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My labor never flags;
A crust of bread, and—rags.
A table-a broken chair;
For sometimes falling there!
From weary chime to chime, Work-work-work,
As prisoners work for crime ! Band and gusset and seam,
Seam and gusset and band, Till the heart is sick and the brain benumb’d,
As well as weary hand.
In dull December light, And work-work--work,
When the weather is warm and bright-
The brooding swallows cling,
And twit me with the Spring.
“Oh! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweetWith the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet, For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel, Before I knew the woes of want
And the walk that costs a meal!
“Oh, but for one short hour!
A respite however brief!
But only time for Grief !
But in their briny bed
Hinders needle and thread!
“ With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
Plying her needle and thread-
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
She sang this Song of the Shirt!'"
We annex part of an article from Jerrold's Magazine, which draws quite as clear a picture of the condition of the English poor, and points out the only feasible remedy for the evils of that condition:
THE ONLY REMEDY FOR THE MISERIES OF THE ENGLISH POOR.
Whoever is unprepared to cast aside not only his prejudices, but many of what may be considered well-formed opinions, had better not attempt to peruse the following few pages. I must demand of my reader that he come to the perusal, the beau ideal of a juryman. No infor
mation that he has gained elsewhere, no feelings that he has cherished as virtues, no sentiments that he has cultivated as noble, and no opinions that he may have formed as infallible, must interfere with his purely and simply receiving the following arguments on their own cogency and truth alone.
The writer considers he has made a great discovery in moral and political science; and elevated by his subject above all personal influences, he commits it to be worked out by others, without the ostentation of recording his Dame, or deeming that the applause of present or of future generations can add to his sublime delight, in discovering and applying a "panacca" to the varied and bitter ills that beset three-fourths of the poor inhabitants of the “United Kingdom.”
As some account of the means by which a great discovery
has been arrived at is necessary, in order to prepare the mind for its reception with due respect, I shall give a brief outline of the process by which this all-im. portant truth was elicited.
Born with natural sensibilities, I early learnt to shrink from pain endured by others, as if felt actually and bodily by myself. Thus constituted, what a scene was displayed to me when I came into the great and moving society of mankind! What mighty heaps of misery did I discern! What details did the records of the various courts of justice disclose! What regions of squalor, misery, and degradation did my travels reveal to me in every city, and every hamlet, I visited! The bent of my future avocation was soon fixed, and I became a philanthropist by profession. Not to make a trade of it at
monster meetings, or fancy fairs, but as a pursuit to which I felt myself called by a spiritual voice, as distinct, I should say, as that which ever called a theologian from a curacy of fifty pounds a year to a bishoprio of twenty thousand.
It is not necessary to recapitulate the horrors I have witnessed in the regions of poverty. It is said that the eras of pestilence and famine are passed, but so will not those say who have visited the dwellings of the operatives of our great manufacturing towns, when the markets are glutted, and the mills and manufactories are closed. Pestilence still rages fiercely as ever, in the form of typhus, engendered by want. In the mission I have called myself to, I have stood upon the mud floor, over the corpse of the mother and the new-born child—both the victims of want. I have seen a man (God's image) stretched on straw, wrapped only in a mat, resign his breath, from starvation, in the prime of age. I have entered, on a sultry summer's night, a small house, situate on the banks of a common sewer, wherein one hundred and twenty-seven human beings, of both sexes and all ages, were indiscriminately crowded. I have been in the pestilential hovels of our great manufacturing cities, where life was corrupted in every possible mode, from the malaria of the sewer to the poison of the gin-bottle. I have been in sheds of the peasant, worse than the hovel of the Russian, where eight squalid, dirty, boorish creatures were to be kept alive by eight shillings per week, irregularly paid. I have seen the humanities of life desecrated in every way. I have seen the father snatch the bread from his child, and the mother offer the gin-bottle
for the breast. I have seen, too, generous sacrifices and tender considerations, to which the boasted chivalries of Sydney and Edward were childish ostentation. I have found wrong so exalted, and right so debased—I have seen and known of so much misery, that the faith in good has shivered within me.
For a time, when I urged these things in the circles of the comfortable, I received many various replies. By some it was said that it was the lot of humanity—that it had always been so, and, therefore, always must. That to enlarge on the evil was only to create discontent, and so injure “the better classes.” It was in vain I urged to these reasoners that for hundreds, and, perhaps, thousands of years, creatures little better than Calibans infested the morasses and forests of Europe. That civilization had an onward progress, and that the history of the world proved the one great truth-that man is the creature of circumstances. By some, the evils were denied: by some few, deplored. By all, the discussion was avoided; though the destruction that menaced the Roman empire from the invasion of the barbarian world was never so imminent, nor could the consequence be so dreadful, as that which the wealthy, and civilization itself, would sustain from the insurrection of outraged poverty.
I next tried the politicians. I devoted some years to history and political economy. I even entered the senate. In politics, I found no means of relief. The struggle there was for the preponderance in power, and the reply, “Help us to get into power, and then we will see