[Reynoldsʼs Newspaper, 13. Dezember 1868]

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 957, 13. Dezember 1868. S. 4.
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On entering one of the houses in Millwall at haphazard we saw a woman surrounded by five young children in a most deplorable condition. They were all shoeless, and were otherwise wretchedly clad. Wan and haggard to the last degree, they were suffering from cutaneous disease, the result of impoverishment of blood, consequent upon long continued deprivation of nourishment. The woman stated that her husband worked in the labour-yard for the usual allowance; none of them had tasted meat for six weeks. She was suffering severely, for she was on the point of giving birth to another child. Her husband was the tenant of the whole house, and was bound to pay 5s. a week rent—a sum which it is needless to say was not paid. She had a lodger, who found it equally impossible to pay her 1s. 9d. a week for the room upstairs. With a view of adding to her husband’s miserable pittance she went a week ago to a rope factory in the Isle of Dogs and got a quarter of a hundredweight of oakum to pick. She and her children had worked at it ever since, and her husband, when he returned from the stone-yard at night, had assisted them; but, weak as they were from hunger, they had not yet been able to complete the task. For this week’s work of the woman, the five children, and the husband at night, the remuneration would be 1s. Going up-stairs, we found the front room occupied by seven persons, composing the family of the lodger already mentioned. The head of the family, a man in the prime of life, was seated on a stool in the corner; he was suffering terribly from neuralgic pains; his boots allowed his feet to be seen through their gaping sides; his other clothing was of the scantiest. The children were all young; they were starved and half clad; the expression of their gaunt faces denoted suffering from poverty of the direst kind. The mother, a respectable looking woman, very pale and feeble, spoke in a tone of pious resignation. She had that during the past two years her husband had had only six weeks continuous employment. He got occasional half-crowns by hanging about the docks, but ten days ago that resource failed altogether in consequence of his becoming too prostrate to work anymore. The parish allowance was, she said, quite insufficient to keep body and soul together. Nearly the whole of what they got they gave to the youngest child, as being the least able to bear the hunger. She mentioned—and it was a singular instance of the way in which the poor help the poor—that the woman below stairs at times gave them one of the loaves which her husband earned in the stone yard, to save them from total starvation. While this sad story of hopeless misery was being related, the father sat writhing in pain and sobbing loudly. In another house in the same street was a family which had only partaken of one meal since Sunday. To obtain it, the shoes of one of daughters, a girl of twelve, had been pawned for a shilling. They were in hopes of getting something on the Tuesday evening by the sale of the pawn-ticket for sixpence.—The Eastern Post.


  • Social cases. 1869