Page images
PDF
EPUB

school children, assembled to the perhaps a better judge of fat cattle at number of 25 to 30,000. Your Lord à Show in Smithfield, than of lean ship might there see the miserable Factory boys and girls in a Whitvictims of the Cotton Factory Sys- sunday festival in Manchester. He tem,' well clad, and often even ele might, therefore, draw from such a gantly dressed, in full health and sight such a conclusion as Mr Holbeauty, a sight to gladden a monarch land Hoole firmly believes he would; --not to be paralleled, perhaps, in but such conclusion would be illogithe whole of the civilized world; cal. The "comfort” and “order” ap. and your Lordship would, I firmly parent in that well-garbed and wellbelieve, draw this conclusion, that marshalled assemblage, transitory as the hands employed in Cotton Fac a slow-floating beautiful summertories, so far from being degraded cloud, seem almost to belong to a below their neighbours of the same visionary world, before the eyes of rank in society, far exceed them in him who has seen the discomfort and comfort, in order, and even in disorder of the real world, in which health."

the creatures of that pageantry are This is very amiable. Mr Holland glad to get kicked and strapped, so Hoole is a good-hearted, nor do we

that from his throne descends not the doubt, an enlightened man, and the Billy-roller. spectacle he speaks of is, we know, Contrast the picture painted by Mr very beautiful. We have seen it. Holland Hoole, with one of a similar Many of the girls at Factories are of kind by Ebenezer Elliot,—“Preston an interesting appearance—not a few Mills," a Jubilee in celebration lovely; many of the boys good-look- of the Reform Bill. We take it ing-not a few handsome; and the from this year's Amulet, an Annual whole together, in their best array, always full of good things. Ebenezer make a pleasant show. They are Elliot is next--not behind CrabbeEnglish. But there is much wan the greatest Poet of the Poor. And smiling there, and many woe-begone he calls poetry (did not we ourselves faces, that “ vainly struggle at a use the same words before him, in the smile;" hundreds white as plaster of Noctes ?) "impassioned truth.” Paris; and scores of an indescribable colour, -of which the ground looks “ The day was fair, the cannon roard, yellow glimmered over by blue, - less Cold blew the bracing north, like death than consumption. They And Preston's mills by thousands pour'd are, in general, neatly clad; and Their little captives forth. strange it, on such an occasion, it were otherwise in Lancashire ; too "ele

“ All in their best they paced the street, gantly dressed," many of the girls

All glad that they were free ;
are, we fear; yet we must not be And sang a song with voices sweet
harshly critical on such a holyday.

They sang of liberty!
One of the witnesses,—Thomas
Daniel, an acute man,-says before

“ But from their lips the rose had fled, the Committee, “ as to the appear

Like 'death-in-life' they smiled; ance of health of the children, (who

And still as each pass'd by, I said, walk in Whitsunday-week proces.

Alas! is that a child ? sion,) they are the most delicate and

“Flags waved, and men-aghastly crew the most feeble-looking; and as to

March'd with them side by side ; their dresses, it may be thought very While hand in hand, and two by two, fine with them, and it certainly is

They moved a living tide. attended with some expense, but it is of no value; and the dresses are

“ Thousands and thousands - ob, so principally of white calico or cambric

wbite ! frocks, that make them look fine, and

With eyes so glazed and dull! they take great pride in them, I bave Alas! it was indeed a sight

Thomas is no great Too sadly beautiful ! admirer of Whitsun-week holydays. And far better, think we, were they " And, oh, tlie pang their voices gave, distributed. In most places, there Refuses to depart! are but two holydays in the whole “This is a wailing for the grave! year. As for Lord Althorp, he is I whisper'd to my heart.

no doubt.”

" It was as if, where roses blush'd, demand. We call not even “ for an

A sudden, blasting gale,
O'er fields of bloom had rudely rush ’d,

intense degree of disapprobation" on And turn'd the roses pale.

the supporters of the system out of

which such evils inevitably arise. " It was as if, in glen and grove,

But we denounce the system itself, The wild birds sadly sung ;

as it now works; and we call down And every linnet mourn'd its love,

blessings on the heads of all men And every thrush its young.

who are striving to reform it. Some

of “the modes in which legislation “ It was as if, in dungeon gloom,

can weaken the tendency of such Where chain’d Despair reclined,

evils to increase" have been shewn; A sound came from the living tomb,

and though the regulations it may And hymn'd the passing wind.

enact will leave many evils to be be

wailed, some - much — nay, great " And while they sang, and though they long be effected ;--enough to justify

diminution of them may before very smiled, My soul groan'd heavily

still better and brighter hopes of the Oh! who would wish to have a child !

distant future. A mother who would be !"

