« VorigeDoorgaan »
kind may be put." The woman got no situation, but soon afterwards left the district under circumstances which led me to perceive that I had made a mistake. Some years afterwards, when I held a curacy in another parish, I met this woman one day in the Strand. Trusting, I suppose, to my having forgotten all about those circumstances, or perhaps thinking they had never come to my knowledge, she stopped me, and producing from her pocket my letter of recommendation, handed it to me with a request that I would rewrite it with the date of the current year. Her recollection of me had no doubt inspired her with no respect for my sagacity. "This letter," I said to her, "it was a mistake on my part ever to have written. It has evidently seen service. But its course has now come to an end." I put it in my pocket, and wishing her good morning, passed on. If my old friend, the abovementioned incumbent, should chance to read this paper, he will at this point quote a favourite maxim of his. "Yes," he will say, •'' litera scripta manet.'" There are none whom it more behoves than the clergy to bear that maxim in mind. It has happened, I suppose, to many a clergyman to put his signature to a petition, perhaps to draw up the petition himself, in which assistance is solicited for some more or less deserving case. Armed with this document the petitioner gQes the round of the parish, and collects enough, or more than enough, to meet the wants of the case. But in going his rounds he is perhaps struck with the idea that this is an excellent way of gaining a livelihood; and when the money collected on his first round is gone and spent, he sets his wits to work how to collect more in a similar fashion, and in one way or another adopts the profession of the mendicant. Nor does the mischief end here. Some of the clever people described in the earlier part of this paper get information that it is the practice of this or that clergyman to put his hand to documents of this kind. They forthwith manufacture a petition, and forge his signature. The police reports in the papers show that this has been done again and again. Of course it is impossible altogether to prevent its being done. But a clergyman may at least put his own parishioners on their guard, if he is able to tell them that he never puts his signature to anything of the kind. Such a course may entail upon him extra trouble in particular cases; which
trouble, if he must needs concern himself with them, he had better take.
Other ways in which a clergyman who is not careful may encourage and indeed produce mendicity in his parish might be mentioned. Let one suffice by way of illustration. A school treat is on hand; and school treats, as it is the fashion to conduct them, are expensive affairs. Amongst other devices for raising the necessary funds, several of the children are sometimes sent with collecting cards on a round of house-to-house visitation. Thus initiated into the art of begging, they occasionally learn to practise it on their own account. Painful instances of demoralization of children by this means have come under my observation. Moreover, as a police report a few months ago showed, the clever professionals are not slow to provide themselves with collecting-cards "for 'the school-treat." The treat itself, apart from objectionable modes of obtaining money for it, is often so managed as to be a demoralizing institution. Instead of being a reward for regularity of attendance, it is too often virtually a bribe to allure children away from other schools, and becomes, as the Bishop of Manchester has said, a shameless method of "touting for scholars." The position of teacher and scholar is in one respect reversed, the latter supposing that, by the desultory attendance which secures his admission perhaps to two or three treats at rival schools, he confers instead of receiving a favor. Meanwhile the clergyman has himself taken a turn at mendicity. Last summer I read in the Times an appeal from a clergyman, who said he "only wanted ^70" in order to take his school children for "a day in the country" to a place which he named. How much money he obtained by his appeal, or how many children he took with him, of course I do not know. But I do know that 230 national school children and 228 adults, mostly parents of the children, went from an East-end parish on an excursion in the same month to the same place, and paid their own expenses all but I8j. \od.!
Much might be said — indeed a whole treatise might be usefully written — on the subject of "urgent appeals" in the newspapers. There are those in East London who could tell of a rise of rents in particular parishes owing to an influx of population consequent upon the success of clerical appeals. Tradesmen, whose favoured names have appeared on the "tickets" issued in those parishes, could tell of a tide in their affairs which has led on to fortune. The same tide, taken at its turn, has led several of the great masters of the art of urgent appeal
— well, away from East London. But here and there, as the advertisement sheet of the Times testifies, we have still left amongst us worthy successors of those whom we have lost. One would think — at least many a West-ender, on reading such advertisements, must think
— that these clerical "solicitors " are in charge of exceptional parishes. But we East-end parsons know only too well that "an entirely poor parish" is the rule rather than the exception in these parts. Assistance, heaven knows, is needed sorely enough by all. What with church expenses, with "balances " here and there "due to the treasurer" in every department of his parochial work, with "contributions from local sources" — &£, too often, from his own pocket — "to meet the grant" from this or that society, there is many an East London vicar who might well cry, " Who will help?" But he would think it unfair to his brethren to parade his difficulties in the papers, as if his case were one which stood alone; and as to appeals on behalf of the poor, emanating from this or that particular parsonage, he knows full well how they tend to complicate the whole question of the relief of the poor, the true solution of which cannot be to send hundreds, or — as in some cases has happened — thousands of pounds into one parish, converting it into a hotbed of mendicity, whilst adjoining parishes similarly circumstanced in every respect, hive to be content with the grant from the Metropolitan Relief Association, eked out with what the clergy can obtain from their private friends. The very existence of such inequality suggests that the relief of the poor should be altogether separated from clerical administration.
