4 NOVEMBER 1905, Page 7

T HERE could be no nobler emulation as between the. two

old Universities than that suggested by the meeting held at the Mansion House on Tuesday in support of the Cambridge House in Camberwell. South London is the scene in which the religious and philanthropic activities of Cambridge men, as East London is that in which those of Oxford men, as such, are, and have long been, specially concentrated. Yet there can be no doubt that the existence and work of the Cambridge House in Camberwell are much less generally known to the public than are those of the Oxford House in Bethnal Green. This, is probably due in part to the fact, itself not quite easily explicable, that the social needs of the East of London have taken a larger hold of the imagination of the rest of England than those of South London. But also it is unquestionably true that while in their efforts to grapple with the needs of South London, or rather with typical parts of them, Cambridge men for a good many years acted entirely, and even latterly have acted to a very large extent, through agencies .connected with their respective Colleges, Oxford men in their East London efforts have acted much more generally on "University lines. We do not forget two important College Missions in the East End, but there can be no doubt that the public appeals in support of Oxford activity in the social and philan- thropic sphere have been more widely addressed, and have naturally secured a wider response and more general attention than has so far been usual in con- nection with Cambridge. This circumstance is probably associated with some subtle difference in the habits of thought and feeling respectively prevalent at the two Universities ; and. it has been mainly to the good that in their endeavours to aid in meeting the tremendous problems of town life in our day Oxford and Cambridge men should have followed the bents natural to them. But as a distinguished Oxonian, the present Bishop of Southwark, soon discerned after he came to South London, and found, to his great satisfaction, a large number of Cambridge College Missions doing excellent work in various parts of his diocese, there was both room and need for an organisation on University lines as well. He desiderated a "Cambridge something" as a centre of co-operation for them all, and as pro- viding the resources for work of a wider scope and. more varied character than colild well attempted by the staffs of individual Missions. It was in response to his appeal that a large number of Cam- bridge men, many of them of great eminence, took the concerted action which resulted in the establishment of the Cambridge House in Camberwell Road, for the strengthening of which the Mansion House meeting was held the other day. that have passed since its foundation, the Cambridge House has become the living and inspiring centre of a network of beneficent activities in South London. Many of its residents have, no doubt, been largely occupied in the specially religious work which is the primary, though by no means exclusive, object of the College Missions, to which while residing at the Cambridge House they have been and are attached. But many of the residents at, and many of the more or less periodical visitors to, the House have given much, or all, of the time and strength which their leisure from their daily avocations has allowed to the furtherance, and even to the initiation and direction, of undertakings connected with the physical as well as moral health, the intellectual progress, and the general industrial well-being of the toiling masses of South London. Even to enumerate, in the barest fashion, the diverse forms of work in which those connected with the House are engaged would occupy more space than is here at our disposal. But a few salient illustrations may be mentioned, as, for example, the very important part played by the late Head of the House, the Rev. Falkner Baily, as Chairman of the Housing Committee of the Camberwell Borough Council, in dealing with a slum area of evil notoriety. In this respect the influence of Cam- bridge has been directly and most beneficently at work in grappling with one of the most complex and difficult of our urban problems. And the same may be said of the action of the House under the present Head, the Rev. W. J. Conybeare, who is himself both a Borough Councillor and a member of the Board of Guardians, in helping the action of the local authorities in con- nection with the unemployed question. It is in no small measure due to the trusted and highly efficient co-operation of the Cambridge House residents and visitors that the system in operation under the Camberwell local authorities, focussed in one of Mr. Long's Joint District Committees, for classifying and registering the unemployed, has won general admiration from competent judges. Thus it will be seen that within the limits set by its numbers the Cambridge House is exercising an influence recognised and welcomed as wholesome on the whole working of the system of local government within its area. In another sphere there may be mentioned, as of special value, what is called the "Scholarship School" of the Cambridge House. This consists of an arrangement for giving facilities for study and necessary supervision, within the walls of the House, to promising children in elementary schools who are seeking to obtain County Council or other scholarships, but whose home circumstances are, as must so often be the case among the poor, highly unfavourable to any special progress with their lessons. This means the prevention of a lamentable form of waste. Other members of the House, or perhaps sometimes the same, have been equally active in efforts for brightening and making both more enjoyable and more wholesome the leisure time of Camberwell young people. For their benefit they conduct or supervise "guilds of play," "happy evenings," clubs of all kinds, great gymnasium classes, and summer camps, and main- tain a conspicuously successful centre on behalf of that adtnirable movement, the Children's Country Holiday Fund.

Thus it may be truly said that there is hardly any side Of life in London south of the river which is not benefi- cently touched by the Cambridge House. Yet this is the institution which, as the meeting at the Mansion House showed, is in urgent need of more men and more money. It has a mortgage debt of some £1,500, which ought to be cleared off at once, and towards the extinction of which, as we are glad to see, at least one generous promise of £100 has already been made. When liberated from that incubus, the site will indeed be free- hold ; but the fabric is almost tottering, and ought un- questionably to be altogether rebuilt at an early date. Pending the acquisition of the .25,000 or so required for that purpose—a trifle, surely, when it is remembered that the appeal is to nearly half the well-to-do men of the country, for the honour of the University which is so dear to them—a larger income is needed than the modest £600 to .2700 now available for all current objects, and more Men are urgently wanted. They are wanted both to help in the manifold excellent enterprises already in progress, and to prepare to take over the charge of them when men already engaged cease to have the leisure to carry them on ; and also to increase the scope of the existing work, and to develop new lines of effort. There is, largely in consequence of the leaven which the Cambridge House has set at work, a growing disposition among the dwellers in South London towards organisation for self-help and self- improvement in regard to such matters as thrift, housing, sanitation, and amusement ; but they commonly need, and always welcome, the kind of guidance which University men are, as it seems, very often specially qualified to afford to those of their fellow-countrymen whose early circumstances have been less fortunate. Such work is eminently worthy of every patriotic citizen, and it is work full of reward to those whb engage in it. They acquire a sense of enhanced capacity for the discharge of life's subsequent responsibilities, whatsoever they may be ; and they form friendships with their neighbours which will be a source of permanent satisfaction to all concerned. By the multiplication of these relationships of mutual confi- dence and regard among men of very different social origins, there may gradually be promoted a feeling mitigating in large measure that separation of classes which has made lamentable progress in recent years. Not less by the formation of personal links than by definite philan- thropic work helped forward, University men who avail themselves of such opportunities as are offered by the Oxford House in the East and the Cambridge House in the South of London, will provide powerful antiseptic influences to counteract some of the worst evils of our times.