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REVELATIONS OF LIFE IN LONDON.
BY THE REV. G. W. MCCREE.
THERE lies before me a map of
Every red dot
represents a place for the sale of intoxicating drinks, and there are ten thousand red dots! Mr. Taylor says:
"In each district a red mark is placed for every place for the sale of intoxicating liquors, and on the left and right of the map are tables giving the name of each district, the number of inhabitants above fourteen years of age, the number of places for the sale, &c., and the proportion they bear to the inhabitants. The aggregate
shows a population of 1,608,657 above fourteen years of age, number of places for the sale, &c., 10,256, being one to every 156 persons. The highest number in one district, which also gives the highest average, is in the City, where there are 566 dealers in intoxicating liquors, being one to every seventy-two of the population. The lowest average is in Marylebone, being one to every 220; the lowest number of dealers is in the Hampstead district, being forty-seven, which gives one to every 176 of the population. It is well to explain, as regards the large proportion of dealers to population in the City, that the census population being determined by the number of persons who slept in any given place, the return for the City gives but a small part of the number who inhabit it during the business hours of the day."
Such a state of things is undoubtedly lamentable, and calls for immediate counteraction and remedy.
The remedy is-Total Abstinence from Intoxicating Drinks.
Its introduction into London took place about thirty years ago, under
notable circumstances, and we give the story in the words of its hero, Joseph Livesey, of Preston :
"London was the seat and centre of the British and Foreign Temperance Society, under royal, noble, and sacerdotal patronage, and contended for the moderate use of fermented drinks; but, like other places, was compelled at last to yield to the teetotal doctrine, 'pure and simple.' I proceeded to the great metropolis direct from Birmingham, on Wednesday, the 18th of June, 1834. One of my earliest visits was to the Society's room in Aldine Chambers, where I saw Dr. Edgar and others, but received no encouragement from them, it being pretty well understood that I had come to advocate the teetotal heresy. Help or no help, I was determined to have a meeting, and after many applications for a place to lecture in without success, at last I got the promise of a preaching room in Providence Row, Finsbury Square, then occupied by a Rev. Campbell, who had lately seceded from some of the dissenting bodies. It was several steps below the level of the street. I got a number of posters, but they were lost among the flaring bills on the London walls; also, a quantity of small bills, which, in my simplicity, I went up and down affixing to the walls with wafers in various places, and, among the rest, I remember, in the passages of the Bank of England. The meeting should have taken place on the Friday evening, the 27th, but it turned out, by some mistake, that there was to be preaching that evening, and so I was put off till the next night-Saturday. I then posted the front of the building, and got men to parade with notices during the day. It was the malt liquor lecture I intended to deliver, and I had to see after all the preparations myself. I applied to a chemist to distil me a quart of ale, for which he charged me half a guinea, but I got him to deduct 2s. 6d. I engaged an aged man named Phillips, who was the Society's porter or messenger, to procure me barley, scales, weights, &c.; but one day he called at Mr. Mark Moore's, where I lodged, and I was both vexed and amused when I was told that he had brought the basket, bottle, ale, scales, barley, and all the rest, with change out of a sovereign which I had given him, and placed them on the parlour floor, with this message, Tell Mr. Livesey I am very sorry, but I dare not do anything more for him, for the committee
have intimated to me that if I give him any assistance it is as much as my place is worth.' Well, Saturday night came, and after all this loss of time (some ten days), labour, and expense, my audience consisted of about thirty persons! It was, however, the beginning of the good cause for London. Shortly after my return I received the following note from Mr. Pascoe: Sir,-Temperance, I think, is gaining ground in London. I am informed that much good has resulted from your lecture in Providence Row. The proprietor, who is an ale brewer and partner of Dr. Epps, has given up the use and sale of it from what he heard at your lecture.' I met with a few temperance friends, who were in favour of the new doctrine, and who continued