Martin Farquhar Tupper

(July 17, 1810 - November 1889 / London)

A Dozen Ballads About White Slavery. XI. Better Barracoons: Or, Profitable Charity


Men of money, shrewd and skill'd
In putting capital to nurse,
Ready to pull down streets, or build,
If either helps to fill the purse,
Now let me tell your wit a plan
How to reap a royal rent
Out of - doing good to Man,
Charity, at cent. per cent.

From Belgravia cease awhile,
Cold, repulsive, stern and white,
Where each huge palatial pile
Frowns the poor man out of sight;
From Tyburnia's dreary squares
Turn your energies aside,-
And look to how the workman fares
Who built those stuccoed haunts of pride.

In stagnant cellars, dim with stench,
In putrid alleys, choked by drains,
Or where the reeking gutters drench
Some garret, rotten with the rains,
Beggar'd of water, light, and air,
And every good that gladdens life,
The poor mechanic festers there
With pallid babes and haggard wife!

Can yonder neighbouring flashy shops,
Glorious in plasters, glass, and gilt,
Where Hebrews ticket showy slops,
And bankrupt trade is overbuilt,
Can those repay your risk and cost,
Or make you half so blest or rich
As finding homes for these half-lost
Who crowd the dunghill and the ditch?

Build a broad street, a hive of homes,
Where workmen mostly go and come,
-A thousand weekly rented rooms
Will make a pretty yearly sum,-
Build it for cleanliness and health,
And judge it wisdom well to build,
Lest - foul miasma blast your wealth,
And that - your lodgings may be filled.

Build it for comfort, ay and pleasure,
For winter's warmth, and summer's cool,
With reading-room for evening leisure,
And - why not chapel, hall, and school?
The good mechanic's homestead-college
Where, with his homely flock and friends,
Work over, he may feed on knowledge
Or gather up its odds and ends.

Better than shop-fronts, gaudy-gay,
Better than mansions, let or sold,
Will such a wise investment
pay

And prove a mine of good and gold:
Of good, - for so shall honest men
In healthy dwellings live content;
Of gold, - your well-used money then
Shall yield the builder cent. per cent.!

Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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