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SIDNEY SMITH ON CHIMNEY SWEEPERS

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his penftentiaryx); Mr. Bennet and his hulks2); Sir James Mackintosh and his bloodless assizes; Mr. Tooke and his sweeping machines, — and every human being who is great and good enough to sacrifice his quiet to his love for his fellow creatures. Certainly we admit that humanity is sometimes the veil of ambition or of faction; but we have no doubt that there are a great many excellent persons to whom it is misery to see misery, and pleasure to lessen it; and who, by callingthe public attention to the worst cases, and by giving birth to judicious legislative enactments for their improvement, have made, and are making, the world somewhat happier than they found it. Upon these principles we join hands with the friends of the chimney sweepers, and most heartily wish for the diminution of their numbers, .and the limitation of their trade.

We are thoroughly convinced that there are many respectable master chimney sweepers; though we suspect their numbers have. been increased by the alarm which their former tyranny excited, and by the severe laws, made for their coercion8): bur even with good masters the trade is miserable, — with bad ones it is not to be endured; and the evidence already quoted shows us how many of that character are to be met with in the occupation of sweeping chimneys.

After all, we must own that it was quite right to throw out -the bill for prohibiting the sweeping of chimneys by boys —

1. Jeremy Bentham (1748—1832) was a great lawyer who had a great influence on his contemporaries by his books on the reform of law. This influence became still strenger after his death. A historian of English law {Professor Dicey) has called the years from 1825 to 1870 the period of Benthamism or Individualism.—penitentiary: prison for reforming rather than punishing persons.

2. For Bennet, see the introduction to this chapter.—ftuZ/cs: dismantled ship, formerly used as a prison.

3. coercion: controlling, especially governing, by military force.

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