Friday, December 11, 2009
Spirit of the Sally Anne
Taken from "Twice Born Men: A Clinic in Regeneration" by Harold Begbie (1909)
But more than by anything concerning the men and
women of this neighbourhood, one is impressed by the
swarm of dreggy children playing their poor little pavement
games in the shadow of these lodging-houses. Some can
it be believed? are decently clothed and look as if they
are sometimes washed ; degraded mothers, sitting on the
doorsteps, may be seen proudly exhibiting a baby to their
friends, cooing over it, brushing its poor little pale cheek
with a black finger, suddenly stooping their foul faces to
cover the little mouth with gay and laughing kisses ; one
of my first experiences in these streets was to hear the
sudden opening of a top-story window, to see a frightful
woman thrust herself half out, and to hear her shout to a
toddling child to come out of the road and on to the pave
ment although not a cart of any kind was in view ; but
this sentimental affection of the mother does not last very
far beyond the period of helpless infancy. The mass of
these children above five or six years of age are terribly
neglected. I have never seen children more dirty, more
foully clothed, more dejected-looking. In all cases, to use
a phrase which I am told is common in the district, these
poor children are lousy as a cuckoo. I saw many children
with sores and boils ; I also saw some children whose eyes
looked out at me from a face that was nothing but a scab.
A mortuary chapel has had to be built for this neigh
bourhood. The rooms of the houses are so crowded that
directly a person dies the body must be moved.
Can the boys of these dreadful streets grow into any
thing but hooligans, or the girls do anything but earn money
in their mothers fashion?
Let me put the common question, but with real
emphasis : Would we allow a dog to live in these streets?
Well, into these streets come day after day, and every
Sunday, the little vigorous corps of the Salvation Army
stationed in this quarter of London. The adjutant of this
corps some years ago was a beautiful and delicate girl.
She prayed at the bedside of dying men and women in these
lodging-houses ; she taught children to pray ; she went into
public-houses and persuaded the violent blackguards of the
town to come away ; she pleaded with the most desperate
women at street corners ; she preached in the open streets
on Sundays ; she stood guard over the doors of men mad
for drink and refused to let them out.
It is to the work of this wonderful woman so gracious,
so modest, and so sweet that one may trace the miracles
whose histories are contained in the following pages. The
energy, resolution, and splendid cheerfulness of the present
corps some of them her own personal converts may like
wise be traced to her influence. She has left in these foul
streets the fragrance of her personality, a fragrance of the
lilies of a pure soul.
Ah ! exclaimed an old gaol-bird, showing me the photo
graph of this woman ;if anybody goes to heaven, it ll
be that there little angel of God.
They call her the angel-adjutant.