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Ragged Homes and How to Mend Them

Ragged Homes and How to Mend Them
Author: Bayly Mary
Title: Ragged Homes and How to Mend Them
Release Date: 2018-10-14
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Ragged Homes and How to Mend Them, by MaryBaylyThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.  If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Ragged Homes and How to Mend ThemAuthor: Mary BaylyRelease Date: October 14, 2018  [eBook #58101]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK RAGGED HOMES AND HOW TO MENDTHEM***

Transcribed from the 1860 James Nisbet edition by David Price,email [email protected]

Public domain book cover

Tucker’s cottage.  The Oldest House in KensingtonPotteries





“The corner-stoneof the commonwealth is the hearth-stone.”


Fifth Thousand.




My Lord,

I do not inscribe this narrative of facts to you in theexpectation of adding to that acquaintance with theworking-classes which you have gained from personal intercoursewith them.

It is for my own satisfaction that I have dedicated thislittle Volume to you.  An opportunity, which might nototherwise have occurred, now offers for thanking you in the nameof the poor whom you have cheered by your sympathy, and of therich whom you have stimulated by your example.

Compliments between fellow-workers are not seemly, howeverhumble the bestower, however illustrious the receiver.

That you have allowed your name to appear in these pagescannot but be gratifying to the writer.  The reader willrejoice no less, and from higher than personal motives.  Hewill see in this kindness another proof of your hearty interestin that class which, if rightly considered, is, from its verypoverty, a blessing to the land, by putting our indolence andselfishness to shame.

I have the honour to be,

Your Lordship’s obliged Servant,


Amidst the excitements of politicalcontests at home, with wars and rumours of wars abroad, the voiceof “Social Science” is occasionally heard, andlistened to, with a growing conviction of its importance. The Politician, the Moralist, and the Christian are impelled byvarious reasons to its consideration, and will listen with equalinterest to its details.

Experience is always valued by practical men, and the recordsof what has been done are anxiously sought, to assist ourjudgment in future and more extended exertions.

The condition of the young, and the education of children,naturally engaged the earliest attention of SocialReformers.  Experience has shewn the importance of genialinfluences at home, and that it is necessary to improvethe homes of the poor, in order to save the children fromdestruction.  It has also been p. viiifound that much can be thuseffected.  Poor women, who have been subjected to the severediscipline of a struggling existence, are often willing andanxious listeners to useful instruction, and are perhaps moresusceptible of good influence than younger persons who have notfelt the necessity for improvement.  There is, therefore,room to hope that the influence which can be brought to bear uponthe mothers of the working-classes will be a most importantelement in that general elevation which it is our desire toattain.

It was principally owing to this impression, and also thegreat desire which I felt to do something, however feeble, tobring more happiness and comfort into the houses of my poorneighbours, that induced me, five or six years ago, to commence aMothers’ Society.  The usual ways of helping the poorseemed to me to effect little real good.  The nice soup sentfor the sick man was spoiled by being smoked in the warming up,or by the taste infused into it from the dirty saucepan: the sagointended for the infant was burnt, or only half cooked; andmedicine and food alike failed to be efficacious in the absenceof cleanliness, and in the stifling air which the poor patientwas doomed to breathe.  The mothers of the little, thin,fretful babies would complain to me that they could not think whythe child did so badly, for they managed to get a rasher of baconfor it p.ixwhenever they could, and always fed it two or threetimes in the night.  I saw that the wise man was indeedright in saying “that knowledge is the principalthing;” and that if I could help them in any way to“get knowledge,” it would be a gift far surpassing invalue anything else I could offer them.  The applicationsconstantly made to me for information on the best modes ofestablishing and conducting these Societies, induce me to supposethat they have taken some hold on the public mind, and that theseinstitutions supply a want that is every day increasinglyfelt.

The only value that can be attached to any remarks which Ihave to make is, that they are the result of some years’experience; and that the plans which I have adopted, thoughcapable of great improvement, have been to some extentsuccessful.  But the principal motive in my own mind forsending these simple narratives forth into the world is, the hopethat more attention than ever may by their means be directed tothat great and difficult subject, the improvement of the homes ofthe poor.  As a few notes of a bird, the lisping of a child,the sound of the wind dying away, have sometimes been sufficientto awaken the spirit of harmony in some master-mind, and so ledto the composition of the music which has thrilled and delightedall who have heard it; so, it is hoped, the suggestions p. xhere made maybe of use to many minds, and that anything already effected maybe as the drop to the showers, or as the first buds of spring tothe luxuriance of summer.

8 Lansdowne Crescent,
      May 10, 1859.




Introductory Chapter



A VillageNot Picturesque



Illustrations of Character



Slow Advancing



Sowing Seed



Homes and No Homes






Giving and Receiving



Light upon a Dark Subject



Our Missionaries



Our Baby






Obstacles: Who shall remove them?





“Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejectsthe lore
Of nicely calculated less and more.”


p. 3A FEW weeks ago I was visiting the Libraryin the British Museum.  Two gentlemen, who stood near me,appeared very earnest in the pursuit of something which theywanted.  Presently, by an exclamation of delight, Iunderstood that their search had been successful; they had foundwhat they had sought.  And what had they found?  A veryold book, so badly printed as to be read with difficulty, andcontaining information of what must have taken place at least twothousand years ago—information very interesting andimportant to the old Romans, no doubt; and which would have beenstill more so, if they could have foreseen what delight it wouldhave imparted, centuries later, to two inhabitants of a remoteisland in the north, who could not possibly be affected byit.  But so it is: some minds prefer to dwell on the past;others live in the present; and some seem of opinion that“man never is, but always to be, blest.” This diversity is no doubt necessary; all do some good: theantiquarian adds to the interest of our libraries, if not of ourlives; and we owe much to those who teach us to look forward, ifthey will only at the p. 4same time help us to look upward: butto such as wish to do something, who desire to have aninfluence on the great living history which every day is writingafresh, the passing events of the time have the greatest charm,because they not only present food for reflection, butopportunity for exertion.

We not unfrequently hear people speak of life in such a way aswould lead us to suppose that there had been some mistake as tothe date of their birth.  Had they come a little earlier ora little later, it would have been different; but the presentseems to afford them no object of interest.  They complainof intolerable dulness, the weariness of life; and in watchingthe cheerless, the objectless existence of such people, we wonderthat it is recorded of only a single individual, that one morninghe shot himself, for the reason assigned on a slip of paper whichhe had left on the dressing-table—“I am tired ofliving only to breakfast, dine, and sup.”

I have often thought, when listening to such complaints, ofthe prayer of Elisha for his unbelieving servant, “Lord, Ipray thee, open his eyes, that he may see;” and if the Lordwould do for them as He did for this servant, and open theireyes—not to see “mountains full of horses andchariots of fire” waiting to deliver them—but alleys,and lanes, and villages, full of the needy and the sick, waitingfor loving hearts and kind hands to come and help them to risefrom their degradation, wretchedness, and filth,—the strainwould be changed; and, in the contemplation of such a vast p. 5amount oflabour, followed by such rich reward, we should rather expect tohear, if it must still be the language of complaint:—

“O wretched yet inevitable spite
Of our short span! and we must yield our breath,
And wrap us in the lazy coil of death;
So much remaining of unproved delight!”

There are many indications in the present day that the fieldsare “white unto harvest.”  Several things, thatwere looked upon some years ago as experiments, have been soeminently successful, that no unprejudiced mind can doubt thatthey are the means which God has blessed, and by which He intendsto accomplish a great work of reformation in this country. It was a glorious sight at St Martin’s Hall, on the 2d ofMarch, when 567 young persons came forward to claim the prize forhaving remained a twelvemonth in a situation; and, were it notfor the strictness of the rules, excluding all apprentices,requiring a written character from a master or mistress, it wasstated that as many as 1500 would have been present.  Allthese had been rescued from well-nigh certain destruction by theRagged School, and had there received the education whichqualified them to take these situations.  There must havebeen joy in the presence of the angels of God that night, as theywitnessed these rescued ones sitting together, and listeningeagerly to words by which their souls might live; and which, ifthe prayers of many there were answered, would prepare them toreceive an incorruptible prize, that can never fade away.

p. 6Whilstthese facts convey resistless evidence to the mind, that thesepoor outcasts can be lifted out of their wretchedness andbe saved, the conviction deepens, that God will hold usresponsible to do this work; and, in all the labour ever requiredof our hands, it has never been so necessary that whosoever wouldengage in it must be taught of the Lord.  We have to praynot only that the Lord of the harvest would send more labourersinto the harvest, but also that He would endow them with just thespirit and power necessary for this particular work.  Innoticing the physical wants and requirements of this country,nothing strikes us more forcibly than the certainty with whichthe demand creates the supply.  No matter how intricate andcomplicated the required machinery may be, heads are always to befound clever enough to invent, and hands skilful enough to workit.  In fact, the degree of perfection attained in this wayis enough to make us “proud of the age we livein.”  If machinery and steam-power had

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