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“ Have other lovers,—say, my love,
Loved thus before to-day?”“ They may have, yes they may, my love;
Not long ago they may.”
“But though they worshipped thee, my love,
Thy maiden heart was free?”— “ Don't ask too much of me, my love; · Don't ask too much of me."
“Yet now 'tis you and I, my love,
Love's wings no more will fly?”— "If Love could never die, my love,
Our love should never die.”
“ For shame! and is this so, my love,
And Love and I must go ?”— “Indeed I do not know, my love;
My life, I do not know.”
“You will, you must be true, my love,
Nor look and love anew !”— “I'll see what I can do, my love ;
I'll see what I can do."
WORKHOUSE GIRLS: WHAT THEY ARE, AND HOW
TO HELP THEM.
The appointment which has been lately some act of petty theft in which they made by Mr. Stansfeld, of a Lady have been successful, some jollifications Inspector, Mrs. Nassau Senior, whose upon the proceeds of their parents' duty is to investigate the results of crime in which they had participated, pauper school-training, by ascertaining the delights of the “penny gaff,” or the success or failure in after-life of drinking bouts among the dissolute. workhouse girls, proves that attention We impute no blame to the work. is being aroused to this subject—a house authorities. They are necessarily very important one, from the number powerless to prevent these evil comof girls, probably 3,000, who are an- munications, which nevertheless most nually sent out from our pauper institu- effectually tend to corrupt good mantions, to make their way upward in the ners. world. In order to understand how to We are so accustomed to regard work. help them, we must know really what house children (if we think of them at they are, and the disadvantages under all) in the mass, that few of us realize which they labour. A few facts from the fact how large a proportion of the one who has devoted much attention to whole is formed of "casuals ” —prothis subject during the last seven years bably half in the metropolitan schools, may, perhaps, therefore be of interest. two-thirds in the country workhouses,
The children in a Workhouse School and these two-thirds are not represented are a heterogeneous collection, differing by the same individuals, “but they in birth, in the circumstances which change so rapidly that sometimes the have pauperized them, and in the numbers passing through the school in length of time which they have re- & year will be five times as many as mained in that condition. Some were it contains in any one day."1 They born, and have passed the whole of pass in and out after a one, two, or their infantine existence, within the three months' residence in the school, work house walls ; others, after a happy to be replaced by others with fresh exchildhood in some cottage home, are periences of evil to form the basis of the temporarily forced to seek refuge in the sensational stories continually poured workhouse for a few months, until they into these children's ears ! are able to gain a living for themselves. A girl, aged thirteen, entered a workBetween these extremes we have orphans house school in January 1870. She and deserted of all ages, the children of was described as a “regular workhouse the permanently sick or the mentally bird,” having passed in and out of afflicted, and also the children of drunk- several such institutions. In April she ards, vagrants, criminals, &c., whose was placed out to service; in July she previous knowledge of all forms of evil robbed her mistress in such a manner makes them the worst possible associates as to prove she was thoroughly confor the more respectable children. versant with crime; and in August she
It is in accordance with childish was arrested walking the streets as a nature to dwell on the glories of the prostitute. She was imprisoned for six unattainable to both itself and its com- months, and on her discharge taken panions. The disease, degradation, and back by the mistress whom she had ruin, inevitable consequences of the life injured. Three months afterwards she which they admire, do not enter into was arrested for burglary, to which she their calculations, when descanting upon 1 Contemporary Review, September 1870.
pleaded guilty at the assizes and was sentenced to a reformatory. What harm may not that miserable child have been the means of disseminating during her three months' residence in the schools among her companions—and yet there is no power which can prevent it!
This, then, is the class of children which, when old enough, are placed out to earn their living from our workhouse schools; those who may have been conversant through actual experience of vice from their birth, and those who may be, and probably are, conversant with it from the narratives of their companions. In addition to these disadvantages are the pauperism of all, and the inherited disease of not a few, which weight them heavily, even at their first start in life. Can we wonder at the many accounts we have of the large number of these children resorting to crime and prostitution as a means of livelihood; of the 80 per cent. of Lon don workhouse girls alleged to be on the streets ; even of the one instance where it was proved that cent. per cent were thus lost; and of the sad statement of the Society for the Rescue of Young Women and Children, that it finds workhouse girls, as a class, more hopeless to reform than any other ?
