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AMPUTATION OF THE LIMB OF A RAGGED SCHOLAR.
It is painful to reiterate these selfish considerations, to induce Christian men to do their duty. Surely the earnest injunction of the Redeemer, to suffer little children to come unto Him, ought to find a response in the heart of every believer. Yet though we compass land and sea to win a single heathen from the superstition that enslaves him, we will scarcely move a foot to save from misery and ruin the more benighted heathen at our own door. Even our judges are required to brand with infamy, or cause to be lacerated with stripes, the tender infant, whose crimes have been perpetrated in obedience to the commands of a worthless parent-commands enforced by hunger on the one hand, and merciless chastisement on the other. The public accuser says, “This little culprit has been guilty of stealing a penny or a piece of bread, and the weeping child replies, “I did it to please my mother;" and the judge is required, in vindication of the offended majesty of the law, to award to the pitiable victim a dozen of stripes or a month's imprisonment, while the real culprit, the guilty parent, goes free. This course of proceeding has been long enough persisted in; it is in vain to talk of the rights of property to a starving child, or to inform him that the violaters of the law will be punished, while he is under the influence of a vicious parent, who sets all laws at defiance. As we have rights and properties to protect, so we have social duties to perform, and the first and most important duty seems to be, to bring up the neglected youth of our large towns in the way that they should go, that when they are old they may not depart from it.
AMPUTATION OF THE LIMB OF A RAGGED SCHOLAR. The following interesting account of an operation performed upon a Ragged School boy has been forwarded us by Dr. Gladstone, the superintendent of North Street School, Clapham, who is one of the Lecturers at St. Thomas's Hospital :
Among the scholars of North Street School, from its formation, two years and a half ago, has been Benjamin S- a boy of no small intelligence, considering the limited opportunities of gaining knowledge which he has possessed, but of that sharp and violently excitable temperament, which is so characteristic a feature in those who throng the courts and smaller streets of London. Five years ago, an accident deprived him almost wholly of the use of his left leg; since that period he has suffered much at times, and it has so affected his growth, that, although now fifteen years of age, he has all the appearance of a child of twelve. His mother, a poor infirm widow, is a pious woman, but the boy appears to have felt no concern about his best interests until a few months since, when the injury to his knee was aggravated by a blow, assumed an acute character, and confined him to his bed. Having heard from a missionary who visited him that he was desirous of seeing me, I called one evening, towards the close of last October. In an interesting and somewhat lengthy conversation that ensued, he expressed, in simple language, his gratitude to God for having brought him to reflect through this late affliction, his sense of sin and guilt, and his desires after holiness and grace, to stand firm amidst the conflicts of soul to which he felt himself exposed by his evil heart; yet, although full of prayer, and manifesting some confidence in Christ, both for pardon and for sanctification, it appeared doubtful to me whether he yet enjoyed the full liberty of the sons of God. I had, however, a very satisfactory interview with him three weeks afterwards, when I found that prayer and reading his Bible were his chief delight, indeed, almost his sole occupation.
It had been for some time evident that amputation must be resorted to, and this, which the lad had previously regarded with great dread, he now expressed his-perfect readiness for. Accordingly, on November 26th, he was taken in at St. Thomas's Hospital by Mr. Mackmurdo, on my recommendation. As the affection of the knee-joint was too far advanced to leave any hope of a
AMPUTATION OF THE LIMB OF A RAGGED SCHOLAR.
permanent cure, and as the great pain which he suffered was rapidly affecting his general health, it was determined that the operation should be performed on the following Saturday. When the appointed time arrived, the theatre was crowded with gentlemen—the surgical officers and students of the hospital, together with some from Guy's, perhaps one hundred in all ; and as Benjamin was set down by the porters who had brought him into the room, he placed his hands together, and seemed speaking to himself. Upon being asked, "What are you doing that for, boy ?” he replied, “I am praying to the Lord to be with me, and give me strength.” Being immediately placed upon the table, he said, in a voice sufficiently loud to be distinctly heard all over the room, “ The Lord gave, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” I seated myself against the pillow on which the lad reclined, and supported him in my arms; chloroform was administered, and the flap-operation was performed very successfully by Mr. Legros Clark, the leg being cut off some inches above the knee. When under the influence of chloroform, the bent of a man's thoughts usually displays itself without reserve; but instead of revelations savouring of the tap-room, which are unhappily more frequent in such circumstances, this child appeared still in prayer, and muttered such expressions as, “ The Lord is my helper;" “How I have called on him, and he has heard me!" During the amputation, I did not feel him move a muscle, 80 completely was he under the influence of the anæsthetic; as he returned to consciousness he opened his eyes, full of affection, upon me, and looking round upon the surgeons, said, "I thank you kindly, gentlemen ; you have been
very kind to me." The arteries were already tied; but it was deemed necessary to place a ligature also upon the femoral vein, and this was the only part of the operation of which he was at all sensible. The skilful surgeon who had operated being affected by the conduct exhibited by the poor boy, and feeling himself that union in Christ which exists among all true disciples, then bent over the child, and spoke to him words of Christian sympathy and encouragement. Afterwards, as he was carried back into the ward, he reiterated his trust in God, "which,” said he, thinking doubtless of the present excitement on the Papal question, " I would not give up, if they were to take and burn me in Smithfield.”
I left him that evening, restless and feverish ; he was in considerable pain, and very loath to part with one who could afford him Christian consolation. On the next day, Sunday, I had no opportunity of visiting him; but on Monday morning I found him almost free from suffering, with a cheerful countenance. He has steadily progressed ever since, rapidly regaining health and strength, whilst his stump has healed as rapidly and well as could be reasonably hoped for. His intrepidity gained for Benjamin among the inmates of the ward the appellation of " a brave little so’dger,” and his general conduct has conciliated the good wishes of all the surgeons, dressers, and others, who have attended him. My almost daily visits to his bedside have been to me a source at once of gratification and encouragement; his abhorrence of sin, both in himself and others, his simple faith, his submission to the Divine will, his joy, his affection for all those who love Christ, and his zeal for the spiritual good of his companions in the ward and his brother, who frequently visits him-all confirm the most favourable opinion which had previously been formed. But the most striking feature in his character is, perhaps, his high estimate of the value of prayer; not only does he delight in it himself, but desires an interest in the prayers of others; about the time of the operation he repeatedly sent such a request to his mother, and a few days afterwards, upon my telling him that in the evening I should see several of the teachers in the Sunday Evening School, he asked me to be the bearer to them of a similar message.
Seven weeks have now elapsed since the amputation; the boy's health is re-established ; the wound has closed up, a piece of bone having just exfoliated ; and he is beginning to hop about on his crutches. The Industrial Schools at White Square will afford him the opportunity of learning a trade, unless,
indeed, he find some employment of a more intellectual character, and to such an employment he seems much more disposed to bend his energies. It is hardly to be expected that the warmth of his first love will suffer no diminution, or that amidst worldly cares he will always preserve so great an amount of heavenly-mindedness; yet it would be wrong to doubt but that the same Saviour who has conducted him thus far will continue to uphold this youthful instance of Divine compassion.
