Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

head of its bearer presents a somewhat disparaging contrast. Here is another who, promptly availing himself of the opportunity afforded by the departure of the billsticker, has stripped off a placard from the hoarding, while yet the paste is damp and reeking. The little wretch has replaced it, but only after having carefully turned it upside down; and now, standing on his own head, reads the contents to the passers-by, who are some what bewildered by the inversion of the infant Daniel and the writing which he professes to expound. The performance is, of course, concluded with the usual appeal for a "’apenny;" for note that the street urchin's is no golden dream of wealth. It is invariably limited to the sum above specified, neither more nor less—"only a ’apenny.”

Throughout the livelong day we shall meet him, go where we will, and (should the spectator be of a thoughtful cast) never without experiencing the somewhat mingled sensation produced by listening to a tale half humorous, half pathetic, or gazing at an actor whose performance, Robson-like, is semi-grotesque, semi-tragic. But the night advances, and, if we follow the little animal to his lair, the serious element may perchance somewhat preponderate. A visit to the Refuge in Field-lane will form no bad frigidarium, or mental douche, after the tepidarium of a crowded “at home.” It may, as a Turkish bath, produce a not unhealthy reaction upon the mind blazé with the glare, and relaxed by the heat of the crush we have quitted in time, to arrive at the Refuge while it yet wants a few minutes of twelve. Enter, and you will witness a somewhat singular phase of the night side of street-nature. This is the rest ing-place of our pariah of the streetthe only resting place, save the one which awaits him when " a longer night is near."

The sleeping accommodation can hardly be termed luxurious. A rug, and a sort of counter, not very unlike that in the Morgue of Paris, on which the suicide and the murderer sleep their last sleep! A raised and sloping platform

of wood, such as is used in a guard-room for the temporary resting-place of soldiers on duty, with the difference that the one before us is partitioned off into separate cells ! Each cell has now its inmate, for it is close on midnight ; and here you may perchance recognise the little face which this morning grinned its quaint appeal, comic in spite of all that hunger and dirt could do to sadden it. The tiny tumbler has played his play out the marshal of the crossing has laid aside his baton—the song of the mudlark has ended, and its dactylic refrain, “Give ús ă ’āpěnný, please sīr," has sunk into silence; and there they lie, with all that is comic, merged in the awfulness of sleep-a deep sleep evidently, for it is unbroken by even that never-ceasing, hacking cough, which rings forth throughout the livelong nightma sound which proclaims, in sadder eloquence than that of words, whence the sleepers have come, and whither they are surely hastening.

No statistics of the Registrar-General, however elaborate, no testimony of Bluebooks and Boards of Health, however weighty and convincing, could point the moral more strongly than that neverceasing cough, the sound of which only dies away as we pass into the open air, absorbed, perchance, in the deep vibration of the bell of St. Paul's. Heard under these circumstances, that midnight vibration may remind us of certain realities, perhaps as important as the fact that the ball-rooms of the West are even now brimming over in a hightide of arrivals, and glittering in the noontide of their brilliancy.

Two questions, meanwhile, have possibly crossed our mind the first, What becomes of these children when sick ? the second, What is their destiny when convalescent ? As regards the first, the case of the sick child of the streets, unable to find a refuge in the hospital, is one for which kind Nature furnishes a speedy solution. To him whose acquaintance of Earth has been almost wholly derived from the mud of the streets, the announcement, “dust thou art," sounds almost a truism, and the sentence, “to

.

mancy.

dust shalt thou return," breathes more “And, when I did descend again, of mercy than unkindness. And thus The darkness of my dim abode the ministry of the parish undertaker is Fell on me as a heavy loadin truth no ungentle one, as he consigns It was as is a new-dug grave him to his first and last cradle, that Closing on one we sought to save." little coffin which the creed of certain political economists would teach us to

Is there no alternative, no remedy, no regard as the dust-bin of surplus popu

means of preventing the unravelling of lation—the fit and proper vehicle for the

so noble a piece of work so nearly brought removal of such-like "incumbrances.”

