Module 1: WHO SAYS

(Page 9) Resource sheet 2

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One day in the middle of the last century a horse-drawn cab drew up in front of a tall London house and two men got out. They dumped a wriggling sack on its doorstep and then jumped quickly into the cab and made off.

When the strangely moving sack was brought in and opened, it was found to contain a frightened small boy with a gold watch. It was one that had been stolen from Lord Shaftesbury a few days previously. The little boy was trembling. Would this tall man call the police or order a beating? But Shaftesbury knew all about the terrible conditions under which many East London children lived.... He looked at the boy. This gold watch was given me when I was about your age by the best friend I ever had', he told him. 'I am not going to ask how you came by it, but I am going to help you get some schooling and start a new kind of life.' He was as good as his word. (1)

Shaftesbury's principles were so universal that he became the champion... of all social reform... As the historian Bready says, 'Whenever Britons organised themselves to improve the health of children or the physical comfort of adults:... to shorten hours of labour and to provide Saturday half-holidays; to tear down slums and build decent houses, to suppress dens of vice and open up parks or recreation grounds;... to suppress grog shops and provide ample supplies of pure water - there stood Shaftesbury in the midst, a rugged pioneer, with jacket and waistcoat off, sleeves rolled up, and shoulders to the wheel.' In many fields he was the original pioneer, in others he came in to encourage others...

On his continual 'perambulations' through the darkest streets of London, he met thousands of unfortunates - men, women and children. Though he could not always remember their names, he never forgot his promises to them - or their needs.

On the Eros Monument, which was erected in his memory, with pennies collected in factory, mill and mine, is an inscription written by Gladstone:

During a public life of half a century he devoted the influence of his station, the strong sympathies of his heart and great power of his mind to honouring God by serving his fellow men, an example to his order, a blessing to his people and a name to be by them ever gratefully remembered. (2)

(Excerpts from (1) "Stories of Great Lives" edited by D.M. Prescott, Blandford Press, 1965, and (2) "Brave Men Choose" by Garth Lean, Blandford Press, 1977.)

R1-M1-PAGE 9

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