Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

fered. There is no class injustice in this. I enough of themselves; but there are a It is true that a young man is not at certain number of unfilled places and present expected to be guided in the unplaced persons left over to disturb our choice of a profession by considerations faith in universal adaptation. of general utility; it is enough if he sees Fortunately many of these unfilled a prospect of doing the work he under-places are of quite average attractiveness, takes with average ability, and such suc- and there is no apparent reason why the cess as may enable him to meet the class of unplaced or unattached persons claims of private or family relationship. should not be encouraged in the custom But the very root and origin of the com- of choosing a place for themselves out of plaints made, say, by this young man's the list of vacancies; il y en a pour tous sisters, is just that they are free from any les goûts, and providing the choice is material claims, in the direct or indirect equally free and pleasant, there is no discharge of which their whole time great hardship in having to choose upon might be engaged. Some merely desire grounds one degree more abstract than the distraction of sustained employment; those which regulate the thoughtless deothers have a moral aversion from a use- cisions of the contented majority. Men less life, and both are willing to compound and women of the world are satisfied with society for leave to do something by when the ordinary relations of life enable consenting to do only such things as them to render and receive, in about society is prepared to sanction. We are equal proportions, those social services getting disabused of the notion that all which build up the fabric of civilized life. women who do not marry are (or ought The few whom accident has left without to be) born sisters of mercy, and, if they particular, so to speak, localized attachwant to do anything, will want to do ment, to a single set of duties or any one nothing but good, in some form or other, definite function, will also be satisfied if to their fellow-creatures. But the “ data these steps are lighted, by the lantern of of ethics," as they present themselves to a general rule, to fresh regions where the us nowadays, no longer seem to warrant indulgence of their best natural inclinaa sharp line of demarcation between tions will be transformed into the offer of religious good works and indifferent sec- an acceptable service. ular action. We are prepared to recog- Leaving out of account those women nize as good, i.e. as ministering to the who have definite original ambitions of fulness of normal vitality and growth, their own, and those who are fully satisevery manifestation of personal energy, fied with such forms of feminine benevoevery gratification of personal desires lence as have been generally sanctioned which is proved by the spontaneous since the Evangelical revival which succourse of things to be compatible with ceeded Methodism (district visiting and the development of similar animation in similar “work amongst the poor"), we other parts of the social body. A woman should find that there is still a real, a felt, who marries from inclination into a rank and an unsatisfied demand for social minof life suited to her tastes, is obliged, like istrations of a secular kind, such as our a professional man, to do many things unoccupied young ladies, and perhaps nowhich are not in themselves pleasurable; body else, could adequately meet. Mr. but they are among the natural and nec- Ruskin has written very prettily about the essary conditions of an acceptable whole, place and use of girls in their own homes; and therefore they are done without any but among townsfolk who live in an atsense of sacrifice or constraint. Our ob- mosphere of daily papers, whose domestic ject should be, if possible, to create con- instincts are smothered by the necessity ditions of equally pleasurable necessity of being “at home” to their equals by the for the life and action of the unattached hundred, it is often true that the dernand residuum. Society must arrange itself, for the homely domestic graces of “Fors upon the whole, pretty much to the satis- Clavigera" may be most felt a few hundred · faction of the majority of its members, doors off. Third-rate accomplishments or the majority would insist on a re- are at a discount in the society which can arrangement; but it is rank optimism afford to amuse itself by the help of the to contend that no improvement on the first professionals, but accomplishments spontaneous combination of independent that are third-rate in the West End may interests can be suggested by self-con- without undue arrogance hope to embelscious reflection. The majority of men lish the lives of those who have learned and women shake into place readily to associate the idea of amusement with

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

vulgar debaucheryand excess. More I want oiling here and there, that the ecothan one society has been formed for nomical mechanism of supply and demand providing cheap concerts for the people, needs a helping hand from time to time to and many girls who “don't see the use supply the gaps of incomplete evolution of keeping up their music for home con- and imperfect adaptation. The opportusumption

when better can be had –nities here are much the same for men and would feel it a pleasant duty to cultivate women, only there are rather more women their voices to the utmost if chorus sing- in proportion who may find a purpose for ers are wanted for an oratorio in White- their life in seizing them. Philanthropists chapel. In like manner the missing have tried to go into trade, and have impetus to study in the sister arts may purged themselves of the suspicion of be supplied by the vision of endless blank economical heresies by collecting rents walls and panels, where amateur decorat- and paying dividends on the capital inors may work their will to the delight of vested in coffee-taverns. Those who like schoolchildren ; * and in all this it must to deal with generalities may further the be remembered that the privilege of ad- work of such companies; those who predressing a larger, if less critical public fer dealing with John and Mary in the than that of the artist's home, has to be flesh may follow in the wake of Miss earned, and is pretty sure to be willingly Octavia Hill,* and restore the lost per

aid for, by better work than would be sonal relationship between landlord and done without some external stimulus. tenant in our towns. Those, again, who We are coming back to the old Greek wish to know John and Mary first, as a faith in music and gymnastic as the preliminary step to being able to help groundwork of civilized education, and them to realize their own wishes if they any number of young ladies with a natu- happen to have some ready, must seek an ral enthusiasm for the ordinary drawing- introduction from some guide with local room accomplishments of singing and knowledge, and dropping idle airs of patdancing, might be profitably employed as ronage gradually discover where a new missionaries for the spread of such ac- club would have a chance of success; complishments amongst the children and whether the members of the existing club operatives of large towns. Waltzing goes are friendly enough to work together on under difficulties round a hurdy-gurdy about a co-operative store ; whether the outside a corner public-house; but it existing store can spare funds to invest in would be pretty to see a young lady fid- buildings for its members; and so on dling -say on the roof-playground of the from each exhausting problem to its big school of some poor neighborhood – neighbors. To many it comes as a disto a hundred or so of the most exemplary covery that the majority of the workingscholars. The

serious-minded classes do not think of themselves at all members of such a mission might insti- in a guise answering to the “charitable tute inquiries as to the proportion of men lady's" conception of the “poor.” Butit had up for beating their wives who had is difficult to meddle with any schemes of ever learned to dance, and so close is the improvement without coming across cases connection between moral and physical of more or less crying need for directly discipline and self-restraint that we should charitable assistance, and many, thereexpect the statistical argument to be fore, will be glad to co-operate with the strongly on the side of such gymnastic. society for organizing such relief, which is

But many of our young friends have a much in need of intelligent volunteer assoul above accomplishments; they them-sistance to carry out its admirable princiselves don't care for pictures, have no ear ples, now perhaps somewhat outweighted for music, and “hate dancing,” and thus by the proportion of formal machinery might rebel with some reason against a and routine to the actual range of work theory of “woman's mission” which did attempted. It is possible, again, that for not go beyond the spread of graceful ac- some even the Charity. Organization Socessories, their sympathies are more with ciety may not go sufficiently near to the the stern realities of life, and it annoys root of the matter, and the relations of them to be reminded of their sex at every capital and labor with all the varied turn. Well, men and women have had to phases of modern industry may attract agree that the wheels of the social order explorers. Here, also, the last few years

more

[ocr errors]

• Members of the Kyrle Society have supplied charm- # Homes of the London Poor. By Octavia Hill. ing decorations to some infant schools in the East End Macmillan & Co.

7 E.g. the writer of “Work about the Seven Dials.'

of London.

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

have witnessed changes. Miss Marti- many that the one is enabled, as from a neau's “ Tracts on Political Economy” vantage-ground, only in part of his own were widely popular among middle-class creation, to survey the battlefield of huLiberals, but they were little fitted to man effort, and bear down with overcapture the attention of the operatives, whelming reinforcements to the rescue of and until quite lately many distinguished a threatened outpost, or the support of an leaders of the working-classes would have advancing column. The general must been inclined to echo Mr. Crawley's have soldiers, but the heaven-born gen“Woman, mind your distaff," if stray eral most often makes his appearance in feminine sympathy had ventured to ob- an orderly camp, and the better the distrude upon the serious business of a trade cipline aniong the rank and file, the more dispute. But there can be no indiscre- chance we have of such illustrations of tion in women concerning themselves the poetry of spiritual combat as Sister about the industrial employment of wom- Dora's life would still have given, though en, and as the conditions of industry are it had been shaped a thought more hapsubstantially the same for both sexes, pily.

EDITH SIMCOX. understanding and sympathy will not be expected to narrow themselves unnaturally. It would be impossible, as well as tire

From The Nineteenth Century. some, to attempt in a few pages to give an exhaustive list of all the harmless ways

THE PINCH OF POVERTY. in which the unoccupied classes may In these days of reduction of rents, or

earn their salt” in a busy world. It is of total abstinence from rent-paying, it is, enough if the general principle can be I am told, the correct thing to be a little accepted, that as the salt and savor of life pressed for money.' It is a sign of conlies in the motived continuity of effort, all nection with the landed interest (like the those who are not forced into effort by banker's ejaculation in “Middlemarcb ") the unsought urgency of love or hunger and suggests family acres, and entails, must have a tasteless existence, unless and a position in the county. (In which they are enabled to bring themselves with case I know a good many people who are in the ranges of some sufficient attraction landlords on a very extensive scale, and or instigation. All that the modest ma- have made allowances for their tenants jority of mankind require to content them the generosity of which may be described is something to do, that they can do suffi- as Quixotic.)" But as a general rule, and ciently well to feel moderately well pleased in times less exceptionally hard, though with themselves for doing it; and instead Shakespeare tells us “how apt the poor of discouraging the craving after such are to be proud,” they are not proud of wholesome functional activity, society being poor. should even be at some pains to foster its Poverty," says the greatest of En development, with a special view to the glish divines, “is indeed despised and improved nutrition, if we may keep up the makes men contemptible; it exposes a physiological figure, of those parts of the man to the influences of evil persons, and organism which are not yet fully adapted leaves a man defenceless; it is always to the surrounding conditions. After all suspected; its stories are accounted lies, there is not very much either to fear or to and all its counsels follies; it puts a man hope from the development of feminine from all employment; it makes a man's energies in the immediate future, and per- discourses tedious and his society troublehaps the most certain and considerable some. This is the worst of it.” Even so gain from a larger toleration of feminine poverty seems pretty bad, but, begging aspirations will be the security that future Dr. Jeremy Taylor's pardon, what be has heroines will have less to cool and sad- stated is by no means "the worst of it." den their generous ardor than Miss Car- To be in want of food at any time, and of penter or Sister Dora.

firing in winter-time, is ever so much Coming back to the point from which worse than the inconveniences he enuwe started, the only possible conclusion merates; and to see those we love – del. seems to be, that — for men as well as icate women and children perhaps – in women — the complete and unimpaired want of them, is worse still. The fact is, realization of any widely admirable ideal the excellent bishop probably never knew implies the complicity of society. It is what it was to go without his meals, but only by the favor and countenance of the took them “reg'lar" (as Mrs. Gamp took

[ocr errors]

her Brighton ale) as bishops generally do. I thinking and low living by restricting Moreover, since his day, luxury has so their pocket-money to two shillings a day, universally increased, and the value of out of which it was understood they were intelligence has become so well recog- to find their own meals. I don't know nized (by the publishers) that even philos- whether the spirit in their case was willophers, who profess to despise such ing, but the flesh was decidedly weak, for things, have plenty to eat, and good of its one of them, on this very moderate allowkind too. Hence it happens that, from all ance, used to contrive to always have a we hear to the contrary from the greatest pint of dry champagne with his luncheon. thinkers, the deprivation of food is a The fact is, that of the iron grip of poversmall thing: indeed, as compared with ty, people in general, by no means exceptthe great spiritual struggles of noble ing those who have written about it, have minds, and the doubts that beset them as had very little experience; whereas of to the supreme government of the uni- the pinch of it a good many people know verse, it seems hardly worth mentioning, something. It is the object of this paper

. In old times, when folks were not so — and the question should be an interest“cultured,” starvation was thought more ing one, considering how much it is talked of. It is quite curious, indeed, to con- about— to inquire briefly where it lies. trast the high-flying morality of the pres- It is quite extraordinary how very vari. ent day (when no one is permitted, either ous are the opinions entertained on this by Evolutionist or Ritualist, however dire point, and, before sifting them, one must may be his necessity, so much as to jar be careful in the first place to eliminate his conscience) with the shocking laxity from our inquiry the cases of that conof the holy Scriptures.

6 Men do not dé- siderable class of persons who pinch spise a thief if he steal to satisfy his soul themselves. For, however severely they when he is hungry,” says Solomon, after do it, they may stop when they like and which stretch of charity, strange to say, the pain is cured. There is all the differhe goes on to speak of marital infidelity in ence in the world between pulling one's terms that, considering the number of own tooth out, and even the best and wives he had himself, strike one as se- kindest of dentists doing it for one. How

gingerly one goes to work, and how often It is certain, indeed, that the sacred it strikes one that the tooth is a good writers were apt to make great allowances tooth, that it has been a fast friend to us for people with empty stomachs, and for ever so many years and never “fallen though I am well aware that the present out” before, and that after all it had betprofane ones think this very reprehensi- ter stop where it is! ble, I venture to agree with the sacred To the truly benevolent mind, indeed, writers. The sharpest tooth of poverty nothing is more satisfactory than to hear is felt, after all, in the bite of hunger. A of a miser denying himself the necessavery amusing and graphic writer once ries of life a little too far and ridding us described his experience of a whole night of his presence altogether. Our confipassed in the streets; the exhaustion, the dence in the average virtue of humanity pain, the intolerable weariness of it, were assures us that his place will be supplied set forth in a very striking manner; the by a better man. The details of his penusketch was called “The Key of the rious habits, the comfortless room, the Street,” and was thought by many, as scanty bedding, the cheese-rinds on his Browning puts it, to be “the true Dick. table, and the fat banking-book under his ens.” But what are even the pangs of thin bolster, only inspire disgust; if he sleeplessness and fatigue compared with were pinched to death he did it himself, those of want? Of course there have and so much the better for the world in been fanatics who have fasted many days; general and his heir in particular. but they have been supported by the Again, the people who have a thousand prospect of spiritual reward. I confess I a year, and who try to persuade the world reserve my pity for those who have no that they have two thousand, suffer a such golden dreams, and who fast per- good deal of inconvenience, but it can't force. It is exceedingly difficult for mere be called the pinch of poverty. They worldlings such as most of us are may put limits to their washing - bills, not to eat, if it is possible, when we are which persons of cleanlier habits would hungry. I have known a great social consider unpleasantly narrow; they may philosopher who flattered himself that he eat cold mutton in private for five days á was giving his sons an experience of high / week in order to eat turtle and venison in

vere.

a

a

a

public (and with the air of eating them the country, where his feelings must every day) on the sixth ; and they may have been very similar to those of Chrisimmure themselves in their back rooms topher Sly. In particular he drew in London throughout the autumn in charming picture of the magnificent atorder to persuade folks that they are still tendant who in the morning would put at Trouville, where for ten days they did out his clothes for him, which had not really reside and in splendor; but all been made by Mr. Poole, nor very recently their stint and self-incarceration, so far by anybody. The contempt which he from awakening pity, only fill us with well understood his Grace's gentleman contempt. I am afraid that even the must have felt for him afforded him genucomplaining tones of our City friend who ine enjoyment. But with young ladies, in tells us that in consequence of “the pres- a similar position, matters are very different unsettled state of the markets" he has ent; they have rarely a sense of humor, been obliged to make “great retrench- and certainly none strong enough to counments which it seems on inquiry con- teract the force of a personal humiliation, sist in putting down one of his carriages I have known some very charming ones, and keeping three horses instead of six compelled to dress on a very small allow

— fail to draw the sympathizing tear. ance, who, in certain mansions where Indeed, to a poor man this pretence of they have been occasionally guests, have suffering on the part of the rich is per- been afraid to put their boots outside haps even more offensive than their their door, because they were not of the boasts of their prosperity.

newest, and have trembled when the On the other hand, when the rich be- officious lady's maid has meddled with come really poor their case is hard indeed; their scanty wardrobe. A philosopher though, strange to say, we hear little of it may think nothing of this, but, considerIt is like drowning; there is a feeble cry, ing the tender skin of the sufferer, it a little ineffectual assistance from the by- may be fairly called a pinch. standers, and then they go under. It is In the investigation of this interesting not a question of pinch with them; they subject, I have had a good deal of conhave fallen into the gaping mouth of ruin, versation with young ladies, who have and it has devoured them. If we ever given me the fullest information, and in a see them again, it is in the second gen- manner so charming; that, if it were eration as waiters (upon providence), or common in witnesses generally, it would governesses, and we say, “Why, dear me, make blue-books the most delightful de. that was Bullion's son (or daughter), scription of reading. wasn't it?" using the past tense as if

"I consider it to be a pinch,” says one, they were dead. “I remember him when when I am obliged to put on black mithe lived in Eaton Square.” This class tens on occasions when I know other girls of cases rarely comes under the head of will have long white kid gloves." I must “genteel poverty.” They were at the confess I have a prejudice myself against top, and hey presto! by some malignant mittens; they are, so to speak, “gritty stroke of fate, they are at the bottom; to touch; so that the pinch, if it be one, and there they stick.

experienced by the wearer, is shared by I don't believe in bachelors ever expe- her ungloved friends. The same thing riencing the pinch of poverty; I have may be said of that drawing-room fire, heard them complaining of it at the club, which is lit so late in the season for ecowhile ordering Medina oysters instead of nomical reasons, and so late in the day natives, but after all, what does it signify at all times; the pinch is felt as much by even if they were reduced to cockles? the visitors as by the members of the They have no appearances to keep up, household. These things, however, are and if they cannot earn enough to sup- mere nips, and may be placed in the same port themselves they must be poor crea- category with the hardships complained tures indeed.

of by my friend Quiverfull's second boy. It is the large families of moderate in. “I don't mind having papa's clothes cut come, who are delicate and have delicate up for me,” he says, “but what I do think tastes, that feel the twinge: and especially hard is getting Bob's clothes [Bob being the poor girls.. I remember a man, with his elder brother] which have been papa's little care for his personal appearance, of first; however, I am in great hopes that I small means but with a very rich sense of am outgrowing Bob.” humor, describing to me his experiences A much more severe example of the when staying at a certain ducal house in pinch of poverty than these is to be found

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »