|About the Book|
The sketches of life among the London poor comprised in thisvolume have the merit - and in such a connection it is by no means aminor merit - of having been studied and written from the life. Thereare few to whom it falls to see and hear so much ofMoreThe sketches of life among the London poor comprised in thisvolume have the merit - and in such a connection it is by no means aminor merit - of having been studied and written from the life. Thereare few to whom it falls to see and hear so much of the pinch ofpoverty as the present writer has to do. For twenty years thebusiness of life with me has been the daily visitation of the poor- andas a matter of personal inclination, as well as of official duty, mywork of visitation is of the most catholic order - is carried outirrespective not only of creed, but of character. I have to deal with allsorts and conditions of the poor, with the undeserving as well as thedeserving, the sober, industrious, self-respecting poor, the “poor buthonest,” and the poor whose poverty is allied with various lessdesirable qualities.My feeling of sympathy with the poor is no mere impulsivesentimentality. I know, none better, that there is a seamy as well as anoble side to poverty. But with the fullest allowance made on thathead, I would still reverse the dictum of Tennyson’s NorthernFarmer. I would say not that “the poor in a loomp is bad,” but thatthe poor as a class are good. They are not soured or hardened bysuffering. Their kindness to each other is pro-verbial, and those whoknow them best know that this kindness is often shown underconditions of self-sacrifice almost worthy to rank with the action ofSir Philip Sidney when, with the agonising thirst of his deathwoundupon him, he passed to the wounded soldier beside him theprecious cup of water that had with difficulty been procured forhimself, saying, “Thy necessity is yet greater than mine.”The poor bear the hardships of their lot bravely and patiently, aregreatly more hopeful than despairing under them. They are borne upby the knowledge that the hardships are only for this life, and findstrength and consolation in the assurance that for them also there isanother and a better life beyond - a life in which there will be neithersorrow nor suffering, riches nor poverty, only rest and blisseverlasting for rich and poor alike.That, among those to whom the lines of life have fallen in thepleasanter places, there is at the present time a wide-spreaddisposition to help and sympathise with the poor, the poor arethemselves gratefully aware. If the present volume should proveinstrumental, in even the smallest degree, in extending this goodfeeling, it will not be held to have been written in vain byTHE RIVERSIDE VISITOR.