Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/15

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13
COTTAGE PROPERTY IN LONDON.

very strong even where there was least that was lovely or lovable in the particular character. When they have not had sufficient energy or self-control to choose the sometimes hard path that has seemed the only right one, it would have been hard to part from them, except for a hope that others would be able to lead them where I have failed.

Two distinct kinds of work depend entirely on one another if they are to bear their full fruit. There is, firstly, the simple fulfillment of a landlady's bounden duties, and uniform demand of the fulfillment of those of the tenants. We have felt ourselves bound by laws which must be obeyed, however hard obedience might often be. Then, secondly, there is the individual friendship which has grown up from intimate knowledge, and from a sense of dependence and protection. Such knowledge gives power to see the real position of families; to suggest in time the inevitable result of certain habits; to urge such measures as shall secure the education of the children and their establishment in life; to keep alive the germs of energy; to waken the gentler thought; to refuse resolutely to give any help but such as rouses self-help; to cherish the smallest lingering gleam of self-respect; and, finally, to be near with strong help should the hour of trial fall suddenly and heavily, and to give it with the hand and heart of a real old friend, who has filled many relations besides that of almsgiver, who has long ago given far more than material help, and has thus earned the right to give this lesser help even to the most independent spirits.

The relation will finally depend on the human spirits that enter into it; like all others, it may be pernicious or helpful. It is simply a large field of labor where the laborers are few. It has this advantage over many beneficent works—that it calls out a sense of duty, and demands energetic right-doing among the poor themselves, and so purifies and stimulates them.

If any of my poorer friends chance to see this, I hope