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SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RAGGED SCHOOL UNION.
Industrial Classes connected therewith; and believing that, under God, they will be of great service, both temporally and spiritually, to the class for whose benefit they are designed, as well as a blessing to the neighbourhood in which they are placed, pledges itself to continued and increased efforts to support the same."
Ragged Schools, he said, contemplated a class of children to whom frequent reference had been made. Their number had been estimated at 18,000 and at 30,000. He could not say which calculation was correct, but one thing was certain-that there was a whole mass of boys and girls wandering about in this metropolis who had been hitherto uncared for and unsought out. Beneath the matted and shocked hair of that ragged boy, there were powers, feelings, and thoughts, requiring but the simple power of one beam of the Sun of Righteousness to bring out the light there slumbering, and kindle it into a holy, glorious, and lustrous flame. He knew nothing in the metropolis more striking than the rough, untutored wit of the wild cockney boy. The wit of Colonel Sibthorp was dullness in comparison with it. The London urchin would give out more pure wit in two minutes than many of our lawyers and orators would utter in three years. The object of Ragged Schools was to touch these boys' hearts; they were schools, not of fiery, grinding discipline, but schools of love, exercising the kind and gentle influence of sympathy and compassion. Their design was to exalt these children socially, to make them good members of the state, and quiet, decent citizens; to exalt them morally, by taking them out of the range of the temptations with which they were encompassed; and to exalt them religiously, by impressing their hearts with a feeling of love to God, and submission to his commands. In Aberdeen, the central point almost of Ragged Schools, a neighbourhood of strong granitic formation, people said, "What can you do with the minds of these children?-they are hard, rugged, untractable-you cannot move them any more than you can that hard granite mass.' They had, however, only to get hard, sharp tools for the work; and difficult as that work might have been, it should be remembered as a glorious fact, that the harder the granite was, the more enduring was the form into which it might be chiselled. In the present time there was going on a glorious and humanizing process amid all classes; and on their moral and intellectual elevation de
pended in a great measure the strength and security of our nation at large (Hear, hear.) Let them seek to advance that object by means of Ragged Schools, and thus erect a more noble and glorious structure than ever was raised in ancient times, or in any part of the earth other than our own.
F. BENNOCH, Esq., in seconding the Resolution, said: The time was gone by when it was necessary to vindicate the dignity of the Ragged School Union; it had won its laurels, and now wore them mildly; dignitaries of the land came forward to support it; the ministers of the crown and the government of the country condescended to recognize with pleasure the efforts it had made; and wealthy corporations showed their willingness to support it. Five years ago, in the Common Council of London, he brought forward the first motion in regard to Ragged Schools (Hear, hear;) and though few in the court knew anything before of their operations, they were induced to carry out their ancient principle of charitable liberality, by presenting the Union with a hundred guineas; and since that time they had on several occasions generously repeated their munificent gift. Mr. Bennoch then related the history of a boy named Liddle, who was at an early age cast upon the streets of London, and brought up amongst the most degraded classes of our population. He wandered about the country, a common thief, for nine years, during which time he spent six years and two months in prison. After being in a Westminster Ragged School for seven months, he was sent to America, where he has apprenticed himself to an engineer, is gaining an honest livelihood, and lately wrote to the Refuge for a number more of such boys. Surely such facts were sufficiently encouraging to induce them to proceed hopefully in their benevolent enterprise. He called upon those present to do all in their power, in the sphere in which Providence had placed them, to strengthen the hands of the Ragged School Union, that it might go on prospering, and to prosper, and that its future history might be even brighter than the past (Applause.)
On the motion of Mr. MACGREGOR, a vote of thanks was unanimously accorded to the noble Chairman for his able presidency, and his untiring exertions on behalf of Ragged Schools.
His Lordship briefly replied, and the meeting terminated by singing the doxology.
As on former occasions, we now subjoin an Analysis of the Collections, comparing them with those of the two previous years :
GEORGE STREET RAGGED SCHOOL,
A PUBLIC, or, we should rather say, a Social Meeting of the friends of this school was held on the 6th May, in the school-room, situated in one of the most degraded localities of the metropolis, a neighbourhood where Sabbath-breaking, swearing, and the very worst vices prevail to a fearful extent, and where the Roman Catholics have just completed a convent in which a thousand children are to be educated, enlisted from among the poor people, by the bribe of temporal relief.
At six o'clock, about seventy persons, a great portion of whom are teachers in the school, sat down to tea (grace having first been sung.) After an hour spent in the interchange of friendly converse, the business of the evening commenced by a hymn and prayer. The chair being taken by H. Harwood Penny, Esq., the Treasurer of the schools, and one of the most active members of the Committee, he referred to the great importance of the school in a neighbourhood, and at a time, in which Popery is making every attempt to win over the poor to its pernicious errors; where in the very streets the emissaries of their false religion are met; and where in the homes of the poor their tracts are distributed. He thanked the teachers for their valuable assistance, and spoke warmly of the good the schools were the means of effecting. One of the Hon. Secretaries, Mr. F. Benham, then read the Report, from which it appears that the school-room is hardly ever unoccupied. On the Sunday evening, the room being divided into two parts, girls and boys are simultaneously taught the Scriptures by voluntary teachers, of whom there are about 60. The average attendance has been 250 in the winter, and 120 in summer, in addition to which, about 30 infants are taught in a class-room. On the Sunday afternoon, a City Missionary expounds a passage of Scripture to the poor, some of whom will go there, but from shabby apparel or other causes, will not attend a place of worship. On the week days, a very large infant school is held, containing upwards of 200
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children (this is a very great boon to the poor mothers;) and on every week evening except Saturday, boys' and girls' schools are held, conducted by a trained master and mistress. An adult school for men was opened for a short time, until the establishment of the Working Men's Institute in Little James Street. The last feature in the operations of the School has been an industrial class, where such boys as may be eligible are instructed in shoemaking (several strong shoes made by them were exhibited during the evening.) A Loan Library and a temporal relief fund have also been formed under the superintendence of the Teachers' Committee. The total amount received applicable to the general expenses of the school during the year, and including a grant of £20 from the Ragged School Union, was about £200, leaving a balance of £18 against the Treasurer. Towards the enlargement of the premises, £74 has been subscribed out of £300 required; and a donation of £50 received through the Rev. R. Walpole, has been set apart to form the nucleus of an Industrial and Emigration Fund. The Report referred to two instances which, amidst the many discouragements met with in these institutions, afford a cheering proof that lasting good had been effected, in one case even resulting in the conversion of a soul to God.
The adoption of the Report was moved by the Rev. R. Walpole, rector of the district, and a frequent visitor to the Sunday Evening School, who bore his testimony to the good effected by the Schools, and his surprise that any should be found to oppose them-and seconded by the Rev. Jas. Stratton, who referred to three great enemies to the truth: Popery, Infidelity, and Chartismand as three valuable antidotes to these suggested the Bible Society, the London City Mission, and Ragged Schools, all institutions in which every Christian, of whatever denomination, could co-operate. The Rev. G. Fisk then spoke, referring to the peculiar class of children for whom these schools were designed, and their aptitude to receive instruction from their very mode of living, as compared with the dullness of intellect often
manifested by country boys. He also referred to the value of industrial classes upon the minds, as well as temporal good of the boys and girls; and concluded by moving a resolution expressing the sympathy of the Meeting with the Industrial and Emigration Fund. This was seconded by Mr. Anderson from the Ragged School Union, who confirmed by his testimony the benefit effected by industrial training, especially as bearing upon the after emigration of the pupils. He showed by many interesting facts the great success that had attended the emigration movement, and referred to one more enemy unnoticed by a preceding speaker, viz., the debt of £18 upon the general fund, exhorting each person to ask themselves what good would have been done in Ragged Schools, if other persons had done no more than they had towards their success.
A vote of thanks to the Chairman was then moved by the Rev. W. Underwood, and seconded by T. B. Hudson, Esq., and after singing a hymn, the meeting closed at a little after nine o'clock.
WHITECHAPEL RAGGED SCHOOLS. FROM the interesting Report, lately published, of these effective and well-managed schools, we present our readers with the following particulars :"A benevolent lady, through Lord Ashley, placed in the hands of the Rector (the Rev. W. W. Champneys,) a sum sufficient to fit up suitable premises. A house was selected in Colchester Street, and part of it having been prepared for this purpose, it was opened for the admission of children of both sexes on 8th April of last year. On that evening, 35 boys and 33 girls were admitted; and the numbers week by week increased, until they were so great, that from want of room it was impossible to admit any more. The whole number of those who have been entered to the present time amounts to 920; there are at present on the books 145 boys and 129 girls, and the average attendance each evening is about 180; and it is worthy of remark, that this has increased since it was found needful to limit the number admitted. Though so many are assembled in the room, it will not accommodate conveniently more than 120. The school is open every evening, except Saturday and Sunday, from 7 to 9 o'clock; and lately has been opened on the Sunday afternoon for two hours. On the first afternoon 74 children attended, who do not go to any other Sunday School; and on the Sunday evening, those who choose to use the privilege, assemble, and are brought to church. The average attendance at church is about 90, and their behaviour during the service is very satisfactory. About two months after the school in Colchester Street was put in operation, an opportunity offered of securing another room in Court Street, which is towards the other end of the Parish Church district. In the first week, 70 children were admitted to the School now held in this room. The numbers in attendance there have also steadily increased. There are now on the books 96 boys, and 89 girls, making a total of 185 children, two-thirds of whom have never gone to any other school; while there is an average daily attendance of more than 100. The need of such a school, which is situated near the poorest part of the district, is manifested by the fact, that out of the number that attended during the first month, only 7 boys and 9 girls were able to read words of one syllable. Of those now in attendance, about 50 can not only read, but can write legibly. The school is open on the same days, and for the same space of time, (except on Sunday,) as that in Colchester Street. About 60 of the children use the privilege of coming to church, and many of them belong to parents who never attend any place of worship. The great object of these schools is to train the
children as immortal beings, and therefore to instruct them in the plain truths of Scripture; while as a means to do this, and also to fit them for the duties of this world, they are taught reading, writing, and the elements of arithmetic. It is pleasing to observe the measure of general order that prevails, as well as the progress which the children make, not only in ordinary knowledge, but also in the knowledge of the fundamental truths of Christianity. The Classes are chiefly dependent on the exertions of voluntary teachers, and the schools are superintended by Scripture readers who are engaged in the district, and one of whom gives his labour in this good work, in addition to that full measure of exertion which his ordinary employment requires. At the school in Colchester Street, a Male Adult Class was formed at the commencement; 80 persons have taken advantage of it; there are now 22 on the books; and 13 on the average attend. An Adult Class for females was also formed in August, in which on the whole 50 have entered, and there are now 16 on the list, whose attendance is pretty regular. Industrial Classes have also been established, which meet for three hours on one evening in the week; one for boys to learn shoe-making, the other for girls, who are taught to make and mend their own clothes, and to alter or repair gifts of clothing, which may be contributed by friends for distribution in the School. Admission to these classes is made a reward of merit, or of regular attendance at the school for a month. The class for girls is under the management of a member of the congregation, to whom the best thanks are due for her regular, active, and efficient superintendence. Provident and Clothing Funds have also been established; and the children may deposit what money they please in either. That deposited in the Provident Fund they may draw out when they choose; but that put into the Clothing Fund cannot be employed for any purpose but the purchase of clothes; and when any child has saved nearly enough to obtain any article named, then some addition is made to the sum, to make up the amount required. Pleasing instances may already be adduced of persons feelingly and thankfully acknowledging the advantages which these Schools have conferred, either on themselves or on their chil dren; and amongst the other benefits of which they are instrumental, may be mentioned the circulation of Bibles amongst those who attend them. No fewer than six dozen and a half have been sold at 6d. each in the school at Colchester Street; which, considering the poverty of the children, supplies gratifying evidence that they are interested in the truths that are taught them."
In a more recent communication received from the Rector, he says:
"We have in the two schools, 440 children. Of their attention, earnestness, and affectionate behaviour, I can speak from experience. none of our schools do I find a more fixed attention, a deeper interest, and more evident anxiety to learn. It cheers me as I go from one school to the other, frequently on the same evening, to find how correctly what I have taught them on the preceding visit has been remembered, and how eagerly they seem to wait for a continuation of the chain of teaching, for I am endeavouring to carry them through a connected series of instruction in the Bible. Many of the poor little ones, having little kindness at home, receive our kindness as a strange and attractive gift, and are evidently won upon by it. In one of the schools (Colchester Street) we could take in double our present number if we had only room. Many of our teachers are most regular, patient, and laborious; and their self-denying work of love will, I am persuaded, not be lost.
THE RAGGED SCHOOL EMIGRANTS.
