Letter from Eleanor Rathbone to Sophia De Morgan on social reform
17 February [c. 1890s]
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My dear Mrs de Morgan
I am more sorry than surprised
at the various contents of your note.
First the business part of it. It is very
much to be regretted that the actively
benevolent are so often incorrigibly
neglectful of the exact financial
management of their schemes. They
are sanguine as to the benevolence
of others, and often bad managers.
If all philanthropists had the horror
of debt which some have, how very
much more would they accomplish.
Hearing no more from you I thought
the best way was to show Mrs Melly
your note, and she denies that
her son's £5 may be transferred
to her name and she leaves it in your
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care, as I do mine – to recover it
and apply it to a nursery, or
to leave it where it is as you
may judge best, or find practicable.
Your account of the absence of
deep convictions or repentance
on the part of the young women
agrees with what I have heard
from others – and with the peculiarly
uninteresting countenances of the
women in the penitentiaries here
and I am very sorry to have
their confirmation. I hoped yours
might be less entirely such than
these must have been. I think
the nursery may prosper much
better and do more good to the young
women when entirely unconnected
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with the dormitory, as you remove
them into a new scene, where their
antecedents are unknown, and
can choose only those morally and
physically fitted for it. I feel
all the difficulty you see about the
teaching the women to view their sin
[?]. The circumstances are often
such one cannot feel them except as
[?] against, yet their share
of it small as it is produces a
degree of deterioration of nature moral
physical and spiritual which places
them below those who see for more
without excuse in other ways. It
seems God's seal of reprobation on
that particular sin, yet in men
it is allowed to pass unreproved
and I see no help for it, for women
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in general are quite ignorant of
the character of their male associates
and were they to act on the
imperfect rumours that reach
them might be generally of great
injustice. I fear much religious
instruction will not answer
steady cultivation of religious
principle by the matron would seem
what would be most needed.
Whenever you are able to bring your
nursery scheme to bear we shall
feel much interested to hear of it.
I am my dear Mrs de Morgan
ever yours very truly
Greenbank, Saturday February 17th