A CHILD'S TRADE IN BETHNAL GREEN.
LUCIFER-BOXES ! —the name suits well
With the stench, and the glare, and grime of Hell !
Thirty a halfpenny—no great waste, As the small manufacturers find their own paste.
Such a child I took on my knee, Her life of labour began at three !
The sad and sickly pallid child, Poor little woman, meek and mild, Her mother said, encouragement giving, Since she was three had earn'd a living.
Her Mother, the decent Englishwoman, Shall we hope or fear that her heart is human ?
Her Father, hard-working Englishman, Who could grudge him his pipe and can?
0. God! for Parents what a doom, That infant the rent of their wretched room Toiling to earn, and an early tomb !
Never an hour of holiday
Hath it known, nor the sense of the word "to play."
Paste and shavings, paper and paste, Hundreds of boxes made in haste- Lucifer-Boxes !—the name fits well With the lurid glare and the grin of Hell, For the Devil looked on, and inly laughed To be beaten by Man he his own black craft.
Talk of machinery and its pranks, Boilers and pistons, wheels and cranks, All ingenious, but here is seen A wonderful God-made live machine.
Examine each artery, nerve, and vein, Valves of the.heart, and folds of brain, Stomach for food, for breath the lung, Look at the eye, and ear, and tongue, And all, of which medical students read For months and years, yet scarce succeed
In remembering half their names or uses—
Filaments, tissues, cells, and juices,
And what each part to the whole conduces.
This is the thing that ever in haste Makes Lucifer-Boxes, finding the paste, Its life one dull unvarying round Of Lucifer-Boxes—one hates the sound.
Never those lustreless eyes have seen,
Though she lives in a place called Bethnal Green,
Meadow or bee, or flow'r or tree ; What are they, little machine, to thee ?
Hundreds like thee have died ere seven, And gone, as the clergy say, to Heaven ; And One, indeed, who could witness bear, Elath said of such is the Kingdom there.
Sev'n's too old—wilt be alive, Poor little toiler, to date from five ?
Lamb or filly, kitten or kid, Which of them leads such a life forbid ?
Leveret, rabbit, tiger, calf, When young can play, if they do not laugh.
Better be cubs of wolves or foxes, Than babes worked up into Lucifer-Boxes ; Better an animal tame or wild, Better be aught than such a child !
Methinks t'were a change for that sad elf To make a case that would hold herself ; Though if that be found at the parish cost, Of course the trouble and time were lost.
Then a scantling of wood, some nails as well, Alas, how little will form her shell !
The father and mother may well lament, As they follow that box, for the payer of rent ; And with a groan, it may be confest The Lucifer-Boxmaker earn'd her rest. W. D.