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the children, but without effect. These poor girls / verently, for there is that in every human had been partured and imbued with an impres- being which deserves to be and must be resion, in the first place, that the workhouse was verenced, if we wish to understand it,) learn their natural home, then that they were so lost to understand their troubles, and by that and bad that there was no one to sympathize with them. They committed wrongs and were time they will have learnt to understand punished : that hardened them, and they did your remedies, and they will appreciate worse, and were punished more, and the work- them.” Such service, indeed, is hopeless house, under the punishment, became so irksome and profitless as regards its results, if it to them, that they committed further crime in does not proceed lovingly and sympathizorder to become the inmates of a prison; and ingly, looking not so much at the apparent they preferred the prison because, they said, they evil—the polluted stream—as at the hidden were better treated there than in the workhouse. Now and then, therefore, there were these ont- cause, the source and origin of the pollution; breaks--these epidemics of bad behaviour. He and with a humble acknowledgment that we recollected some years ago a number of dark ourselves, so neglected and abandoned, so boxes being erected round a ward, with a little exposed to corrupting influences, could grating in them, just like a small padded room at hardly have been better than these castaà lunatic asylum without the pads, and on his ways, and might have been worse. inquiring what they were for, he was told that
It need scarcely be said that very much they were cells to confine refractory girls in. He discovered that this sort of punishment only made of this applies, mutatis mutandis, to the the girls worse, and their conduct was so bad, visitation of hospitals, penitentiaries, lunatic anything like reformation in them appeared to be asylums, and other similar institutions. hopeless. He (Mr. Bell) thought, however, he But there are difficulties peculiar to each would make a trial of a different sort, as even and all of these which belong, in a very the clergyman had given these girls up. At his limited degree, if at all, to our parish workrequest, some ladies who were in the habit of houses. In any case, perhaps, the lady visvisiting prisons visited these girls, and talked to itor must have her feelings more or less them, and gave them books, and endeavoured to impress upon their minds that their cases were shocked," as it is conventionally called, not so hopeless as they themselves felt that they by the sights and sounds which will greet were that there were people who sympathized her. We assume, indeed, that every woman with them, and that if they would endeavour to who thinks of devoting herself to the minisbehave well there should be some locus penitentia tration of the sick and the sorrow-laden, is for them. In the course of two months there prepared to be “shocked.” Nevertheless. was a great improvement amongst the girls. it were well that all men and women alike The majority of them got situations, and although should gradually habituate themselves to he (Mr. Bell) was free to confess that some relapsed into their former ways, a great many of such sights and sounds—that they should them, by kind treatment, reformed, and had be serve as it were an apprenticeship of enducome decent members of society."
rance, trying their strength as they advance,
lest they should find the sudden encounter What we have Mr. Bell's assurance has too painful for them. In this respect, the been done so advantageously by some ladies, workhouse, the sights and sounds of which may be done by others with equal success. are commonly less painful and revolting This is one of many practical suggestions than those which greet us in hospitals, lunafor turning to good account the benevolent tic asylums, or penitentiaries, may fittingly energies of our English ladies. The sug- initiate our English ladies into the distressgestion derives additional force from the ing scenes with which they must necessarily recent unhappy revelations to which we become familiar. Moreover, the workhouse have adverted. But it is only one of many is common both to our large towns and our channels through which the stream of bene- rural districts; and there are very few volence may flow. "What we have to do,” English families to whom it is not accessisays the Rev. Charles Kingsley, in his ad-ble. mirable lecture on the Country Parish,' It may also be observed, that in the case “is to ennoble and purify the womanhood of of this workhouse visitation, the “Commuthese poor women; to make them better nion of Labour," of which Mrs. Jameson daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers," or, ap- writes so emphatically, is easier of attainplying the truth especially to these poor work- ment, and ought to be more complete when house girls, we might, perhaps, more fitly say, attained, by reason of the local character of “ make them capable of fulfilling the duties these institutions. Many ladies, who would of these relationships at all." " Approach willingly minister to the wants of the inthese poor women as sisters. Do not ap- mates of our poorhouses, are the daughters, ply remedies which they do not understand sisters, wives, or mothers, of men in some to diseases which you do not understand. way officially connected with the affairs of Learn lovingly and patiently, (ay, and re- the parish-of poor-law guardians, or paro
