Зображення сторінки

premises were shut up by order of the justices. They were afterwards appropriated, during the scarcity of provisions some years since, as a public kitchen for giving soup to the pecessitous poor. It has however emerged from its disgrace and obscurity, to be THE SCHOOL FOR THE INDIGENT BLIND.

“ The object of the School for the Indigent Blind is to instruct persons of that description in a trade, by which they may be able to provide, either wholly or in part, for their subsistence; an useful act of Charity, were no other good to result from their labour, than the relief afforded by it to their poor friends and relations, on whom the cost of maintaining them is frequently a heavy charge, but of which the benefits will appear far more important, when considered with reference to the comfort of the blind them. selves, and to the effect which habits of industry must necessarily produce on their feelings and general character. It is perhaps difficult to conceive any two situations in the infinite varieties of civilized life, more different from each other, in respect to happiness, than the condition of a blind person with his faculties benumbed by sloth, and his spirits depressed by the consciousness of being a burthen to those about him, and that of the same individual engaged in constant employment, and feeling that he contributes, by his daily occupation, to the comforts of the family of which he forms a part,

“ Subscriptions were first solicited for the institution in the month of December 1799; but so much time was un. avoidably spent in procuring a proper place for the school, in providing accommodations for the reception of the pupils, and in other necessary arrangements, that very few admissions could take place till towards the end of the following year. But from the progress made in the several trades, since that time, there is good reason to believe, that the institution will answer the most sanguine expectations of its friends.

66 The benefits of this institution are extended to both sexes, who are completely cloathed, boarded, lodged, and Vol. V. No. 103.



instructed by the society; day scholars are also admitted, who come in the morning and return home in the evening, being allowed dinner at the school; the committee are obliged to be particularly strict in their enquiries, into the character and former habits of life of scholars of this description, as for want of better accommodation in the present premises, the day scholars are employed in the same workshop with the other pupils, and the care of the committee extends as well to the moral and religious principles of those admitted into the school, as to their skill in manufacture.

" The articles at present manufactured in the school, are shoemaker's thread, fine and coarse thread, window sashline, and clothes-line, (of a peculiar construction, and made on a machine adapted to the use of blind persons,) by the females; and window and sash-line, clothes-line, hampers and wicker baskets, by the males; of these the thread is regularly disposed for shoemaking as fast as it can be made. A large quantity of the fine thread has been wove, by order of the committee, into cloth, of good quality, specimens of which may be seen at the school, and the coarse is worked up into the clothes-live and window sash-line. In the manufacture of these different kinds of line, a very material improvement has taken place, and specimens of that article have been approved of by architects of the first eminence in their profession. The sale of baskets at the school has very much increased, and orders are constantly executed by the pupils to a great extent: a large assortment of baskets of different sorts and sizes, are always kept at the school for sale, so well made, that persons inclined to patronise the charity, will experience no injury or inconvenience by taking from it such articles in that way, as may be wanted from time to time, for the use of their families.

“ The pupils are only kept in the school, till they have attained a sufficient knowledge of their trade, which, in general, where there is no want of diligence or capacity, will be in about two years; they are then discharged, to make room for others, with a portion of their earnings by


way of encouragement, and a set of tools; and many have already been returned to their friends grateful for the instruction they have received, duriag their continuance in the school, in religion and morality, and qualified by the skill they have acquired there, to contribute in a great degree towards their maintenance.

“ If the party, on whose behalf application is made, be chargeable to the parish, it is required, that such parish shall contribute a weekly allowance towards his maintenance in the school; and if the parish be at a distance from town, that some respectable housekeeper in or very near London shall become responsible for the regular payment of the sum stipulated. It is also expected, in all cases, that some respectable person resident in or very near London, shall en gage to take the pupil back again, when discharged from the school, either in consequence of being sufficiently instructed, or on account of misconduct, or for any other cause, and likewise to defray the expences of the burial, if he dies there. It is proper to observe here, that cases of extreme indigence are not those, in which admission into this school is likely to be of most use, for when the pupil is dismissed, the value of the instruction he has received, must entirely depend upon the means he may possess of putting in practice the art in which he has been instructed, and unless his friends shall be in a condition to furnish bim, with a constant supply of materials for the regular'exercise of the skill he may have acquired, the society will have taught, and be will have learned to very little purpose.

" Such are the nature and present state of the School for the Indigent Blind; a charity, which, it may be hoped, will, in the course of time, be conducted on a much larger scale, and prove, in no slight degree, the means of bet, tering the condition and increasing the comforts of a portion of the community, whose claims to compassion and assistance cannot be disputed. Those who may be desirous of seeing to what extent the situation and faculties of the blind are capable of improvement, may easily satisfy themselves on that head by visiting the present school, which will at all

F 2


times be readily shewn to them .—they need not be apprehensive of meeting there with any thing which can shock their feelings, or give rise to melancholy reflections:—they will not find the pupils sitting (as is commonly the case with the blind), in listless indolence, or brooding in silence over their own defects, and their inferiority to the rest of mankind; but they will behold a number of individuals, of a class, hitherto considered as doomed to a life of sorrow and discontent, not less animated in their amusements during the hours of recreation, and far more cheerfully attentive to their work in those of employment, than persons possessed of sight.”

Lower down, on the left side of the road, is situated a building, the obje&t of erecting which, blended the purposes of charity, industry, and police; in fact the institution to which it is appropriated, is that of true benevolence, THE PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY.

This society was instituted in the year 1788, and incor. porated in 1806, by the name and stile of “ The President, Vice Presidents, Treasurer, and Members of the Philanthropic Society.” Its object is to give a good education, with the means of acquiring an honest livelihood to some, who must otherwise set out in life under circumstances of peculiar disadvantage; and who, if not protected and instructed by this charity, would probably fall into bad hands, and become the wretched pupils of vice and profligacy.

The children taken under the care of this society, are either the offspring of convicted felons, or such as have themselves been engaged in criminal practices.

The former, have probably been contaminated by the sentiments and example of the parent before his conviction, and are, at all events, involved in his disgrace.

Those of the second class, viz. those who have themselves been criminal, have also strong claims on the compassion of the charitable: it frequently happens, that very serious offences are committed at an age, which does not allow of their being followed by legal punishment; in such cases, the offender, hardened by detection, perhaps pub


licly disgraced, must become thenceforward the companion of the vicious and dishonest, for with persons of that description, will he, under such circumstances, be most inclined to associate, and by such only will he then be received. In this situation are such children, as have been carried before a magistrate for theft or fraudulent practices, and have been discharged, not in consequence of any doubt respecting their guilt, but either for want of complete legal evidence, or through the unwillingness of the injured party to bring them to trial; or children who, after being tried and convicted, have been recommended to the care of the society, as fitter subjects for the discipline of education, than for the vengeance of the law. There are some within its walls, upon whom, (though sentenced to transportation or death) the law must have taken its course, if the institution had not, by preparing an asylum for the offender when pardoned, afforded to the crown an opportunity of exercising mercy, without endangering the public safety.

The society has, for the reception of the children taken under its care, an house at Bermondsey, called 's The Reform;" a large manufactory in St. George's Fields, for the boys; and a spacious building, adjoining to the manufactory, for the girls.

This is an institution, in the support of which the impulse of the heart will be found to act in concurrence with the suggestions of the understanding, and the dictates of the soundest policy.

The effect of this institution is to convert persons, who, by their birth or in their infancy, are become outlaws, as it were, and rebels to Society, into good subjects and industrious members of the community; an effect of which, considered even in a pecuniary point of view, it is not easy to compute the advantage. The value of a number of individuals, trained up to honest industry, may be easily esti. mated ; but who shall calculate what is saved to the public, by stopping, in the beginning of their career, those who must otherwise seek a livelihood by fraud or violence, and 5


« НазадПродовжити »