Mary Hutton and the development of a working-class women's political poetics.
Mary Hutton, Preface to Cottage Tales and Poems (1836)
What do we know about the working-class women who wrote poetry the Victorian period? As so often happens in the study of non-canonical writers, their biographies exist in fragments, a miscellany of facts with very little cohesion. We may know that a writer was a "factory girl" or a "domestic servant"; however, we often know little of the circumstances in which she wrote, her family history, or the particularities of her work. It seems that the lack of extant working-class women's poetry lies in the historical (de)valuations surrounding their lives; the difficulties in recovering their texts is, in part, linked to the unavailability of biographical information. Perhaps deemed too unimportant by the establishment for a record of their lives to be kept, nineteenth-century working-class women poets all but disappeared from historical record, and we are only now in the process of rediscovering them. While male working-class poets have enjoyed a rebirth with the work of Michael Sanders, Ian Haywood, and Roy Vickers, (1) the study of working-class women writers is still in its nascent stages.
Mary Hutton is one such writer who has been neglected until now in scholarship on working-class poetry. Hutton's rediscovery was first recorded in Ian Haywood's The Literature of Struggle: An Anthology of Chartist Fiction, in which Haywood names Hutton the only "woman author of Chartist Fiction." (2) Recently, John Goodridge's Nineteenth-Century English Labouring-Class Poets: 1800-1900 (3) collected five of Hutton's poems, and Patricia Johnson gives a passing nod to Hutton in her study of the development of Ethel Carnie's "Feminist Vision." (4) Florence Boos, whose work has reinvigorated the study of working-class verse, mentions Hutton in "Class and Victorian Poetics" and has done much to illuminate the possibilities within working-class women's writing. In her study of the "political resonances" of working-class women writers, she works to "belie critical assumptions that Victorian women's preoccupations with religion vitiated their verse." (5)
Following the recuperative momentum of Boos's paper, I argue for Hutton's important role in the formation of a working-class political discourse in Victorian poetry. This study of Hutton's poetical negotiations of politics and class seeks to enrich the present initial discussion of a new discourse of poetic politics: that of the working-class woman of the 1830s and 1840s. In order to understand the politics underpinning Mary Hutton's poetry, we must attend to the ways in which her poems enter into the political discourses of the early 1830s--namely, issues surrounding the New Poor Law, poverty, and slavery. Boos has pointed out that "most Victorian working-class women poets had little direct access to the Chartist movement and its cultural institutions" (Boos, "'Nurs'd Up,'" p. 153). Despite this fact, Hutton's poems on the Poor Law and poverty are strikingly aligned with the poetry of the Chartist movement in both her appropriations of images of slavery and her use of discourses on human rights and freedom. (6) In this paper I wish to show how Hutton engages with nineteenth-century class politics and how her use of simple diction and her engagement with themes that resonate with Chartist poetry earns her a place as a de facto Chartist poet in the canon of nineteenth-century working-class literature.
What little we know of Hutton's life and work, we learn from two contemporary middle-class male sources. The first is William Cartright Newsam's The Poets of Yorkshire: Comprising Sketches of the Lives, and Specimens of the Writings of those 'Children of Song' who have been Natives of, or otherwise connected with the County of York (1845), and the second
is the preface to Hutton's first work, Sheffield Manor and Other Poems (1831), written by John Holland. Apart from these, the only written evidence left of her mostly uncelebrated life is a smattering of publication notices and her entry in the 1851 England census. (7)
Hutton's work may have been preserved out of the sense of regionalism that championed poets in the nineteenth century. (8) Her inclusion in Newsam's anthology speaks to the pride associated with many northern regions of England. Newsam describes Hutton as a "worthy and ingeni[o]us woman, whose poetry and poverty have repeatedly excited in her behalf the sympathies of the inhabitants of Sheffield" (p. 224). In his two-page summary of Hutton's life, we are allowed a small glimpse into the world of a female worker-poet and, in turn, into a conspectus of the hardships faced by such poets in the nineteenth century. Mary Hutton (nee Taylor) was born in Wakefield, England, on July 10, 1794. She was one of the six children of William Taylor, who worked as a servant of Lord Cathcart, and Mary Parry, a Roman-Catholic who was the governess-nurse for the family of Lord Howe. When her family moved to London, Mary's delicate health forced her to remain in Wakefield. She moved to Sheffield some years later, and there met Michael Hutton, a pen-knife cutler nearly twenty-five years her elder, who had two children from a previous marriage. After a "very brief courtship," they married in Sheffield (Newsam, p. 224). We know very little about Mary's life after her marriage, but what we do know centers on the difficulties faced by working-class families in the 1830s.
For Hutton, it seems writing was both a necessary means of pecuniary support and an attempt to raise herself above a life of poverty and illness. In 1830, she wrote a letter to Holland, the author of Flowers from Sheffield Park (1827), appealing to him to publish a collection of her poems. Before she wrote to Holland, Hutton--who published her first poems in the Sheffield Iris--had already applied to Mr. Montgomery, (9) a local publisher, who had told her he would publish her volume if she could find subscribers. In her letter to Holland, Hutton wrote "But, alas! Sir, I could not procure subscribers. Poor, friendless, and unknown, very few would patronize me." (10) Holland writes in the preface to Sheffield Manor that he was intrigued by the ardor of Hutton's letter, and that he decided to meet her in person. He found that she was living in Butcher's Buildings, Norris-Field, "the wife of a penknife cutler, whose lot, it seems, had constituted no exception to the occasional want of employment and paucity of income, so common with many of his class. A son (not residing with them) and a daughter--the children of a former wife, composed the family" (pp. viii-ix).
In the preface to Sheffield Manor, Holland describes Hutton's poems as consisting "for the most part, of allusions, in a style of easy and pleasing versification, and generally correct in sentiment, to scenery and subjects with which the present writer has long been familiar" (p. viii). He saw Hutton's verse as "flowers that had sprung indigenously over the grave of deeply buried thoughts, [rather] than the productions of a mind voluntarily cultivated for the sake of its market value" (p. ix). Yet Holland was unobtrusive in his editorial principles regarding the publication of Sheffield Manor. He makes note of the "metrical irregularities" of her verse, but endorses her poems in his very desire "to present them to the reader with as few alterations as might be compatible with the design of their actual writer: in the two larger pieces, comprising six hundred lines, these alterations may amount to a score of words" (p. xi).
Despite Holland's assertion in the preface to Sheffield Manor that Hutton's poems were mere "flowers" and "correct in sentiment," many of the poems published in both her first volume and her subsequent editions took a definitively political stance. Thus the woman described by Holland as possessing a "poetic temperament" seems to have had a strong political temperament as well (p. ix). And yet, Hutton was cautious in her politics, and conservative in her tacit acceptance of class hierarchies. The poems in her volumes engage with the large issues of the day by politicizing both gender and class, but they also carefully tread the line between political revolution and legislative change. Hutton's three volumes--Sheffield Manor and Other Poems (1831), The Happy Isle; and Other Poems (1836), and Cottage Tales and Poems (1836)--span a period of intense working-class mobilization in Victorian Britain, and her poems on the poor and the Poor Law predate the peak of the Chartist movement by only a few years. The years between 1830 and 1850 in Britain were characterized by political upheaval, and the social climate of the 1830s and 1840s fueled the largest publication of distinctly political working-class verse by both men and women that the literary world had ever seen. (11)
Hutton is situated historically and politically between a tradition of eighteenth-century working-class women writers and the poetry of the Chartist movement. (12) With three volumes of poetry, Hutton is among the most prolific working-class women writers of the 1830s; indeed, Hutton has few contemporaries of the same class and gender with whom she may be compared. (13) The only other female working-class poet with whom we could perhaps compare her is Eliza Cook. Solveig Robinson has questioned why Cook is absent from the Chartist canon given that her poems resonate so strongly with the ideals of the Chartist movement, and notes that "in certain instances her poems even exemplify the Chartist ideals to a greater extent than do the works of the male poets traditionally associated with the movement." (14) Robinson further writes that "Cook's self-presentation as a poet of the people, her use of popular forms and employment of simple, direct language, and her championing of recurrent Chartist themes all reinforce the idea that her songs of labor were explicitly political works, intended as much to inform--and reform--as to delight" (p. 230). The same could be said for Hutton. Her Poor Law poems can easily be read alongside the factory reform literature of the early 1830s. (15) In the same year as Hutton's publication of The Happy Isle (which contains Hutton's Poor Law poems), Caroline Sheridan Norton, a contemporary of Hutton and the granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, anonymously published A Voice from the Factories (1836). Norton's poem attacks the legislation that condemned children to factory work and encouraged the abolition of child labour.
While we have no indication of whether or not Hutton was following the publications of her female middle-class contemporaries, she notably identified with at least one female poetic predecessor: Letitia Elizabeth Landon. Hutton was clearly aware of her particular class position and circumstance as a working-class writer and, in her Preface to Cottage Tales, she describes how she views her poetic production as different from poets such as L.E.L. She writes,
I have never had any leisure to make the most of delightful thoughts, or improve pleasing ideas. I cannot say with the beautiful, and highly gifted, and ever to be lamented L.E.L., 'Oh, pray, don't speak for me just now, for I have such a delightful thought in my head, and I must not be disturbed.' Oh, no, neither in childhood, nor my mature years, could I be so indulged; I have always been most painfully prevented by circumstances. (16)
Hutton, of course, misses the irony of her subject of comparison. Although middle class, Landon had to write for living. (17) Of all of the poets with whom Hutton could have identified and compared herself, it is notable that she chose Letitia Landon, given that Landon's own economic circumstances were unstable. In her article "Receiving the Legend, Rethinking the Writer: Letitia Landon and the Poetess Tradition," Tricia Lootens acknowledges the "literary legend of L.E.L.," (18) arguing that in reading Landon as a mere tragic figure, we risk obfuscating the complexities of Landon's own writing. Lootens provides a new way of reading Landon, arguing that "Landon did more than write or enact poetic femininity," and that "by reading Landon as English first, rather than as feminine we may establish new relationships between her work and that of other women poets" (pp. 243, 245). Hutton's identification with Landon, then, suggests a link between earlier women's "protest" poetry and Hutton's political poetry in the 1830s, and by invoking Landon, Hutton draws upon a tradition that takes into account gender, class, and politics.
As Isobel Armstrong has noted in regard to the middle-class women writers of the period, "even when there seems no direct link between these earlier and later writers, it does seem as if they worked within a recognisable tradition understood by them to belong to women." (19) Did Hutton also look back to her poetic predecessors to find her own poetic voice? Was she writing to cement her name in a women's literary tradition? If, as Armstrong contends, middle-class women writers were constructing a tradition out of "a sense of belonging to a particular group defined by their sexuality," then it is almost certainly the case that Hutton counted herself within this tradition (p. 323).
To complicate her class and gender positions, while Hutton may have identified with poets such as L.E.L., it is notable that her Poor Law poems follow most closely the loosely organized poetic formations of Chartism, a movement almost devoid of female authors. The Chartists relied upon the articulation of their class anxieties through literature as a main conduit for their political polemics, but this male-dominated political mobilization did little for the position of women within society. With few exceptions, most social historians articulate working-class politics as a masculine enterprise; they see class politics within the Marxist construction of the productive relations of men. This masculine rhetoric has been deeply entrenched in the very history of the working classes.
Hutton's preface to Cottage Tales and Poems illustrates how swiftly politics could enter a Victorian working-class household. Hutton found herself in the unfortunate position of protecting an infirm husband from Sick Clubs that had promised respite but withheld monetary aid when it was required. Hutton reports that her husband, who was "subjected to sickness and infirmities," was excluded for his membership in the Sheffield Yeoman Volunteers, and never received the promised pecuniary support when he required it (Cottage Tales, pp. iii-iv). In the preface, Hutton's description of the mistreatment of her husband broadens into an exhortation to the working class:
Before we applied to the parish for my husband, we had parted with every article we possessed in the world, in the delusive hope that something or another would turn up in our favour; for whilst people possess any thing to make a shilling of they cannot absolutely die for want in a land of plenty. To young men, I would say in a warning voice, never trust your money to the precariousness and caprices of sick clubs; whilst you are in health and strength your contributions will be always welcome ... but when old age and sickness, and infirmities overtake you, no matter how good a member you have been ... you will then, upon some pretext or another, be thrown out, for impudence, ignorance, and injustice generally prevail: my husband's case, I am sorry to say, is not a solitary one; I would it were. (p. iv)
By critiquing the sick clubs as vociferously as she does the lack of philanthropy in higher classes, Hutton resists monolithic definitions of class. The fact that Hutton's preface speaks of the Sick Clubs that abandoned her husband illustrates the necessity she felt in entering the political arena. She relied upon her husband to provide for the family as she was too ill, being, she says, "confined to nay bed for several weeks together" (p. v). It also speaks to the necessary involvement of working-class women in politics, as their well-being was as much under attack as that of their husbands. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that each of Hutton's post-1832 volumes contain a number of poems devoted to the cause of the underprivileged classes. While Hutton was, as she states, "under the painful necessity of soliciting subscribers herself" (p. v), it was her very entry into the public sphere that could potentially bring in enough money to support her family.