chial surgeons, or union chaplains—and, as our appearance, we have been known and such, therefore, would have a recognised po- spoken of by our proper names, and have sition in the workhouse. In this respect become as much a recognised part of the the dweller in the country has an advantage rural population as the village parson or over the dweller in the town. In great village surgeon himself. The Londoner, on cities there is such isolation. No one seems passing into the country, feels a not unnathere to have any recognised position. In tural surprise that poor people touch their his very excellent lecture on Dispensaries hats to him, though perhaps they have never and allied Institutions,” Dr. Skirving says, seen him before. A change, the very rethat he has been “ daily reminded of the verse of this, astonishes the resident in a isolation which can only exist in a town like rural district who takes up his abode in the London, and daily had occasion to deplore metropolis. He feels at once that he is abthe absence of co-operation between those sorbed. He is merely an atom of an imwho, having a great interest in the poorer mense floating population. No one recogclasses, failed to do the good they were each nises his existence; and the chances are, essaying to do, simply because they knew that if he were to go into a poor man's nothing of each other.” “ The isolation to house on a mission of charitable inquiry, he which I allude," continues the benevolent would be either cheated or insulted. We physician, “is probably greater in London have used the masculine pronoun; but what than anywhere else in the world. ... It we have written is especially applicable to exists more or less throughout our country; ladies who find themselves stranded and but the larger the population of a district, helpless in large cities, their energies all the more complete will it necessarily be." running to waste. Independent action, in
Of this, every one who, after residing for such cases, can seldom accomplish much. some years in the country, has taken up his There must be a “communion of labour." residence in a metropolitan street or square, In rural districts women may work alone; must have become painfully conscious. in towns they must co-operate with men. Not that he misses what in the rural dis- They must turn to existing institutions and tricts is called a “neighbourhood.” In find there meet employment for their woLondon almost every one has “neighbours,” manly sympathies and activities. There is though they may come from the opposite no lack of institutions, the doors of which end of the town-neighbours who are ready will be thrown wide open to our English to pay morning visits, and to send or accept ladies as soon as they knock at them. invitations to dinner. But we have no soon We are not yet prepared to say that the er accomplished the change of which we workhouse is one of them. There may be speak, than we become peculiarly alive to some prejudice and exclusiveness to contend the fact that we have no poor neighbours. against at the outset. Doubtless, there are We may look out from our windows upon vested interests in misrule, any interference. lines of narrow streets -- upon “pestilent with which will be proclaimed unpardona lanes and hungry alleys,” with a full and ble heresy. But they cannot last long. appreciative sense of the fact, that they are The good sense and good feeling of the teeming and reeking with a pauper popula- many must prevail over the selfishness and tion; but we can with difficulty bring our-intolerance of the few. We are becoming selves to believe that they in any way be every day more and more alive to the fact, long to us. We have no particular interest that what is called “ efficient control,” is, for in them-we have no feeling of our obliga- the most part, very inefficient in respect of tions to them. They do not know us, and we the practical development of the workhouse do not know them. We may feel a strong de- system, as every humane person would desire to identify ourselves in some way with sire to see it developed. We need but to them. But we do not know how to begin. turn to Mrs. Jameson's little volume for an We are sorely puzzled. The labour ap- illustration of this :pears so vast and bewildering, and we our. selves so little and insignificant. We are lady), as an illustration, what I have seen only
“ Now I will tell you (writes this excellent absolutely appalled by the feeling, that al- very lately. I was in a very large parish union, though we have come into the neighbour- where there were about four hundred children, hood to reside for years, and to spend our nearly an equal number of boys and girls, and hundreds or thousands every year among schools for both. The boys had an excellent the surrounding population, the poor in the master for reading and writing, and had masters next street, within a stone-throw of our
besides to teach them various trades. There was door, do not trouble themselves even to a plumber, who, at wages from 25s. to 3ās. a
a tailor, a carpenter, a shoemaker, a hairdresser learn our names. It is so different in the week, were employed to instruct the boys in their country, where from the very first hour of various trades. The girls were taught reading,
and sewing ; some of them, under the them supplied with honest bread. They pauper menials, helped to scour and scrub. The are taught only to feel their degraded posiover-tasked, anxious mistress seemed to do her tion, and that they are to be got rid of as best, but there was not sufficient assistance. The whole system was defective and depressing, soon as they can be turned adrift. And they and could not by any possibility turn out efficient are turned adrift; to sink or to swim-of domestic servants
, or well-disciplined, religious- course the former. The wonder is not that minded, cheerful-tempered girls. I was informed 50 per cent. sink into irretrievable ruin, but that, of the boys sent out of this workhouse, about that 50 per cent. swim. It is no small 2 per cent. returned to the parish in want or un- thing to save even one of these poor creaserviceable ; while of the girls they reckoned that tures. And every lady who enters a work50 per centwere returned to them ruined and depraved."
