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writers on the Coptic question aver. The moment when the Egyptians have been' deafened by the roar of British cannon is not the one specially suited for a display of evangelical zeal. The recognition of that fact, however, stamps this particular time as unsuitable for a missionary effort directed upon the Mohammedans: it does not brand it as an inopportune moment to attempt to reanimate a slumbering branch of the Christian Church; and the fact that the Copts have lately been saved from massacre may quicken their religious feelings.

'All the Copts with whom I conversed,' says Mr. Villiers Stuart, 'assured me that they were in imminent danger of being massacred during the rebellion. It was with great difficulty that they were saved. If they ventured out, they had to disguise themselves; if recognized, they were attacked by the mob and insulted. In some of the towns the Mahometan governors informed me that they had to shut up the Copts in prison and in walled buildings to save their lives-even then they could not rely on the guards-and that if the victory of Tel-el-Kebir had been delayed a few days, one of the most bloody massacres on record would have ensued.'-Pp. 246, 247.

This statement is not lightly made. The Copts have undoubtedly been saved so as by fire from the bludgeons and the thumbscrews of the Arabists, and the effect on the church-life of the people is evident. They are preparing to set their house in order. There is a kindling of religious fervour, an enhanced reverence, and a craving to be taken by the hand and shown a mere excellent way, which cannot be mistaken. The Coptic families remember, with a thrill of thankfulness, that they have only escaped, by God's mercy, from horrors like to those that were perpetrated on the Christians at Tantah; and though they are not prepared, as some enthusiasts imagine, to give up the error of Eutyches, and sign the Thirty-nine Articles, they know that England rescued them from a ghastly fate, and that their only security for the future lies in the continued restraint of Moslem fanaticism by English influence.

ART. VI.-1. Report from the Select Committee on Artizans' and Labourers' Dwellings Improvement, together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, Aug. 2,


2. Report from the Select Committee on Artizans' and Labourers' Dwellings, together with the Proceedings of the Committee, Minutes of Evidence, and Appendix. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, June 19, 1882.

3. Labourers' and Artisans' Dwellings. By the Right Hon. J. Chamberlain, M.P. 'Fortnightly Review,' Dec. 1883.


IVESTED of picturesque colouring, the evil against which so strenuous a protest is now being made is simply this: that the artizans and labourers of the great towns, and especially of London, are not able to obtain dwellings, fit for human habitation, at rents which they can afford to pay, and that as a result their homes are unhealthy in themselves, and are made still more so by being overcrowded. Much that has been said and written of late seems directed to a far wider issue. The misery of tens of thousands of Londoners is no doubt a very saddening phenomenon, but it must be remembered that it is also a highly complex one. The housing of the poor is, after all, but a part of a much larger problem. There are, unfortunately, a number of malign influences at work, acting and re-acting on one another, some external and belonging to circumstances; some internal, the result of habit, training, and surroundings; but all alike calculated to debase, and keep debased, the poor dwellers in great cities. Of these influences the wretched condition of their dwellings is one, and only one. In reading the heartrending stories which are being sedulously propagated, the first thing that strikes us is, that a large part of the horrors depicted have no direct connection with the scene of their enactment. Eliminate the foul garret, but leave the utterly hopeless penury, the gin-drinking, the starvation, the squalor, the filth, the vice, and the selfishness, and we have a picture removed from its dreadful setting, but otherwise just as repulsive as before. Such considerations need not discourage us, but they ought to check extravagant expectations. There is probably no feature in the external condition of the workingclasses, which more powerfully affects their moral, social, and physical life, than the houses they inhabit; and by improving those houses we shall undoubtedly replace a vast influence for evil by an equally potent influence for good. Only do not let us forget that, when we have done all we can, many other evil

influences, some of them more subtle and more difficult to deal with, will still operate, and do not let us be surprised if the results of our reforms are neither so instantaneous nor so sweeping as we should wish them to be.

A remedy is demanded for the present state of things. The condition of the dwellings of the poor is not only unsatisfactory; it is felt to be discreditable to the whole community. Something must be done. Authority, either executive or legislative, is invoked, and is expected to undertake a work of thorough refor mation. Here again we must be careful. We have referred to the limited nature of the evil to be met. The remedies capable of being applied to it from the outside have also their limitations. We complain that the 'slums' are unfit for human beings to live in that the rents charged are cruelly high, while the rents of better lodgings are prohibitive to all but well-to-do artizans. But some economists will tell us, that things are worth just what they will fetch, and that whatever is the market value of workmen's dwellings (be they ever so bad) is their fair value. On the other hand, it is argued, and with much force, that we prevent a butcher from selling bad meat, whether he has found a market for it or not; and on the same principle we have a right to prevent the landlord of a house from letting it under conditions which make it unfit for human habitation. But bad meat is cheaper than good meat, and the question arises, when we have forced the owners of poor dwellings to put them in order, what is there to hinder a general rise of rents? Such a rise would be impossible, if the supply of houses exceeded the demand; this is, however, very far from being the case in London. It would also be impossible, if the extreme limit of the rent-paying capacity of the working-classes had been already reached. But were it so, the wail from 'Outcast London' would surely be much louder and more articulate than it is. Again, a general increase of rent would be prevented, if there were a sufficient number of poor dwellings in the hands of conscientious persons, whose determination not to make illegitimate profits might influence the market. Every model dwelling built, and every house bought by philanthropic enterprise, no doubt helps to create such an influence. But apart from these considerations, no one of which can be said at present to have much application in practice, there would seem to be nothing to prevent an enforced improvement of the dwellings of the poor resulting in a general demand for higher Unless, therefore, in the heat of our reforming zeal, we are prepared to call on the State to settle a 'fair rent' between the artizan and his landlord, we must bear in mind that we Vol. 157.-No. 313.



