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enment and intelligent benevolence amongst our future guardians of the poor and ratepayers, who have so much power in their hands as regards the management of the class whose grievances we have been considering.
At the present time, in England, we are unable to find workers for the comparatively few spheres in which their help is called for. We have no source to which we can send with the certainty of obtaining a supply. In the other countries of Europe, where orders of women devoted to the care of the poor and sick have long been organized, some "mother house” is always ready to provide the help that is asked from it. And here we are induced to inquire how it is that France and Italy, where the education of women is so greatly inferior to that of our own high standard, produce women of tact, discretion, and mental powers equal to the government of communities of their own sex, and of charitable establishments of the most varied and difficult character ? Such communities must be as liable to division and dissension arising from the evil tempers of human nature in one country as another ; yet they exist, and have done so for centuries. In Mrs. Jameson’s “Communion of Labour," accounts are given of hospitals, penitentiaries, and even prisons, which are managed by women. A remarkable prison near Vienna is described, containing two hundred of the most degraded female criminals, which was under the government of twelve women, no male officials residing in the house. And there are numerous establishments in which women are not only the attendants, but the actual heads and governors.
At Turin is a “Female Community,” consisting of four hundred members, women of all ages, maintaining themselves by their united labour, and they are ruled by a superior elected from among themselves; they live in unity and peace under this controlling power, and have existed as a community for a century. Whatever the system may be, there must be great individual power and talent necessary to maintain such a government as this. The common school-girl training would hardly suffice here. The characters that could form and carry on these works will be made in spite of rather than by it, for merely benevolent impulses or sentimental charity are not equal to such demands. The difficulty in England will probably be found to be the necessity of obedience to rules and to a supreme power. Obedience implies confidence in, and reverence for, the power which claims it ; a blind submission the best amongst us are not inclined to yield, and till women are duly trained to become the superintendents of others, and fitted for the special work they are to carry on, we cannot hope for success.
Looking forward into the future, we can picture to ourselves a Model Workhouse ; but whether the vision will be realized in ten, twenty, or fifty years, we cannot say. Mrs. Jameson, in speaking of the progress of such matters in England, says,
“For about ten years, perhaps, the means of carrying it out may be considered and debated ; in another ten years some plan will be proposed ; and in another ten years perhaps adopted; for such is the usual progress of any great moral movement in ‘that other public,' whom we must influence.”
We can but endeavour to hasten its advent by showing the necessity of a change in the present system, not by
* “ Sisters of Charity,” p. 66.
exaggerating its defects, but by exhibiting its true working. At the head of such a workhouse should be a woman of education, judgment, and, above all, of religious devotion to her work; with a heart full of love for young and old, sick and poor, because they are a sacred charge committed to her care. And for this superintendence a woman would seem to be the fittest person, comprising as it does the sick and aged, children, the outcast, and the fallen. But in the due adjustment of the “communion of labour” (from the forgetfulness of which law our errors hitherto have arisen), the lady superintendent (as she might be fitly called) must have the assistance of the other sex in her arduous labours.
The appointment of one who should correspond to the secretaries of our hospitals, with a salary superior to that which is now given to the masters of workhouses, would prove to be money well spent in the end. He would take the superintendence of financial matters, and exercise authority over the male departments of the house. *
Then, as in prisons, the chaplain should be a much more important person than at present; either resident, or at least with no other duties to occupy his time, which should be entirely devoted to the inmates in cases where the numbers amount to many hundreds. At present, the chaplain's office is often filled in the most unsatisfactory manner. The wards cannot be visited more than once or twice a week, when he comes in and reads a prayer to all the inmates of a ward at once ; he probably then asks the
* In large establishments the appointment of a steward or store-keeper would be necessary, and economical in preventing
master if “ anything in particular” is wanted in the population of seven or eight hundred, or it may be even more, of sick, dying, and vicious persons under his care, and hearing that “nothing particular” is wanted, he hurries off to a parish containing some thousands, who are also in his charge, and where he will probably find thing particular” to do.*
This part of the subject is also beginning to excite attention, and a “Ratepayer” has lately written to a country newspaper, to urge the appointment of a chaplain on the same terms, and with the same advantages, as those offered in prisons. Such a task as we have described could not be carried out by any one superintendent alone. There must be many fellow-workers with her, both men and women, who will be the responsible heads of each separate department of the house. Under such a superintendence as this, why should not girls be trained to fulfil all the duties of the laundry and the kitchen, and so be fitted for respectable service, instead of being left the whole day to their own evil and idle gossip, as they sit over their oakum-picking, unchecked by any superior authority, or by the presence of any one above them in position ? † The band of workers within
* We thankfully admit that there are many honourable excep: tions to this description, in devoted and hard-working chaplains of unions to whom the inmates look as their only friend. But when other and important duties interfere, it is impossible that the time should be given to this work which it requires. Inexperienced young men, to whom the salary would often be as good as that of a curacy, are not considered fitted for the post.
† To the idle and able-bodied the workhouse should be really
doors would be cheered and encouraged by the addition of “lady visitors,” who would infuse new life and energy into the work.* Their assistance might also be extended
a place of hard work, which can only be enforced amongst the women by an efficient superintendence of their own sex. Why should the strong girls be allowed to wander up and down passages, or sit about on the stairs gossiping with one another, as every visitor to a work house knows they do at present, when the matron's eye is not upon them? The regular workers in the different departments of the house do not like to be interrupted by their desultory and imperfect assistance; there is the more need, therefore, for some special care and training for them.
* We are glad to hear of instances in which ladies and gentlemen are beginning to visit workhouses on Sundays, for the purpose of reading and praying with those (the large number in every workhouse) who are unable to attend the chapel services. In one case some young men, under the sanction of the chaplain, attended for this purpose, and much gratitude is expressed for this work, especially by those inmates who have been long deprived of hearing Church prayers. Where the chaplain has Sunday duties elsewhere, it is impossible for him to visit the wards. We do not yet acknowledge as we ought how highly voluntary work is appreciated by the poor and afflicted. They know that the clergy in parishes and chaplains in institutions are paid for their ministrations amongst them, but the visit arising solely from the motive of sympathy and love works with greater influence upon the heart.
At the recent inspection (if we may so call it) of the vast parish of Islington, by the Bishop of London, it was cheering to find that the workhouse was not forgotten, and that the sick and forlorn inmates had the comfort of seei and hearing words of exhortation from the chief pastor of the diocese.