Of Hutton's political poems, the ones most definitively aligned with what would become significant elements of the Chartist agenda are those that discuss the divisions between the rich and the poor. Following the Reform Act of 1832, the Parliamentary Poor Law Amendment Bill of 1834 made life increasingly difficult for working-class families trying their hardest to get by; it was under this atmosphere that Hutton wrote "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill" in her volume The Happy Isle. The poem attacks the Amendment Bill, which changed the nature of outdoor relief, and consigned England's poor to the workhouses when they could no longer support themselves. (20) "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill" is an eighty-five line poem that begins with two lines from book seven of Pope's translation of The Odyssey of Homer: "--Oh! pity human woe, / 'Tis what the happy to the unhappy owe." (21) Throughout the poem, Hutton adopts Pope's heroic couplet, appropriating epic meter for a poem of the lower classes.
Using the pastoral form, this poem presents an idyllic rural past as a contrast to urban modernity. (22) In his study of the literary pastoral and social realities, William Empson contends that the pastoral allows "natural expression for a sense of social injustice." (23) He argues that "so far as the person described is outside society because too poor for its benefits he is independent, as the artist claims to be, and can be a critic of society" (p. 16). Isobel Armstrong notes that for poets, the pastoral held both conservative and radical significance, stating that "landscape poetry" could both "provide [the poet] with the continuity and anchorage of an object, external world of tradition and rural simplicity," but that it was also "truly democratic because the writer was free to construct his own associations and cultural meaning from the external world, free from conservative associations and independent of oppressive conventions" (p. 222). (24)
The pastoral register lends itself to the elegiac strain of lament for a lost time or place. As Armstrong notes, conscious pastoral poetry is "a retreat," but it always "presupposes the existing world, against which its conventions are measured" (p. 226). Thus the logic of the pastoral draws upon "language of natural description" to register struggle (p. 228). These poems place the moment of protest at the point at which industry supersedes the natural landscape. Male Chartist poets, too, relied upon the pastoral to further their political agenda, and their pathologization of the industrial city was a means by which they criticized modernity.
Ebenezer Elliott, also from Sheffield and a contemporary of Hutton, was known as the "Corn Law Rhymer." (25) In Elliott's "Preston Mills," he depicts the human laborers through a pastoral metaphor: "the rose" (1.9). By linking the workers to the rural landscape, Elliot's poem performs a doubling that chronicles the way in which factory work contaminates the natural landscape (here signified by the rose), and by extension, the human labourer: "from the lips the rose had fled, / Like 'death-in-life' they smiled" (11. 9-10). The mill becomes a tomb, the death place of the workers, and the tone of the poem is one of lament, rendering Elliot's pastoral elegiac. Thus in "Preston Mills," the roses turn "pale" (1. 28), the "wild birds sadly sung" (1. 30), and the mill becomes a "dungeon" full of "gloom" (1. 33), a "living tomb" (1.35).
Similarly in Ernest Jones's "The Factory Town," (26) the workers lament their detachment from the "dewy grasses" and "breeze" of the rural landscape (11. 45.47), which Jones contrasts with the factory's "cold, grey wall and blackened tower" of the first stanza (1. 4). Jones's poem is a call to arms for the working class; the poet imagines nature as synonymous with God, and industry with an absence of God: "You have God and nature still. / What have they, but Gold and Hell" (ll. 103-104). Thus correlated sits the pastoral, an imagined future, a palliative against the imprisonment of the factory town:
Then, how many a happy village Shall be smiling o'er the plain. Amid the corn-field's pleasant tillage, And the orchard's rich domain! While, with rotting roof and rafter, Drops the factory, stone by stone. (11. 109-114)
Jones contrasts the organic nature of the pastoral with the stone walls of the factory, envisioning the Charter as the force necessary to crumble stone and regain the land.
In Hutton's "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill," the pastoral operates through the poet's tribute to the "mighty bards in days of yore," and we see an elegiac lament for a past when the rift between rich and poor was mitigated by the proper paradigm of human relations: "When kings and princes help'd the lowly poor, / When ladies spun, and nobles till'd the land; / To feed the poor was then high heaven's command" (11. 4-6). The opening six lines of the poem form the vantage point from which Hutton's poet-speaker compares the endemic impoverishment of Britain's proletariat in the 1830s to the relative comfort of the recent past. Lines 7 and 11 begin with "But," and this anaphora marks the extended contrast between earlier feudal relations and the state of "these degenerate days" (1.7). This first section of the poem forms a scathing attack on legislation that starves the English poor, and the poet places blame on the "legislators" and the "great" (11. 33, 40) who allow the poor by "boasted laws decreed, / To writhe with endless pain and misery" (11. 12-13).
Hutton envisions the past as a world that is congenial to the working class, a view that she holds through the poem and carries to the final stanza where the she advocates a return to the feudal world: "In feudal times blest was the peasant's lot, / Then plenty smiled upon his humble cot" (11.64-65). While Hutton's poem predates Carlyle's Past and Present (1843), these lines nonetheless echo Victorian mythologies surrounding feudalism. We read in these lines nostalgia for a simpler time, registered through the pastoral; Hutton constructs the feudal world as one in which the worker was not alienated from production, but instead worked the land and never felt the pangs of starvation. The idealization of the past and its concomitant "myth of plenty" (27) spoke strongly to both working- and middle-class writers in the Victorian period and emerged in industrial literature as a direct rejection of modernity.
The dominant pastoral image of the poem depicts the corruption of the natural world as a result of human sin, a post-lapsarian world-view perhaps informed by Hutton's Catholic upbringing. (28) Her reliance upon the pastoral as a means of social criticism recalls an earlier tradition of political poetry, and indeed, Chartist poets drew heavily on Milton, Shelley, Burns, and Southey. (29) Hutton argues that the root of society's corruption lies in the lack of philanthropic virtue in the higher classes, whose transgressions have metaphorically desiccated nature: "the fair sacred streams of charity / Are now for ever and for ever dried / By human avarice--and human pride" (11. 14-16). In her invocation of a dried-up stream, Hutton gestures towards both her metaphorical representation of the "streams of charity" of the poem, in which philanthropy has failed to thrive, and to the drying up of the valuable resource needed to grow grain. Thus the dried-up stream is connected to the working classes' "cries for bread" (1. 22), and the "babes with dying moan" whose parents "implore" the aid of charity (11. 23-24). (30) At line 23, the poet addresses the personified character of Charity directly, exhorting her to leave the earth, since men now have no need of her:
Hear not, sweet maid, the universal cry, Our rulers say, that half the poor must die. The population is by far too dense, So preach our high and mighty men of SENSE. (ll. 25-29)
Clearly, the poet's ironic tone here extends to her attack on Malthusian philosophy, which was at this juncture in history being championed by Harriet Martineau and her contemporaries. (31)
"On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill" positions the poet as a visionary-sage, one who does not directly engage in the world around her, but whose omniscience authorizes her dire warning for the British people. Florence Boos has noted the prevalence of "Blakean-Wordsworthean visions and millenarian hopes" in the political poetry of working-class women writers, and Hutton is no exception ("'Nurs'd Up,'" p. 154). Hutton's poet-speaker cries, "Oh! What appalling sights afflict mine eyes, / What woes on woes-what crimes on crimes arise" (11. 46-47). (32) This authoritative tone likewise dominated Chartist verse in the 1840s. (33) The anaphoric "Enough" serves as a prime example: "Enough of hatred and ill-will abounds; / Enough of party malice and of strife" (11. 41-42; my italics). A striking apocalyptic image imagines the earth swallowing up the poor to relieve them of their misery: "Oh! open wide your jaws, ye friendly graves, / And end the crying wrong of British slaves!" (11. 38-39). Hutton envisions the earth opening its wide maw to engulf the British people as a merciful act. (34)
Hutton's use of the term "British slaves" places her poem within a larger context of Chartist poetry, as the motif of slavery similarly recurs in the poetry published by male Chartist poets in the 1830s and 1840s. Kelly Mays notes that "if the goal of Chartist poetry is to encourage readers and auditors to see themselves as a community united by their experience of an oppression ultimately rooted in political disenfranchisement, then the term commonly used to describe both the community and the oppression they suffered is 'slavery.'" (35) Indeed, she writes, "slavery has functioned as a central trope in British radical discourse since at least the seventeenth century" (p. 144). Thus Hutton borrows her rhetorical context from a familiar trope-one that had been used throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries--but she is arguably one of the first Victorian working-class woman poets to write that class into the discourse of slavery.
Hutton's "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill" predates the Chartist poets' rhetorical use of freedom and liberty. As Catherine Gallagher has noted, the slavery metaphor worked within Victorian working-class political discourse, to "create a rhetorical context" in which the "preoccupation with the question of human liberty" came to the forefront in many working-class poems. (36) To use Gallagher's term, this "rhetoric of freedom," informed the context for working-class liberation, and Chartists drew heavily on the image of the British working class as slaves. Mays asserts that "relatively few Chartist poems specifically address the phenomenon of (black) chattel slavery in America or the colonies, the vast majority instead deploying 'slavery' as a generalized and generalizing metaphor for oppression" (p. 140).
Clare Midgley has done much to illuminate women's crucial role in British abolitionism in her book Women Against Slavery: The British Campaigns 1780-1870. Midgley notes both the important financial contributions and moral influence that women brought to the abolitionist movement. Elizabeth Heyrick's campaign for abolition in 1824 had wide support by 1830. Midgely highlights at least seventy-three "ladies' associations" between 1825 and 1833, including the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Association, which was arguably the hub of the ladies' anti-slavery movement. In Sheffield, women in the society performed "house-to-house canvasses" and actively supported the abstention from West Indian sugar. (37) Midgley documents the links between radical abolitionism and "the assertion of female independence" by examining the events in Sheffield during a campaign that was against apprenticeship. (38) She writes:
In Sheffield in 1838 female support for immediate full emancipation was thus linked to a radical nonconformist outlook and to the willingness to seek mass public support and to act independently of male guidance; while male support for gradualism was linked to conservative High Church politics, to a reluctance to seek working-class support, and to a horror at insubordinate female behaviour. (p. 117)
Midgley concludes that the "attitude of male abolitionists in Sheffield towards independent anti-slavery action by women has much in common with the views expressed by the author of a pamphlet attacking female anti-slavery petitioning as a threat to the social order" (p. 118).
The membership of ladies' societies was primarily, but not exclusively, middle-class. Middle-class women enlisted working-class women as signatories for petitions and as participants in the sugar boycott. Midgley also notes that of the 100, 000 women who signed the Wesleyan Methodist anti-slavery petitions in 1833, "62.7 percent came from artisanal families" (p. 84). Working-class women were clearly a part of the British abolitionist movement, and Jane Yeoman, another contemporary of Hutton's, published her pamphlet, "Verses on Slavery," in March of 1826. (39)
While I have been unable to discover whether Hutton herself was a member of the Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Sociew, (40) it is likely that she at least had some acquaintance with its abolitionist agenda. In her poetry, Hutton consistently uses the term "slave" to denote both African American slaves and British laborers. She published "The Slave" in her collection Sheffield Manor and other Poems (1831), which narrates the cruel and inhumane treatment of an African slave and his sister; both are sold into slavery, and the sister dies under the lash (11. 33-36). While the poem purports to support the cause of the black slave, it becomes problematic in its resolution: the slave is promised succour only in the afterlife, and death is depicted as the only viable escape from the horrors of slavery. Indeed, there are inherent ambiguities in the metaphor of slavery, (41) and its appropriation becomes problematic when the writer suggests that the black slave is better off than the white. If the term ambiguously encompasses all forms of oppression, then identification with the black slave complicates the rhetorical use of "freedom" and "liberty" in working-class poetry.
In Hutton's work, it seems her Poor Law poems do indeed fit into the rubric of writing "slavery" into a generalized metaphor for oppression: I read Hutton's poetry alongside the Chartist verse of the period in order to illustrate this point. In M.K.'s poem, "We May, We Will, We Must, We Shall Be Free," (42) the poet works within the rhetorical context of freedom to depict the British proletariat as slaves who must be liberated:
Arise! arise! by freedom's pole star led, March nobly onward till with success crown'd You reap the comforts which your deeds have gain'd, And cease to struggle as do slaves enchain'd. (11. 33-36)
Similarly, in C. Westray's "The Voice of Freedom," (43) the poet writes of "British slaves who dare be free, / Our Tyrant's pealing death-dirge sing" (11. 16-17). In A.M.P.'s "The Land of Freedom" (1840), the author examines the dichotomy between the black and white slave and interrogates the terms "freedom" and "slavery" while suggesting that working-class slavery is far worse than that of African American slaves. (44) A.M.P.'s poem narrates the journey of an African slave, Mohab, to England. Mohab, who is "Light-hearted and glad, though a slave" because he "could eat" (11. 2,3), beholds "England's white cliffs at last," and discovers quite a different meaning of the word "freedom" (1. 14):
And he saw a huge poor-house, by Liberals plann'd, And a man with sunk eyes and parch'd tongue On whom famine had laid her cold withering hand; A poor starving wretch in a plentiful land. (11. 46-49)
Mohab moves from innocence to knowledge with his realization that England, the "home of wealth, freedom, and bravery," is less free than his native Africa. With this realization, Mohab declares, "I thank the great God of my fathers that I / Am a child of the regions of slavery" (11. 59-60). A.M.P. uses rhetorical irony to illuminate two different kinds of slavery and suggests that the oppression of the white proletariat in Britain is the worse of the two because it is hypocrisy, or slavery under the guise of freedom. Here we can see the resurfacing of the problematic appropriation of the slavery metaphor: if, as illuminated here, Chartist verse depicts black slavery as less dehumanizing than factory-labor, does it likewise reduce the abhorrent treatment and insinuated rape that occurs in Hutton's "The Slave"?
While A.M.P.'s poem appeared congruently with working-class mobilization in the form of the Chartist movement, Hutton's use of an identical rhetorical construction predates the Chartist examples by no less than five years. The first two lines of the second stanza of "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill," which I discuss above, suggest the irony of impoverishment in a world of "plethoric plenty": (45)
Yet these are prosperous days, and we are free! We are not now enchain'd in slavery If these are prosperous days--return again; Ye golden days of plenty, war, and pain, When men were sold at their proud lord's command, As part and parcel of their master's land, 'Twere better far to live a tyrant's slave, Than pine through want into an early grave. (ll. 57-64; my italics)
Hutton applies the slavery-image to particular professions of the British proletariat, but by suggesting it is better to be the slave of a tyrant than to die of starvation, she once more complicates her use of this metaphor. Her desire to return to a feudal past, where the people live happily as the slaves of tyrants, opens to interpretation the questionable appropriation of slavery as a metaphor for the oppression of the working classes.
Like her poems specifically addressing the New Poor Law, the poem contained within Hutton's only prose fiction piece, "The Poor Man's Wrongs," serves as a striking artifact of Chartist Anti-Poor Law propaganda.The story attacks not the New Poor Law, but the Reform Bill of 1832 and the legislature that makes the working class into "slaves." In a gesture towards meta-narrative, Hutton suggests that there is no place for a "poor rhymer" in such a society. (46) Hutton describes the protagonist, Albert Freeland, as "an honest man and a Christian," who "daily saw around him hundreds of starving labourers and mechanics, honest, worthy, and respectable men, blasted in prospects and broken in spirits" (p. 186). In this parable of philanthropy and reform, Freeland (whose name, arguably, connotes the focus of the story) and his son discover a poor wretch, "drenched with rain and benumbed with cold" (p. 186), whom they invite into their home.
The story locates the woes of the poor as a specifically English problem and suggests that the reformation of politics will necessarily mean a reformation of religion as well. The tale carefully constructs a dialogue between Albert (the middle-class caregiver) and the old man. Their discussion centers upon the woes of a nation that has subjugated its poor and paints a picture of a society that places its fate precariously in the hands of a false god (capitalism).
I would argue that the metaphor of slavery is a characteristic of Hutton's poetry about poverty and reform. For indeed, the metaphor appears again, in "The Poor Man's Wrongs" in the poem written by the old "rhymster":
Oh, wilful wondrous age, when laws neglect The helpless beings whom they should protect. Why am I thus neglected-why thus left Of every stay-of every hope bereft? Why must I perish? ... ................. Why! because our laws Do not maintain an honest Christian's cause: Why must I die--neglected in the cold? Cause England's poor have long been bought and sold! White slaves, in fact, and falsely named the free-- Why, men of England, suffer such to be? (ll. 21-32)
In its use of the term "White slaves," the poem thus invites the reader to identify with the Chartist rhetoric contained herein. The old man, however, is not the only one to use the term "slavery." Hutton subtly rewrites the tale of working-class woe, and the reformative impulse appears in the dialogue of both the poor old man and Albert, the "honest man" and a Christian. Albert states:
I once entertained some hopes from the Reform Bill,--at least, I thought that the condition of the labouring classes might be ameliorated by that measure,-but the Reform Bill has made the condition of the labouring population ten times worse than it was before; for now the non-electors are the slaves of the ten-pounders. (p. 189)
Alluding to the ten-pound freeholders who were granted the vote by the Reform Act of 1832, Freeland falls into a familiar rhetorical territory. Albert's words portray a sense of the crushed hopes and feeling of betrayal that the Reform Bill engendered in the working classes.
Finally, the story interrogates the hierarchical nature of English society. The old man asserts that the working-class are noble Christians, "as honest and as high-souled, and as sensible and intelligent, as any duke, or lord, or squire in the kingdom .... I look forward to the day when genius, talent and industry, will be properly requited--when the ascendancy of the purse will no longer overrule all that is good, great, and glorious" (p. 189). The final moral of the story, that "Universal Suffrage alone can redeem the poor man from his thraldom" furthers the metaphor of slavery, and solidifies this tale as a parable of reform (p. 189.).
Hutton's reformist leanings appeared not only in her poems and tales about the New Poor Law, but also in her treatment of child labor. Hutton was a strong detractor of child labor, and her poem "On a Poor Little Sweep" suggests the inherent slavery in a profession that the eponymous hero of Oliver Twist would fear so vehemently. The pervasiveness of this metaphor of slavery carried so much impact that it would continue to resonate across the years. (47) "On a Poor Little Sweep" (Cottage Tales, pp. 91-93), pens with sweeping excoriation the hypocrisy of the British nation, which calls itself free but enslaves its children:
Britons, all so brave and free, Who deeply feel for misery; Ye who abhor black slavery, With its sad galling chains;-Ye, who deeply sympathize, With human wrongs and agonies;-Ye who have both hearts and eyes, Behold yon child of pains;-Yon shivering, wretched, helpless child, On whom contentment never smil'd; Compelled to brave the winter wild, And wander through the snow. (ll. 1-12)
The tone from Hutton's Poor Law poems carries into her indictment of child labor, as the poet-speaker condemns the hypocrisy of a nation that forces its children into a life of "pains" and wretchedness, of perpetual starvation, and of cold. The poet laments, "Humanity is surely lost, / To see that infant tempest tost" and, like the poems discussed above, nature here mirrors the inner landscape of the life of a child sweep (11. 17-8).
While the poet narrates the first four stanzas of the poem, the subsequent two shift perspective to allow the child sweep to describe his degradation. The description of his indenture makes use of terms that enter him into the discourses of commodity and consumption: "My wicked father basely sold / Me to an iron man for gold" (11. 33-34). Hutton thus emphasizes the inherent hypocrisy of a society that objectifies children through capitalism and turns them into mere objects of monetary exchange. Hutton also engages with the problem of child abuse, a troubling reality for factory children and "climbing boys" in the 1830s and 1840s. Stories abounded of young sweeps who were found in flues, asphyxiated by the fumes. (48) As the sweep tells the reader, "when I venture to complain ... Or stop, ere chimney top I gain, / I'm goaded on with blows" (11. 37-40).
Hutton addresses a very real and prevalent problem in the nineteenth century, yet this poem appears in a collection published after the 1840 Chimney Sweep Act, which forbade the indenture of any child under sixteen and protected those under the age of twenty-one from being sent up a flue. Hutton was writing to a profession that was beginning to change in nature and demographic, and so we can read "On a Poor Little Sweep" as a vehicle for commenting on the necessities of legislative change. The "Epilogue" of the poem suggests that she was writing the poem before the passing of the act. In it, Hutton acknowledges the changing nature of the sweeping profession and commends philanthropists of the higher class for their efforts to improve conditions. She writes of child sweeps,
This cruel, and unchristian calling, which has long been a disgrace to humanity, and a stigma on the nation, will soon disappear by Act of Parliament. It is only surprising that it has existed so long, in a country famed for its humanity and philanthropy. How beautiful it is to see such readiness on the part of the higher orders to ameliorate the condition of the lower; those who do all in their power to leave the world better than they found it, well fulfill the purposes for which they were created, and I know of no pleasure which brings such peace within, as the reflection that you have done your best to relieve the miseries of suffering humanity. Heavenly, sweet, and serene, must be the death-bed of a truly Christian philanthropist. (Cottage Tales, p. 93).
As in her exhortation in the preface to Cottage Tales, Hutton speaks openly of public and political issues. Neither her poetry nor her prose is confined to the spaces of domestic life: her authorial lens reaches across professions, and across the nation. She commends philanthropic efforts and condemns the dehumanization of the British people.
Situated as she is between two influential and radical literary traditions, Hutton challenges current laws on poverty, while remaining ostensibly conservative in her treatment of class. Hutton blends "laboring-class" satiric and moralistic traditions with "working-class" invocations of working-class solidarity and revolutionary change. Her continual appropriation of the terms and images contained within the dichotomized topoi of slavery and liberty, capitalism, and patriarchy sets her poetry alongside the discourses of both abolitionism and industrialism, and by extension aligns her with the poetic representations of the working-class as constructed by the Chartist poets in the 1830s and 1840s. We can read Hutton as a Chartist poet who blended a commitment to justice with quasi-religious notions of the poet's prophetic role. Her choice of simple diction and political subject matter aligns her strikingly with the poets of Chartism, including A.M.P. and Ernest Jones, and speaks to her self-identification as a poet for and of the working classes. Further, these linguistic and imagistic appropriations not only situate her poetry into the dominant discourses of the day, but by extension also create a place for the working-class woman writer within the literary political realm. By directly engaging in the controversies concerning the New Poor Law and international politics, Hutton enters herself into a mode of dialogue that critics have associated most often with male writers of the period. As Hutton's poetry has shown, working-class women poets can and did write about and within the dominant political discourses of the mid-nineteenth century. This, I think, opens for critics a new and exciting strand of research on the working-class of Victorian Britain.
(1) Ian Haywood, The Literature of Struggle: An Anthology of Chartist Fiction (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995); Michael Sanders, The Poetry of Chartism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009); "'A Jackass Load of Poetry': The Northern Star's Poetry Column 1838-1852," Victorian Periodicals Review 39, no. 1 (2006): 46-66; "Poetic Agency: Metonymy and Metaphor in Chartist Poetry 1838-I852," VP 39, no. 2 (2001): 111-135; Roy Vickers, "Christian Election, Holy Communion and Psalmic Language in Ernest Jones's Chartist Poetry," Journal of Victorian Culture 11, no. 1 (April 2006): 59-83.
(2) Haywood, p. 17. Few working-class women wrote poetry as well as prose. In this, Hutton is an important exception, as she wrote both. She published "The Poor Man's Wrongs" in Cleave's Gazette of Variety 2, no. 30 (1839), which Haywood has anthologized. Haywood suggests that the story reflects the optimism of the Chartist movement (p. 20).
(3) Nineteenth-Century English Labouring-Class Poets: 1800-1900, ed. John Goodridge, 3 vols. (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2006). See also Biographical & Bibliographical Database of British and Irish Labouring-Class Poets 1700-1900, http://human.ntu.ac.uk/research/labouringclasswriters (accessed March 24, 2007).
(4) Patricia E. Johnson, "Finding Her Voice(s): The Development of a Working-Class Feminist Vision in Ethel Carnie's Poetry," VP 43, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 297-315.
