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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84

Public Meeting

page 15

Public Meeting.

A public meeting was held at St. John's Schoolroom on the 24th February. The chair was occupied by Mr. Ebenezer Baker. The proceedings began with the singing of the 37th hymn, "Rescue the perishing." Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Fulton, Mrs. Wroughton, and Sir William Fox occupied seats on the platform.

The Chairman, in introducing Mrs. Dudley Ward, said that he had known her for many years, and anything that could be said in her praise was simply the truth. (Applause).

Mrs. Ward, after a powerful appeal to any of her hearers who might happen to be moderate drinkers, to give up the habit, detailed the work which was being done by the Unions throughout the Colony. They were now holding their first convention in Wellington, which was getting on very well indeed. Their great aim was to put down the drink, and put it out of the land altogether—(applause)—here a little, and there a little, till it disappeared altogether. When Mrs. Leavitt came here eight months ago, she organised Unions in Auckland, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, and other places. She endeavoured to organise a Union in Wellington, but for some reason or other she did not succeed, and was very disheartened in consequence. At her request, she (Mrs. Ward) accepted the Presidency of the Unions; and a few months afterwards she came to Wellington, and succeeded very well. She then went on to Nelson, New Plymouth, Hawera, and Patea, where Unions were organised. Mrs. Ward then gave an interesting account of the work which was being done by the Unions in Invercargill, Dunedin, Oamaru, Ashburton, Auckland, and other places. The gaols were being visited; prisoners were met at the gates when their sentences were served, and were conducted to a Home until work was procured for them; the houses of the poor were visited, and wives and mothers were taught how to cook, and to make their houses bright and cheerful, so that the men should have an inducement to stay at home; the Bible was taught, and youths and young girls were instructed to do useful work. At Dunedin, the old Star and Garter Hotel was turned into the Leavitt Home, where 500 or 600 youths and girls were now receiving instruction, the ladies of the Union taking it in turn to visit the Home; assistance being received from young men in teaching the boys. The larrikins had great spirits, and wanted something to do; but if properly looked after and taken care of, they were easily dealt with. They had now a harmonium, which was paid for out of the proceeds of the sale of work done by the children themselves, and by-and-by they hoped to establish a Kindergarten. The women of Dunedin were trying to make good citizens of the boys, and useful women of the page 16 girls. At Christchurch they had a prison-gate mission, which commenced with only four beds, the superintendent being a tailoress. They have now moved into a larger building. Eighty prisoners have been received into the Home during the past six months, and in two months twenty-four persons received shelter there. At the Christchurch fair, a large booth was established by the Union, who were able to hand over £70 to the Young Men's Christian Association, who always gave them the use of their rooms. Although 17,000 persons were present at the fair the first day, there was not a single case of drunkenness, which was quite an unprecedented occurrence. In Wellington, evangelistic work had been carried on at Mitcheltown and Quin-street; temperance literature had also been distributed among seamen and others, and special efforts had been made among the fallen women. Mrs. Ward concluded an eloquent address by requesting them all to help in the work of the Union.