The Chimney Sweepers

“George Brewster, the last chimney sweep child”

When I started writing it was to work through issues that had
dogged my path a good share of my life. A story of abuse that
had left many lingering scars. I eventually worked through
some of it, and was led in a different direction in my writing,
one that was much more positive.

Looking back on my experiences and spending much retrospect,
I started thinking about my heritage, which was of English descent,
and started reading what life would have been like in the 1800’s
in England, and what I read of the living conditions were
horrendous, children made to work long hours, many in mines
with many lives taken, people living together in one room for
lack of proper housing, water that was polluted, deprived of
food, children who became chimney sweepers due to their smallness often dying from the dangers they experienced, and the thought
came to me, do I have the audacity to
even give my upbringing a second thought? The sufferings of
those children far exceeded my own.
How did a child who’s roots go back to this type of living,
conceived in the twentieth century in a modern era of
a middle class family, who in all means more prosperous,
and yet was afflicted with alcoholism, that devastated a family,
with children sent away. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would the
suffering be rated the highest? I think we all know the
answer to that. And yet what would have happened if I hadn’t
taken the time to question the issues in life that kept me
bound to the past?
If I had not the desire to share with others my story?
****
London burned that night in the great fire
of 1666
Every house, chamber and stall destroyed
Brick and wood turned to cinder
A man of late retire had too much to drink
Stoking up a tinder flame
Jumping up the chimney stack
Scattering across the sky
Ashes falling on neighboring towns
People filled with fear and dread
‘What if this happened again’ they said?
Edicts and warnings were sent
‘Chimneys must be narrow and clear
Of soot and debris’
’‘But who would do this” they asked?
****
Many mothers dying, their children
sold by fathers
With twisting and turnings in narrow
Chimneys they were hired
Lean and small with brushes and bags
They cleaned all day and half the night
In their sleep they weep and pray for
Strength
Every loft hearing their cough from dust,
coal and fumes, midst plumes of smoke
narrowly escaping
Evil men made a trade, merciless and
mean
****
George Brewster had a hard night of sleep
arising early
A twelve year old lad sweeping all day
Got stuck in a wall of flame
They tried to save him, police were called
Bringing attention to this child abuse
But George died
The children’s plight was discovered
Hearths and flues owned by rich and
Elite would no longer be stained with
Children’s lives
George gave his life that these children
Would be set free
Many children were saved, for it was
Proclaimed in all of England, no longer
Would children be Chimney Sweepers!

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