Come now, a story, dear papa, Now find a knee for each; You said, papa, that once you heard Two little sisters preach
A better sermon far than you: Jane says that cannot be. We want to know, so tell us now, Before they bring the tea.
Come then, my darlings, you must know, Beyond the wild deep sea, In London's streets, these sisters grew In want and misery.
Their parents died, and they were left, Poor girls, in sore distress; Ah! dear ones, may you never know An orphan's loneliness!
But kindly hearts, which God had touched, Felt for them in their grief; He taught them too the surest way To give such woes relief.
Away from London's crowded streets, They bade the sisters come, Within our brave, broad Canada, To find a pleasant home.
A pleasant home for each was found, But far apart they lay; And thus apart the sisters dwelt While long months rolled away.
Poor little girls! 'twas very sad; They were too young to write; And no one guessed the quiet tears Poor Annie shed at night.
Among our Sabbath-scholars soon I learned to watch her face; A quiet sadness on her brow I fancied I could trace.
One summer's morning, Sabbath peace Filled all the sunny air, And all within God's house was hushed, To wait the opening prayer;
When up the aisle a neighbour came, With hushed but hasty tread; And by the hand with kindly care A little girl he led.
A sudden cry ran through the church, A cry of rapture wild; And starting from her seat we saw Our quiet English child.
"Sister! my sister!" was the cry That through the silence rung, As round the little stranger's neck Her eager arms she flung.
And tears and kisses mingling fast, She pressed on lip and cheek; For silent tears can sometimes tell What words are poor to speak.
Then soft o'er cheek, and brow, and hair, Her trembling fingers crept; Then heart to heart, and cheek to cheek, Those loving sisters wept.
Nor they alone, for strong men sobbed; Women stood weeping by; And little ones looked up amazed, And asked what made them cry.
Oh, broken was the prayer we prayed, Scarce could we raise the hymn; And when God's holy book I read, My eyes with tears were dim.
And yet we felt the Saviour there, Right in our midst that day; "Will you not love my little ones?" We almost heard Him say.
No need of laboured words that day Long hardened hearts to move; Well had the sisters' meeting preached The lesson, "God is Love."
His heart had felt their childish grief, The while they mourned apart; His loving-hand had wrought the plan, To bring them heart to heart.
S. R. GELDARD.
Workers' meetings at home of industry—Training home at Hampton opened—Personal experiences—Welcome in Western Canada—Help for a Glasgow home—Scottish ferryman—"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings."
Before the close of the year Miss Macpherson had returned from Canada, and at the usual monthly meeting for workers was again enabled to tell of the goodness and mercy that had followed her.
One of the great needs of the East End which has already been mentioned, was that of some central spot where Christian workers might meet for prayer and counsel. This need was abundantly met at the Home of Industry, open at all times, with a welcome and words of cheer ready for the servants of the Lord from every part of the world. The workers' meetings, once a month, have given opportunities for hearing tidings of the spread of the gospel in the "regions beyond." Those who had hitherto been standing idle have been aroused, and many who have long borne the burden and heat of the day have been refreshed. It would be difficult to reckon the number of those who have in the Home of Industry first heard the summons from the Lord to "go forth," as "messengers of the glory of Christ," and are now toiling in distant lands.
The difficulty of keeping a number of active restless spirits within the hounds of a house in the position of the Home of Industry, without one inch of yard or playground, and in the midst of streets in which it was unsafe for one of these boys to be seen, can hardly be imagined. It was a subject of the greatest astonishment to a descendant of Immanuel Wichern's that in such circumstances Miss Macpherson was enabled to keep them under control. It was, however, most desirable to find some place where their active energies could be employed in some sort of training for the Canadian out-door life. Miss Macpherson thus refers to her thankfulness that such a spot was found:—
"Those who share with us the burdens of this work will rejoice to hear that we have now a Home in the country, where we can cultivate a few acres, and where the children can become efficiently trained for Canada under the superintendence of Mr. and Mrs. Merry. It is situated near the village of Hampton and is now being furnished. This will enable me to rescue another hundred from street-life at once. What a boon from the Lord Whom we serve!"
It proved to be just what was needed, as is shown by the testimony of another friend:—
"The Training Home at Hampton bids fair to be a most valuable addition to Miss Macpherson's scheme for rescuing these dear children if only for their health's sake; the pure air, the early hours for rising, the outdoor and spade exercise, the plentiful supply of real milk, are all good; and the absence of all noise and excitement gives a much fairer chance of seeing what the boys really are, and the probability of their taking to Canadian life."
The next party was arranged to leave for Canada by the "Prussian" on the 4th of May, and on this occasion one who had the privilege of accompanying them thus wrote:—"I feel it as impossible to convey to friends in England a true idea of the kind welcome accorded to our poor little ones, as it is to give to dear Canadian friends any adequate idea of the crowded misery of our own dens and alleys.
"It has scarcely been credited by some that so many hundreds of little travellers could have crossed the Atlantic in many successive voyages and not have experienced one storm. How we realised the power of Him 'who stilleth the noise of the sea, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people!' for on this voyage, as on every other, it has been remarkable that no discord has arisen among her many young charges. The work begun on land was carried on at sea, and many young hearts were blessed of the Lord ere they left the ship. It was pleasant to hear many testimonies in their favour among the passengers and crew; pleasant also to hear testimonies of thankfulness for Miss Macpherson's presence in the ship; for she laboured unceasingly among the crew and steerage passengers as well as with her own special charges.
"Kind letters of welcome were received off Quebec. For a few hours we were detained at Point Levi, waiting for the emigrants' train, and watching with delight the sun descending and streaming with splendour on the cliffs and magnificent river; some of the heights bare, others clothed with firs, all picturesque and grand. The evening star shone before us as we were carried westward; one of the little orphan girls said it looked as if watching over us to help us; and in the morning we reached Montreal Junction, where one of the warm Canadian friends who have welcomed Miss Macpherson so cordially entered the cars, and spoke very encouraging words to the young travellers, telling them how he had himself been as dependent on his own exertions as any of them could be, and how by perseverance in the situation he had first entered, he had risen from the humblest post to the highest, and had long been in a position to help others. This friend is the superintendent of a large Sunday-school, and his scholars have undertaken the support of an English child.
"A lovely cloudless day was just dawning as we arrived at Belleville, and we were greeted at the station by the kind voice of Mr. Henderson, one of the evangelists, for whose labours in Canada we have had so much reason to praise the Lord. The sun had not risen when we were first taken across the blue rushing river Moira, carrying with it the floating logs, felled far away, and borne by its rapid current to the Bay of Quinte, the beautiful shores of which we caught sight of just 'as the crimson streak in the east was growing into the great sun.'
"But we were now at Marchmont; and lovely as it was in the fresh green of spring, (the maples, not yet in full leaf permitting a glimpse of the bay,) yet all other feelings were lost in the joy of being welcomed by dear Miss Bilbrough, who had been watching for us all through the night. Miss Macpherson was allowed but few hours to rest before the throng of visitors came to welcome her, and to take away the newly arrived little ones. Among the first was a lady, the mother of eight girls, who had lost her only son, and who carried away, with tears of joy, a boy brought from Southampton workhouse. There were farmers from many miles round, bringing their recommendations from ministers or other well-known friends; there were children who had been brought out the previous year, some earning good wages, and bringing their savings to Miss Macpherson, too full of joy to say much, but clinging round the one whom the Lord had blessed in rescuing so many from want and misery. Among these were three former little matchbox-makers, who had known more sorrow and care during their early years than is sometimes crowded into a lifetime. Tears on both sides were sometimes the only greeting given. Pages might be filled with records of one day at Marchmont, records of the Lord's goodness to the fatherless and motherless, and those rescued from a worse fate still; whose parents would have dragged them down into the haunts of drunkenness and sin, from which, in later years, it would have been so much harder to reclaim them. Oh, that many more in our own land could witness with their own eyes the boundless openings for work, and provision made for our poor children in the broad lands the Lord has so mercifully spread before us!
"The first experience I had of the home of a Canadian farmer was in the neighbourhood of Stirling. Our drive was partly along the banks of the river Moira, which, perhaps, from being the first with which I was made acquainted, has always appeared to me one of the loveliest in 'this land of broad rivers and streams.' After leaving the river, our road passed through woods, in which we saw wild flowers of larger size and brighter colours than our own, though fewer in number; and from a rising ground we saw Stirling beneath us, and a few miles beyond reached the dwelling of one who had come out with no other riches than the strength of his own hands. His house was humble in outward appearance, but contained every comfort, and was surrounded by orchard and garden, and many acres of cultivated land. Huge barns to hold the abundant produce are always the most conspicuous feature in every Canadian farm. Cattle, sheep, and poultry were all around, and all his own, and in his own power to leave to the sons growing up around him. In this family the sons were all following the father's occupation.
"In most families that I have seen, as a good education is within the reach of all, some of the sons have preferred following the study of law or medicine; the farmers have therefore the more need of helpers, and welcome the more eagerly the young hands brought out. Though we were quite unexpected, all but one of our party being perfect strangers, we were pressed with the usual Canadian hospitality to remain the night; and while our horse rested, our kind host took out his own team and drove Mr. Thom to visit children settled in the neighbouring farms.
"My next experience was that of a farm beyond Trenton, where one of the boys was engaged. Our drive was along the bay, and the opposite shores of Prince Edward's county often reminded me of the Isle of Wight as seen from the Hampshire coast. Our road first passed the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, a grand and spacious building, a mile out of Belleville, and then was bordered by orchards and rich cornfields, scattered cottages and farmhouses, with lilac bushes clustering round the doors and verandahs. Outside every farmhouse may be seen by the roadside a wooden stand, on which are placed the ample cans of milk waiting for the waggon to carry them to the cheese factories. No fear, it appears, is here entertained either of milk being stolen or of fruit being missed from the abundant spoils on either side the road.
"At Trenton, beautifully situated near the head of the bay, a boy rushed out at the welcome sight of his friend, and farther on more greetings of love and gratitude awaited her. The farm we this day visited was one of more importance than the last. Four hundred acres of ground surrounded a well-built house, two stories high, and covering much ground. In such a dwelling a handsome piano is seldom missing, and here stood one in the inner drawing-room. Luxuries that could be purchased for money were not wanting, but labourers were not so easily procured, and the contrast between the interior of the house and the rough approach to it was most remarkable.
"So much must necessarily be done with so few hands, that time for a flower-garden, or even the making of a neat footpath, cannot be found. The mistress of the house looked sadly worn and wearied from want of help in her indoor labours.
"Within easy reach of this house stood a much smaller one, built by the owner of the farm for himself and his wife to retire to whenever their eldest son should choose a bride and undertake the farm. This I have seen elsewhere in Canada and have also known the heir of the property to go out for the day helping at another farm, where no labourer could be found in the neighbourhood. No contrast could be greater to one coming from the sight of the constant distress in the crowded East of London,—distress arising from want of work, food, light, air, and room to live and breathe in, and the comfort here beheld and experienced through the abundance of all; the pure fresh air, the sight of 'God's blessings growing out of our mother earth,' the ground ready to bestow so rich a return for all the labour bestowed on it, and the only want that of the human hands—the hands that, in our own land, are to be had so easily, that human beings are expected to work like machines, and human frames are used as though made of brass or iron."
Miss Macpherson was not permitted to remain many days quietly at Belleville. The call came for her to go farther into Western Canada, and this eventually resulted in the establishing of the Home at Galt. The journey is thus described in her own words:—
"Believing that our gift was to pioneer, we left our dear friends embosomed at Marchmont among the bursting maple trees in loveliest spring-time. At early dawn on May 23rd we started, with a party of twenty of our boys of different ages, for Woodstock and Embro, a district of country where thousands of Scotch families have settled, and where there has been a wave of blessing from the Lord, through the faithful preaching of evangelists in the past year. Therefore we longed to 'spy' the land, not so much to gain an increase of dollars or more cultivated land for our boys, but our object was to find hearts that had been awakened to newness of life; and we trusted that with such our children would be nourished by the sincere milk of the Word, and grow thereby into godly men and faithful witnesses of the Lord Jesus."
"At the close of a long and hot day's travel, we reached Woodstock; and though a single telegram had been the only announcement of our expected arrival, warm hearts greeted us. Next day the boys were gazed at, admired, wished for, questioned, and feted, until we began to fear lest they should be spoiled by seeing the great demand for them, and the eagerness with which they were sought after, being considered, as they term them, 'smart boys.' With ourselves it was a day of much prayer for the needed wisdom. And in the afternoon, (being the Queen's birthday, and kept by loyal Canadians as a complete holiday), the dear boys went off with us through shady groves for a walk. We went into a cemetery, and read together from our penny Gospels the 9th of St. John. But here we were found out, and invited to one of the loveliest country-seats we had ever seen. It had been an old Indian settlement, and from its groves we had a view of the distant woodlands clothed in richest foliage. On a beautiful lawn, the old Scotchman, with tearful tenderness, fed our dear boys with unaccustomed dainties, and jugs full of new milk."
"In the evening a Scotchman arrived from a still more western district, Arkona, deputed by his neighbours to come for seven more boys. We could, however, only spare him five. The boy he took from us last year had behaved so well, that the demand had increased. Then came those painful leave-takings; and to see great boys of sixteen and seventeen sobbing, was no easy work for my clinging heart; but He who scattered His disciples, and went Himself by lonely pathways, knew our need, even at this time."
"Next day we went farther inland, nine miles beyond the railroad, to Embro. There we found 'democrats,' each with a pair of horses, for the boys and luggage, in which they went off in high glee, under the care of a good man of my own name; and for myself and friend, a Highlander long frae the hills of our native land, had sent a carriage and pair of splendid spirited horses."
"Our party of boys had by this time considerably decreased; and had they been hundreds instead of ones, of similarly trained boys, there would have been no difficulty in distributing them into good homes."
"Canada is just now in a most prosperous state. Farmers' sons do not remain at home, but either, enter professions or stores, or go farther West to colonise. Hence the need of further help, which is met by our boys, who take their place, beginning with the A B C of farm-work, or, as Canadians express it, 'choring round.'
"This new district was very pleasing to a Scotch eye—hill and dale, rich woods, substantial farmhouses, richly cultivated orchards, beautiful with blossom; picturesque views of gushing rivers in wild gorges, with grand old monarchs of the forest telling the tales of years gone by, ere the emigrant's axe had laid their companions low."
"We reached a lovely village, and were warmly welcomed by 'Macs' of every name, reminding one of childhood's summers spent in the Highlands of old Scotia. Here we were at home; the sweet assurance of a Saviour's love shone in the faces that now surrounded us; we were on the trail of an evangelist, and Jesus 'lifted-up' had been beheld, making faces beam with thankfulness to Him who had given Himself for them."
"The kind McAuley, who had opened his house and heart in expectation of the whole twenty boys from London, had himself been overwhelmed with love-offerings in the shape of food the good neighbours had sent in, vying with each other in showing kindness to the orphan and the stranger.
"Ah! what a power and privilege is granted to us women, in that we are permitted to arise and second the work of the evangelist by showing our faith by our works, and giving to the Christians in this land of plenty and no poverty objects upon which to work out their love! Words fail to depict the extreme tenderness and delicate attention shown to us, for Jesus' sake, during the forty-eight hours we spent in the midst of this kindred people.
"In the evening the old Scotch kirk was filled to the door, and after the singing of some sweet hymns and several heart-breathings of prayer, we spoke of the dealings of the Lord in this mission among the children of our million-peopled city. Whilst doing this, it was difficult to realise that we were not at home, among the dear brothers and sisters who are wont to meet with us for prayer at the Home of Industry.
"The thank-offering to the Lord at the close was spontaneous, also the supply of food sent in by the farmers, and which was sufficient for a hundred children. It seemed almost more than my poor heart could bear when I called to mind the starving multitudes gathered in, and ravenously devouring the morsel of bread dealt out to them in London. It made me long that the Christian women of our land would rise up in some great national movement, and help many thousands of our oppressed families to come out to this land of plenty, where millions of acres are crying for labour. It is no romance nor ideal of a heated brain, but a plain, practical way of showing our Christianity, this bearing the burdens of many a sinking, crushed-down family.
"The much-dreaded Canadian winter is really the most enjoyable period of the whole year, and when it is over one hears of nothing but sorrow that 'winter's noo awa.'"
Miss Macpherson had intended returning to England in October, but was delayed for a time by many calls for service. From Montreal she writes:—
"Strike another note of praise for the answer to the many prayers of our Glasgow fellow-labourers. A friend in Scotland has been stirred up to give 2000 pounds in order to build an Emigration Refuge in that city, that homeless lads may be trained for Canada. Let us unite in asking that ere long similar Homes may be opened in Edinburgh and Liverpool, where poor and oppressed orphans abound. Before returning to you, we trust that corresponding Homes on this side will be in course of preparation, one in the East and another in the West, so that when the 150 young emigrants arrive at Quebec, fifty can proceed at once to each Home for distribution.
"We leave Marchmont accompanied in our mission carriage by two boys; and these two have histories which contain a lesson for all boys. Their antecedents in England were much the same—orphanage, want of caretakers, misery. One is still self-willed, having no mercy on himself, a runaway from the home in which we had placed him, and was brought to us a second time by the police as homeless. We are now taking him back to his master to hear all about the grievances, and find out that they arose from his determination not to go to school. A boy that does not value the opportunities afforded him, but prefers growing up in ignorance, must suffer for it sooner or later. May all boys who read this determine to apply themselves to every lesson heartily; each difficulty overcome will render it more easy to master the next.
"The other boy was one of the first hundred; he arrived by train from Toronto at midnight, and rang us up, expecting admittance, for he felt that he was coming home to see his friends, his master having given him a holiday. This boy, though utterly alone in the world, snatched by us from a life in London stables, stands there, at fourteen, a self-reliant little man, with his purpose in life clearly defined. He is not many minutes in the house before he discloses the joy it is to come home, and tells us how he has as good a suit of Sunday-clothes to put on as any gentleman.
"Next morning he sits during Bible-lesson in the schoolroom side by side with the ne'er-do-weel. Both are received for Jesus' sake, the one in his poverty and self-will, the other in his good suit and self-complacency, but both still wanting the 'one thing needful' to fit them for the home and mansions on high. Whilst endeavouring to explain how Jesus had loved them, and wrought out a righteousness for them, and was as willing to receive them as we had been, and that He had a large and loving heart, and cared for the many hundreds still wandering about in the great city, tears filled the eyes of the little group. Just picture what we felt as J—- P—-, in the most humble and childlike way, put his hand in his pocket and drew out twenty-five dollars, saying, 'Miss, that will bring another.'
"My words ceased, and a choking feeling came into my throat as the lesson was being learnt by half-a-dozen of self-willed returned boys. Much we longed that all our children could have witnessed this scene. Very few of them, except the selfish and depraved, would like to be behind J—- P—- in having the privilege of giving us so much encouragement in this work.
"The first year J—- P—- received no wagers, only his food and clothes; now, his services having become valuable, he gets six dollars a month. He has purchased for himself a silver watch, a good overcoat, and has also returned most honourably his passage-money, therefore he has received his neatly framed and beautifully illuminated discharge, to hang up, showing he is now no longer a poor emigrant.
"J—- holds that the habit of saving the cents is the secret of success, and he intends plodding on until he can purchase a farm of his own, and we think it will not be very long before he does so, if his life is spared. Thus he accompanies us as a son, and as such is received and lodged in the various homes we visit.
"It was most amusing to hear him tell the runaway sitting by him in the carriage how to get on and advise him not to give way to his own will and his own temper.
"By boys this advice is more easily given than taken, as was proved in this case. We left the boy on his promising that he would be obedient and go to school. But the subtle enemy, ere the day was out, gave this boy of fourteen years old the idea of being his own master, rather than live out that wondrous word of four letters, obey. Again he escaped from a good home, and after wandering many miles, knocked late at night at a ferryman's, and asked for food. Here Robert Jack, a kind Scotchman, recognised the English corduroy, and at once met him with, 'You are one of Miss Macpherson's' boys.' He was fed and lodged, and strange to say, next day we were led, in the course of our journey, to cross that very ferry. The young runaway seeing us from the window exclaimed, 'Oh! here comes Mr. Thorn,' and would have hidden away from our sight, knowing he was doing wrong, for he would not understand that we were his friends, willing to help and love him. Oh, may all boys who read this seek earnestly to believe that Jesus is their very best Friend, and He only can remove their self-will and blindness of heart!
"In crossing the ferry early in the summer, we had spoken faithfully to this ferryman, and had sent him the 'Life of Robert Annan' by post. They had been schoolfellows together, and after reading the book, he got many others to read it also. This small sixpenny gift, accompanied by prayer, had done a work. Robert was willing to become a co-worker with us, and is now trying to train to honest industry our little self-willed runaway. Thus we hope that in the log-hut of the Scottish ferryman he may learn to read and write, and that the blessed Spirit will work on the hearts of both master and boy.
"The experience of yearning over this orphan boy moved our hearts to speak of Jesus, who bore with such long-suffering love our own rebelliousness ere we came to Him."
The story has been told before of the first poor girl rescued in the East of London through Miss Macpherson's blessed agency, one whose father had died suddenly of cholera, whose mother had thrown herself into a canal, and, though rescued, had been, through drink, a source of misery to her children. The eldest brother [Footnote: This boy, now a shoemaker, has written asking to be allowed to have one of the lads, as an apprentice.] of this poor girl, about sixteen years of age, had been brought out the previous year to Canada, and appearing one day at Marchmont, I thought from his looks and dress that he was one of the farmers' sons come to engage a boy, little thinking that so short a time had passed since he was destitute as the poorest among them.
In England we are so accustomed to the sorrowful sight of neglected children, it can hardly be imagined by us how such a fact strikes a Canadian. Often have I seen the tears in the eyes of the farmers at the sight of little ones brought so far to seek a home at such an early age. This was especially the case with regard to little Annie referred to in the following lines, the youngest of three sisters left motherless in a workhouse. When I last saw this little sufferer health and strength had been given to her, and she was the pet of all in a home of comfort.
"OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS."
"From the mouths of babes and sucklings," Was the Psalmist's grateful word, "Thou hast perfected Thy praises," And I thank Thee, gracious Lord.
And e'en yet from infant voices Words of wondrous meaning fall, And the Christian's heart rejoices, For he knows his Father's call.
Little Annie sat beside me, Smiles upon her baby face; Early sorrow, early suffering, On her cheek had left their trace.
Little feet, too weak to wander Where the merry children play; 'Neath the flickering aspen shadows, By broad Quinte's sunny bay.
Thoughts of pitying love came thronging As I thought how Jesus came; How He blessed the little children, How He healed the sick and lame.
So I asked the little maiden, "Annie, Jesus cares for you— If we saw Him now beside us, Can you think what He would do?"
Strangely solemn, seemed the answer, (Listen, sisters o'er the sea); "Jesus, just to you would give me, And would bid you care for me."
English sisters, rich and gifted! Ask your hearts, Can this be true? Christ hath many a homeless orphan, Is He saying this to you?
"Take this child and nurse it for Me?" Will you dare to say Him nay? Dare to let His children perish, Or in evil paths to stray?
If too stately are your dwellings, Send them hither, let them come; In our fair Canadian homesteads, Gladly we will make them room.
Room where orchard boughs are dropping Fruit that waits their hands to pull; Room to rest, and room to labour, Room in home, in church, in school.
When the winter snow lies sparkling, They shall share our winter joys, Tinkling bells and merry sleigh-ride, With our laughing girls and boys.
When our maple pours its nectar, They shall share the luscious treat; Where the woodland strawb'ries cluster, Glad shall stray their little feet.
When our Sabbath-scholars gather, They shall join the joyous throng; Sweet will sound their English voices, 'Mid the burst of children's song.
Sisters, shall we share the blessing? Bring the lambs to Jesu's fold? Ours are homes of peace and plenty, To your hands He gives the gold.
S. R. GELDARD.
The need of a Home further West—Burning of the Marchmont Home—Home restored by Canadian gifts—Miss Macpherson and Miss Reavell arrive in Canada—First visit to Knowlton in the East—Belleville Home restored by Canadian friends—Help for the Galt Home—Miss Macpherson returns to England—Miss Reavell remains at Galt.
In her first letter on returning to England Miss Macpherson writes:—
"BELOVED FELLOW-WORKERS,—Once more at home among the old familiar scenes in the East of London, the sadness and the sin shadows our joy and thanksgiving. My first visit in the immediate vicinity of the Refuge I shall not soon forget.
"Taking good news of Andrew in Canada to his mother, I found his father lying dead drunk in one corner, and his little brother lying dead waiting to be carried off to the grave by the parish in the other.
"In the first low women's lodging-house, I found a poor misguided girl asking me, 'How's my little sister?'
"Passing on to Mr. Holland in George Yard, I cheered him with answers to his many inquiries as to the placing out of his rescued ones.
"Many a warm shake of the hand I had from poor costermongers and grey-headed men, for what had been done for their belongings in taking them from the sin and want around.
"My way is now open to go forward, as means permit, to rescue girls and train them for Canada or for service in England."
Miss Macpherson goes on to tell of the purchase of the Galt Home, 300 miles westward, and states the need in these words:—
"We found that to educate our Canadian family, and thoroughly fit them to be of value to the farmer, a few fields to work upon would be an advantage, that they might see the effects of new soil and climate, in the growth of vegetables, shrubs, and farm produce."
"Thou hast tried us as silver is tried. We went through fire and through water, but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." This was the experience of the beginning of the year 1872. Miss Bilbrough's letter brings to mind Deut. xxxiii. 12.
"BELLEVILLE, January 29, 1872.
"DEAREST ANNIE,—It is indeed difficult to begin a letter to you, when I know you always open our letters feeling sure of good news. And yet this one brings you the best you ever had. Lives spared, I trust, to work more than ever for Him who hath done such great things for us. Our song is one of continual thankfulness and praise, and I know you will join us in giving thanks. Our beautiful Home lies in ruins, only the walls standing, and there is one little grave dug by Benjamin Stanley's, containing the ashes of little Robbie Gray.
"I hardly know how to begin, it still seems so terrible and real.
"We had had a happy Sabbath. We were to have an early breakfast next morning, and I awoke in the night thinking it was daylight. Miss Baylis came to my door, which was shut, saying, 'Miss Bilbrough, there's smoke!'
"I jumped up, and oh, the feeling, when I saw the house full of dense white smoke! I knew well what it must be. I rushed to Mr. Thorn's room, he was sleeping heavily, but I roused him, saying the house was on fire; then I went down to the boys, Philips and Keen, who were in the schoolroom, called them up and told them to save the children, and rushed upstairs, nearly choked, calling 'Fire!'
"Mrs. Wade, Miss Baylis, Miss Moore, all came out. Downstairs I ran again and unfastened the front door, and went to the corner of the verandah. Philips was getting out the children, and the flames were coming on with frightful rapidity; it was blowing a perfect hurricane, and the whole building was enveloped in smoke and ashes; I ran back half-way upstairs to see if I could get a dress, or my cash-box, or watch, but I was too much suffocated, and had to get back to the front door. Mrs. Wade, Miss Baylis, and the children, were making for the fence. I saw Mr. Thorn, and called to him to search again with Philips for the children.
"The intense cold in the snow seemed almost worse to bear than fire. We all climbed the fence and ran to the nearest house. Poor Mrs. Wade had got her hands frozen, even in that short time, as the thermometer was about twelve or fifteen degrees below zero.
"Here we called over the names of the children; some were here, some in another house, sitting over the stove with bare legs and only their little shirts on. Soon little Robbie was found missing, but Philips had lifted him out, and he had been seen running with the others; we suppose that the poor child, blinded with smoke, ran to the front door, and then went through into the schoolroom, the place he knew best, where he must soon have been suffocated. It was all over in a few minutes, all around was fearfully bright and lurid. The engine came, but was of course too late, the fire spread with such terrible rapidity.
"We sat almost stunned with fright and cold. Soon the Shearings and Elliotts came, bringing clothes, &c., and we went to dear Mrs. Elliott's house in a sleigh. It was not four A.M., and the fire was almost out, burning round the verandah and the window-sills.
"Oh, how our hearts went up in thankfulness to God for sparing mercies! A few moments more, and we dread to think of what might have been. Miss Baylis' door being ajar, the smoke got in; mine was shut, my room was free, but I saw the light on the window. Miss Moore was in Miss Lowe's bedroom; she could not realise it, and, after being first roused, was going to bed again.
"As soon as it was daylight I went with Mr. Thorn to see the ruins. All around the melted snow had frozen like iron; the thermometer, which was hung on the verandah, was found uninjured; nothing was found but a table and one stove; all gone. Books, papers, clothes, everything; but there in the blackened ruin lay distinctly the charred frame of little Robbie. Mr. Thorn went for Dr. Holden and a coffin, and the remains were brought to Mr. Elliott. Dear little fellow, he was the most prepared of any of the little ones to go. This is such a comfort to me now.
"I had gathered the little ones round me in the evening before the fire, when the others were at church, and we had sung some sweet hymns. I made Robbie especially stand beside me, and made him sing alone. 'I will sing for Jesus,' was the hymn he chose. He sang it sweetly. How little did I think in a few hours he would be singing the 'new song' before the throne! His history in our book is very touching. 'Robert Gray, aged six; a happy little man, who can say little or nothing about himself.' The rest of the page is blank, as he had never been away from Marchmont. An inquest was held over the body. We wished it especially, so that we might have an investigation as to the cause of the fire.
"Dearest Annie, when I think what it might have been, and the grief of all at home, and the intense sorrow, oh, it makes one so thankful! I felt Jesus very precious through it all, recognising His hand in so many ways. I had had much blessed communion with Him that Sunday, and several seasons of sweet prayer. I can fully realise that for me it would have been all right, if the Lord had ordered it otherwise; but for the sake of those at home I bless God for life spared, and trust earnestly the Lord may give us all increased power and spiritual life. Having passed through 'the fire,' may we also receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. And oh, may our lives be more and more devoted to His service! Not our own, but bought with a price, may we live more and more unto Him who hath loved us!
"Miss Moore was out at nine o'clock in the woodshed; all was safe then. Mrs. Wade locked the doors at ten with stable lantern in the wood-shed (the boys' summer dining-room), and then all was safe; the fire in the kitchen stove was out. She came shivering in to-prayers a little after ten. The parlour fire was nearly out, and Miss Baylis and I were quite cold. The fire upstairs was not lit, nor had any ashes been taken up on Sunday morning. If any had been removed on Saturday, they were placed in iron vessels in the first kitchen. The fire broke out in the further corner of the wood-shed. The cause is so far quite unknown, and will, I suppose, ever remain so.
"I send you the account of the inquest, and other papers, as I know well it is better to see and know all particulars. I cannot, however, tell of all the kindness and sympathy we have met with—a telegram from Mr. Claxton, offering money, &c., Hon. George Alien wishing to take the children; Mr. Eason: 'I am praying for you, can I help by coming?' numbers of friends coming with clothes of every kind; subscriptions got up to start a new Home immediately; sewing societies at work and ladies canvassing the town in every direction for help to furnish another Home at once. I could not even begin to particularise our friends. Mr. Flint came up at eight, begging me to come to his house.
"This afternoon we have buried little Robin. The service was held in Mr. Elliott's church.
"How often we have thought of home friends during the last few days, and longed that you might not hear the news in any way till this reaches you, which will be nearly three weeks! and now you must fancy us happy at our work again, and as much under the loving care and protection of our God as ever, trusting only to Him for everything, that whether absent from the body, or still in the flesh, we may be more and more filled with faith and love for the Lord's work.
"Wednesday. We seem each day to realise only more fully our marvellous escape. The firemen say they never remember such a night, nor saw a house burn so rapidly. Now every one is so kind; things keep pouring in for the new Home;—it is to be Canadian this time, not English. Mr. Flint says he has written to you, telling you all, but he could not tell you one quarter of the kindness we have met with on every hand.
"Oh, that verse in Isa. lxiv. II, is so expressive:
"'Our beautiful house where we praised Thee is burnt up with fire, and all our pleasant things are laid waste.' What a ruin Marchmont is now! the blackened ashes all around—nothing but the walls standing. I feel such mingled feelings as I look at it—all the happy days we have spent there—the holy associations never to return again.
"'We have no continuing city here,' was the text which filled Mr. Thorn's mind, and it is one we hope more than ever to keep before us. This trial seems to have given the four of us deeper sympathy and interest together. So nearly entering eternity together, and yet saved, we trust, to render more devoted service to the Master, for having passed through this fiery trial.
"I can hardly bear to think of all the sorrow you are feeling for us; but oh! let thanksgiving and praise be uppermost. It is the one thought that fills our minds. We are wonderful in health, no cold, and are as occupied as possible, looking after the children, and preparing for the new Home. Happily, Charlie the horse, the sleigh, and the buffalo robes are safe, and most useful we find them now.
"I am so thankful that it will be nearly three weeks ere you know, and you must think of it as past and gone, and, if possible, just at first see the beginning of great good in making the work more known, and rousing the sympathies of others."
What, Marchmont gone! That pleasant Home nought but a memory now; And yet, in humble thankfulness we bow,— Father, Thy will be done.
It was but lent: Thou wilt not that Thy children fix their heart On aught below: theirs is a better part— A treasury unspent.
Still are its memories dear! The maple shadows that around it lay, Stirred by the breezes from the silvery bay, Or bathed in moonlight clear—
How fair were they! Lovely when decked with earliest buds of spring, Loveliest when radiant autumn came to fling A glory on each spray.
Oh home of praise and prayer! Where glad sweet voices raised the morning hymn, Pleaded for blessing in the twilight dim, Or thrilled the midnight air.
Can we forget The meetings and the partings we have known? The welcome glad, the farewell's sadder tone— Ah, we remember yet.
We were not there When thro' its halls the fierce destroyer swept; But God was watching, while our dear ones slept— Safe were they in His care.
All safe with Him; Yes, for our Robbie "sings for Jesus" now In sweeter tones, with far more sunny brow, And eyes no tear's can dim.
They wait His word— Stanley and Robbie side by side—and we Caught up together with them soon shall be For ever with the Lord.
S. R. GELDARD.
All former kindness was as nothing compared to that now received, as will be seen by the following from Miss Bilbrough:—
"BELLEVILLE, February 2, 1872.
"I know that many many prayers are now being offered for us, and that the Lord is answering them every minute, giving us sustaining grace and wisdom, and help as to the future. I knew it would be five weeks before I could hear from you, and I could trust that all we might arrange here would meet your approval, as it has generally done.
"However, the Belleville people, with Mr. Flint at their head, quite took the matter out of my hand, being determined that they would provide and furnish themselves a still better house than Marchmont. The sympathy awakened is great, and the pleasure of friends at hearing that we could have a large substantial house on the Kingston Road for our orphan children was equally so. Mr. Flint has secured it for three years, the Council paying the rent and taxes, and sufficient is already gathered to furnish it. So that when the first arrivals come in May, all will be ready for them.