Such is the Factory System which

Mr Sadler has so nobly strivenThe contagion of vice spreads with some noble coadjutors—to de from the Factories. They are, many prive of its sting. But how will that of them, nurseries of prostitution. be done by his Bill ? The sting will In bad times--and how long is it still be in the monster; but much of since they have been good?—in bad the venom will be taken from it, and times, which are, like demons' visits, what is left will not be mortal. For many and short between--shoals are first of all, it prohibits the labour of sent into the streets, to shame, sin, infants under the age of nine years. and death. So says the evidence- How much may, in time, be learned and is it possible to disbelieve it? at home or at school, before the exThat evil is in the Factory-system; piration of that period, now worse and, alas ! in many a system besides. than lost! How many little domestic Is it, therefore, to be denied, over arts and appliances, in which childlooked, let alone, given up as hope. ren of the same tender years are so less? God forbid we should calum- skilful, “ among the rural villages niate the poor creatures—we but be- and farms !" And better far even lieve in sorrow what their parents than these, how much of filial affechave told us ;-and we do not, like tion sweetening the sense of duty, Mr Mill, call on “ legislation," or the a sense, alas ! in those districts with“ powerful agency of popular sanc- in many miserable families utterly tion,” to “ direct an intense degree unknown ! Children may then learn of disapprobation” on such sufferers to say their prayers, and their parents and sinners; but we call on both to will be happy to hear them doing so do what they can for their protec- —to see their little arms and hands tion from such woe and such wick- in the attitude of prayer, unscarred edness.

and undiscoloured by cruel wounds. We call not even “for an intense Now, prayer must seem to too many degree of disapprobation” on the wretched parents a mockery - or overlookers and others, who, it has worse than a mockery from such livid been proved, are too frequently lips; and how can the poor creatures guilty of very, great barbarities. get through a prayer under a load of Their temper, their patience, must weariness,- struggling, or sinking be often severely tried. Nay, some- without a struggle, into the short times they are cruel from a sense of respite of sleep! duty. The strap rouses the soundest Then to all between nine and sleeper-the most callous feel the eighteen years, actual work, exclubilly-roller. Slaves will grow up sive of meals and refreshment, is to into tyrants. With more sleep and be limited to—ten hours. Ten hours ! more rest, there would be far less limited to ten hours ! " Is there not, punishment-there would then be Sir,"—indignantly exclaims the elono call for cruelty ;-the supply, we quentChildren's Friend-—"something presume, would be regulated by the inexpressibly cruel, most disgusting.

ly selfish, in thus attempting to as- ing, though their leaves be somewhat
certain the utmost limits to which dimmed with dust, and their knotted
infant labour and fatigue may be car boles begrimed with the smoke-
ried, without their certainly occa with the soot of cities.
sioning misery and destruction ! - And what are their hearts? We
the full extent of profitable torture have seen them, and groaned to see,
that may be safely inflicted, and in withered and rotten, or when crush-
appealing to learned and experien- ed, full of ashes. But all are not
ced doctors to fix the precise point, such. Nature's holiest affections
beyond which it would be murder to have, in thousands of cases, there
proceed !” To the humane mind, survived both the mildew and the
somewhat inconsiderate in its mer- blight. The profligate boy, who may
ciful disposition, it at first seems as have cursed his own father to his
if Mr Sadler's own Bill were bar face, and broken his mother's heart,
barous. It cuts off but one hour- grown up to be a man, has outgrown
-or two-(aye, in many cases, three the vices that once seemed festering
and four, and five,) from the weary in his own heart, and to blacken its
working-day, and still leaves child- very blood. He has become a good
ren slaves. But poor people, young husband to the wife, whom when al-
and old, must work, and they are most a child he had basely seduced;
willing to work. Even in one hour and rather than see his boy such a boy
may then be developed many bless- as he was, his girl such a girl as once
ings. In one hour are now crowded was the mother that bore him, would
countless curses. Put on or take off he see them both buried in one
twenty pounds, when a strong man’s grave, and pray that their parents
back bears 200, and he slackens his too might be dust to dust.
pace in pain, or increases it with How much unassisted human na-
pleasure, beneath the loaded, or the ture may thus do by means of its
lightened burden.

