so that, in one round, as many words will be spelt, as there are scholars in the class, each spelling his own word. In the same way in the spelling book, each boy in a class reads a word by rotation, subject to the same correction, and taking of place, by the boys below; and when they have advanced further, they read by lines or sentences, or parts of sentences; each scholar in turn reading a small portion, till the teacher say, "Stop," or "next" boy. How simple and unnecessary do such minute directions appear to those acquainted with these practices? and how little do they imagine that many will still be puzzled in executing them?

In executing these directions and every other regarding the school, it is of the greatest benefit to teach every scholar, whenever an error is committed, as to the rule of the school, in the spelling or reading of the classes, &c. at once, what the rule is, and never to quit that object, nor any such, till it be well understood by all the class. This will often cost some pains at the time, but the labour so bestowed tells ever after. The usual practice of masters telling the scholars at once, when they mistake or hesitate, and giving instructions without stopping to ascertain whether the instructions be attended to or comprehended, is the source of much retardation. Let not any thing, which can be taught at once, be put off to a future lesson, (except for repetition or revisal, which after the most perfect instruction for the first time will still be necessary) but let it be made easy and familiar before you quit it, whatever time it may require. The teachers and assistants enable you to do this, at no expense of trouble to yourself; and the benefit is incalculable.

No better illustration need be required of the devices which have been employed to waste time in school than that of reiterating the syllables in spelling. Yet with those wedded to their early custom, this and every similar practice will find not only apologists, but advocates. They will speak of the facility it affords the scholar in spelling a long word, and the habit derived from it, &c. I answer once for all to such objections, that no plea can be urged in its favour, but must recoil upon the mode in which the scholar has been taught. It can only be owing to his imperfect progress that he can require such stepping-stones. These aids, if they be aids, can never be necessary to the scholar, who has been taught to spell every word perfectly as he goes along. Nay, even in schools where the scholars have all along practised spelling in the common way, I have always found that they fall most readily into the mode I have proposed, and that when they can spell a word one way, they can, with very little practice, also spell it in the other; and ever after with equal readiness and facility.

By teaching the scholar to spell off book every word, as he goes along, with which he is supposed unacquainted, he will learn not only to spell well and accurately, but also to read more distinctly, and far sooner, than when the same pains in spelling off book are not taken in the beginning. The attention, paid to these elementary and initiatory practices, will be amply repaid by the facility and despatch, with which it will forward and crown the subsequent processes.

In the common careless and hasty mode of reading he may be thought to go over twice the ground at first setting out; but it is in a wrong road, which he must either retrace, or wander far wide of his object in a by-path, which grows every day more and more intricate, and more and more fatiguing; while the traveller, on the high road, finds comfortable stages to refresh and recruit; gains fresh strength every day, and advances with redoubled speed to the end of his journey.


Of Writing

The management of the pen is of itself attended with no small difficulty, which should not be increased to the pupil, by his having at the same time the form of the letters to learn. On this account he is now taught to trace the written, as before the printed, characters in sand. He may also be taught to write, in the first instance, on a slate with a slate pencil, which in many cases may supersede all instruction at school in writing with paper, pen, and ink.

No person is ever allowed, on any pretence, to set a copy, or write a single word or letter in the scholar's copy (or ciphering) book, but himself. He has before him his move-able copy, either of copperplate or written by the master, or usher, or teacher, &c. prepared at leisure, and ready for the whole school in rotation. And he is at once, by cutting a slip of paper to the width of the lines of his copy, or other device of this sort, to rule his own paper, which a little practice in this way will soon enable him to do without such help. He is also, as soon as possible, to make his own pen, and do every thing for himself, under the direction, not with the assistance, of his teacher.

The common practice of ruling paper, and making pens, &c. for the scholar, serves only to prevent him from learning to do these things for himself; and the writing of copies for each individual scholar in his copy book cannot too soon be exploded. It not only wastes paper, pen, and ink, and time uselessly, but also perniciously; for if the master prefers copies of his own writing to copperplate, he has only to write them on detached slips of paper, when each slip will serve a whole school in rotation, and may be written with more care and precision. Equally pernicious is the practice of writing sums for the scholar in his ciphering book, which so far completely prevents the scholar from learning what he is sent to school to learn.

