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, No. 98, November 28, 1885, p. 5