Skip to main content

Full text of "From their point of view"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 






" THE queen's poor " " THE NEXT STREET BUT ONE " 






All Rights Reserved 




Thanks are due to the " Associated Newspapers " and 
the " Northern Newspaper Syndicate ^^ for permission 
to reprint articles which first appeared in their 



^ I. 











The Manufacture op the Tramp . 

Family Life among the Poor 

Some Mental and Moral Characteristics op 
THE Poor .... 

Our Masters' Eulbrs 

Some op the Causes op Inpant Mortality 

The Working-Class Father 

The Cost op Food .... 

What is Charity? .... 

The Practical Drawbacks op Small Farms 

The Spending op the Superfluous 

Why the Poor preper Town Life . 

The Art op Repairing 

Wasted Effort among the Poor . 

Remedies for Existing Evils 





, <f ■ • 



The Manufacture of the Tramp 

We hear much of the State encouragement of the 
tramp, and of various economic causes for his ex- 
nce and multiplication, but few people realise 
to wtecfr-^^arge extent he is a purely domestic 
manufactureT'^^wing to needless injuries inflicted 
upon them by rough and ignorant handling, 
innumerable boys are destined from the earliest 
moments of their separate existence to nothing 
better than the lowest forms of casual labour. 

7 Others are handicapped by neglect of personal 
defects, curable in eariy life but allowed to turn 
into hopeless disabilities ; while many sujBFer from 
unsuitable or insufficient feeding, which results in 
general feebleness and that incapacity for sustained 
attention or sustained physical ejBFort which 


inevitably leads to poverty and seldom stops 
short of pauperism. Others are ruined by parental 
ignorance or greed, which permits them to under- 
take heavy labour when they are only fit for light 
and varied work. Many a lad, energetic, promising 
ii;i character and physique, is practically beggared 
from this cause before he is old enough to 
understand his own interests. At fourteen he is 
an eager worker, at sixteen he is anaemic and 
distorted, at twenty he has given up the struggle 
^^^ani is " on the roads." 
,/^^X< And yet more are destined to become tramps 
owing to general lack of moral training and the 
too early and complete emancipation from parental 
control, which crfben has its root in premature 
wage-earning, even when of sums totally inadequate 
for a chUd's support!^ In a district where it was 
rare for any boy to be given a labour certificate 
before the age of fourteen, I heard a father 
remonstrated with by a working man of a superior 
type for allowing his twelve-years-old son to smoke 
cigarettes openly and constantly. "He pays for 
'em ; I don't," was the only reply. It is extremely 
doubtful whether the child's odd-time earnings 
amounted to as much as ninepence a week. The 
next time I met the little fellow, smoking and 
alone (I had not believed in the genuineness of the 
taste until then), I tried argument. He peered up 


at me, blinking through the vile smoke, and said, 
with an old-mannish air, "I couldn't get on 
nohow without my baccy ! " 

Owing chiefly to the extreme indulgence shown 
by working-class parents to their children in early 
life, and especially to the system of bribing them 
to obedience when their wiHuhiess becomes 
intolerable, many of them are completely unable 
to control their boys by the time they are twelve 
or fourteen, and are obliged to stand by and see 
them ignorantly ruin all their prospects in life. 

I have known fathers able^willing, and anxious 
to apprentice their sons to good trades, and the 
lads have obstinately declined, coveting the 
precocious independence of an errand boy, or some 
equivalent occupation leading to nothing. I have 
known others who have paid the premium for 

^.^aggrenticeship, and managed to keep the boys at 
the work for six months or a year, and then they 
have broken away and flatly declined all employ- 
ment but what their parents call "just enough to 
keep them oJ0F the roads." I recollect one whose 
parents succeeded in getting him through his 
apprenticeship, but directly the term was completed 

V. Kfes took a situation as a groom in a most undesirable 
establishment, got into trouble, disappeared, and 
enlisted, but is far too undisciplined to have the 
faintest likelihood of rising from the ranks. 


Obedience, like the King's English, can only be 
learnt in early childhood. 

In a very few years' time the attitude of these 
boys towards their parents will probably be that 
of an undergraduate whom I heard ask his mother 
reproachfully, " Why didn't you have me taught 
music when I was a kid ? " "I tried to, my dear, 
but you disliked it so much that I gave it up. You 
simply wouldn't learn." ** Why didn't you smack 
me tiU I did ? " 

The tramp becomes extraordinarily plausible, 
and if young will often impose upon even the 
most experienced persons. I was given a somewhat 
ludicrous instance of this by near relatives of the 
boy in question. His age was fourteen, he was 
the son of a well-to-do tenant farmer, and had been 
a boarder at the County Grammar School for four 
years, when he ran away and joined fortunes with 
a London crossing-sweeper, who had never had an 
hour's instruction and who had been living by his 
wits almost as far back as his memory reached. 
The union did not prosper, and, via magistrate and 
police-court missionary, they found themselves on 
board a training ship supported by voluntary 
contributions. The crossing-sweeper, a clever lad, 
eagerly grasping his first real chance, made rapid 
p4i'm LLg and writing ; but the r.t.'.t 
which he acquired these and other arts was slow 


indeed when compared with that of the grammar- 
school boy, who had professed to be equally 
illiterate. At first everyone was delighted by his 
intelligence, but stimulated and excited by praise, 
the lad presently forgot all caution, and " learnt " 
at such a rate ,that the chaplain's suspicions were 
aroused, and after a lengthy interview he extorted 
the addresses of the neglected orphan's parents 
«d .ohoclM^tcr. From the potot of ^w of 
plain honesty, I cannot profess to understand the 
course that the chaplain then took : he advised 
the parents to allow the lad to remain where he 
was, and they did so. He afterwards attained 
a position as good as his father's, and probably 
to this day he figures, under the disguise of initials 
and stars, as a stimulating example to tardy 
subscribers " of what can be done with even the 
apparently hopeless wastrel of a London slum." 

Not only the boys are allowed to throw away 
all their opportunities by this unchecked wilfulness 
and impatience of control ; I could give numberless 
instances of girls permitted tp do the same. In 
their case the first result is weakened health, and 
the ultimate result to many is something still 
worse. A year ago a lady required an extra 
servant for light household duties, and chose a fine, 
strong, well-grown girl of fifteen, whose parents 
were extremely poor and had a large dependent 



family. Some weeks before this the mother, 
finding the girl very troublesome, had bribed her 
to good behaviour by promising her a two-days' 
visit to some relatives who lived in a town thirty 
miles oflF. The time fixed for the treat fell due 
when she had been one day in her place, and 
nothing would induce her to postpone the pleasure, 
though the mother even oflFered her a new Sunday 
dress if she would yield. The mistress recognised 
that fifteen years of indulgence cannot be brought 
to a dead stop in a moment, and allowed the girl 
to go, trusting that she would then settle down ; 
but fresh whims soon arose, and she had to send 
her away. The father suddenly rebelled against 
supporting a daughter of that age and strength, 
and gave the mother a week in which to get her a 
place. At such short notice only a very inferior 
one could be found, and the girFs whole prospects 
were spoilt. 

An excellent place was found for a splendidly 
strong and healthy girl of sixteen. Father, mother, 
and eldest sister all tried in vain to bribe and 
persuade her to accept it. She refused, and found 
a situation for herself, where her health broke down 
in three months. She returned home for a long 
rest, and then, in direct opposition to her parents' 
wishes, went to a lodging-house. It was by no 
means a sensationally bad place, as she was well fed 


and well housed, but it achieved the ruin of her 

No one can deny that it is difficult to control 
children, and particularly difficult for the poor, 
owing to several of the circumstances of their daily 
lives, but it is by no means impossible. Quite 
close to these girls lived another large family, and 
until they were well above twenty neither son nor 
daughter was allowed either to take a situation 
without their parents' full consent or to give it 
up without their knowledge and permission. If 
they ventured to give notice on their own account, 
they were sent back at once with an apology and 
a request that the notice might be retracted. "No 
more harshness had been exercised in this family 
than in the others ; in fact, harshness as a system 
breaks down quite as early as bribery, if not earlier. 
The difference of method and result arose simply 
from the fact that in one household the parents 
recognised that it was their duty to protect young 
people against their own folly, and in the others 
they did not. The mother's leading principle of 
education was, "Whatever you undertake to do, 
you must go on doing, however tired of it you may 
be," and the measure that she exacted from her 
children she poured out on them in full abundance. 
Also she was in the habit of sending off the more 
troublesome ones to school with the warning : 


*'Now, however much the schoolmaster beats you, 
don't expect me to come and ask him why he did 
it. I shall only think that you have had about 
half as much as you deserve." He was rather a 
severe man, but they suflfered far less at his 
hands than did the sons of outwardly sympathetic 

In the general training of children, it must 
always be remembered that rooted unwillingness 
to use the intellect is far more common than Seer 
physical laziness, and is a more disastrous quaUty. 
A person may by nature dislike all muscular effort, 
or from constitutional reasons may find muscular 
effort peculiarly costly, and yet if recognising its 
necessity and wisely economising it, may accom- 
plish far^jotuisthan the "willing worker. Fast 
■"WSlKerwith twotons.'^ More men are tramps, 
and more women are miserable housewives if 
married, or underpaid slaves if single, because they 
cannot, or will not, use their brain power, than 
because they are too lazy for hard bodily labour. 
The amount of purely unintellectual drudgery 
diminishes every year, and the demand for 
inteiKgent workers increases.' 

I had one woman patient, a chronic suflFerer, who 
managed to keep house and children in far more 
perfect order than vigorous neighbours always 
^crubbin^, and mopping, and scouring. I asked her 


how she managed to do this, and she replied, " I 
makes my mind do three parts of it. It isn't so 
much what I does, but what I stops from having 
to be did." The words of a middle-class mistress 
no doubt explain what the woman meant : " I 
have such a nice, sensible servant now. The last 
was very good-natured and hard-working, but she 
would leave a bucket of dirty water on the stairs, 
tumble over it, spend half an hour cleaning up the 
mess, and then exclaim, * Dear me ! What a lot 
of work there is in this house, to be sure ! ' " 

Mental laziness and inertia, combined with a fair 
amount of physical industry, are to be found in 
both sexes and in all classes, and the fact needs to 
be recognised and combated by educationists. I- 
have had probationers " well born, well bred, and 
moderately learned," who greatiy preferred scrub- 
bing mackintoshes and polishing brasses and tins to 
leading their strictly professioL duties. Almost 
in vain I preached : " Unless you mean to study 
seriously, unless you intend to give your patients 
the most perfect care possible, and prepare your- 
selves at least to undertake the organisation and 
management of a ward, what right have you to be 
here ? At scrubbing and polishing you wiU never 
be worth as much as a charwoman, and it is a lucky 
charwoman who earns twelve shillings a week all 
the year through." 


I am told that on board merchant ships there is 
great difficulty in keeping apprentices from attend- 
ing exclusively to the roughest and hardest part of 
their duties. They like to boast that they can 
take a seaman's place and are smart in their work 
aloft, and fail to understand that by the time 
they are five-and-twenty they will find that un- 
educated lads of eighteen or nineteen can do all that 
kind of thing as well as they, or better. 

The captain of an ocean liner told me that 
during a voyage that lasted over a month the 
discarded younger son of an English duke had 
peeled potatoes for the first-class passengers' cook 
in return for a better breakfast than was provided 
in the steerage. Drunkards and gamblers are never 
solicitous about their breakfast. Sheer laziness had 
been his ruin ; but it was mental, not physical. 

I have several times discovered steady, hard- 
working girls ground down to ceaseless drudgery. I 
have found them lighter and better places ; but the 
mental strain of being expected to do the smaller 
amount of work really well was so great that in a 
short time they thankfully returned to their former 
condition. " When there is no work to do, she 
does not do it ; and when there is, I have to do 
it myself," explained a young mistress lucidly, 
astonished that no servant appreciated her high 
wages, light work, and early hours, when saddled 


with the intolerable drawback of being expected 
" to think wliat she is doing." 

During a prolonged " silly season " a daily paper 
filled many columns with letters on the domestic- 
servant problem. There was one oasis of good 
sense in which a mistress described the virtues and 
failings of the average servant. The first lieu- 
tenant of a very large ship read the letter through 
carefully, and then said emphatically, " Every single 
thing that she says is equally true of bluejackets. 
Hard work, dirty work, unhealthy work, dangerous 
work, needless work, and they come up smiling ; 
ask them to think, or to carry out a complicated 
routine, and they^loathe it." 

Excessive indulgence of children does not even 
cease with childhood or early youth. A few days 
ago in a country village, where wages are low and 
the necessaries of life by no means cheap, I asked, 
" Who is that man that he can afibrd to get drunk 
every night ? Where does he work ? " " Oh, he 
don't work anywheres. His wife do keep him. 
She is an industrious woman, always at it from 
the first thing in the morning." " She must be a 
very foolish person if she supplies him with drink." 
" Oh, his mother do give him that" 
~*\ One of the social causes for the multiplication o] 
tramps is the mistaken preference of short-sighted 
employers for " cheap labour," or rather by their con- 


founding that with low-priced labour. Another is 
the fact that so many people just above the poverty 
line have no realisation of the burden thrown upon 
the community by the existence of such a large and 
almost entirely unproductive class, and encourage 
its increase and continuance by their readily 
bestowed alms ; while the spasmodic charity of those 
above them in station, and presumably in oppor- 
tunities of education, is still more to be blamed. 
Opponents of literary education and the 
** educational ladder" are inclined to look upon 
Council schools as the fruitful parent of tramps. 
It must be owned that literary education postpones 
the age of usefulness, but this is a temporary eflFect, 
amply compensated for later on. One of the 
most practically ignorant boys I ever had to deal 
with had remained at school until he was fourteen 
and was in the 7 th Standard. Although he had 
lived in the country all his life and both his grand- 
fathers were experienced gardeners, he could not dig, 
or weed, or cut grass, or plant potatoes, or sow seeds. 
He professed to like horses, but could not groom or 
saddle a pony, wash out a stable, or clean harness. 
^D^-wSs the eldest of the family, and could not clean 
boots or knives. The ineptitude of the way he 
set about his work is simply inconceivable. One 
day he was told to beat a carpet measuring 15x8 
and rather heavy for its size. He tied a rope to a 


tree, slipped the rope under the carpet lengthwise, 
and then wasted twenty minutes trying to tie the 
loose end of the rope to a second tree with the 
full weight of the carpet dragging on his arms. 
Nevertheless, in six months' time he was getting 
ten shillings a week, and was fairly well worth the 

I too object to free secondary education, but 
on different grounds from those commonly brought 
forward. Whose feet are most likely to be placed 
upon the rungs of the * * educational ladder ? " Those 
of the well-fed, well -clothed, well -housed child, 
whose parents could easily afford to pay the full 
cost of his training. In a village where farmers' 
sons up to the age of twelve or thirteen attended 
the Council school, I asked an old resident where 
they were sent later on. ** Oh, they generally go to 
B. for three or four years, or sometimes to G.," 
naming two grammar schools, the second one 
being of no small celebrity. A few days later I 
heard local rejoicings over the honour done to the 
village, and especially to the village schoolmaster, 
by a boy who had won a scholarship worth nearly 
£100. With fragments of Gray's " Elegy " floating 
through my mind, and doubtful whether or not 
nous avons chang6 tout cela, I made inquiries, 
and found that the lad was the eldest child of the 
most prosperous farmer in the district. "There's 


always something to be had nowadays if youVe 
got the leamin'," an elderly relative who was ** living 
up" very comfortably told me triumphantly, and 
then broke off to relate how the. boy's uncle had 
died " worth a pretty penny," and how much his 
father paid yearly to the railway for carriage of 
goods. A few weeks before, the old gentleman, in 
a more pessimistic frame of mind, had protested 
earnestly, '* There's so much talk of edjucation, 
but I don't see what diffrince it do make. Nine 
years I were on the School Board. No ; boys is 
pretty much what they was." " But at least they 
are not worse?" "No, no; there isn't a bit of 
wickedness in 'em but what I can remember in 
myself I just lived for destruction and mistiful- 
ness. Boys have no hearts at all. They're made 
like it, and edjucation don't make no diffrince." 

Free studentships : appear to be awarded in an 
equally strange fashion. "She is idle, and she 
does not seem specially capable. How did she 
get the studentship?" I heard a young teacher 
at a technical school ask her senior. In purely 
explanatory tones, without the faintest trace of 
criticism, sarcasm, or displeasure, the latter replied, 
" Oh, two of her brothers had been free students." 
Whether the free students suffered from poverty 
of food, or from previous over-eiertion, I cannot 
say, but half an hour's observation would have 


been suflficient to enable any stranger to distinguish 
them from the paying pupils. 

The great fault of the religious and moral 
education provided for the poor, and at least 
equally the fault of that provided by themselves, 
is that- it fosters weak-kneed apathy under the 
name of submission to the will of God. The result 
of this teaching is shown in aU adverse circum- 
stances, but especially in the treatment of the 
sick. I come across countless perfectly respectable 
households where, if a patient is once recognised 
to be seriously ill, all efforts for cure or alleviation 
not merely flag, but are regarded as impious. 
Submission, even if only to the ordinance of man, 
has its place in life, and a very large one ; but for 
fifty years at least it would be safe to extol almost 
exclusively the virtues of courage, family pride, and 
unbending determination. 

That civility has any necessary connection with 
respectability is an error leading to much hypoc- 
risy and misdirection of charitable and even State 
assistance. The glib tongue, and the plausible tale, 
and the smooth manner still bring in a fine harvest 
to their owners. A lady constantly visiting the 
homes of the poor in a large manufacturing town 
one winter when there were many " unemployed " 
and large sums were collected for them, said to me, 
" The real unemployed, decent, steady men doing 



the best they can for their families, will not apply ] 
for relief, because they are ashamed to be seen in 
such society. While they are searching hopelessly ^ 
for work, or crouching in their bare homes half 
starved, loafers and drunkards, and worse, are^ 
spinning romances and swallowing up all that the 
charitable public intended for respectable toilers in 
passing distress." 

Owing to the State encouragement of tramps, 
the strong man looking for work is simply swamped 
among the crowd of those who cannot work, or 
cannot work continuously, those who do not know 
how, and those who will not. Six years ago a man 
begged employment at an upland farm, and pro- 
tested that he had walked 180 miles on the high 
road, and had asked for work at every likely house 
he had passed, but entirely in vain. The farmer 
had heard many similar tales, and did not for one 
instant believe him, but was thankful to have a 
labourer even if it should only be for a couple of 
days. At the end of four years, the latest news 
that I have of him, that man was still in the 
farmer's employ. ' 

The isolated tramp of mature age must always i 
be difl&cult to deal with because he lacks the 
principal springs of action, but a considerable 
proportion of those who are still young, and 
especially groups who are related to one another : 


and have retained enough family feeling to stick 
together in all their wanderings, could probably be 
restored to the life of ordinary householders if help 
of the right kind were given. Eighteen months 
ago, my attention, though blunted by the sight 
of a daily average of fifty or sixty tramps and 
travellers, was attracted by a party which evidently 
formed one family. The father, a tall, strong man 
in the prime of life, led the way, carrying a large 
bundle ; a lad carried a child of three on his back ; 
a girl wheeled a perambulator containing a baby of 
under two and a few miscellaneous possessions ; and 
a dark-eyed, alert-looking woman brought up the 
rear with two footsore little girls. None of them 
were in rags, but their clothes all had the unmis- 
takable all-over-alike tint quickly taken by poor 
materials alternately exposed to rain and sun. 
Their voices were clear, and they talked freely to 
one another, whereas the professional tramp has 
a perennial cold in his throat, a chronic depression, 
and speaks little except for the purpose of begging. 
Six hours after they passed me, they attempted 
to enter a large town, and were stopped by an 
Inspector of the National Society for the Prevention 
of Cruelty to Children. In ten seconds he was 
convinced that they were "out of the ordinary 
line," and in ten minutes he had learnt their 
history. The man was a miner, thrown out of 


work by a fierce and obstinate strike in the 
inception and conduct of which he had had little 
more voice than his youngest child. He lived in 
a cottage owned by the proprietors of the mine,f 
and received a week's notice to quit. No other 
house could be obtained ; he sold the furniture for 
what he could get, and went into lodgings. At a 
time when their chndren range from ten months to 
fifteen years of age, few workmen have any savings 
worth naming: The entire resources of the family 
were exhausted in eight weeks, and they set out, 
all together, in search of work. They had been 
" on the roads " for twelve months, working when 
and how they could, begging the rest of their 
subsistence, and in fine weather sleeping out of 

The Inspector tried to get the whole party 
lodged at the workhouse while he considered what 
could be done, but for some obscure departmental 
reason his request was refused. He had no fundd 
at his disposal, but finding that his clients were 
Roman Catholics, he applied to two priests, who 
gave him twelve and sixpence, and an Anglican 
contributed half a crown and some much-needed 
clothing, and made promises of further help in the 
way of furniture " if something definite " could be 
done, and he took lodgings for them for the night andj 
provided a substantial supper. Early next xaoim 


ing he visited them, and thought it a good augury 
when he found them all dressed and the children 
washed and " put straight." He gave the man a 
note to a large employer of labour living eleven 
miles away, and gave the woman half a crown to 
buy food. The man started off at once, with a 
piece of bread in his pocket, and the woman, 
"seeing that they had all had a good supper," 
spent the money on a basket of fish, which she 
succeeded in retailing for five shillings. The 
husband waited eight hours to see the master, and 
then returned faint with hunger and fatigue, but 
with permission to begin work in three days' time. 
Inspirited by these specimens of "grit," the 
Inspector secured a small cottage near the factory, 
begged all the strictly necessary articles of fur- 
niture, and " went bail " for the family at a decent 
general shop. Paying a surprise visit a few weeks 
later, he was gratified to find the house clean and 
tidy, the children at school, and the two elder 
ones at work, and to receive the woman's joyful 
assurance, " We're not a penny in debt, and we're 
getting a nice home together again." 

It is easy to declaim against the criminal 
recklessness of taking six children on the tramp, 
but more might be said for the family feeling 
which prompted such a step, and for the parental 
care which, all through that long year of hardship 


and exposure, had managed to keep them in health 
and decency, and in such a frame of mind that 
they had all returned to normal life without the 
smallest conscious eflFort. 

The only sad and embittered workers that I 
find among the poor are unskilled labourers who 
are beginning to lose their strength and to realise 
that there is nothing before them to the end of 
their days but drudgery, which every added year 
makes more painful, and galling subordination to 
the class immediately above them. ''At what 
time do the men come to work ? " I asked a lad 
in a builder's yard. "The gentlemen come at 
eight and go at five. The others come at seven 
and go at six, because they've got to clear away 
and to get things ready." In cases where they 
work regularly together, the relations between the 
smart young artisan and the toil-worn labourer are , 
sometimes of an unceremoniously filial nature, but 
for a man of fifty or more to be at the beck and 
call of one possibly less than half his age can 
rarely be anything but a conscious humiliation, 
and it is felt more deeply when, as is often the 
case, the labourer belongs by birth and connections 
to the superior class, and feels that "by rights" 
he too should have been "given a trade." 

Heaven, we are told, is a state of mind, not a . 
locality, and poverty or riches, as a lasting ; 


condition, ultimately depend upon disciplined or un- 
disciplined character and certain mental abilities, 
above all upon the power of imaginative foresight. 

Thp. t ypP. of mind ±hi. iU.uidR to pmipP.iH.m ir t/. be 

found in every class, and so is that which leads 

standard of life and general thriftiness was high, 
I found a jocular saying current among the 
cottagers when anyone was suspected of the 
intention to sacrifice a substantial advantage 
for a trivial immediate gain, "Oh, you can sell 
the springs for eighteenpence." The words had 
originally been uttered by a young married woman 
who had chopped up a good sofa and used it for 
firing in preference to begging, borrowing, buying 
on credit, or going without, four pennyworth of 


Family Life among the Poor 

The highest type of home training among the 
poor, its strong and its weak points, have nowhere 
been better described than in Sartor Resartus. 
" If good Passivity alone, and not good Passivity 
and good Activity together, were the thing wanted, 
then was my early position favourable beyond 
the most. ... On the other side, however, things 
went not so well. My Active Power was unfavour- 
ably hemmed in, of which misfortune how many 
traces yet abide with me ! In an ordinary house, 
where the litter of children's sports is hateful 
enough, your training is too stoical; rather to 
bear and forbear than to make and do. I was 
forbid much : wishes in any measure bold I had to 
renounce. ... It was too rigorous, too frugal, 
compressively secluded, every way unscientific. 
Yet in that very strictness and domestic solitude 
might there not lie the root of deeper earnestness, 
of the stem from which all noble fruit must grow. 



Above all, how unskilful soever, it was loving, it 
was well-meant, honest ; whereby every deficiency 
was helped." For the tender and just memory 
of actualities shown in these few sentences, the 
author may well be forgiven innumerable pages of 
empty rant. Adam Smith, in words as applicable 
to the present day as to the period when they 
were written, justifies on practical grounds the 
austere code of morality on which these homes 
are based : "A single week's thoughtlessness and 
dissipation is often sufficient to undo a poor 
workman for ever." 

Homes such as Carlyle pictured are to be found 
among superior wage-earners of all descriptions, 
from the dockyard-man and the agricultural 
labourer up to the foreman getting perhaps as 
much as two hundred a year. One great drawback 
to the rigidity of the system is that if it fails with 
individual members of the family, it fails very badly 
indeed; and another is the extreme isolation in 
which such households live and the general 
unneighbourliness of their conduct, unless they 
should happen to belong to some evangelical and 
militant sect. The chief virtue that can be shown 
by lads and lasses at school or in workshops is not, 
" They choose their friends well," but ** They never 
pick up with no one." 

A mother of this type was relating to me the 


life and death of a son who had died about ten 
years previously, aged nine, and the culminating 
point of her eulogy was, " He always kep' to hisself. 
He never bringed no boys round the house." Poor 
little soul ! he must at least have had his moments 
of imaginative rebellion, for the sin of his life, from 
his mother's standpoint, was his telling her once — 
once only ! — that he "would go for a soldier." 

In these homes there is often an extreme narrow- 
ness of outlook, and the members are not seldom 
as indifferent to public affairs as the donkey in the 
fable who refused to run away when told that the 
enemy were in sight. On my telling her of a 
great national disaster, a woman asked in all 
seriousness, " Will it do any harm to me, miss ? 
Then why should I care?" Less austerely re- 
spectable persons often possess wider sympathies, 
and are socially of more value. " If our virtues 
did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike as if we had 
them not." 

On the whole, the homes of the poor owe most 
to the mother, but some children would fare 
badly indeed if it were not for their fathers 
constant protection. I do not mean protection 
against a bad mother, — for there a man is practi- 
cally more helpless than a woman who has given 
her children a bad father, — but protection against 
a careless one. A minister's wife in the north of 


England told me that she was passing a work- 
man's house one afternoon and heard such a 
shrill and persistent wail of, " What '11 Willy say ? 
Oh — h — ! " that she opened the door and walked 
in. Mother and grandmother sat helplessly wring- 
ing their hands, and lying motionless on the stone 
floor in a pool of water was something that in 
colour and shape looked like an enormous rat. It 
was the eighteen-months-old baby, which, while the 
clothes were being hung out in the back garden, 
had fallen into a huge tub of dirty water. To all 
appearance it was dead, but the minister's wife 
sent for a doctor, and with no assistance but the 
continued wail, *' What'U Willy say ? " stripped off" 
the sodden clothing and set to work to try and 
restore respiration and circulation ; and in two 
hours' time the child was sitting up, pale and 
exhausted, but otherwise little the worse for its 
sufferings. She gathered that the absent Willy 
had frequently had cause to "say" a great deal, 
and, in spite of tearful entreaties, hardened her 
heart sufficiently to leave the two negligent 
guardians with the threat that unless they told 
him that night what had happened, she should 
tell him herself the next morning. 

The lion does not paint the picture, and the 
men of the wage-earning classes suffer under the 
general imputation of being bad husbands and 


fathers, a character only true of a minority among 
them, and a continuaUy decreasing minority. Not 
long ago an almost middle-aged doctor told me, 
as if it were a never-before-heard-of thing, " Just 
imagine what a good fellow that Simpson is. He 
always lights the fire and gets his own breakfast 
before he goes to work." 

The usual course, when the husband has to start 
earlier than seven to his work and there are 
young children, is that, in addition to attending 
to his own wants, he should carry up a cup of tea 
to his wife, and put the big family kettle on, so 
that there will be plenty of hot water by the time 
she comes downstairs. The husband is rarely 
relieved from this duty until he has a son or a 
daughter old enough to take his place, and not 
always then. I accidentally found out, however, 
that one little girl of barely nine was expected 
to prepare breakfast for her father at 6.30 even 
in the winter. " I can't read the clock," she told 
me, "but father showed me the way the hands 
is when it's time to get up and light the fire." 
It was an indication of unusually harsh treatment : 
many far more serious matters soon came to the 
knowledge of the neighbours, and ultimately she 
had to be removed from the custody of her 
parents, a step that can only 'be justified in 
extreme cases. 


Few indeed are the homes where a child does 
not lead a happier and more natural life, and has 
not a better chance of turning into a normal 
human being, fitted to take a brave part in the 
world as it is, and as it is very likely to remain, 
than in any institution that has yet been seen. 
Before aiming a single blow at home life, let us 
consider the matter, and ask. What have we to put 
in its place ? Has the State been so successful as 
foster-mother to orphan, deserted, and "criminal" 
children, that she is justified in wishing to displace 
any but the lowest and worst of parents ? 

A woman whose age is now very little over 
thirty gave me a most pathetic account of her 
life in one of the workhouse barrack-schools, and the 
grief caused her by the sudden and entire separa- 
tion from her two younger brothers. The children 
had frequently risked, and sometimes incurred, 
severe corporal punishment by speaking to one 
another through some railings which divided the 
boys' part of the building from the girls'. Need- 
less to say, the rule that they broke had been 
made for other reasons than the desire to separate 
orphan brothers and sisters aged eleven, nine, and 
seven ; but it is the kind of thing that happens 
when human lives are regulated on a large scale 
and by persons capable of remarking, as one man 
did to whom I related the tale, " Of course there 


ought to have been a solid wall."* " But it was 
better before we left, much better," she concluded 
simply ; " brothers and sisters could meet once a 

However well State or charitable homes may- 
begin, they all slip into institutionalism. I 
remember one which in ten years sank from a 
place where the children as far as possible lived 
the same life as among superior cottagers — Whelped 
in the house work, minded the baby, were sent on 
errands to the shops, and ran to school chattering 
and laughing with their little neighbours — into 
one where no child under twelve did a stroke of 
work and those under fifteen did very little, and 
where the girls were compelled to walk to school 
two and two in absolute silence, and were caned 
before the whole house if they were convicted of 
exchanging a single word on the road. As to 
the value of the superintendence exercised by 
the Committee, it was so perfunctory that a con- 
firmed drunkard was in charge of the Home for 
a considerable period, her habits being concealed 
by the exertions of her assistant and by the 
strange loyalty that children will show to almost 
anyone who is not systematically unkind to them. 
At last a widower father, who had been induced 
to pay five shillings a week in order that his little 
daughter might be "properly taught and looked 


after," called at the house while the assistant was 
out and asked to see the matron. The frightened 
child who answered the door declared that no one 
was in. " Nonsense ! " said the man. " Thirty 
young girls can't be left alone in a house; and 
if they are, they didn't ought to be." He 
marched into the sitting-room, and found the 
matron lying on the floor speechlessly drunk. 
Naturally, he went straight to the Secretary, and 
there was a general exposure and more careful 
inspection, but no radical alteration in the system. 

In another "Home," where the children were 
" specially trained for domestic service," the sisters, 
women of gentle birth and breeding, cleaned their 
own boots, and their pupils (most of whom had 
been with them from infancy) were sent out into 
the world so entirely ignorant' of any of the 
conventional differences between the treatment of 
mistress and maid that one of them, having been 
shown silver fish knives and forks and told to 
place them on the dining-room table, immediately 
laid them in the kitchen also for herself and her 

Intense selfishness is fostered by institutional 
life; the afiections are in no way drawn out 
or trained, and are in danger of withering away. 
A teacher at a large school for fatherless girls 
told me : " The children have everything they 


can possibly want, and are far better fed than 
in the majority of middle-class schools ; and they 
know, because most of them go home for their 
holidays, that their mothers have to work hard 
y ind count every penny ; and yet scarcely a letter 
y passes through my hands in which the girls do 
not beg for money — ^which is generally sent." 
She also complained that friendship, and loyalty, 
and all desire to protect one another were extremely 
rare among them, and said that the following 
story is characteristic of their usual conduct. A 
girl of eleven, who had been noisy and troublesome, 
was locked by herself in the day-room while the 
rest of her class were marshalled to their dormitory. 
The teacher intended fetching her in a quarter 
of an hour, but forgot all about it, and as she 
slept in another room, and had only taken charge 
during the temporary absence of the children's 
real mistress, there was nothing to remind her 
of the occurrence. When the absent teacher 
returned at 9.30 and went to the dormitory she 
did not miss the child, and turned the lights out 
as usual. All the girls knew that one of their 
number, and almost the youngest, was left alone 
in the day-room, but none of them spoke. They 
disliked the teacher who had given the punish- 
ment, and were far more anxious to get her into 
trouble with the superintendent than to rescue 


their little companion from cold, and darkness, 
and possible terror. Happily, the child was free 
from nerves, had rolled herself up in the table- 
cloth, and slept peacefully all night. Attempts 
were made to convince five or six of the elder 
girls that they had behaved with mean spiteful- 
ness and great cruelty, but they seemed entirely 
conscienceless because without natural affection. 
Children can only proceed from the particular 
to the general ; they must realise the pain of 
hurting those they love before they can rise to 
any conception of their duty to their neighbours 
as a whole. 

Even when many years have been spent in 
more normal surroundings, the average child is 
quickly tainted by the prevailing spirit of shirking 
and selfishness. A girl of twelve, who had been 
boarded out in the country for a considerable 
time, was then sent to a town Home, to remain 
there until she was ready for service. I asked 
her if she had been sorry to leave the country, 
and she replied with fervour, " Oh, I like the 
'Ome much best!" **I thought most little girls 
loved the country. Were not the people kind 
to you ? " "Oh yes, but at the 'Ome you don't 
have to do no work." 

Often one reads in the printed reports of schools 
and refuges, " Ninety-five per cent, of the children 


bear excellent characters." Considered exclusively 
as individual workers this may be true, though 
I remember being told by a person who had 
unwillingly signed «ome such statement, " All the 
boys who die and aU who disappear are put on 
the credit side of the sheet." But the complete 
test of fitness for life does not come until they 
are heads of households. Will they have a genius 
for family life? — ^for they have certainly no ex- 
perience to guide them. If a boy from a work- 
house school married a girl from an orphanage, 
the menage would excite the curiosity of a 
James the First 

If we really loved justice, we should be no 
more anxious to take other people's responsibilities 
upon our shoulders than to fling our peculiar 
burdens upon the first weakly charitable person 
we met. I have always tried to work upon the 
principle of family responsibility, and have carried 
it out with regard to the most distant members 
when necessary. I once attended at a house 
where the youngest child, aged seven, had a bad 
attack of enteric fever. The mother was poor, 
but most anxious to do everything that she could 
without resort to charity. I asked her to buy 
a mackintosh sheet, and told her that the price 
would be 3s. 6d. Lines of anxiety appeared 
on her face, for the amount was between a fifth 


and a sixth of the week's wages. "How many 
brothers and sisters have you in this town?" 
I inquired. " Seven," was the totally unexpected 
reply, for she was past forty-five, and the popula- 
tion as a whole shifted rapidly. "Suppose you 
ask each of them to give you sixpence ? I am 
sure they will not refuse if you explain what 
a benefit it will be to their little niece, and how 
much it will lighten your own labour." In 
thirty-six hours the mackintosh was bought and 
paid for, and a very wide circle had learnt its 
cost and its value as a nursing accessory, while 
the mother had been comforted and gratified by ^ 
the readiness of her own relatives to help her 
in a time of exceptional need. 

The most essential drawback to emigration, and 
even migration, is the injury done to family life. 
In a recent book. At the Works , the writer seems 
to be of opinion that a family is necessarily limited 
to one household, and that every married woman 
who cannot aflFord paid service for herself and^ her 
infant children has nothing to depend upon when 
incapacitated by illness but the charity of the 
upper classes. I have known towns whfere family 
life embraced six or more households, and services 
of all kinds were constantly and freely inter- 
changed. Was it washing-day at Aunt Susans? 
Very well, the children repaired to Aunt Mary 




at dinner-time with no further explanation than 
"Mother's busy, and we're so hungry." Was 
Uncle Tom convalescing, " and that arritable the 
boys darsn't come a-nigh him"? Then grand- 
mother would have them "and welcome." Even 
in towns such as described by Lady Bell friend- 
ships are soon formed that are scarcely less fruit- 
ful in kindness than blood relationships. Even the 
most undesirable neighbour, whose house half the 
women in the street have vowed — with good reason 
— never to enter again, has no lack of help when 
the hour of stress arrives. In fact, the only persons 
I have ever found lonely or deserted are the too 
rigidly exclusive and " stand-offish." They, indeed, 
may " perish in their pride " while kindly neighbours 
hold urgency meetings not ten yards away, each 
trying to induce the other to "put herself 
forward," and no one among them having sufficient 
courage to break down invisible barriers. 

Like the rich, but to a less degree, the poor waste 
nearly half the strength and sweetness of family 
life by a tendency to ignore all relationships but 
those on the mother's side — a tendency, by the 
way, which in all classes of life may be curiously 
modified by the indirect results of the Deceased 
Wife's Sister's Bill. 

Too much pity is often expended on poor women 
because they have to do house work when they are 


ill ; but in these circumstances the average husband 
will. always do the roughest part of it, besides 
lowering his usually modest demands as to cooking, 
cleanliness, and punctuality. With regard to the 
remainder of the work, it is a blessing in very 
transparent disguise ; no woman is so much to be 
pitied as the one who, ailing in health and unculti- 
vated in mind, is set free from all necessity for 
manual labour. 

Even a well-built and comfortably arranged 
house often injuriously affects the health of women 
not educated up to the point of benefiting by it. 
To have to open her kitchen door fifty times a day 
in all weathers and walk five steps in the open 
air to her wash-house may be a real advantage to 
the woman who never dreams of going for a walk. 
The darkness of many cottage living-rooms compels 
people to sit with open doors who would not open 
a window, and I have heard that when properly 
built walls and roofs were first supplied in certain 
villages in Scotland, the immediate result was a 
terrible increase of consumption. We rashly forget 
that society is a living organism of almost infinite 
complexity, and that a change of surroundings 
demands a corresponding change in habits. 

One of the incidental advantages of early 
marriages is that the grandparents are still com- 
paratively young and strong; not only do they 



need no help from their children, but can give them 
a great deal of valuable assistance. Within an 
hour I was speaking to two very poor women. One 
said regretfully, " I couldn't never do as much for 
my children as I should of liked, 'specially in the 
way of taking of them out o' doors. You see, my 
mother died not long after I was married. She 
was over forty when I was born, so it was much the 
same tale with her ; but then she on'y had me and 
my two brothers, so it didn't seem to matter so 
much. And then father was a much handier man 
in the house than what my husband is." The other, 
resentful of some chance criticism, said angrily, 
" It's all very well for Mrs. Cripps to talk of what 
she does. She's got a mother to help her, and a 
sister, and her old father will mind her little boys 
by the hour when he's down at the allotments." 

Lady Bell had also picked up a curiously in- 
accurate idea that an old father is a more welcome 
inmate of his mamed children's house than an old 
mother, and that it is because he is less critical and 
captious and easier to get on with. As a matter of 
fact, no one has his critical faculties more sharpened 
and is more relentless and unrestrained in the ex- 
pression of his judgments than an unoccupied old 
man. If either parent is welcome in the house, it 
is the mother ; and in most cases I fear that the 
wife would prefer the constant presence of her 


mother-in-law to that of her aged father. This is 
not only because the woman is less exacting and 
makes less work, and even if in feeble health can 
give household help in a hundred smaU ways ; it is 
because of the intolerance that often exists between 
one generation and another when domestic manners 
and customs are changing as rapidly as they are at 
the present d*y among the progre^ive working 
classes, and because a woman adapts herself more 
readily and is never left so far behind in the 
struggle for morality and refinement. It is not a 
mere aping at gentility that makes the rough old 
grandfather unwelcome ; there are often moral 
reasons too grave to be spoken of in detail. The 
parents are trying to raise their children's whole 
standard of life and thought and speech, and 
the grandfather — deliberately with regard to what 
he considers " stuflfn-nonsense," and unconsciously 
with regard to more serious mattei^-hampers and 
thwarts their endeavours. The parents could do 
what they recognise as their "duty" by either 
generation, but not within the limits of one small 
house. The inferiority in moral refinement is, of 
course, not invariably on the side of the parents; 
experience of life, natural gifts, and fortunate as- 
sociations, not seldom combine to make them the 
superiors of their children ; but when this is the 
case, sons and daughters of mature age rarely 


fail to recognise it, and rejoice in it with a proud 

Only a few days ago I heard of a widowed 
mother — ^a husband's mother — ^who had entirely 
revolutionised the slatternly household to which she 
had retired on a tiny pension. Kitchen and child- 
ren were soon almost unrecognisable, and the 
change was effected not so much by her personal 
work as by her personal influence. Even when she 
wa^ fifty miles away, son and daughter had lied 
freely in order to make her think that the babies 
were cared for as she thought right, and at close 
quarters she was an irresistible power. There was 
nothing really bad about the daughter-in-law, but 
the cottage was isolated, the husband good-natured 
and indifferent, and the children not yet of school 
age ; so that there was an unwholesome absence of 
publicity, criticism, and appreciation. 

The dangerous or unhealthy nature of certain 
occupations, the recklessness with which compara- 
tively safe ones are carried on, and the culpable 
waste of life in childbirth, bring many marriages 
to an early close. Poor men and women not only 
marry again, but ought to do so; but a little 
temporary help to prevent hasty and ever-to-be- 
regretted unions might be an advisable form of 
private charity, Widowers with children should 
if possible marry widows in the same position. 


In cases where each has thus given hostages, com- 
plaints of harsh or cruel treatment are relatively rare. 
It is unlikely that the wife will feel such a passionate 
and absorbing affection for the third family, when it 
comes, that she will be blinded to all sense of duty 
to the other two. Virtuous step-parents abound, 
but they have no history. One woman, youngest 
of ten by her mother's first marriage, did, however, 
tell me : ** Step-father he never hit one of us no 
more than he did his own. If ever mother went 
for to give us a hiding, he'd always take our part." 
That men shall spend a certain amount of money 
in beer, tobacco, and halfpenny newspapers is 
accepted by most wives as inevitable, but if the 
same sums are laid out on harmless hobbies, or on 
books, they are sadly grudged. Even if a husband 
spends a little extra money in raising vegetables of 
a superior quality to the " passel o' rubbish" grown 
by his neighbours, the ordinary wife wiU say, in 
tones of melancholy resignation, " Well, it's better 
than the drink." In cases where the man's educa- 
tion is much superior to the wife's, he conceals his 
trifling expenditure on intellectual amusements as 
sedulously as if they were crimes. I have read, 
and sometimes heard, of men who lavish money on 
dogs and poultry while wife and children are ragged 
and half-starved, but I have never come across one. 
Possibly they bear about the same proportion to 


their class as the gambler or the morphiomaniac 
does among the rich. 