When rigid economy is requisite, as at the common run of schools where the poor are taught, the Madras System enables the ingenious schoolmaster, (by means of sand and slates, and other devices, which his numerous ministers are ever ready to contrive, as well as to conduct) to practise various savings in books, paper, pen, and ink. And besides the great advantage of such little books as I have recommended for the purpose of stages in your journey, and for solemn examination, economy is not to be overlooked. The five spelling books I have named do not exceed in price a large spelling book, and one is not worn while the other is used; whereas it is not uncommon for a large spelling book to be worn out before the alphabet is yet learnt. Besides, in schools for the lower orders of children a few of these small tracts will suffice, and the others readily dispensed with, as the syllabic reading of the Psalter, or even the Testament, will supply their place.


Of Arithmetic

In the introduction to arithmetic, numeration, or the reading of any number and notation, or the noting down of any number, are taught in a way which, though of long standing, is so little known or practised, that I shall be excused for briefly referring to it. And here I take the occasion of observing or repeating, that it is by resolving tasks into their component parts that they are rendered simple and facile.

Reading was facilitated by a syllabic process, resolving every word into the syllables of which it is composed, not altogether unlike that by which numeration and notation are performed, where every number is resolved into its component parts, which are simply half periods, consisting alternately of units and thousands; and periods consisting of units; millions; billions, or millions of millions; trillions, or millions of millions of millions, &c. Let the scholar be taught to read or note a single syllable, or a number of three figures, viz. units, hundreds, and thousands; and by ending every period with its characteristic, and every half period by pronouncing the word thousands, any number, however long, is read off-hand, and at once; for the periods follow in a regular and consecutive series, which is readily learnt, and goes on progressively to an indefinite length. Teach the scholar to read any number composed of three, or less digits, as 8 and 70 and 78,300 and 308 and 370 and 378. An example must suffice —

3,333; 333,333; 333,333; 333,333; 333,333; 333,333 is read 3 thousand, 333 quintillions; 333 thous., 333 quartillions; 333 thous., 333 trillions; 333 thous., 333 billions; 333 thous., 333 millions; 333 thous., 333.

Note down seventy septillions, eighty thousand quadrillions, five hundred billions, and four thousand and ten.

70; 000,000; 000,000; 080,000; 000,000; 000,500; 000,000; 004,010.

The master, whom I have only puzzled by these brief and general notices, I refer to the writers on arithmetic for that explanation, which it is not my province to detail, because this practice is not peculiar to the Madras System; and I have to apologize not so much for having despatched this digression in a few words, as for having at all introduced it, which I was led to do by the resemblance that the syllabic reading of the Madras School seems to me to bear to this method of reading numbers, and on account of the illustration, which I have before derived from this source.

In proceeding to the four cardinal rules of arithmetic, which indeed constitute the whole, let the same principle be still pursued. Let the elementary parts be perfectly learnt in classes by short, easy, and frequent lessons, repeated as often as necessary. Particularly before you begin to add, subtract, multiply, or divide, let every member of the class be able to say the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division tables respectively, in any and every way without the smallest hesitation or mistake. Examine thus, 9 + 6 and 6 + 9=15.15 — 6 = 9 and 15 — 9 = 6 . 8 x 12 or 12x8 = 96. 96 — 12=8 and 96 = 8 = 12. — In this specimen will be seen, by those who are adepts in arithmetic, the construction of the addition table, which is also a subtraction table, and is of the same form with the well-known multiplication table, which is also a division table. — These thoroughly and perfectly learnt, every operation is comparatively facile and easy.

It cannot but be noticed how little has been said of writing and arithmetic, and how few alterations and amendments are therein proposed; the reason is, that from the nature of these operations less remained to be done, and what did remain has in a great degree been anticipated in the various instructions which go before. When the learner writes in his own copy book, and works his own sum, and sets it down, these operations stand, as it were, in the place of the Madras overseers and reports: a body and shape are given to his diligence and progress, of which you can at any time take the dimensions, and measure its length and breadth, without daily, weekly, and monthly registers. But in spelling and reading the scholar's progress is not so well defined. The ground gone over furnishes no criterion of his attainments and advancements — no visible image remains of his daily diligence and progress. His letters are not always perfectly learnt when he is reading his Bible. No such traces of his footsteps are left behind him, either of his good or bad success, as are to be seen in his copy and ciphering books, or as in the registers and solemn examination of the Madras School, by which his daily progress in reading and spelling is as readily distinguished, as in writing and ciphering. And as no little book is quitted till he is perfectly master of it, his attainment is at once ascertained by the rank he holds in the school, and the book he has in his hands. Besides the mode of the teachers instructing by classes, detailed above, applies to teaching to write in sand and on slate, learning tables in arithmetic, and adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, &c. and need not here be repeated and detailed anew. The same observation applies to the instruction in


Morality and Religion

It is almost unnecessary to repeat, that all the facilities of the system apply alike to the first principles of moral and religious Instruction, as to the rudiments of reading and spelling, writing, and arithmetic. As the alphabet is taught letter by letter, &c. and the addition and multiplication tables are learnt column by column, then two at a lesson, &c. so the same division of labour, and short and frequent stages, and perfect knowledge of every lesson, are observed in this most important branch of instruction, to which what goes before should be chiefly subservient. This division of labour, or short and frequent stages, however common in well-regulated schools, I inculcate so often, because it is much neglected in the great run of inferior schools: and it is the hinge on which many questions, put to me on this subject, have turned. The teachers, by instructing the scholars in the Catechism, and other religious exercises, leave only to the master or superintendant the easy charge of solemn examination, and of explaining to the teachers what they are to explain to the rest of the school. For this purpose the Church Catechism, broken into short questions, and Mrs. Trimmer's Teachers' Assistant, and Scripture Catechism are admirably adapted. Of the first, by reason of its small size and price, one may be put into the hands of every child: of the others, one will suffice for a class, the teacher instructing his class viva voce.

In taking charge of the Sunday Schools on my arrival at Swanage, I found that the great bulk of the children could not be made to learn their Catechism, and that comparatively few could repeat it distinctly. The reason was, they were taught the whole, as it were, at once. By restricting them to learn one question thoroughly, before they went to another, I have now the satisfaction of hearing the most part of them repeat their catechism distinctly.. . .

But what more particularly regards the moral and religious application of this system of Education, and the grand views, which it opens to the Christian world, will be found in the following sermon on the appropriate Education of the poor.

Such are the chief practices of the art of tuition, peculiar to the Madras School, or recorded on the books of the asylum, as differing from the usual mode of teaching, and which will be found greatly useful by the economy of time and trouble in every school or family where they are adopted and duly executed.


General Remarks on the Scheme and Practices

To enter into the spirit of the institutes now before the reader, so as to comprehend what is actually achieved by this experiment, it is necessary to mark the character of the practices, which have been now detailed, as differing from that of the system before explained.

The system, with its concatenation of occasional usher and sub-usher, its teachers and assistants, tutors and pupils, registers of daily tasks, black-book, and jury of peers — being a series of consecutive regulations, linked together in the closest union, and forming a digested theory, composed of laws derived from observation, confirmed by experience, and founded on acknowledged principles of humanity, I regard as completed in all its parts, and requiring no addition. In framing the scheme, it was studied that no interstices should be left to be filled up, no deficiency to be discovered in its apparatus, but that there should rather be a redundancy of performers, and that the chain should have sometimes double links, where single links may suffice. Such may be thought the teacher and assistant to each class, when the members of the class fall short of the complement, proposed for a large school, where there is an option as to numbers. It is safest, however, to retain both till the school is organized, if not evidently unnecessary, for both are generally more profitably employed (during the period it is proper to retain them in these posts) than they would be in the ranks of their appropriate classes. It is time enough to lop off redundancies when the school is reduced to perfect order, and all goes on smoothly and pleasantly. In a word, in the scheme of the asylum will be found all that is requisite, under every circumstance, for conducting a school through the agency of the scholars themselves; and it will only be necessary to drop such performers as, from the state of the school, are no longer wanting.. . .

