The million-peopled city

Garwood, John

1853

Narrative of a Visit to this School, from " Chambers's Edinburgh Journal."

About the same time the following narrative of a visit to this school appeared in " drawn up by a gentleman connected with the journal, who was led to explore the place:-

"' A ,' quoth the reader, 'pray, what kind of school is that ?' A few words will suffice to answer this inquiry. A is a Sunday-school established by private benevolence in a City district of the meanest kind, where every house is worn-out and crazy, and almost every tenant a beggar, or, perhaps, something worse. A school, moreover, in which no children are to be found who would be admitted into any other school; for, ragged, diseased, and crime-worn, their very appearance would scare away the children of well-conducted parents; and hence, if they were not educated there, they would receive no education at all.

"In London there exist several one situated in the very heart of , another-the one we propose to sketch-established nigh that worse than , , -the head-quarters of thieves, coiners, burglars, and the other outcasts of society. This Sunday-school was founded in , and originated in the benevolent efforts of a hero in humble life.[1]  After much exertion, especially in overcoming the objections of the parents, who considered the reformation of their off- spring as the loss of so much capital, 45 young persons, varying in age from 6 to 18, were induced to attend the school. At present the average attendance on Sundays exceeds 100. The school is also opened 3 times a week, when instruction of an ordinary kind is imparted gratuitously

55

by a lady. Most-we might say all-of the fathers of the schulars belong to what may be called the predacious class, and the mothers fallen characters, who bear deep traces of guilt and disease in their countenances. Many of the chil- dren have been incarcerated for felony-educated thereto by their parents, as the trade whereby they are to live; and the destiny of all, unless better principles shall be implanted at school than can be acquired at home, is the hulks or Norfolk Island. All honour, then, to the brave men and women who have consecrated the day of rest to the godlike task of rescuing their fellow-creatures from a life of shame and misery-to change the ruffian into an honest man!

"' is situate at 65, West- street, a locality where vice and fever hold fearful sway. To open it in any other neighbourhood, would be to defeat the object of the projectors. The very habiliments of the boys, so patched, that the character of the original texture could scarcely be gleaned, would almost be sufficient to preclude their ingress to a more respectable neighbourhood, and make them slink back abashed into their loathsome dens. It follows, that the object of the promoters of the ''-the in-gathering of the outcasts-requires that it should be held amidst the homes of these outcasts. The house has that battered, worn aspect, which speaks of dissolute idleness, the windows are dark and dingy, and the street too narrow to admit a current of fresh air; and it needed, on the rainy day in March in which it was visited, but a slightly active imagination to call up visions of the robberies and murders which have been planned in it, and of which it has been the scene.

"The entrance to the school was dark; and there being no windows to illuminate the rickety staircase, we stumbled into the school-room on the first-floor before we were aware. On entering, the eye was greeted by a spectacle to which,

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from its mingled humour and pathos, the pencil of Hogarth could have alone done justice. We found a group of from 40 to 50 girls in one room, and about 60 boys in another; the girls, although the offspring of thieves, quiet, winning, and maidenly; but the boys full of grimace and antics, and, by jest and cunning glances, evincing that they thought the idea of attending school fine fun. Foremost amongst them was a boy apparently aged 17, but as self-collected as a man of forty, of enormous head, and with a physiognomy in which cunning and wit were equally blended, whose mastery over the other boys was attested by their all addressing him as 'captain.' The boys had their wan, vice-worn faces as clean as could be expected, and their rags seemed furbished up for the occasion; whilst their ready repartee, and striking original remarks, and the electric light of the eye, when some peculiar practical joke was perpetrated, evinced that intellect was there, however uncultivated or misused. Unless we are greatly self-deceived, we beheld in this unpromising assemblage as good a show of heads as we have ever seen in any other Sunday-school, and the remark is justified by what we learned with respect to the shrewdness generally evinced by these children. The predominant temperament was the sanguine, a constitution which usually indicates great love for animal exercise; and, during the time we were present, they appeared as if they could not sit quiet one moment-hands, feet, head, nay, the very trunk itself, seemed perpetually struggling to do something, and that something generally being found in sheer mischief.

"Hymns were occasionally sung to lively measures, the girls singing with a sweetness and pathos that sunk deep into the heart; but the boys were continually grimacing and joking, yet all the time attempting to look grave and sober, as if they were paying the most respectful attention. When the superintendent told the boys that he was about to pitch

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the tune, and that they must follow him, the boy before mentioned as the captain cried out in a stage-whisper, ' Mr. says we are to follow him; I wonder where he's going to?' a jest hailed with a general laugh by his confederates. During teaching, questions of an unanswerable character were submitted by the boys to their master; for example, 'If you were starving and hungry, wouldn't you steal?' 'What is the use of hanging ; will that convert him?'[2]  Various other attempts were made by the captain to puzzle the teacher, and failing, he was heard to say, 'That's no go-he is too deep for us.'

" Amongst these boys, however, were some to whom the word of kindness was evidently a ' word in season,' and who drank in the tender accents with which they were addressed -perchance for the first time-as if it were music to their souls. Then, again, was to be seen some poor puny lad, as gentle in mind as in body, who was obviously dying from unfitness to cope with the requirements of his circumstances -poor tender saplings, growing in an atmosphere which was too bleak for any but the forest oak to brave. Untrained, except to crime, as most of the children are, much good has already been effected. Most of the scholars can read, and books have been supplied suited to their circumstances; and that the books are read with the understanding, is proved by the questions submitted to their teachers. Due honour to their parents has been taught. Many have thus become a comfort to homes to which they had hitherto been an addi- tional curse; and many a mother, herself regenerated through the prattle of her child, has declared, with streaming eyes, 'I thank God my girl ever went to school !' Some of the scholars have been partially clad by the con- nected with the school; and the stress which has been laid

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upon personal cleanliness has served to educe proper feelings of self-esteem; no slight ingredient in civilization. Not- withstanding their many eccentricities, the children are really attached to their teachers; the girls coming forward from natural impulse, and with true politeness giving an affectionate ' Good-bye, Teacher,' even to the visitor; and the boys, ever striving to please, in spite of their prevailing love of fun. One outre, but characteristic instance, of this affec- tion for their teachers may be noticed. A teacher, in passing through , was attracted by a pugilistic contest; when, on remonstrating with them on their folly, one of the most brutal came up to him in a fighting attitude. Suddenly a boy rushed through the crowd, and cried, in stentorian tones, ' You leave him alone, Bill, or I'll knock you down; don't you know that's my teacher?' If, then, to win the affections be the best prelude to the reformation of the debased, again we say, honour to those brave men and women who, despite the contempt and the slander of the Pharisee and the worldling, have not shrunk from trying to rescue from ruin the neglected youthful soul!

"Our sketch ends here; but the '' was not visited for the mere gratification of curiosity, nor is that the motive which has induced us to describe the scene. A question entered our minds as we pondered over this visit, and a practical answer to which by our readers is the chief aim of the writer-' Why is there not a "Ragged School" in every large town in Great Britain ?" [3] 

 
 
Footnotes:

[1] Mr. Provan was the missionary of the London City Mission in Field-lane.

[2] On the day of the visit Tapping was to be executed on the morrow.

[3] " Chambers's Edinburgh Journal," of June 17, 1845.

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 Title Page
 Preface
Chapter I: Criminal and Destitute London Juveniles, or the Ragged School Class
Criminal and Destitute London Juveniles, or the Ragged School Class
A distinct Class from Adult Thieves
Their extreme Youth, and sometimes Childhood
Great Severity of British, as compared with French, Law on Juvenile Offenders
Their especial Claim, when resident in London
Their supposed Numbers
The Classes from which they are drawn
The Training for Crime which they receive
Their Gradations in Proficiency
Importance of Missionary Operations among this Class
The Ragged School Movement
The Connexion of the Ragged schools with the Operations of the London City Mission
Ragged Schools in an especial manner free from the Difficulties of Difference of Creed and Interference with the Duties of Parents
Early Approaches to the Ragged School System
The first Ragged School in Lonon, as established in 'the Old Stable' at Westminster
The Report of this School, as printed by Order of the House of Commons
Mr. Charles Dicken's Account of the Plot of Ground on which this School stood, called 'The Devil's Acre'
Letter of the Children of this School to the City Missionary
New Pye-street Girls' School, April 10, 1843
Dickens's narrative of Emigrants from this School
The Field-lane ragged School described, as a second Illustration of these Institutions
Description of the adjacent notorious 'Thieves' Houses'
Formation of the School
Dickens's Narrative of different Visits to this School, and of the Improvements effected in the interim
Narrative of a Visit to this School, from 'Chambers's Edinburgh Journal'
This School first interested Lord Shaftesbury in the 'Movement'
Erection of a New Schoolroom with a large Dormitory
Review of the subsequent Progress of London Ragged Schools to the present Time
Industrial Schools
Refuges
Emigration
Sergeant Adams's Eulogy of the Efforts of Ragged School Teachers
Three Cases of Usefulness from the Ragged School Union Magazine
Case of Usefulness reported to the Author by a Clergyman
Two other Cases of Usefulness from the 'London City Mission Magazine'
The Shoe-blacks a most remarkable Illustration of the Success of the Efforts made to benefit this Class
Broomers, and how they might be made to cleanse London
Messengers
Steppers and Ragged Nursery
Comparison of the Expenses of Schools and Prisons
The especial Claims of Girls
Voluntary Effort, and that by the Masses, rather than Government Aid, to be especially rested on
Appointment of a Missionary by the London City Mission
Importance of Increased Exertions, in order to bring the whole of this Class under Ragged School Instrution
Concluding Remarks
Chapter II: Greenwich and Chelsea Pensioners
Greenwich and Chelsea Pensioners
Greenwich and Chelsea Hospitals fit Adornments to the two Shores of England's Metropolis
Greenwich Hospital
The Pensioners
Their Ages
Their Present Number
The Yearly Deaths
The Infirmary for the Sick and Dying
Religious and moral Character of the Pensioners, and Providsion made for their Instruction
The Pensioners not allowed to marry, and the bad Effects of this Rule
The Royal Hospital Schools
Law Agency in a peculiar manner important with these Men
The London City Mission, the only Agency of this Character in the Hospital
Need of a Second Paid Lay Visitor
Description of the Meeting of Pensioners held daily by the Missionary
Striking Cases of Usefulness among the Pensioners by this Agency
In A.D. 1851
In A.D. 1852
In A.D. 1853
Case of Usefulness among Out-pensioners, from the Scripture Readers' Association 'Occasional paper'
Chelsea Hospital
Its Origin
Nell Gwynne's Grant of the Building
Number of In-pensioners admitted
Their Character
Out-pensioners
The Pensioners' Opinions of the late Duke of Wellington, and of Lying-in-State
The Crowds of the Public who assembled to see the Spectacle
Number of Out-pensioners in different Years, according to the Prevalence of Peace or War
The immense Cost of the Pensioners to the nation, even at the Present Day
The Hotel des Invalides in Paris, established before Chelsea Hospital in London, and a Standing Army established in France before its Establishment in Enbland
How the Disabled and Aged Soldier was previously supported in this Country
The College was not completed till the Revolution
The Interest of William the Third and Fourth in the College
The College is for Invalids also
