Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 707, July 14, 1877 online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryVariousChambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 707, July 14, 1877 → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Produced by Susan Skinner and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at





Fourth Series


NO. 707. SATURDAY, JULY 14, 1877. PRICE 1½_d._]


Industrial schools, in which poor children, the waifs of the streets,
are fed, lodged, and taught some useful employment, have been in
existence for more than thirty years, and are on all hands acknowledged
to have been successful as a means of preventing - or lessening
the amount of - juvenile crime and vagrancy. The weak point in the
organisation of these schools is that they rely for support on the
voluntary contributions of benevolent individuals, instead of forming
part of the poor-law system, and being thereby maintained by the whole
taxable community. Some will think there is a more serious drawback
in their constitution. By whatever name these schools are known, they
are in effect asylums for the grouping of children to the number of
several hundreds in a large establishment; and so far are a repetition
of the old species of hospitals, which are now generally condemned. On
a late occasion we brought under the notice of our readers a method of
boarding-out pauper children among the families of rural labourers and
small tradesmen in country towns, which has proved eminently successful
wherever it has been tried in Scotland. As this method of boarding-out
is under the administration of parochial boards relying on rates, it
has, with other merits, that of not specially taxing the benevolence of
particular individuals.

What we peculiarly admired in the boarding-out system was its
conservation of the family-home as a means of juvenile nurture and
intellectual and moral culture. We now propose to give some account of
a family-home system which has been established in England. It differs
materially from that prevalent in Scotland, and further labours under
the objection of being a voluntary charity similar to that of the
Industrial schools. Though not quite to our mind, it is much better
than nothing, and we bespeak for it the kindly attention of the public.

This English 'Village Home' system originated in the efforts of Dr
Bernardo, who began with a 'Home' for Arab and gutter boys in London.
No sooner was this Home in operation than he set about founding a
similar establishment for girls, in which good work he was ably
assisted by his wife. 'The Village Home' at Ilford in Essex, for
orphan, neglected, and destitute girls is the result.

Little girls up to the age of eleven or twelve are rescued weekly from
misery and danger and placed under the care of a Mother. Even babies
of only twelve and fifteen months are admitted, in cases where the
detective, employed by Dr Bernardo to find out wretched and abandoned
children, learns that the child will be brought up by a 'tramp' to a
life of infamy. Before a girl thus rescued is permitted to join the
family of which she is to become a member, she is carefully tended
for several weeks in a Home in London, in order that her freedom from
disease and her personal cleanliness may be secure; after which she
is sent down to Ilford, and becomes at once a member of a _family_,
with a dozen other girls of varying ages for playmates and sisters.
The Mother gives her a kiss, and tells her to be a good girl, and they
will all love her dearly; and in a few days the forlorn little one is
transformed into something human and child-like. In order to become
acquainted with the internal organisation of this 'Home' training of
large numbers of destitute children gathered together from all parts of
London, we recently visited Dr Bernardo's 'Village Home' at Ilford, the
third and most recently founded establishment of the kind. Thither we
repair, and find that the pretty red cottages which compose the Village
form an oblong square, which surrounds a large open space of ground,
intended hereafter to inclose a piece of grass of sufficient size for
the grazing of a few sheep. A picturesque gateway admits the visitor to
the governor's house, which is built in the same style as the cottages.
We were met at the entrance by the governor.

'The children are all in school now,' said he; 'what do you say to
going there first, and then you will see them all together?'

During a walk of some five or six minutes, past a dozen cottages and
through two or three turnstile gates, we met on our road half-a-dozen
happy-faced little children minding babies younger than themselves.
The school-rooms occupy a long detached building. We entered one, a
large cheerful room furnished with desks and forms, and hung with maps,
pictures of animals, and illustrated texts of Scripture and homely

The girls regarded us with bright cheerful curiosity. There was no
stolid indifference or sullen discontent expressed in any of their
faces. They stood up as the governor took off his hat, and each one
dropped us a quick little courtesy and smiled pleasantly as we passed
by her desk. The ages of the children in this room varied from perhaps
ten to fourteen or fifteen; and we observed that their hair was not
cropped, that it was braided close to the head, according to the fancy
of the owner, where it was long; and that those who had it short wore
either a round comb or piece of dark ribbon to keep it from falling
over their eyes.

On our remarking to the governor that this in itself was a great
improvement on the usual habit of keeping the hair cropped, he replied:
'We do all we can to develop nice womanly habits in the older girls,
so we make it a rule _never_ to cut their hair, so long as they keep
it clean and tidy; and we find the plan succeeds very well, each girl
knowing the penalty she will have to pay for slovenliness in this
respect; and as you see for yourself, they take care to keep their
locks.' The girls are not dressed in uniform, which we consider to be

A pleasant-faced schoolmistress presided over this room. The hours
perhaps are a little longer than is absolutely necessary; but still,
although morning lessons were just over, we searched in vain for one
over-tired listless face. All the children looked happy and bright
and clean, and most of them were so healthy in appearance that it
was a real pleasure to watch them eagerly putting away their slates
preparatory to scampering back to their various homes.

The school-room education is sound and practical, and suited to the
position the girls will occupy on leaving the Village.

An animated scene met our view as we turned into the square around
which stand the various Homes. About a hundred girls, from fourteen
years old down to babies only just able to toddle, were laughing and
chatting merrily as they hurried along the broad pathway, and gathered
in clusters in front of each cottage, glancing shyly at the visitors
walking behind ere they disappeared indoors like bees returning to
their hives.

We entered the first Home; and as they are all alike in form and
arrangement, a description of one will suffice for all. They are of
red brick, detached, and of Gothic style, containing day-room kitchen,
scullery, and pantry on the ground-floor, besides a tiny private
sitting-room for the Mother. The sleeping apartments are up-stairs,
five in number; four for the little family, and one small one for the

From half-past twelve to one is dinner-hour, so we arrived just in
time to see the meal served. Each cottage is presided over by a woman
carefully selected for the post she has to fill, capable of both
firmness and gentleness, of an affectionate disposition, and accustomed
to manage children. She is called Mother by the little ones under her
care; her will is law; all in her cottage obey it; or if not, are
treated as naughty children would be in homes of their own. The various
arrangements of the household are made clear to each inmate, and the
conscientious carrying out of them is inculcated on each member of the
family for the comfort and well-being of all. The cottages are large
enough to hold twenty girls, five in each bedroom; but when we were
there, none of the cottages contained more than fifteen or sixteen.

The rooms in which the girls sleep are plain and homelike. Small
iron bedsteads painted green, and covered with a counterpane bearing
the name of the Village, woven in the centre, occupy the corners; a
washing-stand with basin and jug and soap-dish of simple ware, is
placed on one side, to enable the girls to learn to use and lift such
breakable articles without fear or awkwardness; combs and brushes are
kept in a drawer, and a square looking-glass hangs on the wall, that
there may not be any excuse for untidy appearance.

Nothing is done in the Home by forced routine. The older girls take it
in turn to help to cook the dinner, to lay the cloth, to keep the house
in order, and to imitate Mother in everything she does. Each small
domestic duty is performed over and over again, till each child learns
to be quite an adept at cooking potatoes, or cleaning out a room, or
washing and dressing a younger one; and takes a pride in her work, so
as to be able to do it _as well as Mother_. The child is daily and
hourly accustomed to perform small services for the household, to keep
down her temper, to give sympathy and willing aid to those who have
not been so long in the Home as herself, and to do all she can to help
Mother; hence, when she enters service, she has already learnt in her
Home to do thoroughly all the commonplace duties which are likely to
fall to her lot as a servant. In these Homes every girl has a motive
for which to work; she is taught to love truth, to be gentle and
modest, and to give and accept the affection to which all have an equal
right from Mother down to the youngest in the house. Family interest is
encouraged in every cottage; the girls are taught to regard each other
as adopted sisters; individuality of character is carefully studied by
the head of the household, and as far as lies in her power, is trained
into usefulness for the benefit of the whole community.