to adhere to it. Mr. and Mrs. Grosjean (still in Regent Street) took up the question, and after a lapse of some time, he invited a number of practical teetotalers to meet at his home, which they did on the 10th of August, 1835, including himself, Mrs. Grosjean, Messrs. Nichols, Perkins, Pascoe, Giles, Corley, Busil, Yerbury, Boyd, Young, and Boatswain Smith. These formed themselves into a provisional committee, adding the name of Morris, Mr. Nichols being appointed secretary. And having determined to establish a teetotal society, they invited myself, Messrs. Swindlehurst and Howarth, to come to London to assist them. We arrived on Monday, August 31, and the next night we held our first meeting, in Theobald's Road, Red Lion Square, in a room then occupied by the Owenites. At this meeting, attended by from three to four hundred persons, a society was formed, called 'The British Teetotal Temperance Society,' with the following pledge: I voluntarily promise that I will abstain from ale, porter, wine, ardent spirits, and all intoxicating liquors, and will not give nor offer them to others, except under medical prescription, or in a religious ordinance.' I can scarcely pass over one incident connected with this meeting. When it was getting near the time to commence, the attendance seemed very slender, and feeling rather cast down, I said to Swindlehurst and Howarth, We must try to get more people to hear us;' and with this, Howarth and I went out and borrowed a small bell, and started through the adjoining streets, ringing the bell, and calling the meeting. We had not gone far when a policeman came up, and told us that that sort of work was not allowed in London, intimating that if we did not instantly desist, he would have to do his duty. Of course we did as requested."
Such was the humble advent of a great movement into the great
metropolis. Its growth and influence have been wonderful. There
now Temperance Halls in every section of London, and upwards of a hundred meetings are held weekly. This is progress, and it is much needed. Few christian men know how deep, and wide, and awful, is the prevalence of drunkenness. Glance over the map before me, and count the red dots. Here
some enumerations of them. City of London, 566; Shoreditch, 399; Whitechapel, 309; Stepney, 521; Greenwich, 406; Kensington, 536; Marylebone, 513; St. Pancras, 546, and so on. As every one of these places is a source of pauperism, disease, crime, madness, and irreligion, it is evident that the curse is very great.
Pauperism has become the problem of the day; but it is not, after all, a problem difficult to solve. The evidence of Mr. C. Mott, a guardian, given before the Poor Law Commission, and having respect to a London district, is the type of a thousand others :
"Some years back I endeavoured to trace the causes of paupers becoming such, and I found in nine cases out of ten the main cause was an ungovernable inclination for fermented liquors. The number of cases I took was upwards of 300. my subsequent observations have strengthened my conclusion from this case."
The Rev. D. Burns puts the matter very pithily in these words :
"The very manufacture of drink consumes 7,000,000 bushels of grain, and makes us dependent on foreign supplies; it raises the price of bread, and thereby the price of all other food; while in the purchase of the drink there is a pecuniary waste of £70,000,000 sterling, the different appropriation of which would fill myriads of homes with plenty, and at the same time encourage habits of providence, the ultimate benefits of which to the whole community it is impossible to estimate."
But the antidote is at work, and there is evidence of its power. I have, alas, too much knowledge of the curse; so has every man who
visits the poor. Take, for example, Sunday drinking. The public houses absorb the people of London to a large extent, and hence, tens of thousands drink and never pray. On one Sunday 45,000 visits were made to only 88 public houses! Had 88 places of worship that number of visits ?
Strange scenes are often seen in visiting the people on Sunday. Going quietly down a dark passage once, I saw a man knock gently at the side door of a public house. Four other men stood behind him in Indian file. Gently did the door open: swiftly did the men slip in: and, deftly did the door close, and shut them in to drink during illegal hours.
On hot Sundays I sometimes ascend the stairs of houses, and look down into the neighbouring yards; and there, sitting on the flagged pavements, with their backs against the wall, are groups of working men reading newspapers, playing at cards, admiring bull-dogs, and drinking gin by the bottle, and beer by the gallon. Such is the Sunday-life of thousands in London.