cannot by coercive laws reduce the cost of house-room, or even prevent its increase. The State can insist that tenement dwellings shall be made habitable by their owners, but it can hardly regulate the terms upon which the owner shall admit his tenant, and it cannot possibly regulate the earnings of the tenant, on which his rent-paying capacity depends. In other words, by improving his house it is conceivable that you may force the poor man out of it.

Again the experiment of putting the poor in better dwellings can only be successful in proportion to their fitness for better dwellings. Here is a real difficulty. The habits and tastes and desires of the people are to a great extent hostile to improvement. Take, for instance, overcrowding. Generations of overcrowding have affected, not only the conduct, but the instincts of the poorest class. Their code of decency is different from ours. Not long ago a medical officer was trying to persuade an Irishwoman that it was, at any rate, undesirable that she and her husband, their grown-up sons and daughters, and divers collateral relations, should all sleep in the same room, when she turned on him full of wrath at what she deemed a prurient insinuation-' Oh, you're a bad man! Don't we all belong to one family?' If a distaste for squalor could by any human contrivance be created in the hearts of some hundreds of thousands of Her Majesty's lieges, who now greatly prefer dirt to cleanliness, the houses of the London poor would mend themselves without any aid from outside. At present the most disheartening feature in the whole matter is, the dull callous indifference to misery of those on whose behalf so much effort is made. In a part of London which shall be nameless, there stands a block of artizan's tenements, containing 150 inhabitants. It is within fifty yards of the district sanitary office. A few weeks ago the Inspector of Nuisances found every privy in this building (there were fourteen) stopped, and of course emitting a disgusting effluvium. The nuisance was evidently of several days' standing, but not one of the 150 tenants had cared enough about it to inform the authorities close at hand. John Bunyan's man with the 'muck rake,' who 'could look no way but downwards,' and, when offered something better, did neither look nor regard,' is but too faithful a representation of a large class. The taste for the 'muck rake' is deep-seated. It will not easily be overcome by any means, but it may safely be predicted that the antidote, if one should be found, will be moral rather than legal. We may hope that things will gradually improve. There is some ground for the belief that they are improving; but the process, however slow its natural

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development, cannot be accelerated by the coercion of law. The herding together of whole families in single rooms, to which we have referred, is one of the very worst results of the present state of things; yet even when the people themselves wish to live decently, they very often cannot. It is absolutely impossible, and must remain impossible for years to come, to find proper house-room in London for all the dwellers in it; and so long as the demand largely exceeds the supply, overcrowding must continue, despite all laws and bye-laws to the contrary. In many cases these families are respectable, but unable to pay for more than one room; on this account they are not admitted to the 'model dwellings,' and are perforce driven to herd with the lowest thieves and criminals.

There are three things requisite to the decent housing of the poor. Decent houses must exist. The poor must be able to inhabit them. The poor must be willing to inhabit them. The last is entirely beyond the control of the law, the second is to a very great extent beyond its control, the first alone is fairly within its reach. To suppose that the whole problem can be solved by Act of Parliament, is a ridiculous chimera. It is as impossible to secure for the poor man a comfortable home by Act of Parliament, as it is to give him good wages, a sober wife, and a clean face, by Act of Parliament.

Having cleared our minds by trying to grasp the precise point before us, we may proceed to investigate it with the comfortable reflection that, although legislation is an imperfect cure for evils which are more moral than material, yet within its own limited sphere of action there is no remedy so easy of application, or, if wisely devised, so rapidly successful, as law.

Nothwithstanding all that has been said and written about it, the actual condition of London (we shall confine ourselves to the Metropolis) is absolutely unknown. Isolated instances of misery do not help us to make an accurate estimate; they very possibly hinder us. Most of the opinions now so freely offered are mere guesses, or at the best generalizations from very insufficient data. Bad as things undoubtedly are, there seems to be a tendency to overstate their badness. Even so cheerful a politician as the President of the Board of Trade considers that never before was the misery of the very poor more intense, or the conditions of their daily life more hopeless or more degraded.' It will perhaps console Mr. Chamberlain to compare the records of the past and the present, preserved in the Reports of the various Commissions and Parliamentary Committees which have from time to time during the last forty years investigated the condition of the poor in this country. Without

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