Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

III.

CHRONICLE

OF

MISCELLANEOUS OCCURRENCES.

JANUARY.

"Windsor-Castle, Jan. 1. "His Majesty's disorder has undergone no sensible alteration. His Majesty's bodily health has partaken of some of the infirmities of age, but has been generally good during the last month."

GLASGOW.-We are happy to learn, that those of the deluded artisans who were inconsiderate enough to join the Union Societies, are beginning to have a view of their indiscretion, and are withdrawing from those ridiculous associations. We have received good information, that not one half of the members of those now remaining are Scotsmen; the rest being all the very lowest orders of Irish, many of whom have been compelled to leave their own country for practising those very schemes which they have been so active, but, we are happy to say, so unsuccessful, in inculcating into our peaceful and loyal countrymen.

Paisley continues in a state of considerable agitation. There are so many

out of employ, and so many evil spirits ever ready to take advantage of any tumult, that the smallest incident, or the least disturbance on the public streets, soon makes a formidable appearance, on account of the great number who assemble either to witness or abet the scene; there are so many disagreeable reports perpetually circulating, which, whether true or false, are equally calculated to arrest the attention; cases of individual suffering, of persons arrested, and of the most extensive preparations among the disaffected to attempt some political change, are among the most prominent of these stories. A notion appears to prevail among the most ardent Reformers, that something will soon transpire which will lead to the final attainment of their wishes. The most astonishing delusion has become triumphant on this head that ever existed. For some time past speculation and rumour would make each succeeding week to be the last week of existence in a tranquil state. Another week passes by, and the same deception is

still fostered and propagated. Nothing, however, like an insurrection is likely to occur. Any attack on the part of a disorganized rabble would only be productive of instantaneous destruction to themselves. Every genuine philanthropist must feel for the sufferings of the poor; and it is undoubtedly the incumbent duty of all who possess the means to provide for their wants; but every attempt at law less confusion must be put down, at whatever cost.

OXFORD, Jan. 9.-A desolating fire was discovered to have broken out this morning, about three o'clock, in the northern extremity of Magdalen-hall, in this University. A great proportion of the inhabitants was immediately roused; and in spite of the unseasonable hour of the summons, great numbers promptly came to the spot, and contributed their zealous aid in working four engines, and thereby quenching the flames. About seven o'clock the fire was got under; but, unhappily, not until a considerable portion of this venerable pile was consumed to a cinder. Sixteen sets of gentlemen's rooms were completely destroyed, and, as they were all tenanted, (although, from its being vacation time, the Members of the Society were almost all of them absent from the University,) the destruction embraced a great deal of furniture, and many valuable collections of books. Owing to the extreme severity of the weather, many of the pumps in the neighbourhood were locked up with frost, and there was some difficulty at first in procuring an adequate supply of water. The accident, it is supposed, arose from the indiscretion of a young man who happened to be resident, and who went to bed without extinguishing his candle. The flame afterwards communicated with the furniture of his room, and occasioned the conflagration. He was, however, luckily awa.

VOL. XIII. PART II.

kened from his perilous condition, and no lives were lost. No praise can be too great for the exertions of those who came early to the spot; the Bishop of Oxford was amongst the number, and was exceeded by no one present in the anxiety and earnestness of his efforts to extinguish the flames.

.

13.-SHELTER FOR THE HOUSELESS. A meeting was held this day, at Mr Hick's warehouses, Londonwall, to consider the propriety of adapting those premises to the reception of the indigent and houseless for the night, during the present inclement season.

The meeting was respectably, but not numerously attended-a circumstance attributable to the shortness of the notice that had been given; and in some degree, perhaps, to the extreme severity of the weather. On those, however, who were present, the latter circumstance operated as a cogent argument in favour of a prompt and liberal subscription for the relief of" the houseless stranger," at a moment when the misery attendant upon want of employment is aggravated by the bitterness of the season. Amongst those who assembled on this benevolent occasion, we observed the Bishop of Chester, Archdeacon Nares, Rector of All- Hallows, Sir C. Flower, Bart. Mr Rowcroft, Mr D. Barclay, and Duncan Campbell, Esq.

At half past eleven o'clock, the Lord Mayor, who had consented to take the chair, entered the room, accompanied by Mr Sheriff Rothwell. His lordship immediately proceeded to open the business of the day. He said he had to apologize for making his appearance a little later than the time which had been fixed for his taking the chair. Business, however, had prevented his attendance, and he hoped the delay would prove advantageous to the meeting, as it would afford an opportunity for the assembing of a

T

greater number of gentlemen. The object of their meeting was, he believed, universally understood; and the next point was, to consider how the means so kindly offered by Mr Hick, for lessening the sufferings of the poor, could be adopted and employed so as to produce the greatest possible good. He sincerely hoped that great benefit would arise from the offer made by Mr Hick, and from the proceedings that were about to be instituted. At the Mansion-house every day great numbers of unfortunate individuals made applications for assistance, and they knew not what to do with them. Those who had parishes they were obliged to commit to Bridewell for seven days, as vagrants, before they could pass them to their respective settlements in England; others were sent to Scotland and Ireland; but, over and above these, they had daily applications from persons, some of whom were born in Newfoundland, some in Bermuda, some in the West Indies. Those poor people could claim no parish, and the magistrate was in consequence placed in the most unpleasant situation. The Lord Mayor must either give them something out of his own pocket, or he must assist them with money lodged at the Mansion-house, but not for that purpose. If he did not adopt one of these two courses, he must send them about their business unrelieved. This was so repugnant to the common feelings of humanity, that it could not be done. Under these circumstances, to provide any means for their substantial relief, during this very inclement season, was a most desirable object. It was peculiarly so, as many of those suffering individuals had fought their battles, and assisted in establishing that security which was enjoyed in this free and happy country. (Applause.) That there was much benevolence and humanity in this country, no man could doubt; neither did he

doubt that there was plenty of money, especially when a work of charity was undertaken. (Applause.) After this short exposition, he hoped every gentleman would see the necessity of providing for those unfortunate persons.

Sir C. Flower.-The best mode we can adopt is to proceed with a subscription.

The Lord Mayor.-There were, doubtless, gentlemen present who had turned the subject in their minds, and would be able to state something better than what he considered himself competent to do. Indeed, the multitudinous subjects in which as Chief Magistrate he was engaged, rendered it impossible for him to turn his mind to the subject as he could have wished to have done. His daily experience proved to him how much wretchedness existed in the metropolis, and the situation of those who were obliged to witness it, without the means of affording adequate relief, was most painful.

The Bishop of Chester presented himself to the meeting amidst loud plaudits. His Lordship said, he had to apologize for trespassing on their time and attention, while he offered a few short observations. He did not know that such a meeting was about to take place, till a few minutes before, when, taking up one of the newspapers, he saw it announced, and, as he highly approved of the plan, he immediately ordered his carriage. (Applause.) There were, he believed, some objections against this mode of charity; but indeed there was no species of charity against which objections could not be urged. He was, however, sure, that the advantages of this plan far outweighed and counterbalanced its disadvantages; and therefore, he was ready to bestow his mite on it. (Applause.) Indeed, he knew not how any man could sit down quietly in the enjoyment of wealth-could

lay his head on his pillow, with a clear and approving conscience, when thousands, many of them wretched females, were wandering through the streets, without a home to shelter, or a hand to succour them. (Applause.) He conceived his bounty was well bestowed on such a benevolent plan; and it had his best wishes for its perfect success. (Applause.)

The following resolutions were then proposed by Mr Bodkin, and carried unanimously:

"That there is at present a considerable number of distressed foreigners and others, wandering about the metropolis and its environs, without shelter during the night, and apparently in danger of perishing from the extreme rigour of the season.

"That it would be highly beneficial if one or more temporary receptacles were immediately opened, in which, under due regulations, the absolutely destitute and houseless could be lodged for the night, and supplied with sufficient food to sustain nature. "That the premises in which this meeting is held are extremely well adapted to the proposed object; and that the kind offer of them for the purpose, by Mr Hick, be gratefully accepted.

"That, to carry this object into effect, a subscription be now opened, and that the several bankers in London and Westminster be requested to receive contributions.

"That the following gentlemen be a committee, with power to add to their numbers, to whom shall be in trusted the entire management."

A numerous and respectable committee were then appointed.

18th. This useful institution goes on to deserve more and more the extensive patronage which it has received and is still receiving. Of five hundred persons, male and female, now housed and fed in this new asylum, not one

has been heard to utter a murmur, either as to the behaviour of the superintendants, or the quality of the food, or the nature of the accommodation; and when it is considered how much profligacy and disposition to cavil may fairly be believed to exist among a promiscuous multitude thus poured at once out of the streets into one centre, it does, we conceive, reflect the highest credit on the managers of this charity to have afforded no opportunity for any feelings but those of at least temporary contentment. The arrangements are extremely simple. The warehouse consists of three spacious floors. On the lower floor is, on one side, a kitchen, with all other conveniencies belonging to that portion of a house; on the other side is an office fitted up, where persons are stationed to inquire into the claims of each applicant, not as he or she arrives, (for the appearance of misery is a sufficient passport for the night,) but on the next day, in order that some may be sent to their respective parishes, and others may be furnished with such employment as the committee may be able to provide. On this floor, also, there is accommodation for the city-officers, who are in attendance all night to maintain peace, should their interference be necessary.

The next, which is the principal floor, is divided into two compartments, both of which are for the male applicants; and the smaller compartment is appropriated solely to those who are sick. The larger one is again separated into two divisions, each of which is boarded to the height of about two feet from the ground; and the space thus formed on each side of the room between these boards and the wall is filled with clean straw. The straw is so abundant as not mere ly to furnish a bed, but a covering also for those who rest in it, and an interval is allowed of about two or three feet between each individual. On the

higher story are the women, the number of whom, however, does not amount to above sixty, but of these many have infant and even suckling children. To those so situated, a superior indulgence is given; besides the straw, they have the benefit of thick woollen rugs; there are also nurses to attend them. It is needless to say that there is no communication between the male and female wards. Besides these means of comfortable rest, the committee supply their lodgers with a substantial meal night and morning, and those who are unable to leave their premises in the day have a third meal. The rooms are at once lighted and warmed by gas, and the ventilation, though of all things the most difficult to manage, is more perfect than we have ever felt it in any room with the same number of persons in it.

17th.-A dreadful fire broke out this morning, at five o'clock, in the house of Mr Kerr, boot and shoemaker, at the corner of Norfolk-street, Strand. The flames were at first discovered in the lower part of the house by the watchmen and some passengers, and an alarm was immediately given. By this means the family were providentially saved from an untimely death. Mr Kerr escaped with scarcely an article of dress upon him. Of all the valuable property on the premises, a few of Mr Kerr's account-books only were saved. The flames advanced with an overwhelming rapidity, and in a few minutes the house was enveloped in one awful blaze. Engines from every fire-office in London soon arrived on the spot, but nearly half an hour elapsed before water was procured. The exertions of the firemen were then directed towards checking the progress of mischief to the adjoining houses. In this prudent effort they were successful in Norfolk-street, but in the Strand they were not equally fortunate. The devouring element

soon caught the dwelling of Mr Cary, the chart-seller, and in a short time that building added to the melancholy grandeur of the spectacle. Soon afterwards the roof and front of Mr Kerr's house fell, with a tremendous crash. The most praiseworthy activity was now devoted to stem the flames in Mr Cary's premises; but they were irresistible, and soon advanced to the adjoining house of his brother, Mr Cary, the optician, which was also destroyed. At half past ten the fronts of these houses were precipitated into the Strand, but happily no injury was sustained by the crowd which was collected. In the back of these buildings still greater mischief is sustained, but the precise amount of damage is not ascertained. The amount of property destroyed has been immense. Mr Kerr, whose house has twice before been on fire within the last four years, it is said, is not insured. There is a complete stoppage of the thoroughfare through the Strand, and, in consequence, much public inconvenience is experienced. While the flames were raging in the Strand, at half past eleven o'clock, a fresh alarm of fire was given on the premises of Messrs Brookes and Son, axletree-makers, on Waterloo-wharf. The immediate vicinity of water, however, and the prompt assistance of the firemen, led to its extinction, after doing some slight damage. The adjoining premises being those of a timber-merchant, the most serious alarm was at one time felt.

20th.-A letter, addressed to his Grace the Duke of Athol, by the operative weavers belonging to Perth, now employed in trenching and improving waste lands, contains the following paragraph:

"While we cannot but deeply lament the present depressed state of trade, and the long train of domestic hardships it has occasioned in our condi.

« AnteriorContinua »