Every day, in each household one or two stay from school for an hour or
so, in order to learn the art of cooking the simple dinner partaken by
their sisters when they come home. The table is carefully laid; every
article in the kitchen is scrupulously cleaned; the rice, if it be
rice-day, duly weighed, washed, boiled, and constantly watched by the
eager pair of eyes whose duty it is to see that it does not burn; and
then, when all, with clean hands and faces, are seated round the table,
the little cook of the day has to carry the plates full of rice to
Mother, to add the treacle or sugar allowed, according to the wish of
each child.

The furniture of the cottage throughout is solid and plain, and of a
kind that can be kept clean by scrubbing. The children amuse themselves
in the room in which they dine; at one end of which are shelves divided
into pigeon-holes, in which each girl may keep her work and small
treasures. These pigeon-holes are left unclosed, to teach the children
to resist the temptation of touching a sister's things without leave.
In this room they play, work, mend their clothes, darn their stockings,
and talk to Mother, who sits with them for the greater part of the
evening. She has her own private parlour at the side, from whence she
can command a view of the kitchen and scullery and see that all goes on
well there; and at the same time she can hear, without being seen, the
conversation that takes place between her children and any relative who
is permitted to visit them; an arrangement which often avoids harm from
injudicious influence.

One of the special duties of the Mother is to inculcate habits of
domestic comfort in a home on a small scale, and so to cultivate the
powers of contrivance of each girl as to obtain the greatest possible
amount of household pleasure for all.

Each girl's clothes are kept on a shelf in a press; the elder ones
superintend mending operations, and the tidiness of the younger ones.
There is _no number_ marked on their things, not even on the shoes and
boots, which are kept beautifully clean and ready for use in a recess
at the foot of the press.

Everything about the cottage bears the stamp of ordinary home-life;
nothing is institutionised. Every natural social feeling is fostered
and developed in this Home life, so that when the time arrives for a
girl to go into service, she carries with her into her new home not
only a practical knowledge of the duties expected of her, which fits
her to hold her own among her fellow-servants, but the firm conviction
that she has only to do well to get on; added to which she wears in her
heart the very best preservative against doing badly, the talisman of
the love and affection of the family amongst whom she has been reared.

Each cottage is called at Ilford after the name of a flower - Hawthorn,
Rose, Forget-me-not, Sweetbrier, and so on; and as far as possible the
hats and cloaks for Sunday and holiday-wear are identified, each with
its Home; so that the groups belonging to the various Cottages may be
distinguished in church by the differing colour of the hat or style of
the cape.

A large laundry is attached to the cottages. Here the girls learn
laundry-work, from the clean washing and ironing of a coarse towel to
the careful goffering and ironing of a lady's ruffle or a gentleman's
shirt. They all take their turn in every department of the work, not
doing a set piece and then leaving it because the task is done, but
taking an interest in the part assigned to them, and each one vying
with the other in quickness and thoroughness. The pride with which
they exhibited their ironing shewed plainly that it was no forced
task, but a labour of genuine pleasure. Bright pleasant-spoken women
superintend this part of the Home, inculcating that 'everything that
is worth doing at all is worth doing well,' and seeing that nothing is
left till it is finished. Although it was the dinner-hour, several of
the girls were still busy at the tables.

'It won't take you five minutes to finish that shirt, Lucy,' we heard
one of the women say to a rosy-cheeked girl; 'and it would be a pity to
leave it; the starch will get so dry.' The girl answered with a smile,
and went on ironing cheerfully, quite as anxious that her work should
look nice as the Mother was for her. Such training as this cannot fail
in its desired effect; and girls taught thus early to take an interest
in the labour of their hands, cannot fail to do honour to the Home they
have been reared in, and the kind Mother, whose affections they hope to
retain to the end of life.

