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THE RAGGED SCHOOL EMIGRANTS.
“ John S. is carrying the hod, and gets 27s. per week. He saved money, and has already bought three allotments of building land, besides half an acre of garden ground.
John E. is a sawyer, works piece-work, and can get from 8s. to 10s. per day. He dresses well, and appears very comfortable.
Richard H. is a blacksmith, but know very little of him, having only seen him three times since we left the ship:
“John F.; only seen him once, but he was then nicely dressed, and looked well.
" John D. is at work in a tan-yard, and gets 10s. per week, with board and lodging, but pays for his washing. He has been in his place fourteen months.
Joseph J. is a shoemaker; did work for Reges, and earned his 30s. per week. He was in the hospital, poor fellow, for six weeks, but he is now doing well at his trade in the Bush.”
Thus it appears that the whole of those lads, with one exception, are doing well; and although there does not seem to be two of them following the same occupation, yet in every instance the calling is honourable and yielding a comfortable maintenance. Who can tell but that the descendants of the poor lad who now carries the hod,” and by his savings has already purchased several allotments of land, may yet rank among the aristocracy of the “far west ?” Nor is the least pleasing feature in their character, the affection and sympathy they manifest for their poor parents whom they have left at home, and the gratitude expressed to those teachers and friends who assisted them to emigrate. In
many cases, their home-recollections are not the most pleasant; but even these, instead of inducing a spirit of forgetfulness, call forth affection and pity, which is sometimes expressed in a well-timed caution or rebuke. 'We lately perused a letter, sent by one of the boys to his parents, who forwarded it to the master of the school from which he emigrated. There was one passage in it most carefully craged, and as it appeared from the ink not to have been done by the writer, we were at some pains in having it decyphered. It revealed some sad facts, of which the mother might well be ashamed, and which the poor boy could not forget even at so great a distance. (The sentence will be seen in the following extract, printed in italics.) After giving an account of the voyage-during which he was often employed by the captain, who paid him £1. 10s. for his services—and of his subsequent course in the colony, he proceeds to the conclusion of his letter. Speaking of his little brother, (Oscar,) he says: “ Kiss him for me if you please, and tell him from me to be a good boy; I hope and trust you send him to school, and above all I hope that father has got plenty of work, and that you have kept away from that cursed enemy, drink.” With a filial reverence the poor boy adds :- -“ My dear mother, I hope you will excuse me for what I say." We know not but this simple and affectionate reproof may have been followed with many prayers; and may we not hope, as the mother is not yet dead to shame, that although she has erased the passage from the letter, God may write it deep upon her heart, and thereby lead her to repentance? The closing passages in the letter are full of beauty and tenderness. not the heart that could hear them unmoved. After expressing affection for some distant relatives, he
says :“Dear father and mother, and dear Oscar, I must now conclude by saying, good-bye.” "P.S. Dear parents, please to let me hear from you as soon as possible, and let me
THE RAGGED SCHOOL EMIGRANTS.
know how you are getting on. Dear father and mother, and dear Oscar, live in peace! God bless you all. My dear friends, God speed your letter. Good-bye.”
We lately perused a letter, received from another poor lad, who seemed to rejoice in the ability of manifesting his affection for his impoverished parents in a still more tangible form. Having “enough and to spare” himself, he was not forgetful of the poverty of“ his father's house,” nor could he fully enjoy his own comforts, until he sent them the first-fruits of his savings—the sum of ten pounds-which they lately received with gratitude and joy. His wages are only about £20 per annum, so that in this gift he sends them the entire proceeds of six months' hard labour in the Bush ; yet he does so with an affectionate cheerfulness, seldom shown by those who require to assist their poorer relatives. A girl, who went from the same school, from her limited savings as a servant has also sent her mother five pounds—thus affording a pleasing proof, not only of sincere affection, but also of propriety of conduct. Thus a portion of the money expended for the emigration of those children is being returned by them, and although not as compensation, yet it is being devoted to one of the best and noblest of purposes—the assistance of their aged and needy parents.
We think such facts as these must prove to every considerate mind, that the money expended in removing those children from a condition so utterly ruinous to themselves and to society, to one of usefulness and comparative comfort, is not only well bestowed, but already shown to be a profitable investment. Who could have witnessed the gladness and joy of these grateful parents, and not felt it a privilege to assist in the emigration of their affectionate and deserving children? How easy would it be, by a little benevolent industry, even on the part of those who have limited resources, to raise sufficient means for the emigration of very many more! The following letter, which we received a considerable time since from an old and devoted friend of the London Ragged Schools, contains some excellent suggestions, which, if actively adopted, would greatly facilitate the scheme. The article to which he refers appeared in our Number for March, 1850, and to it we particularly invite the attention of our readers :
“Dear Sir,— I have thought much lately of your efforts on behalf of the ragged ones, and the “damper” put on them by the Government withholding the grant which they made in 1848 for the emigration of the most destitute and deserving from your schools, and which we have sufficient evidence to prove the good resulting, both to those children who are fortunate enough to be elected out of the multitude of their class, as well as to those that remain, by stimulating them to good behaviour, etc.
“Now, many people here, I am convinced, are ready to assist in doing that which the Government have denied. With respect to ourselves, I think the balance of £75, remaining in our treasurer's hands, shows there is no lack of support to our local schools; therefore I am anxious to propose a way of assisting others. It strikes me that if you would draw out a case or two of some of the children in your Refuge who are eligible for emigration, and show their “low estate," and it may be, tracing them through the passage of vice and crime to the reception into your schools, and now recommending them as honest and industrious characters; and at the same time appending the probable expense per head of sending them to America or Australia, I think I could, in conjunction with some friends, adopt one or two children, and send them forth, and thus place them in a situation to gain their own living. This plan was suggested to me a few days ago, after reading your admirable article on Emigration in your last Number; but the following affecting circumstance determined me at once to write to you on the subject :
“Whilst passing through one of the principal streets of Nottingham this afternoon,
THE RAGGED SCHOOL EMIGRANTS.
I observed two bare-footed lads, about twelve and fourteen years of age, handcuffed together, proceeding in custody of the police. On their approach, I recognised them as two of my old scholars, who were being conveyed before the magistrate on a charge of stealing a pair of shoes. Their history is short : descended from Irish parents, and living in the lowest locality of our town; sent out to beg, sell pipeclay, or other small wares ; associating with numbers similarly situated to themselves; their father in prison for having an illicit still in his house; under no restraint at home or abroad, except occasional attendance at the Ragged School ; inhabitants of a prison three or four times each within the last twelve months; the oldest been in my own employ for upwards of thirteen months, but the sad examples at home, and corrupting influence of evil companions, soon tempted him to leave steady employ, and loiter about the streets, seeking to “pick up a living” with anything that came in his way, and now find him, for the fourth time, an inhabitant of a jail. What can be done with children like these? We have here no Houses of Industry, where they may be received, and experience the effect of moral, industrial, and religious training ; therefore it is not likely that such can be taken by the hand, and transplanted to a soil where they may flourish, and grow, and bring forth good fruit. For this reason I feel all the more ready to assist in your endeavours to send some of the London destitute poor to the Colonies, knowing you have the former machinery at work, and only want the necessary funds to enable you to do the latter. * Trusting the above suggestion may be of use, and that others may do likewise, "Believe me, Dear Sir, your fellow-worker in the cause,
“S. R. STAREY,
“ Hon. Sec. to the Nottingham Ragged School." The suggestion of our Correspondent, to supply historical accounts of special cases, is impracticable as a general rule; for, in the case of those who proposed collecting the necessary sum, several months would be required to raise the amount after the boy's acceptance as an eligible emigrant, and hence his "adoption” would prove a punishment instead of a privilege. We have also serious objections to publishing accounts of the children prior to their embarkation, except in very special instances. Nor is it necessary; the very great amount of information we have already published respecting the “ before and after” of these youths, should act as a sufficient stimulus, if properly used, for any future efforts that may be
for passage and outfit to Australia for each youth is about £15; and if our Nottingham Correspondent will but send us the money, we shall lose no time in selecting two or more eligible recipients for his bounty, and give them specially to know, to whom they are indebted for the privilege of emigration.
We cannot better conclude paper than by the insertion of another letter we lately received from a practical friend, as it contains some valuable suggestions respecting the circulation of the Magazine, and the increase of the Emigration Fund :
"Sir, - Enclosed I beg to hand post-office stamps, value three shillings, and shall feel obliged by having your Magazine for this year, and I trust for many more. I have read them now
for a considerable time, and much when travelling by rail, and find them most suitable and convenient for short journeys ; so much so, that it seemed to me that your Society would do well to promote their sale at all the principal railway stations. I feel perfectly satisfied a vast amount of good would result from an effort of this kind ; indeed, if your Society dare not venture, I shall be disposed, at Leeds and elsewhere, to try it myself.
"Commercial travellers have vast opportunities of doing good if they choose. I know one gentleman who obtained one thousand names and shillings, and presented the Ladies Bible Society at Birmingham with £50 in return for their many
Bibles— left in each bedroom at the principal inns. “Will you be so good as inform me the cost per head on your boys emigrating to
and if you will send me a few more copies of their letters, I should like
made. The expense.
THE VAGRANTS' HIDING-PLACE.
to try my hand at transporting some of them “ uncondemned,” ere it be too late. Can you promote the idea of each family-man, in comfortable circumstances, freeing ONE Ragged School emigrant for each of his children. My number, I am thankful to say, is eight, and I am determined to try.
I am, yours very truly, W.O." To these excellent suggestions, we would only add the solemn, but much-forgotten Scriptural truth, “ To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, TO HIM IT IS SIN."
