A Visit to Queen’s Orphans School New Town (Tasmania) 1853 – In Four Letters

February 1, 1853.

THE distribution of the Prizes took place yesterday. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Sir William and Lady Denison arrived on the meadow adjacent to the building. The band of H.M. 99th Regt, was is attendance, and received His Excellency with “God save the Queen.”

The children were then marched into the field, and the awarding of the prizes at once commenced. The rewards consisted of everything suitable for children, from the handsome satinwood work-box given to the grown girl just leaving the institution, to the ball presented to the little infant for being good. Sir William Denison made a few kind observations to each little recipient.

Lady Denison having given permission, the following pieces of music were sung by the children under the leadership of Mr. Salier, their instructor:- “The labourer’s song,” “Let us endeavour,” “The kine are homeward going” (round, three parts), “The stormy winds,” “The hour is come of twilight grey,” “God save the Queen,” &c. A cheer was then given, and echoed by the infants, who were walking two and two under the care of nurses. The masters then put the children into squares, and buns were plentifully distributed. Play ensued, and the performance might be said to be finished.

As Sir William Denison and C. E. Wilmot, Esq., in leaving the schools, were riding down the broad avenue, the children mounted upon the fence and gave several good hearty cheers, to which His Excellency as heartily responded, waving his hat at the same time.

You see there is little to describe, but much to think of. The education of those 507 young orphans will hereafter have a great influence upon the young colony. It is not merely 507 children we are educating, but the parents of perhaps a couple of thousands who will most assuredly be influenced in their conduct by that of the parents. I think it right to give the result of a little quiet examination I made of a little fellow 10 years of age. I asked him to spell “Jeremiah,” and he did so correctly; then to my question of ” How many parts of speech are there, and can you repeat them?” came the correct answer. I followed with “What is an adjective? He replied, “A thing that qualifies a substantive.” Likewise, “Do you like being at school?” ” Yes, sir.” ” Do they beat you much?” ” No, sir.” “Do you like being at school better than being at home” “I cannot say that.” The quick manner in which the answer was given, the open manly way in which the little fellow fixed his eyes upon me, showed that, while the education he was receiving was good, intimidation and fear were not the means used to make him accept it. The general rosy and healthy looks, the clean and neat attire, and the modesty yet frankness of the orphans confirmed my former conviction that the system is excellent which is in operation at the Queen’s Orphan Schools.

Source: VISIT TO THE QUEEN’S ORPHAN SCHOOL. (1853, February 1). The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 – 1859), p. 3. 

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