Зображення сторінки

long round on a scorching morning, and found many persons out; so I did but little. In the afternoon, just as I was going out again, Lord Raynham called to ask for the petition, as he was then going to the House. I asked if we could be admitted to hear the debate, and he told us to be there at six o'clock. There was a difficulty about our admission without tickets, but after some delay we got into the ladies' gallery, and there, by a singular chance, found the Misses Waldegrave, who had been here to sign the petition ; they did not know the subject was to be brought forward. It was late before its time came, and the House was very empty. Lord R. came up to see if we were there. I asked him not to mention any names, but he wished to bring forward some of the instances I had told him off. He seemed nervous, and certainly did not make an effective speech, or enforce the important points. It was a pity to lose such an opportunity, and I quite regretted it ; but there was some response and sympathy shown in the following replies. The inquiry was, however, not granted, but there was some mention of renewing the attempt next session. Many persons, however, believed that private efforts would do more than Parliamentary inquiry could effect.

June 27th.— I went with Mrs. G-- to see the HWorkhouse ; she and one other lady take a ward there. The matron, as usual, looked ordinary, and was dressed in a tawdry cap with flowers. The house looked old and dirty ; the school was kept under the same roof, and a workhouse training was therefore inevitable. The matron owned she had great difficulty in finding proper persons among the paupers to be nurses.

July.—1 heard, through Mr. Butterworth, that the Lady Mayoress was proposing a Ladies' Committee for the West London Union. The first I had heard of this was in a note from Mr. Adam Clarke Smith, Curate of St. Andrew's, Holborn, forwarded to me by the editor of the Guardian, saying he should be glad to communicate with me on the subject of workhouse visiting, having read the letters. I wrote to him, thinking he proposed to visit the Holborn Union. I found, however, it was the same plan as the Lady Mayoress had formed. I wrote to her about it, and she called. It was getting late in the season to begin anything, but it seemed a pity to delay till autumn. After my return from Ramsgate we agreed to have a meeting at the Mansion House, if we could only collect half a dozen ladies.

In July my pamphlet was ready, and I sent out a great number. I had many encouraging answers, and much kind sympathy. Those who have never published anything can hardly imagine the endless delays and small difficulties that arise before even a pamphlet can meet the eye of the public. I was anxious to send it out before everybody had left town, but I only got it done the day before I left home for Ramsgate.

I heard again from Mr. Butterworth, hoping I would join the committee.

July 22nd.— I went to the anniversary of the Highgate Penitentiary, and met Mrs. Tait. She spoke of what they had done at Carlisle, where no chaplain was appointed, and told me that, before leaving town, the bishop was to have a meeting of gaol chaplains, and another of workhouse chaplains, when the subject of ladies' visiting would be especially brought forward. I sent a packet of pamphlets for distribution at this meeting. This seemed another very hopeful sign.

August 21st.-A meeting at the Mansion House for the proposed committee. About twelve ladies were present, and three or four clergymen from the parishes forming the union. Mr. Butterworth spoke for the guardians, who seemed favourable to the plan now, after great opposition. About twenty ladies' names were put down as willing to join in the work. I saw Miss Fraser, and had some talk with her, finding her much interested in the cause. Another meeting was proposed at the union, in a fortnight, when plans were to be arranged.

This took place August 31st. Wards were appointed to the different ladies, and we all went over the women's side of the union. The master and matron seemed friendly, and the prospect was promising ; the numbers were not overwhelming, and all seemed comparatively in good order to begin with.

September 7th.I went for the first time, and had a long conversation with the master and matron, and visited the workroom which was appointed me. They seemed decent old women, and pleased to be read to.

October 12th.— I was unable to attend again till this day, when there was a committee. I found difficulties had arisen with the guardians which seemed threatening. It showed how very careful we must be not to interfere with such jealous officials, or move out of our own line of work.

In August I heard about the approaching meeting for the promotion of Social Science (a society inaugurated in the spring), to be held at Birmingham in September. I thought it possible that the subject of workhouses might come into the department of Social Economy, so I wrote to the secretary, Mr. Hastings, and heard that it would be included, and he was anxious for information upon it. Here was another opportunity and opening. He asked if I could write a paper upon it, which I agreed to do, and I had then every hope of being able to attend the meeting. I wrote a paper, which took about half an hour to read. It was with great difficulty I accomplished it, at a time of anxiety and trial at home ; but I felt it to be a duty to do it, and that it would be quite wrong to lose an opportunity of spreading an interest in the cause.

At this time I saw the account of what Dr. Sieveking had proposed as to training nurses from workhouses many years ago ; it was now brought forward again in the Waverley Journal. I wrote a letter to the September number in answer to the plan, not thinking it practicable as workhouses are at present constituted. Dr. Sieveking called, and I had some conversation with him ; he brought me all the papers printed by the society which had proposed the plan, and seemed to think it feasible. Mrs. de Morgan sent me a paper to forward to Birmingham with mine, as was unable to attend. I wrote to every member of the society, and especially in this department, likely to be interested in it, to secure their attention to the subject, and from many I had very encouraging and pleasant answers--some writing to me to send a paper upon it, not knowing I had already done so; but all expressed an interest in the cause.

This summer I had a visit from Miss Tucker (mentioned to me by Mrs. Sheppard), whom I found to be the lady who had sent me an anonymous letter long ago, expressing interest in my first pamphlet, and enclosing a ittle tract, “A Wide Field,” etc. She visits at Marylebone,

and spoke with deep interest of the work, earnestly desiring to see the doors of workhouses opened for the purpose chiefly of spiritual instruction for the inmates. She proposed that an association should be formed for the purpose of combining persons interested in the cause, but I could not see my way to it then. In a visit from Mr. Hastings afterwards, he proposed what seemed to me to be an opening to it-viz. that a sub-committee should be formed in the Social Economy Department for this subject especially ; much better than forming a fresh association, of which there are so many already.

At the end of this year I determined to renew my application to the Strand Union Board of Guardians, feeling that the success of the West London Committee was an additional motive for attempting another. This time I applied through Mr. Hutton, the clergyman of one of the parishes of the union (St. Paul's, Covent Garden). From him I found that the objection was believed to be with the Poor Law Board. I determined then once more to address them, and mentioned that the majority of the guardians were (as I had been told) in favour of the proposal. The answer from the Poor Law Board was, of course, cautious, as usual, but gave a sanction to the plan, subject to their prohibition should inconvenience arise. This seemed a great step gained, but it was of

I found that Roman Catholic and Dissenting guardians objected to the proposal, and said they had an equal right to the privilege, etc.; so the plan was once more stopped.

In the spring of this year, just as I was going to Paris, I received a note from Miss E. S- asking if I could take her to a workhouse, as she wished to visit one. I

no avail.

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »