Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Chimney Sweep

When I had originally planned this post, I had something a little more light-hearted in mind. Perhaps my mind had reverted straight to a certain dashing-though-dusty group of fellows singing "Chim-chiminey" whilst dancing the night away on the rooftops of foggy London town.


If only it had really been that romantic and jolly. The life of a real chimney sweep was very sad, dangerous, and cruel. 


The worst part was that it was very common for children to be used for these tasks. The stories are heartbreaking. More can be read about thier lives HERE.


Yet despite the horror of thier everyday lives, pictures like this one below make me smile. It is amazing what the human spirit can endure...


I've thought a lot about sweeping out the old this weekend. I'm ready for a new start. How about you?
A very Happy New Year to you all!

6 comments:

Fala Cedar said...

I've read a lot of articles about how Victorian England treated its children, and the poor, and it never fails to sicken and shock me. It almost seems like the whole system was created by and for sadists. There are a couple of really good modern books about children like these -- one called The Ravenmaster's Secret and another called The Christmas Doll, both by Elvira Woodruff. They're wonderful reads for both kids and adults, and very moving, especially the second one. I think you might enjoy them.

Lisa said...

That last picture is adorable. But what a horrible way to have to work.

echo said...

I remember something in Dickens' Oliver Twist about Oliver being terrified at the idea of being forced to become a chimney sweep. What a horrible life for those children! And yet, that last photograph is so sweet!

Like you, a fresh start sounds perfect for this new year. Time to purge the old and the useless out of my life! :)

Steampunk Jewelry said...

You seem to have an uncanny knack for finding amazing pictures of Victoriana!
Thanks for sharing, I agree - the Chimney Sweeps life was dire made even worse by being represented by Dick Van Dyke :)
Another great find!

Audra Hebard said...

I don't think Dick van Dyke's interpretation of a chimney sweep made their image "worse" at all! Yes, working conditions were grueling, and children were put in danger; but children all over the world are still being put to manual labor to this day. The point of Bert, van Dyke's character, was to teach us to make light of hard situations, to put humor and joy into even the most mundane tasks. Besides, legend says a chimney sweep is lucky: "...good luck will rub off if I shake hands with you."

Audra Hebard said...

I don't think Dick van Dyke's interpretation of a chimney sweep made their image "worse" at all! Yes, working conditions were grueling, and children were put in danger; but children are still being used for manual labor all around the world to this day! Of course, it is wrong, and child labor laws still have yet to cover a worldly basis. But the point of Bert, van Dyke's character, was to teach people how to make light of hard situations, and how to put humor and joy into even the most painstakingly mundane tasks. Besides, legend says the chimney sweep is lucky: "...good luck will rub off if I shake hands with you." Yes, many parts of the history of the chimney sweep were very sad, but as proven by the smile on the boy in the last picture's face, they weren't so bad that they couldn't laugh, sing, and dance a little :P