The Claims of Labour - an essay on the duties of the employers to the employed
by Arthur Helps
Previous Part     1  2  3  4
Home - Random Browse

It is a grievous thing to see literature made a vehicle for encouraging the enmity of class to class. Yet this, unhappily, is not unfrequent now. Some great man summed up the nature of French novels by calling them the Literature of Despair: the kind of writing that I deprecate may be called the Literature of Envy. It would be extreme injustice to say that the writers themselves are actuated by an envious or malignant spirit. It is often mere carelessness on their part, or ignorance of the subject, or a want of skill in representing what they do know. You would never imagine from their writings that some of the most self-denying persons, and of those who exert themselves most for the poor, are to be found amongst the rich and the well-born, including of course the great Employers of labour. Such writers like to throw their influence, as they might say, into the weaker scale. But that is not the proper way of looking at the matter. Their business is not to balance class against class, but to unite all classes into one harmonious whole. I think if they saw the ungenerous nature of their proceedings, that alone would stop them. They should recollect that literature may fawn upon the masses as well as on the aristocracy: and in these days the temptation is in the former direction. But what is most grievous in this kind of writing, is the mischief it may do to the working people themselves. If you have their true welfare at heart, you will not only care for their being fed and clothed; but you will be anxious not to encourage unreasonable expectations in them, not to make them ungrateful or greedy-minded. Above all, you will be solicitous to preserve some self-reliance in them. You will be careful not to let them think that their condition can be wholly changed without exertion of their own. You would not desire to have it so changed. Once elevate your ideal of what you wish to happen amongst the labouring population; and you will not easily admit anything in your writings that may injure their moral or their mental character, even if you thought it might hasten some physical benefit for them. That is the way to make your genius most serviceable to mankind. Depend upon it, honest and bold things require to be said to the lower as well as to the higher classes; and the former are in these times much less likely to have such things addressed to them.

* * * * *

In the same way that we are fond of laying the neglect, and the duty, of exertion upon some class, even on our own, rather than on our especial selves, we are much given to look for something new which, in a magical manner, is to settle the whole difficulty. But when people look for a novelty of this kind, what do they mean? Some moral novelty? The Christian religion has been eighteen hundred years before the world, and have we exhausted the morality in that? Some political novelty? We are surely the nation, whose constitution, whatever may be said against it, has been most wrought and tempered by diverse thought and action. Some novelty in art or science? Where has man attained to a greater mastery over matter than in this iron-shearing country? The utmost that one age can be expected to do in the way of discovery is but little; and that little by few men. Let us sit down and make use of what we have. The stock out of which national welfare might be formed lies in huge, unworked-up masses before us. Social improvement depends upon general moral improvement. Moral improvement mostly comes, and at least is most safely looked for, not in the way of acquisition but of development. Now, as regards the conduct of the various classes of the state to each other, we do not want any new theory about it, but only to develop that kindly feeling which is already in the world between like and like, which makes a parent, for instance, so kind even to the faults of his children. We want that feeling carried over all the obstructions of imperfect sympathy which hedge it in now. This will be done by both classes knowing more of each other. One of the great reasons for the education of the people is, that even educating them a little enables rich and poor to understand each other better—in fact, to live more harmoniously together. If our sympathies were duly enlightened and enlarged, we should find that we did not need one doctrine for our conduct to friends, another for our conduct to dependents, and another for our conduct to neighbours. One spirit would suffice to guide us rightly in all these relations. The uninstructed man looking around him on the universe, and seeing a wonderful variety of appearances, is inclined to imagine that there are numberless laws and substances essentially different, little knowing from how few of either the profusion of beauty in the world is formed. But the creative energy of what we call Nature, dealing with few substances, breaks out into every form and colour of loveliness. Here, we have the dainty floweret which I would compare to the graceful kindnesses passing among equals; there, the rich corn-field like the substantial benefits which the wise master-worker confers on those around him; here again, the far-spreading oak which, with its welcome depth of shade, may remind us of the duties of protection and favour due from the great to the humble; and there, the marriage of the vine to the elm, a similitude for social and domestic affection. The kindnesses to which I have compared these various products of Nature, are also of one spirit, and may be worked out with few materials. Indeed, one man may in his life manifest them all. No new discovery, no separate teaching, for each branch of this divine knowledge, is needed.

