Additional Info

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Share

Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

The Social Condition of the Poor in Glasgow
Two reports for 1889 and 1891


1. First Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners for inquiry into the Housing of the Working Classes. (Presented to both Houses of Parliament.) London. 1889.

2. Presbytery of Glasgow: Report of Commission on the Housing of the Poor yi Relation to their Social Condition. Glasgow. 1891.

IT is an old and often repeated forecast that social subjects are coming to the front; to-day it has fulfilled itself; they have come to the front; for good or evil we stand face to face with them. They have laid hold of the public mind ; they are discussed in Parliament; they are discussed in General Assemblies; they are discussed in Labour Congresses.

Some problems are ripening for settlement, others as yet are in the inchoate and nebulous state. Whether the settlement will issue in weal or woe depends upon the spirit of reason and common sense and common justice on the basis of which they are settled.

In some respects the temper of the times is not favourable to a rational settlement of complicated and difficult problems; in other respects it is. It is an age of doubt and uncertainty in spheres economic as well as theological. Fixed principles which guided men's actions in old days have been cast to the winds. The laws of political economy, we are told, are banished to Saturn, and responsible statesmen are prepared with a lightheart to venture upon the rashest experiments, little knowing to what goal they may lead. Economic as well as moral law is fixed and inexorable, and if infringed will return from Saturn to avenge itself on the transgressors. Statecraft to-day is marked by a disregard of principle which is little short of immoral. Leaders of all parties are seemingly guided not by what they believe to be right, but by what they believe to be politic; they have ceased to be men of light and leading; their mission seems to be to follow rather than to lead. Instead of educating the popular mind, they are beseeching the popular mind to educate them; they each in turn find salvation by yielding a blind adherence to some popular fad. They are educated, not by the voice of the people, which in the main is a true voice, but by the voice of interested agitators who arrogate to themselves the right to speak in the people's name. The power of legislative enactments is enormously exaggerated, and the power of individual effort is correspondingly underrated. Ecclesiastics dream that by persuading men to change their opinions they will regenerate the world; politicians dream that by framing a new social creed they will cure the ills which afflict the commonwealth. All that churchmen can do is to put men in a position to be helped by a higher power to work out their own salvation. All that statesmen can accomplish is to remove any obstacle which hinders the progress of the race. All progress is, and cannot be aught else than, the work of individual effort.

Social problems are so intricate and far reaching in their issues, that the greatest caution is requisite to guide any movements connected with them towards even their partial solution. There is always the grave risk, that in trying to remedy one set of evils other evils may be developed or exaggerated. In other respects the temper of the times is favourable to social reform. There is the growth of the humanitarian spirit; a deeper sympathy towards the distressed and miserable is stirring in men's minds ; and even the dissolute are regarded more with pity than loathing. Parliament, democratic in its tone, is quick to give a careful consideration to any proposals, which are reasonable in themselves and likely to improve the social condition of the people. Corporations and churches, and the public at large, are showing a better disposition to carry out reformatory schemes.

It would serve no good or immediate practical purpose to refer to social problems in regard to which there is much divergence of opinion; such as the distribution of wealth, the relation between capital and labour, the restriction of labour hours, and others, which are only vaguely shaping themselves into form. The air is full of proposals and schemes, crude in their conception and loose in their definition, which by dreamers of dreams are regarded as the means of restoring an earthly paradise, and constitute the gospel of the socialist. We do not propose to enter the homes or refer to the social conditions of the skilled and intelligent workman; to do so might reasonably be resented as an impertinent intrusion. Such may safely be left to conduct their own affairs and to protect their own interests. The position of the upper circles of the industrial classes has vastly improved during the last half century. The workman is better educated, more intelligent and more self-reliant; he reaps a larger share of the fruits of his labour, is better housed, better clothed and better fed. Wages were never so high, the cost of living was never so low. It is pleasant to find signs of culture and refinement in his house, in furniture, pictures and books. The accumulated savings of the working classes are very large. The Friendly Societies are possessed of vast capital, the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows alone having a capital of upwards of seven and a half millions. This is not to be wondered at when the undernoted facts are considered.

In 1876 only 36 per cent, of persons who died in Glasgow were enrolled in Friendly Societies, but the proportion has risen year by year without interruption, until in 1885 it was fifty-two per cent. There are now 160,881 Depositors in the Glasgow Savings Bank, besides 80,000 in the Penny Banks, making an aggregate of 240,881 persons who directly or indirectly are depositing their savings in this Institution. Estimating the population of the city and suburbs at 762,000, this number gives an average of 1 Depositor for every 3 J- of the population. In 1850 the average was only 1 in 12, affording a remarkable evidence of the growth of thrifty habits in the community.—(Glasgow Savings Bank Report, 1890.)

A considerable portion of these savings are being invested in productive labour. The Co-operative Societies, wholesale and retail, are on the whole flourishing; in many instances they are highly successful. The Report of the Scottish Wholesale Co-operative Society shows that during the last quarter the turnover amounted to £714,314 8s. 4d., or about £3,000,000 a year. Still more gratifying is the public spirit and the generous sympathy with refinement and culture exhibited at their meetings. When the Report referred to was submitted, the chairman brought up a message from the Board of Directors recommending that a grant of £1000 be made to the Glasgow Art Gallery Scheme, to which we shall afterwards refer. The discussion which followed turned, not on the question whether the grant should be agreed to, but whether it should be one of £1000 or £2000. A hopeful picture this of growth and progress; showing an advance amongst the industrial classes not merely in material comfort, but also in culture and refinement. In sharp contrast with it, the Presbytery's Report presents us with a mass of depressing details, describing in strong but unexaggerated language, the mean, sordid housing and debased social condition of the lowest class of unskilled workmen. The picture is truly distressing and pathetic.

Poor souls, they have fallen to so low a level, that there need be no fear of intrusion in entering their dwellings, to observe their habits and scan their surroundings. Their lives, though very black, many of them, and very repulsive, are very sombre and joyless, and will respond to kindly words of human sympathy, and possibly grasp a helping hand.

In all cities there are quarters, sometimes, as in Westminster, abutting on stately residences, where are lodged the very poor andjmfortunate; the thriftless and dissolute; the abandoned and criminal. The general aspect is gloomy and depressing; the tenements densely packed; the houses overcrowded; types of the race who inhabit them may be seen lounging at alley entrances and doorways.

It is the same the world over. The most advanced civilization has its blots, and there is no blot blacker than a population of wretched stricken lives, dragging out these amidst squalor and penury in cities full of signs of great wealth and material prosperity, adorned with splendid monuments, and full of stately cathedrals and imposing churches. Anyone who has the courage to penetrate these regions will come in touch, amidst much and loud profanity, with much pathetic sorrow, and see played out before his eyes many a sad tragedy.

