[The Daily News, 9. Oktober bis 31. Dezember 1868]

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The Daily News. Nr. 7001, 9. Oktober 1868. S. 5.
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LAMBETH INTERIORS.

Oct 9. Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

The letter we published under the above heading a few days since rather understated than overstated its case. To visit the parish of St. Mary the Less, Lambeth, and its neighbour Vauxhall, is to become acquainted with a vast and densely populated district in which the first laws of health are systematically outraged or ignored. Damp floors and walls, close stifling rooms, insufficient cubical space, defective water supply, overcrowding and its attendant evils physical and moral, foul smells, bad drains, sewers and cesspools so near the surface that the rank, black soil oozing up between the rotting bricks of the flooring is itself putrescent; open and exposed dust heaps, of which dust is the least harmful part, are to be seen and smelt and shuddered at on every side. The recognized principles by which the health of a community is secured are forgotten or violated; and those epidemical diseases the rise and progress of which so often baffle medical science have here their nursery and their root. Moreover, the disorders engendered by the filth and misery in which the inhabitants of this typically poor neighbourhood are allowed to live and die inevitably spread, and in unhealthy seasons society pays the penalty in illness and loss of life for its wilful indifference and neglect of the poor. The house we are about to describe are tenanted by industrious people, many of whom have votes under the new Reform Bill, and they are periodically inspected by local officials. The duty of these gentlemen is to see that the most obvious sanitary requirements are fulfilled, and it is impossible to avoid the conviction that it is not performed. In winter, and in bad seasons, the poverty and distress are wide-spread and severe; but at the time of our visit on a Saturday the breadwinner was in most instances away and at work, and it was the wife or children who showed us over house and yard.

The stables recently converted into dwelling places were by no means the worst specimens we saw and consisted of single room with open waterbutt and panless closet in common, the latter having no regular supply of water and depending upon the landlord’s personal labours for being kept sweet. Here we found what was a common phase of terrorism. The people who read of agricultural tyranny, and who properly sympathize with the unrighteous interference of landlords with their tenants; who regard the small farmer as being under exceptional pressure, and the dwellers upon an estate as writhing under, or docilely submitting to, a dictation unknown to the denizens of large towns, should make themselves acquainted with the terms upon which small house property is held in London. The representative landlord who is, perhaps, a member of the vestry or is at least able to control some of the tradesmen who sit there, makes silent submission to things as they are a condition of tenancy. To complain is to be turns out. To aid the clergyman or district visitor, or philanthropic inquirer, by admitting what is as palpable as the pavement they walk upon, or the discoloured walls they see, is to play into the hands of the enemy, and to arouse the landlord’s wrath. There is no fear of his houses remaining unlet. Wretched as they are, there are scores of applicants ready to enter them directly the present holders quit, and the one answer to complaints is—“Can’t afford to do what you require, and if you don’t like it you can go.”

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The Daily News. Nr. 7027, 9. November 1868. S. 6.
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LAMBETH PIGSTYES.

nov. 9 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

TO THE EDITOR OF THE DAILY NEWS.

