Emigration of families -- A visitor's impressions -- The great life-work -- Emigration of the young, begun 1870 -- First party of boys to Canada with Miss Macpherson and Miss Bilbrough -- Their reception -- Mr. Merry takes second party of boys -- Miss Macpherson returns to England and takes out a party of girls -- Canadian welcome and happy homes -- Canadian pastor's story.
Emigration had now for some time been in view as the only means of relieving the chronic poverty of the East of London, and in April 1869 a circular to this effect was issued by Miss Macpherson and Miss Ellen Logan. Fifty families were selected as being suitable for such help, and these were gathered together at a farewell tea-meeting before leaving for Canada, all expressing deep thankfulness for the opening given to them. The preparations for the voyage of these fathers, mothers, and little ones required much thought and labour, both for their temporal and spiritual welfare, but from the very beginning of the work, sisters in Christ came from a distance, giving hours or days as a labour of love, and besides personal help on the spot, many busy fingers were at work in their own homes. The first party was followed by others, all involving much care and labour. Before the close of the year very encouraging accounts were received from many of the travellers, and the contrast was great between their condition in the new country and that which might here have been their lot. Whilst this important work was being carried on, evening reading and sewing classes for the little matchbox-makers, and mothers' meetings, were continued without intermission, together with the teaching and training of boys begun at the first Homes; and on the Lord's Day, besides the very large gathering of matchbox-makers, every effort was made to bring all around under the sound of the gospel. A stranger thus describes his impressions after a visit to the Home of Industry, November, 1869: --
|'The mighty cry of anguish' that has gone up for so long from the East of London has, thank God, touched many a heart, and led some to carry God's answering messages in person to the suffering poor, and others to help in the lesser service of gifts.
|Determined to see how the matter stood as regards one portion of that great mass of misery, I gave myself up to the skilful guidance of one whose whole life is spent in the service of God and His poor.
|Leaving the rail, we proceeded to visit the sick-bed of one of the voluntary workers in the Refuge. We found him recovering from a severe attack of enteric fever complicated with pneumonia of the right lung. A fine, handsome young man, once the leader of the singing in a philharmonic club, now the devoted servant of God, his whole anxiety seemed to be as to when he could return to his work. During our visit, it was most touching to see the tenderness and anxious care of his companion, a young man called Fred, a labourer in the large wine vaults at the docks, who, though smelling of wine, and his clothes saturated with the fumes of spirits, was a staunch teetotaller; and judging from the intelligent way in which he answered our questions, would be a valuable witness before any commission of inquiry into the practices which wine-sellers term 'mixing,' but which he vulgarly called 'adulteration.' Every night during the many weeks of illness Fred had paid his friend a visit, and watched over him with all the love of a Jonathan to a David.
|We now pressed him into our service to conduct us through some of the many licensed lodging-houses and thieves' kitchens, which abound in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields.
|On our way we met two little girls, matchbox-makers. The outline of their lives was given in a few moments. The father, a drunkard, had absconded six years ago, leaving his wife and six children to struggle with awful poverty as best they might, having previously so beaten and kicked his wife about the face, that she had become almost blind. 'Where's father now?' 'In the workhouse, stoneblind.'
|In a room with a roaring fire were seated some thirty men and a few women with infants. The landlord's reception was anything but gracious. In answer to our 'Good evening,' he growled out, 'We don't want talk; those men want bread.' And hungry enough many seemed. So while one was sent for a supply of bread, which was received with unmistakable gladness, and devoured greedily, we spoke to them of that living bread which came down from heaven. All were interested, and one young man seemed to wince and to be ill at ease when the love of God was spoken of. I could not but feel that conscience was at work, perhaps memory carrying back his mind to a godly mother, who once had spoken the same loving words, but had gone to her rest in tears.
|We then entered a licensed lodging-house accommodating 350. This was a sad sight, because three-fourths of the men were unemployed poor, chiefly dock-labourers, willing and glad to work, if work could be got. On many a face there were stamped hopelessness and apathy. Two poor fellows were sipping a cup of tea, without milk or sugar, given to them by a poor man, but they had not a morsel of bread; and this was their breakfast, -- a late one truly, for it was ten at night. Out all day in search of work, their last coppers were paid for the night's lodging, and a cup of poor tea was their only meal. It made one's spirit groan to think of the misery that sin and selfishness had wrought for these poor fellows.