With the practices it is quite otherwise. They can only be considered as comprising an art, of which each of its detached rules is limited to a particular and individual stage in the process of teaching the first rudiments of letters. These rules combine only as simplifying and reducing to its primary and constituent elements whatever admits of decomposition, and as leading to a common end, facility, precision, and despatch. Indeed, where this system is adopted in the schools for the lower orders of youth, on the large scale for which it is particularly fitted, and the saving of expense becomes an important object, other practices (though of inferior importance) may be pointed out, for the sole purpose of economy. But I introduced none into the Egmore Asylum, and notice none here, but what seem to me improvements as well in tuition as in economy.

I only add, that though the system of the asylum may be considered as more appropriate to the schools for the lower than the higher orders of youth, it must be allowed that the practices apply to schools of every description. But it is not on these, — the practices, — or any such, however important in themselves as individual improvements, that the charm, which this system is found to possess, depends. It depends on the scheme of tuition by the scholars themselves. Whereever this general principle is adopted, methodised, and duly (for all turns on this point) executed, there is the system of the Asylum, whether they write in sand, spell without reiteration, read by syllables, &c. as directed in the subsidiary practices of that school, or whatever other improvements are resorted to in preference. Wherever this tuition by scholars does not take place, there is not the system of the asylum, though the writing in sand or slate, spelling without reiteration, reading by syllables, and all the subsidiary practices of that school be adopted. In every instance, it is by this system, the tuition by the scholars themselves, that the success and economy of which it boasts are to be attained: and wherever this system is not adopted, let the processes be what they may, the same success and economy cannot, in a large seminary, be attained.



p. 2. which is annexed: The list is given in a "Miscellaneous Appendix" at the end of the volume. The books named are: Watts' Hymns for Children. Instructive Hints, which fully answer the title. Barbauld's Hymns. Pastoral Lessons. Trimmer's Introduction to the Knowledge of Nature and the Use of the Scriptures.

Martinet's Catechism of Nature, or rather of Natural History. Turner's Arts and Sciences, an instructive book, read, with the exception of the heathen mythology, by a class of the senior boys. Scripture Instruction, by Question and Answer, written by J. Freame, which I am about to republish, on a plan, that some hundreds of children may learn to read from one book. Its principle advantage is, its comprising, in Scripture language, the 'Institutes of Christianity.' It is intended, that every child who attends school should learn this by wrote, whether he can read or not. It is hoped, when published, it will be found a valuable auxiliary in the departments of education. Mental Improvement, by Priscilla Wakefield, used by the senior class of boys.

p. 5, footnote, employment.. .suspended: Intuition and experience are combined in Lancaster's motto, "Let every child at every moment have something to do and a motive for doing it." Disregard of the precept is one of the chief causes of disorder in a class, p. 39. prize: In the accounts of Lancaster's school for the year ending Midsummer, 1803, when the number of pupils on the rolls was only 217, there appear the following items:

£ s. d.

Five thousand toys .............................. 16 16 0

Seven dozen (old) children's books ........... 1 9 0

Twenty-five French half-crowns engraved

"A reward for merit" ....................... 4 17 6

Three star medals ............................... 18 0

Eight silver pens, 3s. each ..................... 1 4 0

Thirty-six purses ................................ 12 6

The total cost of these prizes was more than ten per cent, of the year's expenditure on the school.

p. 40. order of merit: Of this Mrs Trimmer says, in her Comparative View: 'When one considers the humble rank of the boys of which common Day schools and Charity Schools are composed, one is naturally led to reflect whether there is any occasion to put notions concerning the 'origin of nobility' into their heads; especially in times which furnish recent instances of the extinction of a race of ancient nobility in a neighbouring nation, and the elevation of some of the lowest of the people to the highest stations. Boys, accustomed to consider themselves as the nobles of a school, may, in their future lives, from a conceit of their own trivial merits, unless they have very sound principles, aspire to be nobles of the land, and to take the place of the hereditary nobility"

