Imágenes de páginas


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

in endeavouring to rouse owners of cottage property to the responsibility involved in that ownership, both as regards the condition and overcrowding of dwellings, and also in drawing attention to defective sanitary arrangements where necessary; and the tenants to a sense of the same evils, as well as of dirt in every form, so that the defensive work of the Society is a double one; to warn and guard the poor

from evils outside them, as well as from those dependent upon themselves; from unprincipled landlords on the one hand, and from their own ignorance and want of thought on the other. Not distinctly religious or theological in its scope it yet aims at moral elevation by the encouragement of thrift, cleanliness, and purity, by the greater diffusion of knowledge, and by constraining those endued with a knowledge of higher things to bring their talents, culture and superior morality into contact with the ignorant and degraded, as one means of leading them upward : giving them by mutual sympathy some idea of the world of goodness, beauty, and love lying all around them, yet often by force of circumstances alone, hidden from them; “chill poverty, repressing" noble rage, “and freezing” the genial current of the soul. Our great Master has said " the poor ye have always with you, and whensoever

wil] ye may do them good ;” “ love one another," and it is in the spirit of these precepts that the Kyrle Society seeks in some humble measure to bring about the condition of brotherhood in which “ the poor man loved the rich, and the rich man helped the poor

!" How far removed we are yet from that blissful condition recent awful events in Russia, America, and Ireland sadly tend to show.

Another form of the Society's defensive work is, the preservation of open spaces in and around our large cities and towns, -raising if needful, legislation on the subject, and getting these secured as lungs and breathing places for the populations of the great overbuilt Babylons of our time. It also endeavours not only to secure the said spaces, but to improve them, by laying out walks, planting shrubs and flowers, and preserving the greensward for the benefit of the children; thus turning them into objects of beauty as well as of utility. Our continental neighbours have long set us excellent examples in this respect, well worthy to have been more largely followed by this country.

The encouragement of window gardening, and the decoration of hospital wards, churches, and schools in poor districts with flowers and pictures, forms another branch of the Society's work; also the


providing of cheap or gratuitous concerts or dramatic entertainments, chiefly by amateurs, giving to the poor by their means healthy enjoyment and recreation; something to draw them legitimately from their homes, at the same time helping to counteract the evils of the publichouse and music hall, where drinking, gambling, coarse language and songs, obscene and ribald jokes, form the great idea of enjoyment: and also to supersede those low theatres, where the play is probably only a reproduction on the stage, of the last atrocious murder, or sensational crime, filling the mind with nothing but images of horror and of sin. Such places are doubtless more potent factors in the great aggregate of crime, than even the low class novel, or those “ Penny dreadfuls” of which we hear so much; because the appeal to the senses is more vivid and startling, therefore more likely to suggest imitation than even the most terrible catastrophe read of in print.

By the introduction of sacred concerts, particularly of oratorios, into its programme, the Society seems to take a higher flight, and to open up to many a young and ardent soul among its members the opportunity of proclaiming in one of the most attractive forms the gospel to the poor.

Who does not know the power of music, and especially of singingeven the simplest—upon all classes ?

The extraordinary success and popularity of the songs of the Christy Minstrels in secular, and of the Sankey hymns and tunes in sacred melody, are striking modern popular instances; and I believe it will be found that great works, when presented to them, will find full appreciation among


poor as they do among the more cultivated classes. It would be most desirable at such performances to give every person on entering the room a printed copy of the libretto, and were

« Not to be taken away” printed conspicuously on the front, the direction would generally be obeyed, thus sparing the Society the expense of fresh copies for each performance of the same work.

We have mentioned window-gardening as being one feature of the Society's work, one for which it offers prizes to the most careful and successful growers ; but the encouragement of home decoration and comfort in general are included in its schemes. The diminution of the smoke nuisance in our large towns and cities, rendering the air purer and more wholesome, and thus lessening one cause, at least, of the craving for stimulant, forms another branch of proposed and, indeed, already commenced labours in conjunction with the National Health Society, towards which it is hoped that the present autumn's exhibition of improvements in patent self-smoke consuming grates and stoves, may belp to offer some practical solution.

Like Elijah's cloud, the Society began by being only as large as a man's, or at least a woman's, hand, for, as we said before, to Miss Hill belongs the honour of being the first mover and suggester in a work which has since assumed so much larger proportions.

Aided by her brother-in-law, Mr. Edmund Maurice, and a few likeminded helpers, a central committee has been formed, which now seeks to extend its ramifications into every large town and city in the United Kingdom, and without the establishment of any elaborate machinery, to find its workers and helpers in any and all classes of the community, amongst those who love their brethren and are willing to consecrate time or talents to their service.

Its present condition of membership is solely the payment of two shillings and sixpence annually to the Secretary of the Central Committee, or of any local branch.

Two members of our royal family, ever ready to come forward in the cause of philanthropy, have done the Society the honour to become the President and Vice-President.

And now we hope that we have said enough to stir up an interest, and a desire to help the Society's work in the minds of some hitherto uninterested ones, and will conclude by answering the final question proposed at the beginning of our article, viz. From whom does it take its name? From one whom many of us have been taught to reverence from our childhood, as his portrait is sketched for us by the master hand of Pope in his “Essay on the Use of Riches,” though perhaps many of us knew him only as “the man of Ross,” and not by his real name of John Kyrle ! Pope tells us that his true name was almost lost, partly from being called pre-eminently THE man of Ross, and partly" by being buried without so much as an inscription !”

He lived to dispense his charities to the great age of ninety years, and lies unmonumented in the chancel of the church of his native place. His best monument is the memory of his many charitable deeds in the hearts of posterity, and no mean tribute to his worth are the beforementioned words of Pope, with which we close :

“But all our praises why should lords engross?

Rise, honest muse, and sing the man of Ross!
Pleased Vaga echoes through her winding bounds,
And rapid Severn hoarse applause resounds.

Who hung with woods yon mountain's sultry brow?
From the dry rock who bade the waters flow?
Not to the skies in useless columns tost,
Or in proud falls magnificently lost;
But clear and artless, pouring through the plain
Health to the sick, and solace to the swain ;
Whose causeway parts the vale with shady rows ?
Whose seats the weary traveller repose ?
Who taught that Heav'n-directed spire to rise ?
"The man of Ross,' the lisping babe replies.
Behold the Market Place with poor o'erspread !
The man of Ross divides the weekly bread :
He feeds yon almshouse, neat, but void of state,
Where age and want sit smiling at the gate.
Him, portion'd maids, apprentic'd orphans blest,
The young who labour, and the old who rest.
Is any sick? The man of Ross relieves,
Prescribes, attends, the medicine makes and gives.
Is there a variance Enter but his door,
Balk'd are the courts, and contest is no more.

[blocks in formation]


MEDITATIONS FOR THE DYING YEAR. It is evening : I sit alone, and crowding upon my mind's eye there come visions of days long past, the home of childhood and youth, the dear inner circle which made that home so precious, old scenes, old friends, many of them now passed into the silent land; sweet memories though tinged with sorrow. Again floats on my ear the well-known Christmas peal from the old church tower, rising and falling over the land, over the sleepers in the churchyard, up and away into the sky, perhaps to mingle there with other bells near and far away, in one great peal of gladness before the Throne of God.

Again booms out the knell of the dying year, precursor of our own, and even before the repeating echoes have had time to die fully away, the air is tingling with the joy of the welcome to the incoming stranger, an apt picture of the manner in which death and birth, sorrow and joy, adversity and prosperity, crowd one upon another in this ever moving life of ours. Truly we “continue never in one stay!”

At this time, this kind of annually returning crisis of our life, we may well look backwards and forwards ; backwards in humble thankfulness-humbled for our many sins and shortcomings of thought, word, and deed, thankful for the goodness and mercy which has followed us all the days of the past. And how much of these have each of us to record !

The future, ah! as we turn to that we feel the impenetrability of the pall that covers it, which often in our foolishness we would like to lift; well doubtless for us that we cannot do so; let us patiently wait for God's unveiling, and rather than allow ourselves to indulge in useless endeavours to pierce it, or vain fears about it, go forward on our bidden path with trustful hope, endeavouring with a heart for any fate, to act in the living present, buckling on again the harness year by year for the work given us to do, heart within and God o’erhead, till He, the Great Mas shall call us to put it off for ever.

Yes, dear friends, known and unknown, such are wishes of the writer of this paper for each and all, and if in this spirit we enter upon the coming twelvemonth, then are we sure of a happy new year.

“Froh, wie seine Sonne fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt'gen plan,
Wandelt, Brüder, eure Bahn

Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.” And yet even the hero has his moments of doubt and despondency in the struggle, moments when the victory seems doubtful, so faint and wearied is he with the strife.

So to the earnest soul in any pursuit such moments come and throw a shadow and a silence almost upon one's greetings to others, lest I should fail, lest he or she should fail, not for the coming year alone, but altogether; and the religious soul adds, for eternity! Even the great Apostle S. Paul seems to have had this feeling, which, to a certain degree as it checks self-confidence, and promotes watchfulness and



« AnteriorContinuar »