But no doubt this is more easily said than done; for though the clergy, with some exceptions, are now more or less aware of the mischievous results which follow from their giving relief with their own hands, they are not, as a rule, yet aware that the results of their distributing it through their known agents are almost equally unfortunate. Those who are most aware of it are generally they who have least to distribute; and therefore their voices are uninfluential in advocating reform. Shrinking then from solitary attempts to carry out the requisite reform, they go on doling out their tickets, at a cost which, though it does not amount
in the year to what is given by the guardians to a few families, is often a neavy burden to themselves. Any position more humiliating to one who is able to see through the mischievous character of the system cannot well lie imagined. But what can he do? Throw it overboard altogether? He does not like to do so whilst surrounded by other clergymen who keep it up; * and if he were to urge upon them — for the purpose of alleviating such distress as does not come under the charge of the guardians — the desirableness of fusing several districts into one, handing them over for this purpose to a general committee selected from all religious denominations, he would probably be met by the rejoinder:—"It is very well for you to urge this, who have everything to gain by it, and little or nothing to lose." Meanwhile he is of opinion that it is not he only, but the whole church and people, who would gain by such an arrangement. But he does not see how it is to be brought about.
Nor is there any likelihood of its being brought about till a great emergency, perhaps an outbreak of cholera, or another such winter as that of 1867-8, again calls public attention to the subject. On such occasions certain important but previously unrecognized principles have a way of just showing themselves, giving the public, as it were, an opportunity of laying hold of them. If not laid hold of, these principles return to the obscurity from which they have emerged, and there await a more convenient season. Such an opportunity was, as I have said, suffered to pass by when the Mile End Committee of 1868 was disbanded. But, I am glad to say that we can point to at least one instance of a permanent organization resulting in East London from the labours of the laity upon a great and stirring occasion. During the cholera outbreak of 1866 there sprang up everywhere committees to alleviate the distress which it occasioned. But for the most part, when the crisis was over, the members of these committees did not seem to recognize that there remained anything further to be done than to hear and accept their secretary's report, and to pass a vote of thanks to their chairman; after which, as the reporters say, "the proceedings terminated." But on one of the committees
• Some clergymen, however, already refuse relief to alt but the sick; for an able advocacy of which system, see a pamphlet, published at 15, Buckingham Street, Strand, 011 "The Charitable Administration of an Last End District, by A. W. H. C"
there happened to be men who had not only caught sight of a few valuable principles, but who also were resolved to make an attempt to put them to permanent use. Accordingly they hive ever since continued to meet together, and have established a system of administering charitable funds, which, if not as complete and satisfactory as they could wish, is at least a step in the right direction. I am alluding to the Hackney Association for improving the condition of the Poor. The most noticeable feature of this association is that it is composed of resident inhabitants of Hackney, of all classes and creeds, and that, whilst inviting the cooperation of ministers of all denominations, its operations are not under their direction, and its almoners are its own agents. I am told that the zeal and industry of several of the lay members of this association is worthy of all praise. But I also understand that some clergymen of the neighbourhood keep aloof from them, and moreover that, with some exceptions, they do not receive the support which they desire from the nonconformist ministers. Why the latter should be apathetic in this matter I do not exactly see; because I should have thought they were less trammelled by burdensome traditions in this respect than the clergy. If they suppose that it is a secular business? which would interfere with their devoting themselves to the preparation needful for the discharge of spiritual duties, I can but refer them to the spiritual achievements of Stephen, the tableserver. I think that there must be some confusion in their minds as to what it is that really constitutes spirituality, and that they fail to perceive that spirituality does not consist in the thing done, but in the way in which it is done. After what I have said concerning the prominence of the lay element in the Hackney Association, it may seem odd that I should have to record that the prime mover of the plan from the first has been a clergyman.* This association is now a branch of the Charity Organization Society; but it was in active operation before that society came into existence.
Some of my readers will perhaps here exclaim: — "He is coming to the point at last; we had almost begun to think that the Charity Organization Society must be utterly unknown in East London." Well, to some extent, that is about
• The Rev. E. C. Hawkins, Held Master of St. John's Foundation School.
