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The possibility of carrying out an industrial system of training is the great advantage of the schools on a large scale, and the entire separation of the children from the association of pauperism and from intercourse with their relations is insured. To some persons this last reason has appeared to be an objection ; but we can hardly think that it can be so considered by those who know what their relations (generally speaking) are, and what an influence for evil they possess over the children. The occasional visits that they receive from their parents, when in separate schools, must be very different from frequent association with persons who are living in the workhouse, the effects of which cannot be otherwise than evil.
The opportunities of industrial training in a workhouse school are also small; the cooking, washing, etc., for the children being performed in the “house." The cleaning of the schools is, therefore, almost the only part of industrial work that is left to be done by the girls. There are some instances where the children living in the workhouse are sent out to the national schools, and the plan is said to work well ; but here, again, there must
doing very well in Australia, in good situations. A proposal has been made to receive boys and girls from these schools into our colonies, where thousands of them would be gladly employed. It would be a more hopeful experiment than that lately tried of sending out grown-up girls from our unions, after they have already been a considerable expense to their parishes, and have, many of them, acquired a sad experience of vice. The complete industrial training given to both boys and girls in these schools would fit them admirably for life in the colonies, and it would surely be a wise policy to adopt such a measure.
be the disadvantages of a home in the workhouse, and, except in a few well-managed instances, the effect of this must be injurious. These poor children, notwithstanding their many disadvantages both of mind and body, are not insensible to kindly influences, and, generally speaking, from their weakly constitutions require tender treatment. In visiting one of the largest of these establishments lately, we were told some touching anecdotes of these unfortunate little ones. In the infirmary were several in bed, victims of sad disease and neglect ; one of them, almost at the close of his short life, begged for a bit of the superintendent's dinner, and added, “ Please, sir, let me have it on your plate !” The sight of a different and a coloured plate was something that this poor child felt to be a pleasure, and it spoke to us strongly in favour of humanizing and kindly influences over even the outcasts of society. We hardly think that any sermon could be preached which would so eloquently plead the cause of labouring for the welfare and elevation of the lowest classes, both physically, morally, and spiritually, as a visit to these homes of pauper children. Their ill-grown bodies, low and debased countenances, weak eyes, and all the other various signs of disease, the dulness of many, almost approaching to idiocy, speak but too plainly of the condition of those masses of our population from which they have sprung,-of the homes unfit for human habitation, of the drunken habits, induced probably by the state of those homes, and of all the sin and misery of the parents which are thus entailed upon a new generation, and which years of training and wholesome living are unable wholly to eradicate.
The evils of the employment of pauper nurses is dwelt upon by all who have considered the subject of workhouse management. When we consider the persons to whom such extensive power and responsibility are entrusted, in the care of 50,000 sick persons in the London workhouses alone, we can hardly wonder at what is told of the results of the system. The only way in which an employment of the inmates could be successfully carried out, would be under the constant supervision of superior persons ; but in the present system that is an impossibility. Even then the nurses to be obtained would be, generally speaking, only the worn-out remains of lives whose strength had been spent elsewhere. Efficient nurses, who could gain a living in any of our hospitals, would not be likely to offer themselves for a post in which it is nearly all work of the hardest kind, and no pay.* Incapacitated in some way, either morally or physically, they are most · likely to be. One of these nurses boldly stated that she had been sixteen times in the House of Correction, and she was not ashamed of it ; she was a woman given to drink, and of a violent, ungovernable temper, causing great misery to the aged people under her control. Can these women be fit to attend on the sick, the infirm, and the dying? Of course such labour is cheap, and it is desirable, if possible, to employ those who must be maintained at the cost of the parish ; but in no case
* And it is a fact, that when able women are by chance found as nurses, the guardians osten do not choose to keep them as inmates ; indeed, it is not likely they will remain without more encouragement than is held out to them. If even some distinction were made in their dress, there would be more chance of their being respected by their fellow-inmates.
should they be left with the sole charge and responsibility of the sick wards, as they continually are at present, without any other control than the occasional visit of the matron, bestowed at the utmost once a day, in some cases only once a week.
In the intervals, the patients are absolutely and helplessly at the mercy of these women, of whom they dare not complain, knowing what treatment would be visited upon them in revenge if they did. From the complete equality of the pauper nurses and their patients, no respect is felt for them, and no authority can be exercised. Obedience, therefore, is obtained through fear and terror, and those only who have witnessed the wrangling and abuse that but too often are carried on by patients and nurses (who are sometimes girls of bad character) can imagine so sad and painful a scene. When position and character are both wanting, it is difficult to see how it should be otherwise. Seeing how careful Boards of Guardians are in all matters of expense, it would have been well if the recommendation of the Poor Law with regard to the employment of at least one paid nurse had been a law; as it is, many workhouses are without one. That such a person would always be all we could desire for so important a post we could hardly hope, from what we know of the paid nurses in hospitals, but at any rate there would be a better chance of efficiency aad character than in the present plan. A suggestion was made some years ago for the training of some of the able-bodied women in workhouses to the office of nurses for the sick poor ; it received the sanction of the Poor Law Board, and efforts were made by the proposer, Dr. Sieveking, to give publicity to the plan ; but it has not yet been carried into effect. Independently of the great doubt that must exist as to the possibility of forming these persons into efficient nurses, there is no machinery at present in our workhouses by which the plan could possibly be carried out. When a more numerous and efficient staff of superintendents is provided, the attempt may be made with some partial hope of success.
The want of trained and kind superintendence is as much felt in those departments called the “insane wards," as in the infirmary. Though the violent insane are not allowed to be kept for a time exceeding fourteen days, yet there are many who are considered to be sufficiently harmless to be permanent inmates. Imbeciles, and those afflicted with fits, are to be found in every workhouse. What a call there is here for all the tenderness of woman's care amongst the nurses of this most heavily afflicted portion of the great human family! Yet what reason is there to suppose that these sufferers meet with the treatment which the utmost devotion, Christian love, and self-denying zeal alone can give ? An old woman, between seventy and eighty years of age, worn out by her own hard and troubled life both in body and mind, is not the most likely person to act with tenderness and skill in such an arduous and trying post. The very incapacity of the patients to speak for themselves and complain of their grievances is a terrible temptation to tyranny and harshness on the part of those who have the care of them, and it is only a high principle of love and conscientiousness that can be a safeguard against such conduct. The asylums for idiots which already exist are found to be utterly incompetent to receive that portion of the 30,000 idiots of our population which calls for our Christian help