I have scarcely ever seen an indoor game of any 
kind played in the homes of the poor. Cards, 
draughts, chess, etc., are almost unknown. When 
they appear, they will be at once the sign and the 
cause of a great social and moral improvement. 
At present there is wonderfully little voluntary 
exertion of mind or body among ordinary wage- 
earners. This inertia arises, no doubt, in many 
cases from heavy physical fatigue, but to a great 
extent it is merely a long-established habit of mind 
and body which has changed far more slowly than 
the conditions of labour. To work hard or to do 
absolutely nothing is almost as general among men 
who work eight hours a day as it was when they 
worked twelve. The slowness of the change is 
partly due to the cramped quarters in which they 
live. If statistics could be collected of the number 
of respectable and decently furnished homes pos- 
sessing living-rooms where not even four persons 
could sit down to an orderly meal or carry on 
occupations of the least exacting type, the result 
would be quite as distressing to all those with 
properly cultivated imaginations as the statistics 
relating to what is legally termed over-crowding. 
Any philanthropic house-builder who really under- 
stood the needs and habits of the poor would 


provide a wash-house in which it was literally 
impossible to sit down, a very small front parlour, 
to be sacrificed — not without much spiritual gain — 
to gentility, and a roomy kitchen, in which comfort, 
sociability, and industry were all possible. 

The size of rooms is almost as important as 
their number. Speaking solely with reference to 
physical health, a family living in one large third- 
floor room, with a sash window and with a fire 
almost constantly burning, may be better housed 
than one with a small ground-floor kitchen and two 
minute bedrooms with no chimney and windows 
that cannot be opened without letting in a violent 
draught, possibly accompanied by driving rain or 

If only the poor were discontented ! " Carlyle 
said a contented mind is a continual feast," said a 
man who had just been beating my carpets. I did 
not dispute the authorship of the phrase, but I never 
lose a chance of disputing the doctrine. " Then 
why did you beat my carpets ? You were not in real 
need of the money. Discontent is the cause of all 
exertion. If your wife were contented, she would 
not even boil the turnips for your dinner. They 
can be eaten raw." " Ah," he replied solemnly, 
" now that just shows there's two ways o' lookin' 
at things. Carlyle didn't think of that." 

The poor have been taught cleanliness for 


centuries, and they know a great deal about it, and 
often practise it against fearful odds : if they could 
in addition learn a little punctuality and order, 
the labour entailed by cleanliness, and its temper- 
souring qualities, would be reduced to a minimum. 
Meals are postponed indefinitely so that " cleaning " 
can be finished ; and then, for want of door-scrapers 
and door-mats, and for want also of domestic 
discipline, the floor is not even dry before it is 
again dirty. All my sympathies went with an old 
sailor who said judicially, " I like the house clean — 
mod'ritly — but we must pipe reg'lar to meals." 

The least satisfactory feature with regard to the 
family life of the poor is in the relations between 
the old and the middle-aged. These faulty rela- 
tions are painfully complicated, even when not 
chiefly caused, by money matters, by the claims 
unhesitatingly made on the one side and grudg- 
ingly conceded or refused by the other. 

Children owe their parents love, consideration, 
tenderness, protection, and personal service; but 
they do not owe them their daily bread, and in 
ordinary cases they cannot give it to them with- 
out either abjuring matrimony altogether, or by 
depriving their own children of what it is desir- 
able for them to have, or by indefinitely postponing 
provision for their own old age — thus repeating the 
same mistakes over and over again. 


Why is the world always tx> be in arrears ? I 
recently came across a very steady man and his 
wife, earning about twenty-seven shillings a week. 
They belonged to a sick club and a burial club, but 
apparently there was no thought of old age ; and 
as they were childless, it seemed peculiarly im- 
provident. I asked the wife for an explanation, 
and she told me, in her strangely inverted phrase- 
ology : " Their daughter does for them, but my 
husband and his brother has to support their 
mother 'n father between 'em." The injustice in 
this case was a double one, for the father had been 
a skilled artisan and had earned high wages until 
over sixty years of age, but neither of the sons had 
been given a trade, and the daughter had married 
a labourer. 

The number of children who remain single in 
order to support a widowed mother or disabled 
father is surprisingly large, and the results are 
invariably bad. When the break-up of the home 
comes at last, the son, as a middle-aged or even 
elderly man, marries, and begins the task of bringing 
up a family,—" rocking a cradle with spettaculs," 
as one indignant cottager expressed it, — ^while the 
daughter dies worn out with fatigue, or ends her 
days in the Union. 

I remember one instance where a daughter 
after working for her father and almost entirely 


maintaining him for nearly twenty years, was 
left broken in health and with the choice before 
her of semi-starvation, the workhouse, or marriage 
with a cranky widower considerably her senior in 
age and greatly her inferior in education. 

In whatever class of life the parents depend on 
the children, is the result good ? Take the favourite 
case, thought beautiful by the sentimentalist, the 
support of a well-born and well-bred woman by 
her son. Can any man honestly say that the 
opinion of the parent whose every necessity he has 
io supply is of the same value in his eyes, is the 
same restraint and the same stimulus that it would 
be if she were independent of everything but his 
respect and affection? I recollect reading a 
letter written by a man to his totally dependent 
mother. He was considered a model of filial 
piety, but any free woman would quickly have 
called him to account for its arrogance, and then 
burnt it. 

There are undoubtedly workers unable to make 
even a meagre provision for their old age, but to 
jump from that fact — ^by no means among the 
unchangeable facts^ of life — to the necessity of 
providing pensions for everyone, is as rational as 
taking over the entire care and responsibility of 
all wage-earners' children because a decreasing 
minority among them cannot at all times manage 


to provide the essentials of healthy life for a large 

Considerable numbers of my acquaintances among 
the poorer classes of wage-eamers make no attempt 
to save anything for themselves until their youngest 
children are self-supporting — and those youngest 
children are often unconscionably slow! 

Everyone has his favourite source from which he 
would like to dip out a provision for the aged, but 
the difference between the cost of bringing up the 
first three and the last three children would well 
repay inquiry. If the money were spent on solid 
advantages for them, it would be a different matter ; 
but in the majority of cases it is simply wasted on 
harmful indulgences. 

Supposing the aged to be possessed of a small 
income, and dropping for the moment all considera- 
tion of its origin, where are they likely to be 
happiest — ^in an institution, living alone, or with 
their married children ? 

Institution life can never be suited to old people 
other than hopeless invalids, for there cannot be 
the freedom that is necessary to their comfort, and 
great hardship is caused by the inevitable inflexi- 
bility of the rules. 

Should old and feeble parents live with their 
married children? My experience leads me to 
reply unhesitatingly that this plan is almost 


invariably a failure. Even with the best inten- 
tions and a genuine substratum of affection, three 
generations cannot live peaceably in one crowded 
house ; and although the parents may be welcomed 
by son or daughter, what about the son's wife or 
daughter's husband ? 

I knew an excellent woman who, in order to pay 
her mother's rent and add to the tiny provision 
left by her father, was wearing herself out as cook- 
general to employers who ** were always very nice 
and polite, and all that, and thought nothing of 
money, but — ^well, they've been in India, and I 
find people who have been in India are all alike. 
Although it's such a big house, and no one but 
me, they won't even feed the dog or fill the 
flower vases." 

I heard later on that the eldest son had offered 
his mother a home, and remonstrated with the 
daughter for not inducing her mother to accept. 
" It's only a sham," she said bitterly. " He does it 
so that I can't come on him for anything else for 
mother. He knows well enough that I wouldn't 
let her go there to be put on by his wife, and 
worried and cheeked by his noisy, spoilt children — 
no, not as long as I can stand on my two feet." 

The aged poor are infinitely happier if they can 
keep a home of their own, even a single room ; and 
it is surprising to witness up to^ what a great age 


it is possible for them to do all their own house 
work, and how much better they are for the 
exertion. I have known many old people bed- 
ridden from sheer dispiritedness, but this never 
happens when they maintain their independence. 
I have known many old widows and widowers 
who^ with the moral support of a postcard 
addressed to the district nurse and ready to be 
despatched in case of need, have lived safely and 
contentedly year after year on a pittance less than 
half of what it would have cost to keep them 
pining in a workhouse. 

Those who maintain that there is no real and 
true family life if aged parents cannot find a home 
with their children, must remember that, owing to 
early marriages and to the havoc played by death, 
emigration, and migration, men and women of 
sixty-five, sixty, or even less, are offcen as much 
alqne in the world as if they had never been 

With regard to the general position of the aged 
poor, I can only say that if they possess a small 
independence, even one plainly insufl&cient for their 
entire support, they receive affection from their 
children and much kindly and respectful assistance 
from their neighbours. If totally dependent on 
others, they have little love from their children, 
much help and pity from their neighbours, 


and very little respect from anyone. This truth 
may sound brutal, but the possession of hardly 
earned and hardly saved money is a strong proof 
of superior intellect and character, and it is to 
these that homage is rendered. 

The cheerfulness and exultant contentment of 
the aged poor who have managed to maintain 
independence even on the most rigorous terms, and 
the generous wideness of their outlook, are simply 
admirable. I never can understand how the belief 
arose that old people are soured, or wrapped up in 
themselves and their ailments. Men and women 
who might excusably talk by the hour of their 
y physical sufferings scarcely care to answer my 
inquiries as to their health, so eager are 
they to tell me the contents of their newspaper. 
" Their" newspaper, by the way, is fondly believed 
to be different in substance as well as wording 
from everyone else's. If means permitted them 
to buy several, comparison would result in the 
belief that they had been scandalously robbed. 
They also seem to be quite unaware of the liberty 
of the press, and are usually awestruck by the 
daring of those who speak disrespectfully of 

There is a curious assumption that in all differ- 
ences of opinion the view accepted by the lower 
classes is unvaryingly wrong. For example, we 


are convinced that light, air, space, and cleanliness 
are the chief ingredients of good health. The 
working classes as a whole are equally certain 
that among themselves the direst enemy of life, 
and especially of child life, is cold air. Are they 
altogether mistaken ? In the married quarters of 
the most modern military barracks, I always found 
that if a soldier's child caught a severe cold, the 
only chance of saving its life was in sending round 
an appeal to all the other Mrs. Atkinses and 
borrowing their brown emergency blankets. Some 
we spread on the floor, with others we formed a 
tent open only towards the fire ; and then the child 
sometimes did as well as in the ordinary stuffy, 
over-furnished bedroom in workmen's quarters. 
Doctors were well aware of this, for as they looked 
round the large, bare, clean, airy room, their in- 
variable request was, ** Do try if you can't raise the 
temperature." When the advantages of air and 
water are pointed out to my patients, the usual 
reply is, " Ah, but you've been bred [or sometimes 
" fed "] up to it. Cold kills us." There is profound 
truth in this : cold is more deadly to them than 
any germ yet discovered. 

One of the weakest points of home life among 

the very poor is that the parents seem to have 

lost, or never to have acquired, the belief that, as far 

as their abilities permit, they ought in all things to 



be their children's teachers. So far from learning 
in order that they may teach, they do not dream 
of teaching what they know. A few months ago I 
asked a woman who bore an excellent reputation 
for industry and had seven children, ranging from 
twelve to nearly thirty years of age, and was a fairly 
good housewife, if her youngest daughter, a girl of 
seventeen, knew anything of cooking. She replied, 
" Her mistress have taught her all kinds of house 
work, but I shouldn't say she knew anything at all 
of cooking," adding, rather resentfully, " She's never 
been learned." I found that the girl could not boil 
an egg, had never done such a thing, and had no 
idea how to cook potatoes or any other vegetables, 
nor did she know whether she had better allow one 
hour, or two, or more, for the process. It very 
commonly happens that mothers who can wash and 
get up linen well allow their daughters to remain in 
complete ignorance of the art, and the same thing 
is true with regard to cutting out and plain dress- 
making. Occasionally a mother will say, "I've 
taught her everything I know," but this is a mark 
of great superiority, instead of a mere commonplace 
of maternal duty. I fear that there has been some 
deterioration in the domestic training given to girls 
in their own homes. In the same village a hand- 
some woman, who cannot be more than sixty years 
of age, showed me the largest house but one in the 


place, and said, " That is where I went out first as 
a servant. I was eight years old." " What other 
servants were there ? " " There weren't none but 
me. I stopped two years." ** But what work 
could you possibly do at that age ? " "I could 
clean the doorstep and wash the floors, and chop 
wood, and light fires, and rub knives, and clear up 
after meals. Some washing, too, I could do, and 
lots of things besides. Girls had to turn out earlier 
then. I began at eight and I left off at eight-and- 
twenty." " Did you never go to school ? " " Not 
three weeks in my life — to a day school, that is. 
I went to Sunday school, and learnt to read. When 
I was fifteen I went right away to service in 
London, and that soon learnt me to write ! I don't 
mind using a pen now, not for anyone to see!" 
Even the better-educated among the mothers 
rarely seem to follow up the children's school work 
or have any idea of co-operating with the teachers. 
I knew one mother, however, who when her little 
girl was learning to knit gloves, bought needles and 
wool, and made the child repeat the day's lesson 
every evening. I am sorry to add that the girl 
turned out unsatisfactorily, mainly owing to a lack 
of affection, self-excused by a grudging sense that 
she had been more hardly disciplined than her neigh- 
bours. Fathers still more rarely attempt to give 
instruction. I have recently employed a boy of 


sixteen, the son of a superior gardener, and he 
knows no more of his father's trade, and is far less 
interested in it, than if he were a London errand- 
boy. Not long ago I had an older lad from a 
family of carpenters ; he did not know how to use 
a hammer, was perfectly helpless with a saw, and 
seemed to have no knowledge of the " nature " of 
wood, except that it was combustible. 

Joint households are perhaps the most distin- 
guishing feature of domestic life amorig the poor ; 
there are few homes in which no trace of the system is 
to be found. It is partly to insufficient recognition 
of this truth that we owe many newspaper facts as 
to wages received and rent paid in certain districts, 
and the simply impossible margin left for food, 
clothes, and firing. The joint household^sometimes 
represents family life at its highest, and it often 
gives a stability to the working-class home which 
it could not otherwise possess, enabling periods of 
sickness or unemployment to be safely tided over ; 
but there are other sides to the question, and they 
are sometimes darkly shaded. 

My first introduction to the joint household was 
in its least attractive form. On an open shelf in a 
north-country back kitchen which served at once as 
larder, tool-house, box-room, menagerie, and a 
place for performing the rougher parts of the house 
work, I saw, ranged at even distances, five plates, 


each with a loaf in cut, and each surrounded by a 
small group of miscellaneous groceries wrapped in 
paper. This meant five independent members 
living under the same roof, paying a share of 
the rent and a trifling acknowledgment of their 
mothers services, but in no way receiving the 
discipline, bearing the burden, or enjoying the 
pleasures of real home life. The joint household is 
only tolerable so long as it maintains an accepted 
head, and each member pays the mother a sum to 
cover all expenses, and shares in the common meals. 
When there are three generations in the house, the 
eldest often lives in this fashion ; but as the old 
people usually have a separate room and a separate 
fire, it has not the same unseemliness in their case, 
and there is the reasonable excuse that the aged and 
feeble need different food and at different hours from 
those in their full strength. In addition, the uncon- 
trolled expenditure of their little incomes affords 
an intensely interesting occupation, deprived of 
which old people are likely to sink into querulous- 
ness or despondency, or to become bedridden from 
sheer lack of all suitable stimulus. 

One of the most common forms of the joint 
household is where grown-up sons live with elderly 
parents or a widowed mother. The great draw- 
back to this is that the profits on "doing for 
them " often form a large proportion of the income 


of the older generation, and it becomes the direct 
interest of the parents to prevent their sons from 
marrying. All social intercourse with respectable 
young women of suitable age and disposition is 
more or less openly checked, and parents who 
would be astounded if anything were said in 
disparagement of their system of ethics or religion, 
allow bachelor sons to live under their roof, giving 
them every imaginable licence, and well knowing 
how their freedom is used. This is even done 
when there are young and impressionable daughters 
in the house, from whom no attempt is made to 
conceal the truth. Exceptions are, of course, to 
be found. I remember one woman who had been 
genuinely ignorant of the life her son was leading, 
and, when the facts were suddenly revealed to 
her, she never rested until she had compelled him 
to marry a girl he was known to have ruined. 

A still larger number of joint households are 
composed of girls between sixteen and twenty-six 
working in shops and factories and living with 
their parents and younger sisters and brothers. 
The weak point here is that in a large majority 
of cases the girls are not really earning their full 
livelihood, and are partly a burden at an age 
when they ought to be economically independent. 
Their average earnings frequently do not amount 
to more than six shillings a week, of which four, 


or even less, are given to the mother to provide 
literally everything except clothes and pocket- 
money — and occasional demands may be made 
for these also. Some of the results of this state 
of affairs were pointed out to me by a shrewd 
young woman of about thirty, wife of a London 
printer. "What they pay mostly goes towards 
the rent. Mothers with two or three girls at home 
can pay quite a fancy sum, and it runs everyone's 
rent up in a way you'd never believe unless you'd 
seen it, as I have. Most of the money they get 
from them goes for that, and what's left out of 
3s. 6d. or 4s. don't hardly begin to feed hungry, 
sprawling, great girls like that. It just means 
that they're eating the food away from the little 
ones, let alone crowding 'em up, and often hunting 
'em about and seeming to kind of hate them into 
the bargain. Sometimes the fathers is sharp 
enough to see through it, and then there's a row 
and a clear out, and of course that ends in some- 
thing worse. No one don't want to see young 
girls drove to live by theirselves like savidges, but 
if they aren't earning enough to pay properly in- 
stead of dragging on their fathers, they'd ought 
to go to service. But that's just what their 
mothers don't like. They enjoy to feel the money 
in their hinds, however quick they have to part 
with it. They'll tell you they like to keep their 


girls with 'em, they like 'em to feel they have a 
home ; but it's just greed and foolishness. It's 
the little ones I pity most — the best food took 
from them, and everything they has grudged. 
And then the girls aren't kept in no kind of order 
at all. They won't do a stroke of house work — 
they won't even make their own beds — and they 
often behave in a way the younger ones would 
be smacked for — and serve 'em right, too. I know 
one woman who gets up every morning and heats 
a bucket of water so there's no excuse for her 
girl not having a good wash, and she goes off to 
the factory without so much as dipping the end 
of her nose or the tips of her fingers. Catch me 
eating no choc'late with that label ! And there's 
girls who might live decent, with mothers willing 
to wash and mend for them, and they'll just clap 
on their clothes and wear 'em till they can't be 
mended, and their mothers is ashamed to hang 'em 
on the line. Often they won't take 'em off till 
they're fit for nothing but to be put straight into 
the fire. The mothers brought it on theirselves 
at the beginning, and they put up with it to save 
the girls from being drove to worse. There's 
always a worse. That's what holds them from 
sayin' much to their sons, neither. Nothing's as 
simple as you'd think, miss ; not when you comes 
to look into it." 


Perhaps the most entirely undesirable form of 
the joint household is where a lodger is admitted 
who is in no way related to the family. Accus- 
tomed to see lodgers and lodgings of a different 
type, it is difficult for the richer classes to fully 
realise the undesirability of what seems an easy 
and profitable form of domestic industry. In 
their experience, the lodger is commonly the 
superior of the landlord in means, education, and 
social position. Among the poor, broadly speak- 
ing, the lodger is the inferior of the householder 
in many important respects. He is usually with- 
out capital, often without character, and not 
seldom dangerously deficient in intellect; and 
tenants who have taken a larger house than they 
can afford, trusting to his regular payments, find 
him a broken reed, while there are methods of 
wronging the landlord sometimes deadlier and 
often more exasperating. A childless married 
woman whom I have known for many years took 
a lad of nineteen as a lodger. The terms of the 
" let " were somewhat complicated : he paid 4s. 
a week, and she was to do his cooking, washing, 
and mending, and supply him with hot tea twice 
a day, and he was to sit by the kitchen fire when 
he chose, the unexpressed condition being that he 
would exercise a mannerly discretion in such a 
delicate matter. The rent, rates, and taxes of the 


house only amounted to 5s. a week, so that there 
seemed room for profit — ultimately, that is to 
say, for his arrival had entailed an expenditure 
of 18s. on two substantial pieces of second-hand 
furniture. A few months later my old friend 
referred to her lodger as the worst bargain she 
had ever made. " Is he backward with his rent ? " 
I asked. "No, miss; it isn't that. He's about 
as lazy as they make 'em, but he earns his ten 
or 'leven shillings a week pretty reg'lar, and I don't 
forget to ask him for it of a Saturday, and there 
isn't no boldness about him." "Is he noisy or 
quarrelsome?" "No, miss; he's good-natured 
enough, and he don't drink nothing worth naming, 
nor yet smoke, and he's pretty careful with the 
furniture— for a lodger, that is." " Is he getting 
into bad company ? " I asked, at a loss to imagine 
what objection there could be to such a tame and 
colourless youth. " Well, miss, it's this way. It 
was agreed that he was to set in the kitchen when 
he chose, but of course we never thought as he 
wouldn't have the manners to keep away when 
we was at meals. But no ; sure as ever we've got 
a bit of anything nice and hot, there he'll stick, 
and he'll sniff and he'll sniff, and stare, and pass 
remarks, and sigh, till one or the other of us — ^and 
I must own it's oftenest me — will say, *Like a 
bit?' and then, without no more asking than 


you'd give a dog, he pegs into it until what 1 
meant for next day's dinner looks pretty foolish. 
You understand me, miss : if he was really in need, 
neither of us wouldn't grudge it to him, seeing 
that he keeps hisself respectable, and he's got no 
parents and no home ; but he's got no call to live 
three days on half a sheep's head if he don't 
want to. There's nothing as I knows on to stop 
his earning two or three shUlings more pretty 
nearly every week, and yet you carCt sit there and 
eat a hot meal with him looking on." 

The lodger ought certainly to be confined to the 
homes of the middle-aged and the elderly, as he 
is never a desirable companion or example for 
childhood. In the Blocks his presence is strictly 
forbidden, and he can only be harboured under 
the dread penalty of a week's notice to quit ; but 
with obliging neighbours and a folding bedstead 
there is not much to betray his existence to the 
Inspector, and perhaps it is some lingering capacity 
for comfortably established domestic life, and not 
sheer perversity, which makes him so peculiarly 
anxious to enter these exclusive circles. 

The lodger is almost always a man. Owing to 
the low rate of women's wages, they are rarely 
able to pay even tke moderate rates demanded by 
the workman's wife. When possessed of suflScient 
money, however, they are regarded — and often 


with justice— as an unmixed blessing to the land- 
lady fortunate enough to secure them : early in 
their hours, punctual in their payments, ** improv- 
ing " for the children, and often actively helpful to 
the overwrought house-mother. If the day ever 
dawns when wages of 25s. and 30s. a week are as 
common among women- workers as lOs. and 12s. are 
now, "paying guests" will be plentiful, and the diffi- 
cult problem of earning money in late middle-ageand 
in broken health will be solved. There is a curious 
prejudice among the rich that their expenditure 
mysteriously supports the working classes, while 
the expenditure of persons drawing good wages 
benefits no one but themselves — and that most 

Another description of joint households increas- 
ingly common in all districts where the demand 
for labour fluctuates or is rapidly expanding is 
that formed by two married couples entirely 
unrelated to one another. The householders are 
usually the seniors, and generally possess all the 
furniture ; but where the arrangement is of a more 
permanent nature, the lodgers bring their own 
belongings and cook by their own fire. In cases 
where both the men are equally steady, and 
the children few in number or very young, the 
plan answers well, and the wives are extremely 
serviceable to one another. But after a few months 


it often happens that the lodger's work and wages 
come to an end, and then a burden is thrown upon 
the householders in proportion to the strength of 
the friendship between the women. It may be 
several weeks before the lodger decides to move to 
some other town, and all that time he and his wife 
are housed and half fed for nothing, while there 
is small intention of ever paying the arrears, and 
still smaller expectation of receiving them. 

Notwithstanding these experiences, much con- 
fidence is shown in immigrants. I have even 
known the householders go away for ten days' 
holiday, leaving them in entire charge of all their 
possessions, and on their return I have heard fewer 
and more trivial charges brought against them 
than have often been poured out with reference 
to judges, generals, and even archdeacons, when 
left in somewhat similar circumstances. 


Some Mental and Moral Characteristics 

OF THE Poor 

Broadly speaking, the people who become and 
remain rich are those who accept all the responsi- 
bilities that life brings them, and even seek for 
more; those who continue, or who become, poor, 
are those who shirk these responsibilities, those 
who, almost unknown, to themselves, are seeking 
to shake off some burden which it is for the 
" safety, honour, and welfare " of their manhood 
that they should bear; while the philanthropist 
tries to trim the boat by reproaching the rich, 
more for their virtues than their sins, and heaping 
up ingenious temptations for the poor, unable to 
see that his well-meant endeavours are still further 
jeopardising the balance. Show me a poor man 
who accepts all the duties of family life and has 
interests closely connected with them but reaching 
out boldly beyond them, and I will show you one 
who in a very short time will have ceased to be 


poor in any distressful or hampering sense of the 
word, whose children will be well off, and whose 
grandchildren will be rich. The converse is equally 
true : let a man, whether unconsciously or of 
malice aforethought, strive to reduce the claims 
made on him, cut off all unselfish interests, refuse 
to meet all social obligations, and the downfall of 
his family will be rapid and complete. 

]^any of the mental differences which distinguish 
the poor from the rich spring from this ethical 

root. The nnw^]]ingTiP.Qfl ffO i|)t,f>pfArA^ fn "put 

oneself forward," are often much stronger than^ 
moral sense, or even feelings of humanity and 
compassion. From a generally worthy and trust- 
worthy woman, a laborious housewife and tender 
mother, I received such deplorable accounts of a 
neighbour's treatment of her children that, after 
checking them by my own observation, I felt obliged 
to make an appeal to the National Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty. Instantly my informant's 
prejudices were aroused, and proved far stronger 
than her undoubtedly strong feelings of pity for 
four cruelly neglected boys, the eldest not six 
years old. Ignoring all her repeated and detailed 
accusations, she averred sullenly, *'0f course I 
don't know nothin' about it. If I'm asked, I can't 
say nothin'," and to this she adhered. Unfortun- 
ately, the case could speak for itself. An intolerably 


nauseous smell reached my nostrils a few days 
later, and on inquiry as to the cause I was 
told by a younger and less cautious neighbour, 
"The N-Spectre has a-been, and he said the 
children's bedding was to be burnt, and the rags 
that she calls their clothes." 

Class feeling, no doubt, accounted to some 
extent for the first woman's sudden change of 
attitude, but the strongest element was a shrink- 
ing from responsibility. It would be a mistake to 
imagine that class feeling and class consciousness 
are generally accompanied by active dislike ; they 
are chiefly important because they so heavily 
discount the value of all benevolent effort working 
from above. It has often surprised me to observe 
the tolerance, and even sympathy, with which the 
public amusements and extravagant personal ex- 
penditure of the wealthy are regarded by those in 
he narrowest poverty. Perhaps self-knowledge, 
and a consequent lack of excessive self-reverence, 
may be at the bottom of this charitable disposition. 
A socialistically inclined friend of mine had been 
staying in the house of a "self-made '^ north-country 
man, and told me : "He has nineteen horses in his 
stables, and streets fuU of men who work for him 
at nineteen shillings a week What seems to me 
the worst part is that these men admire him, and 
would imitate him if they could." 


People who wish to know the effect of their 
kindly meant visits among the poor would be 
mortified to know how often the result is pure 
amusement. They so honestly wished to give 
instruction, and they have supplied highly 
appreciated farce. It is always difficult to under- 
stand how easy it is to amuse one's fellow-men — 
unintentionally. All workers among the poor 
must remember that the best results come, not by\ 
assimilating themselves to those who are to be \ 
influenced, but by the force of contrast. In a 
very poor neighbourhood I constantly followed in 
the traces of a sisterhood trained on what were 
considered practical and liberal lines, but I found 
that even' — or one might say especially — in the 
most unpolished households they had aroused a 
certain amount of antagonism, not by their 
religious teaching, not by their love of fresh air, 
but by the loudness of their voices and the high 
percentage of slang and unlovely colloquialisms 
to be found in their speech. They were women of 
such an age and such a position in life that this 
method and manner must have been deliberately 
acquired. I wish I could have brought home to 
them a piece of information given to me by an 
old sailor some thirty years ago : " A loud voice 
is no good in a storm. The youngest, shrillest- 
voiced midshipman stands by the captain and 


repeats his orders. His thin little pipe carries 
farther than the boatswain's deepest roar." I 
have been shown men who have been raised from 
the lowest degradation by the efforts of the 
Salvation Army, but the ordinary working-man 
laughs more or less good-naturedly at their " goings 
on," and the ordinary woman shrinks from them 
with aversion, every sensibility outraged by their 
blatancy. And in duly varying degrees this is 
true of all "popular" preaching. The most 
likely remarks with regard to a clergyman who 
is really influencing the lives of his poorer 
parishioners would be, " He has such a quiet way 
of speaking," and "You'll always find him the 

I remember the horror with which an intelligent 
young woman told me, on returning from church, 

" Mr. said that somethin'er-other — I didn't 

catch what — ^was no more use than beefsteak to a 
hahy. There's a way of talking ! I should think 
his wife might learn him better." 

She honestly preferred a locum-tenens who 
discoursed lengthily on "the trinal triplicity of 
the heavenly hierarchy," and " adamantine chains 
and penal fire." The latter is always an attractive 
subject. I once heard a country rector hold forth 
on it. His sermons were usually of a strictly 
practical and moral nature, but were coldly 


tolerated on account of their brisk delivery and 
extreme brevity. On this occasion, however, the 
worst member of the least satisfactory family in 
the village told me spontaneously, "Ah, I could 
have listened to Rector for an hour. I did think 
it lovely." 

It has been suggested that the diflference between 
the angelic and the human mental powers may be 
that to these spiritual beings all past experience 
presents itself simultaneously to their minds when- 
ever they wish to recall it ; while to mortals it 
appears successively, and often in very slow 
succession, thus necessarily giving rise to ill- 
balanced judgments. However this may be, there 
can be no doubt that the simultaneity of the 
recollection of all the essential points of a question 
varies with the general intellectual development, 
and the contradictoriness and apparently wilful 
falsity of the evidence given from day to day by 
uneducated witnesses depends upon the relative 
;S£ea^nfisa..ofJbhejp t h i Ti g a . . a iS a w hole. 

One day the general consensus of opinion in an 
entire village, or in a couple of streets in a 
working-class quarter, will be that Mrs. Purkiss is 
an excellent wife, and if the faintest chip or flaw 
can be found in her character, it is entirely due 
to her husband ; and a large amount of evidence, 
all substantially true, is brought forward to prove 


the case. Mr. Purkiss's character in no way 
changes, but he breaks his neck, has a bad attack 
of pneumonia, or develops consumption. Instantly 
opinion veers round : every scrap of evidence in 
favour of Purkiss and against his wife rushes 
hurriedly to the neighbours' minds and tongues, 
and Mrs. Purkiss's virtues sink out of sight with 
equal completeness and rapidity. Probably it is 
the same cast of thought which in earlier days 
denied the unity of nature and produced innumer- 
able gods and devils. Outside a police-court there 
is not much reason to doubt the evidence of 
uneducated witnesses — one only needs to doubt its 
completeness, and beware of their conclusions. 

It is always dangerously easy to take a too 
pathetic view of matters. A lady accompanying 
me on my rounds was struck by a forlorn little 
figure tenderly nursing one of her father's Sunday 
boots, wrapped in a dirty pinafore which had been 
intended to hide the holes in her frock. I knew 
that she was the child and grandchild of skilled 
artisans, and I had seen her so often standing erect 
in her Saturday tub that I knew the dirt was 
superficial and that no signs of want or ill-treat- 
ment were observable ; but the pathos of the scene 
was too deep to be combated by mere common- 
sense, and my friend went home and dressed a doll 
for her. The child received it doubtfully, but with 


a slight preponderance of pleasure. That day she 
broke it, the next she utterly destroyed it, and was 
soundly slapped by her slatternly mother. Half 
an hour later I saw her, the tear-stains scarcely 
dry, smiling grimily but sweetly as she hushed 
her father's boot to sleep once more. 

It is peculiarly easy to exaggerate the sufferings 
of children, because we only see the injury inflicted, 
and cannot estimate the sensitiveness which 
regulates the amount of pain consequent upon the 
action we reprobate. I knew an instance where an 
only and idolised child endured between the age of 
three and five the caprices and violence of a nurse 
who ought not to have been in charge of her for 
five minutes. Sometimes the woman's anger and 
recklessness were so great that severe bruises were 
visible, and she would account for them by saying 
that the child had fallen down. Occasionally the 
father uttered a puzzled protest : " But when does 
she fall down ? She always seems to me so sure- 
footed." But no serious doubts were felt until one 
evening when the nurse had a holiday. The mother 
took her place, and discovered bruises that no con- 
ceivable series of accidents could have caused. The 
little girl was never permitted to set eyes on the 
nurse again, but when tenderly reproached for her 
want of confidence in her parents, she could give 
no explanation of her conduct. She was a lively, 


intelligent, and to some extent a sensitive child ; 
but she was no Harriet Martineau or Charlotte 
Bronte. Years afterwards she told me : " My 
parents blamed themselves far too much over the 
matter. I did not even dislike the woman. She 
used to fly into a rage and beat me, and then she 
would be sorry for it and give me sweets. I 
simply never thought of complaining. Perhaps if 
she had ever asked me not to tell, it might have 
put the idea into my head ; but she seemed to take 
my silence as much for granted as I did." There 
are plenty of people who would have attributed 
every weakness or misfortune of their after-life 
to even a twentieth part of the ill-treatment that 
this more happily constituted nature had endured 
without so much as a shadow of retrospective re- 

In considering the condition of the poor, we must 
not read tragedy where the actors read comedy, or 
shed tears over what they consider an amusing 
farce. Take this, for example : on a hot spring 
day, an old man, very stiff and slow in his move- 
ments, was ordered by his employer to wheel a sack 
of seed potatoes to a house a mile to the north, and 
a sack of cooking potatoes to one a mile to the 
south. He exactly reversed the process. When 
he suddenly discovered the mistake, and that this 
fatiguing piece of work must be done over again, 


he roared with laughter, and looking round for 
someone to share the joke, saw a poor old woman 
standing on her doorstep, and crossed the road to 
explain the matter to her, and she joined very 
heartily in his mirth. I recollect a story told me 
by an old gentleman educated in a rough public 
school. It was in the year 1832, for the recital 
was somehow connected with the burning of the 
Houses of Parliament. One of the youngest of his 
schoolfellows went to the form master and asked, 
** Please, sir, will you give me a sheet of paper to 
write a letter home ? " " Why ? " " Please, sir, it's 
so long since I heard from anyone, that I'm afraid 
they're all dead." " If they're dead, they don''t 
want any letters. Go away, boy." This passed 
throughout the school for an excellent jest, and 
even the sixty years that elapsed before it was 
related to me had not been long enough to develop 
a sense of its pathos in this one, at any rate, of its 

That the poor are "all alike," with the im- 
plication that we are entirely different and better, 
is a conamon fallacy. But, after all, why should 
one be surprised at the general failure ^to dis- 
tinguish, to recognise the broad human likenesses, 
and yet neither exaggerate nor overlook the " odds 
that make the difference " ? The poor think in the 
same way of the rich, and the rich in their eyes 

tf f ^11 1 ■» w i l l I I til n il \ tm m mm u » i^ •.-~. I, i^«i III -^ 


are all but the weekly wftge-^ingigrs, "I ain't got 
nothin' to say against Mrs. P.," said a villager; 
" so soon's anybody's ill, she do send them some- 
thing." "And who sends Mrs. P. anything when 
she is ill ? " " Oh," — in tones more horror-stricken 
than if I had uttered what was notoriously a libel, 
— " she don't want nothing. She's got plenty of 
money." The lady in question kept no servant,, 
and spent far less than the cheapest servant's wages 
on dress ; on personal pleasures she spent nothing, 
and she had to work extremely hard to supplement 
her impossibly narrow income. 

The poor^are^^jeinaj^^ ; we 

may add the colloquial "only more so," but not 
unless we are including good points as well as 
bad. We are apt to think that wage-earners are 
specially differentiated by their improvidence ; but 
those^diosa naturaL^flJis poYerty hftrd,by dea^^^^ 

tion are to be foundin-^lldassea^aiidif the^weUzto- 
do ju:fi,.^Jower ip jreac^ it is 

merely because they have farther to travel. I knew 
an instance where a man earning a fixeiS income of 
two thousand a year died suddenly in the late 
autumn. He left three young daughters, who had 
never in their lives brushed their own hair or 
buttoned their own boots, and not enough money 
to pay the bills due at Christmas. Another, for 
manv years in receipt of upwards of five hundred^ 


died, leaving boys in an equaUy bad position. 
One of them, a lad of seventeen, in no way 
mentally deficient, could barely read. In a third 
case a middle-aged man in receipt of four hundred 
died after a brief illness, and the day following 
the funeral a subscription had to be started to 
meet the pressing wants of his widow and only 
child. In yet another case a man, after capitalising 
and squandering his own pension, s61d his widow's. 
Cionsidering that the sale was illegal^ ^nd that the 
purchaser could not be certain that the seller would 
leave a widow, and stiU less certain how long she 
would remain one, it can be imagined how trivial 
the temptation was, the mere bottle of whisky for 
which he sold it. The dying words of another 
well-paid official, addressed to his penniless 
daughters and professionless sons, were, " Kemember 
that you have the Benevolent Society to depend 
on." At some period of his life he had been 
induced to bestow a small donation on this cor- 
poration, and he expected a return, which shows 
that j^ejma^ations of improvidexice we . far 
beyond the provi^rbial dreams of avarice. 

Decegtion. appears to be no sin at all, and any 
pumsCment dealt out for it is regarded as harsh 
and capricious. For example, in many country 
districts it is an unwritten law that during the 
spring an agricultural labourer may ask for a day's 


paid leave "to plant his garden," although in 
others Good Friday afternoon, regardless of date 
or of weather, is considered to be the right and 
peculiarly blessed time to devote to this purpose. 
On one occasion, when a man claimed this privilege 
it happened to be extremely inconvenient to his 
master, but it was granted without delay or demur 
on account of his large family. Soon after the 
master had the annoyance of discovering that not 
a single spadeful of earth had been turned in the 
man's garden, and that he had spent the day 
working for another farmer. He dismissed him, 
and although employment was only too easy to 
obtain in the neighbourhood, he was considered 
by the villagers to have shown extreme severity. 
The modern idea of morality as between 
employer and employed is so one-sided that one 
is tempted to accept Nietzschean theories as to 
its origin and value. The Anglo-Indian constantly 
complains that no " dastur " is ever in his favour, 
but exactly the same thing goes on in England. 
/ An employer must always and in all circumstances 
/ keep his word, but the employ^ considers himself 
I in no way bound to do the same. The fact that 
there are two ends to every ladder never seems 
J to enter people's heads *un til they are in a position 
I of Bome responsibility. 
\ §^^e^ is strongly developed among the poor, 


and although often stained by deceitfulness and 
even fraud, is closely connected with self-respect 
and independence. Wages and the expenditure 
of money are always shrouded in thick darkness, 
but all details connected with food are trebly 
secured from observant eyes, however kindly. 
As a child I remember the long rows of men in 
the royal dockyards seated each on his tool-chest 
in the building-slips, furtively eating his dinner. 
A benevolent admiral superintendent was struck 
by the extreme discomfort of the plan, and had 
tables and benches constructed and fixed by the 
hundred yards. In the course of three years 
I never saw them used. "Is it likely?" asked 
a foreman, with pity for his ignorant good-will. 
** Will the man with bread and cheese, and none 
too much of that, spread it out by the side of 
a man whose wife has sent him a nice hot 
dinner? Why, there are heaps of men whose 
wives bake a batch of pies on Sunday, and they 
eat one a day aU through the week. Sometimes 
the pie has a division down the middle, and there 
is fruit on one side and meat on the other." 
School children are constantly forbidden to tell 
one another what they have had to eat — ^unless 
occasionally, when there may be something to 
boast of. If it were possible, these matters would 
be as sedulously concealed from the district nurse 


as from anyone else ; but her visits are so frequent 
that they are certain to coincide sometimes with 
a family meal. One detail is specially stamped 
on my memory : if the family resources permitted 
the purchase of a pound of butter, the whole pound 
was always placed on the table, however hot the 
kitchen might be, or however long the meal might 
be kept about. Naturally, it did not take long 
to reduce fairly good butter to the condition of 
rancid oil. It was part of my duty to ascertain 
whether the families I visited were in receipt of 
parish reUef Whenever I noticed an abnormal 
wastefulness with regard to bread, I spared myself 
the annoyance of asking what was always an 
irritating question. 

" Doling out alms " is an action spoken of with 
common contempt, but if given at all they should 
certainly be " doled." The mere fact of requiring 
alms affords a strong presumption either that the 
recipient has never been accustomed to deal with 
any but minute sums, or that he has entirely failed 
in the management of larger ones. An old man in 
the workhouse told me, with reference to a comrade 
with whom he was on very friendly terms, "He 
has a daughter who is most uncommonly kind to 
him — in a way. Las' Chris'mas she goes and sends 
him a sovereign and a half. In three days it were 
all gone, and as he was never even drunk, you can 


guess how much he had out of it. If she'd a-took 
the trouble to give it to him a shillin' at a time, 
it 'ud ha' lasted him pretty well all the year, and 
he'd ha' got some good out of the money. Most 
of it went standin' treat to persons he'd never seen 
in his life before." 

le naivete of the poor is often extremely 
amusing. " Fancy anyone going for to steal ! " 
said an exceedingly lazy girl. " Why, if I wanted 
anything, I'd much rather ask for it than what 
I'd steal it." I can easily accept a "yarn" told 
me many years ago by an old sailor. A small 
and hungry drummer boy was left alone, while a 
sudden change of weather delayed his messmates' 
arrival, confronting the dinner prepared for the 
whole party. The rule is, " Help those on watch 
first," but as everyone but himself was on watch, 
this scarcely seemed applicable to the case in hand. 
Half an hour passed away, and the men arrived 
ravenous. There was a sudden pause, and a 
general shout of indignation : " Who's ate all the 
lean?" "I did, messmates." "And who the 
devil d'you suppose is going to eat all the fat?" 
" I will, messmates." 

