The million-peopled city
The first Ragged School in London, as established in "the Old Stable" at Westminster.
" according to Mr. statement. This "Walker" is one of the missionaries of the London City Mission, and the "old stable" was at . The following most touching account of its formation was written in , four years before the London was formed, by , of , and was published in the same year. It was two years previous to this date that the school was first formed in a smaller room, which could only be had on Sundays.
" A lamentable destitution of the Scriptures prevailed in all the districts previous to the late supply afforded to the by the . On visiting one house in Duck-lane, the missionary now on this district was met by the man who kept it, who told him he had better pass on, for no one there or in the next house wanted his assistance. The missionary, however, got into conversation with this man and drew him out, and learned that all the inhabitants were thieves or coiners; that several who had formerly belonged to the gang had been executed, and many of them up stairs were returned
|convicts. He expressed his earnest wish to see them, and the man, who gave his card, ' ' said, 'Well, I will accompany you, and protect you from insolence.' The missionary went up and saw them all. He was received respectfully, and subsequently supplied them with the Testament and Psalter. It appeared a most unpromising soil, but extraordinary results followed some months afterwards. At another little hut in a back court, when he opened the door he found a travelling tinker, preparing his barrow to go out to mend tin ware and grind knives. In reply to the question, ' Have you a Bible?' he swore vehemently, and replied, ' Yes.' The missionary said, 'What sort of a religion do you learn from it that lets you swear so?' He said, 'Religion ! Oh, you shall see my religion if you are not off!' and, opening a cupboard, he whistled to two great dogs which were used for fighting at Duck-lane Theatre. ' There,' he said, 'that's my religion.' The missionary talked with him, and subsequently gave him a Testament, and invited him to his room. To the surprise of the missionary he came, brought his Testament with him, followed the missionary in his readings, was most attentive, and brought other men of the same trade as himself. The missionary called at his residence frequently, but could not find him at home for two or three months. He learned from the wife, however, that the dogs were sold, and he had told her, that sport was all over with him now. When the missionary got an opportunity to see him, he found him a broken-hearted penitent.
" After some time it was proposed to get the children together out of the streets to the room on the Lord's-day, to instruct them, and the missionary, in giving this notice at his room, asked any person who could, to come and help to teach them. The poor tinker kept back until the last, and then said that he was not much of a scholar, but if he
|could do anything, such as go round and persuade the children to come, or be useful in any other way, he should be glad to help. His services were accepted, and, although that took place nearly two years back, the tinker has never been absent but one Sunday, and that was through illness. He is the first in the school and the last out. While he is endeavouring to teach others his own mind has opened, and his walk and conversation have been becoming the Gospel. We had a pleasing testimony as to his private habits in the following way:-A poor wretched girl was found living in sin, who appeared penitent; but a difficulty arose, for we could not meet any poor virtuous person at the moment who would take her in and shelter her until an asylum could be obtained: and we find it necessary to do this while the good impression is upon such characters, or else, if they return to their former mode of subsistence, we fear the opportunity for reclaiming them is lost. Well, in this difficulty the poor tinker said, ' Let her go to my wife, and I will sleep in the shed for a few nights.' She did so. Since then she has been got into a situation, where she is going on well. When the missionary called, after a time, to see how she got on, the mistress said, ' Oh, she wants a ; for the tinker used to read the and pray with them morning and night, and charged her to do so; but she has not got one, and she wishes to do what the tinker told her-he was such a good man, and so anxious for her welfare.' 'Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree.' Truly the most humble, when blessed with the grace of God themselves, become blessings to others.
"The school was formed; 44 children were gotten together on the first Sunday. Very few of them had shoes, not many had shirts; some little fellows made a ludicrous appearance, having their fathers' coats on, which just came above their heads, while the tail reached to the ground. This buttoned up served to cover the want of shirt and other under-clothing. Thirty-eight of them could not tell their letters, never having been to school before: for such the missionary sought in his visits, and I believe all of them were fetched on the day by him, and brought in his hand. He worked very hard; they were remarkably attentive and anxious to learn: and when, after two or three Sundays, we had a reward-viz., a little piece of pasteboard with the prayer printed on it, 'Create in me a clean heart,' with a long piece of red tape to suspend it round the neck, and to be given in each class to the child who could repeat most perfectly a verse or two of Scripture which they had been taught on the former Sunday-there was as much anxiety to obtain it as though it had been a medal of gold; and the successful competitor, in dirt and rags, appeared to think himself highly honoured for once.
