The fallowing plain answers to practical questions, are written by those well acquainted with the work: --
I. "Are these children really street Arabs? If not, where do you find so many?"
In the early days of the work, before the establishment of School Boards and kindred institutions, a large proportion of the children were actually taken from the streets. Now, the rescue work begins farther back, and seeks to get hold of the little ones before they hare had a taste of street life and become contaminated. A policeman brings one sometimes, having found it in a low lodging-house, forsaken by its worthless, drunken parents. Christian ladies are ever on the look-out for the little ones in their work among the poor, and many a child has been taken straight from the dying bed of its only remaining parent to Miss Macpherson. "Rescued from a workhouse life" might be written on many a bright little brow, and "saved from drink" on many more. Poor, delicate widows, striving vainly to keep a large, young family, have often proved their true, unselfish love by giving up one or two to Miss Macpherson to be taken to Canada. Such are encouraged always to write to and keep in loving memory the dear toiling mother at home. Widowed fathers in ill-health, and short of work, feeling their utter helplessness to do for their motherless flock, have come to Miss Macpherson entreating her to take care of some of them.
2. "How come the Canadian farmers to be willing to take these children?"
From a business point of view this is quite easily explained. Labour is so scarce out there, and hired help so dear, while food is so plentiful, that the Canadian farmer finds it quite worth his while to take a little boy from the old country, whom he can train and teach as his own, and who very soon will repay him in quick ability for farm labour.
3. "Are you sure the children are really better off there?"
Every boy in Canada has before him a definite hope for the future. If he be steady, industrious, and of average intelligence, he may reasonably look to being independent some day, to owning land of his own, and attaining an honourable position in Canada. People do not amass fortunes there as a rule, but they may all live in comfort and plenty, and what they have is their own. Surely this is a brighter prospect than the ceaseless round of toil at desk or counter, in which so many in England, -- even the more fortunate, -- spend their youth helping to make rich men richer.
4. "Among the hundreds are there not some failures, some exceptions? What becomes of them?"
Yes, there are disappointments and failures in this work as well as in every other. We do not take little angels to Canada, but very human little boys and girls with every variety of temper and character, and sometimes hereditary disadvantages which it is hard to battle with. But patient forbearance and gentle treatment and time do so much for them. And often a kind farmer has asked to be allowed to keep, and "try again" the wilful little fellow who has tried to run away or proved tiresome to manage.
"Ninety-eight per cent, of our children do well, and for the two per cent, we do the best we can. If any circumstance arises making it desirable for a farmer to give up a boy, he is at once returned to the Home, where he is received and kept until another more suitable place is found for him."
Should any be still blinded to the blessings of emigration for the young, surely their eyes will be opened on reading the following facts as related by Miss Macpherson: --
"William and Mary were brother and sister living in a terrible warren near Drury Lane. The boy's employment was to gather rags and bones. Their parents had been buried by the workhouse. Their condition was too deplorable to be described. A year's training was not lost upon this sister and brother. They came to Canada in 1873. Now, could yon see them at nineteen and twenty-two -- able to read and write, well-clothed with their own honest earnings, having saved, in 1877, one hundred dollars; and this year, 1879, William is having [USD]100 as wages, and Mary [USD]60. They come from time to time to visit the Home. William is thinking of having a farm of his own.
"A. B. -- Who was he? The son of a drunken woman, who, when very tipsy still comes in from Ratcliff Highway to abuse us at Spitalfields. Alfred has been many years in a lawyer's family, and has saved enough money to be apprenticed as an engineer. He was a wise boy to be guided by the kind counsel of those he served. We are not satisfied with earthly adoptions only; we continue to pray that each one may be adopted into the family of those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
"Well do we remember the winter, when a wild man from Seven Dials discovered that we had the little Annie, of whom he used to make such traffic in the gin palaces; though we had no right to her. The lamb was but six years old. Thank God, an ocean separates her from his drunken villanies. Now she is with kind-hearted, homely people, the companion and playmate of their daughter.
