The Newsboys of St. Louis forming a Christian Association.
In response to a call a large number of the newsboys of the city assembled at the school room of the U. S. Christian Commission, at 7 o'clock last night, the object being to form the young paper merchants into an association of some kind, for the improvement of their uncultivated morals.
The room was filled with boys of all sizes, from half the stature of Tom Thumb to a small chunk of a man. As the crowd received occasional accessions, the new-comers would be hailed with words of welcome, and cries of ‘There's Rooney,’ ‘Come in, Sorrel-top!’ ‘How are you, Dorax?’ were raised. The boys appear to have a nick-name for everything and everybody. When Professor J. Kinsley Smith, from [unknown] Genevieve, entered they recognized his smiling countenance, and hailed him by the title of ‘Kindling wood,’ doubtless deriving the combustible appellation from the smile that would kindle upon his countenance in spite of his efforts to look grave.
Mr. Whitehead, the worthy Superintendent of the Commission, gove the boys some excellent advice. He told them they must try to behave themselves, and not cry out ‘bully’ until they got on the street; [A voice — ‘Bully for you!’] that they must act with propriety on the occasion, and be good boys.
As a beginning, Mr. W. started the song of the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ the boys all joining in at the top of their voices. After singing the first verse over three or four times a marked improvement was discernable. — They next sung ‘Rally Round the Flag’ with a vim, and then some of the boys proposed to try a stave of ‘Dixie,’ but this was voted down.
Mr. Whitehead spoke encouragingly to the boys, and asked, ‘Don't some of you go to the Bowery sometimes?’ About fifty voices responded ‘Yes.’ ‘I thought so,’ said Mr. W., ‘by the way some of you whistle and stand up on the seats. But you are not in the Bowery now — remember that. Now, we are going to sing a hymn: do you know what a hymn is?’ [‘Yes, we've heard tell of him!’] ‘Boys, if you'll do as I tell you, we'll have an oyster supper.’ [‘Good! bully for the oyster supper!’] He related the story of the London shoeblacks, how they were organized into a society, and became respectable men. He said one of the boys on the street today was asked if he intended to come to this meeting, and he said if there is to be a supper I'll go. [A small voice ‘That's me!’
Now, I want you to organize into an Association and meet once a week, and learn to sing and to behave yourselves, and, above all, to get religion. There are some of your friends here who are going to speak, among them Professor Smith. Do you know him? [‘Yes — old Kindlingwood!’]
Mr. Mattice was than introduced, and made a very appropriate and happy speech, which was listened to with attention by the boys. — When he had concluded, the boys sang ‘Say, brothers, will you lead us;’ after which Major C. C. Bailey made an effective and well-timed speech. He said he didn't want to ‘sell’ the boys, but would give them an ‘evening edition’ without charge. He asked: What is the price of the Evening Democrat? [‘Five cents!’] Are there more than two editions of the Evening Democrat? [‘Yes; three or four, sometimes.’] Are there any other papers besides the Democrat? [‘Dispatch, News, Publican, and New York Ledger.’] Now, boys, I want your ears. [‘Come and git 'em!’] I mean I want your attention. I don't care if you are just out of the Missouri Democrat office, which is a dirty place sometimes, for the papers have to be worked off by heat; and what does the heat make? — [‘Steam!’] What makes the heat? [‘Coal!’] Well, coal is a dirty thing, and sometimes makes your faces black. What is that in your bosoms that goes pit-a-pat? [‘Heart!’] When I was a boy, and went into a store, I did not know anything, but I did what I was told to do. One day I got a knock on the head from a broomstick, and feel that knock to this day, and it prevents me from doing wrong when I am tempted. Mr. John B. Gough is coming here next month — did you ever hear of him? [‘Yes.’] He is going to lecture, and I hope he will lecture to the newsboys, as he knows exactly what to say to you. Perhaps some of you chew tobacco. [‘Yes.’] Mr. Gough don't talk about chewing tobacco, but something else. [‘Drinking whisky.’] Yes, drinking whisky, which is worse than chewing tobacco. I believe there are some newsboys here who drink whisky, are there not? [‘Yes-sir-ee bob!’] Mr. Gough tells a great many anecdotes, [‘How about playing cards.’] Playing cards is wrong, and drinking whisky is wrong, and chewing tobacco is wrong.
After some further remarks, Major Bailey gave way to Professor Smith, the orator of the evening.
Professor Smith walked smilingly up the aisle, the boys cheering him vociferously, and yelling ‘Kindling wood!’ ‘Kindling wood!’ ‘How are you, old Kindling-wood?’
Boys, I love you, I know you ought to have a high station in society when you grow up to be men. [‘Take the tobacco out of your mouth!’] Now, the thing is, we wish you to be not like the low-lived trash without intellect; you must rise above that. You must form a society, and cultivate your intellect. Now, you wish to be good men, don't you? Well, you must cultivate your intellect. Do that, and some of you may be President and Senator and Judge. [‘General!’]
Here the voice of the speaker was drowned in applause, clapping of hands, and cries of ‘Give us a song!’ ‘There's a gorilla!’ ‘Supe!’ ‘Boots!’ ‘Bully for old Kindlingwood!’ &c.
Mr. Whitehead dismissed the audience, after the boys had promised to come again next Monday night. Before leaving the room, the young rascals caught sight of our reporter, and thinking he was taking down their names, they crowded around him, jammed him against the hot stove, trod on his toes, and pulled his coat nearly off, in their eagerness to have their names taken down. Our reporter commenced taking down the names, but before he had proceeded far with the task, he was crowded out of doors. He obtained a few of the names, among them ‘Dorax,’ ‘Looney,’ ‘Patsy,’ ‘Little Red,’ ‘Sorrel Top,’ ‘Beeswax,’ ‘Chalk Bottom,’ ‘Snipe,’ ‘Guerrilla,’ ‘Jayhawker,’ and several that would not look well in print.
As a beginning, we regard this movement in favor of the newsboys as quite successful. All that is wanted is perseverance, and we are satisfied that much good can be accomplished.