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Title: As We Are and As We May Be
Author: Besant, Walter, Sir, 1836-1901
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  THE CAPTAINS' ROOM. With Frontispiece by E.J. WHEELER.

  ALL IN A GARDEN FAIR. With 6 Illustrations by HARRY FURNISS,


  UNCLE JACK, and other Stories.



  HERR PAULUS: His Rise, his Greatness, and his Fall.



  TO CALL HER MINE. With 9 Illustrations by A. FORESTIER.

  THE HOLY ROSE. With Frontispiece by F. BARNARD.

  ARMOREL OF LYONESSE. With 12 Illustrations by F. BARNARD.

  ST. KATHERINE'S BY THE TOWER. With 12 Illusts. by C. GREEN.





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  THE ORANGE GIRL. With 8 Illustrations by F. PEGRAM.

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  NO OTHER WAY. With 12 Illustrations by CHARLES D. WARD.

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    Illustrations by PHIL MAY, L. RAVEN HILL, and JOSEPH PENNELL.

  JERUSALEM: The City of Herod and Saladin. By WALTER BESANT and E.H.
    PALMER. With a Map and 11 Illustrations.

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  AS WE ARE AND AS WE MAY BE. Crown 8vo., buckram, gilt top, 6s.

  ESSAYS AND HISTORIETTES. Crown 8vo., buckram, gilt top, 6s.

  EULOGY OF RICHARD JEFFERIES. Portrait. Cr. 8vo., cloth, 6s.

  FIFTY YEARS AGO. With 144 Illustrations. Crown 8vo., cloth, 3s. 6d

  GASPARD DE COLIGNY. With a Portrait. Crown 8vo., linen, 3s. 6d.

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_The reader of these Essays, which are not chronologically arranged,
is asked to notice the date in each case affixed to them. Almost
without exception, those passages which cannot fail to strike him as
nearly exact repetitions, whether of argument or of example, will be
seen to have been written at considerable intervals of time. A series
of papers, composed in different circumstances, and with no design of
collective re-issue in any particular form, will always present these
repetitions; and they serve to emphasize the author's message. The
lapse of time will also account for the apparent inaccuracy of a few
statements, and for the fact that some of the occurrences alluded to
in the future tense were accomplished during Sir Walter Besant's
lifetime. 'As We Are and As We May Be' is the exposition of a
practical philanthropist's creed, and of his hopes for the progress of
his fellow-countrymen. Some of these hopes may never be realized; some
he had the great happiness to see bear fruit. And for the realization
of all he spared no pains. The personal service of humanity, that in
these pages he urges repeatedly on others, he was himself ever the
first to give._





THE PEOPLE'S PALACE                       50

SUNDAY MORNING IN THE CITY                67

A RIVERSIDE PARISH                       106

ST. KATHERINE'S BY THE TOWER             137

THE UPWARD PRESSURE                      166

THE LAND OF ROMANCE                      203

THE LAND OF REALITY                      224

ART AND THE PEOPLE                       246


THE ASSOCIATED LIFE                      296



Those who begin to consider the subject of the working woman discover
presently that there is a vast field of inquiry lying quite within
their reach, without any trouble of going into slums or inquiring of
sweaters. This is the field occupied by the gentlewoman who works for
a livelihood. She is not always, perhaps, gentle in quite the old
sense, but she is gentle in that new and better sense which means
culture, education, and refinement. There are now thousands of these
working gentlewomen, and the number is daily increasing. A few among
them--a very few--are working happily and successfully; some are
working contentedly, others with murmuring and discontent at the
hardness of the work and the poorness of the pay. Others, again, are
always trying, and for the most part vainly, to get work--any kind of
work--which will bring in money--any small sum of money. This is a
dreadful spectacle, to any who have eyes to see, of gentlewomen
struggling, snatching, importuning, begging for work. No one knows,
who has not looked into the field, how crowded it is, and how sad a
sight it presents.

For my own part I think it is a shame that a lady should ever have to
stand in the labour market for hire like a milkmaid at a statute fair.
I think that the rush of women into the labour market is a most
lamentable thing. Labour, and especially labour which is without
organization or union, has to wage an incessant battle--always getting
beaten--against greed and injustice: the natural enemy of labour is
the employer, especially the impecunious employer; in the struggle
women always get worsted. Again, in whatever trade or calling they
attempt, the great majority of women are hopelessly incompetent. As in
the lower occupations, so in the higher, the greatest obstacle to
success is incompetence. How should gentlewomen be anything but
incompetent? They have not been taught anything special, they have not
been 'put through the mill'; mostly, they are fit only for those
employments which require the single quality that everybody can
claim--general intelligence. Hopeless indeed is the position of that
woman who brings into the intellectual labour market nothing but
general intelligence. She is exactly like the labourer who knows no
trade, and has nothing but his strong frame and his pair of hands. To
that man falls the hardest work and the smallest wage. To the woman
with general intelligence is assigned the lowest drudgery of
intellectual labour. And yet there are so many clamouring for this, or
for anything. A few months ago a certain weekly magazine stated that
I, the writer, had started an Association for Providing Ladies with
Copying Work--all in capitals. The number of letters which came to me
by every post in consequence of that statement was incredible. The
writers implored me to give them a share of that copying work; they
told terrible, heart-rending stories of suffering. Of course, there
was no such Association. There is, now that typewriting is fairly
established, no copying work left to speak of. Even now the letters
have not quite ceased to arrive.

The existence of this army of necessitous gentlewomen is a new thing
in the land. That is to say, there have always been ladies who have
'come down in the world'--not a seaside lodging-housekeeper but has
known better days. There have always been girls who never expected to
be poor; always suffered to live in a fool's paradise who ought to
have been taught some way of earning their livelihood. Never till now,
however, has this army of gentlewomen been so great, or its distress
so acute. One reason--it is one which threatens to increase with
accelerated rapidity--is the depression of agriculture. I think we
hardly realize the magnitude of this great national disaster. We
believe that it is only the landlords, or the landlords and farmers,
who are suffering. If that were all--but can one member of the body
politic suffer and the rest go free from pain? All the trade of the
small towns droops with agriculture; the professional men of the
country towns lose their practice; clergymen who depend upon glebe,
dissenting ministers who depend upon the townspeople, lose their
income; the labourers, the craftsmen--why, it bewilders one even to
think of the widespread ruin which will follow the agricultural
depression if it continues. And every day carriage becomes cheaper,
and food products of all kinds are conveyed at lower prices and from
greater distances. Every fall in price makes it more difficult to let
the farms, drives the rustics in greater numbers from the country to
the town, lays the curse of labour upon thousands of untrained
gentlewomen, and makes it more difficult for them to escape in the old
way, that of marriage.

Another reason is the enormous increase during the last thirty years
of the cultivated classes. We have all, except the very lowest, moved
upwards. The working-man wears broadcloth and has his club; the
tradesman who has grown rich also has his club, his daughters are
young ladies of culture, his sons are educated at the public schools
and the universities--things perfectly proper and laudable. The
thickness of the cultured stratum grows greater every day. But those
who belong to the lower part of that stratum--those whose position is
not as yet strengthened by family connections and the accumulations of
generations--are apt to yield and to be crushed down by the first
approach of misfortune. Then the daughters who, in the last
generation, would have joined the working girls and become dressmakers
in a 'genteel' way, join the ranks of distressed gentlewomen.

Everybody knows the way up the social ladder. It has been shown to
those below by millions of twinkling feet. It is a broad ladder up
which people are always climbing, some slowly, some quickly--from
corduroy to broadcloth; from workshop to counter; from shop-boy to
master; from shop to office; from trade to profession; from the
bedroom over the shop to the great country villa. The other day a
bricklayer told me that his grandfather and the first Lord O.'s father
were old pals: they used to go poaching together; but the parent of
Lord O. was so clever as to open a shop, where he sold what his friend
poached. The shop began it you see. The way up is known to everybody.
But there is another way which we seldom regard; it is the way down
again. The Family Rise is the commonest phenomenon. Is not the name
Legion of those of whom men say, partly with the pride of connecting
themselves with greatness, partly with the natural desire, which small
men always show, to tear away something of that greatness, 'Why, I
knew him when his father had a shop!' The Family Fall is less
conspicuous. Yet there are always as many going down as climbing up.
You cannot, in fact, stay still. You must either climb or slip
down--unless, indeed, you have got your leg over the topmost rung,
which means the stability of an hereditary title and landed property.
We all ought to have hereditary titles and landed property, in order
to insure national prosperity for ever. Novelists do not, as a rule,
treat of the Sinking Back because it is a depressing subject. There
are many ways of falling. Mostly, the father makes an ass of himself
in the way of business or speculation; or he dies too soon; or his
sons possess none of their father's ability; or they take to drink.
Anyhow, down goes the Family, at first slowly, but with ever
increasing rapidity, back to its original level. There is no country
in the world--certainly not the United States--where a young man may
rise to distinction with greater ease than this realm of the Three
Kingdoms. There is also none where the families show a greater
alacrity in sinking. But the most reluctant to go down, those who
cling most tightly to the social level which they think they have
reached, are the daughters; so that when misfortunes fall upon them
they are ready to deny themselves everything rather than lose the
social dignity which they think belongs to them.

Again, a steady feeder of these ranks is the large family of girls. It
is astonishing what a number of families there are in which they are
all, or nearly all, girls. The father is, perhaps, a professional man
of some kind, whose blamelessness has not brought him solid success,
so that there is always tightness. And it is beautiful to remark the
cheerfulness of the girls, and how they accept the tightness as a
necessary part of the World's Order; and how they welcome each new
feminine arrival as if it was really going to add a solid lump of
comfort to the family joy. These girls face work from the beginning.
Well for them if they have any better training than the ordinary
day-school, or any special teaching at all.

Another--the most potent cause of all--is the complete revolution of
opinion as regards woman's work which has been effected in the course
of a single generation. Thirty years ago, if a girl was compelled to
earn her bread by her own work, what could she do? There were a few--a
very few--who wrote; many very excellent persons held writing to be
'unladylike.' There were a few--a very few--who painted; there were
some--but very few, and those chiefly the daughters of actors--who
went on the stage. All the rest of the women who maintained
themselves, and were called, by courtesy, ladies, became governesses.
Some taught in schools, where they endured hardness--remember the
account of the school where Charlotte Brontë was educated. Some went
to live in private houses--think of the governess in the old novel,
meek and gentle, snubbed by her employer, bullied by her pupils, and
insulted by the footman, until the young Prince came along. Some went
from house to house as daily governesses. Even in teaching they were
greatly restricted. Man was called in to teach dancing; he went round
among the schools in black silk stockings, with a kit under his arm,
and could caper wonderfully. Woman could only teach dancing at the
awful risk of showing her ankles. Who cares now whether a woman shows
her ankles or not? It makes one think of Mr. Snodgrass and Mr. Winkle,
and of the admiration which those sly dogs expressed for a neat pair
of ankles. Man, again, taught drawing; man taught music; man taught
singing; man taught writing; man taught arithmetic; man taught French
and Italian; German was not taught at all. Indeed, had it not been for
geography and the use of the globes, and the right handling of the
blackboard, there would have been nothing at all left for the
governess to teach. Forty years ago, however, she was great on the
Church Catechism and a martinet as to the Sunday sermon.

It was not every girl, even then, who could teach. I remember one lady
who in her young days had refused to teach on the ground that she
would have to be hanged for child-murder if she tried. Those who did
not teach, unless they married and became mistresses of their own
_ménage_, stayed at home until the parents died, and then went to live
with a brother or a married sister. What family would be without the
unmarried sister, the universal aunt? Sometimes, perhaps, she became a
mere unpaid household servant, who could not give notice. But one
would fain hope that these were rare cases.

Now, however, all is changed. The doors are thrown wide open. With a
few exceptions--to be sure, the Church, the Law, and Engineering are
important exceptions--a woman can enter upon any career she pleases.
The average woman, specially trained, should do at any intellectual
work nearly as well as the average man. The old prejudice against the
work of women is practically extinct. Love of independence and the
newly awakened impatience of the old shackles, in addition to the
forces already mentioned, are everywhere driving girls to take up
professional lives.

Not only are the doors of the old avenues thrown open: we have created
new ways for the women who work. Literature offers a hundred paths,
each one with stimulating examples of feminine success. There is
journalism, into which women are only now beginning to enter by ones
and twos. Before long they will sweep in with a flood. In medicine,
which requires arduous study and great bodily strength, they do not
enter in large numbers. Acting is a fashionable craze. Art covers as
wide a field as literature. Education in girls' schools of the highest
kind has passed into their own hands. Moreover, women can now do many
things--and remain gentlewomen--which were formerly impossible. Some
keep furniture shops, some are decorators, some are dressmakers, some
make or sell embroidery.

In all these professions two things are wanting--natural aptitude and
special training. Unfortunately, the competition is encumbered and
crowded with those who have neither, or else both imperfectly,

The present state of things is somewhat as follows: The world contains
a great open market, where the demand for first-class work of every
kind is practically inexhaustible. In literature everything really
good commands instant attention, respect--and payment. But it must be
really good. Publishers are always looking about for genius.
Editors--even the much-abused editors--are always looking about for
good and popular writers. But the world is critical. To become popular
requires a combination of qualities, which include special training,
education, and natural aptitude. Art, again, in every possible branch,
offers recognition--and pay--for good work. But it must be really
good. The world is even more critical in Art than in Literature. In
the theatre, managers are always looking about for good plays, good
actors, and good actresses. In scholarship, women who have taken
university honours command good salaries and an honourable position if
they can teach. In music, a really good composer, player, or singer,
is always received with joy and the usual solid marks of approval. In
this great open Market there is no favouritism possible, because the
public, which is scornful of failure--making no allowance, and
receiving no excuses--is also generous and quick to recognise success.
In this Market clever women have exactly the same chances as clever
men; their work commands the same price. George Eliot is as well paid
as Thackeray; and the Market is full of the most splendid prizes both
of praise and pudding. It is a most wonderful Market. In all other
Markets the stalls are full of good things which the vendors are
anxious to sell, but cannot. In this Market nothing is offered but it
is snapped up greedily by the buyers; there are even, indeed, men who
buy up the things before they reach the open Market. In other Markets
the cry of those who stand at the stalls is 'Buy, buy, buy!' In this
Market it is the buyers who cry out continually, 'Bring out more wares
to sell.' Only to think of this Market, and of the thousands of
gentlewomen outside, fills the heart with sadness.

For outside, there is quite another kind of Market. Here there are
long lines of stalls behind which stand the gentlewomen eagerly
offering their wares. Alas! here is Art in every shape, but it is not
the art which we can buy. Here are painting and drawing; here are
coloured photographs, painted china, art embroideries, and fine work.
Here are offered original songs and original music. Here are standing
long lines of those who want to teach, and are most melancholy because
they have no degree or diploma, and know nothing. Here are standing
those who wait to be hired, and who will do anything in which 'general
intelligence' will show the way; lastly, there is a whole quarter at
least a quarter--of the Market filled with stalls covered with
manuscripts, and there are thousands of women offering these
manuscripts. The publishers and the editors walk slowly along before
the stalls and receive the manuscripts, which they look at and then
lay down, though their writers weep and wail and wring their hands.
Presently there comes along a man greatly resembling in the expression
of his face the wild and savage wolf trying to smile. His habit is to
take up a manuscript, and presently to express, with the aid of
strange oaths and ejaculations, wonder and imagination. ''Fore Gad,
madam!' he says, ''tis fine! 'Twill take the town by storm! 'Tis an
immortal piece! Your own, madam? Truly 'tis wonderful! Nay, madam, but
I must have it. 'Twill cost you for the printing of it a paltry sixty
pounds or so, and for return, believe me, 'twill prove a new Potosi.'
This is the confidence trick under another form. The unfortunate woman
begs and borrows the money, of which she will never again see one
farthing; and if her book be produced, no one will ever buy a copy.

The women at these stalls are always changing. They grow tired of
waiting when no one will buy: they go away. A few may be traced. They
become type-writers: they become cashiers in shops; they sit in the
outer office of photographers and receive the visitors: they 'devil'
for literary men: they make extracts: they conduct researches and look
up authorities: they address envelopes; some, I suppose, go home again
and contrive to live somehow with their relations. What becomes of the
rest no man can tell. Only when men get together and talk of these
things it is whispered that there is no family, however prosperous,
but has its unsuccessful members--no House, however great, which has
not its hangers-on and followers, like the _ribauderie_ of an army,
helpless and penniless.

Considering, therefore, the miseries, drudgeries, insults, and
humiliations which await the necessitous gentlewoman in her quest for
work and a living, and the fact that these ladies are increasing in
number, and likely to increase, I venture to call attention to certain
preventive steps which may be applied--not for those who are now in
this hell, but for those innocent children whose lot it may be to join
the hapless band. The subject concerns all of us who have to work, all
who have to provide for our families; it concerns every woman who has
daughters: it concerns the girls themselves to such a degree that, if
they knew or suspected the dangers before them they would cry aloud
for prevention, they would rebel, they would strike the Fifth
Commandment out of the Tables. So great, so terrible, are the dangers
before them.

The absolute duty of teaching girls who may at some future time have
to depend upon themselves some trade, calling or profession, seems a
mere axiom, a thing which cannot be disputed or denied. Yet it has not
even begun to be practised. If any thought is taken at all of this
contingency, 'general intelligence' is still relied upon. There are,
however, other ways of facing the future.

In France, as everybody knows, no girl born of respectable parents is
unprovided with a _dot_; there is no family, however poor, which does
not strive and save in order to find their daughter some kind of
_dot_. If she has no _dot_, she remains unmarried. The amount of the
_dot_ is determined by the social position of the parents. No marriage
is arranged without the _dot_ forming an important part of the
business. No bride goes empty-handed out of her father's house. And
since families in France are much smaller than in this country, a much
smaller proportion of girls go unmarried.

In this country no girls of the lower class, and few of the middle
class, ever have any _dot_ at all. They go to their husbands
empty-handed, unless, as sometimes happens, the father makes an
allowance to the daughter. All they have is their expectation of what
may come to them after the father's death, when there will be
insurances and savings to be divided. The daughter who marries has no
_dot_. The daughter who remains unmarried has no fortune until her
father dies: very often she has none after that event.

In Germany, where the custom of the _dot_ is not, I believe, so
prevalent, there are companies or societies founded for the express
purpose of providing for unmarried women. They work, I am told, with a
kind of tontine--it is, in fact, a lottery. On the birth of a girl the
father inscribes her name on the books of the company, and pays a
certain small sum every year on her account. At the age of
twenty-five, if she is still unmarried, she receives the right of
living rent free in two rooms, and becomes entitled to a certain small
annuity. If she marries she has nothing. Those who marry, therefore,
pay for those who do not marry. It is the same principle as with life
insurances: those who live long pay for those who die young. If we
assume, for instance, that four girls out of five marry, which seems a
fair proportion, the fifth girl receives five times her own premium.
Suppose that her father has paid £5 a year for her for twenty-one
years, she would receive the amount, at compound interest, of £25 a
year for twenty-one years--namely, about a thousand pounds.

Only consider what a thousand pounds may mean to a girl. It may be
invested to produce £35 a year--that is to say, 13s. 6d. a week. Such
an income, paltry as it seems, may be invaluable; it may supplement
her scanty earnings: it may enable her to take a holiday: it may give
her time to look about her: it may keep her out of the sweater's
hands: it may help her to develop her powers and to step into the
front rank. What gratitude would not the necessitous gentlewoman
bestow upon any who would endow her with 13s. 6d. a week? Why, there
are Homes where she could live in comfort on 12s., and have a solid
1s. 6d. to spare. She would even be able to give alms to others not so

Take, then, a thousand pounds--£35 a year--as a minimum. Take the case
of a professional man who cannot save much, but who is resolved on
endowing his daughters with an annuity of at least £35 a year. There
are ways and means of doing this which are advertised freely and
placed in everybody's hands. Yet they seem to fail in impressing the
public. One does not hear among one's professional friends of the
endowment of girls. Yet one does hear, constantly, that someone is
dead and has left his daughters without a penny.

First of all, the rules and regulations of the Post Office, which are
published every quarter, provide what seems the most simple of these

I take one table only, that of the cost of an annuity deferred for
twenty-five years. If the child is five years of age, and under six,
an annuity of £1, beginning after twenty-five years, can be purchased
for a yearly premium of 12s. 7d., or for a payment of £12 3s. 8d., the
money to be returned in case of the child's death. An annuity of £35,
therefore, would cost a yearly premium of £22 0s. 5d., or a lump sum
of £426 8s. 4d.

One or two of the insurance companies have also prepared tables for
the endowment of children. I find, for instance, in the tables issued
by the North British and Mercantile that an annual payment of £3 11s.
begun at infancy will insure the sum of £100 at twenty-one years of
age, with the return of the premium should the child die, or that £35
10s. paid annually will insure the sum of £1,000. There is also in
these tables a method of payment by which, should the father die and
the premiums be therefore discontinued, the money will be paid just
the same. No doubt, if the practice were to spread, every insurance
company would take up this kind of business.

It is not every young married man who could afford to pay so large a
sum of money as £426 in one lump; on the contrary, very few indeed
could do so. But suppose, which is quite possible, that he were to
purchase, with the first £12 he could save, a deferred annuity of £1
for his child, and so with the next £12, and so with the next, until
he had placed her beyond the reach of actual destitution; and suppose,
again, that his conscience was so much awakened to the duty of thus
providing for her that amusement and pleasure would be postponed or
curtailed until this duty was performed, just as amusement is not
thought of until the rent and taxes and housekeeping are first
defrayed: in that case there would be few young married people indeed
who would not speedily be able to purchase this small annuity of £35 a
year. And with every successive payment the sense of the value of the
thing, its importance, its necessity, would grow more and more in the
mind; and with every payment would increase the satisfaction of
feeling that the child was removed from destitution by one pound a
year more. It took a very long time to create in men's minds the duty
of life insurance. That has now taken so firm a hold on people that,
although the English bride brings no dot, the bridegroom is not
permitted to marry her until he settles a life insurance upon her.
When once the mother thoroughly understands that by the exercise of a
little more self-denial her daughter can be rendered independent for
life, that self-denial will certainly not be wanting. Think of the
vast sums of money which are squandered by the middle classes of this
country, even though they are more provident than the working classes.
The money is not spent in any kind of riot: not at all; the middle
classes are, on the whole, most decorous and sober: it is spent in
living just a little more luxuriously than the many changes and
chances of mortal life should permit. It is by lowering the standard
of living that the money must be saved for the endowment of the
daughters; and since the children cost less in infancy than when they
grow older, it is then that the saving must be made. Everyone knows
that there are thousands of young married people who can only by dint
of the strictest economy make both ends meet. It is not for them that
I speak. Another voice, far more powerful than mine, should thunder
into their hearts the selfishness and the wickedness of bringing into
the world children for whom they can make no provision whatever, and
who are destined to be thrown into the battle-field of labour provided
with no other weapons than the knowledge of reading and writing. It is
bad enough for the boys; but as for the girls--they had better have
been thrown as soon as born to the lions. I speak rather to those who
are in better plight, who live comfortably upon the year's income,
which is not too much, and who look forward to putting their boys in
the way of an ambitious career, and to marrying their daughters. But
as for the endowment of the girls, they have not even begun to think
about it. Their conscience has not been yet awakened, their fears not
yet aroused; they look abroad and see their friends struck down by
death or disaster, but they never think it may be their turn next. And
yet the happiness to reflect, if death or disaster does come, that
your girls are safe!

One sees here, besides, a splendid opening for the rich uncle, the
benevolent godfather, the affectionate grandfather, the kindly aunt,
the successful brother. They will come bearing gifts--not the silver
cup, if you please, but the Deferred Annuity. 'I bring you, my dear,
in honour of your little Molly's birthday, an increase of five pounds
to her Deferred Annuity. This makes it up to twenty pounds, and the
money-box getting on, you say, to another pound. Capital! we shall
have her thirty-five pounds in no time now.' What a noble field for
the uncle!

The endowment of the daughter is essentially a woman's question. The
bride, or at least her mother for her, ought to consider that, though
every family quiver varies in capacity with the income, her own lot
may be to have a quiver full. Heaven forbid, as Montaigne said, that
we should interfere with the feminine methods, but common prudence
seems to dictate the duty of this forecast. Let, therefore, the demand
for endowment come from the bride's mother. All that she would be
justified in asking of a man whose means are as yet narrow, would be
such an endowment, gradually purchased, as would keep the girls from

For my own part, I think that no woman should be forced to work at
all, except at such things as please her. When a woman marries, for
instance, she voluntarily engages herself to do a vast quantity of
work. To look after the house and to bring up the children involves
daily, unremitting labour and thought. If she has a vocation for any
kind of work, as for Art, or Letters, or Teaching, let her obey the
call and find her happiness. Generally she has none. The average
woman--I make this statement with complete confidence--hates
compulsory work: she hates and loathes it. There are, it is true, some
kinds of work which must be done by women. Well, there will always be
enough for those occupations among women who prefer work to idleness.

There is another very serious consideration. There is only so much
work--a limited quantity--in the world: so many hands for whom
occupation can be found--and the number of hands wanted does not very
greatly exceed that of the male hands ready for it. Now, by giving
this work to women, we take it from the men. If we open the Civil
Service to women, we take so many posts from the men, which we give to
the women, _at a lower salary_; if they become cashiers, accountants,
clerks, they take these places from the men, _at a lower salary_.
Always they take lower pay, and turn the men out. Well, the men must
either go elsewhere, or they must take the lower pay. In either case
the happiest lot of all--that of marriage--is rendered more difficult,
because the men are made poorer; the position of the toiler becomes
harder, because he gets worse pay; then man's sense of responsibility
for the women of his family is destroyed. Nay, in some cases the men
actually live, and live contentedly, upon the labour of their wives.
But when all is said about women, and their rights and wrongs, and
their work and place, and their equality and their superiority, we
fall back at last upon nature. There is still, and will always remain
with us, the sense in man that it is his duty to work for his wife,
and the sense in woman that nothing is better for her than to receive
the fruits of her husband's labour.

Let us endow the Daughters: those who are not clever, in order to save
them from the struggles of the Incompetent and the hopelessness of the
Dependent; those who are clever, so as to give them time for work and
training. The Bread-winner may die: his powers may cease: he may lose
his clients, his reputation, his popularity, his business; in a
thousand forms misfortune and poverty may fall upon him. Think of the
happiness with which he would then contemplate that endowment of a
Deferred Annuity. And the endowment will not prevent or interfere with
any work the girls may wish to do. It will even help them in their
work. My brothers, let our girls work if they wish; perhaps they will
be happier if they work let them work at whatever kind of work they
may desire; but not--oh not--because they must.



In the history of every measure designed for the amelioration of the
people there may be observed four distinct and clearly marked stages.
First, there is the original project, fresh from the brain of the
dreamer, glowing with the colours of his imagination, a figure fair
and strong as the newly born Athênê. By its single-handed power
mankind are to be regenerated, and the millennium is to be at once
taken in hand. There are no difficulties which it will not at once
clear away; there are no obstacles which will not vanish at its
approach as the morning mist is burned up by the newly risen sun. The
dreamer creates a school, and presently among his disciples there
arises one who is practical enough to reduce the dream to a possible
and working scheme. The advocates of the Cause are still, however, a
good way from getting the scheme established. The battle with the
opposition follows, in which one has to contend--first with those who
cannot be touched by any generous aims, always a pretty large body;
next with those who are afraid of the people; and lastly with those
who have private interests of their own to defend. The triumph which
presently arrives by no means concludes the history of the agitation,
because there is certain to follow at no distant day the discovery
that the measure has somehow failed to achieve those glorious results
which were so freely promised. It has, in fact, gone to swell the
pages of that chronicle, not yet written, which may be called the
'History of the Well-intentioned.'

The emancipation of the West Indian slaves, for instance, has not been
accompanied by the burning desire for progress--industrial, artistic,
or educational--which was confidently anticipated. Quite the contrary.
Yet--which is a point which continually recurs in the History of the
Well-intentioned--one would not, if it were possible, go back to the
former conditions. It is better that the negro should lie idle, and
sleep in the sun all his days, than that he should work under the
overseer's lash. For the free man there is always hope; for the slave
there is none. Again, the first apostles of Co-operation expected
nothing less than that their ideas would be universally, immediately,
and ardently adopted. That was a good many years ago. The method of
Co-operation still offers the most wonderful vision of universal
welfare, easily attainable on the simple condition of honesty, ever
put before humanity; yet we see how little has been achieved and how
numerous have been the failures. Again, though the advantages of
temperance are continually preached to working men, beer remains the
national beverage; yet even those of us who would rather see the
working classes sober and self-restrained than water-drinkers by Act
of Parliament or solemn pledge, acknowledge how good it is that the
preaching of temperance was begun. Again, we have got most of those
Points for which the Chartists once so passionately struggled. As for
those we have not got, there is no longer much enthusiasm left for
them. The world does not seem so far very substantially advanced by
the concession of the Points; yet we would not willingly give them
back and return to the old order. Again, we have opened free museums,
containing all kinds of beautiful things: the people visit them in
thousands; yet they remain ignorant of Art, and have no yearning
discoverable for Art. In spite of this, we would not willingly close
the museums.

The dreamer, in fact, leaves altogether out of his reckoning certain
factors of humanity which his first practical advocate only partially
takes into account. These are stupidity, apathy, ignorance, greed,
indolence, and the Easy Way. There are doubtless others, because in
humanity as in physics no one can estimate all the forces, but these
are the most readily recognised; and the last two perhaps are the most
important, because the great mass of mankind are certainly born with
an incurable indolence of mind or body, which keeps them rooted in the
old grooves and destroys every germ of ambition at its first

The latest failure of the Well-intentioned, so far as we have yet
found out, is the Education Act, for which the London rate has now
mounted to nine-pence in the pound. It is a failure, like the
emancipation of the slaves; because, though it has done some things
well, it has wholly failed to achieve the great results confidently
predicted for it by its advocates in the year '68. What is more, we
now understand that it never can achieve those results.

It was going, we were told, to give all English children a sound and
thorough elementary education. It was, further, going to inspire those
children with the ardour for knowledge, so that, on leaving school,
they would carry on their studies and continually advance in learning.
It was going to take away the national reproach of ignorance, and to
make us the best educated country in the world.

As for what it has done and is doing, the children are taught to read,
write, cipher, and spell (this accomplishment being wholly useless to
them and its mastery a sheer waste of time). They are also taught a
little singing, and a few other things; and in general terms the Board
Schools do, I suppose, impart as good an education to the children as
the time at their disposal will allow. They command the services of a
great body of well-trained, disciplined, and zealous teachers, against
whose intelligence and conscientious work nothing can be alleged. And
yet, with the very best intentions of Board and teachers, the
practical result has been, as is now maintained, that but a very small
percentage of all the children who go through the schools are educated
at all.

This is an extremely disagreeable discovery. It is, however, as will
presently be seen, a result which might have been expected. Those who
looked for so splendid an outcome of this magnificent educational
machinery, this enormous expenditure, forgot to take into account two
or three very important factors. They were, first, those we have
already indicated, stupidity, apathy, and indolence; and next, the
exigencies and conditions of labour. These shall be presently
explained. Meantime, the discovery once made, and once plainly stated,
seems to have been frankly acknowledged and recognised by all who are
interested in educational questions: it has been made the subject of a
great meeting at the Mansion House, which was addressed by men of
every class: and it has, further, which is a very valuable and
encouraging circumstance, been seriously taken up by the Trades Unions
and the working men.

As for the situation, it is briefly as follows:

The children leave the Board Schools, for the most part, at the age of
thirteen, when they have passed the standard which exempts them from
further attendance; or if they are half-timers, they remain until they
are fourteen. At this ripe age, when the education of the richer class
is only just beginning, these children have to leave school and begin
work. Whatever kind of work this may be, it is certain to involve a
day's labour of ten hours. It might be thought--at one time it was
fully expected--that the children would by this age have received such
an impetus and imbibed so great a love for reading that they would of
their own accord continue to read and study on the lines laid down,
and eagerly make use of such facilities as might be provided for them.
In the History of the Well-intentioned we shall find that we are
always crediting the working classes with virtues which no other class
can boast. In this case we credited the children of working men with a
clear insight into their own best interests; with resolution and
patience; with industry; with the power of resisting temptation, and
with the strength to forego present enjoyment. This is a good deal to
expect of them. But apply the sane situation to a boy of the middle
class. He is taken from school at sixteen and sent to a merchant's
office or a shop. Here he works from nine till six, or perhaps later.
How many of these lads, when their day's work is over--what proportion
of the whole--make any attempt at all to carry on their education or
to learn anything new? For instance, there are two things, the
acquisition of which doubles the marketable value of a clerk: one is a
knowledge of shorthand, and the other is the power of reading and
writing a foreign language. This is a fact which all clerks very well
understand. But not one in a hundred possesses the industry and
resolution necessary to acquire this knowledge, and this, though he is
taught from infancy to desire a good income, and knows that this
additional power will go far to procure it. Again, these boys come
from homes where there are some books at least, some journals, and
some papers; and they hear at their offices and at home talk which
should stimulate them to effort. Yet most of them lie where they are.

If such boys as these remain in indolence, what are we to expect of
those who belong to the lower levels? For they have no books at home,
no magazines, no journals; they hear no talk of learning or knowledge;
if they wanted to read, what are they to read? and where are they to
find books? Free libraries are few and far between: in all London, for
instance, I can find but five or six. They are those at the Guildhall,
Bethnal Green, Westminster, Camden Town, Notting Hill, and
Knightsbridge. Put a red dot upon each of these sites on the map of
London, and consider how very small can be the influence of these
libraries over the whole of this great city. Boys and girls at
thirteen have no inclination to read newspapers; there remains,
therefore, nothing but the penny novelette for those who have any
desire to read at all. There is, it is true, the evening school, but
it is not often found to possess attractions for these children.
Again, after their day's work and confinement in the hot rooms, they
are tired; they want fresh air and exercise. To sum up: there are no
existing inducements for the children to read and study; most of them
are sluggish of intellect; outside the evening schools there are no
facilities for them at all; they have no books; when evening comes
they are tired; they do not understand their own interests; after a
day's work they like an evening's rest; of the two paths open to every
man at every juncture, one is for the most part hidden to children,
and the other is always the easier.

Therefore they spend their evenings in the streets. They would
sometimes, I dare say, prefer the gallery of the theatre or the
music-hall, but these are not often within reach of their means. The
street is always open to them. Here they find their companions of the
workroom; here they feel the strong, swift current of life; here
something is always happening; here there are always new pleasures;
here they can talk and play, unrestrained, left wholly to themselves,
taking for pattern those who are a little older than themselves. As
for their favourite amusements and their pleasures, they grow yearly
coarser; as for their conversation, it grows continually viler, until
Zola himself would be ashamed to reproduce the talk of these young
people. The love which these children have for the street is
wonderful; no boulevard in the world, I am sure, is more loved by its
frequenters than the Whitechapel Road, unless it be the High Street,
Islington. Especially is this the case with the girls. There is a
certain working girls' club with which I am acquainted whose members,
when they leave the club at ten, go back every night to the streets
and walk about till midnight; they would rather give up their club
than the street. As for the moral aspect of this roaming about the
streets, that may for a moment be neglected. Consider the situation
from an educational point of view. How long, do you think, does it
take to forget almost all that the boys and girls learned at school?
'The garden,' says one who knows, 'which by daily culture has been
brought into such an admirable and promising condition, is given over
to utter neglect; the money, the time, the labour, bestowed upon it
are lost.' In the first two years after leaving school it is said that
they have forgotten everything. There is, however, it is objected, the
use and exercise of the intellectual faculty. Can that, once taught,
ever be forgotten? By way of reply, consider this case. The other day
twenty young mechanics were persuaded to join a South Kensington
class. Of the whole twenty one only struggled through the course and
passed his examination; the rest dropped off, one after the other, in
sheer despair, because they had lost not only the little knowledge
they had once acquired, but even the methods of application and study
which they had formerly been able to exercise. There are exceptions,
of course; it is computed, in fact, that there are 4 per cent. of
Board School boys and girls who carry on their studies in the evening
schools, but this proportion is said to be decreasing. After thirteen,
no school, no books, no reading or writing, nothing to keep up the old
knowledge, no kind of conversation that stimulates; no examples of
perseverance; in a great many cases no church, chapel, or
Sunday-school; the street for playground, exercise, observation, and
talk; what kind of young men and maidens are we to expect that these
boys and girls will become? If this were the exact, plain, and naked
truth we were in a parlous state indeed. Fortunately, however, there
arc in every parish mitigations, introduced principally by those who
come from the city of Samaria, or it would be bad indeed for the next
generation. There are a few girls' clubs; the church, the chapel, and
the Sunday-school get hold of many children; visiting and kindly
ladies look after others. There are working boys' institutes here and
there, but these things taken together are almost powerless with the
great mass which remains unaffected. The evil for the most part lies
hidden, yet one sometimes lights upon a case which shows that the
results of our own neglect of the children may be such as cannot be
placed on paper for general reading. For instance, on last August Bank
Holiday I was on Hampstead Heath. The East Heath was crowded with a
noisy, turbulent, good-tempered mob, enjoying, as a London crowd
always does, the mere presence of a multitude. There was a little
rough horse-play and the exchange of favourite witticisms, and there
was some preaching and a great singing of irreverent parodies; there
was little drunkenness and little bad behaviour except for half a
dozen troops or companies of girls. They were quite young, none of
them apparently over fifteen or sixteen. They were running about
together, not courting the company of the boys, but contented with
their own society, and loudly talking and shouting as they ran among
the swings and merry-go-rounds and other attractions of the fair. I
may safely aver that language more vile and depraved, revealing
knowledge and thoughts more vile and depraved, I have never heard from
any grown men or women in the worst part of the town. At mere
profanity, of course, these girls would be easily defeated by men, but
not in absolute vileness. The quiet working men among whom they ran
looked on in amazement and disgust; they had never heard anything in
all their lives to equal the abomination of these girls' language.
Now, they were girls who had all, I suppose, passed the third or
fourth standard. At thirteen they had gone into the workshop and the
street. Of all the various contrivances to influence the young not one
had as yet caught hold of them; the kerbstone and the pavements of the
street were their schools; as for their conversation, it had in this
short time developed to a vileness so amazing. What refining
influence, what trace of good manners, what desire for better things,
what self-restraint, respect, or government, was left in the minds of
these girls as a part of their education? As one of the bystanders,
himself of the working class, said to me, 'God help their husbands!'
Yes, poverty has many stings; but there can be none sharper than the
necessity of marrying one of these poor neglected creatures.

We do not, therefore, only leave the children without education; we
also leave them, at the most important age, I suppose, of any
namely--the age of early adolescence--without guidance or supervision.
How should we like our own girls left free to run about the streets at
thirteen years of age? Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen--how
can we ever forget this time?--there falls upon boy and girl alike a
strange and subtle change. It is a time when the brain is full of
strange new imaginings, when the thoughts go vaguely forth to unknown
splendours; when the continuity of self is broken, and the lad of
to-day is different from him of yesterday; when the energies, physical
and intellectual, wake into new life, and impel the youth in new
directions. Everyone has been young, but somehow we forget that sweet
spring season. Let us try to remember, in the interests of the
uncared-for youths and girls, the time of glorious dreaming, when the
boy became a man, and stood upon some peak in Darien to gaze upon the
purple isles of life in the great ocean beyond, peopled by men who
were as heroes and by women who were as goddesses. Our own dreaming
was glorified, to be sure, with memories of things we had read; yet,
as we dreamed, so, but without the colour lent to our visions, these
sallow-faced lads, with the long and ugly coats and the round-topped
hats, are dreaming now. For want of our help their dreams become
nightmares, and in their brains are born devils of every evil passion.
And, for the girls, although not all can become so bad as those
foul-mouthed young Bacchantes and raging Mænads of Hamstead Heath, it
would seem as if nothing could be left to them, after the education of
the gutter--nothing at all--of the things which we associate with holy
and gracious womanhood.

Truly, from the moral as well as the educational point of view, here
is a great evil disclosed. There is, however, another aspect of the
question, which must not be forgotten. If we are to hold our place at
the head of the industrial countries of the world, our workmen must
have technical education. But this can only be received by those who
possess already a certain amount of knowledge, and that a good deal
beyond the grasp of a child of thirteen years. How, then, can it be
made to reach those who have lost the whole of what once they knew?

These facts are, I believe, beyond any dispute or doubt. They have
only to be stated in order to be appreciated. They affect not London
only, but every great town. The working men themselves have recognised
the gravity of the situation, and are anxious to provide some remedy.
At Nottingham an address, signed on behalf of the School Board and the
Nottingham Trades Council, has been addressed to the employers of
labour, entreating them to assist in the establishment and maintenance
of remedial measures. At the meeting of the Trades Unions'
representatives held in London last year, two resolutions on the
subject were passed; and the School Boards of London, Glasgow, and
Nottingham are all willing to lend their schools for evening use. For
there is but one thing possible or practical--the evening school, In
Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and Belgium, children are by law
compelled to attend 'continuation' schools until the age of sixteen.
In some places the zeal of the people for education outstrips even the
Government regulations. At the town of Chemnitz, in Saxony, for
example, with a population of 92,000 inhabitants, the Workmen's Union
have started a Continuation school with a far more comprehensive
system of subjects and classes than that provided by legislation. It
is attended by over 2,000 scholars, a very large proportion of the
inhabitants between thirteen and eighteen years of age. There is
nothing possible but the evening school. The children _must_ be sent
to work at thirteen or fourteen; they _must_ work all day; it is only
in the evening school that this education can be carried on, and that
they can be rescued from the contaminations and dangers of the
streets. But two difficulties present themselves. There is no law by
which the children can be compelled to attend the evening school. How,
then, can they be made to come in? And if the rate is now ninepence,
what will it be when to the burden of the elementary school is added
that of the Continuation school?

