§ Lord Ashley
spoke as follows:*—It will not, I hope, be deemed presumptuous on my part when I rise to propound my motion to the House, and when I ask for its sympathy and patient hearing, if I add at the same time that I feel quite certain of obtaining their indulgence. The novelty of the subject, its magnitude, the deep and solemn interest which is felt throughout the country, the consideration of its vital influence on the welfare of so large a portion of our fellow-subjects, will, of themselves, be sufficient to obtain your indulgence; nor can I forget, Sir, how often and how undeservedly I have experienced indulgence at the hands both of yourself and of the House. Perhaps, Sir, I may be allowed just so far to speak of myself as to say, that there is some little reason why I should be thus forward in bringing this matter under the notice of Parliament. The report on your Table is *From a corrected Report.1321 the first report of a commission for which I had the honour to move, in August, 1840. The prayer of that motion was granted by the then Administration; and I shall avail myself of this opportunity, and of every other fitting opportunity, to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Members of the late Government; and more especially to my hon. Friend the Member for Perth, (Mr. F. Maule) at that time Under-Secretary of State, and to my noble Friend (the Marquess of Normanby) in the other House, then at the head of the Home Department, not only for the com- mission which they gave, but for the commissioners whom they appointed, Gentlemen who have discharged the duties assigned to them with unrivalled skill, fidelity, and zeal. Sir, it is not possible for any man, whatever be his station, if he have but a heart within his bosom, to read the details of this awful document without a combined feeling of shame, terror, and indignation. But 1 will endeavour to dwell upon the evil itself, rather than on the parties that might be accused as, in great measure the authors of it. An enormous mischief is discovered, and an immediate remedy is proposed; and sure I am that if those who have the power will be as ready to abate oppression as those who have suffered will be to forgive the sense of it, we may hope to see the revival of such a good understanding between master and man, between wealth and poverty, between ruler and ruled, as will, under God's good providence, conduce to the restoration of social comfort, and to the permanent security of the empire. Sir, when I moved for the commission, I ventured to state the manifold and important information that I thought would be obtained by the country from its extended investigations: that expectation has been fulfilled. Other reports will develope more amply the whole length and breadth of our perilous position; but, ex pede Herculem, it has shown you the ignorance and neglect of many of those who have property, and the consequent vice and suffering of those who have none; it has shown you many sad causes of pauperism; it has shown yon the physical disorders which our system has engendered, and the inevitable deterioration of the British race; it has shown you in part our condition, moral, social, and religious. We know not what a day may bring forth. 1 know it will be said, "Vice is not new— danger is not new; this has occurred be- 1322 fore, and will occur again." That is true; but I maintain that our danger is absolute, not comparative—our forefathers had to deal with thousands, we with millions. We must address ourselves to the evil boldly and faithfully, or it will soon acquire so enormous a magnitude as to be insuperable by any effort either of genius or principle. I shall now proceed to the statement 1 have undertaken respecting the condition of the working classes in our mines and collieries, and the measures requisite to ameliorate that condition. I am sorry to detain the House by reading documents; 1 shall often have occasion to solicit their indulgence; but the subject demands it. I think that the points 1 wish to establish should be made out by statements and evidence, rather than by any attempts at declamation. In the first place, I shall present the House with the result of the evidence respecting the age and sex of persons employed in the mines and collieries. The extent to which the employment of females prevails varies very much in different districts: in some parts of the country none but males are employed, in other places a great number of females. With respect to the age at which children are worked in mines and collieries in South Staffordshire, it is common to begin at seven years old; in Shropshire some begin as early as six years of age; in Warwickshire the same; in Leicestershire nearly the same. In Derbyshire many begin at five, many between five and six years, many at seven. In the West Riding of Yorkshire, at the same early ages: it is not uncommon for infants even of five years old to be sent to the pit. About Halifax and the neighbourhood, children are sometimes brought to the pits at the age of six years, and are taken out of their beds at four o'clock. Bradford and Leeds, the same; in Lancashire and Cheshire, from five to six. Near Oldham, children are worked as lowAs four years old, and in the small collieries towards the hills some are so young they are brought to work in their bed-gowns.In Cumberland, many at seven; in South Durham, as early as five years of age, and by no means uncommonly at six. In reference to this, I may quote a remark of Dr. Mitchell, one of the commissioners; he says,Though the very young children are not many in proportion, there are still such a 1323 number as is painful to contemplate, and which the great coal-owners will, perhaps, now learn for the first time, and I feel a firm belief that they will do so with sorrow and regret.Now, in justice to the great coal-owners of the North, I must say, that if they had been the only parties with whom we had to deal, the necessity for this bill would perhaps not have existed; they have exhibited, in many respects, care and kind- ness towards their people. Many children, the Report goes on to state, are employed in North Durham and Northumberland at five, and between five and six:The instances in which children begin to work at seven, and between seven and eight, are so numerous, that it would be tedious to recite them.In the east of Scotland, it is more common for children to begin work at five and six than in any part of England. In the west of Scotland, children are taken down into the pits at a very early age, often when eight years old, and even earlier. In North Wales, the cases are rare of children being employed at five or six—they are very common at seven. In South Wales, more cases are recorded of the employment of children in the pits at very early ages than in any other district. It is not unusual to take them into the pits at four years. Many are absolutely carried to the work. In South Gloucestershire, cases are recorded of children employed at six years, the general age is about nine. In North Somersetshire, many begin to work between six and seven. In the South of Ireland, no children at all are employed. All the under- ground work, which in the coal-mines of England, Scotland, and Wales is done by young children, appears in Ireland to be done by young persons between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Now, with respect to sex, the Report states, that in South Staffordshire no females are employed in underground work, nor in North Staffordshire. In Shropshire, Warwick- shire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, the same. In the West Riding of Yorkshire, the practice of employing females under- round is universal. About Halifax and the neighbourhood, girls from five years old and upwards regularly perform the same work as boys. At Bradford and Leeds, far from uncommon. In Lancashire and Cheshire it is the general 1324 custom for girls and women to be employed. In North Lancashire, throughout the whole of the district, girls and Women are regularly employed underground. In Cumberland, there are none, excepting in one old colliery, nor in Durham, nor in Northumberland. In the east of Scotland, the employment of females is general, but in the west of Scotland extremely rare. In North Wales, some on the surface, none underground. In South Wales it is not uncommon. In Gloucestershire and Somersetshire there are none. In none of the collieries in the coal-fields of Ireland was a single instance found of a female child, nor a female of any age, being employed in any kind of work. I must observe that, with respect to that country, neither children of tender years, nor females are employed in underground operations. I have often, Sir, admired the generosity and warm-heartedness of the Irish people; and I must say, that if this is to be taken as a specimen of their barbarism, I would not exchange it for alt the refinement and polish of the most civilised nations of the globe. The next point to which 1 desire to call the attention of the House is the character of the localities to which these young creatures are consigned. The state and nature of the places in which they work, form a most material consideration in this subject, for they must necessarily affect the safety and salubrity of the employment. If the ventilation and drainage of these places be good, then much protection is given to the health of the employed; if otherwise, the most fearful diseases may be engendered; and the early prostration inflicted of a working man's capacity to obtain his livelihood. Now, it appears that the character of the places of employment differs according to the depth of the seams of coal, which vary from ten inches in some districts, to ten or twenty yards in others. In South Staffordshire, for instance, the places of working are de- scribed as, comparatively speaking, comfortable to those who are habituated to them. Dr. Mitchell says: —In the coal-mines of this district, the state of the place of work, to persons who have been accustomed to it, is very comfortable. The coal-beds are sufficiently thick to allow abundance of room. The mines are warm and dry: There is a supply of fresh air from ventilation, though less than there might easily be.1325 In Leicestershire and Warwickshire, they are described as being the same; but in Derbyshire the state of things in this respect is described as being very different:—Black-damp very much abounds — the ventilation in general is exceedingly imperfect. …. Hence fatal explosions frequently take place; the work-people are distressed by the quantity of carbonic acid gas which almost everywhere abounds, and of which they make great complaint, and that the pits are so hot as to add greatly to the fatigue of the labour.While efficient ventilation," the Report adds, ' is neglected, less attention is paid to drainage. … Some pits are dry and comfortable. …. Many are so wet, that the people have to work all day over their shoes in water, at the same time that the water is constantly dripping from the roof; in other pits, instead of dripping, it constantly rains, as they term it, so that in a short time after they commence the labour of the day, their clothes are drenched; and in this state, their feet also in water, they work all day. The children especially (and in general the younger the age, the more painfully this unfavourable state of the place of work is felt) complain bitterly of this.It must be borne in mind, that it is in this district that the regular hours of a full day's labour are fourteen, and occasionally sixteen; and the children have to walk a mile or two at night without changing their clothes. In the West Riding of Yorkshire, it appears, that there are very few collieries with thin seams where the main roadways exceed a yard in height, and in some they do not exceed twenty- six or twenty-eight inches; nay, in some the height is as little even as twenty-two inches; so that in such places the youngest child cannot work without the most con- strained posture. The ventilation, besides, in general is very bad, and the drainage worse. In Oldham, the mountain-seams are wrought in a very rude manner. There is very insufficient drainage. The ways are so low, that only little boys can work in them, which they do naked, and often in mud and water, dragging sledge-tubs by the girdle and chain. In North Lancashire,The drainage is often extremely bad; a pit of not above twenty inches seam," (says a witness,) "had a foot of water in it, so that he could hardly keep his head out of water.In Cumberland, it appears the mines are tolerably dry and well ventilated, and in South Durham (he same, with some ex- 1326 ceptions. In North Durham, there are some thin seams, and in Northumberland many not exceeding two feet, or two feet two inches. Great complaints are made by children of pains and wounds from the lowness of the roof; but the ventilation is excellent—as good, perhaps, as it can be in the present state of that science Yet, I regret to add, theDrainage, not being so essential to the safety of the coal-mine as ventilation, has been much less attended to in this district.In East Scotland, where the side- roads do not exceed from twenty-two to twenty-eight inches in height, the working-places are sometimes 100 and 200 yards distant from the main road, so that females have to crawl backwards and forwards with their small carts in seams, in many cases not exceeding twenty-two to twenty-eight inches in height. The whole of these places, it appears, are in a most deplorable state as to ventilation, and the drainage is quite as bad as the ventilation. The evidence, as given by the young people and the old colliers themselves, of their sufferings, is absolutely piteous. In North Wales, in many of the mines, the roads are low and narrow, the air foul, the places of work dusty, dark, and damp, and the ventilation most imperfect. In South Wales, in many pits, the ventilation is grossly neglected, and the report complains of the quantity of carbonic acid gas, which produces the most injurious effects though not actually bad enough to prevent the people from working, So long as a candle will burn, the labour is continued. With respect to the mines in Glamorganshire and Pembrokeshire, the sub-commissioner states the ventilation to be most imperfect, and productive of diseases which have a manifest tendency to shorten life, as well as to abridge the number of years of useful labour on the part of the work-people. Sir, the next subject to which I shall request your attention, is the nature of the employment in these localities. Now, it appears that the practice prevails to a lamentable extent of making young persons and children of a tender age draw loads by means of the girdle and chain. This practice prevails generally in Shropshire, in Derbyshire, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in Lancashire, in Cheshire, in the east of; Scotland, in North and South Wales, and in South Gloucestershire. The child, it appears a girdle bound round its waist, 1327 to which is attached a chain, which passes under the legs, and is attached to the cart. The child is obliged to pass on all fours, and the chain passes under what, therefore, in that posture, might be called the hind legs; and thus they have to pass through avenues not so good as a common sewer, quite as wet, and oftentimes more contracted. This kind of labour they have to continue during several hours, in a temperature described as perfectly in- tolerable. By the testimony of the people themselves, it appears that the labour is exceedingly severe; that the girdle blisters their sides and causes great pain.Sir", (says an old miner) "I can only say what the mothers say, it is barbarity—absolute barbarity.Robert North says,I went into the pit at seven years of age. When I drew by the girdle and chain, the skin was broken, and the blood ran down. If we said anything, they would beat us. I have seen many draw at six. They must do it or be beat. They cannot straighten their backs during the day. I have sometimes pulled till my hips have hurt me so that I have not known what to do with myself.In the West Riding, it appears, girls are almost universally employed as trappers and hurriers, in common with boys. The girls are of all ages, from seven to twenty-one. They commonly work quite naked down to the waist, and are dressed —as far as they are dressed at all—in a loose pair of trowsers. These are seldom whole on either sex. In many of the collieries the adult colliers, whom these girls serve, work perfectly naked. Near Huddersfield, the sub-commissioner examined a female child. He says,I could not have believed that I should have found human nature so degraded. Mr. Holroyd, and Mr. Brook, a surgeon, confessed, that although living within a few miles, they could not have believed that such a system of unchristian cruelty could have existed,Speaking of one of the girls, he saysShe stood shivering before me from cold. The rug that hung about her waist was as black as coal, and saturated with water, the drippings of the roof." "In a pit near New Mills," (says the sub-commissioner) ' the chain passing high up between the legs of two girls, had worn large holes in their trowsers. Any sight more disgustingly indecent or revolting can scarcely be imagined than these girls at work. No brothel can beat it.Sir, it would be impossible to enlarge upon all these points; the evidence is 1328 most abundant, and the selection very difficult. I will, however, observe that nothing can be more graphic, nothing can be more touching, than the evidence of many of these poor girls themselves. Insulted, oppressed, and even corrupted, they exhibit, not unfrequently, a simplicity and a kindness that render tenfold more heart-rending the folly and cruelty of that system that has forced away these young persons, destined, in God's providence, to holier and happier duties, to occupations so unsuited, so harsh, and so degrading. Now, Sir, it appears that they drag these heavy weights some 12,000 yards, some 14,000, and some 16,000 yards daily.In the east of Scotland," (says the com- missioner) "the persons employed in coal- bearing are almost always girls and women. They carry coal on their backs on unrailed roads, with burdens varying from #x00BE cwt. to 3 cwt.,—a cruel slaving," (says the sub-commissioner), "revolting to humanity. I found a little girl," (says he) "only six years old, carrying #x00BD a cwt., and making regularly fourteen long journeys a-day. With a burden varying from 1 cwt. to l#x00BD cwt., the height ascended and the distance along the roads, added together, exceeded in each journey, the height of St. Paul's Cathedral.Thus we find a child of six years old, with a burden of at least #x00BD cwt., making fourteen times a-day a journey equal in distance to the height of St Paul's Cathedral. The commissioner goes on:—And it not unfrequently happens that the tugs break, and the load falls upon those females who are following," (who are, of course, struck off the ladders into the depths below.) "However incredible it may be, yet I have taken," (he adds) the evidence of fathers who have ruptured themselves by straining to lift coal on their children's backs.But, Sir, if this is bad for the children and young persons, the case is far worse for pregnant women. For them it is horrible. I will quote the evidence of one woman who deposes to her own sufferings; and let me here observe, that the evidence of the workpeople themselves is worth more than all the rest; for they know what they suffer, and what the consequences are. I can say for them that I have ever found their statements more accurate, and that I have never met with attempts to mislead in the evidence given by working men of their own condition. To return, however, to the situation of the women in a state of pregnancy. 1329I have a belt round my waist," (says Betty Harris) "and a chain passing between my legs, and I go on my hands and feet. The road is very steep, and we have to hold by a rope, and where there is no rope, by anything that we can catch hold of. It is very hard work for a woman. … The pit is very wet I have seen water up to my thighs. … My clothes are wet through almost all day long. … I have drawn till I have had the skin off roe. The belt and chain is worse when we are in the family way." "A woman has gone home," (says another) "taken to her bed, been delivered of a child, and gone to work again under the week." "I have had," (says a witness) "three or four children born the same day that I have been at work, and have gone back to my work nine or ten days after: four out of eight were still-born." (There is further evidence to the same effect: — "The oppression of coal-bearing) says Ellspee Thompson," is such as to injure women in after-life, and few exist whose legs are not injured, or haunches, before they are thirty years of age." "Jane Watson had two dead children; thinks it was so from the oppressive work. A vast number of women have dead children, and false births, which is worse; they are not able to work after the latter. I have always been obliged to work below till forced to go home to bear the bairn, and so have all the other women. We return as soon as able—never longer than ten or twelve days; many less, if they are much needed. It is only horsework, and ruins the women; it crushes their haunches, bends their ankles, and makes them old women at forty." (Another poor girl says,) "We are worse off than horses: they draw on iron rails, and we on flat floors.Another witness, a most excellent old Scotchwoman, Isabell Hogg, says,From the great sore labour, false births are frequent, and very dangerous …Collier people suffer much more than others. You must just tell the Queen Victoria that we are quiet, loyal subjects; women-people here don't mind work; but they object to horse-work; and that she would have the blessings of all the Scotch coal-women if she would get them out of the pits, and send them to other labour.Well, Sir, and I say so too. And she would have the blessing not only of all the Scotchwomen, but of every woman who has the least feeling of the sex within her, and of every man too who has ever known what it is to have a wife or a mother. The next point to which I would call the attention of the House is as to the hours of work and the physical effects on the workpeople.When workpeople are in full employment," (says the Report) "the regular hours of work for children and young persons are 1330 rarely less than eleven; more often they are twelve; in some districts they are thirteen. In Derbyshire, children, Sec., work sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, reckoning from the time they leave their home in the morning until they return to it in the evening." As regards the east of Scotland, there is "overwhelming evidence that the labour is often continued, on alternate days, at least, fifteen, sixteen, seven- teen, and eighteen hours out of the twenty- four.Anne Hamilton, seventeen years old, says: —I have repeatedly wrought the twenty-four hours, and after two hours of rest and my peas (soup), have returned to the pit and worked another twelve hours." "Now, in the great majority of these mines night-work is a part of the ordinary system of labour—one which the whole body of the evidence shows to act most injuriously both on the physical and moral condition of the work-people, and more especially on that of the children and young persons." "Though the labour," (says the Report), "cannot he said to be continuous, because intervals of a few minutes necessarily occur.… it is, nevertheless, generally uninterrupted by any regular time set apart for rest and refreshment, what food is taken in the pit being eaten as best it may while the labour continues.But in the coal mines of Ireland a fixed time is allowed, at least for dinner. Here, too, I am glad to be able to repeat that a different system prevails in the sister island. Now, with regard to the physical effects of the labour on the workpeople, it appears that in some parts of the country a curious effect is produced by the results of this species of labour not being discernible, in many cases, until a certain period of life. On this head the Report says:—With the exception of the east of Scotland (of which the account is deplorable), the physical condition of persons employed (so long as they can pursue their labour) derives a favourable character from the advantages of high wages, yet the testimony," (it continues,) "is equally full that the nature and circum- stances entail ultimately grievous diseases.This is confirmed by the evidence of the children themselves as to the effect upon their own health; and the Sunday-school teachers depose to the extreme fatigue which the few who do attend the school exhibit when they go on the Sunday. Mr. William Sharpe, F. R. S., a surgeon at Bradford,—Has for twenty years professionally attended the Low Moor Iron-works: there are cases of deformity, and also bad cases of scrofula apparent, induced by boys being sent too 1331 early into the pits, by their working beyond their strength, by the constant stooping, and by occasionally working in water.The chief employment of children and young persons in North Durham and Northumberland, that of "putting," is very severe— great numbers of the younger children are often completely exhausted by the labour, while those more advanced in years say that it deprives them of appetite and produces a constant feeling of sickness.The youngest of the putters are greatly to be commiserated; many of them declared," (says the sub-commissioner), "that the severity of their labour was such that they would willingly suffer a diminution of wages to procure a limit to the hours of work.But notwithstanding all this, the coal- fields of the North stand out in almost every respect in a very favourable contrast with the other districts. But the east of Scotland beats all. From the tender age and sex of the great proportion of the workpeople, the long hours of work, the wretched condition of the pits, the meagre and unsubstantial food, the degree of fatigue produced by colliery-work, the labour in this district is extreme. The evidence of the children is intolerably distressing. Agnes Kew, fifteen years old, says: —It is sore crushing work; many lasses cry as they bring up their burdens.Again, another says:—It is sare fatiguing work it maims the women.In another place, Mr. T. Batten, surgeon of Coleford, says:—Has known cases of nervous relaxation in young boys. Had one case of epilepsy in a boy about thirteen, brought on by too much exertion. Another boy died of hæmorrhagia purpurea, from the same cause. The boy was not more than seven years of age.There is one phenomenon very remark- able in the physical condition of the miners, which is seen in their extensive muscular development: at first it was supposed that an employment, which produced such a result, could not be essentially prejudicial; but those well acquainted with the subject pronounce this development to be unnatural, and therefore injurious, Now, Sir, the physical effects of this system of labour may be classed under these heads. Stunted growth, crippled gait, irritation of head, back, and feet, a variety of diseases, premature old age, and death. 1332Several," (says Dr. Scott Allison), "become crooked. Diseases of the spine are very common and very serious. Several of the girls and women so employed are distorted in the spine and pelvis, and suffer considerable difficulty at the period of the parturition." (Diseases of the heart are very frequent, say all the medical witnesses):—" Many are ruptured, even lads, from over exertion; some are ruptured on both sides." (But the most destructive and frequent disease is asthma.) "Some are affected at seven or eight years of age. Most colliers at the age of thirty become asthmatic.Dr. Scott Allison adds—Between the twentieth and thirtieth year many colliers decline in bodily vigour, and become more and more spare.…… At first, and, indeed, for several years, the patient, for the most part, does not suffer in his general health; but the disease is rarely, if ever, cured. …. It ultimately deprives him of life by a slow and lingering process.The want of proper ventilation," (says an old miner), "is the chief cause; the men die off like rotten sheep.There is another most curious disease, of which the House now hears perhaps for the first time. It is the melanosis, or black spittle. From the state of the atmosphere in which the people work, there is often-times not sufficient oxygen to decarbonize the blood, and Dr. Thompson, of Edinburgh, says—Workmen in coal-mines occasionally die of an affection of the lungs, accompanied with the expectoration of a large quantity of matter of a deep black colour.Dr. Makellar calls itThe most serious and fatal disease which he had had to treat among colliers—a carbonaceous infiltration in the substance of the lungs.Dr. Scott Allison says—The symptoms are emaciation of the whole body, constant shortness and quickness of breath, occasional stitches in the sides, quick pulse, usually upwards of 100 in the minute, hacking cough day and night, attended by a copious expectoration, for the most part perfectly black. The disease is never cured. It invariably ends in the death of the sufferer.Who, then, can be surprised that the consequences are premature old age and death? Not only, however, is the death of the collier premature, but so is the exhaustion of his strength: he is early deprived of the power of earning a livelihood. Mr. Massey, clerk to the Wellington Union, says— "That when about forty years of age, the 1333 greater part of the colliers may be considered as disabled and regular old men.The evidence, in this respect, is universal. In the east of Scotland the system is thus spoken of by the sub-commissioner:-—Its baneful effect on the health cannot well be exaggerated. I have been informed by competent authorities, that six months' labour in the mines is sufficient to effect a very visible change in the physical condition of the children.The rev. Richard Buckly, rector of Begelly, says—The foul air of the mines seriously affects the lungs of the children and young persons employed therein, and shortens the term of lifeAnd here is a summary of the condition of the collier by the commissioners:—By the same causes the seeds of painful and mortal diseases are very often sown in childhood and youth: these slowly but steadily developing themselves, assume a formidable character between the ages of thirty and forty; and each generation of this class of the population is commonly extinct soon after fifty.No doubt exceptions might be quoted to these results, but I am only speaking of the great mass of persons employed, in the collieries. Now, Sir, the moral effects of the state of things which the collieries present are equally prominent and equally alarming. It might be assumed without proof, but I shall state a few cases in order to exhibit those effects to the House and the country, and to show how necessary it is, immediately, if possible, to ad- dress ourselves to the evil. A clergyman, the rev. W. Parlane, of Tranent, says:—Children of amiable temper and conduct, at seven years of age, often return next season from the collieries greatly corrupted, and, as an old teacher says, with most hellish dispositions.See, too, here, how the system super- induces habits and feelings of ferocity that are perfectly alarming. Hannah Neale says,—My boy, ten years old, was at work: about half a year since his toe was cut off by the bind falling; notwithstanding this, the loader made him work until the end of the day, although in the greatest pain.Isaac Tipstone says;—I was bullied by a man to do what was beyond my strength. I Would not, because I could not. The man threw me down, and kicked out two of toy ribs.1334 Jonathan Watts says:—A butty has beaten a boy with a stick till he fell. He then stamped on him till the boy could scarcely stand. The boy never told, and said he would not, for he should only be served worse. Boys are pulled up and down by the ears I have seen them beaten till the blood has flowed out of their sides. They are often punished until they can scarcely stand.John Bostock, speaking of Derbyshire, says:—The corporals used to take the burning candle-wicks after the tallow was off, light them, and burn his arms. I have known my uncle take a boy by the ears, and knock his head against the wall, because his eyesight was bad, and he could not see to do his work as well as others.From the south part of the West Riding, and about Bradford and Leeds, the accounts are more favourable; but about Halifax girls are beaten as severely as boys. They strike them in the face and knock them down.I have seen this many times," (says a witness).Harriet Craven, aged eleven, says:—A man flung a piece of coal as big as my head at me, and it struck me in my back." I met," (says the sub-commissioner), "the girl crying bitterly. The several marks on her person and that of her sister were sufficient proofs of ill-treatment." "I remember meeting," (he adds), "one of the boys crying very bitterly, and bleeding from a wound in the cheek. I found his master, who told me, in a tone of savage defiance, that the child was One of the slow ones, who would only move when he saw blood, and that by throwing a piece of coal at him he had accomplished his purpose, and that he had often adopted the like means.William Holt says: —I have seen boys get an eye knocked out by a stone flung at them by the master.No doubt there are many exceptions to this state of things; but I am sorry to say that colliers are generally spoken of and known in many places as remarkably uneducated and ferocious. Their habits besides beget an utter recklessness of human life: in no part of the habitable globe, perhaps, is there such utter indifference displayed towards the life and limbs of human beings as in these collieries. The chief constable of Oldham says:—There are so many killed, that it becomes quite customary to expect such things, and people say, ' Oh, it is only a collier?' There would'" (he said), "be more feeling exhibited 1335 if a policeman were to kill a dog in the streets. Even the colliers amongst themselves say so; so that when they learn which it is that is killed, that is all they think about it.But now mark the effect of the system on women: it causes a total ignorance of all domestic duties; they know nothing that they ought to know; they are rendered unfit for the duties of women by overwork, and become utterly demoralized. In the male the moral effects of the system are very sad, but in the female they are infinitely worse, not alone upon themselves, but upon their families, upon society, and, I may add, upon the country itself. It is bad enough if you corrupt the man, but if you corrupt the woman, you poison the waters of life at the very fountain. Sir, it appears that they are wholly disqualified from even learning how to discharge the duties of wife and mother. Matthew Lindley, a collier, says:—I wish the Government would expel all females from mines; they are very immoral; they are worse than the men, and use far more indecent language.George Armitage says—Nothing can be worse.At a meeting of 350 working-colliers, in Barnsley, it was voted with only five dissentients, that—The employment of girls in pits is highly injurious to their morals; that it is improper work for females; and that it is a scandalous practice.Indeed, it universally appears that—-Wherever girls are employed, the immoralities are scandalous.The rev. Richard Roberts says—The practice of working females in mines is highly objectionable, physically, intellectually, morally, and spiritually.It is awfully demoralizing," says Mr. Thornely, a justice of the peace for the county of York: "the youth of both sexes work often in a naked state.The Sub-commissioner for the East of Scotland says—The employment of females in this district is universally conceived to be so de- grading, that all other classes of operatives refuse intermarriage with the daughters of colliers who work in the pits.Joseph Frazer, a collier, says —The employment unfits them for the duties of a mother; the men drink hard, the poor bairns are neglected; in fine, the women follow the men, and drink hard also.Under no conceivable circumstances," 1336 (says the sub-commissioner), "is any one sort of employment in collieries proper for females, the practice is flagrantly disgraceful to a Christian, as to a civilized country. I have scarcely an exception to the general reprobation of this revolting abomination.I am decidedly of opinion," says Mr. Thornely, "that women brought up in this way lay aside all modesty, and scarcely know what it is but by name. I sincerely trust that before I die I shall have the satisfaction of seeing it prevented, and entirely done away with.Now, Sir, I know that the commissioners have not, by any means, told the worst of the story. They could not, in fact, commit to print for general circulation all the facts and circumstances that had come to their knowledge in connection with this system; but surely it does not require any very vigorous imagination on the part of those who have read or heard these statements, to draw from them conclusions which will show a state of things which is not only disgraceful, but most perilous to the welfare of the country. Now, Sir, to remove or even to mitigate, these sad evils requires the vigorous and immediate interposition of the Legislature. That interposition is demanded by public reason, by public virtue, by the public honour, by the public character, and I rejoice to add by the public sympathy; for never, I believe, since the first disclosure of the horrors of the African slave-trade, has there existed so universal a feeling on any one subject in this country, as that which now pervades the length and breadth of the land in abhorrence and disgust of this monstrous oppression. It is demanded, moreover, I am happy to say, by many well-intentioned and honest pro- prietors—men who are anxious to see those ameliorations introduced which, owing to long-established prejudices, they have themselves been unable to effect. From letters and private communications which I have received on the subject, I know that they will hail with the greatest joy such a bill as I shall presently ask leave to introduce. In that bill I propose, in the first place, and at once, to cut off the principal evils. Much, no doubt, may be left for future legislation; but there are some of the evils of so hideous a nature, that they will not admit of delay —they must be instantly removed—evils that are both disgusting and intolerable —disgusting they would be in a heathen country, and perfectly intolerable they are in one that professes to call itself 1337 Christian. The first provision, then, which I shall propose will be the total exclusion of all females from the mines and collieries of this country. I think that every principle of religion—I think that every law of nature calls for such a step; and I know of no argument that can be raised against it, unless one of a most unworthy and of a completely selfish character. I believe, indeed, there are but a very few proprietors who have any real interest in keeping women so employed; but there are some interested parties who wish to retain females in the pits, and I am anxious to state to the House and the country what the motives are for inducing or compelling those wretched females to undergo the shameful toil and degradation to which they are subjected. I will take the evidence of the working people themselves one of whom says—Girls and women never get coal; they always remain drawers, and are considered to be equal to half a man.Another collier says—They prefer women to boys, as they are easier to manage, and they never get to be coal-getters, which is another good thing.Another witness says—The temptation to employ women arises from their wages, being lower than that of males.The underlooker at Mr. Woodley's states—One reason why women are used so frequently in the coal-pits is, that a girl of twenty will work for 2s. a day, or less, and a man of that age would want 3s. 6d. It makes little difference to the coal-master; he pays the same whoever does the work. Some would say he got his coal cheaper, but I am not of that opinion; the only difference is, that the collier can spend 1s. to 1s. 6d. more at the alehouse.Another remarks:—When a lad gets to be half, he is all for getting coal; but a lass never expects to be a coal-getter, and that keeps her steady to her work.Now, Sir, estimate the benefits of removal, by merely observing the effect of the evil. There is no economy in the practice, for Ellspee Thompson says:—I can say, to my own cost, that the bairns are much neglected when both parents work below; and if neighbours keep the children, they require as much as women sometimes earn, and yet neglect them.
