Geo. C. (George Carter) Needham.

Street Arabs and gutter snipes. The pathetic and humorous side of young vagabond life in the great cities, with records of work for their reclamation online

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Online LibraryGeo. C. (George Carter) NeedhamStreet Arabs and gutter snipes. The pathetic and humorous side of young vagabond life in the great cities, with records of work for their reclamation → online text (page 1 of 33)
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JAN -5


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NOV 3 war
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DEC 2 B I98r


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MAY 03 1992
MAY 2 1932
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Author of "Recollections of Henry Moorhouse," "The True Tabei'nacle,'
" Life and Laboks or C. H. Spukgeon," etc.




Entored acoordinR to an Art of Congress, in the year 18a3, by D. L. Guebmbet, in the Office of the
Librarian of Congrese, at Washington, D.C.

Electroiyprd mid Printed by

.Stttnlci/ and L'slwr,

1 71 Devonshire Street, Jlostoii.


A PREFACE is like a doorway to a house, through whicli the reader
finds access to the book. It also gives the author opportunity to
explain or apologize. I take advantage of the custom, and, as I
usher in the stranger, offer some explanations.

This book is a plea on behalf of neglected and destitute
children, found chiefly in our great cities, and too often educated
in crime by unnatural parents or vicious guardians ; or who,
through the stress of circumstances, are forced into a course of life
which tends to the multiplication of criminals and the increase
of the dangerous classes.

. This evil is exposed by statement of fact, by illustrated narrative,
and by statistics. If public attention is thereby arrested, and
sufficient proof adduced to awaken an interest in child-life, and
enforce a conviction that thousands of juveniles are degraded
through neglect, I am persuaded the tragedies of which children
form the chief part will materially decrease.

A protest against wrong-doing is one step in the right direction ;
a plea for reform another; both, however, cover only a little of
the road over which we must walk if we are alive to diity and
sensible to privilege. The practical applications of proved remedies
go still beyond, and reach unto the end in view within these pages.
True, there are no grand schemes propounded of universal reform ;
no novel experiments demanded ; nor are laws and regulations
recognized as worthy of world-wide application. Examples are
given of work done by humane organizations; and the wonderful
achievements of individual enterprises in this field of philanthropy
are prominently noticed. But there can be no iron hand to grip
and guide young vagabond life ; it must be a hand of love tempered
with firmness, guided with wisdom, and ever outstretched in the
power of prayer and faith.


I EAfTORATiox. as one important sclieuK'. — pei'liaps tlie most

I lu'ljitul of all, — -is earnestly commended. Having Avatched its
V manifold workings, I mnst testif}' to its beneficent resvilts. Many
of the harrowing scenes depicted within these pages, and of the
marvelous transformations effected, have come under my personal
observation. Emigration as an antidote to overcrowding is fast
becoming a doctrine with man}- philanthropists ; as also it is
becoming a growing conviction that rhild reclamation is a more
important consideration than adult reformation. If the same
])roportionate ability, perseverance, and capital be invested in
working tliese "Arab'' mines, which are given to the claims of
degraded men and women, there will surely be a better and surer
return. Not to call attention from any legitimate method to save
the lost are these lines written, l>ut the rather to encourage
C'hristian labor in all departments. The salvation of the children
V in this generation ensures the salvation of the parents in the next;
so also the elevation of degraded adults now will i^ro^e of inestim-
able value to children yet unborn. But who is sufficient for
these things? The old ])roverb, '^Prayers and pains will do any-
thing,'' holds within it the true secret. In this work especially
both must be given without stint ; supplications and self-denials
])oured out without measure must and will prevail.

" Xo caprice of niiml,
No passing influence of idle time,
No popular sliow, no clamor fi'om the crowd,
Can move him erring from tlie right."

How much better to prevent a fall than employ an ambulance;
how much pleasanter to escort an emigrant than to attend a funeral.
There are around us in our Making hours, and haunting us in our
sleep, men and women, out of whose eyes, like decaying wood,
gleams the dying soul, Avhose existence is a travesty on life, whose
death CA'er hasteneth, Avhose childhood was capable of reclamation
in days of comparative innocence, Avhile vice had not as yet ossified
the heart, nor unltridlcd lust destroyed forever the finer sensibilities;
but shall it be said fliat no man caved for them? Even so.
Christian Charity never .sought, or, at least, neA'er found them ; for
if she found she would surely saA^e ; and now, in premature decay,


in swift-consuming corruption, Hope stands aghast witli melancholy
forebodings, rendering the little service left to be done, becanse of
limited opijortunites, in preparing a shroud and a grave ; and, with
the awful hush creeping over her of a consciousness that Neglect
had defeated Charity in an attemjit to save these subjects in earlier
years, she buries in silence the disfigured body of Death, which
might have been, which ought to have been, a transfigured temple
full of life and light through tlie indwelling of holiness and

I plead guilty with an old writer : '" I am but a gatherer and
disposer of other men's stuff." I have culled freely from many
a garden ; others have grown the flowers, I have simply prepared
the boiiquet ; none the less acceptable, I hope, that the flowers are
natural and homelike. There are those who have long labored with
street-children whose experience entitles them to a universal hearing
in their pleadings for the little ones. I have neither disguised nor
recast their utterances. They speak for themselves ; having done
little more than the silent rock, I re-echo their teachings, and with
literal exactness.

The sensationalism of the book arises from the tragic conditions
detailed ; the grim facts set before us are indeed sensational of
themselves, nor is there need to borrow from the artificialitj' of
unrealism to excite or surjjrise.

Many of the engravings are taken from photographs which show
at a glance the contrasts of the " Arabs " in the city, and the same
" Arabs " in the country ; between vice and virtue ; between idleness
and industry. The publisher has spared no expense in procuring
suitalile illustrations ; Mr. C. L. Brace, of the New York Children's
Aid Society, kindl}^ consented that we use the plates from his book,,
" The Dangerous Classes of New York " ; Miss MacPherson and
Miss Bilbrough permitted us to use photographs of their children ;
while Dr. Barnardo's "Night and Day "supplied us with several
subjects of interest; — to all of whom we feel greatly indebted.

After sending our final chapter t5 the printer, two additional
books came to hand which are worthy of study : " Organized
Charities," by Mrs. James T. Fields, and "Traps for the Young,"
by Mr. Anthony Comstock. These do not deal exclusively with the


subject of Street Arabs, but iucidentally aiicl i)Owerfully show how
such are made and reclaimed. " Traps for the Young " should be
\j carefully read by all ])arents, teachers, and philanthropists. Had
we received this book earlier while writing chapter third on " Arabs'
Academies," we sh

Online LibraryGeo. C. (George Carter) NeedhamStreet Arabs and gutter snipes. The pathetic and humorous side of young vagabond life in the great cities, with records of work for their reclamation → online text (page 1 of 33)