(5) Florence Boos, "Class and Victorian Poetics," Literature Compass 2, no. 1 (2005): 1-20; "'Nurs'd Up amongst the Scenes I Have Describ'd': Political Resonances in the Poetry of Working-Class Women," in Functions of Victorian Culture at the Present Time, ed. Christine L. Krueger (Ohio: Ohio Univ. Press, 2002), p. 153.
(6) Hutton's Poor Law poems include "A Scene Under the New Poor Law Bill," "On the Poor Law Amendraent Bill," "On the New Poor Law Bill," and "Lines Suggested on a Public Meeting for the Relief of the Poor." All poems were published in The Happy Isle (1836).
(7) The publication of Sheffield Manor is mentioned in a section labeled "In the Press" in The Monthly Review 2 (February 1831): 324. Henry Schroder writes of Hutton in The Annals of Yorkshire from the Earliest Period to the Present Time (p. 370). Hutton is listed in John P. Anderson's The Book of British Topography (London, 1881), p. 327, and in Robert Arnold Aubin's Topographical Poetry in XVII-Century England (New York: MLA, 1936). In the 1851 England census entry, Hutton (age 59 and by then widowed) was a self-described "Poetess." It is unlikely that other women of her class in Sheffield could (or would) describe themselves with that particular term. I am indebted to Malcolm Chase for directing me to this census entry.
(8) This is almost certainly true in the case of Fanny Forrester, the much-celebrated poet of Ben Brierley's Journal, who inspired her many readers in Lancashire to write tribute poems.
(9) Most likely James Montgomery, the former editor of the Sheffield Iris.
(10) Mary Hutton, Sheffield Manor and Other Poems (Sheffield, 1831), p. vi. By the publication of Hutton's third volume of poetry, Cottage Tales and Poems (London and Sheffield, 1836), she had obviously found subscribers. On the list were such notables as "Her Majesty the Queen Dowager," "James Montgomery, Esq.," and "William and Mary Howitt" (Cottage Tales, p. xii).
(11) Gareth Stedman Jones, Languages of Class: Studies in English Working Class History 18321982 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), p. 19.
(12) See Donna Landry, The Muses of Resistance: Laboring-Class Women's Poetry in Britain, 1739-1796 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990) for a "materialist feminist" discussion of the poetic language, audience, and assumptions of Elizabeth Bentley, Ann Candler, Mary Collier, Elizabeth Hands, Mary Leapor, Philis Wheatley, and Ann Yearsley (p. 11).
(13) There were, of course, other working-class women poets publishing at this time, but my research suggests that none of them so directly addressed the Poor Law as did Hutton. Of note are Mary Bryan (1780-1838), who published her Sonnets and Metrical Tales in 1815, and Mary Maria Colling (1805-53) of Tavistock, who was another working-class woman writer publishing in the 1830s. Colling's volume, Fables and other Pieces in Verse (1831) comprises a series of Aesop-style fables in verse. For a full list of working-class women poets publishing at the beginning of the nineteenth century, please consult John Goodridge's Biographical & Bibliographical Database of British and Irish Labouring-Class Poets 1700-1900, http://human.ntu.ac.uk/research/labouringclasswriters.
(14) Solveig Robinson, "Of 'Haymakers' and 'City Artisans': The Chartist Poetics of Eliza Cook's Songs of Labor," VP 39, no. 2 (2001): 230.
(15) Beginning with Harriet Martineau's novella, "A Manchester Strike" in 1832, factory reform literature coalesced into a collection of writings that we now label the "Condition of England" novels. These include Frances Trollope, Michael Armstrong (1840); Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, Helen Fleetwood (1841); Elizabeth Stone, William Langshawe, the Cotton Lord (1842); Benjamin Disraeli, Sibyl (1845); Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke (1850); Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (1848) and her later novel North and South (1854); Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854); Charlotte Bronte, Shirley (1849); and George Eliot, Felix Holt, the Radical (1866).
(16) Mary Hutton, Cottage Tales and Poems (Sheffield, 1842), p. iii.
(17) See Glennis Stephenson, Letitia Landon: The Woman Behind L.E.L. (Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1995).
(18) Tricia Lootens, "Receiving the Legend, Rethinking the Writer: Letitia Landon and the Poetess Tradition," in Romanticism and Women Poets: Opening the Doors of Reception (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1999), p. 243.
(19) lsobel Armstrong, Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 323.
(20) For a more extended discussion on the Poor Law, see Lynn Hollen Lees, The Solidarity of Strangers: The English Poor Laws and the People, 1700-1948 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998), especially parts one and two.
(21) Pope's translation reads,
"Oh! pity human woe, 'Tis what the happy to the unhappy owe. A wretched exile to his country send, Long worn with griefs, and long without a friend. So may the gods your better days increase, And all your joys descend on all your race; So reign for ever on your country's breast, Your people blessing, by your people bless'd!" The Odyssey of Homer, 5 vols. (London, 1725-26), Bk. 7, ll. 198-205
(22) For an excellent summary of the difference in critical opinions as to what exactly constitutes the "pastoral," see Paul Alpers, "What is Pastoral," Critical Inquiry 8, no. 3 (1982): 437-460. I take my own definition from Alpers' essay.
(23) William Empson, Some Versions of the Pastoral (London: Chatto and Windus, 1968), p. 16.
(24) For a further discussion of "working-class pastoral" see Armstrong, pp. 220-223.
(25) It seems Hutton was aware of her contemporary and was perhaps close to the family. In The Happy Isle she published a poem entitled "Lines Addressed to Mrs. Elliot," in which she comforted Elliott's wife, Francis (Fanny), after the loss of two of their children, William and Fanny. Cottage Tales and Poems is inscribed to "Mrs. Ebeneezer Elliott," and the opening poem, "To Mrs. E--T" speaks of the departure of a kind friend. There are two entries for "Ebeneezer Elliott" as well as an entry for "Mrs. Elliott" on the subscription page of Cottage Tales. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes that "Elliott's place 'may be best epitomized in his relation with James Montgomery' (Reiman, p. xi). James Montgomery (1771-1854), another major literary figure in Sheffield, admired Elliott's passion for political reform, and his genuine interest in the well-being of individuals. Elliott, in turn, expressed fondness for Montgomery by dedicating to him his epic poem 'Spirits & Men', as a sign of his 'presumption and despair'" (Angela M. Leonard, "Elliott, Ebenezer [1781-1849]," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 20041). Montgomery was also the editor/owner of the Sheffield Iris from 1794-1825 and may have been the publisher to whom Hutton originally applied.
(26) Published in The Labourer: A Monthly Magazine of Politics, Literature, and Poetry 1 (1847); repr. in Peter Schekner, An Anthology of Chartist Poetry: Poetry of the British Working Class 1830s-1850s (Rutherford: Farleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1989), pp. 175-179.
(27) See Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, ed. A.M.D. Hughes (1843; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1918), especially the section on "Midas."
(28) Newsam argues that Hutton's "occasional attendance ... at her mother's place of worship, imparted, as it was likely to do, a deeper tone of feeling to her susceptible mind" (Poets of Yorkshire, p. 224). He suggests that Hutton's mother had a strong influence in her formative years.
(29) In Kingsley's Alton Locke, for example, Alton specifically names each of these authors as "political" poets (Sanders, p. 113). The Chartist reading list was wide and varied. In Sanders' comprehensive list of the poetry published in The Northern Star, he cites an issue in which the journal reprinted extracts from "Shakespeare, Henry V and Henry VI, Part Two; Milton, Paradise Lost and Samson Agonistes; Thomson, The Wreck Of States, Nobility, The Patriot, and Despotism; Churchill, Independence" (p. 236). See also Ronald Tetreault, "Shelley among the Chartists," English Studies in Canada 16 (1990): 279-295.
(30) These lines recall the tradition of political pastoral, and Hutton's "dried up streams" echo Milton's "Lycidas," a pastoral elegy that attacks the corruption of the clergy: "The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed, / But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw, / Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread" (ll. 125-127), and a few lines further: "Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past, / That shrunk thy streams" (11. 132-133) (John Milton, Complete Poems and Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes [New York: Odyssey Press, 1957]).
(31) Harriet Martineau's Illustrations of Political Economy, published in 1832-34, is a series of twenty-four didactic stories in which Martineau illustrates the principles of political economy and provides a summary at the end of each tale. Martineau's beliefs stood in direct parallel to those of Thomas Malthus. Throughout the tales she repeatedly exhorts the working class to cease procreating.
(32) Hutton uses a similar sage-prophet tone in "On the New Poor Law Bill," published immediately following "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill" in The Happy Isle. While this poem is less formally consistent in its meter, the prophetic poetic tone carries through, as the poet-speaker paints an ominous vision of the present: "Yes, the dark hour of vengeance is now near at hand / As the Poor Law Bill is now the law of the land" (11. 25-26). If "On the Poor Laws' Amendment Bill" presents a dark picture of the life of the British poor in the 1830s, it does so with less vehemence than "On the New Poor Law Bill."
(33) See especially William James kinton's "The Dirge of the Nations" for an example of this particular tone in Chartist poetry: "O Tyrant-trampled! Synonym / Of baffled Hope! thine eyes are dim / With ceaseless tears" (11. 67-69; Scheckner, p. 232).
(34) This passage also bears resemblance to Isaiah 45.8: Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.
(35) Kelly J. Mays, "Slaves in Heaven, Labourers in Hell: Chartist Poets' Ambivalent Identification with the (Black) Slave," VP 39, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 139. Mays also points out that of the two hundred and thirteen poems in Peter Sheckner's Anthology of Chartist Poetry, at least ninety-four include "some version of the word 'slave'" (p. 139).
(36) Catherine Gallagher, The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction: Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867 (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1985), p. 12.
(37) Clare Midgley, Women Against Slavery: The British Campaigns, 1780-1870 (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 61.
(38) Mary Anne Rawson, along with other members of the Sheffield ladies' association, drew consternation from their male counterparts. When the male abolitionist groups "refused to comply with requests by the ladies' committee that they organize public events to which the leaders of the Central Negro Emancipation Committee be invited," writes Midgley, "the women went ahead and organized the events themselves" (p. 117).
(39) See Jane Yeoman, Verses on Slavery (Birmingham, 1826). The pamphlet is housed at the Merseyside Museum in Liverpool.
(40) There are a "Miss Rawson" and a "Mrs. Rawson" listed on the subscription list of Cottage Tales, which may give some indication that Mary Anne Rawson, the head of the Sheffield Anti-Slavery Society, knew of Hutton or vice versa (Cottage Tales, p. xii).
(41) As Mays notes, it both creates a community of workers, and pits the black slave against the white (p. 141).
(42) The Northern Star, December 3, 1842.
(43) The Northern Star, November 5, 1842.
(44) The Chartist Circular, June 27, 1840. A previous version of this argument can be found in Meagan Timney, "'A Call to the People': Partisan Poetics and the International Aesthetic in Chartist Verse, 1830-1860" (Master's Thesis, Dalhousie University, 2005), p. 87.
(45) See Carlyle's Past and Present, p. 5. Carlyle's prose stylings captured through alliteration the whole of an era in the span of a sentence. In his polemic against industrialism he writes: "In the midst of plethoric plenty, the people perish; with gold walls, and full barns, no man feels himself safe or satisfied."
(46) Mary Hutton, "The Poor Man's Wrongs," in Haywood, p. 188.
(47) In "The Cry of the Children," E.B.B. argues that factory children fare worse than black slaves:
They know the grief of man, without its wisdom; They sink in man's despair, without its cahn; Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom, Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm. (11. 141-144)
See Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "The Cry of the Children" in The Complete Poetical Works of Mrs. Browning, ed. Harriet Waters Preston (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Riverside Press, 1900). Frances Trollope uses a similar rhetorical argument in Michael Armstrong. She writes: "Thousands of children pine away their unnoted, miserable lives, in labour and destitution, incomparably more severe, than any ever produced by negro slavery" (Frances Trollope, Michael Armstrong [London, 1840], p. 186).
(48) In his Advice to Mothers, William Buchanan wrote of the hard life of the child sweep, describing him thus: "Half naked in the most bitter cold, he creeps along the streets by break of day, the ice cutting through his feet, his legs bent, and his body twisted" (p. 70). See also James Montgomery, The Chimney Sweeper's Friend, p. 24. Montgomery (1771-1854) took over the Sheffield Register as editor in 1794, relaunching the journal under the new name the Sheffield Iris. The Iris was the journal in which Hutton published her first poems. Montgomery is listed on the subscription list of Cottage Tales for two copies (Cottage Tales and Poems, p. xii).
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|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2011|
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