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in our churches; and they will not go into free seats, as free seats now are. Call this pride, if you will. They will call it a sense of character. Without discussing this question, I would only bring them before you as one of the classes which demand our sympathy.
There is another class, consisting of those who depend on the work which they can get as day laborers. These, also, can generally provide for their families in the sum
But through much of the winter, most of them pass a large part of their time in idleness ;— the evils of which will be too obvious to require comment. The excuse of some of them for not attending public worship is, that they have not suitable apparel. Others of them do not choose to go into the poor's seats. And others are kept from church by loose and vicious habits. Nor, without much watchfulness, and some assistance, will their children at this season be kept at school.
Another class consists of widows, who have the charge of young children. They can ask no one to take the charge of these children in their absence. they control their children who refuse to go to school ; and who are scarcely at home during their waking hours, except to obtain food. Besides, they can neither so clothe themselves, nor their children, that they are willing to go, or to carry them, to church.
Again. There are inany who are never settled in a place for more than a few weeks, or at most, for three or four months. You may leave them today at the north end of the city, and tomorrow they may be in some yard or court at the south end, where it will require some time
and diligence to find them. As they would have to change their school and place of worship almost as frequently as they change their dwelling place, they avoid this inconvenience by never going to any church, and by letting their children run at large.
And there are others, who may retain their place of residence, but who absolutely know nothing of order, economy, neatness or comfort. Either the husband, or the wife, or it may be, both are intemperate. I may leave it with you to imagine what is the condition of the children in these families. And, once more, there are aged and feeble
and sick families among
little for their own support. The protracted sickness of a parent, and especially of an only parent, or the long sickness of a child, or of children, brings wants and sufferings into the families of the poor, which, to be understood, must be seen. And the aged poor, who are wholly dependent on private bounty, have claims on our sympathy, which few can resist who witness them.
What hold, then, have these poor among us upon our institutions? Upon our churches, to a great extent, they have none. By means of our schools, indeed, a very large portion of their children are taught to read, and write, and cypher; and there is generally, among parents, a most laudable solicitude and care, that their children shall have the benefits of these schools. But these parents are known to those more favored than themselves, only as laborers, or as beggars. All who dwell within some miles of each other in the country are neighbors.
They exchange neighborly salutations when they meet; and the rich are as well acquainted with all the circumstances of the poor, as the poor are with those of the rich. In the city, this cannot be. But it might, and with as great advantage to the rich as to the poor, be far more so than it is. The poor, too, I have said, are here clustered together; and where there are vicious parents among them, they greatly increase each other's corruption; and the children who are not sent to school, and live as vagrants in the streets, contaminate and lead into crime, those who might otherwise be blessings to their parents and to the community. I do not wish unnecessarily to swell this detail. My only object is to present a few leading facts, by which others may be aided in some measure to conceive of what exists so near to them.
Is it said, that public provision for the poor is already very large, and very expensive? I answer, that I not only have no wish to propose any measures, which shall increase the burden of public expense, but that it is a great object of my cares and purposes to lessen this burden. I have a due estimation of our primary, Sunday and grammar schools ; of the school for Juvenile Delinquents, and of the House of Industry, at South Boston; and of our various associations for benevolent and pious purposes. But admirable as these agents are, and great as is the good which they are producing, they do not comprehend all for which the poor have claims upon us. I would speak modestly, but it is necessary also to speak plainly upon this subject.
I would observe then, first, that there are many who will suffer any thing, rather than go to the public alm
house. Is it said, this is pride ? In many cases, without doubt, it is. But will any one say, then let them suffer, and find support in their pride ? I answer, this very pride, or this feeling, whatever it be, excites to much exertion for the supply of their wants.
But with all this exertion, they cannot obtain enough to lodge, and clothe, and feed themselves and their children. Many mothers are making shirts and pantaloons for eight cents each, who cannot, with the charge of their families, make more than twelve in a week, who must yet pay, on every Saturday night, a dollar, or a dollar and a quarter, for a week's rent, and who must get bread and clothes as they
A widow, or a wife who has an intemperate husband, will struggle through difficulties of which they dream not who do not visit the abodes of the poor, that she may keep herself and her children from the alms house. Are we then to have no sympathy with the wants of these families? The appeal is not to the civil authorities, but to private christians.
Again. If public worship and the maintenance of a ministry be so essential to the well being of society, that our constitution makes it obligatory upon towns and parishes to support these institutions; and if the number be great in large cities, who, by the peculiar circumstances of their condition are removed from the influences, and excluded from the benefits, of these institutions; then there is a moral obligation devolving either on the government, or on the opulent, of cities, to provide for the religious instruction of those who cannot otherwise obtain it. I do not indeed think it desirable that the civil power should interpose in this concern. A far greater amount
of good will be secured, by leaving it to private christians, than by making it a matter of civil administration. Is it asked, what can private christians do for this object !
I answer, first, by a more generous provision than is now made, in many of our churches, for the accommodation of the poor. I do not mean by any considerable enlargement of the number of free seats; but by the assignment in every church of a certain number of pews, which it may be understood can be rented at so low a rate, that they who prefer to pay something, and who can afford to pay but very little, may feel able to obtain them for their families. It will not require a long intimacy with the poor to know, that the condition is far better of those among them by whom the order of the Sabbath is observed, and who are connected with some religious society, than of those to whom this day brings only a suspension of ordinary labors, and facilities for evil indulgences.
Secondly. There are those who are unwilling to go, and who do not go, into our churches in the day, who are yet very willing to attend upon a service in the evening. An experiment has been made, with a view to ascertain the utility of an evening lecture room for the poor ; and the success which has attended it, warrants an appeal to the opulent for the gift of a permanent room for this purpose. And shall we not have it? It is now near a year ago that a large apartment in the upper story of the circular building at the bottom of Portland street was rented, and furnished by the enterprise and benevolence of a few individuals ; and in this room many are gathered every Sunday evening, who would otherwise worship