Situated, as it is, in the very centre of the west end of London, it is the special refuge of those who are most especially of service to the dwellers in the Westend. Those who are used up—fairly or unfairly—in ministering to the luxuries of the high-born and wealthy: the groom thrown in the park; the housemaid crippled by lofty stairs; the workman fallen from the scaffolding of the great man’s palace; the footman or coachman who has contracted disease from long hours of nightly exposure, while his master and mistress have been warm and gay at rout and ball; and those, too, whose number, I fear, are very great, who contract disease, themselves, their wives, and children, from actual want, when they are thrown suddenly out of employ at the end of the season, and London is said to be empty—of all but two million of living souls: —the great majority of these crowd into St. George’s Hospital to find there relief and comfort, which those to whom they minister are solemnly bound to supply by their contributions. The rich and well-born of this land are very generous. They are doing their duty, on the whole, nobly and well. Let them do their duty—the duty which literally lies nearest them— by St. George’s Hospital, and they will wipe off a stain, not on the hospital, but on the rich people in its neighbourhood—the stain of that hospital’s debts.
The deficiency in the funds of the hospital for the year 1862-3— caused, be it remembered, by no extravagance or sudden change, but simply by the necessity for succouring those who would otherwise have been destitute of succour—the deficiency, I say, on an expenditure of 15,000l. amounts to more than 3,200l. which has had to be met by selling out funded property, and so diminishing the capital of the institution. Ought this to be? I ask. Ought this to be, while more wealth is collected within half a mile of that hospital than in any spot of like extent in the globe?
My friends, this is the time of Lent; the time whereof it is written,—’Is not this the fast which I have chosen, to deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor that is cast out to thine house? when thou seest the naked that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? If thou let thy soul go forth to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul, and make fat thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and as a spring that doth not fail.’
Let us obey that command literally, and see whether the promise is not literally fulfilled to us in return.
Isaiah xxxviii. 18, 19.
The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee.