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watering the stately trees upon its banks, which adorned the magnificent mansion of the Bishop of Ely
Shakspeare refers to this mansion, with its pleasure-ground, in his “Richard III.,” in which drama the Duke of Gloucester, at the council in the Tower, thus addresses the good Bishop :
“My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
saw good strawberries in your garden there ;
I do beseech you, send for some of them.” In the year 1531, King Henry, with his Queen Catherine of Arragon, and the foreign ambassadors, attended a splendid banquet given by the Sergeantsat-law at the Ely House. Who that now visits the locality of Field Lane and Saffron Hill, could possibly be induced to believe that such a change could have taken place! and it is very improbable that the good Bishop erer contemplated that the memory of his terrestial paradise would live in the crumbling streets of a rookery, and be preserved in the graphic description as given by the pen of the Rev. T. Beamish, who writes:
“ The imagination paints its infancy in glowing colours—the lordly Bishop -some mitred abbot with his stately palace—his garden, through which the impetuous river rushed in its course to the Thames, a pleasant place for eye to look upon, with its tiers of terraces and goodly trees, its aviaries, its foun: tains, its sculptures of fantastic and grotesque forms, its oratories shaded from observation by hanging groves; and then the long retinue, the train of attendants, the pomp, the state, the portly form, which seemed to mock the accents of humility which the lips repeated. The scene changes, and there is the Lord Hatton, Elizabeth's Chancellor, with his train of menials, and the ensigns of a judge's state, in days when the younger sons of decayed families were glad to discharge a menial office about the person of one whom the Queen honoured; the open fields, ringing to the cry of hounds, or the shouts of the gay train pursuing the sport of hawking, in the very neighbourhood of Ely House. Now squalid misery and crowded courts, the black Fleet Ditch, and the mouldering rookery, supply the place once tenanted by forms the painter would love to depict, and by scenes which call up the merry days of good Queen Bess."
“ The modern condition of Saffron Hill entitles it to a high rank among THE ROOKERIES OF LONDON. Such colonies there are, we need not repeat, in most parishes; St. Giles's does not stand alone, and Saffron Hill has a strong claim to the second place.”
Centuries have rolled away since it was visited by royalty, but we rejoice to know that it has not escaped the ever wakeful and watchful eye of the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, and that he has put it into the hearts of his servants to care for this depraved pauper colony. The humble, but faithful Christian visitor and Ragged School Teacher, hazarded the dangers and encountered the difficulties which in the first instance met them at every step: They felt it to be their duty to do the utmost to ameliorate the condition of the adult portion of the population, but their chief hope of permanent usefulness was with the infant and juvenile class. Small rooms in Field Lane and Turk's Head Yard were opened, and the opportunities of instruction were afforded to old and young. Most of our readers are aware of the extensive operations carried on in the Field Lane School, and it is hopeful and grati. fying to know that there many festivals have been held—not banquets of wine, but meetings for conference and prayer, in which Peers of the realm have mingled with all classes, all having but one grand object in view, namely, the restoration of this sunken and debased locality, to that physical, moral, and religious state, which will secure an exchange of misery for happiness.
It is, however, very probable that to most frequenters of that excellent school, it is unknown that within a little more than two hundred yards from its site, in a very retired spot, on a portion of the Fleet Ditch, up one pair
of stairs, the school, commenced in “ Turk's Head Yard,” is still held. Its operations are confined to the day, but it is the means of a vast amount of good. It is conducted by a most indefatigable teacher, whose self-denying labours have been continued from its commencement. The children regard her not merely as the schoolmistress, but one of their best earthly friends, and seem to be most ardently attached to her. From 80 to 110 are gathered daily here, from the contaminating vices of the streets and homes in which they live, and brought under the counteracting influences of moral and religious training. The pallid countenances of most, present certain indications of the close and unhealthy condition of their homes, and of the short allowance of food supplied them. The half-starved, ill-clad, and sickly appearance of many of the poor little creatures, as they come shivering into the school on a winter's morning, cannot fail to excite sympathy in any beholder. There are no funds to provide food for these little hungry ones, but as a saucepan of rice or broth is occasionally to be seen simmering on the fire, the teacher, in reply to questions put, has reluctantly admitted that out of her scanty pittance she had furnished these provisions, to distribute among those children, who either from neglect or inability of parents were in great need. We are aware, the propriety of giving food under such circumstances may be questioned on many grounds. In some cases it may be a good, while in others an evil; but in the case of mere helpless infants the query vanishes, and we cannot but sympathise with a teacher, who, apart from motives of humanity, has to contend with the difficulty of engaging the mind of the child, while it is suffering from the pinch of hunger and cold.
