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Darling Memorial Sketch Book
Drill Hall Free Breakfasts


We have yet to refer to a few more of Mr Darling's "works of faith and labours of love." One of the benevolent agencies with which he identified himself from the beginning was the Drill Hall Sabbath Morning Free Breakfasts for the Poor, which began in December 1874. As usual, when he gave his name in favour of any movement, it was not merely to flourish as a patron or well-wisher, but to work for it at the full bent of his means and opportunity; and so he took an active practical interest in this new enterprise from the first. At the beginning its meetings were held in a school-room in Stevenlaw's Close, High Street. But soon this room became inconveniently small, and an overflow meeting needed to be provided for. What was to be done to meet this new emergency? Mr Darling was ready with a very practical and welcome answer. He had recently acquired refreshment rooms at the corner of High Street and St Giles Street, and the use of these was offered for the accommodation of the motley guests,—the poorest of the poor. His zeal and liberality went even beyond what we have yet described. In the course of time the spacious Drill Hall was needed to contain the ever-increasing guests.

For many years to come, at a very early hour on Sabbath mornings, in every kind of weather, cold and tempest never hindering him, he was present at the preparation of the breakfast, at which hundreds of hungry ones were to receive their best meal for the week, as well as to be instructed by short addresses on the way of life. Not unfrequently he also supplied speakers in the person of guests who were staying at his hotel, who, catching something of his own enthusiasm, were more than willing to be present at the strange gatherings. His daughter Bella was also there to the end of her brief life, leading the choir, and ready to converse with young inquirers of her own sex, and to tell them "the old old story of Jesus and His love." What a deep and holy joy it must have been to her father,—a joy shared, as we know, by the angels,—to learn from time to time that these labours of love on the part of his child, especially in "singing the Gospel," had not been in vain. It is superfluous to say that this blessing was not confined to the Drill Hall. A gentleman having occasion to visit one of the wards in the Royal Infirmary, was brought into conversation with a young man, one of the patients, who professed to have recently passed from death unto life. On being questioned further, he stated that a young lady had sung at his bedside a beautiful hymn, one part of which had been to him as the revelation of a new world and won his heart to Christ. It turned out on further inquiry that the young female evangelist was Bella Darling.


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