to find what they sought. Now the in- principle. Whole families, whose abiliference that this was a “plant,” with a ties were of a kind more useful to the view to robbery and perhaps murder, is community than those of the above-mennot sustained by the facts of the case. tioned gentry, but for which there was It is more likely that the woman hoped little scope at the East End, have since that the clergyman might have no time been transplanted to the factory towns of to spare, and, seeing her to be poor, the north, to their own great comfort as might give her a shilling. As he disap well as to the amelioration of the general pointed her expectation, it only remained condition of the neighbourhood they have for her to take the earliest opportunity of quitted. Better service still might have releasing herself from his company. No: been done had any permanent organizadoubt the policeman did right to warn tions for considering the condition-ofthe clergyman of the character of the East London question resulted from the court, and the clergyman did right under operations of the committee of which I the circumstances to accept his escort ; have spoken. It may be as well to specbut that either the woman or any inhab- ify this committee. It was one composed itant of the court devised so atrocious a of a large number of the leading inhabitmethod of decoying a clergyman to de- ants, lay and clerical, church men and struction, I should be very unwilling to nonconformists, of the great parish of believe. Occasionally a gentleman of the Mile End Old Town, formed to adminispress gives us an account of a supper in ter the charitable funds supplied to that low life, at which he tells us it would parish through the Mansion House durhave been dangerous for him to be pres- ing the memorable winter of 1867-8. ent unaccompanied by the police. Of Its operations lasted for thirteen weeks. course it would. What right has he to That a portion of the funds, during the be there at all? It would be dangerous earlier weeks of that period, not only fell for me to insist, especially for the pur- into the hands of professional mendicants, pose of writing about it, upon “inter- but also went to foster what may be viewing” a dinner party of bishops at termed amateur mendicity, may be adLambeth Palace ; more dangerous, in mitted. This must needs be the case fact, with a policeman than without him, when you suddenly send through a disas he would probably be requested to trict a number of almoners, several of take me into custody. - But this is a whom have no special knowledge, and digression; from which let me return to some not even a general knowledge, of my visitor, whom I left, or rather who the circumstances of the poor, and who left me, at my doorstep. He was but one do not so much as know what sort of of a number of applicants who tried the i questions to put to an applicant for resame mancuvre; and, the committee be- lief, but have to depend for their guidance ing a large one, containing many mem- upon their own inefficient observation. bers inexperienced in such matters, the Yet it is certain that in any committee so chances were considerable that the ma-constituted there will be those who learn neuvre would not always be unsuccess- I wisdom from experience, and who, if the ful, especially as the more favourite time committee instead of being disbanded for executing it was late at night. Such, after a few weeks were made permanent, applicants were probably old profes- would eventually bring its operations into sional hands, perhaps from Westminster accord with sound principles. Such men or St. Giles, men and women who keep there were -- and not a few of them - in their eyes open to what is going on and this Mile End Committee; and I cannot let no chance escape. Indeed it is cer- but regard it as a misfortune that no pertain that some of them found it worth | manent organization grew out of their while to migrate altogether into our labours. Of course I do not mean that neighbourhood, and to take lodgings i they should have gone on distributing the there, in order to qualify themselves in same amount of relief. This they cerpoint of residence as recipients of what tainly would not have done, even if the we had to bestow. In so doing they | West-end had continued to supply them evinced a sagacious appreciation of the with the means. Bux it would have been value of the principle of the migration an incalculable benefit to the East-end if of labour. They quickly transferred they had continued to meet together, their abilities to the best market. and, with the experience they had gained,

Good service has since been done both had made some endeavour to establish a to East London and to the whole coun- wise system of administering such charittry by a judicious application of the same able funds as are ordinarily distributed throughout the parish, and also had taken must have produced no 'small amount of in hand such a matter as the migration hypocrisy. Such systems, however, proof labour.

