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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 or no. 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 to 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 r" 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 Irish, 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 1 Os. and place them in a Sunday School.
What articles are you now describing for a boy ?-r-For a boy, a leather cap costing Is. 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.; apinatore, made of gingham instead of sheeting, Ss.; a pair of shoes, 3s.; which renders these children, when clean, very respectable. This question appears to involve a point which J 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 schools ?—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,
Are they more industrious ?—Yes.
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—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 entirely from what 1 have ascertained and inquired among the poor; but I should think they would learn in twelve mouths.
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 f—That is the description of poor that we take particularly under our cognizance.
What number have you clothed ?—About 200 within the last 18 months. A family who are natives of Scotland, the man a weaver, but not able to work, from having broken his leg, 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 that this boy is restored to his parents, has got work, and conducts himself with propriety; his only sister has also got a comfortable situation. The two eldest children, in consequence of being employed, have left the school, but they can read, which they have principally learnt to do at the Sunday schools; the other two children, who are attending Sunday schools, are making progress in their learning; and the family, although very poor, are much improved in their condition and comfott.
It has been stated to the Committee, that where clothing has been furnished to children, it sometimes has happened that after it has been worn for a few times, that they and the clothing have disappeared together ; has your society suffered in that way?—Our society has suffered very little in propoition to the number of children it has clothed, owing to the precautions which is used by the committee ; they supply them in the first place with clothing of little value, the clothing is stamped with permanent ink in the inside, "J. B. S. Charity," which prevents pawnbrokers receiving the same; this clothing is not given to the children, it is merely lent them, they take it out from the depot on Saturday, and return it on the following Monday; in case they omit to do so, where such omission has taken place, the parties are visited by a member of the committee who has the particular charge of them; and we have found that that plan answers the purpose better than any other. But we are not confined entirely to that plan; when a child who has been under the care of the institution some time, and demean themselves in such a manner as to merit a peculiar mark of distinction, that child receives a gift of clothing, and is placed in a dayschool, which is done publicly before the rest of the children, that it may stimulate them to act equally consistent.
Do you know in point of fact whether all the children so scpplied with clothes go to Sunday schools, or if not, what proportion ?—We have regular information from the Sunday schools, by tin tickets, stamped J. B. S. that are given to each child, which child is well known by its peculiar dress; iu the Sunday schools it is given to each child that has attended school; and as all the children under our care are summoned together once a week, we have an opportunity of ascertaining correctly what children have attended, and who have not attended; if any deficiency appears in that respect, the committee man, who has particular charge of the delinquent, is obliged, according to the rules of the institution, to visit that child in the course of the same week.
W nen you recommend children to any Sunday school. do you send them to schools of any particular religious sect, or to all indiscriminately ?<•—We send them to all indiscriminately, it is quite optional on the part of the parents.
Do you recommend them to that school nearest their residence ?—We do, if that school meets with the approbation of their parents.
Are you of the society of people called Quakers ?—>I am a member of that society.
Mr. William Nettlefold Junior, called in, and Examined.
ARE you Secretary to the Hoxton Academy Suuday school?—Yes, I am.
Are you acquainted with the state of the children of the poor in your neighbourhood ?—I visited a considerable part of the neighbourhood when our school was first opened, to obtain children to fill it; but we have now in the school about 560; and in going round the neighbourhood, I discovered that one-fourth, I should suppose, of the parents that I called upon, had children that were uniustructed.
Were they desirous to be instructed ?—They were desirous of having their children instructed. On one Sabbath morning I collected 73 children who had never been in any Sunday school, and out of the 73 there were but two that could read, and that not sufficient to read in the Testament.
Are there now a sufficient number of schools in your neighbourhood to instruct all the children ?—I consider not; I am convinced that if our school could instruct mure children, that is, if we had more room, we could readily get 100 more.
Do you conceive very large schools are the best for Sunday schools, or to increase the number of small ones ?—I should consider there was no particular choice in that respect; as Sunday schools are divided into classes, the children being regularly under the attention of one individual, one may consider each class as a distinct school, only, being congregated, they have all the advantage of one general exhortation or admonition.
How loug have you taken an active part in this school?— Three years.
Have you observed any particular improvement in the children ? — Considerable.
In what respect?—As it respects the improvement in the children, their attention to the reverence of the Sabbath is to be discovered, and their increasing delight in attending