The People of the Abyss eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about The People of the Abyss.

At three in the morning I strolled up the Embankment.  It was a gala night for the homeless, for the police were elsewhere; and each bench was jammed with sleeping occupants.  There were as many women as men, and the great majority of them, male and female, were old.  Occasionally a boy was to be seen.  On one bench I noticed a family, a man sitting upright with a sleeping babe in his arms, his wife asleep, her head on his shoulder, and in her lap the head of a sleeping youngster.  The man’s eyes were wide open.  He was staring out over the water and thinking, which is not a good thing for a shelterless man with a family to do.  It would not be a pleasant thing to speculate upon his thoughts; but this I know, and all London knows, that the cases of out-of-works killing their wives and babies is not an uncommon happening.

One cannot walk along the Thames Embankment, in the small hours of morning, from the Houses of Parliament, past Cleopatra’s Needle, to Waterloo Bridge, without being reminded of the sufferings, seven and twenty centuries old, recited by the author of “Job":-

   There are that remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks
   and feed them.

   They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox
   for a pledge.

   They turn the needy out of the way; the poor of the earth hide
   themselves together.

   Behold, as wild asses in the desert they go forth to their work,
   seeking diligently for meat; the wilderness yieldeth them food for
   their children.

   They cut their provender in the field, and they glean the vintage of
   the wicked.

   They lie all night naked without clothing, and have no covering in the

   They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock
   for want of a shelter.

   There are that pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge
   of the poor.

   So that they go about naked without clothing, and being an hungered
   they carry the sheaves.—­Job xxiv. 2-10.

Seven and twenty centuries agone!  And it is all as true and apposite to-day in the innermost centre of this Christian civilisation whereof Edward VII. is king.


I stood, yesterday, in a room in one of the “Municipal Dwellings,” not far from Leman Street.  If I looked into a dreary future and saw that I would have to live in such a room until I died, I should immediately go down, plump into the Thames, and cut the tenancy short.

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The People of the Abyss from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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