A scheme has been proposed which has so far met with favour that a
committee, including persons of every class, has been formed to
promote it. Briefly it is as follows:

The Continuation school is to be established in this country. The
difficulties of the situation will be met, not by compelling the
children to attend, but by persuading and attracting them. Much is
hoped from parents' influence now that working men understand the
situation; much may be hoped from the children themselves being
interested, and from others' example. The Continuation school will
have two branches--the recreative and the instructive. And since after
a hard day's work the children must have amusement, play will be found
for them in the shape of 'Rhythmic Drill,' which is defined as
'pleasant orderly movement accompanied by music,' and the instruction
is promised to be conveyed in a more attractive and pleasing manner
than that of the elementary schools. The latter announcement is at
first discouraging, because effective teaching must require
intellectual exercise and application, which may not always prove
attractive. As regards the former, it seems as if the projectors were
really going at last to recognise dancing as one of the most
delightful, healthful, and innocent amusements possible. I am quite
sure that if we can only make up our minds to give the young people
plenty of dancing, they will gratefully, in exchange, attend any
number of science classes. Next, there will be singing--a great deal
of singing, of course, in parts--which will still further lead to that
orderly association of young men and maidens which is so desirable a
thing and so wholesome for the human soul. There will also be classes
in drawing and design--the very commencement of technical instruction
and the necessary foundation of skilled handicraft. There will be for
boys classes in some elementary science bearing on their trade; for
girls there will be lessons in domestic economy and elementary
cooking; and for both boys and girls there will be classes in those
minor arts which are just now coming to the front, such as modelling,
wood-carving, repoussé work, and so forth. In fact, if the children
can only be persuaded to come in, or can be hailed in, from the
streets, there is no end at all to the things which may be taught

As regards the management of these schools, it seems, as if we could
hardly do better than follow the example of Nottingham. Here they have
already five evening schools, and seven working men are appointed
managers for each school. The work is thus made essentially
democratic. These managers have begun by calling upon clergymen,
Sunday-school teachers, employers of labour, leaders of trades unions,
and, one supposes, _pères de famille_ generally, to use their
influence in making children attend these schools. The management of
such schools by the people is a feature of the greatest interest and
importance. As regards the girls' schools, it is suggested that 'lady'
managers should be appointed for each school. Alas! It is not yet
thought possible or desirable that working women should be appointed.
Then follows the question of expense. It cannot be supposed that the
rate-payer is going to look on with indifference to so great an
additional burden as this stupendous work threatens to lay upon him.
But let him rest easy. It is not proposed to add one penny to the
rates. The schools are to cost nothing--a fact which will add greatly
to their popularity and assist their establishment. It is proposed to
pay the necessary expenses of Board School teachers' work there will
be nothing to pay for the use of the buildings--by the Government
grant for drawing and for one other specific class subject. Next, a
small additional grant will be asked for singing, and one for
modelling, carving, or design: the standards must be divided in the
evening schools, and there must be necessarily a more elastic method
of examination adopted for the evening than for the day schools, one
which will be more observant of intelligence than careful of memory
concerning facts. Still, when all the aid that can be expected is got
from the Government grants, the, schools will not be self-supporting.
Here, then, comes in the really novel part of the project. _The rest
must be supplied by voluntary work._ The trained staff of the School
Board teachers will instruct the classes in those subjects required or
sanctioned by the Department for which grants are made; but for all
other subjects--the recreative, the technical, the scientific, the
minor arts, the history, the dancing, and the rest--the schools will
depend wholly upon volunteer teachers.

We must not disguise the audacity of the scheme. There are, I believe,
in London alone 120 schools, for which 2,400 volunteers will be
required. They must not be mere amateurs or kindly, benevolent people,
who will lightly or in a fit of enthusiasm undertake the work, and
after a month or so throw it over in weariness of the drudgery; they
must be honest workers, who will give thought and take trouble over
the work they have in hand, who will keep to their time, stick to
their engagement, study the art of teaching, and be amenable to order
and discipline. Are there so many as 2,400 such teachers to be found
in London, without counting the many thousands wanted for the rest of
the country? It seems a good-sized army of volunteers to raise.

Let us, however, consider. First, there is the hopeful fact that the
Sunday-School Union numbers 12,000 teachers--all voluntary and
unpaid--in London alone. There is, next, another hopeful fact in the
rapid development of the Home Arts Association, which has existed for
no more than a year or two. The teaching is wholly voluntary; and
volunteers are crowding in faster than the slender means of the
Society can provide schools for them to teach in, and the machinery,
materials, and tools to teach with. Even with these facts before us,
the projector and dreamer of the scheme may appear a bold man when he
asks for 2,400 men and women to help him, not in a religious but a
purely secular scheme. Yet it may not appear to many people purely
secular when they remember that he asks for this large army of
unselfish men and women--so unselfish as to give some of their time,
thought, and activity for nothing, not even praise, but only out of
love for the children--from a population of four millions, all of whom
have been taught, and most believe, that self-sacrifice is the most
divine thing that man can offer. To suppose that one in every two
thousand is willing to the extent of an hour or two every week to
follow at a distance the example of his acknowledged Master does not,
after all, seem so very extravagant, For my own part, I believe that
for every post there will be a dozen volunteers. Is that extravagant?
It means no more than a poor 1 per cent, of such distant followers.

Those who go at all among the poor, and try to find out for themselves
something of what goes on beneath the surface, presently become aware
of a most remarkable movement, whispers of which from time to time
reach the upper strata. All over London--no doubt over other great
towns as well, but I know no other great town--there are at this day
living, for the most part in obscurity, unpaid, and in some cases
alone, men and women of the gentle class, among the poor, working for
them, thinking for them, and even in some cases thinking with them.
One such case I know where a gentlewoman has spent the greater part of
her life among the industrial poor of the East End, so that she has
come to think as they think, to look on things from their point of
view, though not to talk as they talk. Some of these men are vicars,
curates, Nonconformist ministers, Roman Catholic clergymen; some of
the women are Roman Catholic sisters and nuns; others are sham nuns,
Anglicans, who seem to find that an ugly dress keeps them more
steadily to their work; others are deaconesses or Bible-women. Some,
again, and it is to these that one turns with the greatest hope--they
may or may not be actuated by religious motives--are bound by no vows,
nor tied to any church. When twenty years ago Edward Denison went to
live in Philpot Lane, he was quite alone in his voluntary work. He had
no companion to try that experiment with him. Now he would be one of
many. At Toynbee Hall are gathered together a company of young and
generous hearts, who give their best without grudge or stint to their
poorer brethren. There are rich men who have retired from the haunts
of the wealthy, and voluntarily chosen to place their homes among the
poor. There are men who work all day at business, and in the evening
devote themselves to the care of working boys; there are women, under
no vows, who read in hospitals, preside at cheap dinners, take care of
girls' clubs, collect rents, and in a thousand ways bring light and
kindness into dark places. The clergy of the Established Church, who
may be regarded as almoners and missionaries of civilization rather
than of religion, seeing how few of the poor attend their services,
can generally command voluntary help when they ask for it. Voluntary
work in generous enterprise is no longer, happily, so rare that men
regard it with surprise; yet it belongs essentially to this century,
and almost to this generation. Since the Reformation the work of
English charity presents three distinct aspects. First came the
foundation of almshouses and the endowment of doles. Nothing, surely,
can be more delightful than to found an almshouse, and to consider
that for generations to come there will be a haven of rest provided
for so many old people past their work. The soul of King James's
confectioner--good Balthazar Sanchez--must, we feel sure, still
contemplate his cottages at Tottenham with complacency; one hopes His
Majesty was not overcharged in the matter of pasties and comfits in
order to find the endowment for those cottages. Even the dole of a few
loaves every Sunday to as many aged poor has its attraction, though
necessarily falling far short of the solid satisfaction to be derived
from the foundation of an almshouse. But the period of almshouses
passed away, and that of Societies succeeded. For a hundred years the
well-to-do of this country have been greatly liberal for every kind of
philanthropic effort. But they have conducted their charity as they
have conducted their business, by drawing cheques. The clergy, the
secretaries, and the committees have done the active work,
administering the funds subscribed by the rich man's cheques. The
system of cheque-charity has its merits as well as its defects,
because the help given does generally reach the people for whom it was
intended. Compared, however, with the real thing, which is essentially
personal, it may be likened unto the good old method--which gave the
rich man so glorious an advantage--of getting into heaven by paying
for masses. Its principal defect is that it keeps apart the rich and
poor, creates and widens the breach between classes, causing those who
have the money to consider that it is theirs by Divine right, and
those who have it not to forget that the origin of wealth is thrift
and patience and energy, and that the way to wealth is always open for
all who dare to enter and to practise these virtues.

It has been reserved for this century, almost for this generation, to
discover that the highest form of charity is personal effort and
self-sacrifice. It has also been reserved for this time to show that
what was only possible in former times for those who were under vows,
so that in old days they man or woman who was moved by the enthusiasm
of humanity put on robe or veil and swore celibacy and obedience, can
really be practised quite as well without religious vows, peculiar
dress, articles of religion, papal allegiance, or anything of the
kind. The doubter, the agnostic, the atheist, may as truly sacrifice
himself and give up his life for humanity as the most saintly of the
faithful. There was an enthusiast fifteen years ago who cheerfully
endured prison and exile, poverty and persecution, for what seemed to
him the one thing in the world desirable and necessary to mankind. I
believe he was an atheist. Then came a time when, for a brief moment,
the dream was realized. And immediately afterwards it crumbled to the
dust. When all was lost, the poor old man arose, and, bareheaded, his
white hair flying behind him in the breeze, this martyr to humanity
mounted a barricade, and stood there until the bullets brought him
death. This is the enthusiasm which may be intensified, disciplined,
and ennobled by religion, but it is independent of religion; it is a
personal quality, like the power of feeling music or writing poetry.
When it is encouraged and developed, it produces men and women who can
only find their true happiness in renouncing all personal ambitions,
and giving up all hopes of distinction. They have hitherto sought the
opportunity of satisfying this instinctive yearning in the Church and
in the convent. They have now found a readier if not a happier way,
with more liberty of action and fewer chains of rule and custom,
outside the Church, as lay-helpers. It seems to me, perhaps because I
am old enough to have fallen under the influence of Maurice's
teaching, that a large part of this voluntary spirit is due to the
writings of that great teacher and his followers. Certainly the
College for Working Men and Women was founded by men of his school,
and has grown and now flourishes exceedingly, and is a monument of
voluntary effort sustained, passing from hand to hand, continually
growing, and always bringing together more and more closely those who
teach and those who are taught. Cheque-charity may harden the heart of
him who gives, and pauperize him who takes. That charity which is
personal can neither harden nor pauperize.

Considering these things, therefore, the impulse to personal effort
which has fallen upon us, the greatness of the work that is to be
done, the simplicity of the means to be employed, and the cooperation
of the better kind of working men themselves, I cannot but think that
the promoters of this scheme have only to hold up their hands in order
to collect as many voluntary teachers as they wish to have.

There is a selfish side to this scheme which ought not to be entirely
overlooked. It is this: The wealth of Great Britain is not, as some
seem to suppose, a gold-mine into which we can dig at pleasure; nor is
it a mine of coal or iron into which we can dig as the demand arises.
Our wealth is nothing but the prosperity of the country, and this
depends wholly on the industry, the patience, and the skill of the
working man; everything we possess is locked up, somehow or other, in
industrial enterprise, or depends upon the success of industrial
enterprise; our railways, our ships, our shares of every kind, even
the interest of our National Debt, depend upon the maintenance of our
trade. The dividends even of gas and water companies depend upon the
successful carrying on of trade and manufactures. We may readily
conceive of a time when--our manufactures ruined by superior foreign
intelligence and skill, our railways earning no profit, our carrying
trade lost, our agriculture destroyed by foreign imports, our farms
without farmers, our houses without tenants--the boasted wealth of
England will have vanished like a splendid dream of the morning, and
the children of the rich will have become even as the children of the
poor; all this may be within measurable distance, and may very well
happen before the death of men who are now no more than middle-aged.
Considering this, as well as the other points in favour of the scheme
before us, it may be owned that it is best to look after the boys and
girls while it is yet time.



Now that the foundations of the Palace are fairly laid, and the walls
of the Great Hall are rapidly rising, and the future existence of this
institution for good or for evil seems assured, it may be permitted to
one who has watched day by day, with the keenest interest, the result
of Sir Edmund Currie's appeals, to offer a few remarks on the manner
in which these appeals have been received, and on the mental attitude
of the public towards the class whom it is desired to befriend.

I. It is, to begin with, highly significant that the recreative side
of the Palace has not been so strongly insisted upon as its
educational side. Is this because the working man, for whom the Palace
is building, has suddenly developed an extraordinary ardour for
education, and a previously unexpected desire for the acquisition of
knowledge in all its branches? Not at all. It is because the
recreative part of the scheme has few attractions for the general
public, and because the educational part, once it began to assume a
practical shape, was seen to possess possibilities which could be
grasped by everyone. Whatever be the future of the Palace as regards
the recreation of the people, one thing is quite clear--that its
educational capacities are almost boundless, and that there will be
founded here a University for the People of a kind hitherto unknown
and undreamed of.

The recreation of the people, in fact, has proved a stumbling-block
rather than an attraction. It is a new idea suddenly presented to
people who have never considered the subject of recreation at all,
save in connection with skittles, so to speak. Now it seems hardly
necessary to erect a splendid palace for the better convenience of the
skittle alley. The objections, in fact, to supporting the scheme on
the ground of its recreative aims show a mixture of prejudice and
ignorance which ought to astonish us were we not daily, in every
business transaction and in every talk with friend or stranger,
encountering, and very likely revealing, the most wonderful prejudice
and ignorance. One should never be surprised at finding great black
patches in every mind.

The black patch which concerns us, in the minds of those who have been
asked to support the People's Palace, is the subject of recreation.
'There are enough music-halls. What have the working classes to do
with recreation? If we give anything for the people it will be for
their improvement, not for their amusement.' To these three objections
all the rest may be reduced. Each objection points to a prejudice of
very ancient standing, or else to a deep-seated ignorance of the whole

To deal with the first. It is assumed that recreation means amusement,
idle and purposeless, if not skittles with beer and tobacco, then the
music-hall with beer and tobacco, the comic man bawling a topical song
and executing the famous clog-dance. If one points out that it is not
amusement that is meant, but recreation, which is explained to mean a
very different thing, while a truer conception of what recreation
really means may be seized, then there remains a rooted disbelief as
to the power of the working man to rise above his beer and skittles.
It is a disbelief not at all based upon familiarity with the manners
and customs of the working man, because the ordinary well-to-do
citizen, however much he may have read of manners and customs in other
countries, is, as a rule, perfectly ignorant and perfectly incurious
as to those of his fellow-countrymen; nor is it based upon the belief
that the working man is imperfect in mind or body; but on an assurance
that the working man will never lift himself to the level of the
higher form of recreation, simply because the ordinary man knows
himself and his own practice. He desires to be amused, and according
to his manner of life he finds amusement in tobacco, reading, cards,
music, or the theatre.

Consider the well-to-do man in pursuit of recreation. He has a club;
he goes to his club every day; perhaps he gets whist there; very
likely he belongs to one of the modern sepulchral places where the
members do not know each other and every man glares at his neighbour.
There is a billiard-table in all clubs as well as a card-room. Apart
from cards and billiards the clubs recognise no form of recreation
whatever. There are not in any club that I know, except the Savage,
musical instruments: if you were to propose to have a piano, and to
sing at it, I suppose the universal astonishment would be too great
for words. At the Arts, I believe, some of the members sometimes hang
up pictures of their own for exhibition and criticism, but at no other
club is there any recognition of Art. There are good libraries at two
or three clubs, but many have none. In fact, the clubs which belong to
gentlemen are organized as if there was no other occupation possible
for civilized people in polite society, except dining, smoking,
reading papers, or playing whist and billiards. The working men who
have recently established clubs of their own in imitation of the
West-End clubs are said to be finding them so dull that, where they
cannot turn them into political organizations, they have tolerated the
introduction of gambling. When clubs were first established gambling
was everywhere the favourite recreation, so that the working men are
only beginning where their predecessors began sixty years ago.

Of all the Arts the average man, be he gentleman or mechanic, knows
none. He has never learned to play any instrument at all; he cannot
use his voice in taking a part, he cannot paint, draw, carve in wood
or ivory, use a lathe, or make anything that the wide world wants to
use. He cannot write poetry, or drama, or fiction; he is no orator; he
plays no games of cards except whist, and no other games at all of any
kind. What can he do? He can practise the trade he has learned, by
which he makes his money. He knows how to convey property, how to buy
and sell stock and shares, how to carry on business in the City. This,
if you please, is all he knows. And when you propose that the working
man shall, have an opportunity of learning and practising Art in any
of its multitudinous varieties, he laughs derisively, because, which
is a very natural and sensible thing to do, he puts himself in that
man's place, and he knows that he would not be tempted to undergo the
drudgery and the drill of learning one of the Arts, even did that Art
appear to him in the form of a nymph more lovely than Helen of Troy.

The second objection belongs to the old order of prejudice. It used to
be assumed that there were two distinct orders of human beings; it was
the privilege of the higher order to be maintained by the labour of
the lower; for the higher order was reserved all the graces,
refinements, and joys of this fleeting life. The lower order were
privileged to work for their betters, and to have, in the brief
intervals between work and sleep, their own coarse enjoyments, which
were not the same as those of the upper class; they were ordained by
Providence to be different, not only in degree, but also in kind. The
privileges of the former class have received of late years many
grievous knocks. They have had to admit into their body, as capable of
the higher social pleasures and of polite culture, an enormous
accession of people who actually work for their own bread--even people
in trade; and it is beginning to be perceived that their
amusements--also, which seems the last straw, their vices--can
actually be enjoyed by the base mechanical sort, insomuch that, if
this kind of thing goes on, there must in the end follow an effacement
of all classes, and the peer will walk arm and arm with the
blacksmith. But class distinctions die hard, and the working men are
not yet all ready for the disciplined recreation which will help to
break down the barriers, and we may not look for this millennium
within the lifetime of living men. It is enough to note that the old
feeling still lingers even among those who, a hundred years ago, when
class distinctions were in their worst and most odious form, would
have been ranked among those incapable of refinement and ignorant of
polite manners.

The third objection, that the people should only be helped in the way
of education and self-improvement, is, at first sight, worthy of
respect. But it involves the theory that it is the duty of the working
man when he has done his day's work to devote his evenings to more
work of a harder kind. There is a kind of hypocrisy in this feeling.
Why should the working man be fired with that ardour for knowledge
which is not expected of ourselves? I look round among my own
acquaintances and friends, and I declare that I do not know a single
household, except where the head of it is a literary man, and
therefore obliged to be always studying and learning, in which the
members spend their evenings after the day's work in the acquisition
of new branches of learning. One may go farther: even of those who
belong to the learned professions, few indeed there are who carry on
their studies beyond the point where their knowledge has a marketable
value. The doctor learns his craft as thoroughly as he can, and, after
he has passed, reads no more than is just necessary to keep his eyes
open to new lights; the solicitor knows enough law to carry on his
business, and reads no more. As for the schoolmaster--who ever heard
of a classical master reading any more Latin and Greek than he reads
with the boys? and who ever heard of a mathematical master keeping up
his knowledge of the higher branches, which put him among the
wranglers of his year, but are not wanted in the school? Even the lads
who have just begun to go into the City, and who know very well that
their value would be enormously increased by a practical and real
knowledge of French, German, or shorthand, will not take the trouble
to acquire it. Yet, with the knowledge of all this, we expect the
working man in his hours of leisure, and after a day physically
exhausting, to sit down and work at something intellectual. There are,
without doubt, some men so strong and so avid of knowledge that they
will do this, but these are not many, and they do not long remain
working men.

The People's Palace offers recreation to all who wish to fit
themselves for its practice and enjoyment. But it is recreation of a
kind which demands skill, patience, discipline, drill, and obedience
to law. Those who master any one of the Arts, the practice of which
constitutes true recreation, have left once and for ever the ranks of
disorder: they belong, by virtue of their aptitude and their
education--say, by virtue of their Election--to the army of Law and
Order. They will not, we may be sure, be recruited from those whom
long years of labour and want of cultivation have tendered stiff of
finger, slow of ear and of eye, impenetrable of brain. We must get
them from the boys and girls. We must be content if the elders learn
to take delight in the hand-work which they cannot execute, the
decorative work which they can never hope wholly to understand, the
music and singing in which they themselves will never take a part.

But they will by no means be left out. They will have the library, the
writing and reading rooms, the conversation and smoking rooms, with
those games of skill which are loved by all men. There will be
entertainments, concerts, and performances for them. And for those who
desire to learn there will be classes, lectures, and lecturers. At the
same time, I do not, I confess, anticipate a rush of young working men
to share in these joys and privileges. This part of the Palace will
grow and develop by degrees, because it is through the boys and girls
that the real work and usefulness of the Palace will be effected, and
not by means of the men. Of course, there will be from the outset a
small proportion capable of rightly using the place. For all these
reasons, it seems as if we may be very well contented that the
recreation part of the scheme has been for the moment kept in the

II. Let us turn to the educational side of the scheme.

When a lad has passed the standards--very likely a bright, clever
little chap, who had passed the sixth and even the seventh standard
with credit--it becomes necessary for him immediately to earn the
greater part of his own living. It is not in the power of his father,
who lives from week to week, or even from day to day, to apprentice
his boys and put them to a trade. They must earn their living at once.
What are they to do?

At the very age when these boys have reached the point when the
intellect, already partly trained and the hand, not yet trained at
all, should begin to work together, they are faced by the terrible
fact--how terrible to them they little know--that they can be taught
no trade. They must go out into the world with a pair of unskilled
hands, and nothing more. Consider. A country lad learns every day
something new; he learns continually by daily practice how to use his
hands and his strength, by the time he is eighteen he has become a
very highly skilled agriculturist; he knows and can do a great many
most useful and necessary things. But the town lad, if he learns no
trade, learns nothing. He will never have any chance in life; he can
never have any chance; he is foredoomed to misery; he will all his
life be a servant of the lowest kind; he will never have the least
independence; he will, in all probability, be one of those who wait
day by day for the chance gifts of Luck. At the best, he can but get
into the railway service, or into some house of business where they
want porters and carriers.

There is, however, a great demand for boys, who can earn five
shillings a week as shop boys, errand boys, and so forth. Our clever
lad, therefore, who has done so well at school, becomes a fruiterer's
lad, cleans out the shop, carries round the baskets, and is generally
useful; he gets a rise in a year or two, to seven shillings and
sixpence; presently he is dismissed to make room for a younger boy who
will take five shillings. Shall we follow the lad farther? If he gets,
as we hope he may, steady employment, we see him next, at the age of
fifteen, marching about the streets in the evening with a girl of the
same age to whom he makes love, and smoking 'fags,' or cigarettes.
There are thousands of such pairs to be seen everywhere; in Victoria
Park on Sundays, or Hampstead Heath on Saturday evenings, every
evening in the great thoroughfares--in Oxford Street as much as in
Whitechapel, in the music-halls and in the public-houses. You may see
them sitting together on doorsteps as well as promenading the
pavement. If there is any way of spending the evenings more
destructive of every good gift and useful quality of manhood and
womanhood than this, I know not what it is. The idleness and
uselessness of it, the precocious abuse of tobacco, the premature and
forced development of the emotions which should belong to love at a
later period, the loss of such intellectual attainments as had already
been acquired, the vacuous mind, the contentment to remain in the
lower depths--in a word, the waste and wanton ruin of a life involved
in such a youth, make the contemplation of this pair the most
melancholy sight in the world. The boy's early cleverness is gone, the
brightness has left his eyes, he reads no more, he has forgotten all
he ever learned, he thinks only now of keeping his berth, if he has
one, or of getting another if he has lost his last. But there is worse
to follow, for at eighteen he will marry the little slip of a girl,
and by the time she is five-and-twenty there will be half a dozen
children born in poverty and privation for a similar life of poverty
and privation, and the hapless parents will have endured all that
there is to be endured from the evils of hunger, cold, starving
children, and want of work.

This couple were thrown together because they were left to themselves
and uncared for; they marry because they have nothing else to think
about; they remain in misery because the husband knows no trade, and
because of mere hands unskilled and ignorant there are already more
than enough.

The Palace is going to take that boy out of the streets: it is going
to remove both from boy and girl the temptation--that of the idle
hand--to go away and get married. It will fill that lad's mind with
thoughts and make those hands deft and crafty.

In other words, the Palace will open a great technical school for all
the trades as well as for all the Arts. It is reckoned that three
years' training in the evenings will give a boy a trade. Once master
of a trade his future is assured, because somewhere in the world there
is always a want of tradesmen of every kind. There may be too many
shoemakers in London while they are wanted in Queensland;
cabinet-makers and carpenters may be overcrowded here, but there are
all the English-speaking countries in the world to choose from.

There can be no doubt that the schools will be crowded. The success of
the schools at the old Polytechnic (where there are 8,000 boys), of
the Whittington Club, of the Finsbury Technical Schools, leave no
doubt possible that the East-End Palace Schools will be crammed with
eager learners. The Palace is in the very heart and centre of East
London, with its two millions, mostly working men; trams, trains, and
omnibuses make it accessible from every part of this vast city--from
Bromley, Bow and Stratford, from Poplar, Stepney and Ratcliff, from
Bethnal Green and Spitalfields. Yet but two or three years, and there
will be 20,000 boys and more flocking to those gates which shut out
the Earthly Hell of ignorance, dependence, and poverty, and open the
doors to the Earthly Paradise of skilled hands and drilled eye, of
plenty and the dignity of manhood. Why, if it were only to stop these
early marriages--if only for the sake of the poor child-mother and the
unborn children doomed, if they see the light, to life-long
misery--one would shower upon the Palace all the money that is asked
to complete it. Think--with every stone that is laid in its place,
with every hour of work that each mason bestows upon its walls, there
is another couple rescued, one more lad made into a man, one more girl
suffered to grow into a woman before she becomes a mother, one more
humble household furnished with the means of a livelihood, one more
unborn family rescued from the curse of hopeless poverty.

The remaining portions of the scheme, with its provision for women as
well as men, its entertainments, its University extension lectures,
reading-rooms, and schools of Art in all its branches, can only be
fully realized when the first generation of these boys has passed
through the technical schools, and they have learned to look upon the
Palace as their own, to consider its halls and cloisters the most
delightful place in the world. And what the Palace may then become,
what a perennial fountain it may prove of all that makes for the
purification and elevation of life, one would fain endeavour to
depict, but may not, for fear of the charge of extravagance.

III. There is one other point which those who have read the
correspondence and comments upon the proposed institution in the
papers have noted with amusement rather than with astonishment. It is
a point which comes out in everything that has been written on the
scheme, except by the actual founders. It is the profound distrust
with which the more wealthy classes regard the working men--not the
poor, so-called, but the working men. They do not seem even to have
begun trusting them: they speak and think of them as if they were
children in leading-strings; as if they were certain to accept with
gratitude whatever gifts may be bestowed upon them, even when they are
safe-guarded and carefully regulated as for mischievous boys; as if
the working men were constantly looking for guidance to the class
which has the money. It is true that the working men are always
looking for guidance, just like the rest of us. 'Lord, send a leader!'
It is the cry of all mankind in all ages. But that the working men
regard the people who live in villas, and are genteel, as possessing
more wisdom than themselves is by no means certain.

This feeling was, of course, most deeply marked when the great Drink
Question arose, as it was bound to arise. We have heard how meetings
were called, and resolutions passed by worthy people against the
admission of intoxicating drinks into the Palace. At one of the
meetings they had the audacity to pass a resolution that 'East London
will never be satisfied until intoxicating drink of any kind is
prohibited in the Palace.' East London! with its thousands of
public-houses! Dear me! Then, if East London passed such a resolution,
its hypocrisy surpasses the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees.
If, however, a little knot of people choose to call themselves East
London, or Babylon, or Rome, and to pass resolutions in the name of
those cities, we can accept their resolutions for what they are worth.
Whether the working man will adopt them and put them into practice is
another matter altogether.

Let us remember, and constantly bear in mind, that the Palace is to be
_governed by the people for themselves_. Otherwise it would be better
for East London that it had never been erected. Whatever we do or
resolve is, in fact, subject to the will of the governing body. As for
passing a resolution on drink for the Palace, we might just as well
resolve that drink shall not be sold to the members of the House of
Commons, and expect them instantly to close their cellars. If the
governing body wish to have drink in the Palace they will have it,
whether we like it or not. But it shows the profound distrust of the
people that these restrictions should be attempted and these
resolutions passed. For my own part, considering the needlessness of
drink in such a place, the abundant facilities provided outside, and
the enormous additional trouble, danger, and expense entailed by
letting drink be sold in a place where there will be every evening
thousands of young people, I am quite sure that the governing
body--that is to say, the chosen representatives of East London--will
never admit it within their walls.

We do not trust the working man. We have given over to him the whole
of the power. All the power there is we have given to him, because he
stands in an enormous majority. We have made him absolute master of
this realm of Great Britain and Ireland. What could we do more for a
man whom we blindly and implicitly trusted? Yet the working man, for
whom we have done so much, we have not yet begun to trust.


On Saturday afternoon, when the last of the clerks bangs the great
door behind him and steps out of the office on his way home; when the
shutters of the warehouses are at last all closed; there falls upon
the street a silence and loneliness which lasts from three o'clock on
Saturday till eight o'clock on Monday--a sleep unbroken for forty-one
long hours. In the main arteries, it is true, there is always a little
life; the tramp of feet never ceases day or night in Fleet Street or
Cheapside. But in all the narrow streets branching north and south,
east and west, of the great thoroughfares there is silence--there is
sleep. This Sabbath of forty hours' duration is absolutely
unparalleled in any other City of the world. There is no other place,
there never has been any other place, in which not only work ceases,
but where the workers also disappear. In that far-off City of the
Rabbis called Sambatyon, where live the descendants of the Ten Tribes,
the river which surrounds and protects the City with its broad and
mighty flood, too strong for boats to cross, ceases to flow on the
Sabbath; but it is not pretended that the people cease to live there.
Of no other City can it be said that it sleeps from Saturday night
till Monday morning.

An attempt is made to awaken the City every Sunday morning when the
bells begin to ring, and there is as great and joyful a ringing from
every church tower or steeple as if the bells were calling the
faithful, as of old, by the hundred thousand; they go on ringing
because it is their duty; they were hung up there for no other
purpose; hidden away in the towers, they do not know that the people
have all gone away, and that they ring to empty houses and deserted
streets. For there is no response. At most one may see a solitary
figure dressed in black stuff creeping stealthily along like a ghost
on her way from the empty house to the empty church. When the bells
leave off silence falls again, there is no one in the street. One's
own footsteps echo from the wall; we walk along in a dream; old words
and old rhymes crowd into the brain. It is a dead City--a City newly
dead--we are gazing upon the dead.

  Life and thought have gone away
    Side by side.
  All within is dark as night.
  In the windows is no light;
  And no murmur at the door
  So frequent on its hinge before.

Silence everywhere. The blinds are down in every window of the tall
stack of offices, the doors are all closed, if there are shutters they
are up, there are no carte in the streets, no porters carry burdens,
there are no wheelbarrows, there is no more work done of any kind or
sort. Even the taverns and the eating-shops are shut--no one is
thinking of work. To-morrow--Monday--poverty will lift again his cruel
arm, and drive the world to work with crack of whip. The needle-woman
will appear again with her bundle of work; the porters, the packers,
the carmen, the clerks, the merchants themselves will all come
back--the vast army of those who earn their daily bread in the City
will troop back again. But as for to-day, nobody works; we are all at
rest; we are at peace; we are taking holiday.

This is the day--this is the time--for those who would study the City
and its monuments. It is only on this day, and at this time, that the
churches are all open. It is only on this day, and at this time, that
a man may wander at his ease and find out how the history of the past
is illustrated by the names of the streets, by the houses and the
sites, and by the few old things which still remain, even by the old
things, names and all, which have perished. The area of the City is
small; its widest part, from Blackfriars to the Tower, is but a single
mile in length, and its greatest depth is no more that half a mile But
it is so crowded and crammed full of sites sacred to this or that
memory of its long life of two thousand busy years, there is so much
to think of in every street, that a pilgrim may spend all his Sunday
mornings for years and never get to the end of London City. I should
hardly like to say how many Sunday mornings I have myself spent in
wandering about the City, Yet I can never go into it without making
some new discovery. Only last week, for instance, I discovered in the
very midst of the City, in its most crowded part, nothing less than a
house--with a private garden. I had thought that the last was
destroyed about four years ago when they pulled down a certain noble
old merchant's mansion, No, there is one other stall left; perhaps
more. There are gardens, I know, belonging to certain Companies'
Halls; there is the ivy-planted garden of Amen Court; there are
burying-grounds laid out as gardens; but this is the only house I know
in the City which has a private garden at the back. One must not say
where it is, otherwise that garden will be seized and built upon. This
the owner evidently fears, for he has surrounded it by a high wall, so
that no one shall be able to seize it, no rich man shall covet it, and
offer to buy it and build great warehouses upon it, and the
underground railway shall not dig it out and swallow it up.

In such journeyings and wanderings one must not go with an empty mind,
otherwise there will be neither pleasure nor profit. The traveller,
says Emerson, brings away from his travels precisely what he took
there. Not his mind but his climate, says Horace, does he change who
travels beyond the seas. In other words, if a man who knows nothing of
archæology goes to see a collection of flint implements, or a person
ignorant of art goes to see a picture gallery, he comes away as
ignorant as he went, because flint implements by themselves, or
pictures by themselves, teach nothing. They can teach nothing. So, if
a man who knows nothing of history should stand before Guildhall on
the quietest Sunday in the whole year he will see nothing but a
building, he will hear nothing but the fluttering wings of the
pigeons. And if he wanders in the streets he will see nothing but tall
and ugly houses, all with their blinds pulled down. Before he goes on
a pilgrimage in the City he must first prepare his mind by reading
history. This is not difficult to find. If he is in earnest he will
get the great 'Survey of London,' by Strype and Stow, published in the
year 1720 in two folio volumes. If this is too much for him, there are
Peter Cunningham, Timbs, Thornbury, Walford, Hare, Loftie, and a dozen
others, all of whom have a good deal to tell him, though there is
little to tell, save a tale of destruction, after Strype and Stow.

Thus, before he begins he should learn something of Roman London,
Saxon London, Norman London, of London medieval, London under the
Tudors, London of the Stuarts, and London of the Georges. He should
learn how the municipality arose, gaining one liberty after another,
and letting go of none, but all the more jealously guarding each as a
sacred inheritance; how the trade of the City grew more and more; how
the Companies were formed, one after the other, for the protection of
trade interests. Then he should learn how the Sovereign and great
nobles have always kept themselves in close connection with the City,
even in the proudest times of the Barons, even in the days when the
nobles were supposed to have most despised the burgesses and the men
of trade. He should learn, besides, how the City itself, its houses,
and its streets, grew and covered up the space within the wall, and
spread itself without; he should learn the meaning of the names--why
one street is called College Hill and another Jewry and another
Minories. Armed with such knowledge as this, every new ramble will
bring home to him more and more vividly the history of the past. He
will never be solitary, even at noon on Sunday morning even in Suffolk
Street or Pudding Lane, because all the streets will be thronged with
figures of the dead, silent ghosts haunting the scenes where they
lived and loved and died, and felt the fierce joys of venture, of
risk, and enterprise.

But let no man ramble aimlessly. It is pleasant, I own, to wander from
street to street idly remembering what has happened here; but it is
more profitable to map out a walk beforehand, to read up all that can
be ascertained about it before sallying forth, and to carry a notebook
to set down the things that may be observed or discovered.

Or, which is another method, he may consider the City with regard to
certain divisions of subjects. He may make, for instance, a special
study of the London churches. The City, small as it is, formerly
contained nearly 150 parishes, each with its church, its
burying-ground, and its parish charities. Some of these were not
rebuilt after the Great Fire, some have been wickedly and wantonly
destroyed in these latter days. A few yet survive which were not
burned down in that great calamity. These are St. Helen and St.
Ethelburga; St. Katherine Cree, the last expiring effort of Gothic,
consecrated by Archbishop Laud; All Hallows, Barking, and St. Giles.
Most of the existing City churches were built by Wren, as you know. I
think I have seen them nearly all, and in every one, however
externally unpromising, I have found something curious, Interesting,
and unexpected--some wealth of wood-carving, some relic of the past
snatched from the names, some monument, some association with the
medieval city.

Of course, it is well to visit these churches on the Saturday
afternoon or Monday morning, when they are swept before and after the
service; but as one is never quite certain of finding them open, it
is, perhaps, best to take them after service on the Sunday. If you
show a real interest in the church, you will find the pew-opener or
verger pleased to let you see everything, not only the monuments and
the carvings in the church, but also the treasures of the vestry, in
which are preserved many interesting things--old maps, portraits, old
deeds and gifts, old charities--now all clean swept away by the
Charity Commission--ancient Bibles and Prayer-books, muniment chests,
embroidered palls, old registers with signatures historical--all these
things are found in the vestry of the City church.

Then there are the churchyards. We are familiar with the little oblong
area open to the street, surrounded by tall warehouses, one tomb left
in the middle, and three headstones ranged against the wall, patches
of green mould to represent grass, and a litter of scraps of paper and
orange-peel. This is fondly believed to be the churchyard of some old
church burned down or rebuilt. There are dozens of these in the City;
it is sometimes difficult to find out the name of the church to which
they once belonged. Every time a building is erected adjacent to them
they become smaller, and when they happened to lie behind the houses
they were shut in and forgotten, covered over and built upon when
nobody was looking, and so their very memory perished.

It is curious to look for them. For instance, there is a certain great
burying ground laid down in Strype's map of the year 1720. It is there
represented as so large that to cover it up would be a big thing. No
single man would dare to appropriate all at once so huge a slice of
land. I went, therefore, in search of this particular churchyard, and
I found a very curious thing. On one side of the ground stands a great
printing office. As the gate was open I walked in. At the back of the
printing office is a flagged court or yard. In the court the boys--it
was the dinner hour--were leaping and running. Not one of them knows
now that he is running and jumping over the bones of his ancestors. It
is clean forgotten that here was a great churchyard. Another great
burying ground long since built over lay at the back of Botolph's Lane
in Thames Street. That is built over and forgotten. There is another
where lies the dust of the marvellous boy Chatterton. I am due that of
the thousands who every day seek this spot not one can tell or
remember that it was once a burying ground. On this spot the paupers
of the parish of St. Andrew's, Holborn, were buried--Chatterton, that
poor young pauper! with them. And it is now a market, Farringdon
Market--close to Farringdon Street--opposite the site of the Old Fleet
Prison whence came so many of the bodies which now lie beneath these

Or, a pilgrim may consider the City with special reference to the
great Houses which formerly stood within its walls. There were palaces
in the City--King Athelstan had one; King Richard II. lived for a time
in the City; Richard III. lived here; Henry V. had a house here. Of
the great nobles, the Beaumonts, Scropes, Arundells, Bigods all had
houses. The names of Worcester House, Buckingham House, Hereford
House, suggest the great Lords who formerly lived here. And the names
of Crosby Hall, Basinghall, Gresham House, College Hill, recall the
merchants who built themselves palaces and entertained kings.

Again, there are the City Companies and their Halls. Very few visitors
ever make the round of the Halls: yet they are most curious, and
contain treasures great and various. It is not always easy to see
these treasures, but the conscientious pilgrim, who, by the way, must
not seek entrance into these Halls on the Sunday morning, will
persevere until he has managed to see them all.

As for the sights of the City--the things which Baedeker enumerates,
and which foreign and country visitors run to see--the Tower, the
Monument, the Guildhall, the Mansion House, the Royal Exchange, the
Mint, St. Paul's, and the rest, I say nothing, because the pilgrim
does not waste his Sunday morning over things to be seen as well on
any other day. But there are some things to be seen every day which
are best approached on Sunday, by reason of the peace which prevails
and a certain solemnity in the air. I would, for instance, choose to
visit the Charter House on a Sunday morning, I would sit with the
Pensioners in their quiet chapel, and I would stroll about the
peaceful courts of that holy place, venerable not only for its history
but for the broken and ruined lives--often ruined only in purse, but
rich in honour and in noble record--of the fifty bedesmen or
pensioners who rest there in the evening of their days. And quite
apart from its associations, I know no more beautiful place in the
City or anywhere else than the ancient Charter House.

Again, we may wander in the City and remember the great men who have
made certain streets for ever famous. Thus, to stand in Bread Street
is to think of Milton. Here he was born, here he was baptized, here
for a time he lived. Or we may visit Blackfriars and remember the
Elizabethan dramatists. Here Shakespeare had a house--it was among the
ruins of old Blackfriars Abbey, part of the foundations of which were
found when some years ago they made an extension of the Times'
printing office. Broad Street recalls the memory of Gresham, while
that of Whittington lingers along Thames Street and College Hill and
clings to St. Michael's Church. In that parish he lived and died. Here
he founded the College of the Holy Spirit which still exists in the
Highgate Almshouses; on its site the boys of Mercers School now study
and play. His tomb was burned in the Great Fire and his ashes
scattered, but the very streets preserve his name. Boas Alley, of
which there are two, records the fact that Whittington brought a
conduit or Boss of fresh water to this spot. It was he who paved
Guildhall, he who built a hall for the Grey Friars, now the Blue Coat
School, he who rebuilt Newgate; of all the merchants who have adorned
the great City not one whose memory is so widely spread and whose
example has so long survived his death. When country boys think of the
City of London they still think of Whittington.

Perhaps you are afraid that the preparation, the reading, for such a
walk about the City would be dull. I have never found it so. I do not
think that anyone who has the least love for, or knowledge of, old
things would find such reading dull. There are, to be sure, some
unhappy creatures who love nothing but what is new, and esteem
everything for what it will fetch. These are the people who are always
trying to pull down the City churches. They are at this very moment
pulling down another, the poor old church of St. Mary Magdalen. The
tower is down, the roof is off the windows are all broken, in a week
or two the church will be razed to the ground, and in a year or two
its very memory will have perished. Why, we vainly ask, do they pull
it down? What harm has the old church done? To be sure its
congregation numbered less than a dozen, but then we must not estimate
an old church by a modern congregation. There has been a church here
from time immemorial. It is mentioned in the year 1120. It was,
therefore, certainly a Saxon church. Edward the Confessor probably
worshipped here--perhaps King Alfred himself. One of its Rectors was
John Carpenter, executor of Whittington, and founder of the City of
London School; another was Barham, author of the 'Ingoldsby Legends.'
The loss of St. Mary Magdalen is one more link with the past
absolutely destroyed, never to be replaced. These destroyers, for
instance, are the kind of people who pulled down Sion College. As
often as I pass the spot where that place once stood I mourn and
lament its loss more and more. It was the college of the City clergy,
they were its guardians, it was their library, it contained their
reading hall; formerly it held their garden, and it had their
almshouses. There was hardly any place in the City more peaceful or
more beautiful than the long narrow room which held their library. It
was a very ancient site--formerly the site of Elsing's Hospital, the
oldest hospital in the whole City. Everything about it was venerable,
and yet the City clergy themselves--its official guardians--sold it
for what it would fetch, and stuck up the horrid thing on the
embankment which they call Sion College. There they still use the old
seal and arms of the college. But there is no more a Sion
College--that is gone. You cannot replace it. You might as well tear
down King's College Chapel at Cambridge and call Dr. Parker's City
Temple by that honoured and ancient name. Well, for such people as the
majority of the City clergy who can do such things, there can be no
voice or utterance at all from ancient stones, the past can have no
lessons, no teachings for them, there can be no message to them from
the dead who should still live for them in memory and association. For
them the ancient City and its citizens are dumb.

Now that we know what to expect and what to look for, let us take
together a Sunday morning ramble in a certain part of the City. We
will go on a morning in early summer, when the leaves of those trees
which still stand in the old City churchyards are bright with their
first tender green, and when the river, as we catch glimpses of it,
shows a broad surface of dancing waves across to the stairs and barges
of old Southwark. We will take this walk at the quietest hour in the
whole week, between eleven and twelve. All the churches are open for
service. We will look in noiselessly, but, indeed, we shall find no
congregations to disturb, only, literally, two or three gathered

I will take you to the very heart of the City. Perhaps you have
thought that the heart of the City is that open triangular space faced
by the Royal Exchange, and flanked by the Bank of England and the
Mansion House. We have taught ourselves to think this, in ignorance of
the City history. But a hundred and fifty years ago there was no
Mansion House, three hundred years ago there was no Royal Exchange,
and the Bank of England itself is but a mushroom building of the day
before yesterday.

In the long life of London--it covers two thousand years--the chief
seat of its trade, the chief artery of its circulation, has been
Thames Street. Along here for seventeen hundred years were carried on
the chief events in the drama which we call the History of London. Its
past origin, its growth and expansion, are indicated along this line.
Here the City merchants of old--Whittingtons, Fitzwarrens, Sevenokes,
Greshams--thronged to do their business. To these wharves came the
vessels laden from Antwerp, Hamburg, Riga, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Venice,
Genoa, and far-off Smyrna and the Levant. This line stretches across
the whole breadth of the City. It indicates the former extent of the
City, what was behind it originally was the mass of houses built to
accommodate those who could no longer find room on the riverside. It
is now a narrow, dark, and dirty street; its south side is covered
with quays and wharves; narrow lanes lead to ancient river stairs; its
north side is lined with warehouses, the streets which run out of it
are also dark and narrow lanes with offices on either side. It is no
longer one of the great arteries of the City. Those who come here use
it not for a thoroughfare but for a place of business. When their
business is done they go away; the churches, of which there were once
so many, are more deserted here than in any other part of the City Let
me give you a little--a very little--of its history.

Two thousand years ago, or thereabouts, the City of London was first
begun. At that time the Thames valley, where now stands Greater
London, was a vast morass, sometimes flooded at high tide, everywhere
low and swampy, studded with islands or bits of ground rising a few
feet above the level--such was Thorney Island, on which Westminster
Abbey was built; such was the original site of Chelsea and Battersea.

On the south side the swamp and low ground continued until the ground
began to rise for the first low Surrey Hills at what is now called
Clapham Rise. On the north side the swamp was bordered by a
well-defined cliff from ten to thirty or forty feet high, which
followed a curve, approaching the river edge from the east till it
reached where is now Tower Hill, where it nearly touched the water,
and the spot now called Dowgate--a continuation of Walbrook
Street--where the river actually washed its base, and where it
presented two little hillocks side by side, with the
brook--Walbrook--running into the river between. This was a natural
site for a town--two hills, a tidal river in front, a freshwater
stream between. Here was a spot adapted both for fortification and for
communication with the outer world. Here, then, the town began to be
built. How the trade began I cannot tell you, but it did begin, and
grew very rapidly, Now, as it grew it became necessary for the people
to stretch out and expand; there was no longer any room on the two
hillocks; they, therefore, built a strong wall to keep out the river
and put up houses, quays, and store-houses above and along this
wall--portions of which have been found quite recently. The river once
kept out--although the cliff receded again--the marsh became dry land,
but, in fact, the cliff receded a very little way, and the slopes of
the streets north of Thames Street show exactly how far it went back.
Many hundreds of years later precisely the same course was adopted for
the rescue of Wapping from the marsh in which it stood. They built a
strong river wall, and Wapping grew up on and behind that wall, just
exactly as London itself had done long before.

The citizens of London had, from a very early time, their two ports of
Billingsgate and Queenhithe, both of them still ports. They had also
their communication with the south by means of a ferry, which ran from
the place now called the Old Swan Stairs to a port or dock on the
Surrey side, still existing, afterwards called St. Mary of the Ferry,
or St. Mary Overies. The City became rapidly populous and full of
trade and wealth. Vast numbers of ships came yearly, bringing
merchandise, and taking away what the country had to export. Tacitus,
writing in the year 61, says that the City then was full of merchants
and their wares. It is also certain that the Londoners, who have
always been a pugnacious and a valiant folk, already showed that side
of their character, for we learn that, shortly before the landing of
Julius Cæsar, they had a great battle in the Middlesex Forest with the
people of Verulam, now St Albans. The Verulamites had reason to repent
of their rashness in coming out to meet the Londoners, for they were
routed with great slaughter, and never ventured on another trial of
strength. As for the site of the battle, it has been pretty clearly
demonstrated by Professor Hales that it took place close to Parliament
Hill, at Hampstead, and the barrow on the newly acquired part of the
Heath probably marks the burial-place of the forgotten heroes who
perished on that field. And as for the Londoners who fought and won,
let us remember that they came from this part of the modern City--from
Thames Street.

The town was walled between the years 350 and 369. The building of the
Roman wall has determined down to these days the circuit of the City.
Now, here a very curious and suggestive point has been raised. In or
near all other Roman towns are remains of amphitheatres, theatres and
temples. There is an amphitheatre near Rutupiæ, the present
Richborough; everybody knows the amphitheatres of Nîmes, Arles and
Verona; but in or near London there have never been found any traces
of amphitheatres or temples whatever. Was the City then, so early,
Christian? Observe, again, that the earliest churches were dedicated,
not to British saints, or to the saints and martyrs of the second or
third centuries--the centuries of persecution--but to the Apostles
themselves--to St. Peter, St. Paul, St. James, St. Stephen, St. Mary,
St. Philip. These facts, it is thought, seem to indicate that very
early in the history of the City its people were Christians. When the
Roman wall was built, Thames Street already possessed most of the
streets which you now see branching northward up the hill, and south
to the river stairs, the space beyond was occupied by villas and
gardens, and the life of the merchants and Roman officers who lived in
them was as luxurious as wealth and civilization could make it.

You now understand why I have called Thames Street the heart of the
City. It was the first part built and settled, the first cradle of the
great trade of England. More than this, it continued to be the thief
centre of trade; its wharves received the imports and exports; its
warehouses behind stored them; its streets which ran up the sloping
ground grew with the growth of the trade; new streets continually
sprang up until villas and gardens were gradually built over and the
whole area was covered; but all sprang in the first place from Thames
Street; everything grew out of the trade carried on along the river.
We are going to walk through all the five riverside wards belonging to
this street. There are one or two things to note in advance, if only
to show how this quarter remained the most populous and the most busy
part of London. The City of London has eighty companies. Forty of
these have--or had--Halls of their own. Out of the forty Halls no
fewer than twenty-two belong to these five wards, while one company,
the Fishmongers', had at one time six Halls, or places of meeting, in
and about Thames Street. Again, the City of London formerly had about
150 churches. Along the river, that is, in and about Thames Street
alone, there were at least twenty-four, or one-sixth of the whole
number. Lastly, to show the estimation in which this part was held,
out of the great houses formerly belonging to the King and nobles,
those of Castle Baynard, Cold Harbour, the Erber, Tower Royal, and the
King's Wardrobe belong to Thames Street, while the names of Beaumont,
Scrope, Derby, Worcester, Burleigh, Suffolk, and Arundell connect
houses in the five wards of Thames Street with noble families, in the
days when knights and nobles rode along the street, side by side with
the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City.

In Thames Street are the ancient markets of Billingsgate and
Queenhithe. The former has been a market and a port for more than a
thousand years. Customs and tolls were paid here in the time of King
Ethelred the Second, that is, in the year 979. The exclusive sale of
fish here is comparatively modern, that is, it is not three hundred
years old. As for Queenhithe it is still more ancient than
Billingsgate. Its earliest name was Edred Hithe, that is, Edred's
wharf. It was given by King Stephen to the Convent of the Holy
Trinity. It returned, however, to the Crown, and was given by King
Henry III. to the Queen Eleanor, whence it was called the Queen's Bank
or Queenhithe. On the west side of Queenhithe lived Sir Richard
Gresham, father of Sir Thomas Gresham, in a great house that had
belonged to the Earls and Dukes of Norfolk.

The splendid building of the Custom House on the south side is the
fifth Custom House that has been put up on the same spot. The first
was built by one John Churchman, Sheriff in the year 1385; the next in
the reign of Queen Elizabeth--it was furnished with high-pitched
gables and a water gate, this was burned down in the Great Fire. Wren
built the third, which was burned down in 1718; one Ripley built the
fourth, which was also burned down in 1814. The present building was
designed by David Laing and cost nearly half a million.

Until quite recently a little narrow and dirty passage to the river,
known as Coldharbour Lane, commemorated the site of a great Palace,
known as the Cold Harbour, which stood here overlooking the river with
many gables. It was already standing in the reign of Edward II. It
belonged successively to Sir John Poultney; to John Holland, Duke of
Exeter--that Duke who was buried in St. Katherine's Hospital; to Henry
V., who lived here for a brief period when Prince of Wales; to Richard
III.; to the College of Heralds; and to Henry VIII. Finally, it was
burned in the Great Fire, but during the last hundred years of its
life the old Palace fell into decay and was let out in tenements to
poor people. The City Brewery now stands on the site of Cold Harbour.

Close beside this great house--the site itself now entirely covered by
the railway--was the Steelyard. This was the centre of the German
trade; here the merchants of the Hanseatic League were permitted to
dwell and to store the goods which they imported. The history of the
German merchants in London is a very important chapter in that of
London. They came here in the year 1250, they formed a fraternity of
their own, living together, by Royal permission, in a kind of college,
with a great and stately hall, wharves, quays, and square courts. The
building is represented, before it was burned down in the Great Fire,
as picturesque, with many gables crowded together like the whole of
London. Their trade was extremely valuable to them; they imported
Rhenish wines, grain of all kinds, cordage and cables, pitch, tar,
flax, deal timber, linen fabrics, wax, steel, and many other things.
They obtained concession after concession until practically they
enjoyed a monopoly. For this they had to pay certain tolls or duties.
They were made, for instance, to maintain one of the City gates. They
were compelled to live together in their own quarters. Their monopoly
lasted for 300 years, during which the London merchants, especially
the Association called Merchant Adventurers, who belonged principally
to the Mercers' Company, continued to besiege the Sovereign with
petitions and complaints. It was not until the reign of Queen
Elizabeth that they were finally turned out and expelled the Kingdom.
Their house and grounds were converted into a store-house for the
Royal Navy. At the same time the old Navy Office, which had formerly
stood in Mark Lane, was transferred to the suppressed college and
chapel belonging to All Hallows, Barking, in Seething Lane, where you
may still see, if you go to look for them, the old stone pillars of
the gates and the old courtyard which was originally the court of the
college, then the court of the Navy Office, and now the court of the
warehouse belonging to the London Docks. As for the unfortunate
Steelyard, that, as I said, is now completely covered by the Cannon
Street Railway. As you walk under the railway arch you may now look
southward and say, 'Here for 300 years lived the Hanseatic
merchants--here the fraternity had their warehouses, their exchange,
their great Hall. Here the German porters loaded and cleared the
ships, the German clerks took notes and kept accounts, and the German
merchants bought and sold.' They ventured not far from their own
place; the Londoners have never loved foreigners or the sound of an
unknown language; they lived here making money as fast as they could
and then going home to Lubeck, Bremen, or Hamburg, others coming to
take their place.

On Dowgate Hill was another famous old house called the Erber--which
is, I suppose, the same word as Harbour. It belonged at successive
periods to Lord Scroope, the Earl of Warwick, the Earl of Salisbury,
and to George, Duke of Clarence. This house, too, perished in the
Fire. In this street Sir Francis Drake lived, and here are now three
Companies' Halls. Close by, on Laurence Poultney Hill, lived Dr.
William Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the blood.

In Suffolk Lane the Earls of Suffolk had a great house, and here,
before they moved to Charter House, stood the Merchant Taylors'
School. Three Companies had their Halls on the riverside--the
Watermen's at the bottom of Cold Harbour Lane; the Dyers' at the
bottom of Angel Alley; and the Vintners' which still stands close to
Southwark Bridge.

Nearly at the end of the street was Baynard's Castle. You may still
see the name on the gate of a wharf, and it also gives its name to the
ward. This was the western fortress of the City, just as the Tower was
the eastern; but with this difference, that Castle Baynard belonged to
the City during the troubled time when the Crown and the City were
constantly in conflict. The Tower, on the other hand, always belonged
to the Crown. Baynard's Castle belonged, in fact, to the FitzWalters,
hereditary barons of the City. One of their functions was at the
outbreak of a war to appear at the west door of St. Paul's, armed and
mounted, with twenty attendants, there to receive from the Lord Mayor
the banner of the City, a horse worth £20, and £20 in money. Finally,
the castle became, I do not know how, Crown property. It was burned to
the ground, but rebuilt by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Within this
castle the Duke of Buckingham offered the Crown to Richard III., and
here the Privy Council proclaimed Queen Mary. The castle afterwards
fell into the hands of the Earls of Shrewsbury. It was destroyed in
the Great Fire. It consisted of two courts: the south front of the
buildings faced the river, the north front, with the principal
entrance, was in Thames Street.

In more ancient times there stood a tower west of Baynard's Castle
called Montfichet, but of this building very few memorials remain.
Again, there is said to have been a palace on Addle Hill, built by
Athelstan. The Wardrobe was another great house acquired by King
Edward III., close to the church still called St. Andrew's by the
Wardrobe. The memory of this house is still kept up by that very
interesting little square, which looks exactly like a place in a
southern French town, called Wardrobe Place. One of the court offices
was that of Master of the Wardrobe. In old days he resided in this
house and actually did take care of the King's clothes. The Queen's
wardrobe, on the other hand, was kept in the other royal house, called
Tower Royal, the house still surviving in the street so-called. This
was formerly King Stephen's palace. In the year 1331 it was granted by
the King to his Queen Philippa for her wardrobe. It was then called
'La Réal,' without the addition of the word 'tower,' and the meaning
and origin of the name are unknown. The palace stood in the parish of
St. Thomas Apostle, the church of which was not rebuilt after the
Fire; but the name of the church survives in a small fragment of the
street so-called.

There were, therefore, in this small bit of London, at least four
royal palaces, besides the great houses of the nobles that I have
enumerated. Half the City companies had their Halls here; and even to
this day there are standing here and there one or two of the solid
houses built by the merchants in the narrow streets north of Thames
Street for their private residences. As late as the beginning of the
present century the house now called the 'Shades,' close to the Swan
Stairs, London Bridge, was built for his own town house by Lord Mayor
Garratt, who laid the foundation stone of London Bridge. Of the old
merchants' houses, rich with carved woodwork, built with black timber
round courts and gardens, not one now remains in the City. But there
are one or two remaining in the old inns of Southwark and the Old Bell
Inn, Holborn, Yet the last great house built in the City, the Mansion
House, was itself originally built round a court.

       *       *       *       *       *

You may, if you try, reconstruct Thames Street as it was before the
Fire. Its breadth was exactly the same as at present. Eight stately
churches stood, each with its own burial-ground, along the street. The
palace of Baynard reared its gables on the right as you entered the
street from the west. Lower down, on the same side, stood the great
House of Cold Harbour, also gabled. The low-gabled warehouses stood
round Queenhithe and Billingsgate; the Custom House was thronged with
those who came to pay their tolls and clear their dues; the broad
court of the Steelyard--covered with boxes, bales, and casks, some
exposed, some under sheds--stretched southward, behind its three great
gates. On the river-side stood its stately Hall. The Halls of the
Companies, great and noble houses, proclaimed the wealth and power of
the merchants. On the north side stood the merchants' houses built
round their gardens. In those days they had no country houses, and
they wanted none. They could carry their falcons out into the fields
which began on the other side of the City wall, or across the river in
the low-lying lands of Bermondsey and Redriffe. The street was already
crammed and thronged with porters, carts, and wheelbarrows; it was
full of noise; there were sailors and merchants from foreign parts.
Already the Levantine was here, lithe and supple, black of eye, ready
of tongue, quick with his dagger; and the Italian, passionate and
eager; and the Spaniard, the Fleming, the Frenchman, and the Dutchman.
All nations were here, as now, but they were then kept on board their
ships or in their own quarters by night. The great merchants walked up
and down, conversing, heedless of the noise, to which their ears were
so accustomed as to be deaf to them. The merchants had reason to be
grave. Always there were wars and rumours of wars; always some pirate
from French shores was attacking their ships; their latest venture was
too often overdue--the ship had to run the gauntlet of the Algerian
galleys, and no one could tell what might have happened; there was
plague at Antwerp--it might be lurking in the bales lying on the quay
before them; there was civil war brewing; fortune is fickle--he who
was rich yesterday may be a beggar to-morrow. Merchants, in those
days, did well to be grave.

I have considered, so far, some of the great houses standing in or
along this historic street. Let us now note a few of the churches.

All Hallows, Barking, the first walking from the east, commemorates in
its name the fact that it formerly belonged to the great convent of
Barking in Essex, the gateway of which still stands at the entrance to
the churchyard. This church escaped the Fire. Here was buried the poet
Surrey, Bishop Fisher, and Archbishop Laud.

In the church of St. Magnus, London Bridge, the remains of Miles
Coverdale, the translator of the Bible, rest: they were removed here
from the Church of St. Bartholomew when it was pulled down to make
more room for the Bank of England. This church has perhaps the finest
tower, lantern, and steeple of all the City churches, in front is a
small court planted with trees, whose foliage is strangely refreshing
in early summer down in this dark place almost below the approach to
the bridge. The church itself is fine but not very interesting. I have
sometimes counted as many as ten present at the Sunday morning

St. Michael's, Tower Royal, is Whittington's church. In this parish he
lived, though a house was long shown as his in Hart Street; here he
died; in this church he was buried--behind this church stood his
College of the Holy Spirit with its bedesmen and its ecclesiastical
staff. If we pass the church and look in at the gateway on the north,
we shall notice unmistakable signs of an ancient collegiate foundation
in the disposition of the modern houses. Here is now the Mercers'
School. In the church there is no adequate monument to the memory of
London's greatest merchant--the man who did so much for the City which
made him so rich, who royally entertained the King and Queen in his
own house, and at the close of the banquet burned before their eyes
the royal bond for £60,000, worth in modern money at least £600,000. I
never think of Whittington without remembering a certain verse in the
Book of Proverbs, 'Blessed is he who is diligent in his business, for
he shall stand before Kings.'

St. Nicolas Cole Abbey is, within, a kind of gilded drawing-room.
There is gilt everywhere, gilt and wood-carving; and on Sunday
morning, thanks to the strange taste of the Vicar, who likes to dress
himself up in scarlet and green, and to have a boy making a smell with
a swinging pot, there are sometimes more than the customary ten for a

Of St. Mary Somerset only the tower remains. Why they pulled down this
church, why they pulled down St. Michael's Queenhithe, or St. Nicolas
Olave, or St. Mary Magdalen, all in this part of London, passeth man's
understanding. If you want to find out what these churches were like,
you may consult the book by Britton and Le Keux on London Churches.
They are represented in a collection of steel engravings drawn after
the fashion of eighty years ago, so as to bring out the strong points
with great softening of unpleasant details.

Many of the churches were not rebuilt after the Fire. This shows that
by the year 1666 this part of London was already beginning to be
occupied more by warehouses than by private dwellings. Among them were
St. Andrew Hubberd, St. Benet Sherehog, St. Leonard, Eastcheap, All
Hallows the Less, Holy Trinity, St. Martin Vintry, St. Laurence
Poultney, St. Botolph Billingsgate, St. Thomas Apostle, St. Mary
Mounthaut, St. Peter's, St. Gregory's by St Paul, and St. Anne's
Blackfriars--thirteen in all.

At St. Benet's Church--where Fielding was married--you may now hear
the service in the Welsh language, just as in Wellclose Square you may
hear it in Swedish. In Endell Street, Holborn, you may hear it in
French, and in Palestine Place, Hackney, you may hear it in Hebrew.

Certain spaces on old maps of London are coloured green to show where
stood certain churchyards. In Thames Street the churchyard of All
Hallows the Less still stands; in Queen Street that of St. Thomas
Apostle, in Laurence Poultney Hill that of St. Laurence Poultney, a
very large and well-kept churchyard; St. Dunstan's, All Hallows,
Barking, St. Stephen's, Wallbrook all keep their churchyards still.
That of St. Anne's, Blackfriars, stands retired behind the houses. But
those of St. Nicolas Cole Abbey, St. Mary Somerset, St. Botolph's, and
St. Mary Magdalen, formerly large and crowded churchyards, still kept
sacred in the year 1720, and, indeed, until further interments were
forbidden in the year 1845, are now quite built over and forgotten.
What has become of the churchyards of St. Michael Royal, St. Michael
Queenhithe, St. Benet, St. George, St. Leonard Eastcheap, and St.
James's Garlickhithe? Alas! no one knows. The tombstones are taken
away, the ground has been dug up, the coffin-wood burned, the bones
dispersed, and of all the thousands, the tens of thousands, of
citizens buried there--old and young, rich and poor, Lord Mayors,
aldermen, merchants, clerks, craftsmen, and servants--the dust of all
is scattered abroad, the names of all are as much forgotten as if they
never lived. But they have lived, and if you seek their monument--look
around. It is in the greatness, the wealth, the dignity of the modern
City, that these ancient citizens live again. Life is a long united
chain with links that cannot be separated; the story of humanity is
unbroken; it will go on continuous and continued until the Creator's
great purpose is fulfilled, and the drama of Man complete.

In one or two of these churches all the churchyard left is a square
yard or two at the back of the church. In one of these tiny
enclosures--I forget which now--I found that of all the headstones and
tombs which had once adorned this now sadly diminished and attenuated
acre, there was left but one. It was a tombstone in memory of an
infant, aged eight months. Out of all the people buried here, who had
lived long and been held in honour, and thought that their memory
would last for many generations--perhaps as long as that of
Whittington or Gresham--only the name of this one baby left!

It was in the vaults of St. James's Garlickhithe, that they found,
before the place was bricked up and left to be disturbed no more, many
bodies in a state of perfect preservation--mummies. One of these has
been taken out and set up in a cupboard in the outer chapel. He is
decently guarded by a door kept locked, and is neatly framed in glass.
You can see him by special application to the pew-opener, who holds a
candle and points out his beauties. Perhaps in all the City churches
there is no other object quite so curious as this old nameless mummy.
He was once, it may be, Lord Mayor--a good many Lord Mayors have been
buried in this church--or, perhaps, he was a Sheriff, and wore a
splendid chain; or he may have been the poorest and most miserable
wretch of his time. It matters not; he has escaped the dust--he is a
mummy. Somehow he contrives to look superior, as if he was conscious
of the fact and proud of it; he cannot smile, or nod, or wink, but he
can look superior.

One more church and one more scene, and I have done.

There is a church on the south side of Thames Street, close to the
site of the Steelyard--_i.e._, almost under the railway arches which
lead to Cannon Street. It is not very much to look at. With one
exception, indeed, it is the ugliest church in the whole of London
City. It is a big oblong box, with round windows stuck in here and
there. Wren designed it, I believe, one evening after dinner, when he
had taken a glass or two more than his customary allowance of port or
mountain. It is the church of All Hallows the Great combined with All
Hallows the Less. Before the Fire it was a very beautiful church, with
a cloister running round its churchyard on the south, and to the east
looking out upon the lane that led to Cold Harbour House. This is the
church to which the Hanseatic merchants for three hundred years came
for worship. Very near the church, on the river bank, stood the
Waterman's Hall. To this church, therefore, came the 'prentices of the
watermen every Sunday. The Great Fire carried it away, with Steelyard,
cloister, church, Waterman's Hall, Cold Harbour House, and everything.
Then Wren, as I said, took a pencil and ruler one evening, and showed
how a square box could be constructed on the site. Now, let no man
judge by externals. If you can get into the church, you will be
rewarded by the sight of an eighteenth-century church left exactly as
it was in those days of grave and sober merchants, and of City
ceremonies and church services attended in state. On the north side,
against the middle of the wall, is planted what we now most
irreverently call a Three Decker. But we must not laugh, because of
all Three Deckers this is the most splendid. There is nothing in the
City more beautiful than the wood-carving which makes pulpit,
sounding-board, reading-desk, and clerk's desk in this church precious
and wonderful. The old pews, which, I rejoice to say, have never been
removed, are many of them richly and beautifully carved. The Pew of
State, reserved for the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs, is a miracle of
art. Across the very middle of the church is a screen in carved wood,
the most wonderful screen you ever saw, presented as a sign of
gratitude to their old church by the Hanseatic merchants. The east end
is decorated by a wooden table, richly carved, and the reredos is
designed by the great Christopher himself, no doubt for partial
expiation of his sin in making the church externally so hideous. It
consists of a marble panel, on which are engraved the Ten
Commandments. On the left hand stands Aaron in full pontificals, as
set forth in the Book of Leviticus or that of Numbers. On the right
hand, in more humble guise, stands Moses, facing the people, in his
hand a rod of gold. With this he points to the Commandments, which
contain among them the whole Rule of Life. The pews are not arranged
to face the east, but are gathered round the pulpit in the north, the
most desirable being those nearest the pulpit. In the outside pews,
close to the east end, sat the watermen's 'prentices. These young
villains, who were afterwards doubtless for the most part hanged,
spent their time during the service in carving their initials, with
rude pictures of ships, houses, and boats, with dates on the sloping
desks before them. There they still remain--because the pews are
unchanged--with the dates 1720, 1730, 1740, and so on. From father to
son they kept up this sacrilegious practice, hidden in the depths of
the high pews. There is, behind the church, a vestry with wainscoting
and more carved wood, and with portraits of bygone rectors, plans of
the parish, and notes on the old parish charities, which exist no
longer. Through the vestry window one looks out upon a little garden.
It is the churchyard. One sees how the old cloister ran. Formerly it
was full of tombs, and he who paced the cloister could meditate on
death. Now it is an open and cheerful place, all the old tombs cleared
away--which is loss, not gain--and in the month of May it is bright
with flowers. At first sight it seems as if it was so completely
hidden away that it could gladden no man's eyes. That is not so. In
the City Brewery there are certain windows which overlook this garden.
These are the windows of the rooms where dwells a chief
officer--Master Brewer, Master Taster, Master Chemist, I know not--of
the City Brewery, last of the many breweries which once stood along
the river bank. He, almost the only resident of the parish, can look
out, solitary and quiet, of the cool of an evening in early summer,
and rejoice in the beauty of this little garden blossoming, all for
his eyes alone, in a desert.

As one looks about this church the present fades away and the past
comes back. I see, once more, the Rector, what time George II. was
King, in full wig and black gown poring over his learned discourse.
Below him sleeps his clerk. In the Lord Mayor's pew, robed in garments
and chain of state, sleep my Lord Mayor and the worshipful the
Sheriffs; their footmen, all in blue and green and gold, are in the
aisle; the rich merchant of the parish clad in black velvet, with silk
stockings, silver buckles to their shoes, ruffles of the richest and
rarest lace at their throats, and neckties of the same hanging down
before their long silk waistcoats, sleep in their pews--it is a sleepy
time for the Church Service--beside their wives and children. The
wives are grand in hoop, and powder, and painted face. We know what is
meant by rank in the days of King George II. In this our parish church
we who are or have been wardens of our Company, aldermen who have
passed the chair, or aldermen who have yet to pass it, know what is
due to our position, and we bear ourselves accordingly. Our
inferiors--the clerks and the shopkeepers, the servants and the
'prentices--we treat, it is true, with kindliness, but with
condescension and with authority. On those rare occasions when a Peer
comes to our civic banquets we show him that we know what is due to
his rank. As for our life, it is centred in this parish; here are our
houses, here we live, here we carry on our business, and here we die.
Our poor are our servants when they are young and strong, and they are
our bedesmen when they grow old. Do not, I entreat you, believe in the
fiction that the Church neglected the poor during the last century.
The poor in the City parishes were not neglected; the boys were
thoroughly taught and conscientiously flogged, thieves were sent away
to be hanged, bad characters were turned out, the old were maintained,
the sick were looked after, the parish organization was complete, and
the parish charities were many and generous. Outside the City
precincts, if you please, where there were few churches and great
parishes, always increasing in population, the poor were neglected;
but in the City, never. But listen, the Rector has done. He finishes
his sermon with an admirable and appropriate quotation in Greek, which
I hope the congregation understands; he pronounces the prayer of
dismissal; the organ rolls, the clerk wakes up, the Lord Mayor and the
Sheriffs walk forth and get into their coaches, the footmen climb up
behind, the merchants and their families go out next, while all the
people stand in respect to their masters and betters, and those set in
authority over them. Then come out the people themselves, and last of
all the 'prentice boys come clattering down the aisle.

Let us awake. It is Sunday morning again, but the merchants are gone.
The eighteenth century is gone, the church is empty, the parish is
deserted; the streets are silent.

  Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep;
    The river glideth at his own sweet will!
  Dear God! the very houses seem asleep,
    And all that mighty heart to lying still.


There are several riverside parishes east of London Bridge, not
counting the ancient towns of Deptford and Greenwich, which formerly
lay beyond London, and could not be reckoned as suburbs. The history
of all these parishes, till the present century, is the same. Once,
south-east and west of London, there stretched a broad marsh covered
with water at every spring-tide; here and there rose islets overgrown
with brambles, the haunt of wild fowl innumerable. In course of time,
the city having grown and stretching out long arms along the bank,
people began to build a broad and strong river-wall to keep out the
floods. This river-wall, which still remains, was gradually extended
until it reached the mouth of the river and ran quite round the low
coast of Essex. To the marshes succeeded a vast level, low-lying,
fertile region affording good pasture, excellent dairy farms, and
gardens of fruit and vegetables. The only inhabitants of this district
were the farmers and the farmhands. So things continued for a thousand
years, while the ships went up the river with wind and tide, and down
the river with wind and tide, and were moored below the Bridge, and
discharged their cargoes into lighters, which landed them on the quays
of London Port, between the Tower and the Bridge. As for the people
who did the work of the Port--the loading and the unloading--those
whom now we call the stevedores, coalers, dockers, lightermen, and
watermen, they lived in the narrow lanes and crowded courts above and
about Thames Street.

When the trade of London Port increased, these courts became more
crowded; some of them overflowed, and a colony outside the walls was
established in St. Katherine's Precinct beyond the Tower. Next to St.
Katherine's lay the fields called by Stow 'Wappin in the Wose,' or
Wash, where there were broken places in the wall, and the water poured
in so that it was as much a marsh as when there was no dyke at all.
Then the Commissioners of Sewers thought it would be a good plan to
encourage people to build along the wall, so that they would be
personally interested in its preservation. Thus arose the Hamlet of
Wapping, which, till far into the eighteenth century, consisted of
little more than a single long street, with a few cross lanes,
inhabited by sailor-folk. At this time--toward the end of the
sixteenth century--began that great and wonderful development of
London trade which has continued without any cessation of growth.
Gresham began it. He taught the citizens how to unite for the common
weal; he gave them a Bourse; he transferred the foreign trade of
Antwerp to the Thames. Then the service of the river grew apace; where
one lighter had sufficed there were now wanted ten; 'Wappin in the
Wose' became crowded Wapping; the long street stretched farther and
farther along the river beyond Shad's Well; beyond Ratcliff Cross,
where the 'red cliff' came down nearly to the river bank; beyond the
'Lime-house'; beyond the 'Poplar' Grove. The whole of that great city
of a million souls, now called East London, consisted, until the end
of the last century, of Whitechapel and Bethnal Green, still
preserving something of the old rusticity; of Mile End, Stepney and
Bow, and West Ham, hamlets set among fields, and market-gardens, and
of that long fringe of riverside streets and houses. In these rural
hamlets great merchants had their country-houses; the place was
fertile; the air was wholesome; nowhere could one see finer flowers or
finer plants; the merchant-captains--both those at sea and those
retired--had houses with garden-bowers and masts at Mile End Old Town.
Captain Cook left his wife and children there when he went sailing
round the world; here, because ground was cheap and plentiful, were
long rope-walks and tenter-grounds; here were roadside taverns and
gardens for the thirsty Londoner on a summer evening, here were placed
many almshouses, dotted about among the gardens, where the poor old
folks lengthened their days in peace and fresh air.

But Riverside London was a far different place, here lived none but
sailors, watermen, lightermen, and all those who had to do with ships
and shipping, with the wants and the pleasures of the sailors. Boat
builders had their yards along the bank; mastmakers, sail-makers,
rope-makers, block-makers; there were repairing docks dotted about all
down the river, each able to hold one ship at a time, like one or two
still remaining at Rotherhithe, there were ship-building yards of
considerable importance; all these places employed a vast number of
workmen--carpenters, caulkers, painters, riggers, carvers of
figure-heads, block-makers, stevedores, lightermen, watermen,
victuallers, tavern-keepers, and all the roguery and _ribauderie_ that
always gather round mercantile Jack ashore. A crowded suburb indeed it
was, and for the most part with no gentlefolk to give the people an
example of conduct, temperance, and religion--at best the
master-mariners, a decorous people, and the better class of tradesmen,
to lead the way to church. And as time went on the better class
vanished, until the riverside parishes became abandoned entirely to
mercantile Jack, and to those who live by loading and unloading,
repairing and building the ships, and by showing Jack ashore how
fastest and best to spend his money. There were churches--Wapping, St.
George in the East, Shadwell, and Lime-house--they are there to this
day; but Jack and his friends enter not their portals. Moreover, when
they were built the function of the clergyman was to perform with
dignity and reverence the services of the church; if people chose not
to come, and the law of attendance could not be enforced, so much the
worse for them. Though Jack kept out of church, there was some
religious life in the place, as is shown not only by the presence of
the church, but also by that of the chapel. Now, wherever there is a
chapel it indicates thought, independence, and a sensible elevation
above the reckless, senseless rabble. Some kinds of Nonconformity also
indicate a first step toward education and culture.

He who now stands on London Bridge and looks down the river, will see
a large number of steamers lying off the quays; there are barges,
river steamers, and boats, there are great ocean steamers working up
or down the river; but there is little to give the stranger even a
suspicion of the enormous trade that is carried on at the Port of
London. That port is now hidden behind the dock gates; the trade is
invisible unless one enters the docks and reckons up the ships and
their tonnage, the warehouses and their contents. But a hundred years
ago this trade was visible to any who chose to look at it, and the
ships in which the trade was carried on were visible as well.

Below the Bridge, the river, for more than a mile, pursues a straight
course with a uniform breadth. It then bends in a north-easterly
direction for a mile or so, when it turns southward, passing Deptford
and Greenwich. Now, a hundred years ago, for two miles and more below
the bridge, the ships lay moored side by side in double lines, with a
narrow channel between. There were no docks; all the loading and the
unloading had to be done by means of barges and lighters in the
stream. One can hardly realize this vast concourse of boats and barges
and ships; the thousands of men at work; the passage to and fro of the
barges laden to the water's edge, or returning empty to the ship's
side; the yeo-heave-oh! of the sailors hoisting up the casks and bales
and cases; the shouting, the turmoil, the quarrelling, the fighting,
the tumult upon the river, now so peaceful. But when we talk of a
riverside parish we must remember this great concourse, because it was
the cause of practices from which we suffer to the present day.

Of these things we may be perfectly certain. First, that without the
presence among a people of some higher life, some nobler standard,
than that of the senses, this people will sink rapidly and surely.
Next, that no class of persons, whether in the better or the worser
rank, can ever be trusted to be a law unto themselves. For which
reason we may continue to be grateful to our ancestors who caused to
be written in large letters of gold, for all the world to see once a
week, "THUS SAITH THE LORD, Thou shalt not steal," and the rest: the
lack of which reminder sometimes causes in Nonconformist circles, it
is whispered, a deplorable separation of faith and works. The third
maxim, axiom, or self-evident proposition is, that when people can
steal without fear of consequences they will steal. All through the
last century, and indeed far into this, the only influence brought to
bear upon the common people was that of authority. The master ruled
his servants; he watched over them; when they were young he had them
catechized and taught the sentiments proper to their station; he also
flogged them soundly; when they grew up he gave them wages and work;
he made them go to church regularly; he rewarded them for industry by
fraternal care; he sent them to the almshouse when they were old. At
church the sermons were not for the servants but for the masters; yet
the former were reminded every week of the Ten Commandments, which
were not only written out large for all to see, but were read out for
their instruction every Sunday morning. The decay of authority is one
of the distinguishing features of the present century.

But in Riverside London there were no masters, and there was no
authority for the great mass of the people. The sailor ashore had no
master; the men who worked on the lighters and on the ships had no
master except for the day; the ignoble horde of those who supplied the
coarse pleasures of the sailors had no masters; they were not made to
do anything but what they pleased; the church was not for them; their
children were not sent to school; their only masters were the fear of
the gallows, constantly before their eyes at Execution Dock and on the
shores of the Isle of Dogs, and their profound respect for the cat o'
nine tails. They knew no morality; they had no other restraint; they
all together slid, ran, fell, leaped, danced, and rolled swiftly and
easily adown the Primrose Path; they fell into a savagery the like of
which has never been known among English-folk since the days of their
conversion to the Christian faith. It is only by searching and poking
among unknown pamphlets and forgotten books that one finds out the
actual depths of the English savagery of the last century. And it is
not too much to say that for drunkenness, brutality, and ignorance,
the Englishman of the baser kind touched about the lowest depth ever
reached by civilized man during the last century. What he was in
Riverside London has been disclosed by Colquhoun, the Police
Magistrate. Here he was not only a drunkard, a brawler, a torturer of
dumb beasts, a wife-beater, a profligate--he was also, with his
fellows, engaged every day, and all day long, in a vast systematic
organized depredation. The people of the riverside were all, to a man,
river pirates; by day and by night they stole from the ships. There
were often as many as a thousand vessels lying in the river; there
were many hundreds of boats, barges, and lighters engaged upon their
cargoes, They practised their robberies in a thousand ingenious ways;
they weighed the anchors and stole them; they cut adrift lighters when
they were loaded, and when they had floated down the river they
pillaged what they could carry and left the rest to sink or swim; they
waited till night and then rowed of to half-laden lighters and helped
themselves. Sometimes they went on board the ships as stevedores and
tossed bales overboard to a confederate in a boat below; or they were
coopers who carried under their aprons bags which they filled with
sugar from the casks; or they took with them bladders for stealing the
rum. Some waded about in the mud at low tide to catch anything that
was thrown to them from the ships. Some obtained admission to the ship
as rat-catchers, and in that capacity were able to carry away plunder
previously concealed by their friends; some, called _scuffle-hunters_,
stood on the quays as porters, carrying bags under their long white
aprons in which to hide whatever they could pilfer. It was estimated
that, taking one year with another, the depredations from the shipping
in the Port of London amounted to nearly a quarter of a million
sterling every year. All this was carried on by the riverside people.
But, to make robbery successful, there must be accomplices,
receiving-houses, fences, a way to dispose of the goods. In this case
the thieves had as their accomplices the whole of the population of
the quarter where they lived. All the public-houses were secret
markets attended by grocers and other tradesmen where the booty was
sold by auction, and, to escape detection, fictitious bills and
accounts were given and received. The thieves were known among
themselves by fancy names, which at once indicated the special line of
each and showed the popularity of the calling; they were bold pirates,
night plunderers, light horsemen, heavy horsemen, mud-larks, game
lightermen, scuffle-hunters and gangsmen. Their thefts enabled them to
live in the coarse profusion of meat and drink, which was all they
wanted; yet they were always poor because their plunder was knocked
down for so little; they saved nothing; and they were always egged on
to new robberies by the men who sold them drinks, by the women who
took their money from them, and by the honest merchants who attended
the secret markets.

I dwell upon the past because the present is its natural legacy. When
you read of the efforts now being made to raise the living, or at
least to prevent them from sinking any lower, remember that they are
what the dead made them. We inherit more than the wealth of our
ancestors; we inherit the consequences of their misdeeds. It is a most
expensive thing to suffer the people to drop and sink; it is a sad
burden which we lay upon posterity if we do not continually spend our
utmost in lifting them up. Why, we have been the best part of two
thousand years in recovering the civilization which fell to pieces
when the Roman Empire decayed. We have not been fifty years in
dragging up the very poor whom we neglected and left to themselves,
the gallows, the cat, and the press-gang only a hundred years ago. And
how slow, how slow and sometimes hopeless, is the work!

The establishment of river police and the construction of docks have
cleared the river of all this gentry. Ships now enter the docks; there
discharge and receive; the labourers can carry away nothing through
the dock-gates. No apron allows a bag to be hidden; policemen stand at
the gates to search the men; the old game is gone--what is left is a
surviving spirit of lawlessness; the herding together; the
hand-to-mouth life; the love of drink as the chief attainable
pleasure; the absence of conscience and responsibility; and the old

What the riverside then was may be learned by a small piece of
Rotherhithe in which the old things still linger. Small
repairing-docks, each capable of holding one vessel, are dotted along
the street; to each are its great dock-gates, keeping out the high
tide, and the quays and the shops and the caretaker's lodge; the ship
lies in the dock shored up by timbers on either side, and the workmen
are hammering, caulking, painting, and scraping the wooden hull; her
bowsprit and her figurehead stick out over the street, Between the
docks are small two-storied houses, half of them little shops trying
to sell something; the public-house is frequent, but the 'Humours' of
Ratcliff Highway are absent; mercantile Jack at Rotherhithe is mostly
Norwegian and has morals of his own. Such, however, as this little
village of Rotherhithe is, so were 'Wappin in the Wose,' Shadwell,
Ratcliff, and the 'Limehouse' a hundred years ago, with the addition
of street fighting and brawling all day long; the perpetual adoration
of rum, quarrels over stolen goods; quarrels over drunken drabs;
quarrels over all-fours; the scraping of fiddles from every
public-house, the noise of singing, feasting, and dancing, and a
never-ending, still-beginning debauch, all hushed and quiet--as birds
cower in the hedge at sight of the kestrel--when the press-gang swept
down the narrow streets and carried off the lads, unwilling to leave
the girls and the grog, and put them aboard His Majesty's tender to
meet what fate might bring.

The construction of the great docks has completely changed this
quarter. The Precinct of St. Katherine's by the Tower has almost
entirely disappeared, being covered by St. Katherine's Dock; the
London Dock has reduced Wapping to a strip covered with warehouses.
But the church remains, so frankly proclaiming itself of the
eighteenth century, with its great churchyard. The new Dock Basin,
Limehouse Basin, and the West India Docks, have sliced huge cantles
out of Shadwell, Limehouse, and Poplar; the little private docks and
boat-building yards have disappeared; here and there the dock remains,
with its river gates gone, an ancient barge reposing in its black mud;
here and there may be found a great building which was formerly a
warehouse when ship-building was still carried on. That branch of
industry was abandoned after 1868, when the shipwrights struck. Their
action transferred the ship-building of the country to the Clyde, and
threw out of work thousands of men who had been earning large wages in
the yards. Before this unlucky event Riverside London had been rough
and squalid, but there were in it plenty of people earning good
wages--skilled artisans, good craftsmen. Since then it has been next
door to starving. The effect of the shipwrights' strike may be
illustrated in the history of one couple.

The man, of Irish parentage, though born in Stepney, was a painter or
decorator of the saloons and cabins of the ships. He was a
highly-skilled workman of taste and dexterity; he could not only paint
but he could carve; he made about three pounds a week and lived in
comfort. The wife, a decent Yorkshire woman whose manners were very
much above those of the riverside folk, was a few years older than her
husband. They had no children. During the years of fatness they saved
nothing; the husband was not a drunkard, but, like most workmen, he
liked to cut a figure and to make a show. So he saved little or
nothing. When the yard was finally closed he had to cadge about for
work. Fifteen years later he was found in a single room of the meanest
tenement-house; his furniture was reduced to a bed, a table, and a
chair; all that they had was a little tea and no money--no money at
all. He was weak and ill, with trudging about in search of work; he
was lying exhausted on the bed while his wife sat crouched over the
little bit of fire. This was how they had lived for fifteen years--the
whole time on the verge of starvation. Well, they were taken away;
they were persuaded to leave their quarters and to try anther place,
where odd jobs were found for the man, and where the woman made
friends in private families, for whom she did a little sewing. But it
was too late for the man; his privations had destroyed his sleight of
hand, though he knew it not; the fine workman was gone. He took
painters' paralysis, and very often when work was offered his hand
would drop before he could begin it; then the long years of tramping
about had made him restless; from time to time he was fain to borrow a
few shillings and to go on the tramp again, pretending that he was in
search of work; he would stay away for a fortnight, marching about
from place to place, heartily enjoying the change and the social
evening at the public-houses where he put up. For, though no drunkard,
he loved to sit in a warm bar and to talk over the splendours of the
past. Then he died. No one, now looking at the neat old lady in the
clean white cap and apron who sits all day in the nursery crooning
over her work, would believe that she has gone through this ordeal by
famine, and served her fifteen years' term of starvation for the sins
of others.

The Parish of St. James's, Ratcliff, is the least known of Riverside
London. There is nothing about this parish in the Guide-books; nobody
goes to see it. Why should they? There is nothing to see. Yet it is
not without its romantic touches. Once there was here a cross--the
Ratcliff Cross--but nobody knows what it was, when it was erected, why
it was erected, or when it was pulled down. The oldest inhabitant now
at Ratcliff remembers that there was a cross here--the name survived
until the other day, attached to a little street, but that is now
gone. It is mentioned in Dryden. And on the Queen's Accession, in
1837, she was proclaimed, among other places, at Ratcliff Cross--but
why, no one knows. Once the Shipwrights' Company had their hall here;
it stood among gardens where the scent of the gillyflower and the
stock mingled with the scent of the tar from the neighbouring
rope-yard and boat-building yard. In the old days, many were the
feasts which the jolly shipwrights held in their hall after service at
St. Dunstan's, Stepney. The hall is now pulled down, and the Company,
which is one of the smallest, worth an income of less than a thousand,
has never built another. Then there are the Ratcliff Stairs--rather
dirty and dilapidated to look at, but, at half-tide, affording the
best view one can get anywhere of the Pool and the shipping. In the
good old days of the scuffle-hunters and the heavy horsemen, the view
of the thousand ships moored in their long lines with the narrow
passage between was splendid. History has deigned to speak of Ratcliff
Stairs. 'Twas by these steps that the gallant Willoughby embarked for
his fatal voyage; with flags flying and the discharge of guns he
sailed past Greenwich, hoping that the King would come forth to see
him pass. Alas! the young King lay a-dying, and Willoughby himself was
sailing off to meet his death.

The parish contains four good houses, all of which, I believe, are
marked in Roque's map of 1745.

One of these is now the vicarage of the new church. It is a large,
solid, and substantial house, built early in the last century, when as
yet the light horsemen and lumpers were no nearer than Wapping. The
walls of the dining-room are painted with Italian landscapes, to which
belongs a romance. The paintings were executed by a young Italian
artist. For the sake of convenience he was allowed by the merchant who
then lived here, and employed him, to stay in the house. Now the
merchant had a daughter, and she was fair. The artist was a goodly
youth, and inflammable; as the poet says, their eyes met; presently,
as the poet goes on, their lips met; then the merchant found out what
was going on, and ordered the young man, with good old British
determination, out of the house. The young man retired to his room,
presumably to pack up his things. But he did not go out of the house;
instead of that, he hanged himself in his room. His ghost, naturally,
continued to remain in the house, and has been seen by many. Why he
has not long ago joined the ghost of the young lady is not clear
unless that, like many ghosts, his chief pleasure is in keeping as
miserable as he possibly can.

The second large house of the parish is apparently of the same date,
but the broad garden in which it formerly stood has been built over
with mean tenement houses. Nothing is known about it; at present
certain Roman Catholic sisters live in it, and carry on some kind of

The third great house is one of the few surviving specimens of the
merchant's warehouse and residence in one. It is now an old and
tumbledown place. Its ancient history I know not. What rich and costly
bales were hoisted into this warehouse; what goods lay here waiting to
be carried down the Stairs, and so on board ship in the Pool; what
fortunes were made and lost here one knows not. Its ancient history is
gone and lost, but it has a modern history. Here a certain man began,
in a small way, a work which has grown to be great; here he spent and
was spent; here he gave his life for the work, which was for the
children of the poor. He was a young physician; he saw in this squalid
and crowded neighbourhood the lives of the children needlessly
sacrificed by the thousand for the want of a hospital; to be taken ill
in the wretched room where the whole family lived was to die; the
nearest hospital was two miles away. The young physician had but
slender means, but he had a stout heart. He found this house empty,
its rent a song. He took it, put in half a dozen beds, constituted
himself the physician and his wife the nurse, and opened the
Children's Hospital. Very soon the rooms became wards; the wards
became crowded with children; the one nurse was multiplied by twenty;
the one physician by six. Very soon, too, the physician lay upon his
death-bed, killed by the work. But the Children's Hospital was
founded, and now it stands, not far off, a stately building with one
of its wards--the Heckford Ward--named after the physician who gave
his own life to save the children. When the house ceased to be a
hospital it was taken by a Mr. Dawson, who was the first to start here
a club for the very rough lads. He, too, gave his life for the cause,
for the illness which killed him was due to overwork and neglect.
Devotion and death are therefore associated with this old house.

The fourth large house is now degraded to a common lodging-house. But
it has still its fine old staircase.

The Parish of St. James's, Ratcliff, consists of an irregular patch of
ground having the river on the south, and the Commercial Road, one of
the great arteries of London, on the north. It contains about seven
thousand people, of whom some three thousand are Irish Catholics. It
includes a number of small, mean, and squalid streets; there is not
anywhere in the great city a collection of streets smaller or meaner.
The people live in tenement-houses, very often one family for every
room--in one street, for instance, of fifty houses, there are one
hundred and thirty families. The men are nearly all
dock-labourers--the descendants of the scuffle-hunters, whose
traditions still survive, perhaps, in an unconquerable hatred of
government. The women and girls are shirt-makers, tailoresses,
jam-makers, biscuit-makers, match-makers, and rope-makers.

In this parish the only gentlefolk are the clergy and the ladies
working in the parish for the Church; there are no substantial
shopkeepers, no private residents, no lawyer, no doctor, no
professional people of any kind; there are thirty-six public-houses,
or one to every hundred adults, so that if each spends on an average
only two shillings a week, the weekly takings of each are ten pounds.
Till lately there were forty-six, but ten have been suppressed; there
are no places of public entertainment, there are no books, there are
hardly any papers except some of those Irish papers whose continued
sufferance gives the lie to their own everlasting charges of English
tyranny. Most significant of all, there are no Dissenting chapels,
with one remarkable exception. Fifteen chapels in the three parishes
of Ratcliff, Shadwell, and St. George's have been closed during the
last twenty years. Does this mean conversion to the Anglican Church?
Not exactly; it means, first, that the people have become too poor to
maintain a chapel, and next, that they have become too poor to think
of religion. So long as an Englishman's head is above the grinding
misery, he exercises, as he should, a free and independent choice of
creeds, thereby vindicating and assorting his liberties. Here there is
no chapel, therefore no one thinks; they lie like sheep; of death and
its possibilities no one heeds; they live from day to day; when they
are young they believe they will be always young; when they are old,
so far as they know, they have been always old.

The people being such as they are--so poor, so hopeless, so
ignorant--what is done for them? How are they helped upward? How are
they driven, pushed, shoved, pulled, to prevent them from sinking
still lower? For they are not at the lowest depths; they are not
criminals; up to their lights they are honest; that poor fellow who
stands with his hands ready--all he has got in the wide world--only
his hands--no trade, no craft, no skill--will give you a good day's
work if you engage him; he will not steal things; he will drink more
than he should with the money you give him; he will knock his wife
down if she angers him; but he is not a criminal. That step has yet to
be taken; he will not take it; but his children may, and unless they
are prevented they certainly will. For the London-born child very soon
learns the meaning of the Easy Way and the Primrose Path. We have to
do with the people ignorant, drunken, helpless, always at the point of
destitution, their whole thoughts as much concentrated upon the
difficulty of the daily bread as ever were those of their ancestor who
roamed about the Middlesex Forest and hunted the bear with a club, and
shot the wild goose with a flint-headed arrow.

First there is the Church work; that is to say, the various agencies
and machinery directed by the Vicar. It may be new to some readers,
especially to Americans, to learn how much of the time and thoughts of
our Anglican beneficed clergymen are wanted for things not directly
religious. The church, a plain and unpretending edifice, built in the
year 1838, is served by the Vicar and two curates. There are daily
services, and on Sundays an early celebration. The average attendance
at the Sunday morning mid-day service is about one hundred; in the
evening it is generally double that number. They are all adults. For
the children another service is held in the Mission Room, The average
attendance at the Sunday-schools and Bible-classes is about three
hundred and fifty, and would be more if the Vicar had a larger staff
of teachers, of whom, however, there are forty-two. The whole number
of men and women engaged in organized work connected with the Church
is about one hundred and twenty-six. Some of them are ladies from the
other end of London, but most belong to the parish itself; in the
choir, for instance, are found a barber, a postman, a caretaker, and
one or two small shopkeepers, all living in the parish, When we
remember that Ratcliff is not what is called a 'show' parish, that the
newspapers never talk about it, and that rich people never hear of it,
this indicates a very considerable support to Church work.

In addition to the church proper there is the 'Mission Chapel,' where
other services are held. One day in the week there is a sale of
clothes at very low prices. They are sold rather than given, because
if the women have paid a few pence for them they are less willing to
pawn them than if they had received them for nothing. In the Mission
Chapel are held classes for young girls and services for children.

The churchyard, like so many of the London churchyards, has been
converted into a recreation ground, where there are trees and
flower-beds, and benches for old and young.

Outside the Church, but yet connected with it, there is, first, the
Girls' Club. The girls of Ratcliff are all working-girls; as might be
expected, a rough and wild company, as untrained as colts, yet open to
kindly and considerate treatment. Their first yearning is for finery;
give them a high hat with a flaring ostrich feather, a plush jacket,
and a 'fringe,' and they are happy. There are seventy-five of these
girls; they use their club every evening, and they have various
classes, though it cannot be said that they are desirous of learning
anything. Needlework, especially, they dislike; they dance, sing, have
musical drill, and read a little. Five ladies who work for the church
and for the club live in the club-house, and other ladies come to lend
assistance. When we consider what the homes and the companions of
these girls are, what kind of men will be their husbands, and that
they are to become mothers of the next generation, it seems as if one
could not possibly attempt a more useful achievement than their
civilization. Above all, this club stands in the way of the greatest
curse of East London--the boy and girl marriage. For the elder women
there are Mothers' Meetings, at which two hundred attend every week;
and there are branches of the Societies for Nursing and Helping
Married Women. For general purposes there is a Parish Sick and
Distress Fund; a fund for giving dinners to poor children; there is a
frequent distribution of fruit, vegetables, and flowers, sent up by
people from the country. And for the children there is a large room
which they can use as a play-room from four o'clock till half-past
seven. Here they are at least warm; were it not for this room they
would have to run about the cold streets; here they have games and
pictures and toys. In connection with the work for the girls, help is
given by the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants,
which takes charge of a good many of the girls.

For the men there is one of the institutions called a Tee-To-Tum Club,
which has a grand café open to everybody all day long; the members
manage the club themselves; they have a concert once a week, a
dramatic performance once a week, a gymnastic display once a week; on
Sunday they have a lecture or an address, with a discussion after it;
and they have smaller clubs attached for football, cricket, rowing,
and swimming.

For the younger lads there is another club, of one hundred and sixty
members; they also have their gymnasium, their football, cricket, and
swimming clubs; their classes for carpentry, wood-carving, singing,
and shorthand; their savings' bank, their sick club, and their

Only the better class of lads belong to this club. But there is a
lower set, those who lounge about the streets at night, and take to
gambling and betting. For these boys the children's play-room is
opened in the evening; here they read, talk, box, and play bagstelle,
draughts, and dominoes, These lads are as rough as can be found, yet
on the whole they give very little trouble.

Another important institution is the Country Holiday; this is
accomplished by saving. It means, while it lasts, an expenditure of
five shillings a week; sometimes the lads are taken to the seaside and
live in a barn; sometimes the girls are sent to a village and placed
about in cottages. A great number of the girls and lads go off every
year a-hopping in Kent.

Add to these the temperance societies, and we seem to complete the
organized work of the Church. It must, however, be remembered that
this work is not confined to those who attend the services or are
Anglican in name. The clergy and the ladies who help them go about the
whole parish from house to house; they know all the people in every
house, to whatever creed they belong; their visits are looked for as a
kind of right; they are not insulted even by the roughest; they are
trusted by all; as they go along the streets the children run after
them and hang upon their dress; if a strange man is walking with one
of these ladies, they catch at his hands and pull at his
coat-tails--we judge of a man, you see, by his companions. All this
machinery seems costly. It is, of course, far beyond the slender
resources of the parish. It demands, however, no more than £850 a
year, of which £310 is found by different societies and the sum of
£540 has to be raised somehow.

There are, it has been stated, no more than seven thousand people in
this parish, of whom nearly half belong to the Church of Rome. It
would therefore almost seem as if every man, woman, and child in the
place must be brought under the influence of all this work. In a sense
all the people do feel the influence of the Church, whether they are
Anglicans or not. The parish system, as you have seen, provides
everything; for the men, clubs; for the women, nursing in sickness,
friendly counsel always, help in trouble; the girls are brought
together and kept out of mischief and encouraged in self-respect by
ladies who understand what they want and how they look at things, the
grown lads are taken from the streets, and, with the younger boys, are
taught arts and crafts, and are trained in manly exercises just as if
they were boys of Eton and Harrow. The Church services, which used to
be everything, are now only a part of the parish work. The clergy are
at once servants of the altar, preachers, teachers, almoners, leaders
in all kinds of societies and clubs, and providers of amusements and
recreation. The people look on, hold out their hands, receive, at
first indifferently--but presently, one by one, awaken to a new sense.
As they receive they cannot choose but to discover that these ladies
have given up their luxurious homes and the life of ease in order to
work among them. They also discover that these young gentlemen who
'run' the dubs, teach the boys gymnastics, boxing, drawing, carving,
and the rest, give up for this all their evenings--the flower of the
day in the flower of life. What for? What do they get for it? Not in
this parish only, but in every parish the same kind of thing goes on
and spreads daily. This--observe--is the last step _but one_ of
charity. For the progress of charity is as follows: First, there is
the pitiful dole to the beggar; then the bequest to monk and
monastery; then the founding of the almshouse and the parish charity;
then the Easter and the Christmas offerings; then the gift to the
almoner; then the cheque to a society; next--latest and best--personal
service among the poor. This is both flower and fruit of charity. One
thing only remains. And before long this thing also shall come to pass
as well.

Those who live in the dens and witness these things done daily must be
stocks and stones if they were not moved by them. They are not stocks
and stones; they are actually, though slowly, moved by them; the old
hatred of the Church--you may find it expressed in the working man's
papers of fifty years ago--is dying out rapidly in our great towns;
the brawling is better, even the drinking is diminishing. And there is
another--perhaps an unexpected--result. Not only are the poor turning
to the Church which befriends them, the Church which they used to
deride, but the clergy are turning to the poor; there are many for
whom the condition of the people is above all other earthly
considerations. If that great conflict--long predicted--of capital and
labour ever takes place, it is safe to prophecy that the Church will
not desert the poor.

Apart from the Church what machinery is at work? First, because there
are so many Catholics in the place, one must think of them. It is,
however, difficult to ascertain the Catholic agencies at work among
these people. The people are told that they must go to mass; Roman
Catholic sisters give dinners to children; there is the Roman League
of the Cross--a temperance association; I think that the Catholics are
in great measure left to the charities of the Anglicans, so long as
these do not try to convert the Romans.

The Salvation Army people attempt nothing--absolutely nothing in this
parish. There are at present neither Baptist, nor Wesleyan, nor
Independent chapels in the place. A few years ago, on the appearance
of the book called the 'Bitter Cry of Outcast London,' an attempt was
made by the last-named body; they found an old chapel belonging to the
Congregationalists, with an endowment of £80 a year, which they turned
into a mission-hall, and carried on with spirit for two years mission
work in the place; they soon obtained large funds, which they seem to
have lavished with more zeal than discretion. Presently their money
was all gone and they could get no more; then the chapel was turned
into a night-shelter. Next It was burned to the ground. It is now
rebuilt and is again a night-shelter. There is, however, an historic
monument in the parish with which remains a survival of former
activity. It is a Quaker meeting-house which dates back to 1667. It
stands within its walls, quiet and decorous; there are the chapel, the
ante-room, and the burial-ground. The congregation still meet, reduced
to fifty; they still hold their Sunday-school; and not far off one of
the fraternity carries on a Crêche which takes care of seventy or
eighty babies, and is blessed every day by as many mothers.

Considering all these agencies--how they are at work day after day,
never resting, never ceasing, never relaxing their hold, always
compelling the people more and more within the circle of their
influence; how they incline the hearts of the children to better
things and show them how to win these better things--one wonders that
the whole parish is not already clad in white robes and sitting with
harp and crown. On the other hand, walking down London Street,
Ratcliff, looking at the foul houses, hearing the foul language,
seeing the poor women with black eyes, watching the multitudinous
children in the mud, one wonders whether even these agencies are
enough to stem the tide and to prevent this mass of people from
falling lower and lower still into the hell of savagery. This parish
is one of the poorest in London; it is one of the least known; it is
one of the least visited. Explorers of slums seldom come here; it is
not fashionably miserable. Yet all these fine things are done here,
and as in this parish so in every other. It is continually stated as a
mere commonplace--one may see the thing advanced everywhere, in
'thoughtful' papers, in leading articles--that the Church of Rome
alone can produce its self-sacrificing martyrs, its lives of pure
devotion. Then what of these parish-workers of the Church of England?
What of that young physician who worked himself to death for the
children? What of the young men--not one here and there but in
dozens--who give up all that young men mostly love for the sake of
laborious nights among rough and rude lads? What of the gentlewomen
who pass long years--give up their youth, their beauty, and their
strength--among girls and women whose language is at first like a blow
to them? What of the clergy themselves, always, all day long, living
in the midst of the very poor--hardly paid, always giving out of their
poverty, forgotten in their obscurity, far from any chance of
promotion, too hard-worked to read or study, dropped out of all the
old scholarly circles? Nay, my brothers, we cannot allow to the Church
of Rome all the unselfish men and women. Father Damien is one of us as
well. I have met him--I know him by sight--he lives and has long
lived, in Riverside London.


On the 30th day of October, in the year of grace one thousand eight
hundred and twenty-five, there was gathered together a congregation to
assist at the mournfullest service ever heard in any church. The place
was the Precinct of St. Katherine's, the church was that known as St.
Katherine's by the Tower--the most ancient and venerable church in the
whole of East London--a city which now has but two ancient churches
left, those of Bow and of Stepney, without counting the old tower of

Suppose it was advertised that the last and the farewell service,
before the demolition of the Abbey, would be held at Westminster on a
certain day; that after the service the old church would be pulled
down; that some of the monuments would be removed, the rest destroyed;
that the bones of the illustrious dead would be carted away and
scattered, and that the site would be occupied by warehouses used for
commercial purposes. One can picture the frantic rage and despair with
which the news would everywhere be received; one can imagine the
stirring of the hearts of all those who to every part of the world
inherit the Anglo-Saxon speech, one can hear the sobbing and the
wailing which accompany the last anthem, the last sermon, the last

St. Katherine's by the Tower was the Abbey of East London, poor and
small, certainly, compared with the Cathedral church of the City and
the Abbey of the West; but stately and ancient; endowed by half a
dozen Sovereigns; consecrated by the memory of seven hundred years,
filled with the monuments of great men and small men buried within her
walls; standing in her own Precinct; with her own Courts, Spiritual
and Temporal; with her own judges and officers; surrounded by the
claustral buildings belonging to Master, Brethren, Sisters, and
Bedeswomen. The church and the hospital had long survived the
intentions of the founders; yet as they stood, so situated, so
ancient, so venerable, amid a dense population of rough sailors and
sailor folk, with such enormous possibilities for good and useful
work, sacred and secular, one is lost in wonder that the consent of
Parliament, even for purposes of gain, could be obtained for their
destruction. Yet St. Katherine's was destroyed. When the voice of the
preacher died away, the destroyers began their work. They pulled down
the church; they hacked up the monuments, and dug up the bones; they
destroyed the Master's house, and cut down the trees in his quiet
orchard; they pulled down the Brothers' houses round the little
ancient square; they pulled down the row of Sisters' houses and the
Bedeswomen's houses; they swept the people out of the Precinct, and
destroyed the streets; they pulled down the Courts, Spiritual and
Temporal, and opened the doors of the prison; they grubbed up the
burying ground, and with the bones and the dust of the dead, and the
rubbish of the foundations, they filled up the old reservoir of the
Chelsea water-works, and enabled Mr.

Cubitt to build Eccleston Square. When all was gone they let the water
into the big hole they had made, and called it St. Katherine's Dock.
All this done, they became aware of certain prickings of conscience.
They had utterly demolished and swept away and destroyed a thing which
could never be replaced; they were fain to do something to appease
those prickings. They therefore stuck up a new chapel, which the
architect called Gothic, with six neat houses in two rows, and a large
house with a garden in Regent's Park, and this they called St.
Katherine's, 'Sirs,' they said, 'it is not true that we have destroyed
that ancient foundation at all; we have only removed it to another
place. Behold your St. Katherine's!' Of course it is nothing of the
kind. It is not St. Katherine's. It is a sham, a house of Shams and

Thus was St. Katherine's destroyed; not for the needs of the City,
because it is not clear that the new docks were wanted, or that there
was no other place for them, but in sheer inability to understand what
the place meant as to the past, and what it might be made to do in the
future. The story of the Hospital has been often told: partly, as by
Ducarel and by Lysons, for the historical interest; partly, as by Mr.
Simcox Lea, in protest against the present we of its revenues. It is
with the latter object, though I disagree altogether with Mr. Lea's
conclusions, that I ask leave to tell the story once more. The story
will have to be told, perhaps, again and again, until people can be
made to understand the uselessness and the waste and the foolishness
of the present establishment in the Park, which has assumed and bears
the style and title of St. Katherine's Hospital by the Tower.

The beginning of the Hospital dates seven hundred and forty years
back, when Matilda, Stephen's Queen, founded it for the purpose of
having masses said for the repose of her two children, Baldwin and
Matilda, She ordered that the Hospital should consist of a Master,
Brothers, Sisters, and certain poor persons--probably the same as in
the later foundation. She appointed the Prior and Canons of Holy
Trinity to have perpetual custody of the Hospital; and she reserved to
herself and all succeeding Queens of England the nomination, of the
Master. Her grant was approved by the King, the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and the Pope. Shortly afterwards William of Ypres bestowed
the land of Edredeshede, afterwards called Queenhythe, on the Priory
of Holy Trinity, subject to an annual payment of £20 to the Hospital
of Katherine's by the Tower.

This was the original foundation. It was not a Charity; it was a
Religious House with a definite duty--to pray for the souls of two
children; it had no other charitable objects than belong to any
religious foundation--viz., the giving of alms to the poor, nor was it
intended as a church for the people; in those days there were no
people outside the Tower, save the inhabitants of a few scattered
cottages along the river Wall, and the farmhouses of Steban Heath. It
was simply founded for the benefit of two little princes' souls. One
refrains from asking what was done for the little paupers' souls in
those days.

The Prior and Canons of Holy Trinity without Aldgate continued to
exercise some authority over the Hospital, but apparently--the subject
only interests the ecclesiastical historian--against the protests and
grumblings of the St. Katherine's Society. It was, however, formally
handed over to them, a hundred and forty years later, by Henry the
Third. After his death, Queen Eleanor, for some reason, now dimly
intelligible, wanted to get the Hospital into her own hands. The
Bishop of London took it away from the Priory and transferred it to
her. Then, perhaps with the view of preventing any subsequent claim by
the Priory, she declared the Hospital dissolved.

Here ends the first chapter in the history of the Hospital. The
foundation for the souls of the two princes existed no longer--the
children, no doubt, having been long since sung out of Purgatory.
Queen Eleanor, however, immediately refounded it. The Hospital was, as
before, to consist of a Master, three Brothers, three Sisters, and
bedeswomen. It was also provided that six poor scholars were to be fed
and clothed--not educated, The Queen further provided that on November
the 16th of every year twelve pence each should be given to the poor
scholars, and the same amount to twenty-four poor persons; and that on
November the 20th, the anniversary of the King's death, one thousand
poor men should receive one halfpenny each. Here is the first
introduction of a charity. The Hospital is no longer an ecclesiastical
foundation only; it maintains scholars and gives substantial alms. Who
received these alms? Of course the people in the neighbourhood--if
there were no inhabitants in the Precinct, the poor of Portsoken Ward.
In either case the charity would be local--a point of the greatest
importance. Queen Eleanor also continued her predecessor's rule that
the patronage of the Hospital should remain in the hands of the Queens
of England for ever; when there was no Queen, then in the hands of the
Queen Dowager; failing in her, in those of the King. This rule still
obtains. The Queen appoints the Master, Brothers, and Sisters of the
House of Shams in Regent's Park, just as her predecessors appointed
those of St. Katherine's by the Tower.

Queen Eleanor was followed by other royal benefactors. Edward the
Second, for example, gave the Hospital the rectory of St. Peter's in
Northampton. Queen Philippa, who, like Eleanor, regarded the place
with especial affection, endowed it with the manor of Upchurch in
Kent, and that of Queenbury in Hertfordshire. She also founded a
chantry with £10 a year for a chaplain. Edward the Third founded
another chantry in honour of Philippa, with a charge of £10 a year
upon the Hanaper Office; he also conferred upon it the right of
cutting wood for fuel in the Forest of Essex. Richard the Second gave
it the manor of Reshyndene in Sheppy, and 120 acres of land in
Minster. Henry the Sixth gave it the manors of Chesingbury in
Wiltshire, and Quasley in Hants; he also granted a charter, with the
privilege of holding a fair. Lastly, Henry the Eighth founded, in
connection with St. Katherine's by the Tower, the Guild of St.
Barbara, consisting of a Master, three Wardens, and a great number of
members, among whom were Cardinal Wolsey, the Duke and Duchess of
Norfolk, the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, the Earl and Countess of
Shrewsbury, and the Earl and Countess of Northumberland, with other
great and illustrious persons.

This is a goodly list of benefactors. It is evident that St.
Katherine's was a foundation regarded by the Kings and Queens of
England with great favour. Other benefactors it had, notably John
Holland, Duke of Exeter, Lord High Admiral and Constable of the Tower,
himself of royal descent. He was buried in the church, with his two
wives, and bequeathed to the Hospital the manor of Much Gaddesden. He
also gave it a cup of beryl, garnished with gold, pearls, and precious
stones, and a chalice of gold for the celebration of the Holy

In the year 1546 all the lands belonging to the Hospital were
transferred to the Crown.

At this time the whole revenue of the Hospital was £364 12s. 6d., and
the expenditure was £210 6s. 5d.; the difference being the value of
the mastership. The Master at the dissolution was Gilbert Lathom, a
priest, and the brothers were five in number--namely, the original
three, and the two priests for the chantries. Four of the five had
'for his stipend, mete, and drynke, by yere,' the sum of £8, which is
fivepence farthing a day; the other had £9, which is sixpence a day.
It would be interesting, by comparison of prices, to ascertain how
much could be purchased with sixpence a day. The three Sisters had
also £8 year, and the Bedeswomen had each two pounds five shillings
and sixpence a year. There were six scholars at £4 a year each for
'their mete, drynke, clothes, and other necessaries'; and there were
four servants, a steward, a butler, a cook, and an under-cook, who
cost £5 a year each. There were two gardens and a yard or
court--namely, the square, bounded by the houses of the Brothers, and
the church.

This marks the closing of the second chapter in the history of the
Hospital. With the cessation of saying masses for the dead its
religious character expired. There remained only the services in the
church for the inhabitants of the Precinct in the time of Henry VIII.

The only use of the Hospital was now as a charity. Fortunately, the
place was not, like the Priory of the Holy Trinity, granted to a
courtier, otherwise it would have been swept away just as that Priory,
or that of Elsing's Spital, was swept away. It continued after a while
to carry on its existence, but with changes. It was secularized. The
Masters for a hundred and fifty years, not counting the interval of
Queen Mary's reign, were laymen. The Brothers were generally laymen.
The first Master of the third period was Sir Thomas Seymour; he was
succeeded by Sir Francis Flemyng, Lieutenant General of the King's
Ordnance. Flemyng was deprived by Queen Mary, who appointed one
Francis Mallet, a priest, in his place. Queen Elizabeth dispossessed
Malet, and appointed Thomas Wilson, a layman and a Doctor at Laws.
During his mastership there were no Brothers, and only a few Sisters
or Bedeswomen. The Hospital then became a rich sinecure. Among the
Masters were Sir Julius Cæsar, Master of the Rolls; Sir Robert Acton;
Dr. Coxe; three Montague brothers, Walter, Henry, and George; Lord
Brownker; the Earl of Feversham; Sir Henry Newton, Judge of the High
Court of Admiralty; the Hon. George Berkeley; and Sir James Butler.
The Brothers had been re-established--their names are enumerated by
Ducarel--one or two of them were clerks in orders, but all the rest
were laymen. They still received the old stipend of £8 a year, with a
small house. As for the rest of the greatly increased income it went
to the Master after the manner common to all the old charities. During
the latter half of the sixteenth and the whole of the seventeenth
century St. Katherine's by the Tower consisted of a beautiful old
church standing with its buildings clustered round it--a Master's
house, rich in carved and ancient wood-work, with its gardens and
orchards; its houses for the Brothers, Sisters, and Bedeswomen, each
of whom continued to receive the same salary as that ordained by Queen
Eleanor. Service was held in the church for the inhabitants of the
Precinct, but the Hospital was wholly secular. The Master devoured by
far the greater part of the revenue, and the alms-people--Brothers,
Sisters, and Bedeswomen--had no duties to perform of any kind.

In the year 1698 this, the third chapter in the life of the Hospital,
was closed. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Somers, held in that year a
Visitation of the Hospital, the result of which is interesting,
because it shows, first, a lingering of the old ecclesiastical
traditions, and, next, the sense that something useful ought to be
done with the income of the Hospital. It was therefore ordered in the
new regulations provided by the Chancellor that the Brothers should be
in Holy Orders, and that a school of thirty-five boys and fifteen
girls should be maintained by the Hospital. It does not appear that
any duties were expected of the Brothers. Like the Fellows of colleges
at Oxford and Cambridge, they were all to be in priests' orders, and
for exactly the same reason, because at the original foundations of
the colleges, as well as of the Hospital, the Fellows were all
priests. As for the Master, he remained a layman. This new order of
things, therefore, raised the position of the Brothers, and gave a new
dignity to the Hospital; further, the School as well as the Bedeswomen
defined its position as a charity. It still fell far, very far, short
of what it might have done, but it was not between the years 1698 and
1825 quite so useless as it had been. A plan of the Precinct, with
drawings of the church, within and without, and of the monuments in
the church, may be found in Lysons. The obscurity of the Hospital, and
the neglect into which it fell during the last century, are shown by
the small attention paid to it in the books on London of the last
century, and the early years of the present century. Thus, in
Harrison's 'History of London,' though nearly every church in the City
and its immediate suburbs is figured, St. Katherine's is not drawn. In
Strype (edition 1720) there is no drawing of St. Katherine's; in
Dodsley's 'London,' 1761, it is described but not figured; and
Wilkinson, in his 'Londina Illustrata,' passes it over entirely. The
Hospital buildings consisted of a square, of which the north side was
occupied by the Master's house, with a large garden behind, and the
Master's orchard between his garden and the river; on the east and
west sides were the Brothers' houses; and on the south side of the
square was the church and the chapter-house. On the east of the church
was the burying-ground. South of the church was the Sisters' close,
with the houses occupied by the Sisters and the Bedeswomen. The old
Brothers' houses were taken down and rebuilt about the year 1755, and
the Master's house, an ancient building, full of carved timber-work,
had also been taken down, so that in the year 1825, when the Hospital
was finally destroyed, the only venerable building standing in the
Precinct was the church itself. To look at the drawings of this old
church and to think of the loving care with which it would have been
treated had it been allowed to stand till this day, and then to
consider the 'Gothic' edifice in Regent's Park, is indeed saddening.
The church consisted of the nave and chancel with two aisles, built by
Bishop Beckington, formerly the Master. The east window, 30 feet high
and 25 feet wide, had once been most beautiful when its windows were
stained. The tracery was still fine; a St. Katherine's wheel occupied
the highest part, and beneath it was a rose; but none of the windows
had preserved their painted glass, so that the general effect of the
interior must have been cold. The carved wood of the stalls and the
great pulpit, presented by Sir Julius Cæsar, may still be seen in the
Regent's Park Chapel, where are also some of the monuments. Of these
the church was full. The finest (now in Regent's Park) was that of
John Holland, Duke of Exeter, and his two wives. There was one of the
Hon. George Montague, Master of the Hospital, who died in the year
1681; and there was the monument with kneeling figures of one Cutting
and his wife, with his coat of arms. The seats of the stalls are
curiously carved, as is so often found, with grotesque figures--human
birds, monkeys, lions, boys riding hogs, angels playing bagpipes,
beasts with human heads, pelicans feeding their young, and the devil
with hoof and horns carrying off a brace of souls. There was more than
the customary wealth epitaphs. Thus, on the tablet to the memory of
the daughter of one of the Brothers was written:

  'Thus we by want, more than by having, learn
  The worth of things in which we claim concern.'

On that of William Cutting, a benefactor to Gonville and Caius,
Cambridge, is written:

  'Not dead, if good deedes could keep men alive,
  Nor all dead since good deedes do men revive.
  Gunville and Kaies his good deedes maie record,
  And will (no doubt) him praise therefor afford.'

On the tablet of Charles Stamford, clergyman:

  'Mille modis morimur mortaies, nascimur uno:
  Sunt hominum morbi milie sed una salus.'

And to the memory of Robert Beadles, free-mason, one of His Majesty's
gunners of the Tower, who died in the year 1683:

  'He now rests quiet, in his grave secure;
  Where still the noise of guns he can endure;
  His martial soul is doubtless now at rest,
  Who in his lifetime was so oft oppressed
  With care and fears, and strange cross acts of late,
  But now is happy and in glorious state.
  The blustering storm of life with him is o'er,
  And he is landed on that happy shore
  Where 'tis that he can hope and fear no more.'

There they lay buried, the good people of St. Katherine's Precinct.
They were of all trades, but chiefly belonged to those who go down to
the sea in ships. On the list of names are those of half a dozen
captains, one of them captain of H.M.S. _Monmouth_, who died in the
year 1706, aged 31 years; there are the names of Lieutenants; there
are those of sailmakers and gunners; there is a sergeant of Admiralty,
a moneyer of the Tower, a weaver, a citizen and stationer, a Dutchman
who fell overboard and was drowned, a surveyor and collector--all the
trades and callings that would gather together in this little
riverside district separated and cut off from the rest of London.
Among the people who lived here were the descendants of them who came
away with the English on the taking of Calais, Guisnes, and Hames.
They settled in a street called Hames and Guisnes Lane, corrupted into
Hangman's Gains. A census taken in the reign of Queen Elizabeth showed
that of those resident in the Precinct, 328 were Dutch, 8 were Danes,
5 were Polanders, 69 Were French--all hat-makers--2 Spanish, 1
Italian, and 12 Scotch. Verstegan, the antiquary, was born here, and
here lived Raymond Lully. During the last century the Precinct cane to
be inhabited almost entirely by sailors, belonging to every nation and
every religion under the sun.

This was the place which it was permitted to certain promoters of a
Dock Company to destroy utterly. A place with a history of seven
hundred years, which might, had its ecclesiastical character been
preserved and developed, have been converted into a cathedral for East
London; or, if its secular character had been maintained, might have
become a noble centre of all kinds of useful work for the great
chaotic city of East London. They suffered it to be destroyed. It has
been destroyed for sixty years. As for calling the place in Regent's
Park St. Katherine's Hospital, that, I repeat, is absurd. There is no
longer a St. Katherine's Hospital. As well call the garish new
building on the embankment Sion College. That is not, indeed, Sion
College. The London Clergy, who, of all people, might have been
expected to guard the monuments of the past, have sold Sion College
for what it would fetch. The site of the Cripplegate nunnery; of
Elsing's Spital for blind men; of Sion College, or Clergy House, has
been destroyed by its own trustees. The sweet old place, the
peacefullest spot in the whole city, with its long low library, its
Bedesmen's rooms, and its quiet reading room, is gone. You might just
as well destroy Trinity College, Cambridge, and then stick up a modern
wing to Somerset House, and call that Trinity. In the same way St.
Katherine's by the Tower was destroyed sixty years ago.

Let me repeat that the Hospital suffered four changes.

First, it was founded by Queen Matilda, for the repose of her
children's souls. Next, it was dissolved and again founded, and
subsequently endowed as a Religious House with chantries, certain
definite duties of masses for the dead, certain charitable trusts, and
other functions. Thirdly, when the Mass ceased to be said it was
secularized completely. Service was held in the church, but the
Hospital became a perfectly secular charity, supporting a few
almspeople with niggard hand, and a Master in great splendour.
Fourthly, it was again treated as a semi-ecclesiastical foundation,
for reasons which do not appear. At the same time, while its charities
were enlarged, no duties were assigned to the Brothers, who seem to
have been considered as Fellows, forming the Society, and, therefore,
like the Fellows at Oxford and Cambridge, obliged to be in Holy
Orders. Lastly, as we have seen, it was destroyed.

After the Hospital had been destroyed, a scheme for the management of
the revenues was suggested to Lord Elden, then Lord Chancellor, and
afterwards approved by Lord Lyndhurst. The question before the
Chancellor was, one would think, the following: 'Here is an annual
revenue of £5,000 and more, released by the destruction of the
Hospital. How can it be best applied for the general good or for the
benefit of the crowded city around the site of the old Hospital?'
That, however, was not the view of the Lord Chancellor. He said,

'Here is a large property which has hitherto been devoted to the use
of maintaining in idleness, and not as a reward or pension for good
work done, a Master, three Brothers, three Sisters, and ten poor
women. The ecclesiastical purposes for which the property was
originally got together have long since utterly vanished. The church
in which service used to be held is abolished, and the place where it
stood is turned into a dock. We will build a new church where none is
wanted, we will perpetuate the waste of all this money; the stipends
of the Brothers and Sisters shall be raised; to the Brothers shall be
assigned, nominally, the service in the chapel, but they shall have a
chaplain or reader, to prevent this duty from becoming onerous; the
Sisters shall have nothing at all to do; the Bedeswomen shall be
deprived of their houses and shall receive no advance in their pay,
but they shall be doubled in number. Twenty Bedesmen shall also be
added with the same pay, viz., £10 a year, or 4s. a week.[NOTE: Note
that in 1545 each Bedeswomen received 10d, a week, and each Sister
3s., so that the proportion of Bedeswoman's pay to Sister's pay was
then as 1:3'6. But Lord Lyndhurst takes away the houses from the poor
women and gives them no more pay, so that, without _counting the loss
of their houses_, the Bedeswoman's pay under Victoria is to the
Sister's pay as 1:19. The Victorian Bedeswoman was therefore
relatively reduced in proportion to the Sister six-fold compared with
her Tudor predecessor.] The Master shall have a beautiful house with a
garden, conservancy, stabling for seven horses, and £1,200 a year,
besides comfortable perquisites. He shall have no duties except the
presidency of the chapter. And in order that the thing may not seem
perfectly and profoundly ridiculous there shall be a school of
twenty-four boys and twelve girls.'

