Esoteric London

No. 1046: Bankside, SE1

Posted in Churches, Public Art by esotericlondon on March 3, 2014

© Roger Dean RED_6387 copy

Bankside, London, SE1. Photo © Roger Dean 2014

The Million-Peopled City – John Garwood, 1853:

A lamentable destitution of the Scriptures prevailed in all the Westminster districts previous to the late supply afforded to the London City Mission by the British and Foreign Bible Society. On visiting one house in Duck-lane, the missionary now on this district was met by the man who kept it, who told him he had better pass on, for no one there or in the next house wanted his assistance. The missionary, however, got into conversation with this man and drew him out, and learned that all the inhabitants were thieves or coiners; that several who had formerly belonged to the gang had been executed, and many of them up stairs were returned convicts. He expressed his earnest wish to see them, and the man, who gave his card, ‘The Chelsea Snob, Professor of Pugilism,’ said, ‘Well, I will accompany you, and protect you from insolence.’ The missionary went up and saw them all. He was received respectfully and subsequently supplied them with the Testament and Psalter. It appeared a most unpromising soil, but extraordinary results followed some months afterwards. At another little hut in a back court, when he opened the door be found a travelling tinker, preparing his barrow to go out to mend tin ware and grind knives. In reply to the question, ‘Have you a Bible?’ he swore vehemently, and replied,  ‘Yes.’  The missionary said, ‘What sort of a religion do you learn from it that lets you swear so?’ He said, ‘Religion! Oh, you shall see my religion if you are not off!’ and, opening a cupboard, he whistled to two great dogs which were used for fighting at Duck-lane Theatre. ‘There,’ he said, ‘that’s my religion.’ The missionary talked with him, and subsequently gave him a Testament, and invited him to his room. To the surprise of the missionary he came, brought his Testament with him, followed the missionary in his readings, was most attentive, and brought other men of the same trade as himself. The missionary called at his residence frequently, but could not find him at home for two or three months. He learned from the wife, however, that the dogs were sold, and he had told her, that sport was all over with him now. When the missionary got an opportunity to see him, be found him a broken-hearted penitent.

[The whole of The Million-Peopled City can be read at www.victorianlondon.org. R.D.]

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