A COLON I A I . IN LONDON. ENGLISH SABBATH GONE. THE TENTS OF THE MONEY STRANGERS. (By Pierce C. Freetli io the N.Z. Times). There is no longer any English Sabbath. For the rich and middle-class Sunday is merely a “week-end." For the very poor it is a day of sale and barter. At Whitechapel and Bermondsey Sunday is market day. Whole streets are lined with stalls and caravans and the populace picks its way through a malodorous slough to buy vegetables and second-hand clothing, and do “shopping" for the week. Here Misery hoists her flagrant signboard, and bletir-eyed Desolation shuffles on palsied feet. We send missionaries to the savage. but here is indeed savagry. These people arc frowsy, unclean, scrofulous, drunken, beggarly, hope' | ess —worse, far worse than the beasts that perish. Not that London lacks philanthropy. Not that. The place simply (teems with philanthropists. Th® ar- j
istocracy is agog with plans to help the diserving and the Undeserving poor. Philanthropy has more than amateur status. It has become a profession.
But what avails this spraying of the boughs when it is the root that is affected !
The poor in London and all the great cities arc bound helpless between tire upper and nether millstones of the monster Competition. There aro hundreds of thousands who can never win through. They cannot rise, and they must rot. They, go through this unpleasant process before tiro eyes of all beholders. ■‘lt is inevitable/"’' say the Economists. “It is inevitable !’’ sadly echo the philanthropists. And the people hug their chains, and take poison to alleviate their sufferings, till the inevitable arrives, and rescue comes. The inevitable is death.
If the lower Londoner could stop breeding and drinking it would be a quick way out, out, alas, they can do neither, and so the tragedy goes on.
If it were only the adults that suffered, one could be reconciled, but little ones. It would melt a heart little ones! It would melt a heart of stone.
But you have heard all this before
It is the Sunday trading about which I wish to speak. While the churches arc open, and those 'horrible stinking, drinking dens, licensed by the British public are shut, the Sunday trading goes on.
The business is drifting into the hands of the aliens. The coster is Still making a running fight, but it is the shrewd, quick-eyed, sober, intelligent born-trader from the ghettos of Europe who has got the matter in hand.
After passing through the purlieus of Whitechapel, and seeing foul -and slatternly ruffians, pillowed on the door-steps sleeping off last night’s debauch, it is almost a relief to walk amongst these providers. They arc not handsome, and they are not clean, and their voices are harsh and guttural, but they are cheerful and chirpy, and always ready to swap and joke, and that is decidedly something in this vale of tears. Moreover, they have a neat, attractive way of fixing their stalls, and it is not all rubbish they sell by any means. Some of the secondhand stun is palpably first hand, and much of the food has an honest and appetising exterior. But it is in the incidents of interchange- that the visitor gets his his best value. I verily believe that these merchants actually dislike a transaction which is unattended with barter, giving opportunity for an exhibition of trenchant wit.
■You ca?i buy here almost anything from a needle to an anchor. I myself purchased a threepenny bit with the Lord s Prayer on it from a Gorman for a penny. A Sunday trader ? W ell, I never could bear to let a bargain go by !
I housa'nds of people parade these narrow streets in search of ’ cheap food and cheaper clothing, and the harsh voices of scores upon scores of salesmen arc raised in a discordant unison in a cacophonous odor to sell. ******■»•»
And the Lordly London Policeman, representative of Church and State, stalks indulgently through the chaffeiing - throng, the object of mingled ■veneration, suspicion, and infinite respect.
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Sketcher., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 24, 5 October 1907
Sketcher. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 24, 5 October 1907
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