house, intent upon saving its female child
ren from ruin by teaching them to labour Such a terrible state of things as this cheerfully, hopefully, and intelligently, may could not exist, even as an exceptional case, save not one, but many. If a workhouse if the inmates of our workhouses were not, girl, on leaving the union, carries with her by some strange accident, beyond the pale nothing more than the conviction that there of the sympathies of the ladies of England. is one kind heart which will rejoice in her In the workhouse of which Mrs. Jameson success, and be grieved by her failure, she
here speaks, there were two hundred girls, a goes forth with good hope of being saved. • hundred of whom were, judging by average
It is hard to say from how much evil even results, destined to be ruined,” and to be that talisman will guard her in her intercome thoroughly " depraved."*' Here there course with the world. is scope for the exercise of womanly influ.
But much more than this may be accomence. To think that under that one roof plished. The lady visitor who sees that the there should be a hundred little sisters workhouse boys are taught to become artifidoomed fór want of a little motherly care cers and mechanics, and is told that a very for want of a few kind words, a little gentle small percentage of them ever become admonition, a little display of tender inter-chargeable to the parish in later life, will est and solicitude, a little teaching of what appreciate the value of proper industrial may be useful in after years—to grow up
training. Girls fail more frequently from from childhood to maturity without a spark absolute ignorance and inability to do better, of maidenly feeling, without the least sense than from any inherent vice, or even any of the dignity of womanhood, without the culpable carelessness and indolence. They least respect for the beautiful and the good ! have all the world before them, but there is If any lady, either in town or country, with not one path which they can tread with firm charitable instincts, with a vague desire after footstep, and with any prospect of reaching good, look around in search of some practical the goal
. At best
. they can only sprawl and starting point, let her turn her eyes towards trip and stumble, and fall at last by the way. the union workhouse, where all these help- side. What are they to do who know not less little ones are gathered together, and how to do anything? How many a poor begin her ministrations there.
girl commences her doubtful justificatory Her first thought, then, will be how to plea with the words, “ If any one had taught train all these poor girls to become, in pro- have turned out so badly."" " Train up a
me better when I was young, I might not per time and proper place, useful to themselves and others-to teach them not only child in the way he should go," is a divine to appreciate the dignity of labour, but precept and a divine caution, which has more how to labour diligently and profitably. than a mere religious signification. But we Boys are taught to become shoemakers, or train girls only to be useless. We bring carpenters
, or masons, or plumbers, but them up with the assumption that they may girls are taught little, and that little imper. marry; and that then there will be an end fectly. It is not impressed upon them that of them. They will be absorbed into the what they learn is to afford them, in after man, and become "non-existent.” days, the means of subsistence
This is the great cardinal error of our
system. High and low, it is all the same. * And depraved workhouse girls are said by com
Instead of educating every girl as though petent authority to be the most depraved of their she were born to be an independent, self-sup
Colonel Chesterton, in a passage quoted by porting member of society, we educate her Mrs. Jameson, says, that he witnessed in the de- to become a mere dependent, a hanger-on, wards
, such revolting specimens of workhouse edu. In some respects, indeed, we err more barmeanour of young girls from twenty years and up- or as the law delicately phrases it, a chattel. disgusting. The inconceivable wickedness of these barously than those nations among whom girls was absolutely appalling."