I do not say that there may not be physical discoveries, or legislative measures, which may greatly aid in improving the condition of the labouring classes. But, if we observe how new things come, in our own life for instance, or in the course of history, we shall find that they seldom come in the direction in which we are looking out for them. They fall behind us; and, while we are gazing about for the novelty, it has come down and has mingled with the crowd of old things, and we did not know it. Let us begin working on the old and obvious foundations, and we shall be most ready to make use of what new aid may come, if we do not find an almost inexhaustible novelty in what we deemed so commonplace. There is no way of burnishing up old truths like acting upon them.

You may rely upon it that it is one of the most unwholesome and unworkmanlike states of mind to be looking about for, and relying upon, some great change which is all of a sudden to put you into a position to do your duty in a signal manner. Duty is done upon truisms.

But let discoveries in morals or in physics have come; suppose any extent of political amelioration you please; and grant that the more outward evils have been conquered by combined effort. Let our drains flow like rivulets, and imagine that light and air permeate those dwellings which now moulder in a loathsome obscurity. Let the poor be cared for in their health, their amusements, their education, and their labour. Still the great work for an employer of labour remains for ever to be renewed; that which consists in the daily intercourse of life, in that perpetual exercise of care and kindness concerning those small things which, small as they may be, are nevertheless the chief part of men's lives. Perhaps the greatest possible amelioration of the human lot is to be found in the improvement of our notions of the duties of master to man. It were hard to say what could be named as an equivalent for even a slight improvement in that respect, seeing that there is no day in which millions upon millions of transactions do not come within its limits. If this relation were but a little improved, with what a different mind would the great mass of men go to their work in the morning, from the slave who toils amid rice fields in Georgia to the serf in Lithuanian forests. Nor would those far above the extremes of serfdom fail to reap a large part of the benefit. It cannot be argued that civilization renders men independent: it often fastens but more firmly the fetters of servitude—at least it binds them upon limbs more easy to be galled. Its tendency is to give harsh words the power of blows. Consider what a thing it is to be master. To have the king-like privilege of addressing others first, to comment for ever on their conduct, while you are free from any reciprocal animadversion. Think what an immeasurable difference it must make, whether your subordinate feels that all he does is sure to be taken for the best, that he will meet with continual graciousness, that he has a master who is good lord and brother to him: or whether he lives in constant doubt, timidity, and discomfort, with a restless desire of escape ever uppermost in his mind. I do not apply this only to the ordinary relation of master and servant. You sometimes see the most cruel use made even of a slight social superiority, where the cruelty is enhanced by the education and other advantages of the suffering party. To say nothing of Christianity, there is the greatest want of chivalry in such proceedings, in whatever rank they take place, whether from masters to servants, employers to employed, or in those more delicately constituted relationships just alluded to. In all our intercourse with those who have not a full power of replying to us, instead of being the less restrained on this account, which is the case with most of us, the weakness on the other side ought to be an irresistible claim to gentleness on ours. The same applies when what is naturally the weaker, being guarded by social conventionalities on its side, is in reality the stronger, and is tempted into insolence, thus abusing the humanity of the world. But, let us turn from the abuse of power, and see what it is when wielded by discerning hands. It is like a healthful atmosphere to all within its boundaries. Other benefits come and go, but this is inhaled at every breath, and forms the life of the man who lives under it. It is a perpetual harmony to him, "songs without words," while he is at his work. One of the most striking instances we have had in modern times of this just temperament of a master was to be noted in Sir Walter Scott. The people dependent upon him were happier, I imagine, than you could have made them, if you had made them independent. If you could have distributed, as it were, Scott's worldly prosperity, you cannot easily conceive that it would have produced more good than when it fell full on him, and was forthwith radiated to all around him. You may say that this was partly the result of genius. Be it so. Genius is, by the definition of it, one of the highest gifts. If, with humble means, we can produce some of its effects, it is great gain. Without, however, wishing to depreciate the attaching influence of genius, we must, I think, attribute much of this admirable bearing in Scott to an essential kindliness of nature and a deep sense of humanity. If he had possessed no peculiar gifts of expression or imagination, and quietly followed the vocation of his father, a writer to the Signet, he would have been loved in his office as he was on his estate; and old clerks would have been Laidlaws and Tom Purdies to him. Scott would under any circumstances have insisted on being loved: he would have been "a good lord and brother" to any man or set of men over whom he had the least control. You cannot make out that true graciousness of his to be a mere love of feudal usages. It is the best thing that remains of him, better than all his writings, if, indeed, it were not visible throughout them.

