Page images

Do you find any repugnance on the part of parents to allow their children to attend your church?-I never had an application from any parent to have his child released from going to church, nor from any of the children, except on one occasion, when two of the boys, slipping away from the sehool as it was passing to church, excused themselves on the alleged ground of their having gone to the meeting, and they expressed a wish to be permitted in future to go there. The man who was the parent of one of the children, and the master of the other (bis apprentice) was a Dissenter. I do not exactly remember wbat I said to the boys, but more or less to the following effect; that I feared if I granted their request, they would be very slack in their attendance on the meeting; that my wish was that they should punctually go to a place of worship on the Sunday, and I did not know how to secure this but by carrying them to church with the other boys, and that this was my only reason for doing so. They have since attended the school and gone to church, apparently quite cheerfully, and I have had no remonstrance from the family to which they belong.

Do you conceive, from what you have observed of schools generally, that there would be any difficulty, with respect to Dissenters, in an arrangement of this sort; suppose a school in which the children were taught upon the plan of the National establishment, but such as belonged io sectarian parents were not compelled to attend divine service in church, but only required to satisfy the directors of the school that they shall attend some place of worship regularly ! -I think not, provided no offensive language whatever was used to them by the masters or directors of the school on the ground of their being Dissenters, or permitted to be used towards them by their school-fellows. If this course were not strictly followed, I should conceive that the greatest obstacles to the success of such a plan would arise.

With respect to the Catechism, do you from your expe. rience apprehend that a mode might be fallen upon, of teaching all the poor children of the school that large proportion of doctrine in which the church and the sects are all agreed, and confining the instruction with respect to the remaining part of the doctrine, upon which they differ, to the children belonging to the Establishment, leaving the Dissenters-to instruct their own children in their own peculiar tenets !-- If a thicuity were made by dissenting parents, as to teaching the Catechusm, I question whether any such plan as that mentioned would answer, for it is called the Church Catechism, and the name would set such Dissenters against any part of it being taught, even though they might have no objection to the religious truths contained in the parts proposed to be taught, if those religious truths were offered to their children under another title and in another form.

Do you apprehend that if Dissenters sent their children to a school upon the National plan, and such modifications of that plan were made, with respect to teaching the Catechism and church attendance, as to render this practicable, that the children would by degrees be allowed to attend the church, and would gradually fall into the Establishment in I should be of opinion that a considerable portion of them would ; what proportion I really cannot say. All the children of the school of which I have been speaking, receive a Prayer-book and Bible, as well as Watts's Hymns for Children, on leaving the school, and none of them object to the Prayer-book; nor do they object to the getting of a Collect by heart every Sunday, which is one of our practices, during the latter years of their attendance at the school, when they become old enough to do this. I believe they leave the school with a respect for the church and churchmen, even though they may return to the habit of frequenting the meeting-house with their parents; so that their prejudices as Dissenters appear to be so far softened as to pave


way for their entire removal. The success of such a system for conciliating Dissenters, must materially depend on the spirit in which it is carried on.

Mr. William HARGrave, called in, and Eramineda WHERE do you live?—No. 1, Bishopsgate-street.

Are you acquainted with the state of the children of the poor in any part of the Metropolis, and what part ?-In the North-east district, including Spitalfields, Shoreditch, and that neighbourhood.

What led you to this knowledge of the state of the poor?I am a member of a society which is entitled the Juvenile Benevolent Society, for clothing and promoting the education of destitute poor children, and improving the condition

Are there many poor children uneducated in those parts of the town?-A great number.

Are they desirous of instruction?-They are very desirous.

State the limits of the North-east district :-I think, as near as I can recollect, Hackney is the extent of it, bounded on one side by Bishopsgate-street, and on the other by

of the poor.

or no.

Whitechapel; the same district as the Auxiliary Bible Society. It does not extend so far as Houndsditch; there is a small street which divides it.

If the children of the poor are desirous of education, what is the reason they are prevented receiving the benefit of it?They are prevented, from two reasons: I have visited a great number of families to ascertain the cause of that prevention, and have discovered, when the parents are ignorant, and do not know how to appreciate the value of education, they appear very indifferent whether their offspring are educated

There is another reason, which appears to operate very much against children being sent to schools, particularly Sunday schools; that is, a sufficient portion of clothing to render them tolerably decent, to place them upon a par with other children who are generally placed in those schools

. The general objection to their being sent to school, which is urged by their parents, upon our committee applying 10 them upon the subject, is this; they appeal to us in this way, “ You see our children, is it possible we can send them to school in this state?" This observation applies to a very large portion of the poor in that vicinity.

