SIDNEY SMITH ON CHIMNEY SWEEPERS 105
Gay. — How many accidents do you recollect, which were attended with loss of life to the climbing boys? I have heard talk of many more than I know of; I never knew of more than three since I have been at the trade, but I have heard talk of many more. — Of twenty or thirty? I cannot say; I have been near losing my own life several times." — Commonsr Report, p. 53.
We come now to burning little chimney sweepers. A large party are invited to dinner — a great display is to be made; — and about an hour before dinner there is an alarm that the kitchen chimney is on fire! It is impossible to put off the distinguished personages who are expected. It gets very late for the soup and fish, the cook is franticx) — all eyes are turned upon the sable *) consolation of the master chimney sweeper — and up into the midst of the burning chimney is sent one of the miserable little infants of the brush! There is a positive prohibition of this practice, and an enactment of penalties in one of the Acts of Parliament which respect chimney sweepers. But what matter acts of Parliament, when the pleasures of genteel people are concerned? Or what is a toasted child, compared to the agonies of the mistress of the house with a deranged dinner?
"Did you ever know a boy get burnt up a chimney? Yes. — Is that usual? Yes, I have been burnt myself, and have got the scars on my legs; a year ago I was up a chimney in Liquor Pond Street; I have been up more than forty chimneys where I have been burnt. Did your master or the journeymen ever direct you to go up a chimney that is on fire? Yes, it is a general case. — Do they compel you to go up a chimney that is on
1. frantic: very excited; beside oneself with pain, grief, or anxiety.
2. sable is used in heraldry for black.