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Martin Farquhar Tupper

(July 17, 1810 - November 1889 / London)

A Dozen Ballads About White Slavery. VI. The Outcast

A walk in the city by day ;-
When rural simplicity stops
To wonder at all that is glittering gay
Heap'd in the ticketing shops;
And oftener too gets stopp'd as it goes
By many a sorrow it meets,
The sins and the shames, the troubles and woes
Found in the flinty streets!

In spite of Philanthropy's rules,
And all that Exertion has won
By Orderly badges, and Ragged Schools,-
Alas! how little is done:
For an orphaned legion of desperate youth
The scum and the lees of the town,
Outcasts of virtue, and outlaws of truth,
Are prowling up and down!

They live - Heav'n only knows how -
Uncared-for in body and soul,
As foxes in holes, or the rook on the bough,
Or scavenger-dogs of Stamboul:
Three myriads of such (as they tell us) are known,
A homeless and famishing crew
Who roam up and down this labyrinth town
Like jackals in Timbuctoo!-

A stroll in the city by night ;-
Where sadden'd Humanity's tear
Must ever be dropt for a sorrier sight
The ruins of Womanhood here!
Alas! for their bondage; no heavier chain
Has ever poor African worn,
Than yon wretched creature, whom pleasure and pain
Make equally foul and forlorn!

Six myriads (they tell us) of these,
Society's commonest slaves,
Live only for guilt, and scorn, and disease
And pine for the beds of their graves;
And profligate men, who from boyhood are curst
By daring to sin as they will,
Add ever new victims, to live like the worst
And perish like reprobates still!

-Who can pretend they are Free?
Free to be starved, if they cease
By sinning, or stealing, or begging, to be
Scabs on the world's increase!
Free? - when a network of Circumstances strong
Closes them only to Crime,
And multiplied evil and manifold wrong
Are rife in a Christian clime!

O world,- poor travailing world,-
When shall your oppressed go free?
And Rights be set up? and Wrongs be down-hurl'd?
Ah, when shall these things be?
-Come speedily, Holy One, King of the Just!
No power but Thine can save
The cruel from treading the meek in the dust,
Or ransom the poor White Slave!

Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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