Under such circumstances, we cannot look for any striking success among these children even at the best. Mr. Tufnell, one of her Majesty's Inspectors of Workhouse Schools, who has deeply studied the subject, and is very sanguine of the effect of the large district or separate schools upon the permanent children, tells us, in the twenty-second annual report of the Poor Law Board, that not 4 per cent of children who had been reared in the schools fail to become working members of the community; and he afterwards, in a letter to the Central London Board in November 1870, added that he believed that it would be more correct to say that not more than 1 per cent. turned out ill.
Three able letters appeared in 1871 in the Echo, August 26th, September 2nd, and 4th, on this subject, signed C. W.G. In them it is conclusively shown that
the average of admission into and discharges from the pauper schools is far larger than the average number of children resident in them. In fact, the proportion of children who can be said to have been reared in the school, is barely 10 per cent. of the whole number, and it is upon this small proportion that Mr. Tufnell bases his statistics. They were, moreover, mostly drawn from the experience of the boys alone, and in many instances extended only to their eighteenth year at farthest. Now, all statistics of this class of children, even of those under the boarding-out system in Scotland, as well as those trained in schools, show that the girls fail to a greater degree than the boys. In a report presented to Parliament in 1862, it will be found that while 11 per cent. of the boys educated for more than two consecutive years in district and separate schools were ascertained to have returned to the union house within the next ten years, 27 per cent. of the girls in the same circumstances had returned. In a letter printed in Knight's Official Advertiser, February lst, 1871, Mr. Tufnell, while mentioning that 30 per cent of the children (probably calculated on both casual and permanent, though he is not definite on this point) from the Central London District School had returned to that institution or the workhouse in the ensuing three years, tells us that we must not reckon all these returns as failures, for they may arise from various causes other than bad conduct. However, the Honourable Mrs. Way, quoting from public documents, states that of 15,710 boys sent out from pauper schools in two consecutive years, 2,243 had returned ; and of 14,030 girls, 3,632 had returned in the ensuing eight years, or about one in five, and of these one in eleven had returned by their own misconduct.1
1 By these statistics the returns from Dis. trict and separate Schools alone seem to bear a higher proportion than from all three classes of Pauper Schools. We regret much that we cannot show the proportion which returning through misconduct bears to the return from misfortune among the former.
Mr. Adamson, inspector of poor for one young servant only. This has its the city parish of Glasgow, in his report advantages and disadvantages. The published August 1872, gives us par- child is always in direct communication ticulars of 923 children who had been with her mistress, and, should the latter s boarded out" between September be patient and kind, is in an excellent 1855 and September 1871, from that position for learning more of the minuworkhouse ; i.e., a certain sum being tiæ of her occupation in a few months paid for their maintenance, they were than she could in the institution in as placed with cottagers, by whom in all many years. On the other hand, she respects they were treated as members has to attempt all branches of her trade of the family. Of 457 boys who had at once. She is kitchen, house, and left their foster homes to go to work, parlour maid ; and to a girl to whom the the career of 25 could not be ascer- very names of even the commonest tained; only fourteen bore a bad cha- articles of domestic furniture are unracter, and three had been convicted of known (for instance the coal-scuttle, the crime; while of the 466 girls similarly pepper-castor, &c.), this must appear an out at work, the career of thirteen could enormous if not an insurmountable not be ascertained, seventeen bore a bad difficulty. character, and five had been convicted They are but mere children after all of crime. A great advance certainly one little girl having been dismissed, upon the school statistics, but still after she had been eighteen months in showing that it is more difficult to cut a service, for cutting up her mistress's girl off from the entail of pauperism best bonnet-ribbons to make doll's than a boy.
clothes! And yet a former mistress of The Glasgow authorities, in their this child had not scrupled to turn her statistics, give us the details of the out into the street at half-past ten at after-life of the children.
