DICKENS AND CHARITY. Norris Pope

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1 DICKENS AND CHARITY

2 DICKENS AND CHARITY Norris Pope

3 Norris Francis Pope 1978 Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 1978 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without permission First published 1978 by THE MACMILLAN PRESS LTD London and Basingstoke Associated companies in Delhi Dublin Hong Kong Johannesburg Lagos Melbourne New York Singapore Tokyo British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Pope, Norris Dickens and charity 1. Dickens, Charles - Political and social views 2. Evangelistic work- Great Britain- History I. Title PR4592.Ej ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / This book is sold subject to the standard conditions of the Net Book Agreement

4 For my wife and parents

5 'There have been at work among us,' a Nonconformist preacher told his people, 'three great social agencies: the London City Mission; the novels of Mr Dickens; the cholera.' Quoted by G. M. Young in Victorian England: Portrait of An Age

6 Contents List of Illustrations Preface Introduction vm IX I I Dickens and Evangelicalism 13 2 Defence of the Sabbath 42 3 Missions and Missionaries 96 4 The Ragged School Movement Health and Housing 'Mighty Waves of Influence' 243 Notes 251 Index 294 vii

7 List of Illustrations I List of May Meetings from The Record, 2 7 April I Exeter Hall, Strand. (Reproduced by courtesy of the British Museum.) 3 Dickens, Shaftesbury, and the Field Lane Ragged School. (Dickens's portrait is by Daniel Maclise, and is reproduced by courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery. Shaftesbury's photograph is reproduced by courtesy of the Mary Evans Picture Library. Cruikshank's illustration of the Field Lane Ragged School, West Street, Saffron Hill, is from 'London Penetralia, No II, the Ragged Schools,' in Our Own Times, I 846.) 4 'Houses of the London Poor,' from The Builder, 26 February I853 5 Three views of Southwark, from The Builder, 5 November I Church Lane, St Giles's, and Wild Court. (The view of Church Lane is reproduced by courtesy of the British Museum. The illustrations of Wild Court are from The Labourer's Friend, November I854.) 7 Interior view, Pheasant Court, Gray's Inn Lane, and the Field Lane Male Refuge, West Street. (The Pheasant Court interior is from Sanatory Progress (1850). The Field Lane Refuge illustration is reproduced by courtesy of the Field Lane Institution.) 8 Phiz on false piety and hypocrisy: Stiggins, Snawley, Pecksniff, and Chadband The author would like to thank Dr Celina Fox for her helpful suggestions about illustrations for this book. viii

8 Preface It has long been obvious that an understanding of Dickens's world adds greatly to our understanding and appreciation of Dickens's novels. This study is naturally predicated upon such a recognition. But it is also predicated upon the conviction that a careful analysis of Dickens's attitudes and comments about a particular aspect of his world can reveal much about that world. This book, then, is not simply about Dickens; it is also about Victorian philanthropy and, particularly, evangelical philanthropy and the attitudes which sustained it. One of the foremost attractions of this topic is that though Dickens was widely heralded as a leading advocate of sympathy and benevolence ('kindliness is the first principle of Mr Dickens's philosophy,' a literary critic wrote in I 8 5 I), e\rangelicals were unequivocally the leading advocates and supporters ofhundreds upon hundreds of practical manifestations of charitable zeal. Dickens and Exeter Hall, however, by no means invariably saw eye to eye: far more often they fiercely disagreed. Stiggins and Chadband, for example, seemed to most evangelicals to be Dickens's principal idea of 'vital Christians'. But Dickens was in fact well aware that not all serious religionists were of this sort. It was, after all, England's leading evangelical (Lord Shaftesbury) who opened one of the I858 conference sessions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science with the angry query, 'Ought we to be tranquil when we are told that the preventible mortality in this country amounts to no less than 90,000 a year?' It is true, in short, that much of Dickens's material had a topical bearing; but it is equally true that there was sometimes a sizable gap between what he knew and what he wrote in his novels. This tells us much about his methods as a writer; yet it should also warn us that as a guide to the Victorian world Dickens is not only splendid but, from time to time, splendidly unreliable. A few more words are necessary about the focus of this study. By and large I have confined myself to a detailed examination of Dickens's response to evangelical effort- and under this heading I IX

9 X PREFACE include such things as sabbatarianism, missionary activity, educational work in slums, and godly participation in health and housing reform. The chief justification for this focus is that evangelicalism was the most important single influence shaping Victorian moral sensibilities. Moreover, it is arguable that evangelical endeavour and propaganda were the most valuable and sustained means of drawing attention to some of the worst problems of the urban poor. Inevitably my boundaries will not suit all readers. I have not examined, for example, Dickens's connection with Miss Coutts's Home for Homeless Women, which has been discussed elsewhere. Nor have I been able to consider the complex set of feelings that allowed Dickens to support charity and at the same time increasingly approve of the independently minded poor who refused to accept it. ('I've never took charity yet, nor yet has anyone belonging to me,' Betty Higden proudly insists in Our Mutu al Friend.) Finally, I have not been able to give full consideration to Dickens's attitude toward the Poor Law, although Poor Law relief was supposed to take over where charitable relief left off. Instead, I have concentrated on Dickens's view of what Shaftesbury termed 'zealous service in the cause of our Crucified Redeemer.' That service and that cause were the most potent stimulants of charitable activity in the nineteenth century. It is of course impossible to acknowledge adequately all the help that I have received in the course of my research and writing. Among still existing charitable agencies, however, I would most of all like to thank the Shaftesbury Society for allowing me to consult (repeatedly) the manuscript records of the Ragged School Union; also the Lord's Day Observance Society and Field Lane Institution who likewise made available nineteenth-century minute books and letters. I should additionally like to thank Coutts & Co. and their very knowledgeable archivist Miss M. V. Stokes for allowing me to examine Dickens's banking records; the Trustees of the Broadlands Archives Trust for permitting me to consult and quote from Lord Shaftesbury's diaries; the Earl of Harrow by who allowed me to consult letters among the Harrowby Papers; and, inevitably, Christopher Dickens and the editors of the Pilgrim Edition of Dickens's letters. Many individuals have also taken an interest in my work and have provided various kinds of assistance. First I would like to thank those people who allowed me to read their dissertations or who otherwise made available material relevant to my work: Ian Bradley, Valentine Cunningham, Thomas Laqueur, Norman Vance, John Wigley, and

10 PREFACE lastly S. Barbara Kanner who read my dissertation and commented upon it. Additionally I should like to thank Mr A. F. Thompson, who first stimulated my interest in the nineteenth century, and who gave me encouragement throughout my time as a research student at Wadham College, Oxford. I would also like to thank Dr John Walsh, who was constantly helpful, and whose name appears in the acknowledgements of every book concerning eighteenth- or nineteenth-century evangelicalism that was written or partly written at Oxford. Next, I am very much indebted to Professor Philip Collins whose books Dickens and Crime and Dickens and Education served as models for the sort of work I wished to do, and whose kind interest and suggestions at a later stage were most gratefully received. Finally, I owe my greatest debt to Dr Brian Harrison, my doctoral supervisor at Oxford, whose conscientious criticism and abundant advice would surely have done credit to the very best qualities found in those serious and energetic Victorians whose work is discussed in this book. Naturally in making these acknowledgements I am in no way attempting to distribute the blame for any errors or deficiencies; for these I must take sole responsibility. XI Berkeley, November 1977 NORRIS POPE

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