The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1880.
Nelson is a quiet, sensible, pretty little city—one that makes enough money to live on, but does not seem to strive very much to increase its income. It _ talks much about the resources of the district of which it is the capital; but somehow those resources do not seem to progress towards development. So Nelson is no less quiet, no less pretty, and its good people no less social and amiable to-day than during the time of the pioneer settlers. But though from our Canterbury ideas of things we cannot set Nelson down as in any sense a go-ahead place, we must certainly allow that there is one thing in which she is prominent—and that is education. From her college downwards to her most petty infant school, Nelson is replete with educational advantages of a high order, and if her youth is untaught, or vulgar, and illbred, it is not because their native city was untrue to them in not providing the means of education. But Nelson has reason, along with every other town in the colony to complain that there are larrikins in her midst, and we gatherfrom a recent reporthy the Inspector of Schools for the Nelson district that larrikinisrn is sufficiently rampant in quiet, godly Nelson to call for special notice at his hands.
Mr. Hodgson, the inspector referred to, makes some very wise remarks on this subject, remarks with which wo heartily coincide. In a very ably written report he reviews the state of the schools in his jurisdiction ; in the course of which ha defends the teachers from any blame that may be laid'at their doors for the larrikinisin that exists. He points out that whatever power for good the teachers may exercise over the children during the few hours they are in school is neutralised by influences that come into action as soon as school is over. It would be a talented teacher indeed who could counteract in Ids few hours of teaching time the baneful example of the street, and the laxity of home discipline ; and the responsible parties for the conduct of the child are most assuredly, as Mr. Hodgson says, not the teachers but the parents. It is home influence and not school influence wo must look to to form the character of our boys, and so long as children and youths arc left to the unlimited freedom of their own wills to graduate, in the profanity, obscenity, and vilcness of the street corner, uncurbed by wholesome paternal discipline, so long may we expect to have to speak of the increase of larrikinism.
It is all very well to spend thousands upon education, to institute Boards of Education and elect School Committes, but unless something more is done in the matter of home supervision and example the work of the educator can only be hut half done at the bosk What teacher, for instance, could fight against the terrible agency at .vork in our neighboring village of Chertsey —where mere lads just from school were allowed to remain out all night “ larking” (and the word conceals more than it convoys) with an old debauchee of a woman, who finally lay down dead drunk, unconscious that iier drunken husband was dying by her side. We do not hold up Chertsey as any worse than its neighbors. Unfortunately for the larrikins old Gough died, and their doings camo to light ; but there are many villages in our near neighborhood equally bad, and residents who require to bo much abroad in our own township will bear us out when we say that for proficiency in rowdyism our own larrikins can vie with Chertsey. We have no wish to sermonise, but wc cannot but join issue with Mr. Hodgson when he says that if larrikinism is to be stamped rat it must bo s araped out in the homes of the larrikins, and not in the schools. “ Evil communications corrupt good manners,” is an old, old proverb; but it is as (rue to-day as it was when first the sentence was composed. Let a boy out to mingle unrestrained with the common herd who congregate at our street corners, to study the choice and ample vocabulary of blackguardism, and ho will not take long, no matter what his early training may be, to get abreast of his companions in proficiency. Vice is a department of streeteducation very easy of mastery. Very little brains are wanted to be able to hurl vile language at a passer-by. Once the example of the street corner has done its poisoning work, the example and the precept of the schoolmaster will be left far, far in the lee. We can assure parents who allow their children to roamthese streets at night, and to be away from the good example of their own homes, that they are exposing them to far greater danger than is infection from disease. Ashburton streets are no more free from loafers and ruffians—and some claiming to be respectable, too —than are the streets of other places in the colony, and the influence and example of these will tell in the end with fearful effect. Let the homo be pure —and make the boy stay in it. The street at night when the scum is flowing is no place for him. He is not safe, and he only swells the crowd of worthless idlers—from whom the colony’s “ criminal classes ” are invariably drawn.