Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Intelligence. Papers, Original and Selected.

ST. GILES AND ST. GEORGE, BLOOMSBURY,

RAGGED AND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS. On Wednesday, June 23rd, the new school. rooms of the above institution, at the corner of George Street and Broad Street, were opened, on which occasion three hundred poor children of the neighbourhood belonging to the schools were regaled with a substantial dinner of roast beef and pudding. In the evening a public meeting was held in St. Martin's Hall, presided over by the Earl of Shaftesbury. The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, expressed a hope that in these days of conflict all would be united in carrying out the kind objects of the school. He knew no capital in the world where there were so many deserted and filthy children as in Lon. don; it therefore became incumbent upon all to use renewed exertions to alleviate the wants and sufferings of these little ones. Respecting the application for a Government Grant, there was a diversity of opinion : but whether they accepted it or not it would not alter his opinion, that it would be better to go on as they had begun and worked up to the present time, depending on their own resources, and be content with the simple teaching founded upon the Bible, which alone was the true basis of all pure teaching. The promoters of this movement differed much from those who do not agree with them, for while they were concocting what step should be taken, the Ragged School teachers were reclaiming thousands. His Lordship concluded by urging the necessity of altering the existing state of wretchedness which existed in the habitations of that class which had peculiar claims upon Ragged Schools. He blushed to acknowledge that at the present time buman beings were allowed to dwell as they did, as many as sixteen or twenty in one apartment.

The Report stated that the cost of the building was £2,755. Towards this amount £1,600 had been received, leaving a deficiency of £1,555, which has to be made up before the building can be free from debt. One object contemplated by the Committee, and already carried into effect, is the removal of the Day and Night Schools from Neal's Yard and St. Andrew's Street, where the attendance amounted to two hundred. The new building, which consists of three large rooms, is calculated to accommodate one hundred more. It is also contemplated to establish infant classes as soon as the funds can be raised. In addition to the three rooms for educational purposes the building contains two other large rooms, which are capable of being used as dormitories, and to this purpose it is the intention of the Committee to devote them so as to afford accommodation to forty boys and forty girls, and they have resolved to take in at once twelve of the most destitute and friendless children from Church Lane, and Short's Gardens, and the Seven Dials, and to open a special fund for the fitting-up of beds, etc., the cost of which is estimated at £100. This sum is

trifling compared to the cost of food night and morning, which for eighty children would amount to about £300 a-year. It is also intended to open an Industrial School where the children will be taught various trades. Rev. H. Montagu Villiers, the Rev. Mr. Charlesworth, the Rev. W. Brock, W. Rogers, Esq., barrister, E. S. Fordham, Esq., and other gentlemen, addressed the Meeting, which terminated with a vote of thanks to Lord Shaftesbury.

GROTTO PASSAGE RAGGED SCHOOLS. THE Annual Meeting of the Grotto Passage Ragged Schools and Refuge for Destitute Boys was held on Saturday, June 26th, at the Lecture Hall, Edward Street, Portman Square. In the absence of the Earl of Shaftesbury, who was engaged on business of importance at the House of Lords, J. W. Maxwell, Esq., was called upon to preside, and briefly stated the reasons that had induced him to come forward and take a part in the promotion of these most valuable institutions. He urged upon the meeting the importance of contributing their time and money to assist in forwarding these schools, which had already been productive of so much benefit to the humbler and more destitute classes. These unfortunate children were taken absolutely from the gutter and the kennel, and received education and the means of earning their bread by honest industry. A great number of boys from these schools had been sent out to the colonies, and he was gratified to have to state that all of them were doing extremely well, and had written home in terms of the greatest affection and grati. tude for the benefits that had been conferred on them.

The Secretary then read the Report. It gave a most favourable and satisfactory view of the progress of the Society during the past year; and it earnestly recommended the extension of the accommodation afforded by the Refuge, in which 20 lads had been boarded, lodged, and educated. The average duration of their stay was nine months. In most cases they had been sent as occasion offered to the colonies, appren. ticed to trades, or otherwise provided with situations in the country. . 59 boys have been sent to Australia, 3 to the United States, 4 to Canada, and 12 placed in the merchant service. The total number thus sent out had been 78. The progress of the Industrial School was also satisfactory, the produce of their industry being disposed of as opportunity offered. The Shoeblack Society had been also most useful in giving employment to some of the boys. The receipts for the

year'were £682. 38. 8d., and the expenditure £685. 78.7d. The debt and liabilities of the Committee amounted altogether to £200, for the liquidation of which they counted on the charitable aid of those who favoured and supported these institutions. While the Report was being read the Earl of Shaftesbury arrived, and took the chair amidst loud cheers.

RAGGED SCHOOLS

THEIR LOCALITY

-OPERATIONS-CONDITION AND RESULTS.

KING'S CROSS. From very remote periods, the locality of this school has been memorable, and ofttimes mentioned in the page of history. Here, nearly eighteen hundred years ago, was fought the celebrated battle between the Roman general Suetonius Paulinus, and the noble heroine Boadicea, queen of the Iceni; and for centuries afterwards the spot was called “ Battle Bridge." This designation continued till within our own recollection, but is now giving place to the more pleasing cognomen of "King's Cross.” Here lived that notorious fanatic and impostor Joanna Southcott, whose dupes as a sect are not yet quite extinct. Here is an ancient mineral spring called Chad's Well, dedicated to St. Chad, Bishop of Lichfield. Here the river Fleete did pass under the bridge, and was denominated the River of Wells, and Turnmill Brook, and flowed onward under Holborn Bridge into the Thames at Blackfriars. In the course of time this neighbourhood became a famous receptacle for bones and other refuse, brought together by the itinerant collectors of the metropolis; hence it was proverbially called “ THE DUSTHOLE OF LONDON."

This locality has, however, now become one of the busy thoroughfares of the great metropolis, and surrounded by lofty and respectable buildings, inhabited by mechanics, tradesmen, and gentry. Still further improvements are being effected in consequence of the Great Northern Railway Company having fixed upon this neighbourhood for its London Terminus. But behind the main roads there are numbers of inferior buildings, thickly inhabited by the poor, most of whom are of degenerated and debasing habits. The neighbourhood comprising the sphere of the Ragged School operations forms a complete triangle-New Road con. stituting the northern; Gray's Inn Road the south-western, and George Street and Hamilton Row the south-eastern boundaries. Within these limits there are about 350 small houses, occupied by about 800 families. The whole of this interior, in consequence of an old enactment, is exempt from the jurisdiction of the Commissioners for lighting and paving. It is therefore unlighted and unpaved, with a few instances only excepted, in which it has been done for business convenience, at private individual expense. It therefore became an inviting spot for the lewd and dishonest, as in case of pursuit, if the depredator but once passed from the welllighted thoroughfares adjacent into the shades of darkness, he was safe.

NO. XLV.--VOL. IV.

[ocr errors]

162

RAGGED SCHOOLS-THEIR LOCALITY,

The cheapness of rents also became a powerful inducement for the poor but honestly inclined to take up their abode here, thus exposing themselves and children to the demoralizing tendency of such associations.

In the year 1839, a faithful Missionary was appointed to this district. He made himself thoroughly acquainted with the moral and spiritual condition of the people and their necessities. Although several schools in and near the vicinity were giving a good education to those who sufficiently appreciated it to pay the usual school fees, yet large numbers of children were found running wild in the street, who either from the poverty or recklessness of parents were not only growing up ignorant of religious truth, but becoming precocious in evil

, and adepts in crime. The importance of opening a school for the free admission of these became deeply impressed upon his mind, and after several ineffectual attempts he obtained the aid and co-operation of a few Christian friends, who met and resolved to establish a school in connection with the Ragged School Union. A humble building in Britannia Court, now used as a workshop of the Industrial School, was taken, the neighbourhood canvassed, and about eighty children of the right class collected on the first evening. Funds ample for immediate purposes were collected, but the secluded situation, dampness and closeness of the rooms, the conduct of the children, which was for a time outrageous and uncontrollable, were drawbacks of no inconsiderable magnitude.

For the first twelve months, but little progress was made in the right direction; the conduct of the children was so violent that the occasional interference of the police was rendered necessary ; and

many who undertook to assist in this work became so discouraged that they beat a speedy retreat, and but for the stedfastness of those who commenced the enterprise, it must have been given up. The effort was continued till 1849, when the present convenient school-rooms in Britannia Street were taken, the Ragged School Union providing a large portion of the funds needed towards fitting them up. The little improvement made by the first scholars in learning, behaviour, and appearance, began to produce some effect among a portion of the people. The poor now began voluntarily to bring their children, and the opposition of more reckless parents was easily overcome by the living facts around them.

In the course of time many of the children, who when first received were wretchedly destitute, became too respectable to be continued in the school; but attachment to their teachers and old associations rendered it difficult to separate them from it. At this juncture a Sabbath School was opened by the incumbent of St. Jude's district, to which these improved children are from time to time drafted, the Committee thus acting upon the advice of the Earl of Shaftesbury, “ Not to let our Ragged Schools lose their distinctive character."

The operations of these schools now consist of a Juvenile Day School, a Week Evening School for destitute boys and those employed in the

OPERATIONS, CONDITION, AND RESULTS.

163

Industrial School-lads who have had hitherto little or no education, and who if not at this school would be found idling away their spare time in the streets, or resorting to the penny theatres in the neighbourhood, so prejudicial to their morals and future welfare. On Friday evenings a school is held for girls. On Sabbath mornings about forty children are assembled, and taken to public worship, and in the afternoon a school is conducted; from eighty to ninety children attend.