to a successful completion ? Truly the But happily there are very many of

remedy is so simple, so inexpensive, these little ones (and as charity enlarges

that it is only marvellous to learn that her bounds their number is very rapidly

it has been but recently adopted, and, increasing) who, in sickness, are enabled

from the limited acquaintance of the to take shelter in one of those noble

public with its existence, on a scale charities of which London may well be

correspondingly limited. Had you,

O reader, to prescribe for the darling of proud. One, indeed (and would that its powers

your own nursery just recovered from were equal to the demand for their

sickness, would it not be in three wordsexercise), is exclusively devoted to the

"change of air ?" care of sick children; and only those who

In the case of the child of the streets, have inspected such an asylum can form

the necessity and craving for this an adequate idea of the contrast which

“ breath of life" can hardly be overstated. the care and tenderness lavished on its

Who can fail to sympathise with the little inmates present to the destitution

longing of the dying boy, who, on hearfrom which they step as they cross its

ing the description of the city “whose threshold.1

gates are of pearl, and the pavement of Such as have done so, if they have

fine gold,” meekly expressed the hope been readers of “Little Dorrit," will be

that he should be allowed to go into the at no loss to understand how naturally

beautiful country about it, for he was poor Maggy, of the Marshalsea, summed

“a’most tired of biding in the streets ?” up her notions of comfort in the expres.

What wonder that one who life-long had sive term “Hospitally," derived from

been pent up in the narrow alley he was at her recollections as an in-patient. Now

last about to quit should yearn after the

Plains of Heaven, and that, even as the it is to those who are dismissed from these asylums as convalescent that ques

starving are wont to dream of feast, his tion number two applies, with very

glazing eye should be haunted by visions serious importance. For, the greater the

of that bright country described in the comfort of the hospital, the greater the

“sweet song of St. Augustine"shock to one suddenly deprived of it. Such a change and shock is just what

“Flos perpetuus rosarum ver agit per

petuum, the convalescent is peculiarly unfitted to

Candent lilia, rubescit crocus, sudat bear. True, the patient has been rescued

balsamum, from the dust! What avails it if he is

Virent prata, vernant sata, rivi mellis preserved only to return to the mud

Pigmentorum spirat odor, liquor et from whence he came, and to droop, if somewhat more slowly, not the less

aromatum,

Pendent floridorum non lapsura ne surely! Must his lot once more sadly

morum, form a parallel with that of Bonnivard

Non alternat Luna vices, Sol vel cursus 1 This institution is situate at 49, Great syderum, Ormond-street. For a description of it and its inmates the reader is referred to an admir The last work of the painter Martin, on able article in Household Words, April, 1852. which he was engaged just before his death.

influunt,

Agnus est fælicis urbis lumen inno- children. It is an old farmhouse, ciduum."

which, at much expense in the requisite

alterations, has been thoroughly adapted Now, cannot we do something to

for the purpose it now fulfils. An able meet this craving for fresh air, which,

military authority has lately recomas it is the last instinct of the dying, is mended the site for defences of a very also the first and most natural instinct

different kind-a fort for the protection of the convalescent? Take a map of

of London. And yet this, too, may London and its environs, and you will

fulfil a like office against a foe which by a short survey convince yourself that

attacks a class most defenceless, and the the neighbourhood of few of our large

cost-how trifling compared with that towns is supplied with better and purer

of our military estimates! The price of air. Its immediate suburbs for miles a single Armstrong gun would double and miles form one vast nursery garden.

the efficiency of this asylun, and defray

the efficien These, again, are circled with a golden

its working expenses for an entire year. belt of commons, yellow throughout the

Or, to vary the terms of our calculations, greater part of the year with the ever

the rent of three feet of space during blooming furze. Yet a little farther,

some four or five hours, in the form of and you will find a breezy range of

an opera stall, would suffice to restore downs, purple with heather, and fragrant

a feeble little brother to health : it would with bee-haunted thyme, the emerald of

cost as much to bury him! their velvet carpet thick studded with

Of the entire success of the experithe darker green boss of the juniper.

ment the reader would do well to satisfy Nay, within a dozen years the black cock

himself by personal inspection rather has actually been sprung within sight

than from a necessarily imperfect de. of the golden cross of St. Paul's.

scription. The matron of the establishThroughout all this tract of country, in

ment, herself the personification of pure air and the undimmed light of the health. cheerfulness, and tidiness, will sun, is freely proffered God's own medi

proudly point to the difference, visible cine to the convalescent—a medicine

at a glance, between the looks of the doubly potent in the case of those to

new comer and of one who has sojourned, whom these elements have been hitherto

though only for a few days, under her “ forbidden fare."

care. The most heedless will be struck There is a certain old farmhouse on

by the wonders worked through the the margin of one of these seas of furzy

agency of the fresh breeze of the comgold, within but an hour's drive from mon, and the liberal though simple diet the very heart of London ; the railway by which it is aided. will transport you to it in half the time.

The entire place, indeed, breathes a Its locality is Mitcham, and the visitor

healthy atmosphere, one in which the will have no difficulty in finding it, on

feeble and neglected may, perhaps, for asking the way to Rumbold's farm. the first time, Iearn that he has brothers There may be witnessed a practical ex

who care for him on earth, for the sake periment, worked by the simple com

of Him whom we all in common address mon-sense of one in whose benevolent as Our Father in Heaven. And surely efforts many will surely be thankful to

the blessing promised to the giver of the become sharers. “She has done what

cup of cold water will not be wanting to she could," and the result of her efforts

those who ininister the life-draught of will be best appreciated by an inspec pure air to the least of these little ones, tion of this asylum for convalescent

of whom it is recorded “that it is not 1 On Leith Hill, in Surrey, where it may

His will that one of these should possibly still be found.

perish.”

BRITAIN'S EARNEST-MONEY FOR THE PROVINCES WHICH SAVED HER INDIAN EMPIRE IN THE MUTINY.

A STORY OF MOOLTAN.

would not obliterate the debt of gratitude due to their devotion—that their friends and family at home would hear of them from their countrymen, and the guerdon of honour be scrupulously paid by Government to those who, in the performance of their glorious duty, succeeded in all but saving their own lives.

This account was written soon after Agnew and Anderson died, and in Britain little or nothing is now known or heard of them ; but the exile in India, at the scene of their deaths, may find the following inscription on an obelisk over their graves :

It is little more than twelve years since the British officers then acting for the young Maharaja Dulleep Sing, of Lahore, sent envoys to Mooltan to effect the transfer of its proconsulate from the Dewan Moolraj to a more trustworthy ruler.

Those envoys were Patrick Vans Agnew, of the Bengal Civil Service, and Lieutenant Anderson, of the 1st Bombay Fusileers.

The momentous events which have crowded our history since that time make the episode of their murders appear like some incident long passed away, while the high-souled endurance which, in their case, elicited the involuntary admiration of men of another colour, and other sympathies, has been repeated in infinite phases during the late great Indian mutiny, telling a nobler tale of devotion and duty than had ever yet been heard in any nation's history, and illustrating at least one argument of the following attempt to recall and represent their services—that there is a purer heroism in the calm and enduring valour of English men and women, like those of Cawnpore and Lucknow, of Bandah and Hissar, of Jhansi and Shajehanpore, of many unrecorded stations, than any ancient or modern feat of fighting performed in the intoxication of action.

But Britain, unfortunately, cares little for dead heroes. Her monuments, even on the field of Waterloo (till last year only), were to persons who survived the battle ; while the Germans, both there and in the capitals, built their monuments to those who died.

It would surely be an encouragement to men so perilously placed by their duty to their country as those whose fate we have attempted to represent, if they could feel confident that their deaths

“BENEATH THIS MONUMENT .

lie the remains of
PATRICK ALEXANDER VANS AGNEW,
Of the Bengal Civil Service,

and
WILLIAM ANDERSON,
Lieutenant, lst Bombay Fusileer Regiment,

Assistants to the Resident at Lahore,
Who, being deputed by the Government to relieve, at

his own request, Dewan Moolraj, Viceroy of Mooltan, Of the Fortress and authority which he held, were attacked and wounded by the Garrison

on the 19th April, 1843, And, being treacherously deserted by the Sikh Escort,

were on the following day, In flagrant breach of National Faith and Hospitality,

barbarously murdered
In the Eedgah, under the Walls of Mooltan.
Thus fell these two young public servants,

At the ages of 25 and 28 years,
Full of high hopes, rare talents, and promise of future

usefulness; Even in their deaths doing their country honor. Wounded and forsaken, they could offer no resistance, but hand in hand calmly awaited the onset

of their assailants.

