+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

as I feel now, writing this paper. I felt like
a preternaturally fagged-out and exhausted man.
I looked with envy upon Vinny Bourne's bird,
who could in secret survey the "bustle and
the raree-show," secure and at his ease ; and
as I turned to my welcome rest I might have
muttered, had I not been too weary to do anything
but gasp, the concluding stanza of the poem :

           Thrice happy bird ! I too have seen
           Much of the Vanities of men,
           And, sick of having seen 'em,
           Would cheerfully these limbs resign
           For such a pair of wings as thine,
               And such a head between 'em.


WE want to know, and we always have wanted
to know, why the English workman is to be
patronised? Why are his dwelling-place, his house-
keeping arrangements, the organisation of his
cellar, and his lardernay, the occupation of his
leisure hours evenwhy are all these things
regarded as the business of everybody except
himself? Why is his beer to be a question agitating
the minds of society, more than our sherry? Why
is his visit to the gallery of the theatre, a more
suspicious proceeding than our visit to the
stalls? Why is his perusal of his penny
newspaper so aggravating to the philanthropical
world, that it longs to snatch it out of his hand
and substitute a number of the Band of Hope

It is not the endeavour really and honestly to
improve the condition of the lower classes which
we would discourage, but the way in which that
endeavour is made. Heaven knows, the working
classes, and especially the lowest working
classes, want a helping hand sorely enough. No
one who is at all familiar with a poor neighbourhood
can doubt that. But you must help them
judiciously. You must look at things with their
eyes, a little; you must not always expect them
to see with your eyes. The weak point in almost
every attempt which has been made to deal with
the lower classes is invariably the sametoo
much is expected of them. You ask them to do,
simply the most difficult thing in the worldyou
ask them to change their habits. Your standard
is too high. The transition from the
Whitechapel cellar to the comfortable rooms in the
model-house, is too violent; the habits which
the cellar involved would have to be abandoned;
a great effort would have to be made; and to
abandon habits and make great efforts is hard
work even for clever, good, and educated people.

The position of the lowest poor in London
and elsewhere, is so terrible, they are so
unmanageable, so deprived of energy through vice
and low living and bad lodging, and so little
ready to second any efforts that are made for
their benefit, that those who have dealings with
them are continually tempted to abandon their
philanthropic endeavours as desperate, and to
turn their attention towards another class:
those, namely, who are one degree higher in the
social scale, and one degree less hopeless.

It is proposed just now, as everybody knows,
to establish, in different poor neighbourhoods,
certain great dining-halls and kitchens for the
use of poor people, on the plan of those
establishments which have been highly successful in
Glasgow and Manchester. The plan is a good
one, and we wish it every successon certain
conditions. The poor man who attends one of
these eating-houses must be treated as the rich
man is treated who goes to a tavern. The thing
must not be made a favour of. The custom of
the diner-out is to be solicited as a thing on
which the prosperity of the establishment
depends. The officials, cooks, and all persons who
are paid to be the servants of the man who dines,
are to behave respectfully to him, as hired
servants should; he is not to be patronised, or
ordered about, or read to, or made speeches at,
or in any respect used less respectfully than he
would be in a beef and pudding shop, or other
house of entertainment. Above all, he is to be
jolly, he is to enjoy himself, he is to have his
beer to drink; while, if he show any sign of
being drunk or disorderly, he is to be turned
out, just as I should be ejected from a club, or
turned out of the Wellington or the Albion
Tavern this very day, if I got drunk there.

There must be none of that Sunday-school
mawkishness, which too much pervades our
dealings with the lower classes; and we must
get it into our headswhich seems harder to
do than many people would imaginethat the
working man is neither a felon, nor
necessarily a drunkard, nor a very little child. Our
wholesome plan is to get him to co-operate with
us. Encourage him to take an interest in the
success of the undertaking, and, above all things,
be very sure that it pays, and pays well, so that
the scheme is worth going into without any
philanthropic flourishes at all. He is already
flourished to death, and he hates to be flourished
to, or flourished about.

There is a tendency in the officials who are
engaged in institutions organised for the benefit
of the poor, to fall into one of two errors; to be
rough and brutal, which is the Poor-law Board
style; or cheerfully condescending, which is the
Charitable Committee style. Both these tones
are offensive to the poor, and well they may be.
The proper tone is that of the tradesman at
whose shop the workman deals, who is glad to
serve him, and who makes a profit out of his
custom. Who has not been outraged by observing
that cheerfully patronising mode of dealing
with poor people which is in vogue at our soup-
kitchens and other depôts of alms? There is a
particular manner of looking at the soup through
a gold double eye-glass, or of tasting it, and
saying, " Monstrous goodmonstrous good
indeed; why, I should like to dine off it myself!"
which is more than flesh and blood can bear.

We must get rid of all idea of enforcing what
is miscalled temperancewhich is in itself
anything but a temperate idea. A man must be
allowed to have his beer with his dinner, though
he must not be allowed to make a beast of himself.
Some account was given not long since, in these