SIR,—May I call the attention of the Inspectors of nuisances and other efficient officers connected with this parish to the state of the water in Pheasant-cottages, Salamanca-place, Gunnell’s-court, Salamanca-court, Salamanca-cottages, Lemon-cottages, Little Lemon-court, Granby’s-buildings, Salamanca-street, Jolly Gardeners-place, and several houses in New-street and Hampshire-place, &c. Little Lemon-court consists of four houses, 5s. 6d. a week each, and occupied by labourers and their families; the houses are swarming with rats, the rain pours in torrents through the roofs, the plastering is falling off the walls in the upper rooms. No water has ever been laid on, there are no dust-bins, and at No. 1, the stairs are only supported by a temporary prop. The state of Great Lemon-court is even worse; the eight pigsties are occupied by 90 persons. The partition walls are broken, the water-butts are old and unpitched, the closets dilapidated, and the smell from the drains is abominable. The court is the dust-bin. In Salamanca-court the rents are from 4s. to 7s. 6d. per week; there are 88 inhabitants in the 13 houses; what were originally intended for washhouses and closets extend down the center of the court; they are all but roofless; the only water for drinking is kept in rotten uncovered casks close to the closets; the washhouses, like many others, have neither coppers nor grates, nor have they fastenings of any kind to the doors. At No. 9, a woman fell through the ceiling; all the roofs, more or less, let in rain. At No. 1, they have no water at all. A few houses in Salamanca-street belong to the same landlord, and the rest to a landlord who is also proprietor of houses in Hampshire-place in the same state of repair. At No. 3 another person fell through the ceiling; a few of the houses are undermined by the rats, and the water-butts are old and filthy in the extreme. The vestry should insist upon all the butts in the parish being raised on brick piers high enough to enable the people to get the water out conveniently, instead of baling it out as they do at present. The dustmen, too, are over fastidious; refusing to remove any dust unless paid black mail by the poor people. No. 7 is a woodcutter; he pays 5s. 6d. a week for a den that would be dear at 6d.; the rooms are barely 9 feet square, and I am surprised any man can allow 17 human beings to live in a place worse than a dog kennel. In the yard the water is putrid, and the drains can never be worse—in fact the house should be pulled down. Granby’s buildings are each from 6s. 6d. to 8s. a week; they are fifteen in number, and contain 172 persons. At No. 1 the rain comes in the drain is stopped up, the house thoroughly out of repair. Two families have had the fever, and very likely others may take it, owing to the state of the drains and the houses, the landlords refusing to make the necessary repairs. Salamanca-place is the name of two houses; the rent is 4s. a week each—tiles off the roof, the ceilings broken down, the place full of rats, attracted by tallow chandelling and soap boiling. The people in Salamanca-street, too, are doubly benefited by the scent and smoke from Hunt’s bone-yard. At Gunnell’s-court the rain comes into all the kitchens, and the people have no conveniences for washing. In Jolly Gardeners-court, which it would be more appropriate to call cellars, the houses are unfit for any person to live in. I shall not occupy your space with a description of anymore; but should these houses not be put in thorough repair, and the needful sanitary alterations immediately commenced, I shall forward a statement, with the details of my note-book, to the Home Secretary. At 72, New-street, Princes-road, the water runs to waste because the people have only a washing tub to catch it in. At 11, Norfolk-street, a poor woman lies dangerously ill with the fever, brought on by the state the landlord keeps the house in. I was accosted by a person the other day, who told me the Inspector of nuisances and he considered me very impertinent and insolent to interfere with private property. I asked him who he was, and he said his name was Curtis; he followed me to a house, and put his arms across the door to prevent me leaving, and then having abused me in what he considered a satisfactory manner, he wound up by telling me that he was a gentleman, and that I was very insolent, that I was a Roman catholic Jesuit in disguise, and should be ashamed of myself, and he would like to know who made me a ruler and judge over the people. I have since discovered the “gentleman” is a retired petty haberdasher of Lambeth Walk, and if he or any other landlord in Lambeth molests me again in the |5 public streets, I shall resort to legal proceedings against them. I have taken nearly three entire days to visit about seventy houses, which would never have been in their present condition if the local officers had attended to their duty, a duty I have no desire to usurp if it were done properly.—I am, &c.,

A DISTRICT VISITOR.
St. Mary the Less, Lambeth.

P.S.—The people pay 4d. in the pound three times a year for lighting and repairing the highways. Why are the courts and alleys not paved, and lighted by a gas lamp each?

