« AnteriorContinuar »
gave an allowance of half an ounce weekly to each family, supposing that 1,600 families were in the habit of using it.
In Ashton, and probably in Manchester, many of these preparations are sold at the public-houses, and in small general shops. On market-days, the people from the surrounding neighbourhood are much in the habit of coming to the druggists' shops for pennyworths of Godfrey for their children.
Godfrey and similar medicines are made in different proportions by different druggists, generally Godfrey contains an ounce and a half of pure laudanum to the quart. Infants' cordial is stronger, containing about two teaspoonfuls to the quart ; and occasionally paregoric, which is one-fourth part as strong as laudanum, is used. The stronger it is, the faster it is sold. The dose is from half a teaspoonful to two teaspoonfuls ; but if the woman finds that the effect of this diminishes as the child gets used to it, she increases the dose. Often, too, she will come to the druggists and buy pennyworths of Godfrey ; after a time she will return, saying this is not made so strong as it used to be, and she must have something better ; then as the child gets still more accustomed to the drug, she determines to make the stuff herself, and for this purpose buys aniseed, treacle, and sugar, adding as much laudanum, or, if that is too costly, as much crude opium as will serve
"One poor woman, who had sold Godfrey in a general shop, on being asked whether she used to sell it, said, 'Oh yes, we used to make it and sell for children when they were cross, but the people did not think ours was strong enough. What did you make it of?°* •We took a penn'orth of aniseed, a quarter of a pound of treacle, and a penn'orth of laudanum, (a quarter of an ounce ;) then we stewed down the aniseed with water, and mixed up the whole in a quart bottle.' And so this stuff was too weak!'
Ay, that it was. I could have sold it fast enough if I had made it stronger, but I dare not do it for fear of getting into trouble.' • Did you ever give it to your own children?' Yes; but I never put a penn'orth of laudanum into the bottle, I give it to them out of.'
“ Many of the druggists speak of the pernicious effects of these doses, and say that it is very easy to discover when they have been administered, by the condition of the child. One made the rather significant remark, that he had known a great deal more Godfrey given formerly than there was now, for coroners' inquests were a good check.”
The remedy which the writer proposes for these evils is the formation of public nurseries, similar to those called crèches in Paris :
“In that city the evils resulting from the neglect of children have been sọ strongly felt, that of late years an attempt has been made to apply some remedy to them by means of the establishments in question. These are institutions where children under the age of two years are received for the day and placed under the care of efficient nurses, who are superintended by medical men and lady visitors. It appears, from the statistics of various crèches in the year 1846, that the average cost of each child there was not more than the mothers used to pay to the hired nurses, who formerly took charge of the children-i.e. about" 7d. a day; and for this the child receives many superior advantages, such as airy rooms, good food, medical superintendence, generally washing, and sometimes little luxuries, such as small playgrounds and balconies."
The opening of the first of these institutions, and some of its results, is thus described by M. Marbeau, the benevolent founder :
“ The superior of the Sæurs de la Sagesse provided, near the house of refuge, which is under her care, a very humble place, but which sufficed for our first attempt. This place was put at our disposal on the 8th, and on the 14th of November our crèche was opened. Its furniture consisted of a
very few chairs, some baby chairs, a crucifix, and a framed copy of the rules of the establishment. The cost of its fitting-up was barely 360 francs (nearly 151.) At first, there were but eight cradles, but charity soon furnished means sufficient for twelve; and linen was plentifully supplied. The superintending committee chose two nurses amongst the poor women out of work ; both were mothers, and worthy the confidence of other mothers. Agreeably to the rules laid own, the committee refused to admit any other children but those whose mothers were poor, well conducted, and who had work at a distance from their own homes. At first there were scarcely twelve children, but this number was soon exceeded. When the Crèche St. Louis d'Antin was opened, there was not one single child registered there; a week afterwards there were six candidates, and a month after that, eighteen. They were obliged to enlarge it. There can be nothing more interesting than the sight of this little crèche between two and three o'clock, when the mothers come and suckle their children for the second time in the day; they seem so pleased to embrace their little ones, to rest from their work, and to bless the institution which procures them so many benefits. One of them used to pay seventy-five centimes (73d.) a day-half her own earnings—and the child was badly attended to; she now only pays twenty, and he is as well taken care of as the child of a rich man. Another kept her little boy, eight years old, from school to look after the baby, and now he is able to attend school regularly. Another is pleased to tell you that her husband has become less brutal since she paid ten sous less for her child ten sous a day make such a difference in a poor family. There is another, who was only confined a fortnight ago, suckling her new-born child. She is asked how she would have done without the crèche : 'Ah, sir, it would have been as it was with his poor brother! I sell apples, and can scarcely earn fifteen sous a day; I could not spare fourteen to have him looked after. Poor little fellow! he died when he was fourteen months old, from want of care. Oh, sir, my little angel would have been living now, if there had been a crèche six months ago 1?"
This expression reminds us of a similar one, used by a mother when speaking of the Ragged School :-“It has been the means,
," said she, "of saving my children; but I have lost one-it came too late for him.” Doubtless, there is many a mother in London who, in reference to public nurseries, could
the same thing of her buried children. But we trust the time is not distant, when among the numerous benevolent institutions that honour our great metropolis, not a few will be found devoted to the interests of the helpless infant poor.
We believe that were they established on a liberal footing, and the expenses of the first starting once defrayed, they would soon become nearly self-supporting. This is a feature which affords great encouragement for such an undertaking, and one which leads us to hope that the plan may yet be put on favourable trial.
A number of active ladies, connected with the Huntsworth Mews Ragged School, have, for some time past, contemplated the commencement of such an establishment, together with a laundry for the employment of girls. The only hindrance to their benevolent endeavours has been the want of sufficient funds to defray the expenses of starting. Were our readers to secure the means, we could almost promise that, under so efficient management, the effort would be crowned with complete success. They are willing to bestow the time and personal labour required for its superintendence and management; and surely it is not too much to ask for them ample funds to secure a good beginning, and thus afford sufficient scope for their praiseworthy exertions. Be it remembered, that to many of those poor mothers for whose children we
plead, we owe many of our comforts, and not a few of our luxuries. Deprive us of the services of our charwomen and washerwomen, and our own helplessness would soon become apparent.
We cannot better conclude these hasty suggestions, than by another extract from the excellent little work to which we have adverted.
Speaking of the incidental advantages which may reasonably be expected from the proposed scheme, the writer says:
“1. It is a well-established fact, that a rapid infant mortality is accompanied by a proportionally rapid supply of population. Into the causes, moral or physical of this phenomenon we will not enter; it is sufficient to state that, paradoxical as it may appear, the fact is so. Such, then, being the case, it is obvious that early deaths, while they do not decrease the population, are yet the means of keeping a more numerous portion of it in the most helpless state -producing nothing themselves, and making large demands on the time and labour of others. For not only does this cause increase the infantine as compared with the adult portion of society, but by giving occasion for a greater number of births, it reduces women more frequently to a state of sickness and debility. Add to this that death is preceded by ailments; that medical assistance must be had; that funerals are expensive: and it will be seen that early deaths constitute a great burden on the resources of the poor. We say nothing of the sacredness of human life, as the first and greatest gift of God of the obligation which lies on us to preserve it independently of results of the love that attends these poor infants through their short life, and is torn and anguished by their early death-of the hard brutal indifference which,
the casualties of war, the acute pestilences which from time to time have ravaged great cities, or the chronic ones which everlastingly brood over our factory towns—is invariably found to be engendered by the constant spectacle of rapid and untimely deaths. These considerations will doubtless be present to the mind of every reader ; setting them aside therefore as matters not to be discussed here, we assert on the lowest and merest grounds of political economy, that whatever diminishes the amount of infant mortality will, to the same extent, increase the wealth, the happiness, and the comfort of society.
“ 2. Another indirect result which may fairly be anticipated is, that a greater number of children will be left free to enjoy the advantages of education. In the absence of nurses, many mothers leave their babies at home in the care of an elder brother or sister, or some other child, who is usually of very tender years.
consequences of this system are perhaps not more prejudicial to the baby than they are to its childish nurse.
child is frequently tasked beyond its physical strength, and the strain on its mind is still greater. Instead of being the subject of guidance and assistance, it has to be itself the guide and assistant of others. Instead of being supplied with entertainment and mental aliment, it has to provide such a supply from its own resources. Wanting care itself, it has to exercise foresight for others more helpless than itself, and by its own unassisted strength to protect, watch, soothe, and amuse its infant charge. Such a process leaves the poor little nurse with its intellect, taste, and imagination wholly uncultivated, and with powers of self-reliance and management, wonderful in one so young, but too precocious to remain in a state of vigour. Now if the mothers had the option of sending their babies to be nursed by persons in whom they could place implicit confidence, the majority of them would probably abandon the practice of setting an infant to watch an infant. Thus the elder children would be left at liberty to attend school, or to be disposed of in some way less prejudicial to them than discharging the duties of nurse. And without intending to make any remarks common-place or otherwise on the blessings of education, we think it will be admitted that a scheme which would probably have the effect of conveying those blessings to a greater number is at least worthy of consideration.”
THE LOST FOUND.
SOUL-HARROWING scenes, alas! are but too common in wealthy cities. I shall here present the reader with one which lately came under my own notice-tending to show that poor wretches are sometimes obliged, against their inclinations, to leave their hungry offspring to the mercy of the world, trusting to the sympathy of Christian benevolence. Visiting one of those poor lodging-houses in the Grassmarket, after having groped my way up three flats of a dark and dismal staircase—the crumbling walls of which, like the far-famed iron shroud, threatened to crush one to powder, I found myself on a very suspicious-looking landing, the flooring of which had been torn up, and when looking down you could not resist the idea of gazing into a deep dark pit. Stepping over this dangerous trap, in an inclosure of about ten feet square, I saw about eight or nine wretched beds. When people talk about beds, they generally associate them with posts; but here the beds had deserted their posts, or the posts them, I cannot say which, but they were spread out in true Arab-style. A beam from beneath had given way, so that the mouldering floor had sunk in the centre, forming a kind of gutter for all disagreeables. A few broken plates, a solitary stool, with two old chairs, one of them bottomless—was all the furniture in this wretched place. Looking around for the object of my visit, I saw a little boy, about seven or eight years of age, stretched on a couch of straw, without even the luxury of a covering. He looked pale and sickly. I found that his father, a labourer, had left him about three weeks, with nobody to care for him, his mother being dead. The poor little fellow had scarcely strength enough to lift his heavy eyelids to look upon the person who addressed him. He answered all my questions clearly and distinctly. It is sometimes painful to listen to the sage-like answers of those early-obliged-to-shift-about starvlings. It is actually fearful to see before you a mere child talking to you like an old man! One is prepared to meet in childhood the romping carelessness, and blushing blunders of sunny youth; but the premature wisdom of these poor ragged children makes one shudder. While expressing my indignation at the father's hard-heartedness, in thus leaving his child breadless, and amongst strangers, I heard a rustling in the darkest corner of the room. Turning round, I saw the head and shoulders of a young female slowly emerging from a tattered and many-coloured coverlet. The tears fell fast from her eyes, while she put herself in an imploring attitude, saying, “Oh! sir, do not say such hard things of the poor man; he loves his boy, and I am sure that he will come back as soon as he can get work; had you seen him, as I did, the morning he went away, you would have pitied him: they were all asleep, sir, but myself when he got up;”, Thinking that she was going to inflict a long useless story upon me, and having but little time to spare, I remarked, that of course he felt ashamed of his conduct, and wished to steal out when you were all asleep. _“Oh! hear me out, sir! for the child's—for God's sake, hear me out! He thought, as I said before, that we were all asleep, and as he went to the corner where his child lay, I heard him sigh heavily. He then lifted him up in his arms, kissed him tenderly, muttering to himself
, whilst tears streamed from his eyes, ‘Farewell, my poor boy, I have no bread to give you this morning ; I must go somewhere and seek work; perhaps some good Christian will be kind to you till I return.' Oh! sir, I am sure that he will come back I am sure he will come back!” This was all confirmed by the lodging-house keeper. Here I must state, that I received from one of the managers of the poorhouse, Forrest Road, a good character of this woman, who is herself a widow. A good character in such a place ! Think of this, ye who can hardly maintain one for Christian charity, even when surrounded with every luxury which good fortune has showered upon you! In short, the boy is now in the Ragged School, doing well, and may truly be termed one of the “Lost Found.”—Maclagan.
