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The blessed Ministry of Death.. 118 The Seventh-day Sabbath
60 To Boys..
A PICTURE OF A LONDON RAGGED SCHOOL.
This picture is presented to our view in a book called “Parson and People.” The scene is one of those over-crowded districts in which some of the lowest and most vicious of the people live, but how they and their swarms of children manage to live at all is the wonder. Few decent persons dare venture to go among them for fear of being insulted or robbed. The clergyman of the parish made up his mind to an effort to reform them, and then, as he said, with “ constitutional obstinacy set to work, and stuck to it."
Having found an empty carpenter's shop he hired it and fitted it up for a Ragged School. Here was a cage, but where were the birds? playing half naked in the courts, or gone to pick pockets in the streets. For a time he could not coax any of the young urchins to come in. At length he secured a few, and used them to decoy others until the place was well filled. But how were they to be taught? That was now the question. They were as ignorant of obedience as they were of letters. For them to be silent or sit still was impossible; they were always on the fidget, or making fun, or fighting.
Some of the bigger boys were regular thieves. These were often absent. Here is some talk about them.
«* Where's Billy to-day, boys?' • Oh, sir, he's in for a copper-scuttle.' . Where's Tommy?' He's in for some lead guttering.' In,' of course, meant in gaol-a place with which many
of them were very familiar. I remember giving one day a lesson on the Cities of Refuge; and, in questioning the boys, asked, • If the fugitive reached the city, in what state would he be ?'
• All right, sir.'
He'd be nabbed.'
“ The police at that time were wonderfully plagued by a little old woman, who committed innumerable petty depredations in the neighbourhood, and who, when chased, outran them all, and more than once popped over a succession of garden-walls, without paying any attention to female grace or delicacy. All efforts
A PICTURE OF A LONDON RAGGED SCHOOL,
to catch this little woman, or to find out where she lived, for a long time unsuccessful; but, at last, one day she appeared at an evening lecture at the night school, and took her seat amongst the grown-up people. She had not long been seated, however, before low murmurs began to spread amongst the boys in the back seats; and some of them, pointing to the old woman, whispered, It's Jack Long !'
• It ain't !' • It is !'
The controversy waxed strong, and at last the master was forced to interfere, and to ask the cause of the disturbance. He was told their suspicions; and, walking up to the little old woman, he gazed steadily at her. It was Jack Long, who, emboldened by the way in which he had outwitted the police, was determined to try whether his old comrades would detect him or not; but, alas for him! their eyes were too sharp to be so easily imposed upon, and the story getting buzzed about, the police knew exactly where to wait when their old plague recommenced his depredations."
Many of the parents would not allow their children to be corrected. “On one occasion, the master had corrected a little boy for gross misconduct. The little boy had threatened to tell mother.' The threat was carried out; and when the school opened after dinner, a huge virago entered. Walking up to the master, she said
• So you've whopped our Billy ?'
Well,' screamed the virago, 'no one shall whop him but I; and I'll learn you how to do it!'
In an instant she attacked him, struck him violently on the chest—a serious matter to a very delicate man—and it was with difficulty that he escaped her. Of course it was necessary to interfere in such a case, and a summons soon brought her to her
She came and humbly asked pardon, and promised-a great condescension on her part—that he might whop Billy to his heart's content, if only he wouldn't have her up before the beak;' and some kindness shown her shortly afterwards in her confinement, by the master, entirely broke her proud spirit, and made ber a steady friend.
If our Ragged School abounded in difficulties, it abounded also in encouragements; its fruits were manifest. In the course
A PICTURE OF A LONDON RAGGED SCHOOL.
of about seven years nearly 1500 children passed through it; and on one occasion no fewer than one hundred and twelve boys and girls were found to be rescued from the streets, fitted to gain an honest livelihood, and provided with good situations. I was preaching there one Sunday evening, when I saw amongst my hearers à sergeant of artillery, in full uniform, decorated with several medals, and with a good conduct badge. After the service I went up to him, and asked him what had brought him there.
I came, sir, to see the old place.' What, do you know this school ?' • Yes, sir; I got all my learning here. It took me out of the street; and as I sail for China on Tuesday, I thought I must come back and have one more look at the old place and the old folks before I sailed. The superintendent told me that he had attended both morning and afternoon schools, and the young men's Bible-class, and seemed altogether delighted with his visit. One of the teachers who had removed elsewhere,
“ called on me, and in the course of conversation said -.
• I have taken part in a night school in my new neighbourhood, sir, and had a curious surprise a few weeks ago. Just after I had opened school, a young man entered. He was dressed in a respectable black coat and waistcoat, and had on a silver watchchain and watch ; in fact, his appearance was thoroughly respectable. Walking up to me, he said
Do you want any teachers, sir ?” I turned towards him. The moment he saw my full face, he exclaimed
Why, Mr. Sinden, is it you, sir ?"
Yes,” I said, “ my name is Sinden; but do you know me ?!! “Yes, sir--yes, full well; and you ought to know me, for I once plagued you rarely. Do you remember H- E- .?"
« Oh, yes,” I said, " and often wanted to know what had become of him."
I'm him, sir." “ You ?-impossible !"
Yes, sir, I am. You wonder at my looks, sir, but I've changed masters; I served Satan hard, and he brought me down lower and lower; but, thank God, I now serve the Lord, and he is bringing me up; but I owe it to what I learnt at your school, sir."
The seed sown was found here after many days, and he became
A PICTURE OF A LONDON RAGGED SCHOOL.
as great a comfort to his old master as an assistant as he had formerly been a plague as a scholar.”
“ Another tale about unexpected fruit may, perhaps, be given here. A poor lad, who was not very refractory, but uncommonly idle, was in the habit of coming to school. His very idleness made him a great trouble to his master and to his parents, and at last, more in the hope of doing the son good than from other objects, his father determined to accept an offer of work, and to remove to Tewkesbury. They had been gone from our neighbourhood a year and a half, when one day the superintendent was told that a lad was at the door, desirous of speaking with him. He went down stairs, and there saw a tall, ungainly, and most ragged youth awaiting him.
• You don't know me, sir ?' • What, George, is it you ?' • Yes, sir.'
Come in, lad,' said his kind friend, who took him down stairs, made him take a wash at the sink, and then gave him some tea, which was eagerly devoured by the famished lad. After tea, the following facts came out. The boy had gone to Tewkesbury with his father, but bad there been treated with great sternness; had run away from home, after having broken open a cupboard and taken a sovereign which had been put aside for rent; had made his way to Bristol, hoping to get a berth on board ship, but, having no character, could not get employment; his money bad soon been spent, and he had then started to walk to London, in the hope that his old teacher would be able to reconcile him to his father. The teacher took him next morning to the clergyman, who ordered him to provide for the lad for some days, and to write at once to the parents, who gladly consented to receive back their truant, and sent the money to pay the expenses of his journey home. Some time elapsed, and one day a most grateful letter arrived from the boy, stating that the kindnesses shown to him had opened his heart to feel the yet greater love of his Redeemer, and that he who had been once rescued from the pit was now endeavouring, as a Sunday school teacher, to aid others also.”
Such stories might be multiplied almost without end; plenty, at all events, to encourage the Teachers in their very arduous up-hill work. Many might even wonder how they dare undertake such a task. The grand secret is, the love of Christ.con