The Poverty And Vice Of London -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:258 (Apr 1908)
Article: The Poverty And Vice Of London
Author: G. Frederick Wright


The Poverty And Vice Of London

G. Frederick Wright

London, England

The eccentric W. H. H. Murray once forcibly remarked that “if the good people were removed out of any great city it would leave hell; whereas, were the bad to be removed and the good left, the result would be heaven.” All large cities afford the conditions which most severely test human character and develop the extremes both of evil and of good. London, being the largest city in the world, and especially in the Christian world, illustrates this truth in extreme degree.

The slums of London are not by any means confined to the East End. One has to go but a little way from any of the fashionable streets to find a congested population living on the very border of despair. The extent of poverty in London is beyond comprehension; and it does not grow less in times of business prosperity. While the last five years have seen an unprecedented boom in British export trade, they have also witnessed an unprecedented growth of pauperism in London. According to the returns just issued by the Local Government Board, it appears that there were 3,000 more paupers at the end of 1907 than there were one year before, while 46,000 more had been in receipt of relief at the beginning of this winter than had demanded help one year ago. The total number receiving temporary help at the opening of this winter was 800,101. The total amount expended by the City for the relief of the poor during the last half year, aside from that furnished by private charity, amounted to $3,825,000.

According to statistics carefully gathered, two-thirds of this poverty is directly traceable to the use of alcoholic beverages, which nearly every grocer sells freely in sealed packages.

A large number of the sub-post-offices are located in such groceries. Saloons (or “public houses “as they are called in England) abound in every part of the city, and are patronized by men, women, and children. According to a discourse preached in one of the most fashionable and largely attended churches of the established order, it had been ascertained that two public houses near by were visited between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m., the previous Saturday, by a crowd of men, women, and children numbering 1,900, of whom 600 were children. Nothing in London oppresses an American more sadly than to see the numbers of poor women who openly patronize the saloons. Upon the opening of the bars in the morning, dozens of women may be seen waiting to be served; and at almost any time of day women with children in arms may be seen going in and out of these demoralizing centers of influence.

At the ...

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