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closed doors of Messrs. Bell and Black, which
courteously opened to receive us.

It became clear to us at the first glance
that we had got into a place unsuited to the
growth of phosphorus disease. Instead of a
crowded building in the town, there is attainable,
in this far suburb, abundance of ground
space, on which detached buildings can be
erected. We saw no upper stories; there
was a court-yard, with materials lying about
a water- tank, buildings here and there with
high roofs, doors open, here and there somebody
passing from one place to another. It
was obvious that here there were to be had
space and air. We found upon inquiry,
what indeed we pretty well knew, that here
there had been no case of phosphorus disease,
though about a hundred and fifty mouths are
breathing daily on the premises, besides nearly
the same number engaged outside in making
match-boxes, &c.

Entering the nearest door, we found an
apartment alive with girls and boys; a
spacious building, with a roof of high pitch,
skylights, windows, and an open door.
Notwithstanding the large number of matches
there under the fingers of the young population,
we could detect only the faintest odour
of the phosphorus. Had there been upper
rooms, the fumes would rise into them; here,
however, they can only pass away into the
open air. The dipping-house is placed at a
distance of more than a hundred yards from
any other building. This precaution has
enabled the proprietors to insure against fire
the other portion of the works. Other
factories having less space for the fulfilment
of this condition, this is the only one about
London for which an Insurance policy is
granted. It is lofty, and admits air abundantly.
We were glad to obtain from Messrs.
Bell and Black such knowledge as throws
light upon the present and the future prospects
of the phosphorus disease. We learnt
that where it exists in England, it is produced
only in factories that make the cheapest
form of match. In all the better sort of
matches the quantity of phosphorus used,
as compared with other ingredients, is very
much less than it used formerly to be.
Of course there is still phosphorus, and
there are phosphorous acid fumes; but the
difference is very great between the quantity
of phosphorus used in the improved matches
of the present day, and the old-fashioned
cheap matches. The cheapness of the matches
compels also an undue economy of house-room,
and so farther aggravates the evil.

It is in the drying-house that the evolution
of phosphorous fume is greatest. The house
is like all the others, lofty, airy, clean; it
differs from the others in containing no
stationary work-people. The matches fume
there by themselves, and are only disturbed
when those who are appointed for the
purpose come to fetch them. Our sense of
smell is acute, but so slight was the trace
of the peculiar, garlicky, phosphoric odour in
this room, although it contained a very large
number of matches, that many might have
walked about therein without perceiving it.
Most of the matches that we noticed in this
room were our polite and familiar friends the
Wax Vestas, hung ignominiously head downwards.
We next betook ourselves to a large
room devoted exclusively to their preparation,
just as the first room had been devoted to
their humbler cousins.

We feel at once that we have come into
polite society, when we have got into the
large saloon, used for the assemblies of those
delicate white creatures, the Vestas. The
room is, like the others, large, lofty, and
clean, with incombustible walls and floor.
The Christmas holly hangs upon the walls
yet; the attendants on the vestas, all young
girls, are noticeably clean and neat. The
young priests of the temple of the wooden
lucifers were boys and girls, some tidy, some
untidy, according to their tastes and means.
Here no unclean touch is suffered to pollute
the pure white of the wax that is to maintain
the vestal fire in English houses. The girls
in this room all look very cheerful, very

In this room the same thing is being done
with wax that we saw done before with wood.
The untipped little tapers are being distributed
into the frames. We watch a damsel
busy at this work; whereupon she smiles and
turns on so much extra steam into her fingers,
that each little stick of wax falls into its
appointed groove without more apparent
trouble on her part than a swift passage of
her hand across the frame. To another hand
the vestas are much less obedient; they will
not go into their places, and require much
tedious adjustment. Swift-fingered maidens
aged from about twelve to twentycan
earn nine shillings a-week, or even more;
the slowest fingers earning about six. There
is in each room one appointed to record, as
they are reported, all the respective items of
completed work. An incessant snapping,
audible in this room, soon arrests attention;
there might be somewhere underground a
Lilliputian commonwealth holding grand national
rejoicings, and discharging fireworks.
To be sure, somebody is always treading on a
fallen match; bad as it is to tread upon the
fallen, we confess that we ourselves produced
two or three vindictive explosions on the
part of vestas which our feet unwittingly
tormented; this, however, is not the chief source
of the snapping. When we come to the girls
who are swiftly removing the dried matches
from the frames and counting them into
boxes, we find that there are in every frame
some half-dozen vestas more snappish than
the rest, which fire up at the quick touch of
the maidens' fingers, and would like to punish
them if possible. Of the vestas, however, as
of other beings who are too quick in their
temper, the maxim of the provoker seems to

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