07 January 2009

Cold snap in London

The the 6 January headline in the London Evening Standard read "-10C, colder than the Antarctic." It didn't seem that cold to me. Gloves were not essential for a short walk.

Journeying through London by bus isn't as simple as by underground. Finding the right route, where to board and get off, are a bit more tricky. Through the bus windows, after wiping away the condensation, you get a new perspective seeing buildings, parks and roads and linking up places you know of, but don't know.

I headed for the Hackney Archives searching for a death notice for my great-great-grandfather in the Hackney Gazette. No luck. Only a couple of issues I looked at for January 1882 had any death notices, just two people each, plus a few more detailed mentions in coroner's reports. The other major content was reports of Vestry and Board of Guardians meetings, plus pages and pages of small ads.

January 1882 was also cold, and misery was rife. The Gazette's editor saw fit to reprint this poem:


Nothing to eat on this cold, bitter day,
No raiment of warmth, and no-where to lay;
Begging our way for a morsel of bread,
Oh, that my children and I were all dead.

We see warm-clad strangers pass on along,
With glow on their cheeks, and hearts full of song;
Thoughtless, and heedless of sorrows of others,
Forgetting that God made us sisters and brothers.

Friendless we wander from morning to night,
Day after day, with prospects less bright;
In madness of want, we curse our existence,
No raiment of warmth, no means of subsistence.

Fellow creatures be kind to those who are poor,
Turn empty away no soul from your door;
'Tis little they ask, 'tis easy to give,
Remember the maxim - "Live and let live."

A day is approaching when all shall be equal,
Forget not - to life hereafter the sequel;
The reckoning of action to friend and to brother,
The command to us all is - "Love one another."

January 12th, 1881 H.G.W.

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