А. Clothing Fund has been established. Once a quarter about forty ladies assemble at the school-room, and make up materials purchased by their own subscriptions, added to the children's pence. During the past year, 340 articles of clothing have been furnished to 65 children, all of whom had contributed. These deposits amounted to klo. 1s. 7d., or more than one-half the entire cost of the garments. A Mothers' Meeting is held weekly, and is a means of great good.--We now proceed to speak of,

THE KING'S CROSS INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL. This branch was established some time since in connection with the school, but the Committee finding it impossible to support the expense by their unaided efforts, invited the co-operation of the friends of the neighbouring Ragged School in Compton Place, Judd Street. A separate Committee was accordingly formed about two years ago, and the institution placed on an independent footing, forming an important auxiliary to both schools. Notwithstanding many difficulties retarded this effort at first, and threatened to destroy it, yet its progress has been steady, proved its utility, and established its claim to encouragement and increased support. It has conferred important and permanent benefits on many needy and depraved youths. Fifty-three have been admitted, of whom thirty-nine have been sent out, leaving fourteen now in the school. Of those sent out, some have been put to trades, some obtained situations as shop and errand-boys, some employed by the Shoe-black Society, and others have gone to sea through the kindness of the Marine Society. A few have left the school and gone back to their former habits, though even some of them have returned, sought and gained admittance, become reformed, and are now in situations, doing well. Of those now in the school, some regularly spend a portion of each day at gentlemen's houses, cleaning knives, boots and shoes, and are giving satisfaction. Two days each week they are employed in tailoring and shoemaking; the other time is filled up by chopping firewood for sale. A Dormitory has also been added, and four youths are regularly domiciled in it. The following cases may be regarded as illustrative of the character and condition of the class for whose benefit th industrial department is opened, and the good which by God's blessing has been already accomplished :

W. C., 16 years old ; mother died when he was young, abandoned by his father at three years old, and taken into the workhouse at six. He was then

164

RAGGED SCHOOLS---THEIR LOCALITY,

returned to his father by the parish authorities, but at eight years old he was sent into the street to provide for himself, being sometimes allowed to return at night and lay upon the bare floor. He began to gather bones, old iron, and anything he could find. This was his first step in juvenile delinquency, and he soon became a regular and confirmed thief, finishing in the night plans formed during the day. He was conscious that this was wrong, but as he himself says, his heart was so hardened that he did not care what became of him. He feared neither police nor prison. Without home or friends, he sometimes slept in out-houses, under hay-stacks, and still worse places ; on being brought to this school, where he met with kind and friendly treatment, employment, and instruction, with a portion of food and wages, he became much attached to the persons and place of his rescue, and has ever since cherished and manifested the warmest gratitude for the benefits conferred upon him. He soon became a most industrious boy, though at first much averse to work. Being an intelligent boy, he made great progress in learning, and the solemn truths of the Scriptures

have already made a deep impression on his heart. Experiencing the benefits of this Institution, he became anxious that his former associates should share the ame advantage and he has several times endeavoured to bring them to the school, and not without success, two boys being now in school who were brought by him, and are progressing favourably. Others have been brought by him, but after a while have returned to their former habits. He is now employed by the Shoe-black Society. He regularly attends the Evening and Sabbath School, and at public worship is very attentive.

S. P., 14 years old, one of the boys brought here by the above. His father is transported, and mother a drunken and dissipated character. Had been some years a confirmed thief, several times in prison, from which he had just come out when brought here. His principles of right and wrong were very confused, and he knew no fear, but that of the police and punishment. The effects of a vicious and degrading training were most evident in his stupified and destitute condition. Kind and proper treatment, with daily instruction in his duty to God and man; constant, though moderate employment, a substantial dinner every day, and a few pence

at the end of the

week, have produced a marked and gratifying change. For some time at first he could do no work at all; his hands appeared incapable of holding or using tools, and his dinners he would eat with his fingers only. He was most quarrelsome and passionate, fighting with most of the other boys, whilst his language was of the worst kind. He is now an attentive and industrious boy at work, though slow, has left off lying and bad language, and though yet dull, he has learned many passages of Scripture, which he has heard from those who teach him; his mind, which appeared void of reason, is now exercised in thought upon the many things of Scripture, which appeared to strike him with astonishment, and he often asks very acute questions with all the eagerness of one who feels really anxious to learn and know the truth. He can also answer any questions on the common, though most important points, of Scriptural knowledge.

T. P., 12 years old, is brother to the above. Though like him in depravity and vice, yet he is a striking contrast to him in many other respects. Small and diminutive in size and feature, quick in natural intellect and bodily activity, he was thought by his associates in evil to be well adapted for their

purposes, and was consequently trained in the light art of picking ladies pockets, which he accomplished with such success, as to become of importance to his elders in years and crime. His nimbleness and diminutiveness enabled him to crawl, unperceived, in close proximity to ladies

' dresses, and his dexterity in abstracting the contents of the pocket was only equalled by his agility in escaping detection. Like his brother, he was ignorant of all that is good and right, and the sense of honesty was measured only by the difficulties of obtaining whatever came in his way. He is now

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »