Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

the simplest description-a couple of stained deal tables and a few forms in the lower room, and ingeniously swung hammocks, a separate one for each boy, in the dormitory. Every inmate has likewise his particular clothes chest, marked with his name. Ornaments are entirely absent, except two or three Scripture prints in the dining-room ; the intention of the Committee evidently being to accustom their protégés to the accommodation they will probably have to meet with in their progress through life. The food supplied to them is simple but abundant, and is seasoned with that best of sauces, labour, for there is a strict observance of the rule, “If a man will not work, neither shall he eat." The daily routine is very briefly described. Master and pupils rise at six o'clock, and the latter work in the field, under the superintendence of an intelligent and well-trained labourer, until eight, when they breakfast. A chapter in the Bible is then read and prayer offered, after which work is resumed until half-past twelve, when dinner is served, and is again succeeded by work until about five. The remainder of the evening is devoted either to amusement or instruction ; the latter, which at present is unsyste. matic, is shortly to be placed under the direction of the industrial master from the adjacent Training College. On Sundays the boys attend divine service at Saltley Church, and in the afternoon of that day some of the college students afford them instruction proper to the season. Once a week the inmates are allowed to visit their friends, and so far are they from manifesting any desire to escape, that it is no unfrequent occurrence for them to return with half-a-dozen of their former companions, for whose admission they strongly intercede. A thorough system of self-government has been adopted, in order to impart to the pupils independent and thinking habits. Twice a week they assemble, under Mr. Ellis's control, to hear complaints and redress wrongs; and if even the weakest boy feels aggrieved, he meets with a tribunal ready to administer justice. Supposing, for example, that a boy has thrown a stone, or used improper language, his fellows inquire into the offence and determine the penalty, and this passes into a law, to be applied to all ordinary cases of a similar description. When their decisions are sanctioned by the master, they acquire the force of bye-laws, and a few words of reproof and admonition from Mr. Ellis, or, in extreme cases, a hint at expulsion, is sufficient to bend the most stubborn will; for there is nothing they dread so much as the withdrawal of the privileges they enjoy. The introduction of this family principle has produced the most beneficial results. At first the elder boys attempted to tyrannize over the younger, and those who had known each other before used the old nick-names. Swearing was very prevalent, and fighting frequent; but finding that they were associated as a family, the boys began to feel affection for each other, and to regard their master as a father. Acted upon by his example, and that of his son, a re, markably intelligent youth, about thirteen years old, they became peaceful and moral ; and when one of their number had grossly overstepped the rules, and been expelled, the others have begged his re-admission with as much earnestness as they would display for one who was really their brother. Fights are now unknown, and swearing very rarely occurs. The process of reformation has been materially aided by the manner in which emulation is induced rather than inculcated. When the colony entered on its new house, about June last, each boy had allotted to him twenty square yards of land as a garden, and Mr. Ellis offered a prize of 1s. for the best and earliest bunch of radishes. The prize was eagerly competed for, the youthful gardeners working in their leisure evening hours, and some of them rising earlier in the morning. Proud indeed was the winner, but still more elated was the gainer of a yet higher prize. In order to foster habits of voluntary industry, a prize of 58. was offered to the boy who could show the best-kept garden on the first of the present month, 2s. 6d. to the second, and 1s. to the third best. The result of this has been that all the gardens are well kept, and it became a matter of no small difficulty to decide to whom the prizes

an hour

last;

belonged. They were, therefore, adjudged by a neighbouring farm bailiff; his decision was in its turn submitted to the boys at their weekly meeting, and they unanimously acquiesced in it. A piece of ground is now being broken up into gardens of about 250 square yards, one of which will be allotted to each boy, who will be supplied with seeds, and will then be allowed to sell the produce of his ground, which he must cultivate in his leisure time. Some of these allotments are already tenanted, and their occupiers were, during our visit, as busily employed as emigrants newly settled in the bush. The little farm (for so it may be called) is in the best order, and, thanks to the excellent spade husbandry bestowed upon it, has produced a fair crop of vegetables. The land has been twice dug, trenched, and pipe-drained; and the history of the drainage proves how much reliance may be placed upon the efforts even of boys. They commenced the task on the 18th of November

and when it was known that they intended thoroughly to drain the land, even experienced persons laughed at the idea, for the soil is a stiff clay, and the drains were to be laid four feet deep. However, the master, Mr. Ellis, took the spade in hand, and, followed by his troop of obedient boys, commenced the work, which was really of the hardest kind. A large drain was dug across the field, and then twelve other drains were laid to flow into it; and those who laughed were proved for once to be in the wrong, for these boys, who had never touched spade before, effectually drained the field by laying, in the course of about two months, nearly 1,600 yards of tile drain, four feet deep in the clay.

The facts we have mentioned will show something of the progress made by the institution in the accomplishment of its most praiseworthy object; and we are sure that any of our readers who choose to investigate the subject for themselves will not only be astonished and delighted with the results already achieved, but will become anxious to aid in their extension, by contributing their money, and lending their influence to increase the capabilities of the school ; for, unfortunately, there are hundreds of boys in Birmingham who equally need reformation, and who might as effectually be reclaimed as those who present such noble examples of the power of kindness at the admirablo institution at Saltley.- Birmingham Gazette.

THE LATE ACCIDENT AT BREWER'S COURT. We are desirous of calling the attention of our readers to a report that has been widely spread, respecting the partial fall of the Ragged School premises in the densely populated neighbourhood of Great Wild Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields. The statements in some of the papers were tolerably correct, but in others, grossly exaggerated. Our friends will find the facts of the case in the following letter we have just received from the Honorary Secretary of the schools :Brewer's Court Ragged Schools, Great Wild Street, Drury Lane.

Sept. 12th, 1853. DEAR SIR,—The report, which has gone the round of the newspapers, respecting the “

Falling of a Portion of Great Wild Street Ragged School, not being quite correct, permit me, on behalf of the Committee, to solicit your

kindness in inserting the following statement in next month's number of your

valuable magazine, for the better information of our friends. An arrangement having been made with the Reformation Society, through one of its agents, for a weekly controversial lecture, or discussion, as the case might be, with our Roman Catholic neighbours, the school-room was lent for that purpose, and on last Thursday evening at 8 o'clock, the first lecture was delivered by Mr. Donaldson. Although when it began, few were present,

yet subsequently a larger number of persons, especially Irish Romanists, assembled than had been anticipated. The lecture proceeded with but little interruption till towards its conclusion, when those at the back part of the room began to manifest strong symptoms of turbulence, moving about, and mounting on the benches, and commenced, as is too often the case with Irish Romanists on such occasions, to clamour and denounce Protestantism. At

moment one of the benches snapped in its centre and threw down several persons, the weight of whom fell upon what proved to be the weakest part of the flooring, causing it to yield to the pressure, and carrying away the remaining joists; the whole party, occupying a space of about 10 feet by 10 feet, sank gradually, amid screams for help, and the crashing of the breaking flooring boards, into the cellar beneath, a depth of, say, seven feet.

The alarm was truly very great, nor is it to be wondered at, considering that the awful calamity in the Strand only occurred a few hours previous, which circumstance, no doubt, was impressed on the poor people's minds. Words fail to describe its effects, especially on some who had, only a moment before, been bold and daring in infidelity, sneering and scoffing at God's Word, or bitter in blasphemies. The crowd rushed wildly to the doors and windows, which were violently burst open or broken in their anxiety to escape; while false reports spreading with the rapidity of the Electric Telegraph through the neighbourhood, an immense crowd assembled outside and within the premises; some cried one thing and some another; and the utmost confusion might have prevailed and led to serious consequences, had it not been for the timely arrival of Inspector Wilkinson and a strong body of police. The parish and three other fire engines were speedily on the spot; but in the meantime, with the exception of one gentleman, no one remained to render assistance to the struggling people below, all having decamped at the first alarm. He succeeded in extricating most of them, whom he had dragged up successively, till his strength failing, a man of the name of Peter Taylor courageously entered the room and took his place.

I am most happy to add that the newspaper reporter was correct in stating that “most were more frightened tban hurt, although I fear that several must have wounded themselves very severely whilst smashing the windows in their attempts to escape.

Both you and the friends of Ragged Schools will perceive that our appeal at the last annual meeting for the establishment of a building fund was by no means premature; this accident, however unpleasant to those involved at the time, being a decided confirmation of the appeal.

I remain, dear Sir, yours respectfully,

RICHARD LETT, Hon. Sec. A single glance at this locality is sufficient to prove the importance of a Ragged School, to snatch some of the thousands of unprotected, untaught, neglected children from the depth of misery and degradation, moral, mental, and physical, in which they are plunged. And not only a school such as has been in progressive and successful operation the last four years, but one of at least double its size. The difficulty at the outset, to obtain suitable premises, is still felt by the Committee. They were in the first instance compelled to commence their operations in the ground-floor room of the first house in Brewer's Court, and this being insufficient, they added an adjoining room of the next house by cutting through the partition wall. And notwith. standing the inconvenience endured, more than two thousand children have partaken more or less of the benefits imparted.

The neighbourhood of Great Wild Street has been with great propriety enumerated among the “ROOKERIES OF LONDON,” the nucleus for which was

formed in the early part of the sixteenth century; for while it is said that "cattle were seen grazing where Great Queen Street now is," and that "the few houses in the neighbourhood were surrounded by fields,” there were 897 houses rated, and as many as twenty courts and alleys adjacent named. These were doubtless built as dwellings for the poor, and the larger houses having been gradually deserted by their wealthy inhabitants as the tide swept northward and westward, have now become entirely tenanted by the most destitute of the population.

