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Founder's Day At Raine's Hospital by B. M.

MAY DAY in London would not seem at first sight to realize the traditionary associations connected with its name, but in a certain parish of the city a more solid interest attaches to this day, and young girls look forward to the ceremony which marks it with more anxiety than ever did village-lass to her expected royalty of a day. Twice a year (the Fifth of November being the other occasion) a wedding-portion of one hundred pounds is given by lot to one girl among the many whose antecedents, as prescribed by the founder's will, entitle them to become candidates. This endowment is connected with what is known as Raine's Asylum in the parish of St. George's-in-the-East, London. The parish is populous and unfashionable, and proportionately poor and interesting. Among its members in the last century was Henry Raine, a brewer, who in 1719 founded two schools for the free education of fifty girls and fifty boys, respectively. In 1736 he founded and endowed a new school, called the Asylum, for teaching, clothing and training forty girls to domestic service, the girls to be chosen from among the children of the lower school. In this latter school each girl stays four years, and the system has worked so well that the scholars are greatly sought after as servants. At the age of twenty-two any girl, educated there, who can produce good testimonials while in service, may become a candidate for a marriage-portion of one hundred pounds. Six girls draw for it on May Day, and six on the Fifth of November, the unsuccessful ones being entitled to draw again from time to time until they get it. The drawing is preceded by a special service in the parish church, the boys and girls from the lower schools being present, and going in procession from the school to the church arrayed in quaint, old-fashioned costume. The former wear a half-nautical costume, the neighborhood being in many ways connected with sea-pursuits: the latter are dressed in blue stuff gowns, a white apron and a handkerchief folded over the breast, and a small white cap bound round with a Blue ribbon. Every one, from the gorgeous beadle to the youngest child, has also a bouquet of flowers on this occasion. The beadle is an "institution" that has disappeared in America, but which still looms in awful official grandeur before the mind's eye of every London-bred child. On these occasions he is in all his glory: his military costume and silver-headed staff are the very embodiment of dignity, and to the less awed spectator of riper years he fills in a niche of old-time conventionality very picturesquely. The service is followed by the wedding of the successful candidate of the previous occasion, so that each of the two memorable days becomes a double festival. The bells strike a merry peal, and the procession forms once more and goes back to the Asylum, where, in a curious apartment, the walls of which are covered with the names of donors to the charity, the drawing takes place. The girls of the Asylum enter the room and begin by singing a short hymn, accompanied by an old-fashioned organ. The treasurer of the Asylum Fund, in exact compliance with the explicit directions of the founder's charter, takes a half sheet of white paper and writes the words "One Hundred Pounds" on it, then five other blank half sheets, and wraps each tight round a little roller of wood tied with a narrow green ribbon. The knot of each is then firmly sealed with red sealing-wax, and all the rolls formally deposited in a large canister placed on a small table in the middle of the room. There is nothing else on the table except a candle in a small candlestick, to be used in sealing the rolls. The treasurer stands by as each candidate draws, and when all the rolls are drawn the girls go up to the chairwoman (generally the rector's wife), at the upper end of the room. She then cuts the ribbon of each and returns the roll to its owner. It is not long before the fortunate one is recognized. The scene is full of interest even to a stranger, and was evidently one of great pleasure to the founder himself, as appears from the wording of his will, in which he exhorts his nephews to buy four thousand pounds of stock for the permanent provision of these portions. "I doubt not," he says, "but my nephews would cheerfully purchase the said stock if they had seen, as I have, six poor innocent maidens come trembling to draw the prize, and the fortunate maiden that got it burst into tears with excess of joy." It is likely that even before he had founded and endowed the Asylum, Henry Raine had often given away portions to deserving young girls. That drawn on May Day is not given until after the wedding on November 5, and that drawn in November is given in May. The dowry consists of gold pieces in an old-fashioned silk purse, and is formally presented to the young couple at the committee dinner which takes place after the drawing. Of course, the husband's character is quite as strictly inquired into as that of the bride, and unless this is perfectly satisfactory to the rector, treasurer and trustees the portion is withheld—a wise provision against fortune-hunting. A wedding-repast is also provided for the bridal party at the same time, but in a separate room, and to neither of these banquets are the public admitted: a few personal friends of the trustees are sometimes asked. The dinner is a pretty sight, the girls of the lower school waiting on the committee. The treasurer, the rector and a few others accompany the presentation of the portion with kind and congratulatory speeches, and the girls sing appropriate hymns in the intervals.

The building called Raine's Asylum (or sometimes Hospital) is a plain, ugly, square mass, as all specimens of the so-called Georgian "architecture" are apt to be. The London atmosphere has rather blackened than mellowed its crude tone of red brick and white stone till the whole is of the uniform color of India ink. Over the projecting portico stands the bust of the founder in wig and bands, looking more like a scholar or a divine than a brewer, and leaving the impression of a good, truthful, thoughtful face, with a long slender nose, thin mouth and broad and massive forehead. Behind the Asylum stretches a garden—not a small one for such a locality—and, though London gardens are not apt to be cheery places, this one has at least the merit of standing as evidence of the kind-hearted founder's intention to bestow as much fresh air as possible on his protégées.