The Claims of Labour - an essay on the duties of the employers to the employed
by Arthur Helps
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But how strange it is that men should require to be urged to this good work of education. The causing children to be taught is a thing so full of joy, of love, of hope, that one wonders how such a gladsome path of benevolence could ever have been unfrequented. The delight of educating is like that of cultivating near the fruitful Nile, where seed time and harvest come so close together. And when one looks forward to the indefinite extension that any efforts in this direction may probably enjoy, one is apt to feel as if nothing else were important, and to be inclined to expend all one's energies in this one course. Indeed, it is hard to estimate the enormous benefit of enabling a man to commune with the most exalted minds of all time, to read the most significant records of all ages, to find that others have felt and seen and suffered as himself, to extend his sympathy with his brother-man, his insight into nature, his knowledge of the ways of God. Now the above is but a poor description of what the humblest education offers.

Let us now consider the subject of "the school-room" more in detail. And, the first remark I have to make, is, that we should perpetually recal to mind the nature of our own thoughts, and sensations, at the early periods of life in which those are whom we are trying to educate. This will make us careful not to weary children with those things which we long to impress most upon them. The repetition of words, whatever they may contain, is often like the succession of waves in a receding tide, which makes less of an inroad at each pulsation. It is different when an idea, or state of feeling, is repeated by conduct of various kinds: that is most impressive. If a child, for instance, is brought up where there is a pervading idea of any kind, manifested as it will be in many ways, the idea is introduced again and again without wearisomeness, and the child imbibes it unconsciously. But mere maxims, embracing this idea, would very likely have gained no additional influence with him from being constantly repeated: that is, at the time; for, in after years, the maxims may, perhaps, fasten upon his mind with a peculiar strength, simply from their having been often repeated to him at an early period of his life. But at present this repetition may be of immense disservice. You cannot continue to produce the same effect by words, that you did on first using them; and often you go on hammering about a thing until you loosen what was fast in the first instance. It is well to keep such reflections steadily in mind as regards religious instruction for the young, and, especially, as regards religious services for them. Go back to your own youth, and recollect how little command of attention you had yourself, how volatile you were, how anxious to escape all tedium, how weary of words, how apt to dislike routine. Then see whether you make sufficient allowance for these feelings in dealing with the young; and whether it might not be possible to give them the same holy precepts, to communicate the same extent, or nearly so, of religious instruction, and yet to ensure their love for the times, and places, and circumstances, of this communication. You must allow that you do a very dangerous thing indeed, when you make that wearisome which you wish to be most loved. I must confess that it has often struck me, that we insist upon too much religious attendance from children of a tender age; and, considering what we know of the impatience of the human mind, I cannot but think that such a system is often most prejudicial. I say these things with much hesitation, and some fear of being misunderstood; and I do not venture to enter into details, or to presume to say what should be the exact course in so difficult a question. What I wish, is to draw the attention of those engaged in instruction to a point of view which may sometimes escape them, or which they may be tempted to neglect for the sake of appearances, the household gods of this generation.

* * * * *

There is one maxim which those who superintend schools should ponder well; and that is, that the best things to be learnt are those which the children cannot be examined upon. One cannot but fear that the masters will be apt to think school-proficiency all in all; and that the founders and supporters of schools will, occasionally, be tempted by vanity to take most interest in those things which give most opportunity for display. Yet the slightest inferiority of moral tone in a school would be ill compensated for by an expertness, almost marvellous, in dealing with figures; or a knowledge of names, things, and places, which may well confound the grown-up bystander. That school would in reality be the one to be proud of, where order was thoroughly maintained with the least admixture of fear; where you would have most chance of meeting with truthful replies from the children in a matter where such replies would criminate themselves: and where you would find the most kindly feeling to each other prevalent throughout. Yet these are things not to be seen on show days, that cannot be got up for exhibition, that require unwearied supervision on the part of masters and benefactors, that will never be attempted but by those who, themselves, feel deeply the superiority of moral excellence to all else. Such teachers will see how the kindness of children to each other may be encouraged. They will take more notice of a good-natured thing than a clever one. They will show, how much, even in the minutest trifles, truth and fortitude weigh with them. They will be careful not to stimulate an unwholesome craving for praise in their pupils. They will look not only to the thing done, but also to the mode and spirit of doing it. That this spirit and mode may be the means of generating and guiding future endeavour will be a main object with such instructors. The dignity of labour, the independence of thrift, the greatness of contentment, will be themes dwelt upon by them, in their loving foresight for the future welfare of the infant labourers entrusted to their care. To endear holy things to these little ones would delight such teachers far more than to instil the utmost proficiency in any critical or historical knowledge of the sacred writings. Not that the two things are in the least degree incompatible. Far from it, indeed! All I mean to insist on is, that such teachers will perceive what are the great objects of culture: and how subservient even the best knowledge is to the apprehension of duty. They will see, too, more clearly the necessity of bearing in mind the pre-eminence of moral and religious culture, when they reflect that many of their pupils come from places which cannot be called homes, where scarcely anything like parental love sustains or informs them, and where, perhaps, confusion, discontent, and domestic turbulence prevail.

We may remark, as bearing upon this subject, that singing lessons should be greatly encouraged in schools. There are several merits connected with this mode of instruction. It employs many together, and gives a feeling of communion; it is not much mixed up with emulation; the tenderest and highest sentiments may be unostentatiously impressed by its means, for you can introduce in songs such things as you could not lecture upon; then it gives somewhat of a cultivated taste, and an additional topic of social interest, even to those who do not make much proficiency; while to others, who have a natural ability for it, it may form an innocent and engaging pursuit throughout their lives.

With respect to the intellectual part of teaching, I have not much to say: and it is a branch of the subject which has engaged, and is engaging, the attention of men who are much more capable of speaking about it than I am. The only thing which it occurs to me to mention is, that one would like to see a great deal of manual teaching, with a view not only to the future profit, but also to the future pleasure and instruction of the children. When you think that many of them will be artisans, whose only occupation, perhaps, will be to perform some one process of manufactures, requiring next to no thought or skill, it becomes the more necessary to educate their hands as well as their heads. Man is an animal very fond of construction of any sort; and a wise teacher, knowing the happiness that flows from handiwork, will seize upon opportunities for teaching even the most trivial accomplishments of a manual kind. They will come in, hereafter, to embellish a man's home, and to endear it to him. They will occupy time that would, otherwise, be ill spent. And, besides, there are many persons whose cleverness lies only in this way; and you have to teach them this or nothing.


This is a place quite as important as the school-room. Here it is, that a large part of the moral cultivation may be carried on. It is a great object to humanize the conduct of children to each other at play times without interfering with them, or controlling them, too much. But we have, before, gone over the motives which should actuate a teacher in his moral guidance; and it needs only to remark, that the playground is a place where that guidance is eminently required; and where the exigencies for it are most easily discerned.

Those games should not be overlooked which are of a manly kind, and likely to be continued in after life. This brings us naturally to think of the playgrounds for children of a larger growth. Hitherto there has been a sad deficiency in this matter in our manufacturing towns, and almost everywhere else. Can any thing be more lamentable to contemplate than a dull, grim, and vicious population, whose only amusement is sensuality? Yet, what can we expect, if we provide no means whatever of recreation; if we never share our own pleasures with our poorer brethren; and if the public buildings which invite them in their brief hours of leisure are chiefly gin palaces? As for our cathedrals and great churches, we mostly have them well locked up, for fear any one should steal in and say a prayer, or contemplate a noble work of art, without paying for it: and we shut people up by thousands in dense towns with no outlets to the country, but those which are guarded on each side by dusty hedges. Now an open space near a town is one of nature's churches: and it is an imperative duty to provide such things. Nor, indeed, should we stop at giving breathing places to crowded multitudes in great towns. To provide cheap locomotion, as a means of social improvement, should be ever in the minds of legislators and other influential persons. Blunders in legislating about railroads, and absurd expenditure in making them, are a far greater public detriment than they may seem at first sight. Again, without interfering too much, or attempting to force a "Book of Sports" upon the people, who in that case, would be resolutely dull and lugubrious, the benevolent employer of labour might exert himself in many ways to encourage healthful and instructive amusements amongst his men. He might give prizes for athletic excellence or skill. He might aid in establishing zoological gardens, or music-meetings, or exhibitions of pictures, or mechanics' institutes. These are things in which some of the great employers of labour have already set him the example. Let him remember how much his workpeople are deprived of by being almost confined to one spot; and let him be the more anxious to enlarge their minds by inducing them to take interest in any thing which may prevent the "ignorant present," and its low cares, from absorbing all their attention. He has very likely some pursuit, or some art, in which he takes especial pleasure himself, and which gives to his leisure, perhaps, its greatest charm: he may be sure that there are many of his people who could be made to share in some degree that pleasure, or pursuit, with him. It is a large, a sure, and certainly a most pleasurable beneficence, to provide for the poor such opportunities of recreation, or means of amusement, as I have mentioned above. Neither can it be set down as at all a trifling matter. Depend upon it, that man has not made any great progress in humanity who does not care for the leisure hours and amusements of his fellow-men.

While we are upon this matter, I will mention something which borders closely upon it, though it applies to the consumer rather than the manufacturer. Most men would think it much, if it were brought home to them, that from any carelessness of theirs, some person had suffered unnecessary imprisonment, if only for a day. And yet any one, who encourages unreasonably late hours of business, does what he can to uphold a system of needless confinement, depriving thousands of that healthful change of pursuit which is one of the main aliments both for body and soul, and leaving little time or opportunity for any thing to grow up in their minds beyond the rudest and most trivial cares and objects.


That the workman should have a home, which, however humble it may be, should yet afford room and scope for the decencies, if not for some of the comforts and refinements of civilized life, is manifestly essential, if we wish to preserve the great body of the people from a state of savageness. There is an important and original remark on this subject in the Hand Loom Weavers Report of 1841:

"The man who dines for 6d. and clothes himself during the year for 5 pounds is probably as healthily fed, and as healthily clad, as if his dinner cost two guineas a day, and his dress 200 pounds a year. But this is not the case with respect to habitation. Every increase of accommodation, from the corner of a cellar to a mansion, renders the dwelling more healthy, and, to a considerable extent, the size and goodness of the dwelling tends to render its inmates more civilized."

Indeed, if civilization does not show itself in a man's home, where else is it likely to take much root with him? Make his home comfortable, and you do more towards making him a steady and careful citizen, than you could by any other means. Now only look around, and see how entirely this has been neglected, at least, until within a recent date. Our workers are toiling all day long, or, if they have leisure, it is mostly accompanied by pecuniary distress: and can you expect in either case that they will busy themselves about those primary structural arrangements without which it is scarcely possible to have a comfortable home? Many of the things, too, which are needful for this end, require capital, or, at least, such conjoint enterprise as can hardly be expected from the poor. Take any individual workman. Suppose there is defective drainage in his street, or, as often happens, no drainage at all, what can one such man do, even if at all alive to the evil? When you consider the dependent condition of the labouring classes, and how little time they have for domestic arrangements of any kind, does it not behove the employer of labour to endeavour that his workmen should have opportunities of getting places to live in, fit for human beings in a civilized country? I use the phrase "employer of labour," in its widest sense; and at once say, that there are many things bearing upon the comfort of the habitations of the poor, which both the local authorities and the imperial government ought to look to. Is there not a strange mockery in the fact, stated in the Sanitary Report, that "the annual slaughter in England and Wales from preventible causes of typhus which attacks persons in the vigour of life, appears to be double the amount of what was suffered by the allied armies in the battle of Waterloo?" Must we not say again that the careless cruelty of the world almost outweighs the rest?

I have hitherto abstained from vexing my readers with details; nor do I wish now to do more than draw their attention to a few extracts from public documents respecting the habitations of the poor. I take the following from the Hand Loom Weavers' Report in 1841.

"The First Annual Report of the Registrar-General, showed for the year 1838 a variation of the annual mortality in different districts of the metropolis, amounting to 100 per cent.; a difference nearly equal to that which exists between the most healthy and the least healthy portions of the world. The inquiries instituted at the same time by the Poor Law Commissioners into the physical causes of fever in the metropolis, have traced the comparative mortality of the unhealthy districts principally to the presence of impurities, the want of ventilation, and the bad construction of houses.

"The following extracts from Dr. Southwood Smith's Report on Bethnal Green and Whitechapel, show both the causes and the intensity of the evil.

'It appears,' says Dr. Southwood Smith, 'that in many parts of Bethnal Green and Whitechapel, fever of a malignant and fatal character is always more or less prevalent. In some streets it has recently prevailed in almost every house; in some courts in every house; and in some few instances in every room in every house. Cases are recorded in which every member of a family has been attacked in succession, of whom in every such case several have died; some whole families have been swept away. Instances are detailed in which there have been found in one small room six persons lying ill of fever together; I have myself seen this, four in one bed, and two in another.

* * * * *

'The room of a fever patient in a small and heated apartment in London, with no perflation of fresh air, is perfectly analogous to a standing pool in Ethiopia full of bodies of dead locusts. The poison generated in both cases is the same; the difference is merely in the degree of its potency. Nature with her burning sun, her stilled and pent up wind, her stagnant and teeming marsh, manufactures plague on a large and fearful scale. Poverty in her hut, covered with her rags, surrounded with her filth, striving with all her might to keep out the pure air and to increase the heat, imitates nature but too successfully: the process and the product are the same; the only difference is in the magnitude of the result.

'But the magnitude of the result in London, if that magnitude be estimated by the numbers attacked, is not slight. From returns received from the Bethnal Green and Whitechapel Unions it appears that during the last year there occurred of fever cases,

In the Bethnal Green Union 2,084

In the Whitechapel Union 2,557

Total 4,641

The state of things described above by Dr. Southwood Smith is by no means confined to the metropolis; nor, even, is it to be seen in its worst form there. Mr. Chadwick says, "the most wretched of the stationary population of which I have been able to obtain any account, or that I have ever seen, was that which I saw in company with Dr. Arnott, and others, in the wynds of Edinburgh and Glasgow." I forbear to add their detailed report, which, as regards Glasgow especially, represents a loathsome state of filth and wretchedness. If we go now to the manufacturing towns of England, the evidence is of a similar character. "The following extract," says the Sanitary Report, "is descriptive of the condition of large classes of tenements in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire. It is from the report of Mr. Pearson, the medical officer of the Wigan Union."

"From the few observations which I have been enabled to make respecting the causes of fever during the two months which I have held the situation of house-surgeon to the Dispensary, I am inclined to consider the filthy condition of the town as being the most prominent source. Many of the streets are unpaved and almost covered with stagnant water, which lodges in numerous large holes which exist upon their surface, and into which the inhabitants throw all kinds of rejected animal and vegetable matters, which then undergo decay and emit the most poisonous exhalations. These matters are often allowed, from the filthy habits of the inhabitants of these districts, many of whom, especially the poor Irish, are utterly regardless both of personal and domestic cleanliness, to accumulate to an immense extent, and thus become prolific sources of malaria, rendering the atmosphere an active poison."

Dr. Edward Knight, speaking of some parts of the town of Stafford, says,

"These parts of the town are without drainage, the houses, which are private property, are built without any regard to situation or ventilation, and constructed in a manner to ensure the greatest return at the least possible outlay. The accommodation in them does not extend beyond two rooms; these are small, and, for the most part, the families work in the day-time in the same room in which they sleep, to save fuel.

"There is not any provision made for refuse dirt, which, as the least trouble, is thrown down in front of the houses, and there left to putrefy."

Mr. William Rayner, the medical officer of the Heaton Norris district of the Stockport Union, thus describes a part of that town:

"There are forty-four houses in the two rows, and twenty-two cellars, all of the same size. The cellars are let off as separate dwellings; these are dark, damp, and very low, not more that six feet between the ceiling and floor. The street between the two rows is seven yards wide, in the centre of which is the common gutter, or more properly sink, into which all sorts of refuse is thrown; it is a foot in depth. Thus there is always a quantity of putrefying matter contaminating the air. At the end of the rows is a pool of water very shallow and stagnant, and a few yards further, a part of the town's gas works. In many of these dwellings there are four persons in one bed."

