When the usual whistle sounded, and we hurried home at one,
Who, of all the throng of workers, thought their occupation gone?
Yet when all seemed peace and safety, sudden desolation came,
For, in less than half-an-hour, Cave’s great works were wrapt in flame.
All were filled with consternation when we heard that dreaded cry,
And beheld the smoke arising black against the clear blue sky;
Language fails to give expression to our terror and dismay
As we saw the noble structure fall to greedy flames a prey.
‘Twas the centre of the building where the dreadful fire began,
And we found to check its progress was beyond the skill of man;
Thatched-roof’d houses standing near it, very soon were blazing, too;
Eager helpers were not lacking, but alas! What could they do?
There was scarcely any water, and the heat became so great,
That we feared another factory soon would share the same sad fate.
Of the people here collected, few, I think, were not afraid
That the greater part of High Street soon would be in ruins laid!
So much grief and consternation never has been feltbefore
In the thriving town of Rushden may we feel the like no more!
Surely ‘twas the God of Mercy, unto mortals ever kind,
Looking from His throne in pity, at this crisis changed the wind.
Yet ‘twas not until the evening that they had the fire in hand,
Though the four Brigades in action used all means at their command.
As we watched the dying embers, when the crowd had left at night,
The far-reaching desolation was an awe-inspiring sight,
And a painful illustration of the Scottish poet’s thought,
That “the best-laid schemes of mortals very often come to naught.”
Some have lost all their belongings, and their occupation too;
They with tearful eyes were standing wondering what should they do.
Many who had hoped for pleasure, at the August Holiday,
‘Mid the scenes of desolation now will be obliged to stay.
But although this great disaster has occasioned much distress,
Still it is to all apparent that there is cause for thankfulness
That it happened in an hour when the workers were away
That destruction spread no further, and none perished there that day
Lastly, that such good subscriptions have been sent for their relief,
By so many sympathisers with the families in grief.
Thus, in spite of all our troubles, some of us at least can raise
To the God of Love and Mercy songs of gratitude and praise.