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THE RAGGED SCHOOL SHOE-BLACK.
was it the magnificent portico of the Exchange : pillars, frieze, and inscriptions, were all lost upon them; they were looking down rather than up; they seemed very intent, however, upon something, and I hastened to join them. It is not everything that arrests the busy Londoners at the hour of half-past ten in the morning, especially in that centre of commercial life. A few steps brought me round to the front of his grace, and there, directly under the very countenance of the 66 great captain,” knelt a little lad, whose cap and red blouse, as well as the badge on his breast, told me at a glance that he belonged to a new order recently instituted by the philanthropists of London, the members of which are drawn from the hovels and dens of humanity, but who are destined to become shining, if not illustrious characters in their day and generation; I allude to the “polishing brigade,” alias the “Shoe-black Society," whose ranks are to be filled from time to time by the most promising and trustworthy pupils of the Ragged Schools of the metropolis. My little friend was quite up to his business ; in front of him lay a small box, about fourteen inches by ten, which was surmounted by a block of wood, say four inches high, and shaped something like the sole of a shoe or boot ; in this instance à human foot, belonging to a most benevolent-looking young gentleman, was placed upon it, the trouser turned up at the bottom, and "blackie” was polishing away in good earnest; to his left stood the jar of liquid, which, with the box and brushes, formed his only stock-in-trade. The first boot was soon finished, and the trouser replaced; the other was then lifted, the dust whisked away, the blacking applied, and then brush, brush; in a few minutes the process was complete, and the gentleman, well pleased with his improved appearance, after satisfying the artist, was lost in the thronging tide of life that was eddying too and fro this great thoroughfare. The boy replaced his tools of trade, carefully closed his jar, eyed keenly the copper coin he had received, and then stood up to see for another customer. I looked at his box; it bore the inscription on each side, “ For One Penny". I read his badge, “ Ragged School Shoeblack Society." I viewed his shrewd, yet open and intelligent countenance, as gently yet firmly he put the crowd of youngsters who had gathered too close upon him, back a little; a moment, and a promise of another customer presented itself; he moved up, quick as thought his hand was to his cap, Tv Want boots cleaned, sir ?” but the party moved on, the little shoe-black came back to his stand, drew his box and tools to his side, and really looked for the moment as if he felt the dignity of honest toil.
There was nothing in his whole appearance to which you could object ; his face had a glow of health upon it, joined to a modest self-respect, which I greatly admired; and as he leaned in his coarse but conspicuous uniform at the base of the Wellington monument, I thought with great interest of his probable fate in this wonderful metropolis of the industrial world. I was not alone in these thoughts; an elderly woman, evidently of the working classes, had like myself been watching the lad at his work, and now it was finished, and she could look upon his face, her mother's heart rejoiced over the young candidate for labour, and less restrained or more enthusiastic than I, she was loud in his praises. “If he is a good boy,” said she, “ he'll be Lord Mayor of London yet-aye, that he will,” she repeated; and, turning to me as I looked on approvingly, said, He is a good boy, sir, and if all goes on well, who knows but he
be!” “ Very true," I replied. “I like his appear. ance much; indeed his whole manner is very prepossessing." This was said in a low tone, and we were not near enough for the object of our encomiums to hear us. Suddenly my aged companion said to me, “ I'll speak to him ; who knows but a word from an old woman may be hearkened to? Boys will sometimes take kindly what we say, when they will not listen to men. She started forward, spoke to the lad, patting him on the shoulder kindly and encouragingly, all of which he acknowledged by nodding acquiescence, still, however, keeping an eye to business. She then returned to me, and again
SOUTHAMPTON RAGGED SCHOOLS,
repeating that "he was a good boy, and she was sure he would prosper, and perhaps be yet Lord Mayor of London," went off breathing good wishes and blessings upon his head.
The boy was now alone ; I stepped up to him and asked to what school he belonged. He said, "Ratcliffe Highway." How long had the boys been allowed to come into the city ? About a fortnight. Had he a father ? Yes, but he was very old and decrepid ; and his mother too-she was quite helpless. He had been selected from the “ Beer Street” Ragged School for his good conduct, and was earning his living and something more in this novel branch of industry. He said Lord Ashley and some other gentlemen had got the Lord Mayor's leave for them to work in the city, and he hoped they should do well.