J. H. GLADSTONE, Ph. D. January 17th, 1851.
THE PEACEFUL END-A RAGGED SCHOOL NARRATIVE. The immorality which prevails in many of the suburban districts of London, is scarcely to be excelled by the lowest parts of the metropolis itself. It seems as if the “great mart" had become surcharged with moral filth-boiled over--and spread its pollution like burning lava along the surrounding neighbourhoods. So largely have Greenwich and Deptford partaken of this impurity, that the densely inhabited portions of them have become sad parallels to Westminster or St. Giles's. They exhibit, however, a more painful contrast, being surrounded by green fields, fruitful gardens, and also the princely mansions of those who, out of their abundance, might easily befriend the poor and wretched creatures, many of whom have gone there to hide themselves and die. About four years since, we made a close inspection of these neighbourhoods, especially in Deptford. Hundreds of poor children were prowling in the streets, as wretched, ragged, and depraved, as any in London. Never shall we forget a scene presented to us on entering a school in Giffin Street. It seemed a room capable of accommodating about one hundred children. It being dinner hour, some boys were at one end of the room taking their mid-day meal, and others were standing about the fire. At the other end stood the master, a poor afflicted object, extremely deformed in both hands. Near him stood a coffin, containing the corpse of a child, who had died some days previous, and around which were scattered a scanty supply of bed-room and kitchen utensils, thus showing that the school-room was also used as a dwelling-house for himself and children. We speedily left the apartment, sincerely pitying the poor wretched man, and not less the children who were obliged to resort to such a place for instruction.
About th time a Ragged School was opened in Deptford, and although it has been the means of doing much good, yet we grieve to say that it has not met with a tithe of the support from the wealthy inhabitants of the surrounding parks, which such an important institution requires at their hands. Deptford ought to have two well-supported Ragged Schools instead of one half-neglected; nor would it prove a difficult or expensive undertaking, if even the Christian portion of the people were to do their duty, apart from the claims of such institutions on the professedly benevolent. We know that the few who have laboured there with unabating energy, have often found themselves almost alone in the good work; but we rejoice to know that, although neglected by man, they have not been forgotten by God. The following interesting case, with so blessed a termination, is more than a recompence for all their labour. The good seed was sown in a most unpromising soil, but the Lord magnified his word, and gave it life. The narrative is simply and truthfully told; we can most sincerely vouch for its entire accuracy :
A RAGGED SCHOOL NARRATIVE.
It may be interesting to those engaged in Ragged Schools to hear of the happy death of a young woman whom I visited a short time since, who had received her first “ knowledge of the truth” through their instrumentality.
When I saw her, a week before her death, she was so weak as to be able to speak but little, and suffering very much. She was a poor, ignorant, young creature, in the lowest and most degraded class of life, had married contrary to her mother's wish, and soon after the birth of her first child fell into consumption, of which she died in her nineteenth year.
Her sister, who was employed by me occasionally, told me of the state in which she lay, said her mind had been very unhappy, and that she had asked herto bring some person to read for her. When I visited her, she lay without almost any sign of life, (except that distressing effort to breathe so peculiar to her complaint,) on what could hardly be called a bed, without any covering except a thin patchwork counterpane and her own clothes. A basket, with an old gown folded on it, helped to support her in an upright position. On a few rags under her table lay her poor babe, her mother, an ignorant but kind-hearted old woman, nurse-tended her and took care of the child.
I approached her bed, and asked how she felt ; she replied, “Very weak indeed.” I asked her if her mind was happy ; she said, “Yes.” “But why is it happy?" I inquired. Her reply was beautifully simple, “Because I am forgiven.” But, I said, “How do you know you are forgiven ? ” “Because," said she, “I have prayed for it.” As she had not strength to speak more, I did not remain long at that time, but I went to see the poor creature almost daily until her death, and her faith never seemed for a moment shaken.
She could seldom speak more than a few words at a time, but one day that her strength seemed almost to give hopes of her recovery, I took the opportunity of asking her how she had been led to see her sinful state. She told me that for some time she had
with other idle girls to the Ragged School in High Street, Deptford, (as she said) to play and do mischief. What she learned made little impression at the time; she grew up a bad wicked girl, told lies, and disobeyed her mother, and mixed with the worst company. But when she lay on a sick bed, what she had been taught came back to her mind, causing her to become miserable on account of her sins, knowing how soon she must appear before God, and she begged of her sister to bring some person to read for her. Meantime she was enabled herself to ask God to have mercy on her for the sake of Jesus, and she felt assured she was a pardoned sinner. She then repeated to me several verses of Scripture, and some simple hymns she had learned at the Ragged School, and she told me, whilst she lay apparently insensible, her mind was dwelling on them.
One day I asked her if she felt she was a sinner, as I feared her taking it only in a general sense, but her answer convinced me of the contrary: “O yes!" she said, and a wicked sinner too." I then said to her, “ If you were permitted to choose life or death, which would you prefer ?” She replied, “I should rather die.” “And why?" I asked. “Because I know I shall be happy.” “But for your babe,” I said. give it up,” she replied ; “I leave that to my mother."
She delighted in hearing the Bible read to her, and when in too much pain to listen, a verse or two repeated slowly, or a little hymn would comfort her. She seemed particularly struck with that beautiful one, "There is a fountain filled with blood," etc.
Knowing how ignorantly she had been brought up, and the great distress she was in, I felt anxious to know what her ideas would be of the happiness she anticipated in heaven, expecting her answer to be, “Ease from pain and suffering ;” but how often her short but touching answer comes to my mind, when I think of that blessed stateit was, “Walking along the paths of righteousness.”
* November 2nd, 1850.
Her body was racked with pain and suffering, and she was devoid of all external comfort ; but a sinful heart was a greater burden, and it was the unsullied holiness of that happy land which filled her soul with such joyful anticipations.
A few hours before her death I visited her again ; her mind was quite gone ; her voice was stronger than I had yet heard it, but her only cry was to take her out of bed or to the workhouse. Her mother had occasion to go to the doctor's, and I said I would stay with the poor sufferer while she was away, and mind the babe if it awoke. The poor young mother had fallen into a stupor, and I took out my Bible, (which she was no longer able to listen to,) expecting never again to hear her voice in reason, but she turned round and asked for her mother, and said, “ I am going, I am going—I want to see my mother.” “No, my dear,” I said, “you are not going just yet; your mother will be here soon.” “O yes!” she said, “I feel I am, and I should like to see her first.” I said, “ Well, dear, do you feel you are going to God?” “Yes,” she replied, “I am quite happy.” “Then while you still have life will you lift up your heart and say, O Lord! pardon a poor sinner for Jesus' sake; and try to keep your mind fixed on him in your last moments.” She turned her dying eyes to heaven, and said in a strong and fervent voice, "O God! forgive a poor sinner for Jesus' sake." I asked her if she knew me? “Yes,” she replied, " you are the lady who reads for me, and may God bless you.” She then seemed in some trouble about an untruth she had told previous to her illness, and begged we would tell the person she had attempted to injure how sorry she felt. I was obliged to leave reluctantly, and I parted from her to meet no more on earth-she died in a few hours afterwards. The person who lodged in the adjoining room told me she fell into a stupor again after I had left, but after some time turned round, and lifting up her hands, (as I had seen her do) said, “I am coming, I am coming-my Lord has called me. Oh! what a beautiful place.” She then asked for her baby to be put near her, called repeatedly for her husband, and a few minutes after he entered the room, blessed him, and breathed her last without a struggle.
This is a simple and true account of a young woman who went to the Ragged School to laugh and do mischief with other idle girls ; but had it not been for the instruction she there received, she would probably scarcely have known that she had an immortal soul : such was the state of degradation and ignorance in which she had been brought up; and I do not think she was ever inside a place of worship. Her mother had been a Roman Catholic, but as she said herself, " for many years she did not follow any religion."
The work may be often discouraging, but “he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." “ Cast thy bread upon the waters : for thou shalt find it after many days.” “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.”
F. C. C.
You whom God has most mercifully placed in the more favoured parts of that neighbourhood, living in your abundance, having enough and to spare, will ye not try to multiply tenfold, such blessed deeds of mercy ? Call you it nothing to lead a wandering sinner to the feet of Jesus? Is it a small thing to shed even one ray of light and peace upon the closing hours of a short life of misery and sin? Is there not something enviable in the position of that Ragged School teacher whom God honoured in first sowing the seeds of Divine truth in that immortal mind; and in that visitor who repeated her Christ-like errands to the dreary dwelling, to smooth the pillow and cheer the