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distrust; we are constituted for hope and triumph. Our understanding is not the measure of our confidence. The impulses of joy that rise often out of our deepest sadness, proclaim, in constant protest against our morbid fancies and our blind selfwill, that all is well.
“ He that hath found some fledged bird's nest may know,
At first sight, if the bird be flown;
That is to him unknown.
Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
THE REFUGES OF LONDON.
We lately made the round of the London Refuges, established to afford nightly shelter to the houseless poor, and found that, in consequence of the general slackness of work, two of them had every night their full complement of inmates. These places, opened years ago for the relief of those who were absolutely homeless and destitute, have not been wrested from their original design. Night is the best time for professional beggars and thieves, and the regular hours kept in Refuges, and the fact that the history of every applicant is recorded in a “case” book, do not suit their tastes. As a rule, the persons receiving the benefits of these institutions are the really destitute poor. There is little inducement offered to those, not actually homeless, to avail themselves of the shelter and the food offered. The accommodation is of the roughest, the food only barely what is necessary to stay the cravings of hunger; consequently such places will only be sought out by those who, shrinking from the workhouse, or failing to find admission to its casual wards, have literally nowhere else to go. We first visited Field Lane. A marvellous change has come over this institution since, in 1841, a. Raggedschool was opened with forty-seven boys and girls of various ages, drawn from the lowest grades of society. The only accommodation that could then be afforded, was the floor of the room in which they were assembled. Now the institution is housed
in a building which has involved an outlay of £10,000. Every year some new work was grafted on it, and the institution now has its several departments—religious, educational, and industrial—each of which deserves more space than we can here devote to the whole. The Night Refuges belonging to Field Lane are as complete in all their arrangements as they well can be. Upon entering the Male Refuge, we found ourselves in a large, well-lighted dormitory, the floor of which was as clean as a good housewife ever scrubbed her deal table. The beds were all rolled up, for it was an hour or two yet to sleeping time, and the inmates were seated at a table reading or talking to each other. There was no rising up or cringing bow as we entered; that sure sign of the pauper spirit was happily wanting. Assuring them that we only desired to see how they were “getting on," and to hear what prospects they had of getting work, we were soon on comfortable terms with them. They were of a more respectable class than ordinary casuals, and upon our hinting this to the Superintendent, and whispering that they appeared very different from those who used to be found in old Field Lane, we were informed that most of those present could take respectable situations to-morrow, if they could only obtain them. They did not parade their own abilities, however, or their many disappointments in endeavouring to obtain work. You could see that a great deal of suffering had been experienced, and every now and then a tearing cough was heard, which told a tale to practised ears. “Hard lines" was clearly written on every face. Some had been without food all day, until they had received their evening meal of bread and coffee in the Refuge. Many had known better days, but sickness or failure, or the want of employment, had brought them to starvation. Some had tramped it to London from distant provinces, in the hope of finding some work to do, however humble, amid the innumerable openings which are believed to abound in the great city; but they had failed; door after door was found shut, and you could see that despair was slowly writing itself on their white and careworn faces. It has been computed that in one hundred inmates in Field Lane, twenty per cent. are labourers, forty per cent. mechanics, ten per cent. clerks and tradesmen, five per cent. soldiers and sailors, five per cent. schoolmasters and lawyers, five per cent. idlers, and fifteen per cent. nondescripts. We were thankful that the inmates took our calling in upon them in the light of a friendly visit, and we endeavoured to speak as hopefully to them of find. ing work as the present hard times would justify.
The Female Refuge at Field Lane, since it was opened in 1857, has been of great service, especially to young girls. Many girls, from fifteen to twenty years of age, it has snatched from ruin
and despair. The object, we are told, of the Committee in opening this Refuge, was to afford a clean, quiet sanctuary to which the innocent might fly when haunted by the coarse temptations of the streets of London. Its doors are also open to the fallen, desirous of flying from their shame, or to go back to the homes they have left, or to an humble independence, so long as it is virtuous. Country girls who have been lured to London by deliberate seduction, often seek admission, and not a night passes but the matron is compelled to turn away many penniless and wretched applicants, some of whom, it is to be feared, seek a suicide's grave, or in despair return to paths of vice, from which, it appears to them, there is no release. All cases are examined separately by the matron, and treated upon their own merits. Girls surrounded by temptations at home are brought in by missionaries and Bible women; hope and help are offered to all. A few clothes, a few lines of recommendation, a little stock, a small sum of money, temporary shelter after needlework has been obtained, a kind word of reconciliation between parties estranged, a little furniture to recommence a home, shelter till the slack season has turned—such has been the assistance given to nearly three thousand females in the course of a single year.
On the occasion of our visit, the Fernale Refuge was as usual full, and the inmates were just preparing for evening worship. The majority of them were young, and one could not but feel thankful that in their poor tattered clothing, they were not exposed to the wintry weather outside. Men and women united in worship, and quietly listened while Mr. Tawell, the Honorary Secretary, addressed them. Neither among the men nor women were there any professed tramps or street vagabonds. Those whom we saw listening to the Secretary as he simply talked to them of faith and hope, were really the homeless poor, to whom a bit of bread that night was a luxury, and shelter a still greater luxury. Some of them belonged to those decent poor who would sooner die than enter a workhouse, or be mixed up with the ribaldries of a casual ward.