At the time of the accident, there was a Day School containing 120 scholars, an Evening School with an attendance of about 40 boys and 30 girls, and a Sabath School at which from 60 to 70 scholars attended.

The lease of the premises will expire in a little more than two years, and the Committee are anxious to raise funds in order to provide a more substantial and commodious building. And we most cordially and earnestly wish them speedy success, and trust their necessities will meet with a liberal and prompt response.

REPORT ON CRIMINAL AND DESTITUTE CHILDREN BY THE

SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. THE Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons to inquire into " the present treatment of criminal and destitute children, and what changes are desirable in their present treatment in order to supply industrial training and to combine reformation with due correction of juvenile crime,” presented their Report with the second volume of evidence to the House of Commons shortly before its prorogation. This second volume is well worthy a careful perúsal by all interested in this momentous question.

The following are the conclusions arrived at by the Select Committee:

1. That it is the opinion of this Committee that a great amount of juvenile destitution, ignorance, vagrancy, and

crime, has long existed in this country, for which no adequate remedy has yet been provided.

2. That the existence of similar evils in France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the United States, has been met by vigorous efforts in those countries; and, in the opinion of this Committee, sound policy requires that

country should promptly adopt measures for the same purpose. 3. That it appears to this Committee to be established by the evidence, that a large proportion of the present aggregate of crime might be prevented, and thousands of miserable human beings, who have before them under our present system nothing but a hopeless career of wickedness and vice, might be converted into virtuous, honest, and industrious citizens, if due care were taken to rescue destitute, neglected, and criminal children from the dangers and temptations incident to their position.

4. That a great proportion of the criminal children of this country, especially those convicted for their first offences, appear rather to require systematic education, care, and industrial occupation, than mere punishment.

5. That the common jails and houses of correction do not generally provide suitable means for the educational or corrective treatment of young children, who ought, when guilty of crime, to be treated in a manner different from the ordinary punishments of adult criminals.

6. That various private reformatory establishments for young criminals have proved successful, but are not sure of permanent support; and are deficient in legal control over the inmates.

this

7. That Penal Reformatory Establishments ought to be instituted for the detention and correction of criminal children convicted before magistrates or courts of justice of serious offences.

8. That such Penal Reformatory Establishments ought to be founded and supported entirely at the public cost, and to be under the care and inspection of the Government.

9. That Reformatory Schools should be established for the education and correction of children convicted of minor offences.

10. That such Reformatory Schools should be founded and supported partially by local rates and partially by contributions from the state, and that power should be given for raising the necessary amount of local rates.

11. That power should be given to the Government to contract with the managers of Reformatory Schools, founded and supported by voluntary contributions, for the care and maintenance of criminal children within such institutions.

12. That the delinquency of children, in consequence of which they may become subjects of penal or reformatory discipline, ought not to relieve parents from their liability to maintain them.

13. That in any legislation upon this subject, it is essential that power should be given, under such restrictions as may be necessary to prevent hardship or injustice, to recover from parents the whole or a portion of the cost of the maintenance of their children while detained in reformatory institutions.

14. That it is also essential that power should be given to detain children placed in such institutions so long as may be necessary for their reformatior; provided always that no child be so detained after the

age

of 16. 15. That the summary jurisdiction, with respect to criminal children given to magistrates by 10 & 11 Vic. c. 82, has had a beneficial tendency, as far as it has been exercised.

16. That, in addition to the discretion which is given by that statute to any court before which a child is charged with any minor offence to dismiss such child on sureties being found for its future good behaviour, a power should be given in such cases, in default of such sureties, to send the child to a Reformatory School. 17. That if during

any child's detention in a Reformatory School satisfactory sureties should be offered for its future good behaviour, there should be power to release such child from further detention.

18. That, irrespectively of the high moral considerations which are involved in this subject, this Committee desire to express their belief, that whatever may be the cost of such schools and establishiments, they would be productive of great pecuniary saving, by the effect which they would have in diminishing the sources from which our criminal population is now constantly recruited, and thereby reducing the great cost of the administration of the criminal law.

19. Thať the education given in workhouses, although improved of late, has not been sufficiently directed to industrial training, which the Committee deem to be of especial value, as affording the best means of enabling children to provide for themselves the means of independent support upon leaving the work house.

20. That it is essential for the future welfare of children in workhouses that such arrangements should be made as will prevent the possibility of their intermixing with the adult classes, to the moral detriment of the children.

21. That from the expense attending the building of District Schools, under 7 & 8 Vic. c. 101, but few unions have combined for the purpose of establishing such schools; but where such schools have been established, they have effected much good.

22. That it is expedient that greater facilities should be given to the guardians of different unions to combine for the purpose of establishing such

« AnteriorContinuar »