« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
The following statement of another case we extract from the master's private notes; the physical condition of the poor creature was but a sad parallel of many others:
"J. W., fifteen years of age.—An orphan without home; parents died six years ago. Does not know of a relative belonging to him. Mother died first, after which his father turned him away, telling him to get his living where he could. His aunt took him to her home, but she died three months afterwards. Hearing his father was also dead, he went to a lodging-house near St. Katherine's Docks, where he met with a sailor, who persuaded him to go to Liverpool, a journey that occupied three weeks. Found too many beggars there to get a living. After staying a fortnight, walked back again to London. Went with a boy to Barking; was on board a fishing smack eight weeks, but did not like the employment. Returned to London, where he lived principally by begging and stealing. Was three times in prison; once, for stealing a pair of trowsers, had one month in Tothill-fields; second, for stealing a loaf, had three weeks and a flogging; and third, was taken while attempting to steal a pair of shoes, but was soon liberated. When taken into the Refuge, was so weak and emaciated through want that he could scarcely speak; was unable to wash himself; the filth had to be scraped from his body, his clothes so loathsome that they were immediately burned. Had an attack of scarlet fever, but is now completely recovered, and has become a healthy, industrious lad; has shown no criminal propensity, but, on the contrary, is willing to oblige in every possible way. He also was favoured with a trial of his honesty in paying a bill with a five pound note, was greatly pleased with the circumstance, and often spoke with much delight of the confidence the master had placed in him. (Emigrated to Australia about four months since.)”
We think these instances-and they could be multiplied an hundredfold—are sufficient to show the urgent necessity for the establishment of Industrial Schools in the metropolis, far beyond the measure of their present limits. Why should we not have an "Orphan Refuge," confined, if need be, to that class of children, capable of accommodating at least three hundred, with the means of sleeping, feeding, and training them in industrial pursuits? Surely there is both wealth and willinghood in the metropolis sufficient for the accomplishment of this. If Government will not do it-and we certainly think they should-it will remain as a disgrace to our Christian benevolence until it is accomplished. But it is vain to establish Refuges unless they are supported; it is vain to say to the shivering orphan, "Be ye warmed and fed," if we leave him to perish in the streets; nor can we exculpate ourselves from a share in the degradation and misery of these helpless creatures, until we have done all in our power to rescue them from the wretched condition into which they have been cast by early bereavement.
In a brief notice of the Huntsworth Mews Ragged School, given in last Number, we made slight allusion to the interference of Romish priests with a school in the neighbourhood of Manchester Square. As we were not then in full possession of the details of the case, we could not do
more than briefly refer to the circumstance. The school, like all others of its kind, was doubtless established in Edward's Mews upon an aggressive principle-not merely for making aggressive encroachments upon Popery, (however desirable that might be,) but upon brutal degradation, wretchedness, and crime. The object of the Committee was not to interfere with the efforts of any other party, but to do a work which no one else had undertaken. The bestial condition into which the population are sunk has been already stated to the public, both by the newspaper and periodical press. The courts and alleys in the neighbourhood have for years been swarming with an idle, drunken, brutal population, sleeping in rooms coated with filth, in forties and fifties, equally ignorant and regardless of all law, human or divine. No religion upon earth but "the mother of harlots" would have claimed them as her own-no civilized community would have viewed them as other than a plague-spot and a disgrace. But Rome knows not how to blush, nor is she sensible of her degradation, while glorying in a priestly despotism, maintained over her withered victims. It was with the view of rescuing the children of those victims of ignorance and superstition from the misery of their parents, that the Edward's Mews Ragged School was established. Neither bigotry nor blind enthusiasm could ever prosecute such a work; it was undertaken by Christians, actuated by faith in God, and deep sympathy for the poor children born to such an inheritance. Nor have their efforts been fruitless; much good has been done, and not a few will live to bless God for the school and its faithful teachers. But is this good work to be stopped? Are we quietly to see the doors of our charitable institutions closed, our teachers maltreated and abused, and their needful efforts neutralized through the instigation of a few Popish hirelings, who are threatening to defy the laws of our country, and at the same time clamouring for liberty of conscience? Is degradation and crime to be nursed and protected by these men, in the worst places of the metropolis, and Christian labourers to be beaten and driven from the field?