Few questions are more difficult to solve when 
one is brought much into contact with wage-earners 
than those with reference to the lending of money. 
One lady told me, " My father, throughout his life, 


which was a very long one, frequently lent money 
to poor parishioners, and he was invariably repaid ; 
but this is entirely contrary to my own experience. 
Anything that I lend is gone for ever. Last winter, 
for example, when work was very slack, I lent a 
house-painter £7 to prevent his home from being 
broken up. liver since the early spring he has 
had steady employment ; it is now September, 
and he has not repaid one farthing. I went 
to his wife a month ago and said, * If you 
cannot pay me in the summer, when can you ever 
hope to do it?' But there has been no result." 
The fact is, human nature cannot be trusted in 
any class of life to repay a loan to private persons, 
and although circumstances might sometimes arise 
when a few pounds might be the salvation of a 
family, if they could be borrowed at a reasonable 
rate on a purely business footing, nevertheless any 
widespread facilities for borrowing money would 
cause infinitely more mischief than they cured. 
Tfefi_duts_and inward «pjHgW^ ^^ Hj]£:, 

the poQX,. They bow to necessity, but few of 
them even profess to like work, and most of 
the exceptions are to be found among the young 
and the elderly. Of pleasure, the best part is 
always picked out for description and comment ; 
while with regard to work, only the worst moments 


of the worst days are thought worthy of mention. 
Any person who reverses this process is looked 
on with disfavour as either crabbed, cynical, or 
aflFecting a pose. I myself felt some qualms of 
doubt as to the wholesomeness of mind of a 
schoolgirl of fourteen who described a picnic in 
these terms : " We had a long walk in the sun on 
the high road. Then it rained heavily, and after 
that we went in the forest. I saw a toad, and I 
caught a cold." 

It is a common fallacy with regard to the poor 
\ that their brain comes very early to maturity and 
generally ceases to develop about the age of sixteen. 
If I accepted this belief, I should be driven to 
the conclusion that the lower classes are hopelessly 
degenerating, and with extraordinary rapidity ; for 
everywhere I find that the middle-aged are more 
intellectual than the young, and have more decided 
and more practical views of ethical and religious 
subjects, and the old are frequently more liberal- 
minded and generally advanced than the middle- 

From the age of thirty I should be inclined to 
think that the men develop more morally and the 
women intellectually. 
I Possibly the leisure of old age has much to do 

with the greater intelligence often displayed at 
this period. Totally illiterate men have some- 


times amazed me with the keenness of their 
comments on such matters as locid politics, 
workhouse management, and the dispensing of 
public and private charity, and also with their 
extreme fluency of speech and freedom from the 
senile trick of repetition. 

Probably the most generally accurate test of 
mental culture among the poor is their oonver- 
sational power, with special reference to extent 
of vocabulary, and ignoring all irregularities 
of grammar and all peculiarities or errors of 

The number of words in common use among the 
lower classes is greatly underestimated. Learned 
men, in making their calculations, do not seem to 
grasp that the wily villager is deliberately choosing 
such words as he is sure his interlocutor will 
understand, and rejecting all those he thinks he 
will not, in addition to aU those that he has in 
frequent use, but fears a stranger may consider 
too fine for a person in his position, and all those 
which he fancies he may expose himself to ridicule 
by mispronouncing. These tendencies always have 
to be allowed for. A woman missionary, who had 
taken a considerable part in reducing an African 
language to writing, told me : " We had to stalk 
words as if they were the shyest of game. Out of 
sheer politeness, the natives — especially the women 


— would keep on using the three or four hundred 
words that we already knew, just as one would 
instinctively do in speaking to a very young child. 
I found the best way was to get them to tell me 
some of the fables and fairy-tales that they recite 
with so much verve and humour, and in the ex- 
citement of the moment they would forget my 
ignorance, and bring out words and phrases entirely 
new to me." 

As an instance of the care taken only to use 
words with which they believe their interlocutor 
to be acquainted, an old countryman, doubtful if 
I knew the meaning of foal^ substituted the 
increase of the horse. 

If one wishes to know the ordinary language of 
any poor person, one must be exceedingly careful 
never to make any remark on the subject or to 
ask any questions. In a village bakehouse I 
chanced to hear a woman say, "Where's the 
peel ? " and pick up the long wooden shovel with 
which the loaves are drawn out. I said, " I have 
not heard that word since I was seven years old. 
I remember it then in a fairy-tale." She was 
deeply offended, and for several years after she 
never spoke freely in my presence. 

Another source of error in such calculations is 

this : the inquirer observes persons of twenty or 

thirty who have had the advantage of a Board- 


school education, finds their vocabulary narrowly 
limited, and rashly concludes that older people 
of the same class would employ speech of a still 
less varied and precisely adapted nature. This is 
an entire mistake : the elders have had time to 
read more, especially newspapers, have had more 
experience of life and work, and can generally 
find abundance of words in which to clothe their 
observations and theories. *^Bad boots was the 
instigation of my illness," an old villager told me 
one day last winter. Also it must not be for- 
gotten that, Uke chUdren and foreigners, the poor 
understand and appreciate a much wider range of 
language than they use. A rich and picturesque 
vocabulary is a real pleasure to them. Plain 
Words for Plain Men and Women seems to aflford 
no mental satisfaction whatever, and to be too 
arid a spiritual food. " Not to have no language," 
is about the most damning criticism that can be 
uttered of any preacher or teacher. Shrewd, 
active-minded, unlettered persons, wishing to 
explain matters exactly without entering into 
what they consider coarse detail, often seem to 
suffer from the same kind of irritation over a gap 
in their vocabulary as is sometimes found in 
inteUigent children confronted with some new 
experience, and for polite use they greatly delight 
in the capture of general utility phrases, such as 


" The happy medium." I have often been amused 
to hear third-generation cockneys make fairly 
accurate use of nautical idioms picked up from 
myself, such as : " Give it a wide berth," " Sailing 
too close to the wind," " Not much time to veer 
and haul upon," and so on. 

The finest word I have heard in use lately came 
from a country groom. A lad was helping him 
harness a horse, and asked which of two straps he 
was to buckle first. ** Oh, it's quite immaterial," 
replied the groom. " He talks like a book " may 
often be truly said of the poor. They do; and 
very stiff* and pompous books into the bargain. I 
have many cottage neighbours who make such 
remarks as : "I see your new fence is under course 
of construction," " My son's present habitation is 
in a most saloobrious sitooation," "Our monarch 
would appear to be upon amicable terms with the 
majority of the foreign royalties." 

Often the use of this fine language is confused 
and confusing. " I have to maintain my brother 
now, as well as my father," said a vigorous, 
happy-looking woman of about forty. "Is your 
brother an invalid?" "Oh no, mum. We all 
has our health. Even father can do a day's work 
nows and thens, and he always will when he can. 
He ain't like some." "Then why does not your 
brother work ? " I asked, much scandalised " He 



do, mum. Never been out of work in his life." 
"Maintain" was simply the elegant English for 
" keep house." 

Many words used locally seem to be imitative. 
A peasant farmer's wife was taking a favourite dog 
a few miles by train one winter's night. She had 
a ticket for the animal, but did not wish him to 
go into the guard's van. "I see the station- 
master a-comin', and I didn't want no splutt with 
him, so I just cootched the dog up under my 
shawl, and he was glad of it, for he was fair 
nithered with the cold." 

As one would expect, there is great ignorance of 
all technical language, and as doctors can seldom 
free themselves from its use, patients in the poorer 
districts learn very little from them. "He said 
father's leg was chronic," a villager told me 
hesitatingly and with evident anxiety, "but I 
don't know what it mean, and I didn't like for 
to ask." "The doctor says her temperature is 
much lower," said another woman, with a burst of 
tears. Her little daughter was suffering from a 
complaint of which one of the worst symptoms is 
a high temperature. 

Most of the warnings and regulations drawn up 
by public authorities and afl&xed on notice-boards 
are totally unintelligible to the persons for whom 
they are intended; in addition, they are nearly 


always out of reach of men and women of average 
height, while the lines are so long that they add 
incalculably to the difficulties of unpractised 

Many years ago, an Oxford tutor gave me this 
rule of literary composition : ** When you have 
written a paragraph, read it over and ask yourself, 
What would the stupidest person of my acquaintance 
understand by this? Do not be satisj&ed unless 
you are sure that your meaning would be clear to 
him." On a freehand drawing-copy, of such an 
elementary nature that it can only have been 
intended for children or young workmen, I read 
this printed direction : " Special care must be 
taken to preserve the continuity of the tangential 
spirals." The sole meaning of this legend was 
that part of a vine tendril was hidden by a leaf, 
and that the pupil must make it reappear at the 
right spot. 

Differences of pronunciation usually pass un- 
marked, but a favourite expression among the poor, 
which I think has come into use quite recently, is, 
"Ah, that made him put in his aitches," used in 
the sense of " That brought him to his bearings." 
A very little girl, the daughter of an old friend, 
was spending some weeks with me. The child had 
lived much abroad, and had many peculiarities of 
accent, but her persistent neglect of the letter " h " 


was the most marked, and we began to fear that 
she did not reproduce the sound because she was 
incapable of hearing it. Our young cockney 
housemaid heard us speak of the matter, and one 
night told me complaisantly, "Miss Katie has 
said an 'h/" "Has she? What did she say?" 
" She ast me not to put the gas hout." 

One sign of the growing familiarity with printed 
language is the almost complete disuse of a 
mnemonic formerly very common among the poor. 
On hearing a new name they would say, "TU 
think of so and so " (generally something utterly 
incongruous), " and then I'll be able to call it to 
mind." For instance, an old servant heard that 
the daughter of a former employer had called her 
little girl Mona, and remarked, " Til never be able 
to remember it. Oh yes " (more hopefully), " Til 
think of ammonia." Another old servant whose 
mistress was about to give a small dinner-party 
heard her speak of entries, and said, as a friendly 
warning, "We can't have no on-trays, mum." 
"Why not?" "We ain't got no nice trays to 
hand 'em on." The same woman always called a 
conversazione a conversation-only, and considered 
it most illogical that refreshments should be 

The physical gift most rarely found among wage- 
earners is a pleasant voice. Those of them who 


have been much in contact with their social 
superiors are keenly conscious of the usual differ- 
ence in quality, and in describing their impressions 
of any lady or gentleman are far more likely to 
comment on their manner of speaking than on 
their personal appearance, which, indeed, often 
passes unnoticed. " Her voice is like music ; I 
could listen to it just for the sound of it, without 
heeding what she was saying," was the remark of 
a very brusque, noisy woman, with reference to an 
ofl&cer's wife, noted in her own circle for her beauty, 
but whose voice had always been taken as a matter 
of course. A sweet voice is the possession most 
earnestly coveted by a mother for her little girl ; 
and if the child should chance to have one harsher, 
shriller, huskier, or even louder than usual, it causes 
more maternal distress than if its toes turned in or 
its ears stuck out at right angles. 

The gjeatpowera of passive endurance developed 
by the working classes sliQwJtiieB^^ 
in the length of time that they can often support 
severe illness in circumstances most unfavourable 
to good nursing. Doctors unaccustomed to treat 
the poor in their own homes almost invariably 
underestimate the time that a dying patient will 
linger. Occasionally, I know, the opinion offered 
that " he will not be here very long," is merely a 
pious fraud on their part, intended to stimulate 



the natural aflfection of relatives whom they suspect 
of laxity or indifference ; but the warning is 
frequently uttered in cases where there can be no 
question as to the complete devotion of those in 
attendance on the sufferer. 

This insufl&ciently recognised power has practical 
consequences in nursing. I recollect one young 
surgeon, fresh from hospital, horror-stricken over 
the first patient he had ever seen dying of cancer 
neglected until operation was impracticable, and 
providing the most] elaborate dressings at his own 
expense. I said to him warningly, " I know of at 
least twelve similar cases ; you cannot continue to do 
this. You will have to depend, as we do, on clean 
boiled rags and boracic lotion. Although it seems 
impossible, the woman may linger for years." He 
would not listen ; but he was far from rich, and as 
weeks and months passed by he sent smaller and 
smaller supplies from his surgery. At last came 
a day when the husband went to his house and 
openly cursed him for sending so little. The 
family had been entirely pauperised, and we could 
not get them back on a self-supporting system, 
and ultimately the patient had to be removed to 
a Home for the Dying. 

If charitable persons would but look around 
them and realise how easy it is to pauperise 
members of the middle classes with long genera- 


tions of independence at their back, they would 
not be in such haste to enfeeble the poor by 
untimely assistance. I call to mind a school for 
professional men's daughters, a certain proportion 
of whom were elected pupils and educated for a 
merely nominal sum. Wily parents could calculate 
fairly well what chance their children had of 
success, and at twelve or thirteen, or even later, 
these girls arrived unable to read, or write, or spell, 
or sew. After nearly thirty years' experience — 
the brain of a Committee works more slowly than 
that of the slowest person adorning it— it was 
found so undesirable to place such a premium upon 
neglect that the validity of the election had to be 
subject to the girls' ability to pass an entrance 
examination. How many children had been let 
run wild on the off-chance of their election will 
never be known. 

Although covetousness is a rare failing among 
I the English poor, they nevertheless set an unduly 
high value upon money wages, and an unduly low 
one upon favourable conditions of labour, and not 
only for themselves, but for their children. Few 
indeed are the parents who will choose light and 
varied work, healthy surroundings, good moral 
influences, and a prospect of rising, in preference to 
heavy, monotonous labour carried on. in circum- 
stances likely to injure health, morals, and brain 



power, if there should be a difference of eighteen- 
pence a week in the nominal wages. It is much 
the same with girls in domestic service. The 
lodging-house keeper is rarely without eager 
applicants for the honour of serving her, while 
quiet private famiUes have the greatest difficulty in 
getting or keeping any servants. The temptation 
here is not the regular wages, which would be from 
twenty to a hundred per cent, higher in the private 
family, but because of the " tips," any irregular 
money gains affecting the imagination out of all 
proportion to their average amount. Here and 
there a wise mother protests, " She gets good wages, 
and she spends 'em, jbut what is she learning ? Her 
mistress don't teach her nothing"; but they are 
voices in the wilderness. 

If it were possible to give Council-school children 
clear ideas as to the nature and uses of money, it 
would be more valuable even than a knowledge of 
cooking, or laundry-work, or baby-tending ; for all 
these things " would be added unto them " in due 
course. Misconceptions with regard to money lie 
at the root of premature child-labour, the paid 
labour of married women, and many another 
economic error for which we all pay dearly in 
mind, and body, and soul. 

Past history furnishes us with many excuses 
for the excessive value set by the poor upon money 


wages : to have and to spend them is undoubtedly 
an essential of liberty, and perhaps it would be 
fairer to say that they set too low a value upon 
favourable circumstances of labour than that they 
think too much of its monetary reward. One has 
only to live in districts where old customs linger 
in order to realise the injustice that may even now 
be done to a man who has to accept as part of his 
wages a large garden which he has not the super- 
fluous time and strength to cultivate, bacon that 
he dislikes, and cider that he would be better 

I; have met one woman who estimated money 
at its true value, and who insisted on removing 
the husband "with one failing" from the town 
where he earned £4 a week to a village where 
he earned 35s., seven of which she saved. 
"We've no children," she said, "and 28s. is 
as much as we can spend without getting „into 
mischief." Finding that even the dingy little 
ale-house was too attractive for her husband, 
she had a quart of beer sent in every evening, 
and would invite any cheerful neighbour to 
come and share it with him; and she professed 
herself unable to get through the house work 
or even the sewing without his assistance. 
She has made a small world for him, and he 
is so contented with it that her anxieties fade 


more and more into the background of their daily 

When one begins to know the poor intimately, 
visiting the same houses time after time and 
throughout periods of as long as eight or ten years, 
one becomes gradually convinced that in the real 
essentials of morality they are, as a whole, far more 
advanced than is generally believed, but they 
range the list of human virtues in a different order 
from that commonly adopted by the more educated 
classes. Generosity ranks far before justice, 
sympathy before truth, love before chastity, a 
pliant and obliging disposition before a rigidly 
honest one. In brief, the less admixture of in- 
tellect required for the practice of any virtue, the 
higher it stands in popular estimation. 

Men and women of the upper classes do not 
realise the necessary conditions of poor people's 
lives, and, if their time has been spent exclusively 
among the well-to-do and comfortably housed, they 
fail to grasp that much that they take for an 
indispensable part of modesty and decency is only 
a convention. Families living in two rooms, or 
even one, are not necessarily more immoral than 
those renting five, and they are often extremely 
clean in person and surroundings. 

Some years before I worked in Portsmouth, 
Father Dolling roused national horror and local 


indignation by the charges brought against the 
inhabitants of certain of its districts. In the street 
most scathingly attacked, consisting for the most 
part of two-roomed dwellings, I have spent a great 
many working hours, and although Father Polling's 
influence in the town has almost as completely 
passed away as if he had never existed, I found no 
trace of the horrors that he denounced, and that 
one of his oldest friends and disciples, a business 
man in London, described to me in veiled words, 
but with shudders of loathing. In another part of 
the town bearing an exceedingly bad reputation I 
found nothing to complain of but the repellent 
manners of the denizens, and I soon learnt that 
these were strictly kept for the outside world, the 
inferiority of which, in every respect, is to them a 
patent fact. Once given the entree, they treated 
me as civilly as they did one another ; but there 
was so much genuine kindness and social feeling 
among them that there was seldom any occasion 
for the services of a nurse. 

The value commonly set upon an amiable and 
obliging disposition leads to much hypocrisy. I 
said to a girl of nineteen, finding that she had 
attended the parish church, " I understand that 
you and all your family are Baptists." "Yes, 
m'm. I went out of respex to the parson." 
Another Nonconformist, several years older 


regularly attended the Roman Catholic chapel 
to please her recently converted mistress, and 
then offered to go to an Anglican church for my 
personal gratification I 

Perhaps hypocrisy is too strong a word to use, 
as the poor rarely have any clear knowledge of 
religious doctrines. I lived in one town where all 
spoilt and wilful children, regardless of creed, were 
jsent to the Roman Catholic day school, because the 
discipline was more indulgent than at the Board 
school. The mother of one of these little rebels 
proudly asked me to hear "what a lovely lot of 
texes our Gertie can say, and her on*y six last 
August." The "texes" were the prayeisj invari- 
ably taught to all young children of that faith, and 
implied doctrines which the mother nominally held 
in abhorrence. 

Parents very generally allow their children to 
choose their own Sunday school, and to visit two 
or more if time permits, and possibly those opposed 
to one another, not merely on matters of church 
discipline, but on fundamental points of faith. 
One little girl of ten, a sixteenth and uncanijily 
clever child, did, however, overstep the boundaries 
of rational freedom when she chose a Unitarian 
school for the morning and a strongly ritualistic 
Anglican one for the afternoon. Her mother was 
seriously scandalised, and promised her a thrashing 


every time she received instruction from the 
Unitarians. She was an obstinate child^ but one 
thrashing from a practised arm was enough. She 
transferred her morning attendance to the Wes- 
leyans, and her religious studies now cover less 
widely extended ground. 

Even when my patients are very far from 
honourable, there is something disarming about 
their childish naivete. Only the other day, in the 
middle of explaining an elaborate plan for deceiving 
her husband as to the profits of a certain bargain, 
a married servant said to me, " Now, if I do say 
Fll do a thing, I do do it, and everyone that do 
know me will tell you the same. Now me husband, 
he's not straight. If anyone do act fair with me, 
I_do do the same with them." Another woman 
told me plainly, " If anyone tries to do me, I does 

To be found out is probably the only thing that 
brings home to the rank and file any clear con- 
ception of wrong-doing; but do my patients 
greatly differ in this from the children of the upper 
classes, or — in many cases— from the parents of 
those children ? 

lesty amongJihfi.^or is too narrowly limited 
in conception and practice, being generally con- 
fined to the duty of abstaining from taking literal 
possession of other people's goods ; but within these 


limits it is usually practised, and often in circum- 
stances of the strongest temptation. Except in 
certain rural districts, I have noted extreme 
rigidity in this respect ; the only possible case in 
which toleration would be shown would be in that 
of a woman driven to steal in order to feed her 
starving children. 

Nevertheless, I should say that honesty is to 
a great extent regarded as an ordinance of man, 
and it scarcely takes as high a rank as the duty 
pf Sabbath-keeping, for example. The rules with 
regard to the latter are, however, complicated and 
full of exceptions, as with all people and nations. 
I remember an Indian general who went to spend 
a week with an old schoolfellow, a Presbyterian 
minister. On Sunday morning he accompanied 
the family to church, and after the early dinner, 
either forgetting the strictness of the Scottish 
Sabbath or thinking that modern relaxation of 
the discipline reaches farther than it does, asked 
if he might take the two little girls for a walk. 
There was a horrified negative from the minister, 
and then the truly amazing concession : *' But ye 
may tak' the boys. They're just from school, 
and naebody kens them yet." 

The persons most convinced that the degrada- 
tion of the poor is not only increasing but is of 
extremely modern origin, have been deluded by 


the fact that they are brought into close personal 
contact with a much lower stratum of society than 
formerly, and they are unconsciously contrasting the 
poor of the present day with those of a past day 
decidedly above them in station. 

Few people are as clear-sighted in the matter 
as a lady now between seventy and eighty years 
of age who said to me, " When I first married, 
my servants were the daughters of small farmers 
and shopkeepers. Later on I had the daughters of 
artisans. Now I have the daughters of labourers, 
sometimes even of casual labourers, and lately I 
have had several brought up in workhouses, or 
rescued from notoriously bad surroundings.^ How 
absurd it would be to expect that, simply because 
the education of the lowest classes has considerably 
improved during the last thirty-five years, my 
present servants can equal in good sense or 
physique the ones that I used to have. The girls 
who would have been my servants in the old 
days are not extinct or * degenerate'; they are 
Board-school teachers, cashiers, milliners, post-office 
clerks, mothers' helps, and nursery governesses. I 
have lost, but they have gained; and the untrained 
labourers' daughters, who become civilised in a 
house that formerly they would have had no 
chance of entering, have gained most of all." 

**The human mind is hospitable," and side by 


side with the belief in the physical degeneracy of 
the poor lies the expectation that the poorer and 
barer a home is, the stronger will be the persons 
brought up in it and the more capable of hard 
work. This is entirely contrary to my experience. 
The power of unintelligent drudgery, of what 
working lads call ** slogging away," may some- 
times be developed in poverty-stricken homes, but 
whenever I have found a poor man or woman 
endowed with energy as well as endurance, 
I have always found either that they were 
members of a small family, or the youngest 
children of their parents, or that they were 
closely connected with the class immediately 
above them. Perhaps the last of these conditions 
is most frequently the determining factor. It 
would be difficult to say whether, as a nation, 
we owe most to the members of the middle 
classes who have risen above their station, to 
those who have maintained themselves in it, 
or to those who have intermarried with wage- 
earners, lending them fresh health, and strength, 
and vigour. I remember being amazed by the 
fierce, untiring energy with which, from year's 
end to year's end, a woman worked for eight 
turbulent boys, nursed and protected three fragile 
little girls, and managed to hold her own against 
a violent and brutal husband. One day I 


happened to see her handwriting, and then leamt 
that she was the daughter of a prosperous shop- 
keeper, cast off for her mesalliance with an artisan. 
More recently I came across the wife of an 
agricultural labourer, aged forty-three and mother 
of several nearly grown-up children, but who still 
possessed a considerable number of sound white 
teeth, a fair amount of silky brown hair, a good 
figure, and an excellent complexion, who kept her 
own well-furnished cottage in perfect order, and 
was always ready for a hard day's charing or 
washing ; in short, with the appearance and more 
than the physical strength of a matron of the 
upper classes. I was surprised to learn that her 
father had been in the same position as her 
husband, but on further questioning her I found 
that her mother had been the daughter of a 
butcher, and that none of the three children (of 
whom she was the only survivor) had been born 
until six or seven years after the marriage, by 
which time the rate of weekly wages had increased, 
and she added, with affectionate pride, " Although 
father was poor, and poor all his days, a kinder 
nor a better father never lived." 
f One of the principal charges brought against 
/ the poor, founded on much newspaper and chari- 
table report reading, is that they are cruel to 
animals and most fiendishly cruel to children. In 


all my experience I doubt if I have come across as 
many as twelve cruelly used children ; not one of 
those was persistently ill-treated, and in the worst 
case the child on being separated from her madly 
violent mother cried and fretted almost inconsolably. 
Moreover, in every instance the guilty person 
showed unmistakable signs of mental weakness, 
though it must be owned that in a certain pro- 
portion the provoking cause of this weakness was 
excessive drinking. 

With regard to animals, much that is stigmatised 
as cruelty arises from pure ignorance, and could 
have been prevented by a little timely instruction. 
In a country district I had been disturbed by the 
almost incessant howling of a half-grown puppy, 
evidently kept on the chain. At last I tracked 
the sound to a disused stable adjoining the cottage 
of a most worthy old couple. "Whose dog is 
it ? " I asked. " Oh, it's Mr. Kay's dog, what lives 
at the house at the corner." "But his house 
has been shut up for some time ? " " Yes ; he 
was called away sudden to his brother what had 
had a bad accident, and he asked us to mind the 
dog. He said he'd only be a few days, but it's 
close on seven weeks now. We tied the dog in 
the stable. We couldn't have 'un in the house." 
" No, I suppose not ; but he cries a great deal 
I can hear him half a mile away." " We feeds 'un 


reglar." " I am quite sure of that, but dogs are 
such restless creatures. Do you never let him out 
for a run ? " " We be afraid of losing 'un. They 
do say he be worth a lot." " I should like to see 
him." Rather unwillingly, they led me in. The 
stable floor was of cobble-stones, and bare except 
for a thick coating of filth. Tied to a post by a 
stout rope scarcely a yard long was a collie of not 
more than five months old. Without waiting for 
permission I unbuckled his collar, and he rushed 
through the open door on to the meadow, but had 
scarcely gone thirty yards when he stumbled and 
fell, and at the first call he returned to me. 
Impressed to some extent by my remonstrances 
and assurances, but chiefly by the sobriety and 
dejection with which he trotted along, they 
promised to leave the dog unchained, and the old 
man soon became accustomed to take it with him 
as he went to and fro from his work. By the 
time his owner returned the animal was in fairly 
good condition, but never entirely outgrew the 
deformity produced by the constant straining on 
the rope. 

One admirable though often most illogical trait 

among the English poor is their unhesitating, 

instinctive championship of the weaker side. 

" Hit him hard ; he's got no friends ! " was never 

i uttered except as the wildest jest. It has been 


well observed that vce victis has never become 
a familiar tag of Latin in any English-speaking 
country. I remember a French waiter asked by a 
too vehement mees to " run and do " something for 
her, rejoining solemnly, "Mademoiselle, if I ran, 
I might fall down ; if I fell, I might break my leg ; 
if I broke my leg, all the world would cry quel 
imbecile ! " — a judgment that would certainly not 
suggest itself to any of my patients or their 

On perceiving that the balance of kindliness does 
not turn exactly as our prejudices would have 
led us to believe, the more highly developed 
nervous system of the educated classes will be 
brought forward in our defence ; but when one 
considers the many alleviations of life among the 
well-to-do, and the ceaseless irritations, embitter- 
ments, and hardships among the poor, there is little 
reason to accuse them or to excuse ourselves. 
/ On first acquaintance, the poor strike one as 
/singularly deficient in worldly wisdom, often 
seeming to be without even that rudimentary 
sense which would show them "which side their 
bread is buttered." One may modify the opinion 
later on, but I doubt if the bulk of them are as far 
advanced in the art as the average child of the 
upper classes. My first lesson in it was received 
from a little girl who — most deservedly, no doubt 


— afterwards became a bishop's wife. She had 
acquired great credit among all the mothers and 
aunts in the parisE by devoting herself every 
Sunday afternoon to the care of her two little 
next-door neighbours — fat, heavy, over-dressed, 
uninteresting children of four and six. I was 
among her admirers myself, until one fatal after- 
noon when I was sent with a message to her mother, 
who asked me to go and sit with "that dear 
good Fanny " while she wrote a reiply. " That dear 
good Fanny " was seated in a comfortable arm-chair 
in the cool, shady drawing-room, reading aloud to 
her two proteges, who were seated bolt upright on 
high chairs with their fat white legs and shiny 
buttoned boots dangling miserably. I knew the 
book she was reading, and felt a pang of pity for 
the weary victims of her kindness, and protested, 
"Fanny, Fm sure they can't understand a word 
of it." " Hush ! Don't tell them that. I want to 
read it myself" I returned home to my own 
story-book, freed from self-reproach, and able to 
hear what a " most unselfish girl Fanny is " without 
forming any virtuous resolutions — so uncomfortable 
either to make or break. 

Nevertheless, I believe that the poor have a 
nameless sense of the infinite complications and 
interweavings of their own social life, and that it 
is this, quite as much as any baser quality, which 


produces the extreme slowness and indirectness 
with which the average member of the working 
classes deals with any difficulty not exclusively 
affecting his own family. The would-be reformer, 
after listening to their complaints, asks with 
impatient wonder, "Have you told the police?" 
"Have you sent for the sanitary inspector?" and 
rages over the impossibility of making any head- 
way against what may to a great extent be in- 
stinctive worldly wisdom. 

Procrastinatio n is th e rule, not the exception, 
among all uneducated persons, and it adds ^eatly 
to the severity and danger of any acute illness by 
which they or their children may be attacked, and 
is one of the most fruitful causes of blindness and 
deformity. It often takes weeks and months to 
persuade a mother that certain treatment ought 
to be undergone by one of her children. As long 
as her mental and moral objections hold out, one's 
patience may last ; but it is apt to give way under 
the unexpected strain of discovering that however 
close the tie may be between conviction and inaction, 
there is no necessary connection between conviction 
and active measures .of any useful kind whatever. 

Although there is a measureless amount of 
passive endurance among the poor, there is little 
courage of a stirring and enterprising nature. 
They can repel, but they rarely attack; they can 


bear cruel pain, but make no vigorous or toilsome 
eflfort to remove its cause. At heart they are 
fatalists, and consider the struggle for amelioration 
impious as well as useless. They watch the strivings 
of the vigorous-minded minority with dismal fore- 
\ bodings and prophecy. Success proves nothing, but 
\ when failure comes — as it sometimes must even to 
\the bravest and strongest — the sight rivets their 
iphains afresh, and seems to afford an almost in- 
explicable sense of satisfaction. 

Nevertheless, while unbounded credulity remains 
such a marked mental peculiarity among the poor, 
one should be thankful for the width of the gulf 
that exists between vehement belief and even the 
tamest action. Domestic and civic peace would be 
ceaselessly endangered if it were not for this saving 
weakness of temperament. 


Our Masters' Rulers 

Our masters are not really our masters, for the 
simple reason that they find it too much trouble ; 
but their rulers love dominion, and exercise it 
rigorously all through childhood and youth, 
though generally with decreasing severity as they 
rise in years. There is a general prejudice among 
the rich that the poor are bad-tempered, especially 
the men, and that the children suflfer accordingly ; 
but no close observer will admit that there is any 
wide foundation for the opinion. 

I remember hearing the captain of a training 
ship say of a man whose duty it was to give very 
elementary instruction in seamanship, ** I shall land 
that fellow Black as soon as I can. I feel sure he 
drinks; he is so irritable with the boys in the 
morning." How many upper-class schoolmasters 
would be convicted of drinking to excess if this 
were the test ! Taken as a whole, the labouring 
classes are better-tempered by nature than the 



professional classes, freer from all forms of nervous 
irritability and less exigeant, and they often ac- 
quire great self-command under provocation. A 
young girl was complaining at home of what she 
had to " put up with " in her place, and her grey- 
haired father, who for the sake of wife and children 
had managed never to be a day out of work for 
nearly thirty years, said with such kindness and 
melancholy that she never forgot it, " My dear, if 
you knew the insults that / have to put up 
with ! " 

The poor are perhaps chiefly misjudged in this 
respect owing to their voice, which is ordinarily 
of a harsh or thin quality, and over which they 
quickly lose such small command as they ever 
acquire. It must be owned that this equable 
temper is partly a quality of their defects. The 
anger of an educated person is often more easily 
roused because he has the clear and instant vision 
of the full consequences of an act which is denied 
to a less cultured imagination, or because it offends 
an aestheticism, or a sense of abstract justice, or an 
idealism entirely alien to the working-man's sphere 
of thought and feeling. 

The popular idea of a working-class mother is of 
a person always threatening her children with 
bodily chastisement, while the father inflicts it 
heavily and frequently, whether with or without 


these loudly shouted warnings. In literature of 
an evangelical-sentimental type, the mother, more 
especially if a consumptive widow or the wife of a 
drunkard, is often allowed an almost impossible 
range of virtues ; but it is rare for any father 
below a tolerably well-defined rank in society to be 
allowed any merits at all. After many years' close 
acquaintance with them, the chief complaint that 
I have to make against the ordinary father and 
mother is of weak and excessive indulgence 
towards their children, and the rarity with which 
they make any steady or serious attempts to 
inculcate obedience. Frequently a young child's 
response to an unwelcome command from its 
mother is a slap or a kick, delivered with all its 
puny strength, and the renowned Bella Wilfer is 
by no means the only person who has used her 
bonnet to discipline a father of a rougher type 
than the Cherub. One day last summer an artisan 
drove seven miles to do an hour's work at my 
house. He brought a boy of five, and left him 
in the garden with strict orders to remain there. 
Four times in about twenty minutes the child 
interrupted his father by creeping into the hall 
and uttering loud and insistent cries of " Dad ! " 
The fourth time the father carried him out, 
threatening punishment if he returned. " Til give 
you a goo' smack if you don't mind what you're 


about," was the prompt retort — which finally 
provoked a slap that might have disturbed a grain 
of dust, but certainly would not have alarmed a 
house-fly. The child cried, chiefly from anger. 
"YouVe got to learn 'em," said the father, in 
rueful apology. 

If the unbounded indulgence merely lasted for 
the first few years, and if the ways of spoilt 
babies were silently dropped at the age of six or 
seven, as we are assured they are in Japan, and as 
we can see for ourselves that they are in France, 
the matter might not be of much consequence ; but 
although the particular forms in which the uncon- 
trolled self-will is exhibited generally change when 
the children reach school age and come under school 
discipline for a few hours every day, the root of the 
evil remains. Obedience and the freedom found 
in submission to lawful authority have never been 
learnt, and all through their lives the children 
must suffer from this lack of early training. No 
warning seems severe enough to afiect the parents. 
In one many-childed household the utter defiance 
of the three youngest chUdren and the wilfulness 
of the remainder appeared to be a standing joke 
to both father and mother. A year ago a girl of 
fourteen stole a candle from the kitchen drawer 
and used it (without a candlestick) to read by 
after she was in bed. She fell asleep, and woke 


enveloped in flames. The poor child suffered 
terribly and has entirely lost the use of one arm, 
but no change is observable in the parents' system 
of education, I found that the only lesson that an 
intelligent girl of nine had been able, unaided, to 
draw from the occurrence was that " mother hadn't 
ought to of sent her to bed so early." 

As an example of the almost incredible extent 
to which the children are spoilt : a lad, just of 
working age, and the son of most frugal and 
industrious parents, went to " live in " at a small 
livery stable six miles from his home. A few 
weeks later the master's wife heard that his father 
was dangerously ill, and at once offered him a 
day's leave to go and see his parents, and gave 
him a present of two shillings to take to his 
mother, and several little things for the younger 
children. She gathered from indistinct mutterings 
and grumblings that he did not choose to walk so 
far, and told him that he might ride what was called 
the "old horse," not on account of decrepitude, 
as it was still in full work, but to distinguish it 
from two which had been more recently purchased. 
The boy asked to have the "young horse" 
instead, and when his mistress demurred, as it 
was an animal worth quite £50, declared sulkily 
that he would not go at all unless he could 
have it. The mistress finally yielded, because 


she thought the parents would be cruelly wounded 
by his heartlessness if he stayed away, and nothing 
would have induced her to mention his conduct 
to them. The tale was related by the boy directly 
he reached home, and he was highly applauded 
by both parents for his "spirity behaviour." 

In all times of illness the results of previous 
indulgence come prominently into view, and are 
almost impossible to combat. When father or 
mother is ill in bed, the usual system with regard 
to the children seems to be to bribe them to 
remain out of doors from morning till night. It 
is rare to find any boy or any girl under thirteen 
who make themselves of use on these occasions, 
or who do not seize the opportunity of being 
" more than common " troublesome, not from cal- 
culated malice, but from sheer indiscipline. 

With regard to the children themselves, these 
results are often fatal. In one instance, two much- 
spoiled brothers of nine and eleven had severe 
attacks of scarlatina. The elder was removed to 
a fever hospital, where, overawed by strangers, 
he yielded implicit obedience and made a good 
recovery. The younger boy began by refusing 
all medicine and ended by refusing all nourish- 
ment, and died on the ninth day of his illness, to 
the lasting and intense grief of his parents. A 
private nurse who had had much experience with 


boys told me that obstinate refusal of food is common 
among them when suflFering from scarlet fever. I 
asked her how she dealt with it, and she said, " If 
the doctor says they must eat, I stand by the 
bedside, and tell them that however long they 
keep me waiting, I cannot leave them for a 
moment until his orders are obeyed." But in 
cottage homes no one with the leisure or the 
determination is to be found. 

The difficulty of getting children to eat nourish- 
ing food is always present, but reaches its height 
when they are thirteen or fourteen. In well-to- 
do wbrking-class homes anaemia is sadly prevalent, 
and it is chiefly due to lack of all discipline with 
regard to meals. The children eat what they like 
and when they like, and then at fifteen or sixteen 
the distressed parents have to spend their hardly 
earned and hardly saved money on Burgundy, 
chicken, and fish. 

The parents, especially the mother, are not 
always entirely disinterested; they are to some 
extent aflfected by the common fallacy that the 
more you do for anyone the more grateful you 
may expect him to be. I have never been able 
to discover any proportion between benefits 
bestowed and gratitude experienced. When 
people enduring a neglected and poverty-stricken 
old age have told me that they " sacrificed every- 


thing for their children," I have sometimes 
wondered what "everything" was, and whether 
they had any right to sacrifice it. 

I have often been asked if I believed it to be 
possible for ordinary wage-earners to provide for 
their old age. To answer such a question with 
any fulness would require special study; I can 
only reply that nearly everyone could make some 
provision, and that those who do already make 
some provision might easily make more. I 
maintain that the younger children of a family 
are nearly always less happy than the elder, and 
yet money is constantly lavished upon them which 
ought to have been saved for their parents' 
declining years. As soon as the eldest child is 
self-supporting, the parents should begin to 
think of themselves, even if they cannot do so 
from the very beginning of their married life. 
When I have seen parents providing bicycles, 
pianos, sUk blouses, and many other things that 
the elder ones of the family never had or missed, 
paying for music lessons, and allowing serious 
work to be indefinitely pos;poned, I have reminded 
them of the wholesomely .bitter old German 
proverb : " One father can support twelve children, 
but twelve children cannot support one father." 

In cases where I have known them and all 

their circumstances really well, I have sometimes 


ventured on a still more personal form of argu- 
ment, and asked, " What reason have you to 
believe that your children will be more willing to 
support you in your old age than you have been 
to support your parents in theirs ? According to 
their power, your parents did as much for you, and 
you acknowledge that they treated you kindly. 
Consult your own heart and your own memory, 
and be warned in time. Give your children only 
what is fair and right, provide for yourselves, and 
your old age will be respected as it should be. 
Your children will be all the happier, and you will 
take a proper position with regard to your grand- 
children. Can you bear to think that you will 
live to be treated as you see other old people 
treated — your little habits scoflFed at, your opinions 
set at naught? It is not by bribery and over- 
indulgence that you will save yourselves from 
such a fate. If you had but half a crown a week 
of your own for life, you would find that it was 
'worlds away' from having nothing." 

But they are deaf. And not only parents are 
lacking in foresight, for the comparatively few 
unmarried women are just as unwise in their 
attitude towards nephews and nieces. In one 
house (rented at five shillings a week) where there 
was an especial abundance of cameras, musical 
instruments, sewing-machines, etc., I was told : 


" Their aunt gives 'em to 'em. She's no one else 
to think of, bein' an old maid, as you may say." 
In her case there was not even a decent pretence 
that gratitude would ever arise in the recipients ! 

That "children must not suflFer" is the pass- 
word of every educationist of the present day, and 
because their predecessors expressed themselves 
differently, they dare to doubt that their love and 
solicitude were as great. The old-fashioned parent 
tried to keep his children from suffering by brac- 
ing and hardening their feelings and discouraging 
undue sensitiveness ; the modern parent tries to 
save them by protecting them from everything 
that could wound that sensitiveness. Let us be 
just, and own that one method fails as often as 
the other did ; less is done that could hurt . the 
children's feelings, but it takes less and less to 
wound their almost morbid susceptibilities. 

Some years since an occasion for national 
mourning occurred suddenly. In a village where 
I happened to be staying the day was to have been 
one of local rejoicing. A married woman, mother 
of several children, said to me, " The Committee 
have indefinitely postponed all the entertainments 
except the tea and sports for the children, which 
are to take place as arranged. I do not call it 
right: it is a time of sorrow, and why are the 
children not to bear their share ? " Remembering 


the keenness of childish disappointments, I was 
inclined to think her hard, but I recognise now 
that to have shared — even involuntarily — ^in their 
country's grief would have been a dignified memory 
throughout their lives. Some months later the 
postponed rejoicings took place, and, to my friend's 
renewed indignation, a fresh entertainment was 
provided for the children. " The Committee have 
sunk even below the level of teaching them that 
you cannot eat your cake and keep it too ! " she 

And even if it were right, is it practicable to 
exempt childhood from suflfering? In my youth 
I heard many of my contemporaries say, "My 
children shall never suflFer as I have done " ; but 
when the time came, not only did they learn that 
education is a much more complicated matter than 
they had supposed, but their children were so 
unlike themselves that the simple plan — the only 
one with which they were prepared — of reversing 
the system^ on which they themselves had been 
brought up, was doomed to failure. They, perhaps, 
had suflfered from dulness, monotony, and repres- 
sion ; are their children's griefs and grievances any 
less real because they are chiefly connected with 
excitement and over-stimulation ? " When the 
mind's at ease, the body's delicate," and when the 
body is at ease, the mind is often too susceptible 


to every passing cloud. Leaving all extremes of 
harshness and severity and unbending rigidity of 
system out of the question, it is open to doubt 
whether children treated with invariable tender- 
ness do not suffer far more acutely than those 
who meet with less meticulous care and considera- 
tion. I read a long story the other day of a 
mother who spent hours over the weighty question 
as to whether, and when, and how, she could 
venture to warn her little daughter against the ugly 
habit of sniffing ! Among all classes I have found 
a hypersensitiveness among indulgently treated 
children which quite turned the balance with 
regard to their happiness. I call to mind especi- 
ally the families of two country labourers living 
about a hundred yards apart. In the one household 
the mother anxiously avoided what she called 
"hardening" the children, with the result that 
she could not speak sharply to any one of them 
without exciting floods of tears, followed by 
mental depression lasting for the rest of the day. 
In the other cottage father and mother alike were 
ready with hand and tongue, but not one of the 
family was ever known to be out of spirits for half 
an hour at a time. One of them, aged ten, told 
me cheerfully : "I used to have a hiding 'most 
every day because I was so mistiful [mischievous], 
but it's Bob who gets the most lickings now." 


Perhaps one reason why the poor are apt to 
over-indulge their children is because they see so 
much of them that they are unconscious of their 
failings. Boys and girls of the upper classes 
are frequently told that the less they are seen and 
heard by their elders, especially their father, the 
better they will be liked ; and those who tell them 
this seem to believe that because working-men have 
to see and hear so much of their children, day and 
night, that they must inevitably love them little. 
This is an entire mistake : the more men see of 
young children, outside working hours, the better 
they understand them and the stronger their attach- 
ment. Sailors, although from certain points of view 
good fathers, are on the whole cool and indifferent 
to their children, intensely critical, and inclined to 
be extremely jealous of them ; soldiers are more 
demonstratively affectionate fathers and more 
tolerant of childish weaknesses, but cannot well 
bear comparison with civilians. Among civilians, 
again, the man with long and uncertain hours of 
work never cares as much for his family as the man 
who rarely leaves home before they are awake and 
returns before they are asleep. 

" Except on Sundays, and perhaps for a short 
time in the summer, I never see my children by 
daylight," complained a civilian father. " What's 
that ? " growled a sailor sourly. " Often for three 


years at a stretch I haven't seen mine by any kind 
of light at all." 

In all ranks of life the sailor father is to be pitied, 
as he is commonly regarded as an intruder. I 
remember a little girl of five years old going to a 
favourite aunt the day after her father's return from 
foreign service with the fretful complaint : " That 
Cwoth old man has come to my howth again ! " 
Quite recently a boy of seven connected with the 
same family asked his nurse anxiously, " When is 
that cross old man going away again ? " In the 
first case the father was about forty, and in the 
second considerably under that age. 

Notwithstanding the indulgence of working-class 
fathers to young children, and the general absence 
of any severity when they are older, mothers almost 
invariably rank first in the children's affection. A 
man who had been a mission worker for twenty 
years, specially devoting himself to young people 
past the age of childhood, told me : " If at a 
prayer-meeting I ask, 'For whom shall I pray?' 
the answer comes like a shot : * For mother.' I 
have to prompt and suggest before they add * and 
father.' " 

Mothers sometimes weary of the constant 
presence of their children, and for this reason 
shortened church services or brief attendances at 
Sunday school are not approved of, "A nower, 


or a nowner'n a quarter at the outside; why, it 
ain't worth dressin' 'em for. They're back again 
worritin' before Fve time to look round." On the 
other hand, short services are greatly appreciated 
by young men and women. One girl expressed 
the general regret over a certain clergyman's pro- 
longed illness, and the great dissatisfaction with 
his substitute. As he had been many years in the 
parish, I took this for affection and loyalty until 
she explained : " Rector he do do it over faster. 
We had ought to be out by ten minutes to eight 
hy rights:' 

I think there can be no doubt that the co- 
education now so common in elementary schools, 
especially in the country, does much to raise the 
standard of courage among girls — I mean courage of 
the kind that resists personal unkindness. In mere 
daring I have always found young country girls 
incontestably the superiors of their brothers and 
cousins, and the quality shows itself more particu- 
larly in their bold handling of animals ; they will 
deal fearlessly with strange dogs, or harness strange 
ponies, when a lad of the same age shrinks nervously 
at every suspicious movement, asking, '* Will it bite? 
Does it kick ? " But this quality is quite distinct 
from the courage demanded to resist an injury that 
also inflicts an inward wound. A girl educated at 
one of these schools told me that a certain womaa's 


husband beat her sometimeTs. I expressed great 
commiseration. " But," she added, " she isn't a bit 
afraid o' he. If he do give her a good smack, she do 
give he another," and I gathered that this was the 
usual custom in the neighbourhood if husbands so 
far forgot themselves, which was rather rare. 

Altogether a prouder type of character is fostered, 
for the same girl, told me : " When mother slapped 
me, she did use to say I was hardened because I 
didn't never cry. I always did cry afterwards, but 
I wouldn't let she see me." 

In considering the children of the working classes, 
one warning is especially necessary if we would pro- 
nounce a just verdict : the rich are apt to judge the 
poor too exclusively by the conduct of the young. 
The general argument appears to be : " Huge sums 
of money and enormous eflFort have^been expended 
upon the education of these girls and boys, and yet 
they are rough, noisy, coarse, idle, ungrateful, and 
with no thought of the future. How much worse 
their elders must be, how much worse they them- 
selves will be in a few years' time, when all trace of 
school discipline has vanished ! " Are their own chil- 
dren at the age of sixteen or eighteen all that they 
would like them to be ? Are they as useful, or even 
as generally agreeable, members of society as they 
may be confidently expected to become during the 
following ten or fifteen years ? Then how can they 



expect the early training of the poor to be so perfect 
and complete that there is no room left for the work 
wrought by experience ? With the poor as with the 
rich life is the great teacher, and education is only 
the attempt, more or less well adapted, to place 
children in such a position and to supply them with 
such principles that they will rapidly profit by the 
lessons which in the course of nature must come 
to them. 

It should never be forgotten that the children of 
the poor are not born grown up, nor are they even 
precocious ; physically, mentally, and morally they 
are slower in development than those bom of long 
generations of educated men and women ; and how 
faulty and imperfect the latter are we know from 
conscience, observation, and personal memory. 

Some of the Causes of Infant Mortality 

When the general public is worked up to a 
momentary interest in the fact that fifty thousand 
infants of less than a year old have died in one 
town within ten years, they seem to form the 
impression that this implies the existence of fifty 
thousand mothers ignorant, careless, cruel, or in 
a state of helpless poverty. They are under a 
delusion somewhat resembling that which made 
a lady say to an elderly widow, " Two thousand 
divorces ! That means four thousand whole families 
tainted and disgraced, perhaps sixty or seventy 
members in each, besides the two thousand homes 
utterly broken up." " My dear," she replied, " you 
cannot calculate it in that way. Divorce and 
separation and elopement, and all that kind of 
thing, run in families like gout or consumption or 
shadiness in money matters. A single family in a 
single generation may supply a dozen instances." 
In district work I have rarely been in a house 




half an hour before I am told how many children 
the mother has, the number she has lost, if any, 
their age at death, and its immediate cause. Over 
and over again I find families of all sizes, from two 
and three up to fourteen or fifteen, unbroken by the 
death of a single child under the age of ten years. 
On the other hand, within a very short space of 
time I came across a girl of nineteen who had 
already lost three infants ; young women of twenty- 
four and twenty-five (cousins) who had each done 
the same ; a woman of twenty-eight who had 
" buried six " ; an older woman who had lost eleven, 
** only one of them old enough to say * ma ' " ; and 
another who had lost fourteen out of eighteen. 
Six women had thus already accounted for thirty 
premature deaths. As more than half of them 
were young, and even the eldest openly expressed 
her desire to have three more children, " So's I can 
say IVe had twenty-one," while showing complete 
indifference as to whether they and the miserable 
remnant of the eighteen lived or died, they will 
probably at least double this death-roll before 
their own lives end. 

In the present outcry with regard to infant 
mortality it seems also to be taken for granted 
that the death of every infant might, with a 
reasonable amount of maternal care, have been 
prevented, and that its continued existence would 


necessarily have been a joy to itself, a satisfaction 
to its family, and a benefit to the community. If 
it dies, al] the blame is thrown upon the mother, 
and little or no attention is given either to prenatal 
conditions, which cause the birth of so many infants 
unfitted to struggle with the ordinary difficulties 
of human existence, or to general surroundings, over 
which the mother has practically no control, and 
which may nullify her most anxious and pains- 
taking efforts. A large proportion of the direct 
attempts to save infant life are doomed to failure 
because the feeble little plants will wither whatever 
is done for them, or are injurious to the State 
because they will prolong miserable existences to 
the period of childhood or early youth, or in the 
" successful " instances enable them to live just 
long enough for their progeny to continue the 
enormous death-rate and to fill workhouse schools 
and orphan asylums with physically and mentally 
defective children. The already discredited pana- 
cea — sterilised milk, the provision of pure milk, 
incubators, etc. — are about as useful as ointment on 
a broken leg. What we have to do is to improve 
the general conditions of life, and then healthy 
babies will be born, and will hold their own against 
the normal number of germs without any scientific 
tampering with their fL. 

A healthy infant, wherever it makes its appear- 


ance, is an extraordinarily tough little creature, 
but, as someone remarked before bacilli were knowii 
to dance by the million on every needle's point, 
** Babes are fed on milk and praise." Unless the 
mother is healthy, they cannot have the first ; and 
unless all her time is given up to her family, they 
cannot have the last. In homes where wives are 
not wage-earners, the children are all bom kings 
and queens, and reign absolutely until deposed by 
their successor, and even then they still reign over 
some aunt or grandmother or childless neighbour. 

The working-class mother is too commonly 
addressed as if infant-rearing were as simple and 
certain a matter as the addition of two and two. 
Cases often occur where she may be excused for 
believing that it is a much more complicated 
problem that she is called on to solve, and |}iat 
some of the factors are not only unknown to her 
and her critics, but are extremely obscure to 
scientists. Just eighteen months ago, a boy and 
a girl were bom during the same spell of bitter 
wintry weather, in cottages side by side, each with 
the same damp stone-paved kitchen and the same 
wretched, fireless bedrooms. Boy and girl alike 
were the eighth children of women well over forty 
years of age, and were received by the same 
untrained midwife. The boy's mother was drunk 
many times during the months preceding his birth. 


and had several furious quarrels with her husband, 
a heavy drinker (not a drunkard) and a very 
violent man. He had knocked her down at least 
three times, and once at midnight, armed with a 
knife, had chased her round the back yard threaten- 
ing to kill her. The house and everything 
connected with it was indescribably dirty, and 
cooking was a totally neglected art. The woman 
was drunk when the child was born, drunk two 
days after his birth, and walking about the village 
a week later. When the boy was a few months 
old she was often so stupid with drink that, as the 
neighbours expressed it, " She don't know the poor 
child's head from its heels." One man assured me 
that he had met her carrying it head downwards, 
and another father of a much-cherished family 
told me : "It made me shiver to see her handle the 
poor little beggar. I took it from her arms and 
roared at her to try and bring her to her senses." 
When the child was vaccinated, she was in such a 
condition that with the doctor's eye still upon her 
she deliberately wiped away the vaccine from its 
arm. For some totally inexplicable reason, that 
boy was born healthy, and has remained so, and 
there is every prospect of his growing up. 

The girl-baby had dober parents of a kind and 
affectionate disposition. As soon as her arrival 
was even distantly anticipated, the mother gave up 


her only bad habit — an occasional heavy day's 
scouring or washing for a neighbouring farmer's 
wife— and the husband, who wa^ very boyish for 
his forty odd years, relinquished his favourite 
amusement, " taking rises out of the missus," and 
lent a willing hand in the house work. The child 
was idolised and waited on by the entire family ; 
** If she was a queen," said the neighbours, " they 
couldn't do more for her." The father even insisted, 
a most unusual precaution among the poor, that 
she was to be taken out of doors twice a day, 
weather permitting, and that she was to go at 
least a mile away, " and not always be breathing 
the air round about the house." Nevertheless, she 
was continually ailing, and died four months ago. 
How soothing it will be for those parents if some 
morning a girl health visitor arrives to instruct the 
mother, or — an infinitely worse and more galling 
insult — the Mayor of the nearest town oflFers her a 
guinea if her next child should attain the age of 
twelve months ! 

A favourite suggestion, intended to cope with 
the ignorance of the lowest class of mother, is to 
teach the care of babies to all little girls at an 
age when decent working-class parents pride them- 
selves on their children's complete ignorance of the 
physical facts of life. It may or may not be an error 
of judgment on their part, but we have no more 


right to force such instruction upon their children 
with what they consider unseemly prematureness 
than we have to instU rigid dogmatic religion 
with equal unsuitability to their state of mental 
development. Such matters are best taught at 
continuation schools, at lectures on nursing, mothers' 
meetings, etc. In private houses, if the husband 
was less ignorant and prejudiced than the wife, I 
sometimes found it best to bestow all instruction 
upon him, and leave him to see that it was put 
into practice. Men of the upper classes do not 
in the least realise how much working-men care 
for their infant children, and how much they do 
for them. In numberless homes, if the baby gets 
a scratch or a bruise, or meets with any of the 
almost inevitable ups and downs of child life, the 
mother's first exclamation is : " What'U her father 
say when he comes home ? " And it is often the 
father's powers as cook and sick nurse which 
decide whether an ailing infant and its suffering 
mother shall live or die. 

With regard to needless and avoidable loss of 
infant life, one of the most fruitful causes is 
illegitimacy. What the mental and moral value 
might have been of the enormous number of 
nameless children who perish from neglect, 
poverty, ignorance, or wilful cruelty, no one can 
presume to say, but a very large proportion of 


them are the offspring of young and vigorous 
persons^ and as a class they are bom healthy and 
with physical powers rather above than below the 
average. The usual poverty of the mother, and the 
practical impossibility of at once earning a living 
for a child and taking care of it night and day, 
account for many deaths, ignorance for many 
more, but lack of affection and a bitter sense of 
injustice probably cause most of all. Maternal love 
is largely supported by maternal pride and by all 
the props of family life, and can rarely stand 
without them. Except in sentimental fiction, the 
unmarried mother seldom pays her child all the 
compensating tenderness that she owes to it, and 
the father s duties are as a rule entirely evaded. 
Even if marriage subsequently takes place between 
the parents, I believe it would be found upon 
examination that the death-rate among these 
eldest children, and the physical condition of the 
survivors — a point of more lasting importance — 
would not bear comparison with that of their 
younger brothers and sisters. As an experienced 
Londoner briefly expressed the matter : " Talk o' 
stepmothers, why, they aren't in it with womei^ 
whoVe got a child born before marriage and a 
child born after. If the first one lives — and most 
often it don't — it's just a slave to the others." 
Anything that tends to the reduction of illegiti- 


macy — ^whether improved general education, the 
efficient protection of weak-minded girls, higher 
wages of women, or earlier marriage of men — must 
also tend to the reduction of infant mortality. 

One source of loss is too commonly overlooked 
or underrated. If a poor woman dies in her con- 
finement, the child almost invariably follows her 
within a period measured at most by weeks. Nor 
is this all. The surviving children rarely fail to 
suffer in health, the younger ones from want of 
maternal care and love, the elder ones from over- 
work and mental overstrain. Most of these 
deaths are not merely preventable but easily pre- 
ventable, as every doctor and skilled midwife 
knows. A, little more rest, a little more warmth, 
a little more cleanliness of the plain soap-and- water 
and open-window description, and these lives and 
all that depended upon them would have been 

The paid labour of married women, more 
especially of factory workers, leads inevitably to 
great loss of infant life, and lasting injury to the 
originally vigorous survivors. The mother who 
has nothing to do but look after her home and her 
children does not invariably do it, but the factory 
hand cannot^ even if she destroys her own health 
in the ceaseless struggle to accomplish duties not 
only excessive but incompatible. One of my 


earliest social recollections is of overhearing a 
highly placed official relate, with much feeling, 
how a pretty and healthy baby of seven months 
old had literally fretted itself to death, while its 
mother — sorely against her will — had worked ten 
hours a day in a rope factory for wages of ten 
shillings a week 

How can a mother possibly aflFord to pay for as 
good attendance for her children as she could give 
them herself if she remained at home ? And if she 
cannot do this, what profit is there in her work ? 
If the child is left at home, the probability is that 
it is under the charge of some person either young 
and ignorant or old and feeble, or why should they 
accept the work and the rate of payment ? There 
are fundamental objections to crfeches as to every 
means of palliating and therefore prolonging evUs 
that need not exist, but I will simply mention an 
obvious and practical one, which ought to appeal to 
every mother. In order to benefit by a crfeche, 
infants have to be carried through the streets at times 
fixed by the mother's working hours and entirely re- 
gardless of weather or the season of the year. 

Home industries are injurious to child life, and 
not always in a less degree than factory work, for 
not only are the mother's time and attention taken 
up by the work, but the air, light, and space of the 
dwelling. Moreover, the mother probably toils 


much longer hours for considerably smaller pay 
than if she were under factory regulations, thus 
injuring her health far more, and affecting that of 
her children, born and unborn. 

My attention was first drawn in London to the 
disastrous effects of home industries upon child 
life by the chance testimony of a professional 
masseuse. I had asked her if she seriously 
believed in the value of her work as a whole, 
and she replied frankly, " I think it is mainly 
humbug, and that is why I am giving it up for 
general nursing. I once had a case which they 
called infantile paralysis, and the treatment cured 
it, but I don't think massage had much to do with 
the result. The mother was a respectable and 
well-meaning woman, but a voluntary wage-earner, 
and the chUd was of rather a passive, sluggish 
disposition. She called it "good," and was only 
too glad to let it lie still, sleeping or waking. 
When it was nearly three, the father suddenly 
woke up to the fact that it ought to be running to 
meet him at that age, and sent for a doctor, who 
sent for me. I went through the form of massage, 
and in six weeks the child could walk ; but I 
honestly believe that all the good I did was done 
simply by playing with it and exciting it, as the 
mother ought to have been doing from the time it 
was a few months old." 


The mere fact that the home worker generally 
requires all the light that there is, and drives the 
children from the position by the window that they 
would naturally choose, reacts unfavourably on 
their health. I remember inducing one mother to 
allow her invalid child to take possession of the 
sunny bow window of the little front parlour 
instead of keeping her in the kitchen, and far away 
from its four small panes of glass ; and as great an 
improvement resulted in the child's health, and 
spirits, and intelligence as if the first step had been 
taken in pauperising the parents by paying for a 
three months' visit to the seaside. 

Neglect, resulting in paralysis or deformity, is 
especially likely to occur either with only children 
or in the exclusively boy families of which one 
comes across so many. If there is any girl avail- 
able, old enough to carry or in any way convey a 
baby from one spot to another, the child victim to 
home industries is most likely to succumb to 
bronchitis or pneumonia, owing to its being sent 
out of doors in unfit weather and at unsuitable 
hours and kept out for an unreasonable time. 

If obstinate enough to survive this treatment, 
the infant is sent regularly to school at three, or 
even less, to run the gauntlet of measles, scarlatina, 
diphtheria^ etc., although it is notorious that an 
enormously large proportion of fatal cases occur 


between the ages of three and five, and that if a 
child can be completely protected until the begin- 
ning of his sixth year, he is far less likely to suflFer 
seriously from these diseases if he should unfor- 
tunately contract them. 

In all classes of home industries, and at all ages, 
the children suffer from the moral and physical 
neglect inevitably caused by the fact that they 
have ceased to be their mother's first and most 
important consideration. Some months ago I was 
quite at a loss to account for the ragged, dirty, 
stunted, and half-starved appearance of five little 
boys ranging in age from four to thirteen. I knew 
that the father's wages were only a guinea a week, 
and the house rent was four shillings, but the 
poverty was not marked enough to account for the 
rags and dirt. At last I learned that the mother's 
whole time, Saturday afternoons and Sundays 
excepted, was spent in scouring the floors of a 
neighbouring institution,' for which work she 
received eleven shillings a week and perquisites. 
If money alone would have provided what the 
children needed, they would have been better off 
than four-fifths of their sturdy, well-cared -for little 

In almost every case where I have observed 
children decidedly below the average of their street 
or village I have discovered either that the mother 


was a wage-earner, an excessive drinker, or feeble 
in mind, two or more of these conditions often 
co-existing. The married woman working for 
money is extremely likely to injure her health, 
and the overstrained, sickly, unnerved woman is 
specially open to the temptation of alcohol, while 
the power to retort, " Well, if I spent it, I earned 
it," removes yet another protecting barrier. 

General statements are often misleading, but 
when one comes to examine concrete cases it is 
obvious that it is practically impossible for the 
chUdren not to deteriorate if their mothers are 
engaged in any form of paid industry ; and if a 
heflthy public opinion kept young married women 
from such employment, widows and spinsters work- 
ing for subsistence, and middle-aged and elderly 
women working to provide for old age, would all . 
be able to obtain a reasonable rate of remuneration. 
No amount of money that the ordinary housewife 
can earn equals the moral and physical advantage 
of the concentration of her entire thought and 
attention upon her own family. Workmen have 
sometimes told me, using the expression seriously 
and in no cynical sense, " A woman's business is to 
spend her husband's money for him." 

Men are not, and cannot become, economists on 
a small scale. If women do a man's work, men 
too often fall into the way of doing a woman's, 


and each does it badly. Public attention is 
frequently drawn to the totally idle and vicious 
husband of the industrious wife, but I have seen 
many instances where he slips into the position 
of a willing but untrained and remarkably costly 

Viewed in the light of their practical results, 
the establishment, and especially the artificial 
encouragement, of home industries seem to me 
little short of deliberate sin against family life. 
Home industries are the destruction of the home, 
the destruction of domestic thrift and industry, 
and one of the most fruitful causes of infant 
mortality, child neglect, and drunkenness of both 
man and wife. At first glance they may seem to 
be an improvement upon the factory labour of 
married women, but in reality they constitute a 
more insidious and widespread evil. 

Bad housing causes incalculable loss of infant 
and child life, perhaps almost as much as over- 
crowding ; but as the two so frequently co-exist, 
one cannot well distinguish between the injuries 
caused by each. Overcrowding is more easily 
dealt with by legislation than bad housing, as it 
would often be needful to visit a house a dozen 
tiM«, .t different seasons of the year before graap- 
ing its full possibilities of injuring health, especially 
the health of children too young to attend school 


or to be much out of doors. As far as my experi- 
ence goes, the surface drains of yards are almost 
totally neglected, and the condition of the roofs — 
a matter the importance of which increases in 
direct proportion with the smallness and lowness 
of the house — is never sufficiently considered. 
In towns most roofs are water-tight, but they 
utterly fail in their duty as slow conductors of 
heat, and even in ordinary years the temperature 
of the tiny bedrooms may easily range from 30"* F. 
to 90° F., which is a cruel strain even on adult life, 
and one impossible for many children to bear up 
against. The fact that houses are our outer cloth- 
ing, and must be designed chiefly with a view to 
the economical regulation of the temperature, seems 
to escape attention. In most of the match-box 
cottages recently designed the unlucky owners 
have to spend three times as much on coal as they 
would do if walls and roof were thicker, while in 
the summer women will even drink tea cold rather 
than light a fire until late in the evening. Only 
last summer a little child lost her life while trying 
to boil a kettle in the garden, and I found that 
this dangerous plan had become a general custom 
in the neighbourhood. " We're baked even with- 
out no fire," protested the women when I remon- 

Incalculable but undoubted loss of infant life 


is caused by what is called " the modern fluidity 
of labour." The domestic result of this fluidity 
is that young women are separated from the 
mother on whom, in case of illness, they are 
often as touchingly dependent as in the earliest 
days of their lives, and have to meet their time 
of trial in towns where they have no relatives 
and probably no friends, and nothing to rely 
upon but the uncovenanted mercies of their 
landlady. The only set-ofi* against this is the 
cheapness of railway fares, and the increasing 
unselfishness of the husbands of the older genera- 
tion. Men of sixty or more will often " do for 
theiri^elves " for a month or six weeks while the 
wife goes to the help of the daughter and grand- 
children. How different are the relations between 
the mother-in-law and son-in-law of daily life 
from those of fiction and the police-court ! How 
little fact there is in fiction, and how much fiction 
in police news facts ! " Can she come ? " asks 
the young husband when the wife hastily tears 
open the thin envelope with the pale ink and 
the higgledy-piggledy writing, and a weight falls 
from his heart when he learns that she is coming 
by the cheap train that arrives at two in the 
morning, and that he has nothing to do but 
walk three miles to meet her and carry home 
her bundles. If I am in the bedroom with a 


young mother, I never need ask who is in the 
kitchen — I can tell by the very way her head 
lies on the pillows. 

But when all allowances have been made for 
the complications of child-rearing, and for circum- 
stances over which the women of the working 
classes cannot be said to have much control, the 
fact remains that a very considerable number 
of mothers lose healthy and promising children 
owing either to their own apathy, fatalism, 
culpable ignorance, credulity, or sheer laziness. 
Many of the children who figure in statistics 
as having died of bronchitis or pneumonia con- 
tracted the disease from no deeper or more 
mysterious cause than having a soaked bib left 
hour after hour on their shrinking little chests. 
The only remedies to be suggested are better 
general education and more detailed moral train- 
ing, especially the inculcation of a sense of 
responsibility ; encouragement of family feeling ; 
an improved public opinion, which would make 
parents infinitely more ashamed to own that they 
had lost their children than that none had been 
given them ; and increased efforts, in all directions 
and among all classes, to teach women and girls 
above the age of fourteen or fifteen the care 
needed by infants and young chUdren. This is 
considered an age of instruction^ but it seems 


to me that we are losing very much by the fact 
that all but professional teachers and grossly 
ignorant persons appear to be afraid to open 
their mouths, even after twenty years' practical 
and tolerably successful acquaintance with a 
subject, and are too much inclined to believe 
that everyone in the present generation knows 
all that pertains to their and their children's 
bodily salvation, and that if they do not do what 
they ought to do, it is because they have 
knowingly rejected the ways of wisdom. Every 
happy mother of children ought to be a teacher 
to her acquaintances, whatever position in life 
they may hold. Ignorance of maternal duties is 
by no means confined to the poorest persons. 
These are some scraps of the conversation between 
two well-dressed women of the lower-middle class, 
overheard in a railway carriage a few weeks since. 
One had a child six months of age with her, to 
whom she gave as much milk in one hour as it 
ought to have had in eight, while the other 
ceaselessly stuflFed an irritable, pasty-faced, knock- 
kneed child of three. " She don't eat much as 
a rule, but she's ate lovely all the way down 
from London" (four hours' journey). "I've 
lost three," cheerfully. " I've lost five," boastfully, 
"and this one has been laid out twice for dead. 
I'll tell you how I cured her. I always give it 


to her if she's a bit run down. Live snails 
crushed in their sheUs and squose through muslin 
with brown sugar. My mother always says she 
couldn't have saved me and my brother without 
it. She lost nine. It's my sister-in-law Tm 
going to now. She always thinks she can't get 

on without me. She's lost " But here the 

whistle shrieked, and we dashed into a tunnel. 

I remember seeing a baby of five months old 
fed on foreign grapes well powdered with saw- 
dust, which it swallowed, skin, stone, and all after 
a vigorous but ineffectual scrunch with its tooth- 
less gums, followed by drinks of a liquid which 
was certainly gin and water, but which, judging 
from the small effect it had when drunk more 
liberally still by children of three, five, seven, 
and eight, must have been very weak — unless 
the whole party were hardened topers. What 
could one say that was likely to make any 
impression? There were the five children, good- 
looking, good-humoured, and entirely free from 
any serious blemish. The "facts" related as to 
the feeding of infants may often be true without 
being in the least characteristic of their ordinary 
treatment. In a house where there were twelve 
living children, I was told boastfully by number 4, 
"On Sundays we all have sausage for our break- 
fast, even to the baby." I do not doubt it, 


but I also know that on cold winter mornings 
the five children of school age always had hot 
bread and milk for their breakfast, that they 
were never allowed to drink tea more than once 
a day, and that they were forbidden, under 
penalty, to eat unripe apples or to drink unboiled 
water, and even in the summer holidays they 
were never permitted to put on a damp or an 
unmended garment. Nature is to a great extent 
an easy-going ruler : if half of her laws are kept, 
half may with impunity be broken — and she 
is not even exacting as to which half is accepted 
or rejected. 


The Working-Class Father 

Is the working-class father as black as he is 
painted ? I grant that to the economist he often 
cuts a sorry figure. His excessive indulgence of 
young children, his blindness to their higher 
interests, the low value he places upon general 
education, his lack of foresight and determination, 
his limited power of controlling and directing, — 
all these have an unfavourable effect upon the 
community. But why is he always out of favour 
with the philanthropical ? Is he less affectionate 
than the father in the middle classes ? Is he less 
self-sacrificing, less solicitous, less devoted ? 

The prejudice against him is so strong that all 
evidence in his favour is unread or misread. Two 
years ago I wrote a book in which I described 
the working-class father as he appears to me, and 
was astounded to read in a review in a religious 
newspaper: " One impression left . . . is how hard 

it must be to attract the very rough and poor 



by telling them of the Divine Fatherhood, when 

the fathers they know are for the most part 

drunken, brutal, and profane." 

The more one knows of the working-class father 

in private life the more one admires his patience 

and good -humour. '*Does the baby cry much 

at night?" I asked a man who had had about 

twelve years' experience of matrimony. "No, 

not a bit. He only wakes up once. He's a 

wonderful good baby." I knew that this must 

be more from good luck than good management, 

and was disappointed of the moral I had hoped 

to point as to the gain all round arising from 

feeding children properly, and I said warningly, 

" He is only saving up his strength a Httle until 

he can do the thing properly." " That's it, mum, 

that's it," he replied, with an appreciative grin. 

He reflected for a few moments — the grievance, 

if he thought of it as one, was evidently not on 

the surface and ready to be poured out at the 

first opportunity — and then added good-temperedly, 

" He has his cross time early in the evening. I 

gen'Uy have to trot him round for a nower or a 

nowcr'n'half while my wife's gettin' the supper 

and washin' up." How many middle-class men 

would see any joke in such a reception after a 

day's work which averaged over ten hours? 

Working-men always seem to rejoice over the 


birth of a child ; the welcome it receives may be 
to some extent the mere reaction of thankfulness 
for the mother's safety, but there is a genuine 
personal feeling for it in addition. In an exceed- 
ingly poor two-roomed dwelling that I visited 
shortly after the arrival of the sixth child, I 
found the father alone in the kitchen, where he 
had been requested to stay in case he should be 
wanted, while some of the family played in the 
street and some were minded by a neighbour. 
He had bought two sheets of green tissue paper, 
and with solemn satisfaction was pinking them 
out to adorn the mantelpiece, visible from the 
bedroom when the door was opened. No " dinner 
to the tenantry," no ox roasted whole, ever gave 
stronger proof of fatherly pride. 

From the time a baby is three days old the 
father is accustomed to hold it in his arms, and 
at six weeks it is his plaything directly he returns 
from work. It soon aflFords unconscious discipline 
in gentleness and self-control, for after speaking 
loudly or impatiently to wife or neighbour, he finds 
it useless to turn to it with tender cajolery; for 
the little creature shrinks away terrified, and its 
confidence must be won all over again. 

I find one reason why children are short-Qoated 
so soon is that their fathers wish to carry them 
when they go out of doors, and no man but a 


sailor has the courage to be seen with an infant 
in long clothes. As soon as the child can make 
the faintest pretence at walking, the father likes 
to take it out unchaperoned by mother or sister ; 
and if the wife feels any anxiety on these occasions, 
it is for the baby's finery, and not its person. By 
the time it comes to the second or third baby they 
have learnt caution. "But to begin with," their 
wives tell me, " they're all terrors for spoilin' the 
children's clothes." 

One day in early winter I saw a young fellow 
of five or six and twenty allowing his two-year-old 
son, dressed from head to foot in white plush, 
to walk on muddy asphalt. Two more experienced 
men were passing, and one hastily interposed, " Hi ! 
you hadn't ought to let the youngster walk on 
that there pavement. He's sopping up the mud 
all round." The father glanced at the child's 
clothes and then replied airily, "His coat's too 
long. It wants to get wore down a bit." The 
*'old hands" simply gasped, and then exchanged 
a shrug and a wink, followed by a roar of laughter 
over the prospect of the scolding in store for him. 

There are really no bounds as to what a mere 
ordinary father will do — or do without — for the 
sake of his young children. To spend his half- 
holiday at the wash-tub, or to finish up his day's 
work with the hardest part of the house cleaning, 


is by no means unusual Most men draw the line 
at using a needle and cotton, but I ^ave known 
many expert with a sewing-machine. 

Soldier fathers in the seclusion of the married 
quarters (abodes of misery and squalid degradation, 
some novelists tell us!) will even make clothes 
for their girl children. It explains the look on 
their faces when they take them for a walk. I 
always thought it was something more than 
fatherly pride, but have only known of late years 
that the admixture was the joy of the artist. 

A very real sacrifice, becoming more and more 
common among working-men in the larger towns, 
is that of sending wife and children into the 
country every summer for a month or even six 
weeks, and " doing for themselves " as economically 
as they can during the somewhat dreary interval. 
" My wife said I had kep' the house as clean as she 
could ha' done it herself," one man told me, with 
mischievous triumph, " but I didn't let on how I 
managed. I usen't to wash up only once a day. 
I gave^the kitchen a bit of a do out on Sat'days,^ 
but I never touched nothing else not till the 
night before she came home. I began at six, and 
I was at it tiU two in the morning. I didn't even 
forget the door knobs." 

For the present distress, and taking short 
views of life, it often seems easier to deal with^ 


the temporarily repentant drunkard or idler than 
with the superior father who has ideas of his own 
on the subject of child-rearing, for they are apt to 
be one-sided and extremely rigid. One may appeal 
from Philip drunk to Philip sober, but the worthy 
fanatic is inexorable, and is the one person with 
whom I dread coming into contact. His ultimate 
aims are generally the same as my own, or those 
of any sane person, but nothing will convince him 
of the superior efficacy in practice of "purpose 
unwedded to plans." Not only does he know the 
goal, but the only path by which it is to be 
reached, often too stony a one for the feeble or 
unwilling feet of wife and child. 

For example, an exceedingly respectable man in 

receipt of high wages was unshakeably convinced 

that it was the duty of every mother to carry her 

child until it could walk ; and as it was his duty to 

. attend chapel on every possible occasion, his wife 

received no assistance from him even on Sundays. 

Although a vigorous, spirited, and industrious 

-woman, she was not muscularly strong, the baby 

'was exceptionally heavy, and, as sometimes 

happens even with the healthiest children, could 

not walk at all until he was two years old. The 

husband absolutely declined to buy a perambulator 

of any description, and if it had not been for an 

elderly friend with a cast-iron back and the heart 


of an angel, I do not know how the problem of 
taking the child out of doors could ever have been 

A generally good test of mental ability among 
the poor may be found in the relative importance 
of the position held by the claims of the future 
and of the present ; but the superior father, in a 
different way, often shows as little moderation as 
the ne'er-do-well. In all his calculations the future 
is allowed so entirely to overshadow the present 
that I felt every sympathy with one little girl 
who was driven to protest, when reproached for 
enjoying the passing hour, " But this was a future 
once ! " 

^' Hope makes an excellent breakfast, but a poor 
supper," said one of these over-anxious spirits to 
a light-hearted friend. "But just think how 
many of us die without finding it out ? " " You 
wouldn't die if you smelt your supper a-cooking," 
retorted the other, with how much truth all per- 
sons burdened with the payment of annuities can 

I doubt if the average father is ever quite happy 
after his children begin regular attendance at 
school. Their daily absence is not the relief to 
him that it is to their mother. If they dislike 
going to school, he is convinced that they are 
unkindly treated ; while if they enjoy the experi- 


ence, he is more than a little bit jealous. Also, 
they often meet the superior man's sons and 
daughters, and then subtle and alienating changes 
may take place in his playthings. They begin to 
compare and judge, and their criticism is not always 

Love of approbation is so strong, that with the 
indirect influence of these better-bred children and 
the direct influence of the teachers all working 
towards refinement, it is not surprising that the 
poorer and rougher pupils change greatly in 
language and manner. Two or three years ago, 
at a village school chiefly attended by agricultural 
labourers' children, but with ten or twelve per cent. 
t)f those who would formerly have been sent to 
cheap boarding schools, a boy of eight was asked 
to make a sentence about a bird. He promptly 
complied with, " I seed a sparrer, an' I copped 'im 
on the 'ead with a stone." The rest of the class 
received this ingenuous composition with an ir- 
repressible shout of laughter, and the unfortunate 
author has been teased about it ever since. 

And then another cause of alienation grows up : 
the ordinary father has never thought of trying to 
teach his playthings to obey him ; their " shan'ts " 
and "won'ts" were a mere joke, to be overcome, 
when necessary, by bribery and circumvention. 
The mother would find domestic life intolerable 


unless some obedience, however imperfect and 
little to be relied on, were yielded to herself, and 
she enforces this minimum from her children ; but 
she does not allow her husband to discipline them 
himself, and only too frequently she makes no 
attempt to uphold his authority. 

One day last spring two little rascals of four and 
six, with ample space left for even the wildest 
romps, were careftdly warned by their father not 
to trample on some rows of peas which were just 
coming up. Early next morning, before going to 
work, he went to stick the peas, and discovered 
that the rows had been considerably injured, 
spoke sharply to the boys, threatening them each 
with " a good smack " if any further mischief was 
done. The mother was frightened, and interfered, 
and during the day the children deliberately pulled 
up peas and pea sticks, and raced up and down the 
rows until the ground was trampled hard. All 
the father said when he returned from work was : 
'' Vm sick o' gardenin' ; I shan't do no more." But 
he kept his word, and it meant a loss of at least 
half a crown a week out of a very small income, 
in addition to gains that cannot be measured in 

This mother was incredibly indulgent to her 
two children. Eighteen months previously one of 
them — I forget which — ^had been seriously ill for 


about three weeks, and the only way they could get 
him to take a sufficient amount of nourishment 
was from a feeding-bottle. The other boy had 
picked up the same habit, and they were still 
drinking a pint and a half of milk a day in this 
fashion, and the mother was sterilising the bottles 
twice a day with as much zeal as if the sturdy little 
villains were delicate babies in long clothes. 

If home discipline were better, elementary 
education would be far more effectual, for an 
enormous amount of time would be saved to the 
teachers, who often cannot do justice to the class 
at large, and cannot allow reasonable freedom to 
better-trained children, because of their incessant 
struggles with young rebels who have never been 
taught to obey, and whose parents will not even 
yield a passive support to any efforts made to bring 
them to their bearings. An elementary school- 
master gave me a rather ludicrous description of 
an encounter he had had with an irate parent. 
He had caned a boy for persistent disobedience, and 
directly he released his hold the boy ran home to 
complain. Half an hour afterwards he reappeared, 
accompanied by his mother in a towering rage. 
'* I should like to know what you've bin knockin' 
my boy about for ? " "Is that your son ? " ** Yes, 
it is. I never lays not a finger on him meself, 
and I won't let no one else do it, so I tells you 


plain." " Please ask him to take his hat off." The 
woman scowled, but turned to the lad and said 
peremptorily, "Take your 'at off." No result. 
"Take your ^at off!" she repeated angrily. The 
class began to giggle, the woman made a furious 
grab at the hat, and boxed her son's ears violently. 

" Take that, you little ! " The children laughed 

unrestrainedly, and she dragged the boy away, 
vowing vengeance on him instead of on the school- 

When the boys are eight or nine the father 
generally tries to establish his authority, and if 
they are less ordinary than himself, if they are 
either below or above the average in will and 
intellect, he often fails to gain more than a partial 
victory. It is too late in the day to subdue them 
without an amount of severity that he probably 
considers it unmanly to exercise, or a steady 
pressure that he is morally " incapable of applying. 
A boy suddenly asked to learn obedience can be 
almost insanely obstinate. A mother of many 
sons told me, and I have reason to believe that 
her words were literally true and not merely a 
picturesque arrangement of facts : " If their father 
beats them till they lie senseless on the floor, as 
soon as ever they come to they'll do whatever it 
is they've set their minds on." At the same age 
girls would be very easily brought under control, 


but just because they are less aggressively and 
wantonly disobedient to him, the ordinary father 
postpones the struggle until they are twelve or 
thirteen, and then it may be too late for them 

So long as the mother keeps the upper hand, 
there may be no immediately bad results ; but if 
other unfavourable circumstances arise at about 
this period in the boys' lives, the unlucky father 
will often be driven to declare that the children 
are " beyond his control." To magistrates the plea 
sounds absurd, and even contemptible : a boy, a 
man, a stick— what more is needed ? 

I knew one most distressing case where the 
mother's health had broken down, and the father, 
absent all day at his work, was utterly unable to 
compel two boys of ten and eleven to attend school 
regularly. After more than one warning, he was 
sent to prison for seven days. His berth had been 
kept for him, as he was steady and industrious, but 
he returned to work a disgraced man in his own 
eyes and the neighbours'. 

For five or six years the ordinary father often 
thinks it wisest to ignore. his son, but a renewed 
sympathy generally arises between them when the 
lad goes to work. This is not merely, " as dull 
fools suppose," because the burden of supporting 
the boy is now partly lifted from the parental 


shoulders, but because they are getting on to the 
same plane of difficulties and interests. Probably 
the father has never known what it is to be " close 
on fourteen, and not a thought in his mind but play 
and school, school and play," but he understands 
all the conditions of work ; and the lad on his part 
realises as he has never done before his father's 
daily toil and self-sacrifice. 


The Cost of Food 

Very many fallacies with regard to the daily life 
of the poor are accepted as truisms. It would be 
easy to draw up a long list of these, but some 
demand more active and detailed opposition than 
others, because they are made the basis of innumer- 
able charitable endeavours, and even of State 

One of the most widely spread and injurious is 
the belief that the poor have to pay a higher price 
for food than the middle classes. It is an entire 
mistake, as I learnt from my own and other 
people's domestic servants long before I had any 
close acquaintance with working-class dwellings 
and the expenditure of weekly wages. 

In my country home, when I looked over my 
first crop of carrots, I was surprised to find what 
a large proportion were grotesquely misshapen and 
inconveniently large, and made some remark about it 
to a servant bom and bred near the " Elephant and 


Cawsel." With her usual superabundance of 
negatives, she exclaimed, " What, haven't you never 
seen none of them before, miss ? Up our w^y they 
come by the cart-load. They're just as good to 
eat as the pretty-shaped ones, and four times as 

At a time when, in Sydenham, I was paying 
three-halfpence a pound for potatoes, a young 
housemaid told me : " We can get any amount of 
new potatoes six pounds a penny. Of course 
they're small, but the children don't mind the 
bother of scraping them if only their mothers will 
buy them." 

On another occasion I complained that peas were 
dear for the time of the year at Is. lOd. a peck, 
and was told : " Mother" (living off the Old Kent 
Road) " can buy very nice ones indeed for sixpence 
a peck. They may be a bit harder than these, but 
wonderful full in the pod ; and if you juss boils 'em 
a little longer and with a bit of soda in the water, 
they comes out as green and soft as can be." 

I frequently inquired how much my servants' 
relatives were paying for bread, and invariably 
found that the price was a penny or three-halfpence 
less on every gallon than I paid myself, and in 
addition it was sold to them by weight, so that 
they obtained ten pounds for every eight and a 
half or nine delivered to me. I have heard careful 


housewives say that in a large family the " make- 
weights " are sufficient to supply one child with 
bread, or that they sometimes accept the difference 
in plain currant cake, while women content to 
have bread a day old can often buy it at a great 

On Saturdays meat can always be bought 
cheaply by prudent people, and not only in 
workmen's quarters. A butcher who served me 
for many years was speaking one day of the ex- 
travagant habits of the pauperised poor, and told 
me : " Often of a Saturday night, when a poor 
woman with a large family has brought me a 
shilling meat ticket, I have offered to let her take 
a whole shoulder of mutton, which would have 
run to 3s. 4d. or 3s. 8d. if I had sold it in the 
morning, because there was Sunday and practi- 
cally Monday as well in front of me. Never once 
have they taken it ; a scrap of rump steak or two 
or three trimmed lamb chops is their fancy." 

At a time when English mutton was tenpence or 
elevenpence a pound, and the best New Zealand 
sixpence halfpenny, an acquaintance of mine was 
in the habit of supplying a former parlourmaid 
and her pauperised husband with cooked 
meat once a week, and told me : ^^ I have to 
conceal the fact that it is foreign, for I am sure 
they would not touch it if they knew." 


Considering that this lady was honourably proud 
of the fact that her own father had provided a 
liberal education for five children, given a profes- 
sion to two sons, and made a provision for his 
only unmarried daughter, and had done all this on 
an income that had never exceeded ten shillings 
a day and his quarters, I was always unable to 
understand her attitude with regard to a skilled 
artisan who had only two small children and 
was well able to earn an average wage of 36s. 
a week. 

The poor, especially in large towns, can even 
obtain the luxuries and superfluities of life very 
cheaply. One day I saw a country cottage heavily 
laden with Gloire de Dijon roses. There were 
literally hundreds, and I asked at what price the 
owners would sell me some to send to an old friend 
who had no garden. They demanded twopence 
each for specimens that were quite overblown, 
and declined to take less. Not long after a poor 
London woman spent a week with my servant. 
I was cutting flowers for her, and, handing her 
some moss roses, said, " I suppose you do not see 
many of these in Walworth ? " " No/' she replied 
nonchalantly, " you can't never get them sort for 
less'n four a penny, but the others is six a penny. 
Pretty well all the year round I can keep two 
vawses full for a penny a week." 


With regard to groceries, the poor do indeed 
pay at a higher rate, but whose fault is that ? Can 
any grocer live by selling single candles and half- 
ounces of tea at the same rate as he would thank- 
fully sell by the pound ? Two of the foundation 
stones of domestic economy are a larder and a 
locked" store cupboard. No " model dwelling " 
should be built without them, and no girl should 
be worried to learn cross-stitch marking, or 
stencilling, or shorthand until she has a clear idea 
of the purposes served by these two conveniences 
and has been inspired with the ambition to possess 
them, whUe the most essential part of arithmetical 
knowledge, as far as a working-class woman is 
concerned, is the ability to keep accurate accounts 
of receipts and expenditure. 

I have always been convinced that the ordinary 
calculations as to the amount of money necessary 
to support a family in health and decency were on 
too liberal a scale, as I have frequently worked in 
houses where the earnings to my certain know- 
ledge were decidedly below the " indispensable 
minimum," and yet little or nothing was lacking, 
and there were many superfluities. I have at last 
seen a pamphlet drawn up by a woman doctor, 
with the necessary mixture of science and practical 
knowledge, and it clearly proves that even in a 

large town a man, his wife, and four children can 


maintaii] independence and live under healthy 
conditions on a pound a week. No one can deny 
that there must be much hardness and austerity 
in the life led by such persons, or that one could 
regard their condition as satisfactory if it were 
stationary or self-perpetuating ; but as long as 
they are entirely self-supporting they are on the 
upward grade, while State or charitable assistance 
cannot fail to thrust them into a lower and less 
desirable position. 

In estimating the amount of money required 
by the poor for food, yet another and much 
neglected factor has to be taken into consideration : 
more food is needed to support mental strain and 
less to support physical labour than is commonly 
supposed. It is also open to question whether 
the poor as a whole may not have developed a 
more economical digestive system. I remember 
hearing a naval officer say, "I could eat a blue- 
jacket's breakfast and eat my own an hour after," 
and he was by no means a remarkable trencher- 

In the homes of persons mainly occupied in 
hard work, but far above the poverty line, it is 
simply amazing to any person accustomed to the 
appetites of public schoolboys and young pro- 
fessional men to see the slender meals prepared 
for husband and sons, and to note the long hours 


that they will voluntarily remain without food. 
Among working farmers and their families I 
have observed peculiarly small appetites. Only 
a few weeks ago a country girl of nineteeUi, who 
had never had a day's illness in her life, explained 
to me : "If you have cook [hot food] for dinner, 
you don't want no tea, but if my brother is out 
all day he looks for cook in the evening." 

The ability to digest coarser food, once un- 
doubtedly possessed by the working classes, is 
rapidly disappearing as less claim is made on 
their muscles and more on their brain power, and 
many of the complaints of the housewife's 
** increasing ignorance of cooking" arise from 
the rapidly increasing fastidiousness of husband 
and child. Last winter an elderly village matron 
took a few handfuls of the sharps she had bought 
to fatten her pig, and mixed and baked a neat 
little loaf for her young daughter, "just to show 
she what us were brought up on." The girl, 
though by no mean exceptionally dainty, was 
totally unable to eat it, and it was finally restored 
to the defrauded pig. "Nor pigs won't be 
content neither with what they did use to have," 
declared her mother ; but this must be attributed 
rather to habit than to any fresh strain made 
on their mental powers. 

In the same village I find that the children. 



though unable to resist the sourest of cider apples, 
never trouble to pick the blackberries with which 
the hedges are laden for several weeks. This in- 
difference is not yet general, for I have recently 
been in a neighbourhood where the mothers 
dreaded the blackberry season almost as much as 
the winter holidays, and where the children could 
only be got clean to school, or with any appetite 
to dinner, by many threats of the stick and more 
punctually fulfilled promises of "a big pie a- 
Sunday" if they would refrain from picking any 
until the great business of the day was over. 

It is the fashion to disparage the cooking of 
the poor, and we are such slaves to our own 
easy credulity that it is almost a shock to realise 
that all the cooking in the world is done by them. 
When do the rich cook? And nearly every 
woman of moderate means who tells you with 
a sigh of soft self-pity, " I have to do the whole 
of the cooking myself," would be speaking more 
accurately if she said, " I partly prepare some of 
the food to be cooked"— a very different matter 
from that hand-to-hand battle with the elements 
which has to be engaged in before even the 
simplest dinner is ready to put on the table. 

Since all the cooking is done by the poor, and 
most of the practical knowledge with regard to 
it is exclusively their possession, why do they not 


cook oftener and better for themselves and one 
another? If one carries the inquiry far enough, 
the conclusion is arrived at that it is because they 
do not know that food is necessary. If th^y 
knew this with an effectual faith, all the inter- 
mediate reasons and excuses for not cooking would 
be swept away. 

Thirty years ago, and even later than that, I 
knew many elderly members of the professional 
classes who seemed to regard eating as a bad habit 
peculiarly strong in youth and gradually weakened 
and brought under control as one grew older 
and wiser. They sometimes spoke of a ** growing 
boy's " need for plenty of food as if they faintly 
understood that it was not altogether villainy on 
his part ; but as it was considered equally natural 
for a growing girl to eat very little, they cannot 
have had any clear idea why the boy ate this 
large amount or what service it performed for him. 

A considerable majority of the working classes 
at the present day are at about the same stage of 
physiological knowledge. They eat because they 
are hungry, and hunger is painful; and they 
supply their children with food for the same 
excellent if insuflScient reasons. Gluttony is rare 
among the poor ; eating for the mere pleasure of 
eating is almost an unheard-of thing except among 
the young, and it certainly is not encouraged in 


them. Daintiness is a vice, and the woman who 
panders to it, especially in the case of husband and 
sons, is not considered to have " done her duty by 
them" as the moral leader of the household. If 
the poor are not hungry, they see no good reason 
for eating — why compel yourself to eat when 
disinclined ? why tempt appetite, considering that 
food costs money, and money is 'scarce and the 
claims on it numerous and indefinite? All 
mistresses who have employed servants brought 
up in poor and would-be frugal homes tell the 
same tale : " I can't get them to sit down properly 
to their meals. Often at eleven o'clock in the 
morning I find they have had no breakfast, they 
' didn't feel to want none.' And of course it leads 
to anaemia." 

The idea that if people are well enough to 
work a regular amount of food must be taken 
never seems to enter their heads. Women in their 
own homes, and for reasons other than poverty, 
commonly go without food for six or seven hours 
at a stretch, and, aided by a cup of tea, they will 
frequently work half as long again without pausing 
for a meal. To a limited extent, they recognise 
that severe muscular exertion demands fairly 
regular supplies of solid food, but they have no 
more conception that brain work is exhausting 
than they have that the dressmaker's apprentice 



and the school teacher need more baths than the 
charwoman and the blacksmith. 

The popular belief is that the sole reason why 
the poor do not cook is that they do not know 
how. This idea of the general ignorance of the 
culinary art is grossly exaggerated, and there are 
several reasons and many excuses for not cooking 
besides housewifely incapacity. In the first place, 
do the many critics of the working-man's wife 
realise how much time cooking takes, more par- 
ticularly when of an economical nature ? And do 
they for a moment grasp the multifariousness of 
her occupations even when, which is by no means 
always the case, she is not a wage-earner herself ? 
Granting the state of her mental development and 
aU her surroundings, is it surprising that instead 
of thinking one or two of these occupations of 
more consequence than the frequent and regular 
preparation of food, she is firmly convinced that 
nearly the whole of them should take precedence 
of that duty ? 

Let us take an average, not an extreme case : 
a woman in moderately good health, and whose 
husband is earning about a guinea a week in the 
country or thirty shillings in the town. She has 
to do the entire house work of four rooms, all over- 
crowded with furniture, and one of these, being 
also a passage, has to be laboriously cleaned every 



day ; and work of all kinds has to be done with 
the minimum of labour-saving appliances and with 
a sparing use of soap ; she has to make and mend 
for four children, and to do a considerable amount 
of sewing for herself and her husband ; she has to 
wash, mangle, starch, and iron for the same number 
of people. To give a faint idea of the amount of 
washing done : among the respectable poor, very 
few girls of school age have less than four white 
pinafores every week; those under eight almost 
invariably have a clean one every day, and it 
is by no means unusual to have two. Washing 
overalls and blouses are commonly worn by little 
boys, and the number of collars and handkerchiefs 
provided for them is constantly on the increase. 
It must also be remembered that even if a woman 
has girls of thirteen and fourteen at home, she has 
no help from them in work of this kind. If the 
neighbours say, "She lets her children stand at 
the wash-tub,'' you may be certain that you have 
come across a low type of mother. The accusation 
is regarded as so disgraceful a one that it is never 
made lightly. Fifteen is considered fully early for 
their initiation ; husbands often do the roughest 
part of the washing to spare their wives, but help 
is not accepted from the children, much less 

To return to o\ir housewife ; she has twp children 


to get ready for school every day, and one (a far 
worse piece of work) who must be induced to get 
himself ready ; and the fourth, aninfant under three, 
depends entirely on her care during at least seven 
of her busiest hours. She cannot go out to do her 
shopping without taking him with her ; probably 
she cannot leave him for ten minutes in one room 
while she is sweeping another. I know a boy of 
two years old obliged to walk nearly four miles 
every wage-day because his mother is too weak to 
carry him, his sisters are too young to take care of 
him even if they were kept at home to do so, and 
the money for a perambulator has never been saved 
because up to the time of his birth the family had 
lived near a shop. In many parts of the country 
the woman will have to do most of the white- 
washing and papering, work that needs doing three 
times as often in small rooms as it does in large 
ones, and there may be animals to be tended and a 
flower garden to be looked after. In addition to 
all this, one at least of the children wiU probably 
be ill enough during the course of the year to need 
constant attention for a fortnight, and the others will 
have sufficient ailments to " upset the house " on 
many different occasions. Moreover, some neigh- 
bour is certain to be in need of a great deal of help, 
and there will almost inevitably be claims on her 
from elderly members of her own or her husband's 


family. Finally, — and this is especially the case in 
towns, — the husband may be fond of taking her and 
the children out with him, and not only on Bank 
Holidays but on any fine Saturday and Sunday 
they must all be ready to make a public appearance. 
This is far from being a grievance, but it means an 
amount of planning and contriving of which the 
old-fashioned working-man's wife knew very little ; 
if one or two of the younger children were well 
enough dressed to go out with their father, it was 
all that was expected of her. 

Is it any wonder that such a woman — and many 
are struggling under far worse difficulties — cooks 
as little as she can instead of as much ? 

When the children are older, the very same 
woman may devote a large part of her time to cook- 
ing. I knew one who happened to have seven chil- 
dren in rather rapid succession, and while they were 
small very little cooking was done except when the 
father was at home to bear part of the domestic 
burden, and later on dinner was often cooked by the 
eldest boy under his mother s directions. At the 
present moment she has three sons at work besides 
her husband; they are all employed in different 
places, and except on two days in the week, " meals 
is going on pretty well all the time," but there are 
now two girls old enough to relieve her of part of 
the house work, the boys have been trained to do a 


fair share, and she is justly proud of her manage- 
ment. I once suggested to her that a plate of meat 
and vegetables and gravy could be kept hot over a 
saucepan of boiling water, and she crushed me by 
saying, "My children wouldn't eat it done that 
way ; the gravy dries up. I heat the gravy in a 
little saucepan, and pour it on boiling at the last 

The extreme irregularity of many working-men's 
hours, especially the superior ones sent here and 
there on their employer's business, is /another 
reason why wives who may know how to cook 
economically, and who have all the means of doing 
the work, nevertheless resort to the frying-pan and 
the " bit o' steak " in despair. 

" How do you manage ? " I asked the excep- 
tionally intelligent and well-educated wife of an 
artisan, when she told me that sometimes her 
husband would be at home at five o'clock or even 
earlier, and then for three or four weeks would vary 
from that time to one o'clock in the morning, when 
he might arrive on foot from some distant suburb, 
having missed the last train. " It's almost past 
managing," she replied. " Sometimes I get a good 
dinner that will keep an hour or two without hurt- 
ing much, and then I find he's had it somewhere 
else, or that he's too tired to eat it. He doesn't like 
soup or stews, and he doesn't like cold meat, not 


even with a salad and a nice cup of coffee ; and one 
can't have pies for ever. When I was in service 
my master used to send a wire if he was hindered, 
and say what he meant to do ; but we can't well 
afford that, so we just have to do the best we can." 

The labourer's wife who knows that her husband 
will hardly vary ten minutes in the time of his 
arrival, and that he will be perfectly content with 
hot potatoes and gravy and cold bacon and tea six 
days out of seven, is often far less to be pitied than 
the skilled artisan's wife who has to ask herself, 
** Will he eat it ? " three times as often as she puts 
the query, " Can I afford to buy it for him ? " 

The dearness of fuel is another reason why little 
cooking is done. In the north of England, where 
coal is cheap, hot meals are far more frequently 
prepared than in the south, where it is usually at 
least double the price and there is less money 
available for the purchase. It might be argued 
that more hot food is eaten because the climate 
makes it indispensable, but the west of England 
has the advantage of cheaper coal than the east, 
and has also a much higher average temperature ; 
moreover, no one acquainted with the poorest houses 
in both districts can deny that the art of cooking is 
much more generally practised among cottagers in 
the western counties than in the eastern. 

The badness of the stoves supplied in working- 


class dwellings aggravates the difl&culty with regard 
to fuel. In the country there is often nothing but 
an extravagant open stove with an oven so small 
that it suggests that it was simply made for the 
chief purpose to which' it is put^stewing tea. I 
have known a mother (formerly "a good plain 
cook" and a most capable person) obliged to boil 
the food all together in one huge pot hung over 
the flames. In another house, where the mother 
was a skilled cook and absolutely devoted to the 
interests of her family, the eldest daughter told 
me : " The children can have meat and vegetables 
for dinner, or they can have pudding, but they 
can't have both, because it isn't possible to cook 
it." In towns the stoves are more promising in 
appearance and less voracious, but they are 
absurdly small for family use, and practically they 
are often unmanageable, and drive the most pains- 
taking of wives to despair. The same amount of 
coal will one day heat the stove fiercely and 
dangerously, and the next will not keep a single 
saucepan boiling, while food placed in the oven 
will turn sour before it is cooked. There is also a 
general lack of cool larders and dry store cupboards, 
and without these- economical catering is impossible, 
however much care and trouble may be expended 
on the details of housekeeping. 

Superficially this defence of the working-man's 


wife may appear like that of the celebrated 
Roumanian peasant who was accused by a 
neighbour of borrowing a bucket and breaking it, 
and who solemnly averred, firstly, that she had 
never had the bucket ; secondly, that it was broken 
when it was lent to her ; and thirdly, that it was 
absolutely flawless when she returned it: but 
diflferent parts of the apology apply to different 
persons, or to different periods of their life. 

As we began by stating, the most deep -lying 
cause why the ordinary woman cooks so little is 
neither laziness nor specific ignorance of the art, 
it is because she and her husband underestimate 
the importance of food ; and it is quite possible that 
many of her self-constituted advisers overestimate 
it. In all attempts to instruct the poor or to 
improve their condition directly, we must remember 
that although they may not have studied " fluxions 
or paradoxes, or such inflammatory branches of 
learning," their interest in their own concerns is 
naturally so much stronger and so much more 
constant than ours that they may see their lives 
more as a whole than we do, and that our spasmodic 
efforts in this or that direction may upset the 
balance which they are rightly, and with some 
success, striving to maintain. Thrift, for example, 
is an excellent thing, but the poor can tell you 
much of its ugly and soul-destroying side, and 


they could bring forward equally serious draw- 
backs to nearly all the virtues and duties urged on 
them from above. 

Old-fashioned schoolmasters strongly disapproved 
of giving boys much to eat, and those who did not 
gain or save a penny by the enforced abstemious- 
ness of their pupils held as firm convictions on this 
point as Messrs. Creakle ^nd Squeers. Old-fashioned 
parents held much the same views. With many of 
the facts that influenced these persons always 
before them, can one be surprised when, in response 
to the recommendation to spend less on mere 
ornament and more on food, some of the best 
mothers of the wage-earning class reply, " Children 
don't want a great lot of eating. It only seems 
to go to their heads and make them troublesome. 
As soon as they go to work I feed 'em accordin'. 
If you dress them nicely it keeps them in better 
comp'ny instead of running the roads with a lot of 
young roughs " ? 

It is considered a point of filial duty for children 
to prefer their mother's cooking to that of any 
other person. The bitterest complaint I ever 
heard from a mother was : " They think such a lot 
of anything they get when they're out, even if it's 
nothing but a jam tart." I remember a housemaid 
rather noted for her fastidiousness, telling me with 
gusto : " Our favourite dinner at home used to be a 


penn'orth of rice with a ha'porth of sugar and a 
ha'porth of milk stirred in." This was for six 
children and their mother, but was probably 
supplemented by bread. 

All advocates of State feeding of school children 
should remember how soon a privilege is taken as 
a right. In a poor district wuere Christmas 
presents had with some difficulty been collected 
for the children attending a mission Sunday school, 
one mother was so much displeased with the cheap 
quality of the doll given to her little daughter that 
she returned it the next day with a most insulting 
message. How long would it be before such a 
tender parent came raging to the Committee, 
pouring out fiery complaints of the dinner that 
they " had been and give " her cherished children ? 

Knowing what human nature is, can one wonder 
at the ease with which the poor may be pauperised ? 
I remember reading an appeal to a benevolent 
society designed to give temporary relief to 
struggling members of the professional classes : 
"His mother [an aged widow with a pension] 
being now dead, applicant has no further means of 
support." The applicant was a man of thirty, who 
did not even pretend to be in bad health. 


What is Charity? 

What is meant by charity ? How should we define 
it if we were guided solely by the deeds done in 
its name? What conception do the children of the 
present day form of its meaning? Unless the 
private teaching that they receive acts as a 
corrective, their ideas must be a confused jumble 
of fancy fairs, theatricals, tableaux vivants, and the 
delights of begging from door to door for subscrip- 
tions or attacking and pertinaciously worrying all 
passers-by. Not long since in a garrison town I 
saw a showily dressed girl of twelve or thirteen 
begging with equal boldness from men, women, and 
boys. She seemed denuded of all natural modesty, 
and I was relieved to see that she could blush even 
from annoyance, as she did when an old lady, 
aflfecting to believe that she was begging on her 
own account, said coldly, " I never give money to 
children in the street." 

One day a child-collector came to my house and 



asked for a subscription. I could not give her my 
opinion without reflecting upon the discretion of 
the parents who allowed her to undertake such an 
office, but knowing that she was liberally suppUed 
with pocket-money, which she spent in an entirely 
wasteful and self-indulgent fashion, I said, "The 
object is indeed a good one, and I am glad that 
you feel interested in it To every threepence that 
you will give out of your own allowance, I will 
most willingly add a shilling. " I was never called 
on to keep my promise. 

The mothers of the present generation read 
Ministering Children^ and learnt that personal 
service, personal sacrifice, and modest self-efface- 
ment were indispensable parts of charity. Their 
grandmothers learnt the same in The Fairchild 
Family^ and their great-grandmothers were taught 
the lesson with equal clearness by Hannah More. 
The child of to-day knows a shorter road, and is 
openly encouraged to hope that its name, and even 
its photograph, will appear in the newspapers 
either as the youngest, or the first, or the most 
successful collector — or at least as the child of its 

A considerably older girl implored me to work 
for a bazaar " in which mother is taking so much 
interest." If the mother had asked me herself, I 
might have sacrificed my principles to spare her 


feelings, but I thought the girl would be able to 
understand how the matter looked from a different 
point of view, and told her some of the many 
objections to raising money in such an indirect, 
laborious, and costly fashion, and finished by offer- 
ing her a sum far larger than any profit likely to 
be obtained on the needlework she wished me to 
supply. ** Mother won't think it at all the same, 
and she is so much interested, you really might'' 
" By the way, you did not tell me the object of the 
bazaar ? " " Oh— er— I don't know/' " Perhaps 
your mother does ? " I suggested drily. " Fm 
not sure. Mrs. Daveuham asked her to help, and 
she's so much interested," and so on da capo. 

In a certain small village where there was a 
handsome schoolroom always at liberty for evening 
concerts, lectures, etc., some busybody would not 
be content without a Parish Hall, which was to be 
" the centre of social union." She was an influen- 
tial person, and the subscriptions soon amounted to 
a sum amply sufficient to build a hall of the size 
and style required for a village of some six or eight 
hundred inhabitants, the usual proportion of whom 
were infants under seven years of age content with 
the parental doorstep. But the busybody could 
not be satisfied with such an insignificant building. 
Would not' critics say, *' Why have it at all ? It is 
no better than the schoolroom " ? 


When apparently complete, the building was over 
£200 in debt. Then it was discovered that a hall 
only a third part filled is a dreary and depressing 
sight for the public entertainer, and a curtain was 
bought at a cost of twelve pounds to divide it 
across the middle, and a bazaar was held to raise 
funds to stencil and otherwise decorate the walls. 
A little later on there was a " unique opportunity " 
of buying at a cost of a hundred guineas gates 
" warranted to be worth £150," and it was hastily 

Now for many years in that village the word 
"charity" has been attenuated to the exclusive 
meaning of paying off the debt on this hall, and it 
is beitig done mainly by theatricals, which afford a 
well-subsidised amusement to the richest and idlest 
persons in the parish. On one occasion I remember 
that the tickets for the entertainment were five 
shillings each. ** There must be a large profit if 
they all give their services for nothing," I said to 
a lady of narrowly limited means, sighing over the 
moral obligation of buying three of these tickets. 
" Nominally they do," she replied, " but it means 
that for six weeks or two months they spend as 
much as they choose on cabs and telegrams and 
telephones and postage, at the expense of the 
charitable public. Out of this fifteen shillings, 
how much do you imagine will go to pay off the 


debt? On the last occasion the takings were 
thirty-five pounds and the expenses a trifle under 
thirty. At the same rate the hall would gain 
considerably if I made a direct subscription of 
half a crown. And fifteen shillings does not cover 
my expense, for I must pay five more for a cab. 
I could very well walk, but evening dress is de 

"In our parish," said a listener, "there was a 
bazaar to furnish the newly built vicarage. It 
was on a large scale, and two prominent members 
of the congregation quarrelled bitterly some days 
before it took place, because they could not agree 
as to whether the profits should be spent at 
Maple's or some newer place. The takings were 
eighty-five pounds, and the profits nearly paid for 
a very mean-looking arm-chair, but not quite. 
My husband had to pay an extra eight shillings 
or they would have had an even worse one." 

Not long ago, at a school where the waste from 
the boys' plates had always been given to a 
charitable institution, an order was issued that 
the refuse was to be sold. A loud outcry was 
raised, and the fear expressed that the pupils 
would thereby be taught mean, grasping ways, 
instead of the charity and generosity becoming 
their age and station. If it were the only alter- 
native, I should prefer lads of "the late Juke 


Judkins " type to those who had been trained to 
believe that there was generosity in destroying food 
and charity in giving away broken victuals. 

The giving of coppers and threepenny pieces by 
handsomely dressed people is as purely symbolical 
a sacrifice as the Chinaman's burnt paper. The 
only excuse is the impossible frequency with which 
we are asked for subscriptions. If we once grasped 
the elementary fact that a donation of a sovereign 
to one institution means a larger net profit than 
twenty separate shillings given to twenty distinct 
charities, we should surely find strength of mind 
to reduce the number of our gifts and correspond- 
ingly increase their value. 

" We are nearly out of debt," said the Treasurer 
of a local charity ; " only ten pounds to the bad." 
" What a pity that the debt is not completely 
extinguished," I replied. "If people had only 
known, they would gladly have made a further 
effort." In his private and in his business life 
he was one of the most strictly honourable men 
I have ever met, but, " in the name of charity," 
this was his reply: "Oh no, no; I* am perfectly 
satisfied. It is always a mistake for any institution 
to be out of debt. The public would lose interest 
in it at once." 

Another man borrowed money at four per cent, 
from leading members of the congregation in order 


to enlarge the church. When remonstrated with 
by an outsider on the plain business ground that 
it was an expensive method, he replied instantly, 
" Oh, we don't calculate on paying the interest 
more than once or twice. We didn't like to ask 
them for the money outright, but they will soon 
make us a present of it to save further trouble." 
In his professional life this man, for honour's sake, 
had recently sacrificed a large sum of money and a 
position that it had taken him years of hard work 
to attain, but he did not seem to have even the 
haziest idea that it was possible for charity to 
"behave herself unseemly." 

The far-famed undergraduate who, being 
questioned as to the nature of Good Works, 
opined that " a few wouldn't do any harm," has 
always been held up as a model of caution, but 
at heart he must have been as rash as a Labour 
Member or even an early Edwardian poor-law 
guardian. Philanthropists, whether chronic or 
acute cases, would do well to remember not only 
that good works have demonstrably the nature of 
sin, but that they are conamonly inspired by more 
impulse and worked out with less thought, retro- 
spect, and foresight than is the case with actions 
of a specifically selfish or of a purely business 

Consider for a moment one of the most recent 



of benevolent schemes : the establishment on a 
large scale of charitable institutions for the medical 
treatment, maintenance, and education of crippled 
children. Some of its supporters have boldly 
described this project as "getting at the root of 
the evil," " fighting disease at its origin," and so 
forth. Even metaphorically a child is usually 
regarded as a flower, not a root ; and as a matter of 
fact, a crippled child is mainly a result, not an origin. 
If all the crippled children in the entire country 
could be collected into institutions, and supposing 
(however contrary to all previous experience, to all 
knowledge of child-nature and child-needs and the 
pitiably insufficient response of the most conscien- 
tious officialdom to their many-sided claims) that the 
patients are enormously benefited, should we have 
done anything at all to change the conditions 
under which those children were produced, or to 
prevent another seven thousand from 
being ready for relief years before the original 
seven thousand had been dealt with? 

Work among the more ignorant classes of wage- 
earners (not always the poorest) soon convinces 
one that there are deep moral and mental causes 
for all this physical suffering among their children. 
Nothing but knowledge and care can prevent the 
production of cripples, and the permanent crippling, 
blinding, deafening, maiming, and distortion of 


children far more frequently arises from insufficient 
mental development on the part of the mother 
than from lack of means or lack of aflfection in 
either parent. There is not only too little cut-and- 
dried knowledge but an almost entire absence of 
that imaginative foresight which leads more 
educated parents to believe in and dread the 
ultimate results of ailments, incapacities, and 
injuries more than they dread fatigue and expense 
to themselves or the temporary pain or incon- 
venience of their children. " Look at that boy," 
I said to the daughter of a country surgeon ; "his 
crutch is four inches too short for him. His spine 
will certainly be injured. And I saw a boy yester- 
day in need of a temporary support for his ankle. 
He will end as a hopelessly distorted cripple." 
"My father's patience is worn out," she replied. 
" Over and over again he has exerted his influence 
to get proper appliances for village children, and 
then they cry and protest they can get on better 
without them, and the parents yield at once. And 
then, in other cases, they look on the appliance as 
a sort of charm, and insist on its being worn when 
the child has grown so much that the pressure 
comes in the wrong place and does serious harm." 

The ignorance of the parents is often so great 
that they entirely neglect small injuries, and if 
later on they try to trace cause and effect, they 


ascribe results to trivial occasions that were in no 
sense causes. Benny, for example, has hip disease. 
This is not regarded as a form of tuberculosis 
fostered by bad air and unsuitable food and cloth- 
ing ; it is " all along of his having fell down one 
slippery day when he were about five year old," 
ignoring the fact that if a healthy child falls down, 
he picks himself up, and that is the end of the 
matter; while if a delicate child were kept ex- 
tremely quiet for a few days after a little accident 
of this nature, all danger of an abscess forming 
would probably disappear. Tommy has meningitis 
because " a rough boy, who was too big, and hadn't 
ought to ha' bin with the infants, knocked him 
over a form." There is no realisation of the simple 
truth that the ordinary termination of such an 
incident would have been that the pupil teacher 
would have consoled and silenced Tommy by 
slapping his aggressor, and that their respective 
sisters would have threatened to tell their respective 
mothers, and omitted to do so. 

The anecdotic system of argument is never con- 
vincing ; but, as a traveller, almost a resident, in 
that large (and for the most part tolerably comfort- 
able) area which the charitable public persists 
in marking, " Very dangerous ; go as fast as 
you can ; nature of inhabitants inexplicable, no 
light can be thrown by history or psychology; 


resort to experiment — the older and more fre- 
quently discredited, the newer and more hopeful," 
one is obliged to bring forward personal experience 
of that district in order to obtain a hearing and to 
furnish a common language in which to argue our 
common humanity. The professional philanthro- 
pist is the worst of cynics, because a class-cynic. 
The virtues by which the world is to be saved 
cannot be found below a certain social, or at least 
monetary, level. On wages of less than three 
pounds a week men and women cannot possibly 
help themselves or do anything for the benefit of 
their children, while the entire scheme of the 
universe can readily be altered by the spare 
guineas and during the spare moments of those 
with a larger income and immeasurably less interest 
in the persons concerned. 

Some years ago a father and mother, kept above 
the lowest poverty line by industry and prudence, 
had a little daughter born with a disease which 
was known to be incurable, and which caused not 
only the deprivation of many of the natural joys 
of child life but pain which even the most skilled 
treatment could barely alleviate. A small but 
militant minority would thus give their judgment 
on the case : " Life is a curse to the child. Let 
us relieve her from the intolerable burden laid 
upon her innocent shoulders." Less extreme rebels 


against the conditions on which life and health are 
passed on to successive generations proclaim hastily : 
" Let us put her into a Home. If her parents feel 
for her, it is a useless torture for them ; if they 
do not, their indiflFerence must add still more to her 
suflFerings." Logicians tell us that " all error Ues 
in generals," but in popular arguments it is to be 
found at least equally in wild indulgence in the 
fallacy of the excluded middle. Had the parents 
been left in ignorance of the cause of the child's 
marred existence, it is difficult to say what might 
have happened ; but a suspicion arose in the father's 
mind that he himself was to blame. He asked a 
medical man a plain question, and received an 
unusually plain answer, and from that moment it 
was the inward determination and ceaseless eflFort 
of his life to make atonement by providing every 
alleviation within his power. He not only worked 
hard and spent freely, but he forced his unac- 
customed brain to study ; and because of the 
concentration of his thoughts and the intensity 
of his desire, he ultimately succeeded in bringing 
more relief to the child than the most advanced 
specialists would have thought probable. When 
asked any questions as to his family, he replied, 
with the outspokenness of his class, " Our first and 
only one. I could not bear to see another child 
go through it." Directly and indirectly many 



hundreds of uneducated men and women have 
learnt that child's history : can it be said that 
she has suflFered in vain? 

A certain amount of hardness, if accompanied 
by foresight and an intellectual appreciation of the 
case, is sometimes less difficult to deal with than 
the strongest maternal affection minus these less 
attractive qualities. A boy and a girl belonging 
to different families received somewhat similar 
injuries to their right hands. The girl's mother 
was passionately devoted to all her children, and 
in her care for their moral and religious training 
was far above the ordinary standard, but because 
the child's hand "if let alone " caused no pain, it was 
almost impossible to persuade her that it was her 
duty to allow surgical treatment ; and if the little 
patient had not chanced to have an affection for 
the nurse sent to dress the wound, and a consequent 
willingness to endure the necessary discomfort, 
permanent crippling must have resulted. The 
boy's mother was decidedly below the average in 
maternal tenderness, but she very quickly grasped 
that unless the full powers of the hand could be 
preserved he would never be able to follow his 
father's trade, a fairly profitable one, and she 
needed no further stimulus. When at last the 
hand was pronounced to be completely cured, we 
calculated that she had dressed it twelve hundred 


times. In the same town a brusque, active, stirring 
mother of six sons and two daughters was told 
that her youngest boy suflFered from a disease 
which would make him a hopeless cripple. Her 
grief took the inmiediate form of anger; she 
slapped and scolded all her children with more 
vehemence than before, and it is to be feared that 
not even the invalid was exempt. There was no 
compensating tenderness in the father, and alto- 
gether it seemed a home the destruction of which 
one could have borne with a certain amount of 
equanimity. Nevertheless, she had the child's 
interests at heart. She studied the matter, and 
adopted a common-sense treatment which had just 
begun to recommend itself to a few leading medical 
men. Some months ago I received a message from 
her to remind me that the lad was nearly eighteen, 
and to assure me that he had grown " as strong as 
his brothers" — no mean standard. One more 
example of what can be done by direct teaching : 
A child, owing to gross neglect, was in imminent 
danger of losing the sight of both eyes. The 
doctor, called in by the mother when the twelfth 
hour had almost sounded, saw scarcely a glimmer 
of hope, but he was so much enraged by her apathy 
and fatalism that he told her that if the child 
became blind it would be entirely her own fault, 
and ordered her to apply certain treatment every 


two hours night and day for an indefinite period. 
Greatly alarmed by his vehement outburst, she 
carried out his instructions to the letter, and with 
perfect success. Six months later she was to be 
seen pointing to the child's bright eyes as an 
example of what could be done by constant care, 
and to herself as a bom-and-bred exponent of 
never-say-die principles ; but she was generally 
frank enough to add that if her hearers would 
begin escrlier they could do as much with two 
applications a day as she had done with twelve. 

Every one of these children — and they are fair 
samples — ^were, or could easily have been made, 
candidates for a National Cripples' Home. 

"At least the children must not sufier" is a 
favourite argument of those direly suspicious of 
the value of all family life but that of their own 
class. It has never been Nature's plan to exempt 
children from sufiering, and although we may call 
her methods clumsy, wasteful, and cruel, they are 
at least workable and yield a balance of advantage. 
If we tried to interpret dumb Nature's laws to 
her more backward pupils, might it not be more 
generally profitable than if the same amount of 
energy were devoted to attempts to nullify these 
laws ? At the beginning of this century we were 
promised "a masculine age," but we have never 
yet been more in need than we are now of the 


warning: "To develop sympathy without de- 
veloping foresight is just one of the one-sided 
developments which fail to constitute a real 
advance in morality." 

In barest justice to the working classes it must 
be owned that their treatment of crippled children, 
as of all others, generally errs on the side of 
excessive indulgence, but it is half unconsciously 
based upon the wholly gratuitous assumption that 
the former will die before reaching maturity. 
When trying to establish rational diet and rational 
treatment, one has not only to oppose the un- 
reasoning tenderness of parents, but the affection 
of bachelor uncles, childless aunts, elder sisters, 
and even brothers, and the kindly obstructiveness 
of neighbours who " can't abide to see a sick child 
^rossfi d-^ What is needed is education of the 
parents, so that the supply may be cut off at its 
source, and education of the children without 
removing them from the homes where they are at 
once teachers and taught. Nowhere else will they 
meet with the same love, or develop morally to 
the same degree, nor even receive as practical a 
preparation for the hampered, difficult life that 
must always be theirs. They have been wronged, 
but we must let them bear their wrongs openly 
lest we should be lulled into a false security and 
more widespread evils should ensue. "Out of 


sight, out of mind." While cripples exist, let 
them be seen in our daily lives, and not herded 
together like criminals in barracks, the very 
existence of which would rapidly pass out of public 
consciousness, and never be thought of again until 
they reappeared in our daily substitute for thought 
under the sensational heading of "Gigantic 
Frauds," or "A Nation of Cripples." 

The great mass of benevolent people seem to 
have no dread of the indirect results of their 
well-meant labours, while the minority have learnt 
to fear these results so much that it is only with 
an eflfort that they can maintain the belief that 
they are not entirely and inevitably injurious, or 
give admittance to the suggestion that if they are 
so it must be because the work has been done on 
wrong lines. If the results of philanthropic action 
are mainly bad, it is not that men have erred in 
striving enthusiastically for the supposed benefit 
of humanity inst^ead of remaining either blandly or 
querulously quiescent, but because they were start- 
ing from wrong principles. Grenerally speaking, 
their opinion of their fellow-creatures has been 
too low, not too high. They talk about faith in 
the possibilities of human nature and then act as 
if they believed it capable of sinking to infinite 
depths while incapable as a whole of reaching 
anything like the level on which they flatter them- 


selves they are standing. Despising our neighbour, 
not only as he is — ^which might sometimes have 
a shadow of excuse — but as he might be, is the 
root of much of our legislation and many of our 
vaunted and flaunted charities. 

Sixteen years ago I was about to visit a small 
but rather well-known town, and an old acquaint- 
ance said to me, " You will find it such a splendidly 
managed place. The principal landlord will not 
tolerate a pawnbroker, and if he could prevent it, he 
would not have a single public-house. As it is, they 
are very strictly Umited." It sounded promising, 
but although I had not fully and in detail realised 
that no one can be made virtuous by Act of Par- 
liament, I was haunted by the memory of a story 
told me by my next-door neighbour. During 
one of his many visits to America he was taking 
a three days' railway journey and at luncheon 
asked the negro waiter to bring him a bottle 
of stout. He was absorbed in a newspaper, which 
related more of his wife's family than he had 
heard in twenty years, and more of his own than 
he had known in fifty, and suddenly woke up to 
the fact that a cofiee-pot was in front of him, and 
pushed it irritably away : " We are in Maine, sah," 
explained the waiter. " If you miLSt bring me 
coffee, is that the smallest reason for bringing it 
to me stone-cold ? " The man smiled broadly, and 


checked all further complaint by pouring out the 
coflfee with a fine head to it. With this in the 
background of my thoughts I asked, " Have you 
ever visited the houses in the poorer parts of the 
town? What kind of a life do the women and 
children lead ? " " No, I have never been there ; 
but one does not need to do that in order to know 
what a difference it must make in their lives, no 
pawning and no drunkenness." The day before I 
started, a woman I have never met since said, in 
the pauses of punching in the background to a 
piece of wood-carving, " You'll find it an awful 
place. It is exceedingly difficult to get a licence 
there, and of course that means a lot of dens 
where drink is sold secretly; and to make up 
for the risk and trouble, they sell nothing but 
poisonously bad spirits instead of a great deal of 
ordinary beer and a little moderately bad whisky 
and gin. And then the dead set against pawn- 
brokers. No doubt pawning is a miserably foolish 
and extravagant system, but on ne dStruit quen 
remplafant Nothing has taken the pawnbroker's 
place, and so his agents come thirty or forty mUes 
by train, tap at the doors, and ask the people if they 
are sure they don't want to pawn something. Or 
else three or four women join together to pay the 
railway fare and expenses of a neighbour, generally 
a widow with very little money and plenty of 


unoccupied time. It ends in their paying about 
fifty per cent instead of the seventeen to twenty- 
four that it usually works out at/' "Have you 
ever been there ? " " Never ; if one knows those 
two facts, and also that wages are irregular and 
nominally high, one can picture all the rest." 

My first visit to the town was too brief for me 
to arrive at any conclusion, but six years later I 
learnt definitely that the broad lines drawn by 
her trained imagination were only too true : the 
sordid and ugly details readily slipped into place. 
It seems incredible, but many of the oldest 
inhabitants, persons whose names were to. he** 
found on every subscription Ust and lent prestige 
to every charitable committee, entirely agreed 
with my first informant: these excellent regula- 
tions existed, their eflFect must be good, and the 
working-class wives and children as a whole 
must be in a state to be envied by all the rest 
of the world. I said to one of those who claimed 
unstinted admiration for everything within a radius 
of two miles, " I am acquainted with several poor 
districts in London, and with garrison, seaport, 
and cathedral towns, — and with some which have 
the disadvantage of being all three, — but I have 
never seen anything to compare with the drunken- 
ness, wife-beating, and child-neglect that there is 
here." " Should you say that there is any 


drunkenness here?" she asked, astonished at 
my vehemence but unshaken in her opinion. 
It has since occurred to me that most long- 
established townspeople suffer from a kind of 
moral presbyopia ; they are so exceedingly anxious 
to reform other towns, especially great cities, and 
so oblivious of their own weak points. A few 
months ago a " prominent citizen " appealed from 
the platform for funds for the N.S.P.C.C., funds 
entirely to be spent in other places, because " of 
course we have nothing of that kind going on 

tere." His blindness must have been to a great 
stent' wilful, for the Society's inspector told me : 
" As soon as I could get a quiet word with him, 
I said, ' Come with me, sir, and within a pistol- 
shot I'll show you two of the worst cases I've 
ever seen, and I've seen a good deal in the course 
of my life. If you haven't had your dinner already, 
you'll eat none to-day.' And he wouldn't go ! " 

A little attention might most profitably be 
diverted from the oldest districts of the largest 
cities to small towns and rapidly growing neigh- 
bourhoods. Not long since, in a town numbering 
less than four thousand inhabitants, I found a 
slum that could not easily have been equalled 
in London or Manchester, and in a town whose 
name I had never before heard I was told by 
a newly appointed local authority that the over- 


crowding was a scandal. In one house containing 
four very small and low rooms lie had found 
six adults and sixteen children, and it required 
several visits and many threate of prosecution 
before he could even discover which of the adults 
was responsible for the three most neglected 
of the chUdren. 

