Last year I was approached by Amberley Publishing in Stroud to write a book called Secret Gloucester, part of a series of ‘Secret’ books based around little known facts about places in the UK. I was delighted to accept the commission and am now busy writing and researching for publication later this year. Whilst researching Robert Raikes, founder of the Sunday School movement worldwide I came across this little gem which I thought I would share with you.
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote this short story/essay about Mr Raikes in 1844. He refers to Gloucester as ‘London’ but I have changed this to Gloucester in the text which I have reproduced in full below. The street in question was St Catherines Street (where the cider pub is now). I think it brings Gloucester to life and is a fascinating insight into the social conditions of the time.
“IN every good action there is a divine quality, which does not end with the completion of that particular deed but goes on to bring forth good works in an infinite series. It is seldom possible, indeed, for human eyes to trace out the chain of blessed consequences, that extends from a benevolent man’s simple and conscientious act, here on earth, and connects it with those labors of love which the angels make it their joy to pefform, in Heaven above. Sometimes, however, we meet with an instance in which this wonderful and glorious connection may clearly be perceived. It has always appeared to me, that a well-known incident in the life of Mr. Robert Raikes offers us one of the most hopeful and inspiring arguments, never to neglect even the humblest opportunities of doing good, as not knowing what vast purposes of Providence we may thereby subserve. This little story has been often told, but may here be related anew, because it so strikingly illustrates the remark with which we began.