29 December 1888
IS LONDON BETTER?
It is all very well for Mr. McCree to cheer us with his optimistic letter; but compare it with the long strings of seasonable appeals you have recently had in your columns, with the descriptions of Whitechapel you have published during and since the murders there, with the common knowledge of the streets of London at night - especially in the West end, where vice is brazen faced and palpable - and where is Mr. McCree's reason for pride? There is too much yet to be done for anything to be said which might tempt men to rest on their oars. But another reflection is suggested about Mr. McCree's letter. I am not sure whether it is of the kind most likely to be relished by some readers of the Daily News, but let me make it. To what is the improvement traced by Mr. McCree attributable? To the charity set in motion by evangelising bodies? Without underrating their noble and self sacrificing labours I would answer "No," except in so far as these labours have been devoted to the promotion of legislative and secular reforms. You, Sir, in your leading article specially name the cheaper food, clothing, and furniture of the people as contributing to their improvement, and you do not forget better sanitation and cheap literature. I believe myself that the Education Act has more to do with such improvement as we can see than all your charities. The moral I wish to draw is that we should throw more strength into the Parliamentary movements for improving the social condition of the people in the way they demand through their own representatives. Give the people fair play. With a fair field they will want neither charity nor favour. Evangelisation will then have a better field, and the amount of waste and demoralisation which I suspect is inseparable from the present system of "seasonable appeals" will be avoided.