Recollections of John Pounds: I visit the Nephew by Reverend Henry Hawkes

A few minutes before five o’clock on Sunday afternoon, I tapped at the little door in St. Mary’s Street. The Nephew came to let me in. There was nobody else in the house. As he opened the door, all was dark and still in the little shop. We crossed the shop, and went up-stairs into the bedroom, where we were to take tea. All looked bright and cheerful there. There was a blazing fire. The furniture, what little there was, looked bright and well dusted, and all put in proper order. The little tea-table was set out beside the fire; all in readiness. The kettle was singing on the hob.

There were two beds in the little room. “That – was Uncle’s bed;” the young man said, pointing to the bed beside the window at the other end of the room. “He would lie – and read his book – in that bed, – with the window open, – by the hour together, – on a fine summer’s morning; – before it was time to get up. And, sometimes, – long into the night; – holding his book in one hand, and a candle in the other.

“It was on that bed, – they laid him: when they brought him up – dead.
Poor dear old Uncle! – To see him – lying there – dead: – when, – but a few hours before, – he got up – so fresh and hearty: – for another day’s happiness and usefulness; – as he thought.”

The young man motioned me to a bright old arm-chair beside the fire; saying, “That was Uncle’s arm-chair. He always sat in that chair, when we were in this room.” As soon as I sat down in the old man’s arm-chair, the cat jumped up on my knee, and tucked herself comfortably up, and began purring. And so she sat all tea-time.

During tea, the young man was all assiduity and kind attention. Not much was said by either of us. But there was no want of interchange of thought and feeling. Everything was full of feeling; – deep, – tender feeling; mutually felt – and understood.
Soon after tea I took my leave; wishing to have a little quiet retirement before the evening service.


These are some of the memoirs of the Reverend Henry Hawkes of Portsmouth who left the fullest account of John Pounds, the crippled cobbler of Portsmouth who inspired the formation of the Ragged Schools by example