Manuscript, with marked proofs, of Caroline Norton's "A Voice from the Factories", 1836

'A Voice from the Factories' highlighted in realistic and harrowing detail the plight of working-class children who worked under the bleak and harsh conditions of the factories during the industrial revolution.


Copyright National Library of Scotland

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To the Right Honble Lord Ashley

My lord
An anonymous Author, whose name could give no importance
his ephemeral production, ventures to claim the aid of yours; as one
not only noble, but intimatey connected with the subject ofhis verse.

To the just-minded, the opinions of no individual, however obscure, should
be utterly indifferent; since each man undoubtedly represents the opinions of
a certain number ofhis fellow men. It is the conviction of this, and the
belief, that to abstain from giving our view ofon any subjectpoint, because we
fear due attention will not be paid us, savours rather of vanity than
humility, that has induced me to intrude at this time of on yr Loship
and the Public.

For the mode in which I have done so, some apology is perhaps
necessary, since the application of serious poetry to the passing events of the
day, has fallen into disuse; and is, if not absolutely condtemned, at least
much discouraged.

Doubtless there are those to whose tastes & understandings, dry & forcible
arguments are more welcome, than reasonings dressed in the garb
of Poetry. Yet as Poetry is the language of feeling, it should be the
language of the multitude; since all men can feel, while compara-
tively few can reason acutey, and still fewer reduce their reasoning
theories to practicable schemes of improvement.

My lord, I confess myself more anxious to be heard, than ambitious even tho' unable
to convince. It is the misfortune of the time, that subjects of
great and pressing interest are so numerous, that many questions
which affect the lives & happiness of hundreds, become , as it were ,
comparativey unimportant; and are thrust aside by others, of