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groom opens the dance with a high-shouldered, broad-faced bride, while elderly and middle-aged friends look on with very irregular noses and lips, and probably with quart pots in their hands, but with an expression of unmistakable goodwill. Faugh!' says my idealistic friend, what vulgar details! What good is there in taking all these pains to give an exact likeness of old women and clowns? What a low phase of life! What clumsy, ugly people!'
But, bless us! things may be lovable that are not altogether handsome, I hope? I am not at all sure that the majority of the human race have not been ugly, and even among those lords of their kind' the British, squab figures, ill-shapen nostrils, and dingy complexions are not startling exceptions; yet there is a great deal of family love among us. I have a friend or two whose class of features is such that the Apollo curl on the summit of their brows would be decidedly trying; yet to my certain knowledge tender hearts have beaten for them, and their miniatures-flattering, but still not lovely-are kissed in secret by motherly lips. I have seen many an excellent matron who could never in her best days have been handsome, and yet she had a packet of yellow love-letters in a private drawer, and sweet children showered kisses on her sallow cheeks. And I believe there have been plenty of young heroes of middle station and feeble beards, who have felt quite sure that they would never love anything more insignificant than a Diana, and yet have found themselves in middle life happily settled with a wife who waddles. Yes, thank God, human feeling is like the mighty rivers that bless the earth: it does not wait for beauty; it flows with resistless force and brings beauty with it.
All honour and reverence to the Divine beauty of form! Let us cultivate it to the utmost in men, women, and children, in our gardens and in our houses. But let us love that other beauty too which lies in no secret of proportion, but in the secret of deep human sympathy. Paint us an angel, if you can, with a floating violet robe and a face paled by the celestial light; paint us yet oftener a Madonna turning her mild face upward and opening her arms to receive the Divine glory; but do not impose on us any æsthetic rules which shall banish from the region of art those old women scraping carrots with their work-worn hands, those heavy clowns taking holiday in a dingy pot-house, those rounded backs and stupid, weatherbeaten faces that have bent over the spade and done the rough work of the world, those homes with their tin pans, their brown pitchers, their rough curs, and their clusters of onions. In this world there are so many of these common, coarse people who have no picturesque, sentimental wretchedness. It is so needful we should remember their existence, else we may happen to leave them quite out of our religion and our philosophy, and frame lofty theories which only fit a world of extremes. Therefore let art always remind us of them; therefore let us always have men ready to give the loving pains of a life to the faithful representing of commonplace thingsmen who see beauty in these commonplace things, and delight in showing how kindly the light of heaven falls upon them. There are few prophets in the world, few sublimely beautiful women, few heroes. I can't afford to give all my love and reverence to such rarities. I want a great deal of those feelings for my everyday fellow men, especially for the few in the foreground of the great multitude whose faces I know, whose hands I touch, for whom I have to make way in kindly courtesy. Neither are picturesque lazaroni or romantic criminals half as frequent as your common labourer, who gets his own bread and eats it, vulgarly but
creditably, with his own pocket-knife. It is more needful that I should have a fibre of sympathy connecting me with that vulgar citizen who weighs out my sugar in a vilely assorted cravat and waistcoat than with the handsomest rascal in red scarf and green feathers; more needful that my heart should swell with loving admiration at some trait of gentle goodness in the faulty people who sit at the same hearth with me, or in the clergyman of my own parish, who is perhaps too corpulent, and is in other respects not an Oberlin or a Tillotson, than at the deeds of heroes whom I shall never know except by hearsay or at the sublimest abstract of all the clerical graces that was ever conceived by an able novelist.
This quotation goes to the root of the whole matter, and though it may be that George Eliot over-estimates the truth of Dutch art, sees in it more pathos and meaning than can be fairly attributed to it, and does not consider sufficiently how much rejection of purer feeling is implied in the continual preference for such subjects as tavern-drinking bouts and kitchen interiors, yet the idea on which her criticism is based is essentially a true one.
