Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/49

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47
BLANK COURT; OR, LANDLORDS AND TENANTS.

My readers will not imagine that I mean to imply that there are not still depths of evil remaining in Blank Court. It would be impossible for such a place as I described it as being originally, to be raised in two years to a satisfactory condition. But, what I do contend is, that we have worked some very real reforms, and seen some very real results. I feel that it is in a very great degree a question of time, and that, now that we have got hold of the hearts of the people, the court is sure to improve steadily. It will pay as good a percentage to its owners and will benefit its tenants as much as any of the other properties under my management have done. This court contains two out of eight properties on which the same plans have been tried, and all of them are increasingly prosperous. The first two were purchased by Mr. Ruskin.

It appears to me then to be proved by practical experience, that when we can induce the rich to undertake the duties of landlord in poor neighborhoods, and insure a sufficient amount of the wise, personal supervision of educated and sympathetic people acting as their representatives, we achieve results which are not attainable in any other way. It is true that there are Dwellings' Improvement Societies, and the good these societies do is incalculable; I should be the last to underrate it. But it is almost impossible that any society could do much for such places as Blank Court, because it is there not so much a question of dealing with houses alone, as of dealing with houses in connection with their influence on the character and habits of the people who inhabit them. If any society had come there and put those houses into a state of perfect repair at once, it would have been of little use, because its work would have been undone again by the bad habits and carelessness of the people. If improvements were made on a large scale, and the people remained untouched, all would soon return to its former condition. You cannot deal with the people and their houses separately. The principle on which the whole work rests, is that the inhab-