We might have hoped that country districts at least would have been free from the evils occasioned by contracted building, want of ventilation, want of drainage, and the like; but this is far indeed from being the case. The following is from the report of Mr. Aaron Little, the medical officer of the Chippenham Union:

"The parish of Colerne, which, upon a cursory view, any person (unacquainted with its peculiarities) would pronounce to be the most healthy village in England, is in fact the most unhealthy. From its commanding position (being situated upon a high hill) it has an appearance of health and cheerfulness which delights the eye of the traveller, who commands a view of it from the Great Western road; but this impression is immediately removed on entering at any point of the town. The filth, the dilapidated buildings, the squalid appearance of the majority of the lower orders, have a sickening effect upon the stranger who first visits this place. During three years' attendance on the poor of this district, I have never known the small pox, scarlatina, or the typhus fever to be absent. The situation is damp, and the buildings unhealthy, and the inhabitants themselves inclined to be of dirty habits. There is also a great want of drainage."

Mr. John Fox, the medical officer of the Cerne Union, Dorsetshire, gives the following evidence:

"In many of the cottages, where synochus prevailed, the beds stood on the ground-floor, which was damp three parts of the year; scarcely one had a fire place in the bed-room, and one had a single small pane of glass stuck in the mud wall as its only window, with a large heap of wet and dirty potatoes in one corner. Persons living in such cottages are generally very poor, very dirty, and usually in rags; living almost wholly on bread and potatoes, scarcely ever tasting animal food, and consequently highly susceptible of disease and very unable to contend with it. I am quite sure if such persons were placed in good, comfortable, clean cottages, the improvement in themselves and children would soon be visible, and the exceptions would only be found in a few of the poorest and most wretched, who perhaps had been born in a mud hovel, and had lived in one the first thirty years of their lives."

Mr. James Gane, the medical officer of the Uxbridge Union, says,

"I attribute the prevalence of diseases of an epidemic character, which exists so much more among the poor than among the rich, to be, from the want of better accommodation as residence, (their dwellings instead of being built of solid materials are complete shells of mud on a spot of waste land the most swampy in the parish; this is to be met with almost everywhere in rural districts) to the want of better clothing, being better fed, more attention paid to the cleanliness of their dwellings, and less congregated together."

Mr. Thomas H. Smith, the medical officer of the Bromley Union, states:

"My attention was first directed to the sources of malaria in this district and neighbourhood when cholera became epidemic. I then partially inspected the dwellings of the poor, and have recently completed the survey. It is almost incredible that so many sources of malaria should exist in a rural district. A total absence of all provisions for effectual drainage around cottages is the most prominent source of malaria; throughout the whole district there is scarcely an attempt at it. The refuse vegetable and animal matters are also thrown by the cottagers in heaps near their dwellings to decompose; are sometimes not removed, except at very long intervals; and are always permitted to remain sufficiently long to accumulate in some quantity. Pigsties are generally near the dwellings, and are always surrounded by decomposing matters. These constitute some of the many sources of malaria, and peculiarly deserve attention as being easily remedied, and yet, as it were, cherished. The effects of malaria are strikingly exemplified in parts of this district. There are localities from which fever is seldom long absent; and I find spots where the spasmodic cholera located itself are also the chosen resorts of continued fever."

It appears from the Sanitary Report, from which I have made the above extracts, and which was presented to Parliament in 1842, that there were then 8000 inhabited cellars at Liverpool; and that the occupants were estimated at from 35,000 to 40,000. Liverpool is called a prosperous town. People point with admiration to its docks, and its warehouses, and speak of its wealth and grandeur in high terms. But such prosperity, like the victory of Pyrrhus, is apt to suggest the idea of ruin. Thirty-five thousand people living in cellars! Surely such things as these demonstrate the necessity there is for making great exertions to provide fit habitations for the poor. Each year there is required in Great Britain, according to the Sanitary Report, an increase of 59,000 new tenements, "a number equal to that of two new towns such as Manchester proper, which has 32,310 houses, and Birmingham, which has 27,268 houses." In these large increments of building, is it not essential that there should be some care for the health and the morals of the people? Is it not a question which even in a selfish point of view affects the whole empire?

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I am aware that there are great difficulties in the way of any general measure for regulating buildings. The first difficulty which occurs, one which, of itself, forms a limit to building regulations, is, that if you carry them beyond a certain extent, the poorer classes are driven, by the increased expense, from the occupation of cottages to that of rooms, which would be anything but a gain. Besides, it is obvious, on other accounts, that any regulations with respect to building must be introduced with great care, especially in an old country, and where the buildings, which you would be most anxious to modify, are those which will be erected in the immediate vicinity of ground already densely covered with houses. The Liverpool Improvement Act affords a curious instance of, what appears to me, absurd and impatient legislation on the subject of building. By some of its provisions a certain description of cellar in that town will be thrown out of occupation on a given day. Now, where are the inhabitants of these cellars to go to? You might as well legislate that no food except of a certain quality should be sold; but it does not seem likely that this would secure the maintenance of the population so legislated upon. Inconsiderate measures of this kind occasionally put even wise interference out of countenance. Still, I must contend that much good may be done by some simple building regulations of a sanitary nature. Much may be done indirectly, all of which is nearly sure to be good. For instance, it is very desirable to lower the taxation upon building materials. Then, again, wherever the window-tax can be modified, with a view to benefit the dwellings of the poor, it should be done. Mr. Biers, a witness examined before the Select Committee in 1842 on Building Regulations, says,

"The preamble of this Act (the Bill, I believe, then under consideration) sets out that it is for the purpose of preventing disease and giving better ventilation; now, it would much increase the advantages of poor people if a rider or addition was made to the 17th section, for the purpose of giving a better ventilation without being liable to the tax-gatherer. I have added to this section, 'And, for the purpose of promoting health and better ventilation, it is provided, that all window-lights or casements, not being between the outside brick or stone reveals of greater dimensions than one foot wide and three feet high, shall not be assessed to the window duties, whether the same be glazed or not, provided the room or appurtenance is not used for a sleeping or dwelling apartment.'"

Viscount Sandon. This is not for inhabited cellars? No, it is to promote the ventilation of any part that is not an inhabited room; larders and cellars and out-appurtenances of houses. I used to put in the buildings I am now erecting what are termed lancet lights, for the ventilating the cellars, larders, &c.; and, previous to the late survey, these lancet lights were never taken; but so stringent were the orders from the tax-board on the late survey, that if they found a gimlet-hole they would take it.

Chairman. Were they glazed?—Yes.

If they were not glazed, but made of wire, how would that be?—Then they can take them, unless the word 'Dairy' or 'Cheese-room' is written over them; I have now been obliged to reduce three of those lancet lights, and do not get the ventilation. It is as much or more concern to the poor than it is to the rich, that they should have a proper ventilation; and there have been many windows stopped up (which ought not to have been taken) in consequence of the recent survey, and which I am sure the Legislature never intended should be taken."

But, in addition to these indirect methods for improving buildings, it is surely not beyond our legislative ability to devise some very simple regulations, at least of that kind which are to have a prospective application. I do not like to speak confidently about the merits of the Government Bill, introduced this session, because it requires so much technical knowledge to judge of these matters; but the main provisions for back-yards or open spaces attached to dwelling houses, and for the areas to lowermost rooms, appear to me well considered. This Bill applies only to the metropolis. The working, however, of local improvement Acts may afford the best kind of evidence to prepare a general measure upon. When the subject was considered in Committee in 1842, the Corporation of London sent a witness who showed that if a certain regulation, embodied in the Bill they were then considering, were carried into effect, it would, in some instances, not only injure property, but prevent improvement. Partial objections of this nature, which after all may be very slight things, often prevent most useful measures from being carried. But why should there not be a discretionary power vested somewhere to relax any provision which, in particular cases, might be found harsh or inapplicable? This power might be given to a central office, or to local boards of health. Any suggestion of this kind is liable to objections; and the truth is, that to introduce sanitary provisions into a state of things not prepared for them, must at first be a matter cumbered with difficulties; but, as Lord Lyndhurst has said, "a difficulty is a thing to be overcome." Mr. Carlyle has pointed out what a wonderful production a soldier is, still more a body of them, and all the apparatus by which they are kept in working order. And, as he goes on to argue, governments could not exist if this human fighting machine were not in good keeping, and, therefore, it is well cared for at all times. Now if governments did but perceive the importance of some regulation for the dwellings of the poor, if they looked at it only as a matter of finance (for, eventually, the state pays for all disease and distress), it is probable they would put their shoulders to the wheel, and get it out of the difficulty, at least as far as their fair share of the matter goes.

Again, the more difficulty there is in legislating on this subject, and especially if it can be shown that there is difficulty connected with it of a kind almost insuperable by mere legislative efforts, the more there remains for private individuals to do. I cannot believe but that human ingenuity, in some form or other, will be able to surmount the evil in question. The difference of expense in building a row of small cottages, back to back, which it will be hard to ventilate, and which must be without the most obvious household requisites, and that of building a row of cottages each of which shall have a yard at the back, will be about 22 per cent. upon the outlay. Where one would cost 100 pounds, which is a good price for the lowest class cottages, the other would cost 122 pounds. This calculation is independent of the cost of the additional land which would be required. It is melancholy to think that this 22 pounds, and the price of the additional land must, in thousands of cases, have determined the health and morality of the inmates. I do not mean to say that this pecuniary difference is a slight matter, but still I do think it is somehow or other to be provided for. There is always this to be considered, that the better the tenement, the more it will be cared for. In the same Committee I have mentioned before, the Town Clerk of Leeds is asked:

"Would not the building of the better kind of cottages always secure the best tenants?—Unquestionably.

"And the person who invested the property in buildings of that kind would rather take six per cent. of good tenants than seven per cent. of bad ones?—Yes; we have a number of instances in Leeds. There is a gentleman named Croysdill, who has 200 or 300 cottages; he receives the lowest rents on an average of any large proprietor of cottages, and they are unquestionably the most comfortable dwellings, and the best occupied."

It may be a strong thing to say, but I can conceive it possible, in a Christian country, for a man to restrain himself from making the utmost profit out of his possessions. I can imagine, for instance, an owner of land in a town being unwilling to demand such a price for it, as would prevent the cottages of the labouring people from being built with those comforts and conveniences upon which civilization may almost be said to depend. A man may think that there is some responsibility attached to ownership; and he may not like to be in any way accessory to the building of such habitations for the poor as he thoroughly disapproves of. And if the owner of land feels this, still more may the capitalist who undertakes to build upon it. It may be a satisfactory thing to collect in any way much money; but I think, on the other hand, that most men have a great pleasure in doing anything well, in a workmanlike and stable manner. And, strange as it may seem, it is very possible that motives of profit and loss may not be the only ones which have led to such miserable building, as is often to be seen in the houses of the poor. People have not thought about the matter. If they had seen the merit of building good houses of a small kind, I think that in many cases, the additional money required would not have stood in the way. In the Select Committee of 1842, the following questions are asked of a witness from Liverpool:

"Is Liverpool a town which has a considerable quantity of land which may be made available for the purpose of erecting houses?—There is a good deal of land in the suburbs.

"The corporation possess a good deal of land?—They do.

* * * * *

"Have you had under your consideration the provisions of what is called Lord Normanby's Act, by which it is forbidden to build houses back to back?—Yes.

"What were the reasons which induced the Corporation of Liverpool not to object to houses being so built?—If houses were not to be built back to back there would be a great sacrifice of land."

I do not bring this evidence forward to censure that corporation, but rather to excuse private persons in some measure, by showing the general unconcern and ignorance about the subject. It appears that even a corporate body, who might be expected to discern the value of public health and morals, and not to be subdued by the prospect of immediate and apparent gain, have at least not made any endeavour to introduce a good system of building cottages for the poor of their own town. Not that they, probably, were in the slightest degree, more mercenary than other men; but it is only an instance to show how little attention has hitherto been given to this subject.

There is at present in the metropolis, a Society for "improving the dwellings of the industrious classes;" but what is one society? This is a matter which ought to interest the owners of property, and the employers of labour, throughout the country. Such a society as the one named may do great good by building model houses, making scientific investigations, and frequently laying before the public information on the subject. But the proper division of labour, as it seems to me, would be that the state should give every legislative facility for contemplated improvements in the way of building, should encourage all researches into the subject, and be ready to enforce by law such regulations as, without any great intrusion upon private property, might secure for small houses those primary requisites without which it cannot be expected that they will be anything but nests of disease. In fact the state might, eventually, so order the matter that builders should not merely build such houses as the poor would take, for there is nothing in the way of a shelter which they will refuse to occupy, but such as ought to be let to them, with due care at least for the public health. The local authorities should take upon themselves, the lighting, cleansing, paving, supplying with water, and the like. For private individuals there remains the most important part of the task, namely, the building of an improved class of small houses. In this good work the employers of labour may be expected to come prominently forward. Many a man will speculate in all kinds of remote undertakings; and it will never occur to him that one of the most admirable uses to which he might put his spare capital, would be to provide fit dwelling places for the labouring population around him. He is not asked to build alms houses. On the contrary, let him take care to ensure, as far as he can, a good return for the outlay, in order to avoid what may, possibly, be an unjust interference with other men's property; and also, and chiefly, that his building for the poor may not end in an isolated act of benevolence, but may indicate a mode of employing capital likely to be followed by others. In the present state of things, the rents of small houses are disproportionately high because of the difficulty and uncertainty of collecting the rents for them; but by any improvement you introduce into the habits of the occupiers of such houses, you make this difficulty and uncertainty less; and thereby diminish rents. And thus, in this case, as in many others, physical and moral improvement go on acting and reacting upon each other. It is likely, too, that these poor people will pay with readiness and punctuality even a higher rent, if it be for a really good tenement, than a small one for a place which they must inhabit in the midst of filth, discomfort, and disease, and therefore with carelessness and penury. Besides; the rents they pay now, will be found, I believe, sufficient to reimburse the capitalist for an outlay which would suffice to build tenements of a superior description to the present ones.

I do not mean to say that the beginners of such a system of employing capital might not have a great deal to contend with: and it is to their benevolence, and not to any money motives, that I would mainly appeal. The devout feeling which in former days raised august cathedrals throughout the land, might find an employment to the full as religious in building a humble row of cottages, if they tell of honour to the great Creator, in care for those whom he has bidden us to care for, and are thus silently dedicated, as it were, to His name.

* * * * *

The allotment system has not hitherto, I believe, been tried to any extent in the manufacturing districts. Mr. James Marshall, and Mr. Gott, of Leeds have begun to try it; but I think it is but recently; and that there has not yet been time to ascertain the result of the system. I cannot but think, however, that it will be found more beneficial in manufacturing, than even in rural, districts. Let us enumerate some of the probable advantages. It would form an additional means of support—it would tend to endear home to the working man—it would provide a pleasing change of employment for him in good times—it would render him not so listless when out of work—and it would give him knowledge, an additional topic of conversation, and an interest in various things which he might never, otherwise, have felt the least concern for. Moreover, it amuses and occupies the little ones in a family; and it leaves less temptation for parents to employ children too early, in factories or workshops, when they can find something else for them to do which may be profitable. In this respect, indeed, any improvement in domestic comfort, or any additional domestic pursuit, is likely to be beneficial, as it enlarges the sphere of household duties, and creates more reasons for the wife and children being left at home. Again, as there is hard labour to be done in a garden, this allotment system might occasionally prevent the sense of an almost unnatural dependence being so much exhibited, or felt, when the children are employed in some factory, and the grown up people are not. This is one of the greatest evils that at present attend the state of manufactures. Some of the advantages which I have reckoned above, as likely to be connected with the allotment system, are trifling things; but small impulses, all tending one way, may lead to great results. The main objection which, I suppose, will be taken, is that to make allotments in crowded districts is scarcely practicable. Some beginning, however, has been made at a place so crowded as Leeds, and at any rate, in any future building arrangements, room might be left for allotments of land, which would also secure many advantages with respect to the sanitary condition of the people. It may be remarked, too, that any manufacturer, who possessed cottages with allotments to them, would have an easy mode of rewarding good behaviour. Such cottages would be eagerly sought after by the men, and might be given, in preference, to those of good character.

Is all this romantic? Is it inevitable that the suburbs of a manufacturing town must consist of dense masses of squalid habitations, unblest by a proper supply of air, light, or water; undrained, uncleansed, and unswept; enjoying only that portion of civilization which the presence of the police declares; and presenting a scene which the better orders hurry by with disgust? Or, on the contrary may we not, without giving ourselves up to Utopian dreams, imagine that we might enter the busy resorts of traffic through extensive suburbs consisting of cottages with their bits of land; and see, as we came along, symptoms everywhere around of housewifely occupations, and of homes which their humble owners might often think of with pleasure during their day's labour, looking forward to their return at evening with delight. The richer classes, even those low down in the scale of wealth, mostly struggle to secure some portion of country air for themselves: surely they might do their best to provide for the working man something like a change from the atmosphere of the factory, or workshop, in which he must pass the greatest part of his day throughout the whole year.

Against what I have said above, it may be urged that it would prevent the workman from living near his work. In many cases this may be an inconvenience; but I do not imagine that, in general, it can be proved to be an insurmountable, or even a very serious objection. Turning again to the evidence of the Town Clerk of Leeds before the Building Committee, I find the following:

"Lord Ashley. I have been told by several builders in London, that in consequence of the improvements in the metropolis, great numbers of people have been driven to the out-skirts of the town; but they found in the out-skirts of the town an excellent house for less money than when they lived in miserable lodgings in the heart of the town; is this consistent with your experience in Leeds?—Quite consistent.

"And no hardship to themselves?—The distance of going to work is the objection; but we find the poor people will for twenty years walk two or three miles in a morning to their work at six o'clock, and seem no worse for it."


It will not be a matter unworthy the attention of a great employer of labour, to improve and embellish the town where his work is carried on. It is his duty to have some care for its public buildings, and its institutions. They are means for improving, sometimes by manifest benefits, sometimes by silent influence, the condition of his men. Surely if the employers of labour felt any thing like a home affection for the towns where they live, they could not leave them in the rude, unadorned state in which so many of them are. And where is a man's home, if not where he can do most good; where he spends the best part of his life; where he directs the labour, perhaps, of thousands, and absolutely by his own exertion may affect the condition of the rising generation? If such a man could see the many links of duty done, or duty disregarded, that connect him with the spot where he works, let it be ever so dark, squalid, and repulsive, he would still say that it was a great part of his home, and not indulge too fondly in the idea of sunny meadows and beautiful villas, to be enjoyed in some secure, golden, retirement. He would take an interest in the erection of churches, hospitals, buildings for the display of art, or indeed, in any institutions that would further his great work by elevating the sentiments, or improving the physical condition, of his men. The establishment of public baths would be another matter worthy of his attention. At these baths the poor might be admitted on payment of a small fee to cover the expense of attendants. The Romans, induced by social or political motives, had their public baths, to which citizens were admitted; who formed, however, but a small part of their people: surely higher motives might prevail with us to have similar baths, which should be open to all our population. While we are speaking of institutions of various kinds, we must not omit Monts de Piete, or Loan Societies, which may enable the poor man to get small advances on reasonable terms. It will not be enough to establish such things as we have spoken of: there is yet harder work to be done in the management of them. All charitable institutions require vigorous attention; and the better kind of men must not shrink from the public business which they are the fittest to transact. If founders or benefactors were the only people needed, one generation might monopolize the beneficence of all time; but charitable institutions require for ever duty to be done by living men. And, as I have intimated before, it is in giving thought and labour, that we may often make the greatest and the most profitable sacrifices for the good of others. But to go back to mere embellishment—it is very apt to go hand in hand with material improvements. Besides, it raises a higher standard. It declares that there is something besides food and clothing. It may create, perhaps, the love of beauty and order in minds that now seem sunk in sense. At any rate it may do so in a coming generation. And it is not a little matter if it attach the wealthier classes to these towns. This naturally brings me to a subject of which I think the reader will, on consideration, see the importance. I have heard it said, and thought, it a far-seeing remark, that one of the greatest benefits which could be conferred on manufacturing towns, would be to purify them from smoke, on the ground that the wealthier classes would then have less objection to reside in their vicinity: and, especially, that those who constitute the natural aristocracy of the place, would not be so much tempted to remove themselves from the spot where their fortunes had grown up.

Dr. Cooke Taylor, in his letters to the Archbishop of Dublin, speaking of the parts of Manchester which "have been abandoned to the poorest grade of all," says,

"Your Grace is aware that to some extent Dublin is similarly divided into the city of the rich and the city of the poor; but I know that many respectable and wealthy manufacturers reside in the liberties of Dublin, while the smoke-nuisance drives every body from the township of Manchester who can possibly find means of renting a house elsewhere."

Now is the doing away of this smoke a sort of chimerical and Quixotic undertaking? Not in the least. The experiments appear to be decisive upon this point; and had there been a reasonable care for the health, beauty, and cleanliness of the towns where their work is carried on, the manufacturers would long ago have contrived, I believe, that there should be no such thing as opaque smoke issuing from their chimneys. Count Rumford says in his essays,

"I never view from a distance, as I come into town, this black cloud which hangs over London without wishing to be able to compute the immense number of chaldrons of coals of which it is composed; for could this be ascertained, I am persuaded so striking a fact would awaken the curiosity, and excite the astonishment, of all ranks of the inhabitants, and perhaps turn their minds to an object of economy to which they have hitherto paid little attention."

The essay from which this extract is made was published in 1796: what would the Count say now? I believe the calculation which he was thinking of has been made. At any rate a near approximation might be; for I am told, on scientific authority, that "the actual quantity of smoke hanging any day over London is the fourth part of the fuel consumed on that day." Mr. Cubitt, the great builder, in an examination before the House of Commons, quoted by the Sanitary Report, thus expresses himself on this subject:

"With respect to manufactories, here are a great number driven by competition to work in the cheapest way they can. A man puts up a steam-engine, and sends out an immense quantity of smoke; perhaps he creates a great deal of foul and bad gas; that is all let loose. Where his returns are 1000 pounds a month, if he would spend 5 pounds a month more, he would make that completely harmless; but he says, 'I am not bound to do that,' and therefore he works as cheaply as he can, and the public suffer to an extent beyond all calculation."

To show how little loss is to be apprehended from regulations abating this nuisance, the Sanitary Report cites the authority of

"Mr. Ewart, the Inspector of Machinery to the Admiralty, residing at Her Majesty's Dockyard at Woolwich, where the chimney of the manufactory under his immediate superintendence, regulated according to his directions, offers an example of the little smoke that need be occasioned from steam-engine furnaces if care be exercised. He states that no peculiar machinery is used; the stoker or fire-keeper is only required to exercise care in not throwing on too much coal at once, and to open the furnace door in such slight degree as to admit occasionally the small proportion of atmospheric air requisite to effect complete combustion. Mr. Ewart also states that if the fire be properly managed, there will be a saving of fuel. The extent of smoke denotes the extent to which the combustion is incomplete. The chimney belonging to the manufactory of Mr. Peter Fairbairn, engineer at Leeds, also presents an example and a contrast to the chimneys of nearly all the other manufactories which overcast that town. On each side of it is a chimney belonging to another manufactory, pouring out dense clouds of smoke; whilst the chimney at Mr. Fairbairn's manufactory presents the appearance of no greater quantity of smoke than of some private houses. Mr. Fairbairn stated, in answer to inquiries upon this subject, that he uses what is called Stanley's feeding machinery, which graduates the supply of coal so as to produce nearly complete combustion. After the fire is once lighted, little remains to the ignorance or the carelessness of the stoker. Mr. Fairbairn also states that his consumption of fuel in his steam-engine furnaces, in comparison with that of his immediate neighbours, is proportionately less. The engine belonging to the cotton-mills of Mr. Thomas Ashton, of Hyde, near Stockport, affords to the people of that town an example of the extent to which, by a little care, they might be relieved of the thick cloud of smoke by which the district is oppressed.

"At a meeting of manufacturers and others, held at Leeds, for the suppression of the nuisance of the smoke of furnaces, and to discuss the various plans for abating it, the resolution was unanimously adopted, 'That in the opinion of this meeting the smoke arising from steam-engine fires and furnaces can be consumed, and that, too, without injury to the boilers, and with a saving of fuel. Notice of legal proceedings being given against Messrs. Meux, the brewers in London, for a nuisance arising from the chimneys of two furnaces, they found that by using anthracite coal they abated the nuisance to the neighbourhood, and saved 200 pounds per annum. The West Middlesex Water Company, by diminishing the smoke of their furnaces saved 1000 per annum."

But, putting aside the consideration of any pecuniary benefit to be gained, I think it would not be unreasonable to say that no considerate owner of a factory would wait for public regulations in this matter, but would, himself, be anxious to prevent his occupation from being injurious to his neighbours. In a manufacturing town, a man may find some excuse, though a most futile one, in the consideration that it would be of no use for him alone to consume his smoke, when there are hundreds of others over whom he has no influence to persuade them to follow his example. But you sometimes see one of these foul-mouthed chimneys blackening a neighbourhood generally free from such things, and it does not seem to occur to the owner of the chimney that he is doing any thing wrong, provided he is legally secure. Probably he gives away in the course of the year such a sum as would put up an apparatus which would modify, if not altogether remove, the smoke. Let him not think that charity consists only in giving away something: I doubt whether he can find any work of benevolence more useful to his neighbourhood and to society in general, than putting a stop to this nuisance of his own creation. I am not inclined to rest my case against it on the ground of health alone; though I believe, with the Sanitary Commissioners, that it would be found much more injurious than is generally imagined. When you find that flowers and shrubs will not endure a certain atmosphere, it is a very significant hint to the human creature to remove out of that neighbourhood. But independently of the question of health, this nuisance of smoke may be condemned simply on the ground of the waste and injury which it occasions. And what is to be said on the other side? What can any man allege in its favour? Our ancestors, who had glimmerings occasionally, held that

"Si homme fait candells deins un vill, per qui il cause un noysom sent al inhabitants, uncore ceo nest ascun nusans car le needfulness de eux dispensera ove le noisomness del smell." (2 Rolls Abr. 139.)

This is quoted in a grave public document (the Sanitary Report): had we met with it elsewhere, we might have concluded that it came from that chronicle in which Mr. Sidney Smith found the account which he gives of the meeting of the clergy at Dordrecht. I quote it, however, to show how wisely our ancestors directed their attention in this instance. If they had been begrimed with smoke as we are, and, upon inquiry, had found that there was no "needfulness" to back the "noisomeness," it is probable they would have dealt with it in their most summary manner. Whereas I fear that Mr. Mackinnon's "Smoke Prohibition" Bill, amidst the hubbub of legislation, has great difficulty in finding the attention which it really deserves. The truth is, this smoke nuisance is one of the most curious instances how little pains men will take to rid themselves from evils which attack them only indirectly. If the pecuniary injury done to the inhabitants of great towns by smoke could only be put in the form of a smoke rate, what unwearied agitation there would be against it. But surely we ought not to view with less hostility, because of its silent noxiousness, a thing which injures the health of our children, if not of people of all ages, disfigures our public buildings, creates uncleanliness and gives an excuse for it, affects in some degree the spirits of all persons who live under it, renders manufacturing towns less welcome places of residence for the higher classes (which is what brings it in connexion with the subject of this Essay); and is, thereby, peculiarly injurious to the labouring population. If these pages should survive to any future age, it will excite a smile in some curious reader to see how urgent I have endeavoured to be about a matter which will then be so obvious—"What strange barbarous times they must have been," he will say to himself: "wisdom of our ancestors, forsooth!" "Far-off reader," if there be such an entity, "do not presume: thou hast thy smoke too."

* * * * *

In connexion with the subject of "the town," it may be well to go a little into the matter of sewerage, which almost, above all things, demands the attention of those who care for the health of the labouring population, indeed, for the health of rich or poor.

This subject is admirably treated in a section of the Sanitary Report of 1842, under the head of "Arrangements for public health, external to the residences." It is now almost a trite thing to show how closely connected imperfect sewerage is with disease. Scientific men will tell you that you may track a fever along the windings of an open drain. The Sanitary Report mentions that,

"In the evidence given before the Committee of the House of Commons, which received evidence on the subject in 1834, one medical witness stated, that of all cases of severe typhus that he had seen, eight-tenths were either in houses of which the drains from the sewers were untrapped, or which, being trapped, were situated opposite gully-holes; and he mentioned instances where servants sleeping in the lower rooms of houses were invariably attacked with fever."

The above is a good instance to show how necessary it is to have some general measures on these matters of building and drainage. The expense of trapping a gully-drain is about 3 pounds; at least that is what, I understand, the Commissioners of Sewers are willing to do it for. Now is it likely that any poor man, having one of these nuisances before his door, will go to such an expense to have it prevented. It is probable that it would be very good economy for him to do so, even if his whole savings amounted only to 3 pounds. But we all know that few men are far-thinking enough to invest much of their capital in a thing which makes so little show as pure air. What do you find amongst the rich? Go through the great squares, where, in one night, a man will lavish on some entertainment what would almost purify his neighbourhood, and you will often find the same evils there, though in a different degree, that you have met with in the most crowded parts of the town. If the rich and great have so little care about what comes

"Betwixt the wind and their nobility"

you can hardly expect persons, whose perception in such matters is much less nice, to have any care at all. It is evident that the health of towns requires to be watched by scientific men, and improvements constantly urged on by persons who take an especial interest in the subject. If I were a despot, I would soon have a band of Arnotts, Chadwicks, Southwood Smiths, Smiths of Deanston, Joneses, and the like; and one should have gratified a wiser ambition than Augustus if one could say of any great town, Sordidam inveni, purgatam reliqui.

The supply of water is of course one of the chief means for the purification of a town. It is at present, I fear, grievously neglected throughout the country. The Sanitary Report draws attention to the mode of supplying water to Bath, and gas to Manchester: and adduces the latter as an instance "of the practicability of obtaining supplies for the common benefit of a town without the agency of private companies." And Mr. Chadwick, after a lengthened investigation into the subject which will well repay perusal, thus concludes:

"I venture to add, as the expression of an opinion founded on communications from all parts of the kingdom, that as a highly important sanitary measure connected with any general building regulations, whether for villages or for any class of towns, arrangements should be made for all houses to be supplied with good water, and should be prescribed as being as essential to cleanliness and health as the possession of a roof or of due space; that for this purpose, and in places where the supplies are not at present satisfactory, power should be vested in the most eligible local administrative body, which will generally be found to be that having charge of cleansing and structural arrangements, to procure proper supplies for the cleansing of the streets, for sewerage, for protection against fires, as well as for domestic use."

It is possible that some of my readers may think that the wretched state of ventilation, drainage, and building, which I have been commenting upon, is mainly to be accounted for by poverty. It belongs, they may say, to an old country; it is the long accumulated neglect of ages; it embodies the many vicissitudes of trade which Great Britain has felt; it is a thing which the people would remedy for themselves, if you could only give them more employment and better wages. In answer to this I will refer to an authority quoted by Mr. Chadwick in his Essay on the "Pressure and Progress of the Causes of Mortality," read before the Statistical Society in 1843.

"In abundance of employment, in high wages, and the chief circumstances commonly reputed as elements of prosperity of the labouring classes, the city of New York is deemed pre-eminent. I have been favoured with a copy of 'The Annual Report of the Interments in the City and County of New York for the Year 1842,' presented to the Common Council by Dr. John Griscom, the city inspector, in which it may be seen how little those circumstances have hitherto preserved large masses of people from physical depression. He has stepped out of the routine to examine on the spot the circumstances attendant on the mortality which the figures represent. He finds that upwards of 33,000 of the population of that city live in cellars, courts, and alleys, of which 6618 are dwellers in cellars. 'Many,' he states, 'of these back places are so constructed as to cut off all circulation of air, the line of houses being across the entrance, forming a cul de sac, while those in which the line is parallel with, and at one side of the entrance, are rather more favourably situated, but still excluded from any general visitation of air in currents. As to the influence of these localities upon the health and lives of the inmates, there is, and can be, no dispute; but few are aware of the dreadful extent of the disease and suffering to be found in them. In the damp, dark, and chilly cellars, fevers, rheumatism, contagious and inflammatory disorders, affections of the lungs, skin, and eyes, and numerous others, are rife, and too often successfully combat the skill of the physician and the benevolence of strangers.

"'I speak now of the influence of the locality merely. The degraded habits of life, the degenerate morals, the confined and crowded apartments, and insufficient food, of those who live in more elevated rooms, comparatively beyond the reach of the exhalations of the soil, engender a different train of diseases, sufficiently distressing to contemplate; but the addition to all these causes of the foul influences of the incessant moisture and more confined air of under-ground rooms, is productive of evils which humanity cannot regard without shuddering.'

"He gives instances where the cellar population had been ravaged by fever, whilst the population occupying the upper apartments of the same houses were untouched. In respect to the condition of these places, he cites the testimony of a physician, who states that, 'frequently in searching for a patient living in the same cellar, my attention has been attracted to the place by a peculiar and nauseous effluvium issuing from the door, indicative of the nature and condition of the inmates.' A main cause of this is the filthy external state of the dwellings and defective street cleansing and defective supplies of water, which, except that no provision is made for laying it on the houses of the poorer classes, is about to be remedied by a superior public provision."

After considering this account of the State of New York, it will hardly do to say, that, even under favourable circumstances, you can leave the great mass of the people to take care of those structural arrangements with regard to their habitations, which only the scientific research of modern times has taught any persons to regard with due attention.

* * * * *

We have now gone over some of the principal places where the employer of labour may find scope for benevolent exertion. It has been a most inartificial division of the subject, but still one that may be retained in the memory, which is a strange creature, not always to be bound by logic, but led along by minute ties of association, among which those of place are very strong and clinging. I now venture to discuss a branch of the subject which can hardly be referred to any particular spot, unless, indeed, I were to name the manufacturer's own house as the fit ground for it: I mean the social intercourse between the employers and the employed. Some persons will, perhaps, be startled at the phrase; hardly, however, those who have come thus far with me. By social intercourse I do not merely mean that which will naturally take place in the ordinary charities, such as visiting the sick, managing clothing societies, and the like: but that intercourse which includes an interchange of thought, an occasional community of pursuit, and an opportunity of indirect instruction; which may be frequent and extensive enough to avoid the evil effects of a sense of perpetual condescension on one side, and timidity on the other; and which may give the employer some chance at least of learning the general wants and wishes of his people, and also of appreciating their individual characters.

This matter is not an easy one. It requires tact, patience, discretion, and the application of several of the maxims mentioned in the preceding chapter. I am not sure however, that it is any sacrifice whatever in the way of pleasure. The manufacturer's family who occasionally give an evening to social intercourse with their people, will not, perhaps, find that evening less amusing than many that they may pass with their equals.

The advantage, to the rising generation of working people, of some intercourse with their betters, would be very great. I must here quote the authority of one who has fully expressed in action the benevolent views which he has indicated in the following words. "No humble cottage youth or maiden will ever acquire the charm of pleasing manners by rules, or lectures, or sermons, or legislation, or any other of those abortive means by which we from time to time endeavour to change poor human nature, if they are not permitted to see what they are taught they should practise, and to hold intercourse with those whose manners are superior to their own." This intercourse will probably lead to something like accomplishments among the young people. Some of them will profit more than others from the manners and accomplishments which they will observe. And such differences will create a higher order of love among the working people. The manners of one sex will become different from the manners of the other; and the difference of individuals in each sex will be brought into play. All this is favourable to morality. When people work at the same kind of work, have no different pursuits to call out the different qualities of the two sexes, and have all of them manners of the same rude stamp, you can hardly expect that there will be much to ennoble them in their affections.

But, in themselves, the accomplishments and acquirements, which working people may attain from social intercourse with their betters, are great things. The same kind-hearted employer, whom I have quoted before, speaks thus upon the subject. "Another point which has appeared to me of great importance is to provide as many resources as possible of interest and amusement for their leisure hours; something to which they may return with renewed relish when their daily work is done; which may render their homes cheerful and happy, and may afford subjects of thought, conversation and pursuit among them." Moreover, a habit of attention, and even scientific modes of thought, are often called out in young people when they are learning some game. Besides to do anything, or know anything, which is harmless, is beneficial. A man will not be a worse workman because he can play at cricket, or at chess; or because he is a good draughtsman, or can touch some musical instrument with skill. He is likely to have more self-respect, and to be a better citizen. He cannot succeed in anything without attention and endurance. And these are the qualities which will enable him to behave reasonably in the vicissitudes of trade, or to prepare as much as possible against them.

In the Report on the condition of children and young persons employed in Mines and Manufactures, there is some remarkable evidence given by a man who had himself risen from the state of life which he describes. It leads us to perceive the great good which any improvement in the domestic accomplishments of the women might be expected to produce. He says,

"Children during their childhood toil throughout the day, acquiring not the least domestic instruction to fit them for wives and mothers. I will name one instance; and this applies to the general condition of females doomed to, and brought up amongst, shop-work. My mother worked in a manufactory from a very early age. She was clever and industrious; and, moreover, she had the reputation of being virtuous. She was regarded as an excellent match for a working man. She was married early. She became the mother of eleven children: I am the eldest. To the best of her ability she performed the important duties of a wife and mother. She was lamentably deficient in domestic knowledge; in that most important of all human instruction, how to make the home and the fireside to possess a charm for her husband and children, she had never received one single lesson. She had children apace. As she recovered from her lying-in, so she went to work, the babe being brought to her at stated times to receive nourishment. As the family increased, so any thing like comfort disappeared altogether. The power to make home cheerful and comfortable was never given to her. She knew not the value of cherishing in my father's mind a love of domestic objects. Not one moment's happiness did I ever see under my father's roof. All this dismal state of things I can distinctly trace to the entire and perfect absence of all training and instruction to my mother. He became intemperate; and his intemperance made her necessitous. She made many efforts to abstain from shop-work; but her pecuniary necessities forced her back into the shop. The family was large, and every moment was required at home. I have known her, after the close of a hard day's work, sit up nearly all night for several nights together washing and mending of clothes. My father could have no comfort here. These domestic obligations, which in a well-regulated house (even in that of a working man, where there are prudence and good management) would be done so as not to annoy the husband, to my father were a source of annoyance; and he, from an ignorant and mistaken notion, sought comfort in an alehouse.

"My mother's ignorance of household duties; my father's consequent irritability and intemperance; the frightful poverty; the constant quarrelling; the pernicious example to my brothers and sisters; the bad effect upon the future conduct of my brothers; one and all of us being forced out to work so young that our feeble earnings would produce only 1s. a-week; cold and hunger, and the innumerable sufferings of my childhood, crowd upon my mind and overpower me. They keep alive a deep anxiety for the emancipation of the thousands of families in this great town and neighbourhood, who are in a similar state of horrible misery. My own experience tells me that the instruction of the females in the work of a house, in teaching them to produce cheerfulness and comfort at the fireside, would prevent a great amount of misery and crime. There would be fewer drunken husbands and disobedient children. As a working man, within my own observation, female education is disgracefully neglected. I attach more importance to it than to any thing else."

This evidence is the more significant, because, one sees that the poor woman had the material of character out of which the most engaging qualities might have been formed. Let her have seen better things in early life, and even if her schooling had been somewhat deficient, had she but enjoyed the advantage of such social intercourse with her betters as we are now considering, that poor woman might have been a source of joy and hope to her family, instead of a centre of repulsion.

Dr. Cooke Taylor, in his "Tour in the Manufacturing Districts," has given a table, which I subjoin, "showing the degree of instruction, age, and sex; of the persons taken into custody, summarily convicted, or held to bail, and tried and convicted, in Manchester, in the year 1841." The table was formed on statistical details furnished by Sir Charles Shaw. It shows a state of facts which has been deduced from other tables of a like nature, but the facts are of such moment, that they can hardly be kept too much in mind; especially when we consider that there are large towns in which, as I have said before, half at least of the juvenile population is growing up without education of any kind whatever. {147} If such are the favourable results even of that small and superficial education, which by the way I would rather call instruction than education, described in the second and third headings of the table, what may we not expect from a training where the youth or maiden finds in her employers not only instructors, but friends and occasional companions? What store of labour on the part of judges, jailors, and policemen, must be saved by even a few of such employers.

TOTAL IN THE YEAR 1841. Degree of Instruction

1. Neither Read nor 2. Read only or 3. Read and Write 4. Superior Write. Read & Write well. Instruction. imperfectly.

M. & F. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem.

1st Class Taken into 13345 9925 3420 4901 2070 3944 1218 873 119 207 13 Custody

2nd Class Summarily 2138 1661 447 795 265 660 198 193 14 13 . . Convicted or held to Bail

3rd Class Tried and 24 645 179 277 100 276 72 82 7 10 . . Convicted


Under 10 10 Years, & 15 Years, & 20 Years, & 25 Years, & 30 Years, & 40 Years, & 50 Years & 60 Years, & Years of age. under 15. under 20. under 25. under 30. under 40. under 50. under 60. upwards.

Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem. Male. Fem.

1st 62 6 681 83 1581 656 2425 909 1805 755 1775 582 1018 284 422 85 156 60 Class

2nd 4 . . 151 17 302 84 418 150 264 93 327 75 129 39 49 14 17 5 Class

3rd . . . . 30 2 150 54 196 61 97 21 109 25 43 11 15 3 5 2 Class

Some persons may object to encouraging anything like refinement amongst the operatives; and others, who would hardly object in open terms, find it difficult to reconcile themselves to the idea of it. Whatever there is in this repugnance that arises from any selfish motive should be instantly cast aside. Do not let us be meanly afraid that the classes below us will tread too closely on our heels. What a disgrace it is, if, with our much larger opportunities of leisure, with professions that demand a perpetual exercise of the intellectual faculties, we cannot preserve, on the average, an intellectual superiority fully equivalent to the difference of rank and station. Let the vast tracts now left barren smile with cultivation: the happier lands, which the rivers of civilization have enriched for ages, will still maintain their supremacy. And remember this, that every insight you give the humbler classes into the vast expanse of knowledge, you give them the means of estimating with a deference founded on reason, those persons who do possess knowledge of any kind. Let us have faith that knowledge must in the long run lead to good; and let us not fancy that our prosperity as a class depends upon the ignorance of those beneath us. Has not our partial enlightenment taught us in some measure to be reconciled to the fact of there being classes above us? And why should we fear that knowledge, which smoothes so many of the rugged things in life, should be found unavailing to soften the inequalities of social distinction? It is the ignorant barbarians who can pluck the Roman Senate by the beard; and who, in the depth of savageness, can see nothing in sex, age, station, or office, to demand their veneration. Make the men around you more rational, more instructed, more helpful, more hopeful creatures if you can; above all things treat them justly: and I think you may put aside any apprehension of disturbing the economy of the various orders of the state. And if it can be so disturbed, let it be.

What I have said above is not drawn from airy fancies of my own. Such things as I have suggested, have been done. I could mention one man, who might not, however, thank me for naming him, who has devoted himself to the social improvement of his working people: and, without such an example, I should never, perhaps, have thought of, or ventured to put forward, the above suggestions with respect to the social intercourse between masters and men. It is the same benevolent manufacturer from whose letters to Mr. Horner I have made extracts before. The general system on which he has acted may be best explained in his own words. "In all plans for the education of the labouring classes my object would be not to raise any individuals among them above their condition, but to elevate the condition itself. For I am not one of those who think that the highest ambition of a working man should be to rise above the station in which Providence has placed him, or that he should be taught to believe that because the humblest, it is therefore the least happy and desirable condition of humanity. This is, indeed, a very common notion among the working classes of the people, and a very natural one; and it has been encouraged by many of their superiors, who have interested themselves in the cause of popular improvement, and have undertaken to direct and stimulate their exertions. Examples have constantly been held up of men who by unusual ability and proficiency in some branch of science had raised themselves above the condition of their birth, and risen to eminence and wealth; and these instances have been dwelt upon and repeated, in a manner, that, whether intentionally or not, produces the impression that positive and scientific knowledge is the summum bonum of human education, and that to rise above our station in life, should be the great object of our exertion. This is not my creed. I am satisfied that it is an erroneous one, in any system of education for any class of men. Our object ought to be, not to produce a few clever individuals, distinguished above their fellows by their comparative superiority, but to make the great mass of individuals on whom we are operating, virtuous, sensible, well-informed, and well-bred men." And again he states that his object is "to show to his people and to others, that there is nothing in the nature of their employment, or in the condition of their humble lot, that condemns them to be rough, vulgar, ignorant, miserable, or poor:—that there is nothing in either that forbids them to be well-bred—well-informed, well-mannered—and surrounded by every comfort and enjoyment that can make life happy;—in short, to ascertain and to prove what the condition of this class of people might be made—what it ought to be made—what is the interest of all parties that it should be made."

* * * * *

Before concluding this chapter, I must say a few more words on the general subject of interference. No one can be more averse than I am to unnecessary interference, or more ready to perceive the many evils which attend it. There is, however, the danger of carrying non-interference into inhumanity. Mankind are so accustomed to the idea that government mainly consists in coercion, that they sometimes find it difficult to consider interference, even as applied to benevolent undertakings, and for social government, in any other than a bad light. But take the rule of a father, which is the type of all good government, that under which the divine jurisdiction has been graciously expressed to us. Consider how a wise father will act as regards interference. His anxiety will not be to drag his child along, undeviatingly, in the wake of his own experience; but rather, to endue him with that knowledge of the chart and compass, and that habitual observation of the stars, which will enable the child, himself, to steer safely over the great waters. Such a father will not be unreasonably solicitous to assimilate his son's character or purposes to his own. He will not fall into the error of supposing that experience is altogether a transferable commodity. The greatest good which he designs for his son will, perhaps, be that which he can give him indirectly, and which he may never speak to the youth about. He will seek to surround him with good opportunities and favourable means: and even when he interferes more directly, he will endeavour, in the first instance, to lead rather than to compel, so that some room for choice may still be left. Not thinking that his own power, his own dignity, his own advantage are the chief objects for him to look to, his imagination will often be with those whom he rules; and he will thus be able to look at his own conduct with their eyes, not with his. This, alone, will keep him from a multiplicity of errors. Now the same principles, actuated by the same kind of love, should be at the bottom of all social government. I believe that we shall be better able in practice to place wise limits to interference by regulating and enlightening the animus which prompts it, than by laying down rules for its action determined upon abstract considerations. The attempt to fix such rules is not to be despised; but if the persons, or society, about to interfere on any occasion, desired a good object from right motives, I think they would have the best chance of keeping themselves from using wrong means. In many cases, an unwise interference takes place from a partial apprehension of the good to be aimed at: enlarge and exalt the object; let it not be one-sided; and probably the mode of attaining it will partake largely of the wisdom shown in the choice of it. If, for instance, a government saw that it had to encourage, not only judicious physical arrangements, but mental and moral development, amongst those whom it governs, it would be very cautious of suppressing, or interfering with, any good thing which the people would accomplish for themselves. The same with a private individual, an employer of labour for instance, if he values the independence of character and action in those whom he employs, he will be careful in all his benevolent measures, to leave room for their energy to work. What does he want to produce? Something vital, not something mechanical. It is often a deficiency of benevolence, and not an overflow, that makes people interfering in a bad sense. Frequently the same spirit which would make a man a tyrant in government, would make him a busy-body, a meddler, or a pedantic formalist, in the relations of ordinary life. I have taken the instance of father and son, which might be supposed by many as one in which extreme interference was not only justifiable, but requisite. In stating how necessary it is even there to be very careful as regards the extent and mode of interference, I leave my readers to estimate how essential it must be in all other cases where the relation is not of that closely connected character. I believe that the parental relation will be found the best model on which to form the duties of the employer to the employed; calling, as it does, for active exertion, requiring the most watchful tenderness, and yet limited by the strictest rules of prudence from intrenching on that freedom of thought and action which is necessary for all spontaneous development.

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