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Darling Memorial Sketch Book
Labours of Love


In the midst of the increasing engagements and cares of his hotel, Mr Darling so arranged matters, and was so assisted by the members of his family, all of whom were like-minded with himself, that almost everyday he found time for walks and visits of benevolence. He did not merely seize opportunities of doing good when they presented themselves and, as it were, lay across his path; but he sought them out, and rejoiced when he had found them. He could have said with Job, "I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not I searched out." He needed no interpreter to explain to him our Lord's saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"; his heart was its ready expositor, and responded to it every day.

And there was a pleasing variety in his methods of doing good. At one hour you might have found him up on the sixth storey in some old tenement in the Old Town, carrying food and Christian consolation with it to some aged saint or bereaved widow with her orphans. At another hour you might have seen him among the shops or with the master-tradesmen, seeking employment for some one who had been reclaimed from intemperance, or, better far, had become a Christian convert, and thus to raise him from struggling poverty into honourable industry. On another day you learn that some ragged boy or street waif has been picked up by him and taken home, and fed and decently clad, and in the end sent to school. At another time you meet him on the street, evidently bent on some errand of mercy, and you learn that some poor fellow whom he had known in better days had sunk into indigence, principally because of imperfect health,—that he is about to have his house furniture sold to pay the demands of his landlord for rent, and that Mr Darling is hurrying on his way to the auction room to buy back all the most valuable articles, and to restore them free to his distressed brother. A friend has sent us another story, which we give in his own words:— "One day when passing along one of the streets of Edinburgh, his eye lighted on a little ragged boy. Soon Mr Darling was engaged in conversation with him. He found that the lad had neither father nor mother, nor any one to take an interest in nor help him, and as he pathetically informed him, 'I sleep on stairs or anywhere I can at nights.' 'Come with me and I will give you something to eat,' said our friend. This done, the next duty was to get him clothed, for he was in. rags. Off went Mr Darling on a begging errand in search of a suit of clothes. These procured, the boy was led to the laundry, where the fatherly hands washed and clothed the little 'city arab,' and it was only when this divine-like action had been done that the members of his own household made the discovery of his absence."

The newsboys in Princes Street liked to claim acquaintance with him, and when they descried from a distance his bland and open countenance, flocked to him with noisy demonstration, being sure of a customer who would pay them more than they asked. These are a few known examples of his readiness and even eagerness to do good. But there are abundant reasons for believing that the instances were far more numerous of what Wordsworth styles "those daily unremembered acts of kindness and of love," of which no one knew beyond his beneficiaries, except that ''Father who seeth in secret," and will one day "reward openly."


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