A girl who had been thus trained for two or three years waited on us at
lunch at the governor's table. She is about thirteen, and not very big
for her age; but she managed not only to supply us with all we required
in a handy way, but to carry up to the nursery the babies' dinner. Her
movements were quiet, her manners dignified and self-contained, and she
kept an eager watch on us, to observe if we had all we needed. She was
evidently intent on doing her best, and was ambitious enough to even
try and divine if anything was missing. We were informed when this girl
left the room that she had been in the Home some time, that she had a
fearful temper, but that great hopes were entertained of her turning
out at sixteen a good useful servant.

We were all the more impressed with this specimen of the results of the
Home training system, as we had only a short while since had in our
house a pattern girl from one of the workhouse schools. She was sent
to us as _quite_ fit to enter service. She was fourteen, a year older
than the Ilford little maid, and had been brought up from a baby in the
Union. She could read and write perhaps better than most young ladies
of her age; she knew a smattering of geography, a jumble of history and
poetry, but such an amount of bad language and viciousness that we were
horrified at her knowledge. Not one simple piece of household work did
she know anything about or cared to learn to do. She was stolid and
indifferent if shewn how to clean, insolent if reproved for a fault,
and not to be trusted either in what she said or in what she did. She
had no standard of morals; stared absently, as if one were addressing
her in an unknown tongue, if spoken to about trying to do her best to
please her mistress; and when waiting at table or performing personal
service, merely acted like a machine; and yet she was naturally a much
cleverer girl than the Ilford child; and if she had been subjected to
the refining and humanising effects of Home surroundings, might have
developed into a thoroughly useful maid.

Dr Bernardo entreats all who can to join him in carrying on the work
he has begun of rescuing vagrant girls from destruction. Like many
institutions dependent on precarious contributions, it is sadly in need
of funds, and will gratefully receive presents either in linen, simple
stuffs for girls' frocks, or in money; and we can answer for it, that
all those who are interested in the Home and would like to see it, will
be kindly greeted by the governor if they will take the trouble to
visit the pretty little Village at Ilford.



An hour later I slipped noiselessly in at the cottage door, which stood
hospitably open for me, passed the parlour, where I could hear Mrs
Tipper and Lilian talking together, and stole up to my own room. Gusts
of wind and rain were beating in at the open window. I afterwards heard
that a terrible storm had swept over the country that night, laying
waste the crops and spoiling the harvest in all directions; _I_ only
knew of the storm which had devastated my hopes. I imagined that I
had myself sufficiently under control to venture to return - but alas!
Another bitter struggle, another wrestle with my weaker self, amidst
wild prayers for help - for death.

Then I was on my feet again, telling myself, in a pitiable would-be
jaunty strain: 'No; you will never slip out of your misery in _that_
way, Mary Haddon, and it is folly to hope it. You are not the kind
of person, you know. You could not die of a broken heart if you were
to try. Your vocation may be to suffer, but you will not die under
it - certainly not without a long preliminary struggle to live. You are
not made of the material which fades gracefully away under pressure;
and yesterday you would have affirmed that you did not wish to be
made of it. You have always scouted the idea of being at the mercy of
circumstances; you have been a little hard upon those who succumbed
under trial - in your inmost heart, you know that you have not had much
patience with weakness; and now has come the opportunity for proving
your superiority to ordinary mortals.'

Then my mood changed. I dragged myself towards the dressing-glass,
thrust the damp hair from my brow, and stared at my face with miserable
mocking eyes, as I reviled it for its want of loveliness, and taunted
myself with not being able to keep a good man's love. Then I fell to
weeping and pleading again; and thank God, it was this time for help
to _live_. Alas, would the victory _ever_ come? Do others find as much
difficulty as I did in overcoming? Have others as much cause to feel
humble in the hour of victory as I had? I know that it is all very
pitiful to look back upon; though the consciousness of my weakness
under trial did me great service afterwards. Weak and faint, but thank
God, not worsted, I at length rose from my knees, bathed my face and
hands, and after a while had my feelings sufficiently under control to
think over the best way of doing what it was my resolute purpose to do.
My power of self-command was very soon put to the test. I was conscious
of another sound besides that of the sighing and sobbing of the wind,
which like a tired child who has spent its passion, was sinking to rest
again. Some one was tapping rather loudly at the door.

