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Title: The Man with the Book; or, The Bible Among the People

Author: John Matthias Weylland

Release date: December 17, 2011 [eBook #38330]
Most recently updated: January 8, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow, Lindy Walsh, Julia Neufeld and
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at




"The excitement was great when Lord Shaftesbury announced that the 'Man with the Book,' who wrote 'Crape on the Whip' would first address them."—See Page 259. "The excitement was great when Lord Shaftesbury announced that the 'Man with the Book,' who wrote 'Crape on the Whip' would first address them."—See Page 259.

The Man with the Book;






"Oh, blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confest!
Oh, happy hearts and happy homes,
To whom this King in triumph comes."



Edinburgh & Glasgow: J. MENZIES & CO.

Butler & Tanner,
The Selwood Printing Works,
Frome, and London.


His Beloved Wife





The Author.



TO all who desire to obtain an accurate knowledge of the inner life of London, and probably of all our large towns, and would ascertain, by studying the results of experience, the best mode of grappling with its evils, the following pages will be deeply interesting. They give the history and fruits of many years' labour among the most filthy, destitute, and degraded classes of the whole Metropolis. Yet these classes are by no means the most hopeless. A grand aggressive movement of Christianity against those strongholds of vice, disease, and misery, would end in a larger victory than in one of equal vigour against the obstinacy and self-satisfaction of the great body of the skilled artisans.

The publication of such papers is very important in these days, when inquiry and discussion are busy to discover the true secret of what is required at the present crisis for dealing with the vast masses of the people. So far as I can see, they have as yet reached no other conclusion (whether it be avowed or not)[viii] than that all existing arrangements and organizations, singly and collectively, are inadequate to the task. The Established Church, by itself, is feeble; the Non-conformists still more so. The two, working together in harmony, might attain some happy issues; but, even on the supposition of their cordial union, a new machinery must be devised, as an adjunct to all our actual systems of operation.

It is vain to conceive that bricks and mortar, and the multiplication of churches and chapels, would accomplish the purpose. The sudden exhibition of many places of worship would rather avert than attract the people, who, through our long neglect of them, are full of prejudices and superstitions about such matters. The money laid out on these edifices would be better expended on an increase and maintenance of living agents of every sort and degree, as manifold, as various, and as special, as the wonderful congeries of human beings to whom their efforts would be addressed.

All the several agencies now at work have their merits, and the conductors of them can recite many instances of real success. But there is a lower depth into which we have to descend, and descend, not by fits and starts, but regularly and systematically. It is the steady continuity of the effort, and not its occasional vigour, that will make the profound and lasting impression. And this continuity cannot be kept up by the committees and directors alone. It must draw[ix] the main force of its life from the zeal, the fervour, the hearty feeling, and class-experience of the workers themselves. They must be numerous and active, and not a few of them be drawn from the very ranks they are enlisted to assail. The first movements must be made on individuals, or at most on twos and threes. Every filthy court must be invaded, the dark and terrible retreats be disturbed and enlightened. Such labours may be—nay, will be—oppressive and revolting, but perseverance will drive away discouragement. Doubtless it is a fierce trial to stand day by day, and hour by hour, face to face and hand to hand with the inhabitants of these pestilential and gloomy recesses; but patience for a while, and they may be brought from the private conversation to the cottage lecture, from the lecture to the mission-room, from the mission-room to the church or chapel, from unqualified misery to comparative joy. The condition of their dwellings is an awful impediment; but even this, in many instances, may be partially overcome. The cause is great; and the blessing of God has ever rested on the prayers and labours of those who have sought to comfort and instruct the most suffering and degraded of the children of men.

That such men are to be found, and that their efforts enjoy no small success, is proved by the narratives of this book. These excellent men have established the principle, they have produced the results. It only[x] remains that many should arise to imitate their good example, and extend, far and wide, the operation of this wise and solid benevolence. And why should they not arise, and in sufficient numbers?

It is a remarkable fact—but fact it is—that, by the special mercy and Providence of God, a due supply of agents, able and effective for such a career as this, can ever be found by those who diligently seek them. Men and women of true hearts, of earnest piety, and of adequate powers, spring in abundance out of the less affluent classes of society, and are trained for the highest and noblest purposes. In what other way can we account for the array of some 450 men of the London City Mission, men with special zeal and special fitness to go among the masses? How else for the peaceful army of Bible-women and Bible-nurses? That such large numbers should answer to the call, and that so few, after trial, should be found unworthy of their vocation, is a positive marvel, and proves that the slow diffusion of what is good and restorative is due, not to the lack of qualified agents, but to the parsimony of those on whom God has bestowed the means of putting His gifts into life and motion.

It is so—for these people, who thus devote themselves to the cause of our Lord, must be fed and clothed with the rest of mankind. "They that preach the gospel, must live of the gospel;" and the rich of the earth should be told that if the first and highest[xi] motive be wanting in their hearts, the second one may be deserving of their serious consideration. These agencies tend to the tranquillization of society; and as a tranquillizing influence, they tend to the security of property. Look at the results of the efforts of Miss de Broen among the Communists of Belleville, and it will be seen that by the spread of the gospel among those terrible masses, a beginning has been made more likely to establish a happier order of things than the indefinite multiplication of soldiers and gendarmerie.

I know not how far these suggestions may recommend themselves to the judgment of the public at large. I offer them simply as the conclusions of long observation, backed by the judgment of many far more experienced than myself. It is at least worth while to make the effort, and try to what extent we may rouse and utilize the dormant qualities of the poorest ranks of society. We may oftentimes discern delicacy of feeling, honesty of character, and vigour of resolution, among these degraded but immortal beings. With many terrible exceptions, their parental affections are strong; and it is touching to observe how even poverty, weariness, and disease, are all, as it were, forgotten in their desperate struggles to maintain their children. Hidden beneath these sentiments there is a mighty engine wherewith to begin the work.

Well, here they are! and here they will remain! Will you leave them alone to fester and to die?[xii] But in festering and dying they will breed a moral, and a political, if not a physical, epidemic.

Will you advance on them in their swarming retirements of profligacy and pestilence? Why, then, there is a hopeful promise that the Word of God shall not return unto Him empty; and as the High Priest bore on his turban, "Holiness to the Lord," so may the missionaries—the agents, the men, the women, all who go forth to this great enterprise—bear imprinted on their foreheads, a motto of no inferior power, "Christo in pauperibus."


Paris, May 12, 1878.





THIS book was written in detached papers, for Evening Hours and other Journals, without any intention to republish them in the form of a volume. Meagre details and want of connection will thus be accounted for. The narrative extends over a period of many years, and is substantially true, although the writer had to depend upon memory aided by a few notes: verbal accuracy cannot therefore be expected. The difficulty of recording the histories of individuals and families in a few paragraphs, without their connecting links, was felt, and this may have given a touch of the wonderful to some incidents, which a more full account would have avoided. The object of the work, even in its detached papers, was to illustrate the mode of Missionary visitation among the very poor and the depraved classes; and to show the power of simple teaching from the Word of God among them.

The kindness of Lord Shaftesbury in writing the Introduction, and of Mrs. Mary Sewell, in decorating[xiv] each chapter with extracts, is acknowledged with much gratitude. Their assistance has enriched the volume, and the writer has an impression that many will regard it as an indifferent picture beautifully framed. Be this as it may, he commits it to the indulgence of his readers, and to the blessing of Almighty God, by the power of whose Word alone the good narrated was accomplished.

St. John's Wood,
December, 1871.


The favour accorded to this book has taken the author by surprise, as the issue of nine editions of a thousand copies rapidly succeeded each other. The truthfulness and simplicity of the narrative has no doubt promoted this result, but the secret of its success is not in the book itself, but in the deep interest taken by Christians generally in effort to evangelize the people of London.

To many the difficulty of uniting disciples of various names in hearty co-operation appeared to be insurmountable; and the gaining of access to and influencing the "lapsed masses," the ungodly and criminal, to religion and virtue seemed all but hopeless.

This simple record of mission work has had its influence in removing such difficulties from the minds of[xv] many, and in enlisting the sympathy of persons who were previously uninformed as to a Christian union which is auxiliary and helpful to all the Churches.

At the time the narrative commenced there were only one hundred and twelve city missionaries employed in London; but, through the blessing of Almighty God and the confidence of His people, the increase of their number has been steady and support increasingly generous. The mission staff now numbers 448 effective men with 30 veterans upon the retiring fund; these, with the committee and their officers, examiners of candidates and local superintendents, number upwards of one thousand men, who prayerfully and with great activity seek the spiritual good and general uprising of the poor of the great Metropolis.

Much remains to be done. In many parishes extending to the distant suburbs there are numerous poor districts, inhabited by myriads of perishing souls, to each of which the appointment of "a Man with the Book," charged to read and bring its life-giving power to bear upon each man, woman, and child within his influence, would indeed be a blessing conferred.

Charged with the duty of providing for many of these "waste places" in the east and west of the City, the writer will gladly welcome the friendship and aid of those who, realizing the preciousness of personal salvation, from the abundance of the heart deviseth liberal things.[xvi]

With the committee there is one strong conviction, and it is this, that their work, which commenced in obscurity and feebleness, by three men without name, influence, or money, but who were strong in faith, prayer, and holy zeal—that the effort though now exceeding large—can only be continued and extended in the same spirit of simple trust and devotion, "glory" being rendered "in the Church by Jesus Christ, unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."

London City Mission House,
Bridewell, E.C.
May, 1878.




Description.—The strange visitor.—Translators.—The chanter
and dog-nurse.—Thieves.—Beggars.—Prize-fighter.—A
widow indeed.—The power of prayer3
A fight between women.—Turning the fever out.—Speech
from a barrow.—Drunken Sammy.—A Wonderful tea-pot.—Dust-man
and scavenger.—Lady power25
Black Poll.—Niggers.—Rescued.—Tom and Bess.—Costermonger's
wedding.—A baptism.—Pledge taken.—The
prison gate.—The Bible on the housetop.—The convict's
widow and son43
A black leg.—Miniature altar.—The peacemaker.—The wafer.—An
animated sandwich.—Saved from error.—The
travelling tinker.—The dying child65
Roley-Poley's opinions.—The bus-washer.—Communism. An
infidel club-room.—Philosophers.—Conflict with infidelity.
The 'strology woman.—Bible answers.—Imp woman.—The
converted infidel81
A praise meeting.—Death of the widow.—Joy of the blessed.—Out
of the prize ring.—A farewell speech.—A fagger.—A
strange preacher.—Dusty and the fiddler.—Praying in the
cell.—Indian girl.—Genesa.—Infidel society dissolved.—Works
following.—The banner of love103
Between the barrels.—The true light shining.—A danger.—Light
in the club-room.—The change wrought.—Victory
gained.—Evil resisted.—Good advice.—A white sergeant.—A
wise removal.—The good increased129
The clock going wrong.—Men of the fancy.—The rat-pit man.—Child
on the barrel.—Ticket of leave man.—A rough.—A
drunkard's home.—A fall and rise151
A strange request.—Touching the sceptre.—Sunday drinking.—Closed
on Sunday.—Pleasant opposition.—Guilty tongues.—A
sharp rebuke.—Uglier than a gorilla.—A knotty question.—Potman's
letter.—The pugilist's ring.—The beauty
of age.—Resting in peace169
The sleepless city.—Teddie's den.—A strange invitation.—The
tea.—A midnight visit.—A visit to Rag Fair.—Many
rescued.—Smashers.—The better part chosen.—Dreadful
death-bed scene.—A stronghold destroyed195
A gilded saloon.—A pigeon plucker.—Discouragement.—The
Coffee Man.—Destitute.—The solitude of the city.—Madness
of disgrace.—The beggar and his boy.—The "Traveller's
Rest."—The sleepless Church.—Coffee stalls and
booths.—The covert from the storm.—Bible power219
To and from the city.—Our omnibus.—Box and monkey board.—The
lost day.—Crape on the whip.—Night gathering of
bargemen.—Fetters broken.—The silent water-ways.—Bible
in cabin.—The bargeman's hope247
Christian responsibility.—Faith.—The machinery man.—Man's
inner world.—Sin reproved.—Converse upon an omnibus.—The
influence of truth.—The Bible only.—Communication
established.—Brought nigh, very nigh267
Can You Influence the World for Christ?287



Night Meeting with CabmenFrontispiece
The Dog Nurse11
An Unwelcome Visitor16
A Speech from the Barrow28
Drunken Sammy32
Sanitary Success37
Upon the Housetop59
Infidel Club88
Before the Bar131
The Back Attic162
Card for Public-rooms180
The Midnight Visitor199
Dark Arches205
In Danger223
Alone in the City231
The Coffee Stall240
Outside Passengers248
The Monkey Board252
Sabbath Outcasts257
The Machinery Man273


The Book in the Court:


"High up a dark and winding stair,
From floor to floor I went,
And heard sometimes a woman swear,
Or beaten child lament.

"Upon the topmost flight I found
A close and wretched room;
Alas, that any human soul
Should call such place a home!

"No fire was burning in the grate,
The walls were damp and bare;
The window-panes were stuffed with rags,
No furniture was there."

Mrs. Sewell.




The Book in the Court:

"He that hath my Word, let him speak my Word faithfully."
Jer. xxiii. 28.


WHY the inhabitants called their place of residence Paradise Court was never clearly understood. The parochial authorities substituted for the name of the garden of primeval beauty that of a lovely southern county of old England, and on their official papers styled it Devonshire Place. Many would question the propriety of the Court bearing either name, as it forms the centre of a labyrinth of dirty overcrowded streets. It is not a blind alley, as it is of elbow shape with two entrances connecting streets, though only used by persons of profound local knowledge. The houses are so ill-shaped and dilapidated as to prejudice the mind against London of the past generation; while the murky atmosphere—the cloud of ragged yellowish garments suspended from the upper windows by pole and line—the narrowness of the passage-way, which increases the thick darkness of night—the constant noise made by the drunken and quarrelsome, render it a place to be avoided by the respectable, however poor.

There were, however, at the time our narrative commences, respectable visitors to the Court, and foremost among them for intimate acquaintance with the community[4] was that valuable official the Relieving Officer. His approach was by some mysterious means instantaneously known, and produced wonderful effects; unruly sounds were hushed, quite a number of poor creatures were taken suddenly ill, and a most appalling condition of poverty was created. Strange however to say, his exit was marked by a revivifying influence,—low muttering occasionally burst into storms of abuse, but not until he had turned the corner; we may therefore suppose that he was in happy ignorance of the strong feeling which existed against him.

The policeman on duty used to pause, as from professional instinct, when he passed each narrow entrance, and at night had been known suddenly to turn his bull's eye upon persons approaching or leaving the Court. Occasionally a visit was paid by that dreaded person, the Inspector: which event was always unexpected. Intelligent members of the force at a given moment took their position at either end, while the Inspector marched with several officers to a particular house, and then marched off with the somebody he wanted. Next morning a company of the inhabitants used to return the compliment, by going in a body to the Police Court, and for days after, the subject matter of conversation in the Court was, "How the 'spector got that ere hinformation what he received."

The postman occasionally entered the place, and when he did so he grasped his letters firmly,—while in order to effect a proper delivery he deciphered strange hieroglyphics. Of course those true friends of the poor, the parish and dispensary doctors, were frequently to be seen in the place. They knew it[5] well as a pestilent spot, and, while alleviating suffering, gave many certificates for the burial of the dead. As regards the living there was scanty record: the name of the place being rarely if ever written in the Vestry Register. A few out of the swarm of dirty, shoeless, tattered little heathen (heathen in the sense of being unbaptized and untaught in the Christian religion) were occasionally hunted for by their warm-hearted friend, the Ragged School teacher, who had entered their names in his class book. With two exceptions these were the only respectable visitors to Paradise Court; and the exceptions only came on Black-Monday morning. One was the stern broker-man, who represented the landlord of half the houses, and whose terrible utterance, "Pay the rent, or I will chuck your sticks into the Court," had a money-producing effect. The other Monday visitor was a lady of peculiar style, who entered the place from her suburban residence exactly at nine o'clock. Though shabby in dress, it was believed by her thirty-four miserable tenants that she was a real lady at home. She was fluent of speech, and gave many reasons why it would be wrong of her to let the rent run on. She had never been known to comprehend an excuse; and it was an established fact that business friendship existed between her and that dreadful broker-man.

To this succession of official and other visitors another was to be added. The Paradise people knew it not; and, if they had, he would not have been received with demonstrations of joy; indeed the few persons who one March morning noticed two men in conversation at the narrow entrance of the Court, were made uncomfortable, as they could not comprehend[6] what was meant. "I wonders if they are a coming down here," observed one woman to another. "They aint mendicities," she replied; and hastened to inform her companion lodgers "that something was up, as two men, one of them an old-un, with a brown coat, and the tother a young-un nearly all black, was a talking and looking down." A rush to the doors and windows took place, but they only saw the two men part company. The eldest walked away and the other entered the open door of the first house.

To remove all mystery,—the old gentleman was the training Superintendent of the London City Mission, and his companion a young Missionary whom he was placing upon the district. They had walked round it together, and stopping at the Court, the Superintendent said to his young friend, "You will find this the most trying part of the district, as the people are in a bad state, and have never as yet been visited. Enter the first house, make your way to the top back room—visit as you come down, and in this way press through the place. Remember it is your duty to make the acquaintance of every man, woman, and child, for the purpose of bringing them to a knowledge of salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, and of doing them good by every means in your power: go, and may the Lord prosper you."

A poet would have called that a sublime moment for the young Missionary: he was in possession of that which had for three years been the desire of his heart—the office of accredited visitor to the poor. For this he had prayed, studied, and passed the required examination; and it was with grateful heart[7] and elastic step, that he made his way up the rickety stair-case, and approached the room to the occupiers of which he was first to deliver his message. A noise,—the beating of leather upon lapstones, required that a second and harder tap should be given at the door. It was suddenly opened by a middle-aged man, of ruffianly appearance, with a long black beard. In his hand was a large flat hammer, and in his mouth a short black pipe. With a sharp look at the stranger, he inquired, "Do you want me, Master?" "I am a Missionary," was the reply, "and am come to make your acquaintance. Will you accept one of these tracts?" The man threw open the door, and said to his companions,—"This is a religious chap, and wants to know me." The visitor stepped in and gave a curious glance round the room. It was an attic of about ten feet square, with a low roof. In the centre was a heap of old boots and shoes, rubbish of the kind collected from dust heaps; round them were six men of various ages, and offensively dirty; beside each were several rows of restored articles. It was evident that the men were "translators,"—cobblers, who by marvellous skill in their art were turning destroyed shoes into articles fit for use. "If he's religious," exclaimed a man of diminutive stature, "I'm the customer for him;" and facing the visitor, demanded "Do you believe in a Supernatural Being? because," he continued, "if you do, I don't. He is a fool who says in his heart there is no God, and he is a fool who says there is one, because there is no proof." "Nature and the Bible"—replied the Missionary; but he could get no further, as at the mention of the Book exclamations of doubt and of abuse were uttered. He tried to proceed, but was cried[8] down. As he turned away, the man who opened the door, said, with angry looks, "Now mind, Guv'nor, I am master here, and I live in the next room, and my children knows nothing of superstition, and if you come here with your cant I'll pitch you down." There was a momentary pause, which enabled the visitor to exclaim in a clear ringing voice, "This day has salvation come to this house," and he then descended to the next landing.

Upon the back-room door was a rusty old padlock, showing that the lodgers—costermongers—were out; but the front-room door was partly open. "Come in," said a feeble voice; and the visitor, though nearly stopped by the offensiveness of the room, stepped in, and found it a death chamber. A woman and child were upon the bed in a high state of fever; and stark upon the floor, with face uncovered, lay the body of a boy of six years. The scene so shocked the inexperienced visitor, that he with sorrow expressed his regret at finding them in such a position, and inquired about the husband. "He is a chanter, sir," she replied, "and is out in the streets singing about the man who was hung on Monday morning. He was cut up when Bobby died in the night, and said that he would leave off singing when he had got half-a-crown, and come home." While words of consolation were being read, the "chanter" entered the room: his clothes were threadbare, his face pallid, and his voice husky. The stranger put his hand kindly upon the arm of the poor man, and expressed his sympathy for the bereavement he had suffered, and added, "I have read to your wife from the Bible, and am about to pray: let us kneel down." At the mention of prayer an expression of[9] contempt passed over the man's face, and he hurriedly left the room. Prayer was however offered, and the visitor descended to the parlours: oh, such parlours!

The back was occupied by an aged woman, who no doubt collected bones and rags from the streets, as the floor was nearly covered with them. She was frying fish which was partly putrid, and was so earnest in declaring her poverty (no doubt truthfully) that the visitor had to assure her that he had no temporal relief to bestow. The same plea of poverty was urged by three drunken-looking women who stood at the next door; upon his telling them that he had no money to give, but that he hoped to make them happy with the true riches, they shut the door in his face; and stepping out he breathed the refreshing air of the Court.

Two more houses were passed through with varied success, and the visitor left for rest and refreshment. Upon his return it was evident that his fame had spread, as there were groups of persons ready to look at him, and in that look there was a hostile expression. True to his instructions, he merely gave tracts to several women who asked for them, and then made his way to the fourth house. Though all the front doors were open, and had the appearance of never being closed night or day, that door was shut and fastened, and peals of laughter could be heard inside, while the Missionary in vain knocked for admission. He went to the next house, but was brought to a pause while ascending the upper stairs by the barking of dogs. The door of the front attic was opened by a woman: at the sight of the stranger she screamed her command for silence, and the brutes became dumb. As she opened the door half way a curious sight presented itself: upon the bed were five[10] or six puppies of various breeds, and chained to the floor was a white bull terrier of savage mien, while an ugly cur raised his nose to the edge of the basket in which he was reposing, and sustained a growl of low note. Bobbing a curtsey, she said in a plaintive tone, "I can't ask you in, sir, as the dogs are werry savage; but though I does try to get a honest living, a ticket is as acceptable to me as to them wretches what has got into the first floor." In answer to the inquiry, "How do you live?" she replied, "I brings up little dogs for fancy men, and takes in sick uns to nurse, and I earns my money I can tell you: why that ere bull-dog has the mange, and I have to rub him in with doctor's stuff, and if I didn't muzzle him, and pull his chain tight to the floor, he'd tear me to pieces; and then I have to get up in the night to feed the puppies with milk." When the matter of religion was referred to, she in an angry tone said, that she "knowed what was right, and didn't want to be preached at." The sagacious friends of man understood that altered tone of voice, and recommenced growling and barking. As it was hopeless trying to make himself heard at the next room, the visitor descended to make acquaintance with the abused in the first floor.


"I brings up little dogs for fancy men, and takes in sick uns to nurse." "I brings up little dogs for fancy men, and takes in sick uns to nurse."

Both doors were open, and the lodgers were in evident expectation of a visit. In the front room were three men and four women: the men had cotton handkerchiefs of a reddish colour about their necks, their hair being arranged in the peculiar curl round the ear known in their circle as the Newgate cut. One of them, with an air of blandness, offered the visitor a chair, and said, "I am always glad to see a Missionary gent. Where I comes from, near Petticoat Lane, is one of them, maybe you knows him: he's werry good to chaps that gets into[13] trouble. Now this woman has got a boy as is always unlucky: he went a lifting and got nabbed first time, and got a week, as he wasn't known; after that he hopped over a wall for something, and a Bobby was down on him, and for that he got a month; and then he relieved a gent of his ticker, and for that he's doing four months upon the mill, and I think that he ought to be reformed. He'll be out on Monday, and if you will tell me where you live, I will bring him to you, and you can put him somewhere. If you doesn't he'll be into trouble again, because, as I says, he's unlucky." The reasons given were not likely to stimulate zeal, but the Missionary arranged to see the young thief immediately after his discharge from prison. A friendly conversation, followed, and several young girls and juvenile thieves, who came in from the other room, remained to hear the Bible read. The evil consequences of sin were pointed out to them, and the way of salvation was explained. Deep emotion was expressed by several of these depraved persons, and there was a friendly parting.

Upon the ground floor a fragrance redolent of sea-weeds filled the air, and was a pleasant relief from the state of the atmosphere upstairs. The cause of this strange perfume was apparent upon the door of the back room being opened by an old man, who appeared as if he was undergoing a salivating process. The floor was covered with baskets and trays with piles of whelks upon them, some of which were cooked and some were not. As the man was rather deaf, it was difficult to make him understand the object of the visit; but when he did so, he asked the stranger in. He refused an offered tract, with the remark, "I ain't got no larning, Mister, and I burns every bit of paper I gits, so it 'ould[14] be smoke if you comed for it. I cooks these whelks for chaps and women as stands with stalls, and gets a penny a kettleful." When told "that at his age the great matter was not his business, but his fitness for a better world," he laughed and said, "All I want is to die easy, so I moves the things, and puts my mattress the right way, as we never knows what may be, and they says as it's hard to die the cross-way of boards." He was told that "to pray to the great God in the name of Jesus for pardon and His Holy Spirit, was the way for old people to be made happy, and to die easy." But he looked vacant, as though the subjects of pardon and immortality were strange to him. Upon his saying that cooking was over early in the evening, the visitor showed him the Bible, and said, "This was written by the good Father in heaven, and I will come some evening and read out of it." He looked pleased as he approached his fish-kettle, and the visitor was then glad to make his escape from a kind of warm sea-fog.

The next house was filled with beggars. The rooms were filthy; and upon entering them in succession, the women and children commenced in the cadgers' whine to beg. "Why don't you wash your children?" was inquired of a mother, whose four little ones were as black as sweeps. "We haven't a penny," was the reply, "to buy soap with, and the little dears are so uncomfortable like when they wakes up, until they rubs their faces well with their hands, which freshens them up." Their hard begging prevented religious conversation. In the front parlour a man, clothed in filthy raiment, was smoking his pipe, while the wife was engaged in sweeping with an almost hairless broom. An attempt to speak to them upon the Gospel message provoked[17]  an outburst of low abuse from them both: the woman, who was evidently from the Emerald Isle, followed the visitor to the door, giving a long sweep with her broom; and then flourishing it over his head as he stepped into the Court, exclaimed, "Och, and sure and that's the way I sweep out rubbish!" After failing to convey religious instruction to the people at the next house, where the woman and youth abused, and the children yelled as he passed out, the young Missionary left the place in a state of mind exactly opposite to that in which he had entered it in the morning. A sense of inefficiency, of utter disqualification for the work, had taken possession of his mind and damped his zeal. To have instructed the respectable poor—to have removed the difficulties of men in error, would have been a pleasure; but to evangelize such a people as the dwellers in Paradise Court and its surroundings seemed hopeless. Besides the offensiveness of the work—the thought of spending six or more hours daily in those wretched dwellings, subjected to risk of contagion, insult, and personal violence, and that with such feeble hope of benefiting the people, produced a sense of regret that the effort had been made. So powerfully did these reasons act, that the Missionary availed himself of the consideration that Saturday would be an inconvenient day for the people, and stayed away; but on Sunday afternoon, about three o'clock, he approached the Court with a faint heart, and a bundle of tracts in his hand.

"Where the woman and youth abused, and the children yelled as he passed out." "Where the woman and youth abused, and the children yelled as he passed out."

At the entrance a group of about fifteen roughs were talking together. Tracts were offered to each. One of them, a man of heavy frame and unprepossessing countenance, arising from the circumstance that it was deeply scarred, and had the bridge of the nose broken,[18] approached the Missionary. With a smile more awe-inspiring than ordinary frowns, he inquired, "Are you the chap what's coming to all our rooms to make us religious?" To so direct a question only one reply could be given, which was hopefully in the affirmative. "Then," he continued, that dreadful smile deepening into an expression of malice, as he raised his huge fist, "then don't come to my room; which is good advice, cos I does three things at once when I'm up. I'm known in the ring as a hard hitter, and I've fixed the ring stakes for lots of battles,—and this is what I does: I deposits my fist on the top of the nose, which leaves a mark, and shuts up both peepers for a week or two." "Well, but members of the prize ring are honourable in this," was the prompt reply: "they never strike men who cannot box." The man seemed pleased with the compliment, but his companions gave an incredulous look, as much as to say, "We, alas, know better!"

Friendly words were spoken, and tracts given to persons standing at their doors. While thus engaged the Missionary was stayed by a sound which proceeded from an upper room. It fell so strangely upon the ear that he stood still and gazed up at the windows, with the exclamation upon his lips—"Surely the Lord has His hidden ones in this place." An effort was evidently being made in one of the rooms to sing a song of praise. A cracked female voice was trying to lead other voices, not one of which had been attuned to melody, in singing the hymn—

"Come ye that love the Lord,
And let your joys be known."

A woman at one of the windows, seeing the astonishment of the visitor, said, "It's Widow Peters, Master[19] having a meeting: she lives here in the first back. She's a good un: the dear old soul is like a mother to us." The visitor approached the room, and as the singing ceased, opened the door. He saw at a glance that the company consisted of five very poor women. Four were seated upon the frame of the bedstead, and another at the table, upon which lay an open Bible and Hymn-book. "This is he," exclaimed one of the women. "This is the tract man, who is coming to read to us out of the blessed Book." Upon this the widow rose, her countenance beaming with holy joy, and with that graceful dignity which religious life often confers upon the poor, offered her hand to the Missionary, exclaiming, "Come in, sir, come in, and let us praise the Lord together. I have pleaded with Him for poor souls in this place, and now He has sent His messenger with glad tidings. May the Lord bless you to many." This welcome was given with such genuine feeling that the "messenger" was overpowered. The speaker was aged; quite seventy years had whitened her few remaining hairs and given a decrepit appearance to her slender frame; but under the influence of strong religious feeling she stood erect, and the feebleness of her voice gave peculiar force to words which entered the soul. The poor women felt it as they stood with tearful eyes; and the young Missionary felt it, for his only answer was an affectionate holding of that withered hand in his, and a reverential gazing into the face of the old disciple.

The meeting was soon brought to a close, but the aged woman and the young man remained in earnest conversation, as though they had enjoyed years of friendship. How strong is that cord of love in the[20] spirit, which binds believers together because of union with the living Jesus! "The poor creatures down here are in dreadful darkness, and many are awfully wicked," observed the widow; "and my heart leapt for joy when I was told that a tract man was trying to speak with people in their rooms: it was such a faithful answer to prayer." "And who prayed for my coming?" was inquired. "I had heard of missionary gentlemen visiting other places," she replied, "and about two months ago it was laid on my heart to pray for my perishing neighbours, and I cried day and night unto the Lord."

"About that time," observed the visitor, "a few believers met in the house of a Tunbridge Wells tradesman, to pray for a blessing upon the poor of London. They then agreed to raise support for a Missionary to one of the most necessitous districts, and wrote a letter to the Committee of the London City Mission to that effect. While the gentlemen were considering the matter they had their attention drawn to this neighbourhood through the opening of an Infidel Hall just by. At that time, after much prayer, I made application to be received as one of their agents. They approved of me and sent me here. But how strange it was, that in this place prayer should at that time have been offered for the same object." "Oh, no! that was not strange," she replied; "for the same Spirit dwells in all the disciples, and according to the Divine Mind and Will, teaches them what to pray for, and now we must plead for souls and these dry bones shall live." "After spending Friday at the other end of the place," observed the Missionary, "I was led to despair of doing any good here, as the people are so ignorant, hardened, and offensive. I have thought that an experienced visitor[21] ought to come here in my stead." With a look of sorrow and reproof the old Christian exclaimed: "The Lord has sent you here with the Gospel plough, and don't look back. Go on, dear friend, and He will bless His faithful servant." In answer to the inquiry, "How long she had known the Lord, and why she was living in that place?" she replied, "I am the widow of a soldier: thirty-six years ago I was abroad with the regiment, and was converted at a soldiers' prayer-meeting. I then joined the Wesleyans, and have met in class ever since. I had a daughter, who was married to a bricklayer who took to drinking and used her badly. He brought her down here, and then I took a room in the same house to look after her. She died two years ago. I have three shillings weekly from the parish, and I make up by doing a little washing for young people at a draper's. I stop here now, as no one would rob or injure me; and many a poor creature will let me nurse them a little when they are ill, and then I speak to them about Jesus, and pray for their poor souls. Now you have come they must all hear the truth. Don't, sir, leave the poor perishing souls." At parting each offered prayer. The aged widow with tremulous voice and holy earnestness pleaded with God for the young messenger, and for the sinners around her, mentioning several by name. Her language was that of one who for years had had free access to the Holy Place, and to whom power had been given to wrestle with God and to prevail.

That prayer was blessed to the young Missionary. As he stepped into the Court he felt that the coward spirit had left him, and that he had received power to intercede with the Almighty for perishing souls. His[22] heart was too full to speak to the people; but, as he passed their doors, a cry of holy desire for their salvation (that best preparation for the work of an Evangelist) ascended to where Jesus the Mediator is seated at the right hand of God.



The Book in the Court:


"You are needed, brave hearts, that are facing the toil,
And bearing unnoticed the wearisome moil
That presses on every day;
We want the great souls that will suffer and dare,
And all the inglorious martyrdom bear
Of poverty's dreary decay."

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Court:

"The entrance of Thy Word giveth light." Ps. cxix. 130.


MONDAY morning cast its usual gloom over Paradise Court in the persons of the rent collectors. Many of the men and women had gone out upon various callings, and others, whose supply of ready cash fell short of the required amount, absented themselves, leaving messages with the children, in some cases with, and in others without, part payment. The Court therefore had the appearance of quietness and moral respectability as the Missionary passed down. His step was firm, and his countenance wore an expression of decision. He had realized the difficulties of the position; and in calm reliance upon the help of Almighty God, had come to the prayerful decision that he would faithfully discharge the duties of his office. That day and many others of toil passed before each room had been visited. As the people became familiar with their new friend, the spirit of opposition, with a few exceptions, gave way to one of utter indifference. Three months passed before the statistics of the place were taken, and then the startling discovery was made that in that block of buildings there were one hundred and ninety-four rooms, occupied by two hundred and sixteen families, as several let corners of their rooms to lodgers.[26] The population consisted of three hundred and eighty-six adult persons, with more than double that number of children. Only nine Bibles could be found in the place, and upon the morning of the Lord's day only two persons left its precincts to worship God in His temple. As month after month of stair-treading and of effort to secure attention passed away, the Missionary became discouraged, from the seeming impossibility of effecting any good in that valley of spiritual death. The children, to be sure, had been won by looks and words of kindness. They gathered round him out of doors, and looked for his smile as he approached the rooms. And then the people had become familiar with the pocket Bible, and cast glances at it as the reader held it in his hand, as though they had some mysterious interest in its contents. But this was all. No reformation had been wrought, no inquiry for salvation had been made; and despair of blessing was overclouding the soul of the Missionary, when a circumstance occurred which caused hope, like a day star, to dispel the darkness. That circumstance was a fight in the Court.

One afternoon he was praying with a sick man in an upper room when his voice was drowned by screams, shouts, and yells in the Court below. Rising from his knees, he opened the window, and shuddered at the revolting scene which presented itself. Two women, whose vile language had several times repelled him from their doors, had quarrelled and been ejected from a neighbouring gin-bar. Upon reaching home they commenced fighting; and being inflamed with liquor, they had torn each other's clothes, and their faces were bleeding. In their fury they had seized each other by the hair, and lay struggling on the ground. A number of men and[27] women had formed a ring, and were urging them on to the brutal conflict; while the people crowded to their windows, and shouted advice according to the side they took. It was a shocking display of rage and blood and blasphemy; but it was brought to a sudden close. Some one looked up and raised the cry, "The Bible-man is there!" Every face was turned up, and then the people drew in their heads and closed the windows. The crowd in the Court dispersed, many running like rabbits in at their doors. The sudden silence caused the wretched women to disengage themselves and to look up. They caught the steady gaze of the man who had spoken to them of God and judgment, and one of them with a bound sprang into her dwelling; while the other covered her lacerated face with her apron, and staggered into her door-way. A few minutes after, when the Missionary passed out of the Court, all was silence,—not a being was to be seen; but upon the pavement were spots of blood and pieces of hair. Though saddened, he felt thankful for the influence he had obtained. It would have taken several policemen to have quelled that disturbance; but to have subdued it by moral, or rather religious force, was indeed a triumph and earnest of future good.

About a month after this event a sudden outbreak of scarlet and typhoid fever brought distress into fourteen families, but resulted in much good to the inhabitants. The parish doctor had ordered the removal of a woman to the infirmary, and two old workhouse men came with a covered stretcher for that purpose. The lodgers had noticed spots upon the patient, and raised a report of black fever. They were in a state of panic, and no person but the widow would approach the room. She[28] found the Missionary, who was visiting in other houses, and told him that she had prepared the poor woman for her removal; but that the old men were not strong enough to carry her, and none of the neighbours would assist them. Upon this he followed her to the room, and taking the poor fever-stricken creature in his arms, carried her down and laid her gently on the stretcher. The people stood afar off; but, as their visitor left by the side of the stretcher, he caught a murmur of thankfulness. Upon his return from the workhouse he was received with a demonstration of gratitude; and seizing the opportunity, he said, "Tell the men that I want to speak to them, and that they will do me a kindness by being here this evening at seven o'clock. I want them to help me turn the fever out: not a man must be absent."

"The visitor sprang on to a costermonger's barrow, and waving his hand, exclaimed—" "The visitor sprang on to a costermonger's barrow, and waving his hand, exclaimed—"

When at the appointed time the Missionary turned the corner, he was surprised to see the place crowded. It was evident that the men had rallied in their strength, and they began to cheer. The visitor sprang on to a costermonger's barrow, and waving his hand, exclaimed, "Many of our neighbours are ill, and we must for their sakes, poor things, be quiet. I thank you for mustering so strong; it shows that you have a good feeling toward me, and as I have a good feeling toward you, why, we are friends. Now, as a true friend, I am going to speak to you plainly, as we can't turn out the fever unless we work together. I expected this fever to come (murmurs); and this is why. You have not enough air and water down here, and you don't make the best use of what you have. If a man drinks poison he is killed by it, and if he breathes poisoned air he is killed in a slower way by getting weak, or having illnesses like the fever. Many of you sleep six or ten in a room, and[31] always keep the windows shut. This poisons the air. And now about the water. To-morrow morning every butt must be cleansed; and let each person, when the flow is on, throw a pailfull down their yard and another into the Court. Mind two pailfulls for each person. And then you must wash yourselves more frequently. There are sensible women here who wash their children every day; there are others that do not. Now let the sensible women do a kind thing: let them give the dirty children a good scrubbing on the sly. (Laughter, and cries of 'We will.') And mind, all the rooms and stairs must be scrubbed. That's for the women: now for the men. You must whitewash your rooms. ('Let the landlords do it.') If you wait until they do it, some of you will be in your graves first. ('That's right.') Do it yourselves. A pail of whitewash is only the price of a pot of beer. ('That's it.') When you have done it, I will ask the collectors to allow you back the half-pence. ('Thank'ee, sir,' etc.) Another thing shall be done: I will see the officer of health, and, if necessary, the vestry gentlemen, and ask them to improve your drainage and water supply." (Here the fighting man raised his fist and exclaimed, "If they don't!" as though his system of deposit would of a certainty influence the local parliament.) "And then," the speaker continued, "we must keep sober. The fever is fond of drunkards, with their horrid breath and weak bodies, and lays hold of them first. (Sensation.) Now, to turn the fever out, you must promise me three things: say Yes, after each of them. Good use of air and water ('Yes, yes'); every room to be whitewashed ('Yes, yes'); and a sober Saturday night." (Murmurs.) The speaker repeated the last sentence in a tone of firm command: "A sober[32] Saturday night!" and received a shout of "Yes, yes, yes!" Then, taking the Bible from his pocket, he held it up, and in a subdued voice continued, "There is a great Father up there, who loves us all; but you don't pray Him to take care of you and your children. On Sunday morning you hear the bells ring; but none of you go to church. This is wrong of you. Remember He has had it written down in His Holy Book that 'the curse of the Lord is in the house (the room) of the wicked; but He blesseth the habitation of the just.'" There was a solemn pause, and the speaker sprang from his uncomfortable stand and passed out at the short end of the place.

Drunken Sammy leaning on post

One man had evidently absented himself from the sanitary meeting. This was plain, as Drunken Sammy approached, followed by an admiring crowd of boys and low people. This old man had been a drunkard for many years, and his neighbours used to say that he had become worse since he had had "something" upon his mind; this "something" being the fact that his wife was made ill by one of his beatings when drunk, and only lived two months after. He was a slop tailor, and used at times to work hard and remain sober for days[33] together. During several of these intervals he had listened to the Christian teacher, and promised reformation; but he had lost the power of moral control. His habit was to stand in a gin-bar from early in the morning; when his money was spent he would take his coat to a neighbouring dolly or leaving-shop. Soon after he would return and leave his waistcoat and shoes. When the proceeds of these were spent, he was of course ejected. Upon this he commenced vagaries of the most comical kind; gesticulating and tumbling, while shouting lines from comic songs. His rule was to enter the Court by attempting a leapfrog over the posts at the corner; and he often fell with terrible force upon the pavement, to the great diversion of the public. He was always received by his neighbours with roars of laughter as they rushed to see the fun. On this occasion, however, he met with an altered reception. The presence of the Missionary, who had returned, at his side, and the subduing influence of the meeting, had its effect. "Here's that fool of a Sammy," exclaimed one of the women who had engaged in the fight we have narrated: while others looked at him with contempt,—all with indifference. It was much for her to call a drunkard "a fool," and for her friends to acknowledge the fact. As the woman lived in the same house with the drunkard, the visitor looked at her and said, "Take care of this poor man for me, and don't let him out until I call tomorrow afternoon." "We won't let him out!" exclaimed several voices: and the woman seized his arm and thrust him into the house. A smile played over the anxious face of the Missionary, for well he knew that the woman would keep her word, and that poor Sammy was in durance vile. What for him availed the British[34] Constitution,—Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and all the legal apparatus which in these fair isles of liberty protect the subject? He is under arrest. Let us hope that it will be for his good.