|In the next house the inmates were mostly thieves. But here is one poor fellow, a workman, but with no work; he has been out in the streets three nights, and now one of his companions pleads with us for three-pence to procure him a night's rest. We peeped into several other such dwellings, but the same story was repeated in each. In all we were struck with the kind reception we met with, evidently due in part to the presence of our companion, who, although a lady, feels called of God to labour among these dens of misery, where there is so much to do and so few to do it, and to the fact that we lent a kindly ear to their tale of distress, and did what lay in our power to relieve the immediate pressure of the very destitute. But, above all, we were thankful to meet with such a spirit of hearing, and a ready attention when Jesus was lifted up as the Saviour of sinners.
|We now entered a court to visit a poor woman whose husband had died suddenly the week before. It was between nine and ten, and we found the widow had been washing, the clothes hanging from lines in the room. Her two children, aged nine and eleven, were busily employed in matchbox-making.
|The rapidity and neatness of these little human machines were truly most remarkable; the number of boxes made in a day, from half-past six in the morning to ten at night, was something fabulous. The floor of the room was covered with boxes; they earned a shilling each a day; often days passed when they were unable to get work to do. Poor children! thin and wan-looking, life seemed a terribly serious thing to them, their days spent in incessant toil when work was plentiful, their nights -- well, they had a bedstead with a bundle of dirty rags for a bed, but not a stitch of bedclothes; the clothes the children wore were their only covering at night.
|In another court we found a silk-weaver hard at work, -- from eight in the morning to eleven at night. This man, a Christian, had formerly been a weaver of velvet, but finding that a living could not in any way be made out of it, in an evil hour he was tempted to go into a skittle-alley as a helper. Here, though receiving good wages, he found he could not be happy, -- could not 'abide with God;' so he gave it up, and now he is earning barely tenpence a day; but hard as his lot is, he is happy in the consciousness of doing right, and still manages to spare a little time to take his reading-lesson from the Bible, and to tend a flowering-plant, his only companion, which representative of the vegetable world seems to have nearly as hard a struggle to live as its master.
|Our next visit was to a poor old woman between sixty and seventy years of age, surrounded with every discomfort, and troubled with constant cough and weakness. Apparently she had only a few days to live, but she was able to rejoice in Jesus as her Saviour, whose presence even then made all things bright.
|The next visit was to a poor dying girl; in a room so small that there was only a margin of about three feet round two sides of the bed for standing ground, the floor covered with rags, (her mother being a rag-mender), lay one, who, though poor and miserable, was yet an heir of glory, and was upheld in all her wretchedness by Him who was sent to be 'the Comforter.' We thanked God for these two bright spots, where divine light and love were seen and felt.
|At the Home of Industry we had been invited to take tea with two hundred and fifty destitute widows. The testimony of one of these, a clean, tidy old woman, was very precious. She had once been in affluent circumstances and drove her carriage; her fortune lost in one day, she was now reduced to poverty, but, 'Sir,' she said, 'I would not go back to it all and be as I then was; no, not for all the world.' Possessing Christ as her own, she felt she had the riches of God, and knew that there was an inheritance reserved for her in heaven, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.|
The great lifework of Miss Macpherson and her devoted family may be said to have begun this year. The need of emigration may be expressed in her own words: --
|Boys came to us for shelter instead of going to empty barrels, railway arches, and stairways. We found they were grateful for all that was done for them. The simple gospel lesson was our lever to lift them into new thoughts and desires. The sharp dividing knife of the Word of God would discover the thief and liar, and rouse the conscience to confession more than anything beside. But our walls had limits, and our failures in finding employment for many away from their old haunts became a great difficulty, and the God-opened way of emigration to Canada was pressed upon us.|
|Thy God hath commanded thy strength.| To the astonishment of many, Miss Macpherson expressed her determination to pioneer the first band, and He Who of old sent forth His disciples two and two, was mindful of the present need, and so strengthened the heart of a young sister (already deeply interested in the work, and singularly gifted in many ways) to lay all at the feet of her Master, and to offer to share whatever toils and trials might be in the way. |Ye have not passed this way heretofore.| It was a new way, an |untrodden way.|
We have now been for many years so accustomed to hear of the kind welcome given in Canada, and the prosperity of the young emigrants, that we cannot realise the faith and courage required by Miss Macpherson, and her co-worker, Miss Bilbrough. Many misgivings arose in the hearts of some at the thought of these two sisters in the Lord arriving uninvited in a new land where neither owned a friend, and, greatest of all, fears were entertained that those who had known the wild roaming life of city Arabs might defy the control and authority of the leaders. But how vain were all these fears! Wisdom had been asked of the Lord in every step of the way, and He had given |liberally,| according to His gracious word. How blessedly was the title of Counsellor as well as Leader and Commander of His people then fulfilled! The following description of the departure of the first party was written at the time: --
|Our souls are in God's mighty hand,
We're precious in His sight.|
These words, sweet and true at all times, surely never sounded sweeter than when sung by the band of young emigrants gathered for the last time within the walls of the Refuge, which to many of them is hallowed as no other spot on earth can ever be. How precious in His sight, none can tell but He who watched over those young wanderers, and surrounded them with the loving care and prayers which still follow them to a distant land.
The beloved helpers at a distance, who have toiled, and collected, and borne to a throne of grace the burdens of their beloved sister in the Lord, Miss Macpherson, will like to know every detail, even to the outward appearance of those once ragged, shoeless wanderers. Now they stood in ranks ready to depart, dressed in rough blue jackets, corduroy suits, and strong boots, all made within the Refuge, the work of their own hands. All alike had scarlet comforters and Glengarry caps; a canvas bag across their shoulders contained a change of linen for the voyage, towels, tin can, bowl and mug, knife, fork, and spoon; and one kind friend, the last day before starting, brought them a present of a hundred strong pocket-knives. A Bible, a |Pilgrim's Progress,| and a little case of stationery, were provided for each, and while they stood thus indoors, singing their last farewell, a dense crowd filled the street without, having waited for hours in the pouring rain. It was with difficulty the police could keep struck with the sight of the boys, all remarking that they had never seen more intelligent countenances, and one observed, after hearing something of their history, |This is real religion.|
Liverpool was reached at 4 A.M., and all went at once on board the |Peruvian.| Then came a trial of patience, -- they had to wait some hours for breakfast, -- but restraining grace was so manifest throughout, that one's heart was continually lifted up in praise and thanksgiving for this mercy as well as for countless others, and most especially for the loving-kindness of the Lord in strengthening and supporting His beloved servants at the time of parting.
From want of space, it appeared impossible, (as far as could be judged from the first day's experience), to gather all the boys together, but even amid the difficulties attending first going on board, Miss Macpherson succeeded in holding a little service with a portion of them. Some of the passengers and crew gathered round; all were remembered in her supplications, and a deep solemnity rested on all. Then she called on those boys who knew what it was to draw near with assurance to the throne of grace to ask for blessing, and, with her undaunted energy, exhorted them not to be afraid to speak for Jesus. Prayer was followed by the oft-repeated hymn, --
|There is a better world, they say,
Oh, so bright!|
The tender brought on board a band of Christian friends, who once more thronged around her, till the parting signal was given, and then the last sounds heard on leaving were, |Yes, we part, but not for ever,| and |Shall we gather at the river?|
The following note of cheer quickly arrived, to the joy of many anxious hearts and the praise of a prayer-hearing God: --
|On Board the 'Peruvian,' off the Coast of Ireland, May 13, 1870.
|MY DEAR SISTERS, -- Fearing lest in your anxiety for us you may have imagined a rough night for the first, I send a few lines to assure you that all is love, even to the smallest details. Each rolling wave reminds me of that word in the Epistle of James, 'Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.' Many a faithful prayer has ascended for a prosperous voyage; prosperity of soul is often realised by being kept in the lowest place, and when my boys told me how ill some of them had been in the night, and how they had, notwithstanding, held little prayer-meetings, crying to Jesus in the midst of what to them seemed a storm, I rejoiced. Thus trial sends us to Jesus, the Captain of our salvation.
|With the exception of two, all are on deck now, as bright as larks; they have carried up poor Jack Frost, and Franks, the runner. It is most touching to see them wrap them up in their rugs. Michael Finn, the Shoreditch shoeblack, was up all night caring for the sick boys; he carries them up the ladder on his back. Poor Mike! he and I have exchanged nods at the Eastern Counties Railway corner these five years; it is a great joy to give him such a chance in life. Oh, to win his soul to look to Jesus for everlasting life!|
The following extract will tell the answer to the many prayers by which Miss Macpherson was upheld, and how assuredly it was the Lord who had guided her way across the pathless deep: --
|Mr. Stafford, the agent at Quebec, would willingly have kept the hundred boys there, but we only left him eleven, and brought the rest on to Montreal; and there too they were anxious to keep them, and said if it were made known, in three days we should not have one remaining. As it was, we left twenty-three, and all in excellent situations. Some of the best were picked out, numbers of them as house-servants. Then we left eight at Belleville, half way between Montreal and Toronto.| These boys were left in charge of Mr. Leslie Thom, who had acted as schoolmaster at the Home of Industry, and whose help was invaluable on arrival in the new country.
Miss Macpherson's youngest sister, Mrs. Birt, thus writes concerning the departure of the second family, so readily sent out in answer to the invitations of dear friends in Canada: --
|I am sure our dear friends will feel exceedingly pleased and gratified to hear that the departure of our second band of boys for Canada this year, under the care of Mr. Merry, took place on the 21st of July, leaving our hearts filled to overflowing with thankfulness and praise for the very marked way in which the Lord has led us on step by step.
|Little did we think, a month ago, that it would be possible in so short a time to select, teach, and outfit seventy boys, and to soften their manners, even if we had the necessary money for their expenses. But the Lord has most wonderfully brought it all about in His own way. The money was sent, boys anxiously in search of employment came beseeching help, the needful work for their outfits was accomplished in far less than the usual time by faithful widows, who sewed away as diligently as though each had been making garments for her own son. An active, earnest, clever teacher was also provided by the Lord, to give to these rescued ones that punctual and diligent, daily attention that seemed to us so important. Even the postponement of their sailing from the 14th inst. to the 21st inst. was overruled for good; Mr. Merry was enabled to become more personally acquainted with each, and we know that 'the good seed of the Word' was sown in many hearts, we trust to bear fruit. On reaching the ship, we were told that our band would have the benefit of a place set apart for themselves, whereas, had they sailed the previous week, they would have been crowded up with other emigrants. After three days' rest we return, the Lord willing, to the Refuge, to select and prepare a band of young girls. Our sister Miss Macpherson writes to us that she has been besought most earnestly by the Canadian ladies to send them out some little English maids; and that they promise to watch over them and care for them as if they were their own.|
After the arrival of Mr. Merry in Canada with the second party of boys, Miss Macpherson returned to England and wrote as follows: --
|My BELOVED FELLOW-LABOURERS, -- You will be surprised to hear that, after a pleasant voyage, with renewed health, I am again in my privileged place of service in the East of London. My song of praise is very full. The Council of the county of Hastings has given me a house capable of holding 200, free of all expenses, situated in the town of Belleville, Ontario, leaving the management in my hands, entirely untrammelled by conditions. Thus a work of faith is now commenced on Canadian shores, where our little street wanderers can at once be sent and trained under our own schoolmaster, Mr. Leslie Thom. My friend Miss Bilbrough, assisted by the Christian ladies of the town, has undertaken to furnish this Distributing Home in readiness for Mr. Merry's arrival. There all will undergo a training, and will be kept till suitable situations are appointed for them.|
After remaining a short time in England, Miss Macpherson, accompanied by her sister, Mrs. Birt, returned to Canada with the third party of young emigrants, numbering over a hundred.
The following is an extract from Mrs. Birt's first letter after their arrival: --
|In my memory are associated two scenes connected with the pretty park in which the Distributing Home is situated, scenes that can never be forgotten; first, the long procession of the tired and weary little travellers, wending their way up the carriage-drive, the clear, starlit sky overhead, and the quiet, bright full moon shining down on their upturned faces, as they stood in front of their new home, and sang so earnestly --
'Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below;'
and secondly, on awaking the next morning and looking out, the sight of the whole party scampering about the park, just like so many little wild animals let loose from a cage, rushing about under every tree, as if trying whether their freedom was real. I had to call my sister to look at them; and in mind we carried them back to London at six o'clock in the morning, and felt it was indeed good for them to be thus in Canada. How longingly we wished we could fill the Distributing Home with just such a number every month of the year, for certain it is we could find places and homes for them all.|
A little later Miss Macpherson wrote: --
|Yesterday afternoon Miss Bilbrough drove us out into the cleared backwoods to visit some of our children. The country was charming; woods and green valleys, with every now and then rich orchards laden with rosy apples; the long Concession roads, forming at times magnificent avenues, in which here and there a maple, which had caught a cold blast, prematurely showed the lovely autumnal tints so peculiar in richness to this country.
|Everywhere we called the warmest hospitality was shown us, very like the 'furthy auld kintra folk' of Scotia in days lang syne.
|Our first recognition was a boy named Ambrose, of the second detachment; he was busy in the farmyard, but soon, with a bright face, came to the side of our vehicle, telling us he was so happy and well; indeed, it required no words to assure us of this. Our next call was to one of the first settlers of fifty-eight years ago, still living in the house he had at first erected. His dear wife, on hearing of the arrival of the little English orphan children, could not sleep all night, but had her horses put into the team, and drove in to Belleville, and for the Lord's sake, who had been so good to her and hers, took away two, one for herself and one for her married daughter, whose home had never rung with the voice of a little prattler. It was great joy to see that they loved and cared for these little waifs as though they were their very own; my heart alone knowing whence they had been taken, and their little memories still keen as to the awful contrast of former want and this present abundance of food, fruit, and kindness.
|With this dear, pious couple, we drank tea. Such a spread at this meal is never beheld in the old country. Around my cup of tea were seven different kinds of choice dainties at the same time. This is their way, and it is done with few words but warm welcome. The homespun, well-worn coat and well-patched shoes of our aged host were all forgotten when listening to his intelligent remarks on men and things; and though seventy-eight years of age, every faculty of head and heart seemed to keep pace with the times. He was a Wesleyan Methodist, and with pleasure told us of the erection of their new Zion, whose glistening tinned spire we could see rising among the woods at no great distance.|
Miss Bilbrough wrote at this time: --
|Miss Macpherson has been able to spend during this summer much of her time in visiting among the different farms where our children are located, within some twenty or forty miles of Belleville in the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward. She would start some sunshiny morning on a week's tour, dining with one farmer, having tea at another's, and passing the night at some special friend's, Charlie, the mission horse, receiving the best of fare; while next day the farmer harnesses his horse and takes her round to the neighbouring farms where the little English emigrants have found a resting-place; and oh! the joy of these children to see again the well-remembered face, and hear the cheery voice of her who had first seen and relieved their misery in the old country, and now bringing fresh cheer and comfort in the new! With what haste the table is spread and soon loaded with substantial food, and afterwards what opportunities arise for a few words of counsel! Some verses are read from the Word of God, and then kneeling down, we and the new friends would commit the child to the care of Him who has said, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'
|Here, too, the numerous tracts and books brought from England, 'God's Way of Peace,' 'The Blood of Jesus,' 'British Workman,' 'Band of Hope,' and 'The Christian,' often containing a letter from Miss Macpherson, are eagerly sought after and read; and when passing along the road, Charlie seems now instinctively to stop when meeting some pedestrian, that out of our well-filled handbags may be given some tract or book.|
The following is a record of days of travel in the backwoods: --
|MARCHMONT, BELLEVILLE, October.
|My friend Miss Bilbrough and I started, after an early dinner, from Marchmont, having declined the kind offer of a friend's conveyance, preferring to go by the usual stage-waggon, as our object was to study the country people, and know those with whom our little ones mingle. In so doing we increase our opportunities of distributing books and tracts, -- a new thing in these outlying districts. We ask prayer for a blessing on these, and for every dear boy and girl who has been under our care, that the Holy Spirit may bring to each mind the remembrance of the truth in Jesus, which has been set before them. Our faith is from time to time strengthened by seeing one after another joining the Lord's people.
|The novelty of our position was increased when the driver and our fellow-passengers, seven in number, discovered that we were the friends of the orphan children. Their politeness was touching. We had to take the best seat, the curtains were drawn down to shelter us from the wind, and the driver strove to interest us by telling us histories of such of our boys as he knew at different points of his journey.
|For miles the country seemed well cleared, except where portions of forest were left to supply wood for the years to come. The cedar-rail fence and 'Concession roads' marked all into well-defined portions. On these roads the homesteads are built in every variety of style, from the log-hut built of cedar-trees laid one upon the other, cemented together, and roofed with bark, to the stone and brick edifice, with barns and stables, and other surroundings, like unto one of our own old country farmhouses.
|Our fellow-travellers were farmers, returning from Toronto Fair. They seemed amused and willing to listen to our conversation with the driver, and received our books most politely.
|The 'lumbering district' stretched away northwards, some seventy-five miles from where the giants of the forest had been felled. The recollections of our fellow-passengers were interesting as to the few years ago, when the very country we were passing through was a dense mass of similar unhewn timber. Now on every side there were homesteads telling of plenty, and enlivened by rosy, healthy little ones. Who will question the desirability of thus peopling our Father's glorious landscapes, and gathering up our poor perishing children from our overcrowded dens and alleys, where they are dying by thousands yearly for want of pure air and sunshine, many becoming criminals ere they scarce leave their mother's knee?
|The past encourages us to hope that He will not permit us to go before Him, and will both send sufficient strength for the day, and sufficient means for the support of all He would have us rescue from misery, by bringing them under the influences of a pious home, placing them in Sabbath schools, and above all, gathering them beneath the sheltering wing of the loving Shepherd.
|We arrive at length at Roslin, and soon find the pretty house of our friend Dr. H -- -, where we are warmly greeted for the Master's sake, and ere long introduced to the only little baby prattler, its mother, and her widowed sister. They had lived in the city, had visited the old country, were friends of Mr. Gosse, and readers of 'The Christian.' Hence we soon found that though in a Canadian backwood settlement, we had tastes and topics in common, and one longing especially united us -- the burden of precious souls to be won for Him we all loved.
|Through a chain of circumstances, Dr. B -- - had obtained one of our boys, who had been engaged in a similar capacity in a suburb of London, but had lost his situation, and become an orphaned wanderer in our great city. His knowledge of dispensing was a recommendation for his appointment to another doctor; and, to my great joy, hitherto he had conducted himself so well, that in all the neighbourhood around other boys were so much in demand, that we now have no less than forty children in that district among the farmers.
|My friend, ever a true helper as secretary, remembered that a small boy named Smith, who had left a mother sorely fretting after him, lived near, and proposed to go and get a report of him at once. The Doctor's conveyance soon was at the door, and in less than an hour my friend returned with a bright account of the comfortable home and the happiness of its young inmate.
|The short hours after tea swiftly passed in conversing over the basket of books and tracts, many of these the gathered-up stores of my friends, which when read had been sent to the Refuge, and were now being spread freely in Canadian homes. We also talked over the principle which we were endeavouring to work out with these friendless children, namely, that as the Lord Jesus had given Himself to save us, so we ought to reach out the hand of love, and endeavour to snatch others from lives of misery and want. If we cannot open our own doors to the lost and wayward; ought we not to help in finding out those who can, that the lost and wandering lambs outside in the wilderness might be gathered beneath a sheltering wing inside some happy fold?
|Dr. H -- - and his intelligent wife and sister held a long conversation with us on the method best suited for those whom we are seeking to benefit -- whether to educate them for a series of years in our institutions in the old country, or to afford them only a temporary residence with us, where their character, temper, and talents could be studied for a few months with a view to determine what family they would suit best. Our experience with the three hundred children now placed out and watched over by our co-labourers in Canada brought us to the latter conclusion, and the testimony of others in Germany was to the same effect.
|Pastor Zeller, who himself founded an orphan asylum at Beuggen, had long before strongly advocated the placing of bereaved children in Christian families as the very best method of training them. Commenting on this, M. de Liefde observes -- 'An establishment which contains from fifty to seventy children (and this surely is only a small one), however well managed, cannot help being unnatural in many respects. Nature seldom puts more than twelve children together in one house; quite enough for a man and his wife to control, if due attention be given to the formation of the different characters and the development of the various talents. The training of a band of children beyond that number cannot help assuming the character of wholesale education. The larger the number, the greater the resemblance of the establishment to a barrack; it becomes a depot of ready-made young citizens, got up for social life at a fixed price, and within a fixed period of time. No wonder that they often turn out unfit for practical realities, and uncured of inveterate defects.' The noble Immanuel Wichern felt this objection so forcibly, that his famous 'Rauhe Haus' institution is like a village of families, each homestead with its house-father and house-mother, and its twelve boys or girls, as the case may be. He considered that he could not otherwise do justice to those whom God had committed to his care than by bringing the principles of family life to bear upon each individual.
|In the course of conversation we asked, how it was that so far from the city they had heard of our having boys to dispose of, and it was pleasant to hear that the weekly 'Christian' was the link that led them to depute a relative to watch for our passing through Montreal. Family worship closed this day of sweet service.
|The next morning our kind host studied the various Concessions in which our children had been located, and soon the 'democrat' (a peculiar carriage suited for this country) was brought to the door, and the doctor, and his sister accompanied us for the day's drive.
|The day was balmy, like one of our bright June days, and beeches and maples, firs and cedars, were beautiful to behold in their autumn loveliness.
|Our first call was at Mr. V -- -'s. He was a widower, and, finding his home lonely, had sought at Marchmont for a little one to love and cheer him. He had taken the twin-like brothers, Freddy and Tommy, whose sweet little faces bore some resemblance to his own. We found the children at school, looking hearty and happy in the playground as we passed the schoolhouse. Mr. V -- - was from home, but his mother, a pious woman, received us most kindly, and spoke affectionately of the children. She took us to see her lovely flowerbeds of annuals, all laid out with taste in front of the wooden house, and tended by her own hands when house-work was over. My heart longed for the joy of telling the happiness of these children to the aged pious grandmother pining away in want and sickness, and forsaken by her own son, the father of these boys.
|Passing onwards, we drove past a rosy-cheeked little fellow climbing a bank. A month in the fresh air had so changed him from the delicate, pale, thin boy, that we looked again ere we recognised Alfred Bonkin. His widowed mother will sing for joy to hear of his being thus educated, clothed, and fed, and growing up to an honest life.
|Alfred was 'fixed up' (to use a Canadian term) with two others of our children in a family settlement. One was a grown-up lad, employed in farm work, and the other a little matchbox-maker. The venerable couple who had adopted them had won our hearts when calling upon us at the Home. They were both over eighty years of age, had thirty grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, and yet room to love our little ones, and not miss the 'bite and the sup.' It was washing-day; but the old lady left her tub 'right away,' and hoped we would not be 'scared,', by her being in a bustle, but just 'take off,' and she would soon spread the table? We spoke of our long round of calls, and with difficulty we got away, not before we had been laden with a basket of the finest apples we had ever seen, and had promised to come and pay a long visit next time. From all we witnessed, we could not but rejoice in the way God had opened homes and Christ-loving hearts to receive our perishing little ones.|
|Peace and plenty smiled on every hand. Tears came as a relief when fondling little Annie Parker took my hand, saying, 'Tome and see my father's new house!' The memory came back of Mr. Morgan, Mr. Holland, and a few friends meeting with me in John Street to form a 'Little Girls' Home.' Two years have now passed since Annie and her whole family were carried to the Fever Hospital. Both the parents died; the four girls took a room, and lived by matchbox-making. Annie and Maggie were the youngest, starved and ragged beyond description. Since that time they have both been cared for, have learnt their letters, and can now read and write. Surely the most inveterate opponents to emigration could not but approve of and seek a blessing on such a change. Where in all England could we have found, in a few weeks, hearts and homes for forty adoptions? These families are thrifty and homely -- spinning, weaving, knitting, knowing what small means with a blessing can do, and are the very people to train up our children for a common-sense battle with the difficulties of life.|
|We were interested in observing the forethought displayed in laying up stores for the winter; apple being peeled, quartered, strung upon strings, and dried either in the sun, or over the kitchen stove; pumpkins cut into parings and dried, &c.|
|All that remained at this late season (October) in the fields was the buckwheat. When this is cut and placed in stacks, its red roots are exposed, affording a pleasant contrast to the dark green of the up-springing fall-wheat. More immediately around the houses, lay the immense yellow pumpkins, still attached to their dying stems.|
The time for Miss Macpherson's return to England now drew near, and with a heart filled with thankfulness for the mercies they had already experienced Miss Bilbrough offered to remain at Marchmont, to brave alone the first Canadian winter, and with Mr. Thom's help to watch over any case of difficulty that might arise among those who had come out; for as yet the work was an experiment.
A CANADIAN PASTOR'S STORY.
|Annie and Maggie, the children before mentioned, were taken out to Canada by Miss Macpherson, and were at first unavoidably placed in families residing at some distance from each other. The younger one was brought back to the Marchmont Home on account of a peculiar lisp, which her master's children were acquiring from her. Almost immediately another farmer called for a girl to assist his wife in the care of her little ones. He saw little Maggie, cared nothing for her lisp, and would have her away with him. On taking down his address, it was found that he lived on the farm next to that where the elder, sister was placed. It was near the end of the week, and on the next Sabbath morning an unexpected meeting occurred, feelingly described in the following verses. The incident was related to Miss Macpherson by the pastor himself.|
Come now, a story, dear papa,
Now find a knee for each;
You said, papa, that once you heard
Two little sisters preach
A better sermon far than you:
Jane says that cannot be.
We want to know, so tell us now,
Before they bring the tea.
Come then, my darlings, you must know,
Beyond the wild deep sea,
In London's streets, these sisters grew
In want and misery.
Their parents died, and they were left,
Poor girls, in sore distress;
Ah! dear ones, may you never know
An orphan's loneliness!
But kindly hearts, which God had touched,
Felt for them in their grief;
He taught them too the surest way
To give such woes relief.
Away from London's crowded streets,
They bade the sisters come,
Within our brave, broad Canada,
To find a pleasant home.
A pleasant home for each was found,
But far apart they lay;
And thus apart the sisters dwelt
While long months rolled away.
Poor little girls! 'twas very sad;
They were too young to write;
And no one guessed the quiet tears
Poor Annie shed at night.
Among our Sabbath-scholars soon
I learned to watch her face;
A quiet sadness on her brow
I fancied I could trace.
One summer's morning, Sabbath peace
Filled all the sunny air,
And all within God's house was hushed,
To wait the opening prayer;
When up the aisle a neighbour came,
With hushed but hasty tread;
And by the hand with kindly care
A little girl he led.
A sudden cry ran through the church,
A cry of rapture wild;
And starting from her seat we saw
Our quiet English child.
|Sister! my sister!| was the cry
That through the silence rung,
As round the little stranger's neck
Her eager arms she flung.
And tears and kisses mingling fast,
She pressed on lip and cheek;
For silent tears can sometimes tell
What words are poor to speak.
Then soft o'er cheek, and brow, and hair,
Her trembling fingers crept;
Then heart to heart, and cheek to cheek,
Those loving sisters wept.
Nor they alone, for strong men sobbed;
Women stood weeping by;
And little ones looked up amazed,
And asked what made them cry.
Oh, broken was the prayer we prayed,
Scarce could we raise the hymn;
And when God's holy book I read,
My eyes with tears were dim.
And yet we felt the Saviour there,
Right in our midst that day;
|Will you not love my little ones?|
We almost heard Him say.
No need of laboured words that day
Long hardened hearts to move;
Well had the sisters' meeting preached
The lesson, |God is Love.|
His heart had felt their childish grief,
The while they mourned apart;
His loving-hand had wrought the plan,
To bring them heart to heart.
S. R. GELDARD.