Extracts from Thomas Richardson's notebooks

from Forty Years Ministry in East London (Hodder & Stoughton 1903), edited by his wife Anna

During the winter, a number of rabbits were sent by the Metropolitan District Visiting Society to different clergymen for distribution. I had twenty sent to St Matthew's, St. George's-in-the-East, and sent them to our sick cases, by my parochial nurse. A neighbouring clergyman, the Rev. Dan Greatorex, of St Paul's, Dock Street, also had twenty, and his Scripture Reader [in fact curate] Mr. Haslock, who lived in Princes Square, took them to special cases. Whilst visiting one woman, he stayed to talk and read with her, so she said she should use the time in preparing the rabbit. Sitting down, she placed the rabbit between her knees, and began pulling at the fur, exclaiming, "Why, it is tough! It is hard to pluck! it will hardly be worth having." To the great astonishment of the Scripture reader, the woman was actually trying to pluck the rabbit. Were this told in the country, it would show how very ignorant many of the London poor are concerning the simplest things in country life.

At the first examination of St. Matthew's National Schools, after the adoption of the New Code, our master felt very indignant at the nature of the examination, it only extending to reading, writing, and arithmetic, whilst all the higher subjects, which he had long taught to the boys, were omitted. During the examination of the lower grades, by the Rev. W. Campbell, Her Majesty's Inspector, the master was consoling himself by examining the higher classes in early English history. I thought I would sympathise with him in his annoyance at the loss of the higher subjects, so asked them to attend to me for a few moments. I asked, "Who was Caractacus?" Three boys held out their hands. I pointed to one, and he replied, "Please, sir, he won the Derby last year, sir." "No, sir", said another, "he was an early English king." "No, sir", said the first, "my father said he won the Derby last year, sir." On making enquiries, I found it was the case that the winner of the Derby for the year named was 'Caractacus'. This was really answering without the book.

During the visitation of cholera in East London, in 1865, a very large number of persons were attacked in St. Matthew's parish; and, as a large amount of money was supplied by friends and the public, I laboured hard to meet the expenses incurred, especially through the funeral of any case of death.

In visiting each family where death had occurred, I found one in St. George's Street. The man who had died was a shopman, and when I asked whether some one had not died of cholera, the woman, a foreigner, said, "Oh, no! No man did die of cholera here - it was gin and apples - gin and apples. He did feel bad, and he did go and get gin; then he did get some more apples, then some more gin. So it was gin and apples, gin and apples, and he did die!" I very much fear that this is but a type of many who were carried off. They were careless livers.

During the severe distress in St. George's-in-the-East, I went down to the workhouse stoneyard one afternoon, and two policemen advised me not to go into the yard, as they could not be responsible for what the men might do. I at once said I was not afraid - and found 1,200 able-bodies men all standing about. It was impossible for them to work, so many in the small space. I inquired for the men in my own district, and found two only. After relieving them, I went to the workhouse and attended the distribution of bread and money. The poor fellows literally fought for their turn. I followed one man up Old Gravel Lane, and he, being a single man, was only entitled to half a loaf, which he had devoured before he reached the top of the Lane. Such a state of affairs speaks more plainly than anything of the real sufferings of the poor at such times.

One day, my servant came to me in my study while at St. Matthew's, and told me a strange looking man wished to speak with me, and that he had such a dissipated appearance, she did not like to ask him in, but that he had asked for me as if he knew me. I went down to the door, and as I stood three steps above the man on the pavement, I said, "The face I know - the general appearance I know - but the rags - who are you?" His hat was out at the crown, his coat out at the elbows, his trousers out at the knees, his shoes out at the sides; in fact, he was out everywhere. His hair exceedingly long, and his beard unshaven, he was the real embodiment of a dissipated drunkard. He at once recognised me, and I asked him into the dining-room, and introduced him to my wife as Mr. Hipwell. And, as he stood there, I said, "You have often said that we abstainers overdraw the characters we speak of. Now look at a drunkard!" for I had no need to ask what had brought him to this.

