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could not arrange it then, but on my return I took her with me to the infirm wards at the Strand Union, and she continued to visit them regularly, which has been a great pleasure to the poor people. They speak of her visits as “ quite reviving and cheering.”
During the year I paid twenty visits to the workhouse. I went chiefly to the infirm wards, where I had many acquaintances; but occasionally I visited the sick, and once or twice I went to the “Shed,” where I found Mrs. W-, of seventy, had been placed on her entering, and remained a fortnight. It was a miserable place with a brick floor, and oakum and hair picking is carried on there. I read to them, and found them very attentive, and some of the elderly ones spoke properly.
One day, when I was visiting Mrs. W---, porter came to tell me the master said I was not allowed to visit there ; it was against the rules. I spoke to him as I came out, and expressed my surprise, but I knew him to be a very low and insolent man, and that it was of little use to talk to him. He was formerly the porter at the gate. At the end of this year, I heard, to my great joy, that the master and matron were leaving. There was universal satisfaction expressed, and I believe there was good cause for the general hatred of them, though the chairman had told me that they were excellent for management and economy. After they were gone, they were found to have purloined quantities of tea and sugar, and very bad practices were discovered ; many of which I could have told them, had they been willing to listen.
I happened by chance to visit the union the day they were leaving, and the sounds of rejoicing were greatshouting and hurrahing, discordant enough, no doubt, to the ears of the departing. It had begun the evening before, to the matron's great disgust and anger, and she would willingly have inflicted some punishment. Had justice been done to them, I believe even the worst of the inmates would have shown some good feeling at such a time as this ; as it was, it was a melancholy spectacle.
In January the paper I had sent to Birmingham was published in the Philanthropist, and finished in the February number. I heard from Mr. H-- on the subject, and he mentioned facts concerning the prison at Wandsworth, and the workhouse.
During my visit to Dawlish I occupied my leisure with writing what might do for an article in a review, and now I was looking out for some means of publishing it. I asked Miss Emily Taylor about the Edinburgh, the editor being her nephew. She thought an article was already bespoken, but I wrote to Longmans, and from him I heard that an M.P. was engaged to write in it on the subject of workhouses. Amongst the persons I had seen who were much occupied in the cause was Mr. Allen, who from the first I had occasionally met at the Strand Union. He visited weekly to take books. He now called with a note from Mr. C. Buxton, to say that he was going to write the article, and wished to see me to talk the matter over. He asked me to dine with them on January 27th. Mr. Allen seemed discouraged, and said he was now excluded from some workhouses where he used to visit. I knew that ladies had been turned out from St. G-~'s Workhouse. I heard much about the management of this one from a young girl sent to me, who had been an inmate. This information came very opportunely just as I was about to write my paper for Birmingham.
January 27th.—I dined at Mr. C. Buxton's, and met Sir John Nicholson, who was come over from Melbourne, and was negotiating with the Poor Law Board about sending over the children from pauper schools. He said they would be ready to receive any number, and were in the greatest want of girls and women for servants. I found Mr. B. very ready to agree with my views. Mrs. B. visits at the St. James's Workhouse.
February 7th.--I took Mr. and Mrs. Buxton to see the Strand Union. I had with me some coloured Scripture prints, which I had stuck on boards, and gave two to each ward. The old people seemed delighted, and looked at them as if they had not seen a picture for years. Their expressions of genuine pleasure were amusing : "It helps one to imagine it so well,” and so forth. All spoke of the new master and matron with pleasure and satisfaction.
February 12th.—This winter I read the short life of Sarah Martin, who was the humble prison visitor at Yarmouth. From her visits to the gaols on Sunday I took the hint, and thought I would propose to go to those who could not attend the chapel service. I mentioned it to the chaplain, and he cordially sanctioned it ; and in the ward, when I proposed it, it was joyfully agreed to, the nurse and some saying it would be a great comfort. There was only one Roman Catholic, and she would not be likely to object. I spoke to the porter, and prepared him for it. I went this day for the first time, at three o'clock, and found several still at their private teas, though the usual hour is four. The doors were opened between the two wards, so that more might hear : only two or three were gone to the service. I read the afternoon service and a sermon, and ended with the evening hymn. Almost all said they could hear. One, whom I asked if she liked it, said, “ Like it? I was quite overpowered at hearing those beautiful Church prayers again ; it is such a comfort. Thank you for the means of grace !” Next time she said, “ It is something to think of after you are gone.” Many joined in the responses. At first there.was an old man who was allowed to visit his wife at this hour; he was a clerk, and answered most audibly.
February 27th.— I heard from Mr. Butterworth, saying that the inspector of lunatic patients had been at the West London Union, and recommended that cheerful objects should be in the patients' room-pictures, chintz curtains, etc.—and proposing that the ladies should consider the matter, as we had already given coloured prints in the children's nursery. This was a hopeful sign, and may make an opening for ladies' visiting there, which we wish to begin. I have twice taken some flowers, to their great delight ; they thoroughly appreciate their beauty, and it is pleasant to hear and see such genuine admiration, some having had and enjoyed gardens formerly.*
February 28th.-In the sick ward I visit at the West London, there is a poor girl of sixteen, a cripple, always sitting in a low chair by the fire ; she was sometimes doing needlework. I asked her why she did not read, and found that she could not ; so I took her a little book,
* This may be considered to have been the beginning of the now very general “ Flower Missions,” which send flowers to almost all workhouses and hospitals by ladies.
For years I took a Sunday nosegay, which was, by great care, made to last through the week. I found it to be the one gift that could be made without jealousy, as it was common to all.
and the nurse promised to teach her : she knew her letters. In a week, by my next visit, she could read a little story, and made great progress, and seemed anxious to get on. I took her some old prints and a book to stick them in, and cut out an alphabet, etc., with which the nurses seemed as delighted as the poor girl. Must not even such slight gifts be a gleam of sunshine in her dreary life? The walls of that room are her world ; sickness and death are ever before her eyes. At one visit I found the woman in the bed close to her chair just dead. Presently she would be washed and laid out, all in full view, for there are neither curtains nor screens in these rooms. What a youthful life must this be ! She has no relatives or friends, those that once took care of her being dead.
In a subsequent number of the Journal of the Workhouse Visiting Society, there is the following notice of this case :—“Those readers of the Journal who may remember the case of the poor cripple girl, may be glad to hear that her progress in reading advanced so satisfactorily that this summer she learnt entirely by heart the Church catechism, and was confirmed by the Bishop of London. She has since received the Holy Communion twice, the chaplain being satisfied that she was prepared to do so. She is carried down to the chapel service, and can now make good use of her Bible and Prayerbook. Without the aid and encouragement of a lady visitor, I do not see how this poor girl would ever have been able to read at all.” She was afterwards moved into a small, quiet room, with only two or three decent inmates. March 25th.-Had the first meeting of the sub-com