"How good the Lord is! even out of apparent trial He brings the good. We had been praying for special blessing, and in this way, (strange as it seems to us), we do recognise the answer."
In March, Miss Macpherson writes:—
"BELOVED FRIENDS,—While you are reading this, my pathway will again be upon the mighty deep. The Lord willing, I look to leave Liverpool by steam-ship 'Scandinavian,' March 7th. Miss Reavell, who has for two years been our scribe in the Refuge, accompanies me. Your prayers have gone up that blessing may be ours, as a little band of feeble workers for our Lord, and if He has been pleased to try our faith by the trial of fire, shall we not praise Him for anything His loving hand doth send us? And as one has beautifully said, 'What God takes it is always gain to lose.' Heaven is nearer now our little Robbie is there; Jesus is dearer, and has quickened us all by His constraining love.
"My object in going now to Canada without children is twofold. Strength being given, my desire is to visit the new districts, where I hope in the coming summer to place out the hundreds now under excellent training and holy influence here and in Scotland, and to find out Christian families who may be willing to receive them on arrival. Plead that the Holy Spirit may fill with power those who are daily seeking to win these wanderers back to the fold.
"Secondly, I wish to make use of the late sad calamity, and God's wonderful interposition in saving life, so that the teaching may not be lost upon the hundreds of immortal souls connected with our mission."
It is impossible to describe the eagerness with which the arrival of these dear friends was looked for, and day after day, those in service in and around Belleville would come with the hope of seeing them. And among these were former match-box makers, who had been rescued from such depths of sorrow; one of whom had already saved from her wages sufficient to pay her brother's passage out, besides bringing offerings of her own work towards the furnishing of Miss Macpherson's room in the new House. Through many dangers they were brought safely, in answer to many prayers, but Miss Reavell had suffered much on the voyage, and one special instance of the Lord's care I cannot help here recording, "They shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness." Miss Reavell had been a most diligent and necessary labourer at the Home of Industry night and day. At sea her strength seemed to fail; she only existed on oranges, and the last orange was gone. In the midst of a fearful storm, signals were made by another vessel that they were without food, and the life-boat was put off from the steamer, carrying to the distressed vessel a barrel of flour and pork In return, a thank-offering came in the shape of two boxes of the best oranges, the ship being from Palermo, bound for New York with a cargo of fruit. "Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
The visit of Miss Barber, a Canadian lady of influence, to the Home of Industry, was the means of interesting friends in the Eastern Townships' Province of Quebec, and of leading them to open a Home at Knowlton.
The following letter is from Miss Macpherson:—
"The year's experiment in this new district will enable us to test it as to whether it will be a suitable one for our children; if so, it will not cost many pounds of English money. The old house we have taken was formerly a tavern, and its ball-room will make us an excellent dormitory; the rent is only 20 pounds, and is paid entirely by a Canadian. Should the children thrive under the fostering care of our dear friend Miss Barber (now doubly dear to us all after the winter of help she has given us in the East of London), there will be no difficulty in establishing a permanent Home, built of brick, half of the necessary sum having already been subscribed in and around Sheffield, Leeds, and Nottingham; and the other half our friends in the province of Quebec have freely offered to collect. Thus will those both on this side and at home share the benefits; the old country seeing hundreds educated that might otherwise in a few years become expensive criminals, and the new country, receiving, ere habits are fixed, young life which, in future, will call Canada 'the home of its adoption.'
"Though, according to all accounts, this is an uncommonly heavy snow-season, I have no fears for the children, the air is so dry and clear, and well fitted to invigorate their frames. This morning I started about five o'clock, and soon forgot the fear which had crept over me but a week ago, when I took my first winter journey among these snowy hills. 'Knowledge is power,' and the experience of dangers met and passed gives quietness and confidence.
"You will be imagining that owing to these prolonged snow-storms all work is stayed. Not so; everything goes on most vigorously— lumbering, carting, cutting wood for summer's need. Ladies seem always busy; yet as it is often seen, those who have most to do can best arrange to be at leisure. There is an education of forethought caused by having to watch against the heat and cold; this has deeply interested me in the practical manner in which they are going to work in furnishing this Eastern Townships' Home. In return for the kindness shown to this Mission, may the whole district be spiritually blessed, and may our loving Lord be the joy and strength of each faithful labourer!
"The heavy calamity that it pleased our Father to send by fire, has accomplished in a few weeks that which would otherwise, humanly speaking, have taken many years to make known. Our motives and principles of service were all new, and even our simple faith and trust in prayer were often misunderstood. Though we had travelled several thousands of miles in Canada, seeking to stir up Christians to aid us in finding and watching over the right home for our children, we had no medium on this side like 'The Christian,' by which we could communicate with those like-minded, and tell them of our burdens.
"The Hon. B. Flint tells us how the hearts of his fellow-townsmen were moved with compassion on hearing of the destruction of the Children's Home, on that terrible night, and that some of them attempted to ascend the hill and offer aid, but had to turn back, unable to face the hurricane and tempest.
"The citizens of Belleville have contributed freely towards replacing the Home, and the Lord's dear children all over the land have sent their love-offerings. The County Council received testimonies from many of the homesteads concerning the six hundred children placed out round Belleville, and generously contributed 500 dollars to show their esteem for the work. The funds in hand led Mr. Flint, after the withdrawal of the rented house at first proposed, to purchase a freehold of three and a quarter acres, possessing a good house and out-buildings, which were adapted to our use by the addition of dormitories, and furnished by the aid of the ladies of Belleville. This Home is now given to us for so long as it shall be used by our mission band in connection with the emigration of children to this district."
In April, a detachment of thirty elder boys arrived, to be followed quickly by others.
In June 1872, when 150 emigrants arrived, 50 children were sent to each of the three Homes now opened to receive them, and for several years this order was observed, until other arrangements were made to meet the growing character of the work.
The following tells of the progress of the Galt Home:—
"Many will wish to know how this Home at Galt shapes itself, and would be amused at the varied occupations of the past week.
"A Canadian springtime is very brief, so we have had to buy a span of horses and a plough, and, with the aid of other neighbours' ploughs, the corn and clover seed will soon be all sown. The ladies of several churches have met in the council-chamber, and worked at all household gear, others superintending the house arrangements, and purchasing necessary things.
"My part has been that of a faithful recipient, giving praise from hour to hour to Him who hath laid my every burden here on His own children's hearts. The past little season has been to me a precious rest-time, seeing others work. We expect to be all in order by the arrival of our next party. The threshing-floor we have transformed into a dining-room; one of the barns is fitted up as a dormitory. The chaff-house makes a lavatory; and, from the interest around, we do not expect to keep our little men very long out of the homes waiting for them.
"The love-tokens here, as at home, are varied in their character. Our farmer's wife has set us up with poultry, another with eggs; a little boy brought us his pet hen as an offering; indeed, wherever we turn, some kind thought is shown, and our hearts are gladdened, and our faith is able to rejoice at the prospect of returning home, and gathering up another thousand precious young immortals from the depths of our sin-stricken cities, and placing them out in homes where Jesus is loved."
In June, Miss Macpherson was welcomed back with warm thanksgivings, having left the Home at Galt under the wise and loving care of her faithful companion, Miss Reavell. In after years Mr. and Mrs. Merry devoted themselves chiefly to this branch of the work, and have been the watchful and tender foster parents of this ever-varying family. It would be hard to say whether Mrs. Merry's presence was more valued here, or among the sorrowful widowed mothers in Spitalfields.
Letter from Rev. A. M. W. Christopher—Letter from Gulf of St. Lawrence-Mrs. Birt's Sheltering Home, Liverpool—Letter to Mrs. Merry—Letter from Canada—Miss Macpherson's return to England— Letter of cheer for Dr. Barnardo—Removal to Hackney Home.
Though human praise is not sought, we cannot but feel peculiar pleasure in giving the following testimony from a servant of the Lord so much revered as the Rev, A. M. W. Christopher of Oxford:—
"Of all the works of Christian benevolence which the great love of Christ constrains His servants to carry on, with which I have become personally acquainted, not one, has impressed me more deeply, by its great usefulness, than the work of God carried on by Miss Macpherson and her fellow-labourers. She has in three years transplanted more than twelve hundred boys and girls from almost hopeless circumstances of misery and temptation in Great Britain, to healthy, happy, industrious homes in Canada. And this has not been all; daily efforts have been made in faith and love during the period of training, and on the voyage, and in the Distributing Homes in Canada, to win these young hearts for Christ by means of the Gospel. There can be no doubt that God has blessed these labours of love to bring many to Himself in the Lord Jesus.
"When I was in Canada last September, I made three special journeys expressly to visit Miss Macpherson's three 'Distributing Homes' at Galt, Belleville, and Knowlton, respectively in the west, centre, and east of the Dominion.
"On September 10, 1872, I left Toronto at 5.30 A.M., and travelled 113 miles to the east along the Grand Trunk Railway to Belleville, which is 220 miles west of Montreal. I took the Lady Superintendent, Miss Bilbrough, by surprise. Her sister was with her, having lately brought over a hundred boys. These two young but experienced Christians are evidently full of faith and energy and delight in their work and of lore to the children. About a thousand boys and girls brought out, or sent out by Miss Macpherson, had passed through the Home in three years. She has herself placed out 800 boys and girls, 600 of whom are in homes around Belleville. She meets with the kindest reception from the farmers with whom she has placed these children. She could place out a thousand more if they were at once sent out, the demand is so great. All the orphan children under nine years of age are adopted by farmers who have no children, to be treated exactly as if they were their own. Miss Bilbrough, and also the Lady Superintendents at Galt and Knowlton, never place a child in a home unless the farmer brings a testimonial from his minister.
"The burning of the Home very much touched the people of Canada, who had learned to appreciate the efforts for good connected with it; and, unasked for, dollars from kind Canadians poured in. Miss Bilbrough had daily to write thanks to many. More than 3000 dollars (600 pounds) were soon sent in, and instead of renting a house, they were able to buy the first-rate one they now occupy, and which was given to Miss Macpherson, with so much kind feeling, by the Canadians.
"I was equally interested in the work of Miss Reavell in the Home at Galt, to the west of Toronto. This had only been established a few months before I visited it. Here also I was greatly impressed by the patient, painstaking Christian lore of those who had charge of the children. The children looked healthy, and happy, and ready for work.
"The last Home I visited was at Knowlton, an eastern township of the Quebec Province, south of the St. Lawrence. I heard that Miss Barber, the Lady Superintendent, was nursing some of the children who had the smallpox. I went to see her. It was quite clear that the love of Christ constrained her to devote herself with all her heart and strength to the children committed to her care. I spoke with the uninfected children before I saw her. I was interested to see how accustomed they had been whilst in this Home to be treated with love. Soon three little ones climbed upon my knees, whilst I talked of Jesus to them and the elder ones. Miss Barber is a lady of good position, the half-sister of the excellent Judge of that district, lately Minister of Agriculture in the Dominion Government. In early life she had very bad health, but has been raised up frond great weakness to work most diligently for Christ among the children who pass through her Home. Her brother, the Judge, and his wife, who live at Knowlton, zealously do all they can to help the good work.
"Many in England know better than I do the great work for God, carried on in connection with Miss Macpherson's 'Home of Industry,' Commercial Street, Spitalfields, and the similar Homes at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Liverpool. Others may visit these, and have their hearts stirred up to help forward the work by what they see in those Homes; but Canada is a great way off, and, as an independent witness, I desire to bear the strongest testimony to the Christian usefulness of the work, and to the faithful, the wise and careful manner in which it is carried on. A far greater number of children might be thus transplanted with the best results, under God's blessing, if sufficient means were supplied to Miss Macpherson. May I not hope that the great love of Christ will constrain those who read this paper to send help promptly, so that this work may be extended, and that many more children may be rescued. Remember, dear reader, the love of your Saviour for little children. 'Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which, was also in Christ Jesus' (Phil ii. 4, 5). 10 pounds will fit out, and pay the passage of a child. How can 10 pounds be better spent? Try, dear reader, and raise 10 pounds among your friends, if you cannot give it yourself. Or do what you can, however little that may seem to you to be. The matter is urgent, the season is passing away. Pray send help at once, and strive to interest your friends in the work. How many more might be rescued! What a contrast there is between the photographs of the miserable, hopeless children, taken when they are received at the Homes in this country, and the photographs of the same children after they have been a few months in Canada; I have many such contrasts with me. They would move you to help this work of love. But. the love of Christ must be the great motive; yet we should not forget that the Holy Spirit taught St. Paul to write, 'He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart so let him give: not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver' (2 Cor. ix. 6, 7)."
In May of this year, Miss Macpherson took out another party of young emigrants, and writes as follows:—
"On board 'Circassian,' Gulf of St. Lawrence, May 5th, 1873.
"MY DEAR FELLOW-WORKERS,—Hitherto our blessed experience has been that 'The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, and the Lord shall cover him all day long;' 'The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.' Our song is one of unmingled praise, and our little band is strengthened and invigorated by the voyage,—no storm permitted to alarm us by day or night We are now entering the mighty Gulf, and passing through fields of ice; but 'He who hath compassed the waters with bounds, and divided the sea with His power,' maketh a right way for us and our little ones."
"Morning and evening, my dear fellow-workers have been enabled to continue sowing precious seed in these young hearts, so soon to bid us farewell. Our steerage has been the rendezvous, when weather permitted, of those who love praise and prayer. In quietness and rest we have sought to renew our strength by waiting upon the Lord; holding up your hands by prayer, dear fellow-labourers, grasping the precious fulness of the promises, for you as well as for ourselves, that every opportunity given you upon Rag-market, in the courts and sorrowful dens around our Home, in every small room prayer-meeting, or-when you gather around the Word, may have been used, and accompanied by the 'demonstration of the Spirit' and signs following."
"We have to-day realised answers to your prayers for us, whilst cutting through miles of ice, going at the rate of two knots an hour, but all has been peace and safety."
"We are now beyond the vast acres of frozen sea, and every hour brings us into a warmer climate, and nearer to our desired haven. Those interested in our little band, may rest assured it has been a happy voyage with each one. Not one case of disobedience has caused us anxiety. Early to sleep and early on deck has given good appetites, as all their brown and rosy cheeks do testify. At this point of our journey we recall the experience of May 1870, entering a way unpassed heretofore. Now can we praise with a full heart, and testify that His own 'I wills,' in Isa. xlii. 16, have been realised by us as a little band.
"We are now about to land with our 1520th child, our twelfth voyage, without a storm, thousands of welcomes from warm hearts awaiting us. Open doors in scores of towns around each of our three missionary centres, ready to receive the evangelists who travel with us. We ask continued prayers that they may be young Stephens, filled with faith and power, and that we maybe guided in the right distribution of the tracts and books we carry with us.
"And oh, dear pleaders, remember the many lonely, little hearts we are finding homes for; it is very sorrowful work unbinding, as it were, the little twinings their sweet, obedient ways have already bound around us. Many were writing letters this morning ready to post when landing, but very many had not a love-link to earth. One little fellow said, 'I ain't got nobody to write to but you.' The one most lonely as to earth's relationships will soon become a solitary one set in a family; and again, if permitted, we shall return and gather in another family from the sad, sad, million-peopled city.—Yours, in the bonds of the Gospel,
"P. S.—May 7. We have landed under the brightest sunshine, on a warm, balmy June-like day, feeling deeply thankful for all our heavenly Father's mercies. A deputation of Quebec Christian sisters awaited our touching the shore. What a bond is ours in Christ Jesus!"
Allusion has been made to the Home opened by Mrs. Birt at Liverpool; and the following letter will show the heart-rending nature of the scenes occurring there as in London:—
"Dear Friends,—On the 12th of May last we opened the above Home, and there were present on the occasion more ladies and gentlemen whose hearty sympathy seemed with us, than the large room could comfortably hold. One little destitute fellow was presented as the first to enter for protection and kindly care. Since then ninety poor tiny creatures have been admitted, and these alike share in the love, attention, and comfort found within the walls of this happy Home.
"Through the great kindness of the friend who placed the premises at our disposal, we have obtained an additional room, which enables us to rescue some little girls, many of whom are orphans, who dragged out a miserable existence by begging for food, and sleeping wherever they could find shelter; others, worse off, were, through their relationship, running every risk of being reared to a life of infamy and ruin. Others are the children of widowed mothers, who say they are willing to work, but finding none of a continuous character, have rapidly sunk to a condition of wretchedness from which it seems impossible they can rise.
"Seventy have rapidly progressed, and are so obedient and anxious to please, that so far as training in this country is concerned, they are in a fit state of preparedness for emigration to Canada; and from the statements received from our sister, Miss Macpherson, of the increased and increasing demand from Canadian families for useful boys and girls, to assist them in their house and farm duties, we do think that these should be taken without delay to the comfortable homes waiting to receive them,—homes in which they will be trained to habits of industry, usefulness, and saving.
"The boys' clothes are near completion, and the girls' outfits are being made, and greatly helped on by the kind-hearted exertions of Christian ladies in Liverpool and Birkenhead, who have brought to the Sheltering Home their own sewing-machines, and plied them at full speed on our behalf at the weekly sewing-meetings held on Wednesdays, from eleven till five P.M. At these gatherings, much to the gratification of the ladies, the little ones whose garments they were sewing, have sung for their pleasure children's sweet hymns of praise to Him by whose love they were being cared for.
"My heart, and the hearts of my few but loving helpers who live with me in the Home, have been nearly broken this afternoon by witnessing a sight so terrible, that we hope and pray we may never see the like again. A most depraved, drunken, and wicked father, set on by two women more wicked (because more cunning) than himself, dragged out of our Home by main force two dear little girls he had himself, when more sober, besought us many times to take in. They knelt, they prayed, they begged as for dear life to be left in the Home; when, refused by him again and again, they saw he was urged on by the women to drag them out, they gave way to their poor little wills and screamed, 'I won't go with you! I won't go with you! I know where you will take us to! You never cared one bit for us, but now, that we are clean and comfortable, and learning to read, you wish to take me back. If you do, I will get something to take my life away, rather than live with you!' And by the man's sheer force they were carried screaming from the Home; and the last thing we heard, through their shrieks, was the father uttering threats we cannot repeat. I ran to my little room to hide myself and weep; but I heard them screaming still, as the poor girls made one more desperate effort at resistance. Though now it is three hours since, I hear their screaming yet; and, dear friends, I think I shall hear it till I die. As a little band, we are completely petrified, bruised, and sore, quivering in every nerve, looking up earnestly to God to know His Will, and praying that we may have all the other dear ones left to train for Him; for the Roman Catholic spirit is bitterness itself against thus teaching the little ones.
"'Jesus loves me, this I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong, They are weak, but He is strong.'
"Dear friends, pray for our little ones. Money is useful, personal help is useful; the thoughtful gifts we receive from time to time are useful; but prayer—which 'moves the hand that moves the world'—is more useful than all beside. Pray for our children; for those we purpose taking to new homes in a distant land, that they may never disgrace the Home they have been sheltered in; and for those who have been torn away from us, that they may be preserved from temptation, and from becoming a curse. Then shall we joyfully take them forth, and in God's good time return, and again fill up this spacious Home, and feel it the greatest privilege of our life to labour among the poor neglected little ones of the streets of these large cities. Share then in the blessing wrapped up in the King's word, 'Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'"
How great is the contrast in turning from these heart-rending details, to the following letters from across the Atlantic:—
"BELLEVILLE, June 7th, 1873.
"My dear Mrs. Merry,—I wish you had been with us to-day, and seen part of the result of all your patient toil and joyous service for the Lord daring the past five years' work among His little ones.
"Knowing the joy it would be to so many of them to see dear Miss Macpherson, we sent out postal-card invitations to those living within 25 miles. Some few were unable to accept; but between seventy and eighty children, with their employers, came in one by one, looking so brown and healthy. You would hardly recognise in the tall, slim youth, now quite a help to his master, a carpenter by trade, the little, tender-hearted George M—, eldest of three orphan brothers. It hardly seems three years ago since their father stood up in a gathering of Christians, and with failing breath declared what the Lord had done for his soul. Then you remember how quietly he passed away, leaving his three boys entirely in Miss Macpherson's care. All doing so well in Canada—Fred and little Johnnie still in their first homes.
"One great pleasure of the children was to roam over the Home under the orchard blossoms, glancing over the books of photographs and recognising some friend or mate with whom some far different days had been spent. Among the attractions were the tables of toys, pictures, books, &c., sent out by English friends; and here the little ones spent some of their hoarded cents, thinking so much of anything really English. About twelve o'clock we gathered in the flower garden in front, while sandwiches, buns, and milk were passed round among the children. Your sister sat with them chatting to them of old times, and answering many questions as to former companions and still loved though often silent English friends. Can you picture the eager listeners to the familiar voice of one who was to them the link between the sorrowful past and the happy future?—a Bible lesson on the lost sheep. My eyes often filled with tears when I looked at their bright faces, and blessed God for the open door for them in this country. There stood Jamie D—, who, with his little brother Hughie, formed one of the saddest photographs of childish wretchedness even Glasgow streets could produce; so bright, so well-dressed, though still with a little of the old look of childish care. William C—, the little fellow of four years old, whose mother died in India, and the father on his return sank in a London hospital, leaving little Willie friendless, was here with a lovely bunch of hot-house flowers ready to present to Miss Macpherson, and to receive from her one of the beautifully illustrated scrap-books made by little English children. Willie has been nearly three years in his happy home, surrounded by all the influences of education and refinement.
"Now the friends were gathering thickly, and listened while an earnest address was given to the boys by Miss Macpherson. When she ceased, first one and then another gentleman stood up and gave their earnest, hearty sympathy with and approval of the work, and of the character of the boys. And here I must tell you, in passing, we attribute much to the loving, tender training of your Hampton Home. It is not that Canadian farmers would put up with anything, or that a bad boy is so useful that his faults are overlooked; for here every single boy is thoroughly known, and discussed over all the country side. Mr. Grover, from the village of Colborne, quite cheered our hearts with the good accounts of the twenty in his neighbourhood, most of whom have joined his classes, and by their steady industrious conduct are recommending themselves.
"He said, 'I do not speak without personal experience. W. O—- has been two years in my employ, and a more truthful, upright, honest boy, I would not wish to have; he has left now to learn further about farming, and I immediately applied for another one from Marchmont, and believe W. S—- will prove as successful and honest a servant.' Then the Rev. William Bell stood up and bore testimony to your favourite Tommy—one of the rescues from Mr. Holland's Shelter, in 1869. 'I have boarded now over a year in the good farmer's home, where Tommy S—-lives. He is as good, and truthful, and honest a boy as I would wish to have about a house; and his master so appreciates his services that he gives him fifty dollars for his first year. These boys are in every way a blessing, and advantage to our country.' Mr. V., who has been already alluded to, said, 'I sought guidance and direction from the Lord before I came to the Home, now nearly three years ago, and then I only intended to take one boy; I have never regretted I took two. Except one or two days, they have never missed school; indeed I do not believe any one could hire them to stay away. I know that their labour morning and evening repays me for any expense I am at, and they can be at school all the time.' Miss Macpherson then told these two boys, F—- and T—-, of her last visit to their grandmother in the tidy attic in Bethnal Green, and how pleased she was to receive the five dollars they had sent her. Mr. Ward, a farmer from Sidney, had brought his little boy, Tommy S—-; and Johnnie, the brother, had come from a home across the Bay of Quinte. So there was a touching meeting, and many experiences for the two brothers to relate, during one month's absence. Mr. Ward told how he intended to educate his boy, and trusted he might yet fill some prominent position, for which by natural gifts he seemed well qualified. Speaking of the religious character of the work, he said, 'I asked him who had taught him so much of Jesus? He told me he did not even know who He was till he was taken into the Refuge; but now he knows about Him, and of His love for little children.' I know you will like to hear particulars of H. W—-, whose sad history excited so much sympathy, and for whom the noble-man's little son gave up his pet pony that he might have the money to emigrate him. Well, you could not tell the round-faced, happy boy, to be the same. He brought four dollars he had earned towards his passage money; is in a good home, and doing well. Also of George and Mary F—-, who met, after ten months' separation, so changed that they hardly recognised each other. How it would cheer their kind rescuer's heart (Mr. George Holland) could he see them now! but I knew nothing, not even such joy as this, could tempt him away from his special work; so I sent the children, to their great delight, to the town to get their likenesses taken to send him.
"Altogether the day was a most happy one. But no onlooker could fully understand the deep, rich joy of looking into those happy faces. Only those who had watched over and prayed with them from the beginning could at all enter into this peculiar feeling; and many earnest prayers ascended that these loving, tender hearts might be won for the Saviour, and from among them many ambassadors for Jesus might yet go forth. And for you too, dear friend, that you may be strengthened and helped; ever remembering the promise, 'Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days' (Eccles. xi. i).—Yours, in sweet work for the Lord,
"Ellen A. Bilbrough."
"My very dear Sister,—Could you but see me this morning, started on my peregrinations in these snowy regions, you would be amazed. The poor worn head perfectly well, after a whole week in the quiet, restful Home at Knowlton, where children are being trained, sewing-meetings and Bible-readings held, farmers conversed with, and my privilege has been to hold up the hands of my two companions, who went forth to address Sunday-schools or to preach the gospel.
"Fancy me starting yesterday morning, fixed up in my delightfully warm fur cloak, and many other ingenious devices, to defy the cold, wintry blast, a drive of eighteen miles. During the journey we stopped twice. The first time we met with one of our once poor, pale-faced rescues, Katie D—-. What a change, now happy and useful, compared to the time when we sheltered her from the dreaded return of her drunken father from prison!
"As the night closed in, the cold caused us to hasten to our journey's end as quickly as the strength of our Home horse would admit of. But cheery was it to be told by our friend, as we passed one farmhouse after another, 'We have a boy here and a girl there doing well.' Sometimes it would be, 'We have had to move a boy; his temper did not suit; but since he has been back to the Home, and placed out again with a firmer master, he is doing much better.' A very hearty Canadian welcome awaited us. Ushered into a warm room, our wraps taken off, soon we were seated, enjoying a 'high' tea. It snowed all night, and drifted in at every crevice of our bedroom window.
"Snow fell all day, and to my idea it seemed improbable for many to gather for a meeting. The village street was enlivened all day by the constant passing of the sleighs, with merry jingle of bells. It was indeed a new scene to witness the gathering of a meeting to hear of the orphan and destitute children, whose cause we had come to plead, and contradict a report which had gone forth in their district, that it was a mass of jail-birds we had brought from England.
"As we arrived, a farmer kindly offered to broom the snow from our feet—a process all seemed prepared to do for each other. Then, in a good-sized hall, about fifty of all ages gathered around an immense stove—ministers, doctors, and farmers, with their belongings. Chairs in front of the stove were set for the minister and myself.
"After singing 'Rock of Ages,' etc., and prayer, it was so like a family, that it became easy just to tell real story after story as to how we find the children, where the means come from, and what is required of those who receive them.
"The minister then present was one who, having heard of the work at the commencement; had gone to the Home and received little Bessie, aged ten. She now came up and gave me a hearty kiss, and then, so childlike, showed me her new winter garments. Now who was Bessie? The child of a surgeon who had rained his family by intemperance. The mother, a teacher in a ladies' school in Germany, earning her own bread, after a long and heavy struggle. Bessie is loved and is being educated in everything to make her a useful woman.
"Next morning we started for visits to several children. Found the first child gone to school. We saw her looking well as we passed the school-house, and called her out. All we saw that day filled our hearts with deepest thankfulness. The meeting in the evening was held in the Congregational Church, well warmed and lighted, and a most intelligent-looking gathering. Ere long I espied one of the orphan lads, and called him to me, that he might speak for himself, knowing that his own words would endorse the work more forcibly than anything I could say. He was a bright, intellectual looking youth of fourteen, who in a most manly way answered me a few questions. In this way we are securing the prayers of God's dear children, and, we trust, opening many a heart and home for those who may yet come forth from the dens of sin and iniquity of our great cities.
"Our Canadian horse seemed to enjoy the snow as much as we did, even though the depth had tripled since our leaving home. How much on this journey we have learnt of the continued loving-kindness of our covenant-keeping God, making our fears fly, and giving protection from the stormy blasts, in forms so comparatively new to us. Every person is so kind to us that we are so glad we have been led to yield to this service as a child. Many a door, we trust, will soon be wide open for earnest evangelists to come and be fresh voices, cheering our brethren who are labouring on in these small towns away from the front.
"Pray on for us, as a band, that we take not one step before the Lord, but that we hold not back on account of our weakness or the fear of man. Ask for us that we may each one live so close to the Lord, that we may be fitted to deal personally with those we meet with.
"We are frequently holding up your hands and praying that daily the Lord will send the means with the children, and that you all be sustained in health. Grace and peace be with you all—Yours, in sweet fellowship, A. MP.
"Eastern Townships, Prov. of Quebec, November 18, 1873."
In March, 1874, Miss Macpherson returned from Canada filled with praise for the encouragement met with. She had been enabled to plead the cause of her children before many in positions of influence, judges, merchants, lawyers, and doctors. A choice of two hundred homes, amidst the love and affluence of that country, were now awaiting her little rescued ones. Her own joy was increased by receiving the letter of which she thus writes:—
"The enclosed letter will cheer our brother Dr. Barnardo, by showing what a home God has provided for a dear little boy he was permitted to rescue and train. Surely the departed mother, from whom our brother received the child, would feel that the Lord is indeed the Father of the fatherless.
'DEAR MISS,—I embrace this early opportunity of letting you know how well pleased we all are with, and how much we like, little Henry Tuppen. He is such a willing, obedient, and loving fellow, he has won all our hearts, and we feel very much attached to him already. Many, very many thanks to you and your fellow-labourers for the invaluable, yes, priceless, lessons he has received under your kind care. Surely this is much more than "the cup of cold water," and "you shall in no wise lose your reward." Oh, may we discharge our duty as you have towards this dear little orphan! My visit to you and your home that morning was a great blessing to me; never shall I forget it. To hear that dear little fellow sing "Bright Jewels," and look around over the group of little ones, far from native home, and father and mother, brother and sister, and think, "These are the jewels, precious jewels," it seemed to bring heaven near. And truly the Saviour was present. I never think of it but the tear starts, and a silent prayer is offered that the Lord will give them all good Christian homes, and that they may be all 'bright jewels,' and great shall be your reward. Their heavenly Father sees it all.
'But I am forgetting my main object in writing to you, which is to ask you if the little girl, the elder of the two whom we saw, is yet provided with a home. If not, we have room for her, and should be glad to have her. She would be such good company for my sister, who is at home with mother. She would be treated in every way as a daughter and a sister. Father is very sorry he did not bring her that morning. It seems he thought of it then, but wished to talk it over with the rest of the family.'"
Miss Macpherson adds:—
"Who is the little girl asked for to become a daughter and sister? None other than the little Eliza who was found deserted seven years ago, when only a few weeks old, and who has been most carefully trained since then by our beloved sister-labourer, Miss Mittendorf, whose toil among infant wanderers deserves the deepest gratitude of the children of God."
The Homes at Hampton, endeared as they were by recollections of many blessings, were this year vacated. The distance from Spitalfields had always been a great strain on the strength of wearied workers, and both time and fatigue were spared by removal to Hackney.
The opening of this Home is thus mentioned:—
November 5, 1874.
"On Saturday, the New Home situated in London-fields was opened with prayer and thanksgiving. It consists of two large old-fashioned houses thrown into one, and the situation is, for the neighbourhood, remarkably open and airy. Many friends assembled, Mr. Dobbin presided, and suggested, at the opening of the meeting, an analogy between the Home of Industry, with its various stations, and the pool of Bethesda 'having five porches.' Much prayer, and praise followed, and worshipful hearts told themselves out in love and adoration. Such hymns as 'Call them in,' 'Till He come,' and 'More to Follow,' aptly expressed the aspirations and hopes of the earnest workers. Mr. Merry, Mr. Maude, and others spoke, and then Mrs. Birt, only two days since returned from Nova Scotia, gave accounts of the success of the recent voyage, when eighty-three rescued children found happy homes on the other side of the water, and most touching particulars of the death of little Dickie, who went actually into the earthly harbour, and entered the heavenly haven of rest at the same time. In the bustle of arrival, 'he was not, for God took him.'"
Mrs. Way's sewing—class for Jewesses—Bible Flower Mission—George Clarice—Incidents in home work—The Lord's Day—Diary at sea— Letters of cheer from Canada.
The Home of Industry has been already likened to the Pool of Bethesda with its fine porches. Many sights there have been peculiar to itself, and in no instance has this in past years been more remarkable, than in the meeting for Jewesses, which has been carried on ever since the year 1870. From fifty to seventy daughters of Israel are gathered weekly, through the Lord's blessing on the patient, unwearied labours of his honoured servant Mrs. Way. Greatly indeed should she be honoured, for she diligently sought out these lost sheep, when few comparatively could be found to "care for their souls." When first told of "the name at which every knee shall bow," much scorn and contempt were manifested, but Mrs. Way is now cheered by many signs of the Spirit's work, and when a hymn of praise to the "Crucified One," is heard from the inner hall on the ground floor, visitors may be startled to know the voices are those of Hebrew mothers.
Again the Pool of Bethesda is brought to mind, as love for the sick and suffering is shown in a way hitherto unthought of. In 1875, the Home of Industry became a centre of the now well-known Bible Flower Mission. One of the much-loved helpers recorded this touching incident:—
"In the early spring of 1874, a snowdrop, primrose, and two or three violets which had been casually enclosed in a letter from an East-end worker to Mrs. Merry, were passed round her sewing class of 200 poor old widows, 'for each to have a smell,' and then divided and given to three dying Christians, one of whom breathed her last fondly clasping them. From that time flowers were collected through the medium of 'Woman's Work,' etc., and during the season distributed by the ladies at the Home of Industry among the sick in the neighbouring courts, and in different hospitals.
"Again the hedges, tipped with tiny coral buds, primroses, and daffodils peeping up amid the brushwood, golden-eyed celandines and daisies lifting their sweet faces with smiles of welcome, remind us of the near approach of the bright spring-time. But the heart is saddened, and the joy of seeing this fresh burst of resurrection— loveliness is clouded, when we turn to gloomy, stifling courts and lanes in the crowded cities, where gleams of sunshine scarce ever penetrate; the lives of whose miserable inhabitants are yet more utterly devoid of brightness; to whom the voice of spring is an unmeaning sound; to sick ones in these courts, who have no easier couch for the pain-filled limbs than a heap of shavings on the hard floor of a room filled with noisy children, and disorderly men and women; to other sufferers tossing feverishly in hospital wards, with nothing softer for the tired eyes to rest on than the endless stretch of whitewashed walls, the background of long rows of patients whose sad pale cheeks vie in whiteness with the sheets and walls: and the cry ascends?
"'Oh, that a tithe of the wealth of fragrant, many-coloured flowers so lavishly spread over gardens, fields, and hedgerows, could be brought to cheer those who so dearly prize each separate bloom!'