« AnteriorContinuar »
a self-dependent life when they leave its walls. The boys are better off than the girls, for they at least are generally taught trades, but the one trade to which the girls are destined, domestic service, is that which is least inculcated. The children, accustomed to find everything done for them with mechanical regularity, are helpless when first sent out to service in an ordinary household. Food is cooked in large boilers or ovens about whose management they learn nothing; they take no pride in the cleanliness of the house; their clothes are made after a pattern, and there is no opportunity for skilful contrivances or invention; and they are left in complete ignorance of the common household arts of washing, ironing, scrubbing, baking, &c. Untrained, ignorant and dependent, they grow up more like little machines, than individuals, and when emancipated from the control of the schools they rapidly drift back into the condition of pauperism, having no moral or mental stamina to be independent.
These ladies suggested the remedy of “boarding-out the children into respectable hard-working families, where they would in many cases be adopted, and would always receive individual training and the healthy influences of family life. This system has slowly gained ground, and we believe that wherever it has been tried, it has been successful, of course provided that at the outset a constant and vigilant supervision be secured. There has seldom been any difficulty in finding suitable fosterparents for children, and they have grown up honest and hard-working citizens with family affections and duties. But the real difficulty in carrying out this system for all pauper children is, that they are a fluctuating class. Orphans can be safely boarded out, but if the child is liable to be re-claimed after a few months by its parents to sink back into its former life, or wander off to another parish, it is obvious there is little good in attempting for that short interval to give it other family ties. For the majority of the children, therefore, the school system must still be tried, and the experiment at Banstead has been undertaken with a view to give a healthy homelife and parental care to the hundreds of children belonging permanently or temporarily to the parish.
The managers bought a piece of land containing 27 acres on the Banstead Downs in Surrey. The situation is healthy, though from its height much exposed, but no time was lost in fencing and planting trees to give shelter to the Homes. The school is calculated to hold 500 children. There are eight detached homes for the boys over seven years of age, each Home containing 32 boys under the care of a House Father and Mother; and twelve homes for the girls and infant boys each to contain 20 or 24 children under the care of a House Mother. There are also day schools, workshops, needleroom, infirmary, a probation house where the children are placed for the first fortnight on arriving from the workhouse, till their characters and Lealth have been accurately observed, and the superintendents and teachers' houses. Every house has its own laundry in a separate building, and all the housework, cooking, mending, and washing and dressing of the infants, is done by the elder girls under the teaching of the House Mother, while even the very small children learn to help. As far as possible à fair proportion, four or five, of elder girls is given to each House Mother, so that each child may have its due share of training and responsibility, and it is confidently expected that by this practical instruction, under circumstances very similar to those of ordinary domestic life, they will be sent out well qualified for every branch of domestic service. The present House Fathers are, respectively, a baker, a plumber and glazier, a carpenter, a tailor, a smith, a shoemaker, a gardener, and a drill master. As far as possible, the boys are placed in the Home of the Father whose trade they are learning, and a certain number is told off each day to remain at home from school and work in order to assist the Mother in the domestic work of the house.
The children were transferred to Banstead in September, 1880, and hitherto the health of the little colony has been excellent. Exceptional care has been taken to secure thoroughly honest, sober, kind-hearted, and trustworthy persons for the position of House Fathers and Mothers, for it is a post requiring much common sense, tact, and patience; but there is now no lack of Review applications, some of the women employed as Mothers are of a very superior order, and the school is fortunate in possessing Major and Mrs. Berkeley as Superintendent and Matron.
Of course the outlay is at present heavy; the land, the building of all these detached houses, the furniture and fixtures have made the expenses of these first years of trial very large ; but we believe it will compare very favourably with the cost of what, for want of a better term, we shall call the district "factories." Economy and thoroughness of detail are taught in every one of the houses, and none of the children who leave Banstead are likely to drift back into pauper life. Even if it does actually cost more (which we doubt) to bring up children to be honest men and women than to turn them out mere machines, all alike except that some are more defective than others, the money would be economically spent, for a better result is secured. It costs more time and patience to make one careful oil-painting than a hundred cheap chromo-lithographs. If the rosy cheeked children at Banstead grow up, as there is fair inference they will, into honest-workers and self-respecting fathers and mothers of industrious families, the system which has the effect of lifting them from the pauper into the citizen class, will be the cheapest in the end.
