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DESTITUTION AND CRIME.
the streets, to seek by any means, honest or otherwise, to get a crust ; their education being, at the same time, utterly neglected. The following facts, however, which are descriptive of some of the habits and customs with which such men are frequently entangled, will in a few words explain some of the causes, and remove the surprise.
One of the most prolific causes of improvidence and intemperance is to be traced to the fact, that many mechanics and labouring men are paid their wages at public-houses. While we rejoice to know that such is not the practice of many firms, yet we fear they may be regarded as the exceptions rather than the rule. Among some of the ship-yards, the following is the customary order of things :The men work in companies of from four to twelve. One of each company is considered a leading inan. This leading man receives the money for the whole company,
and he divides it among the rest. The men meet at a neighbouring publichouse, where they are accommodated with change, fire, table, and writing materials. Here they, as a matter of course, commence drinking with each other, and adding to the already long score, which has been marked up against them for liquors had during the week. They then become so much under the influence of drink, and also entangled in the amusements provided for them-such as cards, skittles, etc.—that they are little disposed to go to their homes and families. Instances have been known in which men, whose wages have amounted to 20s., 30s., 40s., and even 50s., have spent the chief part in drinking and gambling.
In one case, a man had spent his all. He then, in several small sums, borrowed of the landlord £3, so as to continue his gaming, hoping to win his money back. But he eventually returned home to his disconsolate wife and family with only 2s. This man had to work another fortnight before he could have any more money, and out of what he might earn during that fortnight, he would not only have to pay the running score, but some part of the loan also; and at the pay-table the same temptations would be renewed.
Can it be wondered, then, that in such cases, if there be an article of furniture in the dwelling, or tidy clothing in the drawers, it should be immediately pawned or sold ? It is quite evident, then, that while the working man is bound up with such a ruinous system, the chances are all against him. It is by such customs that many a comfortable home has been reduced to wretchedness and misery.
About six years ago, an accident happened on board a newly-built steamer : some of the valve pipes bursted, and six men were killed. A subscription was immediately raised to assist the bereaved and suffering widows and orphans. A gentleman, one of the committee in trust of the fund raised, regularly gave to one of the widows her weekly allowance, namely, 78. 6d. On one occasion this poor widow remarked, that as far as her weekly income was concerned, she was never so comfortable, for though her late husband was constantly in the receipt of good wages, yet it was a rare thing for her to receive from him a sum like that, he having generally spent most of his earnings in drink before he went home.
One poor woman, in the neighbourhood of Blackwall, who is a member of a Christian church, complains much of the public-house paying system, stating that her husband, who is a steady, industrious man, has, much to her grief and to his sorrow, occasionally returned home from the
pay-table in such a state, that she has reason to tremble lest he should finally fall into the common snare.
Another poor woman, being spoken to upon this subject, stated that her husband seldom came home from the pay-table sober, but generally drunk. When reproved, he always replied, “Well, I must go there for my money, or I should not get it.'
A new dock, in the neighbourhood of Poplar, was nearly twelve months building; during that period, there were from one hundred and fifty to two hundred men employed. On an average, £50 per week were paid at one public-house, for liquors drank by these men during the week and at time of payment. On one occasion, the foreman paid the landlord £53. 15s. for intoxicating drinks alone.
A City Missionary, being thoroughly familiar with such facts, had his attention called to the subject; and, assisted by a friend who had witnessed the evil working of the system, wrote a letter to the Principals of one of the largest firms in Blackwall, a copy of which we have permission to lay before our readers :
“ Poplar, October 27th, 1851. 66 To MESSRS.
Gentlemen,-During my visitation for nearly two years and a half, as a City Missionary in this parish, I have met with much distress amongst the working classes, and I am convinced that one cause arises from workmen being paid at, and settling with one another at public-houses.
“If, in large establishments, a room, or part of a workshop, were provided for workmen to settle with each other, instead of grouping together in public-houses, I feel persuaded it would confer a benefit on the families of the men, and would tend to. diminish drunkeness and vice.
“Permit me, therefore, respectfully to call your attention to this subject, earnestly hoping you may be disposed to adopt the suggestion.
“I am, Gentlemen, your humble Servant,
To this letter, the Missionary received the following reply:
“ November 11th, 1851. " Mr. presents his compliments to Mr. and begs he will look at the notice posted up at the gate here: he can afterwards see Mr.
if he thinks fit.
is at liberty to make any use of the notice he thinks would be profitable.”
