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Now for the match. It will not burn. A
gentle breath is wafted into the murky box;
the face that leans over the tinder is in a glow.
Another match, and another, and another.
They are all damp. The toil-worn father
' swears a prayer or two '; the baby is
inexorable; and the misery is only ended when the
goodman has gone to the street door, and
after long shivering has obtained a light from
the watchman.

In this, the beginning of our series of
Illustrations of Cheapness, let us trace this antique
machinery through the various stages of its

The tinder-box and the steel had nothing
peculiar. The tinman made the one as he
made the saucepan, with hammer and shears;
the other was forged at the great metal
factories of Sheffield and Birmingham; and
happy was it for the purchaser if it were
something better than a rude piece of iron, very
uncomfortable to grasp. The nearest chalk quarry
supplied the flint. The domestic manufacture
of the tinder was a serious affair. At due
seasons, and very often if the premises were
damp, a stifling smell rose from the kitchen,
which, to those who were not intimate with
the process, suggested doubts whether the
house were not on fire. The best linen rag
was periodically burnt, and its ashes deposited
in the tinman's box, pressed down with a
close fitting lid upon which the flint and
steel reposed. The match was chiefly an
article of itinerant traffic. The chandler's
shop was almost ashamed of it. The mendicant
was the universal match-seller. The girl
who led the blind beggar had invariably a
basket of matches. In the day they were
vendors of matchesin the evening manufacturers.
On the floor of the hovel sit two or
three squalid children, splitting deal with a
common knife. The matron is watching a
pipkin upon a slow fire. The fumes which it
gives forth are blinding as the brimstone is
liquifying. Little bundles of split deal are
ready to be dipped, three or four at a time.
When the pennyworth of brimstone is used
up, when the capital is exhausted, the night's
labour is over. In the summer, the manufac-
ture is suspended, or conducted upon fraudulent
principles. Fire is then needless; so
delusive matches must be producedwet
splints dipped in powdered sulphur. They
will never burn, but they will do to sell to
the unwary maid-of-all-work.

About twenty years ago Chemistry
discovered that the tinder-box might be abolished.
But Chemistry set about its function with
especial reference to the wants and the means
of the rich few. In the same way the first
printed books were designed to have a great
resemblance to manuscripts, and those of the
wealthy class were alone looked to as the
purchasers of the skilful imitations. The
first chemical light-producer was a complex
and ornamental casket, sold at a guinea. In
a year or so, there were pretty portable cases
of a phial and matches, which enthusiastic
young housekeepers regarded as the cheapest
of all treasures at five shillings. By and bye
the light-box was sold as low as a shilling.
The fire revolution was slowly approaching.
The old dynasty of the tinder-box maintained
its predominance for a short while in kitchen
and garret, in farmhouse and cottage. At
length some bold adventurer saw that the
new chemical discovery might be employed
for the production of a large article of trade
that matches, in themselves the vehicles of
fire without aid of spark and tinder, might
be manufactured upon the factory system
that the humblest in the land might have a
new and indispensable comfort at the very
lowest rate of cheapness. When Chemistry
saw that phosphorus, having an affinity for
oxygen at the lowest temperature, would
ignite upon slight friction,—and so ignited
would ignite sulphur, which required a much
higher temperature to become inflammable,
thus making the phosphorus do the work of
the old tinder with far greater certainty; or
when Chemistry found that chlorate of potash
by slight friction might be exploded so as to
produce combustion, and might be safely used
in the same combinationa blessing was
bestowed upon society that can scarcely be
measured by those who have had no former
knowledge of the miseries and privations of
the tinder-box. The Penny Box of Lucifers,
or Congreves, or by whatever name called, is
a real triumph of Science, and an advance in

Let us now look somewhat closely and
practically into the manufacture of a Lucifer-

The combustible materials used in the
manufacture render the process an unsafe
one. It cannot be carried on in the heart of
towns without being regarded as a common
nuisance. We must therefore go somewhere
in the suburbs of London to find such a trade.
In the neighbourhood of Bethnal Green there
is a large open space called Wisker's Gardens.
This is not a place of courts and alleys, but a
considerable area, literally divided into small
gardens, where just now the crocus and the
snowdrop are telling hopefully of the spring-
time. Each garden has the smallest of
cottagesfor the most part woodenwhich have
been converted from summer-houses into
dwellings. The whole place reminds one of
numberless passages in the old dramatists, in
which the citizens' wives are described in
their garden-houses of Finsbury, or Hogsden,
sipping syllabub and talking fine on summer
holidays. In one of these garden-houses, not
far from the public road, is the little factory
of ' Henry Lester, Patentee of the Domestic
Safety Match-box,' as his label proclaims.
He is very ready to show his processes,
which in many respects are curious and

Adam Smith has instructed us that the
business of making a pin is divided into about