Indirect results of a beneficial nature seem 
sometimes almost fortuitous. In a town where 
a large proportion of the wage-earners Uved so 
far from their work that midday dinner was an 
impossibility for them, I had noted the bad effect 
that this had upon the meals of the women and 
children and the slackness and idling over house 
work partly caused by insufficient occupation and 
partly by unnourishing food. What was to be 
done? Neither time nor strength would permit 
the men to take the double journey on foot ; 
their wages although regular were small, and 
the tram fares would have been twopence a day 
for some and fourpence for others, and neither 
hours nor routes suited the workers in question. 
The general system of the trams, in fact, was 
only adapted to men who came from a considerable 
distance and saved the fares on their rent. There 
was a small omnibus company in the town, slowly 
but not silently fading away. Suddenly the 
brilliant idea struck the proprietors that these 


old-fashioned vehicles could be used to suit the 
convenience of the short-distance men, taking 
them as nearly as possible from door to door at 
a halfpenny a head. An enormous impulse to 
domestic industry (in the right sense of the words) 
has been given, and the mingled blessings resulting 
from punctuality, hot food, regular family inter- 
course, and "paying as you go," are widespread. 
Needless to say, there are persons who would — 
light-heartedly and with a good conscience— have 
risked all the indirect results of subsidising the 
trams at the general expense of the ratepayers, 
or " taking them over " and trying to make them 
do work for which they were unfitted. In the 
country I have known five middle-aged and 
elderly workmen, too stifi* for cycling, able to 
undertake well-paid work six or seven miles from 
their cottages owing to their co-operative ownership 
of a horse and cart. I believe the horse was over 
twelve when they bought him, but as he is 
reasonably well fed and they are content to jog 
along quietly, reading and smoking, he viU not, 
as they express it, owe them very much by the 
time he dies. 

A curious instance of indirect results was 
brought under my notice by a Frenchman well 
acquainted with his eastern neighbours. " In our 
army the men arQ oftea harassed aiid worried 


and sometimes insulted^ but these id very little 
personal violence compared with what you find 
among the Germana" "How do you account 
for it ? " " WeU," he replied drily, " if you ill-treat 
a German soldier beyond the point he finds 
endurable, he shoots himself. The Frenchman 
would shoot someone else — ^to begin with, at 
any rate." 

The consequences of shorter hours of labour 
are not entirely beneficent to wage-earners past 
their first youth, not merely because many of 
them do not know how to occupy their leisure 
and are too set in their ways to learn, but 
because of the difficult mental and physical 
adaptation implied by turning from long hours 
modified by dawdling to briefer but more strenuous 
labour. I remember a large establishment where 
the hours averaged about nine and a half all 
through the year and were about to be reduced 
to eight. "Look at that!" one of the officials 
exclaimed to me. "If they think we can afibrd 
that kind of thing out of an eight-hour day, 
they're very much mistaken. They won't find 
it all joy, I can tell them!" L looked : for 
some purpose a small piece of quartering had 
been needed ; oifie man held the wood in place 
with his foot, one man leisurably sawed it through, 
one man stood waiting to receive it when finished, 


and all three talked. Two or tiiree years lat^ 
I was told that all the elderly men continTied 
to dislike the change, and that those who were 
even approaching middle-age had found it a 
great strain. 

The indirect effects of regular-attendance medals 
upon the statistics of measles, diphtheria, etc., 
might be well worth inquiring into. My advice 
to every school nurse when searching for cases of 
incipient illness is : next to the most neglected 
children, give your closest attention to the best 
dressed and most anxiously cared -for. The 
neglected child will often go to school when 
feeling wretchedly ill because it has nothing more 
attractive to do ; the ambitious child of ambitious 
parents will conceal symptoms of illness with the 
most sedulous care if he has a medal in view; 
while the average child of the average mother 
would simply sit down and cry until given 
permission to stay at home and sit by the fire. 
: We all have our favourite charities, our favourite 
hobbies, our favourite line on which to urge forward 
meddlesome legislation. Surely it would be wise to 
stop occasionally and ask ourselves, What are the 
indirect results of — for example — soup kitchens, 
free boots, public entertainments for cripples, recrea- 
tion schools, and comfortable shelters for tramps ? 

On the outskirts of a wealthy town I was shown 


a row of cottages and told that nearly every year 
they were flooded for several weeks. "And yet 
there is not a single one vacant/' I remarked. 
"They must be most unhealthy, but I suppose 
the rent is temptingly low ? " " On the contrary," 
replied my informant, who had known the dis- 
trict well for some forty years, " On the contrary, 
rent is at a premium. You see, it is well known 
that directly the floods are out a subscription list 
will be opened *to cope with the exceptional 
distress and lamentable destruction of property.' 
When the few sticks of furniture have been hand- 
somely replaced and the balance divided, the 
tenants think it almost a point of honour to move 
on *and give someone else a chance,' but if all 
the assistance were given in money, they would 
probably remain, and the same stage property 
would be * washed away ' time after time. From 
one point of view, the most serious part of the 
matter is the number of persons who are simply 
bribed and tempted to ruin their health by Uving 
there. Some die, but others linger as fresh food 
for the epicure in charities." 

Not long since a woman doctor wrote to me : 
'*My first dressership in the out-patient depart- 
ment of a general hospital made me realise how 
much we are doing towards undermining the 
independence of the people who come to us," 


At no point have benevolent people more 
nearly succeeded in pauperising the poor than with 
regard to medical attendance. Common humanity, 
of course, dictates that such assistance should be 
within the reach of all, and in the present state of 
society it is reasonable that the very poorest 
should receive it gratis, and persons with an income 
from all sources of less than 25s. a week for 
a very small fee if paid in the form of an insur- 
ance. But is there the smallest excuse why the 
families of men in receipt of thirty, forty, or more 
shillings a week should expect to have medical 
advice freely, or for a ludicrously inadequate sum ? 

Last autumn a woman I knew very well wished 
to consult a doctor. She had been married ten or 
eleven years, but it was the first time she had 
needed one. There were no children, the weekly 
income was just under 30s., and was earned in a 
neighbourhood cheap as far as all the necessaries 
of life were concerned. The husband had never 
had a day's illness since his childhood, and had 
never been out of work since he was a lad of 
eighteen. She did not care to employ local talent, 
although there were two doctors of sufficient 
reputation to be consulted in the gravest crises by 
the wealthiest persons in a large provincial town, 
and she went to her parents in London, the bare 
travelling expenses being 26s. I do not know the 


parents' exact income, bat they had no children 
dependent on them, they were always well 
dressed and looked thoroughly well fed, and they 
paid 7s. 6d. rent for three large rooms, which 
is considered a liberal allowance of space for two 
elderly persons. On her return firom town a fort- 
night later she told me that she had first seen the 
doctor "just for a few minutes," and had then 
gone to his house, accompanied by her mother, 
and he had "thoroughly examined her." For 
his opinion, which proved to be perfectly correct, 
she paid the sum of sixpence, and she spoke to me 
with the deepest and most self-righteous scorn of 
people better oflf than herself "who won't never 
pay nothing to a doctor, and if they give twopence, 
expect to get the bottle o' med'cine in." 

One unlooked-for result of so much free and 
tenth-part-paid medical attendance is that poor 
but independent persons have to pay at a very 
high rate for all they receive. A few months ago 
a woman of eighty, living with her husband of 
about the same age in a four-roomed cottage at 
half a crown a week, fell down the rickety, ladder- 
like stairs and injured her shoulder. The doctor 
visited her for less than a fortnight, and did not 
come every day, and then sent in a bill for £5, Os. 6d. 
She at once drew £5 from the savings bank, and 
sent it to him with a message that if he wanted 


the sixpence he could come and fetch it himself. 
The private income possessed by the old couple 
was extremely small, and they both still worked 
for a considerable part of their subsistence. In 
another instance a middle-aged cottager had to pay 
£2, 12s. 6d. for three visits and a little medicine. 

I hear much of the noble generosity and dis- 
interestedness of doctors, but it seems to me that 
most of them receive as large incomes as any other 
professional men. When, chiefly to save them- 
selves trouble, or to gain experience or a reputation, 
they attend the poor for nothing, they do not 
abjure that portion of their gains — they simply 
take it from the next person who can or will pay 
them. It is a kind of Robin Hood morality, and 
they are often more mistaken as to the means than 
as to the good-will of their patients. 

There can be no doubt that the out-patient 
department of hospitals is seriously abused, and 
the patients and their friends not seldom waste an 
amount of time and money over their attendance 
which would have been sufficient to pay for the 
services of the fuUy qualified practitioner living 
not 200 yards from their door. I knew an 
artisan^s wife who week after week took her 
young son to a hospital where she paid twopence 
for a bottle of medicine. She had to spend ten- 
pence on omnibus fares, and was often obliged to 


wait four hoars for the minute-and-a-half interview 
with the doctor. At the end of that time she 
generally ^^felt that feiint" and was unable to 
return home without refreshment, usuallj paying 
sixpence for what she could have provided at home 
for three-hal^nce. Simultaneously with these 
twopenny bottles of medicine, and of course 
unknown to the hospital authorities, the lad was 
swallowing expensive quack remedies, one of which 
cost 20s. and did him so much harm that for 
some weeks the mother was afraid to try any 
further experiments. 

Nor is the multiplication of cottage hospitals 
an unmixed blessing in rural districts. I have 
received bitter complaints that doctors now com- 
monly decline "to attend cottagers unless they are 
literally unable to leave their beds. Medical and 
surgical cases alike, and of nearly all degrees of 
gravity, have to find their way as best they can to 
the surgery possibly five miles or more from their 
home. Every really zealous doctor would insist 
on seeing patients in the environment in which 
they have to be nursed, in order that his advice 
may as far as possible meet all the circumstances 
of the case. What is the use of treating a man 
for consumption or rheumatism unless you go to 
his house and find out all that he is doing to 
aggravate the disease ? 


Club doctors are as a rule so overworked and 
underpaid that **a halfpenny diogenes" (diagno- 
sis) is becoming a standing joke among working- 
men— a very grim one when viewed by its 
frequent results. And yet many of the middle 
classes, as ready as anyone else to be pauperised, 
are longing to insure themselves in a somewhat 
similar fashion. A short time ago I heard of a 
man in receipt of an income of £600 asking the 
best doctor in the place to enter into b/ contract to 
attend on him, his wife, four sickly children, and 
one servant for an inclusive fee of £5 per annum. 
He was hurt and astonished when the offer met 
with a civil refusal. 
~ Needless to say, it is not only in the out-depart- 
ments of hospitals that the pauperising tendency 
is at work. In my opinion, no one but the father 
or mother of a young family, and by no means 
all of these, should be admitted entirely without 
payment to any hospital ward, and especially no 
child of a legally dependent age. I remember 
observing a lively, healthy-looking little girl of 
nine or ten in a London hospital, and asked 
how long she had been there. To my utter 
astonishment — for it was a case of an ordinary 
nature and no great severity — I was told " Four- 
teen months," and on further inquiry learnt that 
she was one of a moderate-sized family, and her 


father was in regular receipt of 35s. a week. Not 
one farthing had been paid bj the parents towards 
the child's maintenance, nor had they even been 
asked to make a subscription. Very soon after, in 
another hospital, I came across a boy of fourteen 
who had been an in-patient for nine weeks owing 
to an injury which had occurred the first day he 
went to work. He was insured for 10s. a week (one 
single penny, by the way, was all that the insurance 
ofl&ce had received). This money the parents were 
permitted to pocket, while the authorities were pub- 
lishing most pathetic appeals for funds. 

All children and dependents ought to be paid for 
in strict proportion to the income of their natural 
guardians, and the charge should never be less 
than the bare cost of maintenance (exclusive of 
rent) of a person in that class of life in their own 
home ; even if it were but fifteen or eighteen pence 
a week, I would exact it. Strict rules ought also 
to be drawn up to meet the case of well-to-do 
persons carried to hospitals after meeting with a 
street accident. After remaining for days, and 
even weeks, members of the wealthier classes — and 
then only under moral pressure — ^will hand in a 
cheqne which does not represent the tenth part 
of what their expenses would have amounted to 
if they had been conveyed immediately to their 
own homes. 


With regard to the support of religious organisa- 
tions, it cannot be said that the poor as a whole 
have ever been independent. Members of small 
and struggling sects often make genuine personal 
sacrifices to support the form of worship that they 
prefer, but the rich chapel pauperises as extensively 
as the rich church ; the poor are carefully encouraged 
in the belief that they are to receive everything 
and give nothing, and soon establish an exacting 
code of how much they may claim in return for 
the smallest amount of complaisance or outward 
conformity. "Ye — es," I heard a woman whining' 
to a worried-looking deacon not any too well oflf 
himself, " Ye — es, they've been and sent me some 
grosheries and coal and a meat ticket, but none of 
them don't think for to ast how my rent is runnin' 
on," and she intimated clearly that she might be 
reluctantly compelled to attend some more liberal 
form of worship. But it was a man who succeeded 
in reducing the practice of conformity to a minimum. 
His wife attended chapel and he went nowhere, 
but he was regarded with profitable approval in 
certain quarters because he had announced that 
" if he went anywhere, it would be to church." 

Every church and chapel has practically similar 

plans for battling " with the present distress," the 

same inability to look ahead, the same lack of 

moral courage and common-sense, and the same 



essentially low and pessimistic views of human 
nature ; but the associations that seem to me the 
most injurious to thrift and foresight are those 
which treat childbirth not only as an undeserved 
but as a totally unexpected misfortune, which ought 
to loosen the purse-strings even of the most prudent 
as readily as the news of an earthquake or a 
destructive cyclone. They are not as far advanced 
as a poor woman of my acquaintance who remarked 
drily, "Children doesn't walk in unbeknownst; 
they always gives you nine months' notice." 

Next to this, if not before it, one must deprecate 
all charitable assistance given in their own homes 
to permanently invalided married men. I have 
known families of from three to eight children 
bom after their fathers became unable to work. 
These men were mainly supported in the name of 
religion, and their oflfspring for the most part had 
little joy in living and scanty prospect of ever 
benefiting the community to the extent of a year's 
steady work. 

Another most injurious form of charity, when 
carried out on a large scale, is the provision of 
free clubs and recreation rooms. If these institu- 
tions were taken advantage of only by the poorest 
of the poor, there might be a large balance of 
advantage, but these rarely make use of them, or 
only for a short period immediately after their 


foundation. They are used to a considerable extent, 
if not exclusively, by the most respectable people 
in the parish, and substantially injure their home 
life, and also help to render tolerable an insufficiency 
of house room which ought not to be endured for 
a moment, and which in many cases would not 
long be borne if it were not for the mistaken 
kindness of these alleviations. 

I remember several times visiting an evening 
class for boys instructed giratuitously by two ladies. 
The subject was badly taught, the boys were under 
no discipline whatever, and therefore did not 
benefit even indirectly, and one had only to look 
at their clothing and listen to their conversation 
in order to realise that they were not neglected 
wastrels but lads with decent homes and parents 
capable of looking after them. Less -than a mile 
away an old-established teacher of this very subject 
was receiving charitable assistance because he and 
his invalid wife were in actual want of food. I 
cannof still further point the moral by saying that 
he was a good teacher, but estimating the best 
exponent of theS^^t I have ever seen at 100, I 
should put him down at 50, and the two well- 
meaning amateurs 4t about 1 for their knowledge 
and 5 for their poiwer of imparting it. I have 
never visited a recitation school, "but a lady who 
had done so told me that two peoplej were engaged 



to put away the toys when the children had 
finished with them— thus depriving them of the 
great lesson taught in every nursery. 

Even compulsory education has among its draw- 
backs the fact that the parents are relieved of 
their children's presence for so many waking hours 
that they voluntarily remain in quarters dispropor- 
tioned to their real needs and their average income, 
bitterly complaining of the holidays and sending 
their children to school fully two years earlier 
than it is desirable they should go, and often 
making them attend when they are obviously 
ailing and ought to remain at home. 

We talk of the independence of the poor, but 
what value do we really place on it? Is it, in 
the cant of the day, considered a " national asset " ? 
How many capable and charitable people can lay 
their hand on their conscience and declare that they 
are not flattered by helplessness ? 

Above aU, what is meant by saying that children 
are a " burden " to their parents and a " gain " to 
the State? It seems suspiciously like the trivial 
fallacy: "You can afford to lose a little on each 
sale because of the enormous demand." If children 
are worth nothing to their parents they are worth 
nothing to anyone else, and the sooner the world 
comes to an end the better. 

The real attitude of the unpauperised poor 


towards their children was well expressed by a 
woman who had lost hers by emigration and who 
said, " I miss them, and I want them ; and I miss 
them mair than I want them." It was for love's 
sake that she mourned, not for money or service. 
" Endow motherhood ! " Was ever a grosser 
insult breathed? It is left for the charitable 
and religious public to make suggestions that the 
satirist would find too bitter and the libertine too 

Sympathy is a necessary quaUty for all who 
would work among the poor, but it is sympathy 
with their life as a whole that is required, and not 
merely with its trials and misfortunes. All hyper- 
sensitive persons may safely console themselves 
with the belief that although they do not fully 
realise the bitterness that lies in other people's lot, 
they are often wholly ignorant of its consolations. 
I had a patient blind, paralysed, depende&fr on 
grudging service, irreligious, unintellectual, suffer- 
ing from insomnia, and spending fully twenty out 
of the twenty-four hours in unbroken solitude. 
This man derived a simply incalculable amount of 
satisfaction from the mental contemplation of his 
own admirable leanness and other people's actual 
or presumed obesity. Whenever I had persuaded 
kind-hearted persons to spend an hour with him, 
his one invariable comment had reference to their 


condition in this particular. On one occasion I 

asked, " What makes you think that Mrs. is 

fat? Her rings are slipping from her fingers." 
" Ah, but she has a fet voice. Eh, but Fd rather 
be lean." 

We all think that the poor are entitled to the 
benefit of the kindly impulses of our hearts, but 
we are strangely slow to believe that human 
feUowship demands that we should devote some 
part of our brains to them in addition. If a poor 
man complains of any hardship in his lot, do not 
let us ease our mind by giving him *' the price of 
a pint," or wliatever the equivalent may be in our 
social dealings with wage-earners. Let us try and 
understand his grievance, dwell on it, weigh it 
carefully, trace its cause one step backwards, fore- 
cast its immediate results, even if we can do no 
more. And it is by no means superfluous, even if 
we are convinced of the complainant's good faith, 
to remind ourselves daily of certain weighty words 
of Adam Smith : " The man scarce lives who is not 
more credulous than he ought to be, and who does 
not upon many occasions give credit to tales which 
not only turn out to be perfectly false, but which a 
very moderate degree of reflection and attention 
might have taught him could not well be true," 
while an earlier philosopher warns us further : 
"Quoique ces personnes n'aient point d'int^rSt k 


ce qu'ils disent, il ne faut pas conclure de la absolu- 
ment qu'ils ne mentent point." 

If we would avoid pauperising the poor, in- 
credulity must take rank as one of the first of 
social virtues. Even at the present day accurate 
knowledge of widespread conditions of life takes a 
long time to pass from one class to another, and an 
evil may have reached its culminating point and 
may have found a natural remedy before we are 
well aware of its existence. Just as the trader 
follows the missionary, and the soldier too often 
follows the trader, social legislation comes fast_jon 
the heels of charitable impulse, and while the most 
foolish of individuals may be cheaply reconverted 
to some less harmful doctrine, a law once passed 
can rarely be wiped clean from the statute book. 

Perhaps the most necessary mental acquirement 
for the poor at the present day is the ability to 
spread out unequal earnings equally over the en- 
tire year. The successful professional or business 
man has not only to do this but to average the 
gains of several years before he can fix a reasonable 
standard of living for himself and his family ; but 
when one considers that alternations of feast and 
famine, scrape and squander are by no means un- 
known among the middle classes, such self-control 
cannot immediately be expected of the lower 
divisions of workers, and unhappily it is those who 


are most affected by seasonal trades. Foresight is 
still so little developed among the poor that few 
of them seem really to grasp the conditions of 
the occupation by which they earn their Uving. 
They do not, for example, regard themselves as 
persons earning £2 a week for forty weeks and a 
few uncertain shillings for the remaining twelve, 
and accept the fact that this means some 30s. 
a week all the year through. Eighty pounds 
a year is a sum on which a family of the 
ordinary size can live in comfort, but not if it is 
subjected to the wholly unnecessary and self- 
imposed tax of selling £20 or £30 worth 
of personal and household possessions every 
slack season for the price of old lumber, and 
gradually replacing them at full cost when trade 
is brisk. If men and their wives could but grasp 
what is meant by average wages, a constantly re- 
curring excuse for State aid and charitable doles 
would be removed, and most of the hardships 
and degradations of their lives would be swept 


The Practical Drawbacks of Small Farms 

Farming on a small scale is the favourite 
panacea at the present moment for many social 
ills, notably that of unemployment. That any 
man well understanding what he is about and 
desiring to purchase a parcel of land should be 
hindered from doing so is an injustice, and may 
be a personal misfortune ; but that large numbers 
of men should be bribed, persuaded, and entreated 
to enter on a life which they have scarcely one 
of the many qualities necessary for leading suc- 
cessfully, would amount to a national misfortune 
and stimulate no trade but that of the money- 

Some enthusiasts advocate small holdings 
because convinced that the produce would be 
incalculably greater than from large farms ; others 
because they imagine the life of the farmer to be 
so much more elevating than that of the wage- 
earner and that it creates a type of character in 


which tireless energy is somehow combined with 
contentment ; others because, although recognising 
that the net profit to the community may be 
uncertain, and the life of the farmer and his wife ( 
narrow, harassing, and austere, the small holder I 
breeds a hardy race of sons and daughters. The 
superfluous sons, one gathers, are to be food for 
powder, and no one troubles about the daughters. 

Let us abandon theories for a few moments 
and come down to plain facts, most of them open 
to the observation of all men and women and 
many of them thrust upon the notice of every 
housekeeper living in the country or in any of 
those towns which remain in close touch with the 
country. We all recognise the economic dis- 
abilities of the small shopkeeper: in a village, 
or in the workmen's quarters of a town, he may 
manage to exist by charging high prices or by sell- 
ing a poor quality of goods ; but unless in addition 
he shows prudence and even hard-heartedness 
in the matter of giving credit, he will soon be 
ruined. The small farmer's power to charge his 
immediate neighbours a high price is narrowly 
limited, and many of his goods have to be sold 
at low rates because they are obviously inferior 
to what can be brought to market by men with 
more command of labour, better appliances, and 
the mechanical skill arising from greater division 



of employment. Go into the largest shop in a 
country town and ask for butter on what is 
locally called *'the wrong day." If you are a 
good customer you will be told : "I wouldn't 
recommend you to buy more than you really need, 
m'm. To-morrow we shall have it in from a big 
dairy that we can depend on. What comes from 
the small farms is well enough if it can be sold 
and eaten within three days, but I end by passing 
a great deal of it over to the pastry cook. Why 
do I buy it ? Well, all the winter they run into 
debt with me for groceries, and when the summer 
comes I must take what I can get or lose my 
money altogether. Just look at those two couple 
of fowls — breasts as keen as a knife, no pretence 
at being what you could call a good table bird ; 
but it was a case of that or nothing." Go to 
another shop and repeat your demand, and you 
will be offered "lovely Danish." "But why sell 
foreign butter when you have scores of dairies 
close at hand ? " "I find you can't depend on 
the small farmers' butter. I mean you can't even 
depend on getting it. One promises me ten 
pounds, another fifteen, and so on. Very well ; 
one week they can't get anyone to do the churning, 
and another the wife is ill, or the butter "runs 
short," or the market price has dropped a penny 
and they suddenly decide that it isn't worth their 


while to make it, and they don't even take the 
trouble to send me a postcard. I am sick of being 
found fault with by my customers for what I can't 
help, so I stick to Danish and a little Jersey 
once a week. New-laid eggs? Well, all I can 
guarantee is that they were not more than a 
week old when I bought them. The small farms 
only send them in once a week, and no one knows 
where they've been lying in the meantime. With 
careless treatment eggs can be older and mustier 
in three hours than they would be in three weeks 
if they were handled properly." 

In one rural district where land was cheap and 
easily obtained, I bought eggs for several weeks 
from a small farmer. They tasted exactly as I 
have known eggs taste which came from an 
** Elephant and Castle " back yard, and were pre- 
sented to me by most inconveniently grateful 
patients. In vain I reminded myself that the sales- 
man had twenty-two acres of land on a wind-swept 
hill. No amount of faith could season those eggs, 
and at last I went to see where the fowls were kept. 
There were some fifty fowls in a house designed 
(by the advertiser) for forty, but in which I know 
from practical experience that not more than five- 
and-twenty should have plept. This house opened 
on to a wired run so small that when food was 
flung into it a large proportion never reached the 


ground — the birds ate it off one another's backs. 
" Do you never let them out ? " I asked. " Not 
often : they do such a lot of damage." I dared 
not ask how often the run was shifted, but if it 
had been done five times a day the birds could not 
have been in a sufficiently clean condition. 

Go then to the com stores, and ask the 
proprietor why he has sent your pony almost 
uneatable hay, and he tells you, in a burst of con- 
fidence which (from a country point of view) is 
full compensation for any injury you have suffered : 
"Truth is, the hay factors stole a march on me. 
They bought up nearly all that was worth having, 
and I have had to take some from the small 
farmers. They're always short of labour, and of 
course nothing can be properly done. Last time I 
was out that way I counted five haystacks with 
chimneys to em." In their unguarded moments 
all the other tradesmen will give you similar 

With regard to the milk from small farms, the 
consumer who cannot be ignorant of its history 
needs the support of fatalism with regard to germs 
of disease and a robust indifference to mere dirt. 
From a lane which commanded a full view of the 
ceremony, I recently watched the milking of seven 
cows. On the arrival of the neighbour who was 
to take the cans into the town, an old man who 


had recently been very ill and had distinguished 
himself by firmly declining to wash for nearly 
seven weeks, hurried to the meadow, and with the 
aid of a dog collected the animals, while a small boy 
recovering from whooping-cough went in search 
of his eldest brother and the one labourer em- 
ployed. The father was dealing with manure half 
a field oflF, and dropped his fork and came forward 
as soon as the cows had been drawn up on the 
filthy piece of ground in front of the house where 
ducks, fowls, pigs, and geese were running about 
freely. His wife, who had been plucking fowls for 
market, came out with three pails, one of which 
she gave to her husband, and after hesitating for 
a minute or two, and observing the neighbour's 
impatience to be gone, took another herself and 
began milking. Presently the two young men 
arrived and she returned to the house, leaving 
them to finish the work. Not one of these four 
persons was even provided with an apron. Later 
on I asked the woman if the cows were yielding 
well. She sighed with fatigue and despondency : 
" They're not giving above half what they should 
be, but if cows don't have water, how can they 
give milk ? We've had to haul every drop for the 

last fortnight." "How does Mr. manage 

with all his horses and cows?" "Oh, he's been 
to a lot of expense. My husband says he doesn't 


know what it didn't cost him ; but of course we 
can't go in for that. A week's dry weather we can 
stand, but if it goes beyond that we're about done 
for." Incidentally I asked how often cow-sheds 
had to be cleaned out. She brightened up as she 
thought of this blessing in her lot: "Not any 
oftener than you like. Over there" — indicating 
another county — "you've got to clean 'em out 
every day and limewash *em every fortnight." 

This spring in another district I was talking to 
a small farmer's wife, and she told me— half proud, 
half tearful : " We lost thirteen piglings last night. 
It turned very cold, and there wasn't anyone 
to do anything for them, and they all froze. We 
lost two lambs with the cold last week, and there's 
two more I don't think we shall save. My father 
had a big flock of sheep and he had three 
shepherds, and they took it turn and turn about 
every night at this time of the year ; but just for a 
few you can't aflFord to have even one shepherd, 
and if you did, he couldn't work night and day." 
"What an extraordinary mixture of birds and 
animals you keep close to the house," I ventured 
to remark. "Do they never try to kill one 
another?" "They does sometimes, but it's so 
convenient to have them close at hand when they 
have to be fed. I've so many other things to see 
to, and it's such a business for a woman walking 


about in all weathers. With animals to look after 
you don't get a bit of peace not from morning till 
night. I do a bit of sewing in the winter, but the 
rest of the time things have to hold together as 
best they can." The next day a turkey cock killed 
a very fine bufi* Orpington hen, and another lamb 
died. Within a week some enemy — nominally a 
fox — ^got into the hen roost, where there were large 
openings only stuffed up with rags ; but a splendid 
peacock, which happened to have taken shelter 
there, shrieked so appallingly that the unidentified 
enemy killed it and fled. The first person who 
examined the corpse declared that it had been 
"gnawn," but the question has not yet been 

The small farmer and his family can no more 
help these things from happening than the small 
shopkeeper can keep his goods from becoming 
damaged by crowded storage and slow sale. How 
to supply sufficient labour without paying for it is 
the ever-recurring problem, especially as all work 
has to be done with the poorest implements and 
appliances, and there is neither money nor energy 
to remedy even the most time-destroying incon- 
veniences. The wife is usually a willing slave up 
to and even beyond the limit of her strength, and 
sometimes the children also are zealous, but very 
rarely. I found a farmer's only son, aged six, in 


sole charge of three cows, which he was to drive 
slowly along the lanes, allowing them to feed as 
they went. ** Will they do what you tell them ? " 
I asked. " They've got to ! " he replied sturdily. 
Two years later I often saw him spend the whole 
summer evening riding the horse that worked some 
primitive machinery. At nine years old he rose as 
early as his father, and all the time before and after 
and between school hours was spent in work. He 
is eleven now ; there are few things that he cannot 
do, but I doubt if he will do any of them much 
longer. But as a rule the boys protect themselves 
only too well. Another small landowner close by 
has six sons. The first and second were not 
especially averse to farming, but neither were they 
particularly useful at home, and the father hastened 
to place one as a labourer on a large farm and 
allowed the other to find a situation for himself 
in some stables. The third son detested the 
ceaseless drudgery, and ultimately ran away ^ and 
disappeared. The fourth was permitted to take a 
situation at a shop in the nearest town, or he 
would probably have done the same. " Can you 
manage without him?" I asked the mother. 
" Well, it don't hardly seem as if we can, but Jim'll 
soon be able to leave school, and I've been a bit 
stronger myself lately ; and then boys is never 
much good when there's creatures to be fed." Nearly 


eighteen months later I was surprised to find Jim 
still at school, and thought I had somehow lost 
count of his age. "No," said his mother, "he's 
fourteen, goin' on fifteen, but his father says he'd 
sooner have him at school than what he'd be 
bothered with him about the place. He's give 
him black arms and black legs more than once, 
but he couldn't get a bit o' work out of him. He 
says he'll have to make out as best he can till 
Jack's fit to help him." It will be some time 
before Jack can cross his father's hopes ; at present 
he is not quite three, and divides his energies very 
fairly between slapping the only girl and dropping 
miscellaneous articles into the pig's trough. The 
arch opponents of the man who wishes for a small 
holding will always be those of his own household. 

I have no statistics on the subject, but after 
nearly nine years' observation of families on holdings 
ranging from five to two hundred acres, I doubt 
whether there is any class where hard drinkers 
and gamblers are as numerous among husbands, 
where so many wives die prematurely or linger in 
a state of health which makes life a daily burden, 
where so many of the daughters are misshapen 
and deformed by hard work undertaken at too 
early an age, or where the sons so frequently fall 
into wasteful and vicious habits. 

It is almost impossible for the small farmer's wife 


to obtain help with her house and dairy work or 
with her pigs and poultry. Even if she is willing 
to pay thirty or forty per cent, higher wages than 
the surrounding gentry and shopkeepers, her house 
is boycotted by all respectable parents on account 
of the casual and low-class labour employed by her 
husband, unmarried men "oflF the roads," taking 
their meals in the kitchen and sleeping in sheds ; 
while for her children's sake she is often forced to 
refuse the women and girls whose rough and care- 
less assistance is at her disposal. 

I recently read a statement that "one million 
families could be supported on the waste land 
of England." No one doubts that they could be 
supported on the desert of Sahara by the involun- 
tary subscriptions of the rest of the world, but 
could they support themselves? Although the 
construction of the sentence is a trifle ambiguous, 
the writer doubtless meant to express his belief 
that they could, but it is difficult to say on what 
the belief is founded. Has there been an enormous 
rise in the value of agricultural produce, or immense 
improvements in methods capable of being applied 
on a small scale by women and children and partly 
trained men, or have a million men with a genius 
for farming, and provided with families of the right 
size, age, and disposition, been suddenly created ? 

To the ignorant, and apparently to many en- 


thusiastio persons who cannot — and certainly do 
not wish to— plead ignorance, one piece of land 
is of the same value as another. Earth, with a 
little political aid, is as homogeneous and as 
divisible as metal A hundred-acre farm can be 
turned by mere measurement into five, ten, or 
even fifty excellent holdings. In face of me, as 
I write, is a twenty-acre meadow surrounded by 
high hedges, adorned by five mighty elms, and 
covered with the richest-looking grass. To the 
inexperienced eye it is as good as it is beautiful, 
but the farmer who leases it " in with the rest " 
of his two hundred odd acres tells me : ^' It is so 
damp that half the year it is of no manner of use 
to me. Cows can stand a good bit of wet, but 
not that" In an exceptionally dry year, this 
quality of the ground might even be of advantage ; 
but suppose that meadow, or a portion of it, were 
the sole support of a family ? Three years ago, 
an ambitious young man, steady, industrious, 
recently married, unwittingly hired a small farm 
composed of such land. Three months ago he was 
" sold up," and left it accompanied by his wife, 
two babies, and a handful of clothing. He had 
lost everything else, including what to the ordinary 
man of twenty-eight is his most valuable asset — 
his health. As long as he lives rheumatic fever 
will play cat and mouse with him. 


And what of the hardy breed of sons and 
daughters ? Both parents are usually overworked, 
but especially the mother, and poor as the produce 
of the farm may be, it is the poorest part that 
falls to the share of the producers. Except in the 
case of illness, nothing of marketable value must 
be used. In the majority of cases, it would be 
found that the children have less butter, milk, and 
eggs than the children of the man earning about 
a guinea a week ; and if they have more meat, it 
is meat of a quality that it would be difficult and 
even dangerous to sell. The housing, especially 
with regard to bedrooms, is often exceedingly bad, 
and the ignorance of all matters connected with 
the preservation of health is far denser than among 
ordinary sociable workmen and their wives. Given 
these facts, what results can be expected ? 



The Spending of the Superfluous 

The existence of the superfluous, of more than is 
necessary for the continuance of life and health 
and activity, may be attributed to society as a 
whole ; the proportion of the superfluous that falls 
to any large class depends upon the general 
abilities of that class ; but the expenditure of the 
superfluous is to a great extent a matter of 
individual choice, and supplies a key, not only 
as to moral character, but as to intellect. One's 
first observation is, however, that the amount of 
the superfluous is estimated very differently by 
the majority of the workers receiving it and by 
more cultivated onlookers. 

The number of superfluities that can be bought 
on a family income of a pound a week is simply 
amazing to witness, but this is partly because 
necessities, from certain points of view, are so 
narrowly limited. Even in homes where there is 
double or treble that sum coming in weekly, it is 


by no means unusual to find that one cheap comb, 
^th half its teeth missing, serves for six or seven 
people without the help of a single hairbrush ; one 
broom, unaided by a dustpan, sweeps wood, stone, 
or matting, as the case may be ; the same tin or 
earthenware basin is used to wash the dinner 
things, to bath the baby, to make a pudding-, to 
mix starch, or is brought to the district nurse 
to use for her patient. In the poorest houses, 
however, there are almost invariably photographs, 
vases, and ornaments in abundance, besides a con- 
siderable number of articles designed for use, but 
considered too good for the purpose, and rang- 
ing in size from a sofa to a drinking cup or a 

I doubt if any real conversation between 
members of two classes is possible. All my 
conversations with my patients and their friends 
have been of an exceedingly one-sided character; 
that is to say, in some cases I talked, and in some 
they did, but we never took anything like equal 
parts. A question, a shade of surprise, the faintest 
dissent from their views, the lack of instant appro- 
bation, would generally be enough to silence them, 
and in many instances cause them to veer round 
suddenly, and bring forward opinions in direct 
opposition to those they had already expressed. 
Anxiety for their health always made me extremely 


anzioas to introduce any labour-saving appliances 
within their means, and I spent a considerable 
part of my time in eulogising the inventor of 
oilcloth. As a substitute for carpet one may call 
it execrable, but as an impermeable covering for 
boards, to prevent the necessity of scrubbing them, 
it is excellent, and my advice to my patients 
always was: '*Go without everything but food 
until you have covered your kitchen and passage 
with oilcloth and a few mats. Never scrub if you 
can help it, and, when it cannot be avoided, use 
very little water and let that water be hot and 
clean." But this was never a popular method of 
laying out the superfluous : they preferred scrub- 
bing, and then spending indefinite sums at the 
chemist's on embrocation for rheumatism or oint- 
ment for a bad knee. 

It often seems to me that the smaller the income 
the larger the proportion of it that is spent in 
drugs. "A bottle of stuff' from the chemist's" 
ranks higher than anything direct from a doctor, 
probably because more money has to be paid for it. 
People who declare that it is useless to expect the 
poor to spend three-halfpence on a tooth brush 
have little conception of the number of sixpenny 
and even shilling bottles of "toothache mixture" 
that are bought and paid for in even the poorest 
districts, - 


In all classes of life people can rise to meet a 
fresh responsibility. A few years ago a dentist in 
an unfashionable quarter told me : ** We have been 
so busy we have not known which way to turn, 
owing to these new post-office regulations refusing 
to employ girls with neglected teeth. Whenever I 
got a chance, I was always on at their parents for the 
shameful way they let their children's teeth decay, 
when with I little attention they might keep a 
very decent and useful set; but they preferred 
spending their money on things no more necessary 
for them than they are to the man in the moon. 
But it is all changed now ; they know which side 
their bread is buttered." 

The desire for powerful medicines, and more 
particularly for those bitter in taste or effervescent, 
is especially strong among the aged poor. Half 
the complaints of many of the workhouse inmates, 
when they come out to see their friends, are of 
the obstinacy of the doctor and nurses in not 
allowing them to have what they demand in that 

"Doctor say it would kill I to have 'un," 
grumbled one old man, and he would not rest 
until he had circumvented this mean and grudging 
dispenser of medical comforts by spending his few 
pence at a more obliging chemist's, and the pre- 
scription was swallowed without the prophesied 


result. He told me, however, that he had once 
followed a doctor's advice, and thought that he 
owed the last forty years of his life to his good 
sense in doing so : "I worked underground for 
seven years, and then the doctor said if I did stay 
any longer I would want a wooden dress, so I did 
come up and go back to farm work." 

The usual price for a herbalist's prescription 
seems to be half a crown^ and to communicate it 
to a neighbour — ^possibly suffering from a totally 
unrelated disease — is a favourite form of charity ; 
it may also be an act of friendship. This is one of 
several recipes given to me by an aged cobbler: 
" For weak eyes : buy a pennyworth of white 
copperas and two ounces of sugar. Throw half of 
the copperas away and boil the remainder with the 
sugar in a pint of water until it is reduced to half 
a pint. To be applied twice a day." I dared not 
ask whether it was impossible either to buy a 
halfpennyworth of copperas or to use a quart of 
water, but the importance of " throwing away haK" 
was specially impressed on me. 

Foreigners look upon the love of strong drugs 
as a peculiarly English trait, and believe it to be 
coupled with innate power to resist their effects. 
A Swiss chemist told me that he often made up 
prescriptions for Englishmen that he would be 
ftfraid to give to continentals, In fact, "An 


Englishman's dose" is their equivalent expression 
for our " Enough to kill a horse." 

As a child I remember hearing the doctor of a 
great convict prison, who was much troubled by 
malingerers, describe how he had tried to clear 
them out of the hospital by the size and nauseous- 
ness and frequency of the doses of medicine ; but 
the more he did this, the more the men crowded in. 
He reversed the system, and made the portions 
small and few and tasteless, and the infirmary lost 
all attraction except for those really ill. It gave a 
pitiful idea of the appalling dulness of a convict's 
life, and the recollection has made me understand 
why the poorer and more uneducated my patients 
are, and the more monotonous their outward and 
inward life, the more readily they spend money on 
quack medicines. I seldom find them popular 
among those who are eager newspaper readers, or 
in any way display voluntary activity of mind or 
body. Dulness and apathy probably cause as 
many follies and as much waste of time and money 
as excessive love of pleasure and excitement. To 
detect malingerers, by the way, used to be con- 
sidered the main part of the duties of naval and 
mUitary surgeons in times of peace. Even twenty 
years ago this conception was still in full force, and 
I well remember the unpleasant sidelight thrown 
upon the matter by a Scotch inspector-general who 


protested indignantly, "The puir fellows, how 
many are driven to their death I Whenever a 
man's too ignorant to know what's the matter with 
them, and too lazy to find out, he says they're 
shamming, and he can always find commanding 
officers ready to believe him." 

Among all classes of wage-earners the superior 
type of parents are most anxious to spend part of 
the superfluous upon the higher education of their 
children ; but they are often pathetically ignorant 
as to what branches of learning it will be best for 
them to devote their time to, and still more vague 
as to the degree of proficiency in any art or science 
which enables man or woman to earn a decent 
living by it. They are also lamentably in want of 
exact information as to the expense which must be 
incurred, directly and indirectly, before satisfactory 
results can be expected. It is pitiable to see fond 
fathers and mothers spending money they can iU 
afibrd to pay for lessons in music or painting for 
boys and girls who have not a grain of musical or 
artistic ability beyond what is common to the 
normal human being, encouraging and even 
compelling them to " practise," and " get on with 
their drawing" for many hours a day, doing all 
the house work, lest they should spoil their hands, 
and totally unable to see, until it is too late, that 
instead of giving their children a good trade, they 


are preparing for them a future of bitter 
disappointment, harassing anxiety, and semi- 

Popular opinion throws the blame of these de- 
ceptive dreams and fatal miscalculations entirely 
upon the young people themselves and their 
supposed aversion to physical labour, but more 
often than not they were originated by their 
parents, and persisted in with blind infatuation 
and in spite of the children's frequent rebellion 
against the almost unbearable drudgery and 
privation, and their occasional gleams of common- 
sense and their half-understanding of the useless- 
ness and injuriousness of the plans laid out for 
their social advancement. I knew one young lad 
with far more gift for music than is usual among 
these victims of mistaken parental ambition who 
saved himself for a better fate by declaring firmly, 
" I am not a genius, and I do not wish to live 
and die as a twentieth-rate bandsman " ; but such 
clear-sightedness, accompanied by the necessary 
tenacity, is rare at any age. 

Even if the parents' choice is a good and reason- 
able one in itself, their ignorance on the third 
point — the inevitable cost in money and in time^ 
frequently causes not merely disappointment to 
themselves but utterly disastrous results to their 
children. This is especially the case with very 


poor parents who allow clever boys or girls to 
become pupil teachers without in the least realis- 
ing how long it will be before they can earn their 
entire livelihood, and the quality and amount of 
food which is indispensable in order that young 
people may safely bear the threefold strain of 
growing, learning, and teaching. 

