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and while conversing with them, another cabman came up and said the lightning had struck his horse down, and he was so frightened that he couldn't bear to be alone. The men huddled together fearfully alarmed, the most wicked man the greatest coward, as is always the case.
"At length a man said,
Well, sir, it's awful, ain't it? Do you think
it is anything like the Day of Judgment will be?'
'No,' said another;
What are you talking about? The Day of Judgment will be worse than that, for the whole world will be burnt: won't it, sir?'
"I said, 'I want to hear some more of your opinions before I give my
"Another then said, 'The thunder will be louder than now, because it will wake the dead in their graves. That seems impossible, though, sir; but when you come to think on it, God can do anything. Why, he could blow the world to atoms.'
"The man whose horse had been struck down, said, 'Well, I thought the end of the world had come, and I wasn't prepared for it; that's a fact.'
"Another said, 'Then there will be those that be drowned in the sea, I suppose them will come, and all?'
"Several rejoined, Well to be sure; what a lot of people.'
"I then expounded a portion of St. Matthew xxiv. ; 2 Peter iii., and other passages, showing them that the Lord Jesus 'will descend from heaven with a shout, and all his holy angels with him, and then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.' I reminded them of the old woman who always said her prayers in a thunderstorm, but at no other time, and of the sailor who only prayed in a storm at sea; and exhorted them to seek a change of heart by repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
Such is the nature of Christian work among night cabmen. Prior to the passing of the new Act for closing public-houses between one and four a.m., there were among these nocturnal toilers, more often than now, young men of loose character, who served such thieves as frequented the thronged places of pleasurable resort. A man would thus become the employé of a certain person, and each would become acquainted with the other's ways, and be a party to his doings. The "fare" would be favoured with credit when" out of luck," until such time as he got "a pull." In many instances, however, they who work the night cabs are old and worn-out characters, whose hardships and woful appearance are enough to excite sympathy. Some of them are cripples, and others are afflicted with disease. A man will necessarily take to night work when no longer able to compete with younger rivals in the day trade. Their sufferings in frosty weather are especially severe, while they bravely maintain the struggle to keep home intact. They think any suffering preferable to entering the paupers" "house." "Sir," said one of this class, after receiving a largetype Bible, "My Bible has quite cured me of complaining, for when I read what my Saviour suffered, I feel ashamed to murmur." What the hardships really are, both of the night and day men, can scarce be
realised by the most painstaking fare. Some will for months occupy no other bedroom than their cabs, because able to procure no better accommodation; others, who adopt the system of paying a certain sum per day for their vehicle, will not, during sixteen or eighteen hours' work, receive sufficient to satisfy their master, and so may be compelled to raise money by extraordinary means. A man may even be under the necessity of pawning his clothes in cold weather, as well as other articles sorely needed by wife and children, in order to raise money demanded by his master. The cab and omnibus men deserve Christian sympathy. The expenditure of missionary effort among their ranks will in the longrun prove to be a valuable investment; for in proportion as these indispensable public servants are raised into a better condition will the public be gainers. If the men have earned a bad name, those who employ them have not been entirely faultless. As are the masters such the servants are.
In turning from cab and omnibus men to the police force, we may mark the improvement which has taken place in the men during the last twenty years, for the reform has partly been brought about by the well-directed efforts of Christian workers. The lot of the single policeman is now comparatively luxurious; but times were when the accommodation provided for him by commissioners was both scant and comfortless. The police quarters at the stations were confined, and at the best of seasons were not over clean, while the sleeping apartments were not allowed to be frequented at will. The company of men in each house was allowed only one common place wherein to eat, smoke, dress, and converse. Each man cooked on his own account, and the growth of good temper and courtesy was little favoured when two or more hungry fellows wanted a frying-pan simultaneously, or when the fireplace was not able to contain all the saucepans which required a position at the same time. The weaknesses of the men also appeared on the surface in various ways. Feasts and fasts were partaken of at the same board: one extravagant epicure might be seen taking a pound of beef at a meal, while another, erring in an opposite direction, might dine thrice off a single herring. These inconsistencies no longer characterise the section-houses, and single constables find their lot in London a garden of plenty and enjoyment when compared with the lot of their predecessors. The stations are now remarkable for cleanliness. There are washing-rooms and reading-rooms, while the old system of disputing about culinary utensils is superseded by a substantial daily repast, prepared by a competent cook, of which all the men partake at a fixed charge, the cost bearing a favourable comparison with that of the old system.
