Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts.

Woman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers online

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there is a small Servants' Lodge for girls out of place who
have passed through the Home, and there is also a Home for
Mothers and their poor little babies. There is room for nine
girls in the Servants' Lodge, and in the other house there is
room for seven mothers and their infants. The contributions
of two ladies more than cover the rent and taxes of the
Mothers' Cottage, and to the kindness of two other friends
we are indebted for the money which covers the rent and
taxes of the Servants' Lodge. Both these houses are at

In speaking of the work we must begin first with the
Night Shelter. In the " Bridge of Hope " Night Shelter we
have accommodation for eighteen ; and it is as much as we can
efficiently do to help this steady influx of eighteen human
souls coming freshly every day, and always needing advice,
help, and sympathy. Sickness, loss of work, and winter
weather bring to destitution a large number of women who
drift into the shelter, not knowing where to turn. They
come at all hours, and are given a bed free of charge, sleep
safely and soundly until the next morning, when we hear
their story, take pains to verify it, and then give what help
seems urgent or necessary for the case.

It is pitiful to think what a little practical help will some-
times suffice to give fresh impetus and courage to a human
life. Sometimes it is a poor sewing-girl who has lost her all,
and has not even the necessary implements to carry on her
trade, though she is willing to work honestly and hard for
the terribly low wages which suffice for livelihood. Here, a
pair of scissors and a thimble give heart and hope to the
poor despairing worker, and off she goes, cheered by kindly

Rescue Work by Women among Women. 157

words and friendly wishes, hugging her treasure and quite
ready to begin again that hard struggle for life. Then again,
having made a fresh beginning, many of our poor women
bring their wages for us to take care of until a little sum is
gained with which they can make a really good and more
practical start.

Here is a very fair example of the work we are always
doing. A poor woman and her little daughter of thirteen
came to the shelter about two years ago. The woman was
a good hand at her trade, gentlemen's tie-making, but had
been very ill, and obliged at last to seek refuge in the work-
house infirmary. When she got better she heard of our
shelter, and, taking her discharge with her little girl, came to
our door. After due investigation, we offered to receive the
girl into one of our homes, and give the mother free lodgings
until she could get back her work. She obtained work, but
not one penny did she spend without consulting her kind
friend the Night Shelter superintendent. She bought boots
and calico, and made herself some underlinen, and then
bought tidy clothes until her wardrobe was replenished and
she got back her old feelings of self-respect. Then one by
one articles of furniture were bought for a little room until
the " home " was gathered again. Soon after we sent her
back her little girl, whom she taught her own trade. Since
then she has prospered greatly in her business, and has now
six employees working under her.

So many touching memories crowd upon us that we could
write a book of thrilling incidents stranger than fiction ;
but we have learned to measure something of the temptations
from which these poor women fled, and to know how, in the
fierce struggle of this great teeming city of ours, many aspira-
tions after something better, a higher life, fall withered and
crushed. Many who come to us, without a helping hand
would have no resource but the workhouse or a life of sin. I
am certain that no one among us would ever have courage
to cast the " first stone " if we could know the awful straits
which bring so many of our sisters into sin. A lady once
said to me, " Call them knocked-doivn women if you will, but
not fallen." I wish more in her position had as clear an
understanding of facts, and more hands would be stretched

158 Woman's Mission.

out to help us in practical ways with individual cases as she
has done.

Many of the cases which come to the Night Shelter are
poor women who probably never were first-class " hands ; "
and generally some weakness or defect keeps them from
earning first-class wages, and yet so many are honest and
willing to work. Dealing with these it is which is our hardest
and most heart-breaking work. I never know how we are
able to help these poor creatures, and we can never speak of
it in a wholesale way ; yet one after another gets a hand up,
a door opens, a place is found, hope returns, and from among
these desolate ones a rich harvest is gathered in. It is help-
ing those willing to help themselves which is the point and
ambition of our work ; and there are so sadly many of them,
here and everywhere, who are only too willing to work and
start afresh, but who do not know how to set about it, and
here it is that our experience and power of influence come in.

Many children runaways or brought to us by the police
or some kindly person come to us through the Night
Shelter doors. Besides the casual help we thus render, there
are many who, homeless, tradeless, and often friendless, are
willing to enter the Refuge and go through the routine and
training of our Home. We find out for which branch of
work they have the most aptitude or inclination kitchen,
laundry, needle-room or knitting-room, or again housework ;
and so they start and work steadily on until they are able to
go out into the world once more.

In the Home and Refuge the work is entirely among the
so-called fallen. I can scarcely say fallen women, because
the larger number are in their teens, many only fourteen and
fifteen years of age. Many people talk as if these women
were never really reformed. From my experience I can
speak in a very different strain. I can recall the faces of
large numbers who, coming into this house from the very
depths of sin, are now leading honest, useful, nay, in many
instances, I may say noble and heroic lives.

As I have said, apart from the mother-home, we have
five children's homes, which are entirely for work among
children. The first Bridge House is our Receiving Home,
and is situated in London ; the second is at Redhill, and the

Rescue Work by Women among Women. 159

third at Highgate. One for delicate children, situated on
the banks of the Thames near Southend, is considerably
helped by the young ladies in the Rev. F. B. Meyer's con-
gregation, who meet every week to work, and sell their
needlework, for the benefit of the children. One of the
children's homes at Ticehurst, called the Haven, was given
and furnished for us by a kind friend of the work ; and, as
the cottage is situated on her own estate, she is enabled to
gratify her warm interest in it by helping personally in the
superintendence. We never keep a bed empty in these
preventive homes. A young girl, however naughty she
may be, is not turned back if it is possible to take her in,
and especially if she comes from the dangers of a poor over-
crowded East End home.

The daily papers are perhaps the best witnesses of the
need there is for saving the young. There is scarcely a case
made public, but we could produce a parallel. We must not,
dare not, sit down in supine idleness, because there seems no
sufficient answer to the cry of what can be done to save the
thousands of children ! The only comfort is to do what we
can. The " mothering " of these young lives is a sweet relief
from the darkest side of rescue work. It is delightful to
visit the homes where they are being trained, and where
they are beginning to develop into bright intelligent girls.

By far the larger number of girls in service from these
homes are doing wonderfully well, and the many grateful
letters we receive show that our care has not been lavished
in vain. It is no uncommon thing to have a visit from one of
our children of years ago, but now in service, with her young
man ; and many are the wedding presents we have given.

Our aim in all is to follow Christ and to work for His
poor and His little ones in the spirit of love and sacrifice,
as He may teach and lead us. Our hope is, that any success
we may have had may be an encouragement to others to
work among those apparently most hopeless ones, whose
homes may lie near to their own doors, whether among the
overcrowded cities in our own beloved England, or in the
younger, freer, less thickly populated Western cities, where
perhaps such work may not be less needed.

160 Woman's Mission.


THE benefits accruing to the soldier from Institutes are now
so well understood, that they multiply, and will, we hope, in
course of time, be found wheresoever barracks exist. The
Soldiers' Institutes at Aldershot and Portsmouth are, perhaps,
the most generally known, but there are numerous others
deserving attention and admiration. These have been, for
the most part, founded by women.

Miss Sarah Robinson began her work among soldiers
after a dangerous illness. She resolved to devote herself to
the service of her heavenly Father, should it be His good
pleasure to restore her to health. She recovered sufficiently
to commence the labours which have resulted in the Ports-
mouth Soldiers' Institute. Like all great works, it had a
small beginning. At first Miss Robinson carried coffee to
her soldiers in a caravan, and ministered to their spiritual
wants by such means as were within her reach ; now her
resources are truly manifold. But, as she began in bodily
weakness, so she has continued, " glorifying God " through
much suffering and much opposition. Like Miss Florence
Nightingale, her heart was in her work, and her " strength
was perfected in weakness." Miss Nightingale once wrote
as follows :

May I from my sick-bed cry for help from England for her soldiers and
their Institute at Portsmouth, the great port for embarking and disembarking.
If we knew how troops, immediately on landing, are beset with invitations to bad
of all kinds, we should hasten to supply them with invitations to, and means for,
good of all kinds. If we realized what were the only places open to our men out
of barracks, places not of recreation but of drink and of vice, to the intense misery
and degradation of men, women and children ... if you knew these things as
I do, you would forgive me for asking you, if my poor name may still be that of
the soldiers' ever-faithful servant, to support Miss Robinson's work in making
men of them at Portsmouth, the place of all others of temptation to be brutes.

Work among Soldiers. 161

This appeal has been to a great extent answered. Since
the Institute was opened in 1874, hundreds of thousands of
soldiers, their wives and children, have been benefited. It is
only necessary to inspect the Institute, and see the vast
machinery at work for the bodily and spiritual good of the
soldier, to understand at a glance what " The Soldiers'
Friend " has done for him. The announcement on its thres-
hold declares the huge establishment free to all soldiers and
sailors, and proclaims that refreshments, amusements, secular
and religious instruction, lodgings for friends everything,
in short, excepting intoxicating drinks can be found within,
either free, or at a moderate charge. The refreshment bar is
self-supporting. The Institute contains a large dining-room,
coffee-room, general reception-room, billiard-rooms, reading-
room, Bible-class room, and endless sleeping apartments.
There is besides an immense lecture hall for general meetings,
surrounded by lofty and spacious galleries ; it seats about a
thousand people. What is there not ? Even a bowling-green
and skittle-alley.

This large Institute is in the town of Portsmouth, but an
important branch of the work is carried on in the dockyard.
Much hardship was experienced formerly by women and
children on landing from the troop-ships, as well as by the
soldiers themselves. They had sometimes to wait for hours
without food or shelter, and great was the joy when Miss
Robinson gained permission (in 1876) to send coffee, buns, and
biscuits from the Institute to the jetty. Both officers and men
appreciated this, boon ; and in 1877 it was further enhanced
by the erection of a little coffee-stall on the troop-ship jetty,
provided with boilers and other necessary appliances. By
this means much labour was spared to the workers, and much
benefit bestowed on the weary and often heart-sick crew
of the troop-ships. Waiting-rooms have also been built on
the jetty, so that at the present time the soldier and his
family are more hospitably received on their return to their
native country than in the past.

This is proved in more ways than one. A large room has
been opened in the town, whither the soldiers' and sailors'
wives come for needlework. This has grown into an institu-
tion, and the work is sold to ladies for the benefit of the


1 62 Woman's Mission.

workers. Orders are also received and well executed, and
the number of articles made annually averages four thousand.
To quote from Miss Robinson's report, " In the cases of
women 'married without leave,' this employment and other
kindly help given to them, are frequently all that stands
between them and starvation, or degradation." Added to
this excellent effort, there are sewing classes, mothers' meet-
ings, Bands of Hope, and " homes " for orphan girls. Miss
Robinson seeks to fit out the latter for service, or to place
them in permanent homes or schools ; and surely England
owes her, and the other ladies who work on similar lines, a
debt of gratitude for thus consecrating their lives to the
good of those who fight for her homes and hearths. That
the soldiers themselves, their wives, and children, are grate-
ful, is proved daily, almost hourly, by written and spoken
words eloquent with unstudied thankfulness.

Of the home attached to the Institute, Miss Robinson
herself says

The uncertainty as to each day's requirements adds greatly to the difficulties
of Institute "housekeeping." For instance, one day all our beds may be empty,
and the next all filled and extra ones needed. One day a message came from the
Quartermaster-General's office to ask how many women and children we could
accommodate, as a shipful was expected. We replied that we could take in one
hundred and forty ; but, after all, only one woman came. The next week,
without any notice whatever, sixty persons were sent to us to be kept for three
days. One day a sergeant drove up from the dockyard to say, ' ' Look sharp,
sixteen families are on their way to you ; " but generally our first intimation is
from the people themselves pouring into the house.

The troop-ship work is perhaps the distinguishing feature
of this Institute. Ladies visit every vessel that embarks or
disembarks at Portsmouth, and one lady makes it her special
care to see to the sick on board, and give them warm clothing
and little dainties. Others go through the quarters of the
women and children, which are close and crowded, with beds
on shelves one above another, and scarcely space to pass
between. The kindness of friends, here, there, and everywhere,
enables the ladies to distribute hundreds of wraps sorely
needed by the poor families who arrive, perhaps, from the
tropics, and have to proceed, by train or otherwise, to colder
climes. " The Little Friends of Soldiers and Sailors," or
" Miss Robinson's own," aid in this good work. They send

Work among Soldiers. 163

garments and presents for the children, and collect, on an
average, 1 50 annually for the three institutes. This juvenile
society was formed August I, 1884, to commemorate Miss
Robinson's fiftieth birthday. Nearly ten years have elapsed
since then, and we have now, alas ! to chronicle the fact that
Miss Robinson resigns the actual superintendence of the
Institute into the hands of another : Mr. Gelson Gregson.
She will still reside within its walls and identify herself with
it ; but her failing health forbids continuance of the immense
labour she has gone through in past years.

It is not easy to realize what this has been. There is at
Portsmouth the Soldiers' Institute, with every accommodation
for soldiers and sailors and their wives ; Mission Hall and
Soup Kitchen ; two coffee sheds on the jetty ; the Sailors'
Welcome at Portsea ; the Welcome Mission at Landport ; and
last, but not least, the Sailors' and Soldiers' Institute at
Alexandria. This last is situated on the Boulevard Ramleh,
and was begun and completed in six months. Miss Robinson
says that her first idea was to erect a temporary building ;
and accordingly, she purchased the iron Oratory at Brompton
(which happened to be then for sale), and it was put up under
the direction of her Portsmouth manager, Mr. Tufnell, himself
once a soldier. This was succeeded by the present handsome
stone building. Here the same rules and regulations obtain
as at Portsmouth, and the same advantages are afforded.
There are the refreshment-bar, the large reading-room, Bible-
class room, lecture hall, club-room for officers and English
residents, bedrooms for officers, sleeping cabins, etc. Certainly
good works make "the whole world kin," and for this and
innumerable other "good works" we are indebted to women.
Lord Wolseley gave them a meed of praise at an Institute
meeting in Ireland, when he delivered an address in behalf
of the work of Miss Sands among the soldiers. He said,
"We thank God for the earnest band of voluntary lady-
workers He has sent to help us. They visit systematically
in barracks .and hospitals, welcome the men who come to
the homes, and hold nightly meetings for those who wish
to attend."

This quotation introduces us to other homes and institutes
in the sister country. They have been established in Co.

164 Womaris Mission.

Cork, and not only in Cork itself, but in Queenstown, Ballin-
collig, Dublin, Dundalk, and Belfast. Miss Sands has devoted
herself with untiring energy and zeal thus to aid the soldier.
The Cork institution has been working between fifteen and
sixteen years, and provides, as do the other homes, the
accommodation, recreation, and instruction, afforded by all
similar institutions. Indeed most, if not all, Soldiers' Insti-
tutes are formed and kept alive on similar principles.

The opinion of Lord Wolseley must have weight, and he
speaks truly with authority of the benefits derived by the
soldier from the philanthropic efforts of the women of this
remarkable age. A few more quotations from his speech
may be serviceable.

It was not until the ladies of Great Britain and Ireland, with great devotion,
came forward that the soldiers' clubs or homes became the useful and well-
organized institutions they are at present. Those who knew the soldier knew
that what he required was a " home " with sympathetic care and consideration.
What did home mean ? Home to the citizen of Cork was the same as home to
the soldier. The soldier's recollection was associated with his mother and sisters
and numbers of acquaintances, and when away from them he felt the great want
of sympathy a lady could alone give him. It is because of that sympathy given
in the homes that they are as popular with some of the men as the mess-house
with the officer ; and he finds every convenience that the best club-house supplies.
He can write letters to his people at home in comfort and peace ; he can enjoy
himself, and not only have his mind filled with good literature and his body with
good provisions, but he meets with companions who will talk to him on an
equality, and in a way it would be impossible for an officer, no matter how much
sympathy he may feel for the men, to do. The presence of the ladies is the
great charm of these institutions, for the men find in them sympathy, an anxiety
to help them, and loving care. Four ladies reside in the Cork, Dublin, and
Belfast homes, and two ladies in each of the smaller homes. In closing we cannot
help thanking God for the way He has blest all our homes through the past year,
and especially for spiritual blessing amongst the men.

