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small proportion—a fourth seems to be a general estimate-passes into the arts, and even of this small proportion a certain part is really kept as a reserve, as much as if it were coin in a purse or a hoard in the strong-rooms of a bank. Of the rest the greater part is used exclusively for ornament. It pleases the eye, satisfies the sense of possession, tickles the greed of man, but is of the smallest possible use in facilitating any reproductive work, in altering to the advantage of man the relation between human toil and the results of toil required for human sustenance. I have heard it suggested that, apart from pure ornament, the only use of gold is in dentistry; but perhaps this is a humorous exaggeration of the fact that it is of little real service. As a metal, gold would probably be too heavy for general employment, even if it became quite common. Miss Kilmansegg's golden leg was a pretty whimsical fancy; but when it is realised that, as described by the poet, it would weigh some hundredweights, the absurdity of the conception almost ceases to be tolerable.
For the sake of simplicity, I have imagined a small, self-contained community, and an increase of the productivity of gold-mines within it; but the argument is really not changed if we take the world within the range of our speculation. The processes of change would be slower, and the effects would at least appear to be diminished as they were removed from the original centres of disturbance. We may have to figure to ourselves the new gold supplies being brought to one country and passing from it from country to country, and from race to race, in streams only checked by the growing rise of prices, and this rise growing most slowly among dim multitudes in the East, less responsive in thoughts and habits to the changes coming upon them. The question, What is the use of gold discoveries ? might thus have to be answered by a substitution of alert races for alert individuals, and of slower millions of outsiders for the sluggish majority of the community at home. The speculation would remain intrinsically the same. The periori of resettlement might be longer; the gain of mankind at large could not be rated higher; the world's benefit would be no more real. Perhaps, after all, the one advantage indirectly accruing from gold discoveries, though this cannot be insisted upon with absolute certainty, is that they bustle people about the world and cause regions to be settled earlier than they would otherwise be filled up. It is a speculative point, but, in spite of high authority against me, I must think that the attractions of gold led swarms to California that would not otherwise have gone, and California has become, in later years, a great source of supply of wheat, of fruit, and of wine. So the stream of immigration into Australia and New Zealand, which had before been slow, became fuller and more rapid through gold discoveries, and Australasia has developed into a great exporter of foods and of wool. It is said, on the other side, that these great gifts to mankind would have been quickly realised in any case, and that gold discoveries only
turned the more energetic and adventurous of our race on a wrong scent; and it must be observed that if these consequences are to be reckoned to the good of gold, they are but accidental consequences, since no one supposes that the gold-mines of Klondyke are the preparation for a teeming agriculture in Alaska. But why waste words on these doubtful issues, or, indeed, why raise the inquiry as to the use of gold discoveries ? Mankind will run after them, even though we could add, to a demonstration that gold was an illusory benefit when found, a complete statistical proof that it cost more than it was worth in the finding. This last proposition has been often asserted, and though it may not be capable of being strictly tested, it is not improbably true. Put the total expenditure on gold-mining in Australia against the total product, and the balance is an adverse one. Is there any difficulty in believing this when we know that the industry of gold-winning is practised year after year by speculative adventurers at Monte Carlo, although they all know that the bank beats them, taken all together? Men believe in their cleverness and their luck, and like to run the chance. All the same, the inquiry Lord Bramwell propounded, and which he and I talked over together, is worth pursuing, were it only for the inquiry's sake ; and it is still more worth pursuing if, when strictly conducted, it leads to a reversal of the popular estimate of the world's gain through gold discoveries. The exposure of a fallacy is always good, and is yet more good when the fallacy has been submissively accepted as the basis of bad statesmanship and of a bad world policy,
OF WORKING-CLASS CHILDREN.
For the past thirty years I have been very closely connected with the work of the elementary schools in this country, first as a pupil teacher, then as an assistant teacher, then as a head teacher, and finally as a member of the London School Board. It will be seen, therefore, that I have had exceptional opportunities of watching the problem of the physical condition of the working-class children in our great towns. Upon the whole matter I have arrived at two very distinct conclusions. The first is that a sharp line may be drawn dividing the working-class children into those who were never better cared for, never better trained physically, and never better looked after generally than they are to-day; and those, on the other hand, who, in the matter of nutrition, clothing, housing, and so on, were never worse off than they are to-day.