Next morning, on his way to the Court House, the Missionary had occasion to call upon an "elect lady," who was then the daughter, and who is now the widow of a general officer. He told her about the soldier's widow,—her deep piety, and her love for souls, and her poverty; and while he did so, the full sympathy of another Christian heart was drawn out in behalf of his poor people. Upon his leaving, the lady said, "I will pay the widow's rent, and will supply her with comforts during the coming winter. Let her call upon me to-morrow, as I may through her take a deeper interest in your mission." The day had far advanced before the pleasant message could be delivered: the bearer of it had obtained an interview with the vestry clerk, which resulted in his introduction to the parochial officer of health, who was so kind as to accompany him to the district. As they entered the place, its cleanly appearance, the result of a deluge of water, and the healthy smell of lime which pervaded the air, took the medical gentleman by surprise. This was so opposite to the account he had received, that the visitor, for his veracity's sake, had to acquaint him with the events of the day before, and to give an account of the speech from the barrow. "A division of labour," he said drily: "and you are welcome thus to usurp my duties for the whole parish. As regards this place, I will make such a report that the drainage shall be set right." As they repassed a door, a rough woman, who was standing as on guard, said to the Missionary, "Sammy has been obstreperous,[35] sir, but I wouldn't let him out; and now he is quiet, as the widow has gone into his room with her teapot." As she mentioned the teapot her eyes twinkled with that expression of good humour which lit up all the eyes in Paradise Court when that valuable article was referred to. No remarks were ever ventured, though much was understood. We however will break the spell, and though the officer of health is present, will vote the matter urgent, and narrate its fame.

That old brown teapot was bought at the wayside, and only cost threepence, as there was a chip upon the spout. It had however by association with its owner, acquired a value and a charm. In addition to the wonder of the inexhaustible bottle, it had certain high qualities. The very sick, and poor mothers with young infants, were each convinced that they had the first of the brew, and "that such a delicious cup of tea as that never was." And when the owner had refreshed herself, they were many who had a reversionary interest in its contents. There was a power of moral elevation about the article. Many a hard face assumed for the moment a benign expression, and many a knitted brow relaxed as the widow stepped from the door, threw her white apron over the teapot, and with an almost girlish trip passed into the room of some neighbour, who to equal poverty added sickness or some distress. And then an influence of sympathy attended the outpouring of its contents. Her supply of milk usually cost one farthing, and this she economised by pouring part of it in with the tea. In her pocket she carried a few pieces of lump sugar screwed up in a piece of paper, and thus the opportunity to be courteous was given, as each person had it sweetened to their liking. And, oh, who can tell how[36] many words of motherly advice and Christian counsel were uttered over that old teapot? As the gentlemen stood at the door they heard a feeble voice uttering mighty truths; and stepping softly into the passage, caught the end of the conversation. "I know that I must have killed her," groaned drunken Sammy, "as I beat her so hard; and if the jury didn't say so, the coroner went on at me afterwards, and I'm so miserable that I wish I was dead." "You are a poor sinner, Sammy," said the widow; "but the blessed Lord died for you, and you musn't look so much into yourself. Now you feel how bad you are, you must look to the dear Jesus. One drop of His blood makes you clean and happy. Do, Sammy, let me pray with you." The listeners stepped out gently; and the sanitary officer, with ill-concealed emotion inquired about the strange couple, and then he said, "Send the old woman to my house, and I will give her some medicine for that drunken fellow which will stay his craving for spirits, and so assist your effort for his reformation."

Upon leaving the Place the visitors stopped to speak with a group of four men who were standing at the entrance. One of them wore a fantail cap, and held a shovel and dust-basket. Another was an unmistakable scavenger, as he had a scoop-shovel, and was bespattered with mud. The others were so dirty as to make the impression that they were close friends, if not near relations of the former. "You have knocked off early," observed the Missionary, looking with kindness into the face of the dustman. "No we ain't, mister," replied that worthy: "we are a-goin' to clean out all through. We split the luck (money given to dustmen) last night, and I didn't wash the dust down, as we says, and I'm givin'[37] summut to these chaps what's going to help; and the carts are comin'." "That's the right thing for you to do," was the encouraging remark. "An' if we be in the muck," observed the scavenger, "we can be good, as you speachified." "The dirt of your business is outside," was the reply, "but it's the dirt inside that is bad; and this will be taken away, if like a king we read about in the Bible, we pray, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God.' I will call at your rooms very soon."

Man carrying bundle on his back

"To influence such people to act for themselves in these matters is the solution of the sanitary question," observed the official. "The putting of pure thoughts into their minds," replied the visitor, "is the secret, and this is a Bible work, for the saying of the wise man is[38] true of us all: 'As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.'"

The bearer of the message which was to gladden the widow's heart that evening, retraced his steps and found her in her room. She had fixed her spectacles, and was intent upon finding a suitable Scripture for the poor distressed drunkard she had just left. Some minutes passed before she could realize the good that had befallen her, and then she turned rapidly to the hundred and third Psalm, and repeated rather than read the words, "Bless the Lord, O, my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." She then said calmly, "It's the Lord's doings. He knows how feeble I am getting, and how hard it is for me to do the little bit of work, so He is crowning my days with mercy, and blessed be His name."

Next morning the widow called upon her lady, and from that time a sweet expression of peace settled upon her countenance. Her scanty raiment gave place to a thick warm dress; and it was plain that a gracious hand had bestowed the woollen shawl upon her shoulders, because a judge of such articles would tell at a glance that it had been wrought by delicate fingers. And from that time her tea-pot became invested with a new charm, as its contents never deteriorated in quality. A new influence was also felt by her neighbours. The sweep, who lived in the corner house, once said bitterly, "Down here we are all by God and man forsaken." This was no longer the case. The man with the Book, acquainted them with the tender mercies of the Most High, and the entrance of that Word which gives light was leading one and another to call Him "Abba—Father."[39] And then the expression of sweet sympathy in their trials and sufferings, though it came from an unknown source, softened hard hearts and prepared them for the reception of the Gospel. The chanter was subdued by the food given to his only child when again ill, and the warm covering for its bed was among the influences which led him to acknowledge God, and to bend his stubborn knee. A young labourer who had been long out of employment was saved from the first step in crime by a pick-axe and shovel being provided for him when he received the offer of work as a navvy, while several basket-women and others who lived by street trading were helped by small loans and gifts of money to recover their position, when some misfortune or difficulty had deprived them of their means of support. This kindliness was to them strange, because altogether out of their experience, and it exerted a daily and increasing influence for good upon many of them. The sick were often relieved from the intense misery which cold and hunger and family wants bring to them; while mothers, who had become brutalized through separation from all that was holy and elevating, were won and uplifted by acts of kindness shown to their children by the stranger-friend. That mighty force in the up-raising of the debased and depraved, which we will venture to call lady-power, was evidently at work in Paradise Court; and to this must be ascribed very much of the good which resulted. Oh, ye handmaidens of the Lord, successors of the holy women who ministered to His wants, and who followed Him even to Calvary, it is your high privilege, like Him, to stoop to those of low estate; and to minister of your wealth, for charity well bestowed upon the poor is[40] regarded as given to Him who is worthy to receive riches; of your refinement, for sweetness of expression and kindliness can reach the hearts of the vile, and produce a first emotion of love to the Lord you copy; of your prayerfulness, for it must be well pleasing to Him, who paid the full ransom for every soul, to have those who are "afar off" brought by your pleadings within the influences of sovereign grace!



The Book in the Court:


"The soul has dealings with its God:
In such an hour we may not write,—
When all His grace is shed abroad,
And darkness melts in floods of light

"Thus, even now, that mercy came,
And righteous retribution slept,
The man could trust a Saviour's name,
And like a little child he wept."

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Court:

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Ps. xix. 7.


"PIONEERS are required in my parish," said the Rector to the Missionary, at the time of his appointment. "In these densely populated parts of London the people have outgrown the influence of the Church. I, for instance, have upwards of 16,000 poor, and very few of the better classes. Not twenty of these poor attend church, and the dissenters draw very few. The sad truth is, that through neglect of religious duties the people are fast losing the knowledge of God; and their close contact with the depraved and criminal, is demoralizing them with the leaven of wickedness. Several of my curates have attempted to grapple with the evil, but its magnitude has overpowered us. In addition to over-crowding, the migratory habits of the people increase the difficulty. I am assured that in several of the streets the inhabitants are changed once or twice a year, and in the courts there are often monthly changes in the rooms. As soon therefore as good is done some of the people leave, and fresh comers require the work to be done over again. This difficulty can only be met by an order of men with special qualifications for the work, and sufficiently numerous to cover[44] all the bad neighbourhoods; so that the people wherever they move to may be brought under Christian influences. Your society has an aggressive element of simple Christianity, which is calculated to accomplish this, and to keep your agents down to their work, and I therefore give you a hearty welcome, and the assurance of my sympathy in your labours."

The Pioneer soon found that the Rector's statements as regards the moving habits of the people were correct. After short intervals between visits he frequently found persons in whom he had become interested gone, and not a trace of them remaining, their places being occupied by others. This was the case one afternoon in a house round the corner,—one of the houses included in the block, and which we for weighty reasons have regarded as part of the Court. The visitor was walking upstairs, when he met a new arrival of so strange a type that he was arrested as by an apparition. It was evidently a little girl of meagre form and aged expression of countenance, but here the likeness to our species grew doubtful. Her ethnology was not clearly developed as she stood with bare shoulders of raven blackness, her lank light hair being tied up in a bunch with pieces of rag, while the face and hands were of a yellowish, dirty hue. The object was startled at meeting the stranger, and was about to retreat, when he stopped her by asking a question. She answered in a sharp, precocious manner, and the following dialogue took place.

"My good child, who are you?"

"Black Poll: that me. And I goes to the gaff, and I does the changes, and jumps 'Jim Crow;' and when I ain't black I sings 'Charming Judy O'Calligan.' That me!"[45]

"Do your father and mother live here?"

"What a stunner! cos I ain't got no mother: she died of cholera. Dusty, what does the bones, is my uncle. He took me out of the workus, and I earns him lots,—ten shills a week."

"How many of you are there?"

"Oh, a lot! We ain't together. Billy Mutton is our guv'nor; and Dusty has took that ere sky-parlour, and they all comes here to be blacked up."

The Missionary approached the door indicated, and of necessity gave a loud knock, as men were conversing inside. To the inquiry, "What are you thumping there for?" he opened the door and stepped in. The man who confronted him was of short stature, and of the most dismal of black complexions. His attire was of light tweed, with broad green stripes. Upon his knee rested a fiddle, and its stick was in his right hand ready for practice. The table was placed near the window, and in addition to its other uses it evidently served for purposes of the toilet. Two cheap looking-glasses were upon it, and two tallow candles, placed in bottles, were burning, though it was full daylight. The men were evidently burning pieces of cork, adding tallow and a black powder, and then rubbing the precious composition over their hands and faces. Two of the men had completed the beautifying process, and one of them was tying on an immense white handkerchief, while the other with an adhesive composition was fixing a nasal organ of extraordinary shape and proportion. All this was seen while the stranger was making his office known, though but few words were necessary, as the tracts in his hand indicated his business. It was evident that the man with the fiddle understood him, as he[46] without delay commenced playing "Drops of Brandy," and continued a medley of comic tunes, ogling his eyes and gesticulating in a humorous manner. He received occasional assistance from his companions, who struck up choruses or attitudinized with mirthful effect. Judging from his hearty laugh the stranger fully appreciated their efforts, and instead of leaving, as they no doubt expected, took a seat. Before the last scrape of the fiddle had died away he remarked coolly, "That's more than I could do, because I have not your ability. Why, were I to attempt a tune upon that fiddle, I should make such a discord as to startle and perhaps drive you all out of the room. The day is however coming when I shall hope to be a musician."

To an expression of inquiry the speaker produced his pocket Bible, and observed: "You may not know it, but very much in this Book was written for and has been set to music, and the song I mean to sing is here, and something about the instrument I hope to play. Now there are instruments mentioned here which you could never play, and some which you have not even heard of, such as the sackbut and dulcimer; but you all know the harp?"

"I can play it a bit," exclaimed a man at the glass.

"That's the instrument," continued the stranger; "and all Christians will play it when they get to heaven, for it is written here, 'And I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sang as it were a new song,' and the singers were 'redeemed from the earth.'" The meaning of the beautiful word "redemption" was then explained to them, and their attention directed to the Redeemer.

As the child entered to have her toilet completed the[47] speaker said, "I will tell you more about that another time. I really came in to ask you about this child. She looks ill and overdone with work. I suppose that she stays until very late at the gaff?" The man with the bones, who had mounted a naval cocked-hat, replied, "I took her out of the workus, guv'nor, to make a woman on her; but bless yer, her woice has gone, and she can't keep up with her clump shoes for twenty minutes; and as we are a-going werry soon to the seaside, we means to leave her with Mother Dell, down the Court."

The men were startled as the Missionary inquired sternly, "Do you men believe that there is a God in heaven?"

Upon several answering "Yes!" he continued: "He is the great Father of us all, and it is not His will that even this little one should perish. You know that that woman is vile and drunken, and has juvenile thieves and depraved people in her house, and yet you would expose this poor child to a life of crime. This shall not be, as I will take her, in the name of the Redeemer, and place her in a home."

"Glad to get rid on her," was the heartless reply. But as the Missionary left, a dissipated-looking man, who had partly completed the blacking process, sprung from his glass, and following him to the stairs, said with emotion, "Thank you sir. I am a wicked backslider; but do take care of poor little Polly." This request was accompanied with a grasp of the hand which left a mark so black that hard washing was required to erase the stain; that however did not matter, as it was the grasp of gratitude.

Next morning a lady and the Missionary entered the[48] niggers' room. The child, whose complexion had by scrubbing been reduced from black to a whitey-brown, looked worn and ill; but her eyes brightened as the lady took hold of her little hand, and said, "If you are good in the new home, I will always be kind to you." The act of condescension, and the sweet tone of that educated voice, had its influence with the niggers, for they murmured their thanks, and gave the child an affectionate farewell; Dusty's voice being the last heard from the top of the stairs, exhorting her to "be a good un, and a credit to yer uncle."

That afternoon another kindness was done, though only in the way of good advice, for a daughter of the Court. Her parents were old inhabitants, they had lived there for many years, and sustained the respectability of the costermonger's calling.

"Should like to have a say with you, mister, if you ain't a-going," said the head of the family to the Missionary, as he was leaving the place; and when with the good wife they were seated in the little parlour, surrounded with partly decayed vegetables, he continued as follows: "You know my Bess: as good a girl as ever was, she is, and a fortune to any coster what gets her. Why she took to the trade quite natural like. When only as high as them baskets we sent her out with cat's meat, and she did wonderful. Such a girl to cut up a piece of horseflesh never was; and then you should have seen how she skewered it! Why she made lots of it, and all of them thought they had thumping hap'orths; howsomever the cats all got their bones through their furs, and then they diskivered what a girl our Bess was."

After a pause for consideration he proceeded. "May[49] be you doesn't know Tom, who sold lots of cowcumbers last summer and put a sov in the bank, as he doesn't put his hand to his mouth unnecessary, as he's teetotal. His father and I has known each other always, cos we was both born in Short's Court, Whitechapel, which was a curious circumstance, and we always has a pint when we meets. Now his Tom has a new silk round his neck, and looks handsome, as he always is. So he gets near my barrow when Bess is there, and helps her knock off trade quick, and he pushes home hisself. Well on Sunday he comes the swell, and wanted to walk Bess out, and says he to me, 'My father's a coming to have a pint with you over this job, as you was both born in that ere Court; and I wouldn't let your Bess push that ere barrow, cos I've three sovs, and I'd buy her a pretty donkey. That's me. And I wants Bess to be my lawful wedded wife.'" Here he looked at the mother, who was in tears, and inquired, "What would you do, master, if you was us?"

The visitor felt the importance of his position, and at once rose to the dignity of the friend of the family: for what can be a greater proof of friendship than to be consulted about matrimonial alliances, their settlements and prospects?

As arranged, the parties concerned met the following Sunday afternoon for consultation, and to receive the advice of their friend. He however found upon his arrival that other considerations than his advice had settled the business. The elders of Short's Court had agreed to cement a life-long friendship by becoming relations. The mothers were in close consultation about the new home to be established in the Place; and as for the young people, they were in an ecstatic state of[50] mutual admiration. Her affection to her parents and high costermongering qualities had been enlarged upon to Tom's delight, and his sobriety and promise of the donkey had filled her cup of happiness to the brim. There was only one difficulty, and Tom considered it a real one, for he said gravely, "How is the banns to be got up? for it looks so for a coster to go into a church to speak to the parson."

"The clergyman is coming down with me during the week," said the Missionary, "as he wishes to know you all: and I will bring him in here; and if you like to invite me I will attend the wedding." A hearty welcome, words of Christian counsel, and much shaking of hands followed, and then the affianced and their friends were left as happy as princes and nobles are supposed to be on such occasions.

For three Sundays the banns were read and the free seats occupied with awkward worshippers, as a wedding was a strange event in the Court, and not a few of its inhabitants went to hear "Bess asked;" and then the third Monday, like all appointed days, arrived quickly, and brought excitement and joy into the Place. A party of East-end barrow-men arrived early, and for that day fraternized with the costers of the West, and young urchins were quarrelling over sundry old tin kettles and saucepans, which they had provided for the rough music of the evening. The doors and windows were thronged, and a crowd was waiting at the end of the Place to accompany the bride to church. At length a shout was raised, and the bride stepped forth, leaning upon the arm of the bridegroom. Her light cotton dress, pink shawl, and white cotton gloves, were admired by all; while the blue bonnet, with large red rose and white[51] strings, was the envy as well as the admiration of the female portion of the crowd. The bridegroom was sensibly dressed in a new business suit, his happy face being surmounted with a beaver which the trade pronounced to be "nobby." The relations followed in a group behind, a mob bringing up the rear.

Those who entered the church were reverential during the solemnity, the officiating minister was most kind to the bridal party, the happy pair made their marks in the register, the clerk filled in particulars, and the party left the church; the Missionary joined the group, and all marched back to the Court as merry as wedding bells. The widow, like another Martha, had been busy about many things, as the saveloys, shrimps, cake, and coffee were all ready, and she received the bride with a kiss of motherly affection. The simple breakfast was soon over, and their friend then opened his Bible and read about the marriage in Cana of Galilee, spoke kindly to the young people about dedication to God being the secret of a happy married life, and he then commended them in prayer to the blessing of the Almighty.

Thus ended the wedding; but its influence was felt among the people, and from that time a higher moral tone was developed. Family secrets indeed were discovered, and the kind Rector often remitted fees, as a proof of his interest in the people, that none should wilfully live in transgression. On one morning alone the lay agent gave away three wives, and this led to the baptism of an aged woman and six children. The woman rented one of the houses, and went to the marriage of her lodger; she had attended the little mission meeting, and had become anxious about her salvation; without telling the cause, she had suffered deep spiritual[52] distress. Upon leaving the church she expressed desire to speak to the clergyman, and upon being taken into the vestry told him that "she had not been baptized, as her parents lived in Holborn Rents, and did not care about religion; that she passed as a widow, and had grown-up children, but had not been married, which now made her miserable." She was exhorted to repent truly, and promised that upon expressing repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, she should be baptized.

About a month after, a scene of solemn interest took place at the font. The Rector, who was himself nearly seventy, placed the water of baptism upon the brow of the woman of seventy-five years, the young Missionary pronouncing her name. That evening a prayer-meeting was held in the Court, to seek a blessing upon the newly baptized, and the attendance was very large; unlikely persons were there, including two of the translators, the woman of the dogs, and a rough. The passage itself was crowded, and to those who engaged in prayer there were indications of spiritual blessing,—of an aroused state of feeling, as though the voice had said, "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." The hymn, "There is a fountain filled with blood," was sung, and the fifth chapter of the 2nd Corinthians read. The Evangelist then spoke simply and clearly of judgment and of mercy, and besought his hearers to be reconciled to God.

After the meeting several remained behind to be prayed with. One of these was a fishwoman of hard features and vile tongue. She was quite forty years of age, and had removed into the Place from a neighbouring street which had no thoroughfare, and was called by[53] the people "Little Hell." Bad as the inhabitants in the Court were, they conceived a dislike to this woman, which made her life uncomfortable. She was indeed hateful to many. When addressed kindly at her door, and told of "goodness and mercy," she was subdued at once; and communicated the secret of her debased condition. She said, "I was a pretty little village girl, and when I comed up to London I got hawful wicked, and now I am obleged to be a fish-fag: and you make me think of the parson lady as made us kneel along the church and say them prayers." It was plain that the good impressions made in the village church so many years before were being revived, and she was invited to the meeting, and that with blessed result.

Proof was also given that the blessing was not transient but real, and the minister of the neighbouring Baptist chapel became deeply interested in the Place. When the Missionary, at his request, called upon him, he said, "I am glad to know and to encourage you in the Lord's work; and then I want to speak to you about an old man. You may have heard that twice a week I have temperance meetings under my chapel. For some time past this old man has been constant in his attendance, and I am told that he has for years been a pest in the neighbourhood, and is called Drunken Sammy. When invited he signed the pledge, and since then some of my people have got him to attend the services. One Sunday I sent for him into the vestry, and he spoke of you and a widow as his friends, and of his promise to keep sober. He is evidently under deep religious convictions, and as he is very shy I have told the pew opener to keep a seat for him near the door. Of this I am convinced, that he will not break the[54] pledge, as he speaks with anger of the cursed drink. Besides him, two women out of the same place are usually at chapel, and say that 'the man who reads the Bible has made them feel that they are not Christians, and that they want to be happy;' so we are getting them here to a week-night service."

This was pleasant but not strange news, because the Missionary knew that the acting of conscience, enlightened by the Word of God and the emotions of the new life, were felt by many; and that as the result, they were pressing into the various churches and chapels. The work indeed became overpowering; and it was impossible for him to speak with all who now desired his visits, as many in their distress kept him a long time. Strength equal to the day was however given; and almost nightly meetings in the widow's room made up for lost visits.

Among those who received marked benefit was the sewerman, who occupied a back "parlour" for his family and the yard for rats which he caught in the "shores" (sewers) and brought home in a bag attached to the inside of his coat. The smell of rats was always strong upon him, and as he had a blinking peering look he was far from popular with his neighbours. When, however, in his earnestness to hear, he pressed forward into the meeting room, several smiled pleasure at seeing him, and he was motioned to a seat. After this he was constant in his attendance, and a gradual change of appearance was noticed. That he washed himself in right good earnest was evident, and the lighting up of his countenance, with effort to join in the singing, proved that his soul also was stirred by the glad and to him new tidings of the Saviour's mercy. He avoided[55] conversation upon his spiritual state, as he knew not how to express his feelings, and nothing could induce him to attend with respectable people at public worship (he may have considered himself offensive), but he got to love the little meeting, and it became evident that he had attained to peace in believing.

To the Missionary and his helpers this was a time for rejoicing; but they had also their discouragements and anxieties. A folded letter, for instance, of strange shape, and bearing the impression, "Dartmoor Convict Establishment," was delivered at one of the meetings; and upon opening it the following printed instructions met the eye: "In writing to the convict, direct to No. 2484 (a. 1, 2)." This was evidently the number of the young thief whose companion had asked the Missionary to reform him upon his first visit to the Court, on the ground of his being "unlucky." That effort had been made in earnest; for the mother and the Missionary upon the next discharge morning took their stand at the iron-barred gate of Coldbath Field's prison, and waited until the heavy lock was opened and the ponderous bolt withdrawn. Then the jail-birds issued out helter-skelter, looking well, and rejoicing in their liberty as if bent on pleasure. Some were received by their "pals," unmistakable members of the criminal class, and were conducted in a sort of triumph to their former dens, with the prospect of a little wild pleasure, another crime, and then a longer term of imprisonment. Our bird, a sharp-looking, well grown youth of seventeen years, was seized by his mother, and hastily informed "that this ere gent had come to reform him." A keen glance at the reformer and a movement of the eyelid, understood by such people as "the knowing wink," expressed[56] his reluctance to undergo the process. He then, in a surly way, said to his mother, "I wants some bacca and some beer: that's what I wants; and I'll have it!" As he glanced at a group of persons who had hurried from the prison-gate to the public-house, the mother evidently felt that the required refreshment was the only means of keeping her son. She therefore whispered to her friend, "He'll bolt, yer honour; so I'll treat him, and then he will be a lamb, the dear will!" And then they also passed over to the public-house, leaving the reformer outside, and in a perplexity as to what he ought to do. The long walk with that strange-looking woman had been almost a punishment, for everybody turned round to look at her. She noticed the annoyance, and volunteered this explanation: "You see, yer honour, I must wear this ere large cap, as I should get rheumatics in my poor head; and it's now seventeen years since I ever wore a bonnet or shawl, cos of my oath. My husband was a good chap to me, and had only once got into trouble. Well, he went out with a fool what peached, and they lifted a lot of bonnets and a box of the beautifulest shawls as ever was; and he was collared in the place where they was, and he got fourteen years over the sea. I then goes down on my knees, and swears that I would never wear bonnet or shawl till he come back. He never saw our Eddy, as he was born the week after he had gone, and he died very soon at Van Diemen's; and I tried to bring up Eddy respectable like, but he's like his poor father. Now if people tells you that I receives, tell them that they lies; cos I lives honest, and does pawning for women what has got modesty, and doesn't like to be seen going to their Uncle's; and then I gets more on[57] anything, and picks up what I can: but I'm an honest woman!"

This "honest woman" and her son only remained a few minutes in the public-house; and as they came toward him, the heart of the Missionary yearned for their salvation. That fine youthful countenance had already the lines of viciousness upon it; and he was not improved by the short cut hair and the long pipe he was smoking. Poor fellow, he was but one of thousands of the youth of this great city who are as much brought up to live lives of crime as heathen children who are taught to pray to gods of wood and stone. Now it surely must be true that Christian sympathy has power to penetrate the souls of the depraved: for as the three pursued their homeward journey there was between them confidence and good fellowship; and though the would-be reformer was disappointed, he felt that an influence had been gained over the depraved youth.

The offer of a refuge was refused, but the young thief promised to attend a class at the Ragged School which the Missionary was forming, and in which he himself intended to teach. He did attend, with eight other unruly natives of the Court, and received instruction so readily, and made such progress, that hope was entertained of his reformation. He obtained work at the side of the Canal, to unload boats, and had kept to it for several weeks, when a circumstance occurred which crushed his high spirit. The members of a gang of "Sneaks and Mudlarks," with which he had been associated, were annoyed at his forsaking their company. Several of these one day crossed over the bridge and saw him at work. They called to the other workmen, and told them "that that fellow was a known thief, and[58] had had four months on the mill." That evening the foreman made inquiries of the police, and in the morning when the poor youth went to work he was spurned from the gate. The mother incited him to take vengeance, and he severely beat two of the youths who, as he said, had ruined him.

When the friend and teacher heard of his trouble he called to see him, and the youth opened the door; but instead of speaking he ran upstairs. He was followed: but he vanished at the upper landing. As he absented himself from the class, other efforts to reach him were made, but he always disappeared at the top of the stairs. One afternoon the teacher saw his pupil enter the house, and followed him in. He sprang forward, his friend after him, and as he disappeared the teacher thought that he heard the trap-door of the roof close down. He at once placed his right foot upon the old handrail, and pushing the trap-door open sprang out upon the roof of the house; and there, before the chimney-stack, beside his pigeon-house, sat the vanished one. He looked unhappy, but joined in a hearty laugh as the Missionary took his seat between the next pair of chimney pots. The novelty of their position was soon forgotten as the poor lad spoke of his persecutions and troubles. The pocket Bible was produced, and the narrative was read of Peter praying upon the house-top, and his seeing the vision of a great sheet, knit at the four corners, let down from heaven, containing all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth. From the words, "God has showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean," the Gospel was made plain to him, and the ease with which grace enables us to resist temptation and to bear troubles. Tears started into the eyes of the poor youth,[61]  as he said, almost in a whisper, "I ortent to have done it, sir; but I thinks that I am done for now. I was a fool to bolt from you." And then he glanced along the roof so anxiously, that a detective would have suspected a thief's trail to another trap-door. An angry voice called a "lazy varmint" to come to tea, and then the trap opened and the Missionary made his descent. He was received by the strange mother with a scream of surprise, and the announcement "that it was dreadful to see him a-coming down there."

"He sprang out upon the roof of the house, and there, before the chimney stack, beside his pigeon house, sat the vanished one." "He sprang out upon the roof of the house, and there, before the chimney stack, beside his pigeon house, sat the vanished one."

That call to tea was the last which the convict's widow gave to her son. In the midst of it stealthy steps were heard upon the stairs, but the youth made no effort to escape. Two policemen in plain clothes entered the room, and one of them, seizing him by the arm, said, "We want you upon a charge of burglary, with violence to the person, committed last night at Hampstead." The prisoner burst into tears, and his mother, throwing her arms around him, gave a deep cry of anguish. There was but short delay, for he was hurried down stairs, and on to the station. Next morning he appeared in the dock at the police court, and a clear case was made out against him. His companions were taken upon the spot, and though he escaped, his face had been seen by the police and two other persons. At his trial he pleaded guilty, and his companions, who were well-known thieves, were sentenced to ten years' transportation, and himself to seven. His teacher visited him at the House of Detention, and then in the cell at Newgate. He appeared to be truly penitent, and promised to send him his first letter; and this accounts for the epistle from the convict establishment. When the Missionary read it to the wretched mother, she acknowledged that her sins had[62] separated her from her God, her husband, and her son; and then, for the first time, she knelt down, and sobbed again while Divine mercy was implored on her behalf. There is some hope in her case and for her son also, as the Chaplain wrote a private note to the Missionary, asking for particulars concerning the convict, and telling him that the prisoner showed contrition, and spoke with feeling about a conversation upon the house-top. We must therefore leave convict 2484 (a. 1, 2), to endure the penalty of his crime, and show what kindness we can to his mother.



The Book in the Court:


"'I am going there now!'—
There was light on his brow:
Then up to the skies
He lifted his eyes,
With a bright sweet smile
On his face the while.
One struggling breath,
And the hand of death
Had broken the chain
Of his grief and pain;
And the soul had fled
From the silent dead,
And free as the lark,
And above the dark,
And above the cloud
And the toiling crowd,
Had entered the rest
Of the good and blest."

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Court:

"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isa. viii. 20.


IF the crew of a man of war may be regarded as a "little world," the densely-packed hundreds of our Court could certainly claim the same distinction. In addition to the miserable shelter which conferred upon them the few joys of home and the associations of their life-struggles, there were many links to the large outer world. All, without exception, had to do battle with keen, cold poverty; and in the morning as they left their dwellings it was amusing to contemplate the nature of their various pursuits, as fifty-six different callings were professed by them. The costermongers might be seen pushing out their barrows of vegetables, fruit, and coarse fish. The hucksters and the itinerant herbalist with their boxes. The sweep with his machine, and the Punch and Judy man with his show upon his shoulders, and red-coated dog Toby at his heels. Professed beggars, confirmed thieves, and the fortune-telling women, left at more genteel hours; while the workers with the needle, both men and women, might at all times be seen hurrying off to shops with the work they had accomplished in "poverty, hunger, and dirt." And then, strange as it[66] may seem, there were inhabitants in that obscure place which linked it to the upper classes. In a first-floor front lived two aged women, one of them a lady of eighty-four years. Though very feeble and careless as regarded present comforts, she had a vivid recollection of persons and of events connected with the beginning of the century. She was the daughter of a physician, and had been governess to the children of a Duke, and received a pension of £30 a year, which was her living. Her delight was to untie bundles of letters with crested seals and arms upon them, to show the autographs, and to relate anecdotes of her great friends who had long passed away, but several of whose names live in their country's records. Her companion was the widow of a mechanic, with an allowance from the parish. She always treated the lady with respect, and a close friendship had for many years existed between them. In death they were scarcely divided, as she only survived the lady for a few weeks.

The blackleg who for some months shared a room with two news-boys, had the unmistakable bearing of a gentleman, and though a master of slang he could not divest his tongue of its College culture. At a time of compunction he told the visitor that he was the brother of a Baronet, but that dissipation and gambling had reduced him to want bread. "I bear an alias," he continued, "that the family name may not be disgraced, but I will never humble myself to relations. I am now out of luck, and have to act as billiard-marker in a low flash house, but I have nicely hedged my book for the Derby, and if fortune smiles I shall have sufficient cash to establish myself in Canada, where I may rise to my proper position." At the time of the Derby he was[67] absent from his lodgings for a week; one morning he returned well dressed, paid up his lodging, gave the news-boys ten shillings each, as "nest eggs" for the savings-bank, left a note for the Missionary, expressing his sincere thanks for his kind interest in him; and after that was not heard of again.

In our little world there were also those who had defined religious and political opinions, and the people were not always free from the excitement which on some subjects disturbs the outer world. There were barber's shop and taproom politicians, as well as "anti-theologians," and several, who through ignorance of the truth, were the victims of superstition. The great body of the men were of Republican and Communist opinions, and belonged to what are justly called "the dangerous classes," while the principles of pure and undefiled religion were only beginning to exert their influence in forming public opinion in our Court. Just at this time new occupants entered the back parlour of No. 11, and a short account of them and their proceedings will help to show the mind of the people.

The family consisted of an Irishwoman and her two sons. She was employed at a Roman Catholic Chapel, and her two sons served at the altar. At home they showed their devotion by placing a miniature altar upon a table opposite their door, which was usually open. It was prettily arranged, with its sacred place high in the centre, and its covering of silk with finely wrought cross and sprigs of flowers. On one side was a little font-like vessel containing holy water, and on the other an image of "the Virgin," with a bunch of artificial flowers at her feet. At times the room was darkened and several small candles were lit upon the altar. The effect was[68] striking, and as the lodgers passed they looked with a kind of awe at the woman and her sons when prostrate before it. As other Romanists went into the room to perform their devotions, and as they commenced circulating little books, the family became a trial to the Missionary. The enemy was sowing tares, but a circumstance occurred which neutralized the bad influence.

If this was an effort at proselytism, they fixed upon a bad position for the purpose, as the next room was occupied by a young man who styled himself a "positive religionist." He was a shoemaker, but by self-culture had educated himself above his fellows. He was well read in infidel literature, and being of a reflective, philosophical order of mind, had worked out a system of opposition to Divine revelation. The infidels of the neighbourhood regarded him as their "coming man," and his fame was spreading, as he was clever in argument and powerful in debate. The Missionary, upon his first visit, felt so powerless in meeting his objections, that he commenced a course of reading, with the one object of leading him into the way of truth. This man became interested in the religious observances of the lodgers in the next room, and often conversed with them. One morning the youth opened the sacred place, and taking out a sacramental "wafer," told the infidel that he had brought it from the chapel; that it was only a wafer then, but that if a priest pronounced the words of consecration over it, it would immediately be changed into the Lord Jesus Christ. To confirm this he gave him a catechism containing the Creed of Pius IV., and pointed out the words, "In this Sacrament are contained not only the true body of Christ, and all the constituents of a true body, as[69] bones and sinews, but also Christ whole and entire." The infidel read this, and again asked to see the wonderful wafer. As the youth held it in his palm, the infidel struck the under part of the hand, and caught the wafer as it fell. It was broken into several pieces, but he rushed into his room, and pasted it together upon a piece of brown paper.

About ten days after, the visitor noticed several of the Irish residents and the youth in an excited conversation. Upon inquiring the cause, they told him that the young man had taken the blessed wafer round to infidel meetings, where they had made fun of and pretended to pray to it. "Och, an' shure," exclaimed a labourer, "an' his riverence never altered it at all, at all; but howan'iver he says 'twas took by Mick, and 'twasn't given, and it's himself to do penance!" And then he declared with a bitter oath, that he would take it back to the priest. As the man had a pick in his hand, and raised it in a threatening manner, and a crowd, chiefly of his own countrymen, were assembling, the Missionary felt it to be his duty to act as peacemaker, and therefore exclaimed with a smile, "Try reason before the shillelagh: the youth and one of you had better go with me and ask them to give it back to him!" This was agreed to, and they made their way to the room of the six "translators," to which place the young man had fled with his prize when he saw the storm brewing. The men had pinned the wafer to the wall, and a filthy object it looked. They were evidently prepared to defend it, but were embarrassed by the presence of the Missionary, who addressing the young man, said, "I heard you called a thief; now as positive morality is a part of positive religion, I have come to ask you to restore the[70] stolen wafer." "Not I!" he replied, with a merry laugh, in which his companions joined. "I shall rather try and find a priest, and get him to conjure it into the Man of Nazareth, to the benefit of my paste as well as the dough, and then we shall look upon and pray to—" Here, with profane words, he uttered that name which is high above every name that is named in heaven and in earth. A shout of derision from the group of infidels was silenced by the visitor, who said firmly, "This is really bad of you, to defend an immoral act by an outrage upon my feelings. That wafer is not, and never can become the Saviour of the world. To believe that, is no part of the Christian religion, that belief is a horrid corruption added to the Christian system. Listen while I read from this book, the standard of Christian faith, Christ's institution of His holy sacrament, which the wafer-god profanes: 'The Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me; for as oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come.'" And then, raising his voice, the reader said, "Be it known to you that the perpetuity of this sacrament is one of the many external evidences which support a truth in which each of you has a present and eternal interest; that the Lord Jesus, after accomplishing death for your salvation, rose from the dead, and is now alive, and is seated at God's right hand, a Prince and a Saviour." As he ceased speaking the infidels conferred among[71] themselves; and then the young man unpinned the wafer from the wall, and handing it to the youth, said, "There, take it back, as it ain't moral for us to keep it, though it's not worth so much as one of our bristles, of which we get a lot for a penny; but we never take one without asking each other for it." The youth seized the dirty object, and, with his friend, hurried downstairs, while the reader stood with the sword of the Spirit in his hand, ready to do conflict with the King's enemies.

Poor wafer! but for the accident of a youth taking thee instead of another, thou wouldest have been the object of an imposing ceremonial: placed upon a high altar and surrounded by lighted candles, before thee incense would have been burned, and priests in gorgeous raiment would have prostrated themselves, while a congregation of worshippers would have adored thee as the Lord who had redeemed them. Instead of this, thou wast the cause of His blessed name being blasphemed, and, as the embodiment of a lie, made to hinder the salvation of wicked men.

From the time the miniature altar was set up, it was noticed that two Sisters of Mercy, with their dismal clothing and large baskets, frequently made their appearance in the Court, and the Widow observed three children of a poor English family, who lived in the house, returning from the convent school with the Irish children. Upon speaking to the mother upon the subject, she said, that "the Sisters came in to see her and gave her nice things, and asked her to send the children to their school; and, as one religion was as good as another, she should do as she liked." The children, when spoken to about their school, repeated a prayer which they said they "had been taught to say to a great dolly with a[72] baby in its arms." Upon hearing this, the Missionary decided upon speaking to the father upon the matter, and in the evening went for that purpose.

This man was an "animated sandwich," and as he shuffled into the Court with his worn out shoes and crushed hat, clothing to match being partly concealed by boards covered with flaming placards, he appeared a deplorable object. His haggard, careworn expression of face led one to believe his saying, that "he was a chap as had been smashed up." Little did he think, as the Missionary followed him upstairs, that he had been the subject of much thought, and that the visitor he welcomed was as desirous for his favour as though he had been one of the great of the earth. The poor man was in a communicative state of mind, and in reply to inquiries respecting his health and business prospects, made the following statement.

"You see, master, as how sandwiches never can get on, cos we're a broke-down lot. Why you should see us afore we starts with our boards, all a-rubbin' our rheumatisms or a-coughin', so as it is wonderful how we gets on. But lots of us are respectable though we ain't always honest, as we get into a public instead of crawling, and there we enjoys our pipes and talks. Why one on us is a queer old man what had a good business in the muffin line, and it udd make you stare if you heard the poetry he makes up, and then you would laugh, and then your eyes would water like. Well, to-day he brings in a new song all by hisself, and it all ends with what is called—

"'The man what walks the gutters.'

"And it's a correct account of how we are looked down[73] on, and shows that none of our old pals will shake our paws, as it's awkward like when your harms pop out of your side like serampores at the railway; and then it shows that it's no good to police the men what gets drunk, and fine 'em five shillings, the correct thing being to make 'em sandwiches for a week with 'vertisements about them teetotal meetings. And then nobs would mayhaps have to do the boards, which would helewate the perfession, as all what they does helewates. Howsomever a chap what's a wagabon offered me his fist, and I kicked his shins; and affor that I never killed a fly, as my 'art is tender-like. That wagabon ruined us. My wife was a 'ousemaid, and I was a cabby; and she had twenty-three sovereigns, and I had ten on 'em. So we made a match, and I took a stable and borrowed a 'orse, and bought an old cab and did it up, and we was a-doing first-rate. So that man comes one morning, and says he to me, 'You're good natured, and if you'll oblige me, I will oblige you; and I wants to buy a 'orse, and if you'll write across a paper what's a bill, I'll have the money and will stand treat.' Well, that made me feel as I was a gent to get money with writing, and I does it; and the treat I had wasn't no good. Well, three months arter that, a chap comes to my stable with a paper nearly all print, which said I was to pay that fifteen pounds I signed on the paper; and I couldn't and I wouldn't, and I got drunk lots of times, and they hexecuted in the stable, and then I hadn't a cab; and then I frets, and was werry ill in the hospital; and then I thought a lot, and says I to myself, says I, 'I ortent to have writ on that paper, and I ortent to have took to the drink, and I ortent to have been 'ard with the wife, as I made the trouble. And[74] now I'm a sandwich I brings her the little bit of money I gets."

"You did wrong," said the Missionary, "in signing that paper without consulting your wife and your Bible. She might have seen the danger and prevented it; if not the good Book would have said to you, 'Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?' I have called in because I find that you are making another mistake, a very serious one, as regards your children, by allowing them to go to the convent school. The Sisters have been kind to your wife, and have persuaded her that there is no difference between their religion and that which is true; they have however caused your children to kneel before images, though God in the commandment has said, 'Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or bow down thyself to them.' Besides this, they will be taught other things which are not true, and must therefore injure them. Poor as you are, you are responsible to God for your children, and you sin by allowing them to be brought up in a false religion. Bear bravely with your troubles, and brighter days may come, but do right to your children by allowing me to take them to a proper school." After a feeble resistance from the mother this was agreed to, and the visit ended in a reading from the Bible; after which the family knelt together at the throne of grace. Next morning the Missionary called for the children and took them to the National School. During the day the Sisters called upon the mother, and after a short visit left the Court with a quick tread. The week after, several of the Romanists, including the family with the[75] miniature altar, left; eleven of the catechisms they had circulated were exchanged for good books, and so the effort to Romanize in Paradise Court was stayed.

The opposite house, the door of which was closed upon the Missionary at his first visit, was known to leading members of the cadging fraternity as an "easy padding ken," which means "a quiet lodging-house for begging impostors." As these rogues only stayed a short time, to conceal themselves from the police or to prepare new deceits for their country friends, a rapid succession of them was met with, from the "shallow cove" (i.e., a pretended sailor in distress), to the "highflier" (i.e., a begging-letter impostor). The gipsy man and his wife who kept the den professed to be very fond of the tracts, but a man who did the "religious dodge" told the giver that they were saved up and sold to such as himself at twopence a dozen, for village and roadside begging. The landlord got into trouble with the police, and to put them off the scent he for several months let the upper rooms in the regular way. This accounts for the circumstance that the visitor did not know that the top back had been occupied by a family for five or six weeks. Thinking that lodgers were there, he, one dark November afternoon, made his way to that part of the house. In reply to his knock, the door was opened by a woman who was partly intoxicated, and, whose appearance denoted that she sifted upon the dust-heaps. She refused the tract which was offered upon the ground that "it was no good to eat;" but when told of the "true Bread," she opened the door wider, and looking toward a bundle of rags, said, "You can talk to my girl as is very bad, as I'm going out," and then she staggered downstairs.[76]

The visitor approached the rags, upon which lay a little girl of eleven years. She partly raised herself, as if to look at the stranger, and then sunk back as though exhausted with the effort. "I have come to talk to you about Jesus, and to pray with you," said the Missionary, taking hold of her emaciated hand, and then he paused to give the little sufferer time to recover from the excitement of his presence, and to glance round the room. It was a wretched dwelling; filthy in the extreme; with scarcely a vestige of furniture, unless the two boxes which served for seats, and the planks placed across pieces of wood, which served for a table, could be dignified by that name. In one corner was a pile of old kettles without spouts, and saucepans without handles and lids. In the fireplace, which was without a fender and filled with ashes, was a tinker's hand-fire—a saucepan with round holes at the side and wire handle. In different parts of the room were little heaps of dirty rags, bottles, and greasepots. All this showed that the occupant was a travelling tinker, who had been stopped on his travels by the illness of the child, and that his wife had obtained work upon a dust-heap, from which she brought worn-out tinware for her husband to "doctor up" and re-sell to the poor. Turning toward the child, the visitor inquired how long she had lived there, and if she could say the Lord's Prayer. In reply, the child, panting at intervals for breath, in a low, hollow tone, said, "For four or five Sundays, sir, I was ill, and we had to sleep under a hedge, which made me worse; and then we tramped on here, and the doctor has been to see me, and says he can't do much for me, as I am getting thin and can't eat;" and then raising herself upon her arm, she continued, her eyes lighting up with[77] a supernatural brightness, "I can't say all that prayer, but I can the pretty hymn which is in the book under my head. I can't read, but I know it's there." And then the peach colour of her cheek deepened as she opened the "penny hymn-book," and repeated the first two verses of the hymn:

"'Come, let us join our cheerful songs
With angels round the throne.'"

Then she threw herself back as though exhausted, but her face assumed an expression of intense happiness. After a few minutes the question was asked, "And how did you learn that hymn?" "A little girl at the tramps' lodging, at Ipswich," she replied, "went to Sunday-school, and took me with her for three Sundays: the lady saw I was ill, and kissed me, and told me how to say that hymn, and it makes me so happy. And I am going to Him soon," she whispered, gazing up with evident delight. "You must not talk any more, dear," said the visitor, "but I will now pray to Jesus, to whom the angels in heaven are singing, and ask Him to make you very good now, and then to take you to be with Him in glory." "Ask Him," whispered the child, "to make father and mother good: they get drunk and frighten me so, and say such wicked words." The request was complied with, and He who has told His disciples to "ask that they may receive," was petitioned, in simple language but in earnest prayer, to bless the child and to save the parents.

A few necessaries were that evening sent for the child; and two days after the Missionary again ascended that dark staircase: he did so with pleasure, because he felt that in that dismal room there was a little one who[78] loved the Saviour, and who would soon be called to His presence and personally blessed by Him. The door was opened by the mother, who burst into tears and turned away; upon glancing toward the bed of rags, the visitor was startled at seeing a small elm coffin in its place, and inquired when the child died. "Late in the night when you were here," the mother replied, sobbing. "She was in great pain, and sat up in the bed and took out her little book, and said the hymn she was so fond of—

'Come, let us join our cheerful songs
With angels round the throne;'

and then her cough came on, and she fell back in the bed and died like a lamb." While they were speaking, the father, a low-looking tramp, came in; and the Missionary told them of the child's request that he would pray for them that they might be made good. Both of them cried with intense feeling, and then they knelt beside that little coffin, while prayer, deep earnest prayer, was offered for their salvation. That evening, and for several months after, they attended the meeting in the Widow's room, and before they left the place for a settled life, not a tramp's, the man gave proof of his reformation, and the woman that she had believed to the saving of her soul.

In that day when the Lord shall give to each of His servants according as their work shall be, the lady who taught that beggar child a hymn about His love and glory, and won her heart to Him with a kiss of Christian charity, will in no wise lose her reward.



The Book in the Court.


"'Well, lad!' he said, 'I've flung my life away,
And now must give the reckoning in, they say.'
I said, 'I hope, Sir, that you stand prepared
To meet the Judge, and 'bide by His award!'
'Prepared!' he said, 'Roger, my open eyes
Now look upon the past without disguise;
And I remember all the years gone by,
And all I've done, as 'twere but yesterday.
It is no use to urge me to repent;
I've lost my chance, and now must be content
To fare as others do,—so let that be:
But 'tis a dreadful word—Eternity!'
'Dear Sir,' I said, 'it is a dreadful word:
Lift up your heart and call upon the Lord.
Perhaps'—He started up impatiently,—
'I cannot call: so let that matter be!
I have no hope that I shall be forgiven;
I know a drunkard cannot go to heaven;
And as I stand upon destruction's brink,
I see I've sacrificed my soul for "drink."
Oh, what a fool I've been! but say no more;
My crazy bark will soon push off the shore.'"

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Court:

"Thy word is true from the beginning." Ps. cxix. 160.


ALL who knew "Roley-poley," as the children delighted to call him, were convinced that something was wrong with him or his affairs. He was regarded as one of the respectables of the Court; and as he left home, with his huge narrow-edged basket, covered with a white cloth, upon which were displayed slices of rolled currant-pudding and plum-cake, he looked the pink of cleanliness. His rosy, contented face, white calico cook's cap, of which he was very proud, and his clean apron, were as charms to his supporters,—the roughs and gutter children. The partner of his life was also a partner in the provision business, as she sold sheep's-trotters outside the doors of the public-houses. Though both were turned sixty they were healthy, and their room had an appearance of comfort. It was plain that they prospered, as in the afternoon they left with well-filled baskets, and at night returned with them empty. Business difficulties were not therefore the cause, and yet the good-natured little man became ill-tempered, sharp with his customers, and "cranky" with every one; and then his meek little wife began to look wretched and speak of her "troubles." Liquor was not the cause, as "Roley-poley[82]" was a sober man: so the conclusion arrived at was, that his "opinions," which of late had become very peculiar, were at the root of the evil. This was confirmed by his venturing an attack upon the Missionary, with whom he had been generally on good terms: and this is how the event occurred. The reader of the good Book was standing in a door-way with a group of boys, whose tossing for pence he had stopped by an offer to read them the story of a young man who was thrown into a den of lions. As "Roley-poley" passed with his basket there was a diversion of attention and a fingering of pence, with such a look at the tempting spread that the retailer approached to do business. The youths paused in their purchase to hear the end of the narrative, which may have irritated the poor man, as he looked spitefully toward the Book, and exclaimed, "That all contradicts itself, and it's made up of lies by the parsons, what doesn't produce nuffin, to keep us down and to get our money, and it says, it does, that God come from Teman, and nobody knows about that and Him; and it's bad, cos it says we are to be like a man what told people to steal a donkey. My opinion is, 'No religion and our rights.'" He then toddled away, as one who had let off the long condensed steam of "his opinions."

Next morning the Missionary entered his room to seek an explanation, and was told that "such as him wasn't wanted."

"Yes you be, master," exclaimed that meek little woman, with positive anger. "He's a-turning infidel, cos them shoemakers has lent him Tom Paine's book, which he was reading all two Sundays; and now he's miserable, and talks wicked, and goes to them infidel[83] meetings, and doesn't stop out with the basket, cos he ain't content-like, and wants other people's things."

"She's a wixen," retorted the husband; "and a wixen what hasn't got reason, which is the worser sort of wixens: and she is always a-reading her mother's book, 'The Whole Duty of Man,' which is a parson's book, and agin our rights."

The domestic jangle was stopped by the visitor observing, "It is quite right in religion to use our reason; as the Bible tells us to 'prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.'" And he then, in a soothing tone of voice, and with simple illustrations, proved to the poor man that God is, and that He is the Rewarder of them who diligently seek Him; and then assured him of his interest in the loving heart of the Saviour.

The old man listened, and it was evident by the manner he pursued his work of pudding-making that he was the subject of an inward conflict. After washing his apron, he poured the flour into the dirty old tub with such vengeance as to create a cloud of dust, and then he mixed with such energy that his arms were soon covered with whitey-brown flakes. By the time the dough was deposited upon the table he was calmer, and toward the end of the operation the rolling-pin was gently used. Rising from his seat the Missionary said kindly, "I am sorry for you, as you have been injured. The men have done you more harm by lending you that book than if they had broken your arm. You have struggled on together for a great many years, and ought now to be trying to make your last days your best days. That bad book will prevent this, and will rob you of the hope of meeting together in heaven. Do, my good[84] friend, read your Bible, and ask God to take the wicked thoughts out of your mind."

The wife, who was preparing her trotters in another tub, burst out crying; and the tears started into the poor man's eyes as he said, "I'll give 'em up, sir, and I'll take to your Bible; and the name of the book I had is 'The Age of Reason,' and the 'bus-washer has it, and we was told not to let you see it."

A bad book, among a people so ignorant as the dwellers in Paradise Court, is worse than a beast of prey at large: so thought the visitor, as he hastened to the room of the family who had received the book, in hope of its capture. The man, an omnibus-washer, had just returned from his work, at which he had been employed since three in the morning. He was dirty and haggard, but this was his usual condition; but the dark frown upon his brow and the surly way in which he received the visitor were new to him. He was one of those to whom positive good had been done, and who had evinced his gratitude. He had a sickly wife and six children, and his hard earnings were only seventeen shillings weekly. As in bad weather he worked a greater part of the night, he had, no doubt from a feeling of exhaustion, contracted the habit of having a quartern of rum as soon as the public-house opened, which habit greatly reduced his wages and led to after-drinking. No wonder then that his family were at times in a starving condition. His boy of seven was deaf and dumb, and a great object of pity. One day a neighbour, to quiet his moaning as he sat upon the stairs, gave him a penny. The child hastened to the baker's and bought a loaf of bread with it. As he entered the room gnawing it, the other children, in savage hunger, sprang upon him and[85] tore it out of his hands. This came to the knowledge of the Missionary, who called upon the man to reason with him about the spending of his wages. The Widow had already been there, and had convinced the wife that more could be made of the money if both were agreed. As the results of the conference the man was induced to sign the pledge; and to help him in forming habits of sobriety, arrangements were made for him to receive a breakfast of bread, butter, and coffee, at a house which opened at five o'clock in the morning, and that free of cost. By the time a fortnight was over the man had improved in health, and was firm in his resolve to keep the pledge and to continue his early breakfast. Good results followed, for the wife became cheerful, the children happy, and the room assumed an appearance of comfort. A cloud had however now gathered over the family, the man absented himself from home, and the wife's Sunday shawl and wedding ring had again disappeared. Their visitor was therefore concerned about them, and this accounts for his hurrying to their room. At first the man was sullen; but in reply to the remark, "I fear that you have neglected your promise to read a chapter daily?" he replied, "I'm the best scholar down here or in the yard either, and I've found out how we are kept down by the 'haristocrats;' and now I understands what are our rights, I'll have my share of the wealth which is the people's which produces it." And then, clenching his fist, he exclaimed, "And if fighting for it is to be done I'll do my share."

The visitor tried to secure his attention to the reason and religion of the matter, but was stopped by the wife, who to his astonishment, chimed in with the declaration, that "the people were becoming enlightened, and were[86] not to be kept down by religion, though some who believed in it were good and some were bad." After listening to them for a sufficient time to acquaint himself with the full extent of the damage they had received, he said sharply, "You have not had time to think over the opinions you have accepted: when you have done so you will discover your mistake, and I trust find to your joy that the words of the Lord are pure, making wise the simple." And then he left, with a sad heart at the discouragement received.

Upon his next visit to the owner of "The Age of Reason," the Missionary tried to convince him that he was doing positive harm by circulating his book of "advanced opinions," and instanced the parties to whom we have referred. "I admit," he replied, "that the immediate result of unsettling the mind is productive of apparent evil; but we free thinkers, like good surgeons, wound to heal and amputate to save. We do not expect to annihilate the theological system of ages without damage to individuals and to society. Our principles will revolutionize and destroy until we are able to build up a new moral system." He then told the visitor that a Branch Secular Society of thirty members had been formed at a neighbouring coffee-house, and added, "After business on Saturday evenings we intend to hold a discussion for the purpose of making new members; and as I have the privilege of inviting a friend, I shall be glad to see you there."

As several residents in the Court had joined the Society, the Missionary felt that it was his duty for their sakes to accept the invitation, and he therefore entered the room at the appointed time. Its arrangements were certainly comfortable and attractive, the[87] walls were neatly papered, and round the room were twenty ornamental brackets, and upon each of these the bust of an infidel writer, such as Byron, Chubb, Paine, Shelley, Shaftesbury, Voltaire, and others. Under each bracket was a small shelf, upon which were the works of the man represented by the bust, and the effect was very pretty. There was also a shelf with such books as "A Short and Easy Method with the Saints." Upon the table were the various infidel publications, and three Bibles—the Authorized Version, the Douay, and Priestley. There was also a Dictionary, and an auctioneer's hammer for the use of the Chairman. This personage, an ironmonger's foreman, was voted to the chair, and congratulated the members upon the success of the new movement. He then announced the subject for discussion: "Does man require a revelation?" and called upon the Secretary, a secular bookseller, to open upon the negative side. He did so in a really clever speech, clearing his way by stating truisms about the force of the human intellect, man's capacity for knowledge, and his power over the material world. He then made an onslaught upon Christianity, charging it with all the evil done in its name, and much more, and proceeded to establish the proposition: "Science the providence of life; spiritual dependency leading to material destruction." He then took pains to show "that morality is independent of Scriptural religion," and besought his hearers to reject the Book, which reason and modern discovery proved to be false, and to rely upon philosophy and science for the attainment of social and political equality with their upraising and happy influences.

Upon taking his seat he was applauded, and then the[88] Missionary rose, with his pocket Bible in his hand, and said, "I trust that you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of this Society, will extend to me the courtesy usually shown to strangers, by allowing me to speak to the affirmative of this question; and as this is my first attempt to take part in a debate, I am sure that you will grant me your forbearance should I inadvertently trespass upon your rules of discussion. Now, as your Secretary has placed philosophy and science in antagonism to this Book, and stated that these are the weapons of your warfare with which Christianity and our social state are to be destroyed and supplanted, let me reply by taking the position, 'That philosophy is only groping in the dark for the Bible, and that science is only hobbling after it.' (Laughter.) This is a great subject, and we ought to approach it with modesty, because many of the best, the noblest, and the most learned of our race have believed in the Bible. Sir Isaac Newton from his observatory scanned the starry canopy, and then confirmed the statement of the Hebrew poet, that 'the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth forth His handy work.' And let me here remind you that true philosophy—skill in the science of nature—is after all a spiritual product from the exercise of man's intellect upon the works of creation: as, for instance, the atomic theory is the fruit of reason in chemistry. You have therefore to accept the arguments of philosophers whose reasoning contradicts your senses, as when they tell us that the earth goes round the sun. If then in natural phenomena we have to use our reason in accepting or rejecting the theories of men, does it not lead to the conviction that reason itself requires to be enlightened and directed in matters beyond its power[91] of action? It is in necessary truths which man by searching cannot discover, that communications from the Creator becomes needful; and this Book contains such revelations: true philosophy therefore leads up to it. And now let me, on the authority of the historian Neander, remind you that before Christianity gave the idea no one thought of forming a system of enlightenment which could extend to the people. The Stoic, Epicurean, and Platonic forms of philosophy recognize two classes of mankind—the noble-minded who formed their disciples, and the gross multitudes whom they avoided as sunk hopelessly in degradation. The Founder of the Christian religion, however, rose above the human philosophers, by proclaiming His mission to the common people, and in this way raising humanity to the standard of an universal brotherhood." The speaker was here stopped by shouts of contradiction; but he produced silence by holding out the Bible, and exclaiming in an impassioned manner, "Philosophy and science can lead man to the intellectual enjoyment of nature and to maxims of wisdom: they can also trouble him with grave perplexities. They teach him that matter is indestructible, and that there is a constant restoring of the face of nature; and in this way they raise in his mind the important questions, 'Are my intellectual powers to be destroyed while matter only undergoes a change?' and 'If a man die shall he live again?' You who reject this Book look down into the grave and discover a darkness which can be felt but not penetrated. We, however, who accept this revelation, look into its darkness and discover flashes of celestial glory which make a passage-way to an immortality of blessedness. The song of victory over death belongs to the Christian[92] philosopher, who, looking into the grave, exclaims with joy, 'The Lord has risen indeed, and because He lives I shall live also.'"

"Philosophy is only groping in the dark for the Bible, and science is only hobbling after it." "Philosophy is only groping in the dark for the Bible, and science is only hobbling after it."

As the speaker resumed his seat there was a great sensation among the infidels. All had listened with breathless attention to his closing remarks, but the old free-thinkers regarded him with angry looks, while the young men cheered heartily. It was some minutes before a member rose to reply, and he did not grapple with the question; he rather railed at the man with the Book, and gave an opinion that "he was an enthusiast, and ought not to be allowed to enter their houses, as his influence in their families and among their neighbours would ruin the secular cause, and promote priestcraft." As this was personal, the Christian visitor rose, and with a pleasant remark to the Chairman left the room.

For a time the infidel society flourished, as its members put forth much inducement and effort, and effected a large circulation of their books, publications, and tracts. The Missionary however fought a foot-to-foot conflict with them, by visiting each member at his house, by changing their books for those containing an antidote, and by a large circulation of well-chosen tracts. As they removed their discussion class to a neighbouring hall, and secured an attendance of from 140 to 180 men, amongst whom were many foreigners, he for fifty-two Saturday evenings attended and took part in the debates. These efforts were made to result in good; the Missionary however had the sorrow of seeing several of his people confirmed in unbelief. One of these was a labourer, who read the "Age of Reason," attended a discussion, and was ever after an enemy to the truth. There were others who used the infidel objections they[93] heard as a means to harden conscience, that they might pursue their evil ways. Among these were two women, called by the people the "'strology woman," and the "imp woman."

The former of these belonged to a gang of fortune-telling impostors, who lived in the poor neighbourhoods of West London. One of these was a scissors-grinder, whose wife was a mulatto. When travelling with his machine he used to circulate cards among female servants, with his address, and the announcement that his wife "repaired parasols and cut cards." Another of the party was a vulgar over-dressed man, who styled himself "professor," and kept a magic mirror, to which silly girls were attracted by the promise of a peep at their future partners. The "'strology woman" assisted those persons when so pressed with business as to require aid, and she did a little lying on her own account among a lower class of dupes. The room at the corner of the Court was suited for her black-art purposes, as persons could slip in unnoticed, and there was no passage for other lodgers. She was about forty years of age, and unmarried. She only received her inquirers after six in the evening, and then she dressed in a gaudy kind of Eastern costume, with fantastic head-dress, and large coral necklace, from which was suspended a bunch of heavy charms. The front was the waiting room, and the back was the audience chamber. This latter was well furnished and strangely decorated. Over the mantle-shelf was a badly painted chart of the twelve signs of the zodiac, and at the side a picture of Daniel's vision of the four beasts. Upon the table was a Prayer-Book, several well-worn packs of cards, a celestial globe, and a number of "nativity" papers, with space for filling in.[94] At the side was a small deal table covered with bottles and powder papers, containing marvellous novelties for her foolish "inquirers." "Fate powders (made of brick dust), with directions for use, so as to produce dreams of the future,"—threepence. "Compression of the damask rose, to give to the face a not-to-be-resisted charm" (rouge and lard in small pill box),—sixpence. "The spirit of love: a fascination" (common scent in small bottle), tenpence; and other articles of equal attraction. The woman boasted that among the girls who thronged to consult her were many respectable young women, to whom she had spoken and given cards in the parks and streets. At first she avoided the Missionary, and when he succeeded in speaking to her she listened with marked respect; his faithfulness however very soon produced a rupture, and it happened in this way. One evening a group of poor girls assembled, before the woman, who was from home, returned to open the door. The Missionary, who was passing, gave tracts, and explained to them the sin and folly of consulting a wicked woman about the future, which was only known to the Almighty. While he was speaking the "'strology woman" came up, and the girls in their confusion scampered away. To his surprise she asked him into her consulting room, and in a bland, deceptive tone remonstrated with him for interfering with her affairs. "I will," said the Visitor, "answer you out of this Holy Bible, that you may know that it is the great God, and not myself, speaking to you." And then he opened it and read, "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."[95]

"Them girls," she continued, "them silly girls like to be befooled, and none of 'em 'ardly believes the cards when I cuts 'em, and what I says about their stars and nativities; but it amuses 'em, and does 'em no harm."

The pages of the Book were turned over, and the words read, "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another." But she added in a softer tone of voice, "Astrology is true, as it says in the Bible of the stars, that 'they are given for signs,' and that 'He gives wisdom to understand secrets;' and that is why the Professor has a Prayer-Book, and I has one here, that they may feel that it comes of religion; and it does lots of good, and makes 'em steady and religious like, and it's no sort of harm."

The leaves of the Book were again turned over, and the Scripture read: "O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right way of the Lord?" As the Book was closed a frown gathered upon her face, and springing from her chair she, with awful imprecations, ordered the reader out, telling him "that he was a deceiver, as lots of people in the Court knew that the Bible was a lying Book."

The "imp woman" was quite a different style of person. She was of middle age, and had three miserable little children dependent upon her, as her husband had absconded. These, with several others whom she borrowed as business required, provided a good living, as she supplied several of the low theatres with imp children, used in pantomimes and plays to represent huge frogs, cats, and other animals, also angels and goblins. She was a large consumer of gin; and it was well known that she gave abundance to her children, to[96] stop their growth, as they decreased in value as they increased in size. Employers at the theatres used to come to fit the skins and to instruct the children in their duties. These were of the most ludicrous kind, and her boy of six did the monkey so well that for two Christmas seasons he earned a pound a week. This training in the skins was painful until the children got "into shape" as it was called. One afternoon the Missionary approached the door, which was partly open, and was startled by the stifled sobbing of the youngest,—a tiny girl of not quite five years. Upon entering the room he saw that the sobs proceeded from a blue fiend, which was wagging its forked tail and shaking its bat-wings upon the table, the woman standing over the creature with a cane. "This is shameful," he exclaimed, taking the fiend into his arms; and then he burst the cord, and set the child free. He then turned toward the mother and said severely, "This case was made for the child last year, and if your cruelty in forcing her to move in it was known, you would have six months' hard labour. As this Book says, you must be without natural affection, and it "would be better for you all to go into the workhouse, or to beg your bread, than to live in this way."

"You ain't got no business to come here!" exclaimed the woman in a rage. "And she's a hobstinate hussey, she is; and as for natural affection, there's men better than you as knows as the Bible keeps us down and ain't true. And I does love my children, and I must get a living for 'em, sitewated as I am."

The child trembled, and threw her arms round the neck of her deliverer. To calm them both he said quietly: "You know very well that I am everybody's[97] friend, and I can't help caring for your little children. When the Saviour was on earth He blessed little dears like this, and we who know the Bible to be true must love and care for them."

As he paused she burst out crying, and the child, seeing that the storm was over, sprang into her arms, hugging and kissing her in a most affectionate manner. It was a touching sight, and cleared the way for an important conversation. The mother admitted that the health of the children was suffering from their training and exposure to the night air when returning from the theatres, and upon the visitor promising to place her eldest boy, aged seven years, into a Refuge, she with evident gratitude promised "to give up the imp business, and to be a Christian, and to work her fingers to the bone for her poor forsaken children." The little people evidently understood and believed her, as they clapped their hands with delight, and danced round the room after their departing friend.

Among the group of broken-down men who made the tramp's lodging-house their home, was a decrepit person who had evidently turned sixty years of age. His companions always addressed him as "Strong Bill," a name so opposite to his appearance as to require an explanation. This was given one winter's day as the Reader of the Book sat with several of them before the kitchen fire. A stranger entered who, after depositing several pockets full of broken victuals upon the table, approached the fire and stopped a serious conversation with the exclamation, "Well, if it ain't Strong Bill—haven't seen you, old fellow, for years. How are you getting on?" The man of powerful name shook his head, struck his breast, and in a sorrowful tone replied, "Very queer,[98] very, not the same man as I was. Tell this 'ere gent, Bobby, 'cause as how he wouldn't take it in if I said it myself, what I did when I was a young chap—how I was known all over London as 'the strong man,' how I dressed tight and carried two weights, each a real hundred, about with me, and as how I used to get rings of people round me by throwing up the weights and catching 'em like baby balls. Didn't I get lots of money, that's all; but it's all up now, it's all up." The stranger readily confirmed this statement, and enlarged upon the feats of strength once performed by his old acquaintance. "It's a great thing to have a well-built frame, and a man ought to rejoice and thank God when he feels as strong as a lion," observed the Reader; "but the inside strength is best of all; we are weak creatures—the strongest of us, without it," and then he with feeling read and commented upon the words: "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee." "I knows nothing about that 'ere," said 'Strong Bill;' "but I em a weak sinner, I em a bad lot." "Then come to my meeting to-morrow evening, and I will read and talk about 'strength and weakness.'" "We will, master," several exclaimed. They came, and in his weakness the once strong man was made glad to hear of Him who in mercy strengthens weak sinners with the mightiness of God.

In this way ignorance and infidelity, in their varied forms, were met and grappled with; and though disappointments and annoyances were of daily occurrence, there were at times gracious and unexpected proofs of blessing. The most pleasing of these occurred one morning as the Missionary was passing down the Court. The young infidel, who had for several weeks treated him with reserve, opened his window, and handing him[99] a parcel of books and publications, said with a tremulous voice, "I believe, sir, upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and have laid down my weapons of rebellion; and in proof of it I give you these books, which have damaged my own soul, and by which I have injured others." This confession of faith so surprised the man who had been set for the defence of the truth, that he was unable for the moment to reply; he however took the parcel, and passing into the room seized the hand of the convert and exclaimed, "The Lord Jehovah hath dealt mercifully by you, and blessed be His name."

The door was then closed, and the young man, in reply to inquiries, made the following statement: "Upon the first night of our discussion I was made miserable by your speech, as I saw that ours was a system of negations, and that our pretensions to philosophy and science were but groping and hobbling after revealed truth. Since then I have read many books against the Bible, and at times have been made comfortable in unbelief. Your speech, however, on Saturday week carried conviction to my mind, and the next day I offered up my first prayer for light and salvation. The past week has been one of bitterness, and I yesterday decided to cast myself in simple faith upon the mercy of the Saviour, and to acknowledge Him before men."

Need we add that he was strengthened in the faith of the Gospel, and that his spiritual father knelt with him in prayer. The Missionary hastened over to the Widow's with the parcel, to examine its contents, which were very curious. There were twenty numbers of the Reasoner, many numbers of the Free Thinker and the Red Republican, eighteen copies of "Why should the Atheist fear to die?" several volumes, and among them the long[100] sought for "Age of Reason," the book which had wrought so much evil among the people. The writer has now this book before him, and he never saw a volume more worn. The covers and edges are nearly destroyed with handling, and every page is soiled. The frontispiece, which has been carefully preserved, shows contempt for the ordained servants of God, as the text does of His holy Word. It represents a fat Bishop, running away from a rock upon which the word "reason" is inscribed, with a lamb under one arm and a sheaf of corn under the other. At the meeting that evening the reclaimed infidel sat beside the Widow, and to the astonishment of the people knelt reverently in prayer. At the next discussion he spoke on the Christian side, and boldly acknowledged his change of opinion and his faith in Christ. For several months he gave evidence of a change of heart; and as he expressed a desire further to confess Christ by partaking of the Sacrament, he was introduced to the Rector; and after he had undergone a suitable preparation, the Missionary had the great joy of kneeling with him at the table of the Lord, there to commemorate that blood-shedding whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and to receive the richer blessings of His grace.



The Book in the Court:


"As winter streams that long have lain
In icy fetters darkly bound,
When spring returns leap forth again
And fill the vale with song and sound;
So did their spring-time now return,
And love dissolved the icy chain,
And smothered hopes began to burn,
And Jenny was herself again."

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Court:

"My Word that goeth forth out of My mouth, it shall not return unto Me void." Isa. lv. 11.


TIME glided on pleasantly, as time always does when occupied with the activities of the Christian life, and brought the Missionary to the third anniversary of the day upon which he first entered Paradise Court. As that had become a commemorative day of deep interest to many of the inhabitants, their visitor had arranged with them to raise an Ebenezer of praise. As he entered the Place with his old friend the Superintendent, there were pleasant greetings on every hand. The children ran in a flock to meet him; and as if to show the good they had received, the eldest girl of the "translator," who three years before had boasted that "his children knew nothing of superstition," held for his inspection a reward-card which she had received at a Sunday-school. Salvation had come to that man's room, and he rejoiced in it, and his wife and family were made glad. The Court itself gave indications that good influences had been at work there, as its general appearance was cleaner, and window-sills were ornamented with flower-pots and boxes. The gift of a few flowers had given pleasure to those of the poor who had come[104] from the country, and had served as texts for lessons upon the value of pure air and cleanliness; while to many it was a discovery, that though the atmosphere was foul and black, they might have a thing of beauty and fragrance at their windows for part of the year. The appearance of the people was much the same, as all looked poor, and some had tattered clothes; but the police knew that rows had almost ceased, and that there was less depravity and law-breaking than formerly; and better still, the visitor knew that the restoring influence of grace had upraised some of the families, as he could make his way to rooms in which the Bible was valued, and in which its teaching had led to saving faith and holy living. On Sunday morning, as usual, women went to market, and returned with aprons full of provisions; but these were not so numerous as formerly, and those who did so showed their sense of wrong-doing by making excuse for their conduct. A disposition for hearing the truth had been created, as the Widow's room had long become too small, and the meeting had to be removed to double rooms in a street just by. These proofs of blessing had led to arrangements for a praise-meeting in the Widow's room at twelve o'clock, and it was filled with men and women who had managed to spend part of the dinner hour in holy exercise. The hymn, "Praise ye the Lord, 'tis good to raise," was sung; the hundred and forty-fifth Psalm was read, with a short comment upon the words, "All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord, and Thy saints shall bless Thee;" and then the language of praise ascended from that poor Court as incense to the throne of heavenly grace. In the evening a tea was given in the meeting-room to the forty persons who usually attended. Two hours were[105] spent in social intercourse, and two in hymn-singing, prayer, and the hearing of suitable addresses. The Wesleyan and Independent ministers took part in the proceedings; and when the Rector, who had joined the party, pronounced the Benediction, the people separated, praising and blessing God.

There was only one thing which cast a shade over the happy meeting, and that was the state of the Widow's health. All noticed that while her happiness was intense, her words were few; and there were grave shakings of the head, and anxious remarks about her not having been like herself for some time past. This was evident when, as usual, upon the following Wednesday she took dinner with the Missionary. This arrangement had been made out of consideration to her, and in order that they might consult together about the details of the work. That hour of conference with his wife and the Widow was of importance, as a knowledge of individual character (so valuable to those who would be wise in soul-winning) was obtained, and plans of action arranged. Upon her way back to the Court she was silent, and leant heavily upon the arm of her friend. On the following Wednesday she was unable to leave her room, so part of the evening was spent with her in sweet converse about the covenant which is ordered in all things and sure. At parting she said softly, "I am so happy, and so close to heaven that a waft would take me in;" and then after a pause she added, "To see Jesus: the fairest among ten thousand!" After this she grew more feeble; but when her friend called in one evening she seemed better, though drowsy. He therefore offered up a short prayer and left. Early in the morning two women came in haste to his house, to say[106] that the Widow was dead. He hurried back with them, and found the Place in a state of commotion. The people were standing in groups, and round the door was a company of weeping women. He passed them, and with soft tread entered the chamber of death, as he felt the solemn influence which pervaded the room. In the stillness of the night the angels had been there, and had taken a redeemed soul back with them into the everlasting habitations of the blessed. The shutters had been partly opened, and a gleam of light was thrown upon the bed, where lay, as though prepared for burial, the remains of the soldier's widow. Taking the icy-cold hand affectionately in his, he gazed into the face, which appeared to be set in calm sleep, and felt that no pains of death had been permitted to distress the holy dying of the aged saint. Upon the table lay the open Bible, with her spectacles upon a page of the Psalms, and near them her quarterly ticket, with "Ruth Peters" written upon it. The doctor, who had seen her the day before, said that an inquest would not be necessary, as he could give a proper certificate; the remains were therefore left in the care of several women, who loved her as a mother.

The same kind hand which had supplied the needs of the Widow, provided a suitable funeral. Ah, and that was an honourable burial, for she was carried to the grave by six men of the Court, who left their work for the purpose; and as the coffin was borne through the Place, followed by several of the neighbours, with the Missionary as chief mourner, the people made great lamentation over her. And when the earth was dropped into the grave, with the solemn utterance, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," all felt that at the[107] resurrection of the just that body would be raised and made like unto Christ's glorious body.

The Missionary hastened from the funeral to meet the County Member, as he had arranged that evening to visit the district. The honourable gentleman had been so pressed to place boys into "Homes," that he decided to see the people for whom he was asked to do so much. In the evening, when they entered the Court, there was, for so crowded a place, deep silence; and as they passed from room to room, they had to speak words of comfort to the people who were sorrowing for the loss of their friend. And they were sweet words of heavenly consolation which the stranger uttered. As he left the Place he leant for a moment upon a post at the entrance, and said thoughtfully, "I wish you had told me about that Widow, as I should like to have known her." Soon after he sent the Missionary a book in memory of his sainted wife ("Our Friends in Heaven"), and wrote in it, "Not death, she said, but life, life, life, eternity!" And when the days of his sojourn were accomplished, he with like words crossed to the celestial side of the river. And may he not know the Widow now? May it not be one of the joys of the heavenly state to hold sweet converse with saints about whom we have only heard upon earth? May it not indeed be an employment of enduring delight to be continually enlarging our acquaintance,—to know and to be known of the innumerable company of the redeemed?

The removal of the Widow was a felt loss, but the bereavement was the means of leading several of the poor to yield themselves to God. The worker had lost his right hand, and yet the work was made to prosper. For several months the attendance at the meeting increased,[108] though there was a constant drafting away to the regular ministry. At one of these meetings he took for exposition the speech of St. Paul to the elders of the Church at Ephesus. At the close he referred for the second time to the words, "Therefore watch, and remember that for the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears;" and after an effort gently to break the news, he said abruptly, "I am about to leave you, as the Lord in His providence has made it plain that He has important work for me to do elsewhere." This announcement brought the meeting to a close, as the people left their seats and surrounded him with expressions of real sorrow.

For some days after there was earnest visiting in the Court, as the Missionary felt the responsibility of speaking to the people for the last time; and as a proof of the power of domiciliary visitation in overcoming opposition to the truth, not one person, from the beginning to the end of the Place, uttered an offensive word; while many gave him a hearty welcome and a tearful good-bye. Take for instance, the "prize-fighter," who had not quite recovered from a successful pugilistic encounter with a Birmingham man, for ten pounds a side, as his face was bruised and discoloured, and his right arm disabled. He received the visitor with what to him was a painful smile, and then in a confidential manner said, "It tain't sir, as I 'em a-gettin soft, that I've resoluted; but I haven't got over that backhander you gave me out of that Book, as was, 'Will a man fight his Maker?' and the way you closed in was stunnin; and says I to myself, I 'em knocked over the ropes, and I'll let the whiskers grow, and take to costering; that's summut, ain't it?" "The wearing of whiskers," was the reply,[109] "will put you out of the prize-ring; and you will find that there is more happiness in getting an honest living with the blessing of Almighty God upon you, than there can be in wearing the 'Champion Belt of England' with His curse." "Haven't I wished for him to be out of the magic circle," exclaimed his wretched, vulgar-looking wife, "as you see the feeling is awful when your 'usband is going to be pitched into and knocked to a mummy; and you must be a fighter's lawful wife to know the feelin when it's a-goin on. If you drinks 'ard, why you can't leach 'im and poultice 'im, as is a tender job: and if he's beat, you gets nuffink; and when he beats, you treats ring pals and wagabons; and the money it tain't no good, and it tain't Christian-like as you says; and if you'll stick to him, though you are a-goin, I'll wade through seas of blood for you, as the sayin is." Their friend smiled graciously at this assurance, and then taking a seat, opened the Book, and read to them about Him who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.

The day before leaving, the Missionary announced his intention of bidding the people farewell at six o'clock next evening in the open Court, and of then introducing his successor to them. As at the appointed time they entered the Place, it was so densely packed that they with difficulty pressed to the bend in the middle. A chair was handed from a window, and as their friend stepped upon it the murmur of voices burst into a loud cheer. Looking round, he saw an expression of sorrow upon that mass of upturned faces, and near him stood the reclaimed infidel, the fighting man, the chanter, Tom and Bess, and others for whom he had a Christian affection. For a few moments he remained silent with emotion,[110] and then with faltering and afterwards with firmer voice said, "I think, my good friends, that I have shaken hands and said Good-bye to each of you in your rooms; but I have thought it well that we should have a last meeting, and together ask our heavenly Father to bless and to take care of us. The four years I have gone in and out among you have been years of happiness; at first we did not understand each other, but from the time you discovered that my one object in life was to lead you to the Lord Jesus Christ that you might be made good and happy, you have regarded me as your friend. Some of you have believed to the saving of your souls. (A cry of "Bless the Lord.") Let me, as your father in Christ, beseech of you to regard this Holy Book as you do your necessary food,—to live lives of daily, constant prayer, always looking to Jesus. There are others here who respect me as the King's messenger, but who do not care for the message of a Saviour's mercy, which I have delivered to them. You are going as fast as time can carry you to the grave,—to hell: faster and faster from heaven. Listen to my last words, as I shall meet you when the dead, small and great, shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Turn from your evil ways, from your drunken habits, your Sabbath breaking, your iniquities. And in the name of Jesus, because He died upon the cross to save you, ask Almighty God to pardon and to give you His Holy Spirit, that you may be Christians indeed." And then raising his pocket Bible, and looking up to heaven, he continued, "Let us all so live that we may meet in glory: the Widow is there, and some out of this place have already followed her. Let us hate sin, trust in the Saviour, and press on for the crown of life." Here[111] the emotion of the people became so great that several exclaimed, "We will," and others "May the Lord have mercy upon us." The speaker then said, "I will now introduce your new Missionary, by asking him to read something to us out of the good old Book; you will then see him and hear his voice: when he has done, I will offer prayer; after that he will stand in my place to you. Receive him as one sent from God, to show unto you the way of eternal life, and prove your love to me by treating him as my friend."

The stranger then took his place upon the chair, and read the hundred and third psalm, after which the old friend rose to offer the parting prayer. As the words, "Let us pray," rung through the Court, battered hats and fur caps were removed, so all the men stood uncovered, and several of the women knelt down; while at the windows and in the crowd, many covered their faces with their hands. The prayer was short but earnest. At its close the word "Amen" was uttered so loud and clear, that it seemed to come from a church congregation, rather than from that strange gathering of worshippers; and after the Benediction the word was uttered with still deeper feeling; and then, amidst the tears, the thanks, and blessings of the people, and humbled before God, because of the mission blessings received, the man with the Book passed out of Paradise Court.

He did not, however, and has not to this day, lost interest in the people. At intervals he visited in the place with the Missionary, but on each occasion found some of his old friends gone, and at length, his acquaintance there became very small. Among those who remained, was drunken (now sober) Sammy. He became[112] a member of the Baptist chapel, and never broke his pledge. His attendance at the means of grace and at temperance meetings was regular, and he won the respect of Church members and abstaining companions. When the friend who had stopped him in the road to ruin called, he treated him with a respect approaching to reverence. He died at the age of seventy, after a short illness, in which he gave evidence of meetness for heaven.