This was the solution proposed and adopted by two eminent Chancellors,
and carried into effect for thirty years. During the years 1858-1863
the average revenue was £7,460 8s. 2-3/4d. Of this sum the Master,
Brethren, and Sisters absorbed with their buildings £4,102 8s.
2-3/4d.; the management expenses Were £909 5s. 6d.; the chapel cost
£211 17s. 11d., sundries amounted to £141 6s. 10-3/4 d.; and the
useful portion of the expenditure was represented by the sum of £554
9s. 7-1/2 d. Absolute uselessness--for the chapel was by no means
wanted--is represented by £6,904, and usefulness by £554--a proportion
of very nearly 12-1/2:1.

Yet another opportunity occurred of dealing rationally with this large

In the year 1871 a Royal Commission was appointed to examine 'into
several matters relative to the Royal Hospital of St. Katherine near
the Tower.' The question might again have been raised how best to
apply the large revenues for the general good. The Commissioners had
before them quite clearly the way in which the seven thousand and odd
pounds a year was being spent; they could arrive as easily as
ourselves at the proportion above set forth, viz.:

  Waste : usefulness :: 12-1/2 : 1.

They threw away this opportunity; they could not tear away the
ecclesiastical rags with which the new foundation of 1827--the mock
St. Katherine's--has been wrapped in imitation of the old. In an age
when the universities have been secularized, when the Fellows of
colleges are no longer required to be in Orders, when every useless
old charity is being reformed, and every endowment reconsidered with a
view to making it useful to the living as, under former conditions, it
was to the dead, they actually proposed to increase the uselessness
and the waste by adding a fourth Brother (which has not been done),
and raising the stipends of Brothers and Sisters. They also
recommended the establishment of an upper school, with 'foundation
boarders.' Considering that the upper and middle classes have already
appropriated to their own use almost every educational endowment in
the country, this proposition seems too ridiculous. The whole Report
is indeed a marvellous illustration of the tenacity of old prejudices.
Yet it did one good thing; it recommended that the accounts of the
Hospital should be submitted every year to the Charity Commissioners,
thus distinctly recognising the fact that the new foundation is not an
ecclesiastical institution, but a charity.

The Report mentions several propositions which had been laid before
the Commissioners during their inquiry for the application of the
revenues. The Committee of the Adult Orphan Institution thought that
they should like to administer the funds; the Rector of St.
George's-in-the-East thought that he should very much like to use them
for the purpose of converting that parish into 'a collegiate church,
under a dean and canons, who, with a sisterhood, might devote
themselves to the spiritual benefit, etc.'; others suggested that a
missionary collegiate church should be established 'as a centre of
missionary work for the East of London, with model schools, refuges,
reformatories, etc., conducted by the clergy.' Others, again, pleaded
for the use of the money in aid of the crowded parishes near the

The Commissioners were of a different opinion. The Hospital, they
said, never had a local character. This is the most startling
statement that ever issued from the mouth of a Lord Chancellor. Not a
local character? Then for whom were the services of the church held?
Where were the Bedeswomen found? Where the poor scholars? Where did
the church stand? Who got the doles? Not a local character? We might
as well contend, for example, that Rochester Cathedral and Close and
School have no local character; that Portsmouth Dockyard has no local
character; that Westminster School has no local character. St.
Katherine's Hospital belonged to its Precinct, where it had stood for
some hundred years. As well pretend that the Tower itself has no local
character. The 'local character' of St. Katherine's grew year by year:
the founder thought only to make a bridge for her children from
purgatory to heaven by the harmonious voices of the Master, the
Brothers, and the Sisters; but purpose widens. Presently purgatory
disappears, and the whole ecclesiastical part of the foundation,
except service in the church, vanishes with it. There remain, however,
the revenues, and these belong, if any revenues could, to the

In the year 1863 the proportion of waste to profit was as 12-1/2:1.
Has this proportion in the quarter of a century which has elapsed
increased or has it decreased?

From time to time, as we have seen, the question forces itself upon
men's minds--whether this revenue could not be administered to better
advantage. Lord Somers encounters the difficulty in the year 1698;
Lord Lyndhurst in 1829; Lord Hatherley in 1871. I suppose that even a
Lord Chancellor does not claim infallible wisdom. Therefore I venture
to insist upon the facts that the Reformation destroyed the Religious
House of St. Katherine; that the changes made by Lord Somers only made
the old Hospital useless; and that the Royal Commission of the year
1871 confirmed, in the new foundation, the later uselessness of the
old. The House of Shams and Shadows in Regent's Park is not the old
St. Katherine's at all; that is dead and done with; it is a fungus
which sprang up yesterday, which is not wholesome for human food, and
uses up, for no good purpose, the soil in which it grows.

Yet, because one would not be charged with unfairness, what does the
Rev. Simcox Lea, in his history of St. Katherine's Hospital (Longmans,
1878), say?

'St. Katherine's Hospital is an Ecclesiastical Corporation, returned
as a "Promotion Spiritual" in the reign of Henry VIII., and so
acknowledged by law in the reign of Charles I. It takes its place as a
Collegiate Church with Westminster and Windsor. The Clerical Head of
its Chapter, the Master of the Hospital, will be entitled, unless Her
Majesty shall see fit otherwise to direct, to the style of Very
Reverend and the rank of Dean. The Brothers have the status and
dignity of Canons Residentiary, and through the Sisters of the Chapter
the parallel dignity of Canonesses is preserved, under another style,
to the English Church of our day. The Collegiate Chapter holds its
entire revenues subject to certain eleemosynary trusts embodied in its
original constitution, the ecclesiastical and the charitable charges
belonging alike to all the estates instead of being assigned
separately to different portions of them.... All these principles of
the constitution of St. Katherine's must be kept in view in any scheme
which it may be proposed to submit, or in any suggestions which may be
offered through the press, for the consideration of the Lord
Chancellor in reference to the advice which he may submit to the
Queen.... St. Katherine's Hospital is no more a "Charity" than
Westminster Abbey is a Charity, and to describe it as such, after the
true facts of the case are known, will leave any writer or speaker
open to the charge of discourtesy, directly offered to a capitular
body whose personal constitution is worthy of its high and ancient
corporate ecclesiastical dignity, and indirectly through the members
of the Chapter, to the Queen.'

It will thus be seen that those of us who think that the place is a
Charity, and therefore call it one--including Lord Eldon and Lord
Lyndhurst, the Report of the Charity Commissioners in 1866, and Lord
Hatherley in 1871--are open to the charge of discourtesy. Well, let us
remain open to that charge; it does not kill. If it is not a Charity,
what is it? A place for getting the souls of rich men out of
purgatory? But the souls of rich men no longer in this country have
the privilege of being bought out of purgatory. Then what is it? A
place where seven well-born ladies and gentlemen are provided with
excellent houses and comfortable incomes--for doing what? Nothing.

Let us, if we must, offer a compromise. Let the Master, Brothers, and
Sisters, now forming the Society of New St. Katherine's, remain in
Regent's Park. We will not disturb them. Let them enjoy their salaries
so long as they live. At their deaths let those who love shams and
pretences appoint other Brothers and Sisters who will have all the
dignity of the position without the houses or the salaries. We may
even go so far as to provide a chaplain for the service of the chapel,
if the good people of the Terraces would like those services to
continue. But as for the rest of the income one cannot choose but
ask--and, if the request be not granted, ask again, and again--that it
be restored to that part of London to which it belongs. One would not,
with the person who communicated with the Commissioners, insult East
London by founding a 'Missionary' College in its midst unless it be
allowed to have branches in Belgravia, Lincoln's Inn, the Temple, St.
John's Wood, South Kensington, and other parts of West London; we will
certainly not ask permission to turn St. George's-in-the-East into a
Collegiate Church with a Dean and Canons, 'and a sisterhood.' But one
must ask that the pretence and show of keeping up this ugly and
useless modern place as the ancient and venerable Hospital be
abandoned as soon as possible. That old Hospital is dead and
destroyed; its ecclesiastical existence had been dead long before, its
lands and houses and funds remain to be used for the benefit of the

Ten thousand pounds a year! This is a goodly estate. Think what ten
thousand pounds a year might do, well administered! Think of the
terrible and criminal waste in suffering all that money, which belongs
to East London, to be given away--year after year--in profitless alms
to ladies and gentlemen in return for no services rendered or even
pretended. Ten thousand pounds a year would run a magnificent school
of industrial education; it would teach thousands of lads and girls
how to use their heads and hands; it would be a perennial living
stream, changing the thirsty desert into flowery meads and fruitful
vineyards; it would save thousands of boys from the dreadful doom--a
thing of these latter days--of being able to learn no trade; it would
dignify thousands, and tens of thousands, of lives with the knowledge
and mastery of a craft; it would save from degradation and from
slavery thousands of women; it would restrain thousands of men from
the beery slums of drink and crime. Above all--perhaps this is the
main consideration--the judicious employment of ten thousand pounds a
year would be presently worth many millions a year to London from the
skilled labour it would cultivate and the many arts it would develop
and foster.

It is a cruel thing--a most cruel thing--to destroy wantonly anything
that is venerable with age and associated with the memories of the
past. It was a horrible thing to destroy that old Hospital. But it is
gone. The house of Shams and Shadows in Regent's Park has got nothing
whatever to do with it. Its revenues did not make the old Hospital;
that was made up by its ancient church; by the old buildings clustered
round the church; by the old customs of the Precinct, with its Courts,
temporal and spiritual, its offices and its prison; by its
burial-grounds, with its Bedesmen and Bedeswomen, and by the rough
sailor population which dwelt in its narrow lanes and courts. How
_could_ that place be allowed to suffer destruction? But when the old
thing is gone we must cast about for the best uses of anything which
once belonged to it. And of all the uses to which the revenues of the
old Hospital might be put, the present seems the most unfit and the
least worthy.

Again, if Queen Matilda in these days wished to do a good work, what
would she found? There are many purposes for which benevolent persons
bequeath and grant money. They are not the old purposes. They all
mean, nowadays, the advancement and bettering of the people. A great
lady spends thousands in founding a market; a man with much money
presents a free library to his native town; collections are made for
hospitals; everything is for the bettering of the people. We have not
yet advanced to the stage of bettering he rich people; but that will
come very shortly. In fact, the condition of the rich is already
exciting the gravest apprehensions among their poorer brethren. We can
trace, easily enough, the progress and growth of charity. It begins at
home, with anxiety for one's own soul first, and the souls of one's
children next. Charities give way to doles; doles are succeeded by
almshouses; these again by charity schools. The present generation has
begun to understand that the truest charity consists in throwing open
the doors to honest effort, and in helping those who help themselves.
Else what is the meaning of technical schools? What else mean the
classes at the People's Palace, the Polytechnic, the Evening
Recreation Schools, and the City of London Guilds Institute?

I believe that a conviction of the new truer charity, and of the
futility of the old modes, is destined to sink deeper and deeper into
men's hearts, until our working classes will perhaps fall into the
extreme in unforgiving hardness towards those whom unthrift,
profligacy, idleness, have brought to want. But with this conviction
is growing up the absolute necessity of more technical schools and
better industrial training. We want to make our handicraftsmen better
than any foreigners. More than that, there are some who say that the
very existence of the United Kingdom as a Power depends upon our doing
this. Can we afford any longer to keep up, at a yearly loss of all the
power represented by ten thousand pounds a year, that house of Shams
and Shadows which we call by the name of the ancient and venerable
Hospital of St. Katherine's by the Tower?



The most striking part of the great Social Revolution which was
witnessed by the earlier years of the twentieth century was the event
which preceded that Revolution, made it possible, and moulded it;
namely, the Conquest of the Professions by the people. Happily it was
a Conquest achieved without exciting any active opposition; it
advanced unnoticed, step by step, and it was unsuspected, as regards
its real significance, until the end was inevitable and visible to
all. It is my purpose in this Chapter, first to show what was the
position of the mass of the nation before this event, as regards the
Professions; and next to relate briefly the successive events which
led to the Conquest, and so prepared the way for the abolition of all
that was then left of the old aristocratic régime.

Speaking in general terms--the exceptions shall be noted
afterward--the Professions during the whole of the nineteenth century
were jealously barred and closed in and fenced round. Admission, in
theory, could only be obtained by young men of gentle birth and good
breeding. Not that there was any expressed rule to that effect. It was
not written over the gateway of Lincoln's Inn that none but gentlemen
were to be admitted, nor was it ever stated in any book or paper that
none but gentlemen were to be called. But, as you will be shown
immediately, the barring of the gate against the lad of humble origin
was quite as effectually accomplished without any law, mule, or
regulation whatever.

The professional avenues of distinction which, early in the twentieth
century, were only three or four, had, by the end of the century, been
multiplied tenfold by the birth or creation of new Professions.
Formerly a young man of ambition might go into tho Church, into one of
the two services, into the Law, or into Medicine. He might also, if he
were a country gentleman, go into the House of Commons. At the end of
the century the professional career included, besides these, all the
various branches of Science, all the forms of Art, all the divisions
of Literature, Music, Architecture, the Drama, Engineering, Teaching,
Archaeology, Political Economy, and, in fact, every conceivable
subject to which the mind of man can worthily devote itself.

In all these branches there were great--in some, very great--prizes to
be obtained; prizes not always of money, but of honour: in some of
them the prizes included what was considered the greatest of all
rewards--a Peerage. The country, indeed, was already beginning to
insist that the national distinctions should be bestowed upon all
those--and only upon those--who rendered real services to the State.
One poet had been made a Peer. One man of science had been made a
Privy Councillor, and another a Peer; two painters had been made
baronets; and the humble distinction of Knight Bachelor, which had
been tossed contemptuously to city sheriffs, provincial mayors, and
undistinguished persons who used back-stairs influence to get the
title, was now brought into better consideration by being shared by a
few musicians, engineers, physicians, and others. Nothing could more
clearly show the real contempt in which literature and science were
held in an aristocratic country than that, although there were a dozen
degrees of peerage and half a dozen orders of knighthood, there was
not one order reserved for men of science, literature, and art. Feeble
protests from time to time were made against this absurdity, but in
the end it proved useful, because the chief argument against the
continuance of titles of honour in the great debate on the subject, in
the year 1920, was the fact that all through the nineteenth century
the men who most deserved the thanks and recognition of the State were
(with the exception of soldiers and lawyers) absolutely neglected by
the Court and the House of Lords.

Let us consider by what usages, rather than by what rules, the
Professions were barred to the people. In the Church a young man could
not be ordained under the age of twenty-three. Nor would the Bishop
ordain him, as a rule, unless he was a graduate of Oxford or
Cambridge. This meant that he was to stay at school, and that a good
school, till the age of nineteen; that he was then to devote four
years more to carrying on his studies in a very expensive manner; in
other words, that he must be able to spend at least a thousand pounds
before he could obtain Orders, and that he would then receive pay at a
much lower rate than a good carpenter or engine-driver.

At the Bar it was the custom for a man to enter his name after leaving
the University: he would then be called at five or six-and-twenty. A
young man must be able to keep himself until that age, and even
longer, because a lawyer's practice begins slowly. There were also
very heavy dues on entrance and on being called. In plain terms, no
young man could enter at the Bar who did not possess or command, at
least, a thousand pounds.

In the lower branch of the law a young man might, it is true, be
admitted at twenty-one. But he had to pay a heavy premium for his
articles, and large fees both at entrance and on passing the
examination which admitted him. Not much less, therefore, including
his maintenance, than a thousand pounds would be required of him
before he began to make anything for himself. A medical man, even one
who only desired to become a general practitioner, had to work through
a five years' course, with hospital fees. Like the solicitor, he might
qualify for about a thousand pounds.

In all the new Professions, chemistry, physics, biology, zoology,
geology, botany, and the other branches of science, engineering,
mining, surveying, assying, architecture, actuary
work--everything--long a apprenticeship was needed with special
studies in costly colleges.

In Teaching, he who aspired to the more distinguished branches had no
chance at all, unless he was a graduate in the highest honours of
Oxford and Cambridge.

In the Arts--painting, sculpture, music--long practice, devoted study,
and exclusive thought were essential.

The Civil Service was divided into two branches, both open to
competitive examination. The higher branch attracted first-class men
of Oxford and Cambridge; the lower, clever and well-taught men from
the Middle Class Schools. But the latter could not pass into the

In the Army, the only branch in which a man could live upon his pay
was the scientific branch, open to anybody who could compete in a very
stiff examination after a long and very expensive course of study, and
could pay £200 a year for two or three years after entrance. In the
other branches of the services, a young lieutenant could not live upon
his pay.

In the Navy the examinations were frequent and severe, while the pay
was very small.

The barrier, therefore, which kept the Professions in the hands of the
upper classes was a simple tollgate. At the toll stood a man. 'Come,'
he said, holding out an inexorable palm. 'With an education which has
cost you already a thousand pounds, be ready to pay down another
thousand more. Then you shall be admitted among the ranks of those for
whom are reserved the highest prizes of the State--viz., Authority,
Honour, and Wealth.'

It is apparent, then, that no one could enter the Professions who had
no money. No need to write up 'None but the sons of gentlemen may
apply.' Very many sons of gentlemen, in fact, had to turn away
sorrowfully after gazing with wistful eyes upon that ladder which they
knew that they, too, could climb, as well as a Denman or an Erskine.
As for the sons of poor parents, they could not so much as think of
the ladder: they hardly knew that it existed: they cared nothing about
it. As well sigh for the Lord Mayor's gilt carriage and four, or the
Field Marshal's baton. No poor lad could aspire to the Professions at
all. In other words, out of a population of thirty-seven millions, or
eight millions of families, the way of distinction was open only to
the young man belonging to the half million families--perhaps
less--who could expend upon their son's education a thousand pounds

Nor for a long time was the exclusion felt or even recognised. He who
wished to rise out of the working class either became a small master
of his own trade, or else he opened a small shop of some kind. But he
did not aspire to become a physician or a barrister or a clergyman.
And it never occurred to him that such a career could be open to him.

But as happened every day, such a man had got on in the world and was
ambitious for his son, he made him a doctor or a solicitor, these
being the two Professions which cost least--or perhaps he made him a
mechanical engineer, though it might cost a good deal more. Perhaps if
the boy was clever, he managed to send him to the University with the
intention of getting him ordained. Such was the first upward step in
gentility--first, to become a master instead of a servant; then, to
belong to a profession rather than a trade. Always, however, one had
to settle with the man at the toll.

He was inexorable. 'Pay down,' he said, 'a thousand pounds if you
would be admitted within this bar.'

The young man, therefore, whose father worked for wages, or for a
small salary, or in a small way of trade, could not so much as dream
of entering any of the Professions. They were as much closed to him as
the gates of Paradise. But during the nineteenth century a new
Profession was created, and this was open to him. This they could not
close. It had already grown went and strong before they thought of
closing it. It was open to the poor man's son. He went into it. And
with the help of it, as with a key, he opened all the rest. You shall
understand immediately what this was.

I have spoken of certain exceptions to this exclusion of the lower
classes. There were provided at the public schools and the
Universities scholarships founded for the purpose of enabling poor
lads to carry on their studies. 'The schools had long ceased to be the
property of the poor for whom they were designed: their scholarships,
mostly of recent foundation, were granted by competitive examination
to those boys who had already spent a large sum of money on
preliminary work. The scholarships of the colleges at Oxford and
Cambridge were also given by examination, without the least
consideration of the candidates' private resources. There was,
however, a chance that a poor lad might get one of these. If he did,
everything was open to him. The annals of the Universities contain
numberless instances in which lads from the lower middle class made
their way, and a few instances--a very few--here one and there one--in
which the sons of working men thus forced themselves upward. We must
remember these scholarships when we speak of the barrier, but we must
not attach too much importance to them. One may also recall many
instances of generosity when a bay of parts was discovered, educated,
and sent to the University by a rich or noble patron.

In the Army, again, many men rose from the ranks and obtained
commissions. In the Navy, this was always impossible, with one or two
brilliant exceptions--as the case of Captain Cook.

It may be said that there are many cases on record in which men of
quite humble origin have advanced themselves in trade, even to
becoming Lord Mayor of London. Could not a poor lad do in the
nineteenth century what Whittington did in the fourteenth? Could he
not tie up his belongings in a handkerchief and make for London, where
the streets were paved with gold, and the walls were built of jasper?
Well, you see, in this matter of the poor lad and his elevation to
giddy heights there has been a little mistake, principally due to the
chap-books. The poor lad who worked his way upward in the nineteenth
century belonged to the bourgeoise, not the craftsman class. While his
schoolfellows remained clerks, he, by some early good fortune--by
marriage, by cousinship, was enabled to get his foot on the ladder, up
which he proceeded to climb with strength and resolution. The poor lad
who got on in earlier times was the son of a country gentleman. Dick
Whittington was the son of Sir William Whittington, Knight and
afterwards outlaw. He was apprenticed to his cousin, Sir John
Fitzwarren, Mercer and merchant-adventurer, son of Sir William
Fitzwarren, Knight. Again, Chichele, Lord Mayor, and his younger
brother, Sheriff, and his elder brother, Archbishop of Canterbury,
were sons of one Chichele, Gentleman and Armiger of Higham Ferrers in
the county of Northampton. Sir Thomas Gresham was the son of Sir
Richard Gresham, nephew of Sir John Gresham, and younger brother of
Sir John Gresham, also of a good old country family. In fact, we may
look in vain through the annals of London city for the rise of the
humble boy from the ranks of the craftsmen. Once or twice, perhaps,
one may find such a case. If we consider the early years of the
nineteenth century, when the long wars attracted to the army all the
younger sons, it does seem as if the Mayors and Aldermen must have
come from very humble beginnings. Even then, however, we find on
investigation that the city fathers of that time had mostly sprung
from small shops. They were never, to begin with, craftsmen, and at
the end of the century any such rise was never dreamed of by the most
ambitious. The clerk, if a lad became a clerk, remained a clerk: he
had no hope of becoming anything else. The shopman remained a shopman,
his only hope being the establishment of himself as a master if he
could save enough money. The craftsman remained a craftsman. And for
partnerships there were always plenty--younger sons and others--eager
to buy themselves in, or there were sons and nephews waiting their
turn. No son of a working man, or a clerk, could hope for any other
advancement in the City than advancement to higher salary for long and
faithful service.

Once more, then, the situation was this: To him who could afford to
earn nothing till he was two-and-twenty, and little till he was
five-and-twenty, and could find the money for fees, lectures, and
courses and coaches, everything that the country had to offer was
open. With this limitation there was never any country in which prizes
were more open than Great Britain and Ireland. A clever lad might
enter the Royal Engineers or Artillery with a tolerable certainty of
being a Colonel and a K.C.B. at fifty; or he might go into the Church
where if he had ability and had cultivated eloquence and possessed
good manners, he might count on a Bishopric; or he might go to the
Bar, where, if he was lucky, he might become a judge or even Lord
Chancellor. Unless, however, he could provide the capital wanted for
admission, he could attain to nothing--nothing--nothing.

What became, then, of the clever lad? In some cases he became a clerk,
crowding into a trade already overcrowded. He trampled on his
competitors, because most of them, the sons and grandsons of clerks,
had no ambition and no perception of the things wanted. This young
fellow had. He taught himself the things that were wanted; he
generally took therefore the best place. But he had to remain a clerk.

Or, more often, he became a teacher in a Board School. In this
capacity he obtained a certain amount of social consideration, a
certain amount of independence, and an income varying From £150 to
£400 a year.

Or, which also happened frequently, he might become a dissenting
minister of the humbler kind. In that case he had every chance of
passing through life in a little chapel at a small town, a slave to
his own, and to his congregation's, narrow prejudices.

Or, he might go abroad, to one of the Colonies. Earlier in the
century, between the years 1850 and 1880, many poor lads had gone to
Australia or New Zealand and had done well for themselves, a few had
become millionaires; but by the year 1890 these Colonies, considered
as likely places wherein it young man could advance himself, seemed
played out. Working-men they wanted, but not clever and penniless
young fellows.

He might, it has been suggested, go into the House. There were already
one or two workingmen in the House. But they were sent there
especially to represent certain interests by working-men, not because
their representative was an ambitious and clever young man. And the
working-man's member, so far, had advanced a very little way as a
political success. It was not in Politics that a young man would find
his opening.

This brings us to the one career open to him--he might become a
Journalist. It is an attractive profession: and even in its lower
walks it seems a branch of literature. There is independence of hours:
the pay depends upon the man's power of work: there are great openings
in it and--to the rising lad at least--what seems a noble possibility
in the shape of pay. Many distinguished men have been journalists,
from Charles Dickens downward. Nearly all the novelists have dabbled
with journalism; and, since all of us cannot be novelists, the young
man might reflect that there are editor, sub-editors, assistant
editors, news-editors, leader writers, descriptive writers, reviewers,
dramatic critics, art and music critics, wanted for every paper. He
could become a journalist and he could rise to the achievement of
these ambitions.

At first he rose a very little way, despite his ambition, because in
every branch of letters imperfect education is an insuperable
obstacle. Still he could become news-editor, descriptive reporter,
paragraph writer, and even, in the case of country papers, editor.
Sometimes he passed from the office of the journal to that of one of
the many societies, where he became secretary and succeeded in getting
his name associated with some cause, which gave him some position and
consideration. Whether he succeeded greatly or not, his whole object
was to pass from the class which has no possible future to the class
for which everything is open. His sons would be gentlemen, and if he
could only find the necessary funds, they should make what he had been
unable to make, an attempt upon the prizes of the State.

This was the situation at the beginning of the last decade of the
nineteenth century. It is summed up by saying that all the avenues to
honour and power were closed and barred to the lad who could not
command a thousand pounds at least. Let us pass on.

Most thoughtful people have considered the growth and development of
the great educational movement whose origin belongs to the nineteenth
century; whose development so profoundly affects the history of our

It began, like the spread of scientific knowledge, and the reforms in
the Old Constitution, and everything else, with the introduction of
railways. Before the end of the century the country was covered with
schools, as it was also covered with railways. There was hardly a man
or woman living when the nineteenth century ended who could not read;
there were few indeed who did not read. But the school course
naturally taught little beyond the elements and was already completed
when the pupil reached his fourteenth year. He was then taken from
school and put to work, apprenticed--set to something which was to be
his trade. Clever or stupid, keen of intellect or dull, that was to be
the lot of the boy. He was set to learn how to earn his livelihood.

About the year 1885 or 1890--no exact date can be fixed for the birth
of a new idea--began a very remarkable extension of the educational
movement. It was discovered by philanthropists that something ought to
be done with the boys after they had left school. The first intentions
seem to have been simply to keep them out of mischief. Having nothing
to do the lads naturally took to loafing about the streets, smoking
bad tobacco, drinking, gambling, and precocious love-making. It was
also perceived by economists about the same time that unless something
was done for technical education, the old superiority of the British
craftsman would speedily vanish. It was further pointed out that the
education of the Board Schools gave the pupils little more than the
mastery of the merest elements, the tools by means of which knowledge
could be acquired. In order, therefore, to carry on general education
and to provide technical training there were started simultaneously in
every great town, but especially in London, Technical Schools,
'Continuation' Classes, Polytechnics, Young Men's Associations and
Clubs, Guilds for instruction and recreation--under whatever form they
were known, they were all schools.

Then the young working lad was invited to enter himself at one of
these places, and to spend his evenings there. 'Come,' said the
founders, 'you are at an age when everything is new and everything is
delightful. Give up all your present joys. Send the girl with whom you
keep company, night after night, home to her mother. Put down your
cherished cigarette, cease to stand about in bars, give up drinking
beer, go no more to the music-hall. Abandon all that you delight in.
And come to us. After working all day long at your trade, come to us
and work all the evening at books.'

A strange invitation! To forego delights and live laborious evenings.
Stranger still, the lads accepted the invitation. They accepted in
thousands. They consented to work every evening as well as every day.
The inducements to join were, in fact, artfully devised with a full
knowledge of boys' nature. What a boy desires, over and above
everything else, more than the company of a girl, more than idleness,
more than gambling, more than beer-drinking, more than tobacco, is
association with other lads of the same age. These Polytechnics or
Institutes or Clubs gave him, first of all, that association. They
provided him with societies of every kind. They added recreation to
study; pleasure to work. If half of the evening was spent in a
classroom, or in a workshop, the other half was passed in orderly
amusement. There was, moreover, every kind of choice; the lad felt
himself free, there were, to be sure, barriers here and there, but he
did not feel them; there was a steady pressure upon him in certain
directions, but he did not feel it; in some there were
prayer-meetings; the boys were not obliged to go, but some time or
other they found themselves present. Then there were some who wore the
blue ribbon of temperance; nobody was obliged to assume that symbol,
but somehow most of them did, without feeling that they had been
pressed to do so. For the very work and life and atmosphere of the
place into which beer was not admitted gave them a dislike for beer,
with its coarse and rough associations. Insensibly the boy who joined
was led upward to a nobler and higher level.

The motives which were strong enough to persuade a working lad to work
on, over hours, may he partly understood by considering one of these
Institutions--the largest and the most popular--the Polytechnic of
Regent Street, called familiarly the Regent Street 'Poly,' with its
thirteen thousand members. Take first its social side, as offering
naturally greater attractions than its educational side. It contained
about forty clubs. The new member on joining was asked in a pamphlet
these three questions:

1. 'Do you wish to make friends?'

2. 'Are you anxious to improve yourself?'

3. 'Do you seek the best opportunities of recreation in your leisure

Observe that the serious object is placed between the other two. What
the Poly lads said to the new member was: 'Come in and have a good old
time with us.' It was for the good old time that the new member
joined. Once in he could look about him and choose. The Gymnasium, the
Boxing Club, the Swimming Club, the Roller-skating Club, the Cricket,
Football, Lawn Tennis, Athletic, Rowing, Cycling, Ramblers and
Harriers Clubs all invited him to join. Surely, among so many clubs
there must be one that he would like. Of course they had their showy
uniform, their envied Captains and other officers, their field days,
their public days, and their prizes. Or there was the Volunteer Corps,
with its Artillery Brigade, and its Volunteer Medical Staff Corps.
There was the Parliament, conducted on the same rules as that of the
House of Commons. For the quieter lads there were Sketching, Natural
History, Photographic, Orchestral, and Choral Societies. There was a
Natural History Society and an Electrical Engineering Society. There
were also associations for religious and moral objects; a Christian
Workers' Union, a Temperance Society, a Social League, a Polytechnic
Mission, and a Bible Class. There were reading-rooms and
refreshment-rooms; in the suburbs there were playing-fields for them.
Up the river was a house-boat for the Rowing Club, the largest on the
Thames. Add to all this an intense 'College feeling'; an ardent
enthusiasm for the Poly; friendships the most faithful; a wholesome,
invigorating, stimulating atmosphere; the encouragement always felt of
bravo endeavour and noble effort, and high principle--in one word the
gift to the young fellows of the working class of all that the public
schools and universities could offer that was best and most precious.
Such an institution as the Polytechnic--mother and sister of so many
others--was a revolution in itself.

But for the second question: 'Are you anxious to improve yourself?'
What answer was given? Strange to say the answer was also very
decidedly in the affirmative.

The young fellows were anxious to improve themselves. Now, mark the
difference between these working lads and the boys from the public
schools. Had such a question been put to the latter their answer would
have been a contemptuous stare, or a contemptuous laugh. Improve
themselves? They were already improved. They were so far improved that
nine-tenths of them were contented with the moderate amount of
knowledge necessary for the practice of their professions. If one
became a solicitor, a doctor, a schoolmaster, a barrister, a
clergyman, it was sufficient for him, in most cases, just to pass the
examinations. Then, no further improvement for the rest of their
natural life. But these others, who had everything to gain, whose
ambitions were just awakening, who were just beginning to understand
that there was every inducement to improve themselves, joined the
classes, and began to work with as much zeal as they showed in their

What they learned concerns us little. It may be recorded, however,
that they learned everything. Practical trades were taught; technical
classes were held; there was a School of Science in which such
subjects as chemistry, physics, mathematics, mechanics, building, were
taught. There was a School of Art, in which wood modelling, carving,
and other minor arts were taught, as well as painting and drawing.
There was a Commercial School for Arithmetic, Book-keeping, Shorthand,
Typewriting; French, German, etc., were taught; there were Musical
Classes, Elocution Classes, a School of Engineering, a School of
Photography. Enough; it will be seen that everything a lad might
desire to learn he could learn and did learn.

But the Polytechnic was only one of many such institutions. In London
alone there existed, in the year 1893, between two and three hundred,
large and small; there were nearly fifty branches of the University
Extension Scheme; the Continuation classes were held in many Board
Schools, while of special clubs, mostly for athletic purposes, the
number was legion. As for the numbers enrolled in these associations,
already in 1893, when those things were all young, one finds 13,000
members of the Regent Street Poly, 4,000 at the People's Palace; the
same number at the Birkbeck; the same at the Goldsmiths' Institute; at
the City of London College, 2,500; and so on. Of the Athletic Clubs
the Cyclists' Union alone contained no fewer than 20,000 members.

Figures may mean anything. It is, however, significant that in a
population of five millions which gives perhaps 700,000 young men
between fifteen and twenty, of whom about 100,000 were below the rank
of craftsmen and 100,000 above, there should have been found a few
years after the introduction of the system about 70,000 youths wise
enough and resolute enough to join these classes.

It must be owned that only the more generous spirits--the nobler
sort--were attracted by the Polytechnics. They were a first selection
from the mass. Of these, again, another selection was made--those few
who studied the things which at first sight appeared to be least
useful. Everyone who knew a craft could see the wisdom of acquiring
perfection in his trade; everyone who was a clerk, or who hoped to
become a clerk, could see the advantage of learning shorthand,
book-keeping, French and German. What did that boy aim at who studied
Latin, Greek, and Mathematics, matriculated and took his degree at the
London University, then an examining body only? Why did he learn time
things? He did not learn them, remember, in the perfunctory way in
which a public-school boy generally works through his subjects; he
learned as if he meant to know these subjects; he devoured his books;
he tore the heart out of them; he compelled them to give up their
secrets. He had everything to get for himself, while the public-school
boy had everything given to him.

When it was done, when he had acquired as much knowledge as any
average boy from the best public school, when he had read in the Poly
Reading Room all that there was to read, what was he to do? For when
he looked about him he saw, stretching before him, fair and stately,
the long avenues which led to distinction; but before each there was a
toll-gate, and at the gate stood a man, saying, 'Pay me first a
thousand pounds. Then, and not till then, you shall enter.'

Alas! and he had not a sixpence--he, or his parents. And so perforce
he must stand aside, while other lads, without his intellect and
courage, paid the money, and were admitted.

There was but one outlet. He might become a journalist. He had learned
shorthand, a necessary accomplishment; therefore, he got an
appointment as reporter and general hand on a country paper. Such a
youth in these years of which we write was uncommon, but he very soon
became much more common. The charm of learning was discovered by one
lad after another. The chance of exchanging the craftsman's work for
the scholar's work, never thought of before, fired the brains of
hundreds first, and thousands afterward. Then began a rage for
learning. All those who had abilities even mediocre tried to escape
their lot by working at the higher subjects. It was reproached to the
Polytechnics that their original purpose, to bring the boys together
for common discipline and orderly recreation, and to train them in
their crafts, was departed from, and that all their energies were now
devoted to turning working lads into classical scholars,
mathematicians, logicians, and historians.

Nor was the complaint wholly unfounded. But it was too late to recede.
The boys crowded to the classes; they read and worked with incredible
eagerness; they thought that to be a man of books was better than to
be a man with a saw and a plane. Ambition seized them seized them by
tens of thousands; they would rise. Learning was their stepping-stone.
The recreative side of the Polytechnics was lost in the educational
side. Never before had there been such an ardour, such a thirst for
knowledge; yet only for knowledge as a means to rise. And there was
but one outlet. That, in the course of a few years, became congested.
Journalism, as the number of papers increased, demanded more workmen,
and still more. These young men from the Polytechnic filled up every
vacancy. They had seized upon this profession and made it their own;
those who did not belong to them were gradually, but surely, ousted.
It was recognised that it was the profession of the young man who
wanted to get on. Some there were who affected to lament an alleged
decay; the old scholarly style, they said, was gone; there was also
gone the old reverence for authority, rank, and the established order.
Perhaps the journal, as the new men made it, was above all vigorous.
But it was _true_, which could not always be said of the papers before
their time. From their college--the old Poly--the young men carried
away a love of truth and right dealing which, once imported into the
newspaper press, made it an engine far more mighty--an influence far
more potent--than ever it had been before. There may have been some
loss in style, though many of them wrote gracefully, and many showed
on occasion a wonderful command of wit, sarcasm and satire. But
because the papers were always truthful the writers always knew what
they wanted, and so their work had the strength of directness.

A few, but very few, continued at the work, whatever it might be, to
which they had been apprenticed. Then their lives were spent in a day
of painful drudgery, followed by an evening of delightful study. Very
few heard of these men. Now and then one would be discovered by a
clergyman working in his parish; now and then one emerged from
obscurity by means of a letter or a paper contributed to some journal.
Most of them lived and died unknown.

Yet there was one. His case is remarkable because it first set rolling
the ball of reform, He was by trade a metal turner and fitter; he had
the reputation of being an unsociable man because he went home every
day after work and stayed there; he was unmarried and lived alone in a
small, four-roomed cottage near Kilburn, one of a collection of
Workmen's villages. Here it was known that he had a room which he had
furnished with a furnace, a table, shelves and bottles, and that he
worked every evening at something. One day there appeared in a
scientific paper an article containing an account of certain
discoveries of the greatest importance, signed by a name utterly
unknown to scientific men. The article was followed by others, all of
the greatest interest and originality. The man himself had little idea
of the importance of his own discoveries. When his cottage was
besieged by leaders in the world of science, he was amazed; he showed
his simple laboratory to his visitors; he spoke of his labours
carelessly; he told them that he was a metal turner by trade, that he
worked every day for an employer at a wage of thirty-five shillings a
week, and that he was able to devote his evenings to reading and
research. They made him an F.R.S., the first working man who had ever
attained that honour. They tried to get him put upon the Civil List,
but the First Lord of the Treasury had already, according to the usual
custom, given away the annual grant made by the House for Literature,
Science and Art, to the widows and daughters of Civil servants. This
attempt failing, the Royal Society, in order to take him away from his
drudgery, created a small sinecure post for him, and in this way found
an excuse for giving him a pension.

Then some writer in a London 'Daily' asked how it was that with his
genius for science, which, it was now recalled, had been remarked
while he was a student at the South London Poly, this man had been
allowed to remain at his trade.

And the answer was, 'Because there is no opening for such an one.'

It is very astonishing, when we consider the obvious nature of certain
truths, to remark how slow man is to find them out. Now, this
exclusion of all those who could not afford to pay his toll to the man
at the gate had, up to that moment, been accepted as if it were a law
of Nature. As in other things, men said, if they talked about the
matter at all, 'What is, must be. What is, shall be. What is, has
always been. What is, has been ordained by God Himself.' There is
nothing more difficult than to effect a reform in men's minds. The
reformer has, first, to persuade people to listen. Sometimes he never
succeeds, even in this, the very beginning. When they do listen, the
thing, being new to them, irritates them. They therefore call him
names. If he persists they call him worse names. If they can, they put
him in prison, hang him, burn him. If they cannot do this, and he goes
on preaching new things, they presently begin to listen with more
respect. One or two converts are made. The reformer expands his views;
his demands become larger; his claims far exceed the modest dimensions
of his first timid words. And so the reform, bit by bit, is effected.

At first, then, the demand was for nothing more than an easier
entrance into the scientific world, This naturally rose out of the
case. 'Let us,' they said, 'take care that to such a man as this any
and every branch of science shall be thrown open. But for that purpose
it is necessary that scholarships, whether given at school or college,
shall be sufficient for the maintenance as well as for the tuition
fees of those who hold them.' These scholarships, it was argued, had
been founded for poor students, and belonged to them. All the papers
took up the question, and all, with one or two exceptions, were in
favour of 'restoring'--that was the phrase--'his scholarships'; 'his,'
it was said, assuming that they were his originally--to the poor man.
In vain was it pointed out that these scholarships had been for the
most part founded in recent times when public schools and universities
had long become the property of the richer class, and that they were
needed as aids for those who were not rich, not as means of
maintenance for those who wanted to rise out from one class into

The cry was raised at the General Election; the majority came into
power pledged to the hilt to restore his scholarships to the poor
student. Then, of course, a compromise was effected. There was created
a class of scholarships at certain public schools for which candidates
had to produce evidence that they possessed nothing, and that their
parents would not assist them. Similar scholarships were created at
Oxford and Cambridge, out of existing revenues, and it was hoped that
concessions opening all the advantages that the public schools and
universities had to give would prove sufficient. By this time the
country was fully awakened to the danger of having thrown upon their
hands a great class of young men who thought themselves too well
educated for any of the lower kinds of work, and were too numerous for
the only work open to them. No one, as yet, it must be remembered, had
ventured to propose throwing open the Professions.

