« ZurückWeiter »
OR, COMPENDIUM OF RELIGIOUS, MORAL, & PHILOSOPHICAL KNOWLEDGE.
" LEARNING BAS DECLARED WAR AGAINST IGNORANCE."
miserable state of the county Bridewell,
within the city of Gloucester, which being ROBERT RAIKES, ESQ. THE FOUNDER OF SUNDAY SCHOOLŞ.
part of the county gaol, the persons com
mitted by the magistrate, out of sessions, (With a Portrait.)
for petty offences, associated, through ne There is not an individual in England cessity, with felons of the worst description, whose name is more secure, or more de with little or no means of subsistence from serving of immortality, than that of ROBERT | labour; with little, if any, allowance from RAIKES ; nor is there one that will descend the county ; without either meat, drink, or to posterity, associated with more unfading clothing; dependent, chiefly, on the prehonours. Howard has acquired deathless carious charity of such as visited the pri. renown by visiting hospitals, jails, and son, whether brought thither by business, lazarettos; Hanway has secured a niche in curiosity, or compassion. the temple of fame by his regard for the “ To relieve these miserable and forlorn outcasts of society; and Fox, as the founder wretches, and to render their situation supof the Sunday School Society, is enrolled portable at least, Mr. Raikes employed among the philanthropists of his country. both his pen, his influence, and his pro
A station not less conspicuous, and not perty, to procure them the necessaries of less honourable, is assigned to the subject life; and finding that ignorance was geneof this memoir, the elevation of whose rally the principal cause of those enormities character has arisen solely from the bene- which brought them to become objects of volence of those principles by which he his notice, he determined, if possible, to was actuated. Already have the effects of procure them some moral and religious bis exertions attracted the attention of his instruction. In this he succeeded, by countrymen, and contemporaries throughout means of bounties and encouragement given the world ; and, without the blast of the to such of the prisoners as were able to trumpet, or the roar of cannon, it will read ; and these, by being directed to procommand the admiration of future genera- per books, improved both themselves and tions, unaccompanied with the groans of their fellow prisoners, and afforded him the dying, and untarnished with the stains great encouragement to persevere in the of blood.
benevolent design. He then procured for Mr. Raikes was born in the city of them a supply of work, to preclude every Gloucester on the 14th of September, 1736, excuse and temptation to idleness." but of his parentage, family connexions, The affinity being thus rendered obvious education, and the events of his early years, between vice and ignorance, it was natural very little is known. It is, however, but for a mind constituted like that of Mr. fair to infer, from the wise and generous Raikes, and habituated to serious reflection, actions which marked his mature age, that to trace this moral malady up to its primitive his youth was not wasted in idleness and source. He discovered that in early life, dissipation. Having acquired a knowledge the education of those whom he found the of the printing business, and being en inmates of jails, had been totally neglected ; gaged in trade, this benevolent man, in- that no instruction had been imparted to stead of devoting all his time and talents their minds, of the duties which they owed to the acquirement of ease and fortune, either to their neighbours, or to their God; directed his attention to the condition of and, as a natural consequence, he was led the wretched among his fellow creatures, | to infer, that succeeding generations, if and exerted himself to mitigate their suf trained up in equal ignorance, would, in ferings, by relieving their necessities. all probability, prove equally vicious. On
Actuated by these views and feelings, looking around him, he, however, perceived we learn from the European Magazine for that the children of the poor were engaged 1788, vol. xiv. p. 315, that “ The first in labour at a very tender age, which left object which demanded his notice was the them no time to receive instruction during 113,--VOL. X.
396 .-01..............oooooorrr..... the days devoted to employment, and The thunderbolt men of sect and party saw Sunday appeared to have been interdicted the Sabbath violated, and launched their by common consent. The barriers which anathemas against the innovator; those thus encircled him on every side, left ap- who could merely read and write, perceived parently no space in which his benevolence the rights of their castes invaded; while could operate; but its native energy soon | those who snored in aristocratic ignorance, discovered an ample field. He saw that predicted convulsions that would unhinge Sunday was devoted to wickedness, and the civilized world. The more enlightened, very rationally concluded, that if this could however, saw the subject in a very dif. be repressed, by teaching the children onferent light. They perceived that it put that sacred day their duties to God and into the hands of the community a powerman, no law, either human or divine, would ful engine, possessing an energy which be violated, and that the community would baffled all calculation, from its obvious be amply compensated for the sacrifice of capability of being rendered of universal public opinion.