"S. W., seven years old; so puny -- only a few pounds weight -- owing to her being starved and beaten by a drunken stepfather. Now, a year in a happy home, going to school regularly, is companion to an only child, and lacks no earthly comfort. The poor mother was ill-used in the dens where she lived by her neighbours, for having, they said, sold her child. We received a photograph of the little one from her happy Canadian home; this closed every mouth, for it could not be gainsaid.
"Whilst stopping at one of the railway stations, we were accosted by a young man, who told us he was one of our old boys of ten years ago, but was now settled in that town. He had 'rolled' about a good deal, he said, but at last had settled down, and never was so happy in his life before. He had sent for his brother to come and live with him. Since then John and his wife have spent a day at the Gait Home, and they think in another year, if they continue to prosper, that they also would like to be entrusted with a little one. Thus openings are ever occurring for those yet to follow."
Since the above was written other young emigrants, now married and settled in homes of their own, have offered to adopt orphans and children, homeless as they once were themselves.
The following are independent testimonies of those who have travelled or are residing in Canada: --
The late Sir Charles Reed, Chairman of the London School Board, stated that in his visit to Canada last year he had given special attention to Miss Macpherson's work, and as his inquiries and investigations were made unofficially, the information he obtained might be looked upon as quite impartial. He was gratified by hearing from the Governor-General, Lord Dufferin, at Quebec, that he was well informed as to the work, and bore testimony to its worth. He (Sir Charles) was prepared to say that the children were warmly welcomed and kindly treated. He also, without making his purpose known, visited some of the homes where the children were located, and what he saw only confirmed what he had been told, as to the Canadians' appreciation of the children. They were well occupied, well fed, and as happy as they could be. He had entered into conversation with the children as to familiar scenes in the East of London, and learned how pleased they were with their new homes.
At Toronto he met Miss Bilbrough, a lady in charge of one of the Homes, and a person enthusiastically devoted to this merciful work, who thus became a true "Sister of Mercy." God has endowed woman largely for this Christian ministry. In half an hour she thoroughly interested him in the work, and put him in possession of such facts as convinced him that the work was one which in England demanded Christian sympathy and support. It was work which goes on quietly, and is little talked of; but it ought to be, as he trusted it would be, widely known. He was glad to say that through the School Board it was becoming known to intelligent Christian men both in and out of Parliament. It is good to work in faith, as those in charge of this work do; but it is also good to have evidence as an encouragement to faith, and as a corroboration of the work. Such evidence he, as in a sense a special commissioner, had qualified himself to give, and it gave him much pleasure to render it.
"WOODVILLE PLACE, DUNDEE, 13th August 1873.
"MY DEAR MISS MACPHERSON, -- Various ministerial and pastoral occupations, since my return home, have prevented me from carrying out my intention of putting into shape my impressions and thoughts about Canada and your work. If the Lord will, I shall do so at no great distance of time. Meanwhile, allow me to express in a few words my mature judgment in regard to the leading features of your work. It seems to me to furnish the key to the solution of one of the most difficult problems in Home Mission work.
"The character of the training to which the children are subjected previous to their removal to Canada appears to be all that could be desired. I was delighted with their knowledge of Scripture, their general intelligence, their respectful bearing to their superiors, their promptness of obedience, and other evidences of religious conviction working itself out in their general conduct. The extraordinary care exhibited in the selection of homes and in the placing of them out in Canada strikes me as one of the most important and valuable elements of the work. Most of all was I charmed with the noble Christian character of your fellow-workers, and was thoroughly convinced that a very remarkable measure of the blessing of God rests upon the entire movement. I anticipate the most precious results for time, and in view of eternity the issues of the movement will exceed all calculation. I could say much more, but for the present must forbear. For the sake of the poor, dear, lost little ones in our large towns; for the sake of Canada, of whose wants I am not ignorant; for the sake of humanity, and, above all, for the Lord's sake, I heartily wish you were enabled to carry every summer thousands instead of hundreds of little children across the Atlantic to be settled in those beautiful Canadian regions, where by God's blessing they may grow up 'trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.'
"Go on, my dear friend; the Lord is manifestly with you, and He will bless you still-aye, and more than ever.
"November 5th, 1874.
"Having just returned from a six weeks' visit to Canada, I wish to add my testimony to the many already given of the very valuable work of Miss Macpherson in the three Homes which she has established in Canada for young British destitute children, each Home under the direction of devoted and much esteemed Christian ladies.
"Lady Cavan and I found much pleasure in visiting all these Homes, situated in different parts of the Dominion of Canada, in each of which children are received from two to twelve years of age, looked after with motherly affection. The greater number sent out this year had been provided for.
"There is a great demand for young children in this country, where domestic and farming servants are so few, and numbers of these children are adopted into families, the greatest care being taken to place them with kind and good people. They are either trained for the place which they will occupy, or, for the most part, are loved and treated as children of the house.
"It needs but to see for oneself the happy, bright faces of the children, to be satisfied of the value and importance of this transplanting institution for the rescuing of children from their degraded position, for which they are in nowise responsible. May many be brought under the Christian, happy influence of Miss Macpherson, through the liberality of those interested in our poor."
What a work of blessing is being carried on by the different Homes here! My soul has been greatly refreshed this Christmas in seeing some of the dear boys return to 'Blair Athol,' to spend a few days with our sister Miss Macpherson. The change in appearance, from London's hapless poverty and degradation, to this glorious clime, -- bright, rosy faces, full of laughter and fun, and yet deeply interested in the dear, loving Saviour, whose Spirit thus practically tells His own sweet story of love to their young hearts. One dear fellow specially delighted me. I was present as he was ushered in with his little brother, his eyes full of tears of gratitude and joy as he said to Miss Macpherson, 'Please, Miss, here's a present for you,' drawing a large, fat, beautiful goose from under his arm, carefully packed. Excuse my adjectives, but I cannot help it, for I fairly loved the boys; and when I looked back but four years, and contrasted their hapless life (workhouse children) in one of our English provincial towns, my spirit was full of gladness, and I thanked God for these broad lands, and the untiring energy of the band of workers and friends who so intelligently and successfully save them from poverty, crime, and wretchedness, and by change of position, sympathy, common sense, and Christian love, fit them for useful, prosperous lives here, and, by grace, for eternal glory yonder.
The following is from a Canadian friend and benefactor: --
"Dear Miss Macpherson, -- My attention has been called to a communication referring unfavourably to your work in bringing out the little waifs and strays from England, and placing them in farmers' homes in the country of this Canada of ours. I have thought that perhaps a letter from me, giving my experience, might not be out of place.
"Fully eleven years ago I first heard of your intention to bring out some young emigrants to Canada, and as I heard that they were of the degraded, vicious, and criminal class, I did not look with favour upon the effort. Being in England shortly after the first lot came out, without making my object known, I went down to the East End of London repeatedly, and personally inquired into the working of the scheme, saw the gathering in from the widows' families, the orphans, the destitute, and those worse than orphans. I saw the cleaning, the fresh clothing, the training in work and discipline, and, above all, the schooling in religious teaching from God's Book, and singing sweet Gospel hymns. I was satisfied that this part of the work was being well done in England, and great care exercised in selecting only suitable cases and giving lengthened training; so that the girls and boys from the youngest to those of thirteen and fourteen years of age, when drafted to Canada in fifties and hundreds, looked likely youngsters for workers in this land of plenty.
"After my return to Canada, having got thoroughly interested in the work, seeing at least that it was doing a good work for London in relieving the over-population there, I decided, if in my judgment the work was as well cared for in Canada, and as much care exercised in placing them out in homes as in gathering in and training, then it would prove a good work for Canada also.