The “case” books or ledgers of Refuges, especially those of Field Lane, would supply materials for more pathetic stories than sensational novelists have ever published. One night the matron at Field Lane opened the door to a young woman between twenty and thirty years of age, looking more like a corpse than a living being. When spoken to, her trembling white lips moved, but no words flamed in answer to the effort; nature, nearly exhausted, refused strength to her tongue. Her attire was a thin brown coburg dress, a threadbare shawl, and what had once been a bonnet, no longer retaining its form. These garments, such as they were, had not a single dry thread in them. The poor creature's appearance was so utterly woe-begone that even in that room of suffering her extreme destitution drew from the rest expressions of pity, and instinctively all drew back to make room for her at the fire. Almost vacantly she looked around. Some time elapsed before the kind attentions of the matron could unthaw the frozen surface of her wants sufficiently to induce a return of feeling. Providence, at the last gasp, seemed to have directed her steps there ; an hour later and she would probably have been found dead in the streets. For days she could hardly speak, and was allowed to remain where she was. Medical attendance being provided, at last in faint whispers her tale was elicited. She had been a poor needlewoman, and for years had worked respectably at her trade, earning just sufficient to maintain herself. She was, however, a strict Roman Catholic, and her creed had been the subject of much mockery in the work-room. At last being teased beyond endurance, she threw herself out of employment, determining to seek work elsewhere. She failed; her place was soon filled up, and she discovered that to find work was no easy task. A short time sufficed to empty her scanty purse, then down the hill she went, and fell into absolute want. She parted with her clothes, and without money, and without friends or shelter, she wandered about London, till, reduced to a living skeleton, she came tottering up to the door of the Refuge. This is only one out of the thousand cases of Refuge life cruelly pitiable to be found in the ledger of these charitable asylums.
Not far from Field Lane is another large Refuge. It is situate in Playhouse Yard, Whitecross Street, and can accommodate about six hundred inmates. It has been in existence more than forty years, and those who are fond of statistics may perhaps be interested in learning that during that period it has admitted more than 270,000 persons, granted 1,843,863 nights' lodgings, and distributed 4,405,715 rations of bread. The Refuge was established to afford nightly shelter, and sustenance to the destitute and houseless during inclement winter seasons. It seldom opens until Christmas, but if the state of the weather should render it desirable, if frost or snow should suddenly appear, its doors are opened before that time. This asylum is available at all hours of the night without the need on the part of the applicant of a ticket, or any other passport but a statement of helpless necessity. The applicants for admission are examined as to their names, usual occupations, last residence, the cause of their being in London, their settlement, and their statement is entered in a case-book. We have much pleasure in stating that this examination is most kindly conducted, and that the poor creatures who ask for warmth and shelter are also treated to the luxury of
the morning sunday moinmonday mo-a-pound of clergym wo address
kind words. The accommodation for sleeping consists of waterproof beds, and every inmate receives half-a-pound of bread on admission at night, and half-a-pound on leaving the Refuge in the morning. Those who enter on Saturday are permitted to go out on Sunday morning, and apply for re-admission at night, or may remain in until Monday morning. In the course of Sunday an additional ration of half-a-pound of breall, with three ounces of cheese, is given to each inmate. A clergyman of the Established Church, and no other minister, is permitted to address the inmates.
The South London Refuge owes its origin to the praiseworthy efforts of Mr. William Carter, familiarly, but not irreverently, called the "sweep-preacher” by the roughs of Lambeth. For some years now he has been pleading the cause of the destitute, the helpless, and the fallen of South London, with its halfmillion of inhabitants nearly all belonging to the poorer class. He has given “ tea-meetings" to tens of thousands of different sections of the working-classes in the Victoria Hall, to which building he also attracts, every Sunday, a large congregation of persons who fear not God nor regard man, and are never seen in church or chapel. Mr. Carter's plan is to invite about five hundred of the same class to tea, leaving the oratory customary on such occasions very much to themselves. One evening he will entertain a body of costermongers; fellows, he says, with voracious appetites, but capable of good behaviour when they are treated in the right way. On another evening there will be a muster of chimney-sweeps, or of policemen and their wives, or of postmen, cab-drivers, wood-choppers, potterymen, dustmen, and scavengers, gas-men, and lamplighters, fellowship-porters, militiamen,curriers, or outcasts. Sometimes he collects together rogues, thieves, and vagabonds, and has the hall literally besieged by applicants. On one occasion he had a gang of master thieves and smashers present, who had spent a considerable sum of money in defending one of their mates who had been caught and tried not only for uttering base coin, but also for a murderous assault upon a turnkey. By bribing witnesses and obtaining eminent counsel they got the man off with two years imprisonment. When he had served his term, it happened that he heard Mr. Carter preach in the Victoria Theatre, and from that time he abandoned his former practices, and sought to obtain an honest living. The gang to which he belonged declared he was a rogue, and had no right to be converted till he had paid what they had expended on him. The man came to the meeting on the occasion referred to, to address his former associates in crime, but they so set upon him that he had to fly, and dared not show his face again that night.