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The Reaper's Corner
Man is a speculative being. The anticipation of favourable results prompts him to effort. His spirit is cheered and emboldened by success, but soon dismayed by disappointment. The man of business diligently applies himself to his daily toil, and brings to bear upon his calling all his mental and physical energies and skill, to the acquirement of wealth. The hero quits his domestic hearth, and hastens to encounter the foe, hazarding his life in order to enjoy the honours of victory and fame. The laborious lapidary, conscious that there are exquisite beauties beneath the rude exterior of the pebble he has found on the sea-shore, applies his sharp and cunning instruments in the hope of developing them. The rustic ploughman cleaves the sod, prepares the ground, and casts in the precious seed, cheered by the declaration, that “while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest shall not cease.” So, in like manner, the Christian minister, the Sabbath School teacher, and last, but not least, the Ragged School labourer, endeavour to scatter the seed of the kingdom, sowing beside all waters, in humble dependence on Divine aid and the blessing of Him who hath said, “ As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void ; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.”
The following samples or gleanings from the Ragged School vineyard are practical illustrations of the faithfulness of God to his promise ; and while they may be regarded as incentives to renewed exertions, they cannot fail of inciting gratitude to Him to whom alone the praise is justly due :
Dolphin Court School and Refuge. A boy, not fourteen years of age, stole half-a-crown from his master. The money was spent in treating some companions to beer, and tickets for the theatre. When the money was gone, he was told to steal more, and on his refusal to do so, one who had shared in the spoil betrayed him, and he was taken before a magistrate. His widowed mother begged that he might not be committed till she had made another effort to save him. She applied at the school, and the next day the superintendent saw the magistrate, and obtained the boy's discharge. A week in prison had sadly hardened him, but a short time at school had such an effect upon him, that he sought for and obtained admission to the Refuge for the Destitute, from which institution he was bound apprentice to a shoemaker, and has now served above six years of his time.
A little girl was made the means of reclaiming her father, and saving a whole family from ruin. The father was a drunkard, and his family were in a deplorable state. One evening he went home drunk, as usual, and began swearing at his wife. Our poor little scholar crept from her corner, and, addressing her wretched parent, said, “ Father, my teacher says, if you get drunk and swear, you will never go where God is.' The arrow struck to his heart; the man burst into tears, and from that time he has been a sober man, his family have been cared for and decently clothed, and they are taken by him to the house of God.
A boy, whose father and mother died when he was quite young, had
to job about for a living, and when work failed, became a beggar, his only home a dry arch or a butcher's block. This boy after admission went on well, had two places of work, and gained a good character in each, being now in another situation, and doing well.
M. B., aged twenty-four, left home quite young, and went to live with an aunt-came to London and got a place-was taken ill and forced to leave lived by the sale of her clothing, and then went on the streets. For three years she was either on the streets or in prison-wilfully incurring imprison. ment by breaking street-lamps, to get rid of the filthrand vermin she gathered in her wretched course. At the end of three years, she was a servant at an infamous house at the east of London, where she became such a drunkard that she could drink a pint of gin before breakfast; but tired of her course of life, she obtained admission to the Refuge. She had been a Sabbath scholar when young, and the good seed, though buried so long, was not dead; for she became anxious about her soul, and being sent as a servant to a pious family, was enabled to improve her condition by removing to another, in which she was some months, and was subsequently taken to Australia by her third master and mistress, who paid her passage.
J. A., seventeen years of age, had run away from home several times, and after leading a very dissolute course for three years, she was forced, as is mostly the case, to seek admission to an hospital: there she heard of the Refuge, and on gaining admittance, behaved well, and was sent to service, where she still remains.
E. L., sixteen years of age. Her father and mother had separated, and left the girl to the mercy of the world. Sometimes she had paid for shelter in the corner of a room, at others had done half-a-day's washing to obtain a lodging. She obtained a situation-few people, however, are aware of what situations poor girls take to get a living. This girl's master was a Jew old, clothes-man, and, with his wife, three children, and their servant, occupied one room. When it was proposed that she should be sent out as an emigrant, a friend of the schools took her from her place, and gave her board and lodging for several weeks. Her father was informed of what was intended to be done, but never troubled himself even to call and see her. The mother, when she heard of it, went to the house, cursed and swore at the girl, and expressed the only wish she felt concerning her, which was, that the ship might sink, and the girl go to the bottom with it. This was a mother's farewell to her only child! The girl was sent to Adelaide, and was there engaged immediately as servant to a respectable family, commencing at once at £20 a-year, with board and lodging. What a contrast between the situation in England and the one in Australia! What the poor Ragged School girl may become, it is impossible to tell; what she has already attained through Ragged School training and influence, is sufficient to prove that these schools are not working in vain.
L. H. had been discharged from service, the mistress detaining her clothes, After wandering the streets two nights and days, she was directed to the Refuge, was admitted, and recovered her clothes. She behaved well, and was sent to a situation, where she conducted herself so as to obtain a good character, and was thus enabled to seek a better place, which she now retains, and is earning £8 a-year wages.
M. K., an Irish girl, came to England to look after an uncle, of whom she knew nothing but that he lived in London. The poor girl wandered about almost starving, only getting a little food occasionally, and sleeping at night in the casual wards of workhouses. She was admitted to the Refuge; a decent place offering, she was fitted out and sent to it, and there she has been for eight months. She has an excellent character.
S. F., aged eleven years, was found at the bar of a police-court charged
with felony, and there were several charges of the same kind to be preferred against her. An offer having been made to take care of her at the Refuge, the magistrate allowed the charge to be withdrawn. From the time of her admission she conducted herself well, and after having been frequently tested. aş to her honesty, was restored to her parents quite reclaimed.
Anchor Street Ragged School, Shoreditch. A. P., seventeen years of age, was apprenticed to a shoemaker, and twice ran away from his master. His parents were respectable, having kept a' boarding school for twenty years near London, but he lost them both by cholera, and was found in Anchor Street in the most wretched condition. He was clothed and lodged for a fortnight at the expense of the teachers, who endeavoured to induce his master again to take him; but in the mean time he absconded, taking with him a box of blacking, matches, etc., which he had been sent to sell as a trial of his honesty. Some months afterwards he was found in Whitechapel workhouse ill of a fever, where he was again visited by one of the teachers, who ultimately succeeded in reconciling him to his former master, and the poor boy is now a reformed character.
C. P., brother of the above, was thrown upon the world without a friend, after having had a boarding-school education, and was boarded and lodged for some time at the expense of one of the teachers; he has since had three situations, and is now living as page to a gentleman, who has promised to be a friend to him, as he has no parents.
A. M., an Irish girl from the county of Munster, who had lost her father and mother by fever during the late famine, was found in the greatest distress ;
she had been for some time out of a situation, had no clothes but those she had on, and being quite destitute of money, asked one of the teachers for a penny. He kindly relieved her, and after inquiring into her case, took her into his own house for a time, and afterwards procured for her a respectable situation, in which she is giving great satisfaction.
Union Mews, Wells Street, Oxford Street. T. M. has been in the school about six years; was exceedingly wayward, and gave much trouble to his teacher ; chewed tobacco to a great degree. About two years ago a decided improvement took place; he became more regular in attendance, and remained at the prayer meetings; he left off smoking and chewing-indeed, became a teetotaller, One year since, he expressed a wish to become a teacher, which was complied with, and his altered habits and unassuming manners, together with the interest he displays in the school, have greatly attached the teachers to him.
"THE RAGGED SCHOOL CONVERT."
To the Editor of the Ragged School Union Magazine. MY DEAR SIR,--Not a few of your readers may remember that in the March number of your Magazine for 1851, there appeared, under the above heading, an interesting narrative of a youth who had been converted in one of our Ragged Schools. Although having a drunken and most abandoned father, possessing few opportunities for usefulness and improvement, with
the jeers and ridicule of former associates to contend against, he had proved the genuineness of his conversion by eighteen months' consistent conduct and zeal for the honour of Christ and the spiritual welfare of his old companions in crime. He was anxious to devote his life to this work; and the narrative concluded by proposing that a small fund sḥould be raised to put him about eighteen months to school, and give him such other training as would fit him for Home Missionary labour. It was expected that by thus making the proposal known, a small sum would be obtained as a beginning; but so great was the interest manifested in the case, that in the course of a few months from £90 to £100 was received. Being one of the originators of the effort, and having taken a special oversight of the youth during the last two and a half years, now that the work is so far completed, I consider it due to those friends who so liberally assisted us, to give them an account of his conduct and progress.
Before sending him to school, it was found necessary to place him in a private lodging, and thus remove him beyond the influence and control of his wretched and abandoned father. But the preliminary steps were accomplished with difficulty. As he usually spent his son's earnings in drink, the arrangement was opposed in wrath and with threatenings. And as it was feared that he might follow the poor lad to his new home, the youth was instructed to leave in his father's absence, and, without giving his address, refer him to me for full particulars. The result of this was a few morning visits, not of a very agreeable character ; but the storm once over, we were left to pursue our course without interruption.
As might be expected, his progress in learning was at first slow; but by patient and constant perseverance, he has now attained a proficiency highly creditable to himself, and satisfactory to his teachers and friends. It has been my privilege to see him several times weekly during the entire course of his education; to have him engage with me in works of usefulness, and in attendance at the same place of worship. I have exercised a superintendence over his affairs, and carefully observed his general conduct; and it is with peculiar pleasure I have now to state that our highest expectations have been realized, and that during the two years and a half he has been under our care his walk and conversation have at all times been becoming the Gospel of Christ. In the Sabbath School, where he proved a faithful and devoted teacher, he has left many attached friends; and it is interesting to know that one of the most careless boys of his class has for the last twelve months given hopeful evidences of conversion to God. During the last few months he has been receiving private instruction in theological subjects, and more recently, has been accompanying a local missionary in his visits to his district, and has thereby acquired a preliminary acquaintance with the work in which it is his ardent wish to be engaged. It is believed by his friends that he is now well qualified for that work, and as the fund placed at their disposal is exhausted, they are now making arrangements for his future employment. He has a strong desire to be located on the district from which he was taken, where he spent his early days in sin, and first received a knowledge of the truth; and although this would be objectionable in some respects, yet taking all the circumstances into account, with the respect which for years has been shown him by the people there, and even by his old associates in sin, it has been considered the wisest arrangement. There is scarcely a district in London in greater need of missionary agency. It is one of the lowest in Bethnal Green, and although very much has been done by the excellent teachers of the Ragged Schools there, yet a missionary is much required for domiciliary visitation ; and from the humility and prudence exemplified by our Ragged School protégé, we believe him to be well-fitted for the work; but being only in his twenty-first year, he is too young for the City Mission, as candidates are not accepted by them under twenty-four. It has therefore been resolved to raise a special fund for the purpose, and to place him under
the direction of a small committee, who will carefully superintend and assist him in his labours.
Your readers may remember, that in the original narrative of this youth, the case of another lad was incidentally mentioned-one of his companions in sin-whom he had brought to school, and who was ultimately converted to God. Through the kind liberality and perseverance of Miss Peek—who also acted as treasurer, and rendered valuable assistance in the other case—this lad was sent to a training institution, and is now prepared to enter, upon
his duties as a schoolmaster, also in the same district. He is to be in the employment of the Ragged School Committee there, and promises to render valuable service to that neglected locality. Thus these children of the streets have been gathered in, taught by God, trained to do his work, and will shortly be engaged in the evangelization of that very neighbourhood they once corrupted by their sins! T'hese, sir, are precious fruits of Ragged School labour, and may well encourage us to persevere.
But I must hastily conclude this letter, which I fear is already too long for your pages. As scarcely any funds can be obtained from the neighbourhood itself for the support of the young missionary, I trust that not a few of your readers will aid us in this most interesting work. We do not ask this as an act of charity to him-for he is now to labour for what he receives—but out of compassion to the perishing souls whose salvation he is to seek. It may be stated that an agent of the City Mission was once employed on the same district, but was removed for want of local aid; but I sincerely trust that our present effort may meet with a better fate. I cannot perhaps give a more fitting conclusion to this letter than by appending the following note from the Rev. Dr. Hamilton, of Regent Square, in whose church our young missionary has been a member for the last two and a half years :
Regent Square, August 16th, 1853. MY DEAR SIR,—As you have asked me to state my opinion regarding Mr. H., I have great pleasure in complying. I have been much impressed by his deep and earnest piety. Judging from a paper which I heard bim read, I think he has more than usual ability, and his fervent desire of usefulness will turn that ability to the best account. It, by the grace of God, he is preserved as humble and as devoted to the Lord's service, and as diligent and successful in his efforts at self-improvement as he is at present, I have no doubt that he will turn out an eminent blessing to society, and no small comfort to those who have shown him kindness.
I remain, my dear Sir, yours very truly, Mr. A. ANDERSON.
I shall gratefully receive and acknowledge whatever contributions may
be sent for this new effort, and it will be an additional favour to the many you have rendered in connection with this case, if you will kindly take charge of sums that may be more conveniently sent to you at Exeter Hall.
I am, Sir, yours very faithfully,
ALEXANDER ANDERSON. 51, Great Ormond S'reet, London,
August 20th, 1853.
[The persons and particulars above referred to are well known to us, and it is with much pleasure that we now insert a letter which gives the results of past labours, and opens up fresh plans for the future. We feel confident that greater economy, consistent with efficiency, could not have been adopted than has been practised by our friends in the support and education of the “Ragged School Convert.” The same care, economy, and oversight will, we are sure, be continued in the expenditure of any further sums placed at the disposal of our esteemed Correspondent and his coadjutors.-ED.]