Iduce something else besides hypocrisy One excellent feature in their work, indeed the reverse of it - equally detriwhilst it lasted, was that they released the mental to the religious influence of the ministers of religion from the responsi- clergy. They positively more or less debility which at ordinary times is supposed ter the independent poor from attendance peculiarly to belong to them in this mat- at divine service. As a matter of fact we ter. They were essentially a lay commit- know that the independent poor do not as tee, and, for convenience of administra- a rule attend the ministrations of the tion, divided the parish according to its church. No doubt, as partly accounting wards, and not according to its ecclesias- for this, other causes may be assigned; tical districts. Not that the clergy and but in any inquiry into the alleged indifdissenting ministers did not freely co-op- ference of the working classes to religion erate with them. But it was as laymen this one cause must not be overlooked. that they took their seats on committee. Working people, especially men, who do And it was well that they did. The cler- regularly attend church, have told me gy are not less competent than the laity that the imputations sometimes cast upon to administer relief with discretion. They them on this score are a hard trial to bear. ought to be, and often are, by reason of Of course it is easy to remind them that their experience, more competent. But they who will live godly shall suffer perthat their churches, chapels, mission-secution ; but the question is whether we houses, or parsonages, should in any have any right, because of its purifying sense be regarded as relieving-offices, is influence, to bear a hand in providing at best a great misfortune, and in some them with persecution. “I came to your cases a means of encouraging a very mis- church the other night,” said a poor wochievous kind of mendicity. I have man to the curate of a church with which known it to be a curate's duty to receive I was once connected. “I am very glad to applications for relief in a vestry after hear it," said the curate. “ Yes, but I'll morning prayers on Wednesdays and Fri- never go there again.” “How so?” days. Any one who should have chanced“ Why, I saw bred being given away to stray into the church on one of those after service; and I can't stand being mornings, on a cold winter's day, would suspected of that sort of thing.” The at first sight have felt highly gratified at bread was regularly given away after the seeing so many poor people attending di-Wednesday evening service, in accordvine service. And when after service he ance with the will of some “benefactor" saw the congregation, instead of leaving of the church ; and in order to be placed the church, form a queue at the vestry on the list of recipients it was necessary door, waiting each his or her turn for an to be a communicant. It is impossible to interview with the curate, he might have calculate the mischief that must have refelt still further gratification at their de- , sulted from such a practice. The atmossire for private advice and instruction. phere of such a Wednesday evening serBut if he had gained access to the vestry vice was not likely to be one in which the during these proceedings, and moreover independent poor could breathe freely. had heard the curate's private opinion on And, to revert to the levee in the vestry, the subject, he would have arrived at the mentioned above, it is almost needless to conclusion that no more effectual machin- say that the Wednesday and Friday conery for the rearing of “loafers ” could gregations were exclusively composed of have been devised. In another parish a persons who were about to take their friend of mine, upon whose veracity I stand in the queue. These may be excould fully rely, once overheard a conver-treme cases. But extreme cases try prinsation between two poor women respect- ciples. The principle in question is the ing the hardness of the times. “And distribution of relief by or through the how do you get along, this winter ?” said clergy, which, though it may often take a one. "Very poorly indeed," said the less obtrusive form than in these inother; "there'll soon be nothing for it stances, cannot but be both positively but to take to morning prayers.” It would and negatively injurious to the interests be unfair to call this woman a hypocrite, of religion. The clergy themselves have as it was evidently with shame and reluc- of late years come more or less to look at tance that she had recourse to the dis- the matter in this light. One hears them tasteful expedient. But it is certain that at clerical meetings saying, one after the system pursued in both these parishes another, that their work is not to serve

tables," that they desire to confine their influence. I do not forget that the attention to spiritual duties, and that they apostles appointed men specially “over feel that their rightful influence is much this business," whilst they themselves diminished by their having anything to do withdrew to “prayer and to the ministry directly with the relief of distress. Here of the word.” But neither do I forget and there one will say perhaps that he has that one of their table-servers contrived entirely deputed this work to his district to exercise the chief spiritual influence visitors. But that is no real escape from during his brief public career. If his the difficulty ; for the poor will still be- table-serving did not stand in the way of lieve him to be the responsible person, as his influence with the brethren, it was indeed he really is under this system, because it was well known that his apeven though he never with his own hands pointment and that of his colleagues gives away a single ticket. Other clergy- arose out of a protest against an alleged men complain that the laity do not come system of favouritism, which the poor, forward to help. But in what way do rightly or wrongly, are apt to impute to they wish the laity to help? If they ex- clerical administration of relief. pect the laity in any great number to act. The clergy, I repeat, are not less but as their agents in the distribution of re- sometimes more competent by reason of lief, they wiil certainly be disappointed; their experience than the generality of nor is the help of the laity in this way at laymen to pronounce an opinion not only all what is needed. As for the alleged on the merits or demerits of any particudisinclination of the laity to interest lar case with which they may happen to themselves in these matters, let us ask be acquainted, but also on the principles whether it really exists. The guardians by which a relief committee should be of the poor, it will be admitted, take a guided. No doubt, in their endeavours vist amount of trouble in the administra- to alleviate the temporal necessities of tion of relief; and are they not almost their parishioners, they have made misexclusively laymen? Who are the mem- takes, to which all are liable, but which bers of the various philanthropic societies in their case, on account of their position here in East London, which have such are of more serious consequence than vitality that, besides their regular com- similar mistakes on the part of the laity. mittee meetings and visits of inquiry, an Yet even mistakes, when recognized as annual public dinner and excursion down such, are a means of education in practithe river form prominent features of their cal wisdom. I have made a good many proceedings? I do not allege the din- | mistakes in my time in the matter I am ner and the excursion as necessary ele- now discussing, and, though perhaps I ments in these societies, but merely as I have not profited from them as much as indications of their vitality. Once more, I ought, nevertheless I have learned a who principally form the committees of few lessons. If I select one from the the various branches of the Charity Or- rest for special mention, it is because a ganization Society which are now so singular circumstance enabled me to see busily at work in different parts of Lon- the extent of my error, and also because don? Surely it is not the case that the the error itself is one into which an inexlaity do not care to concern themselvesperienced clergyman, or one who has not with the distribution of charitable funds. I learned anything from experience, is very But it is true that they are not, for the apt to fall. In the first year of my ministry most part, willing to concern themselves a woman, who lived in the parish in with this matter merely as agents of the which I was curate, asked me for a writclergy. And herein, if the clergy but ten testimony to her character, which she know their own interests, lies the true said would help her to get a situation for solution of the difficulty which they are which she intended to apply. Not knowbecoming more and more able and will- ing anything against her, and having in ing to recognize. Let them shift the re- the course of parochial visitation consponsibility entirely on to the shoulders ceived a favourable impression of her, I of the laity. But in order to do that ef- granted her request. “When you are fectually, it must not be the laity of this my age," said my incumbent, on my menor that church or chapel ; nor must the tioning to him what I had done, “ you districts to be dealt with be marked off will not be so ready to put your hand to according to ecclesiastical subdivisions, such a document. Better take any amount Then, indeed, I believe, the clergy may' of trouble about a case than commit youreven take their share in “serving tables' self in that way. You can never know without any detriment to their spiritual to what use a general statement of this