The duties of master to man are the more important, because, however much the relation may vary in its outward form, it will not be mapped down as in this or that latitude, but remains as pervading as the air. We may have brought down the word charity to its most abject sense, considering what is but the husk of it to be the innermost kernel. Mere symbols of it may go on. In times, when few things were further apart than charity and papal sway, the popes still went through the form of washing poor men's feet. But that symbol has a wondrous significance—the depth of service which is due from all masters, the humble charity which should ever accompany true lordship and dominion.

* * * * *

When considering in what spirit our remedies should be attempted, one of the most important things to be urged is, that it should be in a spirit of hopefulness.

In one of Dr. Arnold's letters there is the following passage. "'Too late,' however, are the words which I should be inclined to affix to every plan for reforming society in England; we are ingulfed, I believe, inevitably, and must go down the cataract; although ourselves, i.e. you and I, may be in Hezekiah's case, and not live to see the catastrophe." Similar forebodings were uttered on other occasions by this eminently good man in the latter years of his life. I quote the passage to show how deep must have been the apprehension of danger and distress which could so depress him; and, more especially, for the purpose of protesting against any similar despondency which I fear to be very prevalent in these times. It mainly arises, as it seems to me, from a confusion between the term of our own life and that of the state. We see a cloud which overshadows our own generation, and we exclaim that the heavens and earth are coming together. How often, in reading history, does a similar feeling occur to us. We think, how can the people we are reading of revive after this whirlwind of destruction! Imagine how much more they themselves must have felt despondency. A Northumbrian looking upon William the Conqueror's devastations—a monk considering the state of things around him in the exterminating contest of Stephen and Matilda, or the wars of the Roses—the remaining one of a family swept off by some of those giant epidemics which desolated our towns in the fourteenth century—a member of the defeated party in the struggles of the Reformation, the Rebellion, or the Revolution—what would any such person have prophesied as to the fate of his country? How little would he have foreseen the present plethoric, steam-driving, world-conquering England! So with us. We too have evils, perhaps of as large dimension, though in some respects of a totally different character from those which our forefathers endured—and did not sink under. Nothing is to be shunned more than Despair. How profound is the wisdom which has placed Hope in the front rank of Christian virtues. For is it not the parent of endeavour? And in this particular matter, the improvement of our social condition, the more we examine it, the more we shall discover cause for hope. The evils are so linked together that a shock given to any one would electrify the whole mass of evil. Take an instance. Suppose that those who have the means bestir themselves to improve the houses of the poor. See what good will flow from that. Physical suffering is diminished; but that is, perhaps, the least thing. Cleanly and economical habits are formed; domestic occupations are increased; more persons live through the working period of life; and a class is formed low down in the body politic who are attached to something, for a man who has the tenancy of a good house to lose, is not altogether destitute. And under what circumstances is all this done? By the more influential classes taking a kindly concern in a matter in which all are deeply interested. This is not the least part of the good. Indeed, without it, all the rest, however excellent in itself, would lack its most engaging features. Seeing then in one instance how much good may be done even with slight efforts, we may determine to resist despondency. To yield to it, even but a little, is to help in building up the trophy for the other side.