The following is a copy of the notice posted up at the gate of the firm of Messrs.
“For the benefit of the families of the workmen employed in “ Messrs.
recommend the workmen to divide their money in the yard on pay-nights. “Messrs.
are ready to provide each company with a separate room, with light and writing materials, that will act on the recommendation. And they will also supply them with needful change for their pay-table.
“They invite any and all workmen, who approve and will pursue this plan, to give notice by the leading men, at the counting-house, of such intention, that the necessary arrangements be made before next pay-day, that improved accommodation may subsequently be provided. “ Messrs.
would gladly receive any suggestions from the workmen to assist in carrying this object into effect.
“ November 11th, 1851.”
We most earnestly wish that the Principals of all other firms, both large and small, would follow this praiseworthy example; so that, while
THE HISTORY OF A RAGGED BOY.
the Ragged Schools, with their varied efforts to educate the ignorant and neglected, and to reclaim the wanderer and delinquent, seek to remedy the existing evils brought about by such and other means--such a plan, if but universally adopted, might prove, by the blessing of God, a great boon to many families. Thus many might be restored to the enjoyment of their long lost comforts; and others, who now enjoy a good home and warm fireside, the reward of honest and sober industry, might be prevented from losing theirs.
What a blessing it would be to see men liberated from such a snare; and behold them wending their way home with their hard-earned wages, to the great joy of a once sorrowful wife, and to the delight of a once neglected, but now happy, clothed, and well-fed family, and on the Saturday evening attending to the little preliminaries of a coming Sabbath.
THE HISTORY OF A RAGGED BOY. A SUPERINTENDENT of a Sabbath School, situated in a large town in the north of England, was on one occasion standing at the school door, conversing with a friend. At that moment a little ragged boy, without shoes or stockings, was running by. The superintendent caught hold of him by the hair of his head, saying, “ What are you doing, you dirty little fellow?"
"I'm only at play,” said he. Can you
“No!” “ Where do you live? ” “No where!” “ Where do you come from, my boy?" "Why, Paddy's Land, to be zure.” “How long have you been from Ireland ? " “I don-no.” “ Where is
your father?” “ All dead, zur.” “ All dead! why, who then takes care of you ?” “Nobody cares about me." The tone in which this was said, was so sorrowful that it touched the heart of the kind man, who at once took him into a room close by; he had hiin washed, and placed in the school among the rest there assembled; the boy having attended regularly for a month, shoes and stockings were given to him, for which he was very grateful. He made great progress in reading, and was soon taught writing. He in a short time wrote so well
, that he attracted the attention of a tradesman who wanted a warehouse boy. He was engaged, and gradually rose from the lowest to the highest grade of office in the establishment. He was eventually made salesman, and had a salary of £400 a year. He was faithful in the discharge of his duties, and was so esteemed by his employers, that they took him into partnership. Some years after, the eldest partner died, and the other retired from business, leaving the once ragged, ignorant, destitute, and uncared-for orphan, the sole proprietor of an extensive mercantile establishment. The Sabbath School was the means of conferring such benefits on him. It is no wonder, then, that he should in after life devote himself to promote the interests of such institutions. He became the superintendent of one, which numbered more than one thousand scholars. As there was no possibility of enlarging the building, he opened another school in a very destitute spot, about a mile distant, where not only a Sabbath School was established, but Day Schools also, and the Gospel was preached on every Lord's-day and Wednesday evenings. Subsequently, a church was formed, and he generously gave £700 towards the building of a spacious chapel and school-rooms. When the buildings were
A WORD IN BEHALF OF RAGGED SCHOOLS.
finished, the church and congregation unanimously chose him to be their pastor ; and the late Rev. Dr. McAll gave the charge on the occasion of his ordination. He is still diligently and successfully performing the duties of his high and responsible office, which he now fills by the providence and grace of God.
The above interesting and affecting history is much calculated to afford great encouragement to those who are engaged in the delightful work of Sabbath and Ragged School teaching. It seems to impress upon us, with increased force, the words of Scripture, “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,” Eccl. xi. 6; Let us not be
weary well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not,” Gal. vi. 9.