The beauty of life is in no way to be restricted to subjects of rare and infrequent occurrence, but is to be sought and found equally wherever women are patient and men are strong, where hearts are gladdened by the bursting of spring-time buds in the early freshness of an April morning, or feel the gloom of a November's twilight, when faint lamps cast a dreary reflection along the muddy road, the leafless branches toss their tangled twigs against a lowering sky. Wherever true lives are led, whether in joy or sorrow, there is the need of and the capability for art; for art is, after all, but a gathering up of the threads of meaning that abide in commonplace as well as in heroic occurrences, and their expression in a visible form.
THE UP-BRINGING OF PAUPER CHILDREN IN
BY THE SECRETARY OF THE POOR LAW BOARD.
HE system of 'boarding-out' the orphan or deserted children of the poor has now been in general operation throughout Scotland for upwards of thirty years. Its introduction may have been to some extent accidental; but the experience of thirty years has convinced most of us that the accident was a happy one, and that the system is admirably suited to accomplish the end in view. In Scotland undoubtedly it has been more or less a natural growth of the soila cheap, effective, and unpretending mode of dealing with a difficult and complicated problem suits the genius of a people who like to have things done well, and yet done at as moderate a cost as is consistent with capable workmanship. It would be foolish to assert that boarding-out' is the only mode by which the problem can be wisely solved; but there is hardly anyone who is acquainted with its practical working among the Scotch poor who will be inclined to deny that it has upon the whole been attended with eminent success.
The problem is this. Every year Poor Law Guardians and Poor Law Boards have a certain number of young children thrown upon their hands. These are the children of poor persons who have died destitute, children who have been deserted by their parents, children whose surviving relatives are worthless, abandoned, and unable to maintain them. What is to be done with these waifs and strays of our society? The law has mercifully declared that it is the duty of the public to rear and educate them, and a fund has been provided for the purpose of meeting this obligation. But then the question arises-How can this fund be most judiciously and most economically expended? Are the children to be retained in the workhouse and educated at the workhouse school? or are they to be removed from the workhouse school and sent to the district school? or are they to be taken away altogether from these unlovely congregations of pauperism, and permitted to begin life in a wholesome and natural manner?
One would fancy at first sight that there would be little difficulty in returning an answer to such questions. If it is possible to find homes for these poor little people in rural districts, where they will breathe the fresh air of the country, where they will learn how household duties are discharged, where they will receive their education at the village school in company with the village children, where 'the sense that handles daily life' will be duly exercised, and feelings of love and gratitude and reverence called into play—if it is possible
to find such homes for them at anything like reasonable cost, a not inconsiderable responsibility surely must attach to anyone who from ignorance or prejudice sets himself to defeat an arrangement which so manifestly accords with natural laws. The administrators of the Poor Law north of the Tweed have unanimously declined to accept this responsibility: and the boarding-out system is now everywhere in use throughout Scotland.
The Scotch system may be explained in a few words. When an orphan or deserted child becomes chargeable he is removed for a short time to the workhouse, so that before being permanently settled, the necessary inquiries may be concluded. Great care is taken as a rule in selecting a proper home. The class most in favour with the best inspectors is the class of cottars' and small farmers who are very numerous in the upland districts of Scotland. The men and women who form this class are an active, sober, thrifty, God-fearing people-people of uncommon intelligence and untiring industry (it is wonderful what crops of oats and potatoes they contrive to raise on their patches of moorland soil); and their cottages are somewhat better than those of the farm labourers round about them. The child soon becomes used to his new surroundings; the change of air and scene is all in his favour: a few months pass away, and it is difficult to identify the sturdy sunburnt little fellow at play among the stooks with the sickly, stunted, and ricketty invalid who had grown prematurely old among the slums of the city. The boy is sent daily to the parish school, where he associates with the other children on equal terms; as he grows bigger he is taught how to handle spade and harrow and plough (if a girl, she is initiated into the mysteries of housekeeping and domestic service); he comes to love the good people with whom he has lived as long as he can remember; and when he leaves them to learn a handicraft, or to try his fortune in the New World, he continues to look back upon the cheerful upland farmhouse as the real home of his childhood, and is always eager to renew his intercourse with its kindly inmates. Such a lad has had a fair start in the world; and it is his own fault, and not the fault of the system, if he fails to make his way among his fellows.
Mr. Campbell of Auchindarroch-one of the Superintendents of the Scotch Poor Law Board-has given us, in a report on the subject, a really touching picture of one of these cottage interiors,'-Craigie cottage, near Aberfoyle, occupied by Mrs. Glen, the widow of the poet whose pathetic lines, 'A wee bird cam' to oor ha' door,' are to be found in every collection of Scottish songs :
About two miles up the road leading from the inn towards Loch Ard, and at the junction of the overflow of Loch Ard with the Forth, a footpath over undulating ground above the Forth leads, at about a mile distance, to Craigie Cottage, where Mrs. Glen lives. The situation is a very beautiful one, being on rising ground immediately above the Forth, the hills surrounding the little valley being well wooded, on the one side of the
river by planted timber, and on the other by natural copse. In front of the house a neatly-kept lawn and flower-garden occupies the ground between it and the river-bank, and the whole aspect of the place has the appearance of a neat middle-class villa. Mrs. Glen has a small croft, and keeps a couple of cows. She is now an old woman upwards of eighty, but her intellect is still clear and vigorous. Her daughter, Miss Glen, lives with her, and takes the active charge of the children. She is a woman of superior education, and teaches them. She and her mother seem thoroughly devoted to their occupation, which they have carried on for upwards of twenty years. Ten children are now boarded with them, five being boys, aged respectively from seven to ten, and five of them girls, four of these aged from nine to eleven, and the fifth a pretty child about three years old. I saw them all; they were clean in person, simply and sufficiently clothed, and looking healthy and happy. They occupy as sleeping-rooms three of the apartments of the cottage. In addition to the ordinary school teaching, the children have here the advantage of a good deal of industrial training, for which the ordinary business of the house, herding and attending the cows, working the croft and garden, and keeping the grounds in order, afford ample opportunity. Another girl was living in the house, also sent by the parish of Glasgow, but whose time for being paid for had just expired, she being now above age. She was kept on, however, by Mrs. Glen at her own expense, as has been her habit with her boarders, taking what assistance they can render in the establishment for their maintenance, until suitable situations are found for them. A maternal relationship is thus kept up between Mrs. Glen and her boarders, and they have been in the habit, after having gone into service, of bringing their wages to her, which she places into bank for them, and some of them have thus accumulated considerable savings. The house was in mourning at the time of my visit, on account of the death the previous evening, from consumption, of a little girl not a boarder, but a daughter of a former boarder. This young man had enlisted in the 42nd Highlanders, and served in the regiment for seven years. During his service he married a young Englishwoman of a better class, whose brothers purchased his discharge, and he left the regiment with a very high character. His wife soon after died of consumption, and being left thus a widower with a motherless girl, he seems to have felt that he could not consign her to better hands than that of Mrs. Glen. He accordingly did so, and took service in the neighbourhood in order to be near his child. The little girl, however, had just sunk from the disease of which her mother died.1
This is rather an exceptional case, the number of children boarded with any one guardian seldom exceeding three or four. But it sug
Other cases of a similar kind are mentioned by the Inspector of Edinburgh: 'In making inquiries about the children for the present Report, I learned that some of whom we had no account for years had been recently visiting the friends and scenes of their schooldays; and in cases where their old nurses were dead had been kindly welcomed and entertained by their old neighbours. Some of them were married and had their children with them. Others were still in service, and came long distances --some from England, and some from the north of Scotland. In answer to my inquiries about one of the girls, her old nurse stated that she had married, but died last February, leaving three children, and that her husband had called and begged her to undertake the up-bringing of his two youngest children for him at a proper charge-he being so well pleased with the manner in which she had brought up his late wife.' (May 19, 1880.)