Persons who have left the Court, have frequently been met with in the streets and elsewhere, and several remarkable proofs of good were in this way brought to light; as, for instance, in the case of a little deformed man of uncertain age, strange expression of countenance, and rather weak intellect, who shared a back attic with a crossing sweeper, and paid one shilling a week rent. He called himself a "fagger," and lived as quite a number of men do, by searching the streets of London by night and at early morning for lost money and property. These "faggers," may be seen walking at a steady pace, or trotting gently, glancing keen looks along the road and pavement. They always pause at corners where omnibuses stop; at the doors of theatres and other likely places. In the season they all make for the "Haymarket," as the place where valuables such as rings may be found, and when the "cafés" close, they make for home, searching as they go.

Our "fagger," as a child of the night, was rarely seen by day. He was indeed quite a recluse, as he shrunk from the derision to which his unsightly appearance subjected him from the children and his ignorant neighbours. So they only saw him when he shuffled out at night, or trotted back early in the morning. He for[113] months refused the Missionary admission to the room, and was angry when his landlord, the sweeper, insisted upon receiving the visits, and he used on these occasions to seat himself upon his stool in the corner with a sulky expression of face. After a time his confidence was obtained, and it was then discovered that the poor simple man was utterly ignorant of saving truth. He had entered upon life as a "City Arab," could not read, had never been into a place of worship, and had not even heard the name of the Saviour. Little did the sower think, as the seed of the kingdom fell so freely from his hand, that it was to find good ground in the heart of the poor "fagger." He became deeply interested in the readings from the Bible, and at the farewell visit he drew his stool nearer, and his eyes brightened as the sweeper and himself listened to St. John's narrative of the crucifixion.

Nearly a year had passed after this visit when a group of eight or ten persons assembled in Oxford Circus. It was long after midnight, and bitterly cold. The Missionary who was passing, approached, and two policemen to whom he was known, informed him that the well-dressed man who lay upon the kerb, with a frightful gash upon the forehead, was in liquor, and had fallen against the lamp-post. As the man was stunned, if not seriously injured, the police were advised to take him to the hospital, and one of them left to get a stretcher for that purpose. By this time a number of depraved men and women had gathered round, some of whom uttered ribald jokes, one woman suggesting "that as the gent was dead, they had better search his pockets for money, with which to drink to his memory." "And if dead," exclaimed the Missionary in a voice so loud and solemn[114] that the people were startled: "if dead, his eternal state is fixed; the day of mercy over; and there is a fearful meeting with the Judge of heaven and earth." For a few moments there was silence, when a man near the lamp said, "He knows nothing about it, as no one ever came back from the other world to tell us." Before a reply could be given, an odd-looking little man who had pressed into the circle, exclaimed, "He does know: he's got it in his Book. They nailed Jesus to the cross, they did; He got out of the grave, He did; He's alive a savin' us, He is; it's in the gent's Book, it is: he knows it;" and then the little "fagger," for it was he, trotted away, as if astonished at himself. "That poor man is right," said the Missionary, "The Lord Jesus is alive to save sinners." No more could be said, as the policeman arrived with the stretcher, and as they bore the injured man away, some of the crowd followed, but many who were sinners remained to hear the Gospel more fully.

The Missionary followed in the direction the "fagger" had taken, and found him in Pall Mall. They stood for some time under the colonnade of the opera house, and there the man of feeble intellect called Jesus, Lord, and repeated the simple prayer he used. A few months after this he was removed to the infirmary, in abject poverty and increased mental weakness. At times, however, he used to sit in Poverty Square (a yard in the workhouse), muttering to himself the one great truth he had grasped,—that the crucified Jesus was a living Saviour; and while a ray of reason remained this gave him comfort. When last heard of his mind had entirely gone, but he was for years a living proof that the grand truth of salvation can be grasped by the feeblest as well as by the mightiest intellect.[115]

The "niggers" were met with under very different circumstances. Several summers after the visit to their dressing-room and the rescue of "Black Poll," their friend was walking upon the sands at Broadstairs in company with three ladies. They stopped to listen to an entertainment which some "niggers," who had formed themselves into a circle, were about to give. As he knew them, and did not care that they should then recognise him, he kept at the back of the assembled listeners. Towards the close, there was a peculiar "ogling" between the "artistes," and a looking in one direction, and then they brought their entertainment to a sudden close; and to the surprise of the company, and the horror of the three ladies (who slipped off), they fairly rushed toward their friend, and in the most demonstrative manner owned him as such. "I has bin to see Poll," exclaimed Dusty, "and she's growed a wapper, and took to hedecation, as is her nature. And she writ me a letter, and if I sees yer honour arter dark I'll bring it; and now the ladies are out we picks up fourpennies and sixpennies, and when they goes in the tother sort comes out, an' we only gets browns." For the time it was a relief to be rid of them, so an appointment was made upon the sands at ten o'clock that night. The men, who had left their instruments behind them, were waiting, and a strangely pleasant hour was spent with them. As they stood at the edge, or rather followed the receding tide, the moon casting her soft light upon the rippling waves, the "niggers" listened, and in their way conversed about truths which concerned their salvation. The confidential utterance of the fiddler, will show the influence of Christian effort with such people. "You sees, sir," he said, "that this ain't a religious sort of business,[116] but I can't be no other but a 'nigger,' and I has a wife an' three youngsters, what are always a-hopening of their mouths and must have summut to put into 'em. But I has given up getting drunk and cursing as I used, and wheresomever I bees on Sunday, I slips in to hear religion preached, if there ain't nuffin of that ere sort a-going-on in the open, as I prefers."

The presence of the "niggers" reminds us of their near neighbour in London, the convict's widow, and we will therefore finish her little history. Every six months, for nearly five years, her son at the convict establishment sent a letter to his teacher. At the end of that time the chaplain wrote to say that he was to be discharged with a ticket-of-leave, as his conduct had been very good. As it was thought well to keep him from his mother, a room was taken for him near to his teacher, as he never ceased to call him. His case was mentioned to a Christian man, a builder, who promised when his hair was grown to give him work, and to keep the secret of his antecedents from others. Upon his discharge the convict came direct to his friend's house, where his mother was ready to receive him; and the meeting was most affecting, as she hugged and kissed her son, who had grown a big man, as though he had been a child. When in quiet conversation that evening, the convict spoke with feeling of the reading upon the housetop, and added, "That night in the police cell I laid upon my face for several hours, sobbing and praying for mercy. I knew that I had done wrong, and didn't fear the punishment; all I wanted was God's pardon, and I believe that He did forgive me the next evening, as I lay praying in the cell at the detention house, for I then felt that Jesus was my Saviour, and it[117] was the happiest evening of my life. At Dartmoor I have borne my punishment in the spirit of prayer, and I am glad of my discharge that I may show forth the praise of the Saviour." A few Sundays after, when his hair was sufficiently grown for him to mix with others, he was introduced to a branch of the Young Men's Christian Association, of which he became a member. He went to his work, and did well until the time of his full discharge. Soon after this the fact of his being a returned convict became known to his fellow-workmen and Christian friends: this caused him constant and bitter annoyance. One evening he came to his "teacher," and said, "You know, sir, that I have desired to be a soldier, and would have enlisted if I had not committed that last crime. As all is known about me, I can't stop at the builder's, and don't know where to go; so I think that I shall take the Queen's shilling, as I can be as good a Christian in the army as out of it." He acted on this resolution, and enlisted into a regiment then serving in India. He wrote several letters to his mother and teacher, telling them that he was very happy in his new calling, and that he had joined a soldiers' prayer-meeting, and taken part in its proceedings. One evening the following winter the mother came to the house of the teacher in a most pitiable condition. As she stood at the door without bonnet or shawl, and partly covered with snow, her face bore an expression of abject misery. In her hand she held a letter, and the big tears stood in her eyes. It was evident that her grief was too deep for utterance, so her friend took the letter from her hand, and glancing through it found that it was from the colour-sergeant of the regiment, to say "that her son, his comrade and Christian friend, had[118] died of fever, after four days' illness, and that his end was perfect peace." The poor stricken one was taken into the kitchen and seated before the fire, a cup of tea being made for her. When warmed and refreshed, her friend spoke comforting words, and then they sought the soothing influence of prayer. An hour after she went out into the cold and snow much comforted, and muttering to herself about her "Eddy" and heaven. From that time her frame bowed, her hearing became heavy, and her health gradually gave way. At times she was an annoyance to her friend, as he had evidently taken the place of her son in her affections. Strange-looking object as she was, she used to call upon him at most unseasonable times. As her health failed these visits became less frequent, and in her last illness they were returned. Before her death, which was very recent, the patient labourer was rewarded for his efforts of many years to lead her to the Saviour, as she clung to Him with all the fervour of a simple faith. To the last she kept her foolish oath, for she did not for thirty years wear either bonnet or shawl.

"Saved in a London Court, and gathered into the Heavenly Mansions from India," is the epitome of the young convict's spiritual history: and as if to illustrate the fact that London is the great heart of the world, an Indian who was met with in that very Court, was drawn, gave the life-look to the Uplifted One, and from the empire city joined the "great multitude of all nations, and kindred, and people, and tongues." It thus occurred,—

Upon his entering the Court one morning, the Missionary noticed a little Indian girl, who was surrounded by a number of other children. She was[119] about eight years of age, of dark yellow complexion, with jet black hair, which hung over her shoulders, and upon her wrists were thick silver bracelets. Upon questioning her, the child with peculiar accent, said that she came with her parents from Bombay; that her father was a cook, and had come to London to make pickles at a large shop; and that they had come to live in the Court until her father and mother got to work. He went to the room with the child, and there saw the father, a pure Indian, dressed like a Lascar. There was only a hammock-like mattress, and some ship's utensils in the room. Upon the mantel-shelf were many bottles of curry powder, and a small idol of white ivory, which seemed to represent a boy with the head of an elephant. As the Visitor started a conversation about the business, he became communicative, and stated that he was a native of Hyderabad, but had lived for many years in Bombay, where he became cook to a British sahib, and afterwards was employed to make pickles for export to England. He was reluctant to talk about religion, but said that Vishnu and Ganesa were great and powerful gods; that he had married a half-caste woman, whose mother was a Mohammedan, and whose father was an English sailor, and now kept a lodging-house for sailors at Bombay; that the bracelets upon the wrists of his child were made of silver coins which bore the image of his mother's god, and she had placed them on the child when she was an infant. He added, "that he thought his wife was a Christian, but that she had respect to Ganesa, and that he did not like his child to be a Christian, as they got drunk and broke up the gods." When the one Great God was mentioned he looked anxiously towards his idol, as though he feared[120] that it would be injured or taken from him; and then he muttered so loudly in a strange tongue, that the visitor thought it well to leave.

A few days after the Missionary was told that the Indian was ill, and he at once went in to see him. He found him so bad, that he went out and fetched a medical friend, whose prescription gave immediate relief. That evening the heathen listened for the first time to a simple statement concerning Jehovah; His works, His mercy, and the atonement accomplished at Jerusalem for the sin of the world. As he was worse next morning, his friend obtained an indoor letter for the Middlesex Hospital, and removed him there in a cab. He remained under treatment for nearly two months, during which time he was visited thrice a week, and thoroughly instructed in the Christian faith. When discharged he did not return to the Court in which he had lived only a fortnight, as his wife had arrived, and had taken a room near some of their country people in Drury Lane. As he expressed contempt for idols, and a desire for salvation, he was introduced to the Missionary of the district, who paid him great attention, and brought several clergymen to instruct him. One day he ran after his old friend, whom he saw in Holborn, and exclaimed, "Oh, sahib, God in heaven is so great, and Jesus is our Saviour here!" This confession gave joy to his friend, who returned with him to his lodging, and was pleased to find that the Indian and his wife had become regular in their attendance at church. After a conversation about baptism, the Missionary took hold of the bracelet of their little girl, who from the time he entered the room had sat with her hand in his, and said, "These heathenish ornaments ought not to remain[121] upon the wrists of your child, now that you are Christians." "Take them off, sahib," replied the father: "they are much money, and a present from my heart to you." A few days after the Missionary and his wife drew them open with a towel, and he has them now among other precious memorials of Christian work. Arrangements had been made for the baptism of the Indian, when he was taken suddenly ill; that sacrament was however administered by a curate of St. Giles' Church. He lived some months after this in great suffering, but he rejoiced in God his Saviour, and fell asleep in Him. As the mother was poor, with two younger children, and as the girl was exposed to much evil in that low neighbourhood, the Missionary placed her in a "rescue Home." She grew up a pleasant Christian girl, and went to service. When she last called upon her friend, all was well with her.

The young convert from infidelity, like others who had received spiritual good, left the place for more respectable lodgings. He became diligent in his attendance upon the means of grace, and by application to his trade and a good use of his leisure, he qualified himself for a better position. He formed a class of young men, who styled themselves "The Bible Defence Club," of which the Missionary became president. They met weekly to read and converse upon the evidences, and by arrangement took part in the infidel discussions. As the result, several leading sceptics became converted, and the opinions of the working men of the neighbourhood were so influenced, that the infidel club broke up, and their discussion "forum" became so thinly attended that it also came to an end. This was a great victory and cause for gratitude. The young convert had an uncle who was[122] manager of a large firm in one of the midland towns; he was so pleased with his nephew's letters, that he offered him employment, which was gladly accepted. He rose rapidly, and a few years after, when he came to London on the business of the firm, he had become so much the gentleman that his friend scarcely knew him. Soon after his appointment as manager of a "department" he married a Christian woman, but he continued to sing in the Church choir, and to teach in the Sunday-school.

These abiding cases have given joy to the Christian worker, and helped to sustain him in still more onerous duties. They are, however, few when compared with the disappointments. At the time of the revival in the Court there was much blossom, as the inquiry for salvation was general; but when fruit was sought for, it was plain that a spiritual blight had passed over the place, destroying much good. The "omnibus-washer," for instance, became confirmed in infidelity, resisted every good influence, and died in a hopeless state; his wife became a drunkard, and his eldest children came to ruin. The "'strology woman" prospered upon the wages of iniquity, and became queen of a London den. Besides these, the Missionary used frequently to meet with those of whose salvation he once had hope, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seat of the scornful. He has indeed met with bitter opposition from several over whom he once had spiritual influence. Perhaps in so real a conflict as this with the powers of darkness, such failures are to be expected; they, however, have a humbling tendency, and lead to simple resting upon the promises, as they prove that the instrument by itself is of little worth,—that souls are won, not[123] by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. The one consolation, however, in these discouragements, is the fact that we never know when the Word which has been faithfully spoken will germinate. It may be years after, and in the day of the Lord many a joyous surprise may be experienced at finding unknown cases in which grace has triumphed.

Even here the "works following" past labours are causes of joy, and to complete this narrative three shall be recorded.

When he first entered the Place, the Missionary was resisted by a besotted man and his wife. He was deputy potman, or rather "hanger-on" at a gin bar, in which he used to stand for many hours daily. His wife did cleaning and odd jobs for the lower class of tradespeople, and was in dissipation a fit companion for her husband. He was taken ill, and the long-sought-for opportunity to read and reason with them was obtained; the poor man professed penitence, sank rapidly, and died. In her early widowhood the woman sought and found mercy. She left the Court, became a communicant, and has ever since been regular in her attendance at the Lord's table. She is now of advanced growth in grace, and occasionally calls upon her old friend, and they have sweet converse together about matters concerning the kingdom of heaven.

Something was gained for the right when the little Frenchman, who lived at No. 10, became subdued and attentive. Since his escape from Paris, twelve years before, he had taken up his abode in the "Grove," and forgetting his own tongue, he had learned to speak the slang language of the Court "like a native." He lived by polishing cheap furniture, and he was regarded by[124] many of his neighbours as an amusing acquaintance. His opinions and his life were bad, as he expressed hatred toward ministers and professors of religion, and his tongue was so corrupt that some of the people (sunk as they were in ignorance and sin) avoided him. When met with by himself he was quietly and patiently instructed in the doctrines of the pure religion; but when met with among others he was put upon the defence of his low infidel sayings and his wrong living. He at length used to fix his gaze upon the Bible, when taken from the side-pocket, and listened as one who felt its power. He was once arrested by the beatitudes, and asked several times to have them read to him. All we can say more about him is that his bad influence became neutralized, and that his soul received some rays from the light of the revealed word.

The other is only part of a narrative, as it concerns our amusing acquaintance, "Black Poll." At first her conduct in the "Home" was wild and unruly, but as the civilizing process went on, she proved the truth of that saying of the ancients that "the wildest colts make the best horses, if only they are properly broke in." She was properly broke in, and developed a fine character. Quick in learning and diligent in work, she became a favourite with the ladies and the matron. She was of pleasant countenance and of marked neatness in her dress, so there was no difficulty in providing for her after she had been nearly four years in the "Home." She was received into a good family as under-nurse, and did extremely well, being much valued by her mistress and loved by the children. Unhappily for her, "Uncle Dusty" regarded her with enduring affection; upon obtaining her address, he stopped one evening with[125] his company before the mansion where she lived, and told the footman that "he knowed 'Poll' lived there, as was a credit to him, becos he jist made a woman on her by taking her out of the workus." The family were annoyed, and the girl felt degraded before her fellow-servants, and came next day to consult with the friend who had rescued her. As she had thought of emigrating to Canada with other young people for whom kind arrangements had been made, she was advised to do so. Upon arriving in the colony she obtained a good situation, and at intervals of time sent many pleasant and thankful letters to her "Home" friends in London. The last of these was to him who has in the providence of God wrought out so great a deliverance for her. In it she informed him that she was about to be married to a young man with good prospects, and concluded with these touching words: "When, sir, you met me on the stairs God placed his banner over me, and ever since it has been love, and I shall always be your grateful girl, M. W."

Yes; the banner of a Saviour's love was placed over her, and over the old Court, when the Christians of Tunbridge Wells sent a messenger of the Cross to its people; and that banner of crimson hue still floats over them, and the restoring work goes on, as the improved condition of the place and people clearly testify. There are, however, in that neighbourhood of Lisson Grove, though situate in the western part of the capital of Christian England, a vast multitude who are uninfluenced by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and many of whom are deeply sunk in ignorance and sin. Ten missionary districts are unvisited, though each contains upwards of two thousand precious souls. Christian[126] tradesman of the Edgeware Road, who are well acquainted with the spiritual necessities of the "Grove," have formed themselves into a committee to provide for three of those districts. They need help. The writer,[1] who is responsible for the support and extension of missionary work in this part of London, will gladly receive communications concerning giving and receiving. He is persuaded that many who read this narrative will gladly share in the joy of conveying the Gospel to this multitude of precious souls; that many will help to raise the banner of love over these acres of habitations so thickly peopled with the home heathen; that a blessing may rest upon our nation by an increase of its people who love righteousness, and who can enter with personal zest into the sweet language of the poet Weitzel:—

"Oh, blest the land: the city blest,
Where Christ the ruler is confest!
Oh, happy hearts and happy homes.
To whom this King in triumph comes."


The Book in the Bars:


"Amazed and sore perplexed he stood,
The sweat streamed off his rugged brow;
Like midnight wanderer in a wood,
More hopeless still his prospects grow.

"The day wore on, he marked it not,
He felt not that his cheeks were wet;
He saw himself a drunken sot,
Bound fast within the devil's net.

"He groaned beneath his heavy load:
At last a bitter cry there came,—
'Be merciful to me, oh God,
For I a wretched sinner am!'"

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Bars:

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Ps. cxix. 105.


YOU see, master, as how it can't be no otherwise; my poor husband is very ill, and cos it's consumption he can't live long. I has to go out a-selling to get us a living, and he is miserable all by hisself. Now, though I says it myself, he is very much respected by the landlord and all as uses this house, and he always enjoys hisself here. So they have put the two large barrels at each side of the little one, and before I goes out I takes him and puts him down comfortable, as in an arm-chair, and then his pals gives him sups of rum, and that sort of thing, and it does him lots of good—and he shan't be without his enjoyments for the like of you."

The latter part of this speech was delivered in a defiant tone. The speaker was the wife of a costermonger who lived in a neighbouring court. The person addressed was the Missionary of the district, who had, by a kind touch of the arm and a cheerful "How are you to-day?" arrested their hurried entrance into a gin-palace. The man was about thirty years of age, and as he leaned against the marbled pillar of the "palace," supporting himself upon his stick, he presented a pitiable sight. The loose-fitting jacket, the sunken eyes, the hectic[130] flush upon the cheek, and hard breathing, indicated his near approach to the grave. A few words of gentle reproof and concern for his spiritual safety only provoked a movement by which he was partly supported and partly pushed into the bar.

As the massive door with its ground-glass panels closed upon them, an expression of sadness passed over the face of the Missionary. He had just entered upon the work, and for the first time realized in its intensity the "burden of souls." Only a few weeks before, the Committee of the London City Mission had said to him, "Visit the inhabitants of the district assigned you, for the purpose of bringing them to an acquaintance with salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, and of doing them good by every means in your power." The court in which these persons lived was within the district, and it was his duty to seek the salvation of that man. As he passed on, he thus reasoned with himself: "If I make no effort for his good, he must be lost; but what can I do? When I called in at his room last evening, he was stupefied with liquor, and it will be the same to-night. He is sober now; why should I not visit him in the bar, and deal faithfully with him?" After prayerfully pondering the matter, he turned back and timidly entered the "palace." The woman had left, but the man was there in the position described by her. The small barrel was so placed between the two large ones as to form a comfortable seat. Several men of his own class were standing by him, and though early in the day, groups of gin-drinking men and women had assembled in the four compartments into which the bar was divided. The floor had been swept and covered with sawdust, which gave it a[131] comfortable appearance, while its spaciousness and highly-varnished hundred-gallon hogsheads, the gilded frame-work of the plate-glass panelling, the bright rows of wine and spirit bottles, and the active movements of the landlord and two barmen, rendered the place attractive and pleasant to the miserably clad customers.

Man speaking to other men in bar

The sick man was evidently startled by the appearance of the visitor, who set him at ease by observing, "You must have plenty of time for reading, so I thought I would call and give you some interesting little books which I intended to have left in your room."

Several were then handed to him, and accepted with the remark, "I can't read much, but I'll ask the chaps what reads the papers to read them to me."

The men who were standing round asked for tracts[132] and then listened with deep interest while the Missionary repeated the parable of the builders. Only a few remarks were made upon it, when the landlord in an angry tone assured the visitor that, "They were not natural fools, to believe a set of lies made up by the Jews."

"The words I have repeated," was the calm reply, "were uttered by the Saviour of the world in mercy to sinners. Believe them, and your soul shall live."

By this time the customers had gathered from the other compartments, attracted by the novelty of religious teaching in such a place. The landlord spoke quietly to several men who were standing near the bar, and immediately after one of them made his way towards the Missionary, and tore the leaves of a tract, formed them into paper lights. He lit his own pipe with one of them, observing in derision,—

"These here are useful things, guv'nor, to light up with: give us some more."

A general laugh was suppressed by the prompt answer,—

"Of course I will, as they are useful things. I have given enough already to light you all up,—that is, in the right way; and I'll give you some more, and tell you what I mean. Now, there are some people who are always in the dark, because they are blind; and there are some people who are always dark in their souls. They don't see with their minds the beautiful things that are in the Bible, so they live badly, just as if there was no God. That's a miserable way of living; and when they are taken ill they are afraid to die, because the grave is a dark place to go to. Now, if a man reads these tracts, and thinks about what he reads, he will light up his soul. Why, at the end of this tract there is[133] a little bit out of the Bible which would do it for all of you: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.' When a man believes that, he becomes sorry for his sins, and asks God for pardon, because Jesus died upon the cross for him. He is then forgiven, and by the Holy Spirit of God made good and happy. He has then no fear of death, because he is certain of being in heaven with the Saviour for ever."

Further remarks were prevented by the landlord, who, forcing his way through the crowd of eager listeners, seized the speaker by the arm, and with an oath thrust him into the street. And thus ended the first missionary visit to the public-houses.

A few days after the wife of the costermonger came up to the Missionary, who was passing the court, and said, "Please, master, my poor husband wants to be religious; he says that he is all dark, and he wants to hear some reading, and I've got no learning; and he has not been in the bar, as he thought maybe that you would call."

"I will see him at once," was the reply; and the Christian visitor stepped with her into the room.

Before a word of greeting could be uttered, the poor man exclaimed, with all the eagerness of one in spiritual distress, "Sir, I have been dreadful wicked in my time, and it's dreadful to be ill, and I don't know what prayers to say."

The visitor looked with pity into the careworn, pallid face of the all-but-dying man, and, taking a seat by his side, told him in simple words the wondrous and soothing story of a Saviour's love, and before leaving taught him a few sentences of prayer. Such visits were repeated daily, as the increasing weakness of the sufferer[134] showed that the time for instructing him in the way of salvation was short indeed.

Upon the last of these visits he listened with absorbing interest to the narrative of the Lord's ascension, and then, with a smile of peace, exclaimed, "He died for poor me, and He has made it all right now, and I shall go up to Him."

That night he passed away; and it was for some time the talk of the Court that he died happy, because he was made a Christian in the public-house.

One evening, about thirteen months after this event, a crowd of persons, among whom were many of the respectable inhabitants, stood around the gin-palace in earnest conversation. It was so unlike the noisy crowds which assembled when drunkards were ejected, that the Missionary, who was passing, inquired the cause.

"The landlord has broken a blood vessel," was the reply: "three doctors are with him, and we are waiting to know the result."

Upon its being stated that the doctors gave hope of his recovery, the people separated. For days it was rumoured that his life was in danger, and at the little mission service held in the Court, prayer was made on his behalf. Several mornings after, the Missionary inquired of the servant, who was standing at the private door, as to the state of her master's health.

"A little better," she replied; "but he is still in the club-room, as the doctors say it will be dangerous to remove him for some days."

Acting upon the impulse of the moment, the Missionary passed the servant, and with an ejaculatory prayer for success, ascended the stairs, and tapped at the club-room door.[135]

"Come in," said a faint voice; and the visitor entered and saw the landlord lying upon a couch, near the fire.

Stepping gently forward, he said in a subdued tone, "I must ask you, sir, to forgive this act of apparent rudeness. The truth is, that since hearing of your illness I have been praying for you."

There was a momentary embarrassment, until the patient, with a troubled expression of face, whispered,—

"Who asked you to pray for me? I don't believe in theology."

"No one asked me," was the reply; "but if you will keep from speaking, which may retard your recovery, I will, in a few words, tell you why prayer was made to God in your behalf. After years of Bible-study I know its statements to be true; and then I have tested its promises, and know the blessings to be real. You, perhaps, from want of opportunity, have not done the one, and are therefore without the blessings now that you most need them. I have felt as anxious about you as though you had been an old friend; and we have prayed that your life may be spared, and your soul saved."

"It's no use: I can never believe," was the reply; but it was delivered so feebly, and with such an expression of mental and physical pain upon the countenance, as to draw forth emotions of sympathy.

"Permit me," said the visitor, "to repeat two passages of Scripture, and then I will leave you: 'Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a[136] man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' 'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.'" Placing his pocket Bible upon the table, with the passage turned down, the visitor took the hand that was offered to him, and said, "I will leave my card: send to me as a friend whenever you please; and may you find peace in the love of Jesus."

During the conversation, the wife had entered, and following the visitor out of the room, thanked him for calling. "I was religious once," she observed; "but years before the bar has ruined me altogether; you cannot do a first-class gin trade and keep religious."

The old question about the profit of gaining the world and losing the soul was put to her, and so they parted.

Three mornings after, the potman called at the Missionary's house with the message that his master wished to see him as soon as he could call in.

"Thank you for coming," was the greeting with which the landlord received the visitor, who had hastened to obey his request: "I want to ask you to forgive me for treating you so badly when you came into the bar to see the poor fellow who was ill. I was in liquor—that's how I came to do it."

"Don't think of that," was the reply; "besides, I made excuse for you, as it was a strange thing for me to enter your bar and talk about religion."[137]

"It was," he replied; "but after the man was dead, the widow used to tell us that he died so happy; and I have often thought that you then acted as though you believed the Gospel to be true, because following him into my bar was seeking the lost sheep, and no mistake."

This introduced the subject of the internal evidence of the Bible; and the visitor, after reading portions of the fifth chapter of 2 Corinthians, commented on the words, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;" showing that among the pillars of evidence which support the Bible is the experience of the fact that all who exercise saving faith in the Lord Jesus become the possessors of a sealed peace, and prove by holy living the change of the inner nature.

This visit was the commencement of a friendship between the Christian teacher and the publican, who remained ill for several months. His sceptical objections to the truth were examined and gradually removed; while the constant reading of that Word, the entrance of which into the soul gives light, gradually wrought a change in his views and feelings. He made no profession of religion, but the change was apparent to all who knew him. He overcame the habit of profane swearing, and showed an interest in good things. His presence in the bar effected a change in the character of the house. He not only checked blasphemous and bad language, but he refused to serve persons who were in liquor, and would not allow mothers with infants in their arms to stand in the bar. The visits of the Missionary were encouraged. After conversation with the family, he used to go into the serving-bar for conversation with the men; and after that visited the four compartments used[138] by customers, reasoning with them about righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. This teaching was blessed to souls, as a desire to know the truth was manifested by several of the worst characters in the neighbourhood. They used to accept the invitation to come and hear the Scriptures read in a room down the court, and as the gracious result, several became converted. Amongst these were two drunken women, who used to boast of the number of times they had been locked up; a youth of eighteen who had lived by thieving; and a journeyman shoemaker.

The good influence was increasing in the publican's family, when he was suddenly taken ill, and it became evident that his sickness was unto death. He lingered for some time in great weakness, but was happy in the love of God. Shortly before his death, he said to the Missionary, "I have settled my affairs, as I have no hope of recovery; and now I have to ask a great kindness of you: it is that you will promise me to take a friendly interest in my wife and children when I am gone." Upon the promise being given, he added, "I should like, for my comfort, to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, because I have renounced my infidelity, and am trusting for salvation to the blood-shedding and merit of the risen Jesus."

A few hours after, the Rector and the Missionary entered the gin-palace, and passing into the sick-chamber, commemorated with the dying publican that offering of Himself by which the Redeemer procured for His disciples a present salvation and victory over death and the grave.

After the solemn service, the Minister entered the bar-parlour, and remained for some time, observing with[139] deep interest the attention paid by various groups of customers to the instruction of the Missionary. As they left together, he remarked, thoughtfully, "While you were in the bar, the landlady told me that, besides being the means of her husband's salvation, you have reformed some of the worst men and women who used to support the house. This is grappling with the greatest evil in my parish, and God is blessing the effort. I wish that all such houses in the parish were thus visited."

"Your desire, sir, shall be carried out as far as the district under my visitation is concerned," was the reply.

The aged clergyman, taking the hand of the lay visitor, said with emotion, "May the divine blessing make the effort powerful, that the Redeemer's work may be extended amongst these multitudes of the spiritually dead."

The landlord lived about a fortnight after commemorating the Lord's death, and his end was peace. Only a few hours before his entrance into rest, he requested that this Scripture might be engraved upon his tombstone: "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."

A year had scarcely passed when the widow was compelled to leave the business, and she went to live in another part of London. She rapidly sank from affluence to extreme poverty. Hearing of her condition the Missionary sought her out, and was saddened to find her in a back kitchen at the East-end of London. He took her two little girls, aged eight and ten years, home with him, and through the kindness of leading men in the trade, obtained their admission into the Licensed Victuallers' School. Employment was obtained for the[140] widow as sick-nurse, and she has since lived a useful and Christian life.

While visiting this family the following circumstances occurred, which gave the Missionary influence with several licensed victuallers and their customers.

The potman at a very low public-house just by was taken seriously ill, and the landlord, upon hearing that a Christian man had visited another house, sent to inquire for him, and then wrote a note, asking him to call and see his man. The visit was paid, and was succeeded by others, until the young man recovered. The landlord and his wife were thankful for the attention paid, and upon each call asked him into their private room. This led to an intimacy so close that he was consulted both as to their religious and business difficulties: these can be best explained in their own words, as the visitor was seated with them one afternoon. "You see, sir," said the landlord, "that I can tell you anything, as you are not like the religious and teetotal sort of people who talk and write against us, but never call upon us, that they may understand our position. Now I don't want, and thousands in the trade don't want, to make or to serve drunkards. In our last house we lost nearly all the money my wife and I saved in a long service; but if I had pandered to vice, we might have been there now. While trying to make the house respectable, we lost 'takings' from the depraved and drunken, and, as the result, were not able to meet demands, and were obliged to leave and take this still lower class of business. The truth is, that publicans, as a respectable body of tradesmen, need sympathy and Christian influence, instead of abuse, which only worries and makes us, in self-defence, resist rather than assist in the necessary reforms; and[141] then, as our trade is a temptation, we need religious influences in our families: but no clergyman has ever entered my house. I have gone wrongly, as I have taken to 'sipping,' but it's hard to bear up against the trials I have had to pass through." "When we married," added the wife, "we had £200, and felt that we should do well in this business; the Sunday trade has however made me wretched. During the fourteen years I was lady's maid I went to Church twice every Sunday; and from that happy life to serving behind a bar is a dreadful change. This is not needful except for two hours at meals, when the necessary article of consumption could be supplied; and then the rows in the tap are a constant misery to me, and I wish we were out of the business altogether."

"You have my deepest sympathy," said the Missionary, "and I will advise you as a true friend. Your constant drinking, landlord, must be stopped, or you will be brought to an early grave, with the curse pronounced against the drunkard resting heavily and for eternity upon you. As regards your wife, it is wrong to expose her to the misery which a woman of Christian feeling must endure in this class of house. My advice is, get out of it. You might save sufficient from the wreck to take a small general shop, and you could then get a connection as a waiter among your old acquaintances. The great matter in this difficulty, as in all our trials, is prayer: this you have both neglected. Inquire of the Lord, and He will direct you."

A fortnight after this conversation the landlord and Missionary met the agent of the firm to which the business belonged, and an equitable arrangement was made for giving up the house. Upon leaving the trade[142] they took a small grocer's business, and became Church members, and prospered in their new calling.

Another publican, who was met with in this house, spoke strongly against the Sunday business.

"Grumbling is of little use in such matters," observed the visitor. "Act: get up a petition asking Parliament to close you entirely upon the Lord's-day, and request one of your Members to present it. A movement of this kind in the trade would be much to your own and to the public good."

"If sir," he replied, "you will write out the petition, I will sign it, and go round with you to other members of the trade, to obtain signatures."

The request was complied with, and forty licensed victuallers signed the petition for entire Sunday closing, and it was duly presented.

The arresting power of the Word of God was frequently witnessed in these gin bars. For instance: a woman one evening who entered the "Globe," and called for her first dram, was arrested by the reasoning of the missionary with some labourers. Approaching him, pewter measure in hand, she exclaimed, "You have no business here; go out, or I will throw this over you." The men pushed her away, but he said kindly, "Before you do so, let me say something to you out of this Book," and then, after a pause to find a suitable passage, he read distinctly, "Thus saith the Lord that made thee ... I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." Only a few words of comment were uttered, when the woman placed the measure upon the bar, and raising her apron to her eyes, burst into tears, and left,[143] exclaiming, "Oh that I was a little girl again!" She did not taste the gin, and was never after met in a bar. It was evident that an arrow of conviction had sped forth from the Word of God, but with her as with thousands of others, its ultimate effect was not known. Encouragement, this, for earnest labour and simple trust in the power and promised blessing upon the proclamation of God's mercy in Christ; yes, upon the utterance of every truth contained in His own inspired Word.

Opportunities frequently occurred for seeking the good of customers as well as landlords, and these led the Missionary to the conviction that the public-house is a very proper sphere for Missionary operations. The following is one instance. Upon passing a public-house in his district rather late one evening, the visitor noticed a woman near the door who had evidently been crying, and she had an infant in her arms. When he spoke to her she told him that her husband had just gone into the tap-room with all the money they had, and she was afraid to follow him, as he would knock her about if she did.

"Wait here," said the visitor; and then he entered the house, and passed into the tap. It was filled with low men, several of whom appeared confused at his seeing them there. He however addressed one of them in a friendly manner, and said, "You men had better be careful; there is some one outside."

"Who can it be!" exclaimed several of the men, looking uncomfortable.

"A White Sergeant," was the reply, and the announcement produced a roar of laughter. To explain the reason of the merriment a digression is necessary. Well, then, a "White Sergeant" in the tap-room parlance[144] is a wife who fetches her husband out of the public-house. This is considered a great offence, and men who submit to such an exercise of "women's rights" are much joked at by their companions. Many of the quarrels between husband and wife result from this cause. One Monday morning, in a court he visited, the Missionary saw five women with black eyes, all received through efforts to get their husbands home with their full week's wages. The announcement that a "White Sergeant" was waiting for one of them outside was therefore considered a capital joke.

As soon as their merriment had subsided, the visitor said gravely, "And this 'White Sergeant' is a woman of whom any man might be proud—pleasant-looking and neat in her dress, with a dear little baby in her arms; and in my opinion the man who would bring such a woman to cry outside a public ought to hang his head for shame."

The selfishness of men who for their own pleasures would act in this way, was enlarged upon, until a man rose and quietly left the room. A few tracts were distributed, and then the visitor also went out, and saw the man walking away with the "White Sergeant." He approached them and spoke kindly to the man, saying that he would like to call and give picture-books to his children. In a surly way he was told that he might "do as he liked," and he therefore went with them to their door.

Next Sunday the visitor called, and after a pleasant chat, opened the Bible to read to them, when one of the children began to cry. The father, without saying a word, took off his rough cap and threw it at the child with such force as to knock it heavily upon the floor.[145] The poor child crawled into a corner, and, from fear, remained quiet. The parable of the Prodigal Son was read, and the man was deeply interested in it, and with the exposition showing the love of the Father. As the reader proceeded, the man looked kindly towards the child, and then went and took it into his arms. The visitor was pleased with this act, as it showed him that the man could be influenced for good. As he was leaving, the man addressed him thus,—

"You didn't know me, guv'nor, when you saw me in the tap; but I knowed you as the chap as made my pal religious, as I used to play pitch-and-toss with when a boy, and used to go out on the drunk with after we got to be men; and when I seed him a-dyin', said he to me said he, 'Bob, get religion, as it ain't no good a-goin' on bad, as Jesus Christ is our Saviour. And my old woman will tell the tract man to have a say with you out of his Book.' Well, when you comed into the tap in that 'ere way, and talked sensible, thinks I, that's 'im, and it's my Beck outside; so I misselled (slipped out), and shouldn't mind if you made Beck and me religious, that I shouldn't."

The meaning of the word "conversion" was explained to him in simple language, and an appointment made for further instruction. These visits were continued for some months, and a marked change for the better had taken place, until he one night yielded to temptation, got drunk, and became worse than he had ever been before. He stripped the house of every comfort, and all the labour appeared to have been lost upon him. He was, however, met with one afternoon when hawking crockery, and induced to sign the pledge. This he kept for three months, and again relapsed. His friend had[146] come to the conclusion that his case was hopeless, when he received an unexpected visit from the man.

"Please, mister," he said with some confusion, "I am a-comin' to live right agin you. I seed a room with a loft over a stable and I took it, and I shall feel strong like bein' agin you, and shan't be near my pals as gets me to drink. It 'tain't 'pertinent like, is it, my comin' here?"

The poor man was commended for his strange but wise resolution, and his friend called to see them very frequently. As a result, the children were sent to a Sunday school, and the man was seen in the free seats at church, clean, but in his hawker's clothes. The reformation went on with him, and he became sober and well conducted. One morning he called upon his friend, and said, "I never cared, sir, for my children, for I was a drunkard, and I didn't know nuffin' of our souls and religion, and Beck and I wants the young uns to be christened, that we does, and we are goin to stick to church like as if we was made new inside, as is religion."

A few days after this conversation the curate called and instructed the parents and the elder children in the Christian faith, and then he arranged for the baptism. As the Missionary stood at the font with the six children before him, he rejoiced and gave thanks because of the change which had passed over the family. The "White Sergeant" and the drunken hawker had changed in every way since he saw the one crying outside the public-house, and the other seated in the tap-room. They remained in the neighbourhood for several years, and were among the most respectable of the poor.

In this marked way it pleased the great Head of the[147] Church—who is always gracious to His servants who strive to win souls—to honour the effort made to secure the salvation of the poor costermonger; and the leadings of His providence also made it an open door by which the Gospel has been made known to hundreds of thousands of the London poor. The Missionary, in accordance with his promise to the minister, commenced the regular visitation of the fourteen public and beerhouses upon the district. This was trying and difficult, but good results were granted; and the Committee of the London City Mission, after examining into the work, requested him to visit all the public-houses in a large parish, as his sphere of duty. Results were so satisfactory that they appointed Missionaries to the same class of houses in nine other parishes, and are now making efforts to extend the work. It is pleasing to know that in the bars, tap-rooms, and parlours of 3,450 out of the 10,340 licensed houses in London, earnest effort is made for the spiritual enlightenment of the men and women who frequent them. As the gracious and known result, hundreds of these have been reclaimed from drunkenness and other vices, and many of them are members of Christian Churches. The influence upon publicans, and through them upon the trade, has been in many instances remarkable for good. Some houses have been entirely closed; others upon the whole of the Lord's-day; while the character of many has been changed for the better. Bar and other servants, who form a large and important class, have received great benefits; not a few have been induced to leave the business, and others have been fortified against its temptations and snares. In addition to all this, there is a large daily distribution of Gospel and Temperance[148] tracts, while publications of a high Christian and moral tone are pressed into circulation. It may, indeed, be said that a new field for Christian enterprise was opened by the discovery that it is possible to grapple with the withering curse of drunkenness at its very fountain-head, and so bring many hitherto unreached multitudes in our great cities under the influence of Christian teaching.



