Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

“I knew,” he said, “that lane was a bad place, but my idea of the iniquity of the people was infinitely short of what I found it.” In some places the houses were dilapidated and falling into decay; not the less, however, were they crowded almost to suffocation with inhabitants. Here, there was no bedding, the floor was black with dirt, and children, left to themselves, were crawling half-naked over it. There, awful cases of fever prevailed, and small, without air, and perhaps without water, was the prospect of the recovery of the sufferers. In the highway and open spaces the pavement was strewn with all sorts of old things for sale, from old clothes and old furniture to old rags and old nails; the back streets were filthy in the extreme; the courts were heaps of rubbish ; the alleys ankle-deep in mud; there was no sewerage, and but little water; heaps of vegetable and animal matter, never removed, infected the air.

But bad as the physical condition of the people was, their moral condition was far more deplorable; Sabbath-breaking, intoxication, thieving, and swearing, prevailed everywhere. “It is impossible,” says our missionary, “ for me to describe the feelings of horror with which I first viewed those scenes of dirt, filth, drunkenness, and vice; deformed vice, deep black depravity. I saw people take off the very clothes they were wearing and pledge them for drink; I saw others in all the agony of delirium tremens ; I saw others without an article of furniture in their rooms, having pledged or sold all.”

It must be confessed that our missionary's heart misgave him. He began to think that he was not fit for such work, that he could not continue it,

It happened, on the third day of his visiting, as he entered a court, that a young person, standing at the door of a house, invited him in. As soon as he got into the house the door was shut. There he witnessed a fearful scene. The inmates flew

upon

him. He had says,

i” she said,

come

[ocr errors]

to struggle, and hard, too, for himself; at length he made his escape, and rushed out into the street. In a turmoil of agitation and disgust, he resolved to renounce a missionary life— to finish, as he said, his missionary career, and to leave such visitation to those who could better brave such horrors than he could. For this purpose he hastened to the house of a friend; he knocked at the door; it was opened by a young person, the daughter of his friend, who was playing on the piano. “Oh! my dear Mr. — in, and I will play you a tune.” So, without speaking another word, she returned to the piano, and he followed her and sat down in the parlour, with a throbbing heart, overcome with painful emotion from the scenes he had witnessed. The young girl commenced an inspiriting song

“Sound the loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea,

Jehovah has triumph’d, his people are free!” Its influence was not long in making itself felt in the heart of the missionary. " What!” he said to himself, “if the Lord could conquer his foes in Egypt, cannot he conquer his enemies in lane ?" And before the song was ended he had prayed for grace, that he might live and die a missionary, and have cause to rejoice in the conquests the Lord should gain by his Spirit and his grace.

Not only was the wickedness of the people on his district thus trying to him, but their poverty and misery made his heart ache. He could not go among them, feeling that he had bread to eat and they had none, without longing to share what he had with them. As he had but a small salary and a large family of children, this often reduced him to great straits. “ And

“I could not help but give, though often we have had to pinch, a few of the last days of the last week of the month ;' i. e., just before the day on which the missionaries receive their monthly salary.

לל

yet,he

made answer,

[ocr errors]

He was

On one such occasion-it was on a Tuesday, and the pay-day was Saturday, when he was going out in the morning, his wife called to him—“As it is washing day," she said, “ bring me home something nice for supper.” She did not know he had only twopencehalfpenny left, neither did he like to say so; he only

Very well.” His first visit was to a room where a family of chil. dren were crying for food; he could not but compassionate the poor helpless little creatures; he sent one for a pennyworth of potatoes, another for a half-pennyworth of sprats, another he despatched for a few sticks. to light the fire, and another to the dust-heap to collect a few cinders to make it with. Soon there was a cheerful blaze, and a goodly smell of cooking. But what was to become of Mrs. C- 's supper ?

The missionary continued his visits. attracted to a filthy back-room by the cries of some children, whose mother, he knew, was out selling apples. They too, were crying for food. In a corner of the room were a few potatoes. A fire was lighted, and sending one of the little fellows for a pennyworth of sprats, the missionary soon spread out a tempting repast on a chair without a back to it, and watched the little ones as they stood round eating it. Where was now Mrs. C——'s supper?

His daily round over, he went to the room where he held the evening meeting. It was late before it was concluded. When all were gone, and he was locking the door, he suddenly bethought himself of Ayl'ce's supper. He felt very much grieved ; and also it was rather serious, as he had no money left to get food for the next day. At last, he thought he would borrow şome money from a friend; the friend, at whose house he was about to leave the key of the school room. When he entered, however, his heart failed him ; he laid down the key and went away.

Hehad not goneabove a hundred yards from the house,

answer.

when his friend called after him, and said, “Here is a parcel for you." Our missionary turned back; it was a hamper. “It must be a mistake,” he said ; “ it cannot be for me. “Read the direction," was the

“Then it is a hoax," said the missionary. Some one cut the string of the hamper, and on lifting up the lid, he found a cheese, 6lbs. of sugar, 6lbs. of rice, 6lbs. of butter, half-a-pound of tea, half-a-pound of coffee, half-a-pound of mustard, a quarter of a pound of pepper, 10lbs. of pork, and a small slip of paper, in an unknown writing, saying, “ Please accept the enclosed.”

Here, then, was Mrs. C—-'s supper, and provision abundant for the few remaining days.

But sad as the poverty and privation that he saw among the people were to him, their crimes were sadder still. A large proportion of them were thieves and vagrants, buyers and sellers of stolen goods. One Sabbath, a little child about eleven years old, was found crying in the streets. Her mother bad turned her out of doors; and why? The missionary went to inquire, and found that the mother was a person who lived by stealing from the shops; that she had sent this little one to steal some wood, but the child had refused to go; whereupon, the mother had put her out into the streets, and shut the door against her. The poor little thing sobbed for admittance in vain. The missionary reasoned, scolded, coaxed, promised, threatened ; it was useless !

“Take her to the station-house," said the hardhearted mother, “I will give evidence against her, and she shall be transported.

“Take your child in," said the missionary.
"No," said the mother.
“For the sake of humanity.”

“ No.

[ocr errors]

“For Christ's sake."

[ocr errors]

“ No.”

زو

“For your confessor's sake”-she was a Romanist. “ No." “For your soul's sake." “ No." The missionary took the child to his own home.

From this child he learnt, with a shudder, of the haunts of thieves upon his district. He visited them in such places as the cellar, in the old Sugar-house, which we have described in another story of our volume. He visited them in worse places still; holes, where they paid a penny per night to sit on the floor, they were too thronged to lie down. He bade thein come to his house, he could talk with them better there.

It happened once, there were some of these miserable outcasts who were ill, the missionary did not know what to do with them. No hospital would receive them. The lowest lodging-house even in - lane refused to let them in. His wife was upstairs, confined to her bed-room. “What," thought he, “if I should have them in the kitchen ; they will be well perhaps before Ayl'ce comes down ?" Accordingly, the thieves took possession of the kitchen. He next emptied a room in his house, and gave

it
up

to them. But the room was small; the house was in a close, low part of London, and a terrible disease called vagrant fever, broke out among them. It soon spread to the family of the missionary ; seven, one after another, were laid upon a bed of sickness, and one died. farthings," said the missionary to his children, “that we may be able to move into a larger house.' They did so, and in the course of time, the farthings amounted to £15. This £15 they spent in purchasing a business, out of which, as the years went by, they saved a considerable sum; this was devoted to building a place fit for the reception of those unhappy beings.

It began to be known in London, that those who wished to forsake a vagrant and dishonest life, would

« Save your

« FöregåendeFortsätt »