It is to be regretted that men who ought to know better encourage this fatal habit of Sunday drinking. They will not allow the public houses to be closed; on the contrary, they contend earnestly that the poor man should have his beer all the week round, but especially on Sundays. The better the day the better the deed. But, surely, this example of Sunday drinking beats all others. At a conference of Ministers held in London, to consider what could be done to abate intemperance, I heard the following letter read:
"The Rev. W. H. Foy presents his compliments to the conveners of the conference, and regrets that he is prevented by indisposition from attending the conference. He begs to assure the gentlemen who are to meet to breakfast to-morrow that if they send any gentleman into Ratcliffe Highway or St. George's-in-the-East,
to watch the public houses at morning, noon, or night, they will soon understand how pauperism is made easy. A new phase of public house influence was witnessed by Mr. Foy on Sunday week, when he, in company with a police officer, saw fifty-four aged people from St. George's Workhouse, on their road from church and chapel, enter a publican's house in Old Gravel Lane, the publican being at the present moment a candidate for the office of Guardian of the Poor."
Such are the monstrosities of modern Sunday life!
But the antidote works-works, good reader, thus: A poor woman whom I knew, sold lucifer matches in the streets, because her husband, a shoemaker, was a drunkard. By God's blessing the whole family signed the pledge, and one day the happy wife came to me, and said :
"Mr. McCree, next Monday is my husband's teetotal birthday, and I want to make him a present of a Family Bible."
"I am glad to hear that," I replied. "Yes, sir; and I want you to buy it for me, and I will pay you the money."
"Very well. spend ?"
How much shall I
"I want a good one, you know; it must be large, have gilt edges, be bound with brass, and have a nice clasp."
So I bought her one, she paid the guinea which it cost, and, when it was presented by her to her reformed husband, he said, "I have often wished for a Family Bible."
Thus does the blessing overcome the curse. Therefore.
Go, labour on; while it is day;
See thousands dying at your side,
Toil on, toil on; rebuke, exhort,
Toil on, toil on; thou soon shalt find
Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom's voice,
MY BIBLE CLASS SCHOLAR.
FOR THE YOUNG.
"WE were just going down when the accident happened," said some pitlads whom I met the other evening returning from, instead of going to, their nightly toil, down the deep dark mine. I soon learnt what the accident was. A boiler, situated in one of the lower chambers of the mine, and used to draw laden trucks of coal up the incline, had in a most awful and sudden manner exploded. To the remotest workings of the pit the terrific report was heard, while in the chamber itself destruction and death were scattered on every hand.
Providentially, the chamber was almost empty of pitmen. The stoker and engineer miraculously escaped, and although there were cases of broken limbs, when the search was made there was but one dead body, much shattered and mutilated, that was taken up and carried home. It was the body of a youth belonging to my Bible Class. His nightly work was among the trucks on that fatal incline.
One of the saddest visits I ever paid was to that collier's home. The poor sorrow-stricken mother had long had a presentiment of coming danger, and now at length the meaning of it was apparent. I led her gradually to unburden her grief by telling me the story of her son's melancholy fate, hoping to find in that story materials of consolation and solace.
More fully than I expected the story abounded in consolation, and furnished its own impressive moral. The previous Sabbath evening was a very memorable one. The service had especial reference to the death of the first of our members. My Bible class scholar was there by favour; for during the service he should have been in those dreary depths. But he had so earnestly requested the favour that his masters allowed his request, and that evening for once he was with us. His earnest
and attentive demeanour had often interested me, but that evening especially did he hear to profit, as in view of eternity! The subject of discourse was "The midnight cry." "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him: then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. During the next two or three days he seemed to keep the lessons of the parable much in his heart, and more than once did he express his sense of their value, and enforce them upon the attention of his family. "What need is there," so ran his exhortation, "to see that our lamps are trimmed and burning! Truly, in such an hour as we think not, the Son of Man cometh."
Prophetic words in his case! On the following Thursday evening, he as usual descended the coal-pit. His lamp was trimmed and burning, and so also was the lamp of the spiritual life, and fitly so, for before the midnight came, came the midnight cry to him; and as in a moment through the pangs of death he passed into the presence of the Lord.
