Hither A Throng Of Sickly-Looking,
Dirty People, Bringing With Them Their Unhealthy Children, Had Crawled
From The Narrow Wynds Or Alleys On Each Side Of The Street.
several of these wynds, and passed down one of them, between houses of
vast height, story piled upon story, till we came to the deep hollow of
Children were swarming in the way, all of them, bred in that
close and impure atmosphere, of a sickly appearance, and the aspect of
premature age in some of them, which were carried in arms, was absolutely
frightful. "Here is misery," said a Scotch gentleman, who was my
conductor. I asked him how large a proportion of the people of Edinbugh
belonged to that wretched and squalid class which I saw before me. "More
than half," was his reply. I will not vouch for the accuracy of his
statistics. Of course his estimate was but a conjecture.
In the midst of this population is a House of Refuge for the Destitute,
established by charitable individuals for the relief of those who may be
found in a state of absolute destitution of the necessaries of life. Here
they are employed in menial services, lodged and fed until they can be
sent to their friends, or employment found for them. We went over the
building, a spacious structure, in the Canongate, of the plainest Puritan
architecture, with wide low rooms, which, at the time of the union of
Scotland with England, served as the mansion of the Duke of Queensbury.
The accommodations of course are of the humblest kind. We were shown into
the sewing-room, were we saw several healthy-looking young women at work,
some of them barefooted. Such of the inmates as can afford it, pay for
their board from three and sixpence to five shillings a week, besides
In this part of the city also are the Night Asylums for the Houseless.
Here, those who find themselves without a shelter for the night, are
received into an antechamber, provided with benches, where they first get
a bowl of soup, and are then introduced into a bathing-room, where they
are stripped and scoured. They are next furnished with clean garments and
accommodated with a lodging on an inclined plane of planks, a little
raised from the floor, and divided into proper compartments by strips of
board. Their own clothes are, in the mean time, washed, and returned to
them when they leave the place.
It was a very different spectacle from the crowd in the Saturday evening
market, that met my eyes the next morning in the clean and beautiful
streets of the new town; the throng of well-dressed church-goers passing
each other in all directions. The women, it appeared to me, were rather
gaily dressed, and a large number of them prettier than I had seen in some
of the more southern cities.
I attended worship in one of the Free Churches, as they are called, in
which Dr. Candlish officiates.
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