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At this time we lived in Kentish Town, then field-surrounded, he going daily to his consultingrooms in Finsbury Square, returning late and giving the early mornings and Sundays to public work. These hours were at that period (1840 to 1842) chiefly devoted to the question of the employment of children in coal - mines, the more deeply impressed on me because the report which he was then writing had illustrations showing the terrible condition of people working in mines.
I remember long bright Sunday mornings when he was at work endeavouring to remedy these evils. He let me do what little I could, such as the cutting out of extracts to be fastened on to the MS. report with wafers—and very particular I was as to the colour of these wafers! Sometimes all I could do to help was to be quiet—not the least hard work! Yet I loved these still Sunday mornings, and would not willingly have been shut out from them any more than from the afternoon ride which came later, when, perched up in front of him on his own horse, in the little railed saddle he had devised for me, we rode along the lanes towards Highgate. I can see now the sunset light falling on the grass and tree - stems of the Kentish Town fields as we went along
Then came the day when the Act was brought into operation which was to regulate the employment of children in mines, and I tied blue ribbons on to his carriage horses and thought, with a child's hopefulness, that all the suffering was at once and completely over. “Then, now, they are all running over the green fields,” I said.
My grandfather let me think it, and did not damp my enthusiasm by letting me know that this happy state of things was not arrived at in one day!
But although he often played merrily with me and entered into my childish joys, my grandfather was endowed with a most earnest nature and with a firmness of character which was very remarkable. He never swerved from a purpose, never vacillated. One of his sayings was, “ Life is not long enough for us to reconsider our decisions.”
It was probably this quiet determination, combined with his unfailing gentleness, that made him inspire so much confidence in his patients. I can fancy, in a house where illness was spreading anxiety and sorrow, the restfulness there would be in his calm presence, and I can remember the faces of those—often the very poor-who used to come up to him wishing to thank him for the life of some wife, or son, or child which they said he had saved. These things used to happen in the crowded city streets or courts, and sometimes in parts of London far away from the place where the illness had occurred. The fact that these faces were generally forgotten by him, whilst his was so well remembered, made a still more beautiful mystery over it. It seemed to me that there was an honour in belonging to one who was a help and support to so many. Such experiences must be familiar to those who share his profession, still I mention it as being my strong childish impression; and even now, looking back upon his life, it appears to me that he did possess, in a very high degree, not only the power of healing, but that of soothing mental suffering.