Page:The bitter cry of outcast London.djvu/17

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OF OUTCAST LONDON.

stretch—hungry, thirsty, tired, but never daring to move from her post. And this is the kind of sight which may be seen in a Christain land where it is criminal to ill-treat a horse or an ass.

The child-misery that one beholds is the most heart-rending and appalling element in these discoveries; and of this not the least is the misery inherited from the vice of drunken and dissolute parents, and manifest in the stunted, misshapen, and often loathsome objects that we constantly meet in these localities. From the beginning of their lives they are utterly neglected; their bodies and rags are alive with vermin; they are subjected to the most cruel treatment; many of them have never seen a green field, and do not know what it is to go beyond the streets immediately around them, and they often pass the whole day without a morsel of food. Here is one of three years old picking up some dirty pieces of bread and eating them. We go in at the doorway where it is standing and find a little girl twelve years old. "Where is your mother?" "In the madhouse." "How long has she been there?" "Fifteen months." "Who looks after you?" The child, who is sitting at an old table making match-boxes, replies, "I look after my little brothers and sisters as well as I can." Where is your father? Is he in work?" "He has been out of work three weeks, but he has gone to a job of two days this morning." Another house visited contains nine motherless children. The mother's death was caused by witnessing one of her children being run over. The eldest is only fourteen years old. All live in one small room, and there is one bed for five. Here is a poor woman deserted by her husband and left with three little children. One met with an accident a few days, ago, and broke his arm. He is lying on a shake-down in one corner of the room, with an old sack round him. And here, in a cellar kitchen, are nine little ones. You can scarcely see across the room for smoke and dirt. They are without food and have scarcely any clothing.

It is heart crushing to think of the misery suggested by such revelations as these; and there is something unspeakably pathetic in the brave patience with which the poor not seldom endure their sufferings, and the tender sympathy which they show toward each other. Where, amongst the well-conditioned, can anything braver and kinder be found