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Our Children in Old Scotland and Nova Scotia
Chapter IV - Prevention of Cruelty Cases of Rescued Children

As I have been engaged in another field for the last four years, and labouring for the good of children who have been rescued, and whose sorrows and sufferings are therefore things of the past, this chapter must be one of recollection; and I can only tell you cases as they occur to me in order to illustrate the story of the work given me to do between 1877 and 1888, when I left Scotland for Nova Scotia.

1. The first case with which I was called on to deal, and which opened my eyes to the possibility of hideous cruelty to infants, was that of a baby of something over a year old, which was brought me fearfully bruised, and had on its throat the distinct marks of a knife. I applied to the police for help, but, I regret to say, the perpetrator was not discovered. I nursed it till it died a short time after its admission.

2. Another was a girl of eight years old, who had jumped out of a window sixty feet high to escape from her mother, who was beating her unmercifully, without apparently any reason except drunken fury.

3. Another, a girl of ten years, whose mother had applied to the Home for her admission and had been refused as unnecessary, who thereupon set to work apparently to get rid of her, and with the help of the stepfather hacked her feet and legs with an axe. This case was brought by a policeman. Both these girls have done remarkably well.

4. Three children aged six, four and a half, and two and a half years. The eldest, a girl, the two younger, boys, were found in a dying state from want of food to so frightful an extent that they ate everything. The elder children could go to the streets and pick up crumbs of bread and stumps of cabbages, but the younger could not walk, so lay helpless on the straw, which, in course of time, he ate as well as paper and cinders. This I saw him do myself. His hair for a long time was perfectly white, like that of an old man. They have all done well.

5. Boy of five years. Was found hanging by his hands out of a high window, in which position he had been forcibly placed by his father in a drunken freak of temper. The child was rescued with some difficulty, and brought to me by his mother, who came home from her work in time to see her child delivered from his awkward predicament, and consequently implored me to keep him For a long time the effect on his nervous system was evident.

6. A little boy of three years, who had been so long shut up in a room alone for hours, with a piece to keep him from starving, that his wits seemed to have become addled. He never smiled, but moaned and chattered feebly. After being nursed for a good many weeks, he recovered in a great measure; and one of our little girls having taken him under her special protection, he gradually became like the other children, and is now a fine sturdy fellow, decidedly clever.

7. A fine stout child of about two and a half years, whose mother apparently set to work to beat him to death. He was brought by some working women, and the mother sent to prison for sixty days.

8. Another little boy of about the same age, who is nearly blind, his mother having poked his eyes with a stick. One eye is entirely blind, the other nearly so. Otherwise he is a stout and intelligent boy, with mercifully an extremely happy temper.

I could go on with such painful histories, but these will be enough to show what I formerly was called to do, in the way of protecting children from cruelty, before this work was so well understood, or so much the fashion as it is now.

There is another form of cruelty to which I shall refer in the next chapter. I mean the trade in German children, which I am thankful to have been the means of stopping in Scotland. But whether foreigners or not, it is by no means the first time that

little girls, mere children, have fled to me for refuge, as they might have done to the old cities which God appointed long ago in Israel; they have come flushed, panting, terrified, as if the destroyer were at their heels.

Open the door for the children,
Tenderly gather them in;
In from the highways and byways,
In from the places of sin.


Open the door, open the door,
Pray you that grace may be given;
Open the door for the children,
Of such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Open the door for the children,
Some are so hungry and cold;
Some are so young and so helpless,
Gather them into the fold.

Open the door for the children,
Stretch out a welcoming hand;
Bid them sit down to the banquet,
Point them to Canaan’s land.

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