Another plan, which promises also very well has been tried at Nottingham. The Radford parish having been joined to the Nottingham Union, the workhouse of the former was left empty. This is now made over entirely to the children, but instead of putting them to school by themselves, it has been found possible to let them attend the ordinary board-school, thus mixing with the children of artizans and mill-workers. Care too is taken that their clothes shall not bear any appearance of uniform, one little girl having a cloak, another a warm jacket, a third a pelisse, and so on, so that there is nothing in their appearance to point them out as belonging to a parish class; and they have so entirely forgotten it themselves that we were told the boys would fight any other lad who called them charity children. Some attempt, too, has been made to train the girls in domestic work, and the boys' shoe-making is very well done.
Nevertheless with all this care the simpler household life of Banstead, or the Marston House Schools at Birmingham, has far greater advantages. The reverse of the medal is to be found in
of the large district schools which are studded round London and other cities; without necessarily imputing dishonesty or fraud, there is ample evidence of lavish waste, and what a speaker at Birmingham happily termed, parsimonious extravagance. It is here that a large field may be found for the exertions of ladies as poor-law guardians and managers. There is a large staff of subordinates, ward-matrons, teachers, servants, cooks, of whom certainly half are women, and these women absolutely require, and some of the men would be the better for, the intelligent supervision of ladies trained in domestic details by the management of their own homes. The controversy which has been waged in Paddington between the Board of Guardians of which Mrs. Charles is member, and the managers of Ashford District School, whither the Paddington children are sent, is sufficient proof that a lady's eye will discover many abuses and much waste which a board of gentlemen will not discover. In visiting the Ashford Schools, Mrs. Charles discovered, first that the needlework taught was of so wretched a quality that a committee of ladies, who looked after the boarded-out children, begged they might have the money to buy an outfit for each girl instead of the badly-made clothes manufactured in the school; next that though there was a shoemaker kept to teach the boys, nearly £800 were spent in addition to buy boots. The waste of food and firing in the school also appears extravagantly great, details which the managers have not had time or knowledge to inquire into. Mrs. Charles's report includes even more serious charges, involving the dishonesty of one of the women employed, the immorality of another, and the neglect of many of the children. The Visiting Committee for a long time refused to look into the matter at all, and the up-hill fight of one stout-hearted lady, against the official apathy of her colleagues has continued for a long time without result. But the managers and officials of Ashford are beginning, if we may believe the Paddington
February 15th, 1882.
to “set their house in order, and to recognise the danger of letting 750 children grow up in shiftless ignorance and unfitness for the business of life,” and, moreover, notice has been given by another guardian of a resolution to remove all the Paddington children in a body from the Ashford Schools. Strong determination and unflinching courage will at last make their way against any odds, and we cannot wish Mrs. Charles a higher meed of success than that the Paddington Board shall make up its mind to imitate Kensington, and give motherly care and loving family life to all its poor little waifs and strays.
Sister Augustine, Superior of the Sisters of Charity, at the St. Johannis
Hospital, at Bonn. C. Kegan Paul. This is a translation from a German book now widely popular, “Memorials of Amalie von Lasaulx," and is the memoir of a lady who was deeply beloved and respected for her numerous works of charity during the course of her long life, but who died persecuted for her resistance to the new Catholicism which under the influence of the Jesuits has made such formidable advances in Europe within the last twenty years. Amalie von Lasaulx was born in Coblenz, in 1815, of a family remarkable for liberal culture of mind and steadiness of character. The physical activity which made her as a girl fond of stilt walking and skating on a solitary corner of the Moselle (at that time an unheard of accomplishment for a girl, and Amalie was doubtless the only one in Coblenz who indulged in such a pastime), and her bright and sturdy independence of charcter, which made her the life of the home circle, marked her out as fit for great work, and it was to the extreme mortification of her family that she took the vows of a Sister of Mercy of the Order