"Now, (after over ten years), I can say, from large personal experience, that the placing of several thousands of these young, sturdy, willing workers in the homes of our Canadian fanners, through this agency, has been a blessing to Canada, not only as workers, but also in many cases carrying good religious influences with them. The greatest care is exercised in selecting suitable homes, and in no case is a child placed out unless the applicant brings good certificates of character from the minister or justice of the peace. In these homes of the farmers the youngsters are well-fed, well-clothed, and well-treated, in most cases made one of the family. I have constantly inquired, in various localities, as to how these young people are getting on, from prominent men, such as judges, members of Parliament, mayors and councillors of towns, ministers and fanners, and am satisfied as a whole they turn out as well as the average of young people from any class of society. Some prove unsuitable -- these are returned to the Distributing Homes and given a fresh start; some few turn out badly or sickly -- these are returned to England: but compared with the large number that turn out well the average is very small. I know the Distributing Homes at Knowlton, at Belleville, and at Galt; they are fine, comfortable, substantial buildings, and at Galt there is a farm of 100 acres of land. I know the workers and the oversight they take in training until placed out, the care taken in placing out, how they visit and correspond with them, and I have seen and possess hundreds of letters from these youngsters, written voluntarily by them from their new homes, many of which have been published in Canadian as well as English papers from time to time. I have seen and possess hundreds of photographs of these waifs and strays as taken into the gathering Homes in London, then brought out to Canada, then, after being here two, five, and even ten years, the progress being marvellous.
"Now, in conclusion, having within the past month visited the Galt Home and Farm, with more than fifty healthy, hearty, vigorous youngsters being trained and fitted for work among Canadian farmers, it is my firm conviction that this work is being well done on both sides of the Atlantic. It is being carried on upon right principles and from pure motives, and God has owned and blessed it wonderfully. There is not only room for, but a hearty welcome also for hundreds more of such emigrants. The work has proved a blessing to Canada as well as a blessing to England, and those engaged in it should receive hearty encouragement on both sides of the Atlantic.
" -- Yours faithfully,
"T. J. CLAXTON.
"MONTREAL, July 1st, 1881."
Miss Macpherson writes after Lord Dufferin's visit to the Galt Home: --
"His lordship said, 'We meet your children everywhere, and they are so happy; we have crossed the ocean with them, and even last night where we were slaying we were waited upon by one of your boys as a page, -- he did it well too.'"
May Miss Macpherson's solemn words on stir up many to follow her self-denying efforts, and may the same blessing attend them.
"Since 1868, we have been receiving the love offerings of the Lord's almoners, and under the direction of two auditors and a public accountant, a yearly balance sheet has been issued. To the praise of the Lord who knoweth the needs of the destitute ones we have sought to help, we have not been permitted to contract a debt, or been left in want of bread or clothing at any time. Our faith has been frequently proved, at times for days, and at others for years. Yet our 'God is love,' and we are in His own wondrous school, and bow to every trial.
"From 4000 to 6000 pounds annually have been the requirements of the mission. As it came, so was the money spent, leaving us often with a very small balance, but always on the right side.
"When the funds have been low we have often been led to wonder and adore the love that placed our burdens upon the hearts of others, causing them to consider Him who loved them, and who had enjoined us to go forth and sympathise with the 'Christies' grinding their old organs, and the 'Jessicas,' with broken hearts, crying for bread in the alleys of our great city.
"Our sainted sister, Miss Havergal, once earnestly entreated us to write on about the needs of little children. Mrs. Herbert Taylor, now in glory, said, 'Oh continue unto the end pleading the Christ-like cause.'
"Yes! we are stewards, and not of money only.
"Do these departed workers regret one effort made for Jesus? It is only now we can watch with Him for the little children, -- the opportunities for self-denial will soon be past. No more long voyages, or sleepless nights, -- soon the Lord Himself will come, our bungling and failures all blotted out by the blood on the Mercy-seat. Let us employ every remaining hour for our Lord as He leads us forth; let the eye rest upon the grace that was in Jesus when He took the little children in His arms (Mark x.13-16). How full of tenderness as we see Him placing the child by Himself (Luke ix.47, 48). Would we follow Him, then shall we be faithful stewards of every gift with which He has entrusted us. When we have had nothing left but Himself,-so near to faith's vision, -- then how inexpressibly full has shone out one or other of the 33,000 precious, never-failing promises.
"Precious Comforter! drawing ever near to His oft 'perplexed, reasoning, troubled' ones; waiting to comfort them; showing them His hands and His feet, and lifting those hands to bless them (Luke xxiv)."
"'A little while' for patient vigil keeping,
"And He who is Himself the Gift and Giver --
"YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE THAT SHALL COME WILL COME, AND WILL NOT TARRY."