kind may be put.” The woman got no trouble, if he must needs concern himself situation, but soon afterwards left the with them, he had better take. district under circumstances which led Other ways in which a clergyman who me to perceive that I had made a mis- is not careful may encourage and indeed take. Some years afterwards, when I produce mendicity in his parish might be held a curacy in another parish, I met mentioned. Let one suffice by way of this woman one day in the Strand. illustration. A school treat is on hand; Trusting, I suppose, to my having forgot- and school treats, as it is the fashion to ten all about those circumstances, or conduct them, are expensive affairs. perhaps thinking they had never come to Amongst other devices for raising the my knowledge, she stopped me, and pro- necessary funds, several of the children ducing from her pocket my letter of re- are sometimes sent with collecting cards commendation, handed it to me with a on a round of house-to-house visitation. request that I would rewrite it with the Thus initiated into the art of begging, date of the current year. Her recollec- they occasionally learn to practise it on tion of me had no doubt inspired her their own account. Painful instances of with no respect for my sagacity. “This demoralization of children by this means letter," I said to her, “it was a mistake have come under my observation. Moreon my part ever to have written. It has over, as a police report a few months ago evidently seen service. But its course showed, the clever professionals are not has now come to an end." I put it in my slow to provide themselves with collectpocket, and wishing her good morning, ing-cards “for the school-treat." The passed on. If my old friend, the above-treat itself, apart from objectionable mentioned incumbent, should chance to modes of obtaining money for it, is often read this paper, he will at this point so managed as to be a demoralizing inquote a favourite maxim of his. “ Yes,” stitution. Instead of being a reward for he will say, “"litera scripta manet.'” regularity of attendance, it is too often There are none whom it more behoves virtually a bribe to allure children away than the clergy to bear that maxim in from other schools, and becomes, as the mind. It has happened, I suppose, to Bishop of Manchester has said, a shamemany a clergyman to put his signature to less method of “touting for scholars." a petition, perhaps to draw up the pe- | The position of teacher and scholar is in tition himself, in which assistance is so- one respect reversed, the latter supposing licited for some more or less deserving that, by the desultory attendance which case. Armed with this document the secures his admission perhaps to two or petitioner goes the round of the parish, three treats at rival schools, he confers and collects enough, or more than enough, instead of receiving a favor. Meanwhile to meet the wants of the case. But in the clergyman has himself taken a turn going his rounds he is perhaps struck at mendicity. Last summer I read in the with the idea that this is an excellent way Times an appeal from a clergyman, who of gaining a livelihood ; and when the said he only wanted £70" in order to money collected on his first round is gone take his school children for “a day in the and spent, he sets his wits to work how country" to a place which he named. to collect more in a similar fashion, and How much money he obtained by his in one way or another adopts the profes- appeal, or how many children he took sion of the mendicant. Nor does the with him, of course I do not know. But mischief end here. Some of the clever I do know that 230 national school chil. people described in the earlier part of dren and 228 adults, mostly parents of this paper get information that it is the the children, went from an East-end parpractice of this or that clergyman to put ish on an excursion in the same month to his hand to documents of this kind. the same place, and paid their own exThey forthwith manufacture a petition, penses all but 18s. Iod.! and forge his signature. The police re- Much might be said - indeed a whole ports in the papers show that this has treatise might be usefully written - on been done again and again. Of course it the subject of “urgent appeals” in the is impossible altogether to prevent its be- newspapers. There are those in East ing done. But a clergyman may at least London who could tell of a rise of rents put his own parishioners on their guard, in particular parishes owing to an influx if he is able to tell them that he never of population consequent upon the sucputs his signature to anything of the cess of clerical appeals. Tradesmen, kind. Such a course may entail upon him whose favoured names have appeared on extra trouble in particular cases; which the “ tickets ” issued in those parishes,