The concessions were found, however, to make very little difference.
Now and then a lad with a scholarship forced his way to the head of a
public school, and carried off the highest honours at the University.
Mostly, however, the poor scholar was uncomfortable; he could neither
speak, nor think, nor behave like his fellows; the atmosphere chilled
him; too often he failed to justify the early promise; if he succeeded
in getting a 'poor' scholarship at college, he too often ended his
University career with second-class Honours, which were of no use to
him at all, and so he was again face to face with the question: What
to do? His college would not continue to support him. He could not get
a mastership in a good school because there was a prejudice against
'poor' scholars, who were supposed incapable of acquiring the manners
of a gentleman. So he, too, fell back upon the only outlet, and tried
to become a journalist.

Every day the pressure increased; the pay of the journalist went down;
work could be got for next to nothing, and still the lads poured into
the classes by the thousand, all hoping to exchange the curse of
labour by their hands for that of labour by the pen. No one as yet had
perceived the great truth which has so enormously increased the
happiness of our time that all labour is honourable and respectable,
though to some kinds of labour we assign greater, and some lesser,
honour. The one thought was to leave the ranks of the working man.

It is not to be supposed that this great class would suffer and starve
in silence. On the contrary, they were continually proclaiming their
woes; the papers were filled with letters and articles. 'What shall we
do with our boys?' was the heading that one saw every day, somewhere
or other. What, indeed! No one ventured to say that they had better go
back to their trade; no one ventured to point out that a man might be
a good cabinet-maker although he knew the Integral Calculus. If one
timidly asked what good purpose was gained by making so many scholars,
that man was called Philistine, first; obstructive, next; and other
stronger names afterward. And yet no one ventured to point out that
all the Professions--and not science only, through the
Universities--might be thrown open.

Sooner or later this suggestion was certain to be made. It appeared,
first of all, in an unsigned letter addressed to one of the evening
papers. The writer of the letter was almost certainly one of the
suffering class. He began by setting forth the situation, as I have
described it above, quite simply and truly. He showed, as I have
shown, that the Professions and the Services were closed to those who
had no money. And he advanced for the first time the audacious
proposal that they should be thrown open to all on the simple
condition of passing an examination. 'This examination,' he said, 'may
be made as severe as can be desired or devised. There is no
examination so severe that the students of our Polytechnics cannot
face and pass it triumphantly. Let the examination, if you will, be
intended to admit none but those who have taken or can take
first-class Honours. The Poly students need not fear to face a
standard even so high as this. Why should the higher walks of life be
reserved for those who have money to begin with? Why should money
stand in the way of honour? Among the thousands of young men who have
profited by the opportunities offered to them there must be some who
are born to be lawyers; some who are born to be doctors; some who are
born to be preachers; some who are born to be administrators.' And so
on, at length. It was not, however, by a letter in a paper, or by the
leading articles and the correspondence which followed that the
suggested change was effected. But the idea was started. It was talked
about; it grew as the pressure increased it grew more and more.
Meetings were held at which violent speeches were delivered: the
question of opening the Professions was declared of national
importance; at the General Election which followed some months after
the appearance of the letter, members were returned who were pledged
to promote the immediate throwing open of all the Professions to all
who could pass a certain examination; and the first step was taken in
opening all commissions in the Army to competitive examination.

The Professions, however, remained obstinate. Law and Medicine refused
to make the least concession. It was not until an Act of Parliament
compelled them that the Inns of Court, the Law Institute, the Colleges
of Physicians, Surgeons, and Apothecaries consented to admit
all-comers without fees and by examination alone.

Then followed such a rush into the Professions as had never before
been witnessed. Already too full, they became at once absolutely
congested and choked. Every other man was either a doctor or a
solicitor. It was at first thought that by making examinations of the
greatest severity possible the rush might be arrested. But this proved
impossible, for the simple reason that an examination for admission,
necessarily a mere 'pass' examination, must be governed and limited by
the intellect of the average candidate. Moreover, in Medicine, if too
severe an examination is proposed, the candidate sacrifices actual
practice and observation in the Hospital wards to book-work. Therefore
the examinations remained much as they always had been, and all the
clever lads from all the Polytechnics became, in an incredibly short
time, members of the Learned Professions.

There can be no doubt that the Bench and the Bar, that Medicine and
Surgery, owe to the emancipation of the Professions many of their
noblest members. Great names occur to every one which belong to this
and that Polytechnic, and are written on the walls in letters of gold
as an encouragement to succeeding generations. One would not go back
to the old state of things. At the same time there were losses and
there are regrets. So great, for instance, was the competition in
Medicine that the sixpenny General Practitioner established himself
everywhere, even in the most fashionable quarters; so numerous were
solicitors that the old system of a recognised tariff was swept away
and gave place to open competition as in trade. That the two branches
of the law should be fused into one was inevitable; that the splendid
incomes formerly derived from successful practice should disappear was
also a matter of course. And there were many who regretted not only
the loss of the old professional rules and the old incomes, but also
the old professional _esprit de corps_--the old jealousy for the
honour and dignity of the profession: the old brotherhood. All this
was gone. Every man's hand was against his neighbour; advocates sent
in contracts for the job; the physicians undertook a case for so much;
the surgeon operated for a contract price; the usages of trade were
all transferred to the Professions.

As for the Services, the Navy remained an aristocratic body; boys were
received too young for the Polytechnic lads to have a chance; also,
the pay was too small to tempt them, and the work was too scientific.
In the Army a few appeared from time to time, but it cannot be said
that as officers the working-classes made a good figure. They were not
accustomed to command; they were wanting in the manners of the camp as
well as those of the court; they were neither polished enough nor
rough enough; the influence of the Poly might produce good soldier
obedient, high-principled, and brave; but it could not produce good
officers, who must be, to begin with, lads born in the atmosphere of
authority, the sons of gentlemen or the sons of officers. Yet even
here there were exceptions. Every one, for instance, will remember the
case of the general--once a Poly boy--who successfully defended Herat
against an overwhelming host of Russians in the year 1935.

It was not enough to throw open the Professions. Some there were in
which, whether they were thrown open or not, a new-comer without
family or capital or influence could never get any work. Thus it would
seem that Engineering was a profession very favourable to such
new-comers. It proved the contrary. All engineers in practice had
pupils--sons, cousins, nephews--to whom they gave their appointments.
To the new-comer nothing was given. What good, then, had been effected
by this revolution? Nothing but the crowding into the learned
Professions of penniless clever lads? Nothing but the destruction of
the old dignity and self-respect of Law and Medicine? Nothing but the
degradation of a Profession to the competition of trade?

Much more than this had been achieved. The Democratic movement which
had marked the nineteenth century received its final impulse from this
great change. Everyone knows that the House of Lords, long before the
end of that century, had ceased to represent the old aristocracy. The
old names were, for the most part, extinct. A Cecil, a Stanley, a
Howard, a Neville, a Bruce, might yet be found, but by far the greater
part of the Peers were of yesterday. Nor could the House be kept up at
all but for new creations. They were made from rich trade or from the
Law, the latter conferring respect and dignity upon the House. But
lawyers could no longer be made Peers. They were rough in manners, and
they had no longer great incomes. Moreover, the nation demanded that
its honours should be equally bestowed upon all those who rendered
service to the State, and all were poor. Now a House of poor Lords is
absurd. Equally absurd is a House of Lords all brewers. Hence the fall
of the House of Lords was certain. In the year 1924 it was finally

In the next chapter I propose to relate what followed this rush into
the Professions. We have seen how the grant of the higher education to
working lads caused the Conquest of the Professions and brought about
the change I have indicated. We have seen how this revolution was
bound to sweep away in its course the last relics of the old
aristocratic constitution of the country. It remains to be told how
learning, when it became the common possession of all clever lads,
ceased to be a possession by which money could be made, except by the
very foremost. Then the boys went back to their trades. If the reign
of the gentleman is over, the learning and the power and culture that
has belonged to the gentleman now belongs to the craftsman. This, at
least, must be admitted to be pure gain. For one man who read and
studied and thought one hundred years ago, there are now a thousand.
Editions of good books are now issued by a hundred thousand at a time.
The Professions are still the avenues to honours. Still, as before,
the men whom the people respect are the followers of science, the
great Advocate the great Preacher, the great Engineer, the great
Surgeon, the great Dramatist, the great Novelist, the great Poet. That
the national honours no longer take the form of the Peerage will not,
I think, at this hour, be admitted to be a subject for regret by even
the stanchest Conservative.



At the back of the setting sun; beyond the glories of the evening; on
the other side of the broad, mysterious ocean, lay for nine
generations of Englishmen the Land of Romance. It began--for the
English youth--to be the Land of Romance from the very day when John
Cabot discovered it for the Bristol merchants it continued to be their
Land of Romance while every sailor-captain discovered new rivers, new
gulfs, and new islands, and went in search of new north-west passages,
while the rovers, freebooters, privateers and buccaneers, put out in
their crazy, ill-found craft, to rob and slay the Spaniard; while the
mystery of the unknown still lay upon it; long after the mystery had
mostly gone out of it, save for the mystery of the Aztec; it remained
the Land of Romance when New England was fully settled and Virginia
already an old colony; it was the English Land of Romance while King
George's redcoats fought side by side with the colonials, to drive the
French out of the continent for ever.

We have had India, as well. Surely, in the splendid story of the long
struggle with France for the Empire of the East, in the achievements
of our soldiers, in the names of Clive, Lawrence, Havelock; in the
setting of the piece, so to speak, in its people, its wisdom, its
faith, its cities, its triumphs, its costumes, its gold and silver and
precious stones and costly stuffs--there is material wherewith to
create a romance of its own, sufficient to fire the blood and stir the
pulse and light the eye. Or, we have had Australia, New Zealand, the
Cape of Good Hope; coral isles, strongholds, fortresses, islands here,
and great slices and cantles of continent there. We have had all these
possessions, but round none of these places has there grown up the
romance which clung to the shores of America, from the mouth of the
Orinoco round the Spanish Main, and from Florida to Labrador. This
romance formerly belonged to the whole of our people. In their
imaginations--in their dreams--they turned to America. There came a
time when this romance was destroyed violently and suddenly, and,
apparently, for ever. In another shape it has grown up again, for some
of us; it is taking fresh root in some hearts, and putting forth new
branches with new blossoms, to bear new fruit. America may become,
once more, the Land of Romance to the Englishman. I say with intent,
the Englishman. For, if you consider, it was the Englishman, not the
Scot or the Irishman, who discovered America by means of John Cabot
and his Bristol merchants--not to speak of Leif, the son of Eric, or
of Madoc, the Welshman. It was the Englishman, not the Scot or the
Irishman, who fought the Spaniard; who sent planters to Barbadoes; who
settled colonists and convicts in Virginia; from England, not from
Ireland or Scotland, went forth the Pilgrims and the Puritans. While
the Scottish gentlemen were still taking service in foreign
courts--as, for example, the Admirable Crichton with the Duke of
Mantua--the young Englishman was sailing with Cavendish or Drake; he
was fighting and meeting death under desperadoes, such as Oxenham; he
was even, later on, serving with L'Olonnois, Kidd, or Henry Morgan.
All the history of North America before the War of Independence is
English history. Scotland and Ireland hardly came into it until the
eighteenth century; till then their only share in American history was
the deportation of rebels to the plantations. The country was
discovered by England, colonized by England; it was always regarded by
England as specially her own child; the sole attempt made by Scotland
at colonization was a failure; and to this day it is England that the
descendants of the older American families regard as the cradle of
their name and race.

As for the men who created this romance, they belong to a time when
the world had renewed her youth, put the old things behind, and begun
afresh, with new lands to conquer, a new faith to hold, new learning,
new ideas, and new literature. Those who sit down to consider the
Elizabethan age presently fall to lamenting that they were born three
hundred years too late to share those glories. Their hearts,
especially if they are young, beat the faster only to think of Drake.
They long to climb that tree in the Cordilleras and to look down, as
Drake and Oxenham looked down, upon the old ocean in the East and the
new ocean in the West; they would like to go on pilgrimage to Nombre
de Dios--Brothers, what a Gest was that!--and to Cartagena, where
Drake took the great Spanish ship out of the very harbour, under the
very nose of the Spaniard, they would like to have been on board the
_Golden Hind_, when Drake captured that nobly laden vessel, _Our Lady
of the Conception_, and used her cargo of silver for ballasting his
own ship. Drake--the 'Dragon'--is the typical English hero; he is
Galahad in the Court of the Lady Gloriana; he is one of the long
series of noble knights and valiant soldiers, their lives enriched and
aglow with splendid achievements, who illumine the page of English
history, from King Alfred to Charles Gordon.

The first and greatest of the Elizabethan knights is Drake; but there
were others of nearly equal note. What of Raleigh, who actually
founded the United States by sending the first colonists to
Virginia--the country where the grapes grew wild? What of Martin
Frobisher and Humphrey Gilbert? What of Cavendish? What of Captain
Amidas? What of Davis and half a score more? The exploits and
victories and discoveries--in many cases, the disasters and death--of
these sea-dogs filled the country from end to end with pride, and
every young, generous heart with envy. They, too, would sail Westward
Ho! to fight the Spaniard--three score of Englishmen against thousand
Dons--and sail home again, heavy laden with the silver ingots of Peru,
taken at Palengue or Nombre de Dios. Kingsley has written a book about
these adventurers; a very good book it is; but his pictures are marred
with the touch of the ecclesiastic--we need not suppose that the young
men sat always Bible in hand, talked like seminarists, or thought like
curates. The rovers who sailed with Drake and Raleigh had their
religion, like their rations, served out to them. Sailors always do.
Drake, the captain, might and did, consult the Bible for encouragement
and hope. Even he, however, reserved the right of using profane oaths;
that right survived the older form of faith. In a word, the
Elizabethan sailor--although a Protestant--was, in all respects, like
his predecessor, save that on this new battle-field he was filled with
a larger confidence and an audacity almost incredible to read
of--almost impossible to think upon.

This was the first phase of the romance which grew up along the shores
of America. So far it belongs to the Spanish Main and to the Isthmus
of Panama. The romance remained when the Elizabethans passed
away--they were followed by the buccaneers, privateers, marooners and
pirates--a degenerate company, but not without their picturesque side.
Pierre le Grand, François l'Olonnois, Henry Morgan, are captains only
one degree more piratical than Drake and Raleigh. Edward Teach, Kidd,
Avery, Bartholomew Roberts were pirates only because they plundered
ships English and French as well as Spanish; that they were roaring,
reckless, deboshed villains as well, detracted little from the renown
with which their names and exploits were surrounded, and that they
were mostly hanged in the end was an accident common to such a life,
the men under Drake were also sometimes hanged, though they were
mostly killed by sword, bullet, or fever. The romance remained. The
lad who would have enlisted under Drake found no difficulty in joining
Morgan, and, if the occasion offered, he was ready to join the bold
Captain Kidd with alacrity.

The seventeenth century furnished another kind of romance. It was the
century of settlement. In the year 1606, after Sir Walter Raleigh had
led the way, the Virginia Company sent out the _Susan Constant_ with
two smaller ships, containing a handful of colonists. They settled on
the James River. Among them was John Smith, an adventurer and
free-lance quite of the Elizabethan strain. In him John Oxenham lived
again. We all know the story of Captain John Smith. He began his
career by killing Turks; he continued it by exploring the creeks and
rivers of Virginia, with endless adventures. Sometimes he was a
prisoner of the Indians. Once, if his own account is true, he was
rescued from imminent death by the intervention of Pocahontas, called
Princess--or Lady Rebecca. He explored Chesapeake Bay, and he gave the
name of New England to the country north of Cape Cod. Such histories,
of which this is only one, kept alive in England the adventurous
spirit and the romance of the West. The dream of _finding_ gold had
vanished: what belonged to the present were the things done and
suffered in His Majesty's plantations with all that they suggested. It
is most certain that in every age there are thousands who continually
yearn for the 'way of war' and the life of battle. Mostly, they fail
in their ambitions because in these times the nations fear war. In the
seventeenth century there was always good fighting to be got somewhere
in Europe; if everything else failed there were the American Colonies
and the Indians--plenty of fighting always among the Indians.

Besides the romance of war there was the romance of religious freedom.
Everybody in America knows the story of the _Mayflower_ and her
Pilgrims in 1620, and the coming of the Puritans in 1630 under John
Winthrop and the Massachusetts Company. I suppose, also, that all
Americans know of the _Ark_ and the _Dove_, and of Lord Baltimore's
Catholic, but tolerant, colony of Maryland. They know as well the very
odd story of Carolina and its 'Lords Proprietors' and the aristocratic
form of government attempted there; of the Quakers in Pennsylvania,
and the Temperance Colony of Georgia. One may recall as well the
influx of Germans by thousands in the early part of the eighteenth
century, and the first immigration of Irish Presbyterians, the flower
of the Irish nation, driven abroad by the stupidity and fanaticism of
their own Government, which wanted to make them conform to the Irish
Episcopal Church. In the whole history of Irish misgovernment there is
nothing more stupid than this persecution of Irish Presbyterians. But,
indeed, we may not blame our forefathers for this stupidity.
Persecution of this kind belonged to the times. It seems to us
inconceivably stupid that men should be exiled because they would not
acknowledge the authority of a bishop, but, out of Maryland, there was
nowhere any real religious toleration; the dream of every sect was to
trample down and to destroy all other sects. Our people in Ireland
were no worse than the people of Salem and Boston. Religious
toleration was not yet understood. Therefore, it was only playing the
game according to the laws of the game when the United Kingdom threw
away tens of thousands--the strongest, the most able, the most
industrious, the most loyal--of her Irish subjects, because they would
not change one sect for another; and retained the Roman Catholics,
hereditary rebels, who were numerically too strong to be turned out.

All these things are perfectly well known to the American reader. But
is it also well known to the American reader--has he ever asked
himself--how these things affected and impressed the mind of England?

In this way. The Land of Romance was no longer the fable land where a
dozen Protestant soldiers, headed by the invincible Dragon, could
drive out a whole garrison of Catholic Spaniards and sack a town. It
had ceased to be another Ophir and a richer Golconda; but it was the
Land of Religious Freedom. The Church of England and Ireland, by law
established, had no power across the ocean. America, to the
Nonconformist of the seventeenth century, was a haven and a refuge
ever open in case of need. The history of Nonconformity shows the
vital necessity of such a refuge. The very existence of free America
gave to the English Nonconformist strength and courage. Such a
persecution as that of the Irish Presbyterians became impossible when
it had been once demonstrated that, should the worst happen, the
persecuted religionists would escape by voluntary exile.

That the spirit of persecution long survived is proved by the
lingering among us down to our own days of the religious disabilities.
Within the memory of living men, no one outside the Church of England
could be educated at a public school; could take a degree at Oxford or
Cambridge; could hold a scholarship or a fellowship at any college;
could become a professor at either university; could sit in the House
of Commons; could be appointed to any municipal office; could hold a
commission in the army or navy. These restrictions practically--though
with some exceptions--reduced Nonconformity in England to the lower
middle class, the small traders. Their ministers, who had formerly
been scholars and theologians, fell into ignorance; their creeds
became narrower; they had no social influence; but for the example of
their brethren across the ocean they would have melted away and been
lost like the Non-Jurors who expired fifty years ago in the last
surviving member; or, like a hundred sects which have arisen, made a
show of flourishing for a while, and then perished. They were
sustained, first, by the memory of a _victorious_ past; next, by the
tradition of religious liberty; and, thirdly, by the report of a
country--a flourishing country--where there were no religious
disabilities, no social inferiority on account of faith and creed. Not
reports only: there was a continual passing to and fro between Bristol
and Boston during three-fourths of the eighteenth century. The
colonies were visited by traders, soldiers and sailors. John Dunton in
the year 1710 thought nothing of a voyage to Boston with a consignment
of books for sale. Ned Ward, another bookseller, made the same journey
with the same object. There exists a whole library of Quaker
biographies showing how these restless apostles travelled backwards
and forwards, crossing and recrossing the Atlantic, and journeying up
and down the country, to preach their gospel. And the life of John
Wesley also proves that the Colonies were regarded as easily
accessible. I have seen a correspondence between a family in London
and their cousins in Philadelphia, in the reign of Queen Anne, which
brings out very clearly the fact that they thought nothing of the
voyage, and fearlessly crossed the ocean on business or pleasure. The
connection between the Colonies and England was much closer than we
are apt to imagine. The Colonies were much better known by us than we
are given to believe; they were regarded by the ecclesiastical mind as
the home of schismatic rebellion; but by the layman as the land where
thought was free.

That was one side--perhaps the most important side. But the halo of
adventure still lay glowing in the western land. No colony but had its
history of massacre, treachery, and war to the knife with the Red
Indian. Long before the time of Fenimore Cooper the English lad could
read stories of dreadful tortures, of heroic daring, of patience and
endurance, of revenges fierce, of daily and hourly peril. The blood of
the Dragon ran yet in English veins. America was still to the heirs
and successors of that Great Heart the Land of Romance and the Land of
Gallant Fights.

And such stories! That of Captain John Smith laying his head upon the
block that it might be smashed by the Indians' clubs, and of his
rescue by the Indian girl, afterwards the 'Princess Rebecca'; the
massacre of three hundred and fifty men, women and children of the
infant colony of Virginia, a hundred stories of massacre. Or, that
story of the mother's revenge, told, I believe, by Thoreau. Her name
was Hannah Dunstan. Her house was attacked by Indians; her husband and
her elder children fled for their lives; she, with an infant of a
fortnight, and her nurse, were left behind. The Indians dashed out the
brains of the baby and forced the two women to march with them through
the forest to their camp. Here they found an English boy, also a
prisoner. Hannah Dunstan made the boy find out from one of the Indians
the quickest way to strike with the tomahawk so as to kill and to
secure the scalp. The Indian told the boy. Now there were in the camp
two men, three women, and seven children. In the dead of night Hannah
got up, awakened her nurse and the boy, secured the tomahawks, and in
the way the unsuspecting Indian had taught the boy, she tomahawked
every one--man, woman and child--except a boy who fled into the
woods--and took their scalps. Then she scuttled all the canoes but
one, and taking the scalps with her as proof of her revenge, she put
the nurse and the boy into the canoe and paddled down the river. She
escaped all roving bands and won her way home again to find her
husband and sons safe and well, and to show the scalps--the blood
payment for her murdered child. Such were the stories told and retold
in every colonial township, round every fire; such were the stories
brought home by the sailors and the merchants; they were published in
books of travel. Think you that our English blood had grown so
sluggish that it could not be fired by such tales? Think you that the
romance of the Colonies was one whit less enthralling than the romance
of the Spanish Main?

I say nothing of the wars in which the British troops and the
Colonial, side by side, at last succeeded in driving the French out of
the country. They belong to the history of the eighteenth century and
to the expansion of the English-speaking race. But for them, North
America would now be half French and a quarter Spanish. These,
however, were regular wars, with no more romance about them than
belongs to war wherever it is conducted according to the war-game of
the day. The manœuvres of generals and the deploying of men in masses
inspire none but students, just as a fine game of chess can only be
judged by one who knows the game. Louisburg, Quebec, 'Queen Anne's
War,' 'King George's War'--Wolfe and Montcalm--these things and these
men produced little effect upon the popular view of America. In the
colonies themselves murmurings and complaints began to make themselves
heard; as they became stronger, the discontent increased; but they did
not reach the ear of the average Englishman, who still looked across
the ocean and still saw the country bathed in all the glories of the
West. Then--violently, suddenly--all this romance which had grown up
around and after so much fighting, so many achievements, was broken
off and destroyed. It perished with the War of Independence; it was no
longer possible when the Colonies had become not only a foreign
country, but a country bitterly hostile. The romance of America was

After the war was over, with much humiliation and shame for the
nation--the better part of which had been against the war from the
outset--the country turned for consolation to the East. But, as has
been said above, neither India, nor Australia, nor New Zealand, has
ever taken such a place in the affections of our country as that
continent which was planted by our own sons, for whose safety and
freedom from foreign enemies we cheerfully spent treasure incalculable
and lives uncounted.

Then came the long twenty-three years' war in which Great Britain, for
the most part single-handed, fought for the freedom of Europe against
the most colossal tyranny ever devised by victorious captain. No
nation in the history of the world ever carried on such a war, so
stubborn, so desperate, so vital. Had Great Britain failed, what would
now be the position of the world? The victories, the defeats, the
successes, the disasters, which marked that long struggle, at least
made our people forget their humiliation in America. The final triumph
gave us back, as it was certain to do, more than our former pride,
more than our old self-reliance. America was forgotten, the old love
for America was gone; how could we remember our former affections
when, at the very time when our need was the sorest, when every ship,
every soldier, every sailor that we could find, was wanted to break
down the power of the man who had subjugated the whole of Europe,
except Russia and Great Britain, the United States--the very Land of
Liberty--did her best to cripple the Armies of Liberty by proclaiming
war against us? And now, indeed, there was nothing left at all of the
old romance. It was quite, quite dead. In the popular imagination all
was forgotten, except that on the other side of the Atlantic lived an
implacable enemy, whose rancour--it then seemed to our people--was
even greater than their boasted love of liberty.

I take it that the very worst time in the history of the relation of
the United States with this country was the first half of this
century. There was very little intercourse between the countries;
there were very few travellers; there was ignorance on both sides,
with misunderstandings, wilful misrepresentations and deliberate
exaggerations. Remember how Nathaniel Hawthorne speaks about the
English people among whom he lived; read how Thoreau speaks of us when
he visits Quebec. Is that time past? Hardly. Among the better class of
Americans one seldom finds any trace of hatred to Great Britain. I
think that, with the exception of Mr. W.D. Howells, I have never found
any American gentleman who would manifest such a passion. But, as
regards the lower class of Americans, it is reported that there still
survives a meaningless, smouldering hostility. The going and the
coming, to and fro, are increasing and multiplying; arbitration seems
to be established as the best way of terminating international
disputes; if the tone of the press is not always gracious, it is not
often openly hostile; we may, perhaps, begin to hope, at last, that
the future of the world will be secured for freedom by the
confederation of all the English-speaking nations.

The old romance is dead. Yet--yet--as Kingsley cried, when he landed
on a West Indian island, 'At last!' so I, also, when I found myself in
New England, was ready to cry. 'At last!' The old romance is not
everywhere dead, since there can be found one Englishman who, when he
stands for the first time on New England soil, feels that one more
desire of his life has been satisfied. To see the East; to see India
and far Cathay; to see the tropics and to live for a while in a
tropical island; to be carried along the Grand Canal of Venice in a
gondola; to see the gardens of Boccaccio and the cell of Savonarola;
to camp and hunt in the backwoods of Canada, and to walk the streets
of New York, all these things have I longed, from youth upwards, to
see and to do--yea, as ardently as ever Drake desired to set an
English sail upon the great and unknown sea, and all these things, and
many more, have been granted to me. One great thing--perhaps more than
one thing, one unsatisfied desire--remained undone. I would set foot
on the shore of New England. It is a sacred land, consecrated to me
long years ago, for the sake of the things which I used to read--for
the sake of the long-yearning thoughts of childhood and the dim and
mystic splendours which played about the land beyond the sunset, in
the days of my sunrise.

'At last!'

Wherever a boy finds a quiet place for reading--an attic lumbered with
rubbish, a bedroom cold and empty, even a corner on the stairs--he
makes of that place a theatre, in which he is the sole audience.
Before his eyes--to him alone--the drama is played, with scenery
complete and costume correct, by such actors as never yet played upon
any other stage, so natural, so lifelike--nay, so godlike, and for
that very reason so lifelike.

This boy sat where he could--in a crowded household it is not always
possible to get a quiet corner; wherever he sat, this stage rose up
before him and the play went on. He saw upon that stage all these
things of which I have spoken, and more. He saw the fight at Nombre de
Dios, the capture of the rich galleon, the sacking of Maracaibo. I do
not know whether other boys of that time were reading the American
authors with such avidity, or whether it was by some chance that these
books were thrown in his way. Washington Irving, Fenimore Cooper,
Prescott, Emerson (in parts), Longfellow, Whittier, Bryant, Edgar
Allan Poe, Lowell, Holmes, not to mention Thoreau, Herman Melville,
Dana, certain religious novelists and many others whose names I do not
recall, formed a tolerably large field of American reading for an
English boy--without prejudice, be it understood, to the writers of
his own country. To him the country of the American writers became
almost as well known as his own. One thing alone he could not read.
When he came to the War of Independence, he closed the book and
ordered his theatre to vanish. And, to this day, the events of that
war are only partly known to him. No boy who is jealous for his
country will read, except upon compulsion, the story of a war which
was begun in stupidity, carried on with incompetence, and concluded
with humiliation.

The attack on Panama, the beginning of the Colonies, the exiles for
religion, the long struggle with the French, the driving back of the
Indians: it was a very fine drama--the Romance of America--in ever so
many acts, and twice as many tableaux, that this boy saw. And always
on the stage, now like Drake, now like Raleigh, now like Miles
Standish, now like Captain John Smith, he saw a young Englishman,
performing prodigies of valour and bearing a charmed life. Yet, do not
think that it was a play with nothing but fighting in it. There were
the Dutch burghers of New Amsterdam, under Walter the Doubter, or the
renowned Peter Stuyvesant; there was Rip Van Winkle on the Catskill
Mountains; there were the king-killers, hiding in the rocks beside
Newhaven; there were the witch trials of Salem; there was the peaceful
village of Concord, from which came voices that echoed round and round
the world; there was the Lake, lying still and silent, ringed by its
woods, where the solitary student of Nature loved to sit and watch and
meditate. Hundreds of things, too many to mention, were acted on that
boy's imaginary stage and lived in his brain as much as if he had
himself played a part in them.

As that boy grew up, the memory of this long pageant survived; there
fell upon him the desire to see some of the places; such a desire, if
it is not gratified, dies away into a feeble spark--but it can always
be blown again into a flame. This year the chance came to the boy, now
a graybeard, to see these places; and the spark flared up again, into
a bright, consuming flame.

I have seen my Land of Romance; I have travelled for a few weeks among
the New England places, and, with a sigh of satisfaction and relief, I
say with Kingsley: 'At Last!'

This romance, which belonged to my boyhood, and has grown up with me,
and will never leave me, once belonged then, more or less, to the
whole of the English people. Except with those who, like me, have been
fed with the poetry and the literature of America, this romance is
impossible. I suppose that it can never come again. Something better
and more stable, however, may yet come to us, when the United States
and Great Britain will be allied in amity as firm as that which now
holds together those Federated States. The thing is too vast, it is
too important, to be achieved in a day, or in a generation. But it
will come--it will come; it must come--it must come; Asia and Europe
may become Chinese or Cossack, but our people shall rule over every
other land, and all the islands, and every sea.


When a man has received kindnesses unexpected and recognition unlooked
for from strangers and people in a foreign country on whom he had no
kind of claim, it seems a mean and pitiful thing in that man to sit
down in cold blood and pick out the faults and imperfections, if he
can descry any, in that country. The 'cad with a kodak'--where did I
find that happy collocation?--is to be found everywhere; that is quite
certain; every traveller, as is well known, feels himself justified
after six weeks of a country to sit in judgment upon that country and
its institutions, its manners, its customs and its society; he
constitutes himself an authority upon that country for the rest of his
life. Do we not know the man who 'has been there'? Lord Palmerston
knew him. 'Beware,' he used to say, 'of the man who has been there!'
As Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs he was privileged to make
quite a circle of acquaintance with the men who 'had been there'; and
he estimated their experience at its true value.

The man who has been there very seldom speaks its language with so
much ease as to understand all classes; he has therefore no real
chance of seeing and understanding things otherwise than as they seem.
When an Englishman travels in America, however, he can speak the
language. Therefore, he thinks that he really does understand the
things he sees. Does he? Let us consider. To understand the true
meaning of things in any strange land is not to see certain things by
themselves, but to be able to see them in their relation to other
things. Thus, the question of price must be taken with the question of
wage; that of supply with that of demand; that of things done with the
national opinion on such things; that of the continued existence of
certain recognised evils with, the conditions and exigencies of the
time; and so on. Before an observer can understand the relative value
of this or that he must make a long and sometimes a profound study of
the history of the country, the growth of the people, and the present
condition of the nation. It is obvious that it is given to very few
visitors to conduct such an investigation. Most of them have no time;
very, very few have the intellectual grasp necessary for an
undertaking of this magnitude. It is obvious, therefore, that the
criticism of a two months' traveller must be worthless generally, and
impertinent almost always. The kodak, you see, in the bands of the
cads, produces mischievous and misleading pictures.

Let us take one or two familiar instances of the dangers of hasty
objection. Nothing worries the average American visitor to Great
Britain more than the House of Lords, and, generally, the national
distinctions. He sees very plainly that the House of Lords no longer
represents an aristocracy of ancient descent, because by far the
greater number of peers belong to modern creations and new families,
chiefly of the trading class; that it no longer represents the men of
whom the country has most reason to be proud, because out of the whole
domain of science, letters, and art there have been but two creations
in the history of the peerage. He sees, also, that an Englishman has,
apparently, only to make enough money in order to command a peerage
for himself, and the elevation to a separate caste of himself and his
children forever. Again, as regards the lower distinctions, he
perceives that they are given for this reason and for that reason; but
he knows nothing at all of the services rendered to the State by the
dozens of knights made every year, while he can see very well that the
men of real distinction, whom he does know, never get any distinctions
at all. These difficulties perplex and irritate him. Probably he goes
home with a hasty generalization.

But the answer to these objections is not difficult. Without posing as
a champion of the House of Lords, one may point out that it is a very
ancient and deep-rooted institution; that to pull it up would cost an
immense deal of trouble; that it gives us a second or upper house
quite free from the acknowledged dangers of popular election; that the
lords have long ceased to oppose themselves to changes once clearly
and unmistakably demanded by the nation; that the hereditary powers
actually exercised by the very small number of peers who sit in the
House do give us an average exhibition of brain power quite equal to
that found in the House of Commons, in which are the six hundred
chosen delegates of the people; that, as regards the elevation of rich
men, a poor man cannot well accept a peerage, because custom does not
permit a peer to work for his livelihood; that it is necessary to
create new peers continually, in order to keep as close a connection
as possible between the Lords and the Commons; _e.g._, if a peer has a
hundred brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, cousins, they are all
commoners and he is the one peer, so that for six hundred peers there
may be a hundred thousand people closely allied to the House of Lords.
Again, as to the habitual contempt with which the advisers of the
Crown pass over the men who by their science, art, and literature
bring honour upon their generation, the answer is, that when the
newspaper press thinks fit to take up the subject and becomes as
jealous over the national distinctions as they are now over the
national finances, the thing will get itself righted. And not till
then. I instance this point and these objections as illustrating what
is often said, and thought, by American visitors who record their
first impressions.

The same kind of danger, of course, awaits the English traveller in
America. If he is an unwise traveller, he will note, for admiring or
indignant quotation, many a thing which the wise traveller notes only
with a query and the intention of finding out, if he can, what it
means or why it is permitted. The first questions, in fact, for the
student of manners and laws are why a thing is permitted, encouraged,
or practised; how the thing in consideration affects the people who
practise it, and how they regard it. Thus, to go back to ancient
history, English people, forty years ago, could not understand how
slavery was allowed to continue in the States. We ourselves had
virtuously given freedom to all our slaves; why should not the
Americans? We had not grown up under the institution, you see; we had
little personal knowledge of the negro; we believed that, in spite of
the discouraging examples in Hayti and in our own Jamaica, there was a
splendid future for the black, if only he could be free and educated.
Again, none of our people realized, until the Civil War actually broke
out, the enormous magnitude of the interests involved; we had read
'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' and our hearts glowed with virtuous indignation;
we could not understand the enormous difficulties of the question.
Finally, we succeeded in enraging the South against us before the war
began, because of our continual outcry against slavery; and in
enraging the North after the war began, by reason of our totally
unexpected Southern sympathies. It is a curious history of
wrongheadedness and ignorance.

This was a big thing. The things which the English traveller in the
States now notices are little things; as life is made up of little
things, he is noting differences all day long, because everything that
he sees is different. Speech is different: the manner of enunciating
the words is different; it is clearer, slower, more grammatical; among
the better sort it is more careful; it is even academical. We English
speak thickly, far back in the throat, the voice choked by beard and
moustache, and we speak much more carelessly. Then the way of living
at the hotels is different; the rooms are much--very much--better
furnished than would be found in towns of corresponding size in
England--_e.g._, at Providence, Rhode Island, which is not a large
city, there is a hotel which is most beautifully furnished; and at
Buffalo, which is a city half the size of Birmingham, the hotel is
perhaps better furnished than any hotel in London. An immense menu is
placed before the visitor for breakfast and dinner. There is an
embarrassment of choice. Perhaps it is insular prejudice which makes
one prefer the simple menu, the limited choice, and the plain food of
the English hotels. At least, rightly or wrongly, the English hotels
appear to the English traveller the more comfortable. I return to the
differences. In the preparation and the serving of food there are
differences--the mid-day meal, far more in America than in England, is
the national dinner. In most American hotels that received us we found
the evening meal called supper--and a very inferior spread it was,
compared to the one o'clock service. In the drinks there is a
difference--the iced water which forms so welcome a part of every meal
in the States is generally the only drink; it is not common, out of
the great cities, to see claret on the table. There are differences in
the conduct of the trains and in the form of the railway carriages;
differences in the despatch and securing of luggage; difference in the
railway whistle; difference in the management of the station, until
one knows the way about, travelling in America is a continual trial to
the temper. Until, for instance, an understanding of the manners and
customs in this respect has been attained, the conveyance of the
luggage to the hotel is a ruinous expense. And unless one understands
the rough usage of luggage on American lines, there will be further
trials of temper over the breakage of things. In France and Italy such
small differences do not exasperate, because they ate known to exist;
one expects them; they are benighted foreigners who know no better.
But in America, where they speak our own language, one seems to have a
right, somehow, to expect that all the usages will be exactly the
same--and they are not; and so the cad with the kodak gets his chance.

I can quite understand, even at this day, the making of a book which
should hold up to ridicule the whole of a nation on account of these
differences. 'The Americans a great nation? Why, sir, I could not
get--the whole time that I was them--such a simple thing as English
mustard. The Americans a great nation? Well, sir, all I can say is
that their breakfast in the Wagner car is a greasy pretence. The
Americans a great nation? They may be, sir; but all I can say is that
there isn't such a thing--that I could discover--as an honest
bar-parlour, where a man can have his pipe and his grog in comfort.'
And so on--the kind of thing may be multiplied indefinitely. What Mrs.
Trollope did sixty years ago might be done again.

But, if I had the time, I would write the companion volume--that of
the American in England--in which it should be proved, after the same
fashion, that this poor old country is in the last stage of decay,
because we have compartment carriages on the railway; no checks for
the luggage; no electric trolleys in the street; at the hotels no
elaborate menu, but only a simple dinner of fish and roast-beef; no
iced water, an established Church (the clergy all bursting with
fatness); a House of Lords (all profligates); and a Queen who chops
off heads when so disposed. It would also be noted, as proving the
contemptible decay of the country, that a large proportion of the
lower classes omit the aspirate; that rough holiday-makers laugh and
sing and play the accordion as they take their trips abroad; that the
factory girls wear hideous hats and feathers; that all classes drink
beer, and that men are often seen rolling drunk in the streets. Nor
would the American traveller in Great Britain fail to observe, with
the scorn of a moralist, the political corruption of the time; he
would hold up to the contempt of the world the statesman who with the
utmost vehemence condemns a movement one day which, on the following
day, in order to gain votes and recover power, he adopts, and with
equal vehemence advocates; he would ask what can be the moral
standards of a country where a great party turns right round, at the
bidding of their leader, and follows him like a flock of sheep,
applauding, voting, advocating as he bids them, to-day,
this--to-morrow, its opposite.

These things and more will be found in that book of the American in
England when it appears. You see how small and worthless and
prejudiced would be such a volume. Well, it is precisely such a volume
that the ordinary traveller is capable of writing. All the things that
I have mentioned are accidentals; they are differences which mean
nothing; they are not essentials; what I wish to show is that he who
would think rightly of a country must disregard the accidentals and
get at the essentials. What follows is my own attempt--which I am well
aware must be of the smallest account--to feel my way to two or three

First and foremost, one essential is that the country is full of
youth. I have discovered this for myself, and I have learned what the
fact means and how it affects the country. I had heard this said over
and over again. It used to irritate me to hear a monotonous repetition
of the words, 'Sir, we are a young county.' Young? At least, it is
three hundred years old; nor was it till I had passed through New
England, and seen Buffalo and Chicago--those cities which stand
between the east and time west--and was able to think and compare,
that I began to understand the reality and the meaning of those words,
which have now become so real and mean so much. It is not that the
cities are new and the buildings put up yesterday; it is in the
atmosphere of buoyancy, elation, self-reliance, and energy, which one
drinks in everywhere, that this sense of youth is apprehended. It is
youth full of confidence. Is there such a thing anywhere in America as
poverty or the fear of poverty? I do not think so. Men may be hard up
or even stone-broke; there are slums; there are hard-worked women; but
there is no general fear of poverty. In the old countries the fear of
poverty lies on all hearts like lead. To be sure, such a fear is a
survival in England. In the last century the strokes of fate were
sudden and heavy, and a merchant sitting to-day in a place of great
honour and repute, an authority on 'Change, would find himself on the
morrow in the Marshalsea or the Fleet, a prisoner for life; once down
a man could not recover; he spent the rest of his life in captivity;
he and his descendants, to the third and fourth generations--for it
was as unlucky to be the son of a bankrupt as the son of a
convict--grovelled in the gutter. There is no longer a Marshalsea or a
Fleet prison; but the dread of failure survives. In the States that
dread seems practically absent.