To this criticism Sydney Smith, reviewing Mrs Trimmer's book in the Edinburgh for October 1806, replies: "For our part, when we saw these ragged and interesting little nobles, shining in their tin stars, we only thought it probable that the spirit of emulation would make them better ushers, tradesmen, and mechanics. We did, in truth, imagine we had observed, in some of their faces, a bold project for procuring better breeches for keeping out the blasts of heaven, which howled through those garments in every direction, and of aspiring hereafter to greater strength of seam, and more perfect continuity of cloth. But for the safety of the titled orders, we had no fear; nor did we once dream that the black rod which whipt these dirty little dukes would one day be borne before them as the emblem of legislative dignity, and the sign of noble blood."

p. 44. punishments: When described at length in his books, and at greater length in his lectures, the novelty of Lancaster's punishments served his perpetual purpose of attracting attention, but I have always had doubts whether they were not intended more for advertisement than for discipline. My doubts are confirmed by Bell himself.

In The Wrongs of Children he lays himself out to prove that both the principle and the details (except such as were harmful) of the Lancasterian system had been stolen from the Madras system. Perhaps anticipating the criticism that all the details of the one had been published in 1805 and hardly any details of the other before 1808, Bell recalls the interchange of letters and visits between their authors in the winter of 1804-5 and then feels safe in asserting that of the details of the Madras system, "as before of the grand principle of self-tuition, Mr. Lancaster, after a personal and epistolary correspondence with the author, availed himself more and more, discarding for the most part his multitudinous race of punishments"

My doubts are further confirmed by a sermon delivered by the Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieff Wellwood on February 21st, 1812, for the benefit of the Edinburgh Lancasterian School. In the course of it the preacher alludes to the objections urged against "the punishments in use in Mr. Lancaster's schools.... It has, indeed, been conceded to us that in the Lancasterian school in this city we have selected the best and excluded the worst parts of the system——

Even of this concession.. .the directors cannot avail themselves.

They have taken the whole of Mr. Lancaster's plansThe punishments actually inflicted. .. have hitherto consisted entirely in the detention of the children in fault for a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes after their companions are dismissed."

The log, the shackle, and the rest are not mentioned in the System with Improvements published at Baltimore in 1821. Lancaster had then either abandoned them or concluded that Americans would not like them — probably both.

Coleridge, who (like Southey) suffered from acute Lancastero-phobia, dragged into all sorts of irrelevant places condemnation of the "barbarous," "ignominious," and "soul-benumbing" punishments.

p. 46. tin or paper crown: Of this the humourless Mrs. Trimmer says:

If "THE STAR," which in this kingdom is an appendage of high nobility, be adopted by him as the insignia of his "Order of Merit" surely the emblem of MAJESTY should not be made a mark of disgrace and ridicule. Besides, it should be remembered, that the SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD was crowned with thorns in derision, which is another reason why the punishment is improper for a slovenly boy.

p. 51. sling hats: Every hat had a loop of string sewn to it, long enough to go over the boy's head and allow the hat to hang on his back. The practice survived in the Borough Road school till after 1870.


p. 62. assistant teacher: Bell, in a letter to Mrs Trimmer, says, "Teachers, assistants, tutors, as I have styled them, or monitors, as he [Lancaster] has denominated them."

p. 63. Edinb. Review: The passage quoted occurs in a notice, in the number for October 1807, of Lancaster's "Outlines of a plan for educating ten thousand poor children." The omission, indicated by the dashes, begins, "and exemplified in the most striking manner in Mr. Lancaster's school."

p. 83. Mrs. Trimmer's: The Charity School Spelling Book. Part I containing the alphabet, spelling lessons, and short stories of good and bad boys [or girls] in words of one syllable only. Part II containing words divided into syllables, lessons with scripture names, &c.

p. 85. Monosyllabic Spelling Book: I have not seen this.

p. 98. Mrs. Trimmer's: The Teacher's Assistant, consisting of lectures in the catechetical form, being part of a plan of appropriate instruction for the children of the poor. The lectures, all on religious subjects, were to be read by the teacher. They are followed by the questions on them he was to ask, and the answers that the pupils were required to give. The first volume may be considered unsectarian; the second treated of the Church Catechism and the Book of Common Prayer.



(i) Biography

Lancaster, Joseph. Epitome of some of the chief events and transactions in his life. New Haven, 1833. pp. 56.

[Incoherent. Written in "absolute destitution" to evoke help. Some scattered autobiography.]

Corston, William. Brief sketch of the life of Joseph Lancaster. 1840. pp. xii + 96.

[Two dozen of Lancaster's letters with rambling recollections of an octogenarian friend.]

Dunn, Henry. Sketches. [Lancaster and William Alien.] 1848. I2mo. pp. iv + 145.

[Reprints of poor articles from the Eclectic Review of 1845 and 1848. Dunn was a student at the Borough Road in 1827 and was appointed secretary of the British and Foreign School Society in 1830. He had access to all the early records and was familiar with several of Lancaster's leading monitors but he lamentably neglected opportunities such as no other man ever had.]

Salmon, David. Joseph Lancaster. 1904. pp. viii + 76.

[Fully documented but too brief. Supplemented by many articles in the Educational Record, 1905-29.]

(ii) Writings

Improvements in education. (See p. xxviii ante.)

A letter to John Foster on the means of educating and employing the poor in Ireland. 1805. pp. 44. An appeal for justice in the case often thousand poor and orphan children. 1806. pp. iv+46.

Improvements in education abridged. 1808. pp. viii + 88 + xii. A remarkable establishment of education at Paris. 1809. pp. xix + 22. Instructions for forming a society for the education of the children of the labouring classes. 1809. pp. ix+ 21.

1 Unless otherwise stated the size is 8vo and the place of publication London.

Hints and directions for building, fitting up, and arranging schoolrooms. 1809. pp. 33.

Address to the friends and superintendents of Sunday Schools. 1809. pp. 32.

The British system of education. 1810. pp. xviii + 56.

The school for girls on the Royal Lancasterian system. 1812. pp. 45 + viii.

Oppression and persecution. Bristol, 1816. pp. viii + 45.

Letters on national subjects. Washington City, 1820. pp. 50.

The Lancasterian system with improvements. Baltimore, 1821. pp. xv + 34.

Epitome. (See under "Biography.")


(i) Biography

Southey, Robert [Vol. 1] and his son Charles Cuthbert [Vols. 11 and 111. Life of the Rev. Andrew Bell. 1844. pp. xx + 531; ix+ 693; ix + 736.

[Ponderous and unreadable. The biographical facts are buried under a mass of dull letters.]

Meiklejohn, J. M. D. An old educational reformer, Dr Andrew Bell. pp. 182.

[A readable summary of the facts in Southey.]

(ii) Writings

An experiment in education. (See p. xli ante.")

[There was a 5th and greatly enlarged edition in 1814.] Extract of a sermon on the education of the poor. 1807. pp. 30. Instructions for conducting a school. 1808. 12mo. pp.34.

[There were several editions with alterations.] Sketch of a national institution. 1808. pp. 17. The wrongs of children. 1808.

[A periodical of which only three parts were issued. Excessively rare; my copy was Bell's own.]


(i) For Bell

Trimmer, Mrs Sarah. A comparative view of the new plan of education. 1805. pp. 152. Daubeney, Archdeacon. Charge. 1806.

A letter to the Archbishops and Bishops on Lancaster's plan. 1806. pp. 58.

Bowles, John. A letter to Samuel Whitbread. 1807. pp.64.

Marsh, Herbert. Sermon: The national religion the foundation of national education. 1811. 410. pp. iv + 47.

———Vindication of Dr Bell's system. 1811. pp. 32.

Fell, William. Remarks on Mr Lancaster's system. 1811. pp. 62.

Goodacre, Robert. Impartial review of the new system of education. 1812. pp. 143.