Although we must not listen to despondency, we must not, on the other hand, attempt to conceal from ourselves that this subject, the "condition of England question" as it has been called, is oppressively large; or suppose that it can be dealt with otherwise than by ever-growing vigour. At the present moment public attention is unusually fixed upon it. But this may be of brief duration. The public soon becomes satiated with any subject. Some foreign war, or political contest, may all at once turn its looks in far other directions. But the social remedies that we have been talking of, are not things to be finished by a single stroke. We cannot expect to complete them just while the daylight of public opinion is with us. The evil to be struggled against is a thing entwined with every fibre of the body politic. It is enough to occupy the whole mind of the age; and demands the best energies of the best minds. It should be a "Thirty years' war" against sloth and neglect. It requires men who will persevere through public favour or disfavour, who can subdue their own fastidiousness, be indifferent to ingratitude, tolerant of folly, who can endure the extreme vexation of seeing their most highly prized endeavours thwarted by well intentioned friends, and who are not dependent for reward upon those things which are addressed to vanity or to ambition.

* * * * *

After a long fit of distress which, for the poorer classes, may almost be called a seven years' famine, we are now apparently entering upon one of our periodic times of prosperity. You hear of thousands of additional "hands" being wanted, of new mills rising up, and at last of a revival of the home trade. It is one of those "breathing spaces" in which we can look back with less despondency, and forward with some deliberation. Each man's apprehensions for his own fortunes need no longer absorb his whole attention. Yet one cannot observe all this clashing and whizzing of machinery, this crowding on our quays, this contention of railway projects, and the general life and hum of renewed activity, without a profound fear and sadness lest such things should pass on, as their predecessors have passed, leaving only an increased bulk of unhandy materials to be dealt with. It is one of those periods upon which the historian, armed with all that wisdom which a knowledge of the result can furnish him, may thus dilate in measured sentences. "A time of nearly seven years of steady distress had now elapsed; nor can it be said, that this distress had been lightly regarded by thoughtful minds, or that its salutary process had not commenced. The question of the condition of the labouring classes had in a measure become prominent. The Essayist moralized about it after his fashion; the lover of statistics arrayed his fearful lists of figures to show its nature and extent; the writer of fiction wove it into his tale; the journalist found it a topic not easily to be exhausted: old men shook their heads over it; and the young, to the astonishment of the world, began to talk of it as a matter of pressing interest to them. Now was the time when Great Britain might have looked into this question. But a return of prosperity, which we must almost call insidious, lulled attention. Sickness and adversity are soon forgotten. And this nation awoke as from a bad dream which it was by no means desirous of recalling in its daylight reminiscences." My friends, let us not give an opportunity to the historian to moralize upon us in this manner. If we are employers of labour, let us bethink ourselves that now is the time for persuading our men to do something for themselves; now is the time for getting improvements made in our town and neighbourhood, the public being in a cheerful mood; now, too, we can ourselves adventure something for the good of those around us. Do not let us be anxious to drain the cup of prosperity to its last drop, holding it up so that we see nothing but it. Let us carry ourselves forward in imagination, and then look backward on what we are doing now. That is the way to master the present, for the best part of foresight is in the reflex. What matter is it how many thousands of pounds we make, compared to how we make them?

"Yes," some one will reply, "the imaginary historian deserves to be heard. This is the time for the nation to do something. Really a Government with a surplus should put all things to rights." Oh, these unhappy collective nouns, what have they not to answer for! This word "nation," for instance: we substitute it instead of writing down some millions of names, a convenience not altogether to be despised. But yours, my friend, is there. The word nation is not an abstract idea; but means an aggregate of human beings. No individual man is eliminated by this process of abbreviation. Your being one of a nation is to enrich you with duties, not to deprive you of them. But these large words often soothe us into obliviousness. It puts one in mind of long algebraical operations in which the student has wholly lost sight of reality, and is driving on his symbols, quite unable to grasp their significance. This may be well enough for him, for eventually some result comes out which can be verified. But if we, in active life, play with general terms, we do not come to such distinct results, but only get into profound confusion, as it will be in this case, if we expect great things to happen from some combined effort in their corporate capacity of those who, as individuals, are looking on.

* * * * *

Before we leave off, let us look at the subject in its full scope. A large portion of our fellow countrymen are living, not in a passive state of distress, but in one which manufactures rapidly disease, and poverty, and crime. I think it has been shown that it is in the power of other classes to raise this condition. At any rate it is in their power to make the attempt. There is no occasion for waiting—each of us can do something to-day in this matter. Now consider what would be the effect of success in these endeavours. Let us not take the other result as probable; or, even in hypothesis, draw any picture that might make despondency plausible. Suppose, then, the success of individual, or united efforts, in raising the condition of the labouring classes. What an undivided good it is. Has any man some particular reform at heart, some especial hopes for his race? Where can he look for such a basis to rest upon as in the improved condition of the largest layer of the people? What a field it opens for science, literature, and art. What freedom may it not give to the highest ranges of thought.

I cannot think the destinies of our race an unimproving matter of contemplation, and that it savours of presumption, or of needless forelooking, to reflect on these things. A notable portion of the great human family utters every day a prayer in which the individual supplicant asks, not for himself alone, even those blessings which he can individually enjoy, but also, and first, implores those general blessings which include the welfare of his own race at least. What is the meaning of this, if we are to take no interest in the general welfare, or not, by every means in our power, to aid in it?

In the better order of men there is a desire for social improvement totally independent of all thought of personal gain. Bishop Butler saw in the fact, that there were persons who devoted themselves to a pursuit so remote from worldly ends as astronomy, a wonderful instance of the innate consciousness in man of his high origin and destiny. But an earnest and unselfish love of social progress, is a far more satisfying sign that the impress of good is not altogether effaced, and that men are not wholly isolated by worldliness from the future and the past.

"Hence, in a season of calm weather, Though inland far we be, Our souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither, Can in a moment travel thither, And see the Children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."



The following table shows the progressive decrease in the sum of vitality in the three classes of the inhabitants of Preston. The calculations are founded on the ages at death for the six years ending June 30, 1843:—

1. Gentry. 2. Tradesmen. 3. Operatives.

Born 100 100 100

Remaining at 90.8 79.6 68.2 the end of 1st year

,, 2nd year 87.6 73.5 57.5

,, 5th year 82.4 61.8 44.6

,, 10th year 81.1 56.6 38.8

,, 20th year 76.3 51.6 31.5

,, 30th year 72.3 45.9 25.2

,, 40th year 63.4 37.5 20.4

,, 50th year 56. 28.1 15.6

,, 60th year 45.1 20.5 11.2

,, 70th year 25.4 13.3 6.1

,, 80th year 8. 4.5 2.1

,, 90th year 1.3 .8 .2

,, 100th year . . . . .03

Terminates in Terminates in Terminates in the 92nd year. the 96th year. the 103rd year.

Evidence of Rev. J. Clay. Health of Towns Report, page 174.

The following table shows the progressive decrease in the vitality of the three classes from the age of 21 years:—

Gentry, &c. Tradesmen, &c. Operatives.

21 years old 100 100 100

Remaining at 30 94.7 89.4 79.7 years old

,, 40 years old 83.2 73.2 63.7

,, 50 years old 73.4 55.0 48.9

,, 60 years old 59.1 40.4 34.6

,, 70 years old 33.4 26.5 18.9

,, 80 years old 10.8 9.6 7.1

,, 90 years old 1.6 1.5 1.1

,, 100 years . . . . 0.6 old

Terminates at Terminates at Terminates at 92 years. 96 years. 103 years.

Evidence of Rev. J. Clay. Health of Towns Report, page 175.

1. Saving by one-third of the actual number of 1,240 pounds Deaths. The expense of each being estimated at 2l. 10s.

2. Saving in the excess of Births beyond 1 in 44 827 pounds of the Population; the expense of each Birth being taken at 1l.

3. Saving in day's labour from sickness, 7,047 pounds estimating one-third of the cases out of the expense. 16,710 Cases.

4. Reduction by one-half of the existing expense 501 pounds of Widowhood and Orphanage, the amount taken from the actual expenditure.

5. Saving in the expense of Insurance, by 15,000 pounds keeping the water on night and day, so as to be in readiness at one minute's notice. Estimated on half the number of Houses at 6s. per House.

6. Saving of Productive Manure estimated at 25,000 pounds 10s. per head on the whole Population. All liquid and solid Manure and Street Sweepings being carried out of Town by the Sewers.

7. Saving in Washing, &c. consequent on the 10,450 pounds burning of Factory Smoke. Estimated at 1d. per head per week of the Population.

