Page:The bitter cry of outcast London.djvu/12

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8
THE BITTER CRY

saw her to Southampton, and on his return was violently abused by the girl's grandmother, who had the sympathy of her neighbours, for having taken away from a poor old woman her means of subsistence.

The misery and sin caused by drink in these districts have often been told, but these horrors can never be set forth either by pen or artist's pencil. In the district of Euston Road is one public-house to every 100 people, counting men, women and children. Immediately around our chapel in Orange Street, Leicester Square, are 100 gin-palaces, most of them very large; and these districts are but samples of what exists in all the localities which we have investigated. Look into one of these glittering saloons, with its motley, miserable crowd, and you may be horrified as you think of the evil that is nightly wrought there; but contrast it with any of the abodes which you find in the fetid courts behind them, and you will wonder no longer that it is crowded. With its brightness, its excitement, and its temporary forgetfulness of misery, it is a comparative heaven to tens of thousands. How can they be expected to resist its temptations? They could not live if they did not drink, even though they know that by drinking they do worse than die. All kinds of depravity have here their schools. Children who can scarcely walk are taught to steal, and mercilessly beaten if they come back from their daily expeditions without money or money's worth. Many of them are taken by the hand or carried in the arms to the gin-palace, and not seldom may you see mothers urging and compelling their tender infants to drink the fiery liquid. Lounging at the doors and lolling out of windows and prowling about street corners were pointed out several well-known members of the notorious band of "Forty Thieves," who, often in conspiracy with abandoned women, go out after dark to rob people in Oxford Street, Regent Street, and other thoroughfares. Here you pass a coffee-house, there a wardrobe shop, there a tobacconists's, and there a grocer's, carrying on a legitimate trade no doubt, but a far different and more remunerative one as well, especially after evening sets in,—all traps to catch the unwary. These particulars indicate but faintly the moral influences from which the dwellers in these squalid regions have no escape, and by which is bred "infancy that knows no innocence, youth without modesty or shame, maturity that