In the following pages we propose to confine our attention to the City of Glasgow, partly because it seems to us to be a fair type of a great commercial and manufacturing city, and partly because the information to hand in connection with its poor is, so far as we are acquainted with the subject, more easily accessible and abundant.

The Royal Commission practically, and the Commission appointed by the Presbytery of Glasgow avowedly, restricted their enquiry to the housing and social condition of working men and women whose wages are under 20s. As to the first point the latter body of Commissioners at an early stage of their inquiry arrived at the opinion, which was afterwards fully confirmed on evidence submitted, that for workmen whose wages are over 20s., there is, at least in Glasgow, a full supply of good houses at moderate rents.

It is difficult to estimate with accuracy the number of workers whose wages are under 20s. There are in Glasgow 122,600 dwelling-houses, of which 8,000 are unoccupied. There are 35,892 houses of only one apartment, of which 2,118 are unoccupied. Of these houses, 23,228 are 'ticketed houses,'— 16,413 of one room, and 6,875 of two rooms. 'Ticketed house' is a technical term which is thus defined by Dr. Russell ('Evidence, p. 4) :—

'Any house that does not exceed three rooms, and does not exceed as to the conjoint capacity of the whole house 2,000 cubic feet, may be measured, and the total cubic contents inscribed upon a ticket on the door or iintel, with the number of inmates who may legally occupy that house, at the rate of 300 cubic feet per adult or child over eight years. That is a ticketed house.'

The average rent of 'ticketed houses' of one room is 7s. lid. a month, or £4 15s. a year ; and of two rooms, 10s. 3d. a month, or £7 16s. a year. Of this class of house, according to the last return, 11 per cent, are unoccupied.

These houses are under the 'special supervision of the Sanitary Department.' They are occupied by 75,000 people; 46,296 living in one room, and §8,700 in two rooms. Rather less than one-half of the one-room houses are ticketed. It may be assumed that about 120,000 persons live in one-room houses (ticketed or not) and in two-room ticketed houses.

The subject of our enquiry will lead us to consider, (1) The overcrowding which exists in the congested districts of the town, and the structural condition of overcrowded tenements; (2) the social condition and habits of those who lodge in these tenements.

Glasgow compares favourably with London in these respects. The overcrowding in the latter is much more dense, and the rents much higher. The following instances of overcrowding are taken from the Report of the Royal Commission. They might be multiplied indefinitely. In Clerkenwell, at 15 St. Helena Place, a house was described containing six rooms, which were occupied at that time by six families, and as many as eight persons inhabited one room. At 1 Wilmington Place, there were eleven families in eleven rooms, seven persons occupying one room. At 30 Noble Street, five families, of twenty-six persons in all, were found inhabiting six rooms. A small house in Allen Street was occupied by thirty-eight persons, seven of whom lived in one room. In Northampton Court there were twelve persons in a two-roomed house, eight of whom inhabited one room. In Swan Alley, in an old, partly wooden, and decayed house, there were seventeen persons inhabiting three rooms. In Tilney Court, St. Luke's, nine members of a family, five of them being grown up, inhabited one room, 10 feet by 8. In Lion Row there was a room 12 feet by 6, and only 7 feet high, in which seven persons slept. At 9 Portpool Lane, there were six persons in one small back room. At Half Moon Court, in a three-roomed house, were found nineteen persons, eight adults and eleven children, and the witness, who has had much experience in the neighbourhood, said that he could hardly call that house over-crowded, as he knew of a case of twelve persons in one room in Robin Hood Yard, Holborn.

The rents of the houses are higher in London :—

'Mr. Marehant Williams, Inspector of Schools for tho London School Board, has given valuable evidence on this point. From personal investigation of parts of the parishes of Clerkenivell, St. Luke's, St. Giles, Marylebone, and other poor quarters of London, ho finds that 88 per cent, of the poor population pay more than one-fifth of their income in rent ; 4G per cent, pay from one-fourth to one-half; 42 per cent pay from one-fourth to one-fifth ; and only 12 per cent, pay less than one-fifth of their weekly wages in rent. These figures are gathered from an inquiry extending over nearly 1,000 dwellings taken at random in different poor parts of the metropolis. Among them 4s.10½d. is the average rent of one room let as a separate tenement, Gs. of two-roomed tenements, and 7s. 5jd. of three-roomed tenements. Rents in the congested districts of London are getting gradually higher, and wages are not rising, and there is a prospect, therefore, of the disproportion between rent and wages growing still greater.'

The rents given above are weekly rents; the weekly rents in ticketed houses in Glasgow are half for one room, and 2/3 for two rooms. The value of ground in London is much costlier, and overcrowding apparently is not so efficiently dealt with.

Glasgow has won for herself a good repute for the efforts made by the Corporation to improve the housing and ameliorate the social condition of the poor ; she has led the way in this movement. The Improvement Trust, constituted by Act of Parliament, began its operations about 18G6. Streets were driven through the congested districts, back tenements pulled down, light and air admitted. The city railways have worked in the same direction ; they have removed tenements of the worst description which covered acres of ground. The results have been beneficial in a high degree, as will be seen from the following remarkable statement made by Dr. Russell, the Medical Officer of Health :—

'The mean annual number of deaths in Glasgow was as follows in the three successive periods of the last fifteen years, viz. :—

Mean annual deaths, 5 years, 1871-75—15,400 Do. 5 ,, 1870-80=13,451

Do. 5 „ 1881-85=13,531

It is unquestionable, therefore, that in the five years 1870-80, as compared with the five years 1871-75, there was a mean annual decrease of 1,940 deaths, and in the fivo years 188L-85, as compared with the same five years, a mean annual decrease of 1,8G'J deaths. In other words, in the last ten years 10,000 lives have been saved as compared with the previous five years.'

The erection of lodging-houses by the Corporation—well devised and conducted—has vastly improved the provision made for the comfort of those who were formerly driven into common lodging-houses of the meanest and most debased sort. It has also reduced overcrowding in private houses to a remarkable extent. The percentage of houses where there were strange lodgers has fallen from 70 per cent, in 1871 to 29 in 1888. ' It has fallen pari passu with the increase of these lodging-houses.' —(Russell, Evidence, p. 5.)

That there is room for further ameliorative measures, and that these will issue in happy results, there is no reason to doubt—

' In Aberdeen the density, that is to say the number of persons who live on an acre of ground, is 18 ?—Yes. The average number of rooms to a house is 3 42, and the percentage of the population who live in one-apart-uient houses is 13'6 1—Yes. And the death-rate in Aberdeen is 21 -7 over the ten years 1871-80?—Yes. Then, to take Edinburgh, the density there is 55, average number of rooms to the honse is 4'19, the percentage of the population who live in houses of one apartment is 16-8, and the death-rate is 23.2 ?—That is so. Then in Glasgow the density is 84, the number of rooms to the house is 2'34, the percentage of the population living in houses of one-apartment is 24'7, and the death-rate is 28'6?—Yes. So that the death-rate in Glasgow was 5"4 higher than in Edinburgh ?'— (Dr. Iiussell, Evidence, p. 2.)

In Aberdeen the death-rate is lowest, the density is lowest, and the percentage of the population living in one-room houses lowest.

The citizens of Aberdeen and Edinburgh live, apart from their better housing, under circumstances more favourable to health and long life than the citizens of Glasgow; but that does not fully account for the disparity in the rate of mortality.

The disparity between different districts within the city is much greater, and very startling. Contrast the best district with the worst:—

'The best district (the most favoured of all) is the Blythswood district. There the density is 101, the mean number of rooms per house is 4, and tho death-rate is IG'l i—Yes, tho average death-rate in the three years 1880-1-2. The mean number of persons per room is 12? In Cowcaddens district tho density is 249, the mean number of rooms per house is 1 7, tho mean number of persons per room is 2", and the death-rate is 32?— Tes. Now take the worst district, which is the Bridgegate. The density there in 1881 was 223, having fallen from 428 to 223 during the ten years, 1S71-S1, owing to the railway as well as the Improvement Trust operations. Well the mean number of rooms per house is 1*8, the mean number of persons living in each room is 2 "9 (just about 3, in short), and the death-rate on the average of three years is 38'3?'—(Dr. Russell, Evidence, page 3.)

' We have received the actual comparative death-rate of children. As Dr. Russell said, it was a very delicate comparison. The death-rate for one year is 38 per 1,000 ?—That is in the Bridgegate. And in the districts of larger houses it is only 16 or 17, while of the children icho die m Glasgow before they complete their fifth year, 32 per cent, are in one apartment, and not 2 per cent, in houses of five apartments?—That is so.'—Dr. Iiussell, Evidence, p. 13.

After making every allowance for differences in the occupations, habits, and social surroundings of the inhabitants, there seems a wide enough margin left to encourage efforts to lift Bridgegate a little nearer to the level of Blythswood.

Mr. Wood, one of the night inspectors attached to the Sanitary Office, presented a realistic picture of the social condition and surroundings of the people, good and bad, decent and dissolute, who inhabit ticketed houses. Pie read before the Presbytery's Commission the chronicle of a visitation tour, commencing on the evening of December 17th, at 11 o'clock, and terminating on the morning of the 18th, at 3 a.m. It presents strange glimpses of how the poor live.

'Now, tell us something about the first house visited.—The first house visited (No. 1) was that of a labourer, with his wife, two children, aged respectively 2 years, 3 months, and the wife's brother. The husband, his wife, and the two children lay on an old mattress on the floor of a recessed bed-space, while the wife's brother lay in a corner of the house, with an old sack covering him. There was very little furniture in the house—an old table, a form, and a few dishes. An old butter-butt stood at the door, full of dirty water. Then the cubic contents of this house were measured to accommodate persons ?—Yes, 761 cubic feet. And there were four persons in that house—Yes ; and they seemed to have been drinking. You next visited the house opposite l—Yes. It (No. 2) was the house of a blind man, who lived with his wife and two children, both under five years of age. His wife is employed in a hair factory, and he himself ekes out a living by selling laces at tho street corners. There

were no furnishings in the house save a broken box and a few old pieces of delf. There was a bed recess, without bearers or bottoms, and these people all lay there, on the floor, with very little to cover them. The house, altogether, was very dirty. The rent was 7s. a month. There were no lodgers, and no overcrowding in this house, and the people were sober. The next house (No. 3) was that of a labourer and his wife and two children, aged seven and two years respectively. They were in bed, with no covering but a shawl. An old table was the only article of furniture in the house. That would be a reputable family ?—Yes. The next house (No. 4) was occupied l>y a widow and her son, twenty-three years of age. The widow goes out to wash and clean, and the son is a labourer in an engineer's shop. There was a bed in this house, the apartment was fairly well furnished, and the shelves were decorated with dishes. The woman said she made a shakedown for her son sometimes, but the weather being cold they slept together. The cubic space was 800 feet, capacity for 2^ persons, but only two were found living there. No. 5 house was occupied by a blacksmith and his wife, who lay in bed with very little covering over them. A small barrel, with a board on the top, served as a table; and a broken chair and a few dishes were the only articles visible in the house. The wife explained that her husband had been ill for a time, and unable to work. There was no overcrowding here. That, again, I take it, is the house of a poor but industrious man?—Yes, but with a blacksmith's wage he might have had a better. No. 0 house was occupied by a carter and his wife, who lay in the recess of the bed, with nothing to cover them but an old mat. The only articles in the house (which was fairly clean), were two old boxes and a few dishes. The wife explained that she had been ill for a time, and unable to keep it tidy. There was no overcrowding in this house. Then I take it again that poverty was the cause of the lack of furniture and the discomfort in which this family lived ?—That is so. . . . Then you went to South Coburg Street?—Yes. In that tenement (No. 16 Coburg Street) there are 12 one-room houses and 3 two-room houses. That is one tenement out of six, the total number of one room houses in the block being 77 and of two-room houses 10 /—Yes ; that block is the worst for overcrowding in the city. I have found as many as thirty-three persons there in excess of the standard in one night. The Chairman—Well, give us details. Witness (continuing) said the first house was occupied by a woman and two children, the husband being presently on a voyage to Algiers. The house was almost devoid of furniture, only a few dishes being on the shelf. The apartment was remarkably clean. That seems also a case of decent poverty?—Yes; it was not overcrowded. In the next house a carter and his wife were lying in bed, the man under the influence of drink. Their two children lay on tho floor in front of the bed on a shake-down, along with an aunt (their mother's sister), a young woman of twenty-three. The mother does washing and cleaning in a model-lodging-house. The house was overcrowded, four being found, when the capacity (713 cubic feet) only allowed two. Rent, 9s. 6d. a month.'—(Wood, Evidence, pp. 46, 47, 48.)

Overcrowding is dangerous to health and destructive to morals. It consists of two kinds : either too many tenements arc crowded into a given area, excluding light and air, or too many persons of both sexes, and of mature years, are crowded into single rooms. There seems at first sight no insuperable difficulty in ameliorating this condition of life. Powers may be, and in many cases arc, conferred on Corporations to open up air spaces, by pulling down back lands; and to prevent over-crowding of houses, by stringent regulations, enforced by penalties. Still the remedy mav aggravate the evil: to pull down houses without removing the population is to drive them into fewer houses, more crowded than ever, and to enhance the rents of those which remain.

