A Plea for the Outcast Children of the Street and of the Abject Poor.
Title:A Plea for the Outcast Children of the Street and of the Abject Poor.
Author:A Ragged School Teacher
Date:March 29th 1862
Published directly beneath Joseph Barnes’ ‘Freedom’s Anthem’, this poem discusses one of the other major moral issues of the day – child poverty. In tone, sentiment, and intended function this poem mirrors Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘The Cry of the Children’ from twenty years before, and it similarly encourages the reader to view poverty through the eyes of those least able to change their circumstance, and least responsible for its causes. The poem purports to be by a teacher from one of the schools set up by charity to give cursory education to the children of the poor – the ‘ragged schools’ – and its heartfelt plea for charitable aid, and at a basic level just awareness, has a clear social function, even as it plays on the reader’s emotion. The Cotton Famine is not directly referenced but was a backdrop to everything in the cotton town of Preston in 1862. By the end of the year fully half of the population of the town were receiving aid due to the pressures of the crisis. – SR