We earnestly invite the attention of our readers to the following statement, furnished by the teacher of the Edward's Mews Ragged School, from which they will see something of the spirit by which those enemies of our faith are actuated, and the necessity for greater vigilance and activity in the important work we have undertaken :—
"On Wednesday, the Romish priest, who has for some time been preaching in Orchard Place, came into our school during the temporary absence of the policeman on duty, and, without asking permission, went up to the children in the gallery, and began asking them their names. My assistant told him it was not right to do so, and that it would cause great confusion. He, however, persevered, and some ladies coming in at that moment to see the school, prevented his coming to me. He then came into the room where I was with the children quietly arranged. He
was most polite and insinuating. After standing a few moments, he asked a little boy his name. I then told him that if he wished to have their names he must give me his name and address, and that the Committee must be applied to for permission, as a daily register was kept, and it would cause great confusion to take their names, which I could not of myself permit. He then said, 'Can you not give me the book now ?' when I replied that I was not permitted to do so without leave. The children all knew him, and were much excited. The elder boys left to avoid giving their names. As he persevered in taking them, I at once fetched Mr. in the rear of whose premises the school is conducted; but the priest, no doubt suspecting I had gone for some one, did not wait to take many names, and was just passing out at the door when we returned. Mr. had called him back, and, I am sorry to say, he excused himself by affirming that he had had permission to do as he had done; he lost his temper, and left quite angrily. It was very strange that while he was inside and the door closed a number of persons had collected outside, and as he went out that they should begin at once to abuse us for insulting him, as they could not possibly have heard what passed. He heard them use fearful language, but did not check them for it. They then pelted the building with oyster-shells and stones, continuing their abusive language till two young men came to defend us, and said if they did not desist they would give each of their names to the police. The policeman had great trouble during the afternoon to keep them from the door. The women sent the children with the books to tear up before us; Bibles, Testaments, and the little reward books, were all torn up opposite the school with horrible yells. In the evening there was a procession in Orchard Place with lighted candles, and the houses were all illuminated. The remainder of the books were all destroyed. A person passing through the court heard the beginning of the sermon, which was a reproof to the parents for sending their children to a Protestant school. He said they were going to hell as fast as they could. Previously to this there was perfect goodwill and kind feeling manifested towards us, but now a very different feeling is exhibited; alarming threats are made use of, and every annoyance practised. Yesterday morning a quantity of disgusting filth was put on the door, and the keyhole filled with it, so that we had to pay a man to cleanse it before we could attempt an entrance. Several people collected round much delighted, and said it served us right, we had no business there; and one woman clapped her hands with joy. On Monday, when the children went out of school, the priest was standing near, and gave each child a picture of the Virgin and Child.' He again asked them why they came to a Protestant school. It is not surprising that the number of children is diminished, especially as I hear that a priest has been round to their parents to compel them, as their director, to remove their children, or their names would be called from the altar."
ABERDEEN CHILDS' ASYLUM.
THE Childs' Asylum might justly be called the Juvenile Vagrant and Juvenile Delinquent Prevention Office-Established in December, 1846, for the reception of vagrant and delinquent youth, brought in by the police. Its Committee
undertook the delicate and difficult duty of dealing with these outcasts, sending such of them as were suitable to the Juvenile School of Industry, and restoring the others to their parents or the police.
During the first year the police brought in 95 children-56 boys and 39 girls. During the second year they brought in 46 children-30 boys and 16 girls. During the third year they brought in 28 children, 22 boys and 6 girls. During the last year they brought in 12 children-10 boys and 2 girls. Of these last, 2 went to the House of Refuge, and 10 were delivered to their parents, chiefly at their own desire.
If the Committee had confined its inquiries to the quasi-delinquent juvenile, brought up by the police, its operations would before this have been brought to a close-for it would not have been worth while maintaining a machinery, however simple and inexpensive, for the mere purpose of sending two children to the House of Refuge, and returning ten back again to their worthless parents. But it soon became apparent that, to prevent juvenile delinquency, it was requisite also to prevent juvenile vagrancy, by anticipating the necessity of begging, and therefore, after the first year, the Committee considered the cases of children brought to the asylum by destitute parents. During the first year's acting in this manner, it received applications on behalf of 149 children-92 boys and 57 girls; second year, 135 children-103 boys and 32 girls; last year, 112 children-82 boys and 30 girls-of whom
40 were sent to Boys' School
45 to Juvenile School
2 to House of Refuge
4 referred to Inspectors of Poor 21 refused as improper.
