Page:Elizabeth Fry (Pitman 1884).djvu/27

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ELIZABETH FRY.

ment of blessing; but at other times, like all philanthropists, she was deceived and imposed upon. One day a woman accosted her m the street, asking relief, and holding an infant who was suffering evidently with whooping-cough. Mrs. Fry offered to go to the woman’s house with the intention of investigating and relieving whatever real misery may have existed. To her surprise the mendicant slunk away as if unwilling to be visited; but Mrs. Fry was determined to track her, and at last brought her to earth. The room—a filthy, dirty, poverty-cursed one—contained a number of infants in every conceivable stage of illness and misery. Horror-stricken, Mrs. Fry requested her own medical attendant to visit this lazar-house; but on going thither next morning he found the woman and her helpless brood of infants gone. It then turned out that this woman "farmed" infants; deliberately neglected them till she succeeded in killing them off, and then concealed their deaths in order to continue to receive the wretched pittances allowed for their maintenance. Such scenes and facts as these must have opened the eyes of Mrs. Fry to the condition of the poorest classes of that day, and educated her in self-denying labour on their behalf.

She also took an interest in educational matters, and formed an acquaintance with Joseph Lancaster the founder of the Monitorial system; and quickly turned her talents to account in visiting the work-house and school belonging to the Society of Friends at Islington.

About this time, one sister was married to Mr. Samuel Hoare, and another to Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. Other members of her family passed away from this life; among them her husband's mother,