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Stroke softly down the flowers; the string;
The pretty shoe; all visions bring
   Of her beloved, too much.


THE ceaseless quest, pursued till night,
Is aided then by fires alight
  O'er all the country round;
And shot, and shout, and blast of horn,
Upon the midnight wind are borne.
  The answer? Not a sound.

Next in a circle wide they spread
Beyond where those small feet could tread,
  Like hunters, beating game;
And slowly, keenly searching, draw
Up to a centre: not a straw
  But notice there must claim.

No child: no voice: not one small sign,
Beyond the broken, wandering line
  Of footprints in the sand.
Hours grow to days, and days to weeks,
And still the haggard father seeks
  Each spot, so closely scann'd.

The mother! Silent, bow'd, and old
(If time by sorrows may be told),
She keeps within her kerchief's fold,
  Against her bosom true,
Wrapp'd softly round, some withering,
Wild woodland flowers, in silken string,
  And one small baby-shoe.

But never more did search or chace
Discover sign, or track, or trace,
  The drear suspense to close.
Conjectures, terrible and wild,
Vague and mysterious, o'er the child,
  With dream-like horror, rose:
But none could ever truly tell
The strange, sad fate of little Bell.


THE quantity of cotton wool brought into
England every year might be piled into a
pyramid which would rival that of Cheops.
The eight thousand five hundred and seventy-
two millions of miles of yarn spun in
England in a year, might be wound round
and round the earth, as a boy winds string
round his top; or, we might throw the
shuttle over distant Uranus, and then tangle
together the "red planet Mars," the Earth,
Venus, Mercury, and the Sun in our net of
cotton. The whole of the British Islands
might be wrapped up in cotton wool, and put
by carefully for the inspection of future ages,
in not very many years' consumption of that
raw material.

Ninety years ago, at the commencement of
our manufacturing career, the population of
Britain was about eight millions. Now it has
reached twenty-one millions. If it were not
for cotton, we could not keep our millions
in England, clustering in masses round the
central manufacturing towns. If it were
not for cotton, we could not clothe them;
and, if it were not for cotton, we could
certainly not feed them.

It is calculated that the value of the cotton
goods retained in Great Britain for home
use, if equally divided amongst the whole
population, would amount to fifteen shillings
and fivepence for each person. But it is still
more astonishing to consider that, if our
exports were equally distributed, each of the
eight hundred and seventy-eight millions of
the inhabitants of the earth would have
English cotton goods to the value of fifteen-
pence. A rise in the price of cotton is
considered in Lancashire to be a national calamity.
When the increase in the price of cotton
is, as it was last year, threepence a pound,
it is not the manufacturers only who suffer.
The thirteen millions of money represent, not
so much the losses of the few, as the failing of
bread, and meat, and beer, in the cottages
of our workmen, and the pressure which
tells heavily on tradesmen.

If we look to the early part of the present
century, we shall find that we then received
our supplies of cotton from upwards of thirty
different parts of the world, and that amongst
the smallest of the contributions were those
from the United States. At the present
time, from most of those thirty countries, we
receive no cotton whatever. We depend
now almost entirely on the United States;
that is, we receive from them nine-tenths
of our supply, and because that supply is
insufficient, cotton rises threepence per pound.

Not only do we suffer at present from this
insufficiency, but we know that it must
continue, and that it must be increasingly felt in
this country. For, in the first place, the
planters of America have not an adequate
command of labour; the amount of cotton
grown is limited to the extent of negro
labour, which has now become so valuable
that is, so inadequatethat upwards of three
hundred pounds are often paid for a single
slave. For this, as the planters themselves
feel and acknowledge, there is no remedy;
except, indeed, one that is contrary to the
laws of the country, and is desired by scarcely
any of the planters themselvesnamely,
a fresh importation of slaves from Africa.
The land in the United States, capable of
producing cotton, is not, it is true, fully
cultivated; nor can it be, while labour for that
purpose is deficient.

England, then, with her vast requirements,
not only for prosperity and political
pre-eminence, but for the very daily bread of
millions of her inhabitants, is not in a better
position than Ireland was before the famine;
for cotton is, to the English, more than the
potato to the Irish; we must remember that
if a blight should fall on cotton like that
which converted the potato-fields into a
graveyard, or if this plant of the mallow
tribe should be attacked by an epidemic like
that which has left the fertile vineyards of
Madeira desolate, our manufacturers and