The Book in the Bars:


"Sir, did you ever walk along a street,
A low back street, at night, where drunkards meet!
Where the gin palace turns the night to day,
And public-house and beer-shop line the way?
Say, did you listen? What, sir, did you hear?
Our English workmen were enjoying beer.
Did the rude clamour come from happy men,
Or wild beasts maddened, raging in their den?
You heard the fiendish laugh, the oaths, the strife,
The curses heaped upon a helpless wife;
The wretched harlot's song, the drunkard's roar,
The noisy fiddle and the rattling floor;
You saw the ragged mother sick and pale,
You heard the miserable infant's wail;—
That was the Englishman's happy lot:
That was the music to the poor man's pot:
You heard it? Yes,—our workmen mad with drink!
Something to make a sober Christian think!"

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Bars:

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Rom. x. 17.


THE following advertisement, which appeared in several of the daily newspapers, induced the Missionary to pay a farewell visit to the landlord and bar-servants:—

"Gin Palace for sale, in a good working and gin-drinking neighbourhood; doing £240 a week over the bar: elegant and substantial fittings. Terms moderate. Immediate possession," etc.

With this farewell purpose, the Christian visitor entered the "bottle department" early upon the following Sunday evening, but found the place so filled with customers that neither the landlord nor bar-men had a moment to spare. He therefore simply shook hands with them, and arranged to call in during the quiet hours of the following afternoon, and then commenced evangelizing work among the people.

Three high partitions divided the bar into four compartments; and, as is usual, there were separate doors to each, so that the crowds of customers could not see each other, though the noise of their converse and disputes produced a war of words, and rendered quiet conversation difficult. One would have thought[152] that the private or "bottle department" would have been the easiest to visit, as its name seemed to invite the respectable order of drinkers. To some extent this was the case, but a jury of bar-men would certainly agree in the opinion that this sly part of the house, into which so many well-dressed persons slip for their drams, is the most lucrative and usually the most crowded. Only a few weeks before, the visitor was standing with a young man in a similar compartment, when seven women, wives of working men, entered, and called for a quart of gin with ale glasses. They were laughing heartily at what they considered a happy thought of one of their companions,—the clubbing together for the purpose of ordering so large a quantity of spirits: they were much disconcerted at the withering rebuke they met with.

Upon the evening of our visit, eight or ten men and women were present. One of these, a respectable tradesman, rejected a tract with the remark, "I don't want your religious nonsense, as I do the thing that's right between man and man; and if I didn't I would not be interfered with by other people in religious matters, as I know what is right, and could do it." "The clock there is going wrong," replied the visitor, looking towards that very ornamental object, "and because it's out of repair, it does not answer the purpose for which it was made, as it is hours too slow. Now the landlord will not attempt to repair it himself, neither will he give it to a grocer or a bricklayer for that purpose: he will no doubt send it to the man who made it,—to a clockmaker who understands its mechanism; he will clean and repair it, and then the hands will go right. Well, it's just so with us men:[153] when we do wrong it proves that we are unclean inside, and out of repair, and it is no good trying to set ourselves right, for we can't do it; or to get other people to tinker at us, as they are sure to make us worse. Our proper course of action is to approach our Almighty Maker, with the prayer, 'Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.' When this is done, we go right, and glorify God in our bodies and our spirits, which are His." After a few words about the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, the speaker passed out, leaving the people with their eyes fixed upon the clock, and their thoughts upon the Saviour.

In the next compartment about sixteen working men had assembled, all of whom were sober. Several were annoyed, as one of them said, at "being tackled in such a place as that about religion." "Why, you are all in the building trade," exclaimed the intruder, "and if you listen to the words I repeat, and do them, you shall be likened to wise men who built a house upon a rock: 'And the rain descended, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.'" As the attention of the men was arrested by the parable, it was repeated to the end; and then, taking the Bible from his pocket, the reader observed, "These are not my words: they were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ." "I knows a lot of the Bible," said one of the men, "and He never talked like that." "I've heard it before," retorted a companion, "and it's there." "Yes: I am right," replied the man with the Book; and then, leaning his back against the bar, he read the parable through, in a clear, expressive tone. He then looked up, and said kindly, "You are[154] not building on this rock; if you were you would be in the house of God, instead of this place."

"That's right!" exclaimed several, and three of them followed him into the street. "I'll go next Sunday," said a carpenter. "And so will I," answered his companion, a smith. "And I will meet you at this corner and go with you," said the reader. This arrangement was confirmed with hand-shaking; and the men went thoughtfully towards their homes, the Missionary entering the next compartment.

In this several groups of persons were standing together, those near the door being sweeps, who, in honour of the day, were partly washed. One of them, a young man, said that his mother was ill and wanted some one to pray with her. The visitor took down the address and promised to call. While doing so his attention was directed to several men of the "fancy," who were in loud conversation about the difficulties of their calling. They were attired in dirty fustians, with gaudy cotton handkerchiefs round their necks, and caps which made their foreheads appear "villanously low." One of them held a bull-dog by a chain, and several puppies were peeping out of the side pockets of his coat. He was evidently the important man of the group, as his companions were listening with respect to his grievances, which he expressed in the following way: "This 'ere draining of London will be the ruin of us, that it will. Why look 'ere: I've been all this blessed day a-trying to get six dozen of rats, and I has only got two dozen; and it's ruination the price of them is. I never grumbles at buying them at fourpence each when they are fat and lively like that, I doesn't, as it's a fair price; but it's enough to make a chap go rampstairing when he has to[155] tip a bob each, or eleven shillings a dozen for them, as I did this afternoon; and it's this draining of London does it, as they be slushed away. And then last week I had a misfortune. I went out with my pal, as is ratcatcher to the Queen, for two days' catchin' about Windsor, and I left three dozen in the low pit. Well, when I comes back, my misses, as as bin queer, said, 'Oh dear me, I forgot to feed the rats!' So I went off, as I knowed how it 'ed be. When I looked in it a dozen had gone, and they was a-eating ever-so-many of one another; so I chucked in the stuff as had been mixed up for 'em, and there was an end of their barbarities, as rats are good-natured like when they has plenty of grub; but when the price is up it is, as I say, ruination."

"And so you have been all day trying to buy rats, have you? a pretty way to be sure for a man to spend his Sunday," observed the Missionary, as he turned towards the man, and caressed a pretty little spaniel whose head was resting upon the flap of his pocket.

"I has," was the sharp reply: "and I makes no profession of religion, so it's no harm; like them saints, one of which I knows as cheats you through thick and thin; so I does the correct thing, and snaps my finger, and says I, None of your religion for me."

"I see how it is," rejoined the visitor. "You have met with an imitation Christian, a counterfeit, as we call bad money, and for that reason you will not be a real Christian. Is that what you mean? If so, it is like saying, 'A man passed a bad shilling upon me, so I never mean to take a good one.'"

"That's a puzzler," replied the man, thoughtfully; "as I knows what good Christians are, as was my father[156] and mother, as was Welsh, like me. They did the right thing by me; but I 'erd of people a-gettin' on in London, so I ran away from them, and begged and stumped it up here. And I got in with some young prigs in Whitechapel, and got took before the beak, as wasn't for much; and he didn't give a fellow a chance, but put on three months hard; and when I got out I couldn't get on, so I went out with a chap a-catchin' birds and rats, and married his daughter. And now I has a bird shop at Shoreditch, and a rat-pit, as was profitable afore this 'ere draining was inwented, as gents bring their dogs to be teached to kill rats first-rate, and sometimes they has a match on the quiet; and they are gents as does it and pays up, and says as I am the best rat-pit man they knows."

In reply to questions, the rat-pit man admitted that during the eighteen years he had been in London he had only once been into a church, and that was at his marriage. When reminded that he was the child of many prayers, and of parents passed into the heavens, he was softened, and said, "If I know'd somebody as is religious, I should be better; but I doesn't know a religious chap, that I doesn't."

"Give me your address," said the visitor, "and I will ask a Missionary gentleman who lives near, a friend of mine, to call upon you." This was done, and the parties left the bar together.

The fourth compartment was crowded with persons of the degraded and disorderly class, and it was evident that several men in one corner were excited with liquor. In the centre was a large barrel, and round it stood three women. One of them had turned a quart pot upside down upon the barrel, and had seated her little[157] child, about a year old, upon it. She called for "a quartern and three outs" (three glasses to divide the liquor), when the Missionary, who felt the difficulty of securing the attention of such a people, approached with the exclamation: "Why, what do you think? When the Saviour of the world was here, He took a little child, a pretty little dear like that, and sat it in the midst of His disciples, and said, 'Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'"

"Did He, sir?" exclaimed several.

"Yes: He did," was the reply; "and if you will listen to me I will tell you what He meant."

At this the people gathered round the barrel, and the speaker, taking the tiny hand in his, continued: "There is no mistake about the love of a little darling like this. When it throws its arms around your neck you know it's real love" ("That it is," said the mother, giving the child a hug); "and the Saviour meant that we men and women, who are children of the great Father in heaven, ought to love Him with all our hearts, and do His holy will. Now I don't think that we all do this."

"I should think not," said a man with a coarse laugh. "If we did, we shouldn't be a-getting drunk in here on a Sunday night."

"You are right," replied the visitor. "You are not like this pretty child; you are bad children, and must, as Jesus said, be converted. The great Father loves you, and sent His Son to tell you how to be made good, and to die for your sins." Other words of exhortation were being uttered, when the address was brought to a close by another group of persons pressing into the bar.[158]

This consisted of an old woman, and three young men of the genus rough. The woman, who had been crying, and who had new weeds upon her head, was reluctant to enter, as one of the men said to her, "Never mind, mother; it's what we are all a-comin' to. He was a good un, as respected was everywhere. Come in and have a drop of rum."

"And have you been," inquired the Missionary, "to bury the husband and the father?"

"Yes, sir," replied the widow, sobbing. "We was married forty-two years, and it's his first night in the cold grave, and I'm so miserable, and my boys has brought me to give me some rum;" and then she sobbed so deeply that the people looked at her with pity.

"Don't touch the rum," said the visitor, "but let me go home with you and read from this blessed Book the comforting words which the merciful God has said to widows;" and then they stepped out of the bar, the sons following. They entered a house a few doors further on, and descended to the back kitchen, which was dismal, and almost without furniture. Taking a seat on the edge of the bedstead, the visitor read the account of the widow of Zarephath, and such Scriptures as "The Lord relieveth the fatherless and widow;" "Let thy widows trust in Me;" and then explained to her the meaning of being "a widow indeed." The young men were deeply interested, but when prayer was offered they stood up awkwardly, though the mother knelt; it was evident that they had never bent the knee in supplication. After more words of sympathy the widow was left much comforted, and with the promise of another visit.

After this the Missionary passed through several other public-houses with varied success, and scattered much[159] precious seed. As the evening was far advanced, he entered a large beer-shop, intending a final visit. About thirty men and women of the lower class were standing, many of them with their backs to the walls, as the landlord had removed the seats to prevent his customers staying too long. Upon glancing round, the visitor noticed a middle-aged man, whom he had not seen for several years, and inquired of him where he had been?

"To prison, for assault upon a woman," he replied. "I was committed for four years, and that wasn't much, as she will never get over it; and I'm out six months afore time with a ticket-of-leave; and it was the drink as made me do it, as I wouldn't hurt nobody."

"It's no use laying it to the drink," was the reply; "speak the truth, and say that it was your love of the drink,—your vice that led you to commit the crime. You may make excuse now, but the day is coming when you will be tried again for that and for every offence of your life, as we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ; now mind, if you are condemned by that Judge there will be no escape from the prison of hell, to which you will be sent."

At the commencement of this conversation, the door swung open, and a man of a baser sort entered. He listened; but brought the conversation to a sudden close by clenching his fist, and with that malicious hiss which bad men have, he addressed the Missionary, and said, "What business has you in our shop, a-talking like that 'ere? for two pins I'd smash in your frontispiece."

The ticket-of-leave man frowned, and holding out his right arm with extended finger and thumb gave a peculiar jerk and exclaimed, "If you does I'll garotte you." And a woman, whose sister the visitor had placed in a reformatory,[160] fearing that he would be injured, rushed before him with a half-scream. The rough, who was evidently astonished at the good feeling which existed between the Christian teacher and the persons of his own class, stepped back; but as the attention of the debased crowd in the bar was directed towards him, the visitor raised his hand and said loudly, "Never mind: I am not hurt. But it was just so hundreds of years ago, when the Saviour of the world was here. He used to feed hungry people, and heal the sick, and give eyesight to the blind; but there were men who smote Him with the fist of wickedness, and who cried out, 'Crucify Him, crucify Him,' and then they nailed Him to a cross." The speaker then dropped his voice to a solemn note, and continued, "Yes; and—

'It was for such as you He died,
For such that He was crucified,
For such He reigns above.'"

The effect was startling, as that congregation of the wicked stood in silent awe; while the landlord and his barmen leaned forward to listen. A few more earnest words were uttered, and the evangelist stepped out, wiping the perspiration from his brow. The rough at almost the same moment passed out at the other door, and approaching the Missionary, said, "I ax yer pardon, guv'nor; but I wouldn't 'urt a hair of your 'ed."

"I feel all right toward you, so never mind," was the kind reply, enforced with a friendly touch of the arm. "You sees, guv'nor," the rough continued, "as I am a bad un, as I had a month for beating my old woman, and its becos I ain't hedicated, cos if a chap ain't hedicated he's nuffin."[161]

From this speech it was evident that the man had a desire for instruction, and the visitor felt that to impart this would give him a power which might lead to a moral and spiritual regeneration; he therefore inquired if he would like to know how to read and write?

"Oh, shouldn't I: that's all!"

"Well then, if you have the mettle in you to stick to your book, which is hard work for a man of forty, I will spend an hour with you once or twice a week, and teach you."

The poor rough looked astonished, wriggled in a strange manner, and then gave expression to his feelings, by exclaiming, "If you does, master, when I gets into work I'll treat you to a day in the country."

His friend could but smile at this singular ebullition of grateful feeling, though he knew the force of its meaning. To men like him, pent up in the density of the mighty city, a day in the country is the greatest conceivable enjoyment, and to promise that showed that the man had a soul, and perhaps a latent taste for the beautiful.

As it was necessary that the teacher should know where the man lived, he went with him down one of those narrow, dirty streets, where the people live in comfort as regards thieves: as they have nothing to be robbed of, they allow their doors to remain open all night. The man entered one of these open doors, and ascended the stair-case, in thick darkness; his step was evidently known, as a woman came out of the back attic, holding in her hand a blacking bottle, in which was a piece of candle. All doubts as to her being his wife was set at rest, by the rough introducing his new acquaintance in the following elegant language, "'Ere[162] Sarah, 'ere's a gent I've picked up in a beer shop." To the embarrassment of the dirty, ragged woman, the visitor entered the room; and a deplorable room it was,—a drunkard's home. The floor was dirty, without a piece of carpet, and several of the panes of glass were broken and pasted over with pieces of brown paper, greased to[163] admit a little light. There was only one broken chair, and a sieve-basket, covered with a rusty tea-tray, formed another seat. The table was evidently the safest piece of goods, as the wife invited her visitor to take a seat upon it. There was no bedstead, but an accumulation of rags in one corner covered two dirty little children. The poor woman had that crushed and wretched expression of face so common among the wives of this class of men. A quarter of an hour's conversation set her at ease and secured her good-will. Before leaving, the visitor, who had taken his seat upon the table, opened his Bible and read, while the woman stood with her light in the blacking bottle on one side of him, and her brutal but now subdued husband upon the other.

The Back Attic

A few evenings after, the Missionary, as arranged, entered the room with the spelling-book in his hand, to give the first lesson, and was glad to find the rough at home, and to return, with a pleasant smile, his gruff salutation of, "Thought as how you wasn't a-coming; but thank'ee, guv'nor, for doing on it." He then fairly seized the Primer, and repeated the alphabet so vigorously, that his intention of "being hedicated in no time" was evident, even if he had not said so. The book was left with him, and upon the next lesson-evening his wife told the teacher that "Bill had bin a A-ing, and B-ing, and B A-ing, ever since he com'd up there afore." Lesson succeeded lesson for many weeks, and though the task was distasteful to both parties, the rough got on exceedingly well, and at the end of three months he was able to read easy lesson books. From that time there was evidence of a change passing over the family. The understood rule of the London City Mission, that no visit be completed without the reading or repeating of some portion[164] of Holy Scripture, had been observed, and as the result, much of that Word, the entering of which into the soul gives light, had been read to this poor man and his wife. There was a change in their home, for the teacher one evening noticed two new chairs and a piece of carpet; after this, several gaudy pictures and a fender were introduced, and then the rags were removed, and a punch and judy bedstead (a thing that turns up in the corner) set up in its place.

"You are getting on in the world," observed their friend one evening, as he glanced round the room.

The man looked unutterable things at his wife, and said, "Should think we are, sir; and I'll let the cat out of the bag, as they sayes: and this is that ere cat. Arter you had been a-readin' and a-'elpin' me one night I walks out, and as I passed the Tom and Jerry where I picked you up, some old pals says, 'Come in and have a little heavy wet!' and in I goes; and then we went into the tother corner, and I stood some gin, as with the tother got into my 'ed; and when I was turned out I seed a Peeler, and wolunteered to fight 'im. So he takes me by the choker and walks me along, and my old woman, as was looking for me, comes up and begged the Peeler not to trot me in, as makes a charge. So, bein' soft 'arted, he gived me to her; and when I got up 'ere I was sober like, and said I, I will be a Christian, like as the gent reads of, what eat pigs' wittles, and went back to his Father; and I'll be teetotal to-morrow. So in the morning I had a pen'orth of coffee at the total shop, and hopened my mind to the gal what brought it; and she told the guv'nor, and he brings a book, and I put a scratch in it, and I haven't had a drop of the public stuff never since; and we said[165] we'd say nothin' to you till we had been teetotal a month, and it's more than that now."

The man was commended for his resolution, and when the lesson was over, the Book was opened and the parable of the Prodigal Son again read and more fully explained, and then the family altar was set up in that poor room, as the man with his wife and children knelt together in prayer.

Soon after this the man obtained employment in a timber yard, to empty sawdust from the pits, and his improvement, indeed his uprising in the social scale, became rapid. One evening his teacher took a very dear friend to see him,—the talented author of "Our Father's Care," and "Mother's Last Words." Reaching a Bible from the chest of drawers (for they had risen to that dignity), he said, "Do, mum, hear me read, as I does it well like. When I seed that gent in a beer bar I was a-goin' to smash at him, but he has learned me to read first rate." He then read the fifth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel; and as the lady afterwards remarked, "he read it well, as he seemed to feel the force of every word." After this he gave evidence of a renewed nature, and became a living proof that grace can change a rough into a quiet and peaceable man, and that it is possible to pluck bad men from among the ungodly, as brands from the everlasting burning.

Note.—Eleven years have passed since Mrs. Sewell's visit to the rough, and we take the opportunity of revising for a new edition, to add that the man and his wife have stood firm to temperance principles. It was long, several years, before he joined a Congregational Church, and like many such he was an unobtrusive[166] member, but his life was right. The appearance of his wife became so altered that she obtained work at charing, and their home possessed an appearance of real comfort. The eldest of the children, first seen on the rags, a girl, has obtained a place as nursemaid in a tradesman's family, and the rest bid fair to do well. Renewed proof, this, of the power of the religion of the Lord Jesus to convert the soul, to enforce holy living, and to bless the rising generation. Why then should any be lost for lack of knowledge? Why should not all the people be instructed in the law of the Lord? each individual receiving the call to repentance, faith, and the blessed hope.



The Book in the Bars:


"A time will come, sir,—would that it were come,—
When righteousness shall reign in every home,
And the bless'd knowledge of the Lord shall be
As the great floods that overflow the sea,
And all things hurtful shall be swept away,
And earth rejoice in one long Sabbath Day;—
But this is not that time. The serpent stings,
The adder biteth, and the drunkard sings
In mad carousal, while the British name
Grows a by-word for drunkenness and shame.
Oh, sir, dear sir, roll this reproach away,
And hasten on the glorious Sabbath Day,
When Christ shall reign in righteousness and peace,
And all the turmoil of the world shall cease:
Think of that time, and, for His glory's sake,
This tenfold work of mercy undertake."

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Bars:

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the truth with all readiness of mind." Acts xvii. 11.


THIRTEEN years of Christian work in public, coffee, and night-houses, during which time 465 Sunday evenings were spent in the bars, taps, and parlours of these places, gave the Missionary thousands of opportunities to reason with men and women about righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. Incidents of interest were of constant occurrence, and we select a few with the object of showing that the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is mighty to subdue opposition and prejudice, and to accomplish the great purposes of grace.

The Crown and Sceptre.—Upon entering this house one evening, the Missionary found a new landlord behind the bar. As he knew several of the customers, he entered into serious conversation with them, but was stopped by the landlord making the declaration that "it was an abominable thing for a man to talk religion in a public-house;" and then he ordered the intruder to leave. As the man was angry, the visitor went toward the door, merely remarking, "We shall know each other some day, and shall no[170] doubt improve upon acquaintance, as I wish to do you a good turn,—the best thing one man can do for another;" and then he left the house. He had not, however, proceeded far down the street, when two men ran after him, and said that the landlord wished to speak to him. The visitor felt that mischief was intended, but as an opportunity might be presented to secure the good-will of the man, he boldly re-entered the bar. To his surprise, the landlord, with a smile, offered him a number of handbills, and said, "You want to do me a good turn, do you? Well, this is how you can manage it. I am told that you go into all the houses about here, and I want you to put one of these papers into each of your tracts, which will advertise me among the right sort of people." The Missionary read the bills aloud, and could but join in the laughter produced, for they ran thus: "'Crown and Sceptre.' The new landlord begs to inform the public that he has taken this old-established house, and that he sells the best porter at fourpence a quart, and good old Tom at threepence-halfpenny a quartern," etc., etc. The customers considered the request to circulate such bills in religious tracts a good joke, but paused in their merriment to hear the reply of the visitor, who stood with the bills in his hand. That answer was given in the unexpected form of a question addressed to a group of costermongers who were standing at the other side of the bar.

"Do you men over there know what a sceptre is?"

"Never heard nothin' of that 'ere sort of article," was the reply, after some deliberation.

As the question evidently perplexed many of the customers, the visitor smiled, and addressing the landlord,[171] said, "If I can't circulate your bills for you, I will make good use of them by acquainting your customers with the full meaning of your sign. Well, you all know that a crown is a kind of golden cap set with jewels and set upon the head of kings. Now a sceptre is a golden stick, about so long (showing the length with his hands), and is a badge of kingly authority with which to govern and to show mercy. I have seen the Queen's sceptre in the Tower, and its top is richly ornamented and studded with precious stones. In this Book (producing the pocket Bible) there are beautiful things about the sceptre, and if you like I will read you two short passages. 'All the king's servants do know, that whosoever shall come unto the King into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the King shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live.' 'And the King held out to Esther the golden sceptre which was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.'" Then closing the Bible, he continued, "And now, landlord, I have to tell you that the crown and sceptre brought me here. After the Lord Jesus died to save us, He rose from the grave and ascended into heaven. He is there crowned King of kings, and He has the sceptre of righteousness and mercy in His hand. He holds out that golden stick to each of you sinful men. By faith in Him you can touch it and be saved;" and then placing several tracts upon the bar, he stepped towards the door. He however turned back as an Irish labourer, who was standing with several of his countrymen, exclaimed,—

"Och, sure and it's the rail truth; and it's meself that will do it, as I niver did that, and I'm intirely wretched."[172]

This was uttered with deep feeling, and a gesture of prayerful uplooking which showed that the comprehension of the beautiful, that charm of the Irish character, had caused the poor labourer to understand the lovely truth of an enthroned and pardoning Redeemer. He was invited to leave with the visitor, and they stood for some time in the street conversing about the love of God in Christ Jesus. The man stated that he was from Tipperary, and a good Catholic, but that he had often got drunk and had injured several persons. When ill, by an accident he had met with in his work, he was an inmate of Guy's Hospital for some weeks. When there, a gentleman used to read out of the Bible to a man in the next bed, and the man was very happy, though he did not belong to the true faith, as he was always speaking of Jesus, and never prayed to the saints. Since then he had felt unhappy about his sins, though he often went to mass and confession. The way of salvation was simply explained to him, and his address was taken, with the promise of a call. A few days after, his room in a rookery called Grey's Buildings, was entered. His wife, who expected the visitor, exclaimed, "In troth and it's your honour; and wasn't it Mick that towld me of your honour, and it's himself that has been praying Jesus to howld out the golden stick to him." While they were speaking Mick came in, and greeted his friend with real Irish feeling; and then they sat before the fire and conversed about the lovingkindness of Him who is mighty to save. As the blessed result, the poor Irishman was led to understand the way of salvation, and by faith to touch the sceptre of Infinite Mercy. Some months passed before he had courage to enter a Protestant church, and then he was in[173] company with his friend, whom he met by appointment. He for some minutes lingered outside, and then entered with a rush. After that his attendance was regular; but he found it necessary to leave his lodgings, as his conversion became known to the neighbours, and he received several unpleasant visits from the priest. He had two boys whom he sent to a Protestant school, though opposed by his wife. His acquaintance was kept up for several years, and he used to speak with joy about the golden stick, and the knowledge it gave him of the Saviour.

The Elephant and Castle.—Upon entering the bar-parlour of this house the landlord commenced the following conversation with the Missionary, concerning the evidence he had given before a Committee of the House of Commons: "I have, sir, been reading your evidence in the Blue Book, and while I agree with much that you said, I think that you were mistaken in two particulars. First, when you said that there are more persons in the public-houses of Marylebone upon the evening of the Lord's-day, than there are in all the churches and chapels of that parish. Secondly, your advice for further restrictions upon our Sunday-sale, coupled with your opinion, that a great number of our houses could be entirely closed upon the Lord's-day with benefit to the public and without loss to the publican."

"I am not surprised at your view of my evidence, but the sharp criticism of the trade has convinced me that I spoke the truth temperately. As regards the appalling statement as to the number of persons who frequent your houses upon the Lord's-day evening, you must have observed that I was sharply examined upon[174] the point, and confirmed it with much detail; when I had finished, the chief Inspector of Police and other important persons were examined upon the matter, and confirmed my statement; after which the Committee reported it to Parliament as unquestionably true. It is then a terrible fact, certainly true, of all the poor neighbourhoods of London. As regards the closing on Sundays, and its effect upon the trade, I merely gave an opinion; but that opinion was arrived at after conversation with several hundred members of your trade. As you know, forty-seven publicans in this parish signed a petition, praying Parliament to close you upon the whole of Sunday. Few men have a larger acquaintance with the trade than myself, and I am convinced that a strong feeling against Sabbath labour, and other evils of this business, is growing up among you. For instance, several of your neighbours now close their houses upon the whole of the Lord's-day, others close their tap-rooms, and many refrain from lighting the glaring lamps outside. This shows a desire to use the great moral power you possess for the good of the people. And then as regards the loss resulting from Sunday closing, I am convinced that the saying of the Book is true: 'That in keeping His commandments there is great reward.' I am, however, content to reason the point with you from a trade point of view. It is a fact that all who close bear the loss lightly, if loss there be. One house at Shoreditch has been established more than a hundred years, though, for all that time, the following 'rules' have been printed over the bar:—

"'1. No person served a second time.
[175]"'2. No person served if in the least intoxicated.
"'3. No swearing or improper language allowed.
"'4. Smoking not permitted.
"'5. When you enter a place of business, transact your business,
and go about your business.

"'Closed on Sunday.'"

"The landlord told me that after the experience of a century they had no wish to alter the rules. Twenty-six other Sunday-closing publicans, with whom I conversed, told me that the loss is really small. They lend bottles of various sizes to their customers upon the payment of a small deposit, which increases the Saturday's returns; and as they save one-seventh of wear and tear and gas, the cost of obtaining a Sabbath of rest is to many small indeed. But be this as it may, the old question remains, put by Him who alone knew the value of the world He made and of the soul He created,—for all souls are His: 'What will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' You, and many of my friends in the trade, give a practical answer to this question by suppressing drunkenness, though much to your money loss (for I never saw a person the worse for liquor in your house); extend that answer by observing the Sabbath-day to keep it holy."

A few weeks after this conversation the Missionary entered the house again, in company with a clergyman from the Isle of Wight. The landlord asked them into the bar-parlour, and called his wife. He then produced a board, and said, "Since our last conversation, sir, I have considered the cost, and have had this board printed, and intend to put it outside next Monday morning. It will no doubt increase my trade difficulties, but with God's help I shall hope still to get on."[176] The writing upon the board was: "Notice. On and after Sunday next, this house will be closed during the whole of the Lord's-day." They were commended for the good resolution, and the clergyman, at parting, observed, "You said wisely, that you hoped with God's help to succeed: that help can only be obtained in answer to prayer. Would it not therefore be well for us to seek the required blessing?" Upon this the landlady rose and locked the door, and while the barmaid was supplying the customers, her employers were kneeling with the Missionary, while the clergyman engaged in prayer.

The board was placed outside the house, and caused quite a sensation in the neighbourhood, and much jesting in the bar. The resolution was, however, kept; and after a year's Sunday closing, the landlord expressed his determination to continue in the right way, as he had found it possible to conduct the business upon Christian principles.

The Mogul.—A dirty little beer-shop, entirely supported by low and depraved persons. The taproom was built in the yard beside a skittle ground, and was approached through a long passage. Upon entering it one evening the Missionary found a crowd of at least forty juvenile thieves, vagrants, and bullies. As the noise was great, the only hope of doing good was an effort to enter into conversation with one or two individuals. This, however, was prevented, as many of them knew the visitor, and hit upon a device to get rid of him. A song was started by one of the men, and the chorus was taken up by the full company, who repeated with deafening effect the words, "He's a jolly good fellow." As the song proceeded the repetition[177] became so boisterous that the visitor divined their intention to sing him out. He at once saw the difficulty of his position, as, if they had succeeded, the same practice would have been adopted in other taprooms to the hindrance of his usefulness. He, therefore, instead of leaving, took a seat in their midst in a most unconcerned manner. The chorus was kept up until many of the vocalists had bawled themselves hoarse; and as the yelling became feeble the visitor sprang to his feet, and said vehemently, "And they were good fellows, but the magistrates commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely; who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks."

The words changed the current of feeling. Nearly all in the room had been in prison, and those who had not had a deep sympathy with such. "Who was they?" "Where was it?" and "What a shame!" were the general exclamations.

After a pause, which produced absolute silence, the speaker continued: "And at midnight they sang praises unto God." And then opening his Bible, he in a solemn, earnest tone, read the narrative of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. When he came to the words, "He set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house," the reader closed the Book, and in a few telling sentences explained the nature of saving faith in Christ, and the result of that faith,—being made "new creatures." After this visit the work was easy in that taproom, and in the family of the landlord.[178]

The King's Head.—One afternoon, while the visitor was speaking with several respectable men in this bar, the barman addressed him with the exclamation, "Blessed are your lips." He was so surprised at the words that he approached the young man, and inquired what he meant. "Well, sir," he replied, "I hear cursing and swearing all day long, up till twelve o'clock at night, and you are the only man who speaks really good words. Why, we have some tradesmen come in here for lunch who are known religious men, and they talk politics and all sorts of things, but they haven't a word to say about religion. It's as if they were ashamed to acknowledge God when they get in here: now, you condemn sinning and swearing, and I, therefore, made the remark 'Blessed are your lips.'"

"I am glad you are at leisure," was the reply, "as you have started a subject upon which I want the help of the trade, both master and man. This habit of profane swearing among the people is a crying evil, and you are the victims of its pollution more than any other class of tradesmen, which need not and ought not to be the case. In this part of London the habit is too general; but the abomination is still worse at the East end. I have with me a copy of the Church and State Review, in which a gentleman gives an account of his visits the other night with a detective. He writes: 'We stopped before one house in which all the crusts that are begged in the streets are turned into gin. Everybody blasphemed at intervals, except the women, who never stopped at all. There were old men and old women—everything that is made after the image of God, down to the little child—and the foulness of all was equal. It was fearful to hear[179] the words that rolled from the lips of the crone, who was full of years and spirits; but it was agony to hear the curses stream from the baby-mouths, when midnight had passed and it was far away in the morning.' Now, we have a Missionary who visits the houses there, and he was deeply grieved at the pollutions that met his ears; so he had a card about a foot square printed, and illuminated with a double blue border containing four mottoes between: 'Be sober;' 'Swear not at all;' 'Be sure your sin will find you out;' 'Thou God seest me.' The requisition in the centre is printed in scarlet characters, forming a pretty contrast to the border, and is as follows: 'It is respectfully requested that persons attending this house will refrain from using improper language.' He took them round to the landlords, and to their credit, nearly four hundred placed them in their bars and taps; and many joined heartily in the effort to suppress the evil. Though scarcely a year has passed, the result is most satisfactory; and I should like to introduce the cards into this part of London: the trade and myself can work together in this matter and I trust that your master will allow one to be placed in this bar."

"I am sure that he will," was the reply; "and I will ask him, and all the barmen I know, to assist in the good effort."

A card was placed in that bar, and many of the neighbouring bars, taps, and parlours, were ornamented with them; and as "the rules of the house," an effective check was given to guilty tongues. Another good of great importance sprang from the conversation with the barman. The peculiar temptations of the class were considered, and a special effort was made for their[181]  spiritual good. A pocket Testament was given to three hundred of them, with suitable remarks as to the value of the good Book, and the duty of daily reading it. The attention of many publicans was for the time directed to the Book, and many purchased larger copies. A distribution was then commenced among those publicans and coffee-house keepers who let lodgings, and hundreds of Bibles were placed in their sleeping rooms; the movement extended to the hotels (the Books having their signs in gilt letters upon the covers), and terminated by an arrangement with the managers of the Great Western Hotel, by which nearly a hundred copies of the Scriptures were placed in their bedrooms.

BE SURE YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT.  SWEAR NOT AT ALL.  It is respectfully requested that Persons attending this House will refrain from using improper language.  BE SOBER.  THOU GOD SEEST ME.

The barmaids were really thankful for the Bible and Card movement, as their suffering from blasphemous and bad language was great. The following incident will illustrate this: The visitor was one afternoon standing in a gin palace, quietly conversing with the two barmaids, when three well-dressed young men of "turfy" style entered, and called for "brandies and soda." They conversed merrily about an incident which had occurred to one of them, using corrupt words with every sentence. A deep blush rose to the face of the younger barmaid, who had not been long in the business. The visitor turned towards the man, and said sharply, "Dear me, what can be the matter with you?"

"I am all right," he replied, inquiringly.

"You are not all right," was the reply: "but I can tell what's the matter with you. When a man is ill the doctor examines his tongue, and if it is furred he knows that it indicates foulness within, and that the patient[182] requires treatment; and it's just so when men with their tongues defile themselves and others. It shows a diseased moral state when the poison of asps is under a man's tongue."

The severe rebuke so astonished the man that he could not give a ready reply; but one of his companions said, "We meant no harm, sir."

As the barmaids had fled to the other end of the counter, the visitor altered his tone to one of kindly instruction, and said, "You don't know your disease, and I shall, therefore, do you a kindness by pointing it out to you." He then opened his Bible and read, "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the whole course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." He then referred to the passage, "Children that are corrupters," and told them that this evil, with all others, proceeded out of the corrupt human heart; and of that blood which cleanseth from all sin, and makes a man every whit whole. The men, who showed a very proper spirit, promised to suppress the hateful habit, and shook hands with their reprover.

Upon his next visit the barmaids thanked him; and the youngest said, "I have been religiously brought up; and my grandfather, who was an Independent Minister, pressed me to give my heart to God when I was a little girl. You have brought all to my remembrance, and I shall leave this trade for domestic service, as I have resolved to live in newness of life."

The Merlin's Cave.—There was a special inducement to visit this house out of its regular order, as placards announced that "The gorilla, or man-monkey,[183] had not made its escape, but could be seen by customers using the bar." Upon entering, one Sunday evening, the Missionary was surprised to find the place crowded with the lowest order of drunkards, chiefly from Seven Dials. Their object was to see the stuffed skin of the monster, and they, for so respectable a house, formed a ragged, dirty, and debased company. The landlord, who was unfavourable to Christian visitation, stopped a conversation of deep interest by inviting the visitor to look at the gorilla. "We don't usually show it on Sundays," he observed, "but as you have come in we will oblige you and gratify the people." And he then drew the curtain aside. All pressed forward to look at the monster; and the Missionary, leaning upon the bar, gazed at it for some moments.

"How he is staring at it!" observed one of the men.

"Yes, I am," was the reply, "as I was making up a conundrum for the landlord; and I hope he will answer it to our general satisfaction. 'When is a man uglier than that gorilla?'"

After a little thought, he replied, "A man never can be uglier than that, so I will give it up."

"Yes, he can," replied the visitor, with energy: "When he is drunk. Yes: a drunkard is the picture of a beast, and the monster of a man. Dressed in rags, with livid face and blood-shot eyes, and filthy breath, he sinks below a brute like that, which answered the end of its being. A drunkard debases his intellect and becomes a mere animal—a wife-beater and child-starver—a pest to his neighbours, and a disgrace to his family and country. A drunkard has the curse of the Almighty over him which no brute has; for being filthy and abominable—a child of the devil—He, the great God, has said that such[184] shall not inherit His kingdom." The landlord stood aghast at the warmth of this declamatory speech; and the drunkards seemed rooted to the spot. Tracts were then handed round, a passage of Scripture being repeated with each.

Quite a group of conscience-stricken men and women had stopped outside, and were waiting for the visitor. One of them, a woman, seemed to express the general state of feeling, when she said, "Can't do without it now, master. Can do without food; but though the drink is killing me, I should die without it." And then she cried, as drunkards are so ready to do. The state of disease which alcohol had produced in her was explained, and she was told that a little medical attention, total abstinence from intoxicating drinks, and regular diet, would save her from the drunkard's grave, and would put her in the right position to seek pardon and deliverance from the eternal curse. She readily gave her address, and the visitor promised to call next day to receive her pledge, and to give her further advice.

That visit was not lost, as the woman, who kept a beer-shop in the "Dials," was recovered from her debased condition, and with her husband became morally reformed.

The White Horse.—The potman at this house was a young man of unusual sobriety and intelligence. In style and work he was to perfection the "man of the tap," as his short apron was always clean, his room comfortable, and his pots shining. The men were often unruly and quarrelsome, but he always kept order, and got over the pressure for trust with such tact that his master never lost a customer. A grave shaking of the[185] head, and a pointing at a picture on the wall, which represented a dog named "Trust" lying dead between two barrels, usually settled the matter. If not he read the inscription, "Poor Trust is dead: bad pay killed him;" and in a melancholy way expressed his regret that "he could not help that dog a-dying, or he would." Like many of his class, he felt proud of his position, as in the tap he took rank equal to his master in the parlour. Frequenters of the room acknowledged this, and, as the representative of the firm, appealed to him on knotty questions. Such a question arose one evening when a man, who had the habit of fixing attention upon some matter contained in a Book he carried, told them about the Saviour of the world ascending to heaven in a white cloud, and added, the angels said, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven;" and then he made the solemn announcement, "Behold, He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him." The men who knew little of Christianity were utterly ignorant of this great truth, and its enunciation produced thoughtfulness, and a conversation the very reverse of that which usually took place in the room. One man appealed to "Potts," as he was called, as to whether that was in all the Bibles; as if it was, it might come true. Potts very wisely looked at the visitor, and said, "He's very likely to know, and if he'll tell me where it is, I will look in a Bible this very night and see if it's there." He was commended for his answer, and told of the men of Berea, "who were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." The[186] men were then, in a short but earnest address, directed to the coming Judge as the present Saviour.

A few months after this visit, the Missionary one afternoon entered the tap-room, as he desired to hold private converse with Potts. That worthy was by himself, and was, with great effort, writing a letter.

"It's strange that you should have come in, sir," he observed, "as I am a writing a letter to my sister, for whom I cares a great deal, as there is only us two; and we has bin orphans since we was very little, and she is a parlour-maid at Maidstone; and I don't mind you reading the letter, sir, as it's all true that's in it."

His friend with some difficulty got through the epistle, as its writing and orthography were very bad. It commenced in the famous "hoping to find you quite well as it leaves me at present" style; and then, as we put it in readable language, he said, "I have, my dear sister, made up my mind to be a Christian. A gentleman who comes in here has made the duty of being religious very plain, and I have got a view of Jesus like this:—if you were woke up in the dark night by a fire-escape man in your room, you would not at first understand what it meant; but as soon as you got a good look at him, you would see by his clothes and helmet what he was, and you would let him save you. Now that is just how I see Jesus Christ; everything about Him shows that He is the Saviour, and I am letting Him save me. As I cannot now be comfortable here, I have obtained work at a fishmonger's, and I want you to come to London. I will try and get you a good place, and then you will not be subjected to the temptations of the trade." He was strengthened and encouraged in the good resolution which he carried out,[187] and some time after he gave his friend valuable assistance in the formation of a local society for the abolition of Sunday labour.

The Coach and Horses.—Two visits of considerable interest took place in this house, though at long intervals.

As the Missionary entered the bar one evening, the landlord said, in a half whisper, "The fight for the championship comes off in the morning, and a lot of the P. R.'s are in the club room."

"Can you pass me up?"

"It's no use your going there," was the reply; "but I will, if you like:" and then the visitor passed upstairs and entered the room. About thirty men were present, the majority being unmistakable members of the prize-ring. As every eye was fixed upon the new arrival, he felt embarrassed as to his mode of procedure; indeed, there was no help but to produce his tracts and to commence distribution. He had given about a dozen, when the men rolled them up as balls and commenced pelting each other across the room, uttering vile words. The distributor at once saw that his work was likely to be brought into contempt, and that evil instead of good might result from the visit. He therefore, as many were pressing him for tracts, put them into his pocket. During the few minutes he had been there, he had noticed an elderly man of damaged face and whiskerless who was seated at a table with two gentlemen. He was drinking from a large silver prize-cup, which indicated that he was an ex-champion. His hand was resting upon the table, and a diamond of great beauty glittered upon his finger—as the lapidists say, it "gave fire."[188] The distributor looked at it, and approaching its owner, remarked, in so loud a tone that all in the room heard him, "What a lovely ring! I have not seen so fine a brilliant as this for some time: it must certainly be worth a hundred pounds."

