The million-peopled city
Dickens's Narrative of Emigrants from this School.
thus narrates two interesting cases of emi- grants from this school:-
"It is encouraging to know that the most favourable accounts have been received from emigrants who left the Pear-street School. It is now some time since a lad, who, although only 14, was taken into the latter, was sent to
|. He had been badly brought up; his mother, during his boyhood, having frequently sent him out, either to beg or to steal. About a year after her son's departure, she called, in a state of deep distress, upon the missionary of the district, and informed him that her scanty furniture was about to be seized for rent, asking him at the same time for advice. He told her that he had none to give her, but to go and pay the rent, at the same time handing her a sovereign. She received it hesitatingly, doubting, for a moment, the evidence of her senses. She went and paid the rent, which was l8s., and afterwards returned with the change, which she tendered to the missionary with her heartfelt thanks. He told her to keep the balance, as the sovereign was her own-informing her, at the same time, that it had been sent her by her son, and had that very morning so opportunely come to hand, together with a letter, which he afterwards read to her. The poor woman for a moment or two looked stupefied and incredulous, after which she sank upon a chair, and wept long and bitterly. The contrast between her son's behaviour and her own conduct towards him, filled her with shame and remorse. She is now preparing to follow him to .|
"Another case was that of a young man, over 20 years of age, who had likewise been admitted, under special circum- stances, to the same Institution. He had been abandoned by his parents in his early youth, and had taken to the streets to avert the miseries of destitution. He soon became expert in the art of picking pockets, on one occasion depriv- ing a person in of no less than 1501. in bank notes. With this, the largest booty he had ever made, he repaired to a house in the neighbourhood, where stolen property was received. Into the room into which he was shown, a gloved hand was projected, through an aperture in the wall, from an adjoining room, into which he placed the notes. The
|hand was then withdrawn, and immediately afterwards pro- jected again with 20 sovereigns, which was the amount he received for the notes. He immediately repaired to West- minster, and invested 101. of this sum in counterfeit money, at a house not a stone's-throw from the Institution.|
"For the 101. he received, in bad money, what represented 501. With this he sallied forth into the country with the design of passing it off-a process known amongst the craft as ' shuffle-pitching.' The first place he went to was , and the means he generally adopted for passing off the base coin was this:-Having first buried in the neigh- bourhood of the town all the good end bad money in his possession, with the exception of a sovereign of each, so that, if detected in passing a bad one, no more bad money would be found upon his person, he would enter a retail shop, say a draper's, at a late hour of the evening, and say that his master had sent him for some article of small value, such as a handkerchief. On its being shown him, he would demand the price of it, and make up his mind to take it; whereupon he would lay down a good sovereign, which the shopman would take up, but, as he was about to give him change, a doubt would suddenly arise in his mind as to whether his master would give the price asked for the article. He would then demand the sovereign back, with a view to going and consulting his master, promising, at the same time, to be back again in a few minutes. Back again he would come, and say that his master was willing to give the price, or that he wished the article at a lower figure. He took care, how- ever, that a bargain was concluded between him and the shopkeeper; whereupon he would again lay down the sove- reign, which, however, on this occasion, was the bad and not the good one. The unsuspecting shopkeeper would give him the change, and he would leave with the property and the good money. Such is the process of 'shuffle-pitching.'
|In the majority of instances he succeeded, but was sometimes detected. In this way he took the circuit twice of Great Britain and ; stealing as he went along, and passing off the bad money, which he received, for good. There are few gaols in the United Kingdom of which he has not been a denizen. His 2 circuits took him 9 years to perform, his progress being frequently arrested by the interposition of justice. It was at the end of his second journey that he applied for admission to the . He had been too often in gaol not to be able to read; but he could neither write nor cipher when he was taken in. He soon learnt, however, to do both; and, after about 7 months' probation, emigrated to from his own choice. The missionary of the district accompanied him on board as he was about to sail. The poor lad wept like a child when he took leave of his benefactor, assuring him that he never knew the comforts of a home until he entered the . Several letters have been received from him since his landing, and he is now busily employed, and-doing well!|
" Instances of this kind might be multiplied, if necessary, of what is thus being done daily and unostentatiously for the reclamation of the penitent offender, not only after conviction, but also before he undergoes the terrible ordeal of correction and a gaol."
The youth last referred to has been for the last 5 years foreman in a saw-mill. The missionary has sent out to him several young men, all of whom he has provided with employment, and has looked after not only their temporal but also their spiritual welfare. He is a communicant at a Baptist chapel. In a letter received from him lately, he states that he has married a young woman, who is also a communicant at the same chapel; and they are, to use his own expression, as happy "as poor sinners can be out of
|heaven." And yet this youth was brought up in a training- school for young thieves, kept by a most notorious fellow, who was proprietor of a lodging-house in, and who was tried some years since at the for murder. In a quarrel with his wife, as she was called, he took their child to an upstairs room, with a knife cut off the child's head, laid the head on a table, came down and told his wife, if she would go up, she would find something belonging to her lying on the table. She went up, and found the child's head.|
A second pupil of this wretched man's is now undergoing the missionary's reformatory training. In the magazine of the , for . it was added:-
"Perhaps the most striking testimony to the value of this Institution was borne a few days since, by 3 thieves, to the missionary who was honoured in the establishment of the school. One thief said to him, ' Why, Sir, you take all our boys away.' The second said, 'A very good thing too. And the third added, that the school was the greatest blessing in the neighbourhood for the children, and that, if he had any children, he would send them there too."
The present number of children in these schools is large.