could tell of a tide in their affairs which in the year to what is given by the guardhas led on to fortune. The same tide, ians to a few families, is often a heavy taken at its turn, has led several of the burden to themselves. Any position more great masters of the art of urgent appeal humiliating to one who is able to see

well, away from East London. But through the mischievous character of the here and there, as the advertisement system cannot well be imagined. But sheet of the Times testifies, we have still what can he do? Throw it overboard left amongst us worthy successors of altogether? He does not like to do so those whom we have lost. One would whilst surrounded by other clergymen think - at least many a West-ender, on who keep it up; * and if he were to urge reading such advertisements, must think upon them — for the purpose of alleviat- that these clerical “solicitors" are in ing such distress as does not come under charge of exceptional parishes. But we the charge of the guardians – the desiraEast-end parsons know only too well that bleness of fusing several districts into “an entirely poor parish " is the rule one, handing them over for this purpose rather than the exception in these parts. to a general committee selected from all Assistance, heaven knows, is needed religious denominations, he would probsorely enough by all. What with church ably be met by the rejoinder: -“It is expenses, with "balances ” here and there very well for you to urge this, who have “due to the treasurer" in every depart- everything to gain by it, and little or ment of his parochial work, with “contri- nothing to lose.” Meanwhile he is of butions from local sources " - i.e., too opinion that it is not he only, but the often, from his own pocket — " to meet whole church and people, who would gain the grant" from this or that society, there by such an arrangement. But he does is many an East London vicar who might not see how it is to be brought about. well cry, “Who will help ?” But he would Nor is there any likelihood of its being think it unfair to his brethren to parade brought about till a great emergency, his difficulties in the papers, as if his case perhaps an outbreak of cholera, or anwere one which stood alone; and as to other such winter as that of 1867-8, again appeals on behalf of the poor, emanating calls public attention to the subject. On from this or that particular parsonage, he such occasions certain important but knows full well how they tend to compli- previously unrecognized principles have cate the whole question of the relief of a way of just showing themselves, giving the poor, the true solution of which can- the public, as it were, an opportunity of not be to send hundreds, or -as in some laying hold of them. If not laid hold of, cases has happened-thousands of pounds these principles return to the obscurity into one parish, converting it into a hot-from which they have emerged, and there bed of mendicity, whilst adjoining parishes await a more convenient season. Such similarly circumstanced in every respect, an opportunity was, as I have said, have to be content with the grant from suffered to pass by when the Mile End the Metropolitan Relief Association, eked Committee of 1868 was disbanded. But, out with what the clergy can obtain from I am glad to say that we can point to at their private friends. The very existence | least one instance of a permanent organiof such inequality suggests that the reliefzation resulting in East London from the of the poor should be altogether separated labours of the laity upon a great and stirfrom clerical administration.

ring occasion. During the cholera outBut no doubt this is more easily said break of 1866 there sprang up everywhere than done; for though the clergy, with committees to alleviate the distress which some exceptions, are now inore or less it occasioned. But for the most part, aware of the mischievous results which when the crisis was over, the members of follow from their giving relief with their these committees did not seem to recogown hands, they are not, as a rule, yet nize that there remained anything further aware that the results of their distributing to be done than to hear and accept their it through their known agents are almost secretary's report, and to pass a vote of equally unfortunate. Those who are most thanks to their chairman ; after which, as aware of it are generally they who have the reporters say, “the proceedings terleast to distribute ; and therefore their minated.” But on one of the committees voices are uninfluential in advocating reform. Shrinking then from solitary at- + Some clergymen, however, already refuse relief to

all but the sick; for an able advocacy of which system, see a pamphlet, published at 15, Buckingham Street,

Strand, on * The Charitable Administration of an East cost which, though it does not amount | End District, by A. W. H. C.”

« VorigeDoorgaan »