a plurality of wives is permitted, and who
regard women purely as so much live stock; cast adrift is, too often, only to fall by the for among such people women are, at all wayside. And so the most useful class of events, provided with shelter, with food, and people in the world contributes largely to clothing they are “ cared for” as cattle are. swell the number of the most dangerous of There is a completeness in such a system. the “ dangerous classes ;" and retaliates upon But among ourselves, we treat women as society for its neglect. cattle, without providing for them as cattle. It will be said, perhaps, by some benevoWe take the worst part of barbarism and lent people, that a good mistress will always the worst part of civilisation, and work them endeavour to instruct her servants; and that into a heterogeneous whole. We bring up no servant can suit you so well as one whom our women to be dependent, and then leave you have yourself drilled into the ways of them without any one to depend on. There your house. The latter part of the proposiis no one
there is nothing for them to lean tion is generally true, but the former must upon ; and they fall to the ground. be accepted only in a very limited sense.
Now, what every woman, no less than Some mistresses may have time, ability, and every man, should have to depend upon, is inclination to train their servants-and they an ability, after some fashion or other, to have their reward for doing so; but the turn labour into money. She may or may greater number have not time or ability, if not be compelled to exercise it, but every they have the inclination ; and there is really one ought to possess it. If she belong to no more reason why a mistress should be the richer classes, she may have to exercise bound to instruct her servant how to cook a it; if to the poorer, she assuredly will. It joint or lay a fire, than to instruct her milliis of the poorer classes that we are nowner or her dressmaker how to make her speaking. Under ordinary circumstances, bonnets or her gowns. In large establishexcept in the large manufacturing towns, ments a raw underling, acting according to where there is an unhealthy demand for hu- the instructions, and following the example man hands to assist the Briarean machinery, of a well-trained upper-servant, will soon every girl, who knows that she must earn come to know her duties, and will rise, in her own livelihood, turns her thoughts, in the time, to a higher place. But these large first instance, towards domestic services. establishments are comparatively few; and And it is a fact, as little thought of as it is thousands of girls, every year, simply for undeniable when thought of, that the female want of previous training, are compelled to servants of England are the most useful class commence a career of service in places of of people in the country. Imagine the state an inferior description, where only bad into which society would be thrown if they habits are to be formed, and where, perhaps, were suddenly to suspend their functions. temptation and corruption surround them. And yet there is one almost universal com. Having no skilled labour to carry into the plaint that their appointed duties are ineffi- market, they are obliged to accept the smallciently and unsatisfactorily discharged; that, est possible price for their work. They behowever indispensable to our comfort they come the household drudges of people may be however impossible it may be to do scarcely higher in the social, and lower in without them--they are practically “the the moral scale, than themselves. And thus greatest plague of life.” Accepting this only many a respectable girl is spoiled in her in a qualified degree, and fully admitting that teens, and all hope of promotion taken from bad masters, or rather bad mistresses, make her by an unfortunate beginning. * bad servants; we must still fall back on the inevitable conclusion, that, in respect to our
* Since this page was written, we have alighted female servants, there is a lamentable want upon a passage in a recent work by Mrs. Ellis
, so training. Every girl thinks that she is qua- much to the point, that we must give it insertion :lified for domestic service without any sort " This business of seeking honest service becomes a of special education. The consequence of very sad one, when we teflect how few kind and this assumption is that she commonly fails. tle untaught servant within their doors. Some misShe goes from place to place; makes for tresses have no time to teach such troublesome inherself no standing anywhere; never im- mates themselves; some have no patience ; others proves, but remains as ignorant and awk- no skill; all dislike the idea of taking a raw child ward in her last place as in her first. Nor from a low home, to receive advantages from their is the evil limited to this. These frequent must come to them better prepared; she must have
hands, when wanting help from hers. No ; she transitions are attended with no little danger. learned to perform the various duties of a servant Servant-girls out of place have not always before they can receive her. So the poor child goes homes to which to betake themselves for home, day after day, with her disappointed mother, protection against the snares of world and up, and food becomes more scarce, she is absolutely