The constable on duty and the constable off duty so far differ as to constitute separate studies of the same person. It is said that a policeman who would attain perfection in his profession should not be a native of London, seeing a Londoner may be tempted to counterfeit sharpness or sagacity while lacking those natural gifts. Let your model policeman be a native of a provincial town, a person of respectable birth and of some education, and he will not be likely to disappoint his instructors A writer in The Quarterly Review, who visited the drill at Scotland Yard, once wrote:
66 The eye had only to run along the 'gamut of men,' if we may so term the fresh recruits drawn up before us, in order to see from how many ranks of society the police brigade is reinforced. Smock-frocks, shooting-coats, frock-coats, tail-coats, some seedy and worn, some still good and fresh, denoted the condition in life of their owners, and the necessities to which some of them were reduced. Young men flushed with hope come from the provinces to push their fortunes, and after a brief struggle find themselves stranded, and accept this, the most readily obtainable respectable service. The policemen perfect in their natural drill next undergo a mental one. Drawn up in a line, a sergeant or inspector questions them as to their duties. Supposing you see two men fighting, what would you do?' Or 'If you were to see a house on fire, how would you act? Sometimes the constable addressed answers the question, but more generally his interrogator does it for him. When drilled and catechised to the full pitch he doffs his plain clothes for a uniform, and comes out in the full bloom of a policeman. But he is still a neophyte, and before he is entrusted with a beat he attends at a police court in order to watch the manner in which trained constables conduct themselves in the witness-box. Having learned to give evidence clearly and briefly, to listen to ludicrous scenes without smiling, and to hear bad language with imperturbable patience, he is marched off to the division in which he has elected to serve, and with his armlet on his wrist, his staff in one pocket, and his rattle in the other, he patrols his beat."
One autumn evening it was our privilege to spend some hours in the section-house of a western suburb under most favourable circumstances. It was the day for holding a sort of annual festival, and the private part of the house was quite alive with pleasant-looking people in holiday attire. It was also the first and the last time of our listening to the spoken words of the Hon. and Rev. Baptist Noel. The wives and children of the constables gathered in strong force, and were in cheerful mood befitting the occasion. Though the supply of tea, cake, and bread-and-butter was large, it was not larger than the demand, and the kind city missionary who appeared on the scene as the general in command, found his energies heavily taxed in superintending the repast of his numerous dependents. There was the usual proportion of laughing and chaffing, but many of the company discussed graver matters while attending to the good things on the table.
What observer of life present at that memorable meeting could ever forget the event of the evening-the entry into the room of Mr. Noel? How sweetly that kind, placid face could yield to a smile in acknowledgment of kindly attention from those for whom he was ever willing to spend his strength. Those men who were acquainted with their visitor were evidently in love with his character, and our then newly-won acquaintance, the city missionary present, assured us that he believed Baptist Noel to be the greatest man in England. The address which followed was full of wisdom, admirably adapted to the occasion. "If I were a policeman, I should like to go well armed." All he said turned on that aphorism, and a deep impression was produced by the unmistakable earnestness of the gifted speaker.
Of the manner in which Christian work was begun among the police
force something may be said. The work originated with a missionary in Spitalfields, who supposed it was his duty to devote a portion of time to promoting the welfare of a neglected class. Through calling at a certain station he heard of a constable who lay on a bed of sickness, and obtaining permission to visit the sufferer, the evangelist became the instrument of the man's conversion. The policeman died, and by following him to the grave with a number of comrades a ready introduction was gained as well as a favourable opportunity of benefiting others secured. The earnest evangelist soon became a favourite, and on pay days could often be seen distributing tracts and speaking words of Christian counsel to the men. A more widespread interest in what the stranger said and did was soon apparent. What did it all mean? Then came the uncommon and unlooked-for discovery-it was perceived to be truth indeed that some people really did care for policemen's souls. The question also suggested itself, If one division appreciated the Christian attention shown them, why were not other divisions looked after? "I hear sad complaints of you," said a Christian tradesman to the missionary; "my neighbour opposite says you have nearly ruined him. Till you got among the police they would go over to his house and have a jolly drinking bout. Now, he scarcely gets a call on pay day." Having proved his fitness for certain duties, the missionary was specially appointed to labour among the police, and on leaving Spitalfields was presented with a testimonial by a number of converts.
On being allowed to devote his whole time to the constables, this evangelist set about the task of completely mastering what he called police science. He associated with the men as frequently as opportunities allowed, and at all hours of both day and night. The gratitude of one constable was ensured by giving him a tract when St. Paul's clock was chiming the midnight hour, and by asking the pointed question, "If you should die before that clock strikes again, where will your soul be?" The men were not long in discovering that they possessed a real friend, and one worthy of being made a confidant in reference to their every-day trials and difficulties. Work among their ranks then became extremely onerous, two or more services a day being necessarily conducted. The chief commissioners, both the good Sir Richard Mayne and his predecessor, aided and sympathised in the good work, and showed a constant readiness to listen to any suggestions which might tend to promote the comfort of their officers; and hence, probably some thanks are due to hard-working evangelists for the comforts and improved dwellings which the men now enjoy.
Besides the services held for their special benefit at the stations or section-houses, the married police enjoy the privilege of being visited in their private homes. Great diversity of character exists among them. One who had lain in delirium for days became calm and restful on being visited and spoken to of Christ. Another appeared to be brokenhearted on account of a wicked life, and anxious to drink in such comfort as the gospel of peace can give. The needs of others are as various as their characters. Some who are just entering the service look for counsel suited to their position; others who are about resigning their situations to try the fortune of a foreign clime also listen to advice. Perhaps a whole family is found embarking for one of the
colonies, where the father hopes to thrive as he cannot thrive amid the hard competition of London. Often, too, can a policeman tell a remarkable life-story. One was encountered who in his youth had received a university training at Oxford. He was about taking honours at his college when, overtaken by family misfortune, he was compelled to relinquish the tempting paths of literature for the broad highway of commerce. When he started on his new career fortune smiled upon him. Securing a valuable appointment in the wine trade, he advanced rapidly until he was eventually taken into partnership, and at length he succeeded to the entire business. He amassed a large fortune, and could he have remained content, he might have lived in luxurious ease. Still thirsting for more gold, however, he embarked in a large speculation and lost all his capital. He now sank to the verge of starvation, and was only saved from utter destitution by accepting a situation in the police force. This severe reverse, joined to the heavy labour of his new position, so affected the poor fellow as to pccasion premature death.
Not only strange histories, but startling adventures are met with. Once at midnight the police missionary was crossing a bridge in the London Docks when a splash and the call of a constable's rattle told that some sudden tragedy had occurred. It was a suicide, and the flesh tingled as it will do when aught more horrible than usual is happening. The truth was soon out. An unhappy creature called Plymouth Poll, who had not been sober for weeks, took a last dread leap in the darkness! The body was soon recovered, and in the room of a public-house hard by, persevering but fruitless efforts were made to restore animation. Of all the heart-breaking sights which a sincursed city can present, perhaps none equal in horror the dragging from the cold flood the lifeless body of a woman, whose vicious course of life led her to make a fatal attack upon herself. The darkness, the black, yawning water, the shrieks, oaths, and curses of the victim's degraded acquaintances who rush to the waters edge, make up a scene which none need desire to witness, for after having once seen it, who would not desire to blot it from his memory?
There is one other class of public servants which may be named in connection with the work in hand, viz., firemen. The number of fires in London during each year exceeds a thousand, and the number shows a tendency to increase. Gas, matches, and other conveniences are in a great measure responsible for this, and were the curfew obeyed which still tolls at Shoreditch and other churches, the city would, in all probability, enjoy greater immunity from fires than it does at present. In olden times, when houses were made of wood, the curfew must have been the means of preserving many a home from untimely destruction. However, that institution is gone for ever.
Before the organisation of the police force, the neighbours around the spot where a fire occurred were required to guard the ground, and were summoned to the scene of action by the beating of a drum. After the great fire, and prior to the founding of insurance offices, the citizens enacted various regulations, which may now serve to amuse the antiquary. Each parish was required to be furnished with such machinery as was then in vogue for conquering the enemy. There