Imatges de pàgina

goods for which he has no immediate use, and which he is forced to carry a long distance.

It is unquestionable that the exchange for labour should be hard cash in currency that will be honoured at every shop, and any persons convicted of so mean an act as cheating a poor black man who cannot reckon his own, account should be punished with the utmost rigour of the law. If cheating goes on undetected and unpunished, any centre where it flourishes is rigidly shunned by workers, who rapidly pass the word from one to another. That is the reason why one set of employers are popular and others find great difficulty in getting labour if they are not scrupulously particular in insisting upon fair play.

These reflections occur to me on reading M. Goffin's remarks, and arising from them I beg to summarise certain suggestions prompted by experience in reply to the question under review.

The policy recommended is (a) to adopt upon general principles the following methods in regard to the recruitment and treatment of native labourers :

(1) Let the enlisting of labourers be conducted by licensed men, other than Government officers, who will faithfully describe the nature of work and wages and give no promise which cannot be fulfilled.

(2) Provide accommodation and food for use of recruits along labour routes.

(3) Supply labourers with wholesome food, decent housing, and medical aid.

(4) Afford opportunities for the redress of wrongs and grievances. . (5) Pay in cash and prevent fraud.

(b) to exert influence to raise their standard so that they may increase their wants and be led to enter into the industrial life of the country.

By the adoption of such policy in the Congo or any other territories the tendency will be to inspire labourers, who will become contented, happy, and interested workers; it will also be to reconcile the wanderer for his absence, and to create an eagerness for that which labour gives-a return in the form of enlightenment as well as wages.



On a sunny February morning, which in its soft breath held a deceptive promise of Spring, a curious little scene was being enacted upon the broad flight of steps leading up to Spitalfields Church. Overhead the sparrows chirped wisely in the blackened branches of the elm trees, and the pigeons, deluded by a sky too high and blue to be tainted by the smoke of a London winter, pursued their amorous adventures on the church porch, and quarrelled over the best sites for building, with reckless and shortsighted confidence. Passers-by in this most busy thoroughfare of Spitalfields are not usually observant of any but their own concerns, and there was nothing remarkable in a mixed group of little children, boys and girls, some rather more ragged and dirty than others, to attract attention. Only one person stepped out of his way and quietly mounted a few of the steps to obtain a nearer view of what the children were about. As he did so the group partially opened and disclosed the central figure of a very little girl, in what appeared to be a nightshirt, clasping a bundle tightly in her arms. Matty,' he murmured to himself, “I thought as much,' and he prepared unobtrusively to await developments.

Matty,' as he called her, was probably small for her age, which might have been anything between seven and ten, but her face, with its irregular features and very blue eyes set wide apart, held all the precocity of Cockney childhood. It was also extremely dirty, and it was crowned by a tangled mass of yellow curls. The nightshirt was several sizes too large, and seriously embarrassed her movements, until with her disengaged hand she impatiently caught it up, thereby displaying two little sticks of legs and a pair of boots remarkable for their means of ventilation. On her left arm the child held with detachment rather than tenderness, but with all the assurance of an experienced parish priest, a large wax doll with a head as flaxen as its owner, dressed in a flowing robe of stiff white muslin which came down almost to the hem of the nightshirt. It was a motley little congregation that was gathered about her, but every member of it was in deadly earnest. Several of the girls with their clearly defined features, bright dark eyes, and, it must be added, superior clothing, suggested the proximity of the Ghetto, and these were following Matty's performance with

especial eagerness. On the step at their feet was a red earthenware saucer, full of water, evidently the property of the pigeons, but borrowed now for a more serious purpose than that of cleanliness. Matty was proceeding to business. Her clear childish voice floated down to the spectator on the steps below between the clang and rattle of the passing tram-cars. ''Oo names this child, I say?'

'I do,' came in unhesitating response, and a little Jewish girl, larger, but probably not much older than Matty, and as clean and tidy as the latter was the reverse, stepped out of the circle. 'Yer can't, Yenci-yer a Jew,' was the shrill retort; and the amateur parson, hugging the baby with quite unclerical fierceness, stepped back into a bodyguard of ragged Gentile boys. The altercation was short but decisive. There was a squaring up of small elbows and a flutter of diminutive skirts, for the little Jewish girl was one having authority in her own sphere, and more accustomed to command than to obey.

But Matty had no time to fight. The ceremony must be gone on with, so administering a well-aimed cuff at her nearest boy champion, she chose her own way out of the difficulty. 'Florence shan't ’ave no gawdmother'she announced, with a studied insolence which effectually reduced her adversary to silence, and drawing the saucer towards her she was about to proceed with that portion of the baptismal service which had impressed her infant imagination. At this point, however, the spectator of the little scene, who was almost as wise as he was kind, went swiftly down the steps and on his way unheeded.

He was a hard-worked clergyman who gave a great portion of his time to befriending the children of that curious scum of London population which finds its temporary home in the meanest streets of Spitalfields. Flotsam and jetsam floated up, for the most part from the provinces, to seek that refuge from law and order which, in spite of every effort of civilisation, still flourishes within a short walk of Liverpool Street Station.

It was in such a street, where no self-respecting policeman dared to show his face, that some months ago this clergyman had first discovered Matty. He could find out nothing about her parents except that they were recent arrivals. The father had just met with a sudden and mysterious end, which made it possible to remove Matty and her mother, a poor feeble creature, who professed herself (though her sincerity was open to question) only too pleased to return to the respectable surroundings in which, according to her own story, she had passed her youth. Work was found for her, and help of every kind was freely given to a case which promised such satisfactory results. Of course, it was from the child that so much was hoped—and it was the child who seemed destined to be a disappointment. After nearly a year of unremitting effort on behalf of this waif of the streets, who set the whole social and charitable machinery of Spitalfields at defiance, the majority of those interested in her case began to own themselves baffled.

It was only her original discoverer who refused—though he had ample justification to the contrary-to be discouraged. The origin of Matty remained, as I have said, even to him a mystery, but with the origin of 'Florence ' he was quite familiar. Had he not only yesterday bought this waxen beauty himself at a toyshop in Bishopsgate, and presented her to a little girl whom he had caught the previous evening flying in the confusion of despair towards the very street from which she had been so lately rescued ? Matty, who slipped like an eel through the fingers of Sunday school teachers, whose irregular attendance at the County Council school was a subject of perpetual warfare between the authorities and her mother, yet chose occasionally to attend a little class conducted by some ladies from a neighbouring settlement with a view to catching the more irreclaimable of the infant population_offspring for the most part of thieves and gaolbirds. Here the children were taught the elements of Christianity, to sew a seam, and their letters; and the ladies, knowing their homes and the manner of their upbringing, sometimes found it desirable to search their small persons before they left, to make sure that they had carried away no portable property. Matty had been a member of the class before her attempted regeneration, and that she should continue fitfully to attend it, considering her improved social condition, was perhaps regrettable, but, on the other hand, that the wayward Matty should attend a class at all was in some sense a gain.

Two evenings ago, a sixpence which was to have been bestowed as a prize for good conduct was not to be found at the conclusion of the class. Suspicion fell upon Matty, who was relentlessly searched, even to her shoes and stockings, but in vain. Then one lady, still unconvinced, had boldly run her fingers through the tangled head, and there, knotted tight into a curl, was the missing coin. Matty's early training, in spite of her mother's repeated assertions that she had “always brought the child up respectable,' had obviously been too much for her, but no doubt the fun of so skilfully eluding her elders had also been irresistible. “It weren't the pennies I done it for,' she gasped between spasmodic sobs of outraged pride, possibly of shame, and certainly of fury at having been outwitted. And the clergyman whom Matty ever afterwards called the 'doll-parson,' and whom she regarded with unhesitating confidence as her natural protector, believed her, for he maintained, in spite of her persistent revolt against discipline, that he had never discovered any bad instincts in his protégée. So he dried her eyes and escorted her home to an hysterical and ineffective mother whose pious expressions of vicarious repentance aroused in him the deepest suspicion. He was, however, after ten years' work in the slums, an old-fashioned believer in the

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strengthening and purifying influence of maternal responsibility; so having gently but firmly explained to Matty the nature of her misdemeanour, he had comforted her with a wax baby nearly as large as herself and with a far completer wardrobe than the child had ever owned.

This morning he had witnessed the firstfruits of his experiment ! As he went on his way he smiled to himself over Matty's unexpected knowledge of the Sacrament of Baptism, scarcely justified by the limited amount of religious teaching she had consented to imbibe. He thought it quite uncertain whether she had ever been baptized herself—it was a point on which he doubted the mother's veracity—but at least the child had been determined that 'Florence should have a good start as a Christian with or without the assistance of a 'gawdmother.' Matty's clerical friend also wondered how soon Yenci, the little Jewish girl whose sponsorship had been repudiated, would be

even with Matty. His work led him constantly amongst the unorthodox Jews, of a class which has a clever capacity for making the best of both worlds in the matter of philanthropy, as well as amongst those who, presumably converted to Christianity and cast out by their own community, are naturally dependent upon the charity of their Christian neighbours. He knew Yenci, whose parents belonged to the first class, and he knew that between the two little girls there existed a curious unacknowledged friendship, which had in it an element of rivalry. Matty's originality and incomparable daring were occasionally useful to the group of Jewish children whose games Yenci organised, and whom she led through the streets of Spitalfields in search of adventure. And while Matty sometimes joined in their games and picked up a smattering of Yiddish, and admired Yenci's knowledge of the world, she was instinctively conscious that she herself as an English child and a Gentile held a superior position to the alien,' for Yenci's parents were Polish Jews. If she did not understand anything of the religious differences, she had been quite quick enough to pick up a recognition of that dividing line which in the East-end is never forgotten even by the children, and to be convinced, as we have seen, that the little Jewish girl was no suitable 'gawdmother' for her Florence.

That Matty's incursions into the Ghetto were countenanced by the Jewish mothers was, perhaps, a point in the child's favour, for no flagrant misdemeanour on the part of this Gentile scapegrace would have been tolerated for a moment.

It was in the Jewish quarter that I first saw Matty, and it must be owned that our brief acquaintance began under rather discreditable circumstances.

In a back street of Spitalfields, there is a small and unimposing edifice which, in the days when the silk looms were at work, and the flying shuttle could be heard through every open doorway, was used

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