Ages of the Pensioners
Number of Deaths annually
The Burial-ground of Chelsea Hospital, and its Remarkable Epitaphs
Burial Registers
The Funeral of a Pensioner described
Flags and Trophies recently removed from St. Paul's Cathedral to Chelsea Hospital
Specimens of Certificates of Service given to Pensioners on their Admission to the College by their Commanding Officers
The Clasps worn by Pensioners to denote the Number of Battles in which they have engaged
Guard kept at the College in Military Style
Foreigners and different Creeds among the Pensioners
The heavy Manner in which Time hangs on their Hands
Cards, &c. introduced by the Authorities of the College to remedy this
Library, and its Defects
Gardening introduced by Lord John Russell
These Gardens were the former famed Ranelagh
Great Abuses in the Management of Chelsea Hospital abolished by Lord John Russell
Regulations as to Marriage more favourable to Morals at Chelsea than at Greenwich
The Royal Military Asylum for Boys
The Wellington Fund now raising for the Children of Officers
Gratitude of the Pensioners for Religious Instruction, and their Visit to City Missionaries, when the latter had been ill
Their Interest in Religious Tracts
Their Desire of Further Instruction
Number of Out-pensioners resident in the Metropolis
Facilities for, and Importance of, Benefitting these Men
Extracts from the Reports of a Missionary of the London City Mission
The especial Claims which Pensioners present on the Christian Benevolence of the Nation, and not of the Inhabitants of London only
Thankfulness for Peace
Immense Cost of War as compared with the Insignificant Amount which would now add greatly to their Comfort, and promote their Best Interests
Danger of Delay with Men so Aged
Chapter III: The London Cab-Driver
The London Cab-Driver
The Introduction of Coaches into London in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth
The riding Horses in previous Use
Coaches when introduced only by the very Highest Class of Society, and regarded as an effeminacy
On other Classes beginning the use of Coaches, the higher Classes continued to add to the Number of the Horses by which their Coaches were drawn, in order to retain a Superiority
The Introduction of Hackney Coaches kept at Inns, in the Reign of James I
Hackney Coach-stands in the Public Streets established
These Prohibited by the Proclamations of succeeding Kings, but in vain
The Two Centuries of Hackney-coach continuance
The Last Days of London Hackney-coaches
The Cabriolets of Paris
Their subsequent Introduction in London
The immense Increase in their Number during the Twenty Years of their Existence
Their present Number
The Cab-driver
The extensive Use of London Cabs on Sundays, and its injurious Effects on the Drivers
The Extortion complained of in Cabmen
The unlicensed Driver, and the extreme Depravity of this Class
Cab-drivers as a Body exposed to unjust Odium
Recent Alteration in the System of Licensing, and its Effects
Great Difference in the Character of London Cab-stands
The Waterman
First Efforts for the Religious Welfare of Cabmen as a Body, as made by the London City Mission
A Missionary appointed by that Society to visit them, and his Great Success
A Second Missionary appointed, but soon discontinued, through want of Funds for his Support
Cases recorded of his Usefulness
The Emigration of the First Missionary, and the Appointment of his Successor, with Review of his Efforts and Success
Cases of Usefulness recorded by the Cab Missionary of the London City Mission, last Year
Chapter IV: The London Omnibus Man
The London Omnibus Man
The Introduction of Omnibuses into London, and their previous Establishment in Paris
The Enterprise of Mr. Shillibeer, in starting Omnibuses in the English Metropolis, the Difficulties he encountered, and his subsequent Ruin
The Paris and London Omnibuses of the present day compared
The constant Litigation between the Proprietors of London Omnibuses after Mr. Shillibeer's Failure, and the consequent Establishment of large Omnibus Companies for the sake of Mutual Protection
The Immense Amount of the Capital and Annual Expenditure of the London Omnibus Trade
The vast Sums of Money spent by the London Population in Omnibus Riding
The Large Amount of Revenue which London Omnibuses produce to the Government
The very small Number of Omnibuses in the remainder of England, as compared with the Number in London
The almost incredible Length of Distance traversed periodically by the London Omnibuses
The constant Increase in the Number of London Omnibuses
The Metropolitan Omnibus Traffic greater in the Number of Passengers than the Metropolitan Railway Traffic
The Condition of the London Omnibus Men, and their present Numbers
Their Sunday Occupation in the Metropolis of a professedly Christian Country scarcely less than on Week-days, and sometimes greater, while an Extreme Amount of Toil is imposed on them during the Week
Lord Shaftesbury's Testimony of the Success of an Omnibus Proprietor who Discontinued Sunday Work
Testimonies as to the Toil of Omnibus-men from the Early Closed Association
From an Occasional paper of the Church Pastoral-Aid Society
From the Rev. J. T. Baylee's 'Statistics and Facts in reference to the Lord's-day'
Extract from 'Silverpen' as to the Wives and Families of Omnibus Servants
Medical Testimony as to the Injury of Labour so hard on the Constitution of the Men
Testimonies given to Mr. Mayhew as to the Severity of the Labour, by a Driver, a Conductor, and a Time-keeper
Their Wages
Their Temptations to Drink
Their Temptations to Embezzlement
Urgent Appeal as to the Heathenism of so Large a Body of Men
Reference to the Efforts of the London City Mission, in a Pamphlet entitled 'The Omnibus Men of London'
Recent Efforts of Omnibus Servants themselves to Improve their Condition
The Grand Junction Omnibus Comopany
The Introduction of Omnibuses has brought more together the different Parts of London
Concluding Appeal
Chapter V: The Irish of London
The Irish of London
Their Numbers
Their Country and their Race
St. Patrick
Subsequent Wars
Conquest of Ireland by Henry II, and its subsequent Oppression by the English
The Reformation in Ireland
The Protestant Colony of Ulster Established
The Battle of the Boyne, and its Consequences
The Union
Remarkable Increase of Population in Ireland during the close of the 18th and the commencement of the 19th Centuries
The pleasing Peculiarities in the irish Character
Their Hospitality
Their strong Natural Affection
The Native irish Poor more virtuous than the English Poor
Even the Good Qualities of the Irish cause them especially to need Faithful and Judicious Counsel and Visitation
Their Claim as Immigrants into, to them, a Strange Land
The Excellences of the Irish Character are beheld in London in their rudest form
How Popery has Marred and Debased the Irish Character
The Irish have been made thereby Idle
They have no Proper Feeling of Independence
Their Disloyalty
Their Spirit of Persecution and Hatred to Protestants
The Irish of London require 100 Missionaries or Scripture-readers, in order that the Gospel may be brought to their Abodes
The same Agency, for the effecting the same Results, is what is especially required for the Irish of London
Cardinal Wiseman's recent Denunciation of this Agency in London
Soundness of Protestant Feeling among the English working-classes
'The testimony of no single missionary is materially different'
The Persecution which the recent London Converts have had to endure
General Expectations of Irish Romanists that Ireland will soon become a Protestant, and England a Popish Country
The Causes of the Extensive Immigration of Irish to London in Recent Years
The better Class of Poor emigrate from Ireland to America, and the worst Class to London
The Divisions of the Irish of London into Cockneys and Grecians
The Irish of London, as divided into Connaught and Munster Men
Immigration of Immoral Irish Women
The Numbers of the Irish of London who can read English and Irish respectively estimated
Irish Protestants possess more Scriptual Knowledge than English Protestants
Extreme Ignorance on Scriptural Subjects of Irish Romanists, illustrated by Examples
The Irish, on arriving in London, rapidly lose their previous Religious Habits
London considered by the Irish as an Infidel City, in which, without Loss of Character, they may live in the Neglect of all Religious Observances
The Prevalence of Drunkness among the Irish and English compared
The Rookeries are the Parts of London in which the Irish Chiefly dwell
The Occupations of the Irish of London
Especial Suitableness of Irish Scripture-readers and Misisonaries for Irish Districts and the more Especial Facilities with which they may be obtained
Future Hopes
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