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PREFACE
The kind reception accorded to a previous book encourages me to believe that another volume dealing with my experiences in the great under-world of London may not prove unacceptable.

For twenty-five years I have practically lived in this under-world, and the knowledge that I have obtained has been gathered from sad, and often wearying, experience. Yet I have seen so much to encourage and inspire me, that now, in my latter days, I am more hopeful of humanity's ultimate good than ever. Hopeful—nay, I am certain, for I have felt the pulse of humanity, and I know that it throbs with true sympathy. I have listened to its heart-beats, and I know that they tell in no uncertain manner that the heart of humanity is sound and true.

Most gladly do I take this opportunity of proclaiming—and I would that I could proclaim it with a far-reaching voice—that, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, in spite of apparent carelessness, indifference, and selfishness, the rich[Pg viii] are not unmindful of the poor; they do not hate the poor, for I know—and no one knows it better—that with many of the rich the present condition of the very poor is a matter of deep and almost heartbreaking concern.

They will be glad—ay, with a great gladness—if some practical way of ameliorating our present conditions can be shown.

But I can speak with more authority for the poor, whom I know, love, and serve. The poor have no ill-feeling toward the rich; they harbour no suspicions; no envy, hatred, or malice dwell in their simple minds. Their goodness astonishes me, and it rebukes me.

Ah, when we get at the heart of things, rich and poor are very close together, and this closeness makes me hopeful; for out of it social salvation will come and the day arrive when experiences like unto mine will be impossible, and mine will have passed away as an evil dream.

Sincerely and devoutly I hope that this simple record of some parts of my life and my work may tend to bind rich and poor still closer.

One result of my former book, "Pictures and Problems from London Police Courts," is to be found at Walton-on-the-Naze—a Home of Rest for London's poorest toilers, which the readers of that book generously gave me the means of establishing. During the present year five hundred poor women have rested in it, some of them never[Pg ix] having previously seen the sea. Such profits as accrue to me from the sale of this book will be devoted to the maintenance and development of this Home.

One word more. I want it to be distinctly understood that I am no longer a Police Court Missionary. I resigned that position four years ago that I might be free to devote my life to London's poorest toilers, the home-workers, to whom frequent references are made in my pages, and for whom I hope great things. But I am not free altogether of my old kind of work, for, as secretary of the Howard Association, one half of my life is still devoted to prisons and prisoners.

THOMAS HOLMES.
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