Then if the houses be visited as they have been visited by the Sanitary Officer whose evidence we have quoted, they will be found, at least many of them, dilapidated, ill lit and dark, rain creeping down from the patched roof, the walls mouldy, lacking in the necessary conveniences of life. Touching glimpses of old-world life are sometimes met with in these dens; remains of faded splendour, carved banisters, marble mantel-pieces, recalling the days when high-born dames trod, where now squalid poverty crouches.

Here is an official document which gives a grim picture of what, in irony, are called homes :—

'(1) The provision made for the disposal of the excrement of the inhabitants of these tenements demands immediate attention. Several places are noted where there is no provision whatever, but in our opinion the privy-is in no case a sufficient provision for flatted tenements. It is never used, and cannot in the nature of the case be used by females, and seldom by children. The result is that every sink is practically a water-closet, and the stairs and courts and roofs of outhouses are littered with deposits or filth cast from the windows. Some form of wash-out closet, in the proportion of one to every two or, at most, three families, ought to be provided, as far as possible, in a back jamb. As to ash pit accommodation, where this does not exist it ought to be provided, or a bell-cart service instituted —the extra cost of which ought to be defrayed by the proprietors of the defective property.

'('2) The necessity of supervision by resident caretakers, responsible for the upkeep of the property, for the selection and supervision of the tenants, and the collection of rents, was strongly impressed upon the committee. They found everywhere either tenants of the most reckless and irate description in entire ^Kess^Mand signs of neglect and destruction on every hand, or poor but respectable tenants, struggling under leaking roofs, and without the conveniences of civilisation to maintain cleanliness, or mixed on the same landing with neighbours whose riotous outbreaks and bad language and conduct penetrated the thin partitions, and made their lives miserable. All this would be remedied by resident caretakers in each block, and the proper use of the water-closets would also be secured.'—Fyfe Evidence, p. 37, (Memorandum of Health Committee, Glasgow.)

This is a sample of the worst; the others bear a kindred resemblance. To remedy these evils, it seems a simple matter to demand that Corporations be armed with powers to shut up insanitary houses till they are reconstructed. To shut up tenements, however bad, without providing better, is to aggravate the evil elsewhere. Where are the evicted families to migrate to? Shelter, however miserable, is preferable to none. It has been seriously proposed that, to meet this difficulty, Corporations should be empowered to acquire land, and erect tenements to receive the evicted tenants. The proposed solution of the problem would simply aggravate the evil. Either Corporations must build and let their houses to secure a reasonable return, or they must let them at unremunerative rents, sacrificing the capital expenditure. The argument against this project seems irresistible. If the tenements are to yield a remunerative return, private enterprise will erect them. If they are to be let at unremunerative rates, then the Corporation, by their action, will drive away capital which, otherwise, might find its way into this channel. Unless, therefore, they are prepared, at the cost of the ratepayers, to provide houses for all this class of tenants, an enterprise clearly beyond the reach of the most wealthy Corporation, such a reckless interference with private enterprise would end in disaster.

The reason why capital is not attracted by this form of investment is obvious. The rents which these poor people can afford to pay out of their slender earnings (£4 10s. for one room and £8 for two rooms) are not remunerative in cities where ground is costly. Moreover, even though the rents were remunerative, the habits of the tenants, the amount of wilful and wasteful dilapidation of property enhancing the charges for repairs, would make them unremunerative. Not only are the costs of repair increased, but the rents arc irregularly paid by the dissolute, the drunken and worthless. The character and fashion of life of the tenant require as urgently to be reconstructed as his dwelling. His character is often more dilapidated than his house. A partial remedy may be applied with some measure of confidence bv making provision for the well-doing, struggling, but honest poor.

Herding amongst the depraved and disorderly, are to be found families of decent folk, struggling to keep up a respectable appearance, whilst driven to seek lodging amongst so uncongenial a company by the hard necessities of poverty. The fate of such is pathetic, and not less perilous than pathetic; like just Lot in the doomed city, they are vexed by the filthy conversation of the wicked. They may have come to the city fresh from country scenes, with children innocent and, as yet, unstained ; work scarce, wages slender, they drift into these squalid dens. Pitiful it is to think of little children breathing an atmosphere morally and physically tainted; growing familiar with obscene words, and prematurely forced into contact with riotous living of the lowest sort. Not less pitiful is it to think of the many decent, hard-working women, left fatherless or widowed, who are forced to earn their poor pittance amid daily recurring scenes of infamy. To those familiar with these haunts and their dwellers, it is pathetic to witness their quiet, patient struggle, striving to keep their bits of houses clean and bright amidst general squalor and depression ; tending a flower or herb in the window, or treasuring in their barely furnished garret the relics of happier days. Happily this condition of things admits of being ameliorated, without detriment to anyone, with wonderful gain of happiness to the respectable poor.

It has been suggested that Associations mi^ht be formed to purchase insanitary property, especially tenements compulsorily closed by authority, and reconstruct them. These properties, it is maintained, could be reconstructed; sanitary appliances provided ; light and air freely admitted ; the general surroundings brightened and improved ; and the houses let to selected tenants, at the rent presently paid, and that such purchases would still prove a remunerative investment. This calculation is based on the assumption that the selected tenants, being well-behaved and industrious, the rents would be regularly paid, and the cost of repairs reduced. And certainly if such Associations, conducted on commercial principles, could demonstrate that it is practicable to provide, for decent tenants, superior houses at the rent of dilapidated dens, and yet shew a fair return on the investment, there would, in a short time, be as many houses reconstructed and improved by private enterprise as there are respectable tenants to fill them. But by some this is doubted. For instance, one of the witnesses examined before the Glasgow Commission, when alluding to this said :—

'Philanthropic effort may set an example, but I do not think it could be so widely applied as to supply all, or anything like all, the houses that are required. In Glasgow, according to Mr. Henry, there are 35,892 houses of one apartment, 54.9G0 of two apartments, and by calculation I find that these represent a capital of about £8,000,000. It is vain, I think, to look to philanthropic effort to supply even a large percentage of such a large matter.'—(Binnie, Evidence, p. 153.)

But on the other hand, it may fairly be replied that the ordinary operation of the law of supply and demand would, if the experiment of philanthropists proved successful, produce the desired result. The formation of such associations in Glasgow would, at the present juncture be of immense importance, and go to strengthen the hands of the corporation. Extensive powers have by recent legislation been conferred on that body. They are authorised to require owners of property to put them in a sanitary condition : to provide an effective arrangement of sanitary appliances : and in the event of their orders not being carried out forthwith, they are farther authorised, subject to a summary form of appeal, to declare such tenements uninhabitable and to close them compulsorily.