" If I'd known what it would mean," said the 
intelligent wife of a labourer, *^ Katie should ha 
gone to service same as her sister done. Her 
health has broke down, and I've had her a whole 
year doing nothing at all ; now she's going up for 
the examination again, but I'm afraid there isn't 
much chance for her, and it'll just be the same 
old tale over again. The doctor says that if she 
is to study like that, we ought to give her plenty 
of fish and mutton and all sorts of things, but how 
can we? I only wish it had never been begun. 
One thing, I haven't let her grow up like many 
teachers does. She knows how to turn her hand 
to everything in a house just as well as her sister 
does. But there ! If she hasn't the strength left to 
do it, it don't make much odds what she knows or 
what she don't know." 

I knew a vigorous, energetic, ambitious widow 
left "with a trade" and three children, and she 
determined that they should all become school 
teachers, "cost what it may." The daughter has 


almost died from anaemia caused by mental and 
physical strain on poor food, one of the sons is at 
present in an asylum, and the other is extremely 
likely to follow him. In another family where 
the parents are sober, steady-going, perfectly 
normal people, and the father earning a good 
living at an outdoor occupation, one son devoted 
to " art " has already paid two visits to an asylum 
and is again showing symptoms of the most hope- 
less form of mental disease, one is earning a 
miserable pittance, and the only daughter is 
almost entirely incapacitated by anaemia. 

These victims to the ignorant, well-intentioned, 
self-sacrificing spending of the superfluous are 
simply innumerable, and it is the more deeply to 
be regrietted because the parents are usually 
estimable people, and the children, though not 
geniuses, are above the average in intellect and 
-until the recUess and unnecessary strain comes 
— ^are also above it in physical strength. 

Parents as a whole are certainly more anxious 
about the education of their children than they 
used to be, and the State concerns itself with the 
matter more closely every year ; but when listen- 
ing to the life stories of prosperous workmen and 
successful house-mothers of sixty, seventy, eighty, 
and more years of age, one sometimes wonders if 
the young people themselves are as eager about 


self-culture in any form as many of them nn- 
doubtedly were in former days. A clever old 
countryman, employed by rich and poor alike 
when work of any skill and nicety has to be done, 
said to me recently, " When I were young, if I did 
want to learn anything I gived a coat. Now you 
do have to give a coat to get anyone to learn any- 
thing. I do keep saying to my grandson. Keep 
your eyes open, learn everything you can. What 
would become of me if I knowed nothing but hard 
work, now my strength be three parts gone? 
But I don't know where their wits is to. By six 
o'clock of a summer afternoon they look to be a 
mile away from their work with a clean collar 
round their necks. Ah, everyone be wantin' I. 
They do snap I up. I give a day here and a day 
there just for to content them." But until old 
age and impaired strength come, there is much to 
be said against having more than one trade ; for it 
often results in men's having to work hard at both, 
and earning less than if they had only one. " I 
know as much about gardening as anyone else, 
but I take good care not to," I was told by a 
country groom. *' I get 23s. a week as a groom, 
and a groom-gardener is lucky if he gets a guinea. 
Plenty of them get 17s. and a little green stuff.'* 

In many families a considerable proportion of the 
superfluous is spent on furniture which in no way 


adds to the immediate comfort of the possessors ; 
but as this form of outlay is almost invariably a 
sign that they are on the upward grade, the pur- 
chases are by no means to be scorned. It may 
be sad to find that the best room in the house Js 
only an air-tight storing-place for the accumulated 
treasure, that the fixed bath is used as a soiled- 
linen basket, and that the jugs in the handsome 
toilet sets are filled with paper instead of water, 
while the proud owners still go downstairs unwashed 
and perform their unwilling ablutions at the sink a 
couple of hours later. Nevertheless, the habit of 
working and saving to obtain these things has been 
formed ; they add greatly to self-respect, and the 
next generation, or even the younger members of 
the existing one, will acquire the habit of using 
them. It is true that there are instances where this 
desire for fine furniture is so premature as to be 
sheer folly. A few weeks ago, for example, a woman 
living in a wretched cottage with a leaking roof 
and not a single dry wall offered to give £X0 
ready money for a second-hand piano for which she 
had no more direct use than was implied by the 
vaguely expressed intention of " letting ^her little 
girl begin music." It might be said in her defence 
that the cottage was not her own, and that any 
money laid out on it might have been lost ; but she 

could have had a far better house fifty yards away 


for the same rent if she would have engaged it 
by the quarter instead of the week ; and a person 
who could afford to spend nearly a year's rent on an 
article that she did not need would surely have been 
justified in risking the loss that might be entailed 
by such an unlikely combination of events as that 
her steady-going husband should be suddenly dis- 
missed from his employment, and be unable to find 
any other berth within cycling distance. Also 
there were house-owners in the same hamlet who 
spent the superfluous chiefly on fine clothes (men 
and women alike), while their roofs and walls were 
in very little better condition than hers. 

Comfort is rarely studied, but is it only among the 
poor, and only in private life, that appearance ranks 
before reality ? A few years ago the captain of the 
largest passenger ship then in existence told me : 
"The company have just spent £10,000 in 
re-decorating the first-class passengers' quarters, 
and, for all the passengers care, they might just as 
well have spent a couple of hundred on a fresh coat 
of paint. But, can you believe it? I had the 
greatest dijQficulty in the world in inducing them to 
buy an afternoon tea-set for the ladies' saloon. Tea 
was served in cups as large as basins and as thick 
as jam-pots-— enough to disgust a schoolboy. At 
last I said I should have to buy one at my own 
expense and put it in the steward's charge ; and then 



they gave in and sent a very decent one. I dare- 
say it came to fourpence a piece, but at anyrate 
women could get it between their teeth without 
dislocating their jaws.*' 

Asa general rule, a surprisingly small proportion 
of the surplus is spent on more abundant or more 
delicate food. When people have once risen beyond 
the point of wasting the margin on drink or 
remaining idle rather than earn a margin, their 
desires are for better clothes, more amusement, 
better furniture, and better prospects for their 
children. The demand for better housing comes 
very late, and if circumstances make it easy for the 
less advanced to obtain good quarters, they and their 
children profit little by them. In five and seven 
roomed houses supplied with every convenience 
and occupied by a single family I have sometimes 
found an appalling amount of dirt and a simply 
poisonous atmosphere. Those who can keep two 
rooms in good order can generally rise to three, and 
those who have managed four or five for a con- 
siderable time may rise to seven ; ordinary human 
nature changes gradually, and not by leaps and 

The only way of learning to spend the superfluous 
wisely is to possess it and have the control of it ; 
but the lessons of experience will be far more quickly 
laid to heart if aided by principles that can to some 


extent be taught at school ; and the advantage of 
having such a mixed population that there are 
suitable examples close at hand cannot easily be 
overrated. We are often told that an ounce of 
practice is worth a pound of theory, but in my 
daily rounds I see tons of experience utterly wasted 
for lack of any principles by which it can be co- 
ordinated. And, above all, one must dismiss the 
idea that thrift is mere abstinence. As an old 
sailor told me very truly, " Any dam' fool can save. 
The difficulty lies in spending." 


Why the Poor prefer Town Life 

The fundamental reason why the countryman 
forsakes the village for the town is because, as 
a sentient being, he naturally seeks surroundings 
which he believes will reduce his pains and increase 
his satisfactions. 

The reason why he believes that this more 
favourable environment will be found in a great 
city may in some cases be because he is by nature 
unsuited to outdoor work, or to work that must 
to a large extent be done without the stimulus of 
constant companionship, but it is usually because 
he has not the right education either to enable 
him to enjoy the pleasures and interests that the 
country affords, or to reduce its undeniable hard- 
ships, deprivations, and discomforts to a bearable 

Very many of those anxious to maintain, or 
create, or reinstate, — whichever word they may 

chance to use, — a large rural population, do not 



in the least know what rural life meant to the 
poor of the previous three generations, nor have 
they any practical knowledge of what it means to 
them at the present moment. For their ideas of 
the past they seem to be chiefly indebted to 
novelists — ^not contemporary novelists, but mere 
romancists — and their conception of living reality 
seems to be founded partly upon hasty reading 
of hastily formed generalisations and partly upon 
imagination of an unsympathetic and totally un- 
trained description. 

Delightful pictures are drawn in modem novels 
of the old-fashioned farm and its peace and plenty, 
and the exquisite cleanliness and unbroken health 
and prosperity of the inmates. We may perhaps 
catch a fleeting glimpse of the labourers at the 
lower end of the table, but they are always lads, 
or else crusty and trusty old bachelors. Where 
the parents of these young people may be, how 
they themselves must live if they get married, 
does not seem to concern the writers or the. 
readers, and yet by how many the labourers 
outnumbered the farmers, and how wretched their 
average condition was ! At the present day they 
are decidedly better oflF, but does the life of a 
country labourer, the total return that he gets 
for his work, bear a fair comparison, from his 
point of view and counting only the advantages 




that he can appreciate, with the total return 
received by town labourers who are, roughly 
speaking, his equals mentally, morally, and 
physically ? 

Here are three out of many similar cases which 
have come under my notice during the current 
year. A middle-aged man appealed to me one 
night for help to bury his youngest child, aged 
four, who had died after a brief illness. It was 
only the funeral expenses, he said, that he was 
unable to meet, and he was anxious that the 
interment should take place as soon as possible, 
as he had another child of seven seriously ill. 

" I thank my God," he added, " that as long as 
she lived she had everything she wanted, both 
from me and her mother. I don't doubt she's 
gone to a better place, but I do take it hard to 
lose her, for she always stuck to me. The mom^it 
I was back from my work, there she was, and 
there wasn't a word you could say to her that she 
didn't understand. She was most wonderful 
sharp. The last three nights I never had my 
clothes oflF." I knew nothing of the man's 
circumstances, but I was impressed by his 
sincerity, and finding that his master, a working 
fanner, and several villagers of still narrower means 
had subscribed, I did the same, postponing any 
inquiries into his statements until after the funeral. 


I found that^ he had five children entirely 
dependent on him, and that his wife was in very 
poor health. He was a steady and regular worker, 
acquainted with the whole round of farm labour. 
His wages were 13s. a week, a garden that 
he had not sufficient time at his disposal to 
make full use of, and a four-roomed cottage in 
exceedingly bad repair and in such an isolated 
position that his wife received very little of the 
neighbourly help of which she was in so much 
need. Drinking water had to be carried nearly 
half a mile, and the nearest shop was five times 
that distance away. The walls and floor of the 
house were damp, and a man trying to describe the 
state of the roof said to me, "You could put a 
wheel -barrer through it," but even this scarcely 
gives an adequate idea of its condition. I doubt 
if there was a square yard where a man could not 
have thrust his fist through it from inside or out. 
The kitchen had a stone floor, and as damp stone 
rots all the cheaper kinds of floor covering, it was 
almost bare ; the door opened straight into this 
living-room and was inmiediately opposite the 
fireplace, but in this place the children had to be 
nursed, because there was no means of lighting a 
fire anywhere else. The little girl had never been 
ill before, and in all probability had not succumbed 
so much to the disease as to the conditions under 


which she was nursed, added to the lack of timely 
advice as to the best practicable method of 
counteracting the influence of these conditions. 
There was no nurse in the district, the parish 
doctor had been sent for rather late, and being 
much occupied, had not obeyed the summons until 
the afternoon of the following day. 

In what circumstances would a town labourer of 
equal steadiness and intelligence have been living ? 
His wages would not have been under 23s. 
throughout the year, and he would have worked 
on an average two hours a day less to earn that 
amount. The rent and taxes of a small house, not 
as far distant from his work as the agricultural 
labourer's often is from his, would be 5 s. a 
week, or a little less. This dwelling, unlike the 
cottage, would be wind and water tight, and would 
have drainage, unlimited water-supply, and regular 
removal of refuse matter ; all the floors would be 
boarded, all the ceilings lath and plastered, and three 
rooms out of the four or five would have chimneys. 
The children would be close to their school, a serious 
consideration during the first few years of their 
attendance, and the wife would be near the shops 
instead of painfully carrying her heavy purchases 
for a couple of miles through heat, cold, rain, or 
darkness. The advantages of various provident and 
insurance societies would be much more pressed 


upon the husband, and he would belong to one or 
more ; there would always be neighbours at hand to 
help his wife or keep an eye on the children, and 
trained nurses to rely on in times of special stress. 

In the second instance, the youngest of eight 
children (six still at home) contracted pneumonia, 
and she also had to be nursed in the stone-floored 
kitchen which opened immediately on to the garden 
and was the only possible means of exit and 
entrance for the whole family. Not only this, but 
keeping up a fire at night made one of the two 
bedrooms uninhabitable, owing to the choking 
clouds of smoke which reached it through some 
defect in chimney and partition wall. The five 
children had to take possession of the front room, 
and both parents slept in the kitchen with the 
invalid. The child was strong and healthy and the 
mother devoted, and it was not until the eighth 
day that she died. Under the ordinary housing 
conditions of a town, and with a doctor who would 
have attended such a critical case six or eight times 
instead of twice, and with a nurse to give authori- 
tative and detailed advice, I firmly believe that 
the child's life could have been saved. She also 
was specially dear to her father. 

The eldest of the family told me : ** The last night 
mother was so worn out that we made her go to 
bed with the children, and father and I sat up 


together. At six o'clock I made him some toast for 
his breakfast, and Kitty brightened up and asked 
him for a piece of it, and he buttered a little strip 
for her. She only just put her lips to it and gave it 
back to him, but he went oflF to work quite cheerful, 
thinking she was better. He can hardly have been 
gone twenty minutes when she died." Had either 
of these men much reason to love the country ? 

The villager who had tried to describe the roof 
of the first man's cottage was ill himself a little 
later on, and lay week after week in an oppressively 
low room with one small window from which he 
could see nothing. " Has the vicar been to visit 
you ? " I asked one day when conversation flagged. 
" Not he ! I 'xpect he's afraid to come and see such 
a black sheep." " A sheep ? Perhaps he takes you 
for a fierce old wolf with that red nightcap on." 
" Well," with a pious drawl heavily discounted by 
a sarcastic grin, " we all knows that our vile bodies 
isn't of no account, but there's our souls to be 
thought of." 

In the third instance, a man and his wife — 
both about eighty years of age, frugal people 
who had saved a small independence — ^were living 
in a cottage at half a crown a week with one room 
and an outhouse downstairs and two bedrooms 
on the upper floor. There was no drainage and 
no water-supply. As a personal favour, they 


were allowed to fetch half a bucket of drinking 
water from a house a hundred yards away (the 
nearest spring being fully eight times that 
distance), and for the rest they depended upon 
a single rain-water barrel A neighbour had 
offered to give them a second one, but the 
guttering on three sides of the house was so 
riddled with holes that they could not have filled 
it except with an amount of labour of which 
they were no longer capable. In the early part 
of the winter the old man was attacked by mortal 
illness, and for three months of bitter weather 
he lingered in a fireless bedroom, measuring about 
eight feet by seven, and decidedly less than seven 
feet in height. He was a remarkably tall man, 
and in his best days can have found little to 
spare between his head and the ceiling. For 
some years after the old people rented the house 
there had been a chimney to this room, but it 
had fallen down piecemeal. The landlord did not 
choose to replace it, and they could neither compel 
him to do so nor afford to do it themselves ; and 
cottages were so scarce that newly married couples 
often had to lodge in a single room for a year 
or more while awaiting a vacancy. They had 
no children left, and during the last six weeks 
a relative from a distance came to help with the 
nursing. She was a most worthy young woman, 


and endured the discomforts courageously, but 
she spent most of her leisure moments in ex- 
plaining to the villagers that if her old uncle 
had chosen to "live up" in a large town he 
would have had a good bedroom with a fireplace 
and a sash window. It happened to be a village 
where the inhabitants err on the side of easy 
contentment and passive endurance and have a 
great fear of town life, but her protests made 
a considerable impression upon them. 

Exaggerated ideas of the horrors of town life 
are often met with in the country. I have 
sometimes been distressed to find the poorest 
and most ill-housed cottagers giving their pence 
and their pity on the strength of appeals which 
come dangerously near being false pretences. 
Curiously enough, this belief *in the extreme 
misery of towns may co-exist with a great desire 
to visit them. "How I should like to take my 
Emma to Manchester," said a woman living on 
the outskirts of a small town. I asked why ; for 
as Emma was only six, and very comfortable 
where she was, I could not imagine' for what 
good purpose she was to be taken there. "Oh, 
I should just like her to see all the miserable 
children running about with no shoes and stock- 
ings, looking for a crust of bread, and with hardly 
a rag to cover them ! " 


The objections I find most commonly brought 
forward by villagers against a country life are 
the great length of working hours in summer 
and the need for men and boys to supplement 
their wages by further work in their own gardens 
and allotments, coupled with the great diflficulty 
of making any use of the comparative leisure of 
the winter months. There is a general prejudice 
against women doing any vegetable gardening, 
even when they have no young children and 
much time on their hands. There are special 
complaints of the weariness of attending upon 
animals, and very little liking for them or under- 
standing of their ways, and the great increase 
of dairy farming entails heavy Sunday labour. 
Butter need not be made every day, but with 
regard to cheese there is no respite. The 
loneliness of the life is found less bearable now 
that children have become so dependent upon 
the excitement of school life, and the lack of 
constant companionship during working hours is 
considered a trial; townsmen are great talkers, 
and countrymen wish to be. There is generally, 
though by no means invariably, an absence of 
all intellectual interest in country work, of all 
aesthetic appreciation of the beauty of natural 
surroundings, of all manly determination to wring 
from the life the best that it affords. The more 


active-minded men are depressed by the scarcity 
of books and the want of opportunities of self- 
improvement on the only lines on which they 
can conceive the existence of culture ; and ambitious 
parents declare with much truth, "There's no 
advantages for the children here. Willy was in 
the sixth standard when he was eleven, and there 

he is still. Mabel cycles over to G ; there's 

a * centre' there, but it do take it out of her, 
seven miles and uphill pretty near all the way. 
My sister's boys have been at an upper-grade 
school for the last two years, and Tm sure they're 
not a bit sharper than what Willy is. And then 
what openings will there be for them? There's 
nothing to be had for boys, nor girls neither, 
without sending them right away from home." 
To satisfy these natural ambitions, and to prevent 
the premature break-up of family life, many 
parents give up their employment in the country 
and seek work in the nearest town, while very 
many more hover miserably upon the edge of 
such a momentous decision. 

There is a widespread prejudice that all clever 
and active people desert the rural districts, and 
that only aged persons and idiots remain — 
especially idiots. The frequent accusation of 
stupidity brought against villagers reminds me 
of a lady who tried to pass herself off at a 


health resort as an invalid. After watching her 
for a few minutes, a shrewd old north-country- 
woman exclaimed, "Eh, but Ah'd laike to see 
the well ones where you coom fro' ! " If those 
left in the country are the stupid ones, I can 
only wonder that towns do not more richly 
abound in genius. And in what a meek, matter- 
of-course fashion villagers accept this imputation 
— no idea of its injustice seems to cross their 
minds. I shall never forget the naive gratifica- 
tion shown by a class of Sunday-school girls, 
ranging in age from fourteen upwards, when I 
told them that the Bible had to a great extent 
been written by persons who, like themselves, 
had grown up in the country, and that therefore 
very many of the illustrations and metaphors 
used were perfectly plain and open to them, 
but often needed elaborate explanation before 
they could be comprehended by their town-bred 

Many of the cleverest inhabitants have remained 
behind — that is to say, those who have received, Qr 
have given themselves, the education which enables 
them to acquire possession of the best houses and 
the best gardens, and to constantly improve and 
add to them. 

Is it possible to find out in what way these 
persons were trained to make the most of country 


life, to conquer its difl&culties and profit by its 
advantages? If so, we might at last be on the 
road towards a right system of rural education. 

Personally, I cannot believe that the solution of 
the problem " how to stem the rural exodus " is to 
be found in small farming, which means poverty 
and idleness for many of the holders, poverty and 
ceaseless drudgery for most, and a varying amount 
of what in towns we should brand with the name 
of " casual employment " for the landless men, who 
must inevitably sink far below the position of 
labourers on farms large enough to supply work 
all the year round. 

Many persons who clearly perceive that a small 
holding will not supply a decent living for a 
family of the ordinary size and the average abili- 
ties, nevertheless cherish the belief that men in 
possession of a small parcel of land could easily 
supplement their income by working part of their 
time for wages, and thus be freed from the fitful 
cruelty of Nature on the one hand and the fluctua- 
tions of the labour market on the other. They 
ignore the fact, patent to all practical people, that 
any man who carries on two trades ends by re- 
ceiving less than if he confined himself to one. 

The solution might rather be arrived at by the 
gradual re-organisation of country life in such a 
manner that it would be possible for the men to 


have more leisure, and more varied means of 
utilising and enjoying it, and for their families to 
have more domestic comfort. 

" Fm never free," sighs the industrious country- 
man, while his lazy brother instinctively takes 
care of himself by remaining idle for weeks at a 
time, living on his garden and the general family 
resources if he is a householder, and very often 
"simplifying life" by being a lodger or sleeping 
in a barn when he chooses to work, and going into 
the Union for a few months if he wearies of it, or 
finds the weather too unpropitious, or his em- 
ployers too exacting in the matter of punctuality 
and sobriety, or his clothes becoming indecently 

The boundless belief in country innocence, 
country morality, country vigour of body and 
independence of mind, is simply inexplicable. 
One week's experience of an ordinary village 
would surely be enough to expose the fallacy. 
I have known men and women and children living 
in isolated cottages set in some of the loveliest 
places in England whose sordid misery and 
crawling viciousness could not be paralleled in the 
lowest parts of an old seaport town ; and there are 
many so-called " slums " which a respectable 
woman might pass through freely for years 
without meeting with the gross insults that 


are often experienced in idyllic villages. When 
I hear objections raised to Fresh Air Funds, on the 
ground that town children corrupt the rustics, I 
am at a loss to know what depths of grossness or 
wickedness can be known to them which have not 
long since been revealed to every village school- 
boy. Possibly much of what is now mere prejudice 
may be traced to the revelations of early nine- 
teenth-century blue books. They were appalKng 
enough, in all conscience, but perhaps even with 
regard to old-time factory work our eyes are too 
exclusively turned upon its evil side. Physically 
it may be difficult to exaggerate the lasting wrong 
done by overcrowding and unlimited hours of 
work, but on the mental and spiritual side there 
may have been more gain than we can well 
estimate. Take the first intelligent artisan you 
meet, and try to realise that his great-grandfather 
was a pauper labourer starved-out in the country 
and emigrated into the town at the guardians' 
expense, thankful to work a certain twelve hours 
a day for an uncertain thirteen shillings a week. 
Does he owe most to town or country ? We think 
only of the " evil communications " facilitated by 
the close daily contact, but a strongly religious 
woman over eighty years of age told me towards 
the close of the last century that all the moral and 
religious teaching she received in early life came 


from a lad who toiled side by side with her in a 
factory. At first she had simply scoffed at him, 
but was finally won by the patience and courage 
with which he fought against the physical suffering 
that ended his life before manhood had weU 

With all history before us, it is high time 
that we recognised that neither town nor country 
influences working alone can produce a type of 
manhood that, for the honour of human nature, 
we should care to regard as stable. 


The Art of Eepairing 

The poor are seldom taught the art of repairing in 
its many bearings upon their daily life. Even as a 
preparation for the millennium, when everyone will 
be well housed, are they encouraged to make the 
best of the accommodation at present within their 
reach ? The facts seem to be lost sight of that no 
one on earth has a perfect house, and no one has 
a dwelling so bad that, with care and attention, it 
could not be made less injurious to health and less 
subversive of comfort. Just as in the religious 
sphere there are those who seem to think that death 
instantly fits any man for heavenly occupations 
and heavenly associates, so in the philanthropic 
there are many who seem to believe that you have 
merely to provide good houses at someone else's 
expense, and everyone will forthwith live, and 
continue to live, under healthy conditions. With 
all their failings, most municipal authorities are 

a little wiser than that : when they receive an 

, 261 


appUcation from a would-be tenant, they send an 
inspector to see what he makes of the home he 
has abeady. I have heard serious complaints that 
owing to this the only persons benefited are those 
who are so respectable that they could easily have 
found suitable houses for themselves ; but when 
this plan is adhered to, everyone gets a step up, 
and a step at a time is as much as most of us can 
manage. Another fact is frequently forgotten by 
those in haste to clear out every court and alley 
and tenement. The outer fringe of wage-earners 
are not yet sufficiently civilised to be able to live 
in self-contained houses. No words can express 
the pity that I have often felt for the weak members 
of a family — and sometimes the weak member is 
the husband — living in an isolated cottage or a 
house completely shut ofi" from all compulsory inter- 
course with the neighbouring ones. In crowded 
courts everyone knows everyone else's business, and 
to a certain extent interferes with the way they 
carry it out. The morals of an excited mob may 
be worse than the morals of any one person in 
it, but in the usual state of afiairs public opinion 
in the worst street is not only more enlightened 
than the opinion of the worst dwellers in it, but 
holds itself above that of the average inhabitant 
when he or she has a " bad day." The men who 
happen to be sober restrain the men who happen 


to be drunk. The women, though perhaps nearly 
all of them display occasional harshness to their 
children, and some of them show culpable neglect 
or practise gross favouritism, can see these ugly 
faults in others ; and the frightened or hungry 
child knows where to find food or shelter — and 
perhaps the very next week is offering her own 
mother's protection to her small friends in distress. 
Once a tenant in these favoured Buildings, 
however, and direct discouragement is given to the 
art of repair. Persons formerly well acquainted 
with the use of paint, whitewash, and the paste 
brush, when dealing with a large landlord or a 
municipality soon learn to insist on having their 
ceUings whitened and their walls papered exactly 
at the intervals laid down in the bond, although 
these intervals are not regulated by the habits of 
careful persons who protect the wall at the back of 
the sink or behind the frying-pan, who mend the 
wall-paper if it gets torn, and prevent the lamp 
from smoking, but are founded upon the require- 
ments of the careless and indifferent housekeeper. 
Tenants often make demands for what they do not 
in the least need, convinced that "you don't have 
to pay nothing for having it done," and few people 
even attempt to make them understand that if 
all the inhabitants of the Blocks were careful and 
reasonable in these respects, rents would be con- 


siderably lower. To penalise the specially careless 
tenants is not always practicable owing to the 
generosity of feeling often shown among the poor. 
For example, I knew a family who had had their 
ceilings injured and their rooms flooded twice by 
their overhead neighbours leaving a child of three 
to amuse herself with the taps while they enjoyed 
their Sunday afternoon nap ; and far from taking 
any action against them, they did their best to 
hide the damage that had been done. A third 
time the same thing happened ; the head of the 
downstair family was ill, and the wife was so much 
annoyed when hia difficult sleep was disturbed by 
a heavy splash of water on his face that, although 
she made no open complaint, she was less sedulous 
in concealing the injury done to her rooms, and 
the reckless neighbours received a week's notice. 

In most villages there is a lack of sufficient ac- 
commodation, and this is true even of places where 
the population is as much as five and twenty per cent, 
below the highest point it is known to have reached. 
We are told that this is because the countryman 
" cannot afford an economic rent." When I observe 
the character of his work, I recognise that he 
receives its full value ; but when I consider how 
he is housed and fed and clothed, and the hours 
that he is expected to spend at work, I can only 
marvel that the value of his labour is not even less. 


While we are settling the knotty question of how 
he can be educated up to the point of earning 
enough money to pay an economic rent, instead of 
forcing someone else to pay it for him, or by some 
jugglery trying to make it appear that no one at 
all is bearing the burden of his present incapacity, 
or of running up tintack and pasteboard cottages 
vying one against the other in cheapness and 
chilliness, why not repair and improve the houses 
already in existence and being wastefully permitted 
to fall into ruins ? In villages where the inhabit- 
ants are either disgracefully overcrowded or are 
alternately shivering and gasping in the new Tin 
Teakettle Row (the favourite popular name), there 
are substantially built thick-walled old cottages 
needing little but larger windows, the addition of 
a bedroom, and the thorough repair of the roof to 
turn them into healthier and more comfortable 
dwellings than the greater part of these fantastic 
brick boxes. I know one middle-aged couple able 
to aflford a rent of 4s. who left an old cottage for a 
new one, attracted by the decency of having a third 
bedroom, the possibility of lighting a fire upstairs 
in case of illness, and the obvious convenience of 
having a passage instead of being compelled to 
walk straight from the road into the one living- 
room. After three years* experience of it the wife 
told me : ** As for the cold, I never felt anything 


like it in all my life, and in the summer I simply 
dread to have to light a fire. The old cottages are 
far healthier in that kind of way, and Td rather 
be back in one if only anyone would spend some- 
thing on it, but they won't. Look at that cottage 
over there, six people living in it, and nothing 
under the thatch any more than if it were a cow 
shed, and the thatch sinking in on them and full 
of holes. We shiver and bake where we are, but at 
least the water doesn't come in from overhead." 

Not only have the poor very little idea of the 
duty or possibility of preventing ill-health, but 
they know nothing of repairing it. In no way 
does their excessive passivity and endurance show 
itself more clearly than in their treatment of sick 
persons, especially of chronic cases. As a rule, 
they are exceedingly kind to the sufferers, patient, 
self-devoted to the last degree, but their whole 
attitude of mind is fatalistic. They do not seek to 
know the cause of the illness in order that they or 
others may learn any lesson from it, and they do 
not strive for the recovery to such a degree of 
health as is demonstrably withiu reach. As a 
consequence, many persons are completely bed- 
ridden and utterly helpless who need only have 
been partially crippled if more active and intelligent 
efforts had been made from the beginning, and 
others who might have been almost normal persons 


are semi-invalids. They lack hope in these cases, 
and therefore lack the chief spring of successful 

Respectable wage-earners often note real or 
fancied defects in the system of elementary edu- 
cation, but do they make any serious attempts to 
repair these defects ? Does the father who declares 
that his son in the seventh standard cannot write out 
the simplest bill for him correctly, either teach him 
how to do it or make his grievance heard in the 
right direction ? Even the mother who tells me : 
" I don't want my children learnt jography 'n 'istry. 
I want 'em learnt to say, * Thank you, ma'am,' and 
* Yes, please, sir.' That's what'U get 'em on in the 
world," does she ever remember that the school 
hours scarcely amount to twenty -four in the course 
of seven days, and that as she is relieved of all 
the less important branches of instruction, she has 
ample time to instil good manners ? 

Even the art of repairing their clothes is by no 
means generally practised among the poor, and it 
certainly might be more carefully taught and 
inculcated at school than is at present the case. 
One rarely meets a child on some part of whose 
costume it might iTot be practised with advantage. 
Sewing should be taught to boys when they are 
too young to imagine that it is an indignity ; later 
on, in the years when they have lost a mother's 



care and not yet gained a wife's, they will only be 
too thankful for the knowledge. Sailors do a great 
deal to undermine the idea that rags are more 
manly than the use of a needle and cotton, but I 
was a little taken aback one day when I heard a 
wife ask her husband, " Have you sewn those two 
buttons on your brown waistcoat? That's right. 
I do hate to see an untidy man ! " Two winters 
ago a fine young seaman came back to his native 
village for a fortnight's leave, and made a deep im- 
pression on all the lads in the place by cutting out 
and putting together a complete sailor suit for his 
youngest brother and what was called " a trowsis " 
for the next above him. Unfortunately for the 
continued education of his admirers, he was recalled 
to his ship before the second costume was finished. 
He even found one imitator, and although the 
results would not have passed muster at any 
inspection, the lad who wore the suit was kept 
warm and tidy as long as it lasted. Thousands of 
mothers and married sisters and aunts tell the 
school children who have been laboriously learning 
to " cut out " that it is cheaper to buy ready-made 
clothes. The time will undoubtedly come when 
fewer and fewer garments are made at home, or 
even made to order, but the necessity for mending 
will exist as long as matter has a tendency to 
change its form. 


Still less is the art of repairing household 
furniture commonly practised by the poor. I 
never fully grasped how much of the squalor and 
discomfort that one sees among them is superficial 
and easily removable until on one occasion with 
an expenditure of 5s., nearly half of which 
went to pay for the labour of an intelligent 
child just above school age, I was able to turn a 
room not fit for any human being into a bright 
and pleasant one for a chronic invalid. Among 
other details, I recall that the chimney was cured 
of smoking, and a Hinckes-Bird ventilator was 
fixed in the window ; the waUs were colour-washed, 
and the pictures cleaned and re-hung ; the floor was 
scrubbed and stained, and a torn and filthy carpet 
was washed, ripped, and re-bound in separate strips ; 
the bed was disinfected and the stuffing of the 
mattress burnt and replaced by oat chaff, while a 
pennyworth of glue and the loan of a few tools 
turned some worthless lumber into serviceable 
chairs and tables, and a cupboard with shelves 
was contrived out of a few old orange boxes. 

From the innumerable classes held to teach boys 
carpentering, carving, etc., great good would arise 
if they were taught these arts mainly with the 
laudable object of improving the comfort and 
beauty of their own homes, and not with a view to 
9^ semi-charitable sale at the end of the session, 


which brings a few shillings to some and a wholly 
disproportionate sense of disappointment to others. 
It is pitiable to see a winter s work result in what 
a lad has been taught to call a panel or a medallion, 
but which his mother terms " a loose bit of wood." 
If carving is taught, it should be applied to some 
chair or table or stool that the lads already possess ; 
and if carpentry or joinery, it should be the 
complete manufacture of some article suited for 
their own homes. As to the fretwork on which 
so many neat-handed boys are encouraged to waste 
their time, I would gladly see every scrap in 
existence used for firewood. 

If we could but once understand that the poor 
are remarkably like ourselves, we should have more 
faith in trying to inspire them with the spirit of 
self-help than in endeavouring to bear whichever 
of their burdens they seem specially inclined to let 
drop. (An old-established metaphor which reminds 
me of a patient who exclaimed, " Bear my burden ! 
That would be easy enough. It's the hundreds of 
parcels I complain of.") Are there any wage- 
earners, any bad husbands, wives, parents, or 
children, are there even any professional un- 
employed whose conduct we cannot parallel among 
ourselves and our acquaintances ? Once recognising 
this elementary fact, we shall not venture to treat 
them as if thfey were at once so much better and 


so much worse, so much more fooUsh and yet 
stronger-headed than ourselves. We act as if they 
are mentally incapable of learning the lessons 
taught by hunger, privation, and family affection, 
and yet have no fear that they will learn im- 
providence, laziness, and indifference to duty if the 
State bestows its most favourable attention upon 
the unemployed, the neglected child, the deserted 
wife, the homeless tramp. Only too frequently we 
take the little that he hath from the man with a 
decent standard of life and bestow it upon him 
that hath none, with even more disastrous results 
than if we schemed to benefit the rich. As 
sweeping reforms cannot well be carried out every 
six months or so, we should be in a better position 
if the art of keeping all hiiman institutions in 
moral and intellectual repair were more generally 
and seriously studied. 


Wasted Effort among the Poor 

Brought into close acquaintance with the 
exhausting physical drudgery of life on the one 
hand, and its mental toil and stress on the other, 
the district nurse learns that there is a curse in 
labour as well as a blessing, and acquires an active 
hatred of all waste effort of mind or body. 

All detailed attempts to economise physical 
exertion are of very modern origin. We have 
only to observe the houses and furniture designed 
for the upper classes within the last fifty or sixty 
years in order to realise that the cost of labour to 
the human being was less considered formerly than 
it is now. 

No piece of legislation ever accomplished has 
cost as much labour to carry out as the various 
Elementary Education Acts. On the whole, the 
children of the poor have been very greatly 
benefited, but the results nevertheless bear but a 
small proportion to the efforts put forth, especially 


to the heroic struggles of school teachers trying 
to carry out the regulations even when in direct 
opposition to all the laws of ordinary mental and 
physical development and to some of the most 
unalterable conditions of working-class lives. The 
teaching of the teachers and the choice of the 
instruction given and received by them have been 
left far too much in the hands of men, and too 
many of them are men themselves, especially 
considering that an enormously large proportion of 
their pupils will be girls and children under ten 
years of age. 

In the upper classes it is generally acknowledged 
that the longer young boys remain in the hands of 
competent governesses the better position they 
win and maintain at school, and also that it is 
sheer waste of time for girls of less than sixteen or 
seventeen to be taught any subject whatever by a 

All the more intelligent and open-minded ele- 
mentary school teachers must in course of time 
accumulate valuable experience, and form some 
ideas as to the right order and succession as well 
as the method of placing the various branches of 
knowledge before the infant mind, but they are 
bound hard and fast by an intricate mesh of rules. 
A most zealous village schoolmistress, responsible 

for some sixty girls and boys, complained to me : 


" I always have to teach with my eye on the clock. 
If I were to spend an extra ten minutes explaining 
a matter which for some reason not understood by 
grown-up minds is peculiarly difficult to children^ 
and then cut ten minutes from some senseless 
routine that the stupidest child can follow when it 
is half asleep, it would be a most serious breach of 
the regulations. After twenty-five years' experience, 
no more discretion is allowed to me than if I were 
a pupil teacher, and I dare not take it." 

I was always at a loss to understand how 
many years average Board-school children took to 
learn to read, how unintelligently they read, and 
how little, interest they felt in the art ; but one 
day I came across a book " specially prepared" to 
combat the fact that infants of a certain age were 
expected to meet and conquer any monosyllable in 
the language, and it incidentally threw a clear light 
upon the problem. I do not say that the book 
was ever licensed by the authorities, and I under- 
stand that its use has now been strictly forbidden, 
but daily drilling in long lists of totally uncon- 
nected words, such as plumb, jamb, apse, aisle, 
weight, flange, niche, reign, guile, ledge, must have 
been stupefying in the extreme. 

Most of the many hours devoted to arithmetic 
before the age of ten are utterly wasted, and at no 
age is the instruction sufl&ciently practical. I have 


known girls of thirteen or fourteen who could 
work long sums in vulgar fractions, but could not 
say, even when given ample time for reflection, how 
much a penny a week would amount to in a year, 
nor work any of the simple problems that a child 
of seven or eight, unable to write figures, ought to 
be able to solve mentally with ease and pleasure. 
In different parts of England I have asked boys 
and girls of from twelve to eighteen to use a pair 
of scales, and unless they had relatives engaged in ' 
retail trade they were totally unable' to do it or to 
connect the pounds and ounces of school routine 
with the pieces of brass and iron in front of them. 
With a yard-measure or a foot-rule most of them 
are equally at a loss. Geography seems to be 
taught in much the same fashion. A girl of 
thirteen drew me a map of India from memory, 
marking the principal physical features with a fair 
amount of accuracy ; but when I asked her how she 
would go from London to Northampton, where her 
grandparents lived, and whether she might expect 
to pass Liverpool or Portsmouth on the way, she 
could only gape ; and although she must have 
repeated many hundreds of times, " England is an 
island,'* she had by no means grasped the fact that 
she would have to cross the water in order to reach 

More women, especially married women who 


have brought up a famUy of children on smaU 
means, ought to be in a position of authority with 
regard to elementary education. Then there would 
soon cease to be hard-and-fast rules, bearing equally 
on the mother who keeps her child away from 
school "to put money on a horse," or to "go 
coaling " {i.e. to follow up coal carts and pick and 
steal), or to visit the pawnshop, and the mother 
who occasionally keeps her twelve or thirteen years 
old daughter at home to instruct her in household 
duties. There would also be an end of all com- 
pulsory afternoon attendances of infants, and in 
bad weather liberal concessions would be made 
with regard to all children under eight. I knew 
an over-busy village schoolmaster who used to 
worry the mothers to send their children to him 
as soon as they could walk, although few of them 
would otherwise have attended until they were 
four, and five was a more generally approved of 
age, while some of the superior cottagers tried their 
best to postpone the attendance until six. When 
argument failed, he would ofier the inducement : 
" If you will only let them come, I will not enter 
them at present on the register, and then you can 
keep them away on rainy days, and no questions 
will be asked." 

Last winter a village school and Sunday school 
were closed for two months owing to an outbreak 


of diphtheria. Some parents turned their children 
into drudges, and most allowed them to run wild 
from morning till night, not even dressing them 
properly on Sundays ; but one of the best mothers 
told me, with the deepest satisfaction : " Since the 
school was shut up Fve got Gertie and Mary [aged 
11^ and 13 J] so nicely into work. I mean Mary to 
go to work directly she's fourteen, and service isn't 
the place to be learnt to work; girls had ought 
to know how before ever they leave their home, 
and to be in the way of it, and to keep right on at 
it till it's finished. I get them up early in the 
morning, and they each have their share to do. 
Of course I let them play when it's done, and they 
enjoy it far more than if they had all the day to 
their selves." 

A London woman, mother of several daughters 
who all went to service, told me that she found it 
practically impossible to get them to do any house 
work while at school. Her plan was to let them 
leave at fourteen, and she sat down for six months 
and made them do the cleaning and cooking while 
she sewed. She found it necessary to forbid any 
"going out to play," and they had to grow up 
suddenly. It was a rigorous system, and some- 
times reinforced by the copper-stick, but it was 
crowned with success. 

We spend a great deal of breath and money in 


advocating thrift, and then build " model" dwell- 
ings without a single cupboard or a larder where 
food can be kept in a wholesome condition from 
one day to another, and with kitchen stoves that 
must not only be seen but wrestled with before 
either their extravagance or their temper- wearing 
qualities can be realised. I was telling one of the 
most economical women I have ever met, mother 
of a Council-school teacher and a trained servant, 
that I never allowed a dust-bin on my premises, 
and she said regretfully, " I have such a mis'ble 
poor stove that I can't save coal by burning the 
rubbish. Do what I may, it will only burn the 
best fuel." 

Few but district nurses can estimate the amount 
of waste eflFort there is among the poor with regard 
to sick nursing and the care of young children, 
most of it arising from a mixture of ignorance and 
good-will. If there are two ways of doing a thing, 
the more laborious will almost certainly be chosen. 
The general course with regard to illness appears 
to be first neglect, then intemperate zeal, then 
slackness resulting from over-fatigue, then alarm 
and fresh excitement and exertion of such a 
wearing nature that I fully entered into the 
diflficulties of a young nurse who told me how on 
arriving at one house she was quite unable to 
decide which was the person she had been called 


in to attend. "There were five haggard-looking 
people in the room, and I was afraid to ask which 
it was. I temporised a little, and when I dis- 
covered a sixth person in bed, I thought I could 
not be wrong in fixing on her as the invalid, but 
this was a tactless blunder. My patient was 
slightly less ill than the others, and had in fact 
" got up from her bed to keep things going." 

The poor generally are accused of laziness, but 
it is rather mental than physical. "Nous avons 
plus de paresse dans Tesprit que dans le corps," 
said La Rochefoucauld, and the text is of wide 
application. The working classes will make more 
rapid progress when they have learnt to set a higher 
price upon coarse drudgery and monotonous routine. 
Every district visitor knows how many chronic 
invalids— old, young, and middle-aged— are to be 
found in the homes of the respectable poor, and 
with what inexhaustible indulgence and long- 
practised skill most of them are treated, but few 
persons indeed have any conception to what an 
extent their present helpless condition was pre- 
ventable in the early stages of the disease. 

That prevention* is better than cure is what no 
uneducated person can ever be made to believe. 
Parents will heroically and uncomplainingly nurse 
their elder children through typhoid fever and 
(unh&ppily, with less success) their little ones with 


scarlatina and diphtheria, but it is utterly 
impossible to get them to protest in due time 
and in the right quarter against the disgraceful 
sanitary accommodation at the workshop, or against 
the known fact that several of their neighbours are 
sending some of their children to school ^' to be out 
of the way " of those who are already ill, nominally 
with bad colds, but in reality with infectious 
disorders of a serious nature. I can induce women 
to scrub their sinks clean, and the poorest will 
spend money on carbolic to smother the sickening 
odour arising from the open pipe, but to get them 
to understand the drainage and to see that the 
trap exists and is kept in order is a different 
matter. They wiU feed a cat, spending money on 
milk and meat that they can ill aflford, but they 
will not starve the mice out by securely shutting 
up all food and keeping table and floor free from ' 
crumbs. When the fear is of rats, I have every 
sympathy with this faith in cats.. I have known 
many outwardly decent and well-kept dwellings 
where without the cherished Tibby even grown 
men would be attacked in their sleep, while 
invalids and young children could not safely 
be left alone at any hour of night or day. 

Few mothers even believe in the literal " stitch 
in time.'* It is far too much trouble to thread a 
needle and mend a hole that is scarcely visible ; 


it is a mere matter of course to sit up a couple of 
hours later than usual " making the poor child 
decent for school" when the neglected tear has 
become a rent threatening the very existence of 
the garment. 

A large proportion of our eflForts to improve 
the condition of the poor are doomed to failure 
just so long as we persist in devoting them 
almost exclusively to the young, a course of action 
which is like continually planting seeds without 
the slightest reference to their immediate surround- 
ings, or the smallest care for plants already rooted 
and showing good promise of growth. No doubt it 
would "be undesirable to throw further educational 
burdens on the State, but this does not aflfect the 
fact that nearly all private and voluntary attempts 
at teaching are devoted to the young, and but 
little interest is taken in the considerable numbers 
of totally ignorant men and women who have the 
will and the capacity to learn if even a tenth part 
of the trouble were bestowed on them which is 
lavished on heedless childhood. Wherever a real 
teacher appears, adult pupils are always to be 
found, though they may need much encouragement 
at first. They have so often heard the recom- 
mendation, "Learn while you're young," that 
with pardonable want of logic they conclude that 
it is impossible to learn at any other period, and 


crush the inward desire for knowledge as an 
untimely craving, heaving many a sigh over 
'* having been took away from school just as I was 
beginning to see the good of it." The belief that 
one must learn young or not at all is so deeply 
rooted that fairly intelligent women of forty, and 
even considerably less, can with difficulty be 
persuaded that it is possible for them to learn 
more of cooking or fine laundry work or a new 
branch of needlework. The exclusive care given 
to the education of the young has an unpleasant 
eflFect upon their character; with the natural 
conceit of childhood, fostered by their untaught 
parents' generous admiration of their little accom- 
plishments, they incline to think their seniors not 
merely ignorant but incapable. I remember a 
little girl of ten who was simply astounded when 
her mother, a woman of over fifty, after a single 
lesson in knitting produced in two hours a strip as 
good in quality and far larger in amount than the 
children of her ** standard." Men are more easily 
induced to believe in their latent powers and have 
more leisure, but from a strictly domestic point of 
view it is the continued education of the women 
which is of most importance. 

The waste efibrt due to lack of organisation 
and regular intercourse between members of all 
agencies intended to ameliorate the condition of 


the poor is simply incalculable. Philanthropists 
call the poor and suffering their brothers, but 
until they extend the same charity to all who are 
working for the same cause, time and money 
must alike be squandered. My personal ex- 
perience has lain chiefly among the waste caused 
by lack of close co-ordination among medical 
charities. As a ward sister I wondered, power- 
lessly, what became of the man whose leg had been 
badly broken only three weeks previously when 
he was discharged to make room for a more 
urgent — or more " interesting " — case, or of the 
incurable sufferer gently persuaded that he would 
be " more comfortable at home." I recollect one 
raw December day when a homeless man was 
discharged. He had barely recovered from 
pneumonia, and when his clothes were brought 
him, dry and discoloured from the high tempera- 
ture to which it had been a crying necessity to 
subject them, I saw that they were hardly suffi- 
cient even for a man in sound health. There was 
nothing in my store cupboard but women's shawls 
and children's shoes, and I appealed to the house 
surgeon, a most zealous worker, to give me an old 
coat. I had never known a professional man 
who would not part with one — under pressure. 
His eyebrows went in one direction, the corners 
of his mouth in another. ** I'd do it gladly, sister, 


but the fact is that this/' glancing at the coat 
he was wearing, *' is the only one I possess. You 
know I don't get anything here but the run of 
my teeth, and it's rather a drain on my people. 
They expected me to find paying work at once." 

Of course the patient ought to have been com- 
pelled to enter the workhouse until his health was 
restored, and equally of course there was no one 
empowered to put any pressure on him. He 
wandered listlessly into the foggy, frozen streets, 
and we saw him no more. The dressings alone 
for his successor, at wholesale rates, cost 10s. 
a day, and most of us knew that they might 
have been applied to the iron bars of the bed 
with as reasonable a hope of afiecting their com- 
position as that of his poisoned body. 

As a district nurse I learnt what becomes of 
some of the discharged patients. One of my 
earliest experiences was of finding a woman 
paralysed, speechless, with frightful bedsores, 
returned at a few hours* notice to a home where 
the only person to receive her was the husband 
whose brutality was said to have caused the 
illness, and who, in any case, was a rough, ignor- 
ant labourer, and absent from the house for at least 
ten hours a day. 

Expensive mechanical supports are provided for 
children ; who sees that these patients have nourish- 


ing food and suitable exercise, or that the ap- 
pliances are regularly worn and lengthened or 
otherwise altered as need arises? Spectacles are 
given, but whose business is it to see that the 
chUdren s sight is tested from time to time, and 
the glasses changed if necessary? Patients are 
temporarily dismissed from the hospital where they 
have been kept for many weeks at great expense, 
with stringent orders to return after a fixed 
interval or when a certain well-defined change 
takes place. Who advises the friends on these 
points ? I know an instance where a child's foot, 
owing to a parental blunder, was left three months 
immovably fixed in plaster of Paris, and per- 
manent crippling of an acutely painful nature was 
the result. 

In educational matters we are beginning to 
recognise the advantage of widespread organisa- 
tion, but in our charitable undertakings we are 
still irresponsible and jealous amateurs, and 
unbridled individualists. "Egoism forbids co- 
operation," says a Japanese moralist, ** and with- 
out co-operation no great achievement is possible." 
People love to speculate in charity as in other 
things, and are always hoping that their chance- 
directed sixpence will save a body, or at least a 

Few wrongs done by the rich to the poor equal 


the mischief caused by their dilettante charities. 
When these are of a merely spasmodic and occa- 
sional nature, the results are bad enough ; but they 
can be resolutely stamped out like sparks which 
might otherwise destroy half a parish. The real 
mischief is done when, though entirely lacking 
in "grace to persevere" and abandoning their 
attempts long before they have learnt any serious 
lessons from the resulting experience, they have, 
nevertheless, so much sense of method and order 
that their plans, instead of being abandoned, are 
passed on to paid (possibly underpaid) hands, 
and become in a most undesirable sense " a self- 
reviving thing of power," able to draw subscriptions 
from the entire kingdom, in addition to gifts from 
colonial and American sympathisers. Doubtless 
there are persons bom with the capacity for 
active philanthropy just as others are born with 
histrionic, literary, or artistic powers ; but while the 
actor or the poet who disdains even the minimum 
of study and training has to bear the personal 
penalty of ridicule or neglect, the peripatetic 
lover of his kind may not be even dimly con- 
scious of the dismal harvest that the poor are 
reaping from the far-flung wild oats of his daring 
and obstinate inexperience. 

Without a certificate of capacity we may not 
teach the three E's to children of six years old, and 


almost every form of human activity is gradually 
becoming hedged in by precautions and restrictions 
designed to save the general public from rash and 
ignorant tampering with their vital interests. 
When shall we have a Licenser of Charities ? In 
the meantime, how few of us could bear to face 
the belief that some day we shall fall into the 
relentless hands of Mrs. Be-done-by-as-you-did ; 
that as Orphans we shall have to pace the streets 
two and two, a hundred at a time, dressed in 
yellow poke bonnets and low-strapped shoes, and 
with our elbows glued to our ribs by scanty green- 
checked dolmans ; or be exposed to soul-searing 
publicity as Foundlings ; or fed on an unvarying 
diet of soup and lukewarm suet pudding while 
one of our subsidised parents lies in bed and the 
other stupefies himself at the public-house; -or 
that as child-emigrants we shall be robbed of home 
and country at the age of ten ; or swept into 
barracks and remembered — collectively — twice a 
year, if we dare to be crippled or diseased without 
the extenuating circumstance of a private income, 
or of parents who would work day and night to 
save us from such a death in life ; or endure any 
other of the ill-considered schemes which, glowing 
with fervent good-will, we have thrust upon the 
weak and helpless ? 


Remedies for Existing Evils 

If one ventures to utter the word practical with 
reference to any proposed remedy for an existing 
evil, the prejudice is instantly aroused' that some 
short-sighted, hand-to-mouth method is designed 
which will inevitably result in creating infinitely 
more misery than it relieves. If, on the other 
hand, it ii possible to protest, "Pure theory 1" 
one's schemes are rejected as visionary. 

This is mere playing with words. No remedy 
is really practical unless it aims at prevention. It 
is impossible to prevent an evil without knowing 
its cause or causes, and no analysis of causes which 
omits known tendencies of the nonnal human 
mind has been carried far enough. 

At the present day some of the greatest evils 
among the poorest classes are the low- level of 
general health, the loss of presumably valuable 
infant life and of adults while the full responsibility 

of parenthood is still resting on them, the injury 



done to large numbers of children and young 
people by the ignorant treatment they receive 
and the general lack of rational home discipline ; 
bad housing, the existence of many thousands of 
unemployed or very irregularly employed men, 
and the wretchedly inadequate pay of most working 
women and girls. 

Take any one of these evils and examine into 
its causes, and we are inevitably led back to things 
of the mind. 

Why do men become tramps, for instance? 
There is a popular idea that they find the life 
enjoyable. I lived for eight years on a high road 
swarming with them, and, as far as my eyesight 
could reach, I distinguished the sullen, hopeless 
gait of a genuine tramp, the more footsore and 
irregular one of the traveller, from that of even 
the most fatigued and dispirited day labourer re- 
turning to the least satisfactory of homes. Omit- 
ting cases of exceptional misfortune (and even 
these are usually combined with some grave lack 
of judgment), men generally become tramps because' 
they are below the average in intellect, or because 
of too early and complete emancipation from home 
and school discipline, or because of their own and 
their parents' short-sightedness. 

How is it possible to pay women such wretched 
wages? Because they have to compete against 


married women and against girls partly supported 
by their parents, and these compete against them 
to the detriment of themselves, their children, their 
homes, and ultimately of their fathers, husbands, 
and brothers, because they do not understand 
what they are doing. And the thoughtless rich 
add not inconsiderably to the severity of the 
competition. Some years ago, a draper in a wealthy 
suburb showed me a beaded trimming, most of 
which he said was made for him locally at three- 
pence a yard. Knowing fairly well the length of 
time that the work would take, I asked how he 
thought it possible for anyone to live on such a 
pittance. The explanation was worthy of a comic 
opera : " Oh, ladies do a great part of it, and give 
the money in charity.'* Another cause, also a 
mental one, for the low wages of women is the 
unchecked unwillingness of girls to submit to the 
discipline and temporary sacrifice of learning a 
skilled trade. 

Children are destroyed, maimed, enfeebled in 
mind and body for lack of proper food, clothing, 
cleanliness, and house-room. Is poverty the only, or 
even chief, cause ? In a large proportion of cases 
they are simply suflFering from unsuitable food and 
clothing ; the amount of money spent on both was 
ample, but misdirected. Many children have died 
from cold, or contracted diseases which will handicap 


them as long as they live, who wore plush coats and 
feathered hats and lace collars and kid boots ; and 
many more have had their health undermined by 
bad feeding, whose food, nevertheless, cost double 
what would have been necessary to provide plain, 
wholesome, and sufficiently appetising and varied 
nourishment. I knew three young mothers in a 
country village who were all unable to nurse their 
children, boys between five and eight months old. 
The first gave her child twelve ounces of milk, cost- 
ing a fraction over a halfpenny a day, and was scru- 
pulously careful as to its quality and temperature. 
The second bought a patent food at a cost of three 
and twopence a week, mixing it to a paste with water. 
The third had milk " by the quart," and fed the 
baby whenever it cried. Number one thrived ; 
number two was pining away when his father lost 
his work for a couple of months, and the bonny little 
lad was saved by the unwilling and sorely lamented 
economy of plain milk ; number three saved him- 
self by refusing steadfastly to imbibe more than 
about twice as much as he needed. 

The housing of the poor is disgracefully bad, and 
often the matter is beyond their individual control, 
but have they any idea of the importance of 
securing air and light and space in their dwellings ? 
have they even been taught to make the best of 
their homes as they are ? In many three-roomed 


flats I find the largest and lightest room entirely 
devoted to show, rarely opened except to be cleaned, 
often locked for fear the children should enter it 
even for five minates. If there is a well-lighted 
front kitchen and a gloomy wash-house, intended 
just as a place to perform the roughest and dirtiest 
and noisiest part of the work, the whole family will 
squeeze into the latter, and spend as much time 
there as possible. 

Nearly every evil that can be brought forward 
arises from mistaken ideas, and persists on account 
of their prevalence ; and every remedy worthy of 
the name must aim at improving the individual, 
raising his value as a social unit. People may not 
receive all the good that they deserve, but in the 
long-run no human institution can secure that they 
shall have, and continue to have, more than they 
are worth. If a woman is nervous, yielding, 
anaemic, untrained, feeble in mind and body, she 
can earn very little, and will probably receive less 
still ; if she marries, her labours as a wife and 
mother will be poor in results for her family and 
terribly costly for herself. If a man is below the 
average in health, intellect, moral discipline, and 
domestic sentiment, he is practically certain to fall 
into the ranks of casual labour, and in more extreme 
cases he will become a hopeless burden on the 
community. Neither Conservatives, Radicals, nor 


Reactionists can prevent these things from happen- 
ing. There is no political panacea : free trade, fair 
trade, protection, retaliation, will not affect them. 
Improve individuals, and the State which they 
compose must also be improved ; but without this 
mental and inward change every system of govern- 
ment is more or less a failure. " The end which 
statesmen should keep in view as higher than all 
other ends is the formation of character," said 
Spencer. Not only is this the highest end, but 
the sole means by which the conditions of life can 
be essentially and permanently improved. 

Out of good bricks a substantial building can 
be made, but if even one-twentieth of them be 
crumbling and imperfect, no safe structure can be 
raised, and the more elaborate the design the more 
numerous the weak points must be. 

In order to improve the individual we must 
first ensure that he has been born uninjured and 
vigorous, that he receives constant personal care 
during the first twelve years of his life, and much 
guidance, supervision, and control during the sub- 
sequent eight or ten. 

How can he obtain all this ? Not to any great 
extent by Act of Parliament, or direct State inter- 
ference of any kind, but chiefly by the improvement 
of home life and the expansion of parental ideals. 

Instead of asking ceaselessly for more legislation, 


more collective powers, let us take stock of what 
we have already, and ask to what extent we are 
benefited by them. Instead of hastily bringing fresh 
organisations into existence, and trusting blindly 
to them for a quarter of a century, or else pulling 
them up by the roots the day after to-morrow, let 
us consider those already in activity, and find out 
on the one hand whether we are checking the evil 
or mistaken tendencies that lie hidden in all human 
designs ; and, on the other hand, whether we are get- 
ting the utmost possible amount of good out of them. 
Take compulsory elementary education, for ex- 
ample. In a very short time all children under 
fourteen years of age will spend five days a week 
for about nine and a half months a year at school. 
Is the best practicable use made of the whole of 
this period ? Do we not in many ways allow our- 
selves to be hampered by the fact that when the 
** codes " were first drawn up elementary education 
commonly came to an end at ten or eleven ? 
Average working-class children suffer not only 
because their studies leave off too soon but because 
they begin too soon, and are not graduated with 
sufficient knowledge of the ordinary lines upon 
which mental powers develop. The mentally 
precocious child belongs almost exclusively to the 
middle and professional classes ; the poor and the 
rich develop more slowly. Much precious time is 


wasted in laboriously teaching pupils of seven or 
eight things that would have been almost self- 
evident to a child of eleven whose intelligence had 
been occupied in the meantime with matters far 
niore easily grasped. The same mistake was 
formerly made with the children of the rich. Boys 
of six and even five were tormented with Latin 
grammar, still younger girls cried and struggled 
over music lessons, and at twelve they were easily 
distanced in these subjects by pupils who had 
studied them for a few months. Needless to say, 
the brains of the successful competitors had not 
been allowed to lie entirely fallow, or left a prey to 
dreams and whimsies, but they had been employed 
chiefly on matters where memory counts for a great 
deal, and their intelligence had been exercised but 
not strained; above all, they had never become 
accustomed to work in a fog. In all codes and 
regulations affecting national education far too 
much weight has been allowed to the opinion of 
men belonging entirely to the professional class, 
knowing no children but those of their own class 
— and very little even of those during the first half 
or even two-thirds of their childhood. The exten- 
sion of the system of continuation schools is much 
to be desired. They are needed not merely for 
the purpose of teaching new and more advanced 
subjects, but to prevent what has already been 


learnt from being forgotten. It is possible to teach 
moderately intelligent children a very great deal of 
what is necessary for their welfare and advance- 
ment, but it is not possible to make them remember 
all this, nor even to ensure the remembrance of 
what may be considered an irreducible minimum 
of instruction, if they leave school at the age of 
thirteen or fourteen, and divide their time hence- 
forth between physical drudgery and complete 
idleness spent in entirely unintellectual surround- 
ings. Moreover, many of the most ignorant among 
the poor are persons who were not naturally 
defective but of retarded development, and 
education carried over a longer period would 
have made all the diflference in the world to 

Everywhere one finds parents willing and even 
anxious to keep clever, quick-witted children at 
school, but few of them " see the use of*' prolonged 
teaching for the dullards. What would become of 
many middle-class children, especially boys, if all 
direct instruction ceased at fourteen or even earlier ? 
I will not say that all opportunity of learning 
comes to an end in childhood even among the 
poorest, but bare " opportunity " is merely a handle 
for genius, and has nevei^^been lacking under any 
system of social life. 

What we need is that rank-and-file brains should 


meet with a proper amount of care and considera- 
tion. Even if raising the common school standard 
meant the loss of a genius here and there for the 
want of special fostering, would it matter very 
much when we had so greatly reduced the need for 
giants in the land ? All the truly great men of 
the world are chiefly occupied in fighting the 
battles of those who have been allowed to remain 
below what is a safe or pleasant position for human 
beings to occupy. 

One reason why compulsory education has not 
worked as great a reform as it might have done in 
over thirty years is because the majority of the 
teachers are insufficiently acquainted with the daily 
lives of the ordinary pupils. Most of them come 
from the aristocracy of the poor and have lived in 
the extremest retirement and isolation. Neither 
from early personal experience nor by sympathetic 
study do they know the principal class with which 
they have to deal. 

Another reason for comparative failure is that 
the moral origin of a large amount of stupidity is 
not sufficiently recognised at the present day. Old 
schoolmasters who declared that memory and 
understanding waited upon attention, and that 
attention was within the power of all their pupils, 
were not so far from the truth as modern teachers 
seem to think. To satisfy oneself of the insufficient 


moral teaching assimilated (even if given), it is only 
necessary to informally examine twenty or more 
Council-school children by telling them soipe story 
of daily life and asking their opinion as to whether 
the actors were right or wrong, or lay an imaginary 
case before them and inquire what they themselves 
would think it their duty to do in such circum- 
stances. Not only will fully half of the children be 
unable to reply correctly, but those who give right 
answers will probably supply ludicrously wrong or 
inadequate reasons for their decision — this last a 
matter of no immediate moment, but which must 
become of practical importance as soon as other 
and perhaps quicker- witted children look to them 
for guidance. 

Very often it is not more instruction that the 
poor require, but some motive for action. It 
is rare indeed to find persons of any age, or 
any position in life, who make a practical use of 
all their knowledge. If we look back with any- 
thing like clear memory to our own childhood, 
we shall acknowledge that there was a great gap 
between knowledge and action, between believing 
a dogma and doing anything because we believed 
it. It is in order to bridge this gap that personal 
influence may be of so much value and that re- 
ligious teaching is in the fullest sense practical. 

In the worst neighbourhood I ever visited. 


several women on separate occasions told me in 
almost precisely the same words : " Ah, there's 
many a thing done here that wouldn't be done 
if the clergy came among us more." But visit 
among them was exactly what the clergy would 
not do. It is almost incredible, but to get dying 
patients visited by the ministers whom they 
earnestly desired to see was often more than I 
could accomplish. They preferred multiplying 
services. Services of whom? As a differently 
minded priest remarked, "If the church bells 
are always ringing, and their coat tails flying 
round the comers to be there in time, they think 
they have done their duty by the parish." And 
another, exalting the duty of parochial visiting 
above that of holding week-day services in empty 
churches, said, "Unless I know my parishioners 
when they are well, how can I expect them ^to 
care to see me when they are ill? And if my 
opinion is not worth having on the points of pigs 
and cabbages, how can I expect to have it accepted 
with regard to the education of their children ? " 
I remember a large and elaborately decorated 
church in a parish containing two thousand villa 
residents and their servants, about one hundred 
smaU shopkeepers and their families, and about 
fifteen hundred of the labouring classes, nearly half 
of whom were very poor. A daily service was 


held at that church, but in order to ensure the 
attendance of even three persons, a coterie of some 
twenty ladies took it in turns to go. One day 
an outsider, too rheumatic to attend a prolonged 
service, entered the church, and although it was 
several minutes past the appointed hour, found 
no one present but the vicar. Just as he came 
out from the vestry and knelt down she discovered 
that she had forgotten her spectacles, and although 
she knew she could repeat the responses by heart, 
she was seized with a nervous panic when she 
recollected that she would be expected to read 
alternate verses of the psalms. Also, she was 
a clergyman's daughter, and, as she expressed it 
frankly, " I knew what a rage my father would 
have been in if he had had to read matins for 
one old person." Before the vicar rose to his feet 
the congregation had fled. In the porch she 
met one of the regular attendants just arriving, 
and astounded her by the breathless question, 
'* Can you read ? I can't. That's all right, then," 
and returned to her seat. In this same parish 
a district visitor asked the vicar to call upon 
a poor woman who anxiously waited to see him 
and who was believed to be in a dying condition. 
Four weeks after he met the district visitor. 
"Oh, ah, Mrs. Wyvern, I — ah — ^lost the address 
of that poor soul you mentioned. Is she — ah?" 


'* Much better, and gone to a convalescent home," 
was the pardonably impatient reply. 

I once read that the poor in the country, at 
any rate, can always have "air, water, and 
the parson's advice." It seemed a scanty allow- 
ance, but after living in certain rural districts 
I came to the conclusion that in cottages these 
are the things most often lacking. Inside the 
houses there was no room for air, immediately 
outside them it was poisoned, the nearest whole- 
some water-supply was often half a mile away ; 
and how frequently I longed to meet the masterful 
landlord of fiction or the pragmatic parson and his 
interfering wife ! 

If I told the vicar a few of the facts that 
inevitably came to my knowledge : that gambling 
of a ruinous kind was carried on in such and 
such a house, or heavy secret drinking in another ; 
if I told his wife that certain girls were old 
enough for domestic service, and were becoming 
anaemic from overcrowding, poor food, and idle- 
ness, and that their mothers were willing to let 
them go but not anxious, what happened? 
Nothing — nothing at all. 

In dealing with the most uneducated classes 
the power and value, and indeed the mental 
necessity, of constant repetition of one s teaching 
cannot well be over-stated. Repetition is not, as 


to more nervous and intellectual types, either 
a weariness or a goad in the wrong direction. 
It is soothing, and without it there is no such 
thing as certainty. Not only is it valuable in 
the mouth of doctor, nurse, minister, or whoever 
may be the teacher, but it is specially impressive 
if the same statements can be repeated by different 
persons. For this reason co-operation between all 
workers among the poor is imperative. When, 
for example, I wished to induce the friends to 
allow a consumptive patient to have sole possession 
of one room, and to let her confine herself to 
that room except when well enough to go out 
of doors, I was usually told that it was un- 
necessary or that it was impracticable. The 
next step was to find the minister of the 
denomination to which the sufferer belonged, and 
induce him to repeat the advice; it was then 
put into the mouths of district visitor, deaconess, 
or church sister, and one of them was asked to 
leave some simple leaflet on the subject of con- 
sumption, or a magazine in which the matter 
was incidentally treated ; finally, the " useful 
neighbour," confidential friend and adviser of the 
family was discovered and instructed. 

After allowing time for all this, I returned to the 
charge, and the victims of my innocent plot would 
say, with a sigh of resignation, " Well, I suppose 


it had ought to be so. It's juss what the vicar bin 

a-saying, and Miss B , and Mrs. Thomson from 

over the way." After that, though many a con- 
versational hill and dale had to be crossed, no real 
difficulty remained. 

To ameliorate the condition of the very poorest 
and most ignorant it is not sufficient that we should 
be armed with the principles of philosophers. We 
need some of the methods of quacks : bold and clear 
assertion, ceaseless and unblushing repetition. 

On account of class feeling, the friendly neighbour 
is always the most important ally, and there are 
few depths of flattery to which I would not descend 
in order to secure her vigorous co-operation. The 
strength of class prejudice, not in the sense of 
malignancy, but with regard to suspicion and dis- 
trust, can only be realised by those who have spent 
much time among the poor and are unwearied 
listeners. The following is by no means an 
extreme instance, although, as I knew all the 
parties concerned, it struck me forcibly at the time. 
A country lad of sixteen lived " with the gentry." 
His mother had never been in service herself, but 
she had received countless kindnesses from her 
son's employers, and had much cause to know that 
they were not only just and reasonable in their 
treatment of dependents, but unusually kind and 
considerate. Nevertheless, she listened to and 


encouraged the most trivial and childish com- 
plaints. His brother of fourteen, her favourite 
child, took a situation at a small public-house, 
and shared the room of an habitual drunkard who 
lodged there. It was this man's duty to get up at 
two o'clock every morning and do an hour's work 
with a cart and horse. He was often too stupid 
with drink to be roused, and, after vainly trying to 
wake him, this mere child, who had been on duty 
firom 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. or even 11, would go out 
to the street and do it himself, " so's Jim shan't 
lose his job." The mother knew all this, and never 
stirred a finger to prevent it. " Hard work don't 
never hurt 'em. It's the treatment I looks to," 
was her sole comment. Probably the intensity 
and selfishness of class feeling is reduced of late 
years in the same ratio as the brutality of its 
outward expression. I have been told by a 
gentleman farmer bom about the year 1830 that 
as a lad he often heard and drank to the toast, 
"Here's to a bloody war and a bad harvest." 

Above all things, we must never lose sight of 
the continuity of life. Apparently forgetting the 
context, but with more desire to make a sound 
social use of religious teaching than is commonly 
shown, someone asked me recently, " Is it because 
St. Paul was a bachelor that he talked so lightly 
of legislating ' for the present distress ' ? People 


with children and grandchildren cannot afford to 
take short views." 

No conceivable development of the philanthropic 
spirit among the upper classes could affect the con- 
dition of the poor to an extent comparable to the 
revolution that would take place in their whole 
method of thought and action if the spirit of 
fatalism and blind submission, chequered by barren 
revolt, were displaced by the intellectual ability to 
trace cause and effect in even the simplest cases. 
Many among the least educated show signs of 
considerable intellectuality, but how deficient the 
poor as a whole are, and are allowed to remain, 
in the art of reasoning, only those intimately 
acquainted with their mental processes can even 
faintly realise. Grown men and women, after all 
the education brought to them by fifty years of 
life, have often in sad and sober earnestness offered 
me " reasons " which if they came from a child of 
seven or eight would met by the 
reply, " Don't be so foolish ! " The power to turn 
the attention to the essential points of the matter 
in hand is generally defective or absent, and the 
practical training of life often fails to supply it 
owing to the lack of leading principles to which 
experience may be referred. We hear of " using 
your eyes," "keeping your wits about you," and 

so forth, but as the artist, for one, knows very well, 


people cannot see until they have been taught to 
see. All through one winter I gave theoretical 
instruction to two women (separately) who had had 
practical knowledge of the matter for quite twenty 
years before I had ever heard of it. At first when 
I told them that this or that thing could be ob- 
served in certain circumstances, they rarely failed 
to assure me that " in all their born days " they 
had never known it happen. Later on they told 
me, with intense surprise, that these things " were 
now beginning to happen," but the older and more 
prejudiced of the two added firmly, " I'm sure the 
like of it never come to me before." 

Probably one of the best means of supplying the 
poor with most necessary parts of education would 
be direct taxation, and it is certainly one of the 
most practical remedies for extravagant local ad- 
ministration. In a thinly populated parish cover- 
ing a large area a young girl said to me, " We'd 
ought to have lamps in the village." "Do you 
wish the rates to go up?" "Oh no; mother's 
got lis. rates to pay at Lady Day as 'tis," and 
she quickly mentioned a few things which, in her 
mother's opinion, had been done in the parish 
unnecessarily, or at an unreasonable cost. Another 
cottager who paid 6s. for the entire year delivered 
lectures to tramps if they knocked at her door. 
Women farther down the hill paid rent, rates, and 


taxes all in one, without the faintest idea how 
much they paid for each, and most of them en- 
couraged tramps to the full extent of their ability. 

Education can alone supply the remedies for all 
existing evils, but the ruling classes have a double 
duty with regard to the matter : first, to give an 
education which is a real preparation for life ; and, 
secondly, to avoid hasty interposition between the 
stem experiences of life and those who have 
strength and wit enough to profit by them. And 
all school teachers would do well to recall Adam 
Smith's dictum : " The great secret of education is 
to direct vanity to proper objects." 

Perhaps one of the greatest needs of the present 
day is that working-women should receive decent 
wages, and it would be well if all those desirous of 
helping them began by accepting two elementary 
facts and their implications: firstly, that women 
will never receive good wages until they can earn 
them ; and, secondly, that if they could earn them, 
society as a whole would be enormously benefited. 
Matrimony cannot support all women, still less can 
it support all women at all periods of their life. 
Working-class girls between seventeen and twenty- 
four are practically bound to earn their own living, 
and whether that living is liberal or intolerably 
meagre is a question not only affecting themselves 
but the children who will be born to them, and 


it unmistakably affects the level of social morality 
in one of its most important points. Young and 
middle-aged widows will always abound, and al- 
though among the poorer classes they commonly 
marry again, there will certainly be an interval of 
a year or more during which they must depend 
upon their own exertions; and bad housing and 
semi-starvation during that period will injure 
either health or morals, or both. Even if the first 
marriage lasts for thirty or more years, it must 
still be remembered that the average wo^n lives 
two years longer than the average man, and that 
she is usually from one to five years younger than 
her husband, while pensions from all sources and 
even almshouse allowances generally cease at his 
death, and outdoor relief is diminished by one half 
instead of the third which would be reasonable, 
considering that the same amount of rent must 
still be paid. How are all these blank periods to 
be filled in if a woman, at her best, has difl&culty 
in earning eight or ten shillings a week in the 
open market? 

It is no hardship for a woman to earn her living 
if she is properly prepared to do it; the real 
burden is that in all classes of life it is so often a 
case of bricks without straw, whether mental or 
physical work be in question. Even when all that 
is demanded of widow or spinster is that she should 


" look after what she has," how often have parents 
and guardians forearmed her with the necessary 
business knowledge? I remember hearing the 
sympathetic wife of a wealthy man call on him 
to pity certain women who had been ruined by 
placing their father's savings in the hands of a 
dishonest speculator. " Greedy old things, serve 
'em right 1 " was his ultra-masculine reply. " They 
must have known that the interest he oflfered them 
could not be got honestly by people who had 
nothing to contribute but their money. If you 
can't work, and can't aflford to take a risk, and 
haven't any brains, two and a half per cent, is a 
fair price." 

The victims certainly ought to have known this, 
but did they know it ? 


PrinUd 6y 




The Next Street But One. 

Cheaper Edition (Fourth Impreeeion). Crown 8vo, 88. 6d. 

The Spectator. — ^' Mies Loane is a district nurse ; she has 
lived among the poor and for the poor ; she knows the society of 
the poor from the inside, yet she comes in from the outside, con- 
sequently she sees closely enough to descry details accurately. 
There are no volumes of statistics, however precise, and no books 
about poor relief, however true to history, which can teach us what 
Miss Loane has learned. . . . Taken as a whole, we believe there is 
to be found in * The Next Street But One ' and * The Queen's Poor ' 
more wisdom on the problems of poverty than in half the books on 
political economy and sociology published within the present 
generation. . . . We would not merely recommend, but would urge, 
their attentive perusal upon all men and women who are concerned 
with the question of poor relief, and who are sincerely anxious to 
help the people without harming them. They will find in Miss 
Loane's womanly common sense and robust humour an admirable 
corrective to the pleas for sapping the strength of the nation which 
are the evil fashion of the hour." 

The Times. — "Miss Loane has written another delightful book. 
. . . Her knowledge is real and extensive, her observation acute 
and accurate, her sense of humour unfailing; and withal she is 
never sentimental, though always sympathetic. She has a great 
gift for telling stories. The last eleven chapters of the book consist 
of short narratives, told with remarkable skill. . . . The earlier 
chapters are devoted to various aspects of life among the poor, 
under general headings — Culture, Home Lifp, Ethics, Courtship 
and Marriage, etc. They have the same charm of reality, sincerity, 
and unselfconscious art.'' 





CfiBaper Edition {Second impression). Crown 8vo, Ss, 6d. 

The Morning Po8t.~^'The author's experiences of district 
noning, combined with an aptitude for observing character, have 
enabled her to produce a book which is instructive, pathetic, or 
diverting, according to the point of view, and doubtless many of 
her readers will be alive to all three qualities." 

The Daily News.— "A book which is not only a mine of 
humorous stories, quaint sayings, and all that web of anecdote and 
quick repartee which sweetens a life at the best limited and austere. 
It is also a study in which common sense mingles with sympathy 
in a record of intimate relationship with the problems of poverty." 

The AthenSBum. — " Miss Loane has obvious qu^ifications for 
a task which many have essayed, and few essayed successfully. . . . 
The result is one of the most healthy, true, and satisfying pictures 
of their standard of life and comfort, their outlook on this world 
and a world beyond, which have recently been issued." 

The Ghiajpdian.— "Miss Loane teaches those who are willing 
to learn, what the poor suffer, what they think, and how we may 
hope to help them. Her long experience as a district nurse enables 
her to speak with authority, whUe her manifest gifts of sympathy 
and common sense make it a privilege to learn from her." 

The Chiiroh Times,—" This is a book which no one can 
afford to neglect who works among the very poor, or who desires 
to know the conditions under which they live, and the point of 
view from which they regard various problems of life. ... A real 
and solid, albeit informal, contribution to social and economic 


Telegrams : 4.1 and 43 Maddox Street, 

• Scholarly, London.' Bond Street, London, W., 

/ Marcb^ 1908. 

Mr. Edward Arnold's 

List of New Books. 


By the author of ' The Jungle.' 


Crown ivo. 6s. 

This is Mr. Upton Sinclair's first new novel since * The Jungle,' 
-wherein he startled the world with his lurid account of the iniquities 
[perpetrated in the American canned meat trade. 

In < The Metropolis ' he brings a scathing indictment against the 
vulgar element in New York Society, whose exotic and vicious lives 
are exposed with all that unrestrained and brilliant relentlessness of 
which Mr. Sinclair is a master. 

It will be remembered that a few months ago a report went round 
to the effect that Mr. Sinclair had managed to get a situation as 
butler in the house of a prominent millionaire, where he was studying 
the occupants with the intention of describing them in a book. The 
report was imfounded, and was denied at the time ; but it is quite 
clear from this book that he must have had opportunities of no 
ordinary character to have enabled him to handle the subject with 
such telling and convincing effect. 


2 Mr. Edward Arnold* s List of New Books 


By the author of ' The House of Shadows.' 


Croum 8vo. 6s. 

Mr. Farrer has gained for himself a reputation as a writer of no\ 
with fresh and original themes. In the present instance cert 
phases of modem lue are hit off with great skill and incisivem 
The vacillating relations of a young married lady with a man -v 
has divested himself of his wealth in order to devote his life to sen 
among the poor, are handled in a manner extremely modem. I 
Farrer knows his world, and provides much crisp dialogue and cle 
cut phraseology. 



AoTHOK OP * Thb Next Strkbt but Onb,' ' Thb Qubbn's Pook,' etc. 

Crown 8vo, 6s. 

Miss Loane is a district nurse ; she has lived among the poor i 
for the poor ; she knows the society of the poor from the inside, 
she comes in from the outside, consequently she sees closely enoi 
to descry details accurately. 

This new book, full of real knowledge, common sense, and rob 
humour, is urgently recommended to the attentive pemsal of all n 
and women who are interested in the problem of life among 
poor. The following are among topics discussed in it: 1 
Manufacture of the Tramp, The Cost of Food, Mental and Mc 
Characteristics, Why the Poor prefer Town Life, What is Charii 
Miss Loane has a great gift for telling anecdotes, and employ; 
with effect in the present instance. 



Crovm 8vo. 3s. 6d. 

; Mr. Edward Arnolds List of New Books 3 




S'ottss'tbitb Dea5 Aaatet ot TIQlincbeBtet, t866~t884* 
S'itBt JSlBbop ot Soutbwellt t884-t904. 

By his Wife, Lady LAURA RIDDING. 
0^ With Illustrations and a Plan, Demy 8vo. 15s. net. 

Whilst appealing especially to Wykehamists, this valuable 
Eind interesting biography claims tl^e attention of the larger public that 
snjoys reading about the careers of successful and distinguished 

The volume is roughly divided into three sections, the first telling 
Df Dr. Ridding's early days at Winchester and Oxford. After this 
t^omes the account of his notable headmastership — notable because 
during it was evolved the Winchester known to most of her sons 
tiow living. So many buildings were added and so many improve- 
txients made that Dr. Ridding, the prime mover in it all, came to be 
jnown as *the second foimder.' The third section describes the 
Tormation of the Diocese of Southwell, and is a remarkable revela- 
:ion of the successful application of exceptional administrative 



With Coloured Frontispiece and numerous other Illustrations beautifully 
reproduced in collotype. Crown ^to. ais. net* 

This important work, which is only rendered possible by the 
mmense additions to our knowedge of Far Eastern art during the 
ast decade, brings out and establishes the high interest of Chinese 
Dainting, hitherto practically unknown in Europe, and of the older 
schools of Japan, the subsidiary schools of India, Persia and Tibet 
3eing also glanced at. The author's aim has been to treat his 
mbject not merely from the technical historical side, but as a theme 
)f living and universal interest, with its background of Oriental 
bought and civilization. 

4 Mr. Edward Arnold's List of New Books 



3kln0 a Veactiptton of tbe f>totoricaI, pbfi0ical»' and Sn^ustn 
#eatute0 of tbe principal Qenttee of Ainecal ptodoction 
in tbe J9riti0b Dominione besonb tbe Seas. 


Latb Mining Eoitok, Rand Daily Mail^ Johannesburg, S.A. 

D$My 890. With numerous Illustrations. 15s. net. 

This work is the outcome of a careful and exhaustive inspect! 
of the mines all over the Empire, covering a considerable period, ^ 
the part of the author, who has visited personally the places 
describes, and who has brought much practical knowledge to hi . 
upon his subject. A moment's consideration enables one to real . 
the great amount of romance there is attached to this prosa :.] 
sounding industry : the histories of some of the mines are capal '< 
of filling volumes by themselves. On the other hand, the book i 
indispensable as a work of reference for capitalists, investors, a if 
many others interested in the different aspects of mining. i 



(* Odysseus *). 

A New EdUion^ with Additional Chapters on Events from 1869 to th 

Present Day. 

Large Crown ivo. 7s. 6d. net. 

Although the identity of * Odysseus ' has for some time been 
open secret, it is satisfactory to be able at length to reveal definil 
the authorship of this important work. The additional chapl 
contain a valuable review of the present position of the Turi 
question, and bring up to date a book that is abready regarded a 
standard authority on its subject. 

Mr* Edward Arnold's List of New Books 





Two volumes. Large Medium 8vo, With Illustrations and Maps. 

36s. net. 

* This is a great book on a great subject. The expedition of which it tells 
the story was by far the most remarkable feat of recent African travel, the 
greatest feat of endurance since Mr. Grogan's memorable journey from the 
Cape to Cairo, and more fruitful in scientific results than any expedition since 
that of Stanley. Mr. Alexander modestly disclaims literary skill, but we know 
few books of travel written in purer English.' — Spectator. 

' It is a book which is worthy to be ranked with the classics of Stanley, 
Speke, and Livingstone — a book that deserves to, and assuredly will, take rank as 
one of the most fascinating revelations of savage Africa. We have seldom read a 
better book of travel, never a more deeply interesting one.' — Country Life. 




Author op 'Through Fivb Republics op South America.' 

Two volumes. Demy 8vo. With Illustrations and Map. 30s. net. 


Demy Bvo. With lUtutrations and Maps. las. 6d. net. 


Bn Bccount ot ita ^ridfn an^ development 


Demy 8vo. With Maps, las. 6d. net. 

Mr. Edward Arnold* $ List of New Books 



Pkopbssor op English Litbratusb m thx Univbrsity ok Livekpoou 

Large Crown 8vo. js. 6d. net. 


Rendered into English by CONSTANCE ELISABETH MAU] 

Author op 'Wagner's Herobs,' 'An English Girl in Paris/ etc 
Lyrics from the Provencal by ALMA STRETTELL (Mrs. LAWRENCE HARRISON 

Dsmy 8vo. With Illustrations, las, 6d. net* 


B t)ldton? ot tbe particularldt S'orm of Socleti^. 

Translated from the French of HENRI de TOURVILLE 

by M. G. LOCH. 

Demy 8vo. las. 6d. net. 



By W. B. DRUMMOND, M.B., CM., F.R.C.P.E., 

Author op ' The Child : His Nature and Nurture.' 

Crown 8vo. 68. net. 



By W. E. URWICK, M.A. 


Crown Svo, 4s* 6d. net.