This article was printed in the Clapham Gazette, November 1st, 1857. The meeting was chaired by Richard Boswell Beddome. It shows that he had an interest in helping the poor, which was shared by his sister and brother-in-law (and cousin), Rev. and Mrs. Charlesworth.
A society with the above disination has lately been established in the neighbourhood, principally through the exertions of a few young men, who felt that something ought to be done to give employment to the boys in our Ragged Schools as a means of forming in their habits of industry, and, if possible, to rescue them from those scenes of vice and ignorance to which they are so constantly exposed. No one we apprehend, who feels at all interested in the welfare of this class of our juvenile population but will rejoice that the attempt has been made, and at the same time be ready to do all they can to promote the success of ths benevolent undertaking.
On the evening of Friday, the 2nd ult., an interesting Inaugural Meeting took place at the St James Girls' School Room, Retreat, Clapham. Previous to the meeting, the Boys of the Brigade were provided with tea, which they seemed to enjoy. They afterwards attended the meeting in their uniform - a scarlet coat, with green and white facings.
The chair was occupied By R.B.Beddome Esq.
After an introductory rayer by the Rev. G. Collinson,
The chairman said - I am very glad to have the opportunity of taking part in this meeting,more especially as the subject of this Society is not only for the temporal good, but also the spiritual improvement, of these boys. My only doubt, when first hearing of this Society, was whether the neighbourhood would admit of it; that is, whether there were sufficient boys to be found. I will no, however, detain you longer, but those present will, no doubt, speak to you on the subject.
The report was then read by Mr. Moran.
The Rev. G. Collinson moved the first resolution:- "That the Report now read be adopted and printed for ciculation, and that the following gentlemen (whose names were read) be the Vice-Presidents, Committee, and Officers for the ensuing year." On leaving my house thos eveing, I did not at all expect to have to speak at this meeting, but being asked to do so, I felt I could not refuse. I support it because of the great interest and zeal of the young men who have taken up the cause so warmly. Indeed, I think it is the most pleasing feature of our day when we see young men on the threashold of life turn their thoughts, their time and talents to rescue the less highly favoured of our youth from idleness, ignorance and may be crime. I have been much pleased with the tone of the report. A great many boys have been successfully emplyed in London, at least 120, and have earned £2900. It is a good sign of the Church of Christ when young men come forward in the cause of Christ, and give up their time for the benefit of these boys. I also support it on account of the great good it is likely to do the boys who would otherwise be idling about the streets.
The Rev. Wodehouse Raven in seconding the resolution said - It would not do for me to begin, as speakers often do, by saying I am called on unexpectedly. You would not believe me if I said so; but, however, I will say that I came to hear, and did not expect to be placed in so prominent position as to second the first resolution. My great fear, like that of your Chairman, was whether there was need for such a society in this neighbourhood. I can say, what many and most of my other clerical friends cannot say, that I have no ragged children in my parish,; but I am told that there are plenty of boys to be found. The boys are to be paid 5d a day, and one third of what they earn is paid to them, another third goes to their bank, and the remaining third towards the expenses of the Society. I hope this country brigade may succeed as the London brigades have done; as they (or at least some of the brigades) have aid their own expenses, and entirely provided for themselves. It is very delightful to see our young friends taking such an interest in the welfare of these boys. There is one thing I think I may ask our friends to do, which I think will be the way that they can best help the Society. Give pence to the boys when you pass them. They have an Inspector, who will by-and-bye be, no doubt, taken from their own number. At present, he is one selected from a superior class, who can read and write. I saw him the other day going his rounds. He looked like a police inspector (excepting that his coat is red) with his book with a red cover, which he took out. He was questioning the boy on what he had earned, and appeared to do his duty very well. I always think it rather a pity at meetings like these, someone does not stand up to oppose what has been said, but people are always in favour. Do not think, because I say this, that I in any way oppose the Society.
Rev J. H. Moran is supporting the motion said - Mr. Raven has challenged people to night to object to this Society, or to say what they liked. Mr. Raven is ther very man wqe want, for he says that he has no ragged children in his parish.Then, of course, as he has none to provide for, he will give us plenty of means. I am quite sure of the necessity of such a Society. I have already had many touches of hats and boys come up saying, "Will you give me work, Sir; let me clean boots;" supposing that I was the Mr. Moran who could recommend boys. This, I think, quite points out the necessity of such a Society. Then, as to the object of the Society, that is very plainly stated in the report:- "To gather boys from misery, and may be from crime." We all remember the old proverb:-
|Satan finds some mischief still|
For idle hands to do."