Southey, Robert. The new system of education. 1812. pp. 210. [Reprint of an article in the Quarterly Review.]

Grinfield, Edward William. Sermon containing strictures upon Mr Lancaster's system. 1812.

(ii) For Lancaster

Fox, Joseph. A comparative view of the plans of education of Dr Bell and Mr Lancaster. 1808. pp. iv + 44.

———A scriptural education the glory of England. 1809. pp. v+ 81.

———A vindication of Mr Lancaster's system. 1811. pp. i + 112.

[Mill, James.] Schools for all. 1812. pp. iv + 84. [Reprint of an article in the Philanthropist.] Edinburgh Review, 1806, 1807, 1810, 1811.


I. Introduction

Asylum, the Egmore, Madras, xvii

Barrington, Bishop, xvi, xx Bell, Andrew, birth, parents, and education, xiv; in America, xv; his finances, xv, xxii; leaves America, xv; joins the Church of England and is ordained, xvi; degrees, xvi; goes to India, xvi; his appointments, xvii; sand writing and monitors, xviii; leaves India, xix; publishes the Experiment, xix; rector of Swanage, xix; master of Sherburn Hospital, xx; continental tour, xx; canon of Hereford and Westminster, xxi; death, xxii; relations with Lancaster, xxiii

Committee, Lancaster's, formed, x; enlarged, xii Corston, William, x

Experiment, Bell's, published, xix; contents of successive editions, xli

Fellenberg, xxi Fox, Joseph, x

Gaultier, l'Abbé, xx Girard, Père, xxi

Hume, Joseph, xiii

Improvements, Lancaster's, published, ix; contents of successive editions, xxviii

Kent, Duke of, xiii

Lancaster, Joseph, birth, parentage, and schooling, vii; opens schools, viii; his subscribers, viii; employs monitors, ix; publishes the Improvements, ix; interview with the King, ix; finances, x, xii; arrested for debt, x; his committee, x; opens private school, xii; transfers the Borough Road school to the committee, xii; rupture with the committee, xiii; in obscurity, xiv; in America, xiv; death, xiv; relations with Bell, xxiii

Monitors employed by Lancaster, ix; by Bell, xviii

Pestalozzi, xx

Place, Francis, x, xiii

Tooting, Lancaster's private school at, xii Trimmer, Mrs, xxiv

II. The Improvements

Absentees, 52

Alphabet, teaching of the, 4

Arithmetic, classification for, 19; teaching of, 20

Badges of merit, 42

Bell, acknowledgment of debt to, 6, 15, 16

Classification for reading, 2; for arithmetic, 19

Emulation, 5, 36

Hats, slung, 51, 105

Reading, classification for, 2; method of teaching, 2; alpha-Inspection, 34 bet, 4; second class, 6; reading sheets, 12: reading books, 103 Medals, 40 Rewards, 36

Roll call, 52

Offences and punishments, 44

Order, 49

Sand writing, 3

Order of merit, 40, 104

Slates, 9, 11

Prizes, 36, 104

Writing, on slates and books, 11

Punishments, 44, 104

III. The Experiment

Alphabet, teaching of, 78 Religion, 98

Arithmetic, teaching of, 95

Register of tasks performed, 58,

Assistant teachers, 57, 62 65, 66, 73, 75

Black book, 58, 65

Sand writing, 78

Schoolmaster, 58, 64

Classification, 57, 59, 71

Spelling, teaching of, 82; "previous," 82; on book and off

Jury, 58, 67 book, 83; "reiterated," 89; spelling-books, 83

Madras System, 57; how to model Sub-usher, 58, 64 a school on, 71; the "practices " Superintendent, 58, 65 not the system, 77

"Monitor," not Bell's term, 105

Teachers, 58, 62

Morality and religion, 98

Trimmer, Mrs, 83, 85, 98, 106

Tutors, 57, 60, 72

Punishments, 76

Pupils, 57, 60, 72

Ushers, 58, 64

Reading, syllabic, and other, 86

Writing, 93

Printed in Great Britain by W. LEWIS, M.A., at the University Press, Cambridge.