From the Bottom Up eBook

Derry Irvine, Baron Irvine of Lairg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about From the Bottom Up.

Despite my experience with Tim Grogan, I diagnosed the condition of these men as being entirely due to strong drink.  I went back over the ground and investigated with a little more care the causes that led them to drink, and this was the more fruitful of the two investigations.  I wondered why men would not even stick at a job when I got them work.  A careful investigation led me to the belief that, when a man gets out of a job once, he loses just a little of the routine, the continuity, the habit of work, and it is just a little harder to apply himself when he begins again.  If a man loses a job two or three times in a year, it is just as many times harder to go on with a regular job when it comes.  Lack of regular employment is the cause not only of the physical disintegration, but of the moral disintegration also; so, these men who had been out of employment so often, actually could not stick at a job when they got it.  They were disorganized.  A few of them had the stamina to overcome this disorganization.  I found the same to be true in morals.  When a man made his first break, it was easier to make the second, and it was as easy for him to lose a good habit as to acquire a bad one.

The same thing holds good in what we call charity.  A terrific soul-struggle goes on in every man and woman before the hand is put out for the first time.  Self-respect is a tremendous asset, and people hold on to it as to their very souls; but when a hand is held out once and the community puts alms therein, the fabric of self-respect begins to totter, and the whole process of disintegration begins.



I made my headquarters, while a lodging-house missionary, in the Mulberry Street bunk-house.  It was only a block from Chatham Square, and central.  The first thing I did was to clean it.  I proceeded with soap and water to scrub it out, dressed in a pair of overalls.  While performing this operation, a tall gaunt figure lurched into the room with his hands in his pockets—­a slit for a mouth, shaggy eyebrows, rather small eyes.  He looked at me for a moment as if in astonishment, and then he said: 

“Hello, bub, what’s de game?”

“I’m a missionary,” I answered.

“Ye are, eh?”

“Yes.  When I finish cleaning the floor, I am going to attempt to clean up some other things around here.”

“Me too, hey?”

“Yes; don’t you think you need it?”

He laughed a hoarse, gutteral laugh, and said: 

“Don’t get bughouse, boss.  Ye’d wind up just where ye begun—­on the floor.”

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From the Bottom Up from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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