THE VAGRANTS' HIDING-PLACE. VERY few of the young outcasts of the metropolis are unacquainted with Victoria Street, Holborn Hill. We have sometimes thought how strange are the associations connected with its name and the dark avenues over which it is built. In our sentimental moods, we have been willing to take it as a circumstantial intimation that the blessed time would yet come, when the extremes of society, nominally meeting here, would verily come in contact-when “kings will become nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers," to the homeless orphan and the friendless outcast, and when such dens will be left to their proper occupants, the adder and the mole.
About the end of May, 1849, the Earl of Shaftesbury, accompanied by a few poor men, whom he was not ashamed to recognise as fellowlabourers in a great work, made a midnight visit to this strange museum of juvenile misery. The rumble and bustle of Holborn and Fleet Street had ceased--the pulse of metropolitan life had, for a few hours, sunk to rest—and in the great thoroughfares were only to be seen the cabman, hastening home with a few of the votaries of pleasure from the evening party, the policeman pacing his solitary rounds, and some wandering victims of dissipation and crime. “Deep sleep had fallen upon men,” and, as with the arm of Omnipotence, arrested the progress of human pursuits, and hushed into forgetfulness the millions of minds that, but a few hours before, were buzzing with anxious schemes, or withered by corroding cares. Some had that evening repeated a prayer for the poor, which God had enabled themselves to answer; but few when retiring to rest had “ a heart at leisure from itself,” to sympathize with the poor outcast or the lonely lodgers under the Victoria arches. But “the Father of the fatherless” had not forgotten them; and with a purpose then future, He that evening caused the very extremes of society to meet together in that dismal hiding-place of misery and guilt. By the aid of a lighted candle, the unexpected visitors threaded their way from one dank corner to another, ferreting out their frightened protégées. Some were merely burrowing in the soil; others, longer accustomed to the hardships of this subterranean tenancy, possessed a scanty supply of dirty straw; a few congenial spirits, who had learned without the aid of Solomon, that “ two is better than one,” were quietly lying over each other, thus blending the heat of their bodies with their common sympathies.
By two o'clock in the morning, they had collected thirty of these wretched creatures, and removed them to the Field Lane School, where means were taken to alleviate the sufferings of some, and find refuges for
THE VAGRANTS' HIDING-PLACE.
others. Doubtless, in most cases they were as deeply sunk in depravity as they were in misery; but how could they be otherwise ? Often the result of orphanage—they are cast upon the streets when mere children, without friend or protector; one poor creature, thirteen years who never remembered his mother, was left an orphan by the death of his father, when only eight, and had slept a whole year in this dismal lodging
Another boy, of the same age, was left an orphan at nine, and had slept two years under the same gloomy covering. Some were living witnesses of the hereditary character of misery and crime; but, a few others could cherish the recollections of better days, when, until“ father's death,” they lived in respectable homes, but had now become homeless altogether. Very many of them had been in the habit of attending the Field Lane Ragged School, some with great regularity and propriety of conduct. But, laugh as the world may at our “ modern mawkish sentimentality,” it is no easy matter to teach a class of youths living in such circumstances. The teacher has often felt that instead of “bread” he was surely offering a stone, when, at the close of the evening school, on returning to his comfortable home, he saw the very youths of his own class, cold and hungry, crawling down into their dismal hiding-places, to take the hard damp ground for a pillow and a bed!
Such scenes of abject misery and wretchedness, when once seen, will live and linger in the memory on all occasions and at all times ; they intrude themselves among the thoughts and feelings, and rise up, like gloomy spectres, sometimes in harrowing contrast with other lifescenes; nor will they take their departure at pleasure, but again and again will demand a hearing, with a desperate importunity that cannot be denied.
It is but a few evenings since a circumstance occurred which called up these associations of misery so forcibly to our minds, that here we cannot help briefly recording it. Returning at a late hour from a suburban district, we missed our expected conveyance, and had to travel a considerable distance on foot. The forest of vehicles and Exhibition visitors, through which we passed in the afternoon, had disappeared, and comparative quietness reigned in the once busy neighbourhood. But, on approaching a large mansion in the vicinity, we observed a scene of activity and bustle, splendour and gaiety, scarcely excelled by the Hyde Park visitors. Carriages were pouring in from all directions, and crowds of eager spectators were assembled, anxious to catch a glance of the grotesque figures of their fashionable occupants. About a hundred paces onward, and around another mansion, we observed a similar scene. But, while admiring the costly dresses of the numerous guests, so beautifully illustrative of the court etiquette of a former age, and which called up many interesting associations connected with our country's history and greatness—with panoramic vividness the hiding-places of want and misery rose up before us, echoing the question from their dreary stillness, "“ To what purpose is this waste ?" (Matt. xxvi. 8.) As we passed along the streets, we could not help repeating similar questions to ourselves—as to whether the best interests of our country would not be more promoted, if the immense sums lavished on such a réunion as this, were expended in providing homes for our homeless poor, in cleansing the Augean stables of vice and iniquity that blacken