8. Saving of outside painting of Shops and 1,250 pounds Houses; estimating the cost per House at 25s. and the saving at one-fourth of the sum.

pounds s. d.

Total annual saving to the town 47,815 0 0

Total weekly saving to the town 919 10 4

Total annual saving to each house 4 15 7

Total weekly saving to each house 0 1 10

Total annual saving to each 0 19 1 individual

Total weekly saving to each 0 0 4.25 individual

Evidence of Rev. J. Clay. Health of Towns Report, page 197.

Total A. B. C. D. Number of Cost per House for Capital. Rent per House. Total Total Increased Rental Houses. Outlay. required defraying by Annual Instalments of Principal and Interest of 20 Years for the House cleansing and Water Apparatus, and 30 Years for Sewers and Drains.

pounds s. d. s. d. pounds pounds s. d.

1. In want of water 5,000 0 10 0 0 6 2,500 200 15 0

2. . . . main sewer 10,000 0 5 0 0 2 2,500 162 12 6

. . . secondary do. 7,919 2 9 6 2 6 19,599 1,274 18 9

3. . . . house-drains 10,000 0 15 0 0 9 7,500 487 17 9

4. . . . water closets 10,000 2 0 0 2 0 20,000 1,606 1 0

5. . . . ventilation 10,000 0 15 0 0 9 7,500 602 4 6

6. . . . street-sweeping 10,000 . . . 9 3 . . 4,625 0 0

pounds s. d.

Total immediate expenditure of 51,599 0 0 capital required for the improvement of the town

Total increased rental 8,959 9 8 (including the annual expense of street-sweeping)

Immediate expenditure for each 5 19 3 house

Total increased annual rent 0 15 11 for each house

Total increased weekly rent 0 0 3.75 for each house

Immediate expenditure per head 1 3 9 of the population

Annual expenditure per head of 0 3 6.5 the population

Weekly expenditure per head of 0 0 0.75 14/52 the population

Evidence of Rev. J. Clay. Health of Towns Report, page 196.


Bedford Square, January, 1845.


To aid the memory of persons inquiring about the means of preserving health, I have elsewhere endeavoured to mark clearly, that the four things, fit air, temperature, aliment, and exercise, are all that need to be secured, and the two things violence and poisons all that need to be avoided, by men of sound constitution, that they may enjoy uninterrupted health and long life;—and consequently that the causes of all other disease than the decay from age are to be looked for in errors committed in regard to these four necessaries, or in the direct influence of these two kinds of noxious agents. The tabular view on the opposite page {282}, now to be examined, exhibits the subject to the eye.

* * * * *

In some moderately warm and uniform climates of the earth, such as the Azores or Western Isles in the Atlantic, the two first mentioned necessaries, viz. fit temperature and pure air, are so constantly present that the inhabitants no more think of them as necessaries to be laboured for than they think of the gravitation which holds their bodies to the earth as such a necessary. But in colder, or changing climates, to procure house-shelter, clothing, and fuel, for cold weather becomes a very considerable part of the necessary business of life. And where food is dear, that is to say, obtainable only as the reward of much labour, as is true in England, the amountof labour which individuals can perform with safety to their health, is often not sufficient to supply all the urgent wants.

Exposure to temperature lower than what suits the human constitution is so severely felt, that persons, even before fixed disease has arisen as a consequence, cannot remain indifferent to it; and how little soever some minds are disposed to reflect or speculate on such subjects, there are few who are not aware that all the diseases which in this and other climates are called winter diseases, as catarrhs, quinsies, pleurisies, croups, rheumatisms, &c. &c. are consequences of error in regard to temperature. But only persons whose attention has been specially directed to the subject become fully aware of the fatal influence of that want of fresh air which the closeness or otherwise faulty construction of dwellings occasions. The immediate effect is little felt, although the insidious enemy is unfailingly producing diseases perhaps more destructive even than those from cold, above enumerated. Impaired bodily and mental vigour, and the scrofulous constitution which renders persons more liable to many diseases and among these to consumption, the destroyer at present of about a sixth part of the inhabitants of Britain, may be cited as part of the effects.

In England, as yet, many singular and hurtful misconceptions prevail on the subjects of both warming and ventilating. The object of a little work which I published some time ago on these subjects, was to substitute for the misconceptions correct knowledge, and to describe some new and simple means of obtaining the objects sought. A considerable change, however, in common opinions and habits is not easily effected, and the co-operation of many labourers will be required to accomplish all that is here wanted. In a new edition of the book, now in preparation, I have attempted to convert some remarkable errors that have been committed in public situations into useful warnings or lessons for the future. It is but recently that even the members of our Houses of Parliament became aware that many of their body formerly had lost health, and even life, from want of a complete ventilation of the Houses, easy to be effected. And at present the havoc made in the crowded workrooms of milliners, tailors, printers, &c. and the injury done to young health in many schools, from similar want of knowledge, are most painful to contemplate. Without the requisite knowledge very expensive attempts are made with little or no benefit; with that knowledge, the desired ends may be completely attained at little cost.

The great error committed in regard to ventilation has been the want of an outlet in or near the cieling of rooms, for the air rendered impure in them by the breathing of inmates and the burning of candles, lamps, gas, &c. At present the only outlet of English rooms is the fire place or chimney opening near the floor. But all the impurities above referred to rise at once towards the cieling, because of the lessened specific gravity of air when heated, and there they would at once escape by a fit opening. Where there is no such opening, however, they become diffused in the upper air of the room, and can escape only slowly by diving under the chimney-piece as that air is changed. Thus the air of a room above the level of the fire-place, whenever there are people or lights in the room, must always be loaded, more or less, with impurity. The purest air of the room is that near the floor, being the last that entered, and the coolest, therefore and heaviest specifically; and with this the fire is fed, while the hotter impure air remains almost stagnant above, around the heads and mouths of the company. To remove the evil here referred to, I have shown, that even with an open fire, if the throat of the chimney be properly narrowed by a register flap, an opening made near the cieling into the chimney flue, with a valve in it to allow air from the room to enter the chimney, but allowing no smoke to come out—will serve very effectually; and that where there is no open fire the ventilation can, by the means described, be made still more complete.

The great error with respect to warming in rooms for many inmates has been to have all the heat radiating (none being given off by contact) from one focus or fire place, persons near to which consequently must receive too much, and those far from which will receive too little; while the supply of fresh air enters, cold, at a few openings chiefly, and pours dangerously on persons sitting near these. In common rooms, with open fires, the evils described may be lessened considerably by admitting fresh air through tubes or channels which open either near the fire, or all along the skirtings so that the fresh air is equally distributed over the room and mixed with the mass of air previously in it: but to have what is desirable, the air before distribution must be warmed by some of the simple means now known, as of warm channels in the brick work around the fire, or of the air being made to come into contact with the surface of properly regulated stoves, or tubes containing heated water. I have given detailed accounts of these means in the publication above referred to; and I have contrived and described various regulators applicable to stoves and to the furnaces of hot-water apparatus, which give complete command over the rate of combustion, and save nearly all the ordinary trouble of watching fires.

Then, to give complete efficiency to both the warming and ventilating apparatus described, I have had made a simple air-mover, or ventilating pump, which may be worked by a weight, like a kitchen jack, or by a treddle, like a spinning-wheel or turning-lathe; and which, in all states of wind and of temperature, will deliver by measure any quantity of air into or out of any inclosed space.

The means of ventilating and of warming now referred to, may in different cases be adopted in part or in whole. In the dwellings of the poor of cities, where the same room serves for all purposes,—working at a trade, sleeping, cooking, and is never unoccupied, a brick taken out of the wall, from near the cieling, over the fireplace, so as to leave there an opening into the chimney-flue, removes great part of the evil; and if a simple chimney-valve, which I have described, allowing air freely to enter the chimney, but no smoke to return, be added, and there be an additional opening made in some convenient part of the wall or window to admit and distribute fresh air, where air enough cannot enter by the crevices and joints about the door and window, the arrangement might be deemed for such places complete. Even in a milliner's or tailor's crowded work room a larger opening of this kind into the chimney, with its balanced valve, and with a branching tube having inverted funnel mouths over the gas lamps, or other lights, and conveying all the burned air to the valved opening {287} in the chimney, is so great an improvement on present practice, that many would deem it perfection. To this, however, may be added, at little cost, an opening for admitting, and channels behind the skirting for distributing, the fresh air; and to make the thing really complete, there must be also the means, by a stove or by hot water pipes, of warming the air before its distribution; and there must be the ventilating pump to inject and measure air when such action may be required. During the winter, in many cases the chimney draught would be sufficient to produce the desired currents of air without the pump.