Mr. M. T. Sadler,
a surgeon at Barnsley, says:—I strongly disapprove of females being in pits; the female character is totally destroyed by it; their habits and feelings are altogether different; they can neither discharge the duty of wives nor mothers. I see the greatest difference in the homes of those colliers whose wives do not go into the pits.
the sub-commissioner says:The result of my inquiries is in every case to show, that the employment of female children and young persons in such labour, shuts them out entirely from all useful and necessary knowledge; the wives are so little capable of rendering a house comfortable, that the husband is constantly driven to the alehouse, whence arise all the evils of drunkenness to themselves and to their families. From this source, a fearful deterioration of the moral and physical condition of our working population is rapidly taking place.Now, I rejoice to say, that in this matter, we are not left to mere speculation, for we have the evidence of Mr. James Wright, manager for the Duke of Buccleuch, and I have his Grace's authority for adding, a most intelligent and honest man. He says:—Four years ago, I superintended Mr. Ram- say's mines; females and young children were excluded, and a vast change was observable in the comfort and condition of the colliers, who availed themselves of the new regulations.He goes on:—Some families left at the period, being desirous to avail themselves of the labour of their female children, many of whom have returned, and the colliers are much more regular than heretofore.This evidence is confirmed by Thomas Hynd, coal-viewer in Mr. Dundas's pits, who says:—When Mr. Maxton first issued the order, many men and families left, but many have returned, for they find, now the roads are improved, and the out-put not limited, they can earn as much money, and get homes. Many of the females have gone to service, and prefer it.Again, Mr. James Wright says—and here I am very anxious for the attention of the House, because I would entreat them to observe how the mischief is first engendered, and then perpetuated, by the toleration of these practices. Women are allowed to work below, and because they are so, the evils here stated, continue without abatement; a man would com- 1339 plain and resist, but a woman is submissive—I feel confident (he says) that the exclusion of females will advantage the colliers in a physical point of view, inasmuch as the males will not work on bad roads (females are wrought only where no man can he induced ! to draw or work; they are mere beasts of bur- den). This will force the alteration of the economy of the mines.Pray, Sir, observe what follows:—Owners will be compelled to alter their system; they will ventilate better, and make better roads, and so change the system, as to enable men, who now work only two days a-week, to discover their own interest in regularly employing themselves.Mr. Maxton, of Arniston, and Mr. Hunter, the mining overman, asserts:—That in consequence of a new ventilation, and an improved mode of railing roads, a man and two boys take nearly as much money as when the whole family were below, and many of the daughters of miners are now at respect- able service.Mr. Maxton, of Arniston, again con- tends that—Women ought to be entirely disused under-ground; and no boys ought to be permitted to go below under twelve years of age. These have been the rules in this colliery for some time past, and already the good effects are being felt; the houses of the workmen are clean and comfortable, the children are well looked after by their mothers, the young women are going out to service, and the whole work- people have a better moral aspect. Colliers prior to our regulation emigrated in the pro- portion of one fourth; but now not in that of one-tenth.This is very important testimony, for the colliers, I understand, are people of very migratory habits; and now, Sir, listen to this as a crowning point. Mr. James Wright concludes:—?Since young children and females have been excluded from his Grace's mines, we never had occasion to increase the price of coal,All this is confirmed by the experience of Mr. Hulton, of Hulton, who has, for twenty-five years been in occupation of coal - pits. That gentleman has been kind enough to write to me, and has exhibited a, most striking contrast in the state of the population of his mines, with that of the surrounding districts. The next point to which I wish to call attention, is the exclusion of all boys under thirteen years of age; and 1340 this I confess may be looked upon as my weak point, for here I am likely to find the greatest opposition. I shall, how- ever, briefly state to the House the reasons why I think it necessary to limit the ad- mission of children into the pits to those who have arrived at the age of thirteen. In the first place, the Factory Act prohibits full labour under thirteen years of age: in the next place, in the cotton and wool districts frequent complaints have been made of a deficiency of young persons, who, it is alleged, are called off" to the print works and coal-mines, where labour is not regulated by law. It is therefore contended that an undue advantage is thus given to these departments of industry, to the prejudice of those of wool and cotton. Now, I am extremely anxious to bring them all to this one level; and if my proposition be adopted, a due supply of children under thirteen years of age will be obtained from the coal-pits, and the proprietors of wool and cotton mills, as they themselves have alleged, will be enabled to have two complete sets of workers, the demand for children under thirteen years of age being thus supplied to work in two relays of six hours in the day each (though I should myself prefer five), according to the provisions of the bill introduced, but not carried, in the last Session. Indeed, almost all the evidence goes to show that fourteen years of age would be the proper limit required for full labour. My own feelings, I must say, lead me to that opinion; but as thirteen is the age stated in the Factory Act, I am not disposed to deviate from it. If a child once goes down into a pit, he must remain in it. All who go down must work full time, and, if required, throughout the night. As for subterranean inspection, it is altogether impossible; and, indeed, if it were possible, it would not be safe. I do not know what the case may be twenty-five years hence, but certainly, at the present time, I for one should be very loth to go down the shafts for the purpose of doing some act that was likely to be distasteful to the colliers below. Nor are we without evidence as to the hazard of such proceedings. Dr. Mitchell says:—Cases have occurred where diabolical characters have deranged the gear during the night;.…and in consequence, the first party descending has been dashed to pieces.In these mines, too, the House must 1341 recollect, the miners have a morality and a policy of their own.It is well known," (says Dr. Mitchell,)" that persons who have done actions not deemed very heinous by the miners, have taken shelter in the mines;" (and he adds,) "there are few constables who would willingly go down after them.But I urge most strongly that children are, in many cases, left altogether in these pits to the butties and overlookers, and that it is in their power to treat them as they please. There is abundant evidence, too, to show that the children never dare complain of the ill-usage they receive, Punishments may be prohibited by the masters, as in many cases they are; but. as one of the Commissioners very truly remarks, these people work alone, in sercluded places, at great distances from each other, and they are consequently enabled to inflict any punishment they please almost without notice. Nor is there, I contend, any necessity for employing children in such offices. One witness says;—Coal-work is at best of an o'er sail' kind, and few lads can acquire the knowledge of ' heaving,' or have good strength to ' put,' till fourteen years, of age. Colliers frequently exhaust themselves, and if regular they would not need the assistance of such quantities of infant labour.Indeed, the very custom of taking those children into the mines had its origin in vice. The habits of irregularity and intoxication common among miners are the cause of it, and unhappily, from the system which prevails, those habits are transmitted from father to son. We have it in evidence that many of the miners work eight or nine days only in a fortnight, earn some money, and then spend the rest of their time, until those earnings are exhausted, in drinking, cock fighting, and gambling. They then have to work again to make up for lost time; and thus it happens that they take down their wives, and children into the; pits with them, and make that cruel demand on female and infantile labour, which would be wholly unnecessary were they steady to their work and decently frugal in their habits. But take away the power of permitting young children to work in the pits; put an end at once to this abuse—this monstrous and shameful abuse—and, depend upon it, they will soon attain their legitimate ends in an honest way. The next point to 1342 which I desire to draw the attention of the House is to the necessity of making a provision, that no person shall be employed in charge of an engine or an engine-house who is under the age of twenty-one years. The whole subject of accidents in coal-pits has been under the investigation of this House, and has been reported on, yet nothing has been done but I am sure that we must speedily direct our attention to this subject, if we wish to save many heads of families for the service of their country, and many families of children from destitution and the poor- house. Now, the frequency of their occurrence is fully proved and their cause is also elaborately detailed in the evidence. To give only one statement: Dr. Mitchell says,—The accidents which occur in the mining districts of South Staffordshire are numerous, and, to judge from the conversation which one constantly hears, we might consider the whole population as engaged in a campaign.But my proposition will be limited to a single point. In many districts it is common to draw up the miners and let them down again into the pita in baskets worked by engines. The engines are put up in small buildings near the mouth of the shaft; and those engines are frequently left in the charge of children, twelve, eleven, and even nine years of age. The testimony is uniform and universal as to this shameful neglect in the districts where it prevails. One witness says,—It is common in Derbyshire, as elsewhere, to employ very young children as engineers to let down and draw up the workpeople. I have met with children only ten years old having the lives of colliers left to their mercy, and have seen others so inattentive to their duty as to let the curve be drawn over the pulley, and half a ton of coals be thrown down the shaft.These children draw up or let down six at a time, The accidents resulting from the practice are innumerable. One of the witnesses, a miner, says,—The worst thing that has ever been brought about against the colliers is in the masters employing little bits of lads as engineers. Until a man has come to maturity of age, and to know the value of a man's life, he is not to be trusted with the management of an engine.That is a very just and sensible remark, from an experienced working-man, and 1343 one to which I hope the House will pay attention. But just hear what is said by Mr. Wilde, the chief constable of Old- ham— and I call more particular notice to his statements, because it is Mr. Wilde's duty to collect evidence for the coroner's inquests.It is," (he says,)" a general system here to employ mere children to attend these engines and to stop them at a proper moment; and if they be not stopped, the two, or three, or four, or five persons wound up together are thrown over the beam down into the pit again. There have been people wound over at Old- ham-edge, at Wernertho, at Chamber-lane, at Robin-hill, at Oldbottom, and on Union- ground here, within the last six or seven years.And he adds,—I do not know a case in which children were not the engineers. Three or four boys were killed in this way at the Chamber-lane Colliery by the momentary neglect of a little boy, who, I think, was only nine years of age; and who had turned away from the engine when it was winding up, on his attention being attracted by a mouse on the hearth.But the witnesses who have given evidence on this point also hesitate not to state the motive which induces the employment of those children. They say, and with great truth,If the masters can get such a duty discharged by a boy, to whom they give 5s. or 7s. a week, it is so much gained to them upon the wages of a man, whom they ought to employ.I think the House will concur with me, therefore, in thinking that the Legislature may well interfere to check the great cause of these lamentable results, by putting an interdict upon the practice of employing young children in such responsible occupations. And now, Mr. Speaker, the fourth and last point to which I would call attention is one on which I trust every Member of this House will have as strong a feeling of indignation as that which animates myself. I speak now of the practice of assigning boys as apprentices to the butty colliers; and I do not hesitate to say that anything more enormous was never brought under the notice of the Legislative assembly of a free country. The districts in which this system of apprenticeships is most common are South Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, and the west of Scotland.In South Staffordshire," (says the sub- commissioner,) "the number of children or 1344 young persons as apprentices is exceedingly numerous: these apprentices are paupers or orphans, and are wholly in the power of the butties; Such is the demand for this class of children, that there are scarcely any boys in the Union workhouses. These boys are sent on trial between eight and nine; and at nine are bound for twelve years, that is, to the age of twenty-one years complete.Now, Sir, was there ever such a thing?There are probably," (says Mr. William Grove,)" 300 apprentices belonging to the collieries in this town of Bilston. One man has now five in his house.Just see what an abominable system this is. Ask yourselves whether any state of slavery is worse. Take what I am now going to read to you as a sample:—Many of the colliers," (says the sub-com- missioner,) "take two or three apprentices at a time, supporting themselves and families out of their labour.Mark this: he is idle himself, and lives on the toil of these wretched creatures.As soon as either of them is old enough, he is made a getter, and is then worth from l0s to 15s. a week. At the age of fourteen the apprentice works side by side with other lads, who are getting 14s. a week (he himself getting nothing): at seventeen or eighteen, side by side with freemen, who may go where they please, and are earning 20s. or 25s.The orphan," (says the sub-commissioners,) whom necessity has driven into the work- house, is made to labour in the mines until the age of twenty-one, solely for the benefit of another.Not a penny may he earn for himself, not a step may he take without the permission of another. And is this system of apprenticeship necessary? It is given in evidence that there is nothing to be learned that might not be acquired in ten days. Dr. Mitchell says:—Notwithstanding this long apprenticeship, there is nothing whatever in the coal-mine to learn beyond a little dexterity, readily acquired by short practice. Even in the mines of Cornwall, where much skill and judgment are required, there are no apprentices.Then, Sir, see the treatment to which these unfortunate lads are subjected, placed as they are completely in the power of these men, in seclusion and darkness, afraid to appeal, utterly defenceless, without friends or protectors of any sort. Just see the horrid power exercised by these men. I will read to you some excellent testimony, that of Mr. Baylis, agent to Mr. Lonsdale. Mr. Baylis says: — 1345The men will send a boy where they do not go themselves, and some have their limbs broken and others lose their livesMark the cowardice of the deed.Some parishes will not let the butties have their pauper children. Butties get apprentices, and send their own children to learn other trades: the apprentices have not a holiday, if there be one, or means of employing them;—it is the apprentices who are sent to mind the steam-engine, and pump up water on Sundays.They are not even allowed the rest of the Sunday.It is the apprentices who on that day clean the boilers.Mr. Ellison, a master manufacturer in the West Riding of Yorkshire, gives similar testimony:—When the colliers," (says he,) "are in need of hurriers, they apply to the Poor-law guardians for pauper children. I have been," (says he,) "a guardian myself, and know it to be the fact. They cannot get them elsewhere, on account of the severity of the labour and the treatment hurriers experience.But I will now go to the detail of cases of individual oppression, and will quote, in the first instance, the evidence given by two boys, Thomas Moorhouse and Henry Gibson. Thomas Moorhouse said,'My master served me very bad; he stuck a pick into me twice.' [Here (says the Sub- Commissioner) I made the boy strip, and found a large cicatrix, likely to have been occasioned by such an instrument, which must have passed through the glutei muscles, and have stopped only short of the hip joint: there were twenty other wounds occasioned by hurrying in low workings.]
§ Henry Gibson (Wigan)
said,There is a lad called Jonathan Dicks, from St. Helen's workhouse; he gets thrashed very ill. I saw his master beat him with a pickaxe on his legs and arms, and his master cut a great gash in his head with a blow of a pickaxe.',I now come to another case, to which I am particularly anxious to call the attention of the House, because I believe it to be a case of unparalleled brutality, and because I directed the attention of the Government to the circumstances at the time they occurred. I saw this case stated in the newspapers more than a year ago, and it appeared to me that the magistrates, under whose attention it had been brought, had awarded a very small punishment for a very great 1346 misdemeanour. I immediately went to the Home Secretary, and expressed my fears that it was too late to take any steps upon the case, adding at the same time, however, that it was a matter in which, perhaps, he might think it right to show that official vigilance was alive to such conduct. My noble Friend, with that courtesy and kindness which I ever experienced at his hands, instantly made inquiry; and afterwards informed me that the facts, as I had represented them, were not only substantiated, but actually correct. I now find the case detailed at length in the Appendix to the Report; and I must entreat the House to allow me to state it at full length. It is the case ofEdmund Kershaw, who (says the sub- commissioner) was apprenticed by the over- seers of Castleton to a collier near Rooley-Moor. Mr. Milner (the surgeon) examined this boy, and found on his body from twenty- four to twenty-six wounds. His back and loins were beaten to a jelly; his head, which was almost cleared of hair on the scalp, had the marks of many old wounds.… One of the bones in one arm was broken below the elbow, and seemed to have been so for some time. The boy, on being brought before the magistrate, was unable to sit or stand, and was placed on the floor in the office. It appeared that the boy's arm had been broken by a blow with an iron rail, and the fracture had never been set, and that he had been kept at work for several weeks with his arm in that condition. It was admitted "what an admission!" by the master, that he had been in the habit of beating the boy with a flat piece of wood, in which a nail was driven, and projected about half an inch. The blows had been inflicted with such violence that they had penetrated the skin, and caused the wounds described by Mr. Milner.Now was not this enough for one poor child, at least? Not at all so;The boy had been starved for want of food, and his body presented all the marks of emaciation. This brutal master had kept him at work as a waggoner until he was no longer of any use, and then sent him home in a cart to his mother, who was a poor widow residing in Rochdale.Well might all the charter-masters in Shropshire speak of the system with horror, and say it was as bad as the African slave-trade. For my part, I think it quite as bad, if not worse; for, at any rate, slaves have the advantage of working in the night of the open day, besides that they may possess, sometimes, the alleviations of a domestic, if not a happy con- 1347 dition. But now, I ask, what is to be said I have already trespassed too much upon of such a system as this? These wretched apprentices have committed no crime, and even if they had so, they would not deserve to meet with such a punishment. Only a few days ago I went over the new prison at Pentonville. Never have I seen such preparations as are there made for securing a proper degree of comfort to the prisoner. Such care for light, such care for ventilation, such care that every necessary requirement of the prisoner should be furnished. He is to have books, tools, instruction— to hear the human voice at least fourteen times a day. Sir, I find no fault with that; but bear in mind that all this is done for persons who have forfeited their liberty by the laws of their country; but here you have a number of poor children, whose only crime is that they are poor, and who are sent down to these horrid dens, subjected to every privation, and every variety of brutal treatment, and on whom you inflict even a worse curse than this—the curse of dark and perpetual ignorance. Ignorant such people must be; for, from the time you take them down the shaft of the pit, not one hour have they of their own to learn their duty either to their fellow-man or to their Almighty Maker. And here I tell you that this matter nearly affects yourselves. It affects you as the makers of laws—laws which you enact in order that they may meet with obedience and respect. You are anxious to enforce these laws—You are anxious to enforce, for instance, the New Poor-law. I say nothing now as to the wisdom, or other- wise, of that law, but surely it is wise to relax the rigour of your laws when such relaxation is just and safe. Where is the right to inflict a servitude like this? Is orphanism a crime? To maintain such a system would be not only oppression, but an insult (I say it advisedly) to the poorer classes: but they need not fear, for they will find, I can see, a defence in this House. Here is a case made out—meet that case fully and fairly. Do not only make laws to meet such cases in future, but endeavour to meet the first injustice also. Let apprenticeship be abolished on the spot; cancelled.Undo the heavy burdens, and let the op- pressed go free.And now, Sir, I will detain the House only a short time longer; for I know that 1348 I have already trespassed too much upon your attention. You will, however, I am sure, forgive me when you remember how long I have laboured in this cause, and how deeply 1 have it at heart. And now, Sir, is all this cruelty necessary? Cannot we attain our ends by any other means? You have seen not only how needless, but how wasteful and ruinous, to themselves and their families, is the employment of females in thee severe and degrading occupations: you have seen how wasteful and ruinous is the employment of children of such tender years, when we not only deprive them of all means of education, but anticipate the efforts of that strength which should be reserved for the service and defence of a future generation. Sir, I am sure that under proper regulations the occupation itself may be rendered both healthy and happy: in- deed, all the evidence goes to show that a little expense and a little care would obviate a large proportion of the mischiefs that prevail. No employments that are necessary to mankind are deadly to man but by man's own fault: when we go beyond, and enter on the path of luxury and sensual gratification, then begins the long and grim catalogue of pestilential occupations. And now, Sir, having endeavoured to state the case, may I occupy a few minutes to show that this present effort is not a desultory movement, but part of a large plan, wisely or unwisely conceived, for the social and moral improvement of the working classes. There are other re- ports to come, which will show a greater, a deeper, and, if I may use the term, a fiercer necessity for change of some kind. I had long observed the enormous toil of a large proportion of the community, and the total disemployment of the other— physically injurious to the one, and mo- rally injurious to both. I thought I had a right to interpose in behalf of the children and young persons, to redress the balance, and to avert the mischief by shortening the hours of labour, and by that means to call into action those who were unemployed, and to afford some relief to those who were already overworked. This has been the limit of my exertions: 1 have never attempted to legislate for the adults, or interpose between master and man in the matter of wages. I have laboured to bring them within the reach of moral and religious education, knowing full well that they are the seeds of future generations of 1349 citizens; and that, in the progress of opinions and of things, there can be neither safety nor hope but by our becoming, under God's blessing, a wise and an understanding people. Sir, we can estimate our loss or acquisition of territory by geographical measurement; and so we can calculate in finance by increase or deficiency of revenue; but it is not easy to arrive at the moral statistics of a country. Many persons love to estimate the condition of a kingdom by its criminal tables; but surely these, Sir, exhibit very scantily the moral state of a people. A people may be in a frightful condition as citizens, and yet but few appear before the magistrate or infringe the laws:—why take such a picture as this? I use it to show that criminal statistics are only a symptom, and not the extent of the internal disorder. The paper which I hold in my hand is a statement taken from the Police Returns of Manchester, for one year, up to December 31, 1841, and in it I find the following: —
|Taken into custody||13,345|
|Discharged by the magistrates||10,208|
|Of these, there were under twenty years of age||3,069|
|Including the females||745|
§ Surely it would be unsound for the House to conclude that of the 13,345 taken into custody, the 10,000 discharged were perfectly innocent, immaculate in all the duties of private citizens. I do not, in general, set any great value on what are now called educational statistics; yet I cannot but observe, as a matter of curiosity, in how many of these persons one avenue to moral and intellectual improvement was absolutely closed up. Of the whole number, 6,971 could neither read nor write; 5,162 could read and write imperfectly; 220 only had superior instruction, which was, we may fairly conclude, of no very high character. Now, Sir, in the column which follows there are many sources of crime, of immorality, of utter degradation, fatal and wide-spreading, the results of which may never be seen before a commissioner of police or a judge of assize, and will therefore never be ascertained by a statistical return. I find within the limits of the borough of Manchester the number of
|Pawnbrokers to be||129|
|Brothels lately suppressed||1ll|
|Brothels where prostitutes are kept||163|
|Houses of ill-fame where prostitutes resort||223|
|Street-walkers in the borough||763|
|Thieves known to reside in the borough, who do nothing but steal||212|
|Persons following some legal occupation, but who are known to have committed felony, and augment their gains by habitual violation of the law||160|
|Houses for receiving stolen goods||63|
|Houses suppressed lately||32|
|Houses for the resort of thieves||103|
|Houses lately suppressed||25|
|Lodging-houses where the sexes indiscriminately sleep together||109|
Again, in the year ending September, 1840, there were confined in Durham gaol 141 pitmen; no very great number in respect of the population. Out of these, sixty-four were confined for breaking some small condition of their bond. No perfect picture, however, of the state of society among the mining people can be arrived at from this return. It will be much better collected from the evidence of Mrs. Goodger, the mistress of an infant-school in that district, who states, that
When she first came, oaths were exceedingly common in the mouths of girls of five and seven years old," and when reprimanded for their conduct, "they did not scruple to call her the most opprobrious names that could be imagined." The witness further declares, that "she thinks the bad language might be corrected by the parents, who, instead of doing this, frequently abuse her for punishing the children.
I hope, Sir, that the House will not consider that I am speaking dogmatically on these subjects: my intercourse with the working classes, both by correspondence and personal interview, has for many years been so extensive, that I think I may venture to say, that I am conversant with their feelings and habits, and can state their probable movements. I do not fear any violent or general outbreaks on the part of the population; there may be a few, but not more than will be easily repressed by the ordinary force of the country. But I do fear the progress of a cancer, a perilous, and if we much longer delay, an incurable cancer, which has seized upon the body, social, moral, and political; and then in some day, when there shall be required on the part of our people an unusual energy, an unprecedented effort of virtue and patriotism, the
strength of the empire will be found prostrate, for the fatal disorder will have reached its vitals. There are, I well know, many other things to be done; but this, I must maintain, is an indispensable preliminary; for it is a mockery to talk of education to people who are engaged, as! it were, in unceasing toil from their cradle to their grave. I have endeavored for many years to attain this end by limiting the hours of labour, and so bringing the children and young persons within the reach of a moral and religious education. I have hitherto been disappointed, and I deeply regret it, because we are daily throwing away a noble material!—for, depend upon it, the British people are the noblest and the most easily governed of any on the face of the earth. Their fortitude and obedience under the severest privations sufficiently prove it. Sure I am, that the Minister of this country, whoever he be, if he will but win their confidence by appealing to their hearts, may bear upon his little finger the whole weight of the reins of the British empire. And, Sir, the sufferings of these people, so destructive to themselves, are altogether needless to the prosperity of the empire. Could it even be proved that they were necessary, this House, I know, would pause before it undertook to affirm the continuance of them. What could induce you to tolerate further the existence of such cruelties? Just hear, Sir, and it is the last, the statement of William Hunter, a mining overs-man in the Arrinston colliery—
I have been twenty years," (says he), "in the works of Mr. Robert Dundas. Women and lasses were wrought below, when Mr. Alexander Moxton, our manager, issued an order to exclude them. Women always did the heavy part of the work, and neither they nor the children were treated like human beings, nor are they where they are employed. Females submit to work in places where no man, or even lad, could be got to labour in; they work in bad roads, up to their knees in water, in a posture nearly double; they are below till the last hour of pregnancy; they have swollen haunches and ankles, and are prematurely brought to the grave, or what is worse, a lingering existeuce.
Well might that good man Mr. Bald exclaim—
The state of these females, after pulling like horses through these holes, is more easily conceived than explained; their perspiration, their exhaustion, and tears very frequently, it is painful in the extreme even to witness.
Is it not enough to announce these things to an assembly of Christian men and British Gentlemen? For twenty millions of money you purchased the liberation of the negro; and it was a blessed deed. You may, this night, by a cheap and harmless vote, invigorate the hearts of thousands of your countrypeople, enable them to walk erect in newness of life, to enter on the enjoyment of their inherited freedom, and avail themselves (if they will accept them) of the opportunities of virtue, of morality, and religion. These, Sir, are the ends that I venture to propose: this is the barbarism that I seek to restore. The House will, I am sure, forgive me for having detained them so long; and still more will they forgive me for venturing to conclude, by imploring them, in the words of Holy Writ, "To break off our sins by righteousness, and our iniquities by showing mercy to the poor, if it may be a lengthening of our tranquillity."
§ Mr. Fox Maule
begged to second the motion of his noble Friend, and in doing so to acknowledge in the spirit it merited, the manner in which his noble Friend had expressed his acknowledgements to the late Government for granting him the commission. The details which his noble Friend had laid before the House must, he was sure, have convinced every Gentleman who heard him of the absolute necessity, that the House should take some vigorous steps. His noble Friend had preferred the work of benevolence to which he had devoted himself to that more splendid and glittering path that ambition might have opened to him, and found its reward in the enjoyment of office, and the employment of power. In that work he trusted his noble Friend would succeed, and with the assistance of the House accomplish the object that his noble Friend had in view, that of advancing the interests of humanity.
§ Mr. H. Lambton
could not but express his gratitude to the noble Lord for proposing legislation on this subject. It did him infinite credit. It was one of many proofs he had given how anxious he was to protect the poorer classes, especially the younger portion of them. He had listened to the whole speech of the noble Lord, with the deepest interest—the profoundest attention; but that part which excited his feelings the most was, where he exposed the manner in which females were employed in the mines. He had 1353 listened to that part with feelings of disgust, indignation, and shame, that in this enlightened country, in the middle of the nineteenth century, such a savage state of things should be found to exist; and it was with pleasure and satisfaction he was enabled to state, that in the counties of Durham and Northumberland, females were never employed in the mines. He wished to take the earliest opportunity of stating this, in order that none of that blame, which so justly attached to those parts of the country where such a practice occurred, should fall on these two counties; and he would assert, without hesitation, that in those counties, the coal- owners and their agents, generally speaking, treated the colliery population with kindness, even with generosity. The pitmen were in receipt of excellent wages —better than in most parts of the kingdom; and great attention and consideration were paid, even at an enormous expense, to the welfare, health, and safety of them all. These two counties were free from many of the charges brought forward by the noble Lord. There were no "girdle and chains"—no "beating of boys".—no "escape to the mines of men who had infringed the law, and where constables dared not follow,"—no "boys of nine or ten years old in charge of the engine"—no "apprenticeship." There were none of these; but he did not mean to say, there was nothing to correct. Far from it. He at once admitted, that the boys went down into the mines too young. But here he must say, the noble Lord had exaggerated the case, in stating that, in North Durham, "there were several of the age of five." In the collieries with which he was connected, there were forty- seven trappers. Of this number, five only were the age of eight; the rest were about nine and ten. But that was too young; and he admitted, that a law was necessary to protect the child—but to protect the child, not against the coal-owner and his agent, but against the cupidity of his own parent. There was the great difficulty to contend with. It mattered little to the coal-owner, as far as his self-interest was concerned, whether the boy went down to work in the mine at the age of nine or ten, or eleven and twelve. It mattered little whether that boy worked three days, or five or six days in the week; but it did matter to the cupidity of the parent. It was the parent who, but ill-educated and blinded as to 1354 what was his real and true interest, thought of nothing but how, at the very earliest age of his child, he might earn a few shillings. He saw a remarkable illustration of this last year, in the county of Durham. In the Lambton collieries there is established, and is establishing, at the expence of the coal-owner, three great schools. An able schoolmaster is carefully selected for each. He is allowed 40l. a year, a house and fuel; and his school house is found. One of these schools is in full operation; and he (Mr. Lambton) had taken great pains to make it as effective as possible, by framing the regulations according to the best and most approved methods of teaching. But —and here was the illustration—in almost every communication he had with the schoolmaster, he was met with this observation:—But what can I do, Sir? The parents will take away their children so very young', to put them into the mines'.Now, if you will pass a law to prevent the child from going down so very young, you will do an infinity of good in promoting the education of that population. Education is the great instrument and engine by which you must strike at the root of this evil; and I hope and trust that, before long, there will be no colliery establishment where the coal-owner will not have established effective schools at his own expense. It. is a duty he owes to his God and his country so to do. But in legislating on this subject, the House must be most careful to do so cautiously and temperately. Recollect, that we have to do with immense interests, where any rash legislation might plunge them into confusion and disorganization; and recollect, that we have to do with the labour of the pitmen, which is his only property. He hoped her Majesty's Government would bear this well in mind, when deciding the precise limitation of the age. One word more. He (Mr. Lambton) must say, from all he could learn, that there had been some exaggeration on the part of the sub commissioner in describing the state of things in the counties of Durham and Northumberland—as to the very early age at which so many of the boys go down into the mines—as to the severity of the work of the putters and its effects on their manner and health—as to the general effect on the health of the pitmen —and on the premature old age among 1355 the pitmen. The hon. Member quoted a letter from Mr. Hardcastle, surgeon, dated May 23rd, 1842; and also an extract from a letter from a head agent of a large colliery establishment, which stated,There were abundant examples of pitmen still healthy and active, from sixty to sixty- eight, and of even seventy—there are large numbers of sixty; and men who have hewed forty years.
Mr. Lambton concluded,
by again calling on the Government to pay attention to the precise limitation of the age—bearing in mind, that the Legislature was dealing with immense interests—that any rash legislation might plunge them into confusion and disorganization, and that we were dealing with the only property of the pitman—his labour: consequently, that we ought not to place the limit at one day longer than was absolutely necessary.
§ Lord F. Egerton
rose merely for the purpose of expressing to his noble Friend his most sincere thanks for the exertions which he had made in bringing the subject before the House. He thanked him for these exertions, the more peculiarly, as they were in behalf of a class of men with whom he might consider himself in some degree connected, representing as he did many gentlemen who were deeply interested in coal mining property, and who, he could assure the House, were most anxious to ameliorate the moral, social, and physical condition of those who were engaged in that most useful, important, and national employment. He thanked his noble Friend the more too, because he knew from experience that the assistance of the Legislature was essential in order to remedy the prevalent abuses. It was easy for them to judge of these matters with an enlarged view, and on general grounds; but it was no such easy matter to induce those immediately interested at once to adopt those changes which experience only could satisfy them were improvements. There were two most important points introduced to the notice of the House by his noble Friend—the age at which children were to be employed, and the occupation of females. With respect to the latter, although in the district which he was connected with, he did not believe that the employment to which females were subjected was incompatible with health, yet still, putting out of the 1356 question all such grounds as cruelty, oppression, force and violence, he thought that, as a question of morality, it was a monstrous thing that the female sex should continue to be so employed. With respect to the ages at which children should begin to labour, he was not sure that his noble Friend had selected quite the proper terms. However, that was a matter to be afterwards discussed; but, in the meantime, he could not help slating to the House some information which he had received on this subject, and which was communicated to him by a most respectable gentleman, a clergyman, who had been long conversant with such subjects. This gentleman stated, unwillingly, but conscientiously, that he feared that the peculiar bend of the back, and other physical peculiarities requisite to the employment, could not be obtained if children were initiated at a later age than twelve. This, however, was a subject which would afterwards come before the House, and in the meantime, he would again express his thanks to the noble Lord for the manner in which he had introduced the subject to their notice, and for the pains which he had taken on be- half of those whom it was the object of this bill to benefit.
§ Mr. Hume
was sure that the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, would experience the most hearty co-operation from those who sat near him, in carrying out the measure which he had just introduced to their notice. The tale he had unfolded could not but give rise to the most painful reflections. Hundreds of thousands of pounds had been expended in trying to alleviate distress abroad, and nothing done to put an end to such scenes of misery at home. He could not but think that there was something wrong in the nature of the Government which could have permitted them to have prevailed so long, with so large an expenditure for moral and religious instruction, with individuals endowed with such high salaries for the purpose of attending to the education of the people; he really thought, that what they had just heard contained matter for most serious consideration. He was glad to hear the noble Lord bear testimony to the character of the working man, and he hoped, that the Government would give its best assistance to elevate that character still higher. He believed, that none of the enactments proposed by 1357 the noble Lord would be objected to. The question as to age would be, perhaps, a solitary exception, but on every other point they were free from those objections which on other and similar occasions had seemed to him to exist to interfering between the master and the workman. Government, he contended, was bound to provide by education for the moral improvement of the young, as imperatively as they were bound to provide for the physical wants of the community. The promotion of education was a duty—a sacred duty—incumbent upon the Government, and should be one of the fore- most of the means to be taken by the noble Lord in his efforts to put an end to the misery which existed in coal mines. A foreigner arriving, and hearing the details which they had just listened to, could not be brought to believe, that in a civilised country such things should prevail. The noble Lord had taken the proper course; instituted inquiries, and had brought before the House statements, not based upon his own assertions, but on the evidence afforded by the inquiries of others. He could only conclude by regretting, that the institutions of the country had been in some way so deficient—that so many millions of money had been expended for the improvement of the people, and that after all such scenes should have continued to exist.
§ Sir James Graham
felt delighted but not surprised at the unanimity displayed by the House in the question before them. He was sure, that he expressed the opinion of the House when he said, that the feelings of those must be bad, or their reason perverted, who were not impressed with the force of the argument, the single- mindedness of purpose, and, above all, the tenderness of heart, which characterized the speech of the noble Lord. He never listened to any statement more clearly convincing in itself, or which, to his mind, was more expressive of that which he knew before, but never felt so forcibly as now—the amiable character of the noble Lord who made it. He congratulated him upon the result of his efforts, and the general approbation with which the House had rewarded his sacrifices and exertions in the cause of humanity. He believed, that with respect to the four principal points which it was the object of the bill of his noble Friend to achieve, no difference would exist. It would be im- 1358 possible to deny, that the time had come when they should extend by law to the workers in coal mines those regulations which subsisted in the mines of Cornwall. It was necessary that, without reference to age, females should not be employed in underground labour. What had been stated with reference to this species of employment was degrading to the country. It was an employment which, if persevered in, would invoke a great moral retribution—which would have a most prejudicial effect on the manly bearing of the people, and be attended with great ultimate degradation and loss of national character. The next point was with regard to the exclusion of boys under a certain age from working in the mines. His noble Friend proposed the age of thirteen as the limit, and he had assigned reasons for that proposition. He did not wish to enter upon the discussion of these reasons at present. Some of them did not appear to be quite satisfactory; but on the part of her Majesty's Government he would give its full assent to the introduction of a bill embracing the principle of some limitation of age. What peculiar limit it would be advisable to adopt he was not prepared at that moment to suggest. He agreed with the hon. Gentle- man, the Member for the county of Durham, that the children required to be protected, not so much from the selfishness of the coal-owners, as from the cupidity of their own parents; and although in general he would strenuously contend, that the principle should be held sacred, of non-interference with parental control, yet in the circumstances of the case at present before their notice, he felt that that control should be more or less restricted, and that the intervention of the Legislature was indispensable. He would therefore assent to the general principle involved in the second point of the noble Lord's bill. With respect to the third point, which proposed the imposition of some limit upon the ages of those employed as engineers, he cordially concurred. These persons were often placed at the top of the pit, regulating the motions of the engine which drew up the workmen and the coal from the bottom of the pit, and it was most important that such a grave duty should not be devolved upon mere boys. The last point in the proposed bill of his noble Friend, referred to the binding as apprentices of parish 1359 children; and there also he agreed with him that pauper children should not be indiscriminately bound. Under the regulations of the Poor-law Commission, which he had had the honour of proposing the continuance of to the House, he had imposed great restrictions upon the binding of parish apprentices. He was aware, however, that these restrictions were imperfect, and, in another clause which he had proposed to the House, he had made provision for vesting in the commission a power of restricting the board of guardians with respect to the trades to which parish children were to be bound. He quite assented as to the propriety of legislating upon the subject, and thought that pauper children should not be bound apprentices in the mines. There had been so much abuse carried on in this respect already— it had been so distinctly proved that children of six, seven, and eight years of age had been bound apprentices and employed for a great length of time in labour beyond their strength—it was a question for consideration, whether the articles of apprenticeship passed under the old system, should be considered in general to be still binding. With respect to the whole mea- sure proposed by his noble Friend, he thought that they were much indebted to him for his exertions in introducing it. He did not think that there was any one to whom that duty could be entrusted so as to command more public confidence; and he, on the part of Government, could assure his noble Friend that her Majesty's Government would render him every assistance in carrying on the measure.
§ Mr. Turner
was happy that none of the charges they had heard made against so many of the mining districts, could be made against that district with which he was connected. He had been astounded at the statements he had heard that night, but he was glad the noble Lord who had made them, allowed that the Cornish mine proprietors did not employ people for their benefit in the way which he was sorry to hear they had been employed in elsewhere.
§ Mr. Stuart Wortley
was sorry that he could not express similar sentiments to those which he had just heard uttered. The district with which he was connected, and in which he had passed the greater portion of his life, was one from which the commissioners had drawn the accounts of some of the most striking and terrible 1360 features in their report. Under these circumstances he rose to discharge a duty rather satisfactory to himself, than necessary to the present discussion, and that was to pay to the noble Lord his tribute of admiration for the course which he had adopted, and to tender to him his grateful thanks. It had been said that there were exaggerations in the report delivered. He could not say, nor could any man say, that in that report, here and there, some exaggerated statements could not be found, but that these were exaggerations which affected the conclusions which his noble Friend had come to, he did not believe. He believed that practices did exist which fully warranted the interference of the Legislature. He would call the attention of the House to a remarkable document which he had not heard alluded to, but which he believed the House would gladly see brought under their notice. Long before the report of the children's employment commission in February last, a petition was presented to the House from a witness of many of these scenes, substantially narrating statements similar to what they had all lately heard, and concluding with a prayer in unison with the principle of the proposition of his noble Friend. The hon. Gentleman read portions of the petition, which agreed with the statements of the mine commissioners quoted by Lord Ashley. The petition concluded with a prayer, that the system might be done away with. He quoted this petition, because it had been whispered that the report of the commissioners was exaggerated, that they had been willing to receive accounts of abuses, and to make up heightened statements. Now, the petitioner in this instance was an impartial man, and one who had personally an opportunity of witnessing what he described. He fully concurred with the main objects of the bill proposed to be introduced by his noble Friend. He felt that his noble Friend had not taken a step beyond the bounds of prudence and discretion. In all subjects of this kind, dealing with the condition and occupations of the lower classes, it was unquestionably desirable that they should not go so far as to encourage them to believe that it was in the power of rulers or of legislators to change the destinies of mankind, and to teach them to think that they could be exempted by Parliament, from the lot of that toil to which the mass of the com- 1361 munity were born. Still, a heavy responsibility rested upon the Legislature to do all that lay in its power to elevate their condition, and prevent the labour required from them being carried to excess. This was their duty, not only with reference to the well-being of those classes themselves; it was the strong conviction of his mind that no community could be in a whole- some state which suffered the humbler classes to remain in a condition which rendered them incapable of fulfilling their social duties.
§ Mr. Ward
upon all questions affecting the working classes of the country was disposed to place implicit confidence in the sincerity and good intentions of the noble Lord who had brought forward the bill. From the moment he had read the reports on this subject, he felt that if he confined himself to three at least of the four points he had so properly selected as the subject of his bill, the noble Lord would, with the unanimous approbation of the House, achieve one of the greatest triumphs of the Session by releasing from worse than Egyptian bondage the weaker portion of our fellow-subjects, and by annihilating those fraudulent apprenticeships which boards of guardians, caring little for the fate of the children plaeed under their care, had been ready to enter into for the purpose of ridding themselves of a merely temporary encumbrance. For his own part, he should give his most strenuous support to every part of the bill.
stated, that, in the collieries in the north, with which he was connected no girls were employed; that the young persons engaged to look after the shafts were aged from seventeen to twenty. one years, and that those sent to mines were from eight to ten years old, their employment at so tender an age being solely the result of the conduct of their parents.
§ Mr. Brotherton
tendered his most cordial thanks to the noble Lord for his humane and patriotic endeavours, not only to investigate the whole of this most important subject. but to devise some practical remedy for the enormous evils complained of. A deep responsibility would attach to that House if, after hearing the disclosures which had been made, they were not resolved to apply some efficient means of putting an end to the mischief. Considering the horrible and severe labour which those persons underwent in dark and dismal dungeons beneath the earth, 1362 the tender age at which they were taken to the mines, and the duration of their labour—from ten to sixteen hours a day— no one could imagine that such practices could have taken place or been tolerated in a Christian land. He was particularly struck with the evidence of one boy, who said he only saw daylight once a week, and that was on the Sunday. He believed the evils of the factory system were paradise when compared to the horrors detailed by the noble Lord. Although he might differ from the noble Lord in politics, he would venture to express his honest conviction that no considerations of party or politics could overrule the noble Lord's feelings in favour of the best interests of the working classes. He gave his most hearty assent to the motion for the introduction of the bill.
§ Mr. Pakington
was delighted to witness the impression made on the House. The details which had been so fully and ably detailed by the noble Lord had convinced Gentlemen on both sides that the time was come when there existed an imperative necessity for putting an end, by legislation, to the evils which had been exposed. His object in rising was to express strongly and warmly, his feeling of deep admiration at the course which the noble Lord had taken, and which did him infinite honour. As the Friend of suffering humanity, as the benefactor of those who had hitherto found no protector, the noble Lord had secured for himself a name and reputation more truly noble than any rank or station could confer. After the statement made by the noble Lord, he knew of nothing that would be more satisfactory to the House and country than the frank and cordial assurance of the right hon. Baronet that the Government would give this measure their firm support, and use every endeavour to put an end to those evils which now existed. He hoped, under these circumstances, notwithstanding the advanced state of the Session, and the importance of the business which still pressed on the attention of Parliament, his noble Friend, aided by the support of the Ministers, would be enabled to succeed in his generous efforts, and pass an effectual measure on this great subject during the present Session of Parliament.
§ Mr. M. Gibson
rose to correct a misapprehension that might possibly arise from a part of the noble Lord's speech, wherein he illustrated his argument by a statistical 1363 statement relative to the state of morals in Manchester. This might give rise to an idea that Manchester had been selected on account of a greater amount of demorazation existing there than in other towns of equal population; but he believed the noble Lord would confirm his statement, when he said Manchester had been selected for the purpose of illustration, merely because it happened that very accurate statistical returns had been drawn up by the efficient commissioner of police of that town. He wished similar returns existed with respect to other towns, and if this were the case, he was convinced it would be found that there was as great an amount of demoralization among the population of this metropolis as in the manufacturing districts. Much of the evil which appeared to exist from the statistical papers of Sir C. Shaw arose from the bad state and great poverty and depression of the working classes.
§ Sir R. Inglis
had had the honour, and a high honour he considered it, to support the lamented predecessor of the noble Lord, the late Mr. Sadler, in his endeavour to ameliorate the unfortunate degraded portion of their fellow subjects which came more especially under the care of that Gentleman, who had left his task as a legacy to the noble Lord. Under these circumstances he could not help indulging himself, if he might be permitted to use the phrase, in the delight of acknowledging his sense of obligation to the noble Lord for the part he had taken on the present occasion. He trusted that the unanimity which prevailed would encourage the noble Lord to persevere, and he doubted not, that under the blessing of God, the noble Lord would be enabled to bring to a successful issue the great work which he had carried thus far.
§ Mr. Protheroe
rose, as the representative of a district which stood preeminent for the abuses which had been exposed that night, to assure the noble Lord that his efforts were watched with anxiety by all the better classes of the population; and, however much the lower orders were at present insensible to the advantages which would result from the regulations proposed by the noble Lord, he might confidently rely that the time would come when his name would be blessed by the constituency which he represented, and when the Legislature would be thanked for its interference. He was glad a com- 1364 missioner had been sent to another district with which he was personally connected, and which happily stood in bright contrast with other mining districts—he meant the Forest of Dean. The hon. Member for Durham had alluded to the cupidity of the parents of children employed in mines, and he could state that schools were established in the Forest of Dean for the children, but their attendance could not be obtained without pursuing almost a system of persecution. It was quite impossible that good could be effected without legislation.
§ Lord Ashley
explained, that he had selected Manchester by way of illustration, not because he thought it preeminent for vice, but because an accurate and important document had been drawn up relative to it, which completely illustrated the position he wished to establish.
§ Leave given.
§ Bill brought in, and read a first time.