Nobly they refused to yield, Foretelling the day when thousands of Englishmen

Should come to avenge their death
And destroy Moolraj, his army and frrtress.
History records how the prediction was fulfilled.
Borne to their grave by their victorious brother soldiers
and countrymen, they were buried with

military honours
Here, on the summit of the captured citadel,

On the 26th January, 1849.
The annexation of the Punjab to the British Empire,

was the result of the War of which their assassination was the commencement." All honour to Herbert Edwardes, and his companions, who paid such a tribute to their memory! They sing the deeds of olden days,

When first the silken fold
Of Britain's royal banner gained

Its blazoning of gold;
They tell us we've inherited

A great and glorious name From iron-belted sires of yore,

Who founded England's fame; And we hear of deeds of daring,

Seeming more than mortal might, Done with boiling blood of battle

Midst the fever of the fight,
Like levin bolts illumining

The gloomy storm of war;
Such deeds too story India's plains

From Ava to Lahore.
And are we then degenerate,

Are our hearts not as bold ?
Find we no hand to grasp the brand

Our fathers held of old ?
Now, brothers, learn of bearing bold

As ever yet was shown,
Since those olden days of glory,

Since our blazoned flag has flown.
Ah, would 'twere mine to tell it,

So that endless years to come It would stir our hero spirit

Like the reveille of the drum! Ah, would 'twere mine to tell it,

So that every hamlet, town, Every fertile glade of England,

Should hear of its renown!
And would that I could tell it

As its history should be told,
So 'twould fire the young for honour,

So 'twould renovate the old !
Have you seen the Ocean sleeping

On a quiet summer's day,
And the tall ships scarcely cleaving

The waters of the bay—
All nature resting tranquilly,

All danger far away?
Have you known the distant rising

Of some dark and spreading cloud ?
Then breezy gusts come rippling by;

Then a wind that moans aloud ;
Soon the sullen roll of thunder,

Levin lights across the sky,
And whitening sheets of driving foam

As the tempest wind sweeps by. Near the Chenaub's silent river

See an eastern city rise, And its citadel lies basking

'Neath the burning eastern skies; With embrasures sternly frowning

As a fortress-strength should be ; But yon city resting tranquilly

As sleeps the summer sea.
Lo! along its widest causeway

Comes a gallant cavalcade
Of horsemen decked in cloth of gold,

And silks of every shade.
They gaily guide that huinan tide,

These warriors of Ind,
Their crined and broidered ensigns

Free fluttering in the wind;
And shirts of mail, and casques of steel,

Are gleaming in the sun,
Their harness plates and corselets

All ringing as they run.
A little band of spearmen, too,

All travel-worn appear,
Who bear St. George's ensign

O'er their motley Indian gear, While Sikhs and Moslems swell the

crowd, From camp and temple near. Now, “ by the hope of our Christian

faith,"
And the Norman “name we bear,"
Has seldom been a stranger scene

Than shows before us there :
A pair of Europe's fair-browed sons,

Amidst that swarthy throng,
In the simple garb of England

Pass fearlessly along-
All fearless and all proudly,

Yet with fixed and thoughtful eye; We meet no shifting glance in youths

Schooled in responsibility.
They scorn to heed the lowering looks,

Their swart companions show,
Nor seem to hear the muttered curse

Which follows where they go.
In the magic might of England,

In a name the world wide known,
They wander 'midst a hostile crowd,

Nigh armless and alone.
They bring in truth a khalsa guard,

A band of conquered foes,
Whose swords retain the blood-rust

stain

« ElőzőTovább »