I hoped so too. I told him that I knew all about the Society; had been present when it was commenced, and was sure neither his Lordship, nor the gentlemen of the Committee, would lose sight of those lads who were persevering and honest good boys. I begged him to think of that, and to think alsó that God was his friend for certain, and then, as my time and his was precious, I presented him with some little gratuity for himself, and hastened on my way, greatly pleased with this little incident; and still thinking of the old lady's words, I said half aloud as I turned, at the corner of the Mansion House, to have a last look at my young friend of the “ box and brushes," Who knows but the germ of another “Whittington” is to be found in the mind of that poor Ragged School boy? At all events there is heart in him, and hope for him, and whoever it was that raised this lad from poverty and ruin, and set him fairly on his feet in this struggling world, “he hath done a good work ; he shall not lose his reward. I would rather be among the number of those who are excavating these living stones from the quarry of degraded humanity, than be entitled to sit down at the turtle and champagne feats of “ City dignitaries.” Rather be one,
Gathering from” the world's wide forest," " as a floweret from the soil,
SOUTHAMPTON RAGGED SCHOOL. This school was established in 1849. After encountering the usual difficulties connected with such a work, the Committee are now beginning to reap the reward of their labours, and to see their visible effects in the appearance and character of the children. In their last Report they state that “The great increase in attendance as compared with the last year, proves beyond all question that the school is justly valued by the class for which it was founded, and highly adapted for the end in view ; and the Committee are much gratified in being able to give the following favourable analysis from the register of those who have availed themselves of the benefits which it offers to them. The number who have been enrolled on the Day School books during the year is 70, making a total since the opening of 370 ; the average attendances are as follows: -Sunday School, 100; Day School, 90 ; Evening School, during the winter, 45. In the course of the year, five addresses have been delivered gratuitously to the parents of the children, which were all listened to with the greatest interest. The Committee feel that the fact of 60 copies of the Scriptures having been purchased by the children, as well as the large sale of the Ragged School Children's Magazine, should not be unnoticed. Twenty-seven boys have been sent to situations-several of them of much trust, and by the kind instrumentality of Alderman Palk, one has been apprenticed.
“Through private benevolence the master has been enabled frequently to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, and no less than 70 articles of clothing have been given away to some of the most destitute, the effects of which are very visible in their improved appearance. Four deaths have occurred during the year, two of which are worthy of notice as they are given by the master :- Hearing that G. A. was ill, I determined to see him, and having reached the “Rookery," I was soon by the side of my scholar. Amidst much poverty and wretchedness, in the corner of a dirty room,whose walls had not been cleaned for years, and whose only furniture consisted of a
HYMN FOR THE OPENING OF A RAGGED SCHOOL.
small table, and a chair without a bottom, lay the little sufferer. He was much pleased to see me, and spoke of the many things he had learned in school, but added, "I shall never learn any more, for the doctor says I shall never get well, but I am so happy." The evening before he died, I asked him if he loved to pray? he replied, “ Yes, teacher, the little prayer you taught us in school.” “O Lord, give me a new heart, make thy Holy Spirit to dwell in me, and make me a child of God for Jesus' sake. Amen." " And do you think God has answered your prayer ?” “Yes, teacher;" and after a struggle for breath, he continued, “I love Jesus, and am constantly thinking on him.” After prayer we parted never to meet again on earth. In the morning he departed without a struggle.'
“ The other case is that of W.M.; he was cut down very suddenly, being ill only four days. A few moments before he died, casting his eyes upwards, to the astonishment of all around, he exclaimed, "My Jesus! my Jesus! I see him, there he is waiting for me.'
"The Committee are fully persuaded that the principle and working of the school is most important to the present age, and that the effects will be very fully developed on the rising generation in a higher state of religious feeling, morality, and cleanliness, for it is on the younger portion of the community that the good results are more to be expected—before the baneful and pernicious examples of crime and vice, to which they are subject from their earliest infancy, has seared their consciences and made them indifferent to the service of their Creator and their duty to mankind.