He was a gentleman in his address, and I knew him to be an excellent classic, but had never heard of him since I left College, where I had met him. But, thank God, it turned out that he never passed his last term. He had plenty of money when at College, but drink brought him down. He told me his history. He was born in Pavenham, Bedfordshire, had a good education, and owned some land, which he sold, part to his brother, and part to the squire, Mr. Tucker. Since he did not pass at College, he had been subject off and on to drunken attacks, although he said he could be a total abstainer sometimes for six months together. He had had very good situations as private tutor in clergymen's houses and other places, but found he could not resist the sherry on the table, and if he took a glass or two, he was then started, and lost his situation immediately. He was reduced to selling envelopes and paper, and starvation - yet a gentleman by birth, education and means. Now a ragged, dissipated outcast from his family, and a living witness of the awful ruin worked by a love of strong drink. What a contrast between his youth and his manhood!

Here comes the climax, and a remarkable coincidence. Whilst he was in the house, my Scripture reader called and was asked into the drawing room. I remembered that he, also, had been brought up in Pavenham, and I asked Hipwell if he knew a poor illiterate lad named Gadesden. He said, "Yes," he had been a clodhopper, a digger on his fields, and had knitted mats for him in his younger days. This same lad had been fond of reading, but had to get all his knowledge as he could, his parents caring nothing for him. From a farm labourer he became a coachman and gardener. He came to London, became a groom, and was taken in hand and encouraged by the Rev. E. Bickersteth, of Hampstead. He applied to the Scripture Readers' Society, became Scripture reader in St. Matthew's, and was at that moment in the next room.

I said to Hipwell, "Shall I call Gadesden? He is in the next room." But he begged me not to do so. No, the man who was a gentleman when a boy, cannot now, as a man, face the man who is now a gentleman, but was once a very poor lad. What a contrast! The one had begun his downward course through drink, the other had been led to become an abstainer, then a believer in Christ, a deep and continuous reader of God's word, and books generally, and now was a faithful guide to others in a wicked district. Here were two men from the same parish, with very different opportunities. Now - one a disgrace - the other a credit to all who knew him. What a warning!

Gadesden, just referred to in the preceding note, made a start, of what he felt to be his first start, by taking the temperance pledge. He married a young woman in his own sphere, and, whilst at the communion rails, during the marriage service, he was struck with the selection of Scripture from Ephesians vi., showing marriage to be the illustration of the connection between Jesus and His Church. He thought to himself, "Why am I not joined to Jesus, as I am joining myself to this woman!" He returned from that service a thoughtful and changed man; for it led to his being united to Jesus by faith, and to his eventual usefulness. He is now in the City Mission, and has an important sphere in the north of London. May be be blessed by marrying many souls to Jesus!

Being called, in the course of my pastoral duties, to visit Mrs. Porter, one of our communicants (a godly woman), on the sudden death of her husband, I was the hearer from her own lips of 'how Porter broke his neck'. On the Sunday morning previous to his death, January 24, 1869, he had attended St. Matthew's as usual, when I preached from 1 Cor i.9: God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. In the evening he said to his wife he would go and hear 'Booth' at the Effingham Theatre, and they both went, as she was anxious to do what he wished. He appeared to be affected, and when they returned home his wife read the Bible and had family prayer. She then expressed to him what happiness it would be if he would always keep in this spirit, which might be so if he would only keep from drink.

He was a labourer in the docks, and it appears that drink can be had by some means without any payment; so that, whilst he seldom came home except more or less under the influence of alcohol, he always brought the full amount of his wages, so that he said it cost her nothing. On Saturday, January 30, 1869, he came home excited. His wife had provided ham and eggs for tea, but he seemed very fidgetty and had no appetite. He said he would eat no more with her, and, before having any tea, went downstairs, staying so long that she had her tea and put the things away. When he came up again, she prevailed on him to have a cup of tea. Again he got up and went to the head of the stairs, and, as she thought, caught his heel in the floorcloth, tumbling headlong down the stairs. She ran down, and found his head jammed against the wall. He just said, "I've broke my neck! I've broke my neck!" and died. What a warning to tipplers! What a sad end of a husband! That good woman said, "Tell everybody, Mr. Richardson, that my husband's death may be the eternal life of some careless ones."

