Who are these that, wan and wary, pass their days in cheerless plight,
Pale-faced folk in workshop dreary, working, working, morn to night ?
Tell me, friends, what curse is on them, that they loathe life's changeless round ?
Bible-binders ? Ah ; no marvel—Bibles much be cheaply bound.
"Christian England's glorious mission"—"spreading far the gospel ray
To the poor benighted heathen"—well I knew what ye would say.
"Work for love for women's fingers, thus to bind each sacred page" ;—
Work for slave, I call it rather, toiling for a starveling's wage.
What if these same bible-binders, bowed beneath their labour's curse,
Open wide the Book of Promise, muse upon some holy verse ?
Strange to them must sound these scriptures, strange the solemn words therein,
Bidding think of life eternal, and of death the wage of sin.
Have they sinned ? Methinks they ponder ; for this wage is surely theirs ;
Death before them ; death about them, death-in-life of deadly cares.
Nay, my friend, but these have sinned not ; rather ye whose selfish greed
Thus can doom your fellow-mortals to a life of toil and need ;
Who to famished Bible-binders dealing out a scanty dole,
Think to snatch a double profit, filling purse and saving soul.
Saving soul ? Maybe ye lose it. Judgement day shall show ; for look !
Deeds like these are writ for ever in another, mighter Book,
In a book that shall be opened when the avenging trumpets sound,
And stern payment shall be rendered for those Bibles cheaply bound.
H. S. S.
Justice, November 28, 1885 - No. 98