night, on the detection of a theft of Workhouse girls in general leave the sixpence. institution at about thirteen years of It will be remembered also that if the age, two years younger than those from girl has been an inhabitant of the workthe Hanwell District School, who are house from her infancy, she has never fifteen. It is often remarked, “Why been trained to act upon her own reare not the girls trained in their duties sponsibility—an essential element in the by making them undertake the service formation of character; she has little or of the workhouse?” But a moment's no knowledge of the value of money and reflection will show that they by youth what it can procure. Strange as it may and inexperience would not be com- seem, she may be even unaccustomed to petent to undertake them entirely, that walk any distance, not through want of this work must be shared by the able- bodily strength, but because the exercise bodied women, who, the slightest know- of her muscles has been neglected. In ledge of workhouse life demonstrates, placing such a girl out to work to learn are the worst possible associates and the means of earning her livelihood, examples for the girls. In the separate therefore, it seems according to the dicschool certainly no such difficulty exists, tates of common sense that her lessons and we find generally more attention is should be simplified, she should not given to industrial pursuits ; but still have too great a diversity of subjects to the school is so essentially different from study at first, lest in trying to grasp the ordinary household that much necessarily remains untaught except in theory.
1 We know a boarded-out child, strong, The value of the children, considering healthy, and seven years old, whose foster their age and the difficulty of properly parents were obliged to set out to church training them in their duties, is not much, earlier than they were accustomed before she and they therefore supply in great mea
lived with them, because the continuous walk sure the small households which contain
at a steady pace of three-quarters of a milo was too much for the little legs.
them all she may succeed in taking hold her future wages; and we know one inof none.
stance in which the girl did so pay a In Bristol the judicious plan was mistress five shillings, to whom she had followed by the guardians of placing come with her outfit-an ample onethose girls who, either through bad from the workhouse, remained with her temper or other faults, were unsuited but three months, and yet was told she for domestic service, to work in a care- had contracted a debt of eleven shillings fully managed factory, and boarding beyond the amount of her wages, which them at a "home" under the superin- were twelve shillings! Of course the tendence of a benevolent lady. A pro- child was not legally responsible for it, posal has very lately been made by a she had not given her mistress authority Devonshire silk manufacturer to take to retain her wages in order to furnish girls for a similar purpose from one of her with clothes. It is, however, cusour metropolitan pauper schools. At tomary for the mistress to spend the Bristol it was found after some months wages, or at all events to assist the of this training in the duties of ordinary child in the purchase of clothing; and life that many of them could be passed it is desirable that so young and ignoon with satisfactory results to service. rant a person should in some way gain
It is an exceptional case where the the knowledge of spending her earnings mistress does not evince a feeling of to the best advantage, of getting the kindness for her little servant; but best halfpenny's worth for a halfpenny. should the child have the misfortune to But this practice at present leaves the fall into bad hands, she is often com- child very much at the mercy of unpletely friendless, and cruelty and in- scrupulous persons. A great improvejustice can be perpetrated upon her with ment in our opinion would be the agreescarcely a chance of redress. She, poor ment of the mistress to furnish the child, is too ignorant to know both guardians with a debtor and creditor wbat acts are against the law and how account of what she spends on the girl's to bring them under its cognizance. behalf. They are her legal guardians She therefore complains to no one, not until she is sixteen, and to them alone even to the chaplain who visits her, if belongs the power of bestowing the she come from a district school, nor the authority upon the mistress to spend relieving officer, who is her legal protec- the girl's wages, which makes them retor while she remains in the situation sponsible for the debt if just. found for her by the parochial authorities. The girl so treated does not know nor the lady friend who perchance may where to apply for redress. She has visit her, but suffers in silence, or runs been told she had better not return to away to ruin, or returns to the work- the workhouse. She therefore fears to house without a character. Injustice, seek the master's help. If she knows however, as it invariably does, produces the Board of Guardians exists at all, she an evil effect upon her moral nature, does not know that upon them probably making it less likely than before that devolves (for the law is ambiguous on she will succeed in rising out of her this point in the case of civil rights) degraded state. One piece of injustice the duty of taking care of her legal in18, we believe, more often practised than terests. By an Act of 1851 the relievany other, that of retaining the child's ing officers are directed to visit pauper Wages to pay for the articles she is children placed out to work in their disalleged to have broken, or in the excuse trict; but they are a fully worked body that the equivalent for them has been of men, and it is only in some places furnished in old clothes ; but no account that this duty is performed. Howis rendered, nor is the value of the ever, few men—and his official position articles appraised. Sometimes, even not makes it less probable for a relieving content with this, the mistress saddles officer, even though he may be kindthe child with a debt to be paid out of hearted—can gain the girl's confidence;