1849 February: Ragged School Union Magazine; Plans and Progress – Hints to Teachers

Great difficulties having been experienced by Teachers in keeping order and communicating useful instruction in Ragged Schools, a few hints by a fellow- worker may not be altogether useless.


We shall first address ourselves to the Superintendents of the Sabbath Evening Schools. The youths that attend on that occasion being generally grown lads, who will not or cannot come on other occasions, they arc for the most part rude and ignorant in the extreme. The Superintendent must take every precaution, especially if the School is just begun, to prevent rioting, noise, and what is called a “lark.”


Having everything arranged, teachers in their places, and books all ready, the rough candidates for instruction must be admitted one by one, and placed at once under the appointed teacher. No more must be admitted at first than the teacher can well manage, as it is much better to have few scholars, and teach them well, than to have a large number, and do the work badly.


If numbers crowd to the School, a selection should be made of the most necessitous or well-behaved, and these alone admitted by tickets or a list of names. In some neighbourhoods, a policeman will he needed for a time to preserve order, and prevent noise and crowding at the door. He can generally be had by a letter addressed to the nearest inspector of police, and by paying him a trifle for his services.


The Instruction on Sabbath Evenings should be chiefly religious. Time being short, and many lads, perhaps, there for the first time, never to be there again, everything should be done to make a favourable impression on their minds.


Some hints given in No. 2 Magazine, p. 32, may he found useful in first opening a School. We proceed to give a few hints as to the manner of teach#ing the Ragged class. As it will depend upon circumstances, whether singing and prayer should be attempted, we shall now suppose the teachers in their class, and their pupils around them, in number not exceeding eight to each teacher.


We must consider the teacher to have come to his work full of love and pity, of faith and prayer, ” fervent in spirit.” If so, he has not come unprepared. Though he relies much on God, he knows it would be sinful to neglect diligent preparation. He has a chapter well studied, many passages marked in his pocket Bible for illustration and reference, many interesting facts and anecdotes in his mind, or in his note-book, so as to catch and rivet the attention of the careless.


When his pupils can read, he will (if he come thus prepared) be almost sure to succeed in his work, that is, if he go about it earnestly, affectionately, and prayerfully. Where his scholars cannot read, it will be found more difficult. In this case he will have to come still better prepared, not only with a subject well studied, but ready to take advantage of anything and everything that may arise to rivet attention.


The school-room, the locality, the candles, the gas, a pillar, a door, or a window, have all served as the basis for a lesson to a practical teacher. The news of the day, the Queen opening Parliament, the last calamitous accident, a shipwreck, a fire, an execution, have each been found useful as starting points. The proposed lesson will sometimes not do at all. It does not suit the class. They are restless, careless, and rebellious. Their taste must be consulted. It will be no loss of time to find out what they are fond of, and in some cases to get some account (if the teacher and pupils especially meet for the first time) of their family, mode of living, habits, etc. The writer has often got the attention of his scholars by doing this.


The particulars communicated to the teacher may be all forgotten by him in an hour, but the scholar does not forget that his teacher listened kindly to his history. The attention once fairly gained, must be retained by variety, novelty, and interest. Great plainness of speech must be studied, clearness of thought, vivacity of expression, simple language, suited not to one or two only in the class, but to all. If this should be thought difficult, we answer, let it be thirty tried, and be assured success will follow.


But the teacher must not expect to accomplish it in a day. He will need much previous assiduity and perseverance. He should study the best school manuals he can find, and by practice make them his own. “Dunn’s School Manual,” “Stow’s Bible Training,” “Henderson’s Bible-class Lessons,” “Louisa David’s Sunday School and for younger children,” “Mayo’s Religious Instruction and Model Lessons,” or “Todd’s Lectures to Children,” and the “Peep of Day,” will all be found useful. If these cannot be had, Mrs. Mortimer’s Tracts for Ragged Schools are very simple, and also many halfpenny and penny books published by the Tract Society, by Groombridge, Gilpin, and others.


Many useful lessons will also be found in the cheap monthly Magazines, now issuing from the press—in “The Christian’s Penny,” “The Churchman’s Penny,” “ The Child’s Companion,” and the Sunday School Union books. These, added to lessons of every-day life, the poor blind beggar, the reeling drunkard, the child run over by a waggon, or falling into the fire, will afford matter enough, if studied with an eye to God’s glory, in the light of God’s word. That word, if judiciously interwoven, may be made to enrich and sanctify all—blessing him that giveth as well as him that re-ceiveth—the diligent, humble-minded teacher, as well as the poor, ignorant scholar in the Sabbath Evening Ragged School.

February, 1849.


Sympathy.—No general laws are able to reach to the variety and depths of human misery and vice; no political science can provide a remedy to raise in the mass the state of a demoralized and corrupt population : sympathy, directed, sustained, and urged on by religion, is the only means available, under the Divine blessing, for achieving through individual amelioration the highest good of society at large.—Dr. Forbes.


The above is a reproduction of the article ‘Plans and Progress – Hints to Teachers’ found in the 1849 February publication of the Ragged School Union Magazine.


Some history around the period includes:

The Starvation of the Peoples of Ireland

“considered that Irish Members were placed in a most unfair position in being called upon to choose between two measures—both of them measures of great injustice and hardship towards Ireland. Seeing that the whole system of government now tended to draw money from Ireland to be spent in England, it was in his opinion only just that England, who derived the benefit, should pay for the poverty which that system occasioned. It was most ungenerous on the part of English Members to call upon Ireland to support that poverty; he should have thought they would have been proud rather to have had the opportunity of doing so much justice to that unfortunate country. With regard to the Amendment, it would be most disastrous. Ireland now paid more than her fair share of taxation, and he could not vote for the imposition of a further tax, which, besides its injustice, he knew it would be impossible to raise.


Then, as to the Government proposition—the rate in aid. That also was open to many objections. The poor man, who was now supporting himself with difficulty, would be ruined if forced to pay it, and the result would be to add to the pauperism which already existed. But what was he to do as an Irish Member? He saw his countrymen perishing by starvation, and the waste of human life was becoming Toggle showing location ofColumn 487frightful in its extent. The House refused to listen to the cries of perishing humanity, and, disregarding a most solemn obligation between two nations, proposed to tax Ireland beyond her fair share, in violation of the Treaty of the Union. Placed in the dilemma in which he found himself, disastrous as he knew the rate in aid would be, he saw no alternative but to vote for it, as the only means of obtaining that immediate relief which was necessary to prevent the still further spread of famine and starvation. He should therefore vote for the Government proposition, but with the saddest forebodings of the misery it would occasion. He hoped the House would allow him to read some statements as showing the manner in which, while they were debating these projects, human life was being sacrificed in Ireland. The first was a letter from the Rev. W. Flannelly, C.C., dated Clifden, April 10. He said—


‘Every but in the district is full of dysentery, and even along the hedges the unfortunate evicted outcasts can be seen perishing of neglect and starvation. On Thursday last one died near a ditch, in Tuvegariff, and his only protection against the damp earth, or the inclemency of the weather, was a handful of half rotten straw. Michael Coarsy, of Giranbane, died of starvation, and his hovel was tumbled over him by the “driver” in the last agonies of death. Thomas Mullin, of Cloon, died of starvation, and his whole family, already reduced to walking skeletons, must soon share the same sad fate. The whole population will be swept away by the half-pound system, especially as there is no medical aid of any sort in this wild and extensive territory. It is a wonder the Government would not take the trouble of paying a small salary to a medical man, if they value the lives of Her Majesty’s faithful subjects.’
In another letter, dated April 14, he said—

‘On my journey through the parish this morning, to attend dying calls, now more numerous than ever, on account of the prevalence of dysentery, &c, I met the heartrending spectacles of two dead bodies not one mile asunder on the public thoroughfare. Application was made to the relieving officer for a coffin, but to no purpose, and the messenger informed me that he was insulted and beaten for daring to call for any such thing. Last week an inquest was held on John Chambers, who died for want of sufficient food. He had eight children and wife; got 31½ lbs. of yellow meal weekly, say about eight ounces to each individual daily! As a matter of course, he died, as also his son Michael, same hour, same cause, father and son in one coffin, his nephew Gallagher in the same grave, who got no meal. It was proved that this man was frequently carried home from stone-breaking. We next went to Carrasollagh, where Mary Gibbons was buried on the mountain side; I should not say buried, for she lay under a wall from whence her unfortunate husband threw down stones to cover her remains, not having a spade, nor strength if he had one, to dig a grave.


The poor man, Gibbons, in coming out of his wretched hovel to give evidence before the coroner, fell to the ground from exhaustion; his family of five got twenty-one pounds of meal weekly—say about ten ounces each daily! The jury came to the same conclusion, that the woman, Mary Gibbons, died of starvation. It was proved that this family were generally the last two days of each week entirely without food. Two houses were pointed out to us, in one of which three persons were buried in the floor, and in the other one person. Same week a man was seen crossing the mountain with a dead man slung in a rope on his back. Same week a girl was found dead under a wall at Oriendoff, her head resting on a stone. Same week Rev. Mr. Seally met two females, wretched skeletons, dragging a dear relative to the grave.’ With these facts before him, he felt that the blood of these poor people must be on the heads of those who refused to adopt any means that offered to relieve such unexampled misery.”

Info drawn from Hansard Parliamentary Records


Corruption and Bribery in British Parliament

“He was aware of the difficulty of dealing with the question of bribery at elections; but, after the notorious corruption which had taken place at the general elections of 1841 and 1847, the subject assumed a new degree of most pressing importance. He introduced this measure with great deference to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, whose attention had been specially devoted to the subject, and who had given it the most praiseworthy attention. Few men understood it so well as the noble Lord; and it was with no intention of depreciating or lowering the value of his exertions in the cause, that he (Sir J. Pakington) proposed his present measure.


Neither did he mean to undervalue the two Acts upon the subject of which the noble Lord was the author in the years 1841 and 1842. But he should express his decided opinion that the existing laws were altogether insufficient for the prevention of bribery at elections. He did not mean to say that the present laws against bribery were not sufficiently severe; they were stringent enough in their provisions; but what he was about to prove was, that the existing law was, to a great degree, inoperative, for the reason that under it all chance of detection and of punishment of bribery at elections was dependent entirely upon the presentation of election petitions; Whereas he was prepared to prove that wherever corruption exists there was a combination of the most powerful motives, which had the effect of deterring, and did deter, persons from presenting petitions to Parliament.


That was the argument which he sought to establish. He would not detain the House by adverting, at any length, to the details of existing Acts of Parliament, but he must request permission of the House briefly to call their attention to what were the existing laws against bribery and corruption at elections. From the time that our constitution gradually assumed its present shape, and it became an object of ambition to men of birth and station to acquire seats in the House of Commons, from that time must we date the commencement of that system of corruption of which we had to deplore the enormous increase. The first attempt was made to check bribery at elections towards the end of the reign of Charles II., and during the reign of James II.; but those attempts were vain. At length, in the seventh year of Will. III., the Act was passed which was known as the Treating Act: and it was upon that Act that the present system of Parliamentary constituency was founded.”

Info drawn from Hansard Parliamentary Records


European Feminism

In Germany, one journalist and feminist who advocated passionately for women’s right to wage labor was Louise Otto-Peters (1819–1895). She launched the Women’s Newspaper in 1849 (under the famous motto “I am recruiting female citizens for the realm of freedom!”), but went on to found workers’ and servants’ unions too, and published her book Women’s Right to Earn a Living in 1866.

Page 33, Schrupp, A., & Patu, . (2017). A brief history of feminism.


European Feminism

1849 Jeanne Deroin founds L’Opinion des femmes, declares her candidacy for office; polemic with Proudhon
Louise Otto founds the Frauenzeitung (Meissen)
Papal encyclical Ubi Primum proposes the elevation of the Virgin Mary to rally female support for the Catholic Church; response by Johannes Range of the progressive German Catholic sect

Page xxii, Offen, K. (2022). European Feminisms, 1700-1950: A Political History.