Puslapio vaizdai

In each town I entered I made for the free library, and went through the advertisement columns of the local newspapers, making notes of the employers in need of men-whatever the work was. Then followed the weary tramp from shop to shop, works to works, office to office; and my spirits would go lower and lower as I received the barely civil, "not suitable" or "too late," or the abrupt "no," given in the tone of the successful to the failThen I began to work my way toward Lancanshire again, going through Preston and Lancaster. When I reached Morecambe my funds were reduced to one penny, and, buying two bananas, I walked through the town. No work. When in the evening I looked across the bay in the direction of Barrow-in-Furness, where next I had determined to go, the lowering clouds gave promise of a stormy night: a promise they did not fail to keep.


But rain, hail, or snow, without money for a bed, on I must tramp. As the way out of Morecambe in the direction of Barrow was difficult to find, I got on to the railway track, hoping that the darkness of the night would atone for making the legitimate way difficult to discover by hiding me from official and officious eyes. Some miles I had walked along when I was seen by a signalman, who ordered me off; he softened the order, however, by asking me into his cabin to have a cup of tea, and then pointing out a road quite near the track, that would lead me in the right direction.

Shortly after this the storm burst. Soon I was drenched to the skin, and "squelch," "squelch," went my boots as I plodded along-for shelter there was none. After some hours' walking I came to a ruined building, and soon I was through a breach in the walls. The place was already occupied, for out of the darkness a voice remarked LIVING AGE. VOL. XLIV.


on the wildness of the night. I could hear the loud breathing of others who were sleeping, but there was no light, and I could not see who my fellowlodgers were. Sitting on a piece of fallen masonry I tried to sleep. In vain. Ghosts of past days haunted me; past ambitions mocked me; and I had no weapon with which to drive them away.

Dawn revealed to me, sleeping soundly on the other side of the floor, a man, a woman, and two children, evidently vagrants; and, stepping quietly out, I resumed my tramp. On through Carnforth, Grange-over-Sands --the scenery beautiful; but I had no eyes for beauty of scenery. My feet began to blister, my legs to ache and for the first time in my life I knew what real hunger was. The tower at Ulverston was in view for hours before I reached it-that was the worst of the tramp. I thought I had not far to go-from Morecambe, Barrow is but a few miles-just across the water; but continually when I thought I had got on the right side of the bay I found another arm stretching inland, and I had to go further and further round. At Ulverston I got a lift for a few miles on a mineral-water wagon. We had not gone very far when the carter pulled up at an ale-house and invited me to "have a pint." I told him I was an abstainer and he went in and left me to wait outside for his return. So I have found it all along: it is very easy to get beer, terribly difficult to get food. Many men will say: "Come an' 'ave a drink," who would never dream of saying: "Come an' 'ave a bite."

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When the wagon reached its destination-Dalton-and I had to get off, I found myself so stiff and sore that walking was torture. It was night when I reached the Furness Abbey, on the outskirts of Barrow, and I walked on towards the town, hungry, without

the slightest idea how I was going to spend the night. As I passed the railway station a man came out carrying a bag. Vanity beat a rapid retreat before the combined forces of hunger and weariness, and I asked him if I might carry it. Without a word he handed it to me, and I started off behind him. Atlas could not have found the bearing of his burden more difficult than did I that bag that night. From shoulder to shoulder I shifted it, and from hand to hand, but gradually it grew in weight until I thought my staggering legs would refuse to perform their office. Just when I felt I

could go on no longer my employer stopped at a gate, took the bag from me, placed it on the ground, and gave me a shilling! I could hardly believe my good fortune. Then, taking my hand in a firm grip, he said: "You look too good for this kind of work, my lad. With all my heart I pray God send you better times." With his kind words ringing in my ears and warming my heart I started to look for a cheap eating-house, and, finding one, I was soon doing my utmost to empty quickly a generous basin of soup. Then I went out to look for a common lodging-house in which to spend the night. I wonder if any of my readers have ever been inside a doss-house. Until then I never had, though I have been in many since from the palatial municipal enterprise to the "tup-penny doss."