"That's it," replied the ex-champion. "They say that it's worth a hundred guineas. A gent that's dead and gone bet two thousand upon me when I beat the Slasher; and in the morning he came to 'cossit' me, as he said, and brought me this."

"It's the jewel that's worth the money," said the visitor. "Why, the gold of the ring would not fetch three pounds." All assented to this. And he continued. "Well, it's just so with these tracts you have been throwing about: as bits of paper they cost little or nothing, and are not worth your acceptance; but they are all studded with a jewel—the pearl of great price:" and then raising his voice to a clear ringing pitch, he exclaimed, "The name of the Lord Jesus, by whom alone each man in this room can be saved, is upon them,—He is the gem. None other name is given by which you can obtain mercy." And then placing some tracts upon the table, he left the room with a firm tread. The men were so interested and surprised that scarcely a word was spoken. A few days after, the potman told the distributor that the pugilists did not destroy a tract or leave one behind.

More than two years after this event the Missionary was standing one morning at the bar, in conversation with the landlady, when he noticed, the parlour door being open, a very aged man seated with a glass of sherry before him. His beard, which was very long, and his few remaining hairs were as white as the driven[189] snow: and as he leaned upon his gold-headed cane he looked beautiful,—he had indeed that rich beauty of age which in its day is more lovely than the bloom of youth. The visitor approached politely, and asked his acceptance of a little book. He received it with a smile, and entered freely into conversation, which ended in the following way: "And now, sir, may I put the question to you which one of the Pharaohs put to an aged man who was led up to the throne by his son?"


"'How old art thou?'"

"Just turned eighty-four."

"An honourable age. But your answer is not so full as that which good old Jacob gave. He told the King that 'the days of the years of his pilgrimage were an hundred and thirty years;' and added, 'Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.' He spoke of life as short, for upon looking back time appeared to have passed quickly; he spoke of his days as 'evil,' for he had had his share of care and sorrows: but, best of all, he confessed to the heathen King that he was but a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth, and so acknowledged his belief in, and his hope of, enduring rest in the better country. I trust that you have like precious faith, and the assurance that you are near the prepared mansions,—the city of habitation whose Builder and Maker is God?"

"No: I am not;" and as he said it his voice trembled and the tears started into his eyes. "I am not a Christian, and am most miserable. I was a merchant, and until fifty years of age was absorbed in the one object[190] of making money. I then retired upon an ample fortune, and for the next twenty years I loved and enjoyed the world, and collected art-work and things of beauty, with which my houses are filled. During that time I never thought seriously of eternal things, and scarcely ever read my Bible. Of late years I have ceased to take pleasure in these things, and I am truly wretched. My son, who is a diplomatist, when in England, brought several divines to see me, but I cannot get peace. This morning I came out for a walk, and feeling fatigued I looked in here, and as no one was in the room I called for light refreshment—and am taking rest. It seems strange that such a man as you should accost me here,—and it may be of God. Let us exchange cards, and come and dine with me."

Cards were exchanged, and next day the "parlour friends" dined together. Some time was spent in looking over the beautiful and curious possessions of the old gentleman, and then they settled down to deep spiritual conference. Many a page of the pocket Bible was turned over, and the verities of the Word were made manifest. The library door was then fastened, and deep earnest prayer was offered to the God of all grace.

Many visits followed, and the friendship was cemented. One day, as the visitor entered the dining-room, the old gentleman grasped his hand, and said, "The cloud is removed: I feel as a little child, and am resting with comfort upon God's love in Jesus;" and then he uttered the language of rejoicing. For five or six months he was happy, and his family were made glad. One morning his friend received a deep black-bordered letter from his eldest daughter, who was staying with him at his country house, and it read thus: "As my late father's[191] dearest friend, I write to tell you of his sudden removal. He had been poorly for several days, and was taken really ill yesterday morning. We had three physicians, but they could only give him a little ease, as he was evidently dying. He was conscious to the last, and very happy. He fell asleep at two o'clock this morning, with the name of Jesus upon his lips. Our gratitude to you for your deep interest in him, and kind attention, is deep, and will remain for life."

The Lord sent forth the seventy "two and two before His face into every city and place." In effective lay-work the principle holds good through all the difficulties of domiciliary effort. The Missionaries of London and other large towns have each a responsible helper,—their local superintendent. It thus occurred that the man with the Book never stood alone in his work, and if he had it would have been feebly done. His beloved superintendent bore his full share of responsibility. At first he visited with him that he might make himself fully acquainted with the nature of the work and then he gave prayerful influence, with Christian council and sustaining sympathy. Under God, much of the success which attended, and still attends the visitation of public and coffee-houses, is due to the direction of that "honourable counsellor," Mr. W. R. Ellis.

And here it is well to add that the chief secretaries of the Mission, the Rev. John Garwood and the late Rev. John Robinson, have left an impress of good upon this and each branch of the work. Their clearness of judgment and full comprehension of the will of the committee, always gave value to their advice; while their devotion to the cause of Christ in London stimulated[192] the zeal, and gave solidity to the labours of young missionaries. This testimony can now be given, as one of them has received the upward call from the Master; and the other, after forty years of faithful service, has retired from official responsibility, though still active as a director of the Society's affairs. Blessed, indeed, are they who are called in early life to labour in the Gospel, and are honoured with long life in the highest and best employ, with sure anticipation of the blessed rest!



The Book in the Den:


"And often did she bless the night,—
That night without a star,
When Mercy kept the lonely watch,
And left the door ajar."

Mrs. Sewell.





The Book in the Den:

"For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword." Heb. iv. 12.


LONDON never sleeps. The noise and din of the mighty city is hushed as the night advances and the toiling millions of the day sink to repose; but their rest is the signal for the activity of others. The protection of its vast accumulation of wealth and property requires an army of police. The supply of its markets requires the wakefulness of thousands, while its traffic requires an extensive night service of cabmen and others. In addition to these, and workers upon the morning press, and other sons of toil who earn their daily bread by night, there is the vast multitude of those who

"Live to sin, and sin to live,"

and who, as the evenings close in, leave their homes and dens to seek the wages of unrighteousness. These two orders of the industrious and depraved would make up a city as large as Birmingham, and they require that many night-houses and coffee-stalls should be established to meet their necessities. And so the children of the night are increased, and we therefore repeat the statement, that "London never sleeps."[196]

This conviction was forced upon the attention of the Missionary to public- and coffee-houses, when he found that many of the latter were closed all day, and was informed that they were only opened at night. As it was his duty to make the proprietors and supporters of these houses acquainted with the glad tidings of peace, he had no choice but to visit them in the night season. Upon making the effort, he discovered that while the wicked never ceased from their wickedness, but during the hours of darkness gave unbounded license to their evil deeds, the people whom the Lord has set as His watchmen in the city slumbered and slept. A vast multitude existed who, of a truth, loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil; but no ray from the Sun of Righteousness was made to penetrate the darkness of the shadow of death in which they dwelt. They lay deeply poisoned by the fangs of the serpent sin, but no balm of Gilead or leaf from the tree of life was offered to them. Captives of the devil, they were bound and fettered by the cords of their iniquities, being in ignorance of that mighty Deliverer who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and to set at liberty them that are bound.

The sinners were astonished when, in the silence of the night-watches, a voice was heard in the streets proclaiming, in loving accents, the tender mercies of a great Redeemer. Many an honest worker or driver was arrested or comforted by sayings which reached his ears from the Book of Life, or was benefited by the silent messenger of mercy placed into his hands. Many a sin-wrecked one who had been brought to feel that there was no hand to deliver him, and who in blank despair was ready to seek a prison or a watery grave, heard the[197] sweet notes of salvation, and was delivered from going down into the pit. There were many, however, of reprobate mind who, being filled with all unrighteousness, resisted the King's messenger, and bitterly opposed themselves to the truth. This was the case at a place called by the outcasts "Teddie's Den;" and by way of illustrating the power of the Book we will narrate the religious history of that house, strange as it may sound.

It was an old-established concern, and had a connection of its own. This was evident, as the customers were so well known to the landlord that their step, or tap, or knock, was sufficient to secure their ready admission. It was not so with the Missionary. When he knocked and asked for an entrance, the only reply he received was in a gruff tone, and to the effect, that they were "shutting up." In order to gain an entry he then obtained the promise of a pass in from a young thief of his acquaintance. This, however, was unnecessary, as, upon passing the door a little before two o'clock one Sunday morning he noticed that it was partly open, no doubt for purposes of ventilation. This was a rare opportunity, which he embraced by immediately stepping in. He called for a cup of coffee, and while it was being brought took notice of the place and people. The den consisted of an ordinary shop and parlour; the former was fitted up with narrow tables, at which were seated about twenty men and women; many of these were leaning forward upon their hands, apparently asleep. A few were of the vagrant and beggar class, who, perhaps, had only sufficient money to purchase a little food, and the right to remain there for a few hours; but the majority were evidently of the vicious and criminal order. The room was extremely dirty, and the dim light from[198] the old oil lamps seemed to increase its gloom: the spangled sky, however, could be seen through the upper squares of glass, as the row of shutters only reached to the top panes. The back room, or "parlour," had a cheerful fire, was better lighted, and was no doubt filled with paying customers. There was laughter and merriment, but the oaths and blasphemies which reached the ear were truly terrible. It was evident that these men and women of the baser sort were holding a swearing club,—an amusement so hellish that we forbear a description. There was not time for further observation, as the landlord, a big, brutal-looking man, approached with the coffee.

An illustrated publication was offered to him, with the remark, "You don't, I see, supply papers to your customers; so I will occasionally give you some of these."

He took the paper with a deep frown, threw it upon the floor, and with a bitter oath, said, "I know you: you spy,—you canting wretch!" and, turning round, he locked the door; and then approaching the Missionary with the key grasped in his hand and trembling with rage, threatened vengeance. At this display of anger the customers rose from their seats and pressed forward, while the dreadful people poured in from the back room. It was an awful moment for the visitor, as he sat there helpless in the midst of that crowd of the violent and the guilty. Realizing the danger of his position, he uttered an inward prayer for help, and then, springing up, he struck his hand with violence upon the table, and pointing over the shutters to the clouds, exclaimed in a loud voice, "A great white throne will be set up among the stars there. The Saviour who[201]   died for sinners will sit upon it, for the dead that are in their graves shall hear His voice and live. We shall be there."

"A great white throne will be set up among the stars, there!" "A great white throne will be set up among the stars, there!"

At this every tongue became silent, and the people stood back, gazing upwards or into his face. Therefore, pointing at one and another, he continued, "And you, and you; for we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. I am not an enemy or a spy, but a servant of the Lord Jesus, who will judge you at the last day. He is now the Saviour of the ruined and the lost, and in His name I offer you mercy through the blood He shed for you upon the cross. In this His blessed Book it is written, 'Whosoever believeth on Him shall be saved.'" The speaker then stepped toward the door, which the landlord unlocked with a trembling hand, and he passed out into the cold, silent street.

There is a charm in the solitude of a sleeping city. The hum of the multitude and the deafening rattle upon the stones are stayed, while the distinct tread of the pedestrian and more measured tread of the policeman, seem the only link between the slumbering myriads and the activities of the day. As the distant footsteps fall upon the ear there is an instinctive turning towards the approaching or receding objects. The visitor had not proceeded far from the den when he heard footsteps, and upon turning round saw the landlord coming toward him; he therefore stopped under the next lamp, and awaited his arrival. With faltering voice he said, "Come again, guv'nor. Didn't mean anything; and a chap as knows you says as it's all right."

The words, "Come again," were as music to the man with the Book; for he felt that the door of that dreadful place was opened, and that he had obtained power,[202] under the protection of that bad man, there to read from its pages of judgment and mercy, and in the Name of names to rescue ruined ones from present and eternal destruction. He therefore replied, "Never mind the past; it is all right with me. I do all the good I can for people, and don't injure anybody. I will now call as a friend of yours. When shall it be?"

"You sees, guv'nor," he replied, "as we lives different to other people, cos our okupation is at night; and we opens at twelve and shuts up at six in the morning, when we has our supper at seven and goes to bed, and then we gits up to breakfast at five, as would be your tea-time; and if you'll turn in this afternoon, as is Sunday, we'll have winkles and muffins, and you'll see as I ain't a bully as some is, though my temper ain't zackly right allus."

The promise was given, and punctually at five o'clock that afternoon the invited guest entered the den. It had been swept, but the floor, tables, and wall were of the same sombre colour, while the air was offensive. The back room, into which he was welcomed by his new friend, was in the same condition, but better furnished, for there was an old couch and several chairs; the walls being decorated with a Dutch clock and pieces of old tinware, while upon the grate, which had never been cleaned, was a large boiler and two kettles. The house was so closely built in, that it was only a dusky light which penetrated its small side windows; that light was, however, sufficient to show that the landlord's family and four of the depraved persons who had been impressed at the visit of the early morning were present.

It was evident that the family consisted of the landlord, his wife, and a daughter about twelve years old.[203] The "missus," as she with pleasant familiarity was called, was a low coarse woman of forty-five, strangely but expensively attired. Her dress was of brown silk, trimmed with lace, in front of which she wore a braided white apron with large pockets, not unlike a toll-collector's. Her cap was smartly trimmed with red ribbon; and upon her bare neck was a thick coral necklace of many rows, and a heavy gold-like chain; her dirt begrimed fingers being ornamented with at least eight rings. The little girl was dressed in like fashion.

Both tea and coffee were ready in soot-covered vessels upon the hob. At one end of the dirty table was a tray, upon which were cracked cups and saucers of questionable cleanliness; and on the table itself was a little pyramid of periwinkles; while upon a heap of ashes before the fire were two plates, heavily piled with muffins and crumpets. These observations were quickly taken, and the visitor became thoughtful concerning the feast before him. When the tea was poured out he looked with anxiety at the cups, wondering which would be inflicted upon him; but when the muffins were placed upon the table, and a generous supply of periwinkles were pushed towards him—the women plucking pins from their dresses—he was seized with a sudden loss of appetite. The hospitable host and hostess increased his misery by showing determination that he should enjoy their good things. Such horrors as that tea must not however be dwelt upon. Let it suffice, that time which remedies so much, slow as it seemed to pass upon that memorable occasion, did at last bring the repast to an end.

During the tea the little party were set at ease and led into pleasant conversation; and when the things[204] were cleared away, the visitor laid his pocket-Bible upon the table with the remark, "This is Sunday, the happy day, as my little boy calls it; and we all ought to be happy upon this day, as we are reminded of God's goodness and the Saviour's mercy; after dying for our sins, He, upon the Sunday morning, rose from the dead. Now, as none of you attend divine worship, suppose I read to you about Him and the words He spoke?"

There was general assent, and the visitor read that marvellous chapter commencing with the words, "Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, 'This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.'" The little party listened with rapt attention, and several were moved to tears by the running commentary which was made upon the parables. The landlord and his wife, in their strange way, assured the reader that he was welcome to come when he pleased; and they parted as pleasantly as though they had been old friends. Weary, but happy, the Missionary entered the first church he came to with the object of giving thanks to the Lord in His Temple, for deliverance from danger, and for mission mercies received; and he then presented prayer for spiritual success with the keepers of that night-house and their supporters.

About a week after the tea he paid a midnight visit to the den, and as he entered the landlord commanded silence in the following words: "I know this 'ere gent, and if you doesn't shut up while he's here, I'll have you out with a shake and a kick. You bad manner'd brutes, to keep your hats on when your betters comes in." This was sufficient to secure silence, while tracts were delivered with scriptural remarks. It was thought well[205] that the visits should be short until influence was obtained with the customers. The Missionary therefore left, after fixing attention upon the word Saviour and its sweet meaning. He then pinned his address card upon the wall, and said, "Let this remain here. I have told you how to obtain pardon from Almighty God; but as it may be difficult for some of you to leave lives of sin, I shall be glad to be the friend of any who are truly penitent. Some of you might be glad of some one to plead with your relations, and I might assist others into institutions of mercy."

See p. 206. See p. 206.

In answer to this invitation several outcasts called during the week upon the "reformatory man," as they pleased to style him, and were rescued. Early one[206] morning, the keeper of the night-house came himself, leading by the hand a little girl without shoes or stockings. She was offensively dirty, with dishevelled hair, her frock of rags being pinned round her. He fairly dragged her in at the door, and said, "This 'ere gal, sir, has been about the streets for months, as she's a Irish cockney, as we calls 'em. Her mother is dead, and her father has bolted; and she sleeps under stairs where the doors are open, and under the arches with them that's got no homes; and she gits into my shop for bits of grub; and a woman, who is a bad lot, wants to take her, and we had a row, and I have bringed her to you,—and here she is."

Yes; there the poor child stood, an object to be shuddered at and avoided; but a fit object for Christian compassion. To provide for her was a difficulty, as the Missionary had burdened so many Institutions with cases that he scarcely knew where to apply. After conferring with his wife, it was arranged that she should be cleaned in the back kitchen, and dressed in one of their children's old clothes, while he went in search of a home for her. After hours of toil, all the success he met with was a promise from the manager of a crowded home to receive her at the end of three days, when an inmate was to leave. There was, therefore, no help but to keep the child for that time.

A bed was made up for her in the kitchen, and orders given that the doors should be all locked, and that she should be carefully watched. There appeared little need for this, as the child was shy and reserved; but she proved to be deeply cunning. Next morning, while the family were at breakfast, she slipped upstairs with a key which had been left upon the dresser, and entering[207] a room, she stole two dresses—one of them a good silk,—and fifteen shillings in money. The theft was soon discovered, but the thief had got clear off. As she had spoken of the savouriness of "Jew's fish" (cooked in oil) it was surmised that she would go to Rag Fair, and her ill-used friend, therefore, got upon the roof of an omnibus, in hope of seeing her upon the way. In this he was disappointed, and, therefore, walked about the fair for some time. He was about leaving in despair, when he noticed, in the distance, a girl of her style, but of strange appearance, and upon approaching he found that it was her, but so changed that he could not refrain from laughing as he seized her arm. Her clothes had evidently been changed,—in place of the neat little frock, she had put on a dirty sky-blue silk, which was much too large; upon her feet were a pair of green boots, and upon her head a straw hat with large red feather. In one hand she held a piece of greasy fish, and in the other a green parasol.

In reply to the question, "What have you done with the dresses?" she replied, "'Eld 'em up 'ere, and a woman gave me ninepence for the silk un, and two shillings for the t'other; and I've bin in and bought these 'ere pretty clothes; and I've had lots of fish and taters and beer, and was a-goin' to the gaff."

This statement was made in such a disingenuous manner that it seemed evident that the poor child, like the heathen, had no moral sense. As it was useless to try and trace the dresses, it only remained to march her off to the Refuge, where, out of consideration to her friend, she was at once received. We may add, that she did well in the Institution for several years, and that she became a good general servant.[208]

This girl was one of seventeen outcasts whom the keeper of "Teddie's Den" brought to the Missionary, all of whom were rescued; but though a "helper" in the good work, he did not obtain spiritual good himself. At times he seemed to tremble when passages concerning judgment and mercy were read from the Book; and he treated the Reader with respect,—but that was all. The dreadful influence of his business and the love of liquor quickly removed all good impressions, and he continued to do evil: "He saw the better, yet the worse pursued." Bad as he was, he at times showed a kindness of disposition quite out of keeping with his appearance and character; for instance, when he heard that his friend was ill, he went to Covent Garden Market, and, of all things there, bought a pomegranate, and left it at his house. A few nights after this he was in liquor, wandered from his door, and leaning against an area gate which was unfastened, fell back upon the stone steps. He fractured his skull, remained unconscious for some hours, and died in that state. The grief of the Missionary was great; he had diligently sought the salvation of the man, and he, therefore, felt crushed beneath the discouragement. The evangelist has his trials and heart-sorrows, his disappointments are frequent and painful, though not so often referred to as they perhaps ought to be. It is a fearful thing when the words he utters become "the savour of death unto death;" but he has no choice in this matter, as the order of the great Master is: "Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee; and whatsoever I command thee, that thou shalt speak."

The "missus," for no one seemed to know her name, succeeded to the full control of the den, and it soon[209] became evident that she was hardened rather than softened by the wretched end of her husband. She expressed a positive dislike to the man whose faithfulness was no doubt a difficulty to her, and she hindered his efforts to do good.

"The master was a fool," she observed, a few weeks after his death, "to bring you back here, as it's ruination. After you left the t'other night the people was all glum; and now gents as has lots of money to stand treats doesn't come, as they are affeard of meeting you; and I have got a man a-coming to help as will turn anybody out, and you shan't come."

This was no doubt her determination, but the Missionary had obtained such power with the supporters of the place, that they would have defended him from insult, certainly from violence. All knew him as one able to rescue them, and as the only one who sought their spiritual good. Bad therefore as they were, they felt that the friend of the soul was their best friend, and they treated him as such. All then that the "missus" could do was to keep him at times out of the back room.

A change, however, passed over the place as the class of customers gradually altered. The depraved became fewer in number, while the skilled criminal class increased. Magsmen and well-dressed pickpockets were more frequently to be seen there, while the thieves, among themselves, spoke of the woman as a good "fence" (i.e., a person who stands between the thieves and receivers, and renders detection more difficult). The following incident will show the class of customers:—

One night a Clergyman, who is now a dignitary of the Church, visited there with the Missionary. The shop was unusually full of youths and men of the criminal[210] class, but in the farther corner sat a party of three persons who appeared to be separated from the rest of the company,—a man, woman, and little girl of twelve years. They were leaning forward as if asleep, but were aroused by the laughter produced by the pleasant remark the Missionary made concerning "the wisdom of the owls of night."

"What are you doing here with that child?" inquired the Clergyman.

"Please, sir," replied the woman, "we has been very unlucky, cos as how my husband has been ill, and all our sticks was took for the bit of rent, and we begged sixpence, and has had some tea and is stayin' here till it's light; and if my old man doesn't get work to-morrow we shall go next day to the Union over Battersea."

"You had better go there at once," he replied; "but don't expose the child to the night air. If you will promise me to save enough for a lodging, should you be out to-morrow night, I will give you half-a-crown."

The promise was made and the money given, though the quick eye of the experienced visitor saw by the glances interchanged between the company that deceit was being practised. The money was not, however lost, as that congregation of the ungodly listened with deep feeling to the clear, loving utterances of Divine truth which fell from the lips of that good minister of Christ Jesus.

Next evening the Missionary called in and inquired of the "missus" what was done with the half-a-crown.

"We had a bottle of gin with it," she replied, "but some of the fools wouldn't have any and went out, and said it was a shame to cheat such a good Missionary-man as him was that gived it."[211]

"Now tell me," he continued, "who that man, woman, and child were? I am certain that they are not vagrants."

"I should think not," the woman replied laughing: "why they are smashers (i.e., makers of counterfeit money), and they sends the girl in first, who has bags of bad money under her frock, and one of 'em comes in, and if it's all serene the t'other comes, and then they does business. When you com'd to the door I tipped 'em the wink, affore opening it, as they was then a-sellin' to them chaps. One was a buying six-pennorth of shillings, and another a shilling's worth of half-crowns, according to quality, as the saying is."

Some further conversation followed, when the woman had occasion to leave the room for a few minutes, the visitor turned to the daughter and said:

"I am glad at what you told me a few weeks ago, that you were always praying to God to make you His child and to keep you from the evil to which you are exposed. Now tell me if you have decided to serve the Lord?"

"That I have, sir," she replied, her eyes filling with tears. "Mother won't let me out of her sight; but for two Sundays I have been to the chapel down the mews, where I understand everything, and keep on praying; and the gent spoke so beautiful last night that I want to serve Jesus altogether."

She was encouraged in the wise choice she had made, and the friend left, rejoicing that her heart, like Lydia's, had been opened to receive the truth.

The coiners were not met with again; but quite a year after, the governor of Norwich Castle, at the suggestion of a magistrate who assisted him in many works of[212] mercy, wrote, asking the help of the Missionary in finding a home for a girl who, with her parents, had been apprehended for passing base money. It appeared that they left the girl in the distance, and each taking a piece of bad money passed it upon shopkeepers. They were stopped several times, but as a second piece could not be found upon them they were not detained. They were traced from London to Norwich, by the bad money they had passed, and were apprehended at a lodging-house, with the bags in their possession. The parents were sentenced to nine months' hard labour each, and the girl detained until a home could be found for her. This was done, and she was passed up to London. She was some time in the home, and then absconded; but several years after she called upon the matron, and invited her to come and see her husband, as she was comfortably married.

Several years passed, during which time "Teddie's Den" was visited with varying success, until the night upon which the International Exhibition was closed. The Missionary had arranged a tea in the building for a thousand persons, and returned home very weary, to find a thief in the house,—for there in the hall sat a man who had been frequently convicted. He, with evident feeling, said, "The 'missus,' sir, has bin bad all the week, and she's wery bad now, and is a mumbling your name; and the doctor has bin agin, and says as you ought to be sent for, so I has come." He was told to fetch a cab; but it was midnight before they arrived at the night-house.

An anxious group of depraved persons were standing at the door, but the visitor passed them in silence and entered the back room. The scene which presented[213] itself was solemn indeed, for there, dressed, upon her couch, in the pains of dissolution, lay the woman who used to boast that she had kept dens for twenty-one years, and had not slept at night during that time. She appeared to be dying, but rallied when she heard the voice of her friend, and whispered, "Mercy! mercy!—Pray, pray!"

"I tell you again, that as a guilty sinner, you must pray for yourself," he replied, in a slow, quiet, tone. "The blood of Jesus can save you now: ask God in His name to pardon you." And then the dying woman, after him, repeated short prayers. After a pause he took her cold hand in his, and kneeling down, implored pardon for her from the God of all grace. His voice was, however, stopped by the sobbing of several women and young thieves who had entered from the shop. The death-expression upon the face of their old acquaintance in guilt, with the solemn attitude and words of prayer, overcame them, and they seemed to kneel as in contrition before their offended Maker.

There were intervals of consciousness, during which words of hope were read from the Book of Life; and at her request, expressed by movements of her hands, prayer was again offered. She soon became unconscious, and expired at three o'clock.

A few comforting words were spoken to the weeping daughter and the women who remained in the room; and the night-visitor then passed into the street. A large crowd of the criminal and depraved had assembled from other night-houses, and as he left they made a passage for him to pass through, while the two policemen turned on their bull's eyes to light him on his way. He, however, stepped back, and standing upon the[214] threshold of the den, held out his Bible, and said, "She is dead, and her eternal state is fixed: you, however, are upon the side of the grave where mercy can be sought and found. Look up, now, to where the Saviour is seated, at God's right hand, beyond those dark clouds. Be in earnest in seeking salvation, and then live for the hour of death and the day of judgment." He then passed down the street in silence, not a word reached his ear from that gathering of the wicked.

The wretched inheritance descended to the daughter, now a young woman of twenty. Before her mother's illness she had suffered persecution from her, because she boldly confessed faith in Christ. Another cause of offence was her receiving tracts and placing them upon the tables before the customers were admitted. She, however, showed such dutiful affection to her mother, that it no doubt softened her hard heart, and caused her to show a better feeling towards the unwelcome visitor. A few evenings after the funeral she called upon her friend, and upon entering the room burst into tears, and said, "I can't, sir, keep the dreadful place open, for I am always praying, and the language and sin is awful: I will beg my bread first. What shall I do?"

She was soothed, and a quiet conversation took place between them concerning her position. After conferring with his wife, he said, "You are painfully circumstanced,—no one would receive you into their service if they knew that you had been brought up in such a place. We, however, will do what others could not, as I am assured that the Lord has dealt mercifully by you. We need a servant, and will take you into our house." She, with expressions of gratitude, accepted the offer;[215] so he wrote notes to the landlord of the house, and to a broker, and sent her with them.

Next evening the Missionary paid his last visit to "Teddie's Den." A hand-cart was at the door, and the broker inside. The furniture, crockery, and fixtures were quickly sold and removed, and then the night visitor and its late mistress left. It was with a joyous, thankful heart, that he closed the door behind them, for he felt that a stronghold of sin and Satan had fallen before the silvery notes of the Gospel of peace.

The young woman did well in her place, and gave evidence of a renewed nature. After a few months, her master and mistress were so well pleased with her, that they recommended her into a reformatory institution as under matron. For two years she filled the office with credit to herself, and to the spiritual benefit of many of the inmates, including one who used to frequent her parents' den. This woman had for years been the companion of thieves, and had by vice so injured her health as to suffer long illness in the London Hospital. Upon her discharge she was sent to the Institution, and great was her astonishment to find the young woman who, when a girl, waited upon her at night, an under-matron in the home of Mercy. From her she gladly received the good news of Jesus receiving sinners, and was led to call upon His name, and then to rejoice in His mercy.

One evening the young assistant called upon her friend, and said timidly, "You know Mr. So-and-so, don't you, sir?"

"I do," was the reply; "and think well of him."

"You have been more than a father to me, sir; and will you please give me away?"

The office was cheerfully undertaken, and readily[216] fulfilled. After the marriage, the Missionary friend and father handed her a Bible, with this writing in it: "Heirs together of the grace of life." The union is a happy one, and she is a living proof that sovereign grace can raise its subjects from the lowest depths, and place them among the princes of the children of light.



The Book in the Streets and Night-Houses:


"Sow in the wild waste places,
Though none thy love may own;
God guides the down of the thistle
The wandering wind hath sown.
Will Jesus chide thy weakness,
Or call thy labour vain?
The word that for Him thou bearest
Shall return to Him again.
Sow with thine heart in heaven,
Thy strength thy Master's might,
Till the wild waste places blossom
In the warmth of a Saviour's light."

Anna Shipton.





The Book in the Streets and Night-Houses:

"The seed is the Word of God." Luke viii. 11.


TWO hundred and sixty nights occupied in evangelizing efforts in the streets, refreshment houses, and dens of the mighty city, gave evidence that the Word of God is powerful to arrest the attention of the most thoughtless—to stop the guilty in their downward career; and that it is the power of God unto the salvation of sinners who are sunk so low as to cause them, when restored, to stand out before men as miracles of mercy. Disappointments were frequent, and if continuance in the work had depended upon known success, would have been crushing. This however was not so: the great Master does not send out His servants at their own cost. When He, of His sovereign grace, takes a sinner and places him among His children, and then by distinguishing favour makes him a wheel or a lever in His great machinery of mercy, He only requires faithfulness—not success. Men can only fill the office of subordinate instruments and visible agents in the mighty process of salvation. "God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world unto Himself," but[220] "He has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation." This truth ought to remove indolence and avarice from those who are named by the name of Christ. The redeemed people who realize the debt they owe unto their Lord, should covet to be the deputies and agents of Divine love; such should labour and study, and pray for success, because the Holy Spirit works by instruments made fit for His use, and the armed omnipotence of God is engaged on behalf of repentant sinners. The great restoring work is of God, and of God only; and it is therefore the duty of His servants to labour as cheerfully when denied, as when favoured with evidence of blessing.

These thoughts were suggested when materials for this chapter were being collected. The mind reverted to so many instances of failure,—to a succession of men and women who had been the objects of much earnest effort, but who had passed from under the influence of the Missionary without giving the remotest hope of their salvation. If a proportion of them were referred to, this would be a dismal record. We will only therefore, by way of illustrating the nature of the work, refer to one instance.

A Cabinet Minister had conferred with the Missionary upon the matter of legislation for night-houses; and as other interviews were sure to follow, he thought it well to visit all such places of which the police could give him information.

One night he followed several fashionably dressed gentlemen into a house near the Haymarket, and found himself in a gilded saloon, with billiard rooms upstairs. The gentlemen remained together, and as the visitor felt strange, he went to the upper end and threw himself[221] upon a couch; he was meditating as to what he could do there, when a middle-aged gentleman entered and gave a familiar nod to the group, and then glancing keenly toward the stranger, approached and took his seat at the other end of the couch. After a little thought, an envelope containing a tract was handed to him. He gave a sudden start, and the Missionary in a merry tone, exclaimed "It's not a writ;" and then both laughed heartily. The attention of the proprietor and his waiter in full dress, had from his entering in, been fixed upon the stranger; he therefore thought it well to make friends with the gentleman, and pressing near to him, he said, in a confidential half-whisper: "Oblige me by not opening the envelope now, as it only contains a religious tract." As he looked at it with astonishment, the giver continued: "You no doubt think it absurd, quixotic of me to venture in here with tracts, but you will respect my motive when I tell you that I have for years visited the lower class of night-houses, and conferred benefits upon many; and that I am the voice of one crying in the night season, 'Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.'"

"A motive so good, justifies the act," replied the gentleman. "I am going over to the Turkish saloon, and will pass out with you."

In the street they fell into a pleasant chat, and an appointment was made for another night; this was kept, and followed by several others, besides chance meetings. From his friends he ascertained that the gentleman was supposed to be of good family, that he had graduated at Oxford, and that he bore the assumed name of Clifford. He was a most fascinating person, though his countenance[222] had a dissipated and at times malicious expression. He had a large acquaintance among young men of position, who at that time frequented the Haymarket, and was often seen with a gentleman, now deceased, who by bad company lost his fortune, and had to sustain a long law-suit to prove his sanity. By the lower order of the depraved he was regarded as one of quite a large number of gentlemanly men whom they called "pigeon pluckers."

One night the gentleman and his Christian friend, who had met in the Haymarket, were conversing together, when he was accosted by a young man who appeared to be of age, with "Ah, Clifford! how'do? glad to see you. Just a word at your leisure."

"Certainly, my lord," was his reply. "I will be with you in a few minutes: should have been waiting for you, had I not met with this very pleasant friend."

"As Clifford's friend, may I crave the honour of offering my hand to your lordship?" inquired the Missionary.

"Certainly," replied the young nobleman (if such he was), and then the Christian visitor grasped his hand, and holding it with mild restraint, looked him full in the face, and said, "You are in danger, my lord. This dissipation will injure your person, your good name, your fortune, and perhaps your country. Be wise. Like a certain young ruler mentioned in the Gospel, approach the Lord Jesus, and ask, 'What shall I do to inherit eternal life?'"

A deep colour rose to the face of the young man, and he stepped hastily away; but turning back, as by sudden impulse, he again offered his hand to his reprover, and said, "I thank you, sir;" and was then lost in the crowd of the gay and dissipated. 

"You are in danger my lord." "You are in danger my lord."


Some weeks after this event, the night visitor met the gentleman, and had tea with him in a café. As they sat together at the small round marble table, the Missionary observed, "To me it is astonishing that you can live such a life as you are doing; heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. From a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, and I am surprised that texts do not at times rise to your memory, and produce a fearful looking forward to judgment!"

"Such is not the case," he replied, "strange as you may regard it. There is only one matter of memory which ever troubles me, and that is the verses of a child's hymn which our mother used to teach us as we knelt at her side in the nursery,—

'Almighty God, Thy piercing eye
Strikes through the shades of night;
And our most secret actions lie
All open to Thy sight.'

"At times these verses flash across my mind at most inconvenient seasons, and destroy my enjoyment; they occurred when you first spoke to me in the saloon, and the other night I caught myself repeating them when playing an important game of billiards." The pocket Bible was produced, and the words solemnly read,—"He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him (Jesus) from the dead."

The visitor then repeated to him the verses of a Judgment Hymn of his own writing, which evidently made a deep impression:[226]

Roll, roll, ye thunders with terrific dread!
Shout, shout, ye angels and awake the dead!
Proclaim the mandate of the Almighty King;
Man, dead and living, to the Judgment bring.
Rise, rise, ye millions of reposing clay!
See, see, the light of the eternal day!
The brightness of His coming gilds the sky,
The glorious mantle of the Judge most high.
Rejoice, rejoice, ye ransomed sons of God!
Sing, sing, the virtue of the Saviour's blood!
Your loud triumphant Hallelujahs sing,
With great rejoicing hail your Saviour-King.
Mourn, mourn, neglecters of a Saviour's love;
Weep, weep, rejecters of the Heavenly Dove;
Insulted mercy leaves thee to the law
Which dooms to death, and bids thee hope no more.
Awake, awake, ye slumbering sinners, pray;
Cry, cry for mercy, now in mercy's day;
Flee to the Covert from the storm, and rest
Your blood-bought souls upon the Saviour's breast.

After this visit there were several other meetings, and then a long interval occurred. Upon inquiring for his friend at the divans and saloons, the visitor was told that "he had not been seen for some time: that he had no doubt gone upon the Continent, and would turn up next season." He was not there the following year, and was never seen in his old haunts again. It was with him as with others,—much effort without apparent result; and yet it is possible that, in the day of the Lord, good concerning some of them will be made manifest.

In one class of cases there is freedom from discouragement, and that is when the Christian worker is enabled to strengthen, to encourage, and to assist disciples in[227] their efforts to give a testimony for the Lord, and to do good under depressing circumstances.

It was certainly thus with an old man who kept a coffee-stall in a poor neighbourhood. His shop consisted of a large barrow with canvas covering, supported at the corners by upright pieces of wood. At one end he had a small iron stove, with a large kettle upon it, and a coffee-pot on one side and tea-pot upon the other; at the farther end was a cupboard well filled with bread-and-butter and plum cake. Upon the centre of the barrow was a white cloth, covered with cups and saucers, and underneath were several pails of water. He used to wheel the whole concern to his corner as soon as the clock struck twelve at night, and wheel it away when the public and coffee-houses opened at six in the morning. The acquaintance of the proprietor was made in the following manner: One bitterly cold morning, about three o'clock, the Missionary, who was trembling from the chill felt upon leaving a warm night-house, approached the stall, and held his hands to the fire. The policeman on duty paused for the same purpose, and the following conversation passed between them:—

Stall-keeper: "I have read the book you lent me, and don't think the doctrine sound. Sovereign grace fore-ordained unto salvation, and the saints elected according to the Divine purpose must be saved. No man can pluck them out of the Saviour's hands."

Policeman: "You make too much of your favourite doctrine of election. Our Lord died for all who ever lived or shall live in the world; and it is written that it is not the will of God that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."[228]

"Both doctrines are plainly taught in the Divine Word," remarked the stranger; "and, like the colours in the rainbow, they harmonize and blend over the throne where Jesus is seated. We do well to seek for the full assurance of faith, and to rejoice in the sure covenant; but while doing so let us witness for the Lord who bought us, and try to win others by testifying of His abounding grace."

With a happy smile the policemen recommenced his weary walk round the beat, while the stall-keeper and the night-visitor had pleasant converse about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath appeared unto all men. This led to a friendship with the stall-keeper, who was a Cornish man and a Calvinistic Baptist; and to a slight acquaintance with the policeman, who was a Congregationalist. Several visits were paid to the "Coffee Man," as he was called, and work was appointed him in the great vineyard. He was supplied with tracts, which he kept in his cupboard, and for several years he was a valuable distributor. Groups of depraved people, who "make night hideous," used to surround his stall; to these he gave tracts, and spoke the truth boldly. He indeed became a kind of spiritual adviser to the depraved. Many repentant ones spoke with confidence to the good old man, and several were sent by him to his friend, and were placed in institutions of mercy.

This was not a solitary instance of converted men being found in night occupations; and it became an object of the visitor's efforts to strengthen such in the faith, and to lead them boldly to witness for their Lord in the midst of the ungodly. These helpers were precious and their testimony valuable, because the great[229] body of persons met with were disreputable or utterly vile. Many were ignorant of the true light, but there were others who had received religious advantages, and who, by rejecting proffered mercy, counted themselves unworthy of eternal life. Among this mass of the unholy were to be found the young, the thoughtless, and the distressed, who being easily led captive by the devil and his servants, supplied the places of those who were constantly sinking to perdition. With some of these the work was effectual for good, as the following case will illustrate.

One night, a little after eleven, the Missionary was walking down Oxford Street, in company with another evangelist, when they passed a girl of seventeen, who was walking slowly, as if ill. The night visitor glanced at her, and was struck by the expression of misery and disease,—it seemed as though the sorrows of a life had been concentrated in that young face. He therefore turned suddenly, and approaching her, said kindly, "Don't be afraid: I am a religious man, and a friend to poor girls in trouble. Now do tell me where you are going?"

"To sleep under the trees in the park, sir, if I can get in," she replied; "if not, to walk about all night;" and then she burst into tears.

In answer to inquiries, she made the following statement, in a very truthful manner. She said, "I am a village girl, and came from home after losing my only parent about eighteen months ago. A neighbour's girl who was in London got me a place. It was at a lodging-house: and I rarely got out, as they only let me go to church three times. All the stairs were of stone, and I had to clean them; this, with constant running up[230] and down, brought on a white swelling in my knee. I remained as long as I could crawl, and then, as I had saved three pounds, went to live with the charwoman. After a time I went into an hospital for two months. I returned to the charwoman, and tried to get into place, but I looked so ill that no one would engage me. After the money was spent I pawned my clothes, and I was told to go to the workhouse. I went to the door, but the man spoke so sharp to me that I drew back, and now I have been in the streets for two days. Last night I slept with some other girls under the trees in Hyde Park, but they talked so dreadful that I am afraid to go in again. Oh! what shall I do?" and then she sobbed so loudly that several persons crossed from the other side of the street.

"If your tale is true, I will provide for you," said her interrogator: "at all events I will see that you are taken care of to-night." He then took her to a coffee-house, where he was known, and paid for a supper, bed, and breakfast. At leaving, he took an envelope from his pocket, and tearing it, gave her one-half, and said, "Stand with this in your hand near the fountain in Regent's Circus to-morrow morning at ten o'clock, when a lady with the other half will speak to you, and take you to a Home."

At the appointed time the poor girl approached the fountain, where a matron of the Rescue Society was waiting to receive her. As soon as she reached the Home her statements were inquired into, and found to be correct. Care and proper treatment soon restored her to health, and a lady received her into her service. Three months after the lady called at the office to thank the secretary for sending her such a good servant.[231] She remained in her place several years, and gave evidence of real gratitude for the great deliverance which had been wrought out for her.

