Poem from The British Workman.
The British Workman gives us this month a striking picture of a cottage home during the cotton famine, and the following excellent lines on the distress: -
My country, thou has sinned. This cotton dearth,
With all its bitter crop of want and woe, -
Canst thou not read in it thy punishment
For wilfulness and greed? Couldst thou not find,
Bible-taught England, for thy potent gold,
A nobler market than the slave’s forsooth,
To buy in? There was blood upon the bales,
The brand of goad, and lash, and gory chain,
And thou didst know it. They who sow must reap:
Wonder not, therefore, that the ruthless storm
That sweeps resistless o’er yon western world,
Should visit thee with this dark swollen wave.
Well for thee if the lesson be not lost,
But pondered deeply; if it humble thee,
And rouse thee to thy duty. Then ‘t will pass,
This inky cloud upon thy pleasant sky,
And leave thee nobler, greater.
Repentance is not thy sole duty now,
But urgent brotherly help. No laggarts they,
Who sit unwillingly in idleness,
Among our smokeless chimneys, tall and cold;
But plodding earnest workers, who, life-long,
Have worn the factory threshold. Penniless,
But by no fault of theirs, it must not be,
Nay, shall not, that this Christian land of ours
Forsake, or e’en neglect, her workful sons,
In this their hour of need, or turn away
From them whose quiet patient suffering
Becomes an added claim to her regard.
See where they sit in silence, a mute group,
Brooding o’er their deep needs. The wind blows cold
Down the still street, th’ inhospitable sky
Adds to their dismal thoughts. The father stands
Bewildered by the side of her he loves,
In gloomy reverie. No food, no fire, -
What yet, of his scant hard-earned furniture,
Remains to purchase a to-morrow’s meal?
The mother presses to her breast the babe,
So happily unconscious; and the child,
Kneeling beside her, looks inquiringly
Into her hopeless eyes. Th’ womanly girl
Stands gazing on the now-closed factory gate,
And, sick of waiting, struggles to keep down
Lawless, ungirlish thoughts.
Oh ponder this,
Ye who rejoice in easeful competence;
Think on your brethren this glad Christmas-tide,
So sad, alas, to them. No stinting hand
Hath spread your table; ‘twas no niggard love
That made this hour a festal one for you.
Oh sanctify your gains with worthy gifts:
Not the churls pittance or the miser’s dole,
But such as Christian hearts delight in, such
As men who feel the kinship of their race
Should offer to a brother in distress.
And ye who hardly earn, whose horny hands
With difficulty win your daily bread,
Give of your little heartily, and thus
Add, to the satisfaction of self-help,
The joy of helping others. Pence make pounds,
Rills make a river, and your added mites
Shall not alone the hungry feed and cheer,
But back return to you in many a prayer,
And many a benediction.
The yearly part of this most excellent publication is now issued, and we know of no more interesting and useful publication.