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The Daily News. Nr. 7015, 26. Oktober 1868. S. 4.
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OCTOBER 26

IT has probably not escaped the notice or our readers that Anti-Truck Associations are once more coming into activity. The Truck system was a very real and very serious evil in the early days of the vast development of our manufacturing industry. So long ago as the Parliament which preceded that which passed the first Reform Bill a special Act was passed for its suppression, and that Act, known as the Truck Act, is a kind of Magna Charta to the working population of the mining and manufacturing districts. The system which this Act was intended to suppress is not one which presents its worst side to the superficial observer. “Truck” is simply the payment of wages in goods instead of in coin. It probably arose in the most natural manner in the early days of mining and manufacturing enterprise. An employer took a number of men into some district remote from towns, built houses for them to live in, and opened shops for the supply of all the necessaries of life and comfort. The people, finding these shops an immense convenience, gradually began to run up bills in anticipation of their wages, and as the proprietor of the shop was the person from whom the wages were due it soon became customary for the payment of money to be dispensed with, and for the week’s wages merely to be entered as a set off to the weeks account. In this way the workman gradually became entirely dependent on the employer. Many families never had any money of their own; they bought all they wanted at the truck shop, where there was perpetual credit to the amount of their weekly income, and where they paid such prices as the employer chose to demand. Even under the most conscientious management this system was entirely destructive of the self-help and the independence of the working classes, and under the control of hard and grasping individuals it became nothing less than a new form of serfdom. The workman or labourer received his keep in return for his service; he was always in debt to his employer; and as he had no means of removing in order to better his condition, and no power of making terms as to the payment for his labour, he was as much bound to the mine, or the factory, or the works, as a serf was bound to the soil. It was to abolish this industrial feudalism that the Truck Act (1 and 2 William IV., c. 37) was passed. That Act provided that the wages of labour should be paid in a current coin of the realm, and that if they were paid in any other way such payment should be null and void, and the wages should be recoverable just as though no such payment in goods had ever been made. But if we may judge from the statements made in a case lately tried in the Wrexham County Court and from the extensive formation of Anti-Truck Associations in the mining districts, this Act has not been entirely fatal to the system. There is a perpetual temptation to recur to it in the profit it gives the employer and the convenience which, when honestly worked, it gives to unthrifty workmen; and these special organizations are needful to enforce a law which there seems to be a perpetual disposition to evade or defeat.

The case tried at Wrexham was one in which the question was raised, what payment in money really is. It was a case in which wages had practically been paid in goods instead of in coin. The New British Iron Company was sued by JOHN GRIFFITHS for 6l. 14s. wages due. It was admitted that goods to that amount had been received by the plaintiff, but it was pleaded by the defendants that the sum had been actually paid in cash. The question turned on the point whether the company’s method of payment was really a cash payment or not. They, with the best intention towards the men in their employ, had established a system of monthly settlements and weekly advances, with a small fortnightly cash payment called “sist”. The weekly advances were made at the shop where the goods were supplied to the workmen. Every Thursday the time-keeper sent to this shop a note of the amount of the man’s earnings, and when his wife went to the shop to buy goods this note was given her. She got goods at the counter for the amount, and the clerk who had served her having signed the note, she left the goods on the counter, took the note to a cash clerk, received the money, paid it over the counter for the goods, and was then at liberty to take them away. But, it should be noticed, she did not get the cash until she had bought the goods. There is no reason for supposing that she could go and draw the money and take it elsewhere; she must in fact spend it before it is paid to her; and spend it in the shop where she receives it. The jury, under the distinct ruling of the judge, declared this not to be payment in cash, but in goods, and gave a verdict for the amount the plaintiff claimed. The judge afterwards granted a case for appeal; but the verdict of the jury is so completely the common-sense view of the matter that its reversal is very improbable, and if we are correctly informed, the Company, desiring to act in the spirit as well as according to the letter of the law, has already changed their system of payment. But even should such a case as this eventually prove not to come within the meaning of the Truck Act, that Act must undergo early amendment to make its provisions more imperative and complete.