These figures, carelessly read, may excite little attention, but they are deeply significant. Why, it may be asked, have the numbers of juvenile vagrants, apprehended by the police, diminished from 95 to 12? Have these functionaries become remiss in their duty, and allowed the plague-spot of society to fester in our streets, instead of subjecting it by the discipline of the school. It is thought not. It is believed that they have apprehended all the juvenile vagrants they could catch, and have not willingly allowed a single juvenile delinquent to escape. It is known that juvenile vagrants are still to be seen; but it is supposed they are not the children of our native poor, but the vagrant children of stranger trampers, who, in their peregrinations, take a few days' begging, stealing, and singing in our streets; and the neglected outcasts of worthless and abandoned parents, who make a profit by their children's crimes. With these classes, the Childs' Asylum Committee cannot effectually deal. They require the exercise of a more powerful hand. But their numbers are comparatively small, and a little more activity on the part of the police, excited by an intelligent and zealous magistracy, might render them considerably smaller. Though the Asylum Committee has not accomplished everything that could have been wished, yet there can be no doubt that, with the instrumentality of the Industrial Schools, it has effected a social reformation altogether unexampled.
In the month of January, 1846, 58 children were brought into the Watchhouse. In January, 1850, the numbers were reduced to 16. In May, 1845, the police housed in the Soup Kitchen 75 children, caught begging, in one forenoon.
During the year 1850, not one vagrant child caught by the police could be sent to an Industrial School.
In 1845, the numbers of children under twelve years of age remitted to prison were 49. In 1849, the numbers were 16.
In 1845, 105 children were found vagabondizing the country districts. In 1850, the numbers were 2.
In all this there is much cause for gratulation, but there is nothing myste
rious. It is the natural consequence of a simple practical operation. Young children, who had been sent out to beg and steal, have been sent to the Industrial Schools, and by their attendance there have ceased to be beggars and thieves. Thus one child, multiplied by the gross number of children attending the schools, gives the solution of the whole question, for as boys cannot be in two places, nor doing two things at the same time, so they cannot at the same time be learning to read in the school, and begging or picking pockets in the street.
It has been sometimes stated as an objection to these institutions, that they tempted stranger paupers into town for the purpose of getting their children brought up in the school. This objection is thought to be merely fanciful. Stranger paupers, liable to be returned to their own parishes, are not likely to be induced to quit their native residence on the chance of getting their children admitted into the schools, unless they also supposed that there would be some means of earning their own support; and there has not occurred a single instance where it appeared that such a motive had the slightest influence in attracting the applicant to town. In some cases where strangers applied, it appeared that the father or mother had come to Aberdeen in the hope of employment, and that death or misfortune made it necessary to apply for their children's admission, and in such cases it appeared to the Committee, till the Parochial Boards took the proper steps to remove them, more expedient to admit the children to the school than to allow them to beg, which, without such an arrangement, they would have been obliged to do. Another objection which has been urged, that parents would acquire an industrial residence in town while their children were maintained at school, seems equally futile, because the very fact of a parent appearing before the Committee, and soliciting his child's admission, on the ground of his inability to maintain himself, is palpably an effectual bar to his ever acquiring an industrial residence in the place where his child is supported by public benevolence. But the strongest fact that the schools neither fostered improvidence in parents, nor attract stranger paupers, is furnished by the table, which shows that the number of private applicants has diminished from 149 to 112.
One of the greatest difficulties the Committee has had to contend with arose from the circumstance of parties applying being at the time in receipt of parochial aid. There was an arrangement between the Parochial Board of St. Nicholas and the managers of the schools, by which the former were to be allowed to send pauper children to the schools, paying at the rate of one shilling and sixpence a week for each child. But the arrangement has not been carried into practical effect, and it is understood that it is now at an end, while a very considerable number of children attending the schools are confessedly the children of paupers in receipt of parochial aid. Giving the matter the utmost consideration, the Committee resolved to act in all cases upon the principle of destitution, admitting the child whenever actual destitution was proved, leaving it to the managers of the schools to effect such arrangements with the Parochial Board, or other parties liable, as they thought fit. So far as the children were concerned, it was manifestly obvious that it was the same to them whether the inability of their parents to support them resulted from insufficiency of earnings or of parish allowance, and in order to prevent the evil consequences that must inevitably have ensued to the children, they were sent to the school. But it is clear that in doing so the parish authorities were enabled to effect a saving, either by diminishing or altogether withdrawing the allowances made to the parents on account of the children thus disposed of; and there can be no doubt that the Parochial Boards are in equity bound to acknowledge, by a liberal allowance to these institutions, the good effected and the money saved to the public by the Industrial Schools.
There can be as little doubt that the Police Board, the Rural Police Committee, the Magistrates, and the Prison Board, are in a similar manner bound to acknowledge their obligations to these Schools. As a preventive police,