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! rumed at a higher price than that it which it was purchased. ■ 3dly. That much low - priced flour is omitted in the returns altogether.
That your committee, for the foregoing reasons, being led to believe that the assize price of bread in London is higher than if no assize had ever existed, were further confirmed in that opinion by information which they procured from Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bath, and Lewes, in which places they were informed no assize was set; and they found in all of them the prices both of flour and bread have been lower than in London, though it does not appear that wheat has been cheaper.
Your committee then thought it their duty to consider how far it might be possible to frame an Assize Law, the operation of which should be free from the foregoing objections; and with regard to the first and. main objection, namely; That under an assize it is of no importance to the bakers whether the price of flour is low or high; your committee are of opinion that this evil is inherent in the nature of an assize, and must exist in any statute which could be devised: but with regard to the others, as the committee found the returned prices of wheat were correct, they enquired into the expediency of setting the assize of bread by them, and they found on the part of the bakers a settled repugnance to any such arrangement; and it was also represented to your committee, that the quality of wheat, and consequently the quantity of
bread which can be obtained from it, varies so materially from year to year, and from place to place, that no average quality could be fixed on by which to form a table, which would not in favourable seasons leave to the baker far too large a profit in surplus bread, and in others (such as the present) might even compel him to sell more bread for the price of a quarter of wheat than could possibly be made from it; whilst at all times it could not fail to give the bakers an inducement to buy none but the finest and most productive wheats, and materially to discourage the sale of those of lower quality; and it was further represented, that the wheat returns are subject to frequent and sudden variations, from the demand at one market happening to be for the best, and at another solely for inferior wheats. For which reasons your committee are led to conclude, that no benefit is likely to result from any mode which could be resorted to in London, of fixing the assize of bread by the price of wheat.
Your committee next inquired how far it might be possible to obtain true returns of the price of flour; and they found by including the whole of the sales now made in open market, and by compelling the sellers of flour to make the return and not the bakers, that some improvement might be made; but as the greater part of the flour consumed in London is disposed of to the bakers on long credit, in the way before described, your Committee are of opinion, no returns of those purchases, whether niade by buyer
or seller, could very materially differ from the imperfect returns at present obtained: and with regard to the frauds which your Coinniitt.ee were assured are now practised in making the returns of the prices of flour, the inducement to have recourse to them under any regulations of assize must be so strong, and the difficulty of detection so great, that your Committee are of opinion, that no enactment could avail entirely to prevent them: and generally, with regard to fixing the assize of bread by the price of flour, your Committee beg leave to point out, that no benefit can be expected to result from it, beyond that of fixing a rate upon the labour and profits of the bakers, whilst the miller and mealmen must be left wholly without any control; and your Committee aredistinctlyof opinion, that more benefit is likely to result from the effects of a free competition in their trade, than can be expected to result from any regulations or restrictions under which they could possibly be placed.
Your Committee being thus led to conclude, that any remedy to the evils arising from the assize could hardly be brought about by an alteration in the law, beg leave also to point out, that the competition which has arisen, even, under the discouragement of an assize, has already removed a part of the evil; and your Committee are of opinion, that if the trade :was thrown open by the repeal of the Assize Laws, it wouhl have the effect of gradually drawingipersons with capital into it, of diminishing the^ waste of
labour and unnecessary subdivision of profits, which appear by the evidence at present to exist.
That your Committee have found an opinion to be extremely prevalent, that Assize Laws operate beneficially as measures of police, and, by removing from the bakers to the magistrates all responsibility for the price of bread, ensure when that price is high the tranquillity of the Metropolis. But your Committee could not find that any disturbances had arisen, or were at all apprehended, from the suspension of the assize in the populous towns of Birmingham, Manchester, and Newcastle; and are of opinion, that the value of the Assize Laws in this point of view is so secondary, as not to counterbalance the evils apparently resulting from them.
That your Committee thought it their duty to examine the act of the 53d of Geo. III.; and they observe generally, with regard to that statute, that it has been so short a time in operation as not at this moment to be duly judged of, though it cannot fail to be liable to the general objections which your Committee have pointed out as applicable to all Assize Laws.
Finally, your Committee carce to the following resolution:
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that it is expedient that the Bread Assize Laws for the City of London. and within ten miles of the Roral Exchange, should be forthwith repealed.
6th June l8ij.
:• f-v* ^*- -fv ««rJ*
Education In Scotland.
("From Appendix to the Memoir of Hie Life of Mr. Park.)
'"There is no part of Europe, in woich education Las been a subject of more general attention or produced more important effects tUun in Scotland. During little mure than a century, a system of public instruction established in that country, has not only had the most beneficial influence upon industry and private morals, but has been the principal cause of one of the most remarkable changes of national character which has ever yet taken place during so short a period. At a time when the public attention in this country is so laudably directed towards providing means of instruction for the poor, a few remarks on the effects of a system of general education in Scotland may not be thought unseasonable. The following facts and observations relative to this important subject are principally extracted from the interesting Life of Burns, the poet, .written by the late amiable and excellent Doctor Curric.
The system of education in Scotland, though closely connected with its ecclesiastical establishment, owes its first legal existence to a statute passed in the year 164G by the Parliament of that Kingdom for establishing schools in every parish, at the expense of the landholders, for the express purpose of teaching the poor. On tfce Restoration in 1GG0 this excellent statute was repealed; and nothing farther was done or attempted for the instruction of the
people'during the reigns of Charles and James, which* were chiefly pccupied in religious persecution^— But in the year 1696, some years after the Revolution, the statute of 1616 was re-enacted nearly in the same terms, and continues to be the law of Scotland at the present time. Connected with this legislative provision are many acts passed by the General Assemblies of the church of Scotland,' which aie binding as to matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and the whole together forms a code of regulations, which is eminently distinguished for the reasonableness and practical good sense of its particular provisions, and which experience has shewn to be perfectly effectual for the important purpose intended. So much convinced indeed are the lower classes in Scotland of the benefits attending this system, that when the parishes are large, they often form subscriptions and establish private schools of their own, in addition to the parochial seminaries.
In the year 169S, about the time when this system was established, Fletcher of Saltoun, in one of his Discourses concerning the affairs of Scotland, describes the lower classes of that kingdom as b^ing in a state of the most abject poverty and savage ignorance; and subsisting partly by mere beggary, but chiefiy by violence and rapine, "without any regard or subjection cither to the laws of the land or to those of God and nature." Some of the instances given by this writer of the disorder and violence of that period may remind us of the effects produced by a similar state of things during our own times, upon the Irish, peasantry in the disturbed parts of that unhappy country.— "In years of pi en ty," says Fletcher, "many thousands of them meet together in the mountains, where they feast and riot for many days, and at country weddings, markets, burials, and other public occasions, they are to be seen, both men and women, perpetually drunk, cursing, blaspheming, and fighting together." Such was the state of Scotland at the time when the present system of education was established.
It is justly stated by Dr. Currie that, at the present day, there is perhaps no country in Europe, in which, in proportion to its population, so small a number of crimes fall under the chastisement of the criminal law, as in Scotland ; and he adds, upon undoubted authority, that on an average of thirty years preceding the year 1797, the executions in that division of the island did not amount to six annually, and that more felons have been convicted and sentenced to transportation at one quarter sessions for the town of Manchester only, than the average number of persons sentenced to a similar punishmentduringa whole year by all the Judges of Scotland. But the influence of education in Scotland has not been merely negative or confined to the diminution of criminal offences; it has produced in a very eminent degree those habits of industry and frugality, upon which all civilization and improvement ultimately depend. In no age cr country have these excellent qualities, the cardinal virtues of the lower orders of society, been more prevalent than a/nong the peasantry
and common people of Scotland during modern times: in none have the instances been more frequent of individuals who, by a course of meritorious exertion;, have raised themselves from aa inferior condition of life to ease and competence, and sometimes to riches and distinction.
It is impossible to conceive any situation more happy and respectable than that of the parent of a well educated family (such as was the father of the subject of thu memoir, and such as there are now many others among the fanners and peasantry of Scotland) enjoying the just reward of his paternal cares in the prosperity and success of his children; each of whom he sees engaged in some beneficial pursuit, each bettering his condition in life, and each advanced somewhat in the scale of society above the situation in which he was born. It is this visible progress and continual improventrst in the circumstances and condition of families, so frequent in the class here particularly alluded to, which produces the greatest portion of happiness "of which any community is capable; which stimulates to intelligent activity, and useful, persevering exertions; and which keeps alive and invigorates that orderly quiet ambition, which is the foundation of all private and public prosperity, and the great civilizing principle of individuals and nations.
J t is true that there are several other circumstances, besides the system of public education in Scotland, which have assisted in producing that extraordinary change of national character which has given occasion to the present remarks. remarks. But of the various causes which have contributed to this change, education Ls by far the most important and that, without which all the rest would iiav-e been comparatively of no avail. It is to early instruction, most unquestionably, that we must attribute that general intelligence, and those habits of thoughtfully ess, deliberation and foresight, which usually distinguish the common people of Scotland, whereever they may be found, and whatever may be their employments and situations; which ensure their success in life under favourable circumstances; and in adverse fortune serve as a protection against absolute indigence, and secure to them a certain station above the lowest condition of life.
The truth of this remark will be apparent from a few practical instances, drawn from the experience of common life, of that general superiority which is here attributed to the lower classes of the Scotch, as the efTect of their superior industry and intelligence—1. Every one has remarked the great number of professional gardeners from that country, many of whom have been common labourers, and who, if they had been no better educated than most English labourers, must always have remained in that situation. Of this numerous class Mr. Dickson, Park's brother-in-law, is a remarkable and most distinguished example.—2. Scotland supplies a considerable number of stewards, confidential clerks, book-keepers, &c. from a class of society, which in most other countries furnishes only domestic servants. The British Co
lonies and especially the West Indies, are chiefly provided with clerks/ overseers. of plantatious, &c. from this source.—3. The prodigious number of non-commissioned officers in the army, who are natives of Scotland, having been raised from the ranks in consequence of their knowledge of reading and writing, and general good conduct, is also very remarkable.—The recollection of most readers will probably supply them with other examples; but there arc two instances somewhat out of the course of ordinary experience, which deserve to be particularly mentioned.
In the year 1803, Mr. Matthew Martin, agcntleman distinguished for his active benevolence, having been for some time engaged, under the sanction of Government, in a laborious inquiry concerning the "State of Mendicity in the Metropolis," was desired to make a Report upon that subject for the information of Government.. From the statement which he prepared on that occasion and laid before the Secretary of State, it appeared that the number of Scotch beggars in London was remarkably small, especially in proportion to the Irish beggais, with whom it was natural to compare them. Of 2000 .beggars, whose cases were investigated by Mr. Martin, the following is a summary :—