It would be impossible to particularize all the institutes
that have arisen since the first attempt was made to teach
our soldiers the blessings of religion. This philanthropic and
highly spiritual effort originated at Aldershot, some thirty
years ago. Mrs. Daniell, the widow of an officer, preceded
Miss Robinson, and should, perhaps, have had the first place
in this paper ; suffice it to say that her soul was stirred by
the lack of religion and morality in the army at that time,
and she resolved to dedicate the remaining years of her life
to the endeavour to provide the soldier with the Christian's
armour, to enable him to fight against worse foes than he

Work among Soldiers. 165

could meet with even on the battle-field. She knew that
when off duty his only recreation was to be found in the
public-house, the low music-hall, the dancing-saloon, or in
worse places still, which are sure to crop up wherever bar-
racks are placed. She would give him the choice of some-
thing better ; and the result has been that a machinery for
good is now in full force at Aldershot, similar to that already
working at Portsmouth. The intentions and prayers of this
Christian lady are expressed in a letter she wrote to the late
Rev. Mr. Pennefather, of Mildmay. Both are now " reaping
the reward of their labours," together with Mrs. Pennefather,
so lately taken from us ; and it is well to know how deeply
they all felt the need of employing every art and artifice in
the arduous conflict with evil. The following is an extract
from the letter in question : " If I know anything of my own
heart, I am ready to say to every call of the Master, ' Here
am I, send me ! ' But then we must not mistake the voice
of partial friends for the Master's call ; and what I want you
and other friends to pray for is, not that I may be permitted
to commence this work, but rather that I may be kept from
taking any steps in the matter unless He has chosen me for
this honour. So much has been written of Aldershot, that
it is unnecessary for me to enter into the loathsome details
of the unblushing vice that tracks the everyday path of the
poor soldier. A Christian officer who has been there for two
years told a friend last month that nothing that was ever said
of the abounding wickedness could go beyond the reality.
Something therefore ought to be done over and above what
may yet have been attempted. If the time to favour Aider-
shot be come, some loving hands will be stretched out to
help forward the mission, some loving voice will bid me God-
speed. Do not forget to ask special prayer : ' All things
whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing ye shall receive.'
I shall long to hear what you think on the subject, and to
have your advice as to the propriety of undertaking the

Thus began Mrs. Daniell's mission to the camp and town
of Aldershot. She laboured in it about ten years ; and after
her much lamented death, in 1871, her daughter, Miss G. F.
S. Daniell, carried it on. This " worthy daugh ter of a worthy

1 66 Woman s Mission.

mother " labours still in the fields thus prepared. Aided by
other devoted women, she, as a soldier's daughter, lives for
the soldier. There can be no better ending for this paper
than an extract from her own reports, which shows what the
mission is to-day :

The work at Aldershot grew and prospered. For some years it stood alone,
but in the course of time the parent stem shot forth goodly branches, and it is carried
on to-day in six garrisons, in addition to the old "home " at Aldershot Chatham,
Colchester, Manchester, London, Plymouth, and Windsor. The buildings are
vested in the hands of trustees, men of mark either in the service or in the
philanthropic world, but are placed under the control of no particular eccle-
siastical body. In an army composed of men of all religious denominations,
Church distinctions must be unknown in any work which is to be free and open
to all. No man, be he Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Baptist, or Romanist,
must run the chance of hearing anything said against the Church of his choice.
And therefore from the very first, and throughout the whole course of the work,
this neutral independent ground has been most jealously guarded. Of course no
secret has ever been made of the fact that those who are freely giving their life
and means to carry on the work in Mrs. Daniell's Homes do not look upon the
men as mere " children to be amused," but as undying souls, capable of rising to

Online LibraryAngela Georgina Burdett-CouttsWoman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers → online text (page 16 of 49)