application. Having reached these conclusions, Mr. In this state of public feeling, numerous Rajkes began to carry his plans into opera- letters were addressed to Mr. Raikes, contion towards the close of the year 1781, or taining a due proportion of censure, of apin the beginning of 1782. The trial con- plause, and of sincere inquiry. Among tinued nearly one year, towards the termi- those who appeared to have been actuated nation of which, on finding success attend. by a spirit of benevolence, was a Colonel ing his enterprise, the following paragraph, Townley, a gentleman of Lancashire, who which seems to be the first that was ever having seen the anonymous paragraph, printed respecting Sunday Schools, was addressed a letter to the mayor of Gloucesinserted in the Gloucester Journal of No. ter, requesting all the information he could vember 3d, 1783:
communicate on a subject which seemed “ Some of the clergy in different parts of fraught with such momentous consequences. this county, bent upon attempting a reform The mayor, on receiving Colonel Townley's among the children of the lower class, are letter, immediately handed it to Mr. Raikes, establishing Sunday Schools for rendering who, in reply, has furnished the following 'the Lord's-day subservient to the ends of interesting particulars respecting the occainstruction, which has hitherto been pros- sion, origin, and character of Sunday tituted to bad purposes. Farmers, and Schools : other inhabitants of the towns and villages,
“ Gloucester, Nov. 25, 1783. complain that they receive more injury in “SIR,—My friend, the mayor, has just their property on the Sabbath, than all the communicated to me the letter which you week besides : this in a great measure pro- have honoured him with, inquiring into the ceeds from the lawless state of the younger nature of the Sunday Schools. The beclass, who are allowed to run wild on that ginning of this scheme was entirely owing day, free from every restraint. To remedy to accident. Some business leading me this evil, persons duly qualified are em- one morning into the suburbs of the city, ployed to instruct those that cannot read; where the lowest of the people (who are and those that may have learnt to read, are principally employed in the pin-manufac. taught the catechism, and conducted to tory) chiefly reside, I was struck with church. By thus keeping their minds en concern at seeing a group of children, gaged, the day passes profitably, and not wretchedly ragged, at play in the street. disagreeably. In those parishes, where this I asked an inhabitant whether those chil. plan has been adopted, we are assured that dren belonged to that part of the town, and the behaviour of the children is greatly lamented their misery and idleness. Ah! civilized. The barbarous ignorance in which Sir, said the woman to whom I was speak, they had before lived, being in some decreeing, could you take a view of this part of dispelled, they begin to give proofs that the town on a Sunday, you would be those persons are mistaken, who consider shocked indeed, for then the street is filled the lower orders of mankind incapable of with multitudes of these wretches, who, improvement, and therefore think an at released on that day from employment, tempt to reclaim them impracticable, or at spend their time in noise and riot, playing least not worth the trouble.”
at chuck, and cursing and swearing in a From the Gloucester Journal, the pre manner so horrid, as to convey to any ceding paragraph soon found its way into serious mind an idea of hell rather than the London and some provincial papers ; | any other place. We have a worthy clerand from the novelty of the subject, it | gyman, the Rev. Thomas Stock, said she, excited no small share of public attention. I minister of our parish, who has put some of them to school; but upon the Sabbath, 1 to each other; not to provoke one another; they are all given up to follow their inclina- to be dutiful to their parents; not to offend tions without restraint, as their parents, God by cursing and swearing; and such totally abandoned themselves, have no little plain precepts as all may compreidea of instilling into the minds of their hend. As my profession is that of a princhildren principles to which they them ter, I have printed a little book, which I selves are entire strangers.
give amongst them: and some friends of “ This conversation suggested to me, mine, subscribers to the Society for prothat it would be at least a harmless attempt, moting Christian Knowledge, sometimes if it were productive of no good, should make me a present of a parcel of Bibles, some little plan be formed to check this | Testaments, &c. which I distribute as deplorable profanation of the Sabbath. I rewards to the deserving. The success then inquired of the woman, if there were that has attended this scheme has induced any decent well-disposed women in the one or two of my friends to adopt the plan, neighbourhood, who kept schools for teach. and set up Sunday Schools in other parts ing to read. I presently was directed to of the city, and now a whole parish has four. To these I applied, and made an taken up the object, so that I fatter my. agreement with them, to receive as many self in time, the good effects will appear children as I should send upon the Sunday, so conspicuous as to become generally whom they were to instruct in reading, | adopted. and in the church catechism. For this I "The number of children at present en. engaged to pay them each a shilling for gaged on the Sabbath, are between two their day's employment. The women and three hundred, and they are increasing seemed pleased with the proposal. I then every week, as the benefit is universally waited on the clergyman before mentioned, seen. I have endeavoured to engage the and imparted to him my plan. He was so clergy of my acquaintance that reside in much satisfied with the idea, that he en their parishes. One has entered into the gaged to lend his assistance, by going scheme with great fervour; and it was in round to the schools on a Sunday afternoon, order to excite others to follow the example, to examine the progress that was made, that I inserted in my paper the paragraph and to enforce order and decorum among which I suppose you saw copied into the such a set of little heathens.
London papers. I cannot express to you the “ This, sir, was the commencement of pleasure I often receive in discovering genius, the plan. It is now about three years since and innate good dispositions, among this we began, and I could wish you were little multitude. It is botanizing in human here to make inquiry into the effect. A nature. I have often, too, the satisfaction woman who lives in a lane where I had of receiving thanks from parents, for the fixed a school, told me some time ago, that reformation they perceive in their children. the place was quite a heaven upon Sundays, Often have I given them kind admonitions, compared to what it used to be. The which I always do in the mildest and numbers who have learned to read and say gentlest manner. The going among them, their catechism, are so great, that I am doing them little kindnesses, distributing astonished at it. Upon the Sunday after- trifling rewards, and ingratiating myself noon the mistresses take their scholars to with them, I hear, have given me an church, a place into which neither they ascendancy greater than I ever could have nor their ancestors ever entered with a imagined; for I am told by their mistresses view to the glory of God. But what is that they are very much afraid of my yet more extraordinary, within this month, displeasure. If you ever pass through these little ragamuffins have, in great num Gloucester, I shall be happy to pay my bers, taken it into their heads to frequent respects to you, and to shew you the effects the early morning prayers, which are held of this effort at civilization. If the glory of every morning at the cathedral, at seven God be promoted in any, even the smallest o'clock. I believe there were near fifty degree, society must reap some benefit. If this morning. They assemble at the house good seed be sown in the mind at an early of one of the mistresses, and walk before period of human life, though it shews itself her to church, two and two, in as much | not again for many years, it may please order as a company of soldiers. I am God, at some future period, to cause it to generally at church, and after service they spring up, and to bring forth a plenteous all come round me to make their bow, harvest. and, if any animosities have arisen, to 1 “ With regard to the rules adopted, I make their complaint. The great principle only require that they come to the school I inculcate is, to be kind and good-natured on Sunday as clean as possible. Many