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A NIGHT IN A WORKHOUSE. At about nine o'clock on the evening of Monday, th 8bh inst., a neat but unpretentious carriage might have been seen turning cautiously from the Kenning- ton-road into Princes-road, Lambeth. The curtains were closely drawn, and the coachman wore an unusually responsible air. Approaching a public- house, which retreated a little from the street, he pulled np; but not so close that the lights should fall upon the carriage door, not so distant as to unsettle the mind of any one who chose to imagine that he had halted to drink beer before proceeding to call for the children at a juvenile party. He did not dismount, nor did any one alight in the usual way; but any keen observer who happened to watch his intelligent countenance might have seen a fur- tive glance directed to the wrong door— that is to say, to the door of the carriage which opened into the dark and muddy road. From that door emerged a sly and ruffianly figure, marked with every sign of squalor. He was dressed in what had once been a snuff-brown coat, but which had faded to the hue of bricks imperfectly baked. It was not strictly a ragged coat, though it had lost its cuffs-a bereavement which obliged the wearer's arms to pro- ject through the sleeves two long inelegant inches. The coat altogether was too small, and was only made to meet over the chest by means of a bit of twine. This wretched garment was surmounted by a birds- eye" pocket-handkerchief of cotton, wisped about the throat hangman fashion; above all was a battered billy-cockhat, with a dissolutedrooping brim. Between the neckerchief and the lowering brim of the hat appeared part of a face, unshaven, and not scrupu- lously clean. The man's hands were plunged into his pockets, and he shuffled hastily along in boots, which were the boots of a tramp indifferent to miry ways. In a moment he was out of sight, and the brougham, after waiting a little while, turned about and somfort- ably departed. This mysterious figure was that of the present writer. He was bound for Lambeth Workhouse, there to learn by actual experience how casual paupers are lodged and fed, and- what the casual" is like, and what the porter who admits him, and the master who rules over him; and how the night passes with the outcasts whom we have all seen crowding about work- house doors on cold and rainy nights. Much has been said on the subject—on behalf of the paupers-on behalf of the officials; but nothing by any one who, with no motive but to learn and make known the truth, had ventured the experiment of passing a night in a workhouse and trying what it actually is to be a The'day had been wm3y ana chilly—the night was cold; and therefore I fully expected to begin my ex- periences among a dozen of ragged wretches squatting about the steps and waiting for admission. But my only companion at the door waa a decently dressed woman, whom, as I afterwards learnt, they declined to admit until she had recovered from a fit of intoxi- cation from which she had the misfortune to be still suffering. I lifted the big knocker, and knocked; the door was promptly opened and I entered. Just within, a comfortable-looking clerk sat at a comfortable desk, ledger before him. Indeed, the spacious hall in every way was as comfortable as cleanliness and great mats: and plenty of gaslight could make it. What do you want? asked the man who opened the door. I want a lodging." "Go and stand before the desk," aaid the porter, and I obeyed. "Yon are latev" said the clerk. Am I, sir P yes. If you come in you'll have a bath, andyouUl have to sleep in the shed." Very well, sir." "■ What's your name ? "Joshua Mason, sin," What are you ? "An engraver." (This taradiddle I invented to account for the look of my hands.) "Where did you sleep last night ?" "Hammersmith," I answered-as I hope to be for- given. How many times have you been here-? Never before, sir." "Where do you mean to go to when you are turned out in the morning? Back to Hammersmith, air." These humble answers being entered in a book, the clerk called to the porter, saying, Take him through. You may as well take his bread with you." Near the clerk stood a basket containing some pieces of bread of equal size. Taking one of these, and unhitching a bunch of keys from the wall, the porter led me through some passages all so scru- pulously (dean that my most serious misgivings were laid to rest. Then we passed into a dismal yard. Crossing this, my guide led me to a door, calling out, Hillo! Daddy, I've brought you another!" Where- upon Daddy opened unto us, and let a little of his gas- light stream into the dark where we stood. Come in," said Daddy, very hospitably. There's enough of you to-night, anyhow! What made you so late p I didn't like to come in earlier." "Ah! That's a pity, now, because you've missed your skilliay (gruel). It's the first night of skilley, doa't you know, under the new Act ?" Just like my luck!" I muttered dolefully. The porter went his way, and I followed Daddy into another apartment, where were ranged three great baths, each one containing a liquid so disgust? ingly like weak mutton broth that my worst appre- hensions crowded back. Come on, there's a dry plaob to stand on up at this end," said Daddy, kindly. "Take off your clothes, tie 'em up in your hank'sher, and I'll look 'em up till morning." Accordingly I took off my coat and waistcoat, and was about te tie them together, when Daddy cried; "That ain't enough; I mean everthing." "Not my shirt, sir, I suppose P "Yes, shirt and all; but there, I'll lend you a shirt," said Daddy. "Whatever you take in of your own will be nailed, you know. You might take in your boots, though-they'd. be handy if you happened to want to leave the shed for anything; but don't blame me if you lose'em." With a fortitude for which I hope some day to ba rewarded, I made up my bundle (boots and all), and the moment Daddy's face was turned away shut my eyes and plunged desperately into the mutton broth. I wish from the bottom of my heart my courage nau been less hasty, for hearing the splash, Daddy looked *ound and said, "Lor, now! there was no occasion. that; you look a clean and decent sort of man. srlf them filthy beggars (only he used a word more uae°fcKC t^an filthy") that want washing. Don't and towel—here's a clean one! That's the sort! your shirt" (handing me a blue striped 0 a heap), and here's your ticket. No. 34, y?.u i a ticket to match is tied to your bundle* Ji ii ?'t lose it. They'll nail it from you if they fata^Qe* Pat it under your head. This is your U wjt^ you.» « Show yo^?. ale6l>' P!ea39' sir ?" And so he did. With no other rag but the checked shirt to cover and with my rug over my shoulder, he accompanwtl me to the door at whioh I entered, and, opening it, kept landing with naked feet on the stone threshold, mu in the draught 0f the frosty air while he pointed ou„ t,ne way I should go. It was not a long way, but 1 would have given much not to have trodden it. It was open as the highway—with flag stones below and the stars overhead, and, as I said before, and cannot help saying again, a frosty wind was blowing. h Straight across," said Daddy, to where you see the light shining through. Go in there, and turn to the> left, and you'll find the beds in a heap. Take one of 'em and make yourself comfortable." And straight across I went, my naked feet seeming to cling to the stones as though they were burning hot instead of icy cold (they had just stepped out of a bath you should remember), till I reached the spaee through which the light was shining, and I entered in. No language with which I am acquainted is capable of conveying an adequate conception of the spectacle I then encountered. Imagine a space of about 30ft. by 30ft. enclosed on three sides by a dingy whitewashed wall, and roofed with naked tiles which were furred with the damp and filth that reeked within. As for the fourth side of the shed, it was boarded in for (say) a third of its breadth; the remaining space being hung with flimsy canvas, in which was a gap 2ft. wide at top, widening to at least 4ft. at bottom. This far too airy shed was paved with stone, the flags so thickly incrusted with filth that I mistook it first for a floor of natural earth. Extendingfromone end of my bedroom to the other, in three rows, were certain iron cranks" (of which I subsequently learnt the use), with their many arms raised in various at- titudes, as the stiffened arms of men are on a battlefield. My bedfellows lay among the cranks, distributed over the flagstones in a double row, on narrow bags scantily stuffed with hay. At one 'glance my appalled vision took in thirty of them—thirty men and boys stretched upon shallow pallets, with but only six inches of comfortable hay between them and the stony floor. These beds were placed close together, every occupant being provided with a rug like that which I was fain to hug across my shoulders. In not a few cases two gentlemen had olubbed beds and rugs and slept together. In one case (to be further mentioned presently) four gentle- men had so clubbed together. Many of my fellow casuals were awake, others asleep, or pretending to sleep; and, shocking as were the waking ones to look upon, they were quite pleasant