Speaking broadly, I should say that 80 per cent. of the workingclass children were never so well off as they are to-day. The influence of thirty-three years of compulsory public education, the habits of discipline formed in the schools, the physical training given in the schools and in the organised games of the playgrounds and playing fields, the elevating effect of the school system upon the home, the greater pride which working-class parents, as a result of the effect of the school system upon the homes, take in their children, particularly with regard to cleanliness, clothing, feeding, and so on-all these things leave me perfectly convinced that four-fifths of the working-class children, as I have said, are better off than ever they
Now, on the other hand, there remain the 20 per cent. on the other side of my sharp line. These are probably no worse off than they were thirty years ago, though probably in the great cities the need for better housing accommodation is more pressing now than it was then. But, in a way, the great Education Act of 1870 was a social lever which was inserted a little above the base of the social pyramid and not absolutely at its bottom. The result has been to raise the working-class social fabric above it, and, by contrast, to seem to depress the condition of the 'submerged tenth.' What I mean is that there is a sharper contrast between the children of the very poor, the out-of-works, the thriftless, the drunken, and the indifferent on the one hand, and the steady industrious artisan on the other than there was thirty years ago.
As I have said, roughly about 20 per cent. of the working-class children are in the most hopeless condition with regard to food, clothing, and housing. It seems to me, therefore, that if these also are to become wise stewards of the British heritage we should concentrate ourselves upon their estate. First of all, with regard to feeding. In every big town the children of the slums habitually go to school improperly fed. Many of them are not only improperly fed, but the food they do get is far too little in quantity. In the hard winter season, when the building trades are idle, many again go to school either with no food at all, or having only staid their hunger in the morning with a crust of dry bread. In sharp frosty weather it is a common experience for teachers in the elementary schools of the poorer parts of our great towns—I have myself often seen it-to find children suddenly seized with vomiting. This is not so much caused by the fact that the stomach is upset as that it has revolted against the effect of the cold upon its empty condition. And not only is this state of things true of the poorer parts of the big towns. It is true also of many of the agricultural villages. Let a visitor to a village elementary school look closely at the children. They are in many cases flabby and pale. They need more nourishing food. A breakfast of 'tea-kettle broth,' a bit of bread and margarine, a bit of bread and treacle, and some abominably poor tea—these form the three meals daily. To
go back to the poorer parts of the urban areas, where no doubt the problem is most acute, let me say that I have gone very closely into this question of the feeding of the poorer children amongst the working classes in London during the past ten years. The London School Board, I may say, has during the last fifteen years convened three special committees, of the last two of which I have been a member. The first committee was convened in 1889. It came to the conclusion that 43,588, or 12.8 per cent. of the whole, of the London children came to school habitually hungry, and that volunteer agencies existed to an extent which enabled them to meet the needs of only half these children. The second committee was convened, at my instance, in 1894. It did little more than arrange for the collection of reliable and systematised statistics upon the problem. But the total effect of the two committees was to develop and organise to a very substantial extent volunteer agencies in which both the School Board members, school managers, and Board School teachers have all played most honourable parts for the purpose of alleviating the distress, particu. larly in the winter season.
The third committee was appointed in 1898. The following is the reference : That it be referred to the General Purposes Committee to consider and report whether any, and what, inquiry can be made before next winter as to the number of children attending public elementary schools in London who are probably underfed, and how far the present voluntary provision for school meals is, or is not, effectual.' The majority of this committee, after a very careful examination of the question, came to the vital conclusion that voluntary effort alone is not sufficient to meet the needs of this problem. It therefore arrived at the following six extremely important proposals :
(i.) It should be deemed to be part of the duty of any authority by law responsible for the compulsory attendance of children at school to ascertain what children, if any, come to school in a state unfit to get normal profit by the school work-whether by reason of underfeeding, physical disability, or otherwise—and that there should be the necessary inspection for that purpose.
(ii.) That where it is ascertained that children are sent to school underfed' (in the sense defined above) it should be part of the duty of the authority to see that they are provided, under proper conditions, with the necessary food, subject to the provision contained in clause (vi.).
(ii.) That existing or future voluntary efforts to that end should be supervised by the authority.
(iv.) That in so far as such voluntary efforts fail to cover the ground, the authority should have the power and the duty to supplement them.
(v.) That where dinners are provided it is desirable that they should be open to all children, and should be paid for by tickets previously obtained, which parents should pay for, unless they are reported by the Board's officers to be unable by misfortune to find the money; but in no case should any visible distinction be made between paying and non-paying children.
(vi.) That where the Board's officers report that the underfed condition of any child is due to the culpable neglect of a parent (whether by reason of drunkenness or other gross misconduct), the Board should have the power and the duty to prosecute the parent for cruelty; and that, in case the offence is persisted in, there should be power to deal with the child under the Industrial Schools Acts.
I must point out that this definitely admits the principle of public responsibility as a supplement to benevolent effort. A majority of the School Board, I may remark, refused to adopt this principle; and, substantially, things remain to-day as they were prior to the calling together of this third committee.
It will, of course, have been gathered that it is my very strong view that the time has come when the Local Education Authorities under the Education Act of 1902 should be empowered to supplement the operations of benevolent societies. I am gratefully appreciative of the improvement during recent years in the method and the extension of the area of the operations of private effort. But I repeat that I am convinced that the time has come for the community, as a whole, to recognise some obligation in respect of the physical condition of the children. I do not advocate what is technically known as