until at last, as the other children of the family grow the assaults of the wicked; and thus to be obliged to try anything--the lowest situation-rather
We know that there must be maids-of-all- a girl takes a situation entailing multifarious work, as there must be female servants of duties upon her, not because she is compeother grades; and surely there can be nomore tent to discharge them all, but because she useful domestics than those who combine, is competent to discharge none. in their own persons, the several offices of comes cook, parlour-maid, house-maid, all cook, house-maid, table-attendant, and, per- in one, because she is neither a cook, a parhaps, nurse. But, as though it were a rule in lour-maid, nor a house-maid. Being none domestic service that the wages should be in of these, she becomes all-in other words, inverse proportion to the presumed acquire a drudge; and is paid in proportion, not to ments of the servant, there is not one who the actual extent of her work, but the actual is so badly paid. Of all female servants extent of her competency. It is the knowthe maid-of-all-work has the most ill-requit. ledge that she is incompetent that drives her ed, and the most precarious position. In to take laborious and ill-paid service of this London, and, indeed, in every large town, kind. So long as there are thousands of inthere are whole streets in which the houses competent young women seeking service, are attended by a single servant. It may such service will be obtainable at a low rate be accepted as a general rule that there are of wages. But, if girls were trained for no householders so inconsiderate and exact- domestic service, as boys are trained to be ing as those who keep only one servant. come carpenters or shoemakers, they would They expect to get a combination of Her- carry not the raw material of work, but cules and the Admirable Crichton for eight skilled labour into the market, and be able pounds a-year. Many "take in lodgers" to demand a higher price for their services. expect one unfortunate girl to do the work A young woman, competent to discharge the of two or three establishments, and are duties of cook, house-maid, and parlourangry if Susan is not attending on all at the maid, and actually performing them all, same time. As a necessary consequence of would not be compelled to take eight this exaction, there are “a few words," – pounds a year, whilst her sister, who is and Susan gives or takes a month's warning performing only one of these offices, is reThere may be cases of respectable old maids, ceiving sixteen. or “widows indeed,” in reduced circum It may be said, that, even in the case of stances, who keep a maid-of-all-work for skilled labour, if the supply were greater years, regarding her as a companion and a than the demand, the price of wages must friend; but the greater number of this class fall, and thousands must be compelled to of servants do not keep their places for six take service of an inferior kind or starve. months. They are continually in a transi- But would the supply be greater than the tion-state, from one street to another, from demand? At present it is; because so large town to country, or from country to town; a number of girls turn to domestic service often falling by the wayside, and ceasing to as a means of earning a livelihood, for the belong to the useful classes for the rest of very reason that it is thought to require no their lives. They are ripe for any change, previous training. If the general standard for they think that nothing can be worse of domestic service were raised, and more than a life of such continued toil and unre- extended means of employment in other quited service.
directions were found, this would not be the Now all this is an admitted evil-an evil case. But even if it were, there would still to be deplored, but seemingly not to be be this result,—that our female servants remedied. It may be said, that, in such a would not, as now, be continually changing case, all the training in the world will not their places. Though idleness, dishonesty, make the position of the maid-of-all-work infirmity of temper, &c., may sometimes other than one of extreme hardship. If she necessitate these changes, incompetency is can cook well, wait at table well, and clean by far the most frequent cause of dismissal. a house well, it may be said that these things Much is forgiven to a really efficient serwill be required of her all the more for her vant; and no reasonable master or miscompetency to perform them. But the fact tress expects perfection in a housemaid or a is, that in the market of domestic service, cook. skilled labour will fetch its price; and that To the householder, these frequent changes
are inconvenient; but to the servant, we than starve at home ; and there are always low situa-repeat, that they are fatal. One of the cry. tions enough in which such girls can be received ing evils of domestic service is, that it selperhaps to fight their way amongst rude men; per dom affords any provision for sickness or haps to be stormed at by coarse masters, and chid. advanced age ; and that, therefore, our hosselves." -- [Education of Character, with Hints on pitals and workhouses are full of domestic Moral Training.]
servants. If a woman spend one or two