when compared with the sleepers. For this xeaaon, the practised and well. seasoned casual seems to have a peculiar way of putting himself to bed. He rolls himself in his rug, tucking himself in, head and feet, so that he is sompletely en- veloped and, lying quite still on his pallet, he looks pre- cisely like a corpse covered because of its hideousness. Some were stretched out at full length; some lay nose and knees together; some with an arm or a leg ,showing crooked through the coverlet. It was like the result of a railway accident; these ghastly figures were awaiting the coroner. From the moral point of view, however, the wakeful ones were more dreadful still. Towzled, dirty, villanous, they squatted up in their beds, and smoked foul pipes, and sang snatches of horrible songs, and bandied jokes so obscene as to be absolutely appalling. Eight or ten were so enjoying themselves-the majority with. the check shirt on and the frowsy rug pulled about their legs; but two or three wore no shirts at all, squatting naked to the waist, their bodies fully exposed in the light of the single flaring jet of gas fixed high up on the wall. My entrance excited very little attention. There was a horse-pail three parts full of water standing by a post in the middle of the shed, with a little tin pot beside it. Addressing me as old pal," one of the naked ruffians begged me to "hand him a swig," as he was werry nigh garspin." Such an appeal of course no old pal" could withstand, and I gave him a pot full of water. He showed himself grateful for the attention. "I should lay over there if I was you," he said, pointing to the left side of the shed; "it's more out of the wind than this here side is." I took the good-natured advice and (by this time shivering with cold) stepped over the stones to where the beds of straw bags were heaped, and dragged one of them to the spot suggested by my naked com- rade. But I had no more idea of how to arrange it tiian of making' an apple pudding:, and a certain little discovery added much to my embarrassment. In the middle of the bed I had selected was a stain of blood bigger than a man's hand! I did not know what to do now. To lie on such a horrid thing seemed im- possible yet to carry back the bed and exchange it for another might betray a degree of fastidiousness repugnant to the feelings of my fellow lodgers, and possibly excite suspicion that I was not what I seemed. Jast in the nick of time in came that good man Daddy. What! not pitched yet? "he exclaimed; "here, I'll show you. Hallo ¡ somebody's been a bleedin' Never mind; let's turn him over. There you are, you see! Now lay down, and cover your rug over you." There was no help for it. It was too late to go back. Down I lay, and spread the rug over me. I should have mentioned that I brought in with me a cotton handkerchief, and this I tied round my head by way of a nightcap but not daring to pull the rog as high as my face. Before I could in any way settle my mind to reflection, in came Daddy once more to do me a further kindness and point out a stupid blunder I had committed. "Why, you are a rummy chap!" said Daddy. You forgot your bread Lay hold. And look here, I've brought you another rug; it's perishing cold to. night." So saying, he spread the rag over my legs and went away. I was very thankful for the extra covering, but I was in a dilemma about the bread. I couldn't possibly eat it; what then was to be done with it ? I broke it, however, and in view of such of the company as might happen to be looking made a ferocious bite at a bit as large as a bean, and munched violently. By good luck, however, I pre- sently got half-way over my difficulty very neatly. Just behind me, so close, indeed, that their feet came within half a yard of my head, three lads were sleeping together. Did you hear that, Punch ? one of them asked. "'Ear what?" answered Punch, sleepy and snappish. "Why, a cove forgot his toke! Gordstruth! you wouldn't ketch me a forgettin' mine." You may have half of it, old pal, if you're hungry," I observed, leaning up on my elbows. "Chuck it here, good lack to yer?" replied my young friend, starting up with an eager clap of his dirty hands. I "chucked it here," and, slipping the other-half under the side of my bed, lay my head on my folded arms. Here I must break my narrative. In doing so per- mit me to assure your readers that it is true and faithful in every particular. I am telling a story which cannot all be told—some parts of it are far too shocking; but what I may tell has. not a single touch false colou-- in it.-Pall Hall Gazette.






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