All the means here spoken of have already been and are in satisfactory operation in various places. The chimney-valves have been made by Mr. Slater, gas-fitter, 23, Denmark Street, Soho, and Mr. Edwards, 20, Poland Street, Oxford Street. The pump by Mr. Bowles, 58, Great Coram Street, and Mr. Williams, 25, Upper Cleveland Street. The stoves by Mr. Edwards, Poland Street, Messrs. Bramah and Co. Piccadilly, Messrs. Bailey, Holborn, and others.

I am, my dear sir, yours very truly, N. ARNOTT.

* * * * *



In fit Kind and In Deficiency. In Excess. Degree.

1. AIR Suffocation Excess of Oxygen.

Unchanged Air.

2. TEMPERATURE Cold (intense) Heat (intense.)


Food Hunger Gluttony, or Surfeit.

Drink Thirst Swilling water.


Of the body Inaction or Fatigue or Exhaustion.

Of the mind Ennui Want of Sleep.

Certain depressing Certain exciting passions, as fear, passions, as anger, sorrow, &c. jealousy, &c.

Of the mixed Solitude Debauchery. social aptitudes.



Wounds,—Fractures,—Burns, &c.—Lightning.


Animal, Mineral, Vegetable.

Certain of these, such as alcohol in its various forms, opium, tobacco, &c. which in large quantities kill instantly, when they are taken in very moderate quantity can be borne with apparent impunity, and are sometimes classed as articles of sustenance, or they may be medicinal, but if taken beyond such moderation, they become to the majority of men destructive slow poisons.

Contagions,—as of plague, small-pox, and measles.

Malaria of marshes, thickets, and of filth.


{147} See Appendix.

{202} "There are several thousand gratings which are utterly useless on account of their position, and positively injurious from their emanations."—Mr. Dyce Guthrie. Health of Towns Report, vol. ii. p. 255.

{209} "To give an idea of the principle of contour lines, we may suppose a hill, or any elevation of land covered with water, and that we want to trace the course of all the levels at every 4 feet of vertical height; suppose the water to subside 4 feet at a time, and that at each subsidence the line of the water's edge is marked on the hill; when all the water is withdrawn, supposing the hill to be 24 feet high, it will be marked with a set of six lines, denoting the contours of each of the levels, exactly 4 feet above each other."—Mr. Butler Williams's evidence before the Health of Towns Commission.

{214a} See Mr. Toynbee's Evidence. Health of Towns Report, vol. i. pp. 87, 88.

{214b} See Dr. Arnott's Evidence. Health of Towns Report, vol. i. pp. 45, 46.

{215a} See Dr. Guy's Evidence. Health of Towns Report, vol. i. p. 92.

{215b} In St. George's, Southwark, out of 1467 persons who received parochial relief, 1276 are reported to have been ill with fever.

{233} The mischief that may be done by associations for benevolent purposes, when ill-directed, is admirably shown in a pamphlet on the subject of Visiting Societies by "Presbyter Catholicus." James Darling, Little Queen Street, 1844. One of the objects of this pamphlet is to show that the command addressed to alms-givers "not to let their left hand know what their right hand doeth," concerns the receiver as much as the giver—that "a man's alms will be converted into a source of almost unmixed evil, if their distribution become a subject of notoriety," which is the case in public charities. This, like most general propositions, is not to be construed over strictly; but there is much truth in it, (especially if we take the word "alms" in its most restricted sense) and it deserves to be weighed carefully by all who wish to render their benevolence most available.

{287} The author of this book has tried one of these "valved openings" recommended by Dr. Arnott, and has found it answer very well.


Previous Part     1  2  3  4
Home - Random Browse