“He knew of no one to whom he might look for help, nor realised in his loneliness and pain that God was near.” – Cricket
Cricket: A Tale of Humble Life (1886) is a delightful example of Christian Victorian literature. Written by a non-conformist (non-Anglican, such as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.) minister, Cricket tells a simple but heart-warming tale of two impoverished youths, Cricket (Caroline) and Billy, on the streets of Liverpool whose trials draw them into a friendship with one another. Billy, who has lived on the streets from a young age and never entered a church in his life, learns first of Jesus Christ from Cricket, and her life becomes a living testimony of the truth of the gospel in a way that the mystifying Sunday sermons in the local chapel cannot; they were “not for him. No word of it touched his need or came home to his heart. The high-sounding phrases were for the rich and learned; the ignorant and poor listened in vain.” (74)
Many are the Bible verses that stress the Christian’s duty to help the poor and orphaned. The Victorians, for whom the extreme poor were an everyday reality, understood living out the gospel as ministering to these unfortunates of society who begged on the streets and filled the workhouses. Hocking himself lived out his teaching; he served as a circuit preacher in the poorest district in Liverpool, where he found “joy” in “helping the down and out.” His aim in writing novels was to portray street children not as hopeless troublemakers but as helpless sufferers who desperately needed a Christian to come along and and not only share but embody the saving message of the gospel. Hocking believed “There but for God could be each one of us.” He gave the profits from his writing to charities.