SINCE the autumn of 1848, upwards of three hundred youths have emigrated from the London Ragged Schools to Australia and America. The expenses of this effort have been considerable, and a large portion has been defrayed by the voluntary contributions of the public; but we feel assured that were we enabled to lay before our readers an entire history of the proceedings of the youths since their embarkation, there is not one contributor to the Emigration Fund who would consider that his assistance has been uselessly bestowed. Some of the lads may have abused the kindness of their friends-they may have made shipwreck of their promises and prospects-they may now be sunk as deeply in the mire of degradation and guilt as ever they may be as fit subjects for a Ragged School as before they entered one, but if there are such cases they are extremely rare, and have not been communicated to us through any of the sources of information which we possess. We take a low estimate when we suppose that two hundred and fifty of those youths are doing well, and have proved themselves worthy of the confidence of their teachers and the assistance of their friends. Now, if such is the case, we maintain that the reclamation of that number, (even if the remainder had fallen away, which we are by no means disposed to admit,) is more than a compensation for all the money expended on emigration purposes, and the education of those who have shared its benefits. The average age of the emigrants is sixteen. Let us suppose they had been left another sixteen years, the subjects of ignorance and neglect. Doubtless fifty, at least, would have been transported; and several convictions, imprisonments, and ultimate transportation, would be economically managed in each case at £200. Here we have an expense to the country of £10,000, and our colonists again visited with the terrible infliction of another fifty ignorant and brutified miscreants, of whom the mothercountry had become wearied, and with an indignant selfishness, even at an enormous expense,
"Heaved her encumber'd lap, and cast them out."
Nor is this all; for, at a low estimate, twenty-five of these convicts would have become fathers prior to their expulsion, and thus we should not only have had twenty-five destitute mothers, paupers in the workhouse or systematic beggars in the streets, but also, at the least another fifty hungry, ragged, destitute children in a condition even worse than were their fathers, and obliged to follow in their very footsteps. Add to this the amount of moral evil (that no human guage can measure) which these fifty victims of ignorance and neglect must for several years have been propagating.
But what of the remaining two hundred who, we suppose, would have escaped transportation? If allowed to grow up, as they were when we first found them, without religious, secular, or industrial knowledge, could they ever have become intelligent or useful citizens, or been other
NO. XXXI.-VOL. III.
wise than a burden and incumbrance upon society? Herding in our filthy (and to us disgraceful) courts and alleys, the victims of ignorance and sensuality, without employment or a knowledge of any regular handicraft, they would have become a race of paupers, drunkards, and thieves, surrounded by swarms of wretched and degraded children, rising up to visit society with most terrible penalties for the neglect of those parents whose vices and miseries were their only inheritance. Long before another sixteen years had expired, it would have been found that another ten thousand pounds was but an instalment of the expenses incurred by pauperism and punishment, in connection with these two hundred outcasts.
But if the instruction and emigration of these youths have been a saving to the mother-country of more than twenty thousand pounds, they must prove a gain to the colonies to a still greater amount. Their industry will not only eventually place them in positions of comparative independence and comfort, but also add to the wealth of the country; and instead of their children becoming "seedplots" of evil, a curse to the land of their birth, they will be trained to habits of honourable industry, an addition to the wealth of our colonial possessions.
In September last, we received an unexpected visit from one of the youths who emigrated in October, 1848. He was the son of poor, improvident parents; and we believe the chief instruction he ever received was in the Broadway Ragged School in Westminster. On his first arrival in the colony, he obtained employment in the building line, for which he received eighteen shillings per week. He remained at this work for nine months, after which he entered into the employ of a butcher, from whom he received nine shillings per week, with board, lodging, and washing. After serving the butcher five months, he engaged as a sailor, (for £1 per month and provisions,) in a vessel coming to England, and in which we believe he has again returned to Australia. His dress (of superfine blue) and general demeanour were such as scarcely to leave an impression on the mind that he had ever been a ragged scholar. He gave us a very intelligent account of the country, so far as he had the means of knowing; and what we valued more, an account of the thirteen lads who went out with him in the same vessel. By comparing his statements-which he seemed to give with great caution-with other accounts we have received, we believe their correctness can be fully depended upon. The following are the particulars taken at the time :
'Henry C. engaged himself to an emigrant that went out in the same ship, did not stay with him very long in consequence of a good place being offered him at the Commercial Inn, where he commenced with 4s. per week, with board, lodging, clothing, washing, etc. He was in this situation when I left. Daniel C. became a plasterer; for four months he was earning 20s. per week. He sometimes takes jobs on his own account, as a little master. He would get on better than he does if it were not for being often ill.
"James R. went into the Bush, and I lost sight of him.
"James G. is in the building line, and has been earning 4s. 6d. per day all the time he has been in the colony.
"John B. is a painter, and can earn 7s. per day, but unfortunately he drinks, and so loses his money as fast as he gets it. The young woman, Jane, who went out with him, expecting to become his wife, refused to marry him in consequence of his drinking.
"Thomas T. is a brick clay worker, and regularly earns 4s. 6d. per day.