It was soon found that these children lost in the week all the good they had gained on the Lord's-day. They spent their time playing in the streets, and were idle, vicious, and dissolute: their extreme poverty (owing frequently to the vice of the parents, many of whom were thieves or prosti- tutes) prevented them either from paying even a penny per week, or from attending those schools, open gratuitously to the poor, but who were expected to come clean and decent. We therefore resolved to open a large room for the reception of such children only, and try the experiment for three months. A stable in was obtained and fitted up, and here we have an average attendance of about 120 children, all of this wretchedly poor class. Some of them
|have scarcely sufficient clothes to cover them decently, very few shoes or stockings, but all who come are, without exception, received and attended to. Any children of this kind met with by the missionaries in their visitations are brought to this school. Their names are arranged in districts, and the list of absentees in each district is given to the missionary thereof every Monday morning, who, in the course of the week, visits their abodes and reports the cause of absence; and this attention to the poor, outcast, and hitherto-neglected children of these very poor and wretched persons, has amazingly won upon the parents and delighted them, while the missionaries, by this, amongst other means, gain a growing esteem in the hearts of the people.
The expense of fitting up this school and paying the master has been great; but it has been borne entirely by private subscription, and has in no way entrenched on the funds of the Mission. The present superintendent of the district is the treasurer, who receives subscriptions. A lady of title, whose name I cannot mention without feelings of respect and gratitude, has taken a great interest in this school, wretched as is the neighbourhood and the school- room, and the class of children who meet there; yet she has attended the school, assisted in its working, brought others to see it, and obtained those subscriptions which have met its expenses, but without which it could not have been carried on. It has now been open about ten months. Other kind ladies have also lent assistance, and , of the , has kindly given his advice and obtained books, &c.; and, if such help be con- tinued, there is every reason to hope the school will continue to prosper and be a blessing to these poor outcasts.
" In this school-room the meetings are held for prayer and reading the Scriptures; and since the lodging-houses have been well visited, and the school established, the inmates of
|those places and the parents of the school children have attended in such numbers as to fill the place. Latterly the singing has been led by a beggar-man, who sings in the streets, whom the missionary met with at one of the lodging- houses, and who had never attended a place of worship before.
" An incident, which much affected my mind, occurred at this room when first the public-houses were closed on the Lord's-day morning. Two women, with children in their arms, came one evening and requested the missionary to thank God for having put it into the heart of the Legislature to close the gin-shops, &c. on the Sunday. They said their husbands were coal-porters, and, until then, had not for years been sober on a Sunday; but now they dined comfortably at home, with their families and wives; and children and fathers were all so happy together. They entreated him to pray that God would be pleased to incline our rulers to perfect the work, and have them closed all the Sabbath-day.
" One of the poor boys in the has lately died, and the following is a verbatim statement, taken down from the missionary's lips, of what he has known and learned of the boy during his illness --.The day or two before he died, he called his sister, a girl about nine years of age, to his bed-side, and told her what a bad girl she was to her parents, and where she would go if she did not seek a new heart from God. He entreated her to obey her parents and to keep the Sabbath. He said that he was about to go to heaven, but there she could never come except she sought mercy through . He then called his mother- told her what a bad woman she was, never to go to God's house, or pray, or read the Bible, or care for the Saviour; and if she died so, she would go to hell. Those were his very words. ' Oh!' he said, 'pray for a new heart!' He then called his father, and told him, 'I am going to my heavenly Father, where,' he said, 'you can never come,
|unless your sins be pardoned and your heart changed.' He blessed his teachers, and the missionary, who, he said, had told him of dying for sinners such as lie was. He requested his mother, with great solemnity, to tell his grandmother to pray to God for pardon, or she would go to hell. Those were his words. The boy died, and the grand- mother fell sick the same week with inflammation of the stomach; and the words of the boy deeply affected her mind. The missionary never visited her (and he did so daily) without her mentioning these words. She was directed to the Saviour-she sought for mercy: she has recovered from her sickness, and attends constantly the Wesleyan chapel. The missionary met, at this poor old woman's bed-side, during her illness, one of her daughters from the East-end of London, who had been a great sinner. He pressed on her the necessity of seeking the salvation of her soul. She was deeply impressed, but lamented that her husband was a Socialist. The missionary lent her lecture, 'Is there a God?' and Mr. Garwood's, 'Is the Bible of Divine Authority?' for her husband to read. He did so. When she was going again to see her mother, she told her husband she must take the books back. He said, 'Ask him to lend them me another week or two-I must read them again.' He has done so, and he has thanked the missionary for them, saying, 'They are very convincing ;' and he has given up the Socialist meeting, and allows his wife to attend the house of God."
 Since the above was written he has been appointed, by the club of tinkers like himself, a sort of steward or visitor of their sick and infirm members; he has, in consequence, been obliged to leave the school, but carries with him to the bed-sides of those he visits the glad news of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ.