Графични страници
PDF файл

We found several manufacturers who were convinced that the de. rangements in the discipline of their mill arose from improprieties which occurred outside its walls, and beyond their jurisdiction ; and all with whom we conversed felt persuaded that some improvement in the domestic arrangements of the operatives was highly desirable, and almost absolutely necessary. Some wished for more stringent inspection ; others desired more vigilant police; all agreed that something was wanting, but they required the almost impossible condition that it should restrain improprieties, and not abridge liberty.

Every improvement that is really valuable must be voluntary. People cannot be made religious and moral by acts of parliament; the experiment has been tried often enough, and it has always failed signally and completely. The operatives would gladly exchange their present unwholesome lodgings for suites of rooms in a barrack, and would submit to all the necessary regulations, provided they had a share in their formation. The great error committed at Lowell, in the United States of America, was, that the proprietors of the operative barracks legislated for the inmates; and, like all legislators, fell into the error of making too many laws. They also kept the entire administration in their own hands; and hence their system has been found to clash with the levelling and equalizing tendency which is of necessity produced in a manufacturing population. A certain portion of self-government is in our opinion necessary to the success of the experiment; and from what we have seen of ihe intelligence, the principles, and the propriety of the operatives, we feel assured that it may be conceded not only with safety but advantage.

The co-operative system is not necessarily bad because it has been perverted by Robert Owen. There can be no doubt that the health, comforts, and prosperity of the operatives would be greatly increased if, by the introduction of the barrack system, they could have a common kitchen, a common garden, and a common hall for meetings, either of business or amusement. This could obviously be effected without trenching on the sacred principle of private property, which would, in fact, be strengthened and developed, by being at once connected and contrasted with the principle of common property. Ventilation, a proper supply of water, opportunities for innocent and healthy recreation, could be obtained for less money than is now spent to purchase the share of a tainted atmosphere, the seeds of disease, and conditions of existence, which not only suggest but actually enforce vicious indulgence.

It must not be imagined that what we have ventured to call the barrack system appears to us the best and most desirable form of existence; we recommend it merely to a dense population, crowded together by manufactures, amongst whom every inch of ground has its price, and that a very high one. The vast majority of the operatives must live in lodgings; and we therefore propose to render that condition of existence-which is one injurious to themselves, and perilous to society,--tolerable for them, and safe for the empire. The partial success of Socialism is a proof that some such institution is wanting. No system which was wholly false ever gained even partial popularity ; there are truths in Socialism just as there are truths in every other ism ; and these truths happening to be pe

culiarly applicable to a certain condition of society, withdraw atten. tion from the mass of pernicious nonsense with which they are mingled. It may be said of Robert Owen's proposals that they contain much that is good, and much that is new; but all that is good is not new, and all that is new is not good.”

The employment of children in the factories is a question about which so much has been written that it would seem as if nothing remained to be said. But there is one point on which we should be glad to gain some information : namely, what is to be done with the children if they are not so employed? It should be remembered that not only the fathers but the mothers are engaged all day in the mills, and that they have neither time nor opportunity to look after their children. In many respects it was advantageous that the child. ren should work under the eyes of their parents, and act as their assistants. The children of the handloom weavers were forced to do so; and they were generally more severely tasked and worse treated than the children in the factories. It is indeed very doubtful whether the factory bill has not been injurious to the interests of the children; many of them are employed in harder work than any to be found in the mill; they are frequently sent to toil in the mine until they are old enough for the factory. No doubt inspection was necessary; but it was far more required to protect children from the rapacity of parents than from the tyranny of masters. We have made many personal inquiries of the children, and we invariably found that they regarded admission into the mills as a boon and a favour.

It must not be imagined that the operatives are naturally and necessarily harsher parents than others; but the circumstances of their position prevent them from cherishing the domestic affections. In their wretched lodgings it is quite impossible that they should ever have a family circle. Many of them had tears in their eyes when they described how impossible it was for them ever to have their children as companions. Certainly not the least recommendation of the barrack system is, that it affords opportunities for bringing fathers and children together.

The relations between employers and operatives are determined by a nice process of self-adjustment, which would be greatly endangered by any external interference ; these relations are not, as some have absurdly said, those of master and slave; on the contrary, they are based on mutual dependence and mutual interests. Employers dare not be tyrants when they have millions of property at the mercy of the ashes of a tobacco-pipe. There may be capitalists who demand too large a share of the profits of industry, just as there are landlords who rack-rent their tenants; but the capitalist discovers his blunder much sooner than the landlord, for his intellects are more sharpened by competition.

Nothing but actual inspection will enable a person to comprehend the phenomena of life in a manufacturing district. A new state of social existence is opened to the view; history records nothing like it; the experience of life in other forms leaves us quite unprepared for the novelties which meet us everywhere. It must be further observed that this state of society is in continual and rapid progress; that it evolves new phases of life, and generates new principles of action every day; and that every one of these deranges and dis

places some established institution. Whether this innovating tendency be for good or for evil may be a theme of discussion for spe. culating metaphysicians; it is of far more importance to see that it exists, that it has increased, is increasing, and cannot be diminished. New institutions are rendered necessary; for the old are either shattered to pieces, or abandoned as useless lumber. There is, however, a manifest propensity towards forming institutions for themselves growing up among the manufacturing population,-a necessary result from the levelling and equalizing tendency which we formerly noticed; but it is not easy to foresee how these processes of selfgovernment and self-adjustment will be reconciled with the esta. blished forms of the country:

The religious condition of the factory population has not received the attention it merits: the results of the inquiries made by a casual visiter must naturally be very incomplete ; but still there are a few important and unsuspected facts which seem to merit consideration. In every large community following special occupations a peculiar dialect is rapidly formed, which, though it does not constitute a new language, renders communication difficult between the operatives and those who are not acquainted with their phraseology. The clergymen of the established church, classically educated at the universities, use a refined language, which rises nearly as much above the standard of ordinary conversation as the operative dialect falls below it. Hence, in the great majority of instances the sermons in church are preached to the operatives in what is virtually an unknown tongue.

Those who do not think about religion are, of course, insensible to the evil.

There are many operatives who look upon it as sufficient to go to church ; and to whom it is a matter of perfect indifference whether the service be performed in Hebrew, Sanscrit, or English: but there are many more who think seriously on the matter, and they desert the church for the conventicle, because they conclude that whatever they do not understand must be

The operatives are aware that their average of intelligence is superior to that of the agricultural population, and they are proud of their pre-eminence. The most natural result of this pride is a determination not to be led blindfold ; a spirit of inquiry which, united to imperfect education, is exceedingly likely to produce scep. ticism on the one hand, or enthusiasm on the other. The Church of England has not the machinery wanting to the working-population ; it has no institution similar to the subdiaconate proposed by the Archbishop of Dublin, or the orders of preaching-friars in the Church of Rome; consequently, there is no system of mutual interpretation between the parson and his congregation, and they for the most part are not on speaking-terms, because they are ignorant of each other's language.

The progress of dissent among the operatives in the manufac. turing districts is greatly favoured by another circumstance; the dissenting chapels are opened in the evening when the mills close, and they offer a place in which a working man can sit down, who has no home, or a very uncomfortable one. In these chapels the music is generally of a very high order; and out of Italy there is probably no spot on the surface of the globe so intensely musical as Manchester. Church-hours, on the contrary, are quite unsuited to the operatives; and the less that is said about church music on


week-days, or even on Sundays, the better. It is no part of our business to suggest remedies for this state of things; it is quite sufficient for us to show that some process of adjustment is requisite in order to accommodate the old institutions of the country to the new forms of society generated by the growth of manufactures.

It seems to be generally acknowledged that scepticism, or rather the rejection of any positive creed, is on the increase ; and this bas been very unwisely confounded with the spread of Socialism. We know from our own investigations that the great majority of those who frequent the social hall, visit it

“ Not for the doctrine, but the music there." The dupes of Socialism are so well aware of this fact, that they strenuously oppose lyceums, and similar institutions for providing secular instruction and innocent recreations for the people. Unfortunately they have been seconded in their opposition by those who profess to be most horrified at the progress of Socialism,—by the sanctimonious, the supercilious, and the monopolizing.

Chartism does not appear to flourish among the operatives so much as is generally supposed; it appears to have been a fire kindled from the smouldering embers of the trades' unions, and fanned into a flame by some who ought to have known that they would be the first consumed by a general conflagration. At the same time the combined pride of intelligence, and the feelings of equality generated by what we have described as the levelling-principle, render the operatives jealous of their exclusion from the elective franchise. The peace and prosperity of Hyde seem to be owing in no small degree to the fact that Mr. Ashton has made a great portion of his working people freeholders. The errors and delusions in religion and politics which are to be found among the operatives, seem mainly to arise from the want of sound instruction. The field was cleared for the growth of some new principles, and “while men slept the enemy sowed tares." The tares, however, are not a healthy crop; they do not suit the soil; and intelligent cultivators are alone wanting to produce a more beneficial harvest.

It will probably appear to our readers that much remains to be investigated before the moral and social condition of the manufacturing population can be properly understood by the country. The facts to which attention has been directed in this paper are sufficiently startling ; but many more might be added which would con. firm what has already been said, that new elements of society have been developed by the manufacturing system ; that these elements have dislocated ancient order, and disturbed the working of ancient institutions; and that some process of adjustment must be devised to reconcile the old and the new, or else they will soon work them. selves into a position of hostility which must peril the safety of both. We do not, however, disguise our opinion that such an adjustment will be a work of great nicety and difficulty ; it is, above all others, a case in which the most careful inquiry should precede legislation.


The Squire, as he was invariably called by the country-folk, was lolling in an antique-fashioned chair, worked fancifully with figures and fowers, reading the County Advertiser, after a substantial breakfast, when the perusal of the account of his hounds' last dashing run was interrupted by the entrance of the huntsman, familiarly called “Jumping Will,' looking peculiarly sheepish, otherwise bashful. He industriously stroked down the straight hair over his temples with one hand, and engaged the other with plucking a button from his waistcoat. A heightened colour had spread over his round cheeks, always rubicund from health ; and altogether Jumping Will's appearance had fallen from its usual careless and knowing bearing. The Squire peeped over the top edge of the paper; and seeing his favourite servant standing, with a good-natured smile said, 'Take a chair, William-take a chair. All right in the stable ?'

• Right as a trivet, sir,' laconically replied Will, occupying a seat. • The kennel in proper trim ?' • Even as bricks!' • Then I don't care for anything else,' replied the Squire. But I do, sir,' said Will, with emphasis upon the pronoun. You—you care for anything else but the kennel or stable !! 'Yes, I do, sir,' repeated Will. 'Ay-ay! A good cubbing season, I suppose.

' That's all in good time, sir. But what I now want is your approval to my getting myself coupled with Nancy, the dairy-maid, sir.'

What, married, William ? inquired the Squire, dropping the paper in surprise, and looking at the blushing Will.

• Buckled to, as a match pair, is our want, sir,' was the reply from the huntsman, who, drooping his head, felt -as he afterwards described it to Nancy,— like a fox with his earth stopped, inclined to hide himself, but didn't know where.'

• You want to spoil yourself, spoil the hounds, and spoil the horses, eh, William? Who the devil is to ride the colts after you're married ?' passionately asked the Squire.

Me, of course, sir,' rejoined Will. * You—you ride after being harnessed in the shafts of matrimony ! Fudge! You'll not take a water-furrow.'

‘But I will, though ; and so I told Nancy. But, bless your soul, sir! she's the very gal to see a fellow brush a rasper. She boasts and brags of my riding to all the other maids in the house, and says she never would have had me but for the way I ride, and

"And what ?' said Will's master, as he hesitated to complete Nancy's reasons for having him.

"She says, the fine appearance I cut in the cap and pink,' replied the huntsman, looking hard at the Squire's face, after many attempts to raise his eyes from the carpet.

Will saw the burst of laughter about to issue from the Squire's inflated cheeks, and seeing the omen of the success of his suit, he slap

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »