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must be taken as it comes. At times some profitable conversation is secured; at other times he is doomed to disappointment.
Pursuing our way, we next confront a large establishment which, as an omnibus station, and in other respects being a house occupying a commanding position, is said to be worth twenty thousand pounds in the open market. Though a regular attendant at public worship, and one who encourages his employés to copy a good example at least once on the Sabbath, Mr. Landlord does not wholly close on the day of rest, the receipts being too large to allow of his making the sacrifice. Though not numerous, the company here retains some special traits of interest. There stands a man at one end of the bar, with a halffinished glass of ale before him, who strikes one as being “a character." He is of middle age, and his countenance still bears those traces of refinement which arise from education. Instinctively, it would seem, he stands alone, and so keeps aloof from the vulgar herd of the street. Our entrance seemed to awaken him into good humour, for he at once became quite affable, his conversation being free from any profane or even coarse expressions. “Give me the cast of your eye!” he cried, in rapid, authoritative tones. My companion at once looked the man straight in the face, and received his thanks for being so readily obliging. This stranger, who seemed to have made the human eye a special study, said that while the features in general might alter, the expressicn of the organs of vision remained virtually the same throughout life. He grew really excited on this harmless topic, and laid down many rules for the preservation of sight, which were not without interest and value to students. Yet, after he had observed how divers periodicals were handed over the counter, the tracts appeared to occasion him some perplexity. Who were we, and in what did our business consist ? We might belong to a respectable species of colporteurs, or we might be of a genus of which he had never heard in the great world of money-getting. When he was offered a tract he rather awkwardly hesitated, and then, in a polite undertone, declined taking one, because—well, yes, if the truth must be told, his features seemed to say—because “I have no money to-night.” When assured that the distribution was entirely gratuitous, he gladly took a copy, though even then he manifested signs of impatience at remarks upon religion, or concerning what in his vocabulary was equivalent—theology. Another person in this house, second only in interest to the genteel-looking stranger, was the barman, whose face brightened when the missionary went up to the counter. The poor fellow was in trouble, being about to resign bis situation in consequence of being physically unequal to the heavy toil
and the excessively protracted hours attached to Sabbathless weeks. The hours of service required of the employés in some of the more frequented taverns are amply sufficient for a double set of hands, and were landlords more humanely sensitive in this direction, a double set would be provided where one set is now overcaxed. The position of these people is frequently not far removed from slavery. They have no time for self-improvement; there are no opportunities of attending public worship, for were they to attend, as sometimes desired, they would find it impossible to keep awake through the sermon. To the mind of a man like our friend the barman, the ordinary working
hours of bricklayers and carpenters are as easy as could be desired. With the weekly half-holiday those hours preclude all necessity for opening museums and picture galleries on the Sabbath, consequent on want of time to attend them during the week. That barman, a smart, good-looking, active young fellow, said he would be glad enough to get a situation at twenty-three shillings a week, and escape the thraldom of the bar.
Still pursuing our way, we are everywhere civilly received, the employés in the bars of the larger houses still giving us a genial welcome, but to refer to every character met with would be impossible in a limited space.
Here is seen, in one group, a respectable-looking widow, a modest-looking girl, and a young fellow who is treating them to stout. Though the widow, as a portly person, can evidently take her couple of glasses without inconvenience, the girl holds the glass daintily in her gloved hand, laughs at every witty remark of her protector the gallant swain, and affects coyness in general. These accept our tracts, and listen respectfully to what is said. Then we encounter a woman who, coming in for a jug of beer, says she is glad to see the missionary abroad, while in the same place is a cabman much depressed in mind consequent on his child having been lately drowned in a watertank, and his heart being soft, he listens to kind Christian advice with apparent thankfulness. The tracts are still eagerly received by old and young, only one man during our evening round openly refusing to accept the Gospel message; many of the people even manifest a kind of pride in showing tracts received on former occasions, and take some trouble to explain that the papers are never destroyed. The children, also, are always remembered, and in one house a little girl comes forward to seek her portion of religious literature.
In front of one bar, among the crowd, stands a young man, who, being civil, and even complimentary, assures us he detected our business as soon as we entered. His mind is stored with texts of Scripture, learned at a Sabbath-school, and his views of the plan of salvation are also in the main correct—too correct, indeed, to suit the taste of an argumentative individual standing by, whose judgment is probably more trustworthy as regards beer than as regards theology. Two or three yards away, several workmen, with pipes and pots, surround a large barrel, and one of these, observing what attention others are receiving, grows jealous, suspecting he will be overlooked, and so steps forward to attract notice. These men speak their mind in a rough and ready manner, and with a pleasant freedom from improper language. Speak of man's duty in reading the Bible; one of these declares that he does not know that he ever read a chapter of Scripture during his life. Speak of man's corrupt heart ; another says that he knows his
; heart is evil because it has again and again led him astray. He may give up drinking for a time, to put himself financially straight, but then his evil heart, as he confesses, leads to his again breaking in upon the store. Uneducated, outspoken men who will confess so much as this may be nearer to the kingdom of heaven than their respectable neighbours suspect.
Such was our experience in the larger taverns. We now turned attention to houses of a much inferior class, and situated in the back streets, each being a rendezvous of dustmen and others, who, as a thirsty clan, are considerable customers. The landlord of one of these places is mentioned as ranking among the few who opposed the opera. tions of the missionary on the occasion of his first calling. The house itself immediately strikes one as being a decidedly unpleasant place. Mr. Landlord being an intemperate, depraved character, the customers are also of a low order; and one might be excused for feeling ill-atease in the evil precincts of such a bar. On looking round the frowzy interior, nothing is discovered which tends to make vice more sightable. Everything repels one by its frowning gloom; the company, even, consisting of a man and woman, separated by the length of the bar, being the most uncanny people met with during the evening. Mark well that man, if he really be a man. To the unassisted eye he resembles a reeking bundle of rags, whence issue forth sounds of imbecile merriment, the laughter evidently being provoked by my companion's kindly enquiries after Mr. Landlord's health. Poor old creature! We must regard him with pity rather than with contempt, even though he wear the drunkard's uniform, and does not, to judge by external evidence, patronise soap and water at the most prosperous of seasons. He laughed internally, making little noise, and another fit of merriment occurred on his taking a tract, and listening to some remarks addressed directly to himself. He seemed to think religion, and all connected with religion, the funniest things on earth. Anon, he refers to his “missus ” and “gal,” making one shudder involuntarily to hear of such a creature's possessing either wife or daughter. Yet while the Son of Man comes to seek such as are lost, who shall say that the Gospel is spoken to such outcasts in vain ?
In other beer-houses the usual fraternity of dustmen were found congregating in force. Though in many instances they were noisy and profane, the fact must be placed to their credit, that they offered no direct incivility or opposition to our progress; they were even pressingly hospitable, and seemed unable to understand the fortitude and self-denial on our part which successfully resisted their importunity to partake of a rich Saturday night concoction of ale and ginger-beer. This dustmen's district, as it may be called, was formerly rery effectively served by one who some years since went to his rest, and it was striking as well as affecting to find how the good missionary's memory is cherished and honoured by the rough people who were once his constituents. In one beer-house, and then in another, men and women paid voluntary tributes of respect to the memory of Henry Pearson.
The men patronising their favourite houses, are often found with their wives, muddling their brains and squandering their resources by drinking inordinate quantities of spirits and beer.
The reader will perhaps now admit that the beer-shop on a Saturday night is not only a legitimate sphere of missionary action, but is a place likely to supply some phases of street-life alike useful and interesting to legislators and philanthropists. The house we are now entering is crowded, the hour-hand of the clock is fast approaching eleven, and some of the company have taken rather more than is good for them, though no cases of far-gone drunkenness are observable
. The women are numerous, and are of the slatternly genus, but, unthrifty
as they are, they can speak a good word for the well-remembered Henry Pearson. · Polly Pond,” as “a lady's book," finds favour among them, as do other similar productions. An old fellow comfortably reclining on a bench shows a disposition to be boastful of his good sight and reading powers, but is soon compelled to apologise for his inability to spell out a couple of lines from “ Poor Tom.” Yes, it is true that he is growing old, and his eyes are becoming treacherous, and so, holding the tract at arm's length, he remarks, “Well, sir, yer see, I've 'ad a little beer to-night.” How much drink under such circumstances might be accounted “ a little,” it was not possible to learn, though his wife admitted, “He're 'ad a good deal, sir." They were not willing to admit that they ever committed any flagrant sin. “Though we hev a little beer, we don't do no ’arm; we don't thieve, nor rob nobody," remarked the woman who spoke before. * Ah, but drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” replies my companion.
As we elbow our way about the crowd in the hot, smoky atmosphere, the tracts continue to be civilly received, and remarks, both humorous and otherwise, are offered for our enlightenment and entertainment. One dark-complexioned gentleman, whose height does not greatly exceed five feet, evinces considerable irritation at being publicly pointed out as “an old snob.” Then followed honourable explanations : in his youthful days that man was taken by the hand and started in life by the good missionary Henry Pearson, and Henry Pearson placed him at the shoemaking craft, besides giving him much valuable instruction and advice. It may not be desirable to have one's private history proclaimed from the housetops, or what may be equivalent, to have one's secrets published in a thronged beerhouse on Saturday night, but with a look combining scorn and injured innocence, the late “snob ” insists that “a man must rise.” Had his knowledge been greater he might have named several worthy men who have risen, and risen none the less honourably because they also once were called “snobs.” Go where you may, you find members of two of our most useful crafts, those of the tailor and the shoemaker, subjected to odium on account of their calling. What is the reason for this?
We did not conclude our evening round without gaining at least one welcome piece of information. Itinerants who visit among the lower orders in the manner described have abundant reason for encouragement, and have grounds for the hope of God's one day reviving his work in the world. How must civilisation have progressed even among the masses since the times of early Methodism, when ribald mobs sought every opportunity of opposing and maltreating those who desired their present and eternal good. The very words of Scripture are now spoken or read in public-houses by men whom even the most depraved respect for their work's sake. To accompany one of these evangelists for the purpose of watching his work is sure to excite your admiration, and may also prove bracing to your finer instincts, by strikingly revealing the hidden power lying within the words of Inspiration. In our late visit we were more than well received, and more than civilly treated. The worth of holy things was openly
recognised. One brawny fellow, who begged for a copy of “Mother's
a Last Words,” stoutly maintained that that highly popnlar tract was the best thing in our language, and a production which no man, however steeled his heart, could listen to without tears; a rash affirmation, perhaps, as coming from one whose acquaintance with literature was not of the broadest kind. Who, however, could do otherwise than
, respect such a man's opinion ? I was glad to hear that preference for a good little book boldly spoken in a London beershop, at 10.45 p.m., on a Saturday night.
It is not too much to say that the most demoralizing scene we visited during the entire evening was a music-hall in a main thoroughfare. There, indeed, we saw an agency in active working order, warranted to ruin young persons surely and swiftly. The confusion and noise in the gilded and expensively-decorated bar were indescribable, while in the great hall, the admission to which was one sbilling, there were, perhaps, over a thousand persons present. There were brilliant lights, sensual scenery, skilfully-performed music, and questionable songs, besides intoxicants ad libitum, such aş each chose to order. What more potent means could be devised for encompassing the moral overthrow of the young, especially of inexperienced and unsuspecting girls, who are too often blindly led into the fatal arena ? One need not hesitate in denouncing tavern music-halls as breeders of moral pestilence, and as an abuse of the liberty awarded by the State to licensed victuallers. Undoubtedly such places should be summarily dealt with by the legislature. In no well-ordered community should low concert rooms and drinking-saloons be allowed to combine and work together in their work of corrupting the people; and were the licensing powers of each parish handed over to the vestry, those whose families are imperilled by the present state of things might have a chance of checking a growing evil. Very few publicans, comparatively, have music licenses, so that, happily, these remarks affect but a small section of the trade. Concerning the Christian visitation in general of their houses, I repeat that the mission is a noble attempt to reach the masses, many of whom, perhaps, would not be easily reached by any other road. The public needs only to become more fully acquainted with the working of the public-house mission, to award it their support, their sympathy, and, above all, their prayers.
TWO DAYS AT THE CAMP, BY W. R. SELWAY. So be
long as it is necessary to maintain a large number of men in a wholly of an unrem une rative character, and who form a class separate and apart from the rest of the people, with hopes and aims differing from that of their fellows, and maintained at the public expense for a definite duty, it is of the highest importance that not only should the implements with which they are equipped be of the best and most serviceable