A WORD IN BEHALF OF THE RAGGED SCHOOLS. TAE wheel of time moves round without cessation; and so it has done from the period when the morning and evening were called the first day; and so it will continue to do, until the Great Angel shall set his foot upon the earth, and, arresting its motion, shall swear, by Him that liveth for ever and ever, s that there shall be time no longer.”
The revolutions of time throw up events big with importance: this, however, is not a wheel of chance, but of Providence; the same which Ezekiel the prophet saw in a vision ; it is very high and full of eyes, embracing all events, and full of intelligence and wisdom. All things proceeding from it, come in due season and in order, whether in their own nature they be for weal or woe.
What a long succession of important events have thus arisen to man ! Scarcely had its revolutions begun, when the promise of the Messiah was given; and in accordance with this promise, the covenant was made with Abraham, the law was given by Moses, and the long succession of events occurred, which were preparatory to the Saviour's advent. And since He came, and, as our Mediator and Advocate, has taken the administration of the affairs of the church into his own hands, many are the boons which have been granted in the form of reformations and revivals of religion ; brought about, it is true, ofttimes by the sufferings and deaths of the chief agents ; “but the blood of the saints has been the seed of the church,” and has brought a blessing, instead of a curse, upon the world.
The great boon bestowed upon the church in our own times is the Religious Institutions, which have been called into existence and set in operation during the last fifty or sixty years. They are a kind of spiritual solar system, deriving light, motion, and order from Jesus, the great Sun of Righteousness; and greater harmony, and more perfect co-operation, is not to be found in the planetary system, than exists amongst many of these. Take, for example, the Tract Society, Bible Society, and the Home and Foreign Missionary Societies. These all move, each in its own sphere, never entering upon another’s track, or crossing another's path, yet often blending their light, and adding to each other's glory and efficiency.
Amongst these is one--a small one, it is true-moving in an orbit, at a
THE EMIGRANTS' CORNER.
very remote distance from the great Source of spiritual light and life, bordering upon the very regions of outer darkness; it is called, “ The Ragged School." The sphere of its operations is, indeed, dark and gloomy, unapproached by any other benevolent or religious institution; yet its light is dispelling that gloomy shade which all but hides the line of demarcation between the regions of hope and mercy, and those of despair; for those it seeks to save are the wretched, the hopeless, and the helpless.
These are the institutions for which it is our privilege to advocate ; we neither ask for them a Joseph's coat, nor a Benjamin's portion ; but we would enlist your sympathies, and secure for them a share of your liberality, your labour, and your prayers. And shall they not have these ? O yes, it cannot be that this child of Christian benevolence should become what its name imports, “a Ragged School," instead of continuing to be what it really is, a school for the ragged. The fruit of Ragged School instruction is already appearing ! Ask those who have been engaged in the work. They have seen the dissolute reclaimed-the indolent and dishonest taught to obtain a livelihood by honest industry—those who were once the pest of society in the mother-country, emigrate to the colonies, and there become useful members of the new communities
and the depraved and heartless, who have given substantial evidence of their having become the subjects of grateful and affectionate feeling. Although much has been done, much still remains to be done. And are there no servants of the Lord standing idle? Are there none to whom He is saying -Go, work in my vineyard ?
Let such hear the voice that proceeds from this opening year, and obey it. The time is short-the day is far spent-night is coming on- - be not amongst those who bury their talents—work whilst it is day; and whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest, and so the blessing of those who were ready to perish shall come upon thee. Essex.
J. J. M.
The Emigrants’ Corner.
The following is a copy of a letter from a young man, who was sent out by the efforts of the Committee of Hoxton Ragged Schools. We prefer laying it before our readers as much like the original as it is possible for type to make it ; but before doing so, we will give a short account of his history, with which we have been kindly favoured by the Secretary of the above schools. He states, that he was an exceedingly depraved young man ; in fact, he was the chief of a gang of thieves, and the terror of Hoxton. In 1846, he was first met with, and prevailed upon to attend the schools. He had no mother, and his father was a pauper. He, therefore, had no home. He was so hardened that he feared neither police nor magistrate, and many parents traced the ruin of their children to his evil influences. After he had attended the school some time, he became very much altered; he sought and obtained admission into the Refuge, in which he stayed about eighteen months, when, in consequence of the Refuge being given up, he was again cast upon the wide world. He soon fell into trouble, was tried at Newgate, narrowly escaped transportation, and was imprisoned for twelve months. At the expiration of his imprisonment, his teachers obtained a situation for