The million-peopled city
Mr. Charles Dickens's Account of the Plot of Ground on which this School stood, called " The Devil's Acre."
The plot of ground in on which this school stood was known by the name of " ," and it is thus described by in his "House- hold Words: "
" There are multitudes who believe that is a city of palaces, of magnificent squares, and regal terraces; that it is the chosen seat of opulence, grandeur, and refine- ment; and that filth, squalor, and misery, are the denizens of other and less favoured sections of the metropolis. The error is not in associating with much of the grandeur and splendour of the capital, but in entirely dis- sociating it in idea from the darker phases of metropolitan life. As the brightest lights cast the deepest shadows, so are the splendours and luxuries of the found in juxta-position with the most deplorable manifestations of
|human wretchedness and depravity. There is no part of the metropolis which presents a more chequered aspect, both physical and moral, than . The most lordly streets are frequently but a mask for the squalid districts which lie behind them, whilst spots consecrated to the most hallowed of purposes are begirt by scenes of indescribable infamy and pollution; the blackest tide of moral turpitude that flows in the capital rolls its filthy wavelets up to the very walls of ; and the law-makers for one-seventh of the human race sit, night after night, in deli- beration, in the immediate vicinity of the most notorious haunt of law-breakers in the Empire. There is no district in London more filthy and disgusting, more steeped in villany and guilt, than that on which every morning's sun casts the sombre shadows of the Abbey, mingled, as they soon will be, with those of the gorgeous towers of the new ' .'|
" ,' as it is familiarly known in the neighbourhood, is the square block comprised between , , and -streets, and Strutton-ground. It is per- meated by , , Old and New , , , and From some of these, narrow covered passage-ways lead into small quadrangular courts, containing but a few crazy, tumble-down-looking houses, and inhabited by characters of the most equivocal description. The district, which is small in area, is one of the most populous in London, almost every house being crowded with numerous families and multitudes of lodgers. There are other parts of the town as filthy, dingy, and forbidding in appearance as this, but these are generally the haunts more of poverty than crime. But there are none in which guilt of all kinds and degrees con- verges in such volume as on this, the moral plague-spot, not only of the metropolis, but also of the kingdom. And yet
|from almost every point of it you can observe the towers of the Abbey peering down upon you, as if they were curious to observe that to which they seem to be indifferent.|
" Such is the spot which true Christian benevolence has, for some time, marked as a chosen field for its most unosten- tatious operations. It was first taken possession of, with a view to its improvement, by the , a body represented in the district by a single missionary, who has now been for about 12 years labouring-and not with- out success-in the arduous work of its purification; and who, by his energy, tact, and perseverance, has acquired such an influence over its turbulent and lawless population, as makes him a safer escort to the stranger desirous of visit- ing it, than a whole posse of police. By the aid of several opulent philanthropists whom he has interested in his labours, he has reared up within the district 2 schools, which are numerously attended by the squalid children of the neigh- bourhood,-one of these schools having an Industrial Depart- ment connected with it. An exclusively Industrial School for boys of more advanced age has also been established, which has recently been attached to the  In addition to these, another Institution has been called into existence, to which and to whose objects the reader's attention will be afterwards drawn.
" being designed only for children -many of whom, on admission, manifest an almost incre- dible precocity in crime-those of a more advanced age seeking instruction and reformation were not eligible to admission."
To meet such applicants the missionary took them under his own care, provided them with board and lodgings, and
|at the sime time had them placed under daily instruction. After such cases had given evidence of a moral change, to remove them entirely from the influence of old companions, at their own request, they were assisted to emigrate. Of this class the missionary has for a number of years been the means of benefiting, on an average, about 30 annually.|
 The number of missionaries of that Society now located in West- minster is 10.
 This school has lately been closed for want of funds.