« PreviousContinue »
But the young, young children, O my brothers ! Leave us quiet in the dark of our coal-shadows
From your pleasures fair and fine.
" For, oh !" say the children, “ we are weary,
And we cannot run or leap :
To drop down in them and sleep.
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping,
We fall on our face trying to go;
And underneath our heavy eyelids drooping, The old year is ending in the frost,
The reddest flower would look as pale as snow; The old wound, if stricken, is the sorest,
For all day, we drag our burden tiring, The old hope is hardest to be lost!
Through the coal-dark underground,
Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron
In the factories round and round.
All day long the wheels are droning, turning,
Their wind comes in our faces ! They look up with their pale and sunken faces,
Till our hearts turn, and our heads with pulses And their looks are sad to see ;
burning, For the Man's grief untimely draws and presses
And the walls turn in their places ! Down the cheeks of Infancy. ". Your old Earth,” they say, “ is very dreary!
Turns the sky in the high window blank and reeling,
Turns the long light that droopeth down the wall, Our young feet,” they say, " are very weak!
Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling, Few paces have we taken, yet are wearyOur grave-rest is very far to seek !
All are turning all the day, and we with all ! Ask the old why they weep, and not the children,
All day long, the iron wheels are droning,
And sometimes we could pray,
« O, ye wheels, (breaking off in a mad moaning,),
Stop! be silent for to-day!" And the graves are for the old. " True,” say the children, « it may happen
Ay, be silent! let them hear each other breathing,
For a moment, mouth to mouth;
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreath-
ing, We looked into the pit prepared to take her,
Of their tender human youth;
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion,
Is not all the life God giveth them to feel; Crying — Get up, little Alice, it is day !"
Let them prove their inwari souls against the notion If you listen by that grave in sun and shower,
That they live in you, or under you, O wheel ! With your ear down, little Alice never cries ;
Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,
As if fate in each were stark ! Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her,
And the children's souls, which God is calling For the new smile which has grown within her
Spin on blindly in the dark.
Now tell the weary children, O my brothers !
That they look to Him and pray " It is good when it happens,” say the children, For the blessed One who blesseth all the others, " That we die before our time !"
To bless them another day. Alas, the young children! they are seeking
They answer—- Who is God, that He should hear us,
While this rushing of the iron wheels is stirred ? Death in life, as best to have !
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us They are binding up their hearts away from breaking,
Pass unhearing—at least, answer not a word ; With a cerement from the grave. Go out, children, from the mine and from the city,
And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding)
Strangers speaking at the door.
Is it likely God with angels singing round Him,
Hears our weeping any more ? Laugh aloud to feel your fingers let them through! But the children say, “ Are cowslips of the meadows Two words, indeed, of praying we remember; Like the weeds anear the mine ?
And at midnight's hour of harm,
BY JOHN NEAL.
Our Father ! looking upward in our chamber,
INSTINCT OF CHILDHOOD.
A beautiful child stood near a large open window. And we think that, in some pause of angel's song, The window was completely overshadowed by wild He may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather. grape and blossoming honey-suckle, and the droop
And hold both in his right hand, which is strong. ing branches of a prodigious elm—the largest and Our Father! If He heard us, He would surely
handsomest you ever saw. The child was leaning (For they call him good and mild)
forward with half-open mouth and thoughtful eyes, Answer, (smiling down the steep world very purely,) looking into the firmament of green leaves forever Come and rest with me, my child.'” at play, that appeared to overhang the whole neigh
borhood ; and her loose, bright hair, as it broke “ But no,” say the children, weeping faster,
away in the cheerful morning wind, glittered like “ He is silent as a stone;
stray sunshine among the branches and blossoms. And they tell us of His image is the master
Just underneath her feet, and almost within reach Who commands us to work on.
of her little hand, swung a large and prettily cover"Go to,” say the children; “ up in Heaven,
ed bird cage, all open to the sky! The broad Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find plentiful grape leaves lay upon it in heaps—the mornDo not mock us! we are atheists in our grieving,
ing wind blew pleasantly through it, making the We look up to Him, but tears have made us
very music that birds and children love best-and blind!”
the delicate branches of the drooping elm swept Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
over it—and the glow of blossoming herbage round O my brothers, what ye teach?
about fell with a sort of shadowy lustre upon the For God's possible is taught by His world's loving, basin of bright water, and the floor of glittering And the children doubt of each !
sand within the cage. And well may the children weep before ye,
Well, if ever!” said the child; and then she They are weary ere they run!
stooped and pulled away the trailing branches and They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory
looked into the cage; and then her lips began to Which is brighter than the sun!
tremble, and her soft eyes filled with tears. They know the grief of men, but not the wisdom,
Within the cage was the mother bird, fluttering They sink in their despair, with hope at calm, and whistling—not cheerfully, but mournfully-and Are slaves without liberty in Christdom,
beating herself to death against the delicate wires ;
and three little bits of birds watching her, openAre martyrs by the pang, without the palm ! Are worn as if with age, yet unretrievingly
mouthed, and trying to follow her from perch to No joy of memory keep,
perch, as she opened and shut her golden wings, like Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly
sudden flashes of sunshine, and darted hither and Let them weep, let them weep!
thither, as if hunted by some invisible thing—or a
a cat foraging in the shrubbery. They look up, with their pale and sunken faces, « There, now! there you go again! you foolish And their look is dread to see ;
thing, you! Why what is the matter? I should For you think you see their angels in their places, be ashamed of myself! I should so! Hav'nt we With eyes meant for Deity.
bought the prettiest cage in the world for you? “How long," they say, how long, O cruel nation! Hav'nt you had enough to eat, and the best that Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's could be had for love or money-sponge cake-loaf heart?
sugar, and all sorts of seeds ? Didn't father put up Trample down with mailed heel its palpitation, a nest with his own hands; and havn't I watched
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart? over you? you ungrateful little thing! till the Our blood splashes upward, O our tyrants !
eggs they put there had all turned to birds, no And your purple shows your path,
bigger than grasshoppers, and so noisy-ah, you But the child's sob curseth deeper in the silence, can't think! Just look at the beautiful clear wa. Than the strong man in his wrath!"
ter there—and the clean white sand—where do you * The report of the commissioners present repeated instances think you could find such water as that, or such a of children, whose religious devotion is confined to the repeti. pretty glass dish, or snch beautiful bright sand, if tion of the two first words of the Lord's Prayer,
we were to take you at your word, and let you out, with that little nest full of young ones, to shift for
yourselves, hey ?" “ A spirit of pure and intense humanity, a spirit The door opened, and a tall benevolent looking of love and kindness, to which nothing is too large, man stepped up to her side. for which nothing is too small, will always be its « Oh, father, I'm so glad you're come. What do own “ exceeding great reward."
you think is the matter with poor little birdy ?”
The father looked down among the grass and "But father_dear father !" laying her little hand shrubbery, and up into the top branches, and then on the spring of the cage door, "dear father! would into the cage—the countenance of the poor little you ?” girl growing more and more perplexed and more " And why not, my dear child ?” and the father's sorrowful every moment.
eyes filled with tears, and he stooped down and " Well, father-what is it? does it see any kissed the bright face upturned to his, and glowing thing?"
as if illuminated with inward sunshine. • Why " No my love, nothing to frighten her ; but where not ?" is the father bird ?”
“I was only thinking, father, if I should let them " He's in the other cage. He made such a to-do out, who will feed them ?" when the birds began to chipper this morning, that " Who feeds the young ravens, dear? Who feeds I was obliged to let him out; and brother Bobby, the ten thousand little birds that are flying about us he frightened him into the cage and carried him off.” now ?" “ Was that right, my love ?"
True, father ; but they have never been impriWhy not, father? He would'nt be quiet, you soned, you know, and have already learned to take know; and what was I to do ?”
care of themselves." 6. But, Moggy, dear, these little birds may want The father looked up and smiled. their father to help to feed them; the poor mother Worthy of profound consideration, my dear; I bird may want him to take care of them, or sing admit your plea; but have a care lest you overrate to her ?
the danger and the difficulty, in your unwillingness - Or, perhaps, to show them how to fly, father ?” to part with your beautiful little birds.”
• Yes, dear. And to separate them just now- " Father!" and the little hand pressed upon the how would you like to have me carried off, and put spring, and the door flew open-wide open! into another house, leaving nothing at honie but Stay, my child ! What you do must he done your mother to watch over you and the rest of my thoughtfully, conscientiously, so that you may be little birds ?"
satisfied with yourself, hereafter, and allow me to The child grew more thoughtful. She looked up hear all your objections." into her father's face, and appeared as if more than “ I was thinking, father, about the cold rains, and half disposed to ask a question, which might be a the long winters, and how the poor little birds that little out of place; but she forbore, and after mu- have been so long confined would never be able sing a few moments, went back to the original to find a place to sleep in, or water to wash in, or subject :
seeds for their little ones.” “ But father, what can be the matter with the • In our climate, my love, the winters are very poor thing ? you see how she keeps flying about, and short; and the rainy season itself does not drive the the little ones trying to follow her, and tumbling birds away; and then, you know, birds always fol. upon their noses, and toddling about as if they were low the sun; if our climate is too cold for them, tipsy, and could'nt see straight.”
they have only to go farther south. But in a word, “I am afraid she is getting discontented.” my love, you are to do as you would be done by.
" Discontented! How can that be, father? As you would not like to have me separated from Has'nt she her little ones about her, and every your mother and you; as you would not like to be thing on earth she can wish, and then, you know, imprisoned for life, though your cage were crammed she never used to be so before."
with loaf sugar and sponge cake-as you" " When her mate was with her, perhaps."
- That'll do father ! that's enough! Brother « Yes, father; and yet now I think of it, the mo- Bobby! hither Bobby! bring the little cage with ment these little witches began to peep-peep, and you; there's a dear!" tumble about so funny, the father and mother began Brother Bobby sang out in reply; and after a to fly about in the cage, as if they were crazy. moment or two of anxious inquiry, appeared at the What can be the reason? The water, you see, is window with a little cage. The prison doors were cool and clear; the sand bright; they are out in the opened : the father bird escaped; the mother bird open air, with all the green leaves blowing about immediately followed, with a cry of joy; and them; their cage has been scoured with soap and then came back and tolled her little ones forth sand; the fountain filled ; and the seed box-and-among the bright green leaves. The children clapand-I declare I cannot think what ails them.'' ped their hands in an ecstacy, and the father fell
· My love, may it not be the very things you upon their necks and kissed them; and the mother, speak of? Things which you think ought to make who sat by, sobbed over them both for a
a whole them happy, are the very cause of all their trouble, hour, as if her heart would break; and told her you see. The father and mother are separated. How neighbors with tears in her eyes. can they teach their young to fly in that cage ! How teach them to provide for themselves ?” « The ungrateful hussy! What ! after all that we
have done for her; giving her the best room that we « Yes, father." could spare ; feeding her from our own table; cloth- - Don't interrupt me. You drive every thing out ing her from our own wardrobe ; giving her the of my bead. What was I going to say ? Oh! ah ! handsomest and shrewdest fellow for a husband within that in our long winters and cold rains, these poor twenty miles of us; allowing them to live together things who have been hrought up in our houses, and till a child is born; and now, because we have thought who know nothing about the anxieties of life, and proper to send him away for a while, where he may have never learned to take care of themselvs-andearn his keep—now, forsooth! we are to find my a—" lady discontent with her situation !"
“ Yes, falher ; but could't they follow the sun, too? « Dear father!”
or go further south?” « Hush, child !"
“ And why not be happy here ?". “ Ay, discontented—that's the word—actually dis- • But, father-dear father! How can they teach satisfied with her condition ! the jade! with the best their little ones to fly in a cage ?”! of every thing to make her happy-comforts and * Child, you are getting troublesome !" luxuries she could never dream of obtaining if she « And how teach their young to provide for themwere free to-morrow-and always contented; never selves, father ?” presuming to be discontented till now.”
" Put the little imp to bed, directly : do you hear ?" “And what does she complain of father ?"
« Good night, father! Good night, mother! Do « Why, my dear child, the unreasonable thing as you WOULD BE DONE BY." complains just because we have sent her husband away to the other plantation for a few months; he was idle here, and might have grown discontented,
MY FRIEND. too, if we had not picked him off. And then, instead of being happier, and more thankful-more thankful Wouldst thou be friend of mine ?to her heavenly Father, for the gift of a man child, Thou must be quick and bold Martha tells me that she found her crying over it, When the right is to be done, calling it a little slave, and wished the Lord would And the truth is to be told; take it away from her—the ungrateful wench! when the death of that child would be two hundred dollars
Wearing no friend-like smile out of my pocket-every cent of it!"
When thine heart is not within, “ After all we have done for her too !" sighed the Making no truce with fraud or guile, mother.
No compromise with sin. “I declare I have no patience with the jade !" con
Open of eye and speech, tinued the father.
Open of heart and hand, « Father-dear father!"
Holding thine own but as in trust « Be quiet, Moggy? don't teaze me now."
For thy great brother-band. « But, father!" and, as she spoke, the child ran up to her father and drew him to the window, and threw Patient and stout to bear, back her sun-shiny tresses, and looked up into his Yet bearing not for ever ; eyes with the face of an angel, and pointed to the cage
Gentle to rule, and slow to bind, as it still hung at the window, with the door wido
Like lightning to deliver ! open!
The father understood her, and colored to the eyes ; True to thy fatherland, and then, as if half ashamed of the weakness, bent True to thine own true love ; over and kissed her forehead-smoothed down her True to thine altar and thy creed, silky hair-and told her she was a child now, and And thy good God above. must not talk about such matters till she had grown
But with no bigot scorn older.
For faith sincere as thine, “ Why not, father ?"
Though less of form attend the prayer, “Why not? Why bless your little heart! Suppose I were silly enough to open my doors and turn
Or more of pomp the shrine; her adrift, with her child at her breast, what would Remembering Him who spake become of her ? Who would take care of her ? who The word that cannot lie, feed her ?”
" Where two or three in my name meet “ Who feeds the ravens, father! Who takes care of There in the midst am I !" all the white mothers, and all the white babes we see ?"
“ Yes, child—but then I know what you are think- I bar thee not from faultsing of; but then there's a mighty difference, let me
God wot it were in vain! tell you, between a slave mother and a white mother
Inalienable heritage -between a slave child and a white child.”
Since that primeval stain !
BY JOHN G. WHITTIER.
The wisest have been fools
World. The slaveholder dragging his languid frame The surest stumbled sore :
from the rice-region and the sugar-plantation, full of Strive thou to stand-or fallin arise,
contempt for the laborer, and bitter in his scorn of I ask the enot for more!
Yankee meanness, has been awed into reverence for
Industry in the presence of the working-women of This do, and thou shalt knit
Lowell; and, painfully contrasting the unpaid and Closely my heart to thine;
whip-driven labor of his plantation, with the free Next the dear love of God above,
and happy thrift of the North, he has returned home, Such friend on earth, be mine!
“ A sadder but a wiser man,” feeling from henceforth that woman may · labor with
her hands,” and lose nothing of the charm and glory THE FACTORY GIRLS OF LOWELL.
of womanhood by so doing—that it is only his own dreadful abuse of labor, attempting to reverse its just
and holy laws, and substitute brutal compulsion for Acres of girlhood beauty reckoned by the generous and undegrading motives, that has made square rod, or miles by long measure !—The young, the women of his plantation mere beasts of burden, the graceful, the gay-flowers gathered from a thou- or objects of unholy lust, cursing alike themselves sand hill-sides and green vallies of New England, and their oppressors. fair, unveiled Nuns of Industry-Sisters of Thrift, Thus is it, that our thousands of " Factory Girls," and are ye not also Sisters of Charity, dispensing become apostles of Democracy, and teachers of the comfort and hope and happiness around many a hearth- great truth, which even John C. Calhoun, slaveholder stone of your native hills, making sad faces cheerful as he is, felt constrained to recognize in his controand hallowing age and poverty with the sunshine of versy with Webster : “ The laborer has a title to the your youth and love !—Who shall sneer at your call. fruits of his industry against the universe.” They ing? Who shall count your vocation otherwise than demonstrate the economy of free and paid labor.noble and ennobling?
They dignify woman, by proving that she can place Four years ago, in a hasty visit to Lowell I was, herself in independent circumstances, without deroat the Boott Corporation in company with Joseph gating from the modesty and decorum of her characSturge, of Birmingham, the calm, devoted leader of ter :—that she can blend the useful with the beauti. the Democracy of England, and my friend Lt. Ren- ful, and that, instead of casting herself, as a fair but shaw, of South Carolina, and more recently a mis- expensive burthen upon the other sex- -its plaything sionary in Jamaica, among the newly emancipated and its encumbrance--she is capable of becoming a blacks of that Island. As the bell was ringing, and help-mete and a blesssing. the crowd of well-dressed, animated and intelligent- Yet, I do not overlook the trials and disadvantages looking young women passed by us on their way to of their position. Not without a struggle have many their lodgings, the philanthropic Englishman could of these females left the old paternal home-stead, not repress his emotions at the strong contrast they and the companions of their childhood. Not as a presented to the degraded and oppressed working. matter of taste and self-gratification have many of women of his own country; and the spectacle, I them exchanged the free breezes, and green mead. doubt not, confirmed and strengtheend his determi- ows, and household duties, of the country, for the nation to consecrate his time, wealth, and honorable close, hot city, and the jar and whirl of these crowdreputation, to the cause of the laborer, at home.-ed and noisy mills. In the midst of the dizzy rush My friend Renshaw, who was banished from his of machinery, they can hear in fancy the ripple of mother's fireside, and his father's grave, for the cause brooks, the low of cattle, the familiar sound of the of abolitionism, deeply in.pressed with the beauty voices of home. Nor am I one of those who count of Freedom, and hope-stimulated industry, exclaim- steady, daily toil, consuming the golden hours of the ed—Would to God my mother could see this !" day, and leaving only the night for recreation, study At home, he had seen the poor working-women of and rest, as in itself a pleasurable matter. There the South driven by the whip to their daily tasks; have been a good many foolish essays written upon here with gaiety and hope, and buoyant gracefulness, the beauty and divinity of labor by those who have he saw the women of New England pass from their never known what it really is to earn one's livelilabors, making industry beantiful, and throwing the hood by the sweat of the brow—who have never, charm of romance and refinement over the dull mo- from year to year, bent over the bench or loom, shut notony of their self-alloted tasks. Not in vain then, out from the blue skies, the green grass, and sweet are the lessons of Free Labor taught by the “ Facto- waters, and felt the head reel, and the heart faint, ry Girls." The foreign traveller has repeated them and the limbs tremble with the exhaustion of unrein aristocratic England, in Germany, in France, and mitted toil. Let such be silent. Their sentimentalPrussia-and thus have the secds of democratic ism is a weariness to the worker. Let not her who truth been sown in the waste places of the Old I sits daintily with her flowers, « herself the fairest,"