It is a part of public policy to give to the wage receiving classes the completest possible control of their wages. The objections to the Truck system are rather to it as a whole than to individual |6 examples of it. It is very probable that in wages by rendering to the workman unable to seek a better market for his labour, and heightens prices by creating a monopoly in the supply. It keeps the people in perpetual leading strings, prevents them from saving, renders thrift and foresight needless, and reduces the whole population which becomes subject to it to the position of a dependent class. It is true that the half patriarchal relation it introduces between employers and employed may sometimes be of immense advantage to the people, just as an enlightened despotism may sometimes do more wisely than free governments; but unusual virtue on one side and unusual simplicity on the other are necessary to prevent it from degenerating into a degrading tyranny. The law cannot make provision for these unusual cases. It presumes that in the ordinary relations of society only ordinary virtue can be depended on, and it discourages relationships which need extraordinary virtue to make them bearable. The Truck system is hostile to the self-dependence and self-respect of all who are subject to it. If they must deal at a certain shop there is neither encouragement nor opportunity to make the best of their earnings, while power to spend money before it is actually in possession is certain to lead to extravagance and waste. The practical result of the system has been found to be in all cases to pauperise the people. Wherever it is in operation, poverty and degradation result from it. There is a sort of education in the act of laying out money to advantage which no class can do without, and it is of the utmost importance in the new position which the working classes are assuming in the State, that nothing which militates against their independence should be permitted. The law guarantees them the receipt of their wages in coin in order that they may retain complete control over the expenditure of their earnings, and it is in every way desirable that so just and beneficent a law should be everywhere enforced.

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The Daily News. Nr. 7072, 31. Dezember 1868. S. 3.
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EXTRAORDINARY DEATH OF A WOMAN IN A POLICE CELL.

SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST THE POLICE.

Dec 31 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

Last evening Mr. John Humphreys, coroner, held an inquest at the Old Mermaid Tavern, High-street, Hackney, respecting the death of Mrs. Hannah Saunders, aged 55 years.

The deceased was the wife of a cab proprietor and her family alleged that her death had been caused by treatment which she had received while a prisoner in the Hackney Police-station, after the officers in charge of her had been informed that she was in a dangerous state.

Mr. William Saunders, 58, Great Chard-street, Hoxton, deposed that the deceased was his wife, and that the family had lived in one house 16 years. Witness had had a quarrel with the landlord and he gave him notice to quit, but witness refused to leave, and that fact preyed upon her mind. On Sunday he was informed that the police had arrested her on the charge of attempting to commit suicide. He went to the station, and after seeing his wife he told the police that she was ill and he offered to bail her out, but they refused to allow him to do so. She died five hours afterwards from the effects of the cold in the damp cell. Before her death repeated applications were made to the police for additional clothing for her, as she was very cold, the cell being paved with stone. She had nothing to rest upon except a wooden bench, and that was so uncomfortable that she had to sit upon it. Her feet—she had only stocking on touched the wet stones. She had been locked up in the cell for 24 hours and there was no light in it.

Jones Saunders, a boy aged 12, said that on Saturday evening, at half-past 6 o’clock, his mother bid him “Good bye” in so strange a manner that he was induced to follow her, but he lost sight of her while she was turning the corner of Huntington-street. She said to him when she was going out, “You will have to get a new mother.”

John Robson, a policeman, said that between 8 and 9 o’clock on Saturday night he heard a splash in the Regent’s Canal, near the Sir Walter Scott bridge, and upon going to see what was the matter, he so a dark object in the water. He procured the drags, and in seven minutes the deceased was taken out alive. She was carried to the Sir. Walter Scott Tavern and her clothes were taken off with the exception of her chemise. Dr. Thornton was sent for, and he said, “She is all right for removal,” and he left. Her chemise was quite wet, and she was then placed on a stretcher. The people at the tavern did not find her any clothes; but Mr. Jones, a fruiterer, seeing her lying on the stretcher in her wet chemise covered her with a sack which he lent for the purpose. She was then carried from the Queen’sroad Bridge, Dalston, to the Hackney police-station. Witness charged her with attempting to commit suicide. The reason why he sent for the stretcher was that she was naked for a time before it arrived.

Coroner—What evidence had you when you arrested that woman and took her to a police station instead of taking her to an hospital that she ever intended to commit suicide?

Witness—None. I do not know how she came in the water.

Coroner—Have you any instructions how to act in such a case?

Witness—None. The deceased was sensible when she was on the stretcher, for she said, “What are you going to do with me?” I told her, and she replied, “I never was in the water.”

Mr. Saunders said that his wife had stated that she was not sensible until after she was put in the cell.

The witness stated that the deceased was put into the cell at the station house about 9 o’clock.

A juror—With her chemise all wet?

Witness—Yes. I was then sent to the workhouse for clothes, and I brought back two skirts, a petticoat, a chemise, a pair of stockings, and a gown.

P. S. Hawkins, 33 N, said that when the deceased was brought into the station she was placed lying on a stretcher in front of the fire. She refused her name and address. Witness sent for clothing and a female searcher to put the clothes on. At 25 minutes past 9 o’clock she was placed in the cell. During the night she never complained. After she was put in the cell she got nothing to eat, but at 7 o’clock on Sunday morning she was given same coffee. At half-past 4 a.m. she gave the address of her husband.

Ellen Howes, the female searcher, deposed that the deceased said to her, “I hope you will take the wet clothes off, and put dry ones on.” She seemed quite stupid—witness thought from drink and from going into the water.

F. Eden, 504 N, deposed that at 7 o’clock on Sunday evening he found the deceased dead in the cell. A doctor was then called in to see her.

Sergeant J. Keenon said that he and his inspector had refused to allow the deceased out on bail when her husband requested them to do it. She had said to him during Sunday, “I do not feel well.” She did not say that her feet were cold.

By Mr. Saunders—He thought that the cell was a fit place for the deceased to be locked up in, taking into consideration the state in which she was after she had been in the canal. Witness let her husband see her in the cell.

Inspector J. Gibbons said that he refused to take bail on the ground that attempted suicide is not a bailable offence. The cell was warm, and was heated by a furnace underneath. The police regulated the amount of heat which the furnace was to give. The police have no regulations about the removal of half drowned people to hospitals or infirmaries. It is left to their judgment. If the deceased had been insensible she would have been taken to an hospital.

By the Coroner—Witness did not know the fact that sudden immersion is likely to produce shock and cause death 24 hours after the person has been taken out of the water. He did not think it necessary to send for the divisional surgeon to see the deceased.

Mrs. Mary Burdott, 60, Great Chard-street, said that she saw the deceased in the cell on Sunday at 2 o’clock. She said that she was very cold, and had not slept. She complained of her head and chest. She had nothing to lie on except a hard bench. Her feet were on the cold stone pavement, which was wet. The cell was very cold indeed. Witness gave her some brandy, and brought her some clothes. She said, “I am so cold.” She was so ill that she could not be dressed in the additional clothing. Witness told the inspector that the cell was dreadfully cold, and that the deceased begged for a coat to throw over her feet. Witness entreated of the police to let her out on bail. The family brought a cab to the door, and they asked the police to let the prisoner out, so that she might be placed in a warm bed. They asked the police to give the woman a bed while she was lying in the cell, but they refused to do so. The deceased told witness that she was not sensible until she awoke in the dark cell. The cell was not a fit place for a person in the condition of the deceased to have been placed in.

For the defense Inspector Gibbons called.

Mary Tuppley, the wife of a boot-closer, who stated that she was an inmate of the East London Union. On Boxing-day she became intoxicated, and the police put her in a cell. While she was there the deceased was brought in. There was no light in the cell, and the deceased was placed lying on a wooden bench, and she spoke of the cold. It was a very cold and damp cell, and it had a disagreeable smell. The deceased could not eat when she was offered a bit of bread and butter. On Sunday night she fell off the bench on to the stones, and then she groaned. Witness called the policeman in, and he turned his light upon the woman’s face, and it was very white. She was then dead. The doctor came and said so. She ought never to have been put in the cell, for she ought to have been taken to some place where a sick woman, who was very cold, could have been put into a bed to get warm. She asked the police for an old coat during the Saturday night, but they would not give her one. The cell was in a filthy state, but the police refused to clean it.

Mrs. Burdatt deposed to the same fact.

Mr. W. H. Wright, police surgeon, said that he saw the deceased after death. A post mortem examination of her body proved that her lungs were inflated and distended with water. She was suffering from disease of the heart and liver. She had died from shock caused by the immersion in the water. Great care ought to have been used to prevent fatal results after the immersion. Attention and warmth were absolutely necessary. The police cell was not a fit place for her to have been put in. She ought to have been removed to a hospital, and if witness had been called in to see her he should have ordered her removal to one. The cell was warm when witness was in it.|

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The Coroner said that the police had, without evidence, charged a half-drowned woman with attempting to commit suicide, and then carried her through the streets only covered by a sack. She never had a chance for her life, for in the cell she was deprived of ventilation and warmth.

The Jury, after a long consultation, returned a verdict, “That the deceased expired from the effects of shock caused by immersion in the water while she was in a state of unsound mind, and they censure the police for not calling in the divisional surgeon, and locking her in a cell the whole of a night when she might have been taken to the German Hospital or to a workhouse infirmary, and they say that the police should in future call in the divisional surgeon of the force to see persons who have been rescued from drowning.”

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The Daily News. Nr. 7069, 28. Dezember 1868. S. 5.
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EAST LONDON DISTRESS.

The dismal cry of distress and misery is again being heard in the semi-pauperised districts of East London, where poverty and sickness are rapidly crushing the latent energies and hopes of the unemployed labouring classes, and reducing them to a state of helpless and child-like despair. It is true that in Poplar and some other parishes the number of those in receipt of out-door relief exhibits a marked diminution; but this decrease is only on the exceptionally high figures of last year, and may at any moment be replaced by a vast increase, so extremely precarious is the present condition of large masses of the poorer East-end population. In fact, nothing but the continued mildness of the weather, so unusual at this season of the year, has hitherto prevented East London from becoming the scene of an unprecedented amount of pauperism, almost beyond the means of boards of guardians and relief committees to grapple with effectually. The three local industries which exhibit the greatest amount of depression are silk-weaving, ship-building, and sugar-baking. Besides these there are a variety of minor trades, employing, when in full activity, many thousands of men, women, and children, all of which have remained in a state of complete stagnation ever since the great financial crisis of 1866. The results of that panic continue to be visible in every direction, and must for some time to come exercise a most depressing influence on trade and commercial enterprise in East London. The numerous dealers in books, jewellery, and articles of luxury generally, complain that their business has largely fallen off of late, in consequence of the numbers of professional persons and tradespeople whose incomes have become materially reduced within the last two years, to say nothing of the multitude of clerks, book-keepers, engineers’ assistants, and others of a like class, who have for months past been without employment. All these circumstances assist materially in restricting the prosperity of East London industry. Some of the trades most affected are those connected with the manufacture of articles of personal attire or ornament. In these the majority of workers are females, and the results of their continued deprivation of employment are visible in the greatly increased number of unfortunate creatures haunting the metropolitan thoroughfares after dark. The number of small houses unoccupied in Hackney, Poplar, and elsewhere is incredibly large, and of those which have tenants not a few are the residences of rate-receivers rather than of rate players. Hackney is one of the wealthiest and most prosperous of East London parishes, yet a few days since no less than 4,800 summonses for payment of poor rates were issued, not a small proportion of which related to the irrepressible compound householder. In the Isle of Dogs the state of affairs is positively deplorable. Lancashire during the worst days of the cotton famine never exhibited a more discouraging spectacle. The parochial authorities are acting nobly in the emergency, performing all that the law empowers them, but they can do little more than enable the miserable artisans and their families to keep body and soul together. It is most pitiable; yet what else can be done?

