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Derry Irvine, Baron Irvine of Lairg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 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.

CHAPTER VIII

A BUNK-HOUSE AND SOME BUNK-HOUSE MEN

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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