I found a house-not very inviting in appearance-with, oyer the door, a notice: "Good beds for working men and travellers"; and I went through the open doorway, along a dark passage. A hard-featured woman came out of the front room, and I asked her if I could have a bed. She looked at me curiously for a moment, then "Yis," she said. "Wher's yer money?" I paid her. "Thet's road to t' kitchen," nodding her head towards a door at

the end of the passage. The kitchen was below the level of the street. There had evidently been at one time two rooms, which had been converted into one by simply knocking down the dividing wall. A single gas-jet gave just light enough to reveai the, at one time, whitewashed walls, the benches and tables scattered about, the dirty, sawdust covered floor, the strange company, and mercifully hid from me many things the stronger light of day revealed. There was a good fire-the one redeeming feature of even the worst of doss-houses-and soon my clothes were steaming as I sat beside it, and began to take stock of my fellow-lodgers. They were mostly vagrants, in appearance disreputable, in many cases even criminal. The conversation vile-the landlady signalizing each visit to the kitchen by the perpetration of some joke (!), making up for lack of wit by superabundance of filth. The smell of the room sickening the odor of cooking, strong tobacco smoke, beer fumes, and other and viler odors, struggling for the mastery. There was one man sitting near me, however, who looked like a respectable workman "down on his luck," and I entered into conversation with him. He was a mechanic, had tramped from Bradford looking for a job, and was now supporting himself by begging. He was a good workman -he showed me a six years' "character" from his last employers; but he was rapidly drifting toward the unemployable stage. I have found during my sojourn in the world "Là-bas," and intercourse with its inhabitants, that if a man is once driven by want to either crime or begging there is a fatal fascination about success; it takes not more than two months to transform the honest unemployed workman -who ought to be an asset to society -into the practically unemployable vagrant, or into the criminal preying

upon society. It is a strong statement to make: it is absolutely true. It was fear of this that reinforced my selfrespect, and often kept me from begging when I sorely needed food.

I was worn out, and I asked my acquaintance where the bedrooms were. "Door's locked," he said. "Can't go to bed yet." "Door locked? How's that?" "Stop anyone goin' to bed till they've paid."

It was a relief when a man flourished a bunch of keys and called out: "Anny wan fur bed?"

I at once went to him, and, taking an empty beer bottle into the neck of which a piece of candle was stuck, he conducted me to my bed-one of eight or nine in a low, not very clean-looking room. Following advice given me by the Yorkshireman, I folded up my clothes and placed them under the mattress, then, getting into bed, with a sigh of relief lay down to rest.

I thought at first I was the sole occupant of the bed, but very soon I discovered my mistake. There were many other occupants already in possession, and resenting my intrusion they seemed determined that, if they could not drive me out altogether, at any rate they would make me suffer for my temerity. And so far as my suffering was concerned their efforts were crowned with success. When I rose next morning one of my arms was swollen to an extent I had not deemed possible from such a cause. Throughout the night also a drunken man in the next bed-not a yard away -tried to murder sleep by periodically giving vent to an awful yell. Altogether the "comfortable night's rest" I had looked forward to was rather a failure, and I was very glad when morning came and I could rise. There was a large tub in the yard in which to wash, and for towel a piece of sacking, already very dirty and very damp. Fortunately I had a clean pocket

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Three nights in succession after leaving Sheffield I had spent in the open air-one of them in the pouring rain. I had had very little food, and at last I began to lose heart and hope.

It seemed to me that in all the world there was no charity, neither kindness of heart nor sympathy. I had begged for work a thousand times, and because I was a tramp, out of work, I received barely a kindly word. I was a suspicious character. The very fact that my evenings had been spent with books instead of beer told against ine. "There's somethin' queer about you," I was told by one man of whom I had asked work. "You look like a gentleman an' you speak like a gentleman, an' you're askin' for a laborer's job at sixteen bob a week." In vain I offered references. I might as well have reasoned with the hog he so much-outwardly-resembled. "You won't suit," was all he would say.

It was heartbreaking. It seemed to me that in spite of boyish dreams of high endeavor and noble achievement, in spite of all my struggles now, I was doomed to become a poor broken outcast, as many another had that I had met on the road.

What was the use of struggling any longer? "It is written!" Why not beg as others-plunder, if need be? Why keep tramping on, hungry, footsore, heartsick, when thousands around had enough and to spare?

Thoroughly miserable, I walked on until I came to a workhouse, and at the gate I stopped. It meant food, rest, and at last, yielding to the temptation, I got a ticket from the police station, went through the gate to a pauper's shelter and a pauper's dole. After a long inquisition I was provided with a tin of glutinous stuff I was informed was skilly, and a piece of brick-like bread, and shown into a large room in which were a number of other unfortunates. Helped by the salt which stood on the table, I succeeded in swallowing my food, and began to take an interest in the conversation going on around. The greater part of the men appeared to be comparing the various workhouses whose hospitality they had enjoyed; several, apparently respectable unemployed, were talking of their efforts to find work. One was a young fellow-a cabinet-maker. He said: "When a chap's down he don't get half a chance to get on his feet again. Look at my boots (worn out); my clothes are gettin' worse an' worse, an' a boss don't want a man who looks like a scarecrow. I come in 'ere to get some grub an' a bed. We're out at eleven to-morrow. You've to 'pad it' ten miles before you can get in another spike, so if you want to get in before they're full up you don't get a chance to look for a job. If you stop an' look for one-don't get one-you've to sleep out-no grub. It soon pulls you down." I have heard the same complaint very often since. The workhouses are too bad and too good-too bad for the honest unemployed; too good for the habitual vagrant, who ought to be segregated and forced to work.

At many workhouses a man is turned out at eleven o'clock in the morning. It's not much use looking for a job then. A man ought to be at the works when work commences in the morning. And so he starts off to tramp the necessary ten miles to the next workhouse, and so avoid sleeping out, hungry. Soon it gets into a habit, and the man doesn't try for work-doesn't want it, in fact. And an honest workman is lost to SOciety.

Seven o'clock was bed-time, and we were conducted to the bath-room. I was expected to go into water which did not appear to have been changed for a month. It was filthy, and I refused. The attendant merely glanced at me: "You don't need a wash," handed me night shirt and blankets, which had evidently been stoved often but not washed, and I went to bed. Twenty of us slept in the same room, and before morning the atmosphere was horrible.

For breakfast we had skilly and bread, and in return for the miserable accommodation and poor food had to break a pile of stones. At eleven the task was finished. I was free, and ι no longer wondered why men avoided the workhouse when possible

respectable men, I mean. Only a week or two ago I met an old sailorsixty-eight years old-who, with but one exception, had a continuous record of "good" discharges, but is now too old to do a seaman's work, who was going to pass the night in the snow rather than enter the casual ward.

"If I go into the tramp ward," he said, tears streaming down his face, "they'll put me to breaking stones or picking oakum, work I'm not fit to do; an' if I can't do all my task they'll fetch a policeman an' have me locked


"There's nothin' for the old man but

to die on the road." This in wealthy England!

had been tramping some hours through the countryside without food, but I did not feel hunger so much as thirst, and I could not find a stream in which to quench it. I was nearing Ross, and, unable to bear it any longer, I asked a dainty, fragile old lady, who was standing at a garden gate, for a glass of water; and she took me, a road-stained tramp, into her quaint, old-world dining-room, and with her own hands placed food in front of me, waiting on me as though I were an honored guest. When I was leaving her she said: "I am old, and perhaps you won't mind me saying this. Remember always that if your mother is alive her heart will be aching for her boy; and so don't lose hope and go down altogether."

That was one of the few occasions on which human sympathy has lightened the road for me. On another occasion a night watchman at whose redhot brazier I had stopped to warm my chilled body, insisted on sharing his food with me, protesting, when I refused, "I'd choke if I tried to eat it myself-an' I'd deserve to."

In a doss-house a tramp has shared The Cornhill Magazine.

his stew with me. A policeman, who caught me sleeping in a haystack, instead of taking me to the lock-up took me to his home and fed me.

On the way to Ilfracombe, tired, I sat down by the wayside to rest. As I sat a gentleman passed, eyeing me keenly. Absorbed in my own intensely miserable thoughts, I did not notice that he had turned back until he asked me: "Have you walked far?" I told him. He asked me several questions, then: "Had anything to eat lately?" I had had a piece of bread that morning.


I have spoken of Energy as a virtue, but reflection suggests a doubt as to how far that term can with accuracy be applied to it. A virtue, I take it, is a quality that can be brought into being in a man's soul in the course of that eternal conflict between the forces which Thomas à Kempis names Nature and Grace, a quality which, once generated, is thereafter capable of infinite

"Well, if you care to come with me I can provide you with some food."

Thanking him, I followed him to a large house, entering which he handed me over to a man, telling him to see that I was well looked after. I had a splendid feast, and when I tried to thank the gentleman on his coming into the room: "Don't thank me," he said; "it was for my own comfort I did it. It made me so d-d uncomfortable to see a young fellow like you on the road."

So, although my tramp was a terrible experience, there are some incidents to which I can look back with pleasure and gratitude.


J. A. H.

development. If this definition be correct, it is clear that Energy cannot be placed in the category of the virtues, since Energy is merely a transmuted form of some existing force which, in one shape or another, has had its being since the Creation. In other words, Virtue is a growth, Energy an adaptation: the former is drawn from a limitless reservoir, the latter from a certain well-defined supply. The one

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