The million-peopled city
Two other Cases of Usefulness, from the "London City Mission Magazine."
A fuller illustration of the benefit effected by on individual attendants, is given in the following
|extract from the "" of :-|
"February.-It has been my privilege during the past month, to have met a number of young persons, once the children of our first , all of whom are now in respectable situations."
"March.-Seldom a week passes but some youths are met with by me, who were among the first of our Ragged School children, who have risen up in life, and have become honest and industrious members of society."
The following two cases of usefulness are specimens of those benefits:
" Case 1.-H. C. T. was the son of dissipated parents. He had one brother, who had been transported, and a younger brother, who was, at the time of his admission into school, confined in prison, because he would rather steal than starve. He became very much attached to school. For regular attendance and good conduct he was rewarded with a pair of new shoes and stockings-the first, he told us, that he ever had. On returning to school, the following day, after the present, he brought his shoes under his arm, in frost and snow, for at the time the snow lay on the ground some inches. 'You see, Sir,' he replied, ' my feet are all chilblains. I could not bear them on, and I would not leave them at home, because I should not be likely to see them again. My mother would take them to my uncle's, and drink the money. You know, Sir, my mother would have drunk me if I would go up the spout!' The writer replied, ' C., I am sorry to know that what you say is too true.' Often did this poor boy promise that he would never do as his brothers had done. Ah, poor boy ! he often suffered the greatest privations from the want of food. After many shifts, he applied to the writer for the loan of 3d., saying, at the same time, that he thought he could make his own living, and attend school too. He was
|furnished with 3d., and off he hastened and purchased one dozen boxes of lucifers. So successful was he, that he realized 3d. profit. Encouraged by his new undertaking, he made up his mind to go out every morning with his dozen boxes of lucifers, which he did for nearly 2 years, attending school all day, and doing sufficient business at night to pro- vide him with food during the next day. When he was asked how he managed to live, ' Why, you know,' he replied, 'that I can always manage to make 3d., and sometimes more. I spend one penny for breakfast, another for dinner, and the same sum for supper: that's better than my brothers did; and by and by, when I can read and write well, I will get a situation.'|
" The good resolution of this neglected youth contrasts strongly with the conduct of the parents, and is worthy of all praise, and even of the imitation of some placed in better circumstances, and enjoying higher advantages. What were the impelling motives which led this boy to the adoption of such a course? Was it the example of those to whom he ought to have been able to look for protection and support ? No; they were sunk into the vortex of intemperance, the veriest slaves of the gin palace and the gin glass. Their home was the deserted, cheerless home of emptiness, with the exception of 2 cups, which stood on the mantel-shelf; an old tin tea-kettle, without a cover, which stood on the fireless grate; and a few shavings in the opposite corner of the room; but without even a rag to cover them or their children during their midnight repose. Fancy poor C. rising from such a bed in the morning, taking an old rag to the back yard, where stood the water-butt, to wash (for a drunkard could not afford either soap or a wash-basin), to make himself somewhat decent among his schoolfellows. Thus prepared, see him set out to the cheap bread-shop, a few doors from the school- room, to have his morning's meal, in the shape of three
|farthings' worth of bread and one farthing's worth of drip- ping; which, however, was to him as rich as the new-made butter is to those who have not lucifers to sell before they can have a breakfast.|
" It might be supposed that C. was the dull spiritless youth, broken down by bad living and cruel treatment of worthless parents; quite the reverse, he was the happy, contented, spirited lad-the very life of the playmates with whom he associated. He was always the first at school, and never behind with his lessons, pushing onwards as if longing for the time when he would be fit for the duties of life.
" He had an only sister, who attended the same school, and who was also very regular and punctual, though she suffered for so doing from the wicked treatment of her mother. Poor C. often shared his morsel of bread with her when there was none at home for the poor girl; of the two, she was the elder. The time at last arrived when our youth set out in search of a situation. After much search he obtained one as a fishmonger's errand-boy, at 4s. a week. Five years have since passed away, and he is now the confidential servant of his employer. He has ever looked upon his master's interests as bound up with his own.
" Some months after our young fishmonger entered his situation his mother fell a victim to her passion for strong drink. This event left some impression on the mind of her dissipated husband, and, for a time, was a means of leading him to abandon his evil propensities. So altered did he become, that he moved from his wretched hovel-the scene of many a drunken debauch-to a more comfortable abode, which, by sobriety, he was enabled to furnish according to his circumstances, and for upwards of 3 years his daughter kept him and his home comfortable, until he again became the victim of intemperance, returning to it like the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. He soon sold
|every article of furniture he possessed, and turned his daughter into the streets. He has become the inmate of a wretched lodging-house, where he is now dragging out a miserable existence. Happy was it for the poor girl that her brother was the honest journeyman fishmonger, for he shared his loaf with her, and paid her lodgings, until she obtained the means of her own support, which she has long done by honest industry, and may be seen every Sunday bending her way, in company with her brother, to the house of prayer, both attributing what they are to the blessing of God on the instruction received at the in the old stable.|
" Case 2.-From a wretched home were taken a son and daughter to the schools, shortly after they were opened. These 2 children were in such a state of filth and rags that the first thing done with them was to have them cleaned and scrubbed. So fearfully neglected did they appear to have been, that more than ordinary attention was given to them. On their return to their miserable home and parents, they were scarcely known to be the same son and daughter, by their worthless mother. The new pinafores and clean hands and faces had wrought such a change that they even attracted the notice of their neighbours. The mother soon found that one of the rules of the school was cleanliness: however poor and ragged might be the dress of the scholars, this important appendage to health was looked after by the teacher. In this family it wrought well, for the children would not go to school until they had a good wash in the morning. This was done by the mother, and it began to have some effect upon her own person, for nothing looked more unseemly than the appearance of her tattered gown and matted hair, which at once told that she troubled herself very little with either soap or water about her person. The children's comparatively clean appearance engendered some respect for her own per- sonal comfort, so that she began to apply both water and
|soap, until it became a habit daily. Her dress, too, had the benefit of the wash-tub. Her husband's shirt, also, had some share of her attention. Their room floor, that did not appear to have been washed for years, began in a few weeks to show that the scrubbing-brush had been applied to it: in short, the whole appearance of both room and family, in 3 months after the children's admission into school, wore an aspect we never saw before, both of cleanliness and comfort. The children made progress in their lessons; they were never absent from their class; the hymns and texts of Scripture they were taught by their teacher were repeated over to their parents when they went home; and they listened to their children with much pleasure. The consequence was, the father was induced to think more of his own fire-side than he was wont to do; and the progress of his children pleased him so much that he put away d. a-week to pur- chase a Bible for each of them. The improvement wrought in this family was not only observed by their neighbours, but the landlord of the court was attracted by their new habits, which led him to make the offer to them to let the whole of the cottages in the court to their care. Arrange- ments were entered into, and the father of this once wretched and indifferent family became the landlord of the place, which soon began to look comfortable and clean. The dust-heap that lay in the centre was removed, and the first story of each house-front was washed twice a-year; and so continued for years, until death removed the father, and the mother went to the country, to live with the son. He works as a labourer in Surrey, while the sister still remains the honest servant-girl, in a family at Chelsea."|
The missionary, after reporting the 2 previous cases, makes the important observation:-
" The greatest difficulty I had in the compiling of them
|was the selecting of the cases from hundreds of others which could yet be given."|