Again, youth is extravagant; spends with both hands, cannot hear of
economy; burns the candle at both ends; eats the corn while it is
green; trades upon the future; gives bills at long dates without
hesitation, and while the golden flood rolls past takes what it wants
and sends out its sons to help themselves. Why should youth make
provisions for the sons of youth? The world is young; the riches of
the world are beyond counting; they belong to the young; let us work,
let us spend; let us enjoy, for youth is the time for work and for

In youth, again, one is careless about little things; they will right
themselves: persons of the baser sort pervert the freedom of the
country to their own uses; they make 'corners' and 'rings' and steal
the money of the municipality; never mind; some day, when we have
time, we will straighten things out. In youth, also, one is tempted to
gallant apparel, bravery of show, a defiant bearing, gold and lace and
colour. In cities this tendency of youth is shown by great buildings
and big institutions. In youth, there is a natural exaggeration in
talk: hence the spread-eagle of which we hear so much. Then everything
which belongs to youth must be better--beyond comparison better--than
everything that belongs to age. In the last century, if you like,
youth followed and imitated age; it is the note of this, our country,
that youth is always advancing and stepping ahead of age. Even in the
daily press the youth of the country shows itself. Let age sit down
and meditate; let such a paper as the London _Times_--that old, old
paper--give every day three laboured and thoughtful essays written by
scholars and philosophers on the topics of the day. It is not for
youth to ponder over the meaning and the tendencies of things; it is
for youth to act, to make history, to push things along; therefore let
the papers record everything that passes; perhaps when the country is
old, when the time comes for meditation, the London _Times_ may be
imitated, and even a weekly collection of essays, such as the
_Saturday Review_ or the _Spectator_, may be successfully started in
the United States. Again, youth is apt to be jealous over its own
pretensions. Perhaps this quality also might be illustrated; but, for
obvious reasons, we will not press this point. Lastly, youth knows
nothing of the time which came immediately before itself. It is not
till comparatively late in life that a man connects his own
generation--his own history--with that which preceded him. When does
the history of the United States begin--not for the man of letters or
the professor of history--but for the average man? It begins when the
Union begins: not before. There is a very beautiful and very noble
history before the Union. But it is shared with Great Britain. There
is a period of gallant and victorious war--but beside the colonials
marched King George's red-coats. There was a brave struggle for
supremacy, and the French were victoriously driven out--but it was by
English fleets and with the help of English soldiers. Therefore, the
average American mind refuses to dwell on this period. His country
must spring at once, full armed, into the world. His country must be
all his own. He wants no history, if you please, in which any other
country has also a share.

In a word, America seems to present all the possible characteristics
of youth. It is buoyant, confident, extravagant, ardent, elated, and
proud. It lives in the present. The young men of twenty-one cannot
believe in coming age; people do get to fifty, he believes; but, for
himself, age is so far off that he need not consider it. I observed
the youthfulness of America even in New England, but the country as
one got farther west seemed to become more youthful. At Chicago, I
suppose, no one owns to more than five-and-twenty--youth is
infectious. I felt myself while in the city much under that age.

Let us pass to another point--also an essential--the flaunting of the
flag, I had the honour of assisting at the 'Sollemnia Academica,' the
commencement of Harvard on the 28th of June last. I believe that
Harvard is the richest, as it is also the oldest, of American
universities; it is also the largest in point of numbers. The function
was celebrated in the college theatre; it was attended by the governor
of the State with the lieutenant-governor and his aide-de-camp; there
was a notable gathering on the stage or platform, consisting of the
president, professors and governors of the university, together with
those men of distinction whom the university proposed to honour with a
degree. The floor, or pit, of the house was filled with the commencing
bachelors; the gallery was crowded with spectators, chiefly ladies.
After the ceremony we were invited to assist at the dinner given by
the students to the president, and a company among whom it was a
distinction for a stranger to sit. The ceremony of conferring degrees
was interesting to an Englishman and a member of the older Cambridge,
because it contained certain points of detail which had certainly been
brought over by Harvard himself, the founder, from the old to the new
Cambridge. The dinner, or luncheon, was interesting for the speeches,
for which it was the occasion and the excuse. The president, for his
part, reported the addition of $750,000 to the wealth of the college,
and called attention to the very remarkable feature of modern American
liberality in the lavish gifts and endowments going on all over the
States to colleges and places of learning. He said that it was
unprecedented in history. With submissions to the learned president,
not quite without precedent. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
witnessed a similar spirit in the foundation and endowment of colleges
and schools in England and Scotland. About half the colleges of Oxford
and Cambridge, and three out of the four Scottish universities, belong
to the period. Still, it is very remarkable to find this new largeness
of mind. Since one has received great fortune, let this wealth be
passed on, not to make a son into an idle man, but to endow, with the
best gifts of learning and science, generation after generation of men
born for work. We, who are ourselves so richly endowed, and have been
so richly endowed for four hundred years, have no need to envy Harvard
all her wealth, We may applaud the spirit which seeks not to enrich a
family but to advance the nation; all the more because we have many
instances of a similar spirit in our own country. It is not the
further endowment of Oxford and Cambridge that is continued by one
rich man, but the foundation of new colleges, art galleries, and
schools of art. Angerstein, Vernon, Alexander, Tate, are some of our
benefactors in art.

The endowments of Owens College, the Mason College, the Firth College,
University College, London, are gifts of private persons. Since we do
not produce rich men so freely as America, our endowments are neither
so many nor so great; but the spirit of endowment is with us as well.

Presently one observed at this dinner a note of difference, which
afterwards gave food for reflection. It was this: All the speakers,
one after the other, without exception, referred to the free
institutions of the nation, to the duty of citizens, and especially to
the responsibilities of those who were destined by the training and
education of this venerable college to become the leaders of the
country. Nothing whatever was said, by any of the speakers, on the
achievements in scholarship, literature, or science made by former
scholars of the college; nothing was said of the promise in learning
or science of the young men now beginning the world. Now, a year or so
ago, the master and fellows of a certain college of the older
Cambridge bade to a feast as many of the old members of that college
as would fill the hall. It was, of course, a very much smaller hall
than that of Harvard; but it was still a venerable college, the
mother, so to speak, of Emmanuel, and therefore the grandmother of
Harvard. The master, in his speech after dinner, spoke about nothing
but the glories of the college in its long list of worthies and the
very remarkable number of men, either living or recently passed away,
whose work in the world had brought distinction to themselves and
honour to the college. In short, the college only existed in his mind,
and in the minds of those present, for the advancement of learning,
nor was there any other consideration possible for him in connection
with the college. Is there, then, another view of Harvard College?
There must be. The speakers suggested this new and American view. The
college, if my supposed discovery is true, is regarded as a place
which is to furnish the State, not with scholars, for whom there will
always be a very limited demand, but with a large and perennial supply
of men of liberal education and sound principles, whose chief duty
shall be the maintenance of the freedom to which they are born, and a
steady opposition to the corruption into which all free institutions
readily fall without unceasing watchfulness. This thing I advance with
some hesitation. But it explains the inflated patriotism of the
carefully-prepared speech of the governor and the political (not
partisan) spirit of all the other speakers. Oxford and Cambridge have
long furnished the country with a learned clergy, a learned Bar, and
(but this is past) a learned House of Commons. The tradition of
learning lingers still; nay, they are centres of learning beyond
comparison with any other universities in the world. Harvard also, I
suppose, provides a learned clergy; but its principal function, as its
rulers seemed to think, is to send out into the world every year a
great body of young men fully equipped to be leaders in the country.
This is its chief glory; to do this effectively, I take it, is the
chief desire of the president and the society.

It cannot be denied that this is a very important duty, much more
important, for a special reason, in the States than it is in Great
Britain. I used to marvel, before making these observations, at the
constant flying of the stars and stripes everywhere; at the continual
reminding as to freedom. 'Are there,' one asks, 'no other countries in
the world which are free? In what single point is the freedom of the
American greater than the freedom of the Briton, the Canadian, of the
Australian?' In none, certainly. Yet we are not forever waving the
Union Jack everywhere and calling each other brothers in our glorious
liberty. Well: but let us think. In so vast a population, spread over
so many States, each State being a different country, there will
always be ignorant men, men ready to give up everything for a selfish
advantage: there must always be a danger, unless it be continually met
and beaten down, that the United may become the dis-United States.
Why, European statesmen used to look forward confidently to the
disruption of the States from the Declaration of Independence down to
the Civil War. It was a commonplace that the country must inevitably
fall to pieces. The very possibility of a disruption is now not even
thought of: the thing is never mentioned. Why is this? Surely, because
the idea of federation is not only taught and ground in at the
elementary schools, but because the flag of federation is always
displayed as the chief glory of the nation at every place where two or
three Americans are gathered together. The symbol you see is
unmistakable: it means Union, once for all; the word, the idea, the
symbol, it must be always kept before the eyes of the people; it is in
the wisdom of the rulers that the stars and stripes are forever
flaunted before the eyes of the people.

And it is not only the ignorant and the selfish among Americans
themselves; it is the vast number of immigrants, increasing by half a
million every year, who have to be taught what citizenship means. The
outward symbol is the readiest teacher; let them never forget that
they live under the stars and stripes; let them learn--German,
Norwegian, Italian, Irish--what it means to belong to the Great
Republic. Is this all that a two months' visitor can bring away from
America? It is the most important part of my plunder. What else has
been gathered up is hardly worth talking about, in comparison with
these two discoveries which are, after all, perhaps only useful to
myself: the discovery of the real youthfulness of the country and the
discovery of the real meaning and the necessity of the spread-eagle
speeches and the flaunting of the flag in season and out of season. It
may seem a small thing to learn, but the lesson has wholly changed my
point of view. The fact is perhaps hardly worth recording; it matters
little what a single Englishman thinks; but if he can induce others to
think with him, or to modify their views in the same direction, it may
matter a great deal.

And, of course, an Englishman must think of his own future--that of
his own country. Before many years the United Kingdom must inevitably
undergo great changes: the vastness of the Empire will vanish; Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa will fall away and will become
independent republics; what these little islands will become then, I
know not. What will become of the English-speaking races, thus firmly
planted over the whole globe, is a more important question. If a man
had the voice of the silver-mouthed Father, if a man had the
inspiration of a prophet, it would be a small thing for that man to
consecrate and expend all his life, all his strength, all his soul, in
the creation of a great federation of English-speaking peoples. There
should be no war of tariffs between them; there should be no
possibility of dispute between them; there should be as many nations
separate and distinct as might please to call themselves nations; it
should make no difference whether Canada was the separate dominion of
Canada, or a part of the United States; it should make no difference
whether Great Britain and Ireland were a monarchy or a republic. The
one thing of importance would be an indestructible alliance for
offence and defence among the people who have inherited the best part
of the whole world. This alliance can best be forwarded by a promotion
of friendship between private persons; by a constant advocacy in the
press of all the countries concerned; and by the feeling, to be
cultivated everywhere, that such a confederation would present to the
world the greatest, strongest, wealthiest, most highly cultivated
confederacy of nations that ever existed. It would be permanent,
because here would be no war of aggression in tariffs, or of personal
quarrel; no territorial ambitions; no conflict of kings.

Naturally, I was not called upon to speak at the Harvard dinner. Had I
spoken, I should like to have said: 'Men of Harvard, grandsons of that
benignant mother--still young--who sits crowned with laurels, ever
fresh, on the sedgy bank of Granta, think of the country from which
your fathers have sprung. Go out into the world--your world of
youthful endeavour and success; do your best to bring the hearts of
the people whom you will have to lead back to their kin across the
seas to east and west--over the Atlantic and over the Pacific. Do your
best to bring about the Indestructible fraternity of the whole
English-speaking races. Do this in the sacred name of that freedom of
which you have this day heard so much, and of that Christianity to
which by the very stamp and seal of your college you are the avowed
and sworn servants. Rah!'


ART AND THE PEOPLE. [Paper read at the Birmingham Meeting of the
Social Science Congress.]

There is a passage in one of the letters of Edward Denison which
exactly interprets the dejection and oppression certain to fall upon
one who seriously considers and personally investigates, however
superficially, the condition of the poor in great cities. He writes
from Philpott Street, Commercial Road, East London, and he says: 'My
wits are getting blunted by the monotony and ugliness of the place. I
can almost imagine the awful effect upon a human mind of never seeing
anything but the meanest and vilest of men and man's work, and of
complete exclusion from the sight of God's works.' The very
exaggeration of these words shows the profound dejection of the
writer, at a moment when his resolution to continue living in a place
where there was neither nature nor art, nor beauty anywhere, weighed
upon him like a penal sentence, so that the vileness of the
surroundings entered into his soul and made him feel as if the men and
women in the place, as well as their works, were all alike, mean,
vile, and sordid. Edward Denison wrote these words seventeen years
ago. The place in which he lived is still ugly and monotonous, a small
cross-street leading from the back of the London Hospital into the
Commercial Road, about as far from green fields and parks or gardens
as can be found anywhere in London; there are still a good many of the
vilest of man's works carried on in the neighbourhood, especially the
making of clothes for Government contractors, and the making of shirts
for private sweaters. But something has been attempted since Denison
came here--the pioneer of a great invasion. Many others have followed
his example, and are now, like him, living among the people. Clubs
have been established, concerts and readings have been given, and
excursions into the country, convalescent homes and a thousand
different things have grown up for the amelioration of the poor.
Better than all, there are now thousands of educated and cultivated
men and women who are perpetually considering how existing evils may
be remedied and new evils prevented. With philanthropic efforts, with
the social questions connected with them, I have now nothing to do. We
are at present only concerned with a question of Art: we are to
inquire how the love and desire for Art may be introduced and
developed, and to ask what has already been attempted In this

I would first desire to explain that I know absolutely nothing about
the state of things in any other great city of Great Britain than one.
What I say is based upon such small knowledge that I may have gained
concerning London, and especially East London. As regards Birmingham,
Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, and any other place where there is a
great industrial population, I know nothing. If, therefore, exception
be taken to any expressions of mine as applied to some other city, I
beg it to be remembered that East London alone is in my mind. Even
concerning East London exception may be taken to anything I may
advance. That is because it is impossible to make any general
proposition whatever of humanity considered in the mass except the
elementary ones, such as that all must eat and sleep, to which
objection may not be raised. Thus, I know that it is true, and I am
prepared to maintain the assertion, that the lower classes in London
care nothing about Art, and know nothing about Art, and have only an
elementary appreciation of things beautiful. It is equally true, on
the other hand, that there are everywhere some whose hearts are
yearning and whose hands are stretched out in prayer for greater
beauty and fulness of life. It is also, as a general statement, true
that there are no amusements in East London, which contains two and a
half millions of people, has no municipality, and is the biggest,
ugliest, and meanest city in the whole world. Yet it is equally true
that there are in it institutes for education and science, art, and
literature, mutual improvement societies, clubs at which there are
evenings for singing, dancing, and private theatricals, and rowing,
swimming, and cricket clubs. It is again, as a general rule, true that
the lower classes are ignorant of science, yet there are everywhere
scattered among the working men single cases of earnest devotion to
science. And it is painfully true that they do not seem to feel the
ugliness of their own streets and houses; yet no one who has been
among the holiday folks in the country on a Bank Holiday or a fine
Sunday in the summer can deny their profound appreciation of field and
forest, flowers and green leaves, sunshine and shade. It is, lastly,
perfectly true that their lives, compared with those of the more
cultivated classes, do seem horribly dull, monotonous, and poor. Yet
the dulness is more apparent than real: ugly houses and mean streets
do not necessarily imply mean and ugly lives. Their days may be
enlivened in a thousand ways which to the outsider are invisible.
Among these are some which directly or indirectly make for the
appreciation of Art.

It seems safe, however, to advance one proposition. There is a class
in and below which it is impossible that there can exist a feeling for
Art of ally kind, or, indeed, for religion, for virtue, for knowledge
of any kind, or for anything beyond the necessity of providing for the
next day's food and shelter. Those miserable women who work from early
morning to late night, condemned to a slavery worse than any we have
abolished; those hungry men who besiege the dock-gates for a day's
work, and have nothing in the whole world but a pair of hands; that
vast class which is separated from starvation by a single day--what
thought, interest, or care can they have for anything in the world but
the procuring of food? When the physical condition of English men and
women is worse, as Professor Huxley has declared it to be, than the
condition of naked savages in the Southern Seas, how can we look for
the virtues and the aspirations which belong essentially to the level
of comparative ease? Until we have mastered the problem of finding
steady work for all, with adequate wages and decent homes, we need not
look for Art in these lowest ranks. We have to do, therefore, not with
the very poor at all, but with the respectable poor--the families of
skilled mechanics, _employés_ in regular work, workmen in breweries,
ship-yards, and factories independent handicraftsmen, clerks,
cashiers, accountants, writers, small shopkeepers, and all that great
host which is perpetually occupied in increasing the wealth of the
country by labour which, at least, permits them to live in comfort.
All these people have leisure; most of them, except the shop
assistants, have no work in the evening; they are all possessed of
some education. There is no reason at all why they should not, if they
could be only got to desire it, become students in some of the
branches of Art.

Let us, then, always with reference to this one city and this one
class of its inhabitants, ascertain what has been done already to
create a love of Art. The most important thing as yet attempted is the
Bethnal Green Museum. It is, for our purposes, also the most
instructive, because it has hitherto been, I consider, a complete and
ignominious failure. That is to say, it was established and is
maintained as an educational museum, it was especially designed to
create and develop a knowledge of Art and it has not done so. It was
opened in 1872 with, among other things, the magnificent collection of
pictures lent by Sir Richard Wallace; during the twelve years of its
existence it has exhibited other collections of considerable interest:
but the education, the free library, and the classrooms promised at
the outset have never been forthcoming. It is, in fact, a dumb and
silent gallery. One may compare it to a Board School newly built,
provided with all the latest appliances for education--with books,
desks, seats, blackboards, and everything, including crowds of pupils,
but left without a teaching staff, the pupils being expected to teach
themselves. Why not? There are the books and there are the desks, So
with this museum. You cannot learn anything of Art without the study
of artistic work. Here is the artistic work. Why do not the people
study it? They certainly come to the place; they come in large
numbers; on free days when it is open until ten at night they average
over two thousand a day all the year round. And if you take the
trouble to watch them, to follow them about, and to listen to their
conversation, you will presently discover with how much intelligence
they are studying the artistic work before them.

The failure of Bethnal Green should teach us what to avoid. Let us
therefore walk round the halls and galleries of this museum. In the
central hall there is placed, each object with a ticket containing a
brief description of it, a really noble collection of cabinets, carved
and painted; with these are rare and costly vases, of English,
Russian, Danish, and German workmanship; there are a few statuettes,
some paintings on china, things in glazed earthenware, and glass cases
containing Syrian and Albanian necklaces and jewellery. In the lower
side galleries there is, first, a collection of food products, showing
specimens of wheat, rice, starch, salt, and so forth, with models of
vegetables and fruit executed in wax; and next, a collection of
woollen stuff and fabrics of all kinds, with feathers, stags' heads,
antlers, and so forth. In the upper galleries there is a collection of
paintings and engravings. Here and there are suspended tablets which
are inscribed with bits of information, chiefly statistical. On my
last visit to the place I could not observe that anyone was studying
these tablets. This is, roughly speaking, all that the Bethnal Green
Museum contains. The directors of this institution, opened with so
much promise, which was going to educate the people and endow them
with a sense of Art and a love of beauty, think they have done all
they promised when they show a collection of cabinets and vases, a few
bottles containing rice and wheat, a few turnips in wax, a few cases
with pretty fabrics, and collection of pictures. There is no music;
there is no sculpture; none of the small arts are represented at all;
there is not the slightest attempt made to educate anybody. If you
want any other information or help besides that given by the tablets
you will not get it, because there is nobody to give it. A policeman
mounts guard over the cases, a woman sells the publications of the
South Kensington Department, and you can rend on a board the number of
visitors for every day in the year. But there is no one to go round
with you and talk about the things on exhibition. There are no
lectures nor any classes, there are no handbooks to teach the history
of the Fine Arts and to illustrate the collection in the museum. There
is not, incredible to say, even a catalogue. _There is no catalogue_.
Imagine an exhibition without even an official guide to its contents.
Here, says the Department, is the Bethnal Green Museum with its doors
wide open: let the people walk in and inspect the contents.

So, if we invited the people to inspect a collection of cuneiform
inscriptions, we might just as well expect them to carry away a
knowledge of Assyrian history; or by exhibiting an electrical machine
we might as well expect them to understand the appliances of
electricity. It is not enough, in fact, to exhibit pictures: they must
be explained. It is with paintings and drawings as with everything
else, those who come to see them having no knowledge carry none away
with them. The visitors to a museum are like travellers in a foreign
country, of whom Emerson truly says that when they leave it they take
nothing away but what they brought with them. The finest wood carving,
the most beautiful vase, the richest classic painting, produces on the
uncultivated eye no more valuable or lasting impression than the sight
of a sailing ship for the first time produces on the mind of a savage.
That is to say, the impression at the best is of wonder, not of
delight or curiosity at all. In the picture galleries, it is true, the
dull eyes are lifted and the weary faces brighten, because here, if
you plea, we touch upon that art which every human being all over the
world can appreciate. It is the art of story-telling. The visitors go
from picture to picture and they read the stories. As for landscapes,
figures, portraits, or slabs, they pass them by. What they love is a
picture of life in action, a picture that tells a story and quicken
their pulses. You may observe this in every picture gallery--even at
the Grosvenor and the Royal Academy--even among the classes who are
supposed to know something of Art: for one who studies a portrait by
Millsis, or a head by Leighton, there are crowds who stand before a
picture which tells a story. At the Royal Academy the story is
generally, but not always, read in silence; at Bethnal Green it is
read aloud. You will perhaps observe the importance of this
difference. It is because at the Royal Academy everybody has the
feeling that he is present in the character of a critic, and must
therefore affect, at least, to be considering the workmanship, and
passing a judgment on the artist. But at Bethnal Green the visitors
feel that they have been invited to be pleased, to wonder, and to
admire the beautiful stories represented on the canvas by clever men
who have learnt this trade. As for how a story may be told on canvas,
the way in which the conception of the artist has been executed, the
truth of the drawing, the fidelity of colouring--on these points no
questions are asked and no curiosity is expressed. Why should they?
Painting they regard as one of the arts which may be learned for a
trade, like matchmaking or shoemaking. Remember that it never occurs
to people to learn the mysteries of any trade beside their own. On my
last visit to this museum, for instance, I chanced upon two women who
were standing before a vase. It was a large and very beautiful vase,
of admirable form and proportions, and it was decorated on the top by
a group representing three captives chained to the rock. Their comment
on this work of art was as follows: 'Look,' said one, 'look at those
poor men chained to the rock.' 'Yes,' replied the other, 'poor
fellows! ain't it shocking?'

To their eyes the only thing to be looked at was the group of figures,
and the only suggestion made to their minds by the vase related to the
story, thus half told, of the captives. As for the vase itself, it was
nothing; the workmanship and painting were nothing; the sculpturing of
the figures was nothing.

It is constantly argued that the mere contemplation of things
beautiful creates this artistic sense--the sense of beauty. This is
undoubtedly true if one were to dwell entirely among beautiful things.
But how if for one thing which is beautiful you are made to
contemplate a hundred which are not? Suppose you offer a girl of
untrained eye a choice of costumes, of which one is artistic and the
rest are all hideous, how can you expect her to know the one--the only
one--which she sought to choose? Or, again, if you allow a boy to read
and learn as much bad poetry as good, what can you expect of his
standard of taste? In other words, when the surroundings of life are
wholly without Art, an occasional visit to a collection of paintings
cannot create an intelligent appreciation of Art.

Again, there are many branches and diverse forms or Art. For Instance,
there is music, there is singing there is acting, there is sculpture,
poetry, fiction; and besides these there are working in metals,
engraving in wood and copper, leather work, brass work, fret work, and
decoration. None of these arts are illustrated and recognised in the
Bethnal Green Museum, Yet, when we speak of the spreading of Art among
the poor, surely we do not mean only drawing, design, and painting.

The popularity of this museum has been argued as a proof of its
efficiency. It attracts, as I have stated already, over 2,000 on every
free day all the year round. On the one day in the week when an
entrance fee of sixpence is required it attracts from twenty to forty.
This means that out of two millions of people in East London there is
so little enthusiasm for Art that only forty can be found each week to
pay sixpence in order to enjoy quiet galleries and undisturbed study.
Remember that East London is not altogether a poor place; there are
whole districts which are full of villa residences as good as any in
the southern suburb; there are many people who are wealthy; but all
the wealth and all the Art enthusiasm of the place will not bring more
than forty every week to pay their sixpence. As for copying the
pictures, I do not know if any facilities are afforded for the
purpose, but I have never seen anyone in the place copying at all.

The throng of visitors on free days may partly be explained on other
grounds than the love of Art. It is a place where one can pleasantly
lounge, or sit down to rest, or lazily look at pleasant things, or
talk with one's friends, or take refuge from bad weather. This is as
it should be; the place is regarded as a pleasant place. Yet the
number of visitors has fallen off. In the first year of its existence
nearly a million entered the gates; four years later an equal number
was registered; for the last three years the number has fallen to less
than half a million. Its popularity, therefore, is on the decline.

It is, again, a great place for children. They are sent here just as
they are sent to the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum,
in order to be out of the way. You will always see children in these
places, strolling listlessly among the rooms and corridors. Once, for
instance, on a certain Easter Monday, I encountered, in the South
Kensington Museum, a miserable little pair, who were crying in a
corner by themselves. Beside the cases full of splendid embroideries
and golden lace, among which they had strayed, they looked curiously
incongruous, and somewhat like the unfortunate pair led to their
destruction by the wicked uncle. They had, in fact, been sent to the
museum by their mother, with a piece of bread-and-butter for their
dinner, and told to stay there all day long. By this time the
bread-and-butter had long since been eaten up, and they were hungry
again, and there was a long afternoon before them. What to these
hungry children would have been a whole Field of the Cloth of Gold? We
must, therefore, make very large deductions indeed when we consider
the popularity of Bethnal Green. Doubtless it is pleasant to read the
stories of the pictures; but the light, the warmth, the society of the
place are also pleasant. And as for Art education, why, as none is
given, so none is desired.

I have dwelt upon Bethnal Green Museum at some length, not because I
wished to attack the place, but because it seems to me an example of
what ought not to be done, and because it illustrates most admirably
two propositions which I have to offer. These are--(1) That the lower
classes have no instinctive desire for Art; (2) that they will not
teach themselves.

We may also learn from considering what this museum is what an
educational and popular museum ought to be; and to this I will
immediately return. Meantime, let us go on to consider a few minor
agencies at work in the East of London, directly or indirectly working
in favour of Art. And, first, I should like to call attention to the
annual exhibition of pictures which the indefatigable Vicar of St.
Jude's, Whitechapel--the Rev. Samuel Barnett--gets together every
Easter for his people. The point is not so much that he holds this
exhibition as that he engages the services of volunteer lecturers, who
go round the show with the visitors and explain the pictures, so that
they may learn what it is they should admire and something of what
they should look for in a drawing or painting. In other words, Mr.
Barnett's visitors are instructed in the first elements of Art
criticism. There are, next, certain institutes, educational and
social, such as the Bow and Bromley and the Beaumont, which might be
used to advantage for Art purposes. Then there are the Church
organizations, with their services, their clubs, their social,
gatherings, and their schools; there are the chapels, each with its
own set of similar institutions; there are the working men's clubs,
which might also lend themselves and their rooms for the development
of Art; there are such societies as the Kyrle Society, which give free
concerts of good music, and are therefore already working for us;
lastly, there are the schools of Art--there are five in East London,
working under the South Kensington Department. All these are agencies
which either are already working in the interests of Art, or could be
easily induced to do so.

To sum up, at the exhibition of the Bethnal Green Museum the people
walk round the pictures, are pleased to read their stories, and go
away; at the concerts they listen, are satisfied, and go away; at the
readings and recitations they applaud, and go away. They are not, in
fact, stimulated by these exhibitions and performances in the
slightest degree to draw, paint, carve, play an instrument, sing,
recite, or act for themselves. But observe that directly they form
clubs of their own, although they may develop many reprehensible
tendencies, and especially that of gambling, they do at once begin to
act, sing, recite, and dance for themselves. What we want them to do,
then, is to begin for themselves, or to fall in willingly with those
who begin for them, the pursuit of Art in its more difficult and
higher branches. What we desire is that they should realize what we
know, that to teach a lad or a girl one of these Fine Arts is to
confer upon him an inestimable boon; that no life can be wholly
unhappy which is cheered by the power of playing an instrument,
dancing, painting, carving, modelling, singing, making fiction, or
writing poetry, that it is not necessary to do these things so well as
to be able to live by them; but that every man who practises one of
these arts is, during his work, drawn out of himself and away from the
bad conditions of his life. If, I say, the people can be got to
understand something of this, the rest will be easy. A few examples in
their midst would be enough to show them that it wants little to be an
artist, that the practice of Art is a lifelong delight, and that in
the exercise and improvement of the faculties of observation,
comparison, and selection, in the daily consideration of beauty in its
various forms, the years roll by easily and are spent in a continual
dream of happiness. You know that it has been observed especially of
actors, that they never grow old. The thing is true with artists of
every kind--they never grow old. Their hair may become gray and may
fall off, they may be afflicted with the same weaknesses as other men,
but their hearts remain always young to the very end. But this is not
an inducement, I am afraid, that we can put forth in an appeal to the
people to follow Art. I am sure, moreover, that it is the desire of
all to include the encouragement of every kind of Art, not that of
drawing and painting only. We wish that every boy and every girl shall
learn something--and it matters little whether we make him draw,
design, paint, decorate, carve, work in brass or leather, whether we
make him a musician, a painter, a sculptor, a poet, or a novelist,
provided he be instructed in the true principles of Art. Imagine, if
you can, a time when in every family of boys and girls one shall be a
musician, and another a carver of wood, and a third a painter; when
every home shall be full of artistic and beautiful things, and the
Present ugliness be only remembered as a kind of bad dream. This may
appear to some impossible, but it is, on the other hand, very possible
and sure to come in the immediate future. It is true that, as a
nation, we are not artistic, but we might change our character in a
single generation. It has taken less than a single generation to
develop the enormous increase of Art which we now see around us in the
upper classes. Think of such a thing as house decoration and
furniture. We have to extend this development into regions where it is
as yet unfelt, and among a class which have, as yet, shown no
willingness or desire for such extension.

All this has been said by way of apology for the practical scheme
which I venture now to lay before you. You have already heard from Mr.
Leland's own lips what has been for five years his work in
Philadelphia, you have heard how he has brought the small arts into
hundreds of homes, and has given purpose and brightness to hundreds of
lives. I have followed this work of his from the beginning with the
greatest interest. Before he began it, he told me what he was going to
try, and how he meant to try. But I think that, courageous and
self-reliant as he is, he did not and could not, at tho outset,
anticipate such a magnificent success as he has obtained. You have
also heard something of the society called the Cottage Arts
Association, founded by Mrs. Jebb, by which the villagers are taught
some of the minor arts.

This Association is, I am convinced, going to do a great work, and I
am very glad to be able to read you Mrs. Jebb's own testimony, the
fruit of her long experience. She says, 'We must give the
people--children of course included--opportunities of unofficial
intercourse with those who already love Art, and who can help them to
see and to discriminate. We must teach them to use their own hands and
eyes in doing actual Art work; even if the work done does not count
for much, it will develop their observation and quicken their
appreciation in a way which I believe nothing else will do--no mere
looking or explaining. They must be helped to make their own homes and
the things they use beautiful. They must not be helped only to learn
to do Art work, but also given ideas as to its application, shown how
and where to get materials, etc. Further, it has been resolved that
prizes shall be given to the pupils for the best copies drawn,
modelled, carved, or repoussé of the casts and designs circulated
among the various classes.'

I propose, therefore, that, with such modifications as suit our own
way of working, we should initiate on a more extended scale the
example set us by Mrs. Jebb and Mr. Leland. I think that it would not
be difficult, while retaining the machinery and the help afforded by
the South Kensington Department in painting and drawing, to establish
local clubs, classes, and societies, or, which I think much better, a
central society with local branches, either for the whole of England
or for each county or for each great city, for the purpose of
teaching, encouraging, and advancing all the Fine Arts, both small and
great. We do the whole of our collective work in this country by means
of societies: it is an Englishman's instinct, if he ardently desires
to bring about a thing, to recognise that, though he cannot get what
he wants by his own effort, he may get it by associating other people
with him and forming a society. Everything is done by societies. One
need not, therefore, make any apology for desiring to see another
society established. That of which I dream would be, to begin with,
independent of all politics, controversies, or theories whatever; it
would not be a society requiring an immense income--in fact, with a
very small income indeed very large results might be obtained, as you
will immediately see. The work of the society would consist almost
entirely of evening classes; it would not have to build schools or to
buy houses at first, but it would use, or rent, whatever rooms might
be found available-perhaps those of the day-schools. All the arts
would be taught in these schools, except those already taught by the
South Kensington Department, but especially the minor arts, for this
very important and practical reason, that these would be found almost
immediately to have a money value, and would therefore serve the
useful purpose of attracting pupils. At the outset there must be no
fees, but everybody must be invited to come in and learn. After the
value of the school has been established in the popular mind there
would be no difficulty in exacting a small fee towards the expenses of
maintenance. But, from the very first, there must be established a
system of prizes, public exhibitions of work done by the students,
concerts at which the musicians would play and the choirs would sing,
and theatricals at which the actors would perform. Partly by these
public honours, and partly by showing an actual market value for the
work, we may confidently look forward to creating and afterwards
fostering a genuine enthusiasm for Art.

How are the funds to be provided for all this work? The money required
for a commencement will be in reality very little. There are the
necessary tools and materials to be found, a certain amount of house
service to be done and paid for, gas and firing, and perhaps rent.
Observe, however, that the materials for Art students of all kinds are
not expensive, that house service costs very little, light and firing
not a great deal; and even the rent would not be heavy, since all our
schools would be situated in the poor neighbourhoods. There only
remain the teachers, and here comes in the really important part of
the scheme. _The teachers will cost nothing at all._ They will all be
members of our new society, and they will give, in addition to or in
lieu of an annual subscription, their personal services as gratuitous
teachers. This part of the scheme is sure to command your sympathies,
the more so if you consider the current of contemporary thought. More
and more we are getting volunteer labour in almost every department.
Everywhere, in every town and in every parish, along with the
professional workers, are those who work for nothing. As for the women
who work for nothing, the sisters of religious orders, the women who
collect rents, the women who live among the poor, those who read aloud
to patients in hospitals, those who go about in the poorest places,
their name is legion. And as for the men, we have no cause to be
ashamed of the part which they take in this great voluntary movement,
which is the noblest thing the world has ever seen, and which I
believe to be only just beginning. All our great religious societies,
all our hospitals, all our philanthropic societies, are worked by
unpaid committees. All our School wards over the whole country, not to
speak of the House of Commons, are unpaid. At this very moment there
are springing up here and there in East London actual
monasteries--only without monastic vows--in which live young men who
devote themselves, either wholly or in part, to work among the poor,
often to evening and night work after their own day's labours. It is
no longer a visionary thing; it is a great and solid fact, that there
are hundreds of men willing, without vows, orders, or any rule, and
without hope of reward, not even gratitude, to live for their brother
men. They give, not their money or their influence, or their
exhortations, but they give--_themselves_. Greater love hath no man.
As for us, we shall not ask our teachers to give their whole time,
unless they offer it. One or two evenings out of the week will
suffice. I am convinced--you are all, I am sure, convinced--that there
will be no difficulty at all in getting teachers, but that the only
difficulty will be in selecting those who can add discretion to zeal,
capability to enthusiasm, skill and tact in teaching, as well as a
knowledge of an art to be taught. Think of the Working Men's College
in Great Ormond Street--perhaps you don't know of this institution. It
is a great school for working men; it teaches all subjects, and it has
been running for nearly thirty years. During the whole of that time, I
believe I am right in saying that the professors and teachers have
been all unpaid--they are volunteers. Can we fear that in Art, in
which there are so many enthusiasts, we shall not get as much
volunteer assistance as in Letters and Science?

This, then, is my proposal for creating and developing an enthusiasm
for Art. There are to be schools everywhere, controlled by local
committees, under a central society; there are to be volunteer
teachers, willing to subject themselves to rule and order; there are
to be public exhibitions and prize-givings; all the arts, not one
only, are to be taught; great prominence is to be given to the minor
arts; at first there will be no fees; above all and before all, the
great College of ours is not to be made a Government department, to be
tied and bound by the hard-and-fast rules and red tape which are the
curse of every department, nor is it to be under the direction of any
School Board, but, like most things in this country that are of any
use, it is to be governed by its own council.

One thing more. I am firmly convinced that the only institutions in
any country which endure are those which take a firm hold of the
popular mind and are supported by the people themselves. In order to
make the College of Art permanent, it must belong absolutely to the
people. This can only be effected by the gradual retirement of the
wealthy class, who will start it, from the management, and the
substitution of actual working men in their place--working men, I
mean, who have themselves been through some course of study in the
College, and have, perhaps, become teachers. And as working men will
certainly do nothing without pay--in London, whatever may be the case
elsewhere, their strongest feeling is that their only possessions are
their time and their hands--we shall have to provide that the teachers
of the schools, the directors of the college, and the clerks in the
secretariat, shall never be paid at a higher rate than the current
rate of wage for manual work. The people themselves will in the end
supply council, executive officers, and teaching staff. The time is
ripe; we are ready to begin the work; I do not fear for a moment that
the working man will not, if we begin with prudence, presently
respond, and, through him, the boys and girls.

We must, however, have a museum, although on this subject I cannot
dwell. I should like to take the Bethnal Green institution entirely
out of South Kensington hands; they have had it for fourteen years,
and you have heard what they have made of it. I think they should hand
it over, if not to our new College of Art, then to a local committee,
who would at least try to show what an educational museum should be.
Our educational museum will be a branch of the College of Art; it will
be in all respects the exact opposite of the Bethnal Green Museum; it
will have everything which is there wanting; it will have a library
and reading-room; it will have lecturers and teachers, it will have
class-rooms; the exhibits will be changed continually; there will be
an organ and concerts; there will be a theatre, there will be in it
every appliance which will teach our pupils the exquisite joy, the
true and real delight, of expressing noble thought in beautiful and
precious work.


'And do your workmen,' asked a London visitor of a Lancashire
mill-owner--'do your workmen really live in those hovels?'

'Certainly not,' replied the master. 'They only sleep there. They live
in my mill.'

This was forty years ago. Neither question nor answer would now be
possible. For the hovels are improved into cottages; the factory hands
no longer live only in the mill; and the opinion, which was then held
by all employers of labour, as a kind of Fortieth Article, that it is
wicked for poor people to expect or hope for anything but regular work
and sufficient food, has undergone considerable modification. Why,
indeed, they thought, should the poor man look to be merry when his
betters were content to be dull? We must remember how very little play
went on even among the comfortable and opulent classes in those days.
Dulness and a serious view of life seemed inseparable; recreations of
all kinds were so many traps and engines set for the destruction of
the soul; and to desire or seek for pleasure, reprehensible in the
rich, was for the poor a mere accusation of Providence and an opening
of the arms to welcome the devil. So that our mill-owner, after all,
may have been a very kind-hearted and humane creature, in spite of his
hovels and his views of life, and anxious to promote the highest
interests of his employés.

A hundred years ago, however, before the country became serious, the
people, especially in London, really had a great many amusements,
sports, and pastimes. For instance, they could go baiting of bulls and
bears, and nothing is more historically certain than the fact that the
more infuriated the animals became, the more delighted were the
spectators; they 'drew' badgers, and rejoiced in the tenacity and the
courage of their dogs; they enjoyed the noble sport of the cock-pit;
they fought dogs and killed rats; they 'squalled' fowls--that is to
say, they tied them to stakes and hurled cudgels at them, but only
once a year, and on Shrove Tuesday, for a treat; they boxed and
fought, and were continually privileged to witness the most stubborn
and spirited prize-fights; every day in the streets there was the
chance for everybody of getting a fight with a light-porter, or a
carter, or a passenger--this prospect must have greatly enhanced the
pleasures of a walk abroad; there were wrestling, cudgelling, and
quarter-staff; there were frequent matches made up and wagers laid
over all kinds of things: there were bonfires, with the hurling of
squibs at passers-by; there were public hangings at regular intervals
and on a generous scale; there were open-air floggings for the joy of
the people; there were the stocks and the pillory, also free and
open-air exhibitions; there were the great fairs of Bartholomew,
Charlton, Fairlop Oak, and Barnet; there were also lotteries. Besides
these amusements, which were all for the lower orders as well as for
the rich, they had their mug-houses, whither the men resorted to drink
beer, spruce, and purl; and for music there was the street
ballad-singer, to say nothing of the bear-warden's fiddle and the band
of marrow-bones and cleavers. Lastly, for those of more elevated
tastes, there was the ringing of the church bells. Now, with the
exception of the last named, we have suppressed every single one of
these amusements. What have we put in their place? Since the working
classes are no longer permitted to amuse themselves after the old
fashions--which, to do them justice, they certainly do not seem to
regret--how do they amuse themselves?

Everybody knows, in general terms, how the English working classes do
amuse themselves. Let us, however, set down the exact facts, so far as
we can get at them, and consider them. First, it must be remembered as
a gain--so many other things having been lost--that the workman of the
present day possesses an accomplishment, one weapon, which was denied
to his fathers--_he can read_. That possession ought to open a
boundless field; but it has not yet done so, for the simple reason
that we have entirely forgotten to give the working man anything to
read. This, if any, is a case in which the supply should have preceded
and created the demand. Books are dear; besides, if a man wants to buy
books, there is no one to guide him or tell him what he should get.
Suppose, for instance, a studious working man anxious to teach himself
natural history, how is he to know the best, latest, and most
trustworthy books? And so for every branch of learning. Secondly,
there are no free libraries to speak of; I find, in London, one for
Camden Town, one for Bethnal Green, one for South London, one for
Notting Hill, one for Westminster, and one for the City; and this
seems to exhaust the list. It would be interesting to know the daily
average of evening visitors at these libraries. There are three
millions of the working classes in London: there is, therefore, one
free library for every half-million, or, leaving out a whole
three-fourths in order to allow for the children and the old people
and those who are wanted at home, there is one library for every
125,000 people. The accommodation does not seem liberal, but one has
as yet heard no complaints of overcrowding. It may be said, however,
that the workman reads his paper regularly. That is quite true. The
paper which he most loves is red-hot on politics; and its readers are
assumed to be politicians of the type which consider the Millennium
only delayed by the existence of the Church, the House of Lords, and a
few other institutions. Yet our English working man is not a
firebrand, and though he listens to an immense quantity of fiery
oratory, and reads endless fiery articles, he has the good sense to
perceive that none of the destructive measures recommended by his
friends are likely to improve his own wages or reduce the price of
food. It is unfortunate that the favourite and popular papers, which
might instruct the people in so many important matters--such as the
growth, extent, and nature of the trades by which they live, the
meaning of the word Constitution, the history of the British Empire,
the rise and development of our liberties, and so forth--teach little
or nothing on these or any other points.

If the workman does not read, however, he talks. At present he talks
for the most part on the pavement and in public-houses, but there is
every indication that we shall see before long a rapid growth of
workmen's clubs--not the tea-and-coffee make-believes set up by the
well-meaning, but honest, independent clubs, in every respect such as
those in Pall Mall, managed by the workmen themselves, who are not,
and never will become, total abstainers, but have shown themselves, up
to the present moment, strangely tolerant of those weaker brethren who
can only keep themselves sober by putting on the blue ribbon.
Meantime, there is the public house for a club, and perhaps the
workmen spends, night after night, more than he should upon beer. Let
us remember, if he needs excuse, that his employers have found him no
better place and no better amusement than to sit in a tavern, drink
beer (generally in moderation), and talk and smoke tobacco. Why not? A
respectable tavern is a very harmless place; the circle which meets
there is the society of the workman: it is his life: without it he
might as well have been a factory hand of the good old time--such as
hands were forty years ago; and then he would have made but two
journeys a day--one from bed to mill, and the other from mill to bed.

Another magnificent gift he has obtained of late years--the excursion
train and the cheap steamboat. For a small sum he can get far away
from the close and smoky town, to the seaside perhaps, but certainly
to the fields and country air; he can make of every fine Sunday in the
summer a holiday indeed. Is not the cheap excursion an immense gain?
Again, for those who cannot afford the country excursion, there is now
a Park accessible from almost every quarter. And I seriously recommend
to all those who are inclined to take a gloomy view concerning their
fellow-creatures, and the mischievous and dangerous tendencies of the
lower classes, to pay a visit to Battersea Park on any Sunday evening
in the summer.

As regards the working man's theatrical tastes, they lean, so far as
they go, to the melodrama; but as a matter of fact there are great
masses of working people who never go to the theatre at all. If you
think of it, there are so few theatres accessible that they cannot go
often. For instance, there are for the accommodation of the West-end
and the visitors to London some thirty theatres, and these are nearly
always kept running; but for the densely populous districts of
Islington, Somers Town, Pentonville, and Clerkenwell, combined, there
are only two; for Hoxton and Haggerston, there is only one; for the
vast region of Marylebone and Paddington, only one; for Whitechapel,
'and her daughters,' two; for Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, one; for
Southwark and Blackfriars, one; for the towns of Hampstead, Highgate,
Camden Town, Kentish Town, Stratford, Bow, Bromley, Bermondsey,
Camberwell, Kensington, or Deptford, not one. And yet each one of
these places, taken separately, is a good large town. Stratford, for
instance, has 60,000 inhabitants, and Deptford 80,000. Only half a
dozen theatres for three millions of people! It is quite clear,
therefore, that there is not yet a craving for dramatic art among our
working classes. Music-halls there are, certainly, and these provide
shows more or less dramatic, and, though they are not so numerous as
might have been expected, they form a considerable part of the
amusements of the people; it is therefore a thousand pities that among
the 'topical' songs, the break-downs, and the comic songs, room has
never been found for part-songs or for music of a quiet and somewhat
better kind. The proprietors doubtless know their audience, but
wherever the Kyrle Society have given concerts to working people, they
have succeeded in interesting them by music and songs of a kind to
which they are not accustomed in their music-halls.

The theatre, the music-hall, the public-house, the Sunday excursion,
the parks--these seem almost to exhaust the list of amusements. There
are, also, however, the suburban gardens, such as North Woolwich and
Rosherville, where there are entertainments of all kinds and dancing;
there are the tea-gardens all round London; there are such places of
resort as Kew and Hampton Court, Bushey, Burnham Beeches, Epping,
Hainault and Rye House. There are also the harmonic meetings, the
free-and-easy evenings, and the friendly leads at the public-houses.
Until last year there was one place, in the middle of a very poor
district, where dancing went on all the year round. And there are the
various clubs, debating societies, and local parliaments which have
been lately springing up all over London. One may add the pleasure of
listening to the stump orator, whether he exhorts to repentance, to
temperance, to republicanism, to atheism, or to the return of Sir
Roger. He is everywhere on Sunday in the streets, in the country
roads, and in the parks. The people listen, but with apathy; they are
accustomed to the white-heat of oratory; they hear the same thing
every Sunday: their pulses would beat no faster if Peter the Hermit
himself or Bernard were to exhort them to assume the Cross. It is
comic, indeed, only to think of the blank stare with which a British
workman would receive an invitation to take up arms in order to drive
out the accursed Moslem.

As regards the women, I declare that I have never been able to find
out anything at all concerning their amusements. Certainly one can see
a few of them any Sunday walking about in the lanes and in the fields
of northern London, with their lovers; in the evening they may also be
observed having tea in the tea-gardens. These, however, are the better
sort of girls; they are well dressed, and generally quiet in their
behaviour. The domestic servants, for the most part, spend their
'evening out' in taking tea with other servants, whose evening is in.
On the same principle, an actor when he has a holiday goes to another
theatre; and no doubt it must be interesting for a cook to observe the
_differentiæ_, the finer shades of difference, in the conduct of a
kitchen. When women are married and the cares of maternity set in, one
does not see how they can get any holiday or recreation at all; but I
believe a good deal is done for their amusement by the mothers'
meetings and other clerical agencies. There is, however, below the
shop girls, the dressmakers, the servants, and the working girls whom
the world, so to speak, knows, a very large class of women whom the
world does not know, and is not anxious to know. They are the factory
hands of London; you can see them, if you wish, trooping out of the
factories and places where they work on any Saturday afternoon, and
thus get them, so to speak, in the lump. Their amusement seems to
consist of nothing but walking about the streets, two and three
abreast, and they laugh and shout as they go so noisily that they must
needs be extraordinarily happy. These girls are, I am told, for the
most part so ignorant and helpless, that many of them do not know even
how to use a needle; they cannot read, or, if they can, they never do;
they carry the virtue of independence as far as they are able, and
insist on living by themselves, two sharing a single room; nor will
they brook the least interference with their freedom, even from those
who try to help them. Who are their friends, what becomes of them in
the end, why they all seem to be about eighteen years of age, at what
period of life they begin to get tired of walking up and down the
streets, who their sweethearts are, what are their thoughts, what are
their hopes--these are questions which no man can answer, because no
man could make them communicate their experiences and opinions.
Perhaps only a Bible-woman or two know the history, and could tell it,
of the London factory girl. Their pay is said to be wretched, whatever
work they do; their food, I am told, is insufficient for young and
hearty girls, consisting generally of tea and bread or
bread-and-butter for breakfast and supper, and for dinner a lump of
fried fish and a piece of bread. What can be done? The proprietors of
the factory will give no better wage, the girls cannot combine, and
there is no one to help them. One would not willingly add another to
the 'rights' of man or woman; but surely, if there is such a thing at
all as a 'right,' it is that a day's labour shall earn enough to pay
for sufficient food, for shelter, and for clothes. As for the
amusements of these girls, it is a thing which may be considered when
something has been done for their material condition. The possibility
of amusement only begins when we have reached the level of the well
fed. Great Gaster will let no one enjoy play who is hungry. Would it
be possible, one asks in curiosity, to stop the noisy and mirthless
laughter of these girls with a hot supper of chops fresh from the
grill? Would they, if they were first well fed, incline their hearts
to rest, reflection, instruction, and a little music? The cheap
excursions, the school feasts, the concerts given for the people, the
increased brightness of religious services, the Bank holidays, the
Saturday half-holiday, all point to the gradual recognition of the
great natural law that men and women, as well as boys and girls, must
have play. At the present moment we have just arrived at the stage of
acknowledging this law; the next step will be that of respecting it,
and preparing to obey it, just now we are willing and anxious that all
should play; and it grieves us to see that in their leisure hours the
people do not play because they do not know how.

Compare, for instance, the young workman with the young gentleman--the
public schoolman, one of the kind who makes his life as 'all round' as
he can, and learns and practises whatever his hand findeth to do. Or,
if you please, compare him with one of the better sort of young City
clerks; or, again, compare him with one of the lads who belong to the
classes now held in the building of the old Polytechnic; or with the
lads who are found every evening at the classes of the Birkbeck. First
of all, the young workman cannot play any game at all, neither
cricket, football, tennis, racquets, fives, or any of the other games
which the young fellows in the class above him love so passionately:
there are, in fact, no places for him where these games can be played;
for though the boys may play cricket in Victoria Park, I do not
understand that the carpenters, shoemakers, or painters have got clubs
and play there too. There is no gymnasium for them, and so they never
learn the use of their limbs; they cannot row, though they have a
splendid river to row upon; they cannot fence, box, wrestle, play
single-stick, or shoot with the rifle; they do not, as a rule, join
the Volunteer corps; they do not run, leap, or practise athletics of
any kind; they cannot swim; they cannot sing in parts, unless, which
is naturally rare, they belong to a church choir; they cannot play any
kind of instrument--to be sure the public schoolboy is generally
grovelling in the same shameful ignorance of music; they cannot dance;
in the whole of this vast city there is not a single place where a
couple, so minded, can go for an evening's dancing, unless they are
prepared to journey as far as North Woolwich. Not one. Ought it not to
be felt and resented as an intolerable grievance that grandmotherly
legislation actually forbids the people to dance? That the working men
themselves do not seem to feel and resent it is really a mournful
thing. Then, they cannot paint, draw, model, or carve. They cannot
act, and seemingly do not care greatly about seeing others act; and,
as already stated, they never read books. Think what it must be to be
shut out entirely from the world of history, philosophy, poetry,
fiction, essays, and travels! Yet our working classes are thus
practically excluded. Partly they have done this for themselves,
because they have never felt the desire to read books; partly, as I
said above, we have done it for them, because we have never taken any
steps to create the demand. Now, as regards these arts and
accomplishments, the public schoolman and the better class City clerk
have the chance of learning some of them at least, and of practising
them, both before and after they have left school. What a poor
creature would that young man seem who could do none of these things!
Yet the working man has no chance of learning any. There are no
teachers for him; the schools for the small arts, the accomplishments,
and the graces of life are not open to him; one never hears, for
instance, of a working man learning to waltz or dance, unless it is in
imitation of a music-hall performer. In other words, the public
schoolman has gone through a mill of discipline out of school as well
as in. Law reigns in his sports as in his studies. Whether he sits
over his books or plays in the fields, he learns to be obedient to
law, order, and rule: he obeys, and expects to be obeyed; it is not
himself whom he must study to please: it is the whole body of his
fellows. And this discipline of self, much more useful than the
discipline of books, the young workman knows not. Worse than this, and
worst of all, not only is he unable to do any of these things, but he
is even ignorant of their uses and their pleasures, and has no desire
to learn any of them, and does not suspect at all that the possession
of these accomplishments would multiply the joys of life. He is
content to go on without them. Now contentment is the most mischievous
of all the virtues; if anything is to be done, and any improvement is
to be effected, the wickedness of discontent must first be explained

Let us, if you please, brighten this gloomy picture by recognising the
existence of the artisan who pursues knowledge for its own sake. There
are many of this kind. You may come across some of them botanizing,
collecting insects, moths and butterflies in the fields on Sundays;
others you will find reading works on astronomy, geometry, physics, or
electricity: they have not gone through the early training, and so
they often make blunders; but yet they are real students. One of them
I knew once who had taught himself Hebrew; another, who read so much
about co-operation, that he lifted himself clean out of the
co-operative ranks, and is now a master; another and yet another and
another, who read perpetually, and meditate upon, books of political
and social economy; and there are thousands whose lives are made
dignified for them, and sacred, by the continual meditation on
religious things. Let us make every kind of allowance for these
students of the working class; and let us not forget, as well, the
occasional appearance of those heaven-born artists who are fain to
play music or die, and presently get into orchestras of one kind or
another, and so leave the ranks of daily labour and join the great
clan or caste of musicians, who are a race or family apart, and carry
on their mystery from father to son.

But, as regards any place or institution where the people may learn or
practise or be taught the beauty and desirability of any of the
commoner amusements, arts, and accomplishments, there is not one,
anywhere in London. The Bethnal Green Museum certainly proposed unto
itself, at first, to 'do something,' in a vague and uncertain way, for
the people. Nobody dared to say that it would be first of all
necessary to make the people discontented, because this would have
been considered as flying in the face of Providence; and there was,
besides, a sort of nebulous hope, not strong enough for a theory, that
by dint of long gazing upon vases and tapestry everybody would in time
acquire a true feeling for art, and begin to crave for culture. Many
very beautiful things have, from time to time, been sent
there--pictures, collections, priceless vases; and I am sure that
those visitors who brought with them the sense of beauty and feeling
for artistic work which comes of culture, have carried away memories
and lessons which will last them for a lifetime. On the other hand, to
those who visit the Museum chiefly in order to see the people, it has
long been painfully evident that the folk who do not bring that sense
with them go away carrying nothing of it home with them. Nothing at
all. Those glass cases, those pictures, those big jugs, say no more to
the crowd than a cuneiform or a Hittite inscription. They have now, or
had quite recently, on exhibition a collection of turnips and carrots
beautifully modelled in wax: it is perhaps hoped that the
contemplation of these precious but homely things may carry the people
a step farther in the direction of culture than Sir Richard Wallace's
pictures could effect. In fact, the Bethnal Green Museum does no more
to educate the people than the British Museum. It is to them simply a
collection of curious things which is sometimes changed. It is cold
and dumb. It is merely a dull and unintelligent branch of a
department; and it will remain so, because whatever the collections
may be, a Museum can teach nothing, unless there is someone to expound
the meaning of the things. Why, even that wonderful Museum of the
House Beautiful could teach the pilgrims no lessons at all until the
Sisters explained to them what were the rare and curious things
preserved in their glass cases.

Is it possible that, by any persuasion, attraction, or teaching, the
walking men of this country can be induced to aim at those organized,
highly skilled, and disciplined forms of recreation which make up the
better pleasure of life? Will they consent, without hope of gain, to
give the labour, patience, and practice required of every man who
would become master of any art or accomplishment, or even any game?
There are men, one is happy to find, who think that it is not only
possible, but even easy, to effect this, and the thing is about to be
transferred from the region or theory to that of practice, by the
creation of the People's Palace.

The general scheme is already well known. Because the Mile End Road
runs through the most extensive portion of the most dismal city in the
world, the city which has been suffered to exist without recreation,
it has been chosen as the fitting site of the Palace. As regards
simple absence of joy, Hoxton, Haggerston, Pentonville, Clerkenwell,
or Kentish Town, might contend, and have a fair chance of success,
with any portion whatever of the East-end proper. But, then, around
Mile End lie Stepney, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, the Cambridge Road,
the Commercial Road, Bow, Stratford, Shadwell, Limehouse, Wapping, and
St. George's-in-the-East. Without doubt the real centre, the [Greek:
omphalos] of dreariness, is situated somewhere in the Mile End Road,
and it is to be hoped that the Palace may be placed upon the very
centre itself.

Let me say a few words as to what this Palace may and may not do. In
the first place, it can do nothing, absolutely nothing, to relieve the
great starvation and misery which lies all about London, but more
especially at the East-end. People who are out of work and starving do
not want amusement, not even of the highest kind; still less do they
want University extension. Therefore, as regards the Palace, let us
forget for a while the miserable condition of the very poor who live
in East London; we are concerned only with the well fed, those who are
in steady work, the respectable artisans and _petits commis_, the
artists in the hundred little industries which are carried on in the
East-end; those, in fact, who have already acquired some power of
enjoyment because they are separated by a sensible distance from their
hand-to-mouth brothers and sisters, and are pretty certain to-day that
they will have enough to eat to-morrow. It is for these, and such as
these, that the Palace will be established. It is to contain: (1)
class-rooms, where all kinds of study can be carried on; (2) concert
rooms; (3) conversation-rooms; (4) a gymnasium; (5) a library; and
lastly, a winter garden. In other words, it is to be an institution
which will recognise the fact, that for some of those who have to work
all day at, perhaps, uncongenial and tedious labour, the best form of
recreation may be study and intellectual effort; while for
others--that is to say, for the great majority--music, reading,
tobacco, and rest will be desired. Let us be under no illusions as to
the supposed thirst for knowledge. Those who desire to learn are even
in youth always a minority. How many men do we know, among our own
friends, who have ever set themselves to learn anything since they
left school? It is a great mistake to suppose that the working man,
any more than the merchant-man or the clerk-man, or the tradesman, is
ardently desirous of learning. But there will always be n few; and
especially there are the young who would fain, if they could, make a
ladder of learning, and so, as has ever been the goodly and godly
custom in this realm of England, mount unto higher things. The Palace
of the People would be incomplete indeed if it gave no assistance to
ambitious youths. Next to the classes in literature and science come
those in music and painting. There is no reason whatever why the
Palace should not include an academy of music, an academy of arts, and
an academy of acting, in a few months after its establishment it
should have its own choir, its own orchestra, its own concerts, its
own opera, and its own theatre, with a company formed of its own
_alumni_. And in a year or two it should have its own exhibition of
paintings, drawings, and sculpture. As regards the simpler amusements,
there must be rooms where the men can smoke, and others where the
girls and women can work, read, and talk; there must be a debating
society for questions, social and political, but especially the
former; there must be a dancing school, and a ball once every week,
all the year round; it should be possible to convert the great hall
into either theatre, concert-room, or ball-room; there must be a bar
for beer as well as for coffee, and at a price calculated so as to pay
just the bare expenses; there must be a library and writing-room, and
the winter garden must be a place where the women and children can
come in the daytime while the men are at work. One thing must be kept
out of the place: there must not be allowed to grow up in the minds
even of the most suspicious the least jealousy that religious
influences are at work; more than this, the institution must be
carefully watched to prevent the rise of such a suspicion; religious
controversy must be kept out of the debating-room, and even in the
conversation-rooms there ought to be power to exclude a man who makes
himself offensive by the exhibition and parade of his religious or
irreligious opinions.

As for the teaching of the classes, we must look for voluntary work
rather than to a great endowment. The history of the College in Great
Ormond Street shows how much may be done by unpaid labour, and I do
not think it too much to expect that the Palace of the People may be
started by unpaid teachers in every branch of science and art:
moreover, as regards science, history and language, the University
Extension Society will probably find the staff. There must be,
however, volunteers, women as well as men, to teach singing, music,
dancing, sewing, acting, speaking, drawing, painting, carving,
modelling, and many other things. This kind of help should only be
wanted at the outset, because, before long, all the art departments
ought to be conducted by ex-students who have become in their turn
teachers, they should be paid, but not on the West-end scale, from
fees--so that the schools may support themselves. Let us not _give_
more than is necessary; for every class and every course there should
be some kind of fee, though a liberal system of small scholarships
should encourage the students, and there should be the power of
remitting fees in certain cases. As for the difficulty of starting the
classes, I think that the assistance of Board School masters, foremen
of works, Sunday schools, the political clubs, and debating societies
should be invited; and that besides small scholarships, substantial
prizes of musical and mathematical instruments, books, artists'
materials, and so forth, should be offered, with the glory of public
exhibition and public performances. After the first year there should
be nothing exhibited in the Palace except work done in the classes,
and no performances of music or of plays should be given but by the
students themselves.

There has been going on in Philadelphia for the last two years an
experiment, conducted by Mr. Charles Leland, whose sagacious and
active mind is as pleased to be engaged upon things practical as upon
the construction of humorous poems. He has founded, and now conducts
personally, an academy for the teaching of the minor arts; he gets
shop girls, work girls, factory girls, boys and young men of all
classes together, and teaches them how to make things, pretty things,
artistic things. 'Nothing,' he writes to me, 'can describe the joy
which fills a poor girl's mind when she finds that she, too, possesses
and can exercise a real accomplishment.' He takes them as ignorant,
perhaps--but I have no means of comparing--as the London factory girl,
the girl of freedom, the girl with the fringe--and he shows them how
to do crewel-work, fretwork, brass work; how to carve in wood; how to
design; how to draw--he maintains that it is possible to teach nearly
every one to draw; how to make and ornament leather work, boxes,
rolls, and all kinds of pretty things in leather. What has been done
in Philadelphia amounts, in fact, to this: that one man who loves his
brother man is bringing purpose, brightness, and hope into thousands
of lives previously made dismal by hard and monotonous work; he has
put new and higher thoughts into their heads; he has introduced the
discipline of methodical training; he has awakened in them the sense
of beauty. Such a man is nothing less than a benefactor to humanity.
Let us follow his example in the Palace of the People.

I venture, further, to express my strong conviction that the success
of the Palace will depend entirely upon its being governed, within
limits at first, but these limits constantly broadening, by the people
themselves. If they think the Palace is a trap to catch them, and make
them sober, good, religious and temperate, there will be an end. In
the first place, therefore, there must be a real element of the
working man upon the council; there must be real working men on every
sub-committee or branch; the students must be wholly recruited from
the working classes; and gradually the council must be elected by the
people who use the Palace. Fortunately, there would be no difficulty
at the outset in introducing this element, because the great factories
and breweries in the neighbourhood might be asked each to elect one or
more representatives to sit upon the council of the new University. It
'goes without saying' that the police work, the maintenance of order,
the out-kicking of offenders, must be also entirely managed by a
voluntary corps of efficient working men. Rows there will undoubtedly
be, since we are all of us, even the working man, human; but there
need be no scandals.

I must not go on, though there is so much to be said. I see before us
in the immediate future a vast University whose home is in the Mile
End Road; but it has affiliated colleges in all the suburbs, so that
even poor, dismal, uncared-for Hoxton shall no longer be neglected;
the graduates of this University are the men and women whose lives,
now unlovely and dismal, shall be made beautiful for them by their
studies, and their heavy eyes uplifted to meet the sunlight; the
subjects or examination shall be, first, the arts of every kind: so
that unless a man have neither eyes to see nor hand to work with, he
may here find something or other which he may learn to do; and next,
the games, sports, and amusements with which we cheat the weariness of
leisure and court the joy of exercising brain and wit and strength.
From the crowded class-rooms I hear already the busy hum of those who
learn and those who teach. Outside, in the street, are those--a vast
multitude to be sure--who are too lazy and too sluggish of brain to
learn anything: but these, too, will flock into the Palace presently
to sit, talk, and argue in the smoking-rooms; to read in the library;
to see the students' pictures upon the walls; to listen to the
students' orchestra, discoursing such music as they have never dreamed
of before; to look on while His Majesty's Servants of the People's
Palace perform a play, and to hear the bright-eyed girls sing


THE ASSOCIATED LIFE. [The substance of this paper was delivered as the
presidential speech at the opening of the Hoxton Library and

It has seemed to me--for reasons which I hope to make clear to
you--that the present occasion, the opening of our newly-acquired
Place of Gathering, is one on which something may be said upon the
subject of the Associated Life--that is to say, on the union, or
combination of men, or of men and women, in order to effect by
collective action objects--objects worthy of effort--impossible for
the individual to attempt.

It would seem at first sight that combination should be the very
simplest thing in the world. It is self-evident that those who want
anything have a much better chance of getting it if they join together
in order to demand it, or to work for it. Like one or two other simple
laws of human nature, this, though the simplest, is the hardest to get
people to understand and to accept. Nothing is so difficult as to
persuade people to trust each other, even to the extent of standing
together and sticking together and working together in order to get
what they want.

The first association of men was forced upon them for protection, I
wonder how many ages--hundreds of thousands of years--it took to teach
men to join together in order to protect themselves against
starvation, wild beasts, and each other. The necessity of
self-preservation first made men associate, and changed hunters into
soldiers, and turned the whole world into a camp. It was war, which
brought men together; it was war which taught men the necessity of
order, discipline, and obedience; without the necessity for fighting,
without the military spirit, no association at all would now be
possible. A vast number of men practically use modern safety at this
day for the purpose of being fighters, every man against his
neighbour. Just as no one would, even now, do any work but for the
necessity of finding food for himself and his family, so no one would
ever have begun to stand side by side with his neighbour but for the
absolute certainty that he would be killed if he did not.

Let us, however, consider a more advanced kind of association, that of
men united for purposes of trade and profit. The craftsman of the
town, who made things and sold them, found out by the experience of
some generations that his only chance, if he would not become a slave,
was to combine with others who made the same things for the same
purposes. He therefore formed--here in London, as early as the Saxon
times an association for the protection of his craft--a
rough-and-ready association at first, a religious guild or fraternity,
something which should persuade men to come together as friends, not
rivals, what we should now call a benefit society, gradually
developing into an association of officers, a constitution, and rules;
growing by slow degrees into a powerful and wealthy body, having its
period of birth, development, vigour, and decay. In illustration of
such an association, I will sketch out for you the history of a
certain London Company--what was called a Craft Company; a society of
working-men who were engaged upon the same craft; who all made the
same thing: as the Company of Bowyers who made bows, or of Fletchers
who made arrows. The society began first of all with a Guild of the
Craft, such as I have just mentioned; that is to say, all those who
belonged to the Craft--according to the custom of the time, they all
lived in the same quarter and were well known to each other--were
persuaded or compelled to belong to the Guild. Here religion stepped
in, for every Guild had its own patron saint, and if a craftsman stood
aloof, he lost the protection and incurred the displeasure of that
saint, so that, apart from considerations of the common weal, terror
of how the offended saint might punish the blackleg forced men to
join. Thus, St. George protected the armourers; St. Mary and St.
Thomas the Martyr, the bowyers; St. Catharine the Virgin, the
haberdashers; St. Martin, the sadlers; the Virgin Mary, the
cloth-workers, and so on. On the saint's day they marched in
procession to the parish church and heard Mass; every year each man
paid his fees of membership; the Guild looked after the sick and
maintained the aged of the Craft. The next step, which was not taken
until after many years, and was not at first contemplated, was to
obtain for the Guild--_i.e._, for the Craft--a Royal Charter. This
favour of the Sovereign conferred certain powers of regulating their
trade; and, this once obtained, we hear no more of the Guild--it
became absorbed into the Company. The religious observances remained,
but they were no longer put forward as the chief 'articles' of
association. The powers granted by Royal Charter were very strong. The
Company was empowered to prohibit anyone from working at that trade
within the jurisdiction of the City who was not a member of the
Company; it could prevent markets from being held within a certain
distance of the City; it could oblige all the youth of the City to be
apprenticed to some Company; it could regulate wages and hours of
work; it could examine the work before it could be sold; and it could
limit the number of the workmen. The Company, in fact, ruled its own
trade with an authority from which there was no appeal. On the other
hand, the Company exercised a paternal care over its members. When
they were sick, the Company provided for them; when they became old,
the Company maintained them; if any became dishonest, the Company
turned them out of the City. You, who think yourselves strong with
your Trades Unions (things as yet undeveloped and with all their
history before them), have never yet succeeded in getting a tenth part
of the power and authority over your own men that was excercised by a
City Company in the time of Richard II. over its Livery.

Then, in order to maintain the dignity of the Craft, a livery was
chosen, the colours of which were worn by every member. On their
saint's day, as in the old days of the Guild, the Company marched in
great magnificence, with music and flags and new liveries, with their
wardens, officers, schoolboys, almsmen, and priests, to church. After
church they banqueted together in the Company's Hall, a splendid
building, where a great feast was served, and where the day was
honoured by the presence of guests--great nobles, city worthies, even
the Lord Mayor, perhaps, or some of the Aldermen, or the Bishop, or
one of the Abbots of the City Religious Houses. Every man was bidden
to bring his wife to the feast of the Company's grand day--if not his
wife, then his sweetheart, for all were to feast together. During
dinner the musicians in their gallery made sweet music. After dinner,
actors and tumblers came in, and they had pageants and shows, and
marvellous feats of skill and legerdemain.

Ask yourselves, at this point, whether it is possible to conceive of
an institution more purely democratic than such a company as
originally designed. All the craftsmen of every craft combining
together, not one allowed to stand out, electing their own officers,
obeying rules for the general good, building halls, holding banquets,
and creating a spirit of pride in their craft. What more could be
desired? Why do we not imitate this excellent example?

Yet, when we look at the City Companies, what do we find? The old
Craft Companies, it is true, still exist; they have an income of many
thousands a year, and a livery, or list of members, in number varying
from twenty to four hundred, and not one single craftsman left among
them. What has become, then, or the Association? Well, that remains,
the shadow remains, but the substance has long since gone. Even the
craft itself, in many cases, has disappeared. There are no longer in
existence, for instance, Armourers, Bowyers, Fletchers, or Poulterers.

What has happened, then? Why did this essentially democratic
Company--in which all were subject to rules for the general good, and
none should undersell his brother, and the rate of wages and the hours
of labour were regulated--so completely fail?

For many reasons, some of which concern ourselves: it failed, because
the members themselves forgot the original reason of their
combination, and neglected to look after their own interests; it
failed, because the members were too ignorant to remember, or to know,
that the Company was founded for the interests of the Craft itself,
and not for those of the masters alone or the men alone. Now every
Association must needs, of course, have wardens or masters; it must
needs elect to those posts of dignity and responsibility such men as
could understand law and maintain their privileges if necessary before
the dread Sovereign, his Highness the King. The men they necessarily
elected were therefore those who had received some education,
master-workmen--their own employers--not their fellows. It speedily
came about, therefore, that the masters, not the men, ruled the hours
of work, the wages of work, the quantity and quality of work: the
masters, not the craftsmen, admitted members and limited their number.
Do you now understand? The officers ruled the Company of the Craftsmen
for the benefit of the masters and not the men. Nay, they did more.
Since in some trades the men showed a disposition, on dimly perceiving
the reality, to form a union within a union, the masters were strong
enough to put down all combinations for the raising of wages as
illegal; to attempt such combinations was ruled to be conspiracy. And
conspiracy all unions of working men have remained down to the present
day, as the founders of the first Trades Unions in this country
discovered to their cost. So the men were gagged; they were silenced;
they were enslaved by the very institution that they had founded for
the insurance of their own freedom. The thing was inevitable because
they were ignorant, and because, if you put into any man's hands the
power of robbing his neighbour with impunity, that man will inevitably
sooner or later rob his neighbour. I fear that we must acknowledge the
sorrowful fact that not a single man in the whole world, whatever his
position, can be trusted with irresponsible and absolute power--with
the power of robbery coupled with the certainty of immunity.

Well, in this way came about the first enslavement of the working man.
It lasted for three hundred years. Then followed a time of comparative
freedom, when, the wealth and population of the city increasing, the
craftsmen found themselves pushed out beyond the walls, and taking up
their quarters beyond the power of the Companies. But it was a freedom
without knowledge, without order, without forethought. It was the
freedom of the savage who lives only for himself. For they were now
unable to combine. In the long course of centuries they had lost the
very idea of combination; they had forgotten that in an age we call
rude and rough they possessed the power and perceived the importance
of combination. The great-grandchildren of the men who had formed this
union of the trade had entirely forgotten the meaning, the reason, the
possibility, of the old combination. In this way, then, the Companies
gradually lost their craftsmen, but retained their property.

One very remarkable result may be noticed. Formerly, the Lord Mayor of
London was elected by the whole of the commonalty. All the citizens
assembled at Paul's Cross, and there, sometimes with tumult and
sometimes with fighting, they elected their mayor for the next year.
But since every man in the City was compelled to belong to his own
Company, to speak of the commonalty meant to speak of the Companies.
Every man who voted for the election of Lord Mayor was therefore bound
to be a liveryman--_i.e_., a member of a Company. This restriction is
still in force; that is to say, the City of London, the richest and
the greatest city in the world, now allows eight thousand liverymen,
or members of the Companies, to elect their chief magistrate.

Why do I tell over again this old threadbare tale? Perhaps, however,
it is not old or threadbare to you: perhaps there are some here who
learn for the first time that association, trade union, combination,
is a thousand years old in this ancient city. I have told it chiefly,
however, because the history should be a warning to you of London;
because it shows that association itself may be made the very weapon
with which to destroy its own objects; in other words, because you
must find in this history an illustration or the great truth that the
forms of liberty require the most unceasing vigilance to prevent them
from becoming the means of destroying liberty. The Companies failed
because they could be, and were, used to destroy the freedom of the
very men for whose benefit they were founded. At present, as you know,
some of them are very poor indeed: those which are rich are probably
doing far more good with their wealth in promoting all kinds of useful
work than ever they did in all their past history.

There followed, I said, a long period in which association among
working men was absolutely unknown. The history of this period, from a
craftsman's point of view, has never been written. It is, indeed, a
most terrible chapter in the history of industry.

Imagine, if you can, crowded districts in which there were no schools,
or but one school for a very few, no churches, no newspapers or books,
a place in which no one could read; a place in which every man, woman
and child regarded the Government of the country, in which they had
not the least share, as their natural enemy and oppressor. Among them
lurked the housebreaker, the highway robber, and the pickpocket. Along
the riverside, where many thousands of working men lived--at St.
Katherine's, Wapping, Shadwell, and Ratcliff--all the people together,
high and low, were in league with the men who loaded and unloaded the
ships in the river and robbed them all day long. What could be
expected of people left thus absolutely to themselves, without any
power of action, without the least thought that amendment was possible
or desirable? Can we wonder if the people sank lower and lower, until,
by the middle of the last century, the working men of London had
reached a depth of degradation that terrified everyone who knew what
things meant? Listen to the following words, written in the year 1772:

'To paint the manners of the lower rank of the inhabitants of London
is to draw a most disagreeable caricature, since the blackest vices
and the most perpetual scenes of villainy and wickedness are
constantly to be met with there. The most thorough contempt for all
order, morality, and decency is almost universal among the poorer sort
of people, whose manners I cannot but regard as the worst in the whole
world. The open street for ever presents the spectator with the most
loathsome scenes of beastliness, cruelty, and all manner of vice. In a
word, if you would take a view of man in his debased state, go neither
to the savages nor the Hottentots; they are decent, cleanly, and
elegant, compared with the poor people of London.'

This is very strongly put. If you will look at some of Hogarth's
pictures you will admit that the words are not too strong.

Union had long since been forbidden; union was called conspiracy;
conspiracy was punishable by imprisonment. If men cannot combine they
sink into their natural condition and become savages again. All these
evils fell upon our unfortunate working men as a natural result of
neglect first, and of enforced isolation. Union was forbidden. During
all these years every man worked for himself, stood by himself; there
was no association. Therefore, there followed savagery. There was no
education. Had there been either, association or rebellion must have
followed. The awakening of associated effort took place at the
beginning of the French Revolution. It was caused, or stimulated, by
that prodigious movement; and the first combinations of working men
were formed for political purposes. Since then, what have we seen?
Associations for political purposes formed, prohibited, persecuted,
formed again in spite of ancient laws. Associations victorious; we
have seen Trades Unions formed, prohibited, formed again, and now
flourishing, though not quite victorious. And the spirit of
association, I cannot but believe, grows stronger every day. In this
most glorious century--the noblest century for the advancement of
mankind that the world has ever seen, yet only the beginning of the
things that are to follow--we have gained an immense number of things:
the suffrage, vote by ballot, the Factory Acts, abolition of flogging,
the freedom of the press, the right of public meeting, the right of
combination, and a system of free education by which the national
character, the national modes of thought; the national customs, will
be changed in ways we cannot forecast; but since the national
character will always remain British we need have no fear of that
change. All these things--remember, all these things; every one of
these things--is the result, direct or indirect, of association.
Think, for instance, of one difference in custom between now and a
hundred years ago. Formerly, when a wrong thing had to be denounced,
or an iniquity attacked, the man who saw the thing wrote a pamphlet or
a book, which never probably reached the class for whom it was
intended at all. He now writes to the papers, which are read by
millions. He thus, to begin with, creates a certain amount of public
opinion; he then forms a society composed of those who think like
himself; then, for his companions, he spreads his doctrines in all
directions. That is our modern method; not to stand up alone like a
prophet, and to preach and cry aloud while the world, unheeding,
passes by, but to march in the ranks with brother soldiers, exhorting
and calling on our comrades to take up the word, and pass it on--and
when the soldiers in the ranks are firm and fixed to carry that cause.

We are now witnessing one of the most remarkable, one of the most
suggestive, signs of the time--a time which is, I verily believe,
teeming with social mange--a time, as I have said above, of the most
stupendous importance in the history of mankind. We read constantly,
in the paper and everywhere, fears, prophecies, bogies of approaching
revolution. Approaching! Fears of approaching revolution! Why, we are
in the midst of this revolution, we are actually in the midst of the
most wonderful social revolution! People don't perceive it, simply
because the revolutionaries are not chopping off heads, as they did in
France. But it has begun, all the same, and it is going on around us
silently, swiftly, irresistibly. We are actually in the midst of
revolution. Everywhere the old order of things is slipping away;
everywhere things new and unexpected are asserting themselves. Let me
only point out a few things. We have become within the last twenty
years a nation of readers--we all read; most of us, it is true, read
only newspapers. But what newspapers? Why, exactly the same papers as
are read by the people of the highest position in the land. Perhaps
you have not thought of the significance, the extreme significance, of
this fact. Certainly those who continually talk of the ignorance of
the people have never thought of it! What does it mean? Why, that
every reasoning man in the country, whatever his social position,
reads the same news, the same debates, the same arguments as the
statesman, the scholar, the philosopher, the preacher, or the man of
science. He bases his opinions on the same reasoning and on the same
information as the Leader of the House of Commons, as my Lord
Chancellor, as my Lord Archbishop himself. Formerly the working man
read nothing, and he knew nothing, and he had no power. He has now,
not only his vote, but he has as much personal influence among his own
friends as depends upon his knowledge and his force of character, and
he can acquire as much political knowledge as any noble lord not
actually in official circles, if he only chooses to reach out his hand
and take what is offered him! Is not that a revolution which has so
much raised the working man? Again, he was, formerly, the absolute
slave of his employer; he was obliged to take with a semblance of
gratitude whatever wages were offered him. What is he now? A man of
business, who negotiates for his skill. Is not that a revolution?
Formerly he lived where he could. Look, now, at the efforts made
everywhere to house him properly. For, understand, association on one
side, which shows power, commands recognition and respect on the
other. None of these fine things would have been done for the working
men had they not shown that they could combine. Consider, again, the
question of education. Here, indeed, is a mighty revolution going on
around us: the Board Schools teaching things never before presented to
the children of the people; technical schools teaching work of all
kinds; and--a most remarkable sign of the times--thousands upon
thousands of working lads, after a hard day's work, going off to a
Polytechnic for a hard evening's work of another kind. And of what
kind? It is exactly the same kind as is found in the colleges of the
rich. The same sciences, the same languages, the same arts, the same
intellectual culture, are learned by these working lads in their
evenings as are learned by their richer brothers in the mornings. In
many cases the teachers are men of the same standing at the University
as those who teach at the public schools. There are, I believe, a
hundred thousand of these ambitious boys scattered over London, and
the number increases daily. If this is not revolution, I should like
to know what is. That the working classes should study in the highest
schools; that they should enjoy an equal chance with the richest and
noblest of acquiring knowledge of the highest kind; that they should
be found capable actually of foregoing the pleasures of youth--the
rest, the society, the amusements of the evenings--in order to acquire
knowledge--what is this if it is not a revolution and an upsetting? As
for what is coming out of all these things, I have formed, for myself,
very strong views indeed, and I think that I could, if this were a
fitting time, prophesy unto you. But, for the present, let us be
content with simply marking what has been done, and especially with
the recognition that everything--every single thing--that has been
gained has been either achieved by association, or has naturally grown
and developed out of association.

Through association the way to the higher education is open to you;
through association political power has been acquired for you; through
association you have made yourselves free to combine for trade
purposes; through association you have made yourselves strong, and
even, in the eyes of some, terrible; it remains in these respects only
that you should make, as one believes you will make, a fit and proper
use of advantages and weapons which have never before been placed in
the hands of any nation, not even Germany; certainly not the United

But what about the other side of life--the social side, the side of
recreation, the side which has been so persistently ignored and
neglected up to the present day? Now, when we look round us and
consider that side of life we observe the plainest and the most
significant proof possible of the great social revolution which is
among us; plainer, more significant, than the success of the Trades
Unions. For we see sprung up, already a vigorous plant, the associated
life applied to purposes above the mere material interests. You have
made them safe, as far as possible, by your unions. The social and
recreative side of life you have now taken over into your keeping, you
order recreation which shall be as music or as poetry in your
associated lives, harmonious, melodious, rhythmic, metrical. All that
I have said to-night leads up to this, that the Associated Life is
necessary for the enjoyment and the attainment of the best and the
highest things that the world can give, as the Guild and the Company
formerly, and the Trade Union is now, for the safeguarding of the
craft. In entering upon this new association, men and women together,
learn the lessons of the past. Be jealous of your democratic lines.
Let every step be a step for the general interest. Let the individual
perish. Let the wishes and intentions of your founders be never lost
to sight. Be not carried away by religion, by politics, by any new
thing; never lose the principles of your association.

And now, I ask, when, before this day, has it been recorded in the
history of any city that men and women should unite in order to
procure for themselves those social advantages which up to the present
have been enjoyed only by the richer class, and not always by them?
When, before this time, has it been reported that men and women have
banded themselves together resolved that whatever good things rich
people could procure for themselves, they would also make for
themselves? Since the magistrates refused to allow dancing, one of the
most innocent and delightful amusements, they would arrange their own
dancing for themselves without troubling the magistrates for
permission. Since going to concerts cost money, they would have their
own musicians and their own singers. Since selection of companions is
the first essence of social enjoyment, they would have their own rooms
for themselves, where they would meet none but those who, like
themselves, desired education, culture, and orderly recreation. In one
word, when, in the history of any city, has there been found such a
combination, so resolute for culture, as the combination of men and
women which has raised this temple, this sacred Temple of Humanity?
You are, indeed, I plainly perceive, revolutionaries of the most
dangerous kind. As revolutionaries you are engaged in the cultivation
of all those arts and accomplishments which have hitherto belonged to
the West-end; as revolutionaries you claim the right to meet, read,
sing, dance, act, play, debate, with as much freedom as if you lived
in Berkeley Square. Where will these things stop?



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