It would be little short of a calamity to the poor if many tenements, standing on sites most convenient to the tenants were to be closed. The results indicated above would follow. If associations were ready to step in and purchase these properties, when thrown on the market, and renovate them, they would assist the corporation in proceeding with the work, without inflicting any hardship. There would then be no evictions: the same number of tenements would remain : only sanitary houses would be substituted for insanitary ones. "Whether swell investments would be remunerative or not, there is no question as to the good which would be effected; for no greater boon can be conferred on the decent and industrious poor than to remove them from commerce with the depraved, drunken, and criminal, and to provide for them quiet resting places, where they can dwell apart. It is one of the saddest burdens of a sad lot, to be driven by grim necessity to lodge in dwellings where the air surrounding them is full of sounds of drunken ribaldry; their souls vexed with unrighteous deeds; and the fresh lives of young children polluted by too early contact with vice in its grossest forms. They might happily be rescued from perdition. Families drifting into these regions of sorrow and death are perilously apt to adapt themselves to the demoralizing surroundings with which they are forced into familiarity, and which at first they regard with loathing and disgust. If the operations suggested were earried forward on a considerable scale, the result would be that disorderly and abandoned tenants would be crushed out. No association or landlord would admit them to reconstructed or improved dwellings ; if they did, the improvements would soon disappear. This class would be driven from renovated tenements to those not overtaken by the sanitary authorities. In this there would be an advantage; they would congregate by themselves in certain blocks or areas, where they could be more readily placed under police supervision and control.

The residuum which remains, after separating the industrious, may be divided into two groups: (1) those who still work, though their work is precarious, partly due to their vicious habits and partly to the class of work at whieh they are employed; people whose sins have found them out, and whose lives are very hard and very miserable; and (2) the criminal and lazy, who do not work, and doggedly decline to work; who prefer to live on the fruits of vice and pillage. It is hopelessly impracticable to find decent dwellings for such a class. They are violent, disorderly, reckless; they pillage and destroy the houses in which they live ; they pull down the skirting and tear up and burn the very planking of the floors. No sane landlord will provide renovated houses for such tenants. Dilapidated, dark and airless though the dwellings be, they are better than the tenants who lodge in them. The only remedy seems to be the natural process of selection; the decent will be decently lodged, the dissipated will be crushed out. Lodged somewhere they must be; shelter they must have; common humanity demands this much. As improvements are carried on they will be driven into the worst and lowest dens. There they must be placed under stricter and sterner control, and the stringency of police supervision increased. The most merciful fate which can befall them is to be coerced by the strong arm of the law, to reform their habits and moderate their drunken violence.

In a free country, so long as people stand unconvicted, they must be left to the freedom of their will, but when men or women are convicted of drunkenness or assault, of thieving or petty robbery, or of importuning, their lives have become a peril and menace to the peace and comfort of the citizens. There is then no injustice in dealing with them sharply with a strong hand and in an uncompromising manner. Tainted lives, which propagate immorality, must be dealt with after the fashion of infectious diseases, they must be stamped out by being secluded.

The present system of short imprisonments is fatuous to a degree. Women charged with drunkenness or dissoluteness are sent to prison for ten days or sixty. When liberated they return to their old haunts and ply their old trade. They are again charged, again convicted, and again liberated, to repeat the same round indefinitely. To send men or women to prison for ten days or sixty days, indeed to send them to prison at all, does not mend their morals or their manners. The only salvation possible for them is the wholesome discipline of work. State labour reformatories are as urgently required for dissolute men and women as for neglected children. They should be founded in the country; labour colonies not prisons; women and men forced to work; in the house, at a trade, if they have one, or in the garden or farm. Persons convicted more than a certain number of times should be sent there, without remorse, for a term of years. It is the only chance left of redeeming their lives. Separated from their miserable surroundings and dissolute associates, they might learn to live clean, decent lives; and return to the world, after a time, clothed and in their right mind. The streets, at all events, would be swept clean of noisome pests. Public opinion must be educated to demand such salutary reforms.

There is another class akin in character to those just referred to, the class of vagrants and tramps. The facts stated in the report of the Presbytery Commission with regard to it, founded on evidence submitted to them, are startling and fitted to arouse grave apprehensions. Few persons are aware of the extent to which vagrancy prevails. Mr. Edmiston, the Inspector of Poor, Rutherglen, emitted the following statement:—

'Then, in reference to vagrancy, I have a printed letter submitted by you to your Board, I think in 1S88. The figures are very startling ; in the year 1SS5 the number of vagrants was 91,507—I think there were 50,214 males and 21,513 females, and 10,840 children, that makes up the total ; then in the year 188G the gross number had risen to 10G,6G1. Of that number GO,755 were males, and 23,015 females, 12,892 being children. Then have you any idea how that enormous army of vagrants live ?—I think, as a rule, they live fairly well. I think the greatest number of these vagrants work none. It is simply a great army quartered upon and maintained by the industrious population of this country. How much do you think it takes to keep them in the luxurious way they live '!— Well, I have seen them enter lodging-houses in the city with considerable sums of money in their possession, obtained in the country under the most varied falsehoods. A great deal of the money is wasted in drink. The vagrant must find sufficient means of existence, and I allowed a sum of 4s. per week for each individual, which makes the total cost £1,442,070 per annum.' (Edmiston, Evidence, p. 170.)

'The growth in the number of vagrants is alarming—in 1885, 91,5G7, and in 1887, 138,748.' (Edmiston, Letter.)

In winter they crowd into cities, and fill the Refuges, Shelters, and Poorhouse wards, and in summer they spread out over the country. Sordid and tattered, with women and children dragging after them, tramps are met with in every country lane. They live by plunder, and on alms often extorted by menace. The race perpetuates itself; ever bringing children into the world, neglected and unattended, trained only in the arts of the tramp and vagrant. It is a grave fact that in Scotland alone 12,892 children are at this moment growing up ignorant and uneducated.

The only lesson they learn is how to whine most pitifully for alms and how most artfully to plunder.

The Presbytery Commission are of opinion that this class ought to be resolutely dealt with. They are unfit for the occupations of city life. Labour Colonies in the country are required, where suitable occupations—such as fishing, basket-making, and other simple industries—might be provided for them in return for food and shelter; and where their children might be cared for and trained in industrious habits. Reared to a roving life, most of them doubtless would in all likelihood refuse to enter the Shelter or Colony. But as in the case of the dissolute classes in cities, if they refused the offer made them to work for their support, the same Commission advise that they should be compelled to do so. And there can be no question as to the wisdom of the course they suggest. It is not to be tolerated that, in a civilised community, so vast a number of dissolute, lazy idlers should be permitted to overflow the country and live on alms and the fruits of plunder.