Esteemed by his friends a "token," but at least an interesting coincidence, was a scrap of paper found in his pocket, on which he had written these words
'Happy soul! thy days are ended, All thy mourning here below, Go
Words we had sung the preceding Sabbath evening, into the personal application of which it now seems he most fully entered!
Being dead, he yet speaketh. From his silent grave there has come a summons to my Bible class, to his family, and to our congregation, which I trust has already been to some extent responded to. YE READY ALSO!"
"BE Are my readers J. H. LUMMIS.
A RETROSPECTIVE GOSSIP ABOUT MEN, BOOKS, &c.
BY THE REV. J. BURNS, D.D.
My previous papers have chiefly referred to historical facts in connection with my life and labours as a minister and author. An insatiable desire for reading marked my very early years, and this bookish tendency grew up with me, and became stronger and stronger. My ministerial friends and seniors often directed my attention to such works as they thought would be useful, or as they wished to remove from their libraries to make room for others.
I paid a heavy price for my book experience, generally finding that the works recommended did not suit me, or that I was not adapted to them, which in the issue was about the same.
As I considered preaching the great object of my life, I wanted reading bearing directly on that onerous calling. In Williams' Christian Preacher, and Dr. Doddridge's Lectures-in the works of Sturtevant, Bickersteth, Bridges, and Dr. Porter, there were numerous references to books on theology, rhetoric, preaching, and the pastoral work, and I was often led to make a great sacrifice to procure the works so commended. When in my teens I was on a preaching tour in the West Riding and dales of Yorkshire, and there I met with an old quarto, without title or preface, but it laid hold of my whole mind and spirit, and I pored over it till midnight, ignorant at the time who was the author. Here I found gems of truth, sparkling sanctified wit, and brilliant ideas on nearly every page. I never remember being so delighted as I was with this imperfect old volume. Years afterwards, I discovered that this fascinating writer was that first-class Puritan, Thomas Watson, in my opinion, incomparably the richest and most spiritual of that order, not excepting Brooks, Adams, or Sibbes. His sermons, occasional treatises, and his body of divinity, are a rich garden of beautiful and fragrant flowers, in which the Christian student and minister cannot fail to be delighted and edified. Adams on Second Peter was about the next work of that class that came into my possession, and I have never been disappointed with
anything his wonderful pen produced. "Keach on Metaphors," and "Parables," a few years ago, scarce and dear, I tried for a long period to obtain, and while they have a not inconsiderable value, yet they are so loose in style and verbose, that I never held them in great estimation. 'Gouge on the Hebrews," and even voluminous "Caryl on Job," always repaid labour, and consultations manifold. Caryl on Job is really Caryl on all the Bible, and on all Theology. "Baxter's" practical works, and his "Treatise on the Ministry," no minister can read without mental and spiritual profit. "Bishop Hall," with his rich stores and imagery, and his sententiousness ever charmed me; his "Contemplations" have no superior in that department of religious literature. With general Commentators, I think Mathew Henry worth all the rest put together. Old "Trapp," is a mine of precious things, but sadly indelicate on the minor prophets. His New Testament, in Dickenson's edition, is very portable and cheap. Scott is monotonous, and A. Clarke pedantic and dry. Old Burkitt on the New Testament abounds with plain evangelical plans of sermons that are not unedifying. Sutcliffe, and Benson, and R. Watson, on some parts of the New Testament, I occasionally consulted, and "Whitby," still less occasionally. But with the exception of Mathew Henry, and Poole, I should prefer the best comments on the several Books, and portions of Scripture, in which, by the division of labour, the entire mind of the author has been given to one department of Biblical truth. Barnes on Job," on the Psalms, and on Isaiah, I highly value, and his New Testament volumes are invaluable; I think I scarcely ever referred to them in vain. As a rule, I am fond of our American authors. There is a directness, freshness, and often a fulness of illustration highly useful. Alexander on the Psalms, and on Isaiah; Stuart on the Romans and Hebrews; Hodge on the Romans, &c. The early volumes of Bush, especially those on Genesis and Exodus, I greatly