Are they poor mechanics, that make objections of this sort -They are generally Írish, who are labourers. The object of this society, on whose account I visit the poor, is to obviate that difficulty; and they have procured a cheap kind of clothing, with which they clothe those poor children, a boy for the expense of 8s, and a girl for 10s, and place them in a Sunday School.

What articles are you now describing for a boy ?--For a boy, a leather cap costing ls. Id.; a pinafore, made of a brown kind of sheeting which is very strong, extending from the neck down to the feet, and covering the arms, and which costs 3s. ; and shoes, good ones, for 3s. that constitutes the whole of the boy's dress : The girl's dress consists of a bonnet and ribbon, costing 2s.; a pinafore, made of gingham instead of sheeting, 3s. ; a pair of shoes, 3s.; which renders these children, when clean, very respectable. This question appears to involve a point which I suppose I may allude to, that is, the benefit of Sunday schools over that of other schools: : we have found, generally, that once a week, which is on the Sabbath day, the child will learn as much in that time as he would if placed in a National school, or in a school on the British system of education, in a week.

How do you account for this ?-The number that is admitted to those schools is so great, that we are apprehensive that

every child does not receive the same attention as that

child does in a Sunday school; on the other hand, in a Sunday school the children are taught to read by young men and young women, who volunteer their services on those occasions.

Are there a sufficient number of schools for the poor in the district with which you are acquainted !-- I do not think there is.

Do you know the number of schools ?-I do not know the exact number; I know some, but I do not know the precise number.

Why do the parents object to their children going to Sunday schools, on account of their dress, more than day schocis ?—They do not object more to one school than the other, but many children are engaged on the week day.

Have you observed any improvement in the moral condition of the poor, when the children have been educated in the free schools in or near your neighbourhood?-In the particular families under my care, I have noticed a considerable improvement; and as reports are brought up from every district in London every month to the committee of the Juvenile Benevolent Society, which I attend, and from the many facts and observations recorded in those reports, it evidently is the case throughout London, where our committee have extended their care.

Do you know any particular reason which occasions the great distress among the poor - I am of opinion, from the observations I have made amongst the poor, that it arises from the parents in the first place not being educated; when they become enlightened, we find they become economical, and acquire more stable habits.

Are they more industrious ?-Yes.
More frugal ?--Much more so.

Have you any adult schools in your neighbourhood :We have.

Do many of the poor attend those schools?—Not a great many; we find it is better to send children to school than adults; they are in general more attentive, continuing a greater length of time at school.

Do you know the number of children that are in free schools in your own district :- I do not.

Are you able to speak to the length of time a child takes to learn to read the Bible at a Sunday school ?-I am not a teacher in any Sunday school, but my observations proceed eotirely from what I have ascertained and inquired among the poor; but I should think they would learn in twelve months.

Can you give a general opinion upon the best means of improving the children of the poor in your district :- The only plan that I could suggest would be, by the establishment of more schools, and an additional number of masters among the poor, which operates as a stimulus : we have found when children are desirous of coming to school, the parents were unwilling they should come, and we have found, that by visiting the parents two or three times, and talking to them upon the subject, that such remonstrance has been effectual, and they have generally in consequence suffered their children to come to the Sunday school; we can get them to a Sunday school when we cannot get them to a day school.

Are the children employed on a week day, which prevents them attending a day school ?-A great number of them are; the Juvenile Benevolent Society summon, in their different districts, all the children under their care once a week, to a room appointed for the purpose, to ascertain what progress those children have made in their learning. Nine children out of ten that we visit, who have not been placed under the care of this institution that I allude to, are unable to read.

Have you visited some of the very lowest classes of society ?-That is the description of poor that we take particularly under our cognizance.

What number have you clothed !--About 200 within the Jast 18 months. A family who are natives of Scotland, the man a weaver, but not able to work, from having broken his Jeg, and the woman having charge of four children, consequently unable to assist her husband in procuring a livelihood; their distress was so great, that this family, which consisted of six persons, laid and slept in one bed ; two of the children were about thirteen years of age at that time; they have been taken under the notice of this institution from its formation, and assisted with pecuniary aid, and their children sent to Sunday schools. Since that was done for them, they have been progressively improving. I visit them weekly, and they appear altogether much more comfortable; two of their children have got employment; the other two continue to attend the Sunday school, and at what is termed a weekly conference with some of the committee of the Juvenile Benevolent Society, which is merely an examination, they receive a little advice how to conduct themselves when they are at school. The boy some time ago was absent from home; his mother told me she believed he was connected with some of the juvenile depredators, who procure a subsistence by stealing; but I have now the satisfaction to say

« PreviousContinue »