own affections, for its own purificaBut the mercy is to be shewn tion, we know not; but let in upon not to their mere bodies, but to the forsaken soul even some small their minds. Yes! they have minds stray light of religion, like a few -and what is more, hearts, and im- broken sun-rays through a chink in mortal souls. Many who harangue the window of a room lying in deand scribble about the education of serted darkness, and in both there the people, forget that,-or perhaps shall be the same vital change. Perthey do not believe it. We, who haps a few plants in flower-pots had have been called lovers of intellec- been left by the tenants on going tual darkness among the lower ranks, away, to die on the floor in their have wished to see the torch of worthlessness; and they were almost knowledge lighted at the sun of Re- dead. But they lift up their leaves velation, that it may burn, a shining at that faint touch of light, and look and a saying light, over all the land, towards the day. Thus will they undimmed by mists, and steady in live lingeringly on, and wondrously storms.

survive in that less than twilight. But what minds—to say nothing Let in more sun, and with it too of hearts and souls—can there be in the blessed breath of heaven, and those Factories ? Many of extraor- they will recover some tinge of dinary-of surpassing worth. They beauty. Fling open the shutters, and have sent witnesses to the Commit- shew them all the sky, and in a tee who are an honour to England. few weeks green as emerald is the They have sent delegates over great foliage, and bright are the blossoms part of the north, whom to despise as rubies. Even so is it with the would prove the proudest aristocrat flowering plants-the thoughts and to be despicable, man to man. “What feelings in that soul—the soul of an lessons had they known ?" There is operative in a Factoryor Cotton-mill; the mystery. But in that clamorous and if you think the illustration out and doleful region they found silence of place as too poetical, you can feel and light, in which the powers and nothing for the glory that is seen by faculties of their minds grew up to the inner eye, sometimes stealing no unstately strength ; as one some over the degradation of our fallen times sees trees green and flourish- nature.

[ocr errors]

осси

As the Factory System now works, have not been great, in counteractall who do get any education, get iting the immoral and irreligious tenunder dismal difficulties and disad- dencies that exist in human nature, vantages; the most any get can be throughout the manufacturing disbut little; and thousands on thou- tricts. Their failure, he says, is sands get none. The very young, mainly attributable to the “lassitude wearied and worn out as they must of the scholars.” The poor creatures be, do not need to be sent to bed; cannot command their attention. Bebut if the power of cruelty could for- sides, the time during which they ward them on their last legs, to are instructed is quite insufficient school, we defy it to keep the leaden to produce the desired effect ;-two lids from closing over the dim eyes hours before divine service, in sumin sleep. By the time they might, mer, one hour in winter, and another by possibility, go to school, what in hour before divine service in the clination will they have to learn ? afternoon. But from the time of A school-room filled at sunset with instruction have to be deducted the children, who have been employed intervals of marking attendance, gias they have been since sunrise, ving out books and taking them in, would be a shocking spectacle, and and preparing to attend divine serwe devoutly trust there are few such vice, which is a very considerable places of punishment in a Christian diminution of time. During nearly land. But under Mr Sadler's Bill, the whole time, they are school education, which had been pied with the mere machinery of going on with many before nine reading,—the A, B, C part of it; and years of age, might be continued, in as to impressing religious precepts, some measure, after that period, and or explaining religious doctrines, it all might have some instruction. A is next to impossible. Then there is wish for it, perhaps a desire, might great difficulty in finding proper spring up among ihe children them.

teachers. They belong to that class selves; and those parents who have who have to make long and laborious now not only an excuse for their exertions during the preceding week, indifference, but in nature and rea to earn their own maintenance. And son a right of scorn, when you talk they, asks the Chairman of the Comto them about reading and writing, mittee, “nevertheless, seeing the total would be ashamed of their own ig destitution in which the children norance, and look better after their would be otherwise left, devote their children in all things. They would only day of leisure or of domestic be proud and happy to see them enjoyment, to the noble purpose of getting a month's schooling now and giving some little instruction or in. then, and small, after all has been formation to those poor deserted done, must be the scholarship that children ?" And the Rev. G. S. Bull can ever be acquired, except what replies, “I would say that I, as a nature teaches, in those Factories. clergyman, am almost entirely in