“The appearance of the children, their general conduct and behaviour, as contrasted with what it was at the opening of the school, have excited wonder and surprise ; and unquestionably proves the utility and benefit of the institution, and urges the Committee on to more determined and energetic measures in its behalf, as they already in a great measure have realised the Scriptural promise, 'That in due time we shall reap, if we faint not.”
HYMN FOR THE OPENING OF A RAGGED SCHOOL.
GRANT thy blessing, heavenly Father,
Hear us while we pray to Thee ;
Thine own tender lambs to be.
Who an infant once became;
In His own all-worthy name.
When we wandered, Lord, from Thee;
Cleans'd our souls, and set us free.
Thou the stranger, when below,
Far from Thee, no shepherd know.
No soft eye of love-but thine ;
To the outcast,"Thou art mine."
Are our words, without Thy pow'r;
C. A. H.
The Emigrants’ Corner.
We insert two letters, possessing considerable interest, lately received from the Colonies. If the reader keeps in mind the wretched condition from which the writer of the following was emancipated, he will not wonder at the exulting manner in which he sometimes expresses himself:
Geelong, 1851. Dear Father,– I received your letter and the two newspapers on the 28th of September last, and I can assure you that I was glad to receive them, for I had been long anxiously expecting to hear from you. I was quite surprised when I read in your letter that Mr. Mounstephen had not received a letter from me, for I sent a letter and a newspaper to him about a week after I wrote to you, I think it was by the Posthumous, but I am not quite certain. I also sent a letter to you and to him by the Jenny Lind, which was going to Singapore, but she was wrecked on the voyage ; so I now take the first opportunity that offers of writing again, and also send a letter to Mr. Mounstephen.
I have read your letter and John's very attentively, and I am sorry that mine was not long enough ; but I will try and make amends this time by furnishing you with all the information I possibly can. In the first place I have left Melbourne and am now at Geelong, at work on the “ Victoria Colonist,” where I am very comfortable, having three nights a week and all day on Sunday to myself, instead of only Saturday night, as it was at the “Daily,” though I don't earn quite so much now, for I only make from 35s. to £2 per week here, while in Melbourne I could earn from £2.58. to £2. 10s. I am very happy and comfortable out here, and like the country very well ; and I expect by the time this reaches you that I shall be married. In the last letter I sent I wrote a description of Melbourne, and I will now try to write it over again, and then furnish you with a description of Geelong. I took an opportunity that offered of sending you a parcel of newspapers by a young man that went home in the Gitana, which sailed two or three days ago, who will take it to Mr. Winns to be enclosed in your parcel ; and as Jack required a specimen of printing, I enclosed two or three jobs that I did at the “ Daily," and I think they do not throw any discredit on your instructions.
I have read Mr. Smith's letter through very attentively, and on the whole it is pretty correct, though not quite, in two or three instances. I have enclosed a paragraph from a “British Banner” that I came across, which gives a correct description of Melbourne and the surrounding villages. In the letter you received, I should have said something about my money, but I did not think it would be of any use writing before I came of age.* So you can send to my uncle Isaac, and tell him to forward it to me through the bank, or you can get it from him and forward it to me yourself, and I shall be much obliged to you. I did not make any use of the letters of introduction as I had never any occasion, but I still have them by me should I require them at a future day. I have not yet found out the Connops, though I have tried all I can ; so I wish you would send further direction so that I can find them. I will now try to answer a few of Jack's anxious inquiries, and then finish with a few remarks of my own. There are three periodicals printed in Melbourne :-"Ham's Illustrated Australian Magazine,” published monthly, price 2s. 6d ; “The Melbourne Family Journal," published weekly, price 3d.; and" The Christian Citizen," price 6d. ; but you will find an account of all the papers printed in this Colony in a bill that was printed during the procession at the Separation Rejoicings, which is enclosed in the parcel. As for the diary, I kept it about a month, and then gave it up in disgust, as it was the same thing over and over again. And now for Melbourne : Melbourne is about half as big as Leicester, and can boast of three banks, ten or eleven churches, (some not finished, a hospital, a mechanics' institution, a theatre, a jail, a benevolent asylum in course of erection, and an amphitheatre that is going to be built, some of which are very fine specimens of architecture. The houses generally are only one story high, and none more than two, built of stone, brick, weather-board, slab, and “wattle and dab.” As for the inhabitants, they are a complete medley : English, Irish, Scotch, French, Germans,
* He refers to a small legacy, left him unexpectedly by a friend since his departure.
THE EMIGRANTS' CORNER.
Malays, Chinese, Aborigines. The people dress here much the same as they do at home in the summer time, but almost everybody wears cabbage-tree hats, and you may frequently see a most genteely attired person dressed in the best style, with gold watch and chains, rings on his fingers, etc. They are great lushingtons here, and as you walk through the streets, you constantly hear the following sayings : “ Are you going to have a nobbler," "Are you going to stand a ball,” “ Are you going to shoot,” etc.
It is very unsafe to walk the streets after dark, both in Melbourne and Geelong for there are such swarms of dogs about, and that's not the worst, for there are a great many daring thieves too, who are mostly “old lags” that come from the dust-hole, alias Van Diemen's Land, and make but short work of knocking you down, robbing you, and half murdering you—so most people whose business calls them out after dark, carry some weapon of defence ; for my own part I have got a short stick, with a lump of lead at the end for the four-legged dogs, and a loaded pistol for the two-legged ones. I have got the perseverance box yet, and you can tell mother that the little box has got more pound notes in it than it ever had before. While I was at the “Daily," I became acquainted with a young man named Bowman, whose father is a settler, and has got a station down in the Western Port, about forty miles from Melbourne, and I have been to the station with him twice, and enjoyed myself vastly there, for I can assure you it is fine sport to go kangaroo hunting and riding wild cattle into the stock-yard to brand them, though the latter is rather dangerous sport, for you have to ride as fast as you can make your horse gallop, up hill and down dale, now jumping over a fallen tree, then dodging under the low branches of another, which nearly sweep you off the horse's back, and suddenly wheeling round a third to head the cattle, and make them go in the right direction, all the time cracking a huge stock whip, with a lash ten or twelve feet long, and keeping your weather-eye open to see that some old bull does not make a rush at you, and tumble you and the horse over together. I had a severe fall myself one day when we were after some cattle, the horse was going at full speed, when he suddenly stumbled and fell with me, but I fortunately escaped with a broken nose, the mark of which I have got now, and expect I always shall have. Bowman is going to get married at the latter end of February, and I am to go to the station with him for a fortnight, where I expect to have some fine sport, and wish Jack and Harry were here to join in it. By-the-bye, I forgot to mention it, but kangaroo tail-soup, and kangaroo-steamer, are first-rate. There are a great many black snakes and diamond snakes in the Bush, all of which are venomous, but they will not meddle with you, without you tread on them, or injure them.
Geelong is not so large as Melbourne, but there is a greater diversity in the scenery, which in many places looks something similar to the scenery at home, while that around Melbourne is a continued series of plains for many miles. I have three afternoons a week here that I can call my own, so I amuse myself by going shooting and fishing, for there are thousands of wild ducks, geese, and turkeys, on Lake Connewarre, and plenty of fine bream in the Barwon, and salmon-trout, mullet, flatheads, and snappers in the bay. The town is built on the edge of the bay, and is in a fine healthy situation, and in ten minutes you can have a fine sea bathe. Mr. Smith in his letter says the water in the bay is fresh, but he has made a mistake, for it is salt. Just about this time bush fires are very prevalent, and at the time I am finishing this letter there is a very large one on the Mountains, on the other side of the bay; it has been burning for three days, and has burned the grass for upwards of fifty square miles, and destroyed a flock of about fifteen hundred sheep. Intelligence has been received in town from the interior that bush fires are very rife, and that in places there is not a blade of grass to be seen for one hundred miles, and sheep have been burned by thousands. I should esteem it a great favour if either you or Jack would write to
young man that came down to the depôt with us when I sailed, and write a short prefé of this letter, just to let him know how I am getting on, and send my love to him. I must now close my letter, for I have got nothing more of interest to say to you -give my respects to all inquiring friends, and tell mother, Jack, and Harry, that I send my best love to them, and should like to see them all out here, and accept the same yourself, hoping to hear from you soon.
I remain, your affectionate son,
A. S. W. P.S. I see by a Sydney paper that the “Saxon” was burnt on a voyage to Port Natal.