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This, therefore, rather than any wish for selfassertion, has been at least one of the motives
which has led to this record of a progress, to
which I alone, in some respects, have the clue. But besides this, I have had another motive and hope, which I trust may not be delusive, viz. that the story of this twenty-five years' work may be of help and service to some of my younger sisters who are now pursuing the same path, perhaps with the same desire which prompted me from the very first day when I entered upon it, viz. to help to "right" what I considered a great "wrong”-in a word,“ to deliver the outcast and poor, and him that hath no helper."
As I have said at the beginning of my article, no task could at first appear more hopeless, for an all but general indifference prevailed about a class of persons who were certainly "out of sight," and therefore “out of mind.” But I think the results which have been attained—not, be it remembered, without many trials and bitter, if temporary, disappointments—will prove that, in a right and just cause, nothing need be despaired of.
The length of time (more than a quarter of a century) through which I have been gaining experience may perhaps embolden me, without apology, to say some words and truths, to serve as "footprints on the sands of time," to those who are struggling through some difficulties which we have overcome. And in saying this, let me state my own great and ever-growing conviction (one which, I fear, is in some measure ignored at the present day) of the inestimable value of experience. I believe it to be that quality which no other can entirely supersede or dispense with, and which the wisest cannot afford to cast aside. The young and enthusiastic workers of the present day are too apt to form theories, and act upon them, without a due consideration of the value of the practical work which others have gone through, thus throwing away the results which they, as the heirs of other and older workers, could have inherited and entered into. In all practical work, then, let me ask my younger sisters not to despise the efforts and the experience of those who have been longer in the field than they have.
And then, let me say to them besides, there are three qualities which can hardly be dispensed with, if any successful work is aimed at, and to the exercise of these (on looking back through the past years, though perhaps at the time I was not conscious of it) do I chiefly attribute any success we may have gained in this cause. These
perseverance, promptness, and punctuality. Without the first, I need hardly say that all other qualities are useless, for a temporary burst of enthusiasm or zeal is utterly unavailing to gain any lasting victory; secondly, to be ready to seize all possible opportunities and openings for pressing a point or seizing an
advantage, is another great cause of success ; and thirdly, if any work is to gain respect and approval, especially from and with men, that certainty and confidence which is implied by punctuality is essential to it. Two other cautions may perhaps not be misplaced here, for they, too, are all important on this subject. Never exaggerate evils or facts, keeping always within the truth rather than going beyond it, and make sure of your facts before you name them. Any exaggeration or misstatement is fatal to your cause, whatever it may be.
I have spoken of the apparent hopelessness there was at first in trying to interest persons in the subject, and I have never ceased to feel astonishment at the want of even a curiosity in the management of these large public institutions, scattered conspicuously all over the country, and within the sight of all. To me the very fact that it was a matter of national importance and concern increased immeasurably its interest and value; for was not our character and reputation as a nation, and not only as individuals, concerned with the righteous management of the vast machinery of our Poor Laws? It might be said that the subject included in itself the various and extensive
branches of education and schools, hospitals for the sick, incurable, and aged, reformatories
and penitentiaries; and if there was a deep and widespread interest in all these different and separate institutions, as well as prisons, why were these others alone to be shut out from all knowledge of the public and of humane persons in general? And yet such was really the case, and the guardians loved to have it so. The lapse of twenty-five years has not sufficed entirely to break down the wall of prejudice and suspicion that still surrounds these buildings, and the same excuses are still heard, in some places, against giving permission to anything like an organized and efficient visita