The children gathered here belong to persons of uncertain occupationtrampers, beggars, street-singers, dog's-meat men, crossing sweepers, pie-men, muffin-sellers, dealers in lucifer matches, water-cresses, fruits, and sweetmeats, cabmen, dustmen, orangemen, and sellers of images. Some of the parents are known to have been in good circumstances, but by intemperance and dissipation have become reduced to their present wretched condition. The children of such, having been used to comforts, are the less able to rough it, and are objects of extreme pity. Some are fatherless, some motherless, some have lost both parents, and some few have been deserted. Few have ever been to any other school, and their attainments in secular education and scriptural knowledge are very gratifying. Many that were first admitted, have partaken more or less of the benefits of the institution, and have long since been carried away by the migratory stream which is constantly removing the inhabitants; and it is fondly hoped they are spreading the salutary influence of the benefits conferred, wherever their lot may now be cast. Others are now battling with the world, and striving to enjoy the luxury of honesty, and creditably earning their bread. The gratitude of some is frequently expressed and manifested, by communications with the teacher, who can give the names of some dozen who received their entire education in this school, are now servants in respectable families, and express themselves indebted to this school for their present happy and useful position in society.
This school was one of the sixteen found to be in operation in London when the Ragged School Union was formed, and with the others, taken under its wing; but it is a matter of regret that little other support than that furnished by the Union has been afforded. Believing that the facts of the case have only to be made known, and the means for its better sustenance and extension will be forthcoming, we leave the matter in the hands of our benevolent readers, to whom a season" for the exercise of liberality, and a purpose” for doing good, are now presented.
[Contributions in behalf of the Fleet Ditch School will be most gratefully received by F.Cuthbertson, Esq., 123, Aldersgate Street, or by Mr. J. G. Gent, 1, Exeter Hall. -Ed.]
LIGHT AND DARKNESS. The powers of light and darkness have struggled together for the mastery from the beginning of time, and will go on struggling to the end of it. We see it in the Bible, from the beginning to its close--from Genesis to Rerelations. We mark it in all the past history of mankind, and we may observe it daily in the world around us, and even among those who profess to love and to teach the truth, some of whom hold and preach error rather than truth, and “love darkness rather than light:”-not to mention a church in the midst of us, professing with daring effrontery to hold the truth, and yet propagating the foulest and most deadly error; a church professing to guide erring souls aright, and yet continuing, as we think, to be blind leaders of the blind. What do we find in our Reformed Church of England, with her scriptural Articles ? What do we find some of the men who subscribed to them now teaching? The erroneous teaching of those who are called Puseyites, is generally acknowledged, but seldom realized ; its pernicious effect upon the young is seldom noticed. We know a parish at this moment, where the incumbent and his curate are preaching most unscriptural doctrines, the one stating broadly to his cong egation, that they must not read the Bible except under the guidance of their minister, and that without his guidance it is a dangerous book ; the other, that they need not ask for the grace of God's Holy Spirit, as that is only bestowed on the ordained ministers of the church. We know of another, (who was appointed by the Lord Bishop of London himself,) who declares that “
the great Physician" for all human evil “is the Church and her sacraments." We know of another in the same diocese, who not long ago told his congregation, when preaching from Christ's words to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again,” that these words could not be addressed to them, as they had all been baptized, and therefore had already undergone the change there spoken of!
But we seldom regard this erroneous teaching as reaching down to the young; and it does in many ways, and must have a most pernicious influence worse almost than Popery itself-just from its disguised and specious form. We have no doubt that the following case is a sample of many that might be given :- In a National School the question was asked of the children, “ Can å deacon forgive sins ?” The answer was, · No.” “Can a priest forgive síns?” Answer, “Yes.”
But what are Romanists about in their schools ; teaching truth, or reading God's word, or enlightening the minds of the little ones committed to their care ? Verily, no. Take for example the following, witnessed by ourselves :
Visiting one evening in November among the Ragged Schools of Bethnal Green, and highly pleased at their improved and Scriptural teaching, we stumbled upon a Roman Catholic school." We made bold to enter. A large number were present, old and young, sitting most devoutly listening to a foreign priest, who was instructing them out of a book he held in his hand. Some one hundred and fifty were there; they had come no doubt for instruction. They looked very ignorant, but they were very attentive. What was the nature and character of his teaching ! Fabulous trash. He was telling themour fellow-citizens, living in our midst, amid gospel light -- that a certain man having died unbaptized, he was brought to life again by a certain saint; the man related all that occurred to him after death; ħow he was brought before God's judgment-seat, and then condemned to a place of everlasting punishment, not because he had sinned and come short of the glory of God, but because he had never been baptized, etc. And this is the teaching our working men and women are receiving from a certain church. Is the teaching of some of our own Reformed Church any better? Are they not afraid of the poor knowing too much of the Bible ? Do they not discourage simple Scripture teaching in Mothers' Meetings and Ragged Schools ? And yet these are ministers of the Church of England, occupying her pulpits and receiving her pay. But we thank God there are others in our Church who are
not doing the devil's work and opposing the truth, but are manfully fighting under Christ's banner against the powers of darkness. And thus goes on the struggle betwixt light and darkness in the very midst of us every day. In the very locality
where the Romanist School above-named disseminates profane and childish fables, there are several Ragged Schools carried on by active Christian teachers, and spreading light all around. The devoted and zealous Rector of Whitechapel is at the head of several not far off, and lends his aid in every possible way to render them efficient, to dispel heathen darkness, and diffuse Gospel light. The Rev. Hugh Allen also does his part, and any one who doubts it, let him just visit, as we did last month, the Ragged Schools in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green., (See list in last Annual Report of Ragged School Union, as to the Schools in Osborn Place, Spicer Street, New Nichol Street, and Colchester Street.) They will return home as we did, with hearts full of wonder, love, and praise.
Again, in the parish of St. George's, Southwark, so long neglected and given up to ignorance and vice—so beset with Romanists and their agents, who oppose the truth in every possible way-the Rector lately appointed, the Rev. W. Cadman, has already established six Ragged Schools, and is Torking them with most indefatigable zeal and perseverance. Above fifty voluntary teachers have already, lent their aid, and the Ragged School Union having voted the committee of these schools a considerable grant, the worthy Rector is encouraged to go forward, and his large heart is full of courage and hope for the future.
Certain it is, that the Romanists in that quarter, with their magnificent cathedral and crowding worshippers, find they have no devil's agent in the new rector, who has already shown much of a Luther's energy, mingled with a Melanchthon's meekness and piety. God speed the man ! say we; and God prosper all who are thus struggling against the powers of darkness! In one evening we saw five of Mr. Cadman's Ragged Schools, White Street, Lant Street, Red Cross Court, Moreton Place, and Webber's Row. Any one else can do the same any evening, from half-past six to half-past eight. sure they will say with us, God bless the work!
We could name other parts of London-St. Giles's and St. George's, Bloomsbury, for example-where light is being diffused in opposition to the agency and
powers of darkness, by various instrumentalities ; not only by daily teaching of Scriptural truth to the young, but by Adult Evening Classes, Mothers' Meetings, Ragged Chapels for the poor, etc.
But we have detailed enough for this month, and trust we have made our friends, who value simple Gospel truths reflect each for himself, what he is doing to dispel darkness, and bring in Gospel light; to put down evil, and bring forth good, to examine into his own conduct, and search about his locality, if haply he may find deficiencies he never saw before, and work to do that he never dreamt of till now. Let him be assured, that however humble his station, or limited his sphere of action, he yet has an influence for good or evil on all around him, and that he is bound, by his duty to God and his fellow-man, to use that influence constantly, earnestly, and prayerfully, believing that God will bless the faithful possessor of even one talent, if it be improved to God's glory, and man's eternal well-being.
P. S.-On the point of erroneous teaching in the English Church, we have, since the above was written, been informed, that a certain Rector, not far from Smithfield, (once a warm advocate for Ragged Schools,) has declared open war against the Ragged School in his district, because the managers of it do not think it wise to introduce the Church of England Catechism. We also observe by a letter in the “Daily News,” that at St. Barnabas, Pimlico, (the notorious Mr. Bennett’s old place,) the Puseyite party are at their old tricks among the young as well as the old; “ that the crucifix and crosses are presented to the children of the schools ; and that out of some
forty books to be given to the children, the majority are Catholic in teaching; that the Bible is altogether excluded; and that Popish prints are distributed, evidencing Mariolatry in its most disgusting form." We regard both these as additional examples of the contest going on between “ Light and Darkness."
BRUTALIZING SPORT. The greatest obstacles perhaps to the progress of Ragged Schools, are the parents of the children for whom these schools were more especially established. The scenes of wretchedness and vice which are constantly presented to the children, are readily and eagerly imitated ; every act of a • noble manhood” is soon inherited by the boy of tender years. I smokes and drinks beer now V–I don't go to your school now," was the exclamation of a wretched boy, who, within three weeks, after an illness of twelve hours only, was cut down by the dread monster who is now making his victims in all densely populated, ill-drained, pestiferous neighbourhoods. The father breaks the Sabbath-the boy is at liberty to do the same; men indulge in the highly pleasurable and manly sport of dog-fighting—the boy gladly avails himself of a couple of dogs to do the same, and so on in a thousand other instances.
As but few of our readers are aware of the awful desecration of the Sabbath —resulting from the continuance of a system which gives encouragement to vice, affords a ready access for barbarous and brutalizing displays, enervating the mind, and destroying the physical condition of a large portion of our population,—we furnish, as an illustration of the debased state of morals occasionally to be met with in the metropolis, the particulars of a card lying before us, and which has called forth the foregoing remarks. The card bears the following inscription :
“WONDERS WILL NEVER CEASE.
" AT JOE ROWE’S, HALIFAX HEAD, PRINCES STREET, WHITECHAPEL, “ A Grand Show will take place, on Sunday Evening, October 9th, 1853. “Mr. Forster will show his Stud of Pug Dogs ; also Mr. Reiley, his celebrated Dog Mop;' and several first-rate fanciers have promised to attend. Mr. Wibrow will take the Chair, and show his Dog Jacko, and several other Toy Dogs, faced by J. Ferryman, who will show the handsomest Stock of small Toy Dogs in the world. Several handsome Dogs for sale.—A private Room for Gentlemen to try their Dogs, and a good supply of Rats always on hand, with use of Pit gratis." Would that such wonders, with all the barbarities which follow in the train of such an announcement, were brought to a speedy termination !
It may not be inappropriate to follow up the history of some of the actors in the above exhibition, we extract from the last published Report of the King Edward Ragged Schools the following, which took place about eighteen months since :
“No less than thirteen persons, (says the Times) with Thomas Field, a dog-fancier and pugilist, and Elizabeth Smith, a woman passing as Field's wife, were brought up in the custody of the police, and placed before Mr. D'Eyncourt upon the following charges :
Sergeant Kelly stated, that having received private information that dogs were fought and tortured in a street called Dunk Street, and that a similar exhibition was to take place there last night, I dressed myself in plain clothes, and, accompanied by a number of other officers, proceeded to the house No. 10. Having knocked at the door and been admitted, we made our way up to the front room on the first floor, which we found to be fitted up like a regular theatre, the centre of it railed off for a fighting-pit, and as many persons as the place would hold sitting and standing round, in the form of a small amphitheatre. Two bull-dogs were engaged in a furious contest, and mangling each other in the pit, where also were two men stripped to their