Under the present system, --sorry debted to the labouring classes for are we to say it, but it is true, little the assistance by which 516 children good is done by Sunday-schools. are, in some degree, religiously eduUnder Mr Sadler's bill, great good cated under my care; and I would might be done by them—good in also add, that it is the lamentation of calculable; for they would entirely many of my teachers—their own change their character. Now, they spontaneous lamentation—that the are the only means of education. circumstances of their youth, I was The Rev. G. S. Bull says, that “ Chil- going to say infancy, the continuous dren cannot obtain any thing like labour to which they bave been aca knowledge of letters suitable for a customed, and the little leisure they cottage education, except on Sun- have had for improvement, render day.” That excellent man has been them far less efficient than they a Sunday-school teacher ever since would wish." At a meeting of 48 he was sixteen years of age, and has Sunday-school teachers, of various scarcely ever spent a Sunday without denominations, (a teacher being voted attending them personally. In seven to the chair, who was himself partSunday-schools in his own neigh- owner of a Factory,) they came to a bourhood, there are 1135 scholars. unanimous resolution, that the Fac. But he confesses that their effects tory System, as at present conduct

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ed, decidedly interfered with their of benefiting the working-classes, and plans of religious instruction, and of sustaining his popularity, is in that the amelioration which had been the failure of his own Bill." This proposed, was absolutely necessary, very ungentlemanly person says, that they might have any chance of “ But to the point at issue-let me producing those effects which they inquire how the health and morals desired to see, as the result of their of the population are to be secured," labours. We can add nothing to the (nobody ever said so), “ by lessening simple statement of these simple men. the duration of labour nly half an Under Mr Sadler's Bill, evening hour per day,” (he is speaking of Sir schools would arise, children would Cam Hobhouse's Bill,) " or even a then learn to read, and then Sunday whole hour per day, as some restricschools would be schools of religion. tionists would curtail them? How is

But while children continue to be health to be improved, how are evil employed in the Factories, say twelve communications and acquaintance hours and a balf a day, exclusive of to be counteracted by half an hour's meals and recreation, it must be a respite from the sources of contapainful thing to all minds, as it has gion, whilst the children are still exe often been to the mind of the good posed to them all the rest of the clergyman from whom we have been day? Is it not self-evident, that if quoting, to consider the manner in either the pbysical or moral atmowhich we confine the children on sphere be infected, nothing but the Sabbath-day, after the very close strict quarantine can prevent infecconfinement of the week. They may tion? If exposure to the source of think that our system on the Sabbath. infection for a single hour be suffi. day is a sort of justification of the cient to produce disease, how can system in the week-day; for we, the effects of ten, eleven, or eleven while they are stowed up in the and a half hours' association with mills during six days of the week, the causes be counteracted by half an confine them in our crowded Sunday- hour's earlier removal, or by any school-rooms on the Sabbath-day." thing but total absence from expoOne and allof the medical witnesses, Blundell, Carlisle, Brodie, Roget, We have shewn him how-but Blizzard, Elliotson, Tuthill, Green, there are none so blind as those who Key, Guthrie, Bell, Travers-speak will not see--and he will continue in the strongest terms of the certain to hug himself on the close of that and great injury to the health of chil most absurd paragraph, in which he dren who have been working all the affirms, that limitation of hours of week twelve hours a-day and more, in labour “ will avail no more than to heated Factories, from being shut up fix limits to the rolling tide of ocean, again in crowded schools on the or the boundless powers of thought !" Sabbath. Under the present system,

How fine ! the most conscientious and pious We have no room now-to enter at men can hardly bring themselves to any length into the politico-economic believe Sunday schools should be cal view of the question. It would encouraged; under another, no con- appear that some Mill-owners have scientious and pious man could for declared they cannot abridge “the a moment doubt that they would be long and slavish hours of infant la a precious blessing to the poor. bour," because of the Corn Laws.

Is it possible that such simple and Suppose they were just to try. We do clear truths as these, which require not see any very great difficulty they not to be evolved, but merely held would have to encounter in getting up to the light, that all men of on tolerably well with theabridgment common intelligence and humanity and the Corn Laws. Were not many may see them as plain as Scripture, of them once very poor-who are now can be dim or doubtful, or disbe- very rich men-in spite of the Corn lieved? Aye--they are invisible to“A Laws? During their progress to opu. manufacturer,"--who foolishly and lence (the wealth of some of them to insolently says of Mr Sadler-among the imagination of a poor man like us other thrice repeated calumnies seems enormous) were wages always " that if the worthy gentleman un- progressive too, and the operative derstands the subject at all, he must well-off? But has it never occurred know very well that his only chance to them, that "

many of them owe

sure ?".

« PreviousContinue »