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ON the closing day of the long February
frost I went to see what its effect had been
upon the dwellings of the quiet poor. The
general distress endured by a large class of
the inhabitants of London who commit no
crimes and utter no complaints by which to
call attention to their sorrow, has been
already suggested in this journal.* It is a
hard tale to tell twice, but would to Heaven
it were told a thousand times, if telling be a
step of any kind towards more active sympathy.
I had paid a second visit to a number of these
people during the past summer, and had
found the shadow of the war upon their
households. Looms were idle, high prices
and the dread of a prevailing pestilence
almost destroyed the traffic of the hawkers,
and the thousands of our fellow citizens who
are so often tempted to

"Sit down with vacant stare,
And the game of life abandon with the quiet of despair."

being almost without exception destitute of
this world's goods, remained as miserable as
they had been in the preceding winter. Let no
one suppose from this that he can picture to
himself, if he has not seen the horror of their
present state. Their crowning affliction was
the frost. The defect must be a grave one in
our social system which converts one of the
best gifts of Nature into a curse for thousands.
The cold weather dealt with the unoffending
poor as it might deal with the exotics in a
hot-house. Nothing that had life among them
seemed to have escaped the blight of it.
Volume ix. page 201.

I saw them on the last day of the frost,
when many of them had little more in this
world than their lives to lose. Inured to
suffering, they bore without rebellion the heaviest
privations. On that and the preceding day
they were surrounded by bread-riots.
Dock-labourers, impatient of a few days' famine,
joined by several of the discontented in East
London, raised the black flag; and, marching
in large crowds, emptied bakers' shops, but
with such crowds there went none of these
famished sufferers. The men whose need was
greatest hungered silently in their frost-bitten

"You have a great many countrymen
among these mobs, Mrs. Sullivan. Your
husband has no part in them?"

"He, sir! "What has he to do with them?
They're not honest men. My husband would
lie down on those stones and die of hunger
before he would join hand with such ruffians.
They were by here yesterday, five hundred of
them, with the black flag and a loaf dipped in
blood. They cleared out a poor man over the
way, who, though he is a baker, is not much
richer than we, God help him!"

The Sullivans once owned a little farm in
Ireland by the Lake of Killarney; they are
warm-hearted people. The husband, when in
Ireland, put his name to a friend's bill for a
hundred and fifty pounds, became chargeable
with the payment, and sold all to meet it. He
then came to London, bringing hither his wife
and a young family, with the design of emigrating.
There was delay caused by the difficulty
of getting shipped from England, and
that proved sufficient to complete his ruin.
He was forced to abandon his scheme and to
remain in London, where, with wife and children,
he now adds a drop to the great sea of
bitterness in Bethnal Green. I did not find
this family in the last stage of destitution.
The Sullivans, though they were starving,
had not yet sold their table and their chairs
for food. They had clothes, too. The garments
of many little ones recently washed,
hung upon lines about the room, and it was
through the grove of tiny frocks and petticoats
thus planted that one had peeps of a crone
near the scanty fire, who rocked herself in
sullen grief, and of a sick girl in the chimney
corner, who was eating a few chips of potato
from a plate. Mrs. Sullivan is a true woman.
When the great distress began and she was
herself in want, bread had been offered her.
Then she, denying herself, pointed out the
greater destitution of a neighbour, one for
whom her rich heart had been grieving. " Let
me wait," she said. " If there is bread to be
given, take the first morsel to her."

"You could have a cottage at Killarney
for the price of this room, Mrs. Sullivan."

"O and if we could only be back there
again! Time was when we never had a want;
when we owned cows and horses; and sure
we did not know that there was ever in the
world such an unhappy place as this. If we