These methods of dealing with the depraved and vagrant classes would be just and reasonable, if—but only if—all the remedial proposals suggested were carried out in their entirety, including the organizing of labour centres in town and labour colonies in the country. The subject of labour colonies is much too large a one to be handled within the limits of this article. They have been organised on a small scale on the Continent, and carried on with varying measures of success. Mr. Booth's projects have brought them into prominent notice in this country. Here they are novelties and have hardly entered on the experimental stage : casual wards in Poorhouses are the nearest approach to them. The idea is excellent if it can be worked out. The advocates of labour colonies do not propose to provide permanent employment. They are designed as refuges or shelters, where workers may find the means of subsistence, till they are drafted back to the regular ranks of labour. The initial difficulty, it seems to us, is to find suitable occupations for a promiscuous class of labourers. To run factories or workshops with gangs of unskilled workmen, perpetually shifting is impracticable. If it were practicable, to do so would be mischievous. Either the workshops and factories would be remunerative or not: if remunerative, they are simply doing what private enterprise is doing and prepared to do; if carried on at a loss, then the promoters are unfairly competing with organised labour, helped by the contributions of the generous. The result would, in the long run, be mischievous; such attempts would aggravate the evils meant to be remedied, they would lower wages or close workshops carried on on an independent footing. The difficulty of the task may prove not insuperable: temporary occupation may be found for the unemployed in ways not opposed to sound economic principles. If labour colonies were successfully organised it is more than probable that many of the class referred to would not take advantage of them, or submit to the description of work. If work is provided for all who will work, irrespective of character, and men and women sullenly refuse to work; if they continue drunken and dissolute, and are convicted again and again; no wrong is done, no injustice inflicted, if the}' are sent to State labour reformatories, where they will be compelled to work. If the difficulties which must necessarily beset the organizing of these free labour centres or colonies are successfully overcome by determined and capable men, then it may reasonably be demanded that the State should give effect to the measures suggested. The condition of these classes is so fraught with danger to the community, the fate of their children is so pitiful and distressing, that it is high time that these proposals were not merely discussed, but tested 011 a considerable scale.

The serious and complicated question presses for an answer: What are the elements which constitute the residuum class? how have they reached their present low level? Some of them, no doubt, were born into it. The saddest sign of the old warning fulfilling itself, the sins of the fathers shall be visited on the children,' is to be found in the stern fact—thieves breed thieves; prostitutes, prostitutes; tramps, tramps. A most forcible argument this for dealing, if need be with relentless rigour, with those who belong to these classes, in order, if possible, to break the continuity of the miserable doom which dogs the steps of their children. The ranks of these classes, however, are constantly being recruited by others fallen from a higher estate.

Dens of infamy and pollution are filled with the wreckage of once hopeful lives. No class of men, least of all the industrial, can be classified like stratified rocks, into distinct orders; one class or section shades into the other. There is no great gulf fixed between class and class which none may cross. Strong, venturous souls sometimes cross the stream and reach in safety the farther shore, passing from a lower to a higher life. These, however, are few in number. Unfortunately a great throng are ceaselessly climbing down, day and night, from the gate of heaven to the lowest pit.

Setting: aside those born to a life of shameless sorrow, what causes, if any, are at work which lure persons, born under more favourable circumstances, belonging to almost every sphere of life, as if by some fatal spell, to gravitate downwards, and end their days in so low an estate.

We have alluded, with gratification, to the fact that the upper circle of workers have in every way improved their position. Between the best educated and most intelligent of skilled workmen, and the unskilled who lodge in single rooms and 4 ticketed houses,' there are various grades, and ranks, and classes. If the causes which in their case work evil can be detected and are preventible, then by removing them the disastrous results will, according to the measure in which they are removed, cease.

Labour is a workman's capital. If by sickness or accident his strength is crippled, he is practically bankrupt. The breadwinner struck down by death, the wife and children are destitute. Times of commercial depression occur at intervals; then labour is an unmarketable commodity, and penury and want stare the workman in the face. Then begins the downward career. The oft-told tale, familiar in the experience of workmen and those interested in them, is marked by a dreary and sorry sameness. Bit by bit their little gatherings go to the pawn shop to buy food for hungry children; then comes depression and downheartedness. Courage droops and resolution slackens, and slowly but surely they drift down and lose themselves in the great gulf—that sea of sorrow which moans restlessly day and night in the regions where dwell the submerged. Women of exceptional strength of character, and endowed with a masterful spirit, may make a bold struggle, and pull tiwir husbands fcjjrough, \\hen stricken ^th long illness: or in the event of his death, manage to maintain themselves and their children; to clothe them decently; and to send them forth into the world, very fairly equipped for the battle of life. Their lives are often lives of heroism and endurance worthy to be chronicled. The average woman is not possessed of exceptional strength of character, otherwise it would cease to be exceptional, nor is she possessed of a masterful spirit.

All sickness is not preventible; all deaths are not premature; but much sickness is preventible and many deaths are premature; and much disaster may be averted. Living under conditions adverse to health, sleeping in rooms badly ventilated, where the air is fetid, the tone of the system, becomes imperceptibly but surely lowered, and the body susceptible to the subtle touch of disease. Food badly selected and ill-cooked, or which fails to nourish the body, tends to the same result. The fact may be noted, that when the springs of life are low, and the system relaxed, then follows the craving for stimulants, to spur the flagging energies and to nerve for work.

All sickness is not preventible; and death is certain; but under healthy conditions, on the average, death should not overtake the workman, till his children are grown and able to fend for themselves. Any way, sickness and death may be provided for and insured against. The benefits conferred on workmen by Friendly Societies, organised and conducted by themselves, are incalculable. How many households, which in despair and sorrow would have trodden the downward path, have been arrested by their helpful hand, and to this hour maintain their position and retain their self-respect, no man can number. All workmen, unfortunately, are not insured against sickness and death.

The healthiness and brightness of a house depend not so much on the structure as on the persons who live in it; especially on the woman who presides over it. "Whether a man is able, out of a slender wage, to insure himself against sickness depends on his domestic economy. The expenditure of a man's wages is in the hands of his wife. The housewife who keeps her home bright and cheery, serves up for her husband nourishing meals, well cooked and savoury, tempting to an appetite often jaded by severe toil in an oppressive atmosphere, is the thrifty goddess who lays out her husband's earnings to the best advantage. Such homes are least likely to be visited by sickness and death, and the heads of such households are best able, financially, to make provision against them if they do enter. Lamentable is the fact that the average workman's wife is not a good housewife, is not managing; is not thrifty; does not turn his earnings to good account. In justice let it be frankly admitted that much is demanded of her. To keep a house tidy; to cook victuals; to wash and dress children; to mend her husband's clothing, to make and mend her own and the children's; to sort up the litter of the day, that the hearth may be clean, the fire ruddy, the room orderly and quiet, awaiting her husband's return, wearied with work and craving rest, is a heavy call, taxing a woman's energies to the very utmost. It demands exact method and unceasing work. Small wonder that many fail, and that depressed by failure, they become listless and despondent, fretful and impatient. When they do, all is lost. Even when sufficiently trained for her vocation she is apt to fail; how much more apt when she has had little or no training?