Lady at window

The state in which this poor girl was found illustrates the lonely condition of those who are friendless in a great city. The most wretched and deserving may in the crowd jostle against the best and kindest of men and women, and yet be sinking to the lowest depths of wretchedness and vice, unnoticed and uncared for. Hence the Christian duty and true philanthropy of[232] arresting such wanderers, and putting them in a position to live godly, righteously, and soberly in this present evil world. The following case will show that such efforts are not lost, and that the words of the Book are powerful to reclaim even outcasts:—

One morning a ragged, wretched-looking girl of nineteen, was brought to the house of the night visitor by a woman of depraved and drunken appearance, who said, "This 'ere young woman was a-going mad, and fainted like, when she ran into the night-house, and said as how she wanted the parson man, who preaches like out of the Bible in the streets at night; and as that's your honour, I found out that you lived here, and so I've brought her. I had to treat her, as I has good feeling, and the men wanted to take her to the police, as she is mad, and I think she ought to be took to Bedlam."

The object of this speech stood with her hands before her face, trembling with emotion. Filthy as she was, the Missionary and his wife took her into a private room, and by soothing words drew from her the following statement. She said, "I am a Scotch girl, and my father is a tradesman in a large way of business. In a bad temper I absconded from home, and have been awfully wicked. One night I heard you speak to some people round a coffee-stall, and then you showed us the Bible, and said that every word in it would come true, and that Jesus would come again as a thief in the night. At leaving, you said that 'the heavens would pass away with a great noise, and that the earth would be burned up, and that all who rejected mercy now would then be banished from the Saviour's presence.' I felt so miserable that I went to my lodging, and next[233] day I wrote to my father, asking him to forgive me. He did not write for two days, and I was so anxious that I stood for hours looking for the postman. At last a letter came in his handwriting, and the only words in it were, 'You are no daughter of mine: never write to me again.' I felt mad when I read it, and walked about Regent's Park all day: when the gates were shut I hid myself, and went to sleep on the grass. I woke up in the night, as it was raining, and I was soaked through. As I crossed the bridge I began to laugh and dance, and thought how nice it would be to drown myself; so I took off my bonnet and shawl, intending to jump in, when I thought I heard you speaking of mercy and Jesus, and was so startled that I took up my things and ran as fast as I could. I jumped over the palings as though some one was after me, and ran until I got to the night-house, and then I fainted." At the end of this recital she looked wildly round, and almost screamed, "Oh, save me, sir: do save me! don't let me go into the park."

She was assured of her safety, and words of Christian tenderness were spoken to her. After partaking of refreshment she was sufficiently calm to be sent in charge of the woman with a note to the manager of the Refuge for the Destitute. She was received, and next morning, being ill, was taken into an hospital. Her father was written to several times, but did not reply to the letters: a maiden aunt, however (those blessings in a family), sent for her into Scotland. A week after a very grateful letter was sent by the aunt, inclosing full payment for expenses incurred in the rescue of her niece: also a letter from the girl, expressing thankfulness to God and man for her wonderful deliverance[234] from a watery grave. After these no other voluntary letters were sent. When he wrote, the replies were so cold and short as to give him to understand that though thankful, they wished to break off from all who knew of her dreadful fall.

Such and much worse instances of ingratitude, where the greatest of blessings had been conferred, were not uncommon. At first it was a real discouragement to the man, who felt the sorrow and weariness of this desperate struggle for souls; but at length he became reconciled to labour as unto the Lord only. Even then he at times felt saddened, after labouring for the good of some apparently worthless person, to be avoided after the good had been accomplished. It seemed like the Gospel story of the ten lepers being healed, and only one of them returning to give thanks to the great Healer. The proportion of the unthankful is very large; for out of the 374 women, girls, and boys, whom the Lord enabled the Missionary to rescue, or to deliver from some peril or misery, they are few indeed who at the interval of years show gratitude. One of these shall be referred to here, as the narrative also shows that the blessing which gives success frequently rests upon perseverance in effort to do good.

Upon a drizzly night, a beggar man and his boy of thirteen years entered a public-house which remained open until one o'clock in the morning. The man asked alms of the publican, and then of the Missionary to whom he was talking, and said that they only wanted fourpence for their lodging, as they had tramped in from Chatham, and were both ill. Out of pity to the boy, who staggered from weakness, the visitor walked with them to a "Traveller's Rest," and paid the money.[235] Upon the way the man stated that he was a discharged soldier, and had left the regiment through bad eyes; he was nearly blind, and that he had a small pension for the first year. His wife and themselves had lived pretty well by begging in the country during the summer, as he always wore a red jacket and carried his discharge paper. On their way his wife had been taken ill, and was left at an Infirmary; but he hoped she would soon join them. He appeared very thankful when an offer was made to place the boy in a Refuge, and a call for that purpose was arranged for the next day.

"The Traveller's Rest" was situated in a low back street, with several courts in it, and a passage at the end. The road was offensively dirty, as the Missionary passed down at two o'clock upon the next afternoon. The swarms of children were of the gutter, shoeless, tattered, and filthy. At many of the doors women of debased countenances were squatted, smoking short pipes. A fiddler was playing in the doorway of a low beerhouse—"The Dan O'Connell,"—while men, women, and children were dancing inside and out, to an Irish jig. Out of two windows were long poles with bills underneath, announcing the pleasing fact that a "clean shave and a wash could be had within for one halfpenny." These were no doubt rival barbers. "The Rest" was one of several, and was offensively dirty. In the back, or common room, were two tables and several forms, the company consisting of eight women and five men. Three of these were at the fireplace, one holding a number of sprats upon a long skewer, another a red herring, and the third was frying steak and onions. They regarded the stranger with what he knew to be a professional look, and one woman in the same breath[236] told him that "the sojer was upstairs, and that she was very ill, and almost a skeleton with starvation;" and then she took a bottle of medicine out of her pocket, and to prove how bad she was, invited him to taste it. This he courteously declined, and ascended to the bedroom, the air of which was horribly offensive. A row of old mattresses upon the dirty floor formed the beds, while the walls were shockingly dirty. But as the "soldier" said, "What 'commodation can a chap expect for twopence, when you has the use of fire and water?" To the disappointment of the visitor, the man began to wriggle out of his promise to let the boy go to a Refuge; and when pressed he became impertinent, and said, "With my eyes bloodshot and the boy a-looking ill, we can get lots; and I shan't starve for him." When leaving, the reader re-entered the common room, and secured the attention of the people to the parable of the good Samaritan; and then, holding up the pocket Bible, he said, "It's in here, and many other things which the blessed Jesus spoke."

Some weeks after this the visitor saw the boy huddled up in a night coffee-house, the father being fast asleep. The lad told him that a lady in Upper Brook Street had been very kind to them, but his father drank away all the money. The address was taken down, and next day the Missionary called upon the lady, who was so good as to express her thanks, and they together planned the rescue of the boy. By threats and entreaty the father was prevailed upon to let him enter the Refuge in Commercial Street, and the night visitor took him there in triumph.

The lad did well in the home, and was initiated into the mysteries of the two crafts of the shoemaker and[237] carpenter. He did his work well, and showed a thankful heart. He procured a slip of leather about nine inches long, and wrought the name of his friend upon it with shoemaker's thread, and upon one of his visits gave it him, while the tears of gratitude stood in his eyes. The visitor has it now among the precious memorials of his work. Poor boy, he was without money with which to buy a present, so he devised this in order to show how warm his heart was.

Upon leaving the Refuge, he was apprenticed to a master carpenter, the lady kindly paying a small premium with him. He did well, and at the end of his time entered a good shop of work. He occasionally called upon his friend to report progress. After a long interval he came back for a short time, and stated that he had for eighteen months been a member of a Presbyterian Church, and by giving tracts and by conversation was trying to do good to others. It was a pleasant interview, as the young carpenter thanked his friend more warmly than ever for his rescue, and then they knelt together in prayer. One instance like this makes up for all the toil and sorrow of the work, and leads to humiliation before Almighty God, that He of His great mercy should use earthen vessels for the purposes of His grace.

We cause a gap in this chapter, in order to make an important announcement,—an announcement which deserves to be printed in large type, and blazoned in letters of gold; it is, that as London never sleeps, so the large Church of God in the mighty city never sleeps. There are now many workers for Him in the night season, and the call of sinners to repentance[238] never ceases in the empire city. The happy result was brought about in this way: People heard of and became interested in the work of the midnight visitor. First among them was a clergyman of importance, then at a college in Oxford. He wrote to the Missionary, asking him during the week of the Cambridge and Oxford boat-race, to give letters he had written to any young gentlemen he might find in casinos, saloons, and night-houses, wearing the dark-blue necktie. Several nights were thus occupied with interest and profit.

Soon after this, the founders of the midnight meeting movement consulted him about that project, to which he gave his hearty support. Upon the first night he gave away the invitations, and for that purpose penetrated places into which no one but himself dare have entered with that object. The large room was crowded, not less than 250 young women were present; and he stood rejoicing with prayerful heart beside the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel, while he gave the first address. The midnight visitor knew that a movement was then being inaugurated which would continue to recover many from destruction, and which would raise the moral tone of London. Several private individuals now commenced visiting at night, and the Committee of the London City Mission had compassion upon their overworked servant, and by the appointment of a Missionary to night-houses, relieved him of these self-imposed duties. A change of importance had however been brought about. His evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, his writings and private influence, had its share in securing a beneficial Act, closing night-houses from one until four o'clock in the morning. This was a great moral good, and it has resulted in the establishment[239] of hundreds of street coffee-stalls. There is still much room for Christian effort at night, as the following extracts from printed statements of the two Missionaries thus employed will clearly show. We introduce these with an extract from "The Sword and Trowel:"—

"The Missionaries invariably leave their homes at twelve o'clock in the night, and return about eight o'clock in the morning. And the number of cabmen is now so great, and their spiritual instruction so much needed, that the effort has proved to be one of the most necessary, as well as fruitful departments of evangelization. There are nearly 2000 night cabmen. They are very docile, remarkably glad to be taught the message of God's love. And, indeed, the two Missionaries seem generally attached to them. Being earnestly desirous for their best welfare, and remembering how close death must be to most of these old men, these messengers of peace yearn over their souls. In numbers of instances their efforts have been blessed. Poor old men, down whose furrowed cheeks the tears of penitence have flowed, have found in Christ the truest consolation for their wearied hearts. In the hour of life's eclipse—for death to the Christian is nought more—they have witnessed a good confession, and have given bright and glorious testimonies that they have been born again."

One Missionary writes,—

"The coffee-stalls and booths which are to be found all over London at the corners of the streets, and in public thoroughfares, near railway stations, etc., are excellent opportunities for usefulness. These are kept by people who have no other means of obtaining a livelihood, and who sell a cup of smoking hot coffee for one halfpenny, and a slice of cake or bread and butter for the same price. Many of these people are Christian men and women, and render the Missionary great assistance in expounding the message of mercy and salvation to their customers. Not only cabmen and the outcast get a cup of coffee at these places, but men in the building[240] trade, railway carters, and others, towards six o'clock, gather round them in large numbers, to obtain that which does them good and saves them from going to the early public-house. So that these coffee-stall proprietors are a really useful part of the community. These coffee stalls have increased rapidly, so that now about four hundred and sixty can be counted in the streets of London at night. The Church of England Temperance Society have also stationed a number in leading thoroughfares by day. We give a picture of one of these because it contains the latest improvements and best use of them.

Boy at coffee stall

"On one occasion a pugilist gave me his address, and told me that, when a little boy, his mother used to teach him his prayers, some of which he repeated. He added[241] that he had got the best wife in the world, but he treated her like a brute. I talked to the poor fellow till he wept like a child, and he took hold of my arm and said, 'You shall go home with me to-night.' I begged to be excused, as it was now three o'clock in the morning. However, there was no alternative, so off I went with him, arm-in-arm. He called his poor wife up, although I wished him not to do so; but so far from being angry when she saw that my object was to try and reform her husband, she thanked me with tears in her eyes. He promised by God's help to seek to lead a new life, and give his heart to God. As I had a Testament in my pocket I gave it them, and we knelt down and prayed for God's blessing on our meeting. I went home musing on the event which had occurred, and could not help feeling that the Lord had directed my steps back with the man. I have called since, and find that by trade he is a sawyer. He is now working at his trade, is a teetotaler, and in a hopeful state of mind."

As some instances of usefulness have come under my notice through the reading of the Word of God, I purpose to refer to two or three:—

"Mr. —— has been a night cabman for thirty-six years. In reply to my questions, he said he did not remember when he last went to church, and if he was to go, he is so deaf he could not hear the parson. I asked, 'How do you spend your time on Sunday evenings?' 'In reading Lloyd's Newspaper,' was the reply. 'Oh,' I said, 'then you could read a Testament, if I got you one?' 'I dare say I could,' was the answer. I took him one, which he read, and he became so fond of it that he soon laid aside the newspaper, and the Testament became his constant companion. Although he is deaf, yet[242] he now attends church, and is in a hopeful and penitent state of mind.

"Mr. ——, poor man, was always full of trouble. He had lost his wife by death, buried four children, and broken his leg; and every time I attempted to converse with him, he would pour his burden of troubles into my ear, and think no one sympathised with him. I got him a Bible, and turned down for him Isaiah liii., and several other portions of God's Word, which he read. The next time I saw him I heard but little of his troubles, and the time after that he said, 'Sir, my Bible has quite cured me of complaining, for when I read of what my Saviour suffered, I feel ashamed to murmur or complain. It is the Bible that has cured me, for I see others have suffered before me, and that nothing has happened to me but what is common to all men.'

"Poor old —— said, 'I have read your Testament all through, and don't know what I should have done when I was in the workhouse but for my book. I have been thinking very much about our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, and I feel that it condemns me, for I used to think that I was not so bad as others, and that through my own good works I should go to heaven. Now I feel I am a sinner, and have no good works, and that it is through the righteousness of another that I must be saved. I asked the Chaplain in the workhouse, and he explained the whole thing to me as clear as day.' I have often explained to him the glorious doctrine of justification by faith in the finished work and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, for which he is very grateful.

"A man, named ——, said, 'Well, if your Testament has done nothing else, it has kept me out of the public-house,[243] and therefore it has done me good; and my wife is pleased, I can tell you.' I advised him to go on reading, and to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit to help him."

As it is always pleasant to record increase of good, we are glad to state here that a second and well qualified Missionary has for several years been working at night in East and South London, and that with marked success. All the night cabmen and thousands of people to be instructed in saving truth by night only are now under visitation.

The following words from the pen of a clergyman's wife (Mrs. Hebert), who has for years sustained this good work, will form a most suitable conclusion to this chapter:—

"Night after night the work has been going on, much being done, as we have often seen, in a single night, and the result is that many have found rest to their souls. Prodigals have sought their Father's house, the afflicted have heard the rod, the inquiring have been directed to Jesus, and have found Him; the aged have been brought in at the eleventh hour, and are spending their little remnant of life to His glory who called them into His vineyard. Let us give thanks and pray more. Let us identify ourselves more in spirit with our Missionaries. It is our work as well as theirs. We can only reach these poor cabmen through them.... Missionary work is so like Christ's work, and so great a blessing rests upon it, that we should all seek to have a share in it in our own way,—that is, in the way God may have opened for us. Then we shall feel not only that we are fellow-labourers with all who are seeking to spread the Gospel, but, as it is so wonderfully said by[244] St. Paul, we shall be 'workers together with Him' whose word shall not return to Him void.... We have all had our trials, like those whom we are seeking to lead to the God of all comfort. Life and its treasures are passing away, but the things which cannot be shaken remain. God's work still claims us. We can still be about our Father's business. And what is so elevating and so soothing amidst cares and distractions and losses, as the thought that there is a calm, holy, steady course marked out for us by Him, and that He condescends to be glorified by us, whether by our life, or by our death?"



The Book in the Highways:


"There are in this large stirring tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime;
Who carry music in their heart,
Through dusky lanes and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat."





The Book in the Highways:

"He went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him, Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him." Luke v. 27, 28.


"MY saying is," observed the driver of an omnibus to a gentleman at his side, "that it is right to be sociable; for if we are to have friends, we must be friendly ourselves." "Capital remark, that," we thought, while sitting down at the other side of the rather elevated box, waiting an opportunity to join in the conversation. The man was not quite unknown to us, as, in our almost daily journeys to the City, we had mounted at his side in turn with that of other knights of the whip who drove omnibuses from one of the suburbs to the centre of the mighty City—the Bank.

Once before, a short terse sentence had, in our hearing, been uttered by him which made a favourable impression, and we were now certain that James was a character—a man with an individuality. He was certainly respected by his fellows, as, while many others had singular names given them, expressive of peculiarities or contempt, he was always addressed as James; and it was certain, from the hurried words shouted by the drivers as they rapidly passed each other, that he dared[248] to be singular by paying like respect to them. It was thus that we got to know the christian or surnames of men who were addressed by others as Kitty, Cranky, Boosey; and even "Ugly Jib"—as a worthy man was called in derision of a facial deformity—smiled pleasantly as our driver, in cheery tone, gave the rapid word of greeting, "Fine morning, Dan," or "Raw evening, Dan; button up tight."

Driver with four men in top hats, outside passengers

A kindliness of disposition was also evident by the style in which he handled the "ribbons;" with a care and decision peculiar to the man, as though fearful of jagging the horses with the bit. As for the whip, it was[249] simply what he called it, "his ornament." To have used it with violence upon his dumb friends never entered his mind. This was evident one dreary night when we had stayed late in the City, and happened to be the only outside passenger. As the hill was ascended near the end of the journey, the horses slackened pace almost to a walk. Now, we thought, is time for use of the "ornament;" and use it he did, but in a gentle manner. Patting one horse upon the neck with it, he said in an encouraging tone, "Now, Polly; come, get on;" and then passing it over to the other, he stroked kindly and said, "This won't do, Sally; come, pull up." Then followed the "click, click, click," an accomplishment of the mouth only attainable by the thorough "bus" driver; and then the horses, as with a human sense of the power of kindness, took the collar and cheerfully capped the hill.

"And so you treat your cattle as young ladies, do you?" we observed.

"Well, you see, sir," he replied, "as the saying is, 'the man that's any good considers his beast;' and it answers, as I can keep time as well as any one; and the foreman of the yard never finds fault, as I run them in quite comfortable, not all reeking and trembling as some do. And then, when I go into the yard of a morning, the pretty creatures look round and shake their manes, as much as to say, 'Good morning, master, we shall get on all right to-day.' You see, sir," he continued, after a thoughtful pause, "I have two daughters at home, Mary and Sarah, and good girls they are, though I don't see much of them; and as I am always thinking of them I mention them like to the horses when I want to pull up to time and the like."[250]

"Your daughters, I suppose, go out to some employment, as you see so little of them?"

The answer was not immediately given, as the man hung his head and with ill-concealed emotion said, "No, sir, they ain't quite old enough for that; and I have heard a saying that no good is got by showing your sores, and 'that which can't be cured must be endured.' You see, I have to work more hours a week than niggers in the West Indies were ever made to do. Compared with other working men, I do nearly two days' work in one. This I have done for these sixteen years, and very little I've seen of my family and home. I often feel that I am getting used up, and think of a saying a foreman of mine had for men who asked for a day off the box: 'Rest indeed! rest in the grave, that will do for you.'"

This reply was given in a tone of despair which stopped the conversation for the short time required to reach the end of the journey. The parting word of "Good night, coachman," evidently helped him to regain his usual cheerfulness, as we heard the shake of the reins and the usual utterance, "All right, Sally; come, get on, Polly."

With us, cheerfulness was not so easily regained. The happy home and family joys seemed to deepen rather than remove the impression made by the driver. "It is now after ten," we thought, "and the poor fellow has another journey to the City and back. On the box again at eight in the morning until midnight, with little prospect of a Sunday; well, we will speak to him upon that subject."

A few nights after, being purposely late, we again mounted beside our proverb-speaking acquaintance, and[251] watched for an opportunity to draw him out upon the "rest-rights" of his class. This soon occurred, as the driver remarked that his horses were fresh, "as they had yesterday in the stables."

"And so they have a rest-day now and then," we remarked, "and you have a natural and scriptural right to one in seven. How often do you get it?"

"I've lost mine this many a long year," was the reply; "and as they say somewhere, 'losers are always in the wrong;' and so five thousand or more of us who toil on the stones of London during all the Sundays are in the wrong—of course we are—and being in for a bad bargain must make the best of it. For us there is no help, as saints and sinners are both against us."

"Saints against you?"

"Yes sir, begging your pardon, the saints, or that sort of them that ain't advanced, and can't get on without their ears being tingled. We who live all our waking hours elevated on a 'bus observes a great deal, and that there are two sorts of Christians. It is wonderful if you compare duly what religion does. The hundreds of gentlemen's carriages it keeps indoors; the lots of working-men and city gents who can be happy at home, and the wonderful number that goes to their own places of worship, as is right. Well, these religious riders are a strange set, they are indeed. Sometimes they are ashamed of their prayer or hymn books, and sometimes they show them off boldly. My conductor was a Sunday-school boy not long ago, and he hates the sight of them. Between the box and monkey board there is an understanding, 'signs and wonders,' as I calls them, and when a religious party gets in, he puts his hands together and looks solemn; and when the[252] pleasure-takers—our worst enemies—and there's no end of them, he rubs his hands and looks jolly. Well, these religious Sunday riders are a selfish, shabby lot; it's quite common when they pay with a shilling for them to say, 'Give me a threepenny piece, please, conductor.' That, you know, is for the collection; but if he can help it he don't give it them, as he is of my opinion, that these people ought to keep to their own places of worship, and not bring religion into contempt by supporting Sunday labour. Well, but the Sunday pleasure people are generous fools. They do a hard day's work and pay for it, as they don't believe in the religious way[253] of being happy. At night the men put their wives and children inside and get out here themselves smoking hard after the drink they have had. Last Sunday night two of this sort got up beside me, and one of them swore badly, and offered me a cigar; but I said to him, 'The saying is, that "the tongue defiles the whole body," and I don't care to smoke with a man that curses.' Then he bullied me and threatened to inform about me; and I thought afterwards that I had done wrongly, as it is not doing my duty in that state of life in which God has placed me (as the Catechism says) if I offend riders; and as we outcasts—yes, I say outcasts, as men who have no Sundays and no ministers to care for them are—can't hope to be saved if God Almighty does not have mercy upon them for doing their duty."

Man collecting fares

The last part of this speech, which had been delivered at intervals between stoppages, was uttered with an expression of despair which reminded one of the day's sigh of the prisoner without hope. After a pause, the remark was ventured, "But, James, you can surely get a Sunday off whenever you like; it is only forfeiting the day's pay; and as I have ridden with you for some time, I had a thought of asking you to let me give you a Sunday, you could then attend Divine worship?"

"Thank you kindly, sir," he replied; "but I could not ask for more than one in two months or so, though we are supposed to have every third or fourth Sunday. I am feeling old, and a man ain't liked who is often off his 'bus. The foreman would soon say that a younger man was ready to take the reins; and then the workhouse, its disgrace, and separation from as good a wife as ever lived. No, sir, personal kindness can't do much for us Sunday slaves. No! it's getting the public to[254] feel that it's a disgrace to the riders, and an injury to us poor fellows, that can alone do it."

Such were his opinions; but we soon after had the satisfaction to know that he enjoyed one happy Christian Sabbath, and upon several journeys we listened to his quaint remarks upon preacher and sermons. An interest in his spiritual state (which is always akin to real friendship) resulted; and upon many occasions instruction concerning personal salvation was given. The last ten minutes of the journey, when we were often alone, were valued, as, at intervals for more than a year, the good-natured driver listened as a little child to the message of a Redeemer's mercy. The summer and autumn had thus passed away, and during the winter we seldom rode with him, as his hours had been changed. Upon one of these occasions he from cold spoke with difficulty; but his weather-beaten countenance expressed a quiet peace, as he said, "I got a day off last Sunday week, and went to church twice. At night it was a saying of Jesus that was preached about, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' The sermon made me as happy as a prince; and after supper my Polly read the chapter through, where it is; and then I read a Psalm which is like a prayer."

We had not after this many opportunities for conversation, but frequently received his salute (the raising of the whip to the hat) as we passed on other omnibuses. One fine morning towards the end of the winter, which had been very severe, upon mounting an early 'bus, we noticed a bow of Crape on the Whip, and inquired concerning it. "It's James as used to drive this 'bus," the man replied with feeling; "but he is only[255] one of the several old whips who have been done up this horrid winter. He had sixteen hours a day on this box for six weeks hard off, and had a bad cold; and when he tried for a rest Sunday, so many wanted it that he was snubbed, and was afraid of losing his whip, and so he kept on till he couldn't do so any longer, and then he took to his bed, and died in a few days."

The startling intelligence produced a sense of sadness during the journey, and led to solemn thought with desire to break fetters and let this order of Sabbath slaves go free.

That Crape on the Whip spoke of injury done to a man, and an important class of men, and that by a too general habit of breaking a Divine law through love of pleasure, or want of consideration.

To labour or employ labour on the Lord's day, unless for purposes of necessity or mercy, is sinful; as the command is, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy," and "Thou shalt reverence my Sabbaths." It is a breach of the moral law for mere pleasure to use any kind of vehicle on "the day which the Lord has made," and given for rest and worship. Poor James, like thousands of his class, was injured also by the criminal carelessness of professed Christians. These Sunday riders do spiritual and eternal damage to public servants, as well as temporal wrong, for—

"Evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as want of heart."

That Crape on the Whip told the oft-repeated fact that the body of the Sunday worker rests earlier in the grave through loss of the Sabbath rest. The Maker of our frame has declared cessation from labour during a[256] seventh portion of our time to be necessary to its health and vigour. The son of toil by hand or brain, who by loss of, or misuse of, the rest day so graciously given, impairs or fails to restore his strength, thus does injury to himself and others.

That Crape on the Whip assumed the force of a call to the Church, urging to self-denial and to active effort. Shall public servants slave on for our convenience, with no man to care for their souls? Let Christian men who are brought into friendly contact with them answer "No," by telling them of a Saviour's mercy. Let workers in the Lord's vineyard seek opportunity to instruct them, while making effort to lessen their hours of toil. Numerous as they are, they are only part of a class, including cabmen, railway servants, and others who suffer the moral degradation of Sabbath slavery. Their helpers, for instance the men who take charge of the horses, are the hardest-worked men in England. From early morning until late at night, all the year round they toil on. One of them remarked, "Cursed already, unceasing labour, and life used up early." A City Missionary, in a yard he visits, has arranged for eleven of these to join him on the Sabbath in an old omnibus which stands in a corner of the yard. It was once licensed to carry twelve inside. He there conducts a little service with them. Then again there are servants of the Redeemer who make constant effort to bring the life-giving power of Christ's religion to bear upon these Sabbath outcasts. Let us be partakers in their struggles and joys until the victory is gained; until freedom for those who cry because of the oppressor is secured; until no conscience is troubled by Crape on the Whip indicating that souls which were sabbathless[257] and uncared for had, without preparation, entered the presence of God.

This earnest pleading for the oppressed omnibus men, through the pages of the London City Mission Magazine, reached many hearts with Christian sympathy, and not a few resolved that these men also should be spiritually cared for, and that an effort should be made to improve their condition. An "elect lady" gave full support for a Missionary to those who ply omnibuses in the West, while the liberality of a gentleman abounded to those of the South, and the help of many extended the benefit to East and North London.

Man beside two tired-looking horses

Welcomes, hearty and full of hope, were given by the[258] omnibus men to their new friends. Among their thousands there was not a Church member, a "Church goer," or one influenced by reading the Scriptures; except two or three who worked for private masters of Christian principles. To these Sabbathless men of constant toil, the Gospel which speaks of deliverance through the mercy of God in Christ Jesus was indeed a joyful sound, and right glad were they while waiting for a few minutes at each end of their journeys to listen to the messengers sent to them with glad tidings, and the result has been blessing to many souls, and the commencement of a struggle for their Sabbath and social rights.

A lady, for instance, offered a supper to three hundred of the omnibus men of West London if they could be got together. Lord Shaftesbury's advice was taken in the matter, and he decided that it would be well to invite them to the repast when they left work, from eleven to half-past twelve at night. This was done. A large, unfurnished room near the Paddington Station was taken. Their Missionary delivered the invitations the day before, and as midnight drew near the rush of men proved that all had accepted them. The uninvited guests, indeed, exceeded the invited, so the ample supply of provisions were soon cleared off. Then a raised platform was extemporized, and great was the demonstration of delight when Lord Shaftesbury took his stand upon it. The sight was of thrilling interest, as his lordship was surrounded by a group of gentlemen and ministers, including the Earl of Aberdeen and Canon Fleming, and in front were a mass of omnibus men, closely packed to the end of the room. The excitement was great when the noble lord announced that[259] "The Man with the Book," who wrote "Crape on the Whip," would first address them.

This speaker, who was well received, stated the difficulties of the men, and gave matured advice as to the means of their removal. Referring to a conversation he had held with a director of the company, he stated that this gentleman admitted that the men were cruelly overworked, and that they were, with few exceptions, deprived of their natural and scriptural right to the Sabbath rest; but that the evil resulted from the increase of the Sunday riding public, and from faults with the men themselves which riveted their fetters. These faults were faithfully stated, and passages from the Book of God were repeated and pressed upon their attention, which, if believed from the heart, would lead them to their God and Saviour, and so break these and the heavier fetters of the soul, making them happy as the freedmen of Christ.

Dr. Manning, of the Tract Society, Lord Aberdeen, and Canon Fleming, then made pointed and telling speeches, after which the noble chairman wound up the meeting by telling the men that it was right that their grievance of constant toil—long hours without Sabbath rest—should thus be made known, that a healthy public opinion might be formed on their behalf. From his long experience in effort to reduce the hours of labour he gave them valuable advice, and concluded with the words:—

"I cannot find language strong enough to express all I feel at constant labour being forced on men, not excepting the Lord's day. It is abominable, and sufficient to call down the vengeance of God on the country. The rest of the Lord's day is a great necessity, and to deny you men the enjoyment and repose of that[260] day is not only a very great cruelty, but an abominable sin (cheers). I want to remind you of this, that this work which we are commencing cannot be done by us alone; it must be done in cooperation with you. You must support the effort by strong appeals to your employers, and still stronger appeals to the public, and by unceasing prayer to Almighty God. You must press on all the rights you have, and which by God's grace you are determined to enforce. Your sole reliance must be in the blessing of the Almighty. To Him you must direct your thoughts and prayers, and draw down His blessing upon the effort, and take to your consideration these words which fell from the lips of many Protestant martyrs in their great sufferings,—

"'Although the day be never so long,
"At last it ringeth to evensong.'"

Great cheering followed, and after singing a hymn, the meeting, to which additional hundreds of omnibus men had flocked, separated at two o'clock in the morning.

But what good has resulted from this effort and meeting?

Well, much. Employers are granting their Sunday slaves concessions, slight indeed, but hopeful as to the future. Many persons who used these vehicles on the Lord's day have discontinued the practice. Some drivers and conductors have left on Sabbath principles; and, best of all, many of the men have already received spiritual good.

This was certainly the case with old Ben, who had driven to the Bank many thousand times, and who for thirty-two years had never attended Divine worship. He, indeed, held religion and religious people in derision. The Missionary secured his attention, and one day soon after the meeting, old Ben observed to him, "I read the tracts now, sir, and a bit of the Bible, and mean soon to get another Sunday off." He succeeded, and in[261] the morning, the first time for so many years, attended Divine worship. In the evening his wife went, and he remained at home reading the Scriptures. He retired to rest unusually happy, but to sleep the long sleep, as in the silence of the night watches his immortal spirit was summoned to the presence of God.

It is indeed well that at length these men should have spiritual care, and that the "feet of those who carry glad tidings" should make their way to those who are in like condemnation. Now it so occurred that about the same time that Christian attention was directed to the neglect and wants of the men who labour upon our noisy highways, the roads,—that a like attention was called to those who pass life quietly on our silent highways, the canals. These water ways of the metropolis extend for several hundred miles through and about the City and its suburbs, and connect and bring into communication other great cities of the country. They are traversed continually by barges, which besides much merchandise contain a large floating population. Whole families inhabit the small cabins, and they have been described in the British Parliament as the most ignorant and debased of the people. It was therefore decided by the rulers of the mission to select a suitable man from the ranks, and bid him to make known the Gospel in the cabins, and on the towing paths.

The surprise at the lock of the Grand Junction Canal was great indeed when a stranger boarded each of their vessels, and addressed them as though they were old acquaintance. It was evident at first that they did not take kindly to the new friend. There were suspicious looks, and such hints as, "There bees them as says we are awful bad, and as puts us down in them papers as is[262] in the publics." The zeal of the good man was also a matter of jest with them; as when they saw the agility with which he sprang from the tow-path to the barge, and from boat to boat, one man said to the other, "he's a jumping Jack, he is." The readings from the Bible, appeals to conscience, and the gift of Testaments and illustrated publications, soon won a way to their hearts, and in the course of five months their "Tract Man" became a popular personage, and this is how the fact was discovered. Mr. Atkinson, late Mayor of Hull, who superintends the work, gave a tea to as many boatmen and their wives as happened upon a certain evening to be at the Brentford Junction, and two hundred and fifty, direct from their boats, assembled, and a rough company they appeared.

Tea over, and justice was done to it, the meeting commenced by their host taking the chair, and he, after hearty words of Christian kindness, requested the man who was known to carry a Book with him to address them. This he did by telling them "that a few days before he had read something upon an old tea-pot in the Brighton Museum, which he would repeat to them,—

"'The loss of gold is much,
"The loss of health is more,
"The loss of Christ is such a loss
"That no man can restore!'

"And then he explained to them the value of money, and the misfortune of losing it by accident, and the sin of losing it by drunkenness and vice. The value of health, and the folly of losing it by intemperance, smoking, and neglectful habits. The value, the preciousness of Christ as the Saviour of sinners, and the folly, the crime, of[263] refusing the mercy of God by Him. The Book was then produced, and the words read solemnly, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."

Their Missionary was then called upon, and the boat people received him with a demonstration of delight. His speech was simple in words, but full of Christian affection for their souls, and of sympathy in the trials of their calling. It was evident that they received him as their own "parson man," as they drank in every word he uttered, and with a great noise expressed their delight with his speech. One of them indeed rose, and with a stammering tongue said, "that he was a waterway man, and like them all, he and his wife wanted to see him often in their cabin, to read to them from the good Bible, and to try and make them good, as he knew he was doing to some of them."

At the close it was cheering to hear them trying with all their will to sing, "Tell me the Old, Old Story," and to notice their reverence during the closing prayer.

After the tea several letters were sent to the Office. They were alike in style, and we select one to show the progress which has been made with these rough people.

"Dear sir i right those few lines to you to thenk you for you kingens for sending such a man to the Poor Boat Peple i think he Just the man for it to Point them to the lame of god Wich taks the sins away he Not shamed to take yup his crose and tell Poor Peple a Bout Jueses i cant right much But i hope you escuse my Bad righting Whe have knowed in tim a good Wile at Padgtion and glad to see his face Down kingsland Pasen the lord Bless his labore and give him soles fore his hiere so

No More frome
c.—— D——.
Boat man."


We will only add that a gathering from among the boat people, as from the omnibus men, is being made to the Lord Jesus, and as they approach Him, the Saviour, their spiritual fetters are broken, and the outward fetters of their calling fall away. Duty, compassion, patriotism, require that these thousands of the oppressed should have opportunity to worship Jehovah in His temple, and to become acquainted with His laws, and the wonders of His grace. Remember, oh ye people who have been chosen and called to form the Church of the Redeemed on earth; remember that it is your dignity, as well as duty, to help all who are oppressed; everywhere to proclaim the freedom of the kingdom "set up in the earth;" that to you the enraptured words of the prophet are addressed with royal command and sustaining promises: "Thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places ... for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them."[2]



The Book for All:


Ye have not sowed in vain!
Though the heavens seem as brass,
And, piercing the crust of the burning plain,
Ye scan not a blade of grass.

Yet there is life within,
And waters of life on high:
One morn ye shall wake, and the spring's soft green
O'er the moistened fields shall lie.

Tears in the dull, cold eye,
Light on the darkened brow,
The smile of peace or the prayerful sigh,
Where the mocking smile sits now.

Went ye not forth with prayer?
Then ye went not forth in vain:
"The Sower, the Son of Man," was there,
And His was that precious grain.





The Book for All:

"And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the Word of God." Acts xiii. 44.


"THEY that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament:" they who have the wisdom of God in a mystery, or the hidden wisdom,—the knowledge not to be found by searching the works of creation, or in the discoveries and developments of science and philosophy. This wisdom cometh from above, and is therefore communicated by the all-wise and eternal Jehovah. This, and this alone, can enlighten man spiritually, invest him with power to comprehend the central and infinite in truth, and lead him to the attainment of those graces and perfections which can alone fit him for the reception of reflected glory, and raise him to a place before the throne of ineffable light and purity.

This wisdom (like its counterpart in the natural world, the sun) casts rays of light, beauty, and restoration very widely. When He, the essence of uncreated light, stood with "the glory He had with the Father" veiled, as the Teacher of men, He uttered a truth so mighty that wherever it is repeated the darkness fleeth away; wherever it is sounded forth with power, be it in the palaces[268] of kings, in the hovels of the poor, or in the deepest recesses of moral corruption, the blackness of the shadow of death which surrounds the immortal soul is dispersed as by the voice of Omnipotence. Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

The Church militant, the royal priesthood, the ransomed people, is an assemblage of individuals called out of darkness into His marvellous light. This community of the blessed occupies the place of the absent Lord, and has to show forth His glory. As children of the day, they renounce the hidden things of darkness; and as vessels of mercy illuminated by Divine grace, they show forth "the light of the Lord." They of necessity do this by letting men see their good works, by reproving sin, by giving instruction in righteousness, by holy zeal in efforts to increase the kingdom of truth and purity. Possessed themselves of the Word of God, through which and by the Holy Spirit they are being sanctified, they use that same word for purposes of the grace of God which bringeth salvation. The Bible in the hand of the Christian is as the wisdom of God in the hand of Ezra, leading them "to judge;" to give wisdom and prudence "to all such as know the laws of their God, and to teach them that know them not." Hence it is the duty and high privilege of each Christian, be he minister or layman, ordained or unordained, to communicate precious truths, to teach from the Holy Scriptures which are able to make wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.

We have a conviction that the individual members of the Church have not yet risen to the dignity of every man saying to his neighbour, "Know the Lord."[269] This witnessing for God is not a professional matter, but a religious duty. Masses of people in our great cities perish for lack of knowledge, while many partakers of precious faith are content to live without an effort to add one immortal spirit more to the ransomed from the earth. They, alas! are many who are under the "woe" pronounced against those "who live at ease in Zion." There are no laity in the theocracy of grace. All are priests. And they who have heard the call of Divine compassion, and feel themselves sheltered in the covenant of love, are commanded to say "Come," or for ever bear the reproach of being unfaithful servants. This standing back from the great conflict, this looking on instead of joining in the holy strife, is a reproach to the royal people, an injury to our neighbour, and a withholding of blessing from this sin-stricken world. There is work for all in the great vineyard, and opportunities for usefulness are ever occurring. It is not those only who dwell in squalor that require the Gospel: the respectable mechanics, the trading and professional classes; yes, and the educated, and the noble, and the princes of the earth: all who have not passed into the kingdom of grace need the same truth, the same restoring and elevating force. While, therefore, it is right to send the Gospel of the grace of God to the lower orders, this does not exonerate from the duty of influencing the other classes to the acceptance of truth and the practice of holiness. The necessities of the world require that every Christian should carry a pocket Bible, and study how to use it well. Then would the kingdom of God come with power.

There can be no doubt that the practical infidelity[270] and viciousness of the classes immediately and very much above them has a most injurious effect upon the lower orders of society. The wealth of the rich is often used to the demoralization of the poor, while skilled workmen are the chief propagators of scepticism among them. Those, therefore, who give themselves to the labour and care of uplifting the very low, have a deep interest in the religious elevation of the more refined and educated, as the classes act with marvellous effect upon each other. These considerations must be our excuse for devoting this last chapter to narratives of like Christian work among the more advanced in the social scale. As infidelity is so terrible a foe, we commence with two instances of recovery from its destructive influence.

One evening the visitor had occasion to call at a public institution, and stopped in the lobby to examine a microscope and set of lenses. The optician showed him a telescope by which he said stars at a great distance could be seen and particulars accurately defined. In answer to the inquiry, "If those distinguished by the appellation 'telescopic stars,' and ranging from the seventh magnitude upwards could be seen by it," he gave a very clever answer, which led to a long and pleasant conversation. At parting, the visitor observed "that there was an instrument now much in use by the 'wise,' of higher range, and called by the name of 'faith,'—a gift of God, a power by which Christians could look through the clouds, beyond the nebulæ, even to the place where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God."

The optician shook his head, and said that "he believed in all that was true in creation, in all that[271] could be demonstrated; but that his credulity stopped at the uncertain."

The subject was renewed upon another visit, and continued at intervals for some months; so that he became well instructed in the principles of that faith which is said to "abide" and to "dwell" in the true Christian, and which the unbelief of men cannot "make void." After a time the optician left the institution, and was lost sight of for nearly three years. He then addressed a letter to his friend of the telescope, from Middlesex Hospital, telling him that he had suffered sad reverses, and that he was a patient there with a painful eruption; and added, "Through the mercy of God I have obtained precious faith, and I hope to be ever mindful that I can only conquer the enemy by giving myself up, and entirely depending upon the blood of the Lamb. I feel, my dear friend, what tongue or pen cannot describe: I feel that I am preserved by our blessed Saviour from that doom I so deserved; and I now place all my dependence upon this new Friend, and I trust that I may continue in the faith, and rest in the Lord and wait."