Alas! how weak I still was. How could I meet Lilian's eyes? Not yet,
I dared not. But whilst I stood with my hands pressed against my
throbbing heart gazing at the door, I recognised Becky's voice. What a
reprieve! I hastened to admit her, and then locked the door again.

'If you please, Miss, Mrs Tipper was afraid you was out in all this
storm, and' - - She stopped; looked at me for a moment with dilating
eyes, and then her tears began to flow. 'O Miss Haddon, dear, are you
ill? What's the matter?'

'You must not cry, and you must not speak so loud, Becky.'

She saw that I waited until she had ceased, and hastily rubbed the
tears out of her eyes.

Then in a low quiet voice, I said: 'A great trial has to be gone
through, Becky. It _must_ be borne, and I think you can help me to bear

'I knowed it was coming - I knowed it!' said Becky, under her breath.

'What did you know was coming?'

She appeared for a moment to be searching in her mind for the best way
of telling me, and at the same time expressing her sympathy; then with
lowered eyes replied: 'I loved Tom - I always shall love him - and he
can't love me.'

She knew then! Probably every one but myself had seen it!

'In that case, you know that such things are not to be talked about,

'Yes, Miss; only' - -

'I know that it was your regard for me which made you mention it. But
we need all our strength just now - you as well as I - and we must not
think or speak of anything that will weaken it. I want your help, and
to help me you must be cool and quiet and strong. Will you try to be

'Yes; I will - I will indeed, dear Miss Haddon;' eagerly adding: 'What
can I do?'

I stood pressing my two hands upon my temples in anxious thought a few
moments, then asked: 'Do I look unlike my usual self, Becky - ill? Tell
me exactly how I look to you?' thinking of the effect which the first
sight of me had had upon her!

'Yes; you look terrible white, and wild, and trembling; and there's
great black rims round your eyes,' gravely and straightforwardly
replied Becky.

'As though I had been frightened by the storm. There has been a storm;
hasn't there?'

'Yes; there's been a terrible storm, Miss; but' - -

'Go on, Becky.'

'You're not the sort to look like that about a storm.'

'I see.'

If that was Becky's opinion, the storm would not do for Lilian and Mrs
Tipper, and the alteration in my appearance must be accounted for in
some other way. I was seeking about in my mind for a way out of the
difficulty, when Becky unconsciously helped me with the exclamation:

'O Miss Haddon, dear, what have you done to your hand?'

Looking down, I saw that there was a slight wound in it - made I suppose
when I fell, by a nail or sharp stone - and that it had been bleeding
somewhat freely.

'Nothing to hurt, Becky,' I murmured; 'but it will serve my purpose.
Give me a handkerchief - quick! and now another!'

She understood me; and when Lilian presently came running up, she found
appearances sufficiently sanguinary - quite enough so, to account for
my looking strange and unlike my usual self.

'Dear Mary, what is it? Oh, how have you hurt yourself?'

It was really a very superficial wound; but of course I did not explain
that; making a little demonstration about the wrapping up with Becky's

'It has made you look quite ill, dear!' went on Lilian, kneeling down
by my side. 'Let _me_ tie that, Becky.'

But Becky would not yield an inch until I had given her a little look
of reminder, and then did so very reluctantly.

'And your clothes are quite wet, darling!' ejaculated Lilian. 'You must
have been out in all that storm. Fearful, wasn't it? Could not you find
any shelter?'

'No; it had to be borne as best it might,' I grimly replied; though
I called myself to order at once; a startled look in Lilian's eyes
shewing me that I could not talk about storms with impunity as yet.

Then there was dear little Mrs Tipper hurrying in with a concerned face
to inquire what had happened, and recommending all sorts of remedies
for my hand. Did I not think it better to send Becky into the village
for Mr Stone the surgeon? Was I _quite_ sure it did not require being
strapped up? Had I looked to see if there was anything in the wound? &c.

But I had my hand well muffled up; and assured them, with more truth
than they suspected, that it really was not a very serious cut. 'Only

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryVariousChambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 707, July 14, 1877 → online text (page 1 of 5)