THE YOUNG PHILOSOPHER. It is truly surprising how soon the young Arabs of the city begin to study
cause and effect.' We know that the hunted fox shows wonderful wisdom in its efforts to escape from its tormentors. The little squirrel of the forest, when he wants to cross a river-to him, no doubt, a world of mighty waters -very skilfully strips from a tree a piece of bark, to serve as a boat-not too big, for it would catch too much of the current-not too small, else there was a chance of it sinking; but just suited every way for his voyage! Dragging his tiny bark to the shore, he gets on board; then, turning up his long bushy tail for canvass, away he goes, “ tacking and veering” with all the skill of the most experienced seaman. Is it to be wondered at, then, that these Arabs of the city should show both tact and wisdom in their every movement in the battle of life, when sagacity is so prominent in the beasts that perish ? ” Not long ago I had a painful proof of the early thinking powers of poor begging children. One day, passing the Edinburgh Academy in the New Town, I saw one of those boys who live by selling firewood looking very earnestly through the iron railing, with a heavy load on his back, at about a hundred boys amusing themselves in the play-ground. Sometimes he laughed aloud-at other times he looked sad and sorrowful. Stepping up to him I said—“Well, my boy, you seem to enjoy the fun very much; but why don't you lay down your load of sticks? You would then look upon their games with more ease. "I wasna thinking about the burden-I wasna thinking about the sticks ava', sir.” “And may I ask what you were thinking about, my little man ?" “Ou, I was just thinking about what the good missionary said the other day. Ye ken, sir, I dinna gang to the kirk, for I hae nae claes; but ane o' the missionaries comes every week to our stair, and ha’ds a meeting. He was preaching to us last week, and among other things he said
- Although there be rich fock and poor fock in this world, yet we were a’ brothers.' Noo, sir, just look at a' thae laddies—every ane o’them has fine jackets, fine caps, with warm shoes and stockings, but I hae nane ;-sae I was just thinking if these were my brothers, it didna look like it, sir—it didna look like it. See, sir, they are a fleein' kites, while I am fleein' in ragsthey are runnin' about at kick-ba’ an' cricket; but I maun climb the lang, lang stairs, wi' a heavy load and an empty stammock, whilst my back is like to break. It dinna look like it, sir-it dinna look like it.” Now this, though in a sense natural, is very dangerous reasoning for a young mind not capable of distinguishing between physical evil and moral equality. I much fear that such reasoning powers, if not directed in a right channel, may tell with withering effect upon society.
The above recalled to my recollection another anecdote of a young beggar's reasoning, powers. A gentleman, standing one day at his hall door, was accosted by a little barefooted urchin, in piteous tones soliciting, charity. The gentleman took the child into his dining-room, where a splendid dinner was just being spread upon the table. Can you read?” said the gentleman. “ No, sir," was the reply. “Can you repeat the Lord's prayer.' “No, sir,” again answered the child. “ Come here and I will teach you,” said the rich man, handing the boy at the same time a crust of bread his teeth could hardly penetrate. Repeat-Our Father who art in heaven.'”
The boy went through the prayer, and then asked, with real wonder, if God was both their Fathers ? Certainly, child,” replied his teacher. “ Then,” said the little boy,
'you must be my brother, sir ?” “ No doubt about that." Then, oh! sir,” said the child, “why did you give me so hard a crust? If I was you, I would give my poor little brother a piece of beef to it-aye, and a pair of shoes to the bargain.” I know not what the gentleman thought at the moment. I hope that he took a lesson from rude human nature, and gave up the practice too many have, of striving to earn a good name for Christian charity by giving the poor too often their hardest crust, and doling out widows' mites from overflowing coffers.-Ibid.