1 the truth; for though this society has its branches in the borough of Hackney, including Bethnal Green, it has hitherto had nothing but an Inquiry Office throughout the Tower Hamlets. To this office there come week after week several gentlemen from the West-end, who devote themselves with praiseworthy diligence to the work of examining cases of application for relief which have been referred hither from all parts of London — the cases being those of persons resident in the Tower Hamlets—careful reports of which, after due investigation, are forwarded to those who have asked for the inquiries to be made. But, as yet, the only persons connected with this office who live in East London are the secretary and the agent. Nor, except in peculiar cases, and then only as a loan, is relief ever given by this committee. Elsewhere, I understand, inquiry forms but a part of the business of the Society. To what extent the principles which 1 have advocated in this paper are acted upon, through the instrumentality of the Society, in other parts of London, I do not know. But in any case, even if it has not yet succeeded in inducing the West-end and suburban clergy to cast their charitable funds into a common treasury, to be administered upon a uniform system, it must be doing good service as a centre of information, of discussion of principles, and especially as a means of affording publicity to the various relief agencies which cross each other's paths in any given neighbourhood. I am far from, thinking that we East London clergy, always excepting our advertising brethren, stand in greater need than the clergy of the West of publicity in order to keep our relief proceedings within the bounds of innocence. The mere fact of our having so much less than they to give, and so n\any more poor among whom to distribute it, would itself settle that point. Still we do need — what we certainly have not got — some means of co-operation, for the purpose of arriving at common principles in the administration of charitable funds. Nor is it the clergy alone who are in this need. At present the various agencies, societies, chapels, as well as churches, act in complete isolation from each other. And no doubt they will continue to do so, until, as I have said, some great emergency again puts all their machinery out of gear; when out of the confusion let us hope that there may arise a new and better order.
From Macmillan'a Magazine. A SLIP IN THE FENS.
Mrs. Gaithorne had hardly slept, but was astir soon after daybreak. On her way downstairs she peeped into Elsie's room and found her fast asleep, looking so placid and happy that she did not disturb her.
Mrs. Gaithorne moved much more slowly than was usual with her, at the beginning of such a busy day as this promised to be. It seemed as if she was planning some scheme to set matters right. Presently, when she had fastened back all the shutters and set the kitchen-door open, she took her black bonnet down from the hook, tied the strings in a decided manner, as if she had made up her mind, and set out for the dairy. The air was cold and raw, and there was a heavy fog over the meadow. The fens are in a perpetual ague. Yesterday they were parched and feverish, now they shuddered with the cold. Many people waste their lives here, and know nothing different. If Mrs. Gaithorne had been conscious of a lighter air while she lived with the Lillingstones, she attributed it, in some vague wav, to wealth and its influence; so she did not know that she felt its heaviness, she only said to herself, "If I hadn't plenty to do I shouldn't like to hear that engine going all day long," and she quickened her pace, for the thought of "plenty to do " brought to her mind the plenty well done which always stirred her housewifely pride, and now coaxed her back into cheerfulness. But this cheerfulness was not thorough, and it did not spend itself pleasantly. Jim the farm-boy felt its energy, and so did the dairy people, thougn somewhat deservedly, for they showed a tendency to gossip, quite unusual at that early hour.
Elsie slept long after her usual time, but Mrs. Gaithorne was still in the dairy when she went down. As she lighted the fire and set the place in order, she went from time to time to the door and looked out at the morning. This had brightened into pleasantness. The dew had settled on the grass, and showed the tracks of the fowls as they grouped wistfully round the brick path waiting for Mrs. Gaithorne. Then Elsie reproached herself for loitering, and was going out to find her, when an unexpected cackling of the fowls announced her arrival. The loud remonstrative cackle that quickly succeeded this, however, noted the unusual conduct
on her part, for she carried their food straight past them and hurried on to the house as soon as she saw Elsie.
"Well, child, you're looking fresh enough now, though you were up so late last night, or this morning as I ought to say." She rested her sieve of corn for a minute on the table. "I ran in to tell you that it's well after all you decided on stopping here, for that was Joe Bailey's boy who you frightened, and it's like to be all over the parish soon that you were out there."
"Did he know me, then ?" Elsie asked quickly.
"I've heard no sound of you as yet, but there is no knowing how those things come out, and I wouldn't for anything that you'd be going away just now — that would set all their tongues a-going; but I think we can manage that they don't know nothing about it. As for Master Claude, I've got a trimming ready for him as soon as I can catch him alone."
The "trimming " heightened the colour on Elsie's cheek, but she said nothing.
"Joe's father was took worse in the evening, and it was in going to fetch physic for him that he took fright at you, the little fool. Now if jou'll clean out the dining-room," gathering up her sieve, "I'll take up the hot water myself. We must manage to keep you as much as possible out o' their way this morning ; " and Mrs. Gaithorne went back to the fowls that had huddled impatiently round the door.
She was still feeding them when Elsie ran back to her quickly.
"Here's a note I've found on the table; it's directed to Miss Grey."
"That's Mr. Claude's writing," said Mrs. Gaithorne, taking it from her hand. "Well! what can he be up to now? Well, I suppose I must take it to Miss Mildred, but why he can't speak to her when he's in the same house with her is more than I can make out. I hate those nonsensical whimsies. I'll call them in a few minutes, and take it then. Now be as quick as you can with your work, there's no time to waste."
An hour later the room was looking fresh and pleasant, with its French window open. Mr. Lillingstone was walking thoughtfully up and down under the verandah, waiting for the ladies. Mildred came in and looked round hurriedly.
"There you are, uncle. I wanted to find you, for I have a note from Claude. He went off to Cambridge before six o'clock."
Mr. Lillingstone looked up, then down again, without saying anything, but he listened attentively.
"He says he is so disappointed at not getting nets here that he has gone to get some in Cambridge; and he will bring a croquet set with him also, that the evening may not be so dull; but I think it is a pity, do you not? The day would have passed off better if he had stayed here to amuse them."
"Oh, oh !" said Mr. Lillingstone, still pacing up and down, and continuing his own musing. "The butterfly nets ! — is it ?" then stopping before his niece, he held out his hand for the note, and, fixing his glass on his nose, he glanced over it, but did not wait to read it.
"Mildred," he said, in a confidential tone, " you're a sensible girl; I can trust you. Let me have a word with you before the others come down," and the two walked out into the garden.
As soon as they were out of hearing from the house, Mr. Lillingstone began, "Did you hear a noise in the night?"
"Of screaming? yes; it woke me up. I did not like to disturb Mrs. Gaithorne to ask what it was:, but afterwards the maid ran upstairs and told me it was some boy; she did not wait, however, to give any further particulars."
Mr. Lillingstone nodded to himself. He had already made sure that it was Elsie by asking Mrs. Gaithorne. "Well! It was a boy who made the noise. He was startled by seeing two figures near these z'«-teresting ruins; and those figures," he added slowly, pointing every word with his eye-glass, "were that maid and our Claude." He stepped back a pace or two to see the effect this would have on Mildred. "Well, young lady, what have you to say to that r"
She met his inquiry with a quiet smile, but this amused look soon changed to one of sadness. "I am not so very much surprised."
"God bless my soul!" exclaimed her uncle, coming down at once from his superior position. "My good girl, what do you mean?"
"Very little; only I thought his manner rather odd yesterday, and I noticed that the girl behaved a little oddly too ; — but here are the party from the inn. If you wish this to be hushed up we ought not to be seen consulting together."
"You are right; but I shall want to speak to you after post is in. I shall have letters of importance ;" he looked at her intelligently.
"I shall be ready at any time," and she turned away quickly to receive Dobree and his companions; at the same time, Laura stepped out into the verandah, dressed as usual in frills and smiles.
Mrs. Gaithorne, who had followed close behind with the breakfast, overheard Mildred retailing the contents of the note; and as she left the room she thought Claude a worse coward even than she had suspected.
"I can tell you what that letter was about, Elsie," she said, as soon as she got back into the kitchen. "Mr. Claude's gone to Cambridge, and he won't be back till dinner-time. Like enough he didn't care to be all the morning with his father," she added, smiling satirically to herself.
This suggested "the trimming" to Elsie's mind, so she was rather glad that Claude was out of the way for the time.
When the post came in, Mr. Lillingstone called Mildred as he had promised. He told her what had passed in the night, and spoke out his anger very strongly against Claude, "not altogether on account of the affair with Elsie, but for his deceit in the matter. Such a mean, paltry lie; I have hardly slept all night for thinking of it; " and the old man stopped and turned away his face. "I've had my eye upon him for some time," he said, after a little while; "and now I begin to have my doubts of Claude. However, he's gone," he resumed, with more energy, "and we must try to keep him away. I think I have settled how to do it."
Then Mr. Lillingstone showed Mildred that the original plan for Claude to stop at the farm to read was now quite out of the question. Indeed, it would not be advisable for him to come back at all, so he intended to send Luard after him at once with instructions for him to remain where he was, as they would all follow him there in the course of the day. Then Claude was to go down with them into Scotland. He would not venture to object to this, under the circumstances ; and when once there it would be easy to find some quiet place where he could read till the vacation was over.
Mildred knew Claude too well to feel so confident of the ultimate success of this device; but she said nothing, as she did not wish to make her uncle uncomfortable to no purpose, and she could not suggest anything that would be more binding on Claude.
The version that was to be given to everybody around was easily arranged. Mr. Lillingstone had received a letter