No wonder that the cry in favour of emigration is daily becoming stronger. The destitute workmen are ready to go anywhere—to Canada, to Australia, to Natal, no matter what colony, so long as they can escape from the region of misery and despair in which they at present drag on their weary existence. Last year two successful efforts were made to enable a few of the more deserving artisan families to proceed to Canada: one of these was conducted under the auspices of the Eastend Emigration and Relief Fund, the other being a private venture on the part of the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Hobart, Lady Mary Feilding, and a few other benevolent persons. The extremely satisfactory nature of the intelligence received concerning the behavior, condition, and prospects of the emigrants sent out by these agencies renders it extremely probable that further efforts will be made this winter by both bodies, but the general impression is that the government ought to take the matter up; and there is some talk of a deputation of unemployed artisans being sent to Downing-street, with the view of laying their case before the new ministry. The Canadian government is well satisfied with the East London emigrants and evinces considerable readiness to facilitate further endeavours to increase their number. Many of the letters received from the emigrants are very touching. The writers appear to feel like people who have stepped from the midst of death to life. One man writes that “Susy”—his wife—“has now plenty of milk for baby.” The full significance of that simple sentence can be understood only by those who have visited the homes of the poor, and beard the starving babes piteously wailing for the milk which their mothers could not give them. Such things are more common than most people dream of, not merely in homes where the bed consists simply of a heap of straw, but in abodes where the clean and tidy furniture affords few indications to the inexperienced observer of the poverty and destitution which reign within. At Rochdale, during the Lancashire distress, some of the most saddening cases were those of factory operatives who were prevented only by the combined assistance of the parochial authorities and relief committee from breaking up their comfortable little homes, and disposing of the furniture purchased at the cost of years of economy and thrift. Similar instances are painfully common in East London. There is scarcely a minister of religion, no matter what his creed may be, who is not familiar with several such, and it speaks well for the large-hearted charity of the various religious denominations that in numerous instances they have quietly and unostentatiously given much of the help so greatly needed by their poor and deserving fellow-creatures.|

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As might have been expected, the two leading relief organizations, the East Central Relief Committee and the East London Mission and Relief Society, have resumed operations, this time in active concert with each other and with the various poor-law authorities, for the purpose of preventing imposture. The principle of relief adopted by the two associations seems to be leave the great mass of pauperism, including the chronic element, to be dealt with by the various parochial boards, confining their own operations to the supplementing of parish relief in deserving cases, and to the assistance of those who have not actually crossed the thin line separating the rate-receiver from the rate-payer. The East London Mission and Relief Society have determined to confine their operations almost entirely to the establishment of sewing classes, which are to be so conducted as to give poor women moderate employment, without drawing them too much from their homes. These sewing classes have been productive of much good. There are literally thousands of working class females who have never learned the use of the needle, and who are utterly incapable of performing the slightest repair to their attire. To many of these the sewing classes have formed an invaluable means of instruction, and small as is the weekly pittance received, it has in more than one case assisted in preventing the recipient being driven into a career of sin and infamy. It is most satisfactory to find that both associations have expressed their intention of avoiding anything which may have the least tendency to increase the already too prevalent pauper-feeling; that, wherever possible, the assistance given shall be in the nature of payment for work done. In many cases, however, the poor creatures have become too debilitated to perform even the easiest kinds of labour. Severe privation and insufficient food are causing sickness and low fever to become largely on the increase amongst the unemployed. Where the parents suffer so severely, the children do not escape, and but for the dinners occasionally provided for them by the hands of charity, the rate of infantile sickness and mortality would be considerably increased. These children’s dinners form one of the most practical and efficient forms of benevolence possible, and are less open to abuse than any other. Of their utility during such periods of privation as the present, there can be no question. The distress in Poplar, it should be remembered, is likely to be affected for the worse by that prevailing in Woolwich, concerning which we shall have something to say at another time, many of the artisans formerly employed in the Royal Arsenal and dockyards of the latter town having their residences in the Isle of Dogs. Altogether, the Christmas Prospects of the East London poor are anything but encouraging.

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  • Social cases. 1869