Mr Willett, a dock labourer (who was first drawn to St. Matthew's Church through a lecture given by the Rev. E. Parry, then Domestic Chaplain to the Lord Bishop of London, and who soon took a deep interest in the comforts of God's Holy House), came to me one day and said, "Please, sir, will you write me a prayer?" I then found he had been much interested in my sermons in reference to prayer, and especially what I had said about praying the Lord's Prayer, if we could not put our desires into words. He said, "You know, sir, we all knelt down, I and my wife and the girl; and if I had anything to say, I said it; and if my wife had anything to say, she said it; and if we had nothing to say, we got up; but then we had prayed without saying any words, all the same. Well, the other day, the girl, Mary Ellen, said to me, when we got up without saying any words, 'Father, every time we kneel down in Sunday School, Mr. Richardson prays. We never get up without saying something.' So you see, sir, as the girl is now growing up, and as you have asked us to pray at half-past eight o'clock every Sunday morning, we should be very much obliged if you would kindly write us out a prayer" - and this was the origin of the following prayer, which has been used now by friends throughout the world, and, as I believe, is the reason for many Sabbath blessings upon my ministry. It is entitled 'A Prayer for anyone wishing to join in united closet prayer, from 8 to 8.30 every Sunday morning.'

Almighty God, our Gracious Father, who of Thine own will didst appoint one day in seven as Thine own, we bow at Thy mercy-seat this morning, and desire to thank Thee that we have one day in seven on which we can worship Thee, none daring to make us afraid. As we cannot pray aright without Thee, grant that the Spirit may make intercession for us. We desire that Thou wouldst bless our united prayers, offered at this very hour, and may this union of praying people at the throne of mercy, bring down many blessings this day. Although we are sinners, yet we feel we can come to Thee, because Thou hast opened up a way through Thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ. We ask, for His sake, that this may prove a Lord's day to our souls, as it is secured to us as a day or rest from our daily toil.

We would pray for ourselves. We want Thy blessing to rest upon each of us this day, that Jesus may be more precious to us. We ask that our souls may be fed, and that the work of Thy grace may be deepened in us. Help us to receive Thy Holy Word. May we be in the Spirit during the offering up of prayer. May a word in season be sent to us by Thee, through him whom Thou hast appointed as the shepherd of this flock. May that word be what we need; and may this day only remind us of an eternal day of worship in heaven.

We would pray for all other members of the congregation. Help them to pray aright, and to hear for eternity. Bless the singing of Thy praise. May he who conducts Divine worship feel all that he is engaged in, and may be be strengthened in body and soul to the faithful to Thee, faithful to himself, and faithful to the people. Bless our schools. Bless the teachers and the children. Bless those who address them. Bless the books and tracts distributed. Bless those who visit in the district, and the tracts which are left from house to house. Bless our Bible classes and all the members. We also pray that all who work for Thee may feel that they do it for the sake of Jesus. May the love of Christ constrain them. May they realise the great privilege of working in Thy vineyard. May they all be encouraged, according to the peace that Thou hast given them, and may every Lord's day prove a day when many riches are laid up in heaven. Oh, may souls be given to them for their encouragement, and for their hire. Comfort those who mourn, and hasten the day when we shall see Jesus as He is. Forgive our sins, even in our most holy engagements, and sanctify us by Thy Spirit, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

A few years ago, Rains, when living in the New Road, brought me a book which had been offered to him for sale, but it had our Sunday School mark on it, which he knew, as he did the binding for us. He said a woman had brought it, and he told her to call again. The book was a new one, 'Men Who Have Risen', and had only been issued on the previous Sunday, for the first time.

In the evening I went to the boy to whom it had been issued, Henderson, in Well Street, and found his father at home. He asked me into a dirty room in which he was cleaning himself after work. I spoke to him about the book, and he said he had left it on the chest of drawers, pointing to the place, at ten o'clock on the preceding night; that he had only just returned home, and found that his wife had taken it away to sell. He asked me to go with him into the front parlour, and we there found the woman, dead drunk, on the remnant of bedding, whilst the room was completely stripped - not a single article of furniture left in it.

He then asked me down stairs into the kitchen, and there we found the youngest child, about eighteen months old, apparently sickening, and he said she had been falling away for six weeks past. A little boy had trousers on, but his waistcoat had been taken off by the mother that afternoon, and pawned for drink. There was a piece of raw meat on the table, which the man said he had sent up in the morning for dinner, but it had not been cooked, and the children had not broken their fast since early morning. All the available articles that could be sold were sold out of the kitchen, and a real drunkard's home presented itself.

The man was foreman to Mr. Frederick Parker, bone-burner, of New Gravel Lane, and in a most responsible position, and receiving good wages, but he dare not let his wife have the money. I found later on, from Mr. Settles, one of the firm, that the man was leaving his savings in his hands, whilst I afterwards learnt that his wife supposed he had another home.

Next day I called upon the woman, and we prevailed upon her to sign the pledge. She gradually got a few things together, and occasionally came to the mothers' meeting, and was glad to see Miss Ball, the mission woman. The boys were always most regular at Sunday School, and the father told me he kept their regular Sunday suits at the warehouse, lest his wife should sell them.

After my holidays, a year or so afterwards, I called upon the man, as I had noticed he came by himself, occasionally, to church, and I inquired for his wife, as I saw another person present. He took me to the stairs, and showed me the place where the poor women had hung herself, for she could not bear her existence. Drink alienated the one from the other, then jealousy led on to every neglect of the husband and the entire family. The sorrow of heart of that family is a proof of God's Holy Word.

This year, 1869, we have sent several families as emigrants to Canada; amongst them, several children from our day and Sunday schools. One parent wrote home, and his boy sent a message that, if St. Matthew's Sunday Schools were ten miles off, he would walk every Sunday to see Mr. Smith. This was the Superintendent of the Infant School. Would that children would have this desire when they are so near!

When we took our National School children down to Mr. Coope's, at Rochetts, near Brentwood, some of the boys broke out of the ranks and rushed into the garden. I at once called to them, when one little fellow returned, and said, in a very excited manner, "Teacher, teacher, come here, I have found a gooseberry hanging in a bush!" It was the first time that the little fellow had seen a gooseberry bush in his life. Well might be be astonished, for it was more than likely he had never traced back the gooseberry beyond the greengrocer's shop of St. George's-in-the-East.

On one occasion I had to call on a Mrs. Bent, to sign a life annuity certificate. She very much objected to tell me what she wanted the certificate for, but did so after some delay. I then asked her about her soul, she being a very old woman, and an invalid. She replied, "That is not my way. I never had it signed in this way before." It would appear that a clergyman may be used for any purpose, except the cure of souls, to which he is called.

Whilst out for the Church Home Mission in Norfolk, I was at Lyng on November 25th, and, in talking with the Rev. C. Jex-Blake about ways of doing good, I said I had only heard of one instance of a clergyman being blessed in teaching in day schools, and that I found out whilst visiting in Gayton. A young girl told me that her first impressions were from her clergyman taking the top class every morning. To my great amazement, I found that Mr. Jex-Blake was the very man; so that this indirect testimony to his usefulness in his old parish was very encouraging to him coming, as it did, in a most unexpected way, and, no doubt, as an encouragement to him to go on with that kind of work. I have found that the country clergy do more in this way than we in London, possibly from their having less external interference with an everyday engagement of this kind. How strange that God should send encouragement in this way to one of His own faithful servants!

A paper advocating parochial temperance societies,
read at a meeting of the Rural Deanery of Limehouse 

from the Church of England Temperance Magazine, 1 August 1864

I am anxious to keep strictly to the practical view of this subject — so far as we, as clergymen, are concerned, i.e., the parochial aspect of it. Let us banish from our minds any supposed societies advocating Total Abstinence from intoxicating liquors.

The Church of England is the parochial Church with which we are connected. We have parishes and districts connected with each church, and over which the clergyman presides for all spiritual purposes. He is personally and individually responsible for his own sphere, and he is left to carry out the intention of the Church within certain limits, and he invites every inhabitant to make use of the church for the parish or district. To extend the usefulness of the parochial system, National Schools are established for the children of the parish; Scripture Readers are appointed to read the Word of God from house to house, within the district; and our District Visiting Societies call upon certain families; and our parochial responsibility ends at the borders of our charge. London may be a very Godless city, yet we personally have to see to the spiritual condition only of a section of this great metropolis. 

The parochial system is becoming more and more valued as we rise to the fall sense of our pastoral and ministerial responsibility; and hence we have such additions as Mothers' Meetings, Penny Banks, and Ragged Schools. The expansion of work depends mainly upon our sense of parochial responsibility. I am, therefore, the more anxious to bring before our minds and consciences every individual committed to our care, as the clergy of the Church. Let us select any one of our parishes or districts, and walk through it with a stranger interested in the spiritual destitution of such densely populated parts as ours. After walking around the borders and through some of the streets, he would comprehend to some extent the nature of the population, and probably ask what is being done to grapple with the general body, and specially for the peculiar evils and obstructions to the spread of Christian truth.

Most of us could answer, We have a church, to which all are welcome; and to those unwilling to come, we send a Scripture Reader from house to house, that each person may hear or refuse the Word. We have National Day and Sunday Schools for those children whose parents cannot afford or do not choose to send them to middle-class schools, and Ragged Schools for those children whose parents cannot or will not pay for them at the National Schools. Thus we try to grapple with the ignorance of the rising generation; and to check improvidence, we have Penny Banks and Clothing Clubs, besides Mothers' Meetings, and Mutual Improvement Societies. In order that these may be thoroughly known, we have District Visitors, who go weekly to those families willing to receive them; and by this means all the deserving poor are cared for by timely relief, without the humiliating necessity of applying in every case of need to the parish authorities — so that the spiritual and temporal circumstances of our people are acknowledged, and to some extent grappled with.

Here, then, the stranger finds that agencies are at work permeating the whole district, and making their influence felt in every street, house, and family. Naturally such a person would inquire concerning the effects produced by these various agencies, perhaps by such questions as these—"Is the house of God attended by devout and regular worshippers belonging to the parish? Are your schools doing their work? Are your efforts to raise the people successful? Or are you still unable to become the master of your position, in a Christian point of view? If so, what are the antagonistic influences at work, and what is the most powerful source of immorality and profaneness? To what cause or causes do you trace the frequent desertions from your communicants and confirmation candidates? And is it true, in your sphere, as it is generally reported, that only one out of ten of your Sunday School children ever reach the Christian standard of being communicants?"

To give a practical and illustrative answer to these questions, supposing we suggested another detailed inspection of the district, street by street, court by court, house by house, family by family, and a running commentary given by the parochial clergyman.

"Here and there in this street we have attendants at our church. In this house a child comes to our schools; in this the District Visitor is very welcome to leave a tract; in that we have no influence beyond a boy being a depositor in our Bank. In this and that house there are families attending other places of worship; and in this and that they refuse all visitation whatever, not even allowing the Scripture Reader to enter."

This commenting having continued throughout the district, it is found that there are a great number apparently without God and without hope in the world, and are evidently perishing for lack of knowledge.

Let us turn in at the Ragged School—and the stranger addresses one of the boys, asking his name, and the occupation of his parents, and why his face is not washed. "Please, sir, my mother has run away and left father, so there is nobody to wash us in the morning, as father is a coal-whipper, and has to go to work; and at night he can't wash us, for he comes home drunk."

He turns to another, and the answer is—"Please, sir, father is a painter, and earns thirty shillings a week." "Then why," says the stranger, "do you not go to the National School?" "Please, sir, father drinks so much, mother cannot get us bread every day, so she can't give us money to go to the pay school." These are but statements of fact, both answers having been given to a brother clergymen visiting a Ragged School in this deanery. How boldly does the exception stand forth when a neat little girl is addressed, and she answers—"Please, sir, father is dead, and mother goes out washing, so we come to school all day till mother comes home, and then brings us something to eat."

Let us pass on to the Mothers' Meeting. We cannot ask them openly to tell us their troubles; yet if there is a mother present whose husband is unknown to the clergyman, how common is the reply—"Ah, sir, if you could only get him to give up the drink!" What says the Scripture Reader and the District Visitor? Simply a confirmed statement of the fearful obstruction they meet with in trying to win the people to the house of God. They have no clothes, and not likely to have them until less money is spent in intoxicating liquors.

The stranger has now a general knowledge of the realities of the work, and he at last turns to the clergyman himself, and inquires—"Now, what is your deliberate conviction in reference to intoxicating liquors; for possibly the evidence may have been brought before me by those prejudiced against them?" The clergyman is obliged to confess: "With very few exceptions, the publicans do not care for my visits; and from those visits I have paid, I do not hesitate to say that the whole tendency of the traffic is immoral. Our District Visitors are obliged to pass over the houses; the publicans do not welcome the Scripture Reader; they are seldom in the house of God; and if there, they are immediately behind the bar after their return from God's house, and that on the Lord's day; it is the exception to find any house closed for the whole of the Sabbath; they are not the supporters of the parochial charities; they are not Sunday School teachers. On the contrary, they are the supporters of the late hour system. Many of them are ashamed of their own business. They allow the most immoral conversation. One barkeeper told me one day, whilst waiting to see the master, that if he were to listen to the conversation for one week, he would go quite mad; but that such persons as himself got into the habit of not hearing." Parochially speaking, I am convinced that every public-house, beer-shop, and gin-palace, is an open opponent to my spiritual work; and could these houses be closed, my people would be more happy, better clothed, and the Ragged School needless; whilst at present there is not one institution for good within the district which is not dependent upon charity, more or less. The district keeps about twenty gin-palaces; yet does not keep a clergyman, nor a National School, nor a Ragged School, nor a Scripture Reader; but all are dependent upon external charity. Within the Church of God every clergyman must answer for himself; but after ten years' ministry, I find internally the same enemy as that without. Intoxicating liquor, directly and indirectly, causes the clergyman trouble, both within and without. This is not overstating the facts, neither is this state of things peculiar to the east of London. I have recently visited Kent, and I found a town there, numbering 2,900 inhabitants, having no less than 34 places for the sale of intoxicating liquors ; being one for every 85 persons, whilst even in the worst parts of London the average will not be above 1 for 120."

The stranger solemnly asks—"What are your special efforts to meet this special evil? For, after all, there appears to be, as yet, a missing link in your parochial organization. Ton say you miss your publicans from church—you miss your children from school—you miss the great bulk of your working men from all your meetings; and I miss, as yet, the special effort for these—the drunkard and the drunkard's children."

So far as we have gone it would appear so. Yet, now, let us attend another gathering. It is in the evening, in our National Schools, and then I will show what we propose in this important work. I am anxious that the evil should grow upon your mind, lest the agency should be despised from a want of realising the horrible nature of the soul-destroying enemy amongst us; and so imbedded amongst us, and so interwoven into every ramification of society, that we have to recall the earnest consideration of those before whom we introduce the remedy, the reality and existence of the disease. Custom and habit have so winked at it, that it would be one of the most wonderful parishes in England, could one be found without a place for the sale of intoxicating liquors. Government licenses them, the public uses them, and Christians are lukewarm observers. At the same time it is encouraging to know that a new life is being given to our workings by the introduction of a practical remedy.

A gentleman wrote to me in May last, who had just returned from Vancouver's Island, and he says—
" As I am writing, I may as well help you to enlarge your list of Abstaining Clergy. I have just returned from Vancouver's Island, and can bear witness that the Lord Bishop of Columbia and nearly the whole staff of his clergy in Victoria are Total Abstainers, finding it impossible in that country, more than here, to reform the masses, without first striking a blow at the monster evil."

"Here, then," says the stranger, "you have good authority for trying the simple remedy of Total Abstinence; for I presume it is to such a society you propose to introduce me; and I can quite understand why you approach the subject so carefully, for I can remember the time when Total Abstainers were classed with chartists and infidels; yet I am prepared to acknowledge (although not an Abstainer), that the drinking customs have felt the influence of Total Abstinence Societies, especially the upper classes."

"Yes," adds the clergyman, "and I am happy to say that 500 of my brethren in the ministry of our beloved Church are now practising the principle personally; but very few feel at liberty to introduce Total Abstinence Societies into their parishes. Nay, when a clergyman speaks of the subject, he has generally to meet the scorn, if not the open contempt, of many who are really earnest about souls. Surely, this ought not so to be. We have no difficulty in agreeing as to the existence of the evil: the practice and propagation of the principle of Total Abstinence is the stumbling-block. Whilst it is such a simple remedy, it is a serious one to plant in any parish. Let us, then, visit a Parochial Total Abstinence Society. We go to the National School; the clergyman presides; prayer is offered; the Word of God read, and the subject spoken upon by one or more; a book is kept to record the names of those agreeing to practise the principle, and the meeting closes with prayer. The chairman afterwards gives the history of those attending—many reclaimed drunkards— many who never were drunkards—many now drunkards—a thorough parochial meeting—many of the husbands of the mothers attending the Mothers' Meeting."

Now, does this principle really reach the drunkards? For, if that can be shown, then many of the objections usually raised will be taken out of the way of the clergyman. It would be well if we could have the experience of some man known as a hard-working parochial clergyman, yet not known as a prominent Total Abstainer. 

It so happens that I have the testimony of such a man—one of our brethren in Bethnal Green. Here it is:—
"Our Parochial Total Abstinence Society is an unqualified good thing. It has reclaimed to sobriety several notorious drunkards, and led to their occasional attendance at church; it has enabled me to deal effectually with one person in the middle classes who had grievously fallen away from being a regular and consistent communicant into habits of beastly intemperance, but who is now in course of hopeful restoration; it is having an indirect influence of a most salutary kind with those who do not join us, by the protest against the danger of the sin of excess; and I am surprised to find myself commended on all sides, even the most unlikely, for making special efforts to check intemperance, as we do any other vice, by a direct specific.

"I believe our Christian people have been waiting to see the clergy adopt some measures to lessen, if not remove, the by far greatest hindrance of all to the progress of our parochial work.

"Our Weekly Temperance Meeting brings together from 150 to 200 persons, chiefly men, when I read and expound the Scriptures, and make it, to a great extent, a religious meeting. We have ninety adults, who pay a penny weekly, many of whom have been habitual drunkards; and 120 children, from ten to sixteen years, who totally abstain. I have been an Abstainer about three years, and find myself quite as well."

I can bear testimony to the same end. Although my Parochial Juvenile Total Abstinence Society and my Adult Society have been introduced last into my district, it was only because I was anxious first to try every recognised agency; and I have been led at last, after much thought, to try and reach the drunkard in this way, and to educate the rising generation in the matter. I would most solemnly commend this important work to the sympathy of those engaged in. practical labour among the people. Wherever introduced, it brings together the classes for whom it is intended. May this deanery, which contains thousands of these drink-selling establishments, not be the last to adopt the scheme of reformation. To this end, I would advise the adoption of PAROCHIAL TEMPERANCE SOCIETIES.

Address at the 1870 Church Congress
(held in Southampton) in a debate on 'Charitable Relief and Church Work' (p187)

My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen, - I had two years in Lambeth, two in the south of London, and I have had twelve in St George's-in-the-East, and after those sixteen years I was not astonished to hear Mr Goschen very recently state that it was his opinion, or rather he was growing into that opinion, that the increase of pauperism in London and elsewhere proceeded from the peculiar law of this land which gives the poor the right to demand help, which no other country in the world, as I understand, allows. That, I think, does away with the idea that the amount of voluntary relief supposed to be given to the poor of London is bringing them down more and more to pauperism. Now I feel, my lord, that this question is one of the deepest importance to Clergymen. I was not ordained to be a relieving officer, but I do find certain things forced upon me as a London Clergyman by the force of public opinion. And we cannot get out of the difficulty of doing something for our poor. There are certain organizations at work throughout London of the most important character; but for these sixteen years I have seen the importance and the wisdom of the remark of the Apostle, when he said, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I unto thee." Yes, and I beseech every Clergyman, and every Scripture Reader, and every City Missionary, and every spiritual agent, to have nothing to do in giving relief directly. As one having had a few thousand pounds through my hands for the benefit of the poor, I can say I have never given a shilling in the visitation of my people; but I have endeavoured as far as I could, with the funds placed at my private individual disposal, not to be known to anybody but myself and my God. I have tried to follow the example of my Master, "When thou doest thy alms let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth." I have many times conveyed practical help without the recipients knowing from whence it came, except they traced it to the fact of God watching over His people.

I am astonished to find that certain workings of our great societies in London have been, in some senses, not fully brought out. There is the Metropolitan District Visiting Society, which has the confidence of the people of the land; for they do give a fair amount of money to that society every year. That society does not give through the Clergymen; and it is provided that we shall have a monthly meeting of district visitors, that those visitors shall not be paid for their work, that they shall go on certain defined districts, and that the money granted shall be in proportion to the number of visitors on the ground. Then the distributions are made in kind; but I may state that the difficulty of finding district visitors in London is so great that, out of a population of 50,000 in the parish of St. George-in-the-East, there is scarcely one individual who, having the ability, has the time to give to house-to-house work. But every step of my ground is visited every week by the district visitors for the purpose of exchanging tracts and recording the names of those who are sick. Those names are immediately handed to my parochial nurse, who distributes every farthing of relief in kind - sometimes in bread and grocery, which I believe is occasionally a very good way of giving relief. These people are supplied with beef-tea and other necessities, which perhaps the Poor Law does not furnish.

And by the system of relief which the Metropolitan Visiting Society adopts, giving amounts to a certain number of visitors, I find that the wonderful amount said to come into our hands is absorbed - every farthing of it - by giving a small proportion to the relief of the sick, and the sick only, through the hands of a nurse who has nothing to do but attend to the sick. I feel that I can guarantee that there is not a single individual finds his or her way to my church for what they can get out of it; and I feel especially, having been always in mission districts of the greatest importance, that we shall not accomplish much real work with the money in our hand. I think nothing does greater injury. The Visiting Society grants what I have stated and no more. If our friends will organize some society to take the whole responsibility, well and good. But bring the people to carry it into effect. What is the good of mere talk. talk. talk? Bring the people; but in the meantime we are doing a work, and doing it, I believe, very admirably. So far, then, as to visits from house to house for the sick.

There is another admirable society, the Relief of Distress Society, originated in that terrible winter of 1861, when down came some gentlemen from the West-end, and we were thankful to receive them. But they went to the bakers, butchers, and grocers, and asked who were the most deserving poor. They had not much faith in the parsons. But what did they find? The grocer and the baker each gave the names of persons who owed them money; and no sooner was the money paid than they went in for it, and the poor people consequently received no benefit. Then what do we find now? After six or seven years, that almoner who adopted the course I have referred to, came to me in St, George's-in-the-East and said, "I am prepared to acknowledge that the men who know most of the poor in the east of London are the Clergy"; and so it has fallen back to the Clergy. That society gives special help to special cases. There are those of the poor whom we should send to the Board of Guardians; and I have found Boards of Guardians ever ready to receive applications from the Clergy, and back it up by proper relief.

Then there are peculiar difficulties which we must deal with under peculiar circumstances. We have had several difficulties to contend with in the East of London - such as a hard winter, the cholera, and then the crash in 1866, which we are only now just getting over. Strange to say, we are told to-night that thousands of pounds have found their way somewhere and done a deal of damage. I found a man in a street called Pennington Street, with his wife and three children, in a back-kitchen, all of them being obliged to sleep on the floor. What should I do with such a man? Give him a shilling and send him to the workhouse? No! send him over to Canada. And what did he write to me the other day? "We have plenty of work - living on the fat of the land, with meat three times a day, and the children all fat and well." I was asked in coming down to this meeting - and I never thought of speaking till the question was brought to my mind - how it is that in the East of London pauperism has so largely decreased while it has increased so largely in other quarters. Well, my friends, I answer the question by the word emigration. We sent away last year some thousands - and, all honour to ladies in the West-end who have found money and material, we are prepared any day at twelve hours' notice to send families off. I say this is helping the poor people to keep themselves, and on that point I agree with everything that has been said. May we, then, go forward and may God give us his blessing!

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