When the visitor called he found him afflicted with a kind of leprosy, being covered with sores from head to foot. He however looked happy, and in the course of conversation, observed, "That remark, sir, about the telescope when you first spoke to me, was the leading step in my conversion: I never lost its impression. When I packed or unpacked the instruments I used to think about it, and at last got to desire your statement to be true,—that 'the Lord Jesus, by a power of the soul, could be seen pleading for and saving sinners;' but now, blessed be God, I feel that I have the heavenly[272] gift, and pray for its increase." He recovered from his disease, and has for years proved his faith by holy living.

The other instance occurred in the International Exhibition. A visitor who frequently embraced opportunities to direct attention to some truth contained in the good old Book, was one morning worming his way through the machinery annex, when his progress was stopped by a barrier. As it was the midday hour for refreshment, the whirl and clatter was stayed, the machinery being at rest. A man, a fine specimen of the English mechanic, sat by the motive engine reading Goldsmith's History of England. The visitor noticed this, and, handing him a Gospel of St. John, said, "Here is part of the great biography,—some leading passages in the life of the King now crowned with many crowns; but whose life here was a miracle, from the manger to Golgotha."

"I have read it, sir," the man replied, taking the book; "but I cannot believe all the Bible says about Jesus Christ, and other matters."

"If you have time, I should like to know how it is that you reject the testimony which God has given of His Son?" said the giver of the Book, and the following conversation took place:—

"Well, sir, this is how it is: I was religious in my youth, but when an apprentice, my shopmates induced me to attend theological lectures followed by debates. These discussions shook my faith in the Christian system, and the reading of books has strengthened my convictions."

"This is a serious matter: do please tell me your chief difficulty." 

"It is your duty to connect the band of this engine with the various machines." "It is your duty to connect the band of this engine with the various machines."


"Well, sir, this is one: the Bible says that every man in order to be a Christian must have a change wrought in him called conversion, which to my mind is simply a change of opinion, with results which could be effected by other means. Socrates was made good by philosophy; and men of all opinions, even Mohammedan and Hindoo, have been made moral by the good in their systems. What we are to aim at is a perfect moral code free from superstition and spiritual tyranny."

"You must, my good friend, judge of a system by its general influence, as well as by its effect upon the individual; and I suppose that you would not like society to go back from the Christian to the heathen state, because there may have been moral heathens; or to live under the government of Turk or Hindoo, because some individuals among them have practised virtue. Now it occurs to me that you may not be quite clear in your views of the Christian system which you reject. It consists not of moral principles, which are its results,—but of a new life,—the communication of Divine influences. Let me illustrate this by your occupation. It is your duty to connect the band of this engine with the various machines; and thus by an act of yours a mass of inert mechanism instantaneously becomes subject to complicated motion, and invested with great power. It is so with the inner world of man's spiritual being, which has its facts as well as the outer and material. The soul of man has wonderful powers and capabilities, even when inert, in a state of spiritual deadness, resembling the machinery around us, until the steam force is communicated to it. Man in a state of nature is dead and incapable of loving God, or otherwise exercising the powers of his higher being; but the ever blessed Creator,[276] by an act of clemency, pardons sinners who believe in Jesus, and gives His Holy Spirit to them. These divinely influenced persons form the Church of Christ, and of them the sayings of this Book are true: 'And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.' 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.'"

The man, who had listened with rapt attention, rose from his seat, and said with emotion, "I see it all, sir, as if scales had fallen from my eyes. I have had my machinery, philosophy, science, Bible, and all sorts of books, but I have never prayed, 'Give me Thy Holy Spirit.'"

"Utter that prayer," said his instructor, "in the name of the well-beloved Son, and you shall be endued with power from on high; for He has said, 'I will give my Holy Spirit to them that ask Me.'"

As the time for setting the machinery in motion had arrived, the visitor promised him a book on infidelity; and after shaking hands with the new acquaintance, made his way through the annex.

Several other visits followed, and as the blessed result, the man believed on the Saviour, and gave evidence of having passed from death unto life. A clergyman who visited the place a few months after, wrote of him, "Among others I spoke to a man in charge of machinery; a frank, open-faced, and as I should think, open-hearted Englishman. 'I was, sir,' said he, 'an infidel, until a gentleman spoke to me here, and gave me a Gospel. He then reasoned with me, and lent me a book. I am now persuaded that the Bible is true,[277] and I am trying to be a Christian.' I think he has the root of the matter in him."

The readiness with which this man received the Gospel is exceptional. With sceptics of his class prejudice is usually so strong that to remove it is like working through a granite wall; and, after years of effort, the good frequently appears to be lost upon them. Such an incident is therefore a great encouragement to trust in the power of revealed truth.

The reproving of sin is also a plain Christian duty, and yet how few nerve themselves to do it. Besides, persons who, for instance, are guilty of profane language, not only show their need of good counsel, but their very words give the judicious Christian a kind of introduction to them, which can be used to advantage. We will give two instances in illustration of this use of the Book.

When travelling in Yorkshire, the visitor one morning lost his train at a junction, and had to remain in the waiting-room for some time. Three young men entered, who proved to be a barrister's and two solicitor's clerks. One of them in his disappointment at not being in time, as he had to attend a barrister at the assize, uttered an oath, and another took the Divine Name with worse than lightness upon his lips.

"Be careful, gentlemen," observed the stranger, "or you will never discover the legal title."

"What on earth do you mean?" inquired the swearer.

"Just this: there are possessions of present value, and a heavenly inheritance covenanted and held direct from the king, but the profane and corrupt will never be able to prove their legal claim to them."

"It was a slip of the tongue, sir, as I don't swear," said the young man, with some confusion.[278]

"Then be careful," was the reply, "not to contract a habit so vile."

As they had to wait an hour, the reprover produced his pocket Bible, and to interest them in the truth, compared the Old Testament to a court of law—stern law, in which no sinner living can be justified; and the New Testament to a court of equity, in which the highest legal Authority in the universe has pronounced sinners, who believe on Jesus, "Justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." After this, he impressively read the words: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." As the train approached the station, the young men thanked their reprover, and there was hearty hand-shaking.

The second instance occurred under exceptional circumstances, for the conversation took place at the top of an omnibus. Late one fine summer evening a Christian man was seated at that pleasant elevation, when, as they passed a club in Pall Mall, a gentleman came out, ascended to the top, and lit his cigar. As they passed along, he made a most improper remark concerning some low people who were quarrelling at the corner of a street.

"Your sympathies," observed the man addressed, "are evidently with those persons: as we say in chemistry, there is attraction, an affinity between you."—

"Thanks for the high estimate you have formed of me," said the gentleman in an angry tone.

"A very right way to estimate a stranger," was the reply, "as to judge a man out of his own mouth is a very proper judgment. There are only two orders of[279] men—the natural or corrupt, and those who have been made pure in heart. Had you belonged to the latter, those bad people would have caused a revulsion of feeling within you; instead of that you spoke with sympathy, and I therefore as a moralist come to the conclusion that impurity attracts you instead of holiness."

This remark was followed by a long silence, when the gentleman turned suddenly toward his reprover and inquired,—

"Are you a religious man?"

"Yes: I am."

"Then your reproof of my thoughtless words was very proper; but to unchristianize a fellow for such a remark is really too bad."

"I did not unchristianize you, but gave honestly the impression your words conveyed to my mind. And now by way of apology for the sharp manner in which I spoke, may I return your question: 'Are you a religious man?'"

"Well, yes: I am certainly baptized, and am regular in attendance at church with my family; but after all I am not quite right, as there are mysteries in the faith which trouble me."

"Are you a new creature in Christ Jesus?"

"That doctrine has no doubt a depth of meaning and much beauty in it, but I can only see the beauty. With me it is not a reality, as the longer I live the more difficult it is for me to conceive of the Almighty God and a vile creature, an unit among hundreds of millions, holding intercourse and affecting a transaction between them."

"And yet such is the fact, established by the verities[280] of the Truth Himself, who has said, 'Your heavenly Father will give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.'" And then pressing the arm of the gentleman, the speaker continued, "It is thus: just as matter can influence matter, so can spirit influence spirit. Your body feels the grasp of my hand, and it is as possible for your soul to be touched by the Holy Spirit of God and to be made conscious of that blessed influence."

The conversation was continued, and deepened in interest until the omnibus came to the end of its journey in the suburb. The passengers alighted, and then the gentleman in a most graceful way said, "You have, sir, reproved me wisely, and made the truth, which for years has disturbed me, so plain, that duty to myself requires me to ask your friendship, certainly for the favour of another long conversation."

"I am much occupied," was the reply, "but will gladly spare an hour or so to-morrow evening, should you be disengaged."

"Then I will give you my card, and will remain at home to receive you. I have only to ask you as a point of honour not to mention my foolish remark."

The promise was given, and the gentleman handed his card to the religious teacher, who was startled at the rank of the man to whom he had spoken so faithfully; but addressing him by his title, he endeavoured to fix the Scripture in his mind: "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Upon the next evening the promised visit was paid, and the stranger was introduced by his new friend to the family circle. For a time his lady was reserved (as well she might be), but after an hour's converse about[281] "things spiritual," she became genial and kind. Before he left, the servants were called in, and the Missionary read and gave a short exposition of the chapter commencing with the words: "And you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins;" after which he engaged in extempore prayer.

This was the first of many pleasant visits, and the commencement of a friendship with the family which had its proof of blessing,—certainly with its head, who received the doctrine of regeneration in its fulness. When a believer is impressed with the duty of witnessing for God, opportunities for doing so are sure to occur, and if he keeps simply to the Bible, good will of necessity result. He may speak with conscious feebleness, but his infirmity has nothing to do with the matter. The secret of success in Christian work is humility before God and meekness of wisdom before men, united with firm faith in the truth and power of the Divine Word. That Word can be spoken by, but can gain no improvement or strength from man. All experience gives proof of this, and we add two narratives, in confirmation of others, which show that the lodgment of passages from the Holy Scriptures is sufficient to accomplish the purposes of grace.

A Christian man was in the studio of a celebrated sculptor, fixing upon designs for the first drinking-fountains erected in London. When the order was given for cutting passages of Scripture in the solid granite, the sculptor objected, upon the ground of "leading the vulgar to despise the Scriptures, by making its words common." The point was reasoned with him, and the position taken, "that any word of God may lead the thoughts of men up to Him, and that the honouring of[282] His truth must therefore be attended with beneficial results." The order was carried out, and for years the drinking-fountains of London have at the same time refreshed the people with pure water, and instructed them in words of heavenly wisdom. Upon one of them, in the Edgeware Road, is the Proverb, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life." One evening two young men passed it. The eldest was a barman, and the other was his youngest brother, who had just come up from the country. They had planned the robbery of the master in this way: the youth was to enter the bar as a stranger, to call for liquor, and to hand his brother sixpence; change for a sovereign or half-sovereign, according to the money in the till, was then to be handed back to him. This was to be repeated several times during the evening, and next day they were to meet and divide the spoil. As they passed the fountain the eye of the youth caught the inscription, "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life," and he gazed at it with riveted attention. The teaching received at Sunday-school and a succession of corresponding Scriptures flashed into his mind. Turning to his brother, he said, "God will see us, and I dare not do this thieving." Next Sunday he attended a meeting of "The Young Men's Christian Association," and soon after became a decided Christian. Who can tell how many have been thus blessed by Wisdom making her voice heard in the public ways!

The other instance was that of an opportunity being embraced of speaking faithfully to eighteen highly intelligent young men. They had assembled in a classroom at the Royal Polytechnic, to receive instruction from a professor in chemistry. A Christian man had[283] occasion to enter the room, and upon being informed that several of the young men were telegraph clerks, he reminded them that the word "religion" in Latin really meant "binding again,—the re-uniting of a broken communication;" and added, "This is the condition of us all in our natural estate. Communication is cut off between the sinner and the Almighty Creator. Faith in the Lord Jesus and the reception of the Holy Spirit are the only means by which communication can be re-established between the creature on earth and the offended Majesty of heaven; as it is written, 'Ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.'"

More than a year after this circumstance a young man lay upon his death-bed. A rapid consumption had reduced him to a shadow, and when he felt the end drawing nigh, he sent for the Christian visitor, to thank him for speaking so clearly of Jesus in the hall of many sciences. He was at that time "far off," but by faith in the risen Lord he had obtained mercy, and a blessed hope of everlasting life. He spoke of "the comfort of prayer," and "his sweet anticipation of glory," as proofs that communication had been established between him and the Father of his spirit. Soon after this he fell asleep in Jesus. In him the great object of the Church in all her labours was accomplished. Being ignorant, he was instructed in saving truth. Being separated from his God, he was drawn by the cords of Divine love; and then, being assured of resurrection life in Jesus, he laid down his mortal body that he might follow with the ransomed of the Lord, who enter Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads.

This great good resulted from one Scripture being[284] fixed in the mind of that young man, "But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." To every Christian the Word is committed, and it is the duty of all to use it for the spiritual enlightenment of others. All whose communication with heaven has not been re-established, must be instructed in the saving truths of Holy Scripture. Opportunities to instruct the intellectual and the higher social classes in the grand but simple truths of salvation must not be lost; but to the poor the Gospel must be preached. They were and ever will be the objects of the deep solicitude of our Lord. He in a special manner was their Teacher: for them as for others He lived and agonized and died. They must not be permitted, as in our great cities, to continue in ignorance and sin, and with multitudes to die the death that is eternal. The Church universal must answer, "No!" She must gird on her strength, and convey the Book of God, which sheds the light of His salvation, into every dark dwelling,—that redemption's work may spread, and the people learn righteousness, to their salvation and to the praise of the glory of Divine grace.






TO a large extent it is believed that you can! God in His providence has brought within your reach representatives of the various nations of the Globe; and has placed them in the best possible position to influence the whole earth; so that if you act upon them, you act upon the world!

But where is this great gathering of the representatives of the nations to be found? Our minds at once advert to London, the Metropolis of the United Kingdom and of the whole earth!—the Modern Babylon!—a city which now contains nearly four millions of inhabitants!

Are you a Scotchman? There are about as many Scotch people and their descendants in London, as there are in Edinburgh? Are you an Irishman? There are more Irish and their descendants in London, than there are in Dublin! Are you a Welshman? The Welsh and their descendants living in London about equal the united populations of six of the principal Welsh towns? Or are you an Englishman? The population of six, eight, or ten towns in some of the[288] English counties, represent the number of persons born in those counties, who now live in the great city! You may thus act upon almost every city, town, and village in the United Kingdom by means of their own representatives now living in London.

And if you should specially pity the poor Jew, because he rejects the great Messiah;—then you should remember that there are more Jews in London than there are in Palestine! If, again, you regard Popery as the great Antichrist; you are reminded that there are more Roman Catholics in London than there are in Rome! Its 2,000 Italians can here be prepared to carry home to their countrymen the glad tidings of a completed salvation! Are German Neology and French Infidelity the foes to the Redeemer which you would oppose? It is affirmed that above 60,000 Germans, or their descendants, and about 40,000 French and their children, are now to be found in London! The mighty Russian Empire, with its Sclavonian races, sunk in ignorance, or in the corruptions of the Greek Church, is numerously represented in London! Some 6,000 Mohammedans and East Indian idolaters are also found yearly in London! and there, with perfect safety, can be taught that there is one God, and one atoning sacrifice. There also are found vast numbers of Danes, Dutch, Swedes, Swiss, Spaniards, Portuguese, Greeks, Turks, Africans, Arabians, Persians, Chinese, Brazilians, Americans, American Indians, West-Indian, and South Sea Islanders, and probably from every other nation under heaven! These are brought together by Divine Providence, no doubt, that they may be instructed in the wonderful works of God. These representatives of the nations of the earth are brought[289] within your reach; and through them, by the aid of the London City Mission, you can influence the world for Christ. Alas, that these representative bodies should have entered a city in which a million and three-quarters of its people cannot find room to worship God in its Protestant Churches and Chapels!—a city in which myriads of its inhabitants are addicted to crime.

The London City Mission enables Christians to act on individuals of every class and nation resident in this most important spot of the earth, this diseased heart of the body politic of the world. The simple object of the Society is to take the Gospel to every house, garret, and cellar, and to beseech men to be reconciled to God. It knows nothing of sects nor parties, nor does it seek to proselytize in any other way than to make the wicked holy, and the worthless valuable members of society. Its Missionaries, 450 in number, communicate the Gospel in twenty-three languages, each to about 2,000 persons. But if each Missionary employed continues to have about 2,000 persons to visit, at least 400 more Missionaries are required for the monster city. Who then is willing to endeavour—by personal consecration, or by helping an agency that is ready at hand, fitted for the work, and blessed in the doing of it—to influence the world for Christ?


Treasurer.—Joseph Hoare, Esq.


Rev. Josiah Miller, M.A.Rev. J. P. A. Fletcher, M.A.


J. Herbert Tritton, Esq.E. Brodie Hoare, Esq.
Arbuthnot, Geo., Esq.M'Arthur, W., Esq., M.P.
Ashton, Charles, Esq.Marten, C. H., Esq.
Barclay, J. Gurney, Esq.Maynard, H., Esq.
Bevan, R. C. L., Esq.Morris, H., Esq.
Bevan, Francis A., Esq.Noel, Hon. Henry.
Boulnois, W. A., Esq.Paton, R., Esq.
Buxton, J. H., Esq.Pocock, T., Esq.
Charles, Robert, Esq.Robarts, Henry, Esq.
Clarke, Frederick, Esq.Sheppard, John Geo., Esq.
Coles, William, Esq.Sheppard, S. G., Esq.
Denny, T. A., Esq.Smith, Basil Woodd, Esq.
Ellice, William, Esq.Spicer, Edward, Esq.
Fox, Chas. Douglas, Esq.Tritton, C. Ernest, Esq.
Garwood, Rev. J., M.A.,Trotter, Stuart, Esq.
Hon. Member.Watson, J. G., Esq.
Hanbury, George, Esq.Williams, George, Esq.
Kinnaird, Lord.Wood, F. J., Esq., LL.D.
Lycett, Sir Francis.

Examiners of Missionaries.

Rev. H. Allon, D.D.Rev. J. C. Harrison.
Rev. W. B. Carpenter, M.A.Rev. S. Hebditch.
Rev. Burman Cassin, M.A.Rev. W. G. Lewis.
Rev. J. P. Chown.Rev. Peter Lorimer, D.D.
Rev. J. H. Clay, M.A.Rev. A. Macmillan, B.A.
Rev. Flavel Cook, B.A.Rev. John Matheson, M.A.
Rev. Frederick Cox, M.A.Rev. Thomas Nolan, D.D.
Rev. John Edmond, D.D.Rev. G. W. Olver.
Rev. A. T. Edwards, M.A.Rev. Aubrey C. Price, M.A.
Rev. H. E. Fox, M.A.Rev. Robert Redpath, M.A.
Rev. B. Gregory.Rev. Henry Sharpe.
Rev. J. G. Gregory, M.A.Rev. Gervase Smith, M.A.
Rev. D. B. Hankin.Rev. G. W. Weldon, M.A.

Country Secretary for the South—Rev. W. Lionel Green.
Country Secretary for the North—Mr. Francis Palin, 15, Chichester Street, Chester.
District Secretary—West (portion of) and North London.
Mr. Charles M. Sawell.
District Secretary—West (portion of) and East London.
Mr. J. M. Weylland.
District Secretary—South London.—Mr. Hugh Pearson.
Accountant—Mr. Thomas R. Marrison.
General Superintendents of Missionaries.
Captain H. J. R. Lowe.Captain Charleton.
J. Rennie, Esq.Captain Thom.


I. The name—"The London City Mission."

II. The object of this Institution is to extend the knowledge of the Gospel among the inhabitants of London and its vicinity (especially the poor) without any reference to denominational distinctions, or the peculiarities of Church Government.

III. To effect this object, Missionaries of approved character and qualifications, who shall give themselves entirely to the work, shall be employed and paid by the Institution. Their duty shall be to visit from house to house in the respective Districts that shall be assigned to them, read the Scriptures, engage in religious conversation, and urge those who are living in the neglect of religion to observe the Sabbath and to attend public worship. They shall also see that all persons possess the Scriptures, shall distribute approved religious tracts, and aid in obtaining Scriptural education for the children of the poor. By the approval of the Committee, they shall hold meetings for reading and expounding the Scriptures and prayer, and shall adopt such other means as the Committee may think necessary for the accomplishment of the Mission.

IV. As the object of the Mission is to extend the knowledge of the Gospel, it is a fundamental law that the following doctrines be prominently taught by the Agents and publications of the Mission. They are given, "not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."[3] "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."[4] "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."[5] "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."[6] "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin."[7] "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."[8] "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."[9] "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord."[10] "Ye are sanctified—by the Spirit of our God."[11]

V. The general business of the London City Mission shall be conducted by a Committee consisting of an equal number of members of the Established Church and of Dissenters; and the Examiners of Missionaries shall consist of an equal number of Clergymen and Dissenting Ministers, all of whom, with the Treasurers, Secretaries, and Auditors, shall be members of the Committee, ex officio.

VI. Persons subscribing one guinea annually; every donor of £10; an executor on the payment of a legacy of £50 and upwards; and Clergymen of the Established Church, and Dissenting Ministers, as representatives of their congregations, who subscribe or collect for the Mission the sum of £5 annually, shall be members of the Institution.

VII. A General Meeting shall be held annually in May (and oftener if necessary) to appoint the office-bearers, and receive a Report of the proceedings of the Mission and of the state of the funds. All matters proposed shall be determined by the majority of the Members present. The Meeting shall be opened and concluded by prayer, and the President for the day shall sign the Minutes of the proceedings. In connection with the Annual Meeting, one Sermon, or more, shall be preached, of which due notice shall be given.

VIII. The funds of the Mission, arising from donations, legacies, subscriptions, collections, etc., shall be expended, under the direction of the Committee, upon the salaries of Missionaries, the purchase of tracts, and in meeting all necessary charges in conducting the business of the Mission.

IX. That no alteration be made in this Constitution, except at an Annual Meeting, or General Meeting, specially convened by the Committee, upon a requisition stating the nature of the alteration, signed by fifty of the members, and to be held within twenty-one days of the receipt of such requisition.[293]

We give the following extract of speeches delivered at the last, or Forty-third Annual Meeting of the London City Mission, which was held in Exeter Hall, on Thursday, May 2nd, 1878; Lord Kinnaird in the Chair.

The large assembly having sung three verses of the hymn,

"All hail the great Immanuel's name,"

the Rev. Josiah Miller read a portion of Scripture and offered prayer, after which—

The Meeting was addressed by the Chairman as follows:—

I have been asked to preside on this special occasion from the fact that I believe I am one of the oldest members on service on this Committee. For upwards of forty years I have been permitted to join in this great and important work, and I can only say that each year, as it rolled on, I felt more and more thankful that this work was flourishing and advancing. When it began its work in London, the principles on which it was founded were not so generally recognised as they are now. I well remember, for instance, when we had to contend for the very principle of lay agency in quarters where now it would be frankly recognised. Three principles seem to underlie all our work. First, that evangelical truth has the only claim for recognition as being in full accordance with the Word of God, and as being fitted to persuade men to be reconciled to God. Secondly, that the duty of proclaiming it does not exclusively rest on ordained ministers, but that all men share the obligation, which flows from the Divine command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, and also to go into the lanes and hedges and invite men to the Gospel feast. And thirdly, that the members of the one Church of Christ, though connected with various denominations, should combine in the work of evangelization, thus manifesting in some degree the unity for which the Saviour prayed, and proving to men that the points on which they agree are of far more deep and lasting importance than those on which they differ. The steady growth of our London population, which, when Mr. Hoare and myself began, was about a million and a half, but which is now rapidly approaching four millions, makes the need of this Society, in some respects, even greater than it was when it first started. We may be very thankful that so much has been accomplished through its instrumentality, and very thankful, too, that other kindred Societies have sprung into existence following in our steps. But I would impress upon you that there must be no relaxation of effort on our part. Perhaps no claim could be stronger than that connected with the evangelization of special classes, which is the peculiar feature of this Society. It has been my privilege at different times to superintend many missionaries, and especially those to foreigners. That work is continuing, and we may thank God for it. What should we now do without the City missionary? In any moment of perplexity, when new difficulties arise, one generally has to seek the aid of an experienced missionary to help in starting a movement for the relief of some evident spiritual want. My own experience is, that it has pleased God in a marvellous way to use this Society for the advancement of His kingdom. We must not, however, try to monopolize. There are Scripture readers, and,[294] above all, there is that wonderful instrumentality of the Bible-woman and the Bible-nurse. The idea of these has been taken from us. We were the pioneers in the work. God has blessed it, and it is apparently prospering. There are fields of labour amongst our increasing population, which, but for such an agency as this, would make us tremble for our great City. I had hoped to have seen here our excellent friend Mr. Garwood, whose labours have been perfectly indefatigable. But though he is absent in body he is with us in spirit. It has been very refreshing during the past year to see him constantly attending our Committees, as earnest and warm a friend to the work as ever he was in his younger days. Long may he be spared to us, to give us the benefit of his sage counsels. I have now to call upon the Secretary to read the Report. It is one full of deep interest, and I trust that you will give it your earnest attention.

The Rev. J. P. A. Fletcher then read an abstract of the Report of the Society for the past year.

The Bishop of Sodor and Man:—My Lord, I have to move the first Resolution:—

"That the Report, an abstract of which has now been read, be adopted, printed, and circulated, under the direction of the Committee."

I should have been very much wanting in gratitude if I had failed to respond at once to the kind invitation that was sent to me, asking me to take part in the proceedings of to-day; for I shall always look back with pleasure to my connection with the City Mission when I was a working clergyman in London. Only this morning, as I was coming to this meeting, I met a gentleman who said to me, "Where are you off to? Which of the meetings are you going to attend?" I said, "I am going to the anniversary of the City Mission." "Oh," said he, "but that is not a Church of England Society." "No," I said, "but it is an old friend of mine; it is an unsectarian Society." When I was a clergyman working in London, the City Mission gave me support in two parishes; and now I am made a Bishop, I am not going to refuse to give my support to the City Mission. The truth is, there is room enough in this vast city of London for all the Societies that are working for the spread of God's truth. We could afford to have twice as many Societies; and if all the City missionaries, and Scripture readers, and Bible-women, and district visitors, were quadrupled in number, there would be room enough for all, and we should want more. But the benefit of such Societies is not only to be found in their evangelistic work—that they carry the Gospel of the grace of God to the masses—but I take it that it is to be found above all in the fact that they unite Christian people together for the Lord's work. This is what we especially want in the present day. The enemy is carrying on his work with the greatest activity. The Lord's people must be united, and I rejoice in the working of such Societies as this, because they bring Christian people together, and unite them in the grand common object of the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom. It is now some years ago since I first entered upon the work of my first parish in London. I received a district of 10,000 people in the parish of Marylebone, cut off from St. Mary's, Bryanston Square. There were no rich people in the district, and I had to set about the work with many difficulties to contend with. I had the help of a Scripture reader, a Pastoral-aid worker, and three Bible-women, but still that was not sufficient.[295] As we went on with the work we found a City missionary working in one corner of the district, and we found that he got hold of the people that we were getting hold of. I felt, "This will never do, because we are treading upon each other's heels." So I went to the Committee of the Society and represented the case to them. I said, "We have got a common object in view; we only want to take the Gospel to the masses. I am unfortunately in this position: that I cannot go beyond my bounds. I am tied by the parochial system (a very good system, too). Now, I will undertake the superintendence of the missionary if you will kindly let me do so." The Committee at once said they would, and from that time I began to work heartily in connection with the City Mission. But this was not the end of my connection. I was asked to undertake what I believe to be a most important part in the work of the Society; I was asked to become one of the examiners of the City missionaries. I say this is perhaps the most important part of the whole work, for our success very much depends upon the men whom we select to carry on the work. There is a tendency in the present day for men to take up this kind of work when everything else fails. Well, that will never do. We must not have this work undertaken simply as a profession. We want men constrained by the love of Christ; we want men with an accurate knowledge of the Word of God to go and deal with the masses of the people; and if we have not this class of men as our City missionaries, the work will fail sooner or later. We may have five hundred City missionaries, but unless they are men of God, unless they know the Word of God, they will never carry out the work of God. I look back, therefore, with the greatest pleasure upon my connection with this Society. I dare say there are some missionaries now before me who have passed through my hands. I hope they did not find me very severe; but if they did, I can tell them that I was only severe in my examination of them because I was anxious about the good of the Society. The question before us this morning, as it seems to me, is, How can we stir one another up to take greater interest in the work? I believe there are three things which are necessary. We need first of all a deep sense of our responsibility in the sight of God; we need secondly a keen sense of sin in God's sight; and, last of all, we need a lively sense of God's presence and power with us. I believe these three things are necessary, and I am substantiated in that conviction by a reference to three of the greatest City Missions that we find mentioned in the Word of God. We have a grand work before us in connection with London, the largest city in the world that was ever seen, but I do not think that we must run away with the idea that London is worse than other places; the only thing is, that we have so much evil brought together, with its seven or eight thousand streets, and its nearly four millions of population. It is a tremendous place, but after all I do not think upon London as worse than other places. It is, so to speak, the heart of the world. The blood flows from London throughout the world, and therefore, if we are to deal with the world outside, we must deal with the heart. We must bring the Gospel to bear upon the masses of London, and then we shall do a mighty work for the world. There are three grand essentials that we need in carrying out the work, and I would substantiate this by a short reference to three of the greatest City Missions that we read of in the Word of God. I said, in the first place, that we need a true sense of our responsibility in the sight of God. The portion of Scripture which has been read to us reminds us of[296] Nineveh and the Mission to that city. It was a vast city, somewhat on the scale of London, but its wickedness had gone up to heaven. God commanded His prophet Jonah to go and call it to repentance, but he went on board ship and tried to flee from the presence of God. He went down into the cabin and fell asleep. It was not till a storm sent by God aroused him—it was not till the captain put his hand upon his shoulder, and said, "What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God," that he was awakened to a sense of his responsibility. I believe there are many just in the condition of Jonah, and it is not till the world makes an appeal to them that they are aroused. For you will notice that it was not a man of God who awakened Jonah to a sense of his responsibility, but it was a man of the world, the captain of the ship, a heathen. Dear friends, the world wants us to speak to it. There are people around us who want us to take the Gospel to them. They know what our privileges and blessings are. But how is it with many? They just flee from the presence of God; they go down into the sides of the ship and fall asleep. We need, then, first of all, in our Mission to this great City, a true sense of our responsibility and duty in the sight of God. But let me remind you of another city of quite a different character, blessed with every privilege of a religious kind—the city of Jerusalem. Though that city had every blessing which God could shower on it, the people rejected God in all His love, and grace, and kindness. Their wickedness may have been of a different kind, but it was as great in the sight of God as that of Nineveh. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself came as the great Missionary to that city—the city of His love. He beheld the city and wept over it; its sins, its wickedness, its rejection of God's love, drew tears from His eyes, and He said, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." And as I think of that, I learn the second grand essential for us of a keen sense of sin. Oh! if you realize more and more the wickedness of this great City, you would be more and more constrained to work, so as to let others know of that Saviour who has proved so precious to you. Lastly, let me refer you to another Mission—the Mission to the city of Corinth. It was the centre of the commercial world; through it flowed all the wealth from the East and the West; and as it was famous for its wealth, so it was notorious for its vice. We are told of the Apostle Paul visiting that city for the first time, and being discouraged; but we are told that the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision and said, "Fear not, Paul; be not afraid; I am with thee. I have much people in this city." So he was encouraged in his work. He went forward in the cause of the Lord with his hands strengthened with the blessed assurance that the Lord was with him. Let me, in conclusion, remind you what a glorious work is performed in this Society. If we are only true to God, God will be true to us. His promise is sure. His people shall be gathered out. As we look at the various discouragements, difficulties, and trials with which we have to contend, we can go forward with hope and firm assurance, remembering that blessed promise, that He has prepared for us a city.

The Rev. Dr. Manning (Secretary of the Religious Tract Society):—Ten minutes ago my name stood last upon the list of speakers. That, of course, meant that I was not to speak at all; that was the clear and obvious inference from the place in which I was put, and it is only fair to say that I[297] was put in that position at my own urgent request, not having time to prepare anything to say to you to-day. In the absence of Mr. Waddy, I venture, very unexpectedly, to stand in the gap to second the Resolution so ably moved by the Bishop of Sodor and Man. The other day I was reading the memoirs of the late eminent aural surgeon, and scarcely less eminent a metaphysician, the late James Hinton, who, on one occasion, found himself in one of the very vilest haunts of London, surrounded by the most abandoned and depraved of this great city. He spoke to them of Jesus of Nazareth, and told them how, through Him, they might reascend to virtue and hopefulness; and then, his eyes brimming with tears, he turned to a gentleman who was accompanying him, and said, "If the Lord Jesus were back again upon earth where would He be? He would be here." And then with emotion, he turned away. So, when I think of the work of the City Mission, when I remember that I have before me some four hundred or four hundred and fifty agents of this Society, who are descending into the very depths of misery and vice, carrying with them the tidings of the great salvation, I cannot but think, in the words of James Hinton, if the Lord were here upon earth, He would be at the very work to which you, my friends, have been called, and in which this great Society is commissioning and sustaining you. Therefore, with very deep sympathy, I bid you God-speed, and rejoice with you in that very affecting and even eloquent (not so much in words as in facts) Report to which we have just listened. During the meetings of this week, and of this month, I wonder how often our Lord's great commission will have been quoted, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." However often it may be quoted, it cannot be quoted too often; and yet in this meeting especially, one cannot but remember that there is a certain limitation imposed upon the disciples—"beginning at Jerusalem." Why? It seems to me that almost every ground and reason which prompted that limitation to begin at Jerusalem, may by fair application and analogy, be brought to bear upon the work in which you are engaged. Throwing out of account the special position of the Jewish people, which, of course, entered into our Lord's consideration, what is the meaning of that limitation as applied to us? I think, first of all, it may teach us the duty of beginning the work which lies next to hand. They were at Jerusalem, and they, therefore, began where they were—began at once, and on the spot where the Master placed and found them. There is a proverb often misquoted and mis-applied, to which, however, I do attach extreme importance, that "Charity begins at home." I would not give much for the charity which does not begin at home, as I would not give much for the charity which ends there. The charity which is good for anything, and which the Gospel inspires, and which the Master teaches, is the charity that begins at our own door, and with the work which lies next to hand. In this great mission work for the world there is very much of romance;

"Its distance lends enchantment to the view, And gilds the mountain with its azure hue."

And thank God for all that romance which prompts the imagination to enlist itself on the side of conscience. In this work of ours, however, there is little of romance; there is shown hard, terrible reality, vice in all its gaunt, hideous, and repulsive forms, which has to be grappled with; but, thank God, there are faithful men who will begin at London, this million-peopled[298] city, with all its manifold share of vice, as the disciples began at Jerusalem. Then there is another point to which the Lord Bishop, who has just sat down, has adverted—that Jerusalem was the great centre of world-wide activity. "Parthians and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia"—every nation on earth was there represented; for at that time the Jew, as to-day, was the world's banker, carrying on the commerce of the world, and found in every city of the world. Is not that the position of London to-day? When the great Jew banker, Rothschild, some years ago was under examination by a Committee of the House of Commons, he was asked what was the influence upon the exchanges of the world of an alteration in the rate of discount in London, and he rose almost to a strain of poetry in his reply. "Gentlemen," he said, "London is the heart of the world, and every pulse and throb of the London market is felt in every part of the world." Why, my Lord, wherever commerce is spread, the power of England is felt; wherever trade is carried on, the sails of our ships whiten every sea, and the agents and missionaries of commerce are found dauntless and fearless in the pursuit of gain. Oh! what would the world soon be if this great London of ours were converted to God, if from this great centre of civilization and commerce there should go forth, not only men seeking earthly gain, but men who would carry with them, in the transactions of their lawful business, the love of Christ in their hearts, and the message of salvation upon their lips! From this London of ours an influence would spread over the whole world, and tens of thousands of volunteer and unpaid missionaries would go forth, without fee or reward, to carry the glad tidings of salvation. Then our Lord in His ministry always appealed to kinship. Andrew findeth his own brother Simon, and then they go and find their friend and fellow-townsman, Nathaniel, and to each one the glad tidings are communicated, "We have found the Christ." "Go, call thy husband, and come hither." This sense of family relationship, friendship, and personal attachment is used to spread the Gospel. And we, too, are to remember that our kinsmen and brethren are, first of all, to receive from us the glad tidings of great joy—the heathen not forgotten, but the heathen at our own doors, bound to us by ties of brotherhood, are to have the first message of the Gospel. Then there is patriotism. How proud the Hebrew has ever been of his ancestor! With what pride the Apostle again and again boasts that he is "of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin!" You look back upon that long line of heroes, of whom the world was not worthy. My Lord Kinnaird, we have a history behind us only second in nobleness to that of the Jew. We are born of earth's best blood, and have titles manifold. Admitting all the crimes of which our nation has been guilty, I yet thank God—and in that sentiment I but utter the feelings of every British heart—that I am born a Briton. Therefore it behoves us, as Britons, to spread far and wide throughout our beloved and honoured land that which can carry on its liberties and its prosperity to a yet higher height. Not very long ago I was standing before one of those meetings in the Faubourg St. Antoine, organized by that wonderful man, Robert McAll, who is carrying on that marvellous City Mission in Paris. I stood there amidst a crowd of gaunt, hollow-eyed Communists and Red Republicans, with their long dishevelled hair, and white, haggard faces, and I said to them, "I come simply to tell you what it is that has made England free and prosperous and happy. Our hearts have bled for you in the calamities which you in these recent years have endured. What[299] can lift you up from this abyss of ruin into which you have fallen? What is it that can make you partakers with us of those national privileges which we enjoy? It is the Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel. Let London and Paris be found side by side falling at the feet of Jesus, and these two great master cities of the world will yet win the world for Christ!" Then there is just one further consideration to which reference has already been made why the Gospel was to begin at Jerusalem: it was the city of profoundest guilt and deepest need. At the point where the Lord Bishop left off in his touching allusion to Jerusalem, they were already plotting and conspiring not only to reject but to crucify the Lord of Life; and the agonies of His dying cries had scarcely ceased from the hills of Jerusalem, and His blood was scarcely dry upon the stones when He prayed upon the cross, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do;" and said to His disciples, "Go to these, my murderers, these men by whose wicked hands I have been crucified and slain, and as they are deepest in guilt and extremest in need, to them let the first offer of salvation come." And may not this, in some respects, be applied to London, too? Men may speculate as they will as to the future condition of the heathen world, and of those who have never heard of Christ, those who have been born in the deep, dense, awful darkness of heathenism, a darkness which might be felt, which like the pall of death hangs over those degraded nations; they may speculate as they will as to the future condition of those to whom the Gospel has never come, but what must be the terrible, appalling guilt of the millions of London who are living within the sound of the Gospel, and side by side with Christian influences and agencies, but who yet remain as utterly dead and as absolutely heathen as the very idolaters of Central Africa! As to their guilt and ruin there can be no doubt. We, therefore, who hold in our hands the glad tidings of salvation, are bound first of all to offer them to these first in guilt that they may be first in hearing the news of the Saviour. I have looked through the list which summarizes the action and agency of the Mission, and I see that nearly three millions of visits have been paid to homes darkened by misery, ignorance, and vice. Your missionaries have gone, for what purpose?—to dispel the cloud, and to bring peace instead of discord, joy instead of sorrow. How many visitors have gone to those homes on a different errand? Last night a gentleman, speaking in this hall, told an anecdote rather droll in its aspect, but which may yet illustrate the difference between the visits of the missionaries and those of many others who go to them. A dead body had been cast upon the sands, and at the coroner's inquest the persons who found it were asked, "Did you do anything to resuscitate the corpse?" They could not understand the question, and the Coroner repeated it: "Did you do anything to resuscitate the corpse?" "Yes," said the men; "We searched his pockets." Now, that does seem to me to express, in a quaint and droll way, the purpose for which many go into the homes and haunts of poverty and vice. Our friends, however, go to teach them, first of all, how to turn a penny into a pound by temperance, virtue, and religion; and then to give them the yet deeper blessings of salvation. I cannot sit down without one word of personal testimony to the work of this Society. I am one of the Secretaries of the Religious Tract Society. It has been our happiness and privilege to assist, year by year and increasingly, with large grants of tracts and publications, the work of this Mission, and its results. I am bound to say that amongst the most efficient coadjutors of the Religious Tract Society is this[300] City Mission. There is no quarter in which our tracts are circulated with more entire confidence and satisfaction to ourselves, and with a firmer assurance that they will be well and wisely used, and productive of the best results. I feel, therefore, that while thanks have been from time to time rendered to the Tract Society for the help which we have rendered you, we should render you most hearty thanks for the help which you have given to us; and in the name of our Lord and Master we bid you God-speed.

The Resolution was unanimously adopted.


By the same Author.

With an Introduction by the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Shaftesbury, K.G. New Edition. Twelfth Thousand. Superior Edition, 3s. 6d.; Cheap Edition, 1s. 6d. 16 Illustrations.

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[1] J. M. W., London City Mission, Bridewell Place, E.C.

[2] Isaiah xlix. 9, 10.

[3] I Cor. ii. 13.

[4] Rom. iii. 23.

[5] John i. 1, 14.

[6] John iii. 3

[7] I John i. 7.

[8] Rom. v. 1.

[9] Acts v. 12.

[10] Heb. xii. 14.

[11] I Cor. vi. 11.

Transcriber's Notes:

Hyphenation is inconsistent and has been left as in the original; archaic spelling has been retained. Punctuation has been normalised and obvious printer errors corrected.

Some illustrations were originally located in the middle of paragraphs. These have been adjusted to not interrupt the flow of reading. In some cases this means that the page number that the illustration was originally on is not visible.

Page 65 "if they speak not according to this word" transcriber supplied missing word 'this'.

Page 302 "the story of Christian effort" transcriber supplied missing word 'of'.