A girl, touched by the tender passion of love, enters the estate of matrimony ; she vows to be a faithful wife, and honestly purposes to pay her vow. At first things go smoothly; the wedded life of a workman's wife is not a holiday march. Fresh from a mill or warehouse, she has no experience often of the household work required of her; she cannot cook, or wash, or dress; she cannot shape, or sew, or mend; she knows little of the comparative value of foods; children come, more work, more expense; then follow the distracting cares of debt; recriminations, often sullen discontent; and love cannot linger amidst disquiet and sordid cares. If sickness enters the household 'poverty cometh as one that travelleth, and want as an armed man.' Then follows the downward journey towards the dismal swamps. A spectre, more ominous than sickness or death, crosses the threshold—the demon of drink—which, for the moment, lulls care, and puts to sleep unquiet thoughts. The fact is patent beyond challenge, that indulgence in strong drink raises the fierce tornado which strews the earth with social wreckage. Its beginnings are insidious, veiled under the guise of good cheer and hearty fellowship ; its endings are tragic, loathsome, cruel. What instigates men, gifted with powers of reason and observation, before the fatal habit has grown into a passion, to indulge in intoxicants'? An intricate question, hard to answer. Drink has its victims in every class, from the cultured and gentle to the ignorant and rude.

The lures of the tempter are baited to suit the tastes and conditions of the prey he seeks to trap. We have at present only to deal with the causes which lead workmen to the public house, and how these causes may be removed. Two causes seem to stand out in bold relief—(1) discomfort at home; (2) the monotony and dullness of life in the gloomy regions of manufacturing towns. Stiff, strenuous work calls for good nourishment to repair wasted tissue ; when the body is underfed the nerves are apt to get the upper hand, the temper becomes irascible. Returning for his mid-day meal the worker in many instances finds his food badly served and badly cooked ; the surroundings untidy and comfortless; then wrangling ensues, and wrangling embitters the temper. 'Man goeth forth to his work, and labour until the evening '—the evening which should bring rest to the jaded mind and weary body; but unfortunately, man often returneth, with temper already embittered, to his home at sunset; finds the fire dull, the air heavy and close; the children noisy, and the wife, with her nerves overstrained, peevish and fretful ; all things restless and unquiet; no shelter or peace. Then, the tempter dangles the vision of the public house ; its floor clean sanded; the fire ruddy, the surroundings bright; companionship cheery ; the steaming tumbler exhilarating to weary muscle and tingling nerve; he is attracted by the lure, swallows the bait, and yields to the tempter. This experience repeats itself; he becomes an habitual frequenter of the house. One night he returns, noisy and riotous; and then is the beginning of the end—poverty, anxiety, divided lives; work neglected; wages lost; the first step is taken on the down grade which leads to the heritage of the slums. Home cheery; wife pleasant-spoken; household well ordered, is the surest refuge from the public house.

In other classes, when a man is disturbed, anxious, sore at heart; hit by the arrows of adversity, he seeks rest, soothing, peace at home; kindly eyes lighten on him; soothing words cheer him; in restfillness and quiet he heals him of his grievous wounds. The root of the matter is to provide for the worker a helpmate fit and capable. A house roomy and convenient, well lit, well aired, is much; but whether it be a hell or a heaven; a shelter merely or a home, depends on the mood, the manners of its dwellers. The race of capable housewives, shrewd, kindly, managing, seems to be dying out; in cities, under pressure of civilisation, the race seems deteriorating, dwarfed in frame, feeble in character; housewifery and cooking are lost arts. How to rear a race of women, healthy in body and mind, fitly trained for household work, that is the problem. Something is being attempted. Domestic Economy is taught in schools; it is taught in theory, out of a two penny handbook, and counts for nothing. Sewing is better done, and cookery is more efficiently taught, But the period during which girls ought to be trained for housewives is that, which intervenes between the close of a school life and the entrance on married life. The best school of Domestic Economy is the home, and the best teacher is the mother, if she herself be fit and trained. In many homes the mother is not apt to train. When she is not, substitutes must be found. In many a workman's family, too, the daughters are sent out to the mills, and when the work is done there, they have neither the strength nor the spirit to address themselves to household duties. The consequence is that many young girls grow up in almost absolute ignorance of what is required in a workman's wife. That every effort should be directed to the household training of women is obvious. Once a generation is reared quick to practice the homely virtues of domestic life, the problem of how to raise the submerged is practically solved, the goal is reached, the race will perpetuate itself.

Churches may do much in their missions. Classes for womanly work, sewing and cooking and washing, are quite as necessary and profitable, and no less pleasing to our Father in Heaven, than Bible classes and prayer meetings. Schools of Domestic Economy may be founded. The experiment, we understand, is about to be tried in Glasgow. Under a scheme of the Commissioners, the Logan and Bolton School of Domestic is being organised. Its success or failure will depend largely on the woman placed at its head. A Technical College for women would be a fitter designation for it.

What mechanics, chemistry, electricity, are to the crafts; cooking, sewing, washing, ironing, are to women ; each fits each for their after vocation; and let the ' wild women' orate as they may, the vocation of women is the charge of a household, and a high vocation it is. The school must be made a pleasant haunt, free from irksome restraint and buckram rule; grown girls must be attracted, not driven ; the intelligence appealed to, their sympathies enlisted. Our hope of the workman's future depends greatly on the success of movements such as this.

The other cause which undoubtedly leads to drunkenness and worse evils, is the sad and dull monotony of the life of labour in great cities—it lacks colour. A man's home should be to him the centre of attraction. It should be his to fill it, so far as his means permit, with things of excellence and objects of beauty. Where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also. Art is noiselessly penetrating many homes, bringing with it the blessing of refine ment, and multiplying its joys; decorative wall-hangings, art furniture, pictures, books, are enriching them. The upper circles of labour it has already reached. But much land still remains to be possessed. Dull, grey and sombre is many a man's home ; the walls bare, the furniture ugly, the colour grim ; everything depressing, nothing exhilarating. In northern climes brightness within should counter-balance the gloom without. Beauty is no costlier than ugliness, nor a warm colour than a cold one. The modest home of a day labourer might be tricked out with coloured prints, beautiful in colour and refined in subject, and enriched with a shelf of choice books, if only lie had the open eye. The cost would be trifling, trifling indeed compared with the cost of his drink. But the fruits of education are slow to ripen. Yet he who loves books can never find life dull and monotonous. lie can transport himself at will to the fairest regions and hold converse with the choicest wits. It may seem to many an idle and witless dream to suggest such things in relation to a day labourer's life. But if education, on which we expend countless treasure, leads not up to this, what is the good of it? Lettered and cultured men enjoy music, and song and play; they lend variety to life; how much more do the unlettered and uncultured stand in need of such helps to enjoyment. Our lives in these northern latitudes are altogether too dull and gray. We cannot compete with the gay out-door life of the sunny south, but we may, at least, make the most of what we have, which certainly we do not.

Not much can be done in the way of providing wholesome recreation during the gloomy months of winter, with nights cold and raw. An occasional concert, or entertainment, or play is good, but a man's home should be his chief sanctuary. For the homeless—music-halls, concerts, meetings, are preferable to the street corner, and preferable to the public house. There, if there is nothing else, there is shelter and warmth, light and colour, free from temptation. The aim of social reformers must be to strive that no man is homeless, that all are provided with a place of rest he may call his own. To toil all day and live a vagabond life at night is not a high ideal. Till the aim just indicated is reached, makeshifts must be resorted to. Much may be done in this way; reading and recreation rooms; halls in which good music is played; places where men may be at their ease to smoke and talk, and be provided with light refreshment; all such are good; rungs in the ladder leading up to higher things. When the days lengthen, and the warmth of spring softens the rigour of winter; when summer sunshine and summer blooms adorn the earth—then is the time for pleasant outdoor life and enjoyment. Much in this direction is being done—much remains to be done. Corporations are taking broader views of their responsibilities and of the possibilities of corporate life. Parks and gardens and halls are being provided at the cities' charge, music is played in the parks. Other amenities will follow. Rich men are presenting parks and galleries. The Exhibition of 1888 in Glasgow, demonstrated what might be done in the face of capricious weather and chilly summer skies. It came on the citizens as a revelation, a new possibility ; it is within the truth to say that its sights and music and gardens enriched and brightened the people's life for one brief summer, as it had never been enriched before. Since then the city has returned to its dull, gayless ways.

An effort is now being made to resuscitate in a permanent form all that was pleasant and quickening in the Exhibition show. Picture galleries and museums spreading round a Central Music Hall are about to be built on the spot where the Exhibition buildings stood. For the first time an attempt is being made on a considerable scale, to wed the art of music with the arts of painting, sculpture, and with the no less beautiful and refining art of gardening. The faded glory of the past will be revived, it is hoped, never again to vanish out of sight, but to remain a permanent institution in the city. The buildings, when completed, will be transferred, we understand, to the corporation, so that the scheme will become a municipal institution with all the elements of permanency. The project seems a sagacious one, especially in a commercial city. The galleries and museums will foster a love and appreciation of art, not only as embodied in pictures, but in furniture, textiles, pottery; which love of art will be of an economic value to the manufacturers of the city; and of a social value tending to the encouragement of art in the home. Moreover, the outdoor life of innocent and light-hearted gaiety, and pleasant companionship which its gardens and music will create, will enliven the otherwise monotonous summer life of the city, and break the dull routine of toil to the worker. The surest preventative of drunkenness and vice and sordid ways is to beget a generous sympathy with and warm love of things pure, excellent and beautiful, which in turn will beget a hatred and loathing for things sordid, coarse, and ugly. He who loves beauty, whether in character, life, or art, will turn to no meaner object for his joy. Will a man leave the snoivs of Lebanon and forsake the cold floicing water? The signs of the times, are in some ways, propitious; the clouds are lifting, the sky is brightening, and the future is fuller of hope.

The schemes of social reform we have referred to are of a material kind, devised to ameliorate the physical and social condition of the people. They seem to us reasonable and practical; moreover they are projects which can be initiated at once, independently of state aid or law amendment; legislative reform will follow, when the necessity for it has been shown. We are far from intendin to imply that these are by any means tho only

schemes urgently called for: many agencies, devised by many minds, must play their part in effecting the social reformation of the people; but these carry the obvious advantage that they represent the work which lies nearest at hand, about the value of which all sensible people are agreed: and in the promotion of which all patriotic citizens may take part whatever their opinions in regard to other subjects still under discussion. It is impossible to separate by a sharp line the material and the spiritual. The one acts and reacts on the other. A low social and material condition deadens the soul; a reviving of the soul helps to improve the social surroundings. We have not referred to the Church ; not because we underrate her mission, or would lighten the burden of her responsibility for the social condition of the people. The Church is awakening to a broader conception of her mission, a conception we venture to think more practical and more beneficent than that vulgarly held. She is set to found a kingdom of God on earth; her mission, like that for which the Son of Man was manifested, is to destroy the works of the devil to free men's souls and bodies from the debasing thraldom of selfishness, passion and lust. The burden is laid on her, by all means within her reach, to improve the social condition of the people, to soften and gladden their lives. This function does not call on her, as a corporate body, to build or reconstruct dwellings for the decent poor; to provide healthful recreation; or to amend the criminal law in the interests of the criminal. But unquestionably it is her duty to sanction such efforts and to lend them such help and countenance as she can. It is the vocation of her members, to co-operate with others like minded, to carry forward to a successful issue every branch of reformatory work. It is the function of the Church, when this work is done, to bring the influences of the Spirit to bear on men's characters and ways, so as to get them to enter on the possession and enjoyment of these gifts and turn them to good account. The fact is lamentable but not less a fact, that many must first be humanized before they can be converted to a knowledge of the truth. The work of the Church and the work of the social reformer are each helpful to the other, and must proceed simultaneously.

The. movements of the good Spirit are not scraitene Mortal man cannot forecast at what hour, or by what subtle path, a gleam of light may flash on the darkened mind; or when a seed hidden away, buried in some dark corner of the heart, may, by quickening of the Spirit, unexpectedly break into life ; or when the divine voice may awaken a responsive echo in the vacant chamber of memory. Some dim vision of a forgotten past—a past of innocence and purity—may stir up within the prodigal's heart a wistful yearning to turn his steps homeward to the Father's house. Improved social surroundings, the encouragement of tender woman and upright men in the work of reform, may restore many to that genial and trustful fellowship with their kind, which they have forfeited by their errors, and multiply the chances of such blessed conversions from darkness to light.

It is well, we may add, that the work of social reform should be carried on irrespective of Churches and creeds. Men of all churches and creeds; even men of no church and no creed, all moved by a common love of humanity and pity for the fallen, may well work in common concert to help to build up a new and fairer social fabric. Social work will smooth the way of all Churches; and each, according to its own methods and creed, may work up to and help the achievement.

United action in a common cause would soften asperities, lead to kindlier judgments and more tolerant views, sweeten the springs of religious life, and unfold the blessed truth that within all Churches, however diverse their creed or worship, by the help of that same creed and worship, fine characters are being fashioned, and blameless lives, full of goodness and pity, are being lived, to the glory of God and the comfort of their fellows.

A pdf of this account is available here!


Return to Scottish Historical Articles