It is so very pleasing to see our young friends taking such an interest in their fellow creatures, and that they have determined to do it in the right way without any of the sickly sentimental ways of the present day. The report ends by saying, we will go forth "Trusting in the name of the Lord." The principles of the Sciety are clearly stated. The boys hear the Word of God read, and begin each day with prayer before setting out for their work. Four evenings in the week they receive instruction based on the Word of God; also reading, writing, arithmetic and geography, perhaps, as so many nice maps are hanging about he room. I am not one who would keep the mind pent up in a corner, but like it brought out. Let education be in the right way, it will then tend to make the boys useful, diligent and industrious. As to the operations, I heard a word in the report - "Shoe Blacking and Crossing Sweeping" AT PRSENT" - then I suppose, eventually there is to be something more. Perhaps it may be mesengers to run errands for ladies, or clean shoes in houses, or perhaps, waiting at table with their black coats and white gloves on; but for these we must wait. I heard a gentleman tell an anecdote of a Ragged School boy. He said to his Teacher one day, "If you could lend me three-pence I think I could earn an honest livlihood. Well, tthis was not a very large sum. The Teacher lent him what he asked for, with which he bought some matches, and so gradually went on, spending no more than his means would allow. He afterwards got a good situation, and in time was taken into employment, where he received a guinea a week. he then rescued his sister from her wretched home where her mother was trying to be her ruin; took a room for her in his lodgings, and they were both teachers in a Ragged School, when last I heard of them. Who knows what our young friends here may be the means of doing? I also heard another note this evening; that some boys of other Brigades have gone to Australia. How do we know but that some of these boys may do so, and that by-and-by they may be saying we are Shaftsbury's boys, when Lord Shaftsbury becomes President, as it is hoped he will. - (Loud cheers.) - I heard at the last annual meeting in Exeter Hall of the Ragged School Union, that a entleman saw some boys in Australia, he asked them who they were, and they said "We are Shaftsbury's boys." So that when he came to England, he enquired who Shaftsbury's boys were? and on finding out, afterwards left a legacy to the Society. I hope we sahall be encouraged by our friends that are now present. Ladies are requested to remember (and I say this in the presence of the boys), that no boy is allowed to beg, but simply to touch his hat to the passers-by. Why, boys, it is beneath you to beg. You, in such a uniform? A soldier would be ashamed to do so, he would think it beneath his dignity. Be polite and courteous. I think one reason of people being bad mannered is because they are selfish. I hope every one will check boys begging, or saying that they have had no dinner, &c., as every boy takes his dinner with him, and on returning in the evening he has a substantial tea. One word more, the object then is to rescue their souls from ruin. Keep this in view "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Then let the Committee bear in mind, "He that winneth souls is wise;" and however much might be done for the bodies, all would be, comparitively speaking, useless, unless souls are gathered in to Christ. I hope and trust then, Christian friends, that you will pray for the welfare of the Society, and that many may be gathered in to the fold of Christ.
The Treasurer, J. G. Wainwright, Esp., then read the account of receipts and expenditure.
The Chairman:- This would, I think, now be a suitable time for any one to raise any objection, or aswk any questions, which, I have no doubt, will be answered from our friends on the platform. My question has been solved, as we have been told the neighbourhood admits of it; of course we must then hope that it will be supported.
C. T. Jenkison, Esq. moved a vote of thanks to the Chairman. I most cordially sympathise with this Society. I have know this neighbourhood much longer than Mr. Raven, and my own personal experience shows me that there would be ample room for numbers of boys. In the Ragged Schools opposite I have seen such an assemblage of boys in such a state of misery that I feel sure that any movement to help them will be duly appreciated. My young friends who manage the Society will, I am sure, be watered themselves whist watering others. AS these boys are brought together each evening for instruction they may learn habits of industry, and we may find a better class of boy in this neighbourhood. In twelve boys are taught industrious habits under knowledge of Christian instruction, each boy may be the means of diffusing influence for good to his playmates and associates. I most cordially move a vote of thanks to our Chairman.
Mr. Lawrence, in sconding the resolution, said:- I am a strenuous advocate of the Early Closing Association; and as I see that some little people's bed-time has already arrived, I have pity for the boys who have been so hard at work during the day, and will not add more, but second the resolution, which was carried unanimously.
The Chairman:- I am glad to see that any call for a benevolent object collects together so many people in this neighbourhood. Noticing that the boys are here [the boys then stood up]. I cannot refrain from saying to them, Remember your motto, "Thou, Good, seest me." If ever, any time, you should be tempted to do wrong, or act dishonestly, remember - "Thou, Good, Seest me." However much money you may get, bring the whole of it back. If the motto is not always on your lips, let it be engraven on your hearts. many young lads have been watched when they little thought it; so that people would say, That boy is always well conducted, always cheerful and diligent. I think he would do for something better. So many have gone to merchants' offices or houses of business. Some of you may say, it take such a long time before I gain my character, or, they don't give me credit for anything. The gaining of a character may be presented as the building of this school room, which is built brick by brick, and takes time to complete, but take out a few bricks, and the whole may tumble down. So with character to be formed day by day: - take care that you do not pull out any of the bricks, even for one day, or you might lose all. May God's blessing be with you. (Applause.)
The Rev. W. Raven then rose and said:- I hope every word that has been said may sink deeply into every heart present, for we all need it. Bear in mind that much.Whenever exposed in any way to temptation let it be engraven on your hearts. Always bring back every penny. It is one of he great temptations to be dishonest, bringing uncounted money. Every time a penny is put in your pockets, remember, it is entered in God's Book, even if the Inspector does not know it.People are sometimes injudicious, and give large sums to boys. Now, that I do not advise. Let them give pence. A lady once wished to see some of the poor in London, and very injudiciously gave away very large sums of money. To one woman she gave a sovreign. The woman came next day, and said the lady must have made a mistake ; she must have intended to give me a shilling instead of a sovreign. But if any lady gives you a large amount always bring it back. Allow me to proposeone thing, that is, no lady ever goes out without a penny in her pocket. (Applause.)
The Rev. J. H. Moran got up, and said that he would propose that the lady should not return with it in her pocket. I would just sayone thing more, Vice-Chancellor Wood, at one of the Shoe Black meetings in St. Martin's Hall, said "You boys, you have made me come forward to-night from having observed how well you have conducted yourselves, and how industrious you have been about your work." Remember how many eyes are looking at you on the tops of omnibuses, or inside omnibuses. I will tell you candidly, I have done it myself; and if people see anything wrong, they will tell the committee.
The meeting concluded with the Doxology.
We were pleased to observe so large an attendance of ladies and gentlemen at the meeting, and from the interest evidentally taken in the proceedings, believe it will receive that encouragement it deserves.
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