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A Voice From the Factories.. Norton, Caroline Sheridan, 1808–1877.
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DEDICATED TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD ASHLEY. The abuses even, of such a business, must be cautiously dealt with; lest, in eradicating them, we shake or disorder the whole fabric. We admit, however, that the case of CHILDREN employed in the Cotton Factories is one of those that call fairly for legislative regulation. McCULLOCH.



AN anonymous Author, whose own name could give no importance to this ephemeral production, ventures to claim the aid of yours; as one not only noble, but intimately connected with the subject of his verse.

To the just‐minded, the opinions of no individual, however obscure, should be utterly indifferent; since each man undoubtedly represents the opinions of a certain number of his fellow‐men. It is the conviction of this, and the belief, that to abstain from giving our views on any point because we fear page: vi due attention will not be paid us, savours rather of vanity than humility, which have induced me to intrude at this time on your Lordship and the Public.

For the mode in which I have done so, some apology is perhaps necessary; since the application of serious poetry to the passing events of the day has fallen into disuse, and is, if not absolutely contemned, at least much discouraged.

Doubtless there are those to whose tastes and understandings, dry and forcible arguments are more welcome than reasonings dressed in the garb of poetry. Yet as poetry is the language of feeling, it should be the language of the multitude; since all men can feel, while comparatively few can reason acutely, and still fewer reduce their reasoning theories to practicable schemes of improvement.

My Lord, I confess myself anxious to be heard, even though unable to convince. It is the misfortune of the time, that subjects of great and pressing page: vii interest are so numerous, that many questions which affect the lives and happiness of hundreds, become, as it were, comparatively unimportant; and are thrust aside by others of greater actual moment. Such, as it appears to me, is the present condition of the Factory Question: and although I am conscious that it requires but an inferior understanding to perceive an existing evil, while the combined efforts of many superior minds are necessary to its remedy; yet I cannot but think it is incumbent on all who feel, as I do, that there is an evil which it behoves Christian lawgivers to remove,—to endeavour to obtain such a portion of public attention as may be granted to the expression of their conviction.

My Lord, my ambition extends so far, and no farther. I publish this little Poem with the avowed hope of obtaining that attention; I publish it anonymously, because I have no right to expect that my personal opinion would carry more weight with it than that of any other individual. The inspiriting page: viii cheer of triumph, and the startling yell of disapprobation, are alike composed of a number of voices, each in itself insignificant, but in their union most powerful. I desire, therefore, only to join my voice to that of wiser and better men, in behalf of those who suffer; and if the matter or the manner of my work be imperfect, allowance will, I trust, be made for its imperfection, since it pretends to so little.

I will only add, that I have in no instance overcharged or exaggerated, by poetical fictions, the picture drawn by the Commissioners appointed to inquire into this subject. I have strictly adhered to the printed Reports; to that which I believe to be the melancholy truth; and that which I have, in some instances, myself had an opportunity of witnessing.

I earnestly hope I shall live to see this evil abolished. There will be delay—there will be opposition: such has ever been the case with all questions involving interests, and more especially page: xi where the preponderating interest has been on the side of the existing abuse. Yet, as the noble‐hearted and compassionate Howard became immortally connected with the removal of the abuses which for centuries disgraced our prison discipline; as the perseverance of Wilberforce created the dawn of the long‐delayed emancipation of the negroes;—so, my Lord, I trust to see your name enrolled with the names of these great and good men, as the Liberator and Defender of those helpless beings, on whom are inflicted many of the evils both of slavery and imprisonment, without the odium of either.

I remain, my LORD, Your Lordship’s Obedient Servant,


London,October, 1836.
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