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very well. He hears what they have to say
with downcast eyes; and he is very serious
when he takes the tracts they are so good as
to distribute. But how can he read while
he is hungry? The lady is certain to be
touched by this appeal, and, all honour to
her gentle heart! Anybody's child receives
sixpence. Then the lady proceeds to the
next court, and Anybody's child buys some
padding at a house close at handwhich he
wraps up in the tractand saves two pence
for the low theatre at night. You know all
this is true of Anybody's child. Admitted.

Anybody's child plays other parts. Many
come to inquire into his condition; to ask
him about his parentage, his mode of life, the
number of times he has been in prison, the
games he has played. To these he appears
very hardened indeed. He has no recollection
of his mother, and his father is somewhere in
the country. He is allowed to sleep upon a
pallet in the corner of a kind old woman's
kitchen up a court. He lives by all sorts of
stratagems. He holds gentlemen's horses;
he goes out with costermongers to cry their
wares. He has been offered the situation of
errand-boy, to carry out goods; but he never
liked it; such places was always too hard
for him. He has been in prison many times,
five or six times at least. He proceeds to
repeat the prison regulations, for he knows
them by heart. He has been engaged with
other boys in taking lead from house-roofs
in "snow-gathering" (a poetic expression
for clothes-stealing from hedges); in picking
pockets at fairs. He can turn his hand to
anything destructive; but finds the world is
again him. He knows very well that he is
an outcast, and that boys of his sort are not to
be admitted into any decent companionship.
Yet his is a hard lifehis is. He has tried
very often to do something for himself, he has;
but it ain't of no use, he can't keep to nothing;
he gets tired of it, and people gets tired of
him. He supposes he will be transported at
last. He doesn't much care what becomes of
him. As for a home, he has never had a home.
He is glad his father has gone away, for he
was always a thrashing of him. He will say all
this to you, will Anybody's child. Admitted.

Anybody's child here begins a true story, a
little coloured. He watches narrowly the
expression of his questioner, and shapes his
answer according to the result of his
observation. He thinks there is a chance of
getting something out of his listener, perhaps
half-a-crown, perhaps a passage to the
diggings; but he is afraid it may be an
introduction to some reformatory institution.

Any body's child plays a third part.
Admitted. This is played when he is accosted
by an inquirer who is the sworn advocate of
popular education. Herein the child is a
mass of ignorance. He has never heard who
is king or queen. He is not certain that it
ain't the Black Prince. How should he know?
He has heard of the Creator once or twice,
but knows nothing about the New Testament.
Cannot read or write; wishes he could.
Will go to the ragged school; wouldn't he
like to? But he must have something to eat
at, afore he can think of learning anything.
Has heard of all sorts of places built to do
good to him; but he doesn't like them. He
isn't fond of work. It's a hard life in the
streets; but he will get used to it in time.

All this, admitted. Admit on the other
handyou must, if you admit the sun and
the eternal Heavens to be realitiesthat
while opponents discuss theories, he grows up
to Newgate and perdition.

Yet, truly regarded, Anybody's child is
something more than this worthless little
wretch and irredeemable outcast. Because
he cannot be made to mend his ways in a
few weeks; because it is not easy to make
him the quiet inhabitant of a monotonous
reformatory ward; because he cannot recognise
a ministering Angel in a drill Serjeant:
because he is slow to learn, and has a disgust
for, the irksome foundations of education;
because the wild animal of a London alley
cannot, in a few days, become a lap-dog for
lady visitors to pat and smooth; voices begin
to cry aloud that the case is hopeless. Let
our Voice cry aloud, instead. To whom does
Anybody's child belong? To some of us
surely; if not to all of us. What are our
laws if they secure for this child no protection;
what are we if, under our eyes, Anybody's
child grows up to be Everybody's enemy?

Anybody's child is undoubtedly Somebody's
child. To discover this Somebody, who basely
deserts it, should be the duty of the State;
and the law's heaviest hand would we lay
upon this Somebody. The State, professing
and calling itself Christian, and therefore
refusing to breed Plagues and Wild Beasts and
rubbish to be shot into the bottomless pit,
should systematically take that child, and
make it a good citizen. And as it can, in
most cases, find out Somebody when he or
she has done a murder on the body, so let it
find out Somebody guilty of the worse murder
of this child's soul, and punish that heaviest
of all offenders, in pocket and person.

Anybody's child is a little fiend, a social
curse, a hypocrite, a liar, a thief.  Admitted.
But if the State had long ago made Somebody
accountable for the child, and taken upon
itself the duties of parent. Anybody's child, in
lieu of the dreadful creature you recoil from,
would now be a hopeful little fellow, with the
roses of youth upon his cheeks, and the truth
of happy childhood on his lips.

Anybody's child cannot too soon become
the adopted of us all; and the Somebody who
gave it birth cannot too soon or too relentlessly
be made to pay the charges of the
adoption, or be punished in default. Recent
conferences on this shame to England have
renewed our hopes of Anybody's child.
Reader, as you have children of your own, or
were a child yourself, remember him!