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Jun 21 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, June 21, 1902

The Trend of Modern Charity

The National Conference of Charities and Correction has just concluded its 29th annual meeting at Detroit. Speaking of the trend of modern charity as indicated by the discussions in this conference, the Outlook says:

"A significant feature of modern charity is the reaction it illustrates against institutionalism and the emphasis it places upon individual development. Equally characteristic is the accent it places upon home life. It exerts every energy to keep the home intact. The modern idea of placing out children with private families and paying their board, if necessary, instead of committing them to institution, and the endeavor to break up the solidarity and monotony of massive institutions and reorganize them on the cottage home plan, are attempts to preserve and reconstruct the best conditions of family life. Communistic socialism has thus far received little support from modern organized charity."

The Mistake of Institutionalism

Although I have serious doubts as to the extent to which the above ideas have actually found a foothold in present-day society the principle is one to which I can say amen, with my heart. Did ever a more curious plant grow from the seeds of kindliest intentions than the "institutionalism" of charity?

It is not strange that generation after generation of well-meaning women should have gazed with satisfaction at long lines of pitiful little figures clad in painful uniformity, and at the rows of wistful little faces, without it dawning upon them that the whole principle of the things was wrong--wrong because it was a contravention of nature in that no institution, however well conducted, can ever fulfill the functions of a home? The home is the unit of domestic life, and through its influences is developed a side of human character, which cannot be developed in any other way. The power of adaptation to suit varying circumstances, and the habit of harmonious co-operation with one another, are among the things which enter into it. For the same reasons I do not believe in boarding schools except in the case of those for whom educational facilities are not available or for a year or two's "finishing up." Children cannot be treated en bloc like eggs in an incubator; but each one must be studied and handled separately, according to its own individual cast of character. And this, I am convinced, can be accomplished, even by a not very wise father or mother, than by a trained and diplomated "educationalist" who has a constantly changing class of twenty or thirty children to look after.

The Cruelty of the Poorhouse

I had intended, if space had permitted, to deal at length with that aspect of institutionalism, which has to do with caring for the aged and infirm, but must content myself with a word. We do not really believe that poverty is a crime, and yet to all intents and purposes we treat the pauper as a criminal. We do not seem to realize that to the set habits and idiosyncrasies of old age the petty regulations of the average poorhouse are as irksome as the discipline of a prison. We have sufficient feelings of humanity about us to feel constrained to afford an unfortunate fellow-being the means of existence, and yet we do not think it matters if we do it in such a way that if he could he would rather die than accept it. We know that the very name of poorhouse is a horrid nightmare to any one with a shred of independence who contemplates it as a personal possibility; and yet the passion of the average philanthropic individual for having other people do things decently and in order is so great that, in return for the pittance which he allows the pauper, he demands the sacrifice of that last shred or independence, rather than give him that pittance to spend as he sees fit, and allow him to life in his own garret, half-starved perhaps but free.

Jews, Not Jewels, Sped Columbus

Dr. Madison C. Peters, a Baltimore Baptist minister, in a recent address in Philadelphia on "What the Jew Has Done for the World," declared that not Isabella's jewels, but the money and brains of the Jews, made possible Columbus voyage to America.

"It has, beyond a doubt," he said, "been proved that two Jews, Luis de Sastangel and Gabriel Sanchez, the former the chancellor of the royal household and controller general in Arragon, and the latter chief treasurer of Arragon, enormously rich merchants, who enjoyed the favor of Ferdinand and Isabella, supplied the funds needed to fit out Columbus caravels. Isabella did not sell her valuable jewels to fit out Columbus for his voyage."

Editor Herald

Sir--In last Saturday's issue appears an article under the heading of "The Tatler," having as its text the questionable wisdom, or, more practically speaking, the absurd folly, of a leading congregation in the city, in calling to its pulpit, now vacant, a man, new from college, with no adequate experience for such a charge. The article proceeds to instance the truism that neither in commercial nor yet in professional life do men call new and inexperienced beginners for important posts. The congregation to which allusion is thus made is doubtless that of Crescent Street Church, which has recently given a call to Mr. John Mackay, who, though recently graduated from college, is a man of very considerable experience in a most practical kind of church work, and that too amid varied circumstances and in different communities.

Permit me, as a member of the congregation in question, to say that in calling him, whom we sincerely trust will accept the pastoral charge over us, we did not place our reliance upon the wisdom which is of man, but upon that wisdom which "cometh from above," which by signs, too many to admit of doubt, has convinced us that our choice is the right one. I would commend to the writer of the article in question a verse from the Book of Proverbs which, if he will but digest will cause him to pause before again taking up his pen in matters of this nature:

"He that passeth by and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears"--Proverbs 26, 17


51 Crescent street

June 17, 1902

The above letter explains itself and needs no reply. Any fair-minded reader will, I feel confident, agree that the article in question contained no reflection upon any particular congregation, and much less upon Mr. John Mackay, whom I have reason to believe will be a distinct gain to the pulpit strength of Montreal. I am glad, however, that Mr. Fraser thought my remarks worth commenting upon, and take this opportunity of saying that I shall be pleased at any time to receive a frank expression of opinion regarding anything that appears in this column.

His Worst Honeymoon

While the honey moon of June is shedding its beneficent rays upon us and the white ribbons on the cabbies whips show that Cupid is busy "closing deals," Jerome K. Jerome's account at his "first honeymoon," will, I think, be found entertaining. It is as follows.

My very worst honeymoon experience once took place in the South of England in eighteen hundred and--well never mind the exact date, let us say a few years ago. I was a shy young man at that time. Many complain of my reserve to the day, but then some girls expect too much from a man. We all have our shortcomings. Even then, however, I was not so shy as she. We had to travel from Lyndhurst in the New Forest to Ventnor, an awkward bit of cross-country work in those days

"It's so fortunate you are going too," said her aunt to me on the Tuesday, "Minnie is always so nervous traveling alone. You will be able to look after her, and I shan't be anxious.'

I said it would be a pleasure, and at the time I honestly thought it. In the Wednesday I went down to the coach office and booked two places for Lyndington, from where we took the steamer. I had not a suspicion of trouble

The booking-clerk was a an elderly man. He said:-

"I've got the box seat and the end place on the back bench."

I said, "Oh, can't I have two together?"

He was a kindly looking old fellow. He winked at me. I wondered all the way home why had winked at me. He said:- "I'll manage it somehow."

I said, "It's very kind of you, I'm sure."

He laid his hand on my shoulder. He struck me as familiar but well-intentioned. He said:

"We have all of us been there."

I thought he was alluding to the Isle of Wight. I said:

"And this is the best time of the year for it, so I'm told." It was June then. He said: "It's all right in summer and it' good enough in winter--while it lasts. You make the most of it young 'un,' and he slapped me on the back and laughed. He would have irritated me in another minute. I paid for the seats and left him. At half-past eight the next morning Minnie and I started for the coach office.

I call her Minnie, not with any wish to be impertinent, but because I have forgotten her surname.

She was a pretty girl, with those brown eyes that always cloud before they laugh.

The old booking-clerk caught sight of us when we were about a quarter of a mile away, and drew the attention of the coachman, who communicated the fact of our approach to the gathering passengers.

Everybody left off talking and waited for us. The booking-clerk bustled up and helped Minnie from the cart. I feared for a moment he was going to kiss her. The coachman grinned when I said good-morning to him. The passengers grinned, the boots grinned. Two chambermaids and a waiter came out from the hotel and they grinned. I drew Minnie aside and whispered to her. I said:

'There's something funny about us. All these people are grinning."

She walked round me, and I walked round her, but neither of us discovered anything amusing about the other. The booking-clerk said:

"It's all right. I've got you young people two places just behind the box seat. We'll have to put five of you on that seat. You mind sitting a bit close will you?"

The booking-clerk winked at the coachmen--and everyone laughed. We had taken our places, and I was still busy trying to fathom the joke when a stout lady appeared on the scene and demanded to know her place. The clerk explained to her that it was in the middle behind the driver.

"We've had to put five of you in that seat," added the clerk.

"Five of us can't squeeze into that," she said.

Five of her certainly could not. Four ordinary people with her would find it tight.

"Very well then," said the clerk, "you can have the end place on the back seat." "Nothing of the sort," said the stout lady, "I booked my seat on Monday and you told me any of the front places were vacant."

"I'll take the back place," I said, "I don't mind it."

"You stop where you are, young 'un' said the clerk firmly, 'and don't be a fool. I'll fix her."

I objected to his language, but his tone was kindness itself.

"Oh, let me have the back seat," said Minnie, rising, "I'd so like it."

For answer the coachman put both his hands on her shoulders and she sat down again.

"Now then, mum," said the clerk addressing the stout lady, "are you going up there in the middle or are you coming up here at back?" "But why not let one of them take the back seat?" demanded the stout lady pointing her reticule at Minnie and myself; "they say they'd like it. Let them have it."

The coachman arose and addressed his remarks generally.

"Put her at the back, or leave her behind," he directed. "Man and wife have never been separated on this coach since I started running it fifteen year ago, and they ain't going to be now."

A general cheer greeted this sentiment. The stout lady was now regarded as a blighter of love's young dream, was hustled into the back seat, the whip cracked and away we rolled.

So here was the explanation. We were in a honeymoon district in June. We both had on new clothes. Our bags happened to be new. By some evil chance our umbrellas were new. Our united ages were thirty-seven. The wonder would have been had we not been mistaken for a young married couple.

A day of greater misery I have rarely passed. To Minnie, so her aunt, informed me afterwards, the journey was the most terrible experience of her life, but then her experience up to that time had been limited. About my behavior as a bridegroom, opinion seemed to be divided. "He's a bit standoffish with her," I overheard one lady remark to her husband; "I like to see em a bit kittenish myself.' A young waitress, where we stopped for lunch, showed more sense or natural reserve. "Well, I respect him for it," she was saying to the barmaid, as we passed through the hall. "I'd just hate to be fuzzled over with everybody looking on."

By the majority, however, we were clearly regarded as a sulky young couple who would not go through their tricks.

Our reputation preceded us on to the steamboat. Minnie begged and prayed me to let it be known we were not married. How I was to let it be known except by requesting the captain to summon the whole ship's company on deck, and then making them a short speech. I could not think. Minnie said she could not bear it any longer, and retired to the ladies' cabin in tears. Her trouble was attributed by crew and passengers to my coldness. One fool planted himself opposite me with his legs apart, and shook his head at me.

"Go down and comfort her," he began, "Take an old man's advice. Put your arms around her. Tell her that you love her."

I told him to go and hang himself with so much vigor that he all but fell overboard. He was saved by a poultry crate. I had no luck that day.

At Ryde, the guard, by superhuman effort, contrived to keep us a carriage to ourselves. I gave him a shilling because I did not know what else to do. I would have made it half-a-sovereign if he had put eight other passengers in with us. At every station people came to the window to look in at us.

I handed Minnie over to her father on Ventnor platform, and took the first train the next morning to London. I felt I did not want to see her again for a little while; and I felt she could do without a visit from me.


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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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