Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

They meet the applicant at first with a welcome. They believe every story which is at all probable, till facts oblige them to set it aside; and, in all instances, when no other alternative is left, their charity flows towards the worthy poor in swift, sure, and swelling streams. No further time is to be lost; and the only rule or measure to be applied is that of the necessity of the case. They do not ask, How little can you get along with? They do not adopt a fixed rate for every recipient; nor are they guilty of the folly of setting some narrow bound, within which the poor must content themselves, or go to the almshouse. They know nothing of the miserable policy which views the poor with suspicion and aversion, doles out scanty alms to those who beg the loudest or deceive the most, and too often overlooks the honest and humble sufferers, who had rather perish than mix with beggars and rank with paupers. “I dread giving the first half-dollar," said an overseer, once, in Baltimore. “Make it five or ten dollars; and tell the poor creature, to whom it yields substantial relief, to look to you, and to you alone, under God, when it is gone, if the occasion for it remains," would be the Hebrew reply, “and you will have nothing to fear.” A widow cries, “I must break up my family: I cannot keep my children together. My husband is gone: our little ones are so many, I must send them to the asylum, or let strangers adopt them.” —"No," say the Guardians: “God is your husband; your offspring are our wards; their mother's side is the best asylum; no home is so good as yours for them.” " But,” she pleads, “how can I afford it?-“What will it cost?“A pound sterling, it may be, a week." —“We will gladly find that for you," is their reply. This condition, how. ever, is always insisted upon, — “Your children must attend school.” The mother cheerfully consents and faithfully complies. The schools are free, and, when school-going days are over, the best of places are found for their “wards;" and the Guardians continue to watch over them with parental solicitude and affection, till, at a suitable age, they are received into the synagogue. Many a fatherless child rises, in this way, to eminence and usefulness in the future administration of the faith and humanity of his fathers, or takes her honored and happy place among the daughters of Israel.

Not merely children, but every young man and young wo. man, is made to partake of this all-embracing guardianship of the Hebrew system. An important additional means of relief comes in the form of loans under five pounds (twenty-five or thirty dollars), without interest, and of larger loans at fair rates. The loan-offices are governed by the rules in Deuteronomy, and resemble our pawners' bank, and the monts de piété of Europe. Marriage portions, gratuities to the poor for festive occasions, and burial grants, are common everywhere with "the chosen people.” One touching feature they can proudly claim as their own: when a woman is about to become a mother, no matter how humble or little known she may be, her neighbors congratulate her on God's great goodness, assure her of their sympathy, and pledge, with words never known to be broken, whatever cheer or succor she may require. The consequence is, more children are favorably ushered into the world, and, from this and kindred care afterwards, a larger proportion of infants reach the age of five in health and strength, with this "peculiar people," than with any others upon the globe. Similar pains produce equal advantages upon the general duration of mature life with the Hebrews.

One person weekly, Dr. Stallard estimates, dies of starvation in London! Such a thing is wholly unknown under the Jewish administration; while imposture, beggary, crime from the pressure of want, and pauperism in all its forms, are effectually prevented. Sub-committees have special charge of the sick, infirm, aged, and “casual” poor. They forbid and prevent all resort to almshouses, workhouses, or the like ; and, though their own charities are extended to all the dispensaries, hospitals, and benevolent institutions of Christian London, yet they prefer their own provisions for their own dependents. Old age is held in especial esteem. None of the natural shocks that flesh is heir to, appear to be uncared for.

Especially grateful are their arrangements for the sick. Medical men, and their allies of the volunteer committee, are always ready. Not only drugs, medicines, wines, and cordials are supplied, but all the nameless necessary appurtenances of the bospital or sick-chamber. All common calls are sure of prompt and effectual attention; while in case of epidemics, like Asiatic cholera, the latent organizing force is sufficient to cover the field at once with nurses, watchers, or assistants, with special supplies in ample variety and abundance. The Baroness of Rothschild provides, at her own expense, a sick-kitchen, to furnish food to fifty poor patients every day. A graduated pupil of the girls' free Hebrew schools is chief cook. Under her are sixteen other young Jewesses, training in turn for future skill and usefulness. In the morning, the physician sends in his orders for beef-tea, broth, arrow-root, jelly, or whatever the sick, the convalescent, the feeble, or any under his treatment, require; which is issued in due time, whatever it may be. The cost is considerable, and so is the effect. “Better give up some of our dispensaries," says Dr. Stallard, “and open sick-kitchens instead.” And every one who has had occasion to lament the want of wholesome and suitable food, more than even of medicine, for the sick poor, must agree with him as to the importance of our borrowing this admirable feature, which the Baroness conducts with a generous heart and an open purse.

To sum up, in closing, a few leading features of the system: First, it is one of personal devotion to the well-being of man and the highest interests of society. The Jewish Guardians of the Poor are drawn from their most influential and intelligent members. Men and women of the best culture, ability, and rank gladly volunteer their services as principals or assistants.

Next, the whole spirit is that of confidence and respect, as well as of affection, towards the claimant of their bounty. However lowly, however poor, he is, still they cheerfully confess the equal, the neighbor and brother, of the lofty and the rich. He must be so received and so treated as not to lose sight of this himself. The crowning aim is to preserve and strengthen the sentiment of self-respect. Despondency or despair, even any approach to undue self-distrust and selfdepreciation, destroys the best hope of human peace and improvement.

Again, the whole plan is grounded upon a religious faith in "the God of their fathers.” Rich and poor alike depend on that Will which at once divides and unites them. So they can live and work together in humility and in hope, neither unduly exalted nor unduly depressed. One God, one Law, one Love, — admit that, and everything else follows of itself.

The Ministry at Large in Boston has, for more than forty years, been pursuing a series of measures closely resembling those here described. This mission, inspired by the eloquence of Channing and sustained by the labors of Tuckerman, was pre-eminently due to the practical piety and philanthropy of Henry Ware. As pastor of the church in Hanover Street, and a resident of that section of the city, he yearned to render his ministry serviceable to the poor not enrolled in his or in any of our parishes. They passed him daily in the streets; they toiled and rested, suffered and sinned, perchance, beneath the shadow of his church-walls, — alas! only a shade upon their path. His own flock sufficed not for his sacred charge. Here were neighbors to be loved and served and saved, as himself and as his own. With a noble band of young men and women to second his endeavors, he established the Ministry at Large. Two years later, Dr. Tuckerman entered the field with a zeal and devotion which have secured for him the credit that was really due to Mr. Ware. From its commencement to the present hour, the aim has been to introduce into the charities of Boston, and of every place provided with this ministry, all the best features of the Hebrew system in the great metropolis. The visits from house to house; the bounties of the poor's purse; the chapel movements, with all their schools and services; the two leading branches of the “Society for the Prevention of Pauperism” and the “Provident Association,” with the network of complementary and subsidiary instrumentalities introduced by the Ministry at Large, or yet to

spring from it, - these give an outline of what we trust may be combined hereafter in a well-arranged and amply endowed and amended Poor-law Administration, not for this city alone, but ultimately for our whole country.

ART. VI. - WOMAN IN PUBLIC LIFE.

The College, the Market, and the Court. By CAROLINE H. DALL.

Boston: Lee & Shepard. This volume, as a recent, interesting, and cogent statement of the practical questions affecting the author's own rights and position, as one of the class she represents, has, in the discussion, a value which we can claim for no remarks of ours. Wholly agreeing with most of her arguments and deductions, regarded from her point of view, there is, however, a province of the discussion to which she has not given all the attention to which we think it entitled ; and it is as to this that we shall offer most of the following remarks. Naturally enough, her book assumes the old ground of antagonism or disparity between the sexes, rather than the absolute ground of unprejudiced reason and impartial right. There is, we must confess, too much reason for this. Woman is still too generally regarded, on account of the transmitted opinions and usages of the past, as a mere appendage to man. Now, the truth of the greatest importance to be considered is, that the element of humanity, not the element of sex, is the supreme fact by which the question should be determined. And the emphasis here given to one side in this discussion is the legitimate reply to an unjust and cruel prejudice on the other side. Seen from the point of view of absolute morality, man is no more a child of God and an heir of the eternal universe, than woman. She has a personal destiny of her own to fulfil, irrespective